A few months ago, I put together a little collection of children’s summer holiday crafts for Papercraft Inspirations magazine. The finished feature is in the current issue (on sale until Sunday), and covers a total of ten projects, including paper fortune tellers a Harry Potter-inspired train and a chess board with edible playing pieces. As a fun bonus to go along with the feature, I thought I’d share a more detailed how-to for one of the projects, plus a couple of free downloads.
The rosettes above are actually part of a larger project idea – holding your own back-garden Olympics (the sillier the events, the better) – but as a basic premise, can be used for all sorts of different things. The one featured in the step-by-step is a birthday rosette, a handmade alternative to the bog-standard and not especially pretty ‘I am 8/9/10/30ish’ age badge, but the idea could also be adapted to work as a decorative detail on a card or scrapbooking page.
So, to make your own, start off by cutting three 10x25cm strips of gift wrap or similar lightweight patterned paper. Accordion-fold each one lengthways, making the folds roughly 1cm high.
Hold your first folded strip together, with all the folds in place, then fold it firmly in half widthways.
Cut and layer circles of patterned paper to make a centre for the rosette. I used a mixture of stamps and alphabet stickers to decorate the first two, spelling out ‘1st' and ‘2nd’, and then a simple circular ‘celebrate’ sticker for the birthday rosette. You could also try chipboard initials, rub-ons, a hand-lettered or printed sentiment or even a photo, depending on how you’re planning to use the finished project. Whatever you choose, stick the circular centre on top of your folded rosette.
For some reason, the finished rosettes remind me of village fetes, as worn by the winner of the egg and spoon race, or pressed onto the best-in-show Victoria sponge. They definitely feel very summery, either way, and I’ve got a feeling these won’t be the last I make before the season’s out.
OK, I also mentioned free downloads, didn’t I? These are for a slightly different kind of project – party invitations. To make sure no-one's left out, there are girl and boy versions, with both in three dimensions, rather than flat old two.
First up, for girls, these matchbox-bed sleepover invitations are super-simple to make. The outside is a larger-sized matchbox, with a small one inside as a pillow. All you need to add are some scraps of patterned paper to decorate, and then download, print and cut-out Miss Sleepy Invitation. Her head rests on the pillow, and she’s all tucked up under a clean white sheet which very handily has space for you to fill out the party details on top.
I love the idea of message-in-a-bottle notes and invitations. This one was made from a small acrylic bottle (the kind you can buy in chemist shops for taking your toiletries on holiday), with a strip of self-adhesive cork wrapped around the open top. I cut a skull and crossbones from a plain white sticker to decorate the front, then sprinkled a few bits of sand inside for added sea-faring atmosphere. The downloadable bit, though, is the invitation itself.
To age up your paper, place in a shallow tray and pour a cup of strong tea on top. Allow the paper to soak for a few minutes, and then lift it out. Sprinkle on some coffee granules to make dark spots. While the paper’s still wet, gently scrunch it up to make crease marks, and then flatten out again, before setting aside to dry. For a brilliantly blackened and singed finish, light a candle and hold one edge of your paper just above the flame. Move it along slowly, blowing out any flames if it catches alight rather than just scorching. (It’s a good idea to do this either outside or over the sink to be safe.)
Finally, to print the invitation onto your ancient (ok, older than it was when you started . . . ) parchment, fix to a sheet of regular copier paper with masking tape or temporary spray-adhesive and run through your printer, as usual.
And because it’s impossible to talk about pirates without talking like them, that be your lot for today, mateys. Some summery fun, I think, and hopefully a little inspiration, whether you’re celebrating a win, a birthday or just a happy weekend.
Tomorrow? A summery tutorial and two fun downloads.
Unless you’re reading this south of the equator, I’m guessing cosy scarves probably aren’t at the top of your wardrobe agenda just now. And while I fully respect your slightly sweaty feelings, I’m pressing ahead with some scarf-based showing off all the same. Remember how over-excited (read: obsessed) I got when I learned to crochet last year? Well, say hello to my first finished project. Made from granny squares in shades of green, grey and off-white, this was my Grandma’s Christmas present. OK, I didn’t finish it until the end of January, but if we work on the mathematical principal that hours spent + effort x learning a brand new skill = love, then it was hopefully worth the wait. There’s something very pleasing about seeing a whole scarf grow from your hook, as opposed to a little stack of squares, especially when it’s a scarf made from soft and oh-so pretty silver-grey bamboo yarn. The second scarf, in all its silvery softness, was also packaged up and sent to someone special, but – come the first sign of an autumn nip in the air – I’m pretty sure something similar will be working its way from the yarn basket to the wardrobe, by way of my own chilly neck. x
At around the same time, I fell in love with a very different crocheted scarf I spotted on Flickr. A little bit of research found me the pattern (it’s called Queen Anne’s Lace) and, buoyed by my growing granny-square confidence, I gave it a shot. I honestly didn’t think for one minute I’d be able to make it work, not least because I’d never followed a written pattern before. Somehow, though, it came together and ended up being even more satisfying than the granny squares.
Unless you’re reading this south of the equator, I’m guessing cosy scarves probably aren’t at the top of your wardrobe agenda just now. And while I fully respect your slightly sweaty feelings, I’m pressing ahead with some scarf-based showing off all the same.
Remember how over-excited (read: obsessed) I got when I learned to crochet last year? Well, say hello to my first finished project.
Made from granny squares in shades of green, grey and off-white, this was my Grandma’s Christmas present. OK, I didn’t finish it until the end of January, but if we work on the mathematical principal that hours spent + effort x learning a brand new skill = love, then it was hopefully worth the wait.
There’s something very pleasing about seeing a whole scarf grow from your hook, as opposed to a little stack of squares, especially when it’s a scarf made from soft and oh-so pretty silver-grey bamboo yarn.
The second scarf, in all its silvery softness, was also packaged up and sent to someone special, but – come the first sign of an autumn nip in the air – I’m pretty sure something similar will be working its way from the yarn basket to the wardrobe, by way of my own chilly neck.
When you’re a maker of things, there’s a certain pressure on birthdays, Christmas and other high-holidays to DIY. I’m pretty certain the pressure for most of us doesn’t come from the recipients – my family, at least, are just as happy to prop a store-bought card on the mantelpiece as they are to receive one I’ve slaved over for hours - but I always feel a little like I’ve let them down if it’s not handmade. Silly, I know, but I’m guessing it’s not just me.
So, I thought I’d share a really simple idea that appeased a little of the guilt when my nephew celebrated his fifth birthday earlier in the year. I was well and truly stuck for handmade ideas (unlike the year before) and a little short on time, but nothing in the shops felt quite special enough. By way of a compromise, I ended up buying a simple but fun card:
. . . and then pimping it out when I got home.
Whether or not it’s an improvement on the original card is a matter of taste, but I prefer it, and the end result feels much more personal – it’s one-of-a-kind, specially from me for my (joint) favourite little boy. And when he’s a boy this adorable, you’ve got to agree special is the order of the day.
It’s very much been a month of two halves here – making things and writing outdoors (hurrah for sunshine and pretty gardens), then heading back indoors to edit photos and do computery stuff. It would be nice to think there’s an ingenious-but-pale scientist somewhere out there, busily inventing a way to make laptops more sunshine-compatible, but until then, please go right ahead and enjoy my hard work, while I slap on another layer of tinted moisturiser so my vampire skin doesn’t frighten small children.
The grocery bag above, decorated with Little Miss Radish-me, and the windmill picture below were both projects from our weekend-long blog party over at The Copy+Paste Project back in May. (Lots more goodness to catch up with there if you didn't see it at the time.)
Also in May, a certain someone turned . . . well, let's just say a few years older than his pretty face might suggest. In an effort to decorate with something frugal but fabulous, I took my scissors to a piece of gift-wrap and created the banner below. You could very easily do the same by printing off alphabet letters in a selection of fancy fonts and colours, cutting around them, and folding the top edges over a length of string or ribbon.
And then, lastly for now, a little rabbit. It's a finger puppet, but I'm not going to say much more, as plans are afoot involving a few more of them. I do like those round pink cheeks, though.
For my birthday earlier this year, the incredible Mr P bought me this equally-incredible vintage camera.
It’s a Kodak Duaflex II, and I adore it a little more than is possibly sensible. While vintage cameras make for beautiful objects to display, what I especially like about this one is that I can use it, too.
If you haven’t come across TTV photography before, it’s well worth checking out this Flickr group, or searching ‘TTV’ on Etsy for some truly beautiful images. The general concept is that you use your modern-day, bells-and-whistles DSLR to take photographs through the viewfinder (hence TTV) of the simpler vintage camera. The noise and scratches, along with the rounded corners and slightly faded quality of most images are all part of what makes them special, and a little different from camera to camera.
If you have seen TTV images before, but think they’re too complicated and technical for anyone but a professional to create, it might be time to think again. The images below were taken on a sunny day in my back garden with nothing but the two cameras lined up, one above the other, by a very average happy-snapper (that’ll be me).
A few weeks after taking those first shots, I had some extra time while I was away visiting my family on holiday in Cornwall. While everyone was getting ready one morning, I folded a single sheet of black A4 card into a tube-like accessory for my cameras. There might be a proper name for it, and there’s doubtlessly a better way of doing it, but mine was shaped like a long, four-sided cylinder, open at the bottom to slip over the Duaflex camera, and at the top for the lens of my DSLR to look through. I took it out into the garden and, although it was a little tricky to balance, I think the effort paid off.
One of the things I hadn’t realised until I properly investigated TTV, was that you need a macro lens to get any kind of sensible images. To begin with, I was disheartened – even secondhand, the cheapest Canon macro lens we could find was around £200. Rarely discouraged, though, Mr P did a little more searching and found a much less expensive option in a set of filters which fit onto the end of my kit lens. For me, and my admittedly non-professional purposes, they’ve been fantastic – adding an extra option to my existing lenses, and letting me play with TTV, as well as a few bits of more general macro photography. Things like the blossoms on our (very small) apple tree.
Officially, I don’t know how much the Duaflex cost (it was a present, which adds a big chunk of sentimental value to the actual cost), but you can pick them up on eBay for a pretty reasonable amount, and probably less if you spot one in a junk shop or flea market. Either way, if you’ve ever been tempted by TTV and find yourself in a position to snap one up, I’d say go for it. They’re beautiful, practical and a fun addition to your regular photo-taking options.
And if you already have one, well you know how nosy I am. Point me towards your favourite shots, and I’ll be there to check them out faster than you can say ‘cheese’.
So, as I’ve been writing up posts for this week (planning ahead – let’s hope such giddy organisation can go the distance), it’s become clear that much of the new content is owed to projects previously posted on Copy+Paste. Is it wrong to be inspired by your own inspiration blog? Very probably, but as today it involves a cute pattern and mini-tutorial, you’ll hopefully forgive me.
You can find the original post about my night-owl sleep-mask here or, if you want to create one yourself, download and follow the tutorial. By cutting out the centre part of each eye, you could also use the template to make a fun party-mask, rather than one for sleeping in - something a little like one of these.
For more tutorials, and just in case you haven’t investigated the shiny new buttons over to your left, you might want to take a look around The Makerie – a little collection of how-tos, downloads and other make-it-yourself projects. And if you’re viewing this in a feed-reader, it’s probably worth mentioning there’s quite a bit of the new stuff going on over here – you’re very welcome to click through and have a look around.x
I'll thank you kindly to keep your mitts off mine (unless you're handsome and offering to carry my shopping), but you can score one of your own, either in her Etsy shop, The Green Gables, or from Not On The High Street. Lots more prettiness on her blog, too, from handmade to vintage, eco to edible.
Maker friends are the best, don't you think?