Friday, 22 November 2013

Book Review: Make Your Own Woodland Creatures

Make Your Own Woodland Creatures:

35 simple 3D cardboard projects

By Clare Youngs

Cico Books

Hardback  £14.99

ISBN 978-1-78249-040-1

Star rating: *****

Notice to papercrafters: if you buy this book as a gift, you will want to keep it for yourself.

Woodland creatures are having a mega-moment. They are here, there, everywhere: clock the John Lewis Christmas ad, and Donna Wilson home dec designs, for example. So Make Your Own Woodland Creatures is right on trend – delightfully so – and perfectly timed for Christmas gift-giving.
This is a papercraft book with a difference. With this book, you can create an entire woodland eco-system inhabited by whimsical slotted cardboard creatures. There are even five press-out and assemble creatures made of sturdy cardboard: Prickly Hedgehog, Pretty Partridge and Chicks, Cheery Chipmunk, Stripey-Tailed Raccoon, Black-and-White Badger (don’t know how the Racoon missed the alliteration net).

The slot-together creatures are like simplified sliceforms. The photographed animals are decorated in sprightly mixed prints (a bit Orla Kiely-influenced). The book is divided into several chapters: Cute and Furry, Big Beasties, Birds of a Feather, Little Critters, and Down by the Pond.  There are 35 different animals – so, a generous  number of projects which can be made time and again. The author certainly took a good idea and ran with it!

Up front, you will find basic directions for making the creatures out of layered cardstock, or, for greater permanence, plywood. There’s a template section at the back. On page, you get a diagram showing required pattern pieces plus beautifully illustrated step-by-step assembly diagrams (and a beauty shot of the finished project).

The woodland creatures are designed with flair - clever construction, economy of line. Nice. I am a big fan of Clare Youngs (her other titles for Cico are also winners: including Book Art, Papercrafting in No Time). I believe she has a background in advertising packaging design – and this shows, in a good way.

Although this book does not teach a specific craft skill, it is a title you will come back to repeatedly. The imaginative animals make wonderful budget gifts to give to kids. (What child wouldn’t be enchanted to receive a Sticky-Tongued Frog or a Koala and Joey?). The Reindeer could be used to make beautiful seasonal tableaux.

Note: I was sent a review copy of this title. Although I did not specifically request it, I was charmed by it.

Thursday, 21 November 2013

Mini Milk Cartons & Crates

Today we have some cute Mini Milk Cartons - and Milk Crate Holders. Fill the cartons with goodies or small surprises - fun party favours or stocking fillers. They are quick and easy to make. 

Here are your free downloads:


Your printables look like this:
If you are going to make this project by hand, then you will need to carefully cut out the holes in the crates with a craft knife. (Alternatively, you could choose not to cut out the crate holes - the finished result will still look fun.)

I have made this project with AC Cardstock. It comes in 12 x 12 sheets, so you need to cut it down to A4 size to fit through your printer. This is worth the small effort, because the cardstock prints and folds beautifully!

Making up the project is super-easy, but here's a tut, anyhow:

Milk Carton & Crate Tutorial

1. Above, the pieces cut out and folded. All the folds are mountain folds except for the folds at the top of the "V's" and the top flap, which are valley folds. If you are hand-cutting the project, don't forget to cut the slit in the base of the milk carton.
2. Next, join the side of the milk carton, either with tacky PVA glue or d/s tape. Your carton should now look like this:
4. Next, fold the bottom flaps. First two: the side flaps. Fold one over the other, like so:
Then fold the flap with the slot upwards. Finally, secure the bottom of the carton by inserting the tab into the slot:
5. Time now for the milk carton top. Make sure that the sides have been folded inwards:
Squeeze the top together as shown (sorry for blurry pic). Next, seal the top flaps together with d/s tape. You can also punch or piece two holes through the top and tie it together with a craft thread bow.
6. Time now for the crate:
Above, a crate cut out, scored, folded. Apply d/s tape or glue to the side strips of the side panels. Join flaps to adjacent sides to complete the milk carton:
Below, the finished milk crate:
All the crates are made this way, no matter what the style.

That's all there is to it. Add a gift tag if desired.

Enjoy the milk run! 

 This project was sponsored by Handy Hippo .

Monday, 18 November 2013

Book Review: Fold, Cut & Curl

Fold, Cut & Curl:

75 Exquisite Snowflakes, Stars and Sunbursts to make

By Ayako Brodek and Shannon Voigt

Search Press 2013

Paperback £10.99

ISBN 978-1-84448-965-7


I haven’t yet used a star rating system for my book reviews – but this title, appropriately, gets five stars (or sunbursts, or snowflakes).

Last year, Search Press had a big hit with their lovely crocheted snowflake title, 100 Snowflakes to Crochet, by Caitlin Sainio. This new book looks to be a follow-up for papercrafters -  an idea with legs (or rather, snowflake arms).  I am a mega snowflake fan – in fact, I have designed a template of my own papercrafted Snowflakes & Stars for Hot Off the Press. Many papercrafters are big snowflake fans, too – I notice that whenever I run a snowflake-themed project on the blog, it gets a lot of hits. Could it be childhood memories of happy snowflake-cutting sessions? 
The snowflakes, stars, and sunbursts in this book are much more sophisticated and elegant than your childhood makes (although for the kirigami flakes, the fold-and-cut principle is the same).
This book has a winning format. Up front, there’s a Selector section, a glorious gallery of all the different styles, presented by category (snowflake, star, or sunburst). Each style is labelled with name, number, and turn-to page. A good system.

Following the gallery, there’s a skills section, teaching quilling, origami, and kirigami core techniques in a clear and concise manner. Lots of excellent instructional tips, like how to use a needle quilling tool for finer designs.

It is commendable how this book has enlisted two experts: Ayako Brodek for the origami and kirigami projects, and Shannon Voigt for the quilled designs. This is a much more successful approach than stretching the skills of one author to encompass all that is required.

The origami section has lots of variety. You will learn how to construct  hexagonal, pentagonal, and octagonal snowflake bases (basic training!). Some of the designs are modular ones – this unit approach to origami is very popular.

My favourite quilled designs include Comet, in which a whoosh of a filigreed tail almost seems to animate the centre star; and Radiance, which very cleverly used pieced  quilling strips to craft a graduated colour effect.

The Projects section is the weakest of the book, but it still has value and presents good ideas. It is just that the individual designs are perfection, and these are just presentation apps. For example, the Quilled Window Ornaments, attached with suction cups, are an ace way to showcase the snowflakes. And the Origami Garland, constructed with beads and fishline is a valid idea, too.

This title would make a delightful gift for a papercrafter. Or buy it now for crafting festive decs.
Note: I was supplied with a review copy of this book.

Sunday, 17 November 2013

Digital Papercutters

Just to say that my article about digital papercutters has been posted on the very wonderful Make It in Design Blog today! Yay! I hope it spreads the word about these magic, enabling machines.

Heres the link:
Digital Papercutters: Essential Design Kit

Saturday, 16 November 2013

Deep Dish Pie Gift Boxes

Did you enjoy making the Bakewell Tart Gift Boxes in my previous post (Bakewell Tarts)? Now that you know the ropes, I'm going to ramp things up a bit...

Presenting: Deep Dish Pie Gift Boxes. Bigger than the Bakewell Tarts, and a little fancier - in a decorative papercraft-y sort of way.

These Prize-Winning Pies come with winner's rosettes/ribbons - and the accompanying gift tag looks like a pie-server. Free downloads are followed by a step-by-step tut.

There are three sheets of downloads - one for the pie crust, one for the gift box base, and one for the "extras":


Looks like a lot of stuff - but that is because I've given you lots of embellishment options! The concept is simple: the "pie crust" is a topper that sits on top of the gift box.

Deep Dish Pie Gift Box Tutorial
1. Above, the components for one Deep Dish Pie Gift Box. Choose cardstock for the box and pie crust pieces, pearlescent paper for the ribbon pieces, and mirror card for the server. You will also need two brads and some sticky foam pads or glue dots.
2. Make the box first. Glue the adjacent tabs on the inside of the box. I have used d/s tape for demo purposes - but you should use tacky PVA glue on the underside of each tab to join the box for real.
 Here's the completed box:
3. Insert the contents in the box and close the lid by folding down the flaps consecutively, in an anti-clockwise direction; rounded corner of each flap on the outside.
When you reach the last flap, tuck it in:
Finished box:
4. Now for the pie crust. You should have six identical pieces. On each piece, score and fold the base of the hexagon at the top and the flap.
When you join the pieces, make sure all the arms face in the same direction. Here we go:
To make the dome-shaped pie crust, match the edges of the centre hexagons. Glue the hexagon on top of the previous one, with edges aligned - and the side flap underneath. Note that there is a centre hole on each of the hexagons - this is for the brad.
Above: side edges aligned, flap underneath. Continue building up the pie crust in this way.
When you have completed the pie crust dome, shape each arm upwards to prime it for folding. Here's what the inside of the umbrella-shaped pie crust looks like:
5. Next, make the swirl flower for the pie crust top. 
Fold each arm at the base. This step is very important. Next, fold each arm to to the centre, conscutively. Tuck the last arm under. There is a hole at the centre of the swirl flower - insert a brad through it. Attach the swirl flower through the top hole in the pie crust.
6. Now for the fun bit - forming the "corded effect" border. Simple fold and tuck the arms. Fold each arm over, then tuck the end bulb under. Continue around the pie rim. Fold the last arm over and under in the usual way:
Here's the completed pie crust top:
Glue an embellishment in each segment. Choice of simple leaf, oak leaf, holly leaf, star, or heart.
6. To complete the pie crust, glue the cardstock circle onto the underside of the dome:
7. Time to make the ribbon/rosette.
It is a teeny bit fiddly passing the brad through the centre of the one-piece ribbon, so I have given you an alternative construction method: five individual ribbon arms. Just thread them onto the brad one at a time. The finished rosette looks pretty much the same.
Above, the finished pie crust topper. You might wish to chalk the edges of the crust and the trims, for definition.

8. All that remains to do now is to attach the pie crust topper to the gift box. Place sticky foam pads or glue dots on the underside of the pie crust. I stick one in the centre, and four others at 12, 3, 6, and 9 o'clock.
Lower the box onto the pie crust - it is easier to centre this way.

Congrats! Your Deep Dish Pie Gift Box is now complete:
Ideal for Thanksgiving treats, Christmas, or just for fun. Whatever you are celebrating, enjoy!
Aerial view of pies, à la Google Map!