Tuesday, 31 May 2016

Succulent Gift Box

The cactii/succulent crafty trend is impossible to ignore - and I am very happy to jump on the bandwagon. (As a child, I had  "pet" jade plant - shame about the mealy bugs.) Back to business - this project is surprisingly easy to make, and fun besides. The box has a recessed lid to create the plant pot effect. Notice the mock sandpainting effect. Very retro!

Here are your free designs - hand-cut (.pdf) or digi-cut (Silhouette):

Succulent Gift Box

1 Print the design, cut out the pieces, crease the folds. All of the leaves on the leaf swirls must be folded at the base. Fold each leaf in half, tip to base.

2 Assemble the box. Join the adjacent sides before you fold in the recessed top. You can use either tacky PVA glue or d/s tape.

3 To fold each leaf swirl, fold the leaves down consecutively, tucked under as required. Stack and glue the leaf swirls, points of each swirl placed in between those of the previous layer. Use snippets of corrugated card as spacers, glued between the layers - this gives the plant a bit of height.  (If you can find green corrugated, that's great.)
Glue the stacked leaves onto the box lid, also using a spacer. All done!

This cute dinky box makes a fun party favour. The box opening is concealed, but it opens easily - just hunt for the correct side of the lid.

Thursday, 26 May 2016

Bandana Gift Box

More coordinated bandana gift packaging (check out the ice cream cup). Today's project is a pretty gift container - another of my hybrids. It is a combination of a tied-corner tray and a pizza box. It ramps the scarf-print effect up one level and makes for distinctive re-usable gift packaging.

Here's your freebie design (hand-cut or Silhouette digi-cut):


Making the the gift box is pretty easy, so I'll just talk you through a few pointers. As you can see, it prints up on a single sheet of A4 photocopier card (160gsm). If cutting by hand, you will have to punch the holes with a 1/8in circle handpunch and the lid slits with a craft knife. Glue the corner reinforcements onto the wrong side of the box.
Score the folds - on the base: the base square and diagaonals to each corner. Score the fold lines for the lid. Crease the folds. Bow-tie the box corners - 25cm (10in) of narrow ribbon for each. To make the lid, slide the tabs into the slots.

When the box is finished, plump up the corners for a more scarf-like appearance.

This box would make ideal packaging for a bandana-print scarf! :)

Wednesday, 25 May 2016

100 Simple Paper Flowers, by Kelsey Elam. Review.

100 Simple Paper Flowers

By Kelsey Elam

Ivy Press 2016

Paperback £ 14.99

ISBN 978-1-78240-308-1

Star rating: *****

Have you been watching the magnificent floral designs at the Chelsea Flower Show? Kelsey Elam’s fab new book is a papery celebration of all things floral – ideal for those of us who have crafty hands rather than green fingers (a green thumb)! There are plenty of paper flower titles out there – but this new one is distinctive for its designs and for the content and planning of the book. First off is Kelsey’s delightful style. Her flowers are realistic --- but recognizably papery. They are not fake anything – they are beautifully designed, well-thought-out creations, most of which are made of tissue paper with textured paper leaves Especially stunning are the hand-dyed blooms.

The author, Kelsey Elam, is a paper artist whose company, Moonflora, sells paper flowers. The designs in her book showcase her expertise and share her floral construction secrets. The flowers, marvels of paper engineering with carefully observed components, are showcased in a gallery section.  These are paper flowers for grown-ups – Kelsey has designed the subtle details, so you don’t have to. The flowers are simple to construct, as promised in the title. 

The book is divided into three sections, Gallery, Techniques, and Templates. In the Gallery section, the flowers are simply photographed, propped in a non-fussy but thoughtful way (appropriate no-frills container on a plain background). The Techniques section is a goldmine of flowercraft info – illustrated step-by-steps on hand.Topics include Paper Dyeing and Painting, Petal Styling, and the lowdown on Plant Structures.The aim is to impart an understanding of how are flower are put together, so you can go it alone with confidence.The author shares an abundance of tips. 

All the designs are superb, but some of my personal faves include the Philodendron (love those waxy, textured, well-cut leaves), the Jasmine (elegant lines with bursts of hot pink), and the Mallow (beautiful brushwork petals plus clever-fold leaves).

The four projects are all basic things that you would actually use your paper flower-making skills for – a bouquet; corsage boutoniere & hairpin; a flower chain, and a floral crown.  All suitable for occasions , special or small.

Full-size templates are in the back.  Another plus - the book has a quality stitched binding – so it will stand up to repeated use.

Note:  I was given a review copy of this title.

Saturday, 21 May 2016

Pompomania, by Christine Leech. Review.


how to make over 20 cute and characterful pompoms

By Christine Leech

Photography by Joanna Henderson

Quadrille 2016

Hardcover, £ 10 UK, $16.95 US

ISBN 978-1-84949-674-2

Star rating: *****

Papercrafters love their embellishments – and pompoms are having their happy fluffy moment. Three cheers then for this genius book that takes the craft of  pompom-making to dizzy new heights. The author, Christine Leech, has worked out how to incorporate pattern into pompoms. Wow factor! By manipulating yarn colour placement and number of winds, patterned pompoms can be produced. Best of all, the author very generously teaches you her method, so you can have a go at designing yourself, after you have mastered the basics and taken pompom theory on board.  

Mega-admiration for the author, who takes us on her pompom-making personal journey. She shares her learning curve with us – and all her technical secrets. The book contains fun, imaginative projects and superb technique nitty gritty. Learn how to engineer stripes and shapes into your pompom, and how to craft pompoms in different shapes. All with clear photographic step-by-steps accompanied by well-written, entertaining text. Helpful colour-block diagrams showing yarn placement are included where required.

The projects  are imaginative: a flowering cactus (so on trend), pompom emoji, an elegant bonsai tree, sushi, macarons, and a painterly pompom pear. Pompom soft toys include a parrot, an Inuit, and a Pompomeranian (of course).

It is worth noting that pompom making is a craft that does not require a huge investment of cash – or time.  Most of the projects in the book are made with acrylic DK yarn and an inexpensive pompom-maker gadget (although for the no-frills crafter, pompoms can be made with D-I-Y cardboard discs).

This book is highly giftable, and would make a great gift for an older child. Better buy two – this title is a keeper. 

Note:  I was given a review copy of this book.

Thursday, 19 May 2016

Bandana Ice Cream Container

I'm still on my bandana binge. Bandanas in non-traditional colours are very now. Today's project is a sweet gift container or party favour that has several special features. The slotted lid has a handle - which makes it easy to remove. Clock the lovely swirl flower topper. Concealed under the lid: a "secret message" gift enclosure. Plus the entire print-and-cut project fits on just one page of photocopier card!

Whether you call this type of container an ice cream cup - or a tub - it is one fun-to-make project.

Here is your free design (hand-cut or Silhouette digi-cut):

 Bandana Ice Cream Cup
1 Print and cut out the template pieces. If cutting by hand, take care cutting the cup slots with a craft knife held against a small metal ruler.

2 To make the cup base: Glue the tab to make a ring. (Tip: "prime" the cup shape by moulding it around your hand to make it curve gently before gluing.) Fold the tabs on the cup base up and apply tacky PVA glue. Lower the base into the cup on a flat surface. Stick all the tabs, making sure the base is flush with the tabletop.

3 Lid: if cutting by hand, carefully cut the curved slits and pierce the centre hole. Cut out the swirl flower (and pierce centre hole). To fold the flower, crease each petal in half. Fold each arm of the swirl at the base, then fold down consecutively, tucking the last ones under. Attach the flower to the lid with a brad at the flower centre. After flower is attached, attach the lid handle. Prime the handle to make it curve. Fold the lid handle tabs and glue them onto opposite cup lid tabs.

4 Finally, fold the gift enclosure in half and slip it in place on the lid underside, under the tabs.

This is an ideal project to make up in quantity. It also makes a fun project for a child's craft party - just pre-cut the pieces and package them in a cello bag for each guest.

Sunday, 15 May 2016

Butterfly Picnic Basket

Lightbulb moment - what if you made a picnic basket in which the lid was made of pillow boxes? Well, you'd have a hybrid box with lots of lovely storage compartments that looked a bit like a butterfly.Yay! Pillow box wings. My creation is made in a butterfly print to contribute to "the butterfly effect" :)!

Here are your free templates:

Print the Butterfly Box on to white photocopier card 160gsm. You will need two jumbo brads to hold the box together.

Butterfly Box

1 Cut all the pieces out. Make sure you cut into the sides of the box base as indicated. Score the folds with a fine-point embossing tool held against a small metal ruler for the straight lines. 

2 Crease the folds, paying special attention to the curved pillow box folds.  

3 To assemble the pillow box "wings" fold in the flaps and glue the underside of each pocket on to the top. There are two sets of joined wings - the larger wings go on top.

4 Fold the box base. To assemble the box, thread the brad through the holes and fasten inside the box. You have to make a sandwich of the pieces in this order: brad, brad mat, handles, top layer bottom layer, box sides. Pierce the box sides to make a brad holes. Fasten one side, then the other. It is a little bit tricky fastening the second brad inside the box - just take your time. 

5 When the box is assembled, plump up the pillow boxes.

The box looks a bit like a cantilevered sewing box - and filling it with sewing-related bits and bobs is an ideal end use!

Friday, 13 May 2016

3D Origami, by Maria Angela Carlessi. Review.

3D Origami
15 cute creatures to make using modular paper triangles
By Maria Angela Carlessi
Search Press 2016
Paperback £13.95
ISBN 978-1-78221-409-0

Star rating: ****

At last! A book on Golden Venture Origami   a big thank you, to author  Maria Angela Carlessi.  I’ve been meaning to spotlight this nifty 3-D paper folding technique, which uses interlocking triangles to build up a project.  It requires time and patience – which I guess fits in with the mindful crafting vibe.  The author is the proprietor of a craft shop in Italy. She was looking for a technique to attract her customers – and she got hooked on this intriguing origami variation. 

The projects are all twee creatures – so this book would be an ace pre-half-term purchase. (Cutesy animals do seem to be a primary end product of Golden Venture.) Even if cute animals are not your thing, the basic how-tos at the front-of-the book are a goldmine of well-presented technique info. So... you can learn the basics and take the craft wherever you want to go. There are clear photo step-by-steps accompanied by text.

The author does a really good job of incorporating pattern and colour into her projects. (I can see how the run-up to a colour change would engender crafty anticipation, as in knitting or crochet!) The Swan with the diamond motifs is a prime example of this. ( BTW, Golden Venture swans are a thing – and Maria Angela Carlessi’s one is just right – colourful and not too intricate.)

My favourite projects are the previously-mentioned Swan, the Tortoise, the Owl, and the Squirrel. These are charming without being too twee.
It is fascinating how curvilinear shapes can be built up from interlinking triangular pockets.

For a clear introduction to a papercraft variation that is growing in popularity, 3D Origami fills the bill. 

Monday, 9 May 2016

Window Pillow Box

I'm a big fan of pillow boxes. Today, I have a contrast print pillow box with a window - ideal for sweet treats or occasions when the surprise factor is not your top consideration. I like how the reverse print peek-a-boos through the cello window. 

Here is your free print-and-cut design:
WindowPillowBox 2of2.pdf 

The digi-cut version is for Silhoutte Studio Version 3.

Window Pillow Box: Quick Study

This is a pretty easy project, so just a few notes:

I've printed my pillow boxes on plain white photocopier card 160gsm.

Cut the cello window from a roll of cellophane - this is considered a florist's supply. Use double-sided tape to stick the cellophane in place - position the tape around the window aperture - you can then trim excess cellophane away.

Inscribe the fold lines with a fine-point embossing tool. Take special care on the curves. Pre-fold all the creases.

Stick the contrast backing on to the wrong side of the box template. If you are lazy, you can pop it in after the box is folded - it won't shift.

There's just one flap to stick - then puff up the box by folding the sides.

Hope you like your Window Pillow Box. Hope it comes in handy.

Thursday, 5 May 2016

Gingham Gift Card Holder

My previous post was a gift card holder. That impressed me as being a handy thing to keep on hand. So - here's another version, in gingham.
I saw that gingham is having a fashion moment this season, same as bandanas. 

As a bonus, I've given you a woven star swirl decoration to use as a seal or purely as an embellishment. The bargello-type zigzag design on the folder front was something I cooked up because I was thinking how very much I want to see the Missoni exhibition at the Fashion and Textile Museum in London. 

Here are your free designs:

Gingham Gift Card Holder

To make

1 Cut out the templates. Score and fold the folds. Carefully cut the U-shaped tabs with a craft knife over a self-healing mat. 

2 Stick the holder inside the cover. Insert your gift card and the enclosure card. 

3 To make the star swirl: fold each arm at the base, then fold them consecutively, tucking ends under as required. 

The Gift Card enclosure is for a D-I-Y gift card - a thoughtful budget gift. Write something along the lines of, "This card entitles the recipient to.... one month of not having to load the dishwasher". Or, whatever.