The Art of Paper Beads

 

How to get this...

Paper Beads

From this...

Paper Beads

...from this.

Paper beading is probably one of the least expensive crafts to get into. It is also probably the most addictive. When I talk to people about 'paper beads', they often look at me as if I am mad. However, when I show them the beads, the usual response is, wow, you made them from paper?

The other thing about making paper beads is they way it makes you fall in love with junk mail and helps you stop hitting the postman for trying to put rubbish through your front door. Gone are the days when I would fling the front door open and shower the postie with all the junk he just put through my letter box.

Making paper beads also  gave me a whole new perspective on the racks of seemingly useless leaflets and free magazines in supermarkets. I used to walk past them muttering about wasted trees like a grumpy old hippy. But now, I hover around the customer services desks trying not to look as if I am about to pinch their entire supply of the current in-house magazines.

Recently, I became so absorbed in feeling all the leaflets in the racks by customer services that at first, I didn't notice a security guard staring at me. I must have looked very odd standing there rubbing leaflets between my fingers as I checked the paper quality and thickness.

The thing is though, you can't really get into trouble for taking something that is free can you? I think the security guard was more bewildered than suspicious. He's probably never seen anyone spend so much time touching leaflets for over 50s health insurance and flu jabs. I expect most people read them rather than feel them.

Paper beads have turned me into a paper junkie. I have begun to raid the recycling bins of my friends and family and beg them for the newspaper color supplements that most people moan about as they fall out of the newspaper by the ton. Not me - I can't get enough now that I want to turn them into jewellery.

Paper Beads

A Few of my Treasured Pieces

Paper Beads Will Make You Love Junk Mail!

Once word got round in my family that I wanted everyone's junk mail, I got so much of it that I had to dedicate a corner of my studio/workshop to storing it. I think I now have more color supplements than most newsagents. I probably don't have enough productive years of life left to use it all but at least it will give my kids something to do when I pop my clogs. I can hear them now at my funeral after-party saying, come on, I suppose we'd better go and hire a 10 ton truck to shift mother's 'craft supplies'.

But what is so brilliant about paper beads? Well, I think it's the fact that you can take a mundane sheet of A4 paper and turn it into a very pretty bracelet. And, you don't need to be a crafting expert to produce some really beautiful pieces. With a little practice and some imagination, you can make some really cool stuff very quickly.

When I first got into making paper beads, I was amazed at how quickly they mounted up. Before long, I had thousands of them. And my anger at the postman for dumping rubbish through my door changed to gratitude for the lovely free craft resources he was bringing me.

It made me smile to think that a national pizza chain was spending good money on full colour printing to supply me with free paper beading material. Every time another full color flyer, magazine or leaflet drops onto my mat, I feel love for marketing departments all over the UK as they keep me supplied with lovely paper.

When I first got into making paper beads, I found the process quite drawn out. There was lots of measuring and drawing lines. Each bead is made from a strip of paper. The shape, length and thickness of the strip is what determines the size and shape of the bead. So I began using templates which is so much quicker - but more about that later on.

Although I love using junk mail and scrap paper to make my beads, I also love using my own paintings to create wearable art.

Paper Beads

Beautiful Colors and Textures From Your Own Paintings

For this article, I used the brown paper fabric I created in my last blog post - you can find the link to that here. You can still recycle scrap paper doing this if you collect the right kind of paper. Just this morning, a parcel arrived from Amazon. It was a replacement liner for the cafetiere I managed to break two days after my husband got it for Christmas.

It was packed in yards and yards of the kind of brown paper that is perfect for turning into painted 'fabric' using the method outlined here last month. So I snaffled that straight away and will be turning it into thousands more paper beads.

Learn How to Make Your Own Paper Beads

If you want to learn more about the process of how I created the bracelet at the top of the page, watch out for my new website - www.funcraftstodoathome.com which is coming very soon. On there, you will find details of workshops I will be holding to help people learn how to make stunning beads, very cheaply. More about that when the site goes live! There will also be information about how to buy the new, very reasonably priced bead rolling tool I have just finished designing.

This tool will be the easiest bead rolling tool you have ever used. It takes the stress and fumble out of getting the beads off the roller - they come off easily every time! I designed it because I was fed up with both the cost of the good ones I found from the US and the problems of getting beads off the homemade bamboo rollers without wrecking them.

Just wait until you see my new tool! You will LOVE it.

For people who are already seasoned paper bead makers, you can buy the downloadable template I used to get rid of the hassle of measuring and cutting the strips by clicking here to go to etsy.co.uk. Using a template really does cut down on the boring, time consuming part of making paper beads. The downloadable templates in varying sizes are really simple to use and can be used as many times as you like once you have bought them.

Using the templates leaves you with more time to concentrate on the creative side of paper beads.

Even the template paper does not go to waste! Of course, in the process of using it as a guide for cutting your art paper up, you create just as many plain white strips of printer paper. And these strips are a valuable resource. In my next post, I will be showing you a very simple way to use the 'scrap' paper from the template to create an elegant piece of jewellery that is just as pretty as whatever you made from your art paper.

Have fun with your paper beads!

 

 

 Brown Paper Arty ‘Fabric’

Brown Paper

Amazing Art Creations From Brown Paper

 

Brown paper isn’t that inspiring, right? Wrong! It can be the really inexpensive foundation for your works of art, destined to become one-off journal covers.

Strong brown paper is weird stuff. When you screw it up and open it out over and over again, it goes like fabric. The fibre content seems to break down and it becomes more cloth-like than paper.

It is one of my favorite papers to work with because it is relatively cheap, compared to art papers; one roll will give you hours of creativity. It will also give you a pile of original, one-off designs that make fantastic journal or album covers.

You can even stitch brown paper after you have softened it by the method I use, so there are infinite uses for your works of art.

Get Creative With Brown Paper Today

There are various ways of coloring brown paper from pastels and permanent felt-tips to acrylic paint. I have experimented with many different ways of producing ‘fabric’ from paper, including using high-fibre content artists papers in different weights and textures (and prices!!!!). Now, I have a huge box full of my own designs that could never be repeated due to the randomness of the process and it is a massive advantage to me when I want to add something extra special to an album or journal I am making.

Although lots of different papers work really well, some even better than brown paper, I still prefer using it above other papers because it is cheaper for experimenting on in large quantities.

If you want to see my process, click over to my page on Instructables.com where you will find step by step instructions on how to make beautiful paper ‘fabric’. Click here http://www.instructables.com/id/Brown-Paper-Fabric-Art/

See how you can turn plain old brown paper like this:

Brown Paper

Plain Old Brown Paper

Into something dazzling – like this!

Brown Paper

Dazzling ‘fabric’ like Material From Brown paper

The tutorial on Instructables.com is a basic how-to guide but I will be updating here over the coming months to expand into other brown paper projects that you can try once you have some of you own designs finished.

So do check back now and then to see what you can do with your brown paper creations. Have fun and don’t worry about ‘mistakes’, – there are no such things when dabbling with arty crafty stuff – just new discoveries!

 

Egg box up-cycling is much more fun than dusting window sills and it is a great project to do with children from around seven years old upwards.

Egg box

Egg box transformed into a colorful and useful storage box.

With the Christmas school holidays looming , this is a great little project you can do with any creative children you have in the family. An empty egg box is also a great free material to use, thus saving you money on expensive manufactured craft resources.

It is also a great way for them to learn about making flimsy materials, such as cereal box cardboard, (also used in this egg box project), stronger by building up layers to create small objects out of it.

Fun with an egg box and a pile of comics

As you will know from my last blog-post, I have a ton of comics that I bought in a mad fit of auction bidding. You know the scene? You feel yourself raising your hand yet again while your brain is screaming at you to leave it in your pocket where it can’t spend your money on junk.

Egg box

So many comics – so little time

So anyway, I ended up with a box of comics that I am gradually sticking over anything that stays still long enough to get a coat of glue. It’s called decoupage. I also have another habit of collecting beads (in case the several thousand I already have run out) and so I came up with the idea of using an egg box as a bead storage container. It looks nicer than a plain old shop-bought plastic tray.

As I wasn’t that sure whether an egg box was going to be easy or quick to work with, I decided to use a six egg box. However, if I did this again, I would use a 12 or 24 egg box because I do have rather a lot of beads.

If you do this project with a child, it makes a great little home-made Christmas gift for anyone in their family who does beading or sewing. I chose to make a bead box but you could just as easily make this into a sewing box if you made up some small pincushions and stuck them in a couple of the compartments. A child could even make one of these for a male relative to keep nails, screws, washers etc in. Not that I am saying men don’t sew or bead of course…

Actually you could keep just about anything in this box and lets face it, if you get one of these from your granddaughter this Christmas, you are going to have to keep something in it aren’t you? Trust me, you will. Children never forget stuff they once made and proudly presented to you, as I found out when my grown-up son once asked me where the book- ends were that he made in wood-tech. Oh dear. I am sure they are in the loft somewhere though.

If you want to see the step by step instructions for how to make this little egg box bead holder click on this link to go to my Instructables page – http://www.instructables.com/id/Funky-Egg-Box-Bead-Storage/

Egg box

Functional knob and little feet to match – what more could you want?

I hope you have fun making one – if you do, be sure to post a picture of it on my Instructables page. I had fun making mine, I was peeling glue off my hands for days. However, I did find out that peeling transparent glue off your hands in public is a really good way to freak people out.

So go grab an egg box and go for it!

decoupage using comics

 

 Decoupage Using Comics

decoupage using comics

Keep Me Away From Auctions!

Decoupage using comics came to me as a flash of inspiration after I bought a box of old comics at auction. I have a terrible habit of buying stuff like that with only a vague idea of what I might do with them. After I had been tripping over the box in my studio for several weeks, I decided it was time to up-cycle, recycle or re-purpose them, whatever the current trendy name for saving the planet is.

decoupage using comics

Hours of Fun

So I decided to so some decoupage using comics. I was astounded that making four mirrors and several notebooks made no difference to the pile of comics and the planet still seems to be in trouble.

However, I did have fun and would recommend decoupage using comics as a way to get lost in crafts for a few hours. It does give your brain a break from worrying about whatever impending disasters await mankind according to World News.

Decoupage Using Comics is Easy and Inexpensive

It is really easy to do decoupage using comics. It is also inexpensive compared to other hobbies such as skiing which usually involves finding some snow in another country.

There is really no limit to what you can jazz up with bits of comic book pages. I have created notebooks from recycled paper, up-cycled comics and re-purposed cereal boxes – it made me feel like the Mother Teresa of unwanted things.

Those trees didn’t die in vain, I thought as my grandsons drew in their fully up-cycled Bart Simpson notebooks (with recycled paper of course).

decoupage using comics

Bart Simpson comic pages re-purposed

Seriously, hippydom to one side, decoupage using comics is a great way to do some craft projects on the cheap. You can use any printed matter really which means you don’t have to go out and spend cash on the prettied up, soulless expensive craft papers that everyone else is using. Your projects will look unique if you make use of any discarded, colorful printed matter.

You can create truly personalized presents for children using their favorite comic characters on mirrors or picture frames for their rooms. You can even adding their names if you feel really artistic.

Use Charity Shop Frames and Mirrors to Decoupage Using Comics

So far, I have decoupaged cheap picture frames that I have bought in charity shops for next to nothing and mirrors bought cheaply from places such as Wilkinson’s and The Range (in the UK) and sometimes, charity shops.

decoupage using comics

Minnie The Minx Mirror

I have done decoupage using comics on recycled cardboard from food packaging that I have strengthened and conditioned with a layer of decoupage glue first. I have then created notebooks for myself and the children in the family which I stitch with wax thread using the Coptic binding method.

Awesome Decoupaged Comic Shoes!

It wasn’t until I came across the mother of all decoupage with comics ideas on the Instructables website that I realized my projects, while charming in their own way, don’t have the edge of the decoupaged high-heeled Iron Man shoes made by Scooter76. This picture shows them in all their awesomeness.

decoupage using comics

Truly Original Shoes by Scooter76

I was very tempted to have a go myself but as I forgot how to walk in high heels round about 1987, I didn’t see the point (or want to balance on one). I did have a go a my son’s wedding a few years back as boots don’t go too well with dressy dresses. However, I fell off them during the official pictures.

Unfortunately high heels don’t seem to be like bicycles which apparently you can get straight back on and ride after a fall. So now I stick to boots with a two-inch cuban heel max and I find I can move at 200 miles an hour in them as opposed to laying immobile on the ground in high heels with my knickers on show.

Step By Step Instructions

Anyhow, back to Scooter76’s shoes. You could do this with practically any comic or magazine and a bit of practice. Click on here to go straight to his step-by-step guide on how to do it.

Going back to my own projects, you can find step-by-step instructions for the Bart Simpson note-book by clicking here and for  the comic mirror or picture frame here.

decoupage using comics

Minnie The Minx Picture Frame

If you want to try the Deco Mache glue that I use in my Instructables tutorial, you can get it here on Amazon.


Happy glueing! I would be interested to hear about the most unusual thing you have successfully decoupaged and please don’t say it was your mother-in-law because that is just cruel.

#MidLifeLuv Linky

The Apprentice is back on our screens and already I am in despair over the glaring discrepancy between the candidates’ ludicrous self-puffery and their actual abilities.

The Apprentice

My weekly dose of Sugar

If you want to see what the trend for over-praising children has done to the rising generations, watch The Apprentice closely and see what empty adults over-indulged children make.

And parents of tiny children take note, if you insist on telling little Oscar how clever he is every single time he does the most mundane things, he will grow up to be like the most annoying candidates on The Apprentice. I am talking about the ones who believe they can get by in life simply by banging on about how great they are at everything without actually being obviously great at anything outside their own world of experience.

The Apprentice is, in my opinion, one of the most entertaining but disturbing shows on TV today. Every year we see a bunch of youngsters bigging themselves up to bursting point. They all say the same stuff – “I’m passionate, I’m the best there is, I could sell ice to Eskimos, I’m like a young Lord Sugar” etc etc etc.

However, once the action starts, we see there is no real substance behind many of the bold claims and I really do blame the parents and teachers of what I call the “Wow! Well done!” generation.

I saw a lot of this kind of empty praise going on in schools when I worked with under-achieving children in mainstream education. The idea was to praise, praise, praise to break through low self-esteem barriers but it doesn’t work, it just creates young adults who think they don’t have to do much to get high praise. Then they discover the real world where actual results matter and empty claims get found out very quickly.

Encourage your child or pupil by all means. Be supportive but don’t throw praise around like cheap confetti. Save the ‘wow well dones’ for genuine achievements to help them learn the difference between mediocrity and excellence and to give them something to aspire to.

If your mother jumps up and down and says “good boy! Clever boy! Look Daddy, Oscar made a dot on the paper! Clever boy!”, then you aren’t going to develop your mark-making skills beyond the dot because the dot you did was obviously the best thing ever. That is where the self-delusion begins, unless you have sensible parents or teachers who save the really lavish praise for achievements of substance.

Quite how the producers of The Apprentice go about choosing the candidates I do not know, but I feel sure there must be an element of picking people for their potential entertainment value rather than any true hope that they could be Lord Sugar’s next business partner.

I mean, did anyone look at former PA Sarah Dales and seriously think for one minute that her child-like petulance and obsession with getting business through wearing shorts skirts and make-up would be a good match for Lord Sugar? Did anyone really think handing her £250,000 of his money would be a good idea?

Anyone with Victoria Beckham as a role model would have rung alarm bells for me. Not because I don’t like Victoria Beckham – I don’t know her, but because I don’t think that is an intelligent thing to say when you want to get into business with Lord Sugar.

There are so many female entrepreneurs that have got where they are today without pouting moodily from the pages of Hello magazine, that she could have picked someone more known for business balls than for tits and teeth or being a footballer’s wife.

It is hard to believe that whoever selects the candidates is not on the ball enough to pick up on people who are, in my opinion, whiny, spoilt and emotionally immature. I mean who has stand up petty arguments on the street, in front of potential customers? Who struts around saying “I’m the project manager” every two seconds instead of actually project managing? Great TV though.

If the producers also look for entertaining no-hopers to pad out the show as well as genuine potential business partners, then they have done a sterling job this year.

Otherwise, it would be scary to think that this lot genuinely are the best the UK has to offer in the year 2014 and I would dread to think what the rejects were like.

We are only into the third week of The Apprentice and already Nick Hewer and Karen Brady seem to be despairing of some candidates and their antics. Quite how Karen Brady kept her cool over Sarah Dale’s inappropriate instructions for her team to wear short skirts and make-up to get sales I’ll never know.

Nick Hewer’s disgust at candidate decisions and actions always comes across so well during filming without the need for words. He is a master of using his facial muscles to communicate his thoughts to the watching public and Karen seems to have the same talent. They both make great TV and although I hate the term ‘he doesn’t suffer fools gladly’, they certainly don’t and it is very entertaining.

Whilst they seem annoyed and bemused in equal measure by what some of the candidates do, there does also seem to be an underlying desire for them to do well at the tasks and their reactions sometimes seem as if they are genuinely frustrated that some people are not doing better.

There are a few promising candidates in The Apprentice this year though but sadly, one of the best left last night after realising she was totally out of her depth with the load of deluded wannabes she found herself with.

Swimming academy owner Lindsay Booth may be one of the most real and likeable candidates The Apprentice has ever seen. While perhaps not right for the cut-throat world of business at Lord Sugar’s level, I believe she showed herself to be an absolute gem amongst a load of pea shingle.

We hear a lot of talk from youngsters these day about ‘keepin’ it real’ while they are doing anything but – however, Lindsay did just that with an enormous amount of humility which showed her true worth as a grounded human being.

She seemed genuinely bemused at the embarrassing, erratic antics of her fellow candidates when they were trying to sell candles. I don’t think she was incapable of doing it – I just think she was knocked off centre by the noisy din of the empty vessels around her.

It seemed like the first time she had encountered such self-absorbed people with unrealistic ideas about their own talents. I am glad for her that she is out of the pool of sharks because I think she is better off in a pool with the children she teaches to swim. I hope her academy grows and grows – she deserves it.

But what of the rest? Roisin Hogan seems very capable at this point and is one who does not seem full of empty promises. She has poise and humility and is articulate, unlike many of the other candidates who seem to think fast repetition of a word shows managerial skills as in:

“guysguysguysguysguysguysguysguysguys”

or,

“woahwoahwoahwoahwoahwoahwoah” .

We used to do that in primary school to get the attention of the teacher when we knew the right answer as in:

“MissMissMissMissMissMiss!” It didn’t work then either.

Another irritating habit is this modern tendency of showing what an ‘emotionally intelligent’, ‘assertive’ person you are by saying “I’m talking now, be quiet. Will you let me finish?” over and over again while the other person talks over you. Or sometimes, “When I’m finished talking, you can have your turn. That’s called a conversation.” Really?

Oh how mature these people are. And they never seem to learn, you just don’t tell Lord Sugar how much like him you are, especially when you have also said how much like Del Boy you are. Those two comparisons do betray a certain level of confusion about successful men that isn’t likely to impress Lord Sugar.

And then there are the ‘Lord Lickers’ as I call them who utter Lord Sugar’s name every three words as if he is royalty. “Yes Lord Sugar. I really want this Lord Sugar. It won’t happen again Lord Sugar. Just give me a chance Lord Sugar. I’ll show you what I can do Lord Sugar.” Shut the f*@% up!!!! There is enough sugar there to make a bloody cake big enough to feed London for a week!

Don’t get me wrong, I think Lord Sugar is to be respected for the business man he is, but he doesn’t strike me as someone who likes backside lickers who bow and scrape to him while repeating his name every two seconds. It’s so uncomfortable to watch – he is just a successful businessman/celeb, he isn’t God. We are all equal in our humanity, which comes before race, financial status and breeding – so cut it out guys and have some self-respect!

Anyway, the more irritating the candidates on The Apprentice get, the better viewing it is. This looks as if it is shaping up to be one of the best yet and this year’s ‘You’re Fired!’ twist is making it compulsive viewing.

Thank you Lord Sugar. You’re great Lord Sugar. The Apprentice is the best Lord Sugar. Jesus! Much more sugar and we’ll all be sick!!!!! Actually, that is the only complaint I have about The Apprentice, all joking apart, there isn’t enough of Lord Sugar in it – his blunt witticisms and straight-talking are refreshing in this stupidly politically correct world.

Apart from that, I’m happy for the next few weeks as the firings continue…

Visit here for all the official BBC stuff about The Apprentice because this, as you will have guessed, is just the view of a viewer.

Pumpkin Cake

My Own Take On Pumpkin Cake

Pumpkin cake - what can I say? It's that time of year when the shops are full of pumpkins, many of which will have been carved into 'scary' faces and left on doorsteps with candles burning inside for Halloween.

But what happens to the flesh that people scrape out of the pumpkin shell?

And are pumpkins useful beyond Halloween?

Well of course they are. Pumpkins are a nutritious fall vegetable and should not be ignored after Halloween.

Are pumpkins useful beyond Halloween? Click To Tweet

Pumpkin Cake

The idea of Pumpkin Cake came to me as I stood in a UK supermarket staring at the enormous pile of pumpkins in front of me before Halloween.

I was marveling at the way big business has now brainwashed the UK into buying pumpkins as if Guy Fawkes night and Christmas don't give people enough to worry about.

When I was a kid in the UK, Halloween had not been turned into a money-spinning event and was still only a way of scaring kids into going to bed early on October 31st.

Am I alone in having believed Halloween was the night when witches, goblins and ghosts would come down the chimney and party round the hearth all night or were my parents especially cruel?

"Better get to sleep before dark!" they would say, "or the ghouls will get you'.

Pumpkin Cake

So that was it for Halloween in our house and, I suspect, in most UK homes at that time.

No sweets or dressing up for us. Just shaking in our beds 'til morning. Great! What fun! I'm not sure that anyone in the UK even knew about 'trick or treating' back then.

I certainly didn't hear about it until I emigrated to North America.

There were lots of US draft dodgers living in my apartment complex.

They had come up from the states many years earlier because of the call up during the Vietnam war and so Halloween was a massive event in our building.

People went to great lengths to create very spooky experiences for kids banging on doors looking for sweets from total strangers ( yup, everything our mother's told us not to do).

Over the years, I came to realise Canadians loved Halloween too and I couldn't help but get into it when my kids were young.

What a shock though when I came back to live in the UK after many years to find the Halloween machine had brought it's money-spinning 'traditions' here too.

As I stared at the massive pile of pumpkins, I wondered what UK people do with the flesh they scoop out when they carve them ready to place on doorsteps to welcome trick or treaters.

Do they use the flesh to make pies and soups they way Americans do? Or do they waste the lovely pumpkin goodness?

So there I was back in October, standing in the supermarket marveling at what a thorough job the marketing men and women have done in making us want to spend a fortune on pumpkins, fake gravestones, flashing skeletons and Dracula masks etc.

skulls-web

Well done guys. Baaaaa! Hey here's an idea, why don't the big stores just have a section (sound proofed and with its own door of course), for the sheep with lots of money to burn, where they can buy Halloween crap, fireworks and Christmas tat all at the same time.

Wouldn't that be great! You could listen to Band Aid, Bing Crosby and the Pogues while choosing your pumpkins, fireworks and Christmas trees.

In fact, you could put fireworks in the pumpkin shells instead of candles and maybe put a witches hat at the top of the Christmas tree instead of an angel.

All the money spinning 'seasons' are gradually blending into one and it would be great if we had a choice as to whether we were subjected to it all.

It all needs its own department store with a notice above that says 'Sheep This way - All Major Credit Cards Accepted'.

But that is a whole other blog post!

So anyway, where was I? Oh yes - Pumpkin Cake.

So what happens to the flesh people scoop out of pumpkins? I know Americans and Canadians make pumpkin pie and soup but I thought I would invent my own pumpkin cake. So yes, I did buy a pumpkin and I did make a cake.

My full recipe (which was trial and error) and the process can be found here at instructables.com I take no responsibility for the outcome. I never claimed to be Mary Berry or Martha Stewart.

Pumpkin Cake

There is no added sugar, fat, oil or wheat and the ingredients are all healthier than actual cake.

So if you love actual cake, I don't think my pumpkin cake will be for you. It came out a bit like bread pudding and I loved it so much, I made it again.

Yes, I bought TWO pumpkins this year and not a scary carved face in sight!

My pumpkin cake is, in my opinion, delicious and healthy and I have been eating it for breakfast. Pumpkin is, apparently, low in calories and rich in dietary fibre. It has no saturated fat or cholesterol but is high in antioxidants and Vitamin A.

For more info on the benefits of pumpkin, have a look at this Huffington Post feature.

My pumpkin cake is, IMO, delicious and healthy. I have been eating it for breakfast. Click To Tweet

I'm off to have my afternoon slice of pumpkin cake.

And by the way, making cakes is not classed as housework. It is close though because it is done in the kitchen. However, as the results of the activity have an enjoyment factor, I don't class it as housework.
Have fun making pumpkin cake and let me know how yours turn out.

Hello-Kitty-6x6-album

Hello Kitty is a very popular brand – not sure why but there you go, each to his or her own. The thing is, I was thinking about how to make my own 12″x12″ scrap booking paper that would be substantial enough to use to make a mini-album.

I find 12″x12″ papers can be quite expensive and in any case, I quite like having something different to work with. You can create loads of your own 12″x12″ sheets out of one roll of wallpaper if you have the time, patience and desire to do it. The ‘desire to do it’ is the key here – so if you don’t have that may I suggest you move on because without it you will just get annoyed when you get to the part where the double-sided tape gets a bit tricky to work with. Projects involving heavy-duty double-sided carpet tape take commitment, as anyone who has ever had an argument with it will know.

The Hello Kitty wallpaper was on sale at my local B&M store and as I know someone who absolutely LOVES Hello Kitty stuff, I bought a roll to cover the boards of a full size album cum scrap-book for her. That leaves me with a practically  whole roll of the paper which I am unlikely to put on my walls because I don’t have daughters who go ga ga over a pretend cat.

Hello Kitty

Hello Kitty wallpaper works really well for ‘off the wall’ projects

So this week, when I got to thinking about experimenting with making my own 12″x12″ scrap booking paper, I decided to try it with the Hello Kitty wallpaper I have sitting here doing nothing. I wanted to make a folding mini album for someone I was sending a few photographs to.

The paper turned out to be a good choice. Actually, any high quality wallpaper would be a good choice because when it is stuck together in two layers to make it double-sided, it becomes heavy-duty enough to act almost like card stock.

So here is my Hello Kitty mini-album which took about 45 minutes to make from start to finish, and that included measuring, cutting and sticking the wallpaper back to back to make the 12″x12″ scrap book paper. You may notice that the pictures are of little boys but as our family is devoid of girls, I had no choice – but you get the picture anyway. I just use glue dots to attach them. You could go fancy and use photo corners so you can take the pictures in and out.

 

Hello Kitty

 

To see the full tutorial on how to make the Hello Kitty mini album, go to: http://www.instructables.com/id/Hello-Kitty-Mini-Album/

Hello Kitty

If you arrange your pictures specifically to be the right way up when the album is standing up, you can also use it as a display stand on a shelf or window sill. Makes a nice alternative to a birthday card, with a few surprises inside.

Amazingly, when I made this 12×12 paper, I didn’t have one double-sided tape ‘incident’ so the whole thing was stress-free. Makes a change from the last album I made when I accidentally laid one sticky surface down on the beautiful front cover I had just completed and found out the hard way just how stubborn carpet tape is. Oh how I swore.

Back to the Hello Kitty wallpaper – for those of you who sell crafts at fairs and online, I think using themed, branded wallpaper or wrapping paper such as Hello Kitty or Superman or Spiderman or Frozen etc would get you out of copyright troubles if you wanted to make ‘branded’ albums to sell. My understanding is, if you are simply taking the product and using it as it is and not scanning it to make copies, you can make and sell as many as you want.

But hey, don’t take my word for that, I’m not a solicitor and if you go to prison for selling products made with Disney wallpaper just don’t mention my name in court. Do your homework first. I really don’t see how anyone can stop you buying a roll of branded wallpaper and using it for crafts to sell, if there is no scanning involved.

Or is there a Misuse of Wallpaper Act? Wouldn’t surprise me in today’s world.

I bought my paper at B&M but I did find some (more expensive than what I paid!) on Amazon. It is slightly different from the design I bought but maybe even better because the images are smaller. Anyway, here is the link:

 

Hand Made Albums – fast and furious!

Hand Made Albums

Hand Made Album using Andrew Martin International designer wallpaper

Hand made albums are very popular at craft fairs, especially around Christmas time. I have been making albums for several years now using my own hand-painted papers to make the covers but some were taking me days to make so I began to look for ways to create unique attractive hand made albums in a fraction of the time. I started experimenting with cheap wallpaper and my own handmade embellishments but found cheap wasn’t so great.

Then I discovered Andrew Martin International one day when I was wandering round John Lewis watching rich people buy very expensive pointless things.

Andrew Martin International produces some amazing and unusual designer wallpapers and whilst my budget would not stretch far beyond wood-chip paper for decorating (yes I know, ugh!), I could easily buy one roll to test out for classy looking hand made albums.

And my goodness, what a joy this paper is to use for crafting! I will never know if it is just as good to hang on walls, because I have made it my life’s work never to get involved with anything so complicated but, I would guess it is a decorator’s dream.

The picture you see here of what I call my ‘John Lennon’ hand made album was made using Andrew Martin’s Pinboard design. It is available here on www.andrewmartin.co.uk/pinboard-wallpaper.php

The images he has used to create this design are very retro and the way it is put together make it look almost 3D. I absolutely LOVE it!

I am not being paid to write this or to direct you to the company – I was just so pleased with the way this paper handled, I wanted to tell everyone – I can’t wait to get more of the other designs.

Hand Made Albums tutorial

If you are interested in learning how I made the cover boards for this album, click here to go to my tutorial on instructables.com

I haven’t done a tutorial to explain how I do the binding because it is explained so well in the YouTube tutorial where I learned how to do Coptic binding. My early hand made albums looked very pretty but they would never open right up and lay flat because of the way I bound them. You can find the tutorial here at Sea Lemon.

Using the Coptic binding method means that your albums will open up completely at any page and lay flat, ideal for sketch books or scrap books. So click here to go to that tutorial.

I hope you enjoy making some hand made albums – do share what you make and send me some pictures. You can easily make one in a couple of hours.

The cover boards I use tend to be recycled grey board that I buy from a local paper company who cut them to size. They also cut my pages to size, double the width I need so I can fold them and stack them in sets of four to make up the ‘folios’ needed for Coptic binding.

But I have also used cereal boxes for many of my albums and that works just fine too. Once the boards are covered, no one is bothered what your hand made albums are made of.

So click over to my instructables.com tutorial and get working on your hand made albums asap. They really do make great presents because they are all unique and you can make them as embellished or plain as you want.

Happy album making!

Bottle cap pendants are fun to make and will give you endless hours of creativity – a great alternative to housework.

 

Bottle cap Pendants

A Collection of Bottle Cap Pendants

 

Bottle Cap Pendants

Eye See You Key-rings

 

Before you rush out to buy a case of beer – I will just tell you, it isn’t advisable to make bottle cap pendants from the caps you get off drink bottles.

There are three main reasons why you shouldn’t use beer bottle caps to make bottle cap pendants:

• They are bent from being prized off the bottle
• They have a plastic lining which is hard to get off
• Jewellery made while drinking beer is usually not your best work – be honest, it’s not is it?

But that’s OK because you can get some nice shiny bottle caps with no nasty plastic lining by clicking on the resource links at the end of this article.

So – what will you need to make the kind of fun bottle cap pendants I have been creating instead of being a good housewife?

You will need:

• Some heavy rock music to help you forget about the dust you should be moving around.
• A supply of bottle caps – the colour is your choice.
• A supply of 1 inch round images (If you do not have any of your own – go to https://www.etsy.com/uk/listing/201707561/downloadable-images-for-scrapbooking? where you will find my downloadable designs at very low-cost).
• A 1 inch punch.
• Some double-sided sticky tape.
• A supply of 1 inch resin domes.
• A supply of 9mm split rings.
• A selection of small metal charms.
• A supply of silver/gold/black curb chains or leather thongs or 1mm black elastic.
• A small craft hammer.
• A rigid, clean cutting mat.
• A 1.8mm pair of hole punch pliers.
• A pair of split ring tweezers.

I will provide links below for most of the above items. The craft hammer and cutting mat I use are from the Dove crafting tool set listed in the resources below.

How to Make Bottle Cap Pendants

Bottle Cap Pendants – Step 1

Bottle Cap Pendants

Bottle Cap Pendants Step 1

Bottle Cap Pendants – Step 2

Take your bottle cap and use the 1.8mm punch pliers to make holes directly opposite each other. To make the first hole, turn the cap over so the fluted edge is pointing downwards and punch a tiny hole in one of the ‘dips’ in the fluted edge.

Bottle Cap Pendants

Punch Your Holes

Turn the bottle cap over so the fluted edge is pointing upwards and and count the ‘bumps’ in the fluted edge (see pic below) until you get to the tenth bump. Position your punching pliers in between bumps 10 and 11 and make another tiny hole. The two holes should be directly opposite each other.

 

Bottle Cap Pendants

Count the ‘bumps’ to align the holes

 

Bottle Cap Pendants – Step 3

This is where you flatten down the fluted edge of the cap. You will need to use a rigid, clean cutting mat for this part. You need a firm surface on which to hammer the edge down but it must not scratch the back of the bottle cap. Using your fingers to  hold down one side of the bottle cap, firmly tap away at the other edge while gradually turning it. The idea is turn the edge down to make it flatter.

 

Bottle Cap Pendants

Bottle Cap Pendants – Step 4

Cut a small piece of double sided sticky tape to fit inside the bottle cap and stick it in position.

 

Bottle Cap Pendants

Bottle Cap Pendants – Step 5

Choose an image from a sheet of 1 inch round images and use the 1inch punch to carefully cut it out. (Click here to buy my downloadable 1 inch images https://www.etsy.com/uk/listing/201707561/downloadable-images-for-scrapbooking? ) I always turn my punch upside down so I can line the circle up perfectly before cutting. I have also removed the little plastic cover from the bottom of my punch so I can see more easily.

Bottle Cap Pendants

 

Bottle Cap Pendants

 

Bottle Cap Pendants – Step 6

Hold your circle with the image facing upwards and peel a resin dome off the plastic sheet. Very carefully line up the dome with the edges of the image and press down firmly. It should be a perfect fit with no overlap. It does take practice but becomes easier with experience.

Bottle Cap Pendants

 

Bottle Cap Pendants – Step 7

Peel the backing paper off the sticky tape in the bottle cap. Making sure that the top of your image aligns with the top hole in the bottle cap, press the resin dome and image firmly into the bottle cap and smooth with your thumbs.

Bottle Cap Pendants – Step 8

Using your split ring pliers, open the split rings and fit them into the top and bottom holes in the bottle cap edge. You can use your thumb nail to open the rings but if you make lots of these, you will find the pliers are better.

Step 9

Attach a metal charm to the bottom split ring.

Bottle Cap Pendants

Bottle Cap Pendants – Step 10

Add a leather thong with lobster clasp or, a length of 1mm black elastic tied in a knot and there you have you first piece of bottle cap jewellery to wear, sell at craft fairs or give away as presents.

Bottle Cap Pendant

Please use the contact form to ask questions.

To obtain most of the resources I have used in this tutorial – follow these links:-

Loom bands – love them or hate them, at least they are keeping children busy during the school holidays!

 

Loom Bands

Loom Band charm ideas for you

 

And it isn’t just kids who are going Loom Band crazy, it’s mums too and even dads, Grandmas and Grandads. Everyone is getting in on the act! So this is my spin on making Loom Bands slightly more personalized and different to plain bracelets with plastic S or C clips holding them together. I’ve been adding metal to mine by using split rings and Tibetan Silver charms.

I have been using two, three or four split rings on most Loom Band bracelets  to get them to hang nicely. I prefer split rings to jump rings because they can’t come part and fall off. And I use silver, gold or black depending on the main colors in the bracelet or necklace I am making.

Loom Bands

Charming Loom Bands

As I sporadically make all kinds of jewellery, I have hundreds of metal charms stashed away in my craft collection – so I had loads to choose from to add to my Loom Band bracelets and necklaces. You can find some brilliant metal charms for your Loom Bands creations by following the links below.

And for some great ideas on how to turn a pile of Loom Bands into funky creations to color co-ordinate with your wardrobe, check out this fantastic new book by Kat Roberts and Tessa Sillars-Powell which is due out on August 20th 2014. It is a brilliant resource for everyone from beginner to more advanced and even has tips for how to  make Loom Band jewellery on the move. Or these other super books to help you be the envy of your friends.

Loom Bands

Black Heart and Angel Wing Designs

Using split rings to attach your charms is the key to success as it is difficult to get the bands through some of the charms and they hang much better from split rings. You can get a variety of split rings by clicking on the links below.

 

I mainly use 9 or 10mm rings in my projects but the size you order depends on what look you want and how big your charms are. For help adding your split rings and charms to your Loom Bands, I have found the split ring tweezers above are a huge help and save your nails!

 

Loom Bands

Use split rings to attach metal charms to Loom Bands

 

Loom Bands

Matching hearts on bracelet and necklace Loom Bands

Have fun with Loom Bands!