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Arts & Crafts

Paper & clips necklace

Hardly rocket science, but quite a fun and simple upcycle/recycle project for schools — granmas with the little ones etc. A little project for #isolationartschool too.

Take a pile of paper clips and clip them together to form a long ‘chain’ necklace — you can do multi-strands if you have enough clips. Then take an old magazine or some other sort of paper (old gift wrap for instance) and cut into strips. With white glue, wrap around each paper clip to cover the open ends and block them together. When it’s all dry you can give a coat of varnish to the paper wraps if you like. Obviously if you used plain paper, the kids can do some drawing on each ‘bead’ before the final seal. A bit sticky and messy, but fun. Here I am in the process of doing a multi-strand with some turquoise coloured wrapping paper I had salvaged.

The paper strips needn’t be any longer than about an inch — depends on the size of the clips of course, but make the strips just long enough to overlap around the ‘height’ of the clips. The width will obviously be determined by the actual length of your clips leaving just enough room for the rounded extremity to be free.

Download the project details here.

Easter bunny project


Just in time, here is a sweet project for the children to do — possibly with a little help — a Spring or Easter project with eggs and bunnies and flowers. A bit of colouring, a bit of tracing, a bit of glueing to make the project just messy enough to keep everyone happy.

My own image here is just an example of the kind of effect you can get by applying the various elements. As you can probably see, i haven’t stuck the grass down completely, but just along the bottom edge so that some of the shapes can be partly hidden behind the grass tops. I believe that you will find most of what you need around the home — colours such as crayons, felt tips or pastels are all fine — and you can use food cartons for the shapes, or recycled wrapping paper if you are looking for something with a pattern for the eggs for instance.

Anyway — your imagination is the only limit, so have fun!

Make protective masks

Making masks — whilst it is not possible to make and contribute homemade masks to medical staff, it is possible to make them for your local community where masks are hard to find. In some places (areas of northern Italy for example), people are obliged to wear them outdoors, so in the face of the shortage, homemade becomes a useful source.If you want to have a go, take a look at the two mask patterns Spoonflower is offering for free, both accompanied by a clear video tutorial on how to make them. Scroll down the Spoonflower web page to find the tutorials towards the bottom, along with the mask download links.

I must reiterate that these masks are NOT medical masks and are intended for community use only.

Click for free mask tutorials

Fat quarter drawstring bag

Fat quarter drawstring bag


Looking for things to do during isolation? Here’s a quick and easy idea for a fat quarter — or any textiles measuring at least 50cm x 50cm you have available to use — to make a drawstring bag to use for all manner of things. Here are just a few suggestions — a shoe bag, a grocery bag, a craft bag, maybe to hold your latest sewing or knitting project. The box corners are optional. Download the instructions here.

Pattern marker

Improvised cardboard pattern marker


Now I would like to say that this idea came straight out of my head, but in fact it didn’t. What is embarrassing is that I can’t remember where I saw this in the first place, so if anyone does know, I will be more than happy to give full credit to the blogger in question.

In fairness, it’s not as if the wheel was reinvented with this idea as I’m certain most knitters/crocheters use something to keep a tag on the pattern line as they work – for instance I always used a ruler – but this little instrument doesn’t slip and slide around so cuts out the frustration factor from the equation.

Just pick up a piece of cardboard or stiff card – about 10 cms wider than your pattern and about 10 cms deep – and laying the pattern vertically on top of the card, measure off about 1/4″ either side of it and then cut a line between your markings. You can now just neatly slide your pattern through the slit you created and slide the pattern upwards as you work, keeping the working line just visible above the cut in the card.

Recycle pretty boxes

Recycled box covered with designer paper

It wouldn’t surprise me in the least to know that every now and again you find a box – for instance – your hand cream was packaged in a pretty box – and you wish you could find an alternative use for it, even if only to put a small gift inside for someone’s birthday or seasonal gift. But more often than not the thought of attempting to cover it with pretty paper to hide the graphics for the original content puts you off right from the start.

What I do when I come across these boxes is, I carefully peel them apart and use them as templates. If the original carton is a little flimsy, just copy the outline onto some stiffer card, and draw dotted lines where the folds should go – and make notes to remind you how to put the box together and where the glued bits should be. Then when the need arises, I can use cardstock to create a personalised box, maybe adding my own graphics or stamped images or patterns in keeping with the item I want to put inside. For larger templates, it might be necessary to cut the original box into several pieces unless you have access to large cardstock where the whole template will fit comfortably. If you remember in time, it’s useful to take note of the dimensions of the finished box, and even to take a quick snap to remind you of what it looks like. Makes it easier if you are looking for the right size box for a gift at a future date.

A lot of my templates have been transferred onto bits of cardboard boxes and are all ‘filed’ in a ring binder with clear plastic ‘envelope’ pages. The box in the picture originally contained a set of 4 ceramic mugs.

Into card making?

Aluminium canister seals

If you are into card making or die-cutting of any sort, use these canister seals to sharpen up the cutting edges of your die-cutting tools. They are usually found on all sorts of food packaging –- those in the image came from a canister of dried milk, gravy granules and similar. With few exceptions, when you buy die-cutters or punches, hidden away in the instructions somewhere there will be a note telling you to sharpen up the blades by cutting aluminium. Not everyone has aluminium sheets to hand, so these aluminium canister seals are the perfect solution. Just keep them well out of reach of small children of course as they are very sharp, and even more so after they have been passed through punches and die-cutting machines.

Pink Flamingo cross-stitch pattern

pink flamingo cross-stitch image

Difficult times for most of us right now. The Coronavirus has turned our lives upside-down and being closed indoors can be trying, particularly where there are young children to keep occupied and feeling safe in such an uncertain world. So this pattern is offered to those who need to keep their hands and minds busy in order to relax and calm down.

You will find a colour chart attached to the pattern — the DMC threads chart has been used, but of course you can use any brand of threads you like, and even substitute colours where it would be more economical to do so. You might even have a stash of threads that you can use. No rules here — just take it easy and remember that every little coloured square on the chart represents a stitch.

Using an 11 squares per inch canvas, your finished work will measure approximately 30 cm x 40 cm — but there are no rules to say you can’t do this pattern on a scrap of fabric — or even as a knitting pattern. I’m no expert there, but if you are, you will know how to transfer the chart to knitting I’m sure.

Kumihimo braiding

One of my most interesting discoveries in recent months has been kumihimo braiding, a Japanese craft which has been around for centuries. The beautiful braids have been used for all sorts of situations that go from swords to cushion trimmings to traditional clothing. At its best, and probably most refined level, the braiding is combined with beading decoration, and certainly in this part of the world, is frequently used to enhance jewellery. In my research I have also come across some amazing articles of clothing which have been ‘constructed’ using yard after yard of flat kumihimo braiding in an incredible array of colour combinations.

In my own experimentation with the craft, I have been creating mono and multi-colour braids using techniques for 7, 8 and 10 warps for both rounded and flat braids. I have combined the braids with pendants of varying types, and with large round wooden beads which I have painted by hand, and also with semi-rounded wooden beads which I have covered in fabric. Some of the pendants are previously loved pieces of Indian jewellery which I presented in here some time ago.

The results of my endeavours are available on Etsy if you are interested in purchasing any of these ‘one-of-a-kind’ articles.

Fibre Art Wall Hanging

A fun, single-day event. See your wall hanging develop as you add ribbons, beads and scraps of textiles to your woven base. You will learn how to prepare a simple wooden frame adding the warp threads which will then be the base for your weft — the threads which are used to weave the background support for your piece of fibre art. According to your personal preference you will be able to attach various decorative details such as coloured ribbons and unusual yarns made available to you during the creative session.

For full details visit https://www.creativeretreatsinitaly.com/prospectus-fibre-art-wall-hanging/

Creare una decorazione per casa tua — un arazzo fatto con la tecnica di tessitura semplice, con l’aggiunto di perline, lana, tessuto e quant’altro. Tutti i dettagli e costi sono disponibili sul sito, Creative Retreats in Italy.

Made by Hand

When you buy something from an artist, you are buying more than an object. You are buying hundreds of hours of failures and experiments. You are buying days, weeks and months of frustration and moments of pure joy. You are not only buying a thing, but a piece of heart, a part of the soul, a moment in the life of someone.

by Giacomo Cinque
'La Sartoria Antica'
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