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Day for toting

houses-tote02Well this is only half the story… the bottom half in fact! One of my recent shopping adventures produced this fun fabric in very dark grey with fun stylized houses printed all over it. I knew I wanted to use it for something a little unusual, but just needed to think about it for a short while before true inspiration hit me.

And what emerged? A big, fun and very roomy tote bag with exceptionally long handles to pass across your shoulders leaving all hands free to deal with stroppy kids and/or wayward shopping carts. I even added a rigid fabric covered base (recycled card) so that you can safely carry that ready cooked lasagne over to ma-in-law’s when you want to make a good impression! Then remove the base and voilà…a pure cotton, eco-friendly bag to roll up and tuck into your handbag for those surprise shopping sprees which seem to affect us women so often!

ps. Got to use one of my gorgeous little embroidered “handmade” labels for the first time. Unable to find anything locally, I’m afraid these were sourced in Germany from what is fast becoming one of my favourite ribbon suppliers.

Out stashing

little-drill-300x193Feel almost bad about having had such a good day yesterday – we went off early morning on the bike and only just got back indoors in time for evening meal.

Visited a big regional market where I bought some nice yarn and haberdashery bits – and we picked up some nosh which we ate on a park bench – then we visited an ‘outlet village’ where hubby hoped to pick up some Timberland flip flops, but we were too early seasonally speaking.

Then we went to visit our favourite Guzzi agent, and then found a big hobby/craft/DIY store where I stocked up on a stash of seemingly useless bits which I am certain will inspire me for weeks.

My face is even burning from all the sunshine!

So briefly, what is in the stash …

A couple of big canvases for my paintings
some braid yarn – not quite sure what to do with that, though I do have a couple of ideas buzzing around
a handful of polystyrene eggs
a cork board for pinning when I create decorative knots
some super glue
a little squeedgee (spelling???) roller and tray
some large silver coloured rivets
30 meters of beige cord
10 meters of heavy beige braid
and last, but not least, some super glue

And now I have my thinking cap on!!!

Biker’s crafting break

guzzi-castelfranco-9-12-12Not the most glam photo of hubby that I have, but today we took a break and whizzed off on the bike to a Christmas market — or at least — there was supposed to be one! Don’t believe everything you read on internet! I was foolish enough to look at a site which purports to have all the dates of all the Christmas markets around Europe — but they got this one wrong! Anyway, Castelfranco Veneto is a nice little walled town, so all was not lost.

It was a beautiful, though freezing day (hence the woolly hats as soon as we whipped off the helmets) — and we found a little bar which did us a huge portion of pasta alla carbonara (egg and bacon pasta basically), and an excellent coffee, so we were well satisfied. On our ride homewards we even found a little market which was selling all sorts of wonderful handmade bits and bobs, so apart from getting some lovely ideas, I also purchased a few things to put under the tree, feeling well pleased with myself as part of the profits will go to good causes.

I was very tempted by the log cabin selling hot chocolate, but it would have probably argued with the pasta I had eaten! My bike gear is so close fitting, particularly in the winter months when I have extra layers on, so it’s wise to not overdo the food — shame though!

My biscuit man

ginger0031Been wanting to make some of these little guys for ages, but I was finding it hard to get hold of the felt colour I wanted. At long last my suppliers came up with the goods and I was able to ‘bake’ half a dozen. I also decided to set up a little kit for home ‘baking’ just in case anyone would like to have a go – mainly because I think it is the kind of small project that a younger child could attempt with just the minimum of supervision from an adult.

They actually make lovely little ‘fist’ sized cuddlies, so it would be easy enough just to leave off the hanging loop and use as a small mascot. I know kids like to hang these things on their school bags and use them as mega-sized keyrings too.

Don’t forget though that these are definitely not suitable for very small children because of the small parts.

Follow this link to my Etsy page if you would like to purchase a gingerbread man kit

Mixed media lino prints

art-washI do mixed media work using upcycled newspapers with my lino cuts and here you can see the base sheets hanging outside my window to dry. When there is  a breeze up I keep my fingers tightly crossed that they don’t all end up in the canal directly beneath the window!!

When these sheets dry, they then get a partial cover of gesso before eventually having the prints added on top. The prints will be my usual lino prints but will have the added attraction of the newspaper cuttings’ base – a style which is a bit more contemporary and tends to appeal to a different audience.

lino-saluteHere on the right is a sample of the mixed media lino cut prints…each is then framed by the textured cardstock matte frame which finishes them off really nicely. Every one comes out with a totally unique combination of colours highlighted with copper paint (or silver or gold – whichever is most appropriate for the base colour scheme). I just choose the basic colourways – usually 3 different colours and then wait for the surprise…never quite sure how the finished mix will look!

Felt ornaments for the tree

Tough going

for the felt hearts I am sewing right now. Not quite a drill job, but I do have a pair of pliers to hand to pull the needle through at almost every stitch! The problem is probably down to the fact that I am having to use a hefty cotton and a needle with a larger eye to stitch these things up. I never expected it to be a quick and easy sew, but this is ridiculous! Taken me all morning to sew just 4 hearts! Anyway, hope to get some pictures up soon so that you can see what it’s all about. A lovely set of Christmas tree ornaments, all sewn by hand … they are meant for the shop, but I am very tempted to just keep them for myself!

So here they are

a few mangled fingers later! My lovely set of softly padded felt hearts for the tree — decided to keep this set for myself, but have made others for the shop. Even if you don’t use them on the tree, they are sweet enough to add to a lovely garland for the front door – or maybe over the top of the mantelpiece. I also think they would make extra special gift tags – any other ideas?

Follow this link to purchase a set of 6 completed hearts in my Etsy store

Follow this link to purchase a DIY set of 6 hearts in my Etsy store

Note Block Holders

Been doing these little note block holders. I have a feeling that with the current economic crisis people are going to be looking more for useful gifts rather than ornamental ones, so this is my answer to that need: a little covered cardboard note block holder with closeable flap and linen covered ‘hinges’. When the notes run out they can easily be replaced with a standard sticky note block (76 x 76 mm) which are available in most stationers. I have found some beautiful designer papers which I’m using for these holders, choosing the smaller prints which show up to best effect on small areas – and I am using some of my pretty glass and ceramic beads for the closure, along with the pretty scrapbooking rivets on some of them. On others I have been trying out the clever little velcro dot closures which are very effective.

Lots of other lovely patterns available on my Etsy page>>>

Craft Market

foto05b-466x500Well it’s just about that time again, and we are getting ourselves ready for the Craft Market to be held in Via Garibaldi here in Venice at the end of this month. We have a fairly good stock of bits and pieces, but were surprised at the last market by just how many earrings went, so need to make a few more of those. The odd thing is that on the previous occasion, the felt items seemed to be more popular. These markets are so infrequent (only 6 a year) that it is very difficult to build up an accurate picture of what goes or not. The passers-by vary so much because of the different kind of events going on in the city, so as this market it linked in with the Venice Marathon, who knows what the ‘average’ customer might be like!

Anyway, if you happen to be in town, do pop by to find us even if just to say hello! If you do decide to make a purchase, you can be sure of a discount  just by telling us the name and address of this web site!

You will find the event listed in the events’ calendar on this site, but just to remind you, here are the details:

‘Mercatino di Via Garibaldi’, Via Giuseppe Garibaldi, Venice on Sunday 28th October, from about 10.00 through until 20.00, weather permitting.

Package from India

indian-bangles-300x220I was thrilled to receive the silk covered bangles I had ordered from India a little while back…they actually arrived pretty quickly. What really caught my attention even before opening the little parcel was the fact that the outer wrapping was made of a sort of muslin or cotton which had been carefully stitched by hand. You might just be able to see that in my photograph here.

The actual bangles are in gorgeous jewel colours in a couple of different sizes. These are gifts for myself, a good friend and my daughter (who will very likely end up with my set as well!)

Make them for charity

Funds were raised for the Japan disaster relief selling my little geisha bookmarks through Made4aid on Etsy. All proceeds from the sales went to Médecins sans Frontiéres / Doctors without Borders / Medici senza Frontiere who were working in Japan as part of the relief organization. It now seems appropriate to offer this little tutorial for other kinds of relief.

Make your own geisha bookmarks by picking up the pdf instruction file below, or you can purchase them from me ready-made on my Etsy page.


Yield: One

Geisha bookmark

Geisha bookmark

A bookmark with a difference -- embellished with a small Japanese geisha 'doll'

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Active Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes
Difficulty: Easy
Estimated Cost: €3 each

Materials

  • A selection of printed paper – origami paper is best (for doll’s clothing). Don’t use paper that is too thick as you will be building up several layers for the doll…after all, this is a bookmark
  • White/off white card stock (for neck and face)
  • Black tissue or crepe paper (for hair)
  • Kraft or neutral shade cardstock – I used upcycled file dividers (for bookmark base)
  • Narrow satin ribbon (bookmark tie)
  • Tiny artificial flowers, beads or stamens (hair decoration)

Tools

  • Glue gun or glue stick
  • Scissors and cutting knife. Guillotine also useful if available
  • Pencil
  • Hole punch
  • Cutting board
  • Ruler
  • Rubber stamps and inks OR watercolours & brushes or kitchen sponge OR coloured felt tips (to decorate bookmark base)
  • Red & black felt tips or similar (facial features)

Instructions

Doll pattern pieces (see IMAGE 3):

  1. Neck in white card approx.5 cms x 0,50 cms.
  2. Collar/neckband in pattern/colour approx.2 cms x 4 cms
  3. Kimono in pattern/colour 9 cms x 6 cms
  4. Belt (aka obi) in pattern/colour 6 cms x 3 cms
  5. Coat in pattern/colour 8 cms x 4 cms
  6. Hair in black approx. 5 cms x 5 cms
  7. Face oval in white card approx.1,50 cms x 2 cms.

You will notice that I suggest pattern or colour for some parts. This is all a question of taste according to the paper you have. It is quite nice to contrast the neckband with the kimono – the kimono with the belt – the kimono with the coat etc. After you have done the first one you will see what I mean.

If you are making more than one bookmark, don’t be a slave to the measurements. Cut out the first one correctly…and maybe do a template with some stiffer card – but you will see how things fit together and can snip away if there is any overlapping that you don’t like. My only suggestion would be not to alter the long side of the kimono to make it shorter. If anything, you might find it looks nicer a little longer. The same goes for the white neck…just make it shorter if you need to.

Let's start with the neck and body - use images 6 to 19 in the gallery as a guide. Don't forget to use a dab of glue at each stage to fix the parts firmly.
1.Fold neckband in half and stick at about 1cm down the neck piece, folded side towards top (Image 7)
2.Fold inwards the 2 extremes of the neckband to cross over one another (Image 8)
3.On the non-patterned side of the kimono, fold about 1 cm down across the short edge (Image 9)
4.Turn kimono over and with the patterned side facing you, fold down about half a centimetre along the short edge (Image 10)
5.Stick the neck with neckband at the centre top of the inside of the kimono piece (Image 11)
6.Fold inwards down the length of the kimono. Glue only the lower half (Image 12)
7.Fold back slightly the collar area of the kimono to partially reveal the neckband underneath (Image 12)
8.Repeat on the other side of the kimono (Image 13)
9.Fold inwards on the non-patterned side the 2 long edges of the belt so that they just meet in the centre (Image 14)
10.Stick the belt (folded edges inwards) on the front of the kimono so that the top part
just holds down the kimono collar (Image 15)
11.Glue the 2 ends of the belt to the back of the figure
12.Fold about 1 cm on the long edge of the non-patterned side of the coat (Image 16)
13.Take the coat and fold in about half a centimetre along the long edge of the patterned (right) side (Image 17)
14.Glue the coat, centre back to the wrong side of the doll figure (Image 18)
15.Here you can see more or less how your figure should be (as seen from the front) at this stage (Image 19)

Now for the head - use images 20 - 24 in the gallery as a guide. Don't forget to use a dab of glue at each stage to fix the parts firmly.
1.Fold both sides of hair inwards at a slight angle so that you form a squared off triangle, narrower at the top and wider at the bottom(Image 20)
2.Fold inwards about 1 cm on the narrower part of the triangle. Check to see that the head fits and the folded over section of hair covers approximately half of the face to act as a fringe. Use just a small spot of glue in the crease between the fringe and the back of the hair to fix the top of the head (Image 21)
3.Check to see that the neck is not too long to fit snugly under the face with just the clothing neckband on view. If it is too long, snip off a little and then glue the neck to the back of the face making sure that the hair does not get caught up with the glue(Image 21)
4.Your figure should now look similar to this image (Image 22)
5.Twist the stamen ends together leaving a flat open area at the bottom. If you are using a glue gun, you can add a blob of glue. If you are using a glue stick, it might be an idea to put a little piece of sellotape around the end to create a larger surface for the glue (Image 23)
6.Glue the stamens to the back of the hair checking that they are positiioned nicely. If you are using small flowers or beads, stick them to the front of the hair as a decoration (Image 24)
7.Please note that you have still NOT added facial features. We will do this at the very end

Last but not least, the background card - use images 25 -- 31 in the gallery below as a guide
1.Cut card to size, each approximately 20 cms x 5,50 cms(Image 25)
2.Mottle background using either rubber stamps or a kitchen sponge with almost dry paint cover in a colour similar to the background. You can of course use felt tips as a substitute. Just remember that you only want a very delicate, almost invisible effect. (Image 26)
3.Check the position of the figure and how much space remains above(Image 27)
4.Add a floral image with a rubber stamp (or hand painted/drawn) in a stronger colour in the space which remains above the figure (Image 28)
5."Distress" the edges of the card, either by rubbing lightly with a stamp pad or by flicking an almost dry sponge or by drawing the edge of a felt tip pen as described in point 2 (Image 29)
6.Punch a hole for the ribbon in the top of the card. I find it useful to remove the bottom cover of my double punch and use it the wrong way up which makes it easier to position the single hole centrally on the card (Image 30)
7.Glue the figure securely to the card base (Image 31)
8.Now you can add the ribbon and facial features to complete the bookmark (Image 32)
So there you go...hope you have fun making these!


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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