Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Tie-Waist Egg Cups

Fold-back petals or top-scallops.
Another free download today: Easter Egg Cups. How do you like your eggs? These are 3-minute egg cups! They are that easy to make!
Cut, fold, glue the tabs, tie the waist. Pop in the choc egg to give or display.

You need 30cm (12in) of ribbon for the waist tie. Tacky glue is recommended for gluing the tabs.

There are several styles to choose from: cut-away or solid. 

Here is your free download:

Stuff I used: the choc eggs are from M & S (Easter Egg Hunt-size), the doily is from Craftwork Cards (as is the stripey paper), and the coloured cardstock is American Crafts.

Saturday, 23 March 2013

Book Review: Paul Jackson's newest papercraft gem

Cut and Fold Techniques for Promotional Materials
By Paul Jackson
Laurence King Publishing
Paperback, £15.95
Published March 2013

Papercraft guru Paul Jackson is back with a new title to add to his indispensable collection of papercraft design references. This book is a collection of attention-grabbing presentation ideas - marvels of paper engineering - perfect for promotional materials and advertising. The ideas are either in the public domain or are the author's original designs. Many are appearing in print for the first time. You add your own graphics to suit your purpose.

Most of the designs are interactive - as the author states, "almost everything will open, close, collapse, turn inside out, change shape, or need assembling." There are designs that reveal hidden faces when manipulated, folded envelopes, modular solids, folded booklets, puzzles and illusions. A wonderful bag of tricks to delight and amaze.

A great thing about this book is that the author talks you through the paper engineering so that you understand the mechanism, enabling you to produce the design yourself. Lots of step-by-step diagrams, with colour where helpful. This is a much sounder idea than providing pattern templates sans explanation.

In the Intro, Paul Jackson makes the point that some of the designs don't look like much on the page - the magic comes when you make them up and the interactive element comes into play (sort of like a garment that looks ordinary on the hanger, but is fabulous when worn).
With this in mind, I have been sampling the projects in the book. The man speaks the truth.

Here are some of the projects to which I have added my own graphics:
This is a tetrahedron. The slotted pieces fit together in various configurations.
See - different sizes. You can also make elongated, rather than spherical shapes.
This is a "Desktop Trophy" - a Jackson Cube on a display base. (I'm thinking of making a "What shall we have for dinner?" cube.)
These are the components of the Desktop Trophy. The Jackson Cube is truly amazing- it interlocks solidly without any adhesive.
This is the Angled Envelope. I've made it up in a patchwork "cheater" print.
This is the Engineered Envelope.
The tab tucks neatly into the bottom flap of the envie.

Other projects that I can't wait to try include the Flexicube (with hidden faces) and the Spinning Spiral.

There are plenty of fascinating paper geek tidbits - like the special proportions of an A4 sheet of paper. Paul Jackson has made a career of his paper engineering expertise and he has retained his enthusiasm and sense of wonder. 

I did find a couple of the designs to be a little obvious - like the Windmill Base Manipulation (this is the origami "fortune teller" you surely made as a kid) and the Square CD Envelope. But it is better for these to be included than omitted - at least you will be reminded of them as design options.

You don't have to be a graphic design pro to benefit from this book. All the designs are accessible to the hobbyist papercrafter. The designs can be used as party favours, decorations, and gifts. Parents: this book would come in very handy during half-term.

Other marvelous Paul Jackson titles in this series include Folding Techniques for Designers (From Sheet to Form), and Structural Packaging (Design your own Boxes and 3-D Forms), also from Laurence King.

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Flower Power Mini-Baskets

These baskets make sweet party favours!

Two styles for the basket base: sides flush, or cut-away (for a peek-a-boo effect).

I'm on a basket binge. I got the idea for these mini-baskets when I made my previous project. I thought it would be a fun idea to make mini-baskets sized for individual eggs.
(The one-to-a-basket big choc eggs pictured are Marks and Spencer's Easter Egg Hunt choc eggs). 

These mini-baskets are really fun to make - and speedy to do. Once again, it's a free download:.
Here is your file: 

To make the baskets, you simply cut out and fold the basket base, glue the handle onto the inside of the basket (tacky glue recommended), and drop the basket base into the flower ring. Glue the petal tabs onto the top of the flower ring. Tie on the leaf name tag.
You're done!

Pic above shows the flower ring (left), and the folded basket base with handle attached.
All you have to do is insert the basket base in the flower ring. The flower ring holds the basket side panels in place. Tah dah! 

Construction tip: use a print-out of the basket template as a folding guide. Put your pattern piece on top of the printed pattern and mark the fold lines with a stylus held against a metal ruler. Then crease the folds (use a bone folder).

I've made these as Easter baskets, but they would make pretty party favours for many occasions.


Monday, 18 March 2013

Contrast-Trimmed Baskets

Big basket is cut from 12 x 12" cardstock, smaller basket fits A4.
Free download today - quick-make Easter baskets. Corner bows make for pretty, fast construction. The contrast trim makes the design pop.

Here is your download:

Here's a mini-tutorial, to guide you through the project:
1) The basket body has been cut out, the folds lightly scored and folded. The contrast trim is glued onto the top turnings. Two handles in contrasting colours have been cut out and glued together with edges aligned. The handle has been shaped while the glue is wet. Use tacky glue. The flower is an optional decoration.
2) To insert handle, fold the handle base tab into thirds, pass it through the basket slot onto the outside of the basket. Open out the handle base tab and glue it down onto the outside of the basket. The turning will conceal the tabs. Repeat for other side of handle.
3) Join adjacent basket corners with bows. For each bow, you need 30cm (12in) of 1cm (3/8in)-wide ribbon. Thread the ribbon through the holes with a tapestry needle. Trim the excess ribbon at an angle.
Liner and basket. Plop the liner in the basket like so:
The liner sits freely inside the basket.

3) To complete the basket, pop the liner inside. It provides contrast backing for the cut-outs. If you wish, you can add a decorative flower cut-out to the flower handle as a finishing touch. Now all you need to do is fill the basket with shredded tissue - and some delicious chocolate eggs!

For a super-speedy version of the basket, eliminate the cut-outs. If you make the basket out of double-sided paper, you will still get the contrast-trim effect!

Materials: American Crafts Cardstock, Paperchase shredded tissue.

Big thanks to Leah, who took the pics despite her deadline!

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Book Art: Review Special

Book Art Studio Handbook: Techniques and Methods for Binding Books, Creating Albums, Making Boxes and Enclosures, and More

By Stacie Dolin and Amy Lapidow

Quarry Books, 2013

£16.99, paperback

Playing with Books: The Art of Upcycling, Deconstructing, and Reimagining the Book

By Jason Thompson

Quarry Books, 2010

£16.99, paperback

Book art is having a moment. Perhaps the emergence of the e-book is making crafters appreciate and value physical books more (sometimes in kitsch and unusual ways). Book art can encompass both making books and making things with books. Deconstructing them, as it were.

The idea of books as craft materials used to make me flinch.  But it is true that unsold books are sent to be pulped. And library books are retired. And you just can’t keep everything. So I’m OK with chopping up books for craft purposes now – as long as the book is carefully selected for its expendability – and the end purpose is worthy.

With book art in mind, I am reviewing two craft titles. The first title, Book Art Studio Handbook, is about constructing books (as in bookbinding). The second, Playing with Books, is about using books as a craft material. The first book is just published. Playing with Books came out in 2010. (The companion volume to Playing with Books, Playing with Paper, has recently been published. It is reviewed here.)  Playing with Books has lots of craft book competitors now – it’s a hot topic – but it is one of the best on the subject. 

Book Art Studio Handbook is a primer that covers the fundamentals of hand bookbinding. It is not a title for the casual crafter – it is for the individual who seriously wishes to acquire a new skill. Bookbinding is a very meticulous craft. Spending time with this handbook offers a glimpse into the bookbinder’s world – I feel as if I have attended a weekend bookbinding retreat. 

The authors are both practising bookbinders. They generously share their knowledge including info on tools, terminology, techniques, and tips of the trade. All are covered here – in beautifully photographed step-by-step detail. There are suggestions for setting up a studio space; advice on how to choose materials and calculate paper quantities;  plus techie details on how to sew the textblock and glue the cover. There are also how-tos for making your own renewable tools, like a punching trough and a sewing template.

In addition to the practical bookbinding info, there are some lovely projects (grouped by difficulty), and an attractive gallery section.  In the project section, the Woven Album with clever and colourful Jacob’s Ladder-style binding, and the 5-minute Slipcase, a one-piece origami-style book enclosure stand out. Both have wow-factor.  The Gallery section features variations on featured projects – so it is aimed at extending the reader’s newly-acquired skills.

This is an American title, and the resource section only has U.S. listings. (In the UK, Shepherds Falkiners, 30 Gillingham Street, London SW1V 1HU, is a major bookbinding supplier.)

Playing with Books, as the title suggests, contains a collection of quirky and fun papercrafts made from books. (Here, too, the author is a bookbinder by profession.) All of the projects are doable (with the notable exception of the books shaped by power tools – and here the author provides handmade alternative versions). The projects are beautifully photographed – and have step-by-by step photos where deemed necessary.

There are plenty of really good ideas here. Things that you want to rush out and do – like the postcards from paperback covers, and the retro-style handbag actually made from a book. The child’s matching game is a great idea. It requires two identical picture books. One stays intact. The other is cut up into picture discs, which can be matched to the original.

The author gives instructions for making shaped books. You’ve probably seen these – they are very popular. The book cover is removed, the pages are contour-cut, and the book is fanned out into a circle.  In a similar vein, there’s a handy little Rolodex-style Business Card Holder made from a folded and fanned paperback which has had its cover and spine removed.

Some of the ideas are very familiar territory for papercrafters – like origami kusudama flowers and paper beads. But they look just great  made up in printed pages!

The gallery section at the back of the book is exceptional. The contributors, from around the world, are pushing the envelope where book art is concerned. I have seen the work of one of the featured artists, Su Blackwell, at craft exhibitions. She transforms books into amazing 3-D papercuts that reflect the content. Most of the work in this section exists in the netherworld between fine art and craft. It may not be easily categorized but all of it is amazing food for thought and is very worthwhile.

Book Art: are you a constuctivist or a deconstructionist? 

Note: I was provided with review copies of these titles.