Sunday, 18 November 2012

Decoden Followup

It's been two weeks since my first batch of decoden projects, so here's an update on how they've fared so far.

I've noticed that the durability of a deco project depends on a lot of factors: the type of surface to be decoed; whether it's curved or flat; the material the surface and gems are made out of; the size of gems used; the type of glue used; whether the item is going to be handled a lot.

All of my deco jobs were successful except one. I'm very happy with the lip gloss lid and the pen. Whenever I use my pen at work, it makes me happy! In fact, I want to add more to the next one and have a real "decoPEN"! The lip gloss lid also worked extremely well. Even though I grip the lid and handle it every day, the gems have stayed as stuck as anything.

The unsuccessful deco was on the BB Cream tube lid. This was the one I decided to do at the last minute. The bow charm was wobbly right from the start and came off after a couple of days. I know what went wrong, though. Even though the surface of the lid is only slightly curved (not like the domed lid of the lip gloss), the bow is much larger than the tiny rhinestone gems, so most of its surface area was not firmly attached to the lid. Also, I think the back of the bow is made of a different material to the other gems; that could have had something to do with it.

A few of the tutorials I've seen advised using two-part epoxy glue (araldite), so next time I'm at the hardware shop, I'll get some and see how it goes.

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Postcard Mania!

Last week, I was thinking about things. Lately I've been wanting to reach out to people more, and find people with similar hobbies to me. The problem is that I'm very shy. The internet has been both a blessing and a curse. I've seen and heard about so many amazing people, but been too shy to start a dialogue with them. It can be overwhelming and I become filled with doubts. I was thinking back to when I was a kid and I had penpals. I enjoyed it so much - sending and receiving letters, reading about other kids' lives, the stationery and the stickers and the stamps! They all petered out though, and for a long time I was closed off. Still, every now and then I thought fondly back to that time, but I just assumed that the art and hobby of letter-writing was dead.

About 6 months ago, I heard about the Letter Writers' Alliance from the Craftypod Podcast. The Alliance was formed to revive and promote contact through all forms of letter-writing. I was very excited and joined up straight away! I got my membership card and badge in the mail, and spent some time perusing the members-only section of the website. The cool retro stationery and the mail art, wow! But when it came to sending away for an actual penpal, I hesitated. The matching process didn't seem to be very detailed - you only had to supply your age and gender. I was worried that all sorts of things could go wrong. What if I didn't get along with my penpal? What if I couldn't think of anything to put and my letters were boring, or worse, short? (When I was a kid, short letters were the pits!) And worst of all - what if I got quickly bored with it as I have with so many other hobbies and projects in the past? (I have over 30 unfinished projects of all kinds, you know!) That would be really unfair on the other person and I would feel terrible. So I put the whole thing on the backburner.

Then last weekend, I was suddenly struck with sadness that I never use my fountain pens and other cool pens anymore. This must have coincided with one of those rare moods where I feel like reaching out to people, because I was suddenly struck with an urge to find myself a penpal! I looked up the Letter Writers' Alliance again which got me all excited again, but was still concerned about the lack of detailed matching information. After a bit of judicious googling, I found a couple of penpal-matching sites that didn't look too dodgy. Even still, all my fears about being a bad penpal remained. I'm just not ready to commit to that yet.

To cut a long and rambling story short, I joined Post Crossing! It's a site that co-ordinates members to send and receive postcards. It has hundreds and thousands of members from all over the world, and has lots of satisfying stats on no. of postcards sent/received, which countries, no. of kilometres travelled, etc.

I realised that postcards are perfect for me right now because: there's a limited amount of space on them so you don't have the pressure of having to write a lot; they come with pretty pictures that you can collect so there's motivation to keep sending more; you send/receive to different people each time, so you don't have the awkwardness of being 'stuck' with someone you may not get along with.

Initially, you can apply to send up to 5 postcards. ('Apply' makes it sound hard, but you just need to click the 'Send a Postcard' button!) I decided to send only 3, because the postage was a bit more than I thought it would be. You're then given an address and card ID number. I had to rush out and buy postcards and stamps at lunch time the next day so my buddies would get their postcards ASAP!

You send the card to the person, and when they receive it, they register the ID number. For every card received, you're put on the list to be sent a postcard. Once my cards are received and registered by the three recipients, then I'll be eligible to receive 3 postcards myself! I can't wait!

In the meantime I'll probably just peruse some of the letter-writing/mail art blogs I found when I was searching. I already have waaaaay too many blogs on my reader, but I just can't help myself!

All images from Pinterest.

Sunday, 4 November 2012

3 Days of Craft :: Semi-Festive Edition

I'm happy to say that I have my craft mojo back good and proper! So much that I decided to declare another 3 Days of Craft! True, the 3 days aren't consecutive (the public holiday falling this-coming Tuesday), and I have plans to do other things as well, but I'm not letting that stop me!

Technically I didn't make this first item during 3 Days of Craft, I made it earlier in the week, but I'm sharing it anyway. It's Husband's birthday cake!

It's not actually a cake, it's the Chocolate Peanut Butter Brownies from an older issue of SBS Feast Magazine. The fudgy chocolate brownie mix is given a heavy dose of peanut butter sauce, swirled through it before baking. It's supposed to be served with more peanut butter sauce, melted chocolate and ice cream, but I just made a chocolate icing and decorated it with store-bought white fudge writing icing and mini chocolate eggs. He loved it!

Now to 3 Days of Craft proper. Unfortunately there was a bit of a hiccup on Day 1 (yesterday). I decided I wanted to make a Christmas project (possibly a pair of advent calendars), so I just quickly hopped on to Pinterest to get some ideas. I ended up spending all day on there.


It did help me narrow down my options and be more realistic, though. To make a really nice pair of advent calendars is going to take time and money. Even the more budget ones involved supplies that I don't have. (How would I get hold of 48 matchboxes??) I think we'll just buy a couple of kiddie ones this year, and I'll start earlier with making some really nice ones next year. Having pinned pictures of hundreds of festive craft projects, I decided to start with something quite simple - a Christmas garland!

I crocheted a chain using some red acrylic yarn leftover from another project. I held it together with a strand of sparkly silver yarn that I saw when I was re-organising my projects. I hung it up in front of the lounge room window. Then, using photos from Pinterest as a reference, I cut out some circles of paper and cut them into snowflakes. I'm a bit ashamed to say, but copying designs from the internet makes prettier snowflakes than ones I've made in the past.

Then all I did was staple them onto the garland! I have only done 5 snowflakes so far, and the garland is less than half full. But I figure: it's not even December yet, so I have some time to finish it!

Then, I was inspired to start doing decoden! If you read my last post concerning the nature of decoden, you may have wondered, when is it going to actually happen? Well I declare it happened today! But it's still just baby steps so far. Here's my decoden setup:

I happened to have a cute tin from Ikea lying around, so I'm using that to keep all the supplies in. So cute! I used an old envelope to work on and squeeze the glue onto. A plate to put the gems on. As for the chopsticks, I'd read that you should have a thing called a Magic Picker to pick up the gems with, but Violet le Beaux said that a skewer or chopstick with a blob of blutac on the end works just as well. And it does! I used the other chopstick to dab glue onto the projects.

I have to say - those gems are darned tiny!!

But the 'Magic Picker' really makes it so easy! yay! I decoed my lip gloss (inspired by the photo of the decoed lip gloss tube, which I showed in my last post), a pen, and popped a couple of gems on the ends of 2 of my crochet hooks. I had a bit of glue left over, so I went rushing into my room in a tizzy to find something else to deco. I grabbed my BB Cream and glued a little bow to it. So fun!

Maybe a cheap disposable pen is a strange thing to deco? But it's only a few gems, and every time at work when I look at it, it'll remind me that I'm more than just a public servant salary-man drone. Here's a juicy close-up:

Other things I've been working on lately:
✔ As I mentioned above, I re-organised my craft projects. I put some wintery ones from the lounge back into the hobby room, and brought out some that I do want to work on so they're handier to get to. Yesterday when I was on my Pinterest bender, I also created some more specific pinboards for different crafts, so instead of spending hours trawling through stuff, I can go straight to what I'm looking for in future and hopefully spend less time on the internet. (I'd like to think that time spent wasn't all in vain!)
✔ The Rainbow Afghan. I've finished all 14 sections now, and I'm just waiting for the black edging wool to arrive from Bendigo Woollen Mills to finish it off.
✔ I've been working quite a lot on the Babbi Blanket. I'm on the 2nd-last square (out of 20), but I realised today that I don't have enough edging yarn left to finish it off (I've been using it for the Squares Blanket as well). So I had to place another order with Bendigo Woollen Mills! Oh dear! ツ
✔ I've decided on a new zombie afghan project and I have both the wool and the pattern all ready to go. BUT - I've vowed not to start it until I've finished BOTH of the above projects. I promise!

Happy crafting!

I found a parcel on my doorstep soon after writing this post - it was my wool! So happy! I can finish off my Rainbow Afghan now!