Saturday, 30 May 2015

Make a Zeasel! Display your Zentangle Tiles.

Hello! I'm here today as a Zadvocate. That would be a Zentangle advocate. I can't think of another creative hobby that costs so little to get started in - pigment ink pens (Sakura Micron pens are the ones with the official Zentangle endorsement - inky black, write like a dream, archival quality), a supply of tiles and you are on your way to doodle wonderland. There's a social aspect, too - Zentanglers love to share their designs and discuss their creative journeys.

One reason I wanted to feature Zentangle on my blog is because I think this hobby is far superior to the ubiquitous colouring book fad. Why colour in other people's work when you can create your own beautiful, unique designs?

Another appeal of making Zentangle designs is their achievable size. Each tile is about 9cm (3-1/2in) square. You can make one every day - no UFOs hanging around. A bit like the satisfaction you get when you crochet a Granny Square. Completion.

So, if you want to go for daily Zentangle art therapy (there's a meditative quality to Zentangling), I have a gift for you of a downloadable kind. Today's project is a "Zeasel" - (that would be an easel on which to display Zentangle tiles).

The Zeasel is (of course), easy to make. I have had to make it in two pieces - card front and back. Simply print, cut, score the fold lines, then join front to back with d/s tape or glue stick. Glue the flap onto the outside back. To display your tile - fold down the shelf (the tile bottom rests on the shelf) and slip the tile top under the half-moon cut-out.

Your finished Zeasel packs flat and fits into a C5 envelope. So you can send one to Zentangling friends.

Here's your free download:


The Zentangle concept was the brainchild of Rick Roberts and Maria Thomas and is copyrighted. Learn more about Zentangle at . Check out the Zentangle range of products here: 

Happy Tangling!

Wednesday, 27 May 2015

Print and Pattern Geometric. Review.

Print and Pattern Geometric

By Bowie Style

Laurence King Publishing 2015

Paperback £19.95


Star rating: ****

Today I am featuring a mega-dose of design inspiration – Print and Pattern Geometric – the latest compendium of themed print designs from Bowie Style, a.k.a. Marie Perkins of don’t have to be a design pro to appreciate the wonders within the covers of this title. If you are a weekend crafter needing some direction for a project colourway – find it here. Perhaps you are looking to liven up the look of your projects – new shapes, new arrangements. Print and Pattern Geometric has plenty of ideas to give direction.

No doubt when you hear the word “geometrics” you conjure up visions of severe, hard-edged shapes and bright, unforgiving colours. Well, this title will certainly shake things up for you. Here, the “geometrics” umbrella covers swirls and pinwheels, grids and dots, stars and ogees. The designs – and colourways – are influenced by current trends – hexagons (big in scrapbooking), and tribal and ethnic influences, such as Aztec and Native American, and Scandi (also big in scrapbooking).

The book is a collection of designs from a global selections of the best and brightest surface pattern designers. There are pics of the patterns themselves as well as prints applied to end products, such as notebooks, giftwrap, and textiles. So you don’t view the designs in a vacuum, the designs are accompanied by capsule bios of the designers featuring lifestyle details and sources of influence (design heroes)!

This book is energy-charged. The pages sing. Expect the unexpected, such as Nolita Chevrons by Khristian A Howell. Here, sharp chevrons are tamed with lace edges and lots of dots. There are designs with watercolour effects, and doodle-like designs. From here on in, “geometrics” has a wider brief.

Plus features of the book include quality paper and careful crediting of designs. The designer’s name is given bottom-of-page, making the book ideal for browsing. Flip – then zoom in on what catches your eye.

Other titles in the Print & Pattern series include Print & Pattern, Print & Pattern 2,and Print & Pattern Kids.  

Monday, 18 May 2015

Bandanna Boxes & Trays

Prints are big this season, so get on the bandanna-wagon. Use these bandanna-inspired papercraft printable boxes/trays for gift giving or storage. They are easy to make and so very pretty. 

The tray is a square bow-tied at the corners. Add a lid to make a box. Or, for a no-frills version, glue to lids together to make a bakery-style box.

Here are your free bandanna printables:


Bandanna Boxes & Trays

Bandanna Box 

1 Print the designs on lightweight card. Score the fold lines using a fine-point embossing tool held against a small metal ruler. Remember the diagonal corner folds on the tray. Cut the slits in the box lid.

2 Punch the holes in the tray/base using a 1/8in circle handpunch. Glue reinforcements around the holes (the holes in the centre of the reinforcements are also punched with the handpunch).  

3 Crease the folds - a bone folder makes nice crisp folds. For the corner ties on the tray base, you need 25-30cm (10-12in) of ribbon per corner. Thread the ribbon through the holes and tie into bows.

4 Assemble the box lid, gluing the front corners. I like to give the back corners a nice finishe with a diagonal turnback - this is your choice.

5 Glue the back of the box lid inside one side of the base. To close the box, the lid sides fit inside the box.

Bandanna Tray
The Bandanna Tray is made in the same way as the box base, only it is double-sided. Print out two trays and stick them back to back. How to do that? I recommend this genius easy option:
Stick It adhesive sheets
No mess, no fuss, easy peel. Presto - almost-instant double-sided paper.

No-Frills Bandanna Box
Simply glue two lids together, overlapping the back panel.

Enjoy making your Bandanna Boxes, whether you are making them to give or keep.

Tuesday, 12 May 2015

Mobile Art, by Clare Youngs. Book Review.

Mobile Art

Make your home a magical place with these 35 beautiful hanging decorations

By Clare Youngs

Cico Books 2015

Paperback £12.99

ISBN 978 1 78249 209 2

Star rating: ****

Making mobiles is a fun craft idea for the spring and summer, when a breeze through an open window can make your project dance.

Talented and prolific craft author Clare Youngs is back with a winning new title bursting with creative energy. The subject this time is mobiles. Mobiles are purely decorative – so they present a great opportunity to let the imagination run wild, and that is precisely what the author has done with her playful and inventive collection of action projects. 

Photographing mobiles can be tricky for a couple of obvious reasons. First up, the object you are photographing just won’t stay still. Secondly, a still photo can’t convey the kinetic motion of the mobile. So – it is an amazing feat on the behalf of the author and the production team that nearly every project in the book seems to be dancing on the page, and is begging to be made. Many would be suitable for kiddie decor.

The mobiles, most of which are easy-make, are made of a variety of materials – with an emphasis on papercrafting. Papercraft projects include Party-Time Sparkle, which is a papery interpretation of those wooden wind spirals you see in garden centres. The idea works a treat in mirror card. The Sausage Dogs mobile is big fun - the tube-like dachshunds are cleverly fashioned from paper, with paper “bones” to weight them like a kite’s tail. Floral Filigree is a jumbo quilling-inspired mobile. Very effective. There is also a traditionally-quilled snowflake mobile. Birds are an obvious choice for mobiles  and  Clare Young’s features two takes on the idea. Birds in Flight consists of jazzy papercrafted streamlined birds with bright graphic designs. Birds of a Feather features 3-D papercut feathers - like lacé, without the links.  Paper-Clip Graphics works a treat. This quick-make mobile channels the typographic trend, with magazine cut-outs paper-clipped onto the hanging wires. Balancing Act is a genius construction of papercrafted acrobats performing a trapeze act.  They cleverly hook onto each other in a feat of derring-do (reminds me of that fondly-remembered monkeys in a barrel toy).

There are a very few projects that work less well than the others – Tassels and Beads, is a bit clunky. The beads are way too heavy for the delicate paper fans. This mobile is much more static than the other projects in the book.

There are a lot of pom pom enthusiasts out there – it is a craft trend you just can’t ignore –  so I will mention that the Pops of Colour mobile features pom pom cascades. Other techniques that get a look-in include macramé, fabric craft (hand-stitched elephants, Folksy Felt Horses), and Himmeli (Finnish strawcraft).

There is lots of variety not just in the projects, but in how the mobile mechanisms are constructed. Some mobiles feature objects suspended from a bar, others have a top ring; sticks crossed at top, marionette-fashion, and also cascades of carefully-balanced bars à la AlexanderCalder.

If you are fascinated by mobiles and happen to live in the vicinity of London, you will want to check out the Alexander Calder exhibition scheduled for November onwards at Tate Modern. Calder was the great grand-daddy of kinetic sculpture, and the exhibition will be an event.

While you are waiting, you can try your hand at Clare Youngs’ delightful Mobile Art.

Tuesday, 5 May 2015

May Baskets

These pretty baskets make great party favours, containers for small gifts, or storage containers for small items of craft stash. They are really easy to make, being demi-pillow boxes. 

I have backed the cut-out areas with pearlescent paper, but vellum would work a treat. Two different styles are provided for the bag fronts and tags - but the bag back is the same for both.

Here are your free pattern templates:


May Baskets

1 Cut out the pattern pieces. Emboss the fold lines using a fine-point embossing tool held against a small metal ruler. Use the marquise-shaped base template to mark the top base curve on the basket front and back pieces. Crease the folds.

2 Glue the front liner behind the front cut-out area.

3 Join the side flaps.

4 Pop in the pillow box base to complete the bag. (Yay - always fun when you pop-in a pillow box to dimension it - papercrafter's jollies!)

5 The tags are optional.

Tip: the demi-pillow box construction makes the bag top spread open, so tie the handles together with a pretty ribbon bow.

In pearlescent white and/or gold metallic, these bags would make sweet wedding favours.