Arts & Crafts

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[Floral Arrangements] [Flower Pressing] [Homemade Glitter] [Hot Glue Guns] [Kilns] [Lamp Decoration]

[Luna Eye Pillow] [Matting] [Personal Stickers] [Photo Albums] [Photo Effects] [Picture Framing]

[Pine Cone Arrangements] [Posters] [Potpourri] [Pottery] [Preserved Flowers] [Antique Quilt Cleaning] [Quilting Tips]

 [Rice Painting] [Sand Painting] [Scented Envelopes] [Wind Chimes] [Wish Bracelet]

Click below for

 

Sewers Thimble Tip: If your thimble is a little too large for your finger, remove the thimble, lick your finger and put the thimble back on...your thimble will not fly off your finger again. Also, keep a small magnet handy, to pick up fallen needles. Do not keep near sewing maching, if it is a computer type, it could ruin it.

 

 

Walking Tip: If your sewing machine has a tendency to move while you are sewing, place a piece of thin  (3/8") rug padding under it. Cut the piece the width of your machine plus 8". The extra pad space will provide for your scissors, bobbins, seam ripper,  all close at hand.

 

AIR FRESHNER GEL

Materials:

Approx. 30 grams of unflavored gelatin

500 mls of Water

Desired food coloring

Salt

Your selected fragrant or essential oil

Mixing bowl


Begin by pouring the gelatin powder into a mixing bowl. The weight is not crucial so just get it as close as possible. Use whatever packaging  is available. add 200 mls of water and bring to a boil.


Next stir the 200 mols of boiling water carefully into the gelatin powder until all the gelatin has dissolved. Pour the remainder of the water into the bowl and stir throughly. Next add your selected food coloring , not too much, as it goes a long way..

Allow it to get to room temperature. Add 8-10 drops of fragrant or essential oil into the gel. Place it in the refrigerator for several hours till it looks like firm jelly.

Once it has set  mash it up so you are left with chunks of fragrance gel , a fork does well.

The last step is to pour a small amount of the Gel into the bowl or vase. Keep any unused Gel in an airtight container.

Should  you want to get really creative, make layers of different colored gel in a tall glass vase.

Add 1-2 tbs of Salt to act as a preservative if you are making large batches.

 

CROCHET

 

In the English-speaking crochet world, the basic stitches have different names. The differences are usually referred to as UK/US or British/American. Examples of these differences and their usual abbreviations are:

  • UK: double crochet (DC) = US: single crochet (SC)
  • UK: treble crochet (TR) = US: double crochet (DC)                           

 

Another terminological difference is known as tension (U.K.) and gauge (U.S.). Individual crocheters work yarn with a loose or a tight hold and, if unmeasured, these differences can lead to significant size changes in finished garments that have the same number of stitches. In order to control for this inconsistency, printed crochet instructions include a standard for the number of stitches across a standard swatch of fabric. An individual crocheter begins work by producing a test swatch and compensating for any discrepancy by changing to a smaller or larger hook. North Americans call this gauge, referring to the end result of these adjustments; British crocheter speak of tension, referring to the crafter's grip on the yarn while producing stitches. Try using a gallon size (freezer-style) zipper storage bags as your yarn holders. There is enough room for four 3 oz. skeins, this will also keep your yarn clean. Place a hole in the end, this way you will not have to take them out of the storage bag.

Crochet Abbreviations

sc

single crochet

dc

double crochet

inc

increase

de

decrease

tog

together

hdc

half double crochet

tr

treble or triple crochet

yo

yarn over

dp

double point

beg

beginning

lp(s)

 loop(s)

sk

skip

rep

repeat

rnd

round

sl st

slip stitch

 

Double Pointed: (dp) needles have points at both ends. They are sold in sets of four and are sued for knitting in rounds and for working cables.

Place Marker on Needle: means to put a marker or paper clip on needle; slip it from left-to-right-hand needle as you work each row.

Gauge: Refers to the number of stitches (and sometimes rows) which make up 1" of the knitted or crocheted fabric. Each set of directions lists the gauge obtained by the designer when she worked the pattern with the yarn and needles specified, and is the gauge upon which the directions are based.

 

Needle Conversations:

Knitting needles and crochet hooks come in a wide range of sizes. Since the sizing of needles and hooks is not the same in England and Canada as in the United States, a listing of comparative sizes is given in the conversions chart below.

Needles: U.S. to English or Canadian: 0=13; 1=12; 2=11; 3=10; 4=9; 5=8; 6=7; 7=6; 8=5; 9=4; 10=3; 11=2; 13=0; 15=000.

Hooks: U.S. to English or Canadian: 1=0; 2=1; 3=1 1/2; 4=2; 5=2 1/2; 6=3; 7=3 1/2; 8=4; 9=4 1/2; 10=5; 11=5 1/2; 12=6; 13=6 1/2; 14=7.

When purchasing your yarn, be sure to purchase enough of the same dye lot to finish your garment, checking numbers on the package, as dye could vary in the next batch.

More on needles, hooks, yarns and threads:

Knitting needles come in a variety of styles, each designed for a specific use. Straight needles are for knitting back and forth. Double pointed (dp)  needles have points at both ends, are sold in sets of four, and are for knitting rounds; one alone may be used in making cables. A circular needle, pointed at both ends and flexible in center, is for knitting in rounds or back and forth on more stitches than could be conveniently worked on dp or straight needles.

Although we tend to associate wool yarns with knitting and cotton threads with crocheting, the yarn or thread used can, of course, be made of any fiber, natural or synthetic. The synthetics are often machine washable - a quality especially desirable in items that will need frequent washing, such as baby clothes. Today we have a great variety of textures from which to choose, form fluffy angoras and mohair's to smooth finishes and on to sparkling metallic-look threads and ribbons.

The weight to be used will be determined by the style of the garment you are making. Lighter-weight yarns or threads are usually called for then the finer needles or hooks are used for a delicate, soft effect, while heavier ones will be used with larger needles and hooks for a bulkier look. If at all possible, do not substitute other yarns for those called for in the directions, because those directions have been written specifically for the yarn named.

 

PHOTO ALBUMS

Preservation of your family photos is a consuming task. Although photography has become progressively easier and more convenient with the introduction of digital cameras and printers, people often fail to protect their photos by purchasing albums. Others simply don't wish to take the time.

You will need the following supplies, your album, fabric, ribbon, and a hot glue gun and other decorative bells and whistles you wish to add for your creative photo album.. 

Before you purchase your photo album, be sure and determine the sizes of the pictures that you want to store. If you have mostly 4x6 pictures, you do not need to buy an album that only has 3x5 pockets. Some albums will hold various size pictures. If you are making this photo album for a gift, you might want to consider purchasing one of these.

The various materials you use will depend on how creative you want to be. To construct a basic photo album, you will need enough material to cover the front and back of the album and the inside of the front and back covers. Open your photo album with the pages down, and measure the front, spine, and back to see how much material you will need. Cut your material to fit the outside of your photo album, but be sure to allow an extra inch all the way around your material.

Apply a thin bead of glue around the edges of the outside cover of your photo album, and then apply small beads of glue over the rest of the surface. As you work quickly, lay your material onto the cover. You will need to smooth the material across the cover. If your glue has started to harden before you have finished applying your material, you will need to add some more glue.

Once you have attached your material to the outside cover of your photo album, you will need to turn your album over. You can now apply a thin bead of glue along the edge of the inside cover. Pull your excess material over the edge of the album and press the material onto the glue.

If you are going to add cording, lace, fringe or some other type of embellishment around the edges of your album, you will need to do this now. Measure the amount of trim that is needed to cover the edges of the album. Cut your trim, but allow an extra inch of material. Apply another thin line of hot glue along the edge of the album and press your trim onto the glue.

Once you have applied your trim, you will need to cover the inside of your album with material. Measure the inside of the front and back covers. Cut your material to fit the inside of the cover, but be sure to allow an extra inch. You will need to fold the excess material in towards the cover so that you won’t have any raw edges showing. You can iron your creases for a neater look.

Apply another thin line of hot glue along the edges of the inside and dot hot glue across the middle. You can now press your material onto the glue, but be sure your raw edges are folded in towards the cover.

You now have the basic photo album. If you purchased a small picture frame, you can cover it with the same material or contrasting material using your hot glue gun. Next, hot glue the frame to the front of the album. You can also trim the picture frame with matching cording, lace, or fringe. Think about using different colored ribbons between pages, similar to ribbon book marks.

If you want to be even more creative, you can write words such as “family photos”, “friends”, etc. using a fabric pen. Using a glue gun, you can add decorations, such as rhinestones, buttons, shells, etc. to the cover of your album

 

 When traveling by air, and you cannot take sissors with you, use your dental floss container to cut your thread.

 

FLORAL ARRANGEMENTS

The Art of floral arranging is one of pride in oneself, and the happiness it brings others.


Tip: when planning your arrangement, imagine the look of flowers in their natural state, the highs, the lows, the mediums and the width.

SILK:
Basic Rules of design:

It takes time to get used to all the possibilities and limitations when using silk florals. They are similar in use, but, artificial flowers are a different art form. The line, focal, filler technique is an excellent way to design artificial and dried flower arrangements.

For Horizonal arrangements:

-Using a relatively shallow container, anchor foam with a lot of glue or use anchor pins, and position sprays of line flowers to establish the shape of the design.

-Insert focal flowers in the middle so they gently droop over the lip of the container on both sides, reach towards the line material and extend on either side of the middle. Leave room for filler flowers.

-Fill in and around focal area with filler flowers and foliage.


For Horizonal arrangements:

-Wedge or secure foam in a vase with hot glue. Cut the stems of the tallest flowers or leaves to reach three or four times the height of the vase.
-Place the focal flowers vertically within the diameter of the vase.

-Fill in the areas as needed with filler flowers.

for Triangular arrangements:

-
Secure floral foam. Determine the vertical height and horizontal width with the smallest line flowers and/or leaves. Make the height higher than the width.
-Position the largest focal flowers in the heart of the arrangement and slightly lower to give weight and balance.

-Fill in with the filler flowers and foliage keeping within the triangular shape.

For Oval arrangements:

-
Secure the floral foam. Determine the height with line flowers, then frame in the outer edges of the oval shape with light colored flowers and foliage.
-Place the largest, strongest or brightest flowers in the focal area.

-Fill in around the larger flowers and leaves with the filler flowers.

For Free Standing arrangements:

-Fill a shallow container with foam that extends one inch over the top. Secure the foam with hot glue, floral clay or floral tape. Define the shape of the design with the line flowers and leaves.

- Place the focal flowers and leaves, turning the vase as you go so all the sides are even


-.Add filler flowers to integrate the design.

FRESH CUT FLOWERS:

Arranging cut flowers in a Vase:

Fill the vase with cool tap water (Warm water can force unopened buds to bloom too quickly) .

Measure the flower against the height of the vase and decide where to snip.

Lay stems on a cutting board and, with a kitchen knife, cut on an angle, which exposes the stem to more water. If you prefer, use floral shears instead of a knife.

Bind the flowers with a clear-colored elastic and trim any too-long stems. Finally, place the flowers in the vase.

For longevity & freshness, an aspirin is not the flowers best friend, nor is Listerine antiseptic, but one teaspoon of sugar does duplicate the sugar rush that occurs during photosynthesis. It can, however, promote bacterial growth. yet the results are good. The best bet though, is to use flower food that comes in small packets, which is readily available at any florist shop. It always works.

Supermarket arrangements: If you purchase your cut-flowers from the supermarket, they are usually a thrown casually together in a mixed bouquet, consisting of carnations, chrysanthemums, lilies, roses, golden solidagos, and a few stems of greeneries thrown in. In their defense, they simply cannot afford to put out an elegant arrangement. Most people who love fresh flower arrangements in their home, prefer to take apart the markets bouquet and make a statement with their own talent.

1. Never mix more than two contrasting colors in the same vase
2. Assorted flowers of different sizes and shapes can be mixed when they're all in the same color family, such as reds and pinks, yellows and oranges, or reds and purples.
3. When pairing two dissimilar flowers, choose varieties with distinctly different textures and shapes.
4. Practice makes perfect in detail.
       One More Time

  1. Think about the size of the space in which your arrangement will be placed, and choose the size of your container and flowers accordingly. A big vase and lots of flowers will look overcrowded on a small side table. A small vase and few flowers would look lost in a larger display area.
  2. When using open flowers, such as roses, daffodils or gerbera daisies, try to turn some of them at different angles to show different shape. Try not to arrange your flowers all facing in the same direction if the arrangement can be viewed from various angles.
  3. Try to allow some space between the flowers to prevent a crowded effect.
  4. Make sure that your vase is leak proof and that it has a neck which is big enough for the flowers to fit comfortably.
  5. If the flowers sometimes don't stand up straight it could be that your vase is too short for the flowers, or that the flowers are too tall for the vase. A good way to check if the vase you would like to use is of an appropriate height, is too see if the vase is at least half as tall as the flowers.
  6. If you cut your flowers too short, don't think that it is all for loss! Either put pebbles or marbles at the bottom of your vase for shorter flowers to stand on. You could also simply cut the head off of the flower and float it in a decorative dish, along with candles.
  7. You can use filler flowers in a sparse looking arrangement to give it a much fuller appearance. Some good examples of filler flowers include, feverfew, ferns, Queen Anne's lace, baby's breath, heather, statice, and aster.
  8. To give your arrangement more dimension cut the flowers at various lengths. Place the longest stems in the center of your bouquet.

TIP:
For an Instant floral vase holder in your bathroom:
Use the cup hole in your toothbrush holder for a pint size fresh and fragrant arrangement.


Lastly,

- Don't buy fresh flowers, unless you're rushing right home, otherwise, they will wilt.

-Use clean vases and tools. Mold speeds up the decaying process in flowers. (Make sure everything is well rinsed, too, since soap changes the pH of the water.)

- Remove leaves that will be below the waterline. They promote bacteria growth that hinders circulation.

- Don't bother cutting stems underwater. Just have your vase ready. The difference in life span is inconsequential.

- Use a small hammer to smash the woody stems of flowers such as hydrangeas and lilacs so they can absorb water more easily.

- Flowers from bulbs do better in cold water.

- Don't mix daffodils with other flowers. They produce a sap that gums up other stems. (Soak daffodils for a few hours in a separate vase first if you plan to include them.)

- Force unopened flowers to bloom in minutes by putting them in very warm tap water.

- Wilted flowers, especially roses, can be revived by submerging them in cool water for a few hours.

- Flowers will look fresher longer if they're kept off TVs, appliances, and heating or cooling units, which give off heat that wilts them. Also keep them out of direct sunlight and away from hot or cold drafts.



Tip: Use a pill box (weekly size Sat-Sun) to hold your bobbins and other small items.

 

                                                                WISH BRACELET

Materials: Hemp & Seed Beads,

Take three pieces of hemp long enough too fit around you wrist, but leave a little room.

Braid about half of your wrist length. Then, while braiding, put beads on every other string you pick up. You should only need about 3-7 beads.

Once the beads are on, braid the rest of the way down and tie a knot.

Before tying the bracelet on your wrist, make a wish!

Tie the bracelet on your wrist. Do NOT take it off. When it falls off on its own, your wish will come true

 

Paint Brush Tip:
If you have dried up paint brushes, don't throw them away. Try soaking (both acrylic and oil based) the brush in denatured alcohol . After the soaking for about 15 - 20 minutes, wash thoroughly with dish soap and warm water. You might have to repeat the process a few times. It is really worth the effort, if it's an expensive brush. Repeat if necessary. Do not soak more than 20 minutes, as it will cause the adhesive that holds the bristles to loosen.

 

WIND CHIMES

Chimes are also made of materials other than metal or wood and in shapes other than tubes or rods. Many people accept bamboo, stones, horseshoes, mechanics tools, PVC pipe, glass, seashells, old silverware, etc., as chimes. Every material makes a different sound. The sounds these make are not tunable to specific notes and range from pleasant tinkling to dull thuds. The idea seems to be that if it is moved by the wind and makes a noise, it is a wind chime.

  • a cluster of similar objects (metal tubes, seashells, glass pieces, lengths of bamboo, or fragments of pottery) that hang from a central support and tinkle when moved by the wind;
  • a cluster of objects including a clapper suspended from the support that chimes as the breezes blow against a flat plate or wind catcher at the end of the clapper;
  • a bell with a long clapper attached to a wind catcher that plays as the wind strikes the clapper against the bell.

The tone will depend on the material (steel, aluminum, brass, the exact alloy, heat treatment and so on), whether you are using a solid cylinder or a tube, and if a tube, the wall thickness. It may also depend on the hanging method.

Novelty wind chimes are made with brass, bronze, copper, or bamboo tubes. In place of tubes, they may make music with suspended shells, clay pottery shapes, die-cut metal pieces, glass, or other tinkling objects. Their supports and clappers may be equally diverse. Driftwood, metal shapes, and resin ornaments are among hundreds of available choices. Paint, glue, many varieties of string, and hangers of different styles and materials are used for this school of wind chime design.


If you really want to have a tuned wind chime:

Technically speaking

A uniform bar, tube, will have a "node" at about 22.5% "in from each end". The nodes are where there is no vibration of the material making up the bar. Since there's no vibration at these node points, it's safe to suspend the bar at 22.5% down from the top end without damping the vibrations. Depending on the material you're working with, and the particular application, you can drill a hole straight through the bar, or tie a cord at the right spot, &c. A nice idea, when tuning the bars, is to suspend a bar between, say, two nails using a wound-up elastic band. The elastic can hold the bar (without slipping, if you wind it tight enough) at the node, allowing you to strike it and listen to the pitch.

It is very difficult to exactly predict what note a given length of a given material will produce. You have to take into account all sorts of physical properties of the material, which aren't easy to determine. The good news is, once you make one bar, and find out what note it plays, you can accurately predict any other length/pitch for the same material

 

Enough about the specifics of precision tuned frequencies one can make or purchase a wind chime in just about any size, ranging from tiny to really large. They are great additions to any garden, patio, or porch, unique in, that each one is difference in sound. They require minimal maintenance. You can buy them off the shelf from inexpensive to barely affordable. Wind chimes offer a delightful way to add to the theme of existing decorations and plants. your homemade wind chimes can be especially clever, perhaps using sentimental items, or those off the shelf. This will be your creation; from whatever assorted items you wish to use.

Even more enjoyable are homemade wind chimes that offer the added feature being made by you. Wind chimes are simple and fun to make. All it takes is a little bit of carefully thought out planning and initiative.

First, what is your choice for the theme of your wind chime. Once chosen, you can go about the business of collecting up your materials. Similar to manufactured wind chimes, homemade wind chimes can be made from a variety of materials. Once you have mastered the art for yourself, you can use a little creativity and ingenuity to create your own. visit your hardware store, or simply go on-line to get some ideas,

If you are handy with the drill, instead of attaching eyelet's to the glass chimes , simply drill and directly attached the fish line.

Material list:

Depending on the style of wind chime that you will be making, you may or may not need all of the listed items. The project is more easily completed if the necessary tools and materials are collected prior to actually beginning your project. Below are suggestions for either a metal, colored glass (acquired at the stained glass supplier) or wood types. But, the sky is the limit, simply use your imagination.

  • Drill (a little variation here, colored glass, metal and wood, will require different drill bits for your drill)
  • Cord or fishing line (20 lb fish line is the best)
  • Hack saw
  • Measuring tape
  • Scissors or wire cutters
  • Scrap lumber, Redwood is great for outdoors.
  • You'll need a wood saw, if you go with wood.
  • Glue (super glue is the best for securing the eyelet's)
  • Picture hanging kit, which includes Eyelet screws (1/8-1/4, depending on the size and weight of the chimes and above support) and wire for securing the different hanging themes. (
  • Theme items. Use at least 5 of whatever you choose for your chimes. You want to achieve motion and sound.
  • To achieve maximum sway and chime, you want your glass, pipes, wood, etc., at least 8" long and the rest graduated in length up in 1" increments.
  • The hanging supports. This bar is at least 8" wide, and thick enough to hold the weight of your theme items. You will drill a hole in it for each hanging item, as well drilling holes on each end (at least 1" in from the ends) for the support wires, those going up to your support for the wind chime. The upper support can be secured to a nail, a wire simply wrapped around a branch or an elaborate support bar, as used for holding flower baskets.

Note: In the case of bamboo pipes, they are usually not hollow. Perhaps this is why their sound is so unique.

How to:

  • Begin with any necessary decorating, painting, cleaning, or polishing that needs to be done to the theme items.
  • Use the drill if needed to create holes in each piece so that you will be able to attach the wires. Drill small holes into the bottom of your top theme holder, as well as two at the top.
  • In most cases, you will apply a few drops of glue in the hole and then set in your brass eyelet.
  • String each piece with different lengths of cord or fishing line. Be sure to tie a tight knot to secure it. Ideally you will use a double reverse knot, when using fish line
  • Determine the length of your cords to ensure some interaction midway is best, but varying heights, create different sounds.
  • When using hollow pipes (copper, bamboo or glass for your chimes, drill a hole through them, about 3/4" down from the top. After putting the line through each, balance the line, so it is in the center of the chime and pointing straight up to the securing bar.
  • Attach the free end of each length of cord or line to the eyelet's you installed in the hanging attachment, wooden rod, hanger, or other firm item.

 


Themes & Suggestions:

-
Collector spoons.
-Copper tubes
-Scrap stained glass
-Gong type (the type of metal is the key to the sound)
-Antique silverware in attractive patters
-Hollow bamboo pieces (really unique sounds)
-Key rings crafted in metal
-Sea shells
-pottery
-Medallions
-Make fish out of tin or copper sheeting
-Instead of using string, cord or fish line, use leather, similar in size to leather shoelaces.

Maintenance suggestion
:

The brass parts can be polished with a brass cleaner.
Use mild soap and water (or a foaming, non-abrasive cleanser) to clean the tubes, glass or plastic parts. Try not to dampen the string.
Many chimes are made of anodized aluminum that will not rust when exposed to the elements. However, over time, the aluminum may show pitting as a result of environmental factors. This will not affect the beautiful tones of your chimes. In corrosive environments, like coastal areas, the chimes will maintain a high luster if treated semi-annually with a protective lubricant such as gun oil or silicon spray. If cleaning is desired, we suggest that you use a nonmetallic scouring pad. Do not use steel wool.

 

 

Candle Wax Tip: To remove candle wax out of your candle cups, place in the freezer for a day and it will pop right out.

 

LUNA EYE PILLOW
Aromatherapy

The eye pillow gently conforms to your face to apply light pressure while the aromatic herbs stimulate your senses. They can be heated in the microwave/over or chilled in the freezer for an extra soothing effect.

Choose lavender for its soothing and relaxing scent, used to relieve headaches and stress or eucalyptus to help heal sinuses.

You can also use rice, flax seed (Flaxseed is perfect for those that are sensitive to scent), buckwheat hulls etc. Make sure that whatever you use does not provide a displeasing smell or release fine powders because this will surely be annoying.

Your eye pillow overall size should be 4" x 10" (10 x 25cm) which sufficiently covers both eyes and gives enough weight to provide for gentle pressure. You could make it a bit larger if you chose, but making it too large it will probably be too heavy. Making it too small then it will fail to cover both eyes and will be very lightweight.

This project is very simple if you have access to, and are familiar with a sewing machine. If not, you can perform the sewing by hand, but you will need a little more patience. It takes about an hour with a sewing machine, about 2 1/2 hours by hand.


Materials:

Quick method.

-Dupioni Silk fabric  (any appealing restful color)

-1 1 /2 cups of wheat (natural foods store)

-Lavender (
Lavender is a natural anti-depressant and is becoming well known for relieving insomnia, headaches and stress)

-Sewing machine (or you can hand stitch)

-Take the silk and cut out a rectangle 25 cm's X 50cms
 
-Fold in half so that the outside of the fabric is showing. then sewing on the wrong side of the fabric.

--Sew into a tube.

-Sew one end closed and turn right side out.

-Then using the wheat fill the bag. You can also add lavender sprigs to help with migraines and relaxation.

-Sew the end closed with a needle and thread.

-This pillow can be chilled in the refrigerator or heated in the microwave depending on your mood

Now all you have to do is simply lay down or lean back in a chair and face the ceiling. Gently place the eye pillow across both of your eyes and concentrate on the darkness and gentle pressure afforded by it.


 

Childs Picture frame project:
Materials:
Crayolas
Glue
Scissors
8 popcicle sticks
Glitter, Stars
9" X 12" white art paper.

How to:

1. Glue sticks into a square pattern on the art paper, each end touching the other.
2. Decorate (lightly apply glue to each) sticks, and sprinkle with glitter. As the stars already have an adhesive, place the stars on the stick prior to applying the glue. ( Instead of this, they can simply do their designs freehand with the crayons).
3. Have your artist now draw a picture in the box, surrounded by the glued-on sticks.
4. Cut away excess paper outside of the popsicle stick frame.



Tip: Hot Glue gun

There are different types of hot glue, ranging in melting temperature, and strength. The drawbacks of this glue are that it can melt the material you are working with, it will never give you a smooth application, it leaves those telling spider webs, and it does not with stand cold temperatures.

Operation your Glue Gun:

-Plug the glue gun into an electrical outlet. Make sure it is placed in a secure place, away from flammable items. As the glue gun heats up, a little bit of glue might drip from the end so you won’t want to leave it on a wood table or on carpet.

-Insert a glue stick into the back of the glue gun. If the glue gun already has a glue stick in the chamber, keep a second one in reserve nearby.

-Gather the materials you want to glue together. Hot glue works exceptionally well on thick fabrics, dried flowers, Styrofoam, wood and plastics. Since it leaves a thicker residue, it is not the best choice for thin papers, fabrics and ceramics.

-Check to see if the glue in the gun has melted by squeezing the trigger slightly and touching the tip to a test piece of paper. If the glue comes out easily, the glue gun has heated up fully. If the trigger is hard to pull, wait a minute more for the gun to heat more completely.

-Pick up the glue gun and squeeze the trigger slightly while you draw a thin line on one side of the item to be glued.

-Immediately place the other object to be glued on the glue line, pressing firmly.

-Hold the two pieces together for about 15 seconds. Test to see if the item still holds when you remove one hand.

-Let the item set for a few minutes in order to “cure.” Once the glue has dried fully, use a fingernail to scrape away any of the excess glue.

 

Here are some other tips for using hot glue:

  • Always keep your glue gun in an upright position. Leaving it on its side damages the thermostat.
  • If you have let the gun sit for a while, there will be a buildup of melted glue at the nozzle, just waiting to gush out uncontrolled. Release the trigger on a piece of cardboard before applying the glue to what you wish to bond.
  • Use a popsicle stick to spread out the glue while it is still hot.
  • Keep a bowl of cold water handy, for if you do burn yourself.
  • The faster you manage to get the glue applied and the materials bonded, the smoother your application will be.
  • Hot Glue can attach a porous material (e.g. wood) to a small piece of non-porous material (e.g. glass beads) provided it can encase it. Much like the setting of a gemstone in a ring


If you make a mistake with your hot glue gun, simply place the object on wax paper and microwave for a minute or so. Remove and re-do. Obviously if the project item is to tall, your out of luck. Microwave 101. "No Metal". If you have problems with your glue gun drippings, try using a clay pot saucer. Simply lay the glue gun down in it, when not in use. If one applies hand lotion on their hands prior to working with hot glue, usually the glue will not stick to your hands, and preventing burns. Still be cautious! BURNS HURT!

 

RIBBON EMBROIDERY  

Tips and advice on ribbon embroidery from choosing the right materials for your ribbon embroidery project to threading the needle and handling some of the more complicated stitches.

Choosing Ribbons

100% silk is recommended.

You should buy at least 3 meters to 5 meters of each color you want to use in your project and 3 to 6 shades of green (where required).

Silk ribbon is available in a wide variety of widths, but the most common are: 2mm (great for French knots, small leaves and buds, and daisies); 4mm (most often used for flowers and leaves); and 7mm (ideal for gathered flowers and large leaves).

Choosing your needles:

When you are stitching through a tightly woven fabric, use a chenille needle. It has a sharp point and a large eye. These two features help get the ribbon through the fabric with the least stress.

If you are stitching on a sweater or a loose woven fabric, a tapestry needle should be used.

In either case, the size of the ribbon determines the size of the needle, thus: 2mm - needle size 22 or 24; 4mm - needle size 20 or 22; 7mm - needle size 18.

Threading the needle:

Use a 12 to 14-inch length of ribbon.
Firstly, slip the ribbon through the needle, next pierce the ribbon 1/2 inch from the end, and finally, pull the length of the ribbon to lock it on the needle.

 

 POSTERS & PRESENTATION 101

The following can be used for your Arts & Crafts fairs, children's arts, middle, high, college and university, as well as for executive presentations.

Readability is a measure of how easily the ideas flow from one item to the next. Text that has lots of grammatical problems, complex or passive sentence structure, and misspellings is "hard to read". A common error in poster presentations is the use of fonts that are too small to be read from 8 feet away, this is your typical distance a passerby will be reading your poster from.

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Studies show that you have only 11 seconds to grab and retain your audience's attention so make your leading introduction prominent and brief. Most of your audience is going to absorb only the introduction.

Here are some ideas about how to get the most attention for your efforts.

Designing the poster panels deserves consideration. Most posters are most quickly made using some kind of computer software. A word processing program plus a few graphics’ packages (e.g. Microsoft PowerPoint, Macromedia Freehand, Adobe Illustrator, Adobe Photoshop, Adobe PageMaker) are important tools. Of these, PowerPoint has the least sophisticated graphics options. If you have not tried computer graphics or are just starting out, find someone whose poster you like and ask them what they use and if they like it.

CHOOSING BETWEEN TWO POPULAR FORMATS:

a large format poster or

These are printed as a single large sheet.

a multiple panel poster.

These are composed of printed individually elements, predominantly 8.5X11 inches each, that get assembled into a poster on site.

The style you chose is a matter of cost and personal taste. What are the tradeoffs? Large format posters require access to a large format printer (Fedex/Kinko’s or other computer-based copying companies have these) and the latter can be done largely with tools in your office or lab. Both formats are portable although large format posters are awkward to carry without a good carrier tube with a shoulder strap.  Both are affordable ($0.5 to 1.0 per inch versus about $50 for a multiple panel poster). In contrast to the multiple panel poster, you must reprint the whole large format poster if 1) the data change at the last minute or 2) the colors on printing turn out to be really ugly or 3) you spill a liquid on it (unless laminated they run badly if they get wet). If any of these factors are at issue, you may wish to consider a multiple panel poster: it is easy to reprint individual elements without having to make the whole thing over again. Although there is no question that it is easier to mount the large format poster once on site - 4 tacks and you are done - there is no way to rearrange the panels within your large format poster once it is printed. If you are going to two meetings and need a different sized poster for each, then you might consider a large format poster instead since unless you omit panels or change the spacing between them, the multiple panel poster is somewhat harder to change in size.

Present your message:

Keep it short and sweet and make this your title! Use the active voice (i.e., avoid "ing" on the ends of verbs) and avoid the verb "to be" whenever possible.

Space available:

Regardless of poster format, lay out the space physically as well as on paper to double-check yourself. If you can, make the poster flexible enough to change the size by adding or omitting panels or elements. This flexibility is handy if you are going to more than one meeting, if the poster boards are not exactly the size advertised, if the meetings have different in size requirements for posters, or if you wish to update your data between meetings.

Your "preliminary" layout

Before you actually spend time making the final panels of the poster, take pieces of paper that are about the right size and see if you can actually make it all fit. This will save you a lot of time in the long run.

Capture time:

Given that the average poster gazer spends less than 10 minutes on your work and you have 11 seconds to trap your subject before they move on, only show data that adds to your central message. You do need a Title, Authors, Introduction, Results, and Conclusions. Some meetings require you to include the abstract also. Usually, omitting Materials & Methods is fine: most people will not read them anyway. If you wish, have a methods handout for those who ask for it. Although sometimes the method is essential to understand the data or the validity of the conclusions, most of the time, a short version here will do as well.

Consider making handouts that include the full poster in miniature on one face and then all that other material on the opposite side.  Methods, references, detailed contact information, advertisement for a postdoctoral fellowship (to ask for or to give out one), or extra data are all good options for the flip side. Take from 50-400 handouts per a meeting and leave them as a stack under your poster. This is a great way to gauge the success of your poster.

Poster Components:

Different aspects

People approach new information in a known spatial sequence: we track vertically from center to top to bottom, and horizontally from left to right. This means that you should put the most important message in the center top position followed by the top left, top right, bottom left, and finish in the bottom right corner. That's why the poster title should be your punch line because, in that position, the title and your name will be seen in the first 11 seconds that a person looks at the poster.

The overall format of a good poster is dictated by the way we assimilate information. For example, you would never put your first panel on the right and ask your reader to proceed to the left because we are not trained to read that way. Newspaper format, two vertical columns that are arranged so that you read the left one first and then the right one, is highly "readable" since the reader does not spend time figuring out which panel to read next. A left to right horizontal rows arrangement works too but is not as common. You can easily walk around any meeting and find lots of variation.

Space is important in a poster: without it, your reader has no visual pauses to think. Books leave space on the margins and by having chapters. Posters that are crammed with information are tiring to read and are seldom read in their entirety. Omit all extraneous text or visual distractions, including borders between related data and text, so the reader can assimilate your ideas easily.

Size of poster elements or the fonts in each panel can serve to emphasize the main points. For example, making your subheadings in all capitals and two font sizes larger than the rest of the text on the same panel will draw the reader's eye first, and so be emphasized. The use of multiple fonts in a poster can distract from the science.

You will lend the most power to your words if you spatially arrange the text in each panel of your poster following the same principles used for the poster layout as a whole. A common street sign reads "go children slow". Because the word "children" is in capitals larger than the other words and is in the center of the image, you read "Children, go slow" even though that is not the actual spatial arrangement of the words in the sign. This sign is powerful, succinct, and highly readable.

Practicality speaks:

It takes time to make a great poster. Regardless of format, allow 2 to 3 days to assemble all the bits and pieces, such as photos etc., and then 1.5 to 2 days to assemble the poster. That last bit of data you rush around to get at the last moment will go completely unnoticed if your poster is messy and disorganized i.e. illegible and unreadable.

It costs roughly $50 to make a poster for either format. If you have poster made for you it can cost from $300 to $2,000 depending on how much of it you do yourself.

A great poster is easy to mount on site and can be flexible in assembly in case the poster space is smaller than advertised. If you cannot mount the poster by yourself or the poster is awkward for one person to mount on the materials provided, be sure you arrange for someone to help you. For example, when the poster boards are wobbly it can be hard to push the pins in without pushing over the poster board! Often the person next to you will be glad to exchange labor. If you opted for a multiple panel poster then a map of how the poster should look when it is done is handy when you need to work quickly, are distracted or nervous.

Font sizes need to be big to be effective. A good rule is to stand back from your own poster: if you, who are familiar with the material, cannot easily read it from 6 feet away, either can your audience.

Choose a basic fonts that open at all sizes and that is supported by your printer. Ariel, Bookman, Helvetica, and Geneva are examples of good choices. If your font is not supported by the printer, you will get ragged edges on all your letters.

Highlighting a few parts of the text is done easily with: emphasize using Capitals, bold, italics and occasionally (the distance one see's the poster from, is going to matter) shadows

A color border or background is a fast way to add color to a poster. Choosing colors that do not compete with your data, that look good once printed, and that color-blind people can see is wise.

If you opted for a multiple panel poster, then LaserFoil allows you to make your printed words from a laser printer come out in color. Available in mat, glossy, and "prism" finishes, LaserFoil can add pizzaz to a poster. Colored graphic tape or dots, and white arrows (Chartpak, Lettraset) can be quickly applied to poster elements to draw attention to the elements you wish to.

Proper contrast will reduce eye strain and make the poster more legible and interesting visually. Again, be careful that the color does not outclass the visual impact of your data: too much contrast is hard on the eyes and can distract the reader from your data.

Adding light color backgrounds to your figures can make the poster attractive. For example, using white lettering and lines on a blue background can make your poster eye-catching. Like a painting, poster elements can also be double matted physically or digitally to add interesting contrast.

Images do not stay the same between one medium and the next and this is especially true for color quality. Although it is efficient to use computer-generated color images as poster elements, you always lose some fidelity in doing so. For example, the edges of letters will blur slightly in going from a slide to a printed image or vice versa. Also, the colors you see on your monitor are usually not what comes out on the slide or on the final, printed poster element. You can "adjust" your monitor and check professional color books that show what the slide film recorders will print. However, it will not be an exact match from screen to print no matter what you do. Automatic film recorders used to print computer images also vary from model to model and from run to run just like photographic printing machines do. To keep the color "true", request custom printing. A good rule of thumb is to switch media as few times as possible

Do get a small print of your large format poster before you print the big one to check for all these color issues.

Have some people look over your poster before you consider it "done". If they are confused, then your audience will be, it is far better to fix it now than to lose people at your presentation. Make your points on your poster, but, do not provide more than necessary, to put your presentation across.

Displaying your finished work is a big accomplishment so take time to enjoy it and your interactions at your appointed presentation. Remember that enthusiasm is contagious.



CANDLE MAKING 101

Necessary Materials

Paraffin candle wax
Candle Dyes (Not necessary, but you will most likely experiment with colors later on)
Candlewick
Heavy Pot (to melt wax)
and a suitable mold
Fragrances (As you become proficient in your candle making, you can experiment with fragrances).



Molds :

If you are using household *baking type molds, consider purchasing some from a second hand store.
The candle maker can use various molds found in the home, which are flexible and will release the hardened candle. There are also many molds specifically make for wax making, Check with your local supplier.

If using a mold other than one that has a inherent wax base to begin with , i.e., milk carton , spray a quick release agent (pam), prior to your pour.

Light weight plastic molds like Bowls or cups.
Polystyrene cups where it can be torn away from the hardened candle wax.
Milk, drink cartons & +*muffins molds, the types are endless

How to melt the Wax:
Place your required wax amount into a heavy pan and place it on the heat. Slowly heat the pan till all the wax in your pot melts. Do not allow the wax to get too hot.
If you do not have a heavy pot such as a cast iron pot, it is recommended that you use a double boiler method for safety.

Adding Dye:
Once you have melted your wax you can add your dye. Add a small amount at a time as it is very strong.
Note: When dried the color is much lighter.

Preparing the wick:
Dip your wick several times into the melted wax to give it a wax coating to insure it burns evenly.

Preparing the mold:
Start by cutting down your milk carton so that your candle mold is of appropriate size for the candle (or use other mold).

Next attach your wick to a pencil or length of wood that will sit across the top of your candle mold (top is the open end).

Next make a small hole in the bottom of the carton to thread your wick through. Pull it tight so that the wick from the pencil to outside of the carton is firm. A loose wick will cause your candle to have problems burning later on.

Now stick down the wick at the bottom with some sticky tape and using a piece of blu-tack or plasticine close up the hole so no wax can seep out.

Pouring your wax:
Be careful you do not spill the wax onto yourself and gently pour the wax into the mold. Fill it to the top but save a small amount for top ups in case of shrinkage and allow to cool.

Cooling off poured candle:
As it cools you will notice that the top will sink inwards, this is called shrinkage. Pour a small amount of wax on top of this to fill it up. Continue to allow to cool.

Removing the mold:
If it is a single use mold (such as a milk carton) then just tear it away. If it is plastic then run the outside of the mold in hot water, this will melt the outside wax helping it to adhere to the mold and it should just slip out.

Finishing:
If your mold it not flat at the bottom then place it directly onto a hot pan surface and melt it down flat to tidy it up and finish it off.

Frequently asked questions pertaining to Candle making:

How are candles made?

While modern candle-making processes vary, most candles are made through the timeless process of placing a cotton wick into wax which is then molded, dipped, extruded, pressed, rolled, drawn or filled into a desired shape and size.

What are the typical ingredients in a candle?

A candle consists primarily of wax and a wick. Many candles also contain dyes or pigments for color and fragrances for scent as well as other minor ingredients.

Does the industry have standards for candles?

Yes. Members of the National Candle Association have a long tradition of making high quality, long-lasting and safe candles. In addition, NCA works with the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) to develop voluntary standards for the candle industry. ASTM standards currently exist for the fire safety labeling of candles and the heat-resistance of glass candleholders. NCA continues to work with ASTM to develop additional standards for candles.

What should I know about using candles safely?

Candles are safe when burned properly, responsibly, and according to manufacturers' directions. When burning candles, consumers should always follow these basic safety rules:

Lighted candles should always be within sight. Never leave a burning candle unattended.

Never burn a candle on or near anything that can catch fire.

Keep candles out of the reach of children and pets.

Read and follow all manufacturer instructions carefully.

Trim the wick to ¼ inch each time before burning.

Always use an appropriate candleholder placed on a stable, heat-resistant surface.

Keep burning candles away from drafts, vents and air currents.

Extinguish a candle if it smokes, flickers repeatedly, or the flame becomes too high. Cool, trim wick, check for drafts, and re-light.

Keep the wax pool free of wick trimmings, matches and debris at all times.

Do not burn a candle for longer than the manufacturer recommends.

Always burn candles in a well-ventilated room.

Extinguish the flame if it comes too close to the holder or container. For a margin of safety, discontinue burning a candle when 2 inches of wax remains (1/2 inch if in a container).

Never touch or move a votive or container candle when the wax is liquid.

Extinguish pillar candles if the wax pool approaches the outer edge.

Place lighted candles at least 3 inches apart from one another.

What kind of label information is required to be placed on candles?

Currently there are no federal labeling requirements for candles, other than those required for consumer commodities under the Federal Trade Commission’s Fair Packaging and Labeling Act (manufacturer’s name, commodity weight, measurements, etc.). NCA members typically place safe-use instructions on their candles or the candle packaging. NCA spearheaded the drive for candle fire-safety labeling, working with the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) to create voluntary labeling standards for the industry.

What sort of chemical reaction is created by burning a candle?

When a candle burns, the flame "consumes" the wax to produce water vapor and carbon dioxide, the same harmless byproducts humans produce when exhaling. This is true for all types of candle waxes.

Are certain candle waxes better than others?

No. All types of quality candle waxes perform well, burning cleanly and safely when formulated and used properly. Candle manufacturers select waxes or blends of waxes based on their characteristics and their suitability for specific types of candles.

Do scented candles burn differently than unscented ones?

Not really. A well-made scented candle – like an unscented candle – produces harmless water vapor and carbon dioxide when burned. The only difference with a scented candle is that a fragrance is released as well. Reputable candle manufacturers carefully monitor the addition of fragrance to ensure a "clean" and proper burn. There is a maximum amount of fragrance that can be added to a candle before it will no longer burn cleanly or properly. There have been some reports of homemade candles containing too much fragrance, or fragrances not approved for candle use, which can cause improper burning.

What should I do if my candle smokes?

A well-made candle will create virtually no smoke when burning properly. However, noticeable smoking will occur whenever a candle’s flame is disturbed, which allows minute particles of unburned carbon (soot) to escape from the flame. Any candle, regardless of formulation or wax type, can be made to smoke by causing the flame to flicker.

To minimize candle flickering, trim the wick to 1/4 inch before lighting, and place burning candles away from vents, drafts and other strong air currents. If a candle continues to significantly flicker or noticeably smoke, it should be extinguished. Allow it to cool, trim the wick, check for drafts, and then re-light.

Do candles contain lead?

There is no lead in candle wax, and no member of the National Candle Association (which accounts for 90 percent of all candles made in the U.S.) uses lead wicks. NCA members voluntarily agreed more than 25 years ago not to use lead wicks.

Although some candles – primarily imports – reportedly contain lead wicks, the majority of wicks manufactured in the U.S. are made of 100% cotton or cotton-paper combinations. Although some U.S.-made candles contain metal wicks, these are typically zinc or tin wicks, which are known to be safe and non-toxic.

The National Candle Association strongly supports the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission in its effort to ban lead wicks from the U.S. market.

 

Candle Safety Tips

Candles are safe products, but may become hazardous when used improperly or in an unsafe manner. National fire safety agencies report that the bulk of candle fire incidents in the United States are due to consumer inattention to basic fire safety or to the misuse of candles. The National Candle Association recommends the following safety tips when burning candles:

Always keep a burning candle within sight. Extinguish all candles when leaving a room or before going to sleep.

Never burn a candle on or near anything that can catch fire. Keep burning candles away from furniture, drapes, bedding, carpets, books, paper, flammable decorations, etc.

Keep candles out of the reach of children and pets. Do not place lighted candles where they can be knocked over by children, pets or anyone else.

Read and carefully follow all manufacturer instructions.

Trim candlewicks to 1/4 inch each time before burning. Long or crooked wicks cause uneven burning and dripping.

Always use a candleholder specifically designed for candle use. The holder should be heat resistant, sturdy and large enough to contain any drips or melted wax. Be sure the candleholder is placed on a stable, heat-resistant surface.

Keep burning candles away from drafts, vents and air currents. This will help prevent prevent rapid, uneven burning, smoking and excessive dripping. Drafts can also blow lightweight curtains or papers into the flame where they could catch fire. Ceiling fans can cause drafts.

Keep the wax pool free of wick trimmings, matches and debris at all times.

Do not burn a candle for longer than the manufacturer recommends.

Always burn candles in a well-ventilated room.

Extinguish the flame if it comes too close to the holder or container. For a margin of safety, discontinue burning a candle when 2 inches of wax remains (1/2inch if in a container). This will also help prevent possible heat damage to the counter/surface and prevent glass containers from cracking or breaking.

Never touch or move a votive or container candle when the wax is liquid.

Extinguish pillar candles if the wax pool approaches the outer edge.

Candles should be placed at least three inches apart from one another. This is to be sure they don’t melt one another, or create their own drafts that will cause the candles to burn improperly.

One of the safest ways to extinguish a candle is to use a candle snuffer, which helps prevent hot wax from spattering.

Do not extinguish candles with water. The water can cause the hot wax to spatter and can cause glass containers to break.

Flashlights and other battery-powered lights are much safer light sources than candles during a power failure.

Never use a candle as light when you go into a closet to look for things.

Never use a candle for light when fueling equipment such as a lantern or kerosene heater.

REPRINTED FROM NATIONAL CANDLE ASSOCIATION WEBSITE.

Another option for candle making is to purchase candles on the cheap, at the dollar store. Shred and blend different colors together, to create your own color. Melt as if you were making a craft candle above, place in your homemade mold, add your wick and you’re on to your own new candle innovation.

Tip: Also, consider layering your colors? Use a empty jam jar for your holder. As the different colors melt, they will blend. You can use this candle over and over.

 

SCENTED ENVELOPE TIP:
Store your extra candles, scented & non-scented in a drawer, along with your envelopes. Or, purchase dried flowers with apple, orange and cinammon, place it in a sealed glad bag, punch holes in the bag, and place in the drawer. When corresponding,  you will have scented envelopes.

 

HOW TO TIE A BOW

  1. Unroll a fair amount of double-faced ribbon from spool. Decide how long you want the tail. Make a loop and pinch ribbon together above tail.
  2. Make more loops, pinching together ribbon at same point each time a loop is brought "around." Hold all loops together at pinched point.
  3. Slide a small length of wire over center of pinched-together loops. Wrap wire as tightly as possible around center and twist at back.
  4. Fluff and shape loops, Cut tails at an angle or in a "V".



Thread spool Tip: Drill small holes on the tip of the clear plastic (placing the spools on their side) lid, then pull up enough to grasp. You can do the same with spools of ribbon, this time using empty baby wipe or butter tub containers, only cut slits instead of holes.

 

 

 


 QUILTING TIPS

History:

Quilts are as much art form as functional, and they have existed for hundreds of years. They began in the lower classes, as thrifty peasant women used scraps of leftover material or pieces of worn out shirts or dresses to make blankets for their families. Gradually, quilts evolved into beautiful handcrafts, and since they are so large and labor-intensive, making them became a social event - the quilting bee. Neighbors or family members would gather at each other's homes, sit around a large wooden quilting frame, and assemble the quilts. In this way, they accomplished necessary work and were able to socialize, as well.

Quilts may be functional or purely decorative. Smaller quilts are often used as wall hangings, in the decorative sense, while a larger quilt may be neatly folded over antique quilt rack to give a country "Americana" look to the room. Functional quilts are used in the same way as bedspreads. They make the bed look neat, and also provide warmth. They come in every size, from tiny ones for a baby's crib, all the way to large quilts that cover a California king-sized bed.

Whether functional or decorative, what makes quilts famous for their beauty is their patterns. Some of these patterns’ pre-date the American Revolutionary War. One popular pattern is the double wedding ring, the familiar series of interlocking circles. The log cabin pattern is a series of blocks, with rectangular strips of fabric sewn at right angles to each other to form squares. Small octagonal pieces sewn together in groups form the flower garden pattern, and a five-pointed, stylized leaf forms the maple leaf pattern. Diamond shaped pieces sewn together can create the shooting star or lone star patterns. Some people prefer the arts and crafts look of the "crazy quilt," which is made of pieces of any scrap fabric sewn together in no particular pattern.

One specialized form of quilt emerged during the nineteenth century in America: the slave quilt. These quilts were functional as bed coverings, but also served another purpose: they gave directions that helped slaves escape north on the Underground Railroad. The quilts were sewn with various colors and symbols that represented the local roads, fields, plantations and streams. These quilts were on every plantation, hung on a clothesline or tree branch to give their messages. The orientation of the quilt as it hung changed the messages. These quilts also gave information about hiding places, food caches and safe houses to any who could read their language. They began appearing about 1835, when people from the north came to the plantations and taught the slaves how to make the quilts. The few slave quilts still in existence are in museums or are cherished family heirlooms.


Tip
: Organize your fabric inventory by color and theme to quickly locate fabrics for your quilting.

 If your sewing machine did not come with a quarter inch foot, you may be able to buy one for your machine or buy a generic one. It is well worth it. If you sew with the fabric just at the edge of the foot, and not beyond, maybe even a few threads closer to the needle than the edge of the foot, you should have a quarter inch seam.

Tip: When you reposition your hands when free motion quilting, take a stitch or two in place before you begin quilting again, to get oriented and avoid little squiggles.

Put a ruler under your needle and mark with masking tape where the quarter inch mark should be. If you use several layers of masking tape, it makes a little lip to work against. Electrical tape works well too. You can buy a magnet that will serve this purpose.

Do not use a magnet, if you're using a computerized sewing machine. Magnets demagnetize the computer; thus, your expensive unit is ruined!

Tip: When sewing a decorative machine stitch, set your machine to half speed and push your foot pedal all the way down. This will give you consistent even stitching.

Practice making an accurate 1/4" seam using scrap fabric until you are very good at it. Cut two pieces of fabric 2 1/4" wide; sew them together and iron, checking afterwards to see if they are 4" wide.

After washing your fabric use spray starch while ironing to replace the sizing. This makes it easier to get that accurate seam.

Tip: Use medium gray or taupe thread for all patchwork piecing, except for very light color fabric combinations.

Check each block after sewing to make sure it is right size, and make corrections before sewing them all together.

Unless your machine has an icon that appears to remind you when to oil it, a good rule of thumb is to clean and oil our machine after every second bobbin runs out!

Tip: Closely spaced quilting or stippling stitches are much more attractive when stitched with fine thread. Think about using silk thread on the top, a small machine needle, and lightweight bobbin thread.

 

Place your potpourri in a jam jar, and place a colored ribbon with bow around the neck. With or without the lid. If you opt for the lid, simply poke holes in it.

 

POTPOURRI

Dried Potpourri

*Materials:

Dried flowers buds
Dried petals
Allspice
Cloves
Cinnamon sticks
Star anise
Fixative (orrisroot, fiber cellulose, oakmoss, sandalwood chips, gum benzoin, storax)
Fragrance or essential oil
Small glass container with airtight lid
1-gallon covered glass container with lid
Stainless-steel mixing tool

  1. Add essential oil to fixative (10 drops oil to 4 tablespoons fixative) and mix thoroughly. Store mixture in small capped glass container for a month.
  2. After storing seasoned fixative, add it to a blend of flower petals, blossoms and spice that have been combined as desired.
  3. Store potpourri blend in gallon glass container for another month to fix the scent.
  4. Use as desired and store in covered glass container.


SPICE SCENTED KITCHEN PAD

Materials:

5 pieces of felt (2 of the same color)
Black heat-resistant thread or yarn
2 oz. whole cloves
2 cinnamon sticks, broken in half
Embroidery needle
Straight pins

How to:

  1. Cut 2 pieces of felt (in same color) into 7" squares.
  2. Cut a decorative folk motif about 4" high and 3" wide from another color of felt.
  3. Use heat-resistant thread or yarn and a buttonhole stitch to attach the motif to the center of the felt square.
  4. Hand- or machine-stitch the 2 felt squares around 3 sides, approximately 1/4" from the outside edge.
  5. Fill the pad with cloves and cinnamon and sew remaining edge.
  6. To cover stitching around outer edge, embroider with buttonhole stitch.

*For a dried potpourri mixture, use whatever fragrances, colors and textures you find aesthetically and aromatically pleasing.

Make your own homemade potpourri, it can be made from herbs and spices found in the kitchen spice rack. A simmering potpourri can be made by combining herbs in an old pot and simmering on low heat. Cloves, chamomile, cinnamon sticks, and mint can be combined with essential oils (or used alone) to remain fragrant for days.

 

Child Silhouette Tip:
Have your children lay down on a long piece of construction paper and you trace their bodies. After this is finished let the kids color and draw on the paper what they think they look like. Some very interesting child views.

 

 FLOWERS PRESSING

Collect flowers from your garden at bud stage or while in full bloom (don't use flowers that are beginning to wilt). Flowers with a flat calyx will dry quicker than flowers with thicker calyxes.

To make your own flower press, you'll need the following:
Plywood,1/2" thick, 8" squares, two each.
Four 1/4 " X 2 1/2" bolts with washer and nuts.
1/4 " wood drill.
Small crescent wrench or open end wrench, to tighten the nuts.
Poster board and paper.

Drill a hole in each corner of plywood squares, making sure holes align. Insert bolts into one square with threaded end facing up. Balance the holes, so you have even pressure for your pressing. Drill the four holes in from each corner, approximately 1 1/2".

Cut poster bard and paper into squares on one plywood square between bolts. Place one poster-board square on plywood square, followed by one paper square. Arrange flowers on top of paper; cover with paper square, then poster board square. Continue to layer in this order to a thickness of 1-1/2" to 1-3/4", ending with poster board on top.

Place second plywood square on top, inserting bolts though holes. Screw on nuts as tightly as possible. Let flowers dry for one week, then tighten nuts again. Let flowers dry another two weeks, then check flowers. Drying time will depend on size and thickness of flowers.

PRESERVED FLOWERS

Materials:

Flowers
Rubber bands
Plastic box
Play sand
Silica gel
Metal cookie tin
Melted wax

Different methods:

  1. The first method is to air-dry flowers. After picking flowers, gather them together in a bunch, wrap a rubber band around the stems, and hang the bunch upside down to dry. Drying takes several weeks
  2. The second method uses sand to dry flowers. Pour a layer of white play sand into a plastic box. Lay flowers flat on the sand, and sprinkle more sand on top, to cover the blooms. Place the box in a warm, dry place. Flowers will dry in about three weeks
  3. The third method uses silica gel. Use an airtight container such as a metal cookie tin, and cover the flowers with silica gel. The flowers should be dry in three days. Silica gel leaves a residue on the petals that may be removed by sprinkling sand over them

Flowers dried with silica gel will wilt when exposed to humidity greater than 68 percent. To prevent flowers from drooping, dip them in hot wax immediately. If flowers are not waxed, they must be stored in a room with a dehumidifier that keeps the humidity under 68 percent.

Dried flowers retain their vibrant original colors and may be arranged like fresh flowers.

 

Wall scene tip: Consider placing your art in a double mat. but, instead of placing your art in a frame, place it directly on the wall with double-face tape. Properly done, it will have considerable depth and appear as dimensional. This effect works best on a light colored wall, but not a necessity, as you can vary it by the color of mat..

 

MATTING:


Mat Color selection:
When it comes to color selection there is no single correct answer, only the answer that is best for what you are trying to accomplish with the presentation of your art work. An example being, dark mats stand-out on light walls, and light mats stand-out on dark walls – dark mats will control your piece, while light mats will amplify it. You want your art to fit with the room’s decor. If at all possible, your mat should work with both your wall color and the artwork, although the rule of thumb when not sure – match the mat to the artwork first. And when choosing mat colors, go no lighter than the lightest color within your art, no darker than the darkest and no brighter than the brightest.

One mat or Double mat:

- If you choose to use one mat, use a neutral color. This can stretch from Off White to dull grey. Any neutral tone will enhance your art, but some will really stand out,  so worth with a few before simply going with White.

- If you plan on double matting, one way to go is to use a neutral color on top. And, for the "reveal," (the inner mat closest to your artwork) punch up the color by matching the mat to a dominant color in the artwork. This treatment will add new dimension to your presentation.

Note: Too many mats and a busy image could make your piece, too much.

Weighting:

Sometimes artwork needs a lift. If you are framing an extra-large or very long piece, or if the focal point of the piece happens to be near the bottom, consider "weighting" your mat by opting for a wider border across the bottom. In other words, select a mat that's a little wider on the bottom than on the top and sides. This gives a feeling of support for the heavy piece, makes it more balanced and easier on the eyes. Another way that you can apply this technique is when you are hanging two pieces of the same size next to each other on the wall. Simply have the mats cut smaller on the inner sides, so the pieces feel connected when hung together. The wider you weight your mats, the more dramatic – and the narrower, the more subtle.


Use secondary color in the composition to act as the principle mat color, and be sure to pay attention to the art’s dominant values and the prevalence of either cool or warm hues. Maintain this balance in your framing.
 
If you are matting black and white photography, stick with very white matboard.  If you are matting a watercolor in white, choose a duller white, usually a white that is a shade down from the brightest white in your composition.  If you are doing pencil drawings, use off-whites, grays and blacks.  Sepia photos call for light earth tones. Colorful contemporary art is enhanced by bright white matting and frames in primary colors.  Color selections aids such as fold out color charts and L-shaped mat board corner samples can assist you in making sound color decisions.

Image only
If you choose to display only the image in the window of the mat, plan to encroach on the edges of the image with the edges of the mat's window by 1/4", in which case the window will be smaller than the image.

Paper Complete
You may choose to display the paper complete in the window of the mat.  In other words, you wish to display the image, its complete borders and the edges of the paper.  In this case, the artwork must first be mounted to a separate piece of matboard and then a window mat will be placed over it.  The window of the mat will, of course, be larger than the artwork.

The overall size of the mat is also the frame size, and it is also the size of the glass that lies over the matted artwork and the foamboard backing that goes behind it.so by arriving at the overall mat size you are also arriving at the all-important frame size. A mat only consists of the window and its surrounding borders, so by adding the mat's borders together with its window you will arrive at the overall mat size. 


An average border size for mats is from 1-1/2" to 3", so deciding what frame size to use can be easy. Add three to five inches to the outside dimension of the photo to see what the closest standard frame size to use would be, for example, your photo size 8" x 10"  so add three inches to these numbers and you get 11" x 14" which is a standard frame size. To figure out what the border sizes for this mat would be simply subtract each dimension of the photo size from the frame size and divide by two.

 

 

Frame Tip:
In choosing frame color and style, keep in mind the character of the composition as well as the area in which your picture or portrait will presented.  Frames that are straight, stream-lined, and those frames with minimal ornamentation in lacquer or metal tend to have a contemporary appeal. Whereas, traditional wood frames rely on the character of the wood, being more conservative in appearance. On the other hand gold and silver frames (ornamental in appearance) are dated to centuries past.

 

 

 

                      PICTURE FRAMING

 

There are three main elements of picture framing; The picture, the mat and the frame. Creating a well-balanced framed photograph requires the correct balance of these three. Use too large of a mat and your picture disappears, use too thin of a frame and the picture becomes understated.

Decorating with pictures can be seen as a form of art. You need to decide is what mood or feeling would you like to create? What colors are already present in your room? Are you after a soft, peaceful country setting or a bold, modern setting? Here are a few ideas on how you can use picture frames to brighten your home. It is not necessary to hang your pictures at the same height all the time. Staggering the positions of the picture frames will be eye catching and interesting

Change the sizes of the picture frame you use to match the expanse of wall you are working with. Use smaller picture frames in cozy areas like bathrooms and hallways. For larger wall areas, use larger picture frames to accent ceiling heights. If you already have a bunch of small frames and have a large area to work with, try vertically aligning (stacking) your pictures to have a heightening effect. You could also have a large picture frame accented with a couple of smaller ones.

There are a variety of methods you can use to create that special look in your home. Its as easy as getting ideas and starting to let your mind flow! Once your mind starts working, you will start to see how just a few picture frames can really change the feel and atmosphere of your living area.

Hang your picture so it will appear at its best, when you take advantage when the light from the window or lamp that illuminates it comes from the same direction as the light in the painting.

Accenting bookshelves and tables with unique frames that reflect your personality. These areas are cozy. Use them to show a more intimate portion of your family life. For these areas, consider using paper picture frames or glass picture frames. Family photos work really nice in these areas. You could also consider contrasting your larger wall picture frames with creative and unique designs such as those found in our exotic import collection of frames.

Instead of using a frame to hold your art, place the picture between two glass plates. Utilizing only metallic clamps at the four corners  to hold the glass plates together. You will find that artificial light used in the room will then cast a shadow of the picture on the wall behind and can add "depth" to the picture surface. You can secure your art to the wall with double face tape.

When measuring for Custom Made frames:

-Keep in mind, that images, such as landscapes, abstracts and florals look wonderful as oversized art.

-
Use acrylic glass, instead of glass when framing largess pieces,  it weighs less, making it ideally safe for large art.

-
When presenting art on canvas, use a canvas floater metal or wood frame. They are attached to the canvas's stretcher bars for strength.

-
Instead of using wire, find a stud in the wall and use the appropriate picture hanger for the weight of your piece, a stud is not always necessary, as there are many sturdy sheetrock now on the market. Keep in mind that many fine pieces of art are best displayed, utilizing a wire.

Keep proportional by displaying oversized art with oversized furniture. You can also use large art to balance rooms with large windows or grand architectural features.

-Add impact to small rooms by using oversized art as a focal point in the room. Small spaces can easily become cluttered, so one large piece instead of several small pieces will keep walls neat and orderly. Hang a large work of art on the largest wall in the room. Landscapes, in particular, will visually open cramped rooms.

(If possible, it is wise to provide your frame maker with the actual art work, doing this will provide for the best end results)

As you are spending quite a bit of money on these frames, it is imperative that you provide exact measurements. Measure the exact width and height of the outside dimensions (including the mat) of your artwork to the nearest 1/8". Use these dimensions for the size of your frame, acrylic and backing board.

Frames custom-cut to a fraction of an inch are priced to the next whole inch.

Note: For a stretched canvas, measure from wrapped corner to wrapped corner.

Measure the exact width and height of the outside dimensions (including the mat) of your artwork to the nearest 1/8". Use these dimensions for the size of your frame, acrylic and backing board.

On a rainy day let your children make their own frames for portraits of friends or family. Mount each photograph on stiff (5"X7") cardboard with double-sided adhesive tape, leaving a 1/2 in margin all around. For a homemade frame, glue wooden pencils to the margins.


Mounting:

To safe-guard your art work


Mounting tapes, unlike adhesive transfer tapes, are designed primarily for the mounting of artwork to a mat or backing board. They are also commonly used to attach the mat and the backing board together along the top edge, what is called "hinging", so that they remain aligned in the frame. Paper mounting and hinging tapes are simply those where the tape itself is made of paper, as opposed to, say, linen or tissue. They are the most common type and are used to mount most art on paper. For heavy watercolor paper and large posters, linen tape is preferred as the greater tensile strength will prevent tearing under the weight of the artwork. Mounting and Hinging Tissue is employed on lightweight or translucent artwork, such as rice paper. Where other types of tape can be seen through the paper, mounting and hinging tissue is virtually invisible.

Frame Sealing tape, which is an aluminum tape used to seal the inside of a wood frame's rabbet to prevent acid migration. Wood contains lignin which can seep acid. Acid can migrate from the wood into whatever the wood is in contact with, and given enough time, can cause acid burn in that material. The stack of matboard, foamboard and glass that you place in the recess (the "rabbet") at the back of the wood frame, contacts the wood along the edges and is therefore susceptible to acid contamination. By using frame sealing tape along the rabbet, an aluminum barrier is put in place to contain acid migration and prevent the frame contents from falling victim to acid.

Acid free white artists tape and acid free masking tape are best used to seal the edges of the stack of matboard, foamboard and glass prior to placing them in the frame recess.  When you place the frame contents in the recess and press down on them to insert points or brads, the pressing and releasing of the stack can create a bellows effect which can suction lint and dust into the frame space.  By sealing the edges of the stack with white artists tape or acid free masking tape, you prevent debris from getting inside.

FrameTac Professional Framer's Tape is probably the best. It comes off the roll ready to stick with no annoying liner to have to peel away, but it is only reversible with heat. Reversibility is the ability to release the adhesive bond, making it unsticky so it can be peeled away from the artwork without tearing it. If you have to put the mounted artwork in a heat press to reverse the bond, you cannot effectively release it unless you have a heat press. This is not easy reversibility. Nevertheless, if the artwork is relatively inexpensive, and you cannot not foresee the need to reverse the bond, and you just want a quick, easy way to mount it, the FrameTac Professional Framer's Tape would be a good choice.

 

LAMP TIP:
1. When redecorating a room, update your old lamp by wrapping your old lamp with fabric that will work with the new decor. Imagine the lamp sitting in a sack of fabric and a bow tied at the neck.

2. Lamps that have a clear base can be filled with various colored ribbons or filled with different round colored Christmas ornaments.

 

SAND PAINTING

This is an excellent art to keep young children and even preschoolers occupied. This is an art form used by the Navajo Indians in the America's in Healing ceremonies. The sprinkling of colored sands into designs made up conventionalized symbolic figures.

Many years before Christopher Columbus actually stumbled upon the Americas there actually were people living in North America. The native American people, also called American Indians, had been living on the continent of North American for many years and by the time the Americas were discovered it is estimated that there were over 10 million native Americans already living on the continent. These people had been living on this continent far longer than most people actually imagine, with actual documentation going back to around 150000 BC, when the Sandia Indians were first documented on the continent.

Traditionally, the dry paintings are created to heal a person during a ceremony.  The type of image and ceremony used is determined by the illness or disease from which the person is suffering.  The sand painting may contain an image of the Holy People called yeibicheii.  The tribe medicine man may ask the yeibicheii to help him paint the image and therefore help heal the person in need.  The medicine man also checks the sand painting for accuracy as far as symmetry is concerned.  The more accurate the sand painting, the more healing it can do.

Southwest Indians were generally characterized by animism and shamanism. Animists perceive the world as filled with living entities: spirit-beings that animate the sun, moon, rain, thunder, animals, plants, topographic features, and many other ...



PS: AFRICAN-ASIAN CULTURE

Sand Painting has been performed for many thousands of years, through-out Asia and Africa. From all the artistic traditions of Tantric Buddhism, that of painting with colored sand ranks as one of the most unique and exquisite. Millions of grains of sand are painstakingly laid into place on a flat platform over a period of days or weeks to form the image of a mandala. To date the monks have created mandala sand paintings in more than 100 museums, art centers, and colleges and universities in the United States and Europe.

Mandala is a Sanskrit word meaning sacred cosmogram. These cosmograms can be created in various media, such as watercolor on canvas, wood carvings, and so forth. However, the most spectacular and enduringly popular are those made from colored sand.

This art can be performed indoors or out. Outlined is the basic necessities for beginning this art form.

Click here for a few examples of Beautiful Sand Painting

MATERIALS:

Inexpensive white play sand, Pencils, bowls, food colors (or egg carton), rubbing alcohol, construction paper (white or brown), paint brushes and Elmer's glue.

How to:

  1. Separate sand into plastic bowls. Add food color (less or more depending upon desired vibrancy) also add a few drops of rubbing alcohol, which helps mix the colors throughout the sand. Mix thoroughly and let air dry in "open" containers. This may take a few days so early preparation is important.
  2. Have the child sketch onto the heavy paper 6" X 8". If at possible provide a little background for your future artist, as to the history of sand painting. Of course, they certainly do not have to do Native American designs. A good beginning would be that of trees, shapes, words, animals, or a simple building shape with the glue. Make sure that they do not put globs of glue in any one spot. Mix their colors for them, accordingly to the image they are going to produce. Such as: turquoise, sky blue, green, orange, tan, browns, yellows, etc.

 

  1. Then at the "sand table", have them paint one section at a time with watered down Elmer's Glue. Next, before the sand dry's, have them lightly sprinkle with (it is traditionally done with the hand, scooping up a little sand in the palm of the hand, spilling out in the valley of a cupped hand) a plastic spoon their desired color of sand onto the wet glue, tapping off the excess back into the container. Have them do section after section until their design is covered with the sand. It will take a while for the sand/glue mix to thoroughly dry, at that point, you will lightly brush off the excess sand, which there should be little of. Your future sand painting artist will be thrilled at how this works, and love how their designs turned out!

 

Golf tee frame-  you’ll need are some golf tees, a bottle of craft glue and a plain (at least 1" wide ) picture frame. Then, just glue the tees onto the frame, and your project is complete. Note: To give the frame a bit of visual interest, use more than one color of tee and alternate the direction in which they are glued. (For a simple pattern glue one with the tip facing up, and the next with the tip facing down.) Now place your golfers picture in the frame.



 

BEADING 101

. Beading is an art from throughout the ages. Beading is a hobby, craft and an art form.

Jewerly Wire Tip:

Remove the kinks out of wire by running it over the edge of a table, applying pressure at the same time. Bending your wire too much can fatigue (over work it) it and thus causing it to break.

Did you know?

Beads are the oldest and most universal art form. this craft has been passed on from one generation to the next. It is also considered an economical craft work. They are fascinating and beautiful!  They have functioned as currency, gifts, works of art, and symbols of high status. Glass beads are recorded as being created, traded, and worn by the earliest civilized societies, from Egyptians to Romans, Vikings to Indians. There are nearly as many types of glass beads as there are colors in the spectrum.  More and more people are starting to collect beads every day.  The wonder of beads, their infinite variety, and the stories are what is behind their explosive growth.

Beading Tip:  Purchase an inexpensive 8X10 picture (you don't need the glass) frame from the Dollar store, place a piece of Bead matting (from the bead store) on it and your beads will not roll around. Great for travel beaders.

A few Bead terms to remember.

African Trade - African Trade beads are usually large, cylindrical, and colorful.  Trade beads were old glass beads mostly made in Venice 200-400 years ago, used for trade in Africa and the Orient.  African Trade Beads are among the hottest collectibles in the world today. They have become very popular and form the basis for a fast-growing number of bead collections.

Aventurine - Golden glitter due to copper crystals suspended in or pressed into the surface of other materials.

Cane Glass - Solid lengths of glass formed by drawing, then cut into the desired length particularly for decorative purposes. They can be different colors and patterns, displayed either on the side or in cross section.

Chevron - Chevrons are made of multiple layers of different colored glass in corrugated layers, so as to form a starburst pattern when viewed on end. Chevrons are created by building up layers of different colors, often successively molded in the process. They are next ground at the ends to display patterns.

Eye - Eye beads have a circle/dot mimicking an eye and intended to avert the evil eye.  Perhaps the most common of amulets.

Foil - Transparent or translucent beads in which silver or gold foil has been trapped within the body or on the surface of the bead.

Lamp work - Lamp work beads are handmade by manipulating slender glass rods in front of a gas burner.

Luster - Colorless transparent coatings that give a very high gloss to the underlying surface of the bead.

Matte - Beads with a very low-luster, velvety, smooth surface. Also referred to as " frosted ".

Millefiori - Millefiori is Italian for "1000 flowers."  Decoration consisting of slices of multicolored glass rods (canes), usually pressed smooth while hot into the surface of a core piece of glass. 

Pony - Beads made of glass or plastic, typically slightly oval in shape, the shorter dimension being through the hole.  Pony beads are larger than seed beads and smaller than crows.

Pressed - Pressed beads have a molded pattern which is consistent from bead to bead. Surface quality can range from very smooth and uniform with well-defined edges, to edges that are very rounded, and surfaces that have dips, flow marks, and other irregularities.

Seed Beads - Tiny type beads most often used in weaving and embroidery. Seed beads are made of
segments of drawn tubes of glass of various thicknesses, typically slightly oval in shape due to tumbling and polishing, the shorter dimension being through the hole.  Smaller than Pony beads.

Striated - Striated beads have an opaque, translucent, or transparent body with threads and swirls of other tones or colors on the surface or throughout.

White Heart- White Hearts have a white center under a translucent color. The light bouncing off the white center makes the bead look brighter and seems to sparkle.


Faster & Easier Beading

To see your beaded necklace or bracelet strand before you string it, lay the beads out on a ruler with a pencil slot or a piece or wood trim molding with a ditch-like hollow. Then, when you have the arrangement you like, just run the needle through the beads already set up for you in the little ditch.

Something to remember about wire for beading: The higher the gauge, the easier it is to bend (18 gauge wire is harder to work with than 22 gauge wire)

STRING BRACELET/SNECKLACES

  1. Cut a piece of nylon beading thread (or stretch bead cord) to desired length. Knot around a safety pin.
     
  2. Using a beading needle (for beading thread), string beads onto the thread.
     
  3. Follow your preferred pattern, or using alternating colors, to suit your design.
     
  4. Remove the needle and the safety pin when finished stringing beads. Knot both ends of the thread to finish off the necklace or bracelet.


Making a Bead Pendant:
Material:
20-22 gauge wire (go for the rainbow)
Wire cutters
Round nose pliers

How to:
String or wrap you beads at random on a piece of wire leaving a 2 inch tail on each end.
Bend, twist, loop, or coil you beads and wire into an obstruct design.
Bring tails together and wrap around a pencil-into a hanging loop. Wrap ends tightly below loop, and trim off excess wire with cutters.

Reversible Bracelet

Material:

2 scraps of heavy material or leather – about 4" x 8" each
clothes iron
fusible webbing
18-gauge wire
needle-nose pliers
scissors
leather cord
large bead

How to:

  • Lay out the material for the project on a flat work surface.  Use leather for one side of the bracelet and a heavy decorative upholstery fabric for the other side.
  • Loosely measure the diameter of your wrist and determine the desired width for the bracelet. Typically the bracelet is between 2 - 3 inches wide.
  • Cut the fabric piece 1/2" longer than the wrist diameter and 1/2" wider than the desired width for the bracelet.
  • Lay the fabric face down, fold all edges of the fabric in by 1/4" and press with a hot iron.
  • Trim the leather piece to be the same size as the folded fabric piece.
  • Cut a piece of fusible webbing slightly larger than the fabric piece
  • Position the webbing on the underside of fabric and use a hot iron to fuse it to the fabric. Trim any excess and peel the adhesive paper away.
  • Create small crossbars from 18-gauge wire to reinforce the bracelet and add interest to the look. Copper, brass, aluminum or stainless-steel wire works well.
  • Cut 4 pieces of wire that are about 4" wider than the bracelet.
  • Create some coils on each end of the wire; wrap the coils in different directions on each end of the wire.
  • Place the leather piece face down. Position the crossbars on top of the leather, centering the leather piece between the coils.
  • Choose a bead for the bracelet closure. Cut a piece of leather cord and make a loop that will go around the bead.
  • Position the leather loop so the loop sticks out from the leather but the tails are on top of the leather.
  • Lay the fabric piece face up on top of the stack and line everything up. 
  • Apply heat with a hot iron. The fusible webbing will seal everything together.
  • Attach the bead with a few hand stitches. Stitching an "X" around each wire crossbar provides additional support, if desired.
  • Your wrist wrap is ready to roll!

 

Glass Bead Jewelry

Materials:

  • Glass Beads
  • Beadalon bead stringing wire
  • clasp set
  • crimp beads or tubes
  • needle-nose pliers
  • wire cutters

How to:

  • Start with a length of bead stringing wire that is approximately six inches longer than the piece of jewelry you intend to make.  Slide on a crimp bead, then half of the clasp set. Bend approximately two inches of the wire, going back through the crimp bead, and draw it snug against the clasp.
  • Use your needle-nose pliers to flatten the crimp bead against the clasp so that it cannot slide up or down.
  • String all of the beads onto the wire (the first few beads should be strung over both thicknesses of wire).
  • Slide the second crimp bead onto the wire, then the other half of the clasp, then go back through the crimp bead and several other beads.
  • Pull the wire until all of the beads are snug against each other.  Then, flatten the crimp bead.  Use a pair of wire cutters to cut off the remaining wire as close to the beads as possible.

A thought
You may wish to purchase a Bead Board.  You can experiment with the layout of your beads and spacers until you are satisfied with the design.  This saves time as you will avoid having to restring beads.

Earrings

It is quick and easy to make beautiful glass bead earrings to match all your favorite outfits. Simply make two beaded pendants and attach ear wires!                                                                                                                                    
Materials:

  • 2 similar glass beads
  • 2 headpins or eye pins                             
  • 2 ear wires
  • Round nose pliers
  • Wire cutters

How to:

  • Start by following instructions for making two beaded pendants, however do not close the loops completely.
  • Attach the beaded pendants to the ear wire loops, closing the pendant loops completely.

 

Glass Bead Key Chain

Materials:

  • Glass beads
  • 18 - 22-gauge wire
  • Key ring
  • Round nose pliers
  • Wire cutters

How to:

  • Cut a piece of wire at least 4" longer than your beads.
  • Form a wrapped loop at one end using your round nose pliers.
  • Slip the beads onto the wire.
  • Form a loop or spiral under the beads and trim excess wire.
  • Add dangles at this point if you wish.
  • Slip a key ring through the wrapped loop.

 

Mementos Tip: Take  those ticket stubs out of the drawer, cut out pictures from the evenings program and place then in a picture frame, high-lighting your night(s) out, or take ticket stubs, newspaper clippings and other objects that you would like to display on your frame. Then, once you have your collection together, simply glue them onto the frame in an interesting arrangement. Note: To preserve the integrity of your keepsakes, be sure to use acid-free glue.

 

PHOTO BORDER SUGGESTIONS

Use Photo Shop for these techniques

  • Acid Edge - Brush on acid etched looks to your images and edges.
  • Montage - Combine multiple edges and effects together in a single composition to form a montage effect.
  • Ambient Brush - Lifts sections of the image up through patterned edges and shapes.
  • Photo Border - Add interesting borders around your image using border shapes and 3D depth tools.
  • Burned Edge - Burn away parts of your image with this photo-realistic edge burning brush.
  • Photo Tabs - Add photo tabs around your images using both traditional or modern styles combined with 3D depth effects.
  • Distort Edge - Brush on distortion effects to the edges to customize the look and style of the effect.
  • Putty Edges - Use Putty Edges to reshape and adjust the edges to better fit your images and needs.

You can easily create realistic framing effects for your digital photo images, right down to including your choice of matting. You're not limited to what you might ordinarily find in real-life, however, as you can also play around with 1000+ design options to create your own unique edging effects



 

Craft  Brush storage Tip:  Use empty  wide mouth bottles, such as gatoraid, to hold your paint brushes , with the bristle up, of course. Use drinking straws to hold the bristles in good form, thus, avoiding losing their shape.

 

Personal stickers!

Make your own personalized stickers! It is very easy - you can use your own photos, favorite clip-art, or make simply make up your own designs. Use any brand of sticker paper, such as Avery. There are numerous colors available, white, gold, silver, etc.  Making your own custom stickers is easy! Simply set up a page (the best method is to use a blank white sticker page for your set-up, of whatever designs you want for your stickers, print them out on your colored sticker paper, let the ink (ideally 20-30 minutes) dry, and then cut apart, or peel as needed.. You peel away the back cover and you can apply them to anything. It is very rare that the ink will run, of so, a possible solution is to spray it with a "Fixative spray".

 

View Tip:
Take two toilet paper empty rolls and staple inside each end stapling them together to look like binoculars. your child can decorate them with crayons or paints, consider adding a string around them, so they are just like the real ones.

 

Spool Tip: Place several spools of thread for hand sewing in a large salt shaker with a snap-off tip. Run each thread tail though a hold in the top. Provides for quick access.

 

 

 BATH SALTS

 

  • 1cup Epsom salts
  • Measuring cup
  • Lidded jar
  • Liquid Food Color
  • Pretty Container
  • A few drops of your favorite perfume
  • 1/2 yard of 1/2" to 1" wide ribbon

Measure 1/2 cup of Epsom salt into a jar with lid. Add a few drops of food color and shake. (More can be added to get the color you want) Open the jar and let the salts dry overnight. Add a couple of drops of perfume to the bath salts, shake, and pour into a decorative jar. Put on a lid and tie with your favorite colored ribbon.

 

Sticky Tip: If you get some glue on your metal tools such as scissors or probes, usually fingernail (deluted acetone) polish remover will remove it.

 

BRANCH, TWIGS AND PINE CONE ARRANGEMENTS


Wash your pine cones, twigs and branches in hot sudsy water and then place them on a cookie sheet lined with aluminum foil. "Be sure to use the foil", pine tar can really get messy. Turn on the oven to low (220 degrees) and bake them for about 1/2 hour or so, until they are dry. Baking them helps them to open and also gets rid of the pine tar. A warm oven will open up the cones and kill any bugs that are living in them.

If you are using moss, simply place it in  the microwave for 15-20 seconds, the little critters, will be no more.

Place your cones and twigs in an arrangement within a wicker basket. Add a little color with sprigs of green. foliage, or even some seasonal holly with berries. You can pick up a small bottle of pine oil essence and occasionally sprinkle a little on your arrangement.

 


 

Finger Paints


Children love being creative and having fun.  finger painting is one of them. Children will love making these paints as well as playing with them. You might be able to save some of your children's creations for decoration by letting it dry.

Flowers, the rainbow, a picture of you, their picture, your home, your pet, a tree, let their unlimited creative ,limagination flow.

Ingredients:
2 – tablespoons of sugar
A sheet of construction paper to place the finger paints on (or an old plastic table cloth)
1/3 cup cornstarch (or instead, 1 package of gelatin).
8X11 paper (or larger)  for the artist to present their art work
If you want the paint mixture to be shiny, add some glycerin (purchased at the drug store)
2 cups cold water
Various Food colorings
The following mixing procedure is for an Adult to perform!

This mixing task is best performed away from tubs and sinks, like outside.


a. Mix all dry ingredients and slowly add water.

b. Cook over low heat for about 15 minutes (do be patient. The paint starts to quickly thicken towards the end of cooking time) until the mixture looks like a gel.

c. Let cool and then stir 1/4 cup of liquid dishwasher soap.

d. Scoop into different small plastic containers (used margarine containers)

e. Stir in food coloring one "1" drop at a time, or *tempera paints for specific colors dividing into the smaller containers.


Use old foam meat trays for (McDonalds multi-cup carriers) holding the various colors, paper plates or empty margarine tubs.

Be sure to have lots of heavy paper on hand for painting.  These paints tend to be too wet for newsprint or regular paper.

*For Tempura paint: Mix liquid dish soap, and tempera paint to make finger paint. The mixture should be 3 parts paint to1 part dish soap.

To avoid your child getting this on their clothes (of course they will) think about providing them with an apron. Another idea, would be the use of a plastic trash bag, with the top cut out so they can pull it down over their head, as well as holes for the arms. Of course you will note, these instant poncho's are great for a rainy day, when caught without a raincoat.

Do remember, some of these food colors will leave stains on the artist hands, but it will disappear in a day or so.

Obviously, you want to be careful with any plastic bag and a child!


RICE PAINTING:

Place down an old newspaper
Provide your young painter with a piece of paper (8X11) or sandpaper for a great background and a good bonding service surface.
Provide a bottle of Elmers white glue
Provide your artist with colored rice (wild, etc.)
The artist can also use some different colors of *glitter to accent their masterpiece.
Have them draw out a design on the paper with the glue bottle
You can also color plain white rice with food coloring, but you will have to let it soak for a while (use empty margarine tubs, for the different colors) and then air dry. This could be tomorrows other project.
Now then can sprinkle the rice over the picture drawn in glue.
Put away to let dry.
The next day, you have a piece of artwork.

*Glitter can damage the eyes if rubbed it in. If your child is too young to understand "don't touch your face with paint on your hands", leave out the glitter.

Your own homemade Glitter (colored Salt):


3 tablespoons salt (Coarse salt or rock salt looks better.)

About 2 drops of food coloring (Depending if you need to mix colors to obtain a chosen color.)

Place the salt in a sandwich bag or sealable bag.  Add the more than one food coloring to make various colors.  Seal the bag.  Move the salt around using your fingers or a plastic spoon.  Keep the bag open.  Let your color creation dry.  (usually takes about a half a day) If using table salt, place in salt shakers by cutting a hole in the bottom side of a sealable bag.  Place it in the salt shaker. 

If you use coarse salt, have the child (plastic) spoon it onto the glue or using their fingers.

 

 Light Tip:  When tracing, make a portable light table with an inexpensive portable flourescent light strip placed under a inverted (flat surface) clear plastic storage bin.

 

Clay Working Table

Never work on a wooden table surface. Polymer clay will damage a wooden table. Cover your wooden table with a canvas cover, as the clay will stick to plastic and wood.

If using food utensils in clay projects (spoons, cookie cutters, pasta machines) do not use for food preparation again.

If you have not completed your project and want to work on it later, cover it with plastic, so it will not dry out.

Always condition the clay before you start to work with it. Knead it thoroughly in the warmth of your hands.

Before using a mold, lightly coat the mold with non-stick spray, cornstarch, or water to prevent the clay from sticking.

Do not pour used clayslip down your drains, you will be very sorry. Wash all tools outside, unless you have a clay trap.

Kiln "on the cheap"

You can use your self-cleaning oven as a kiln. Not as hot as a real kiln, so it probably would not work for serious potters, but great for firing clay beads and other small clay items. Run creations through two (2) cleaning cycles, then paint with acrylic paints.

Why not place pictures or designs onto blank pottery plates or platters? purchase fired bisque plates and then paint pictures with ceramic paint and get them fired. Fruit and vegetable or floral ideas are effective. Great gifts and very personal. They make great coasters or trivets, remember to place protective felt under them.


Location of your Studio:

  • Use a separate building, rather than in the house where you eat and sleep. 
  • Provide an outdoor area or a separate and properly ventilated room for clay mixing.
  • Provide an outdoor area or a separate and properly ventilated fireproof room for firing.
  • Make it easy to hose down the floor.  A smooth sealed surface is easier to clean.
  • For areas that cannot be hosed off, equip it with a vacuum cleaning unit that is located outside with inside pipes and hoses.

Table Covers:

  • Clay slabs often stick to the surface on which they are formed. Therefore, rolling slabs between two canvases allows the canvas to be peeled off of the clay to release it.
  • Coils cannot be rolled on a smooth table without sticking.
  • Provide canvas table covers that can be sponged clean and rolled up or stacked away. Do not brush them or shake them indoors. Periodically clean them seriously by hosing outside on a sidewalk or parking lot. They can also be soaked in a plastic wading pool.
  • Some teachers use the back of gessoed painting canvas.
  • Dupont Tyvec made as house wrap is an alternative to canvas.
  • Shower curtain liner plastic may work as a table cover for some things.
  • Velcro fastening felt around the edge of the tables can be used to attach covers that have Velcro hook tab attached to the canvas back corners. Sticks along the edge of the canvas allow fastening canvas with c-clamps.

Dusting, sweeping, and vacuuming are not recommended for clay because these methods put dust into the air.  Depending on the heating and air conditioning system, dust might be circulated to other areas as well.

A wise choice for your studio is commercial grade vinyl tile which served two purposes. Good for legs and back, and easy to clean.

Some people place "walk off" rugs at the doorways to try to get the clay from tracking to other areas.  These rugs are impossible to clean in a safe way unless they can be rolled up and totally laundered in a large commercial facility.  Vacuuming simply pulls the dust to the surface where it is picked up and spread by traffic. Consider that the smaller silica particles that pass through a vacuum filter will stay airborne for days.  Use a piece of outdoor carpeting at the door studio.  Hosing it down weekly to remover the dust.

The particular clay you are using is not an issue. All dry pottery clay makes silica dust when walked on. Keep it wet to avoid dust.

Daily wet mopping or hosing down to a floor drain is good.  An existing room can be modified in one area for potter's wheels by raising the floor 6 inches.  This way the floor can slant toward floor drains. Hose down the wheel area at the end of every work session. 


Large wet sponges are essential to clean work tables, counters, wheels, and small floor areas.  Use repeated sponging with washed out sponges to remove clay haze.

Use wet sponges to immediately spot clean any drips around the wheels and pick up all crumbs before they get walked on.  Train them to carry two clean sponges from the sink so the first sponge gets the mess and the second sponge removes the residue. This can significantly stretch the times between total cleaning.

It is never wise to use sandpaper. Allowing the dust to escape, can eventually cause silicosis, which killed many a pottery working years back. Never work on dry clay. Smooth it by sponging. If it is too dry, spray it with water. It can be wrapped in plastic, and sprayed again until wet enough.  Do this gradually, but repeatedly to avoid expansion cracks from the water.  With a bit of practice, it is possible to completely soften a piece with damp cloths inside the plastic wrapping.

When designing your studio:

  • Consider the ease of access. No stairs, no obstructions.
  • Horizontal flow of material, or as close to "in one end and out the other" as possible.
  • Minimal lifting, up and down from shelving
  • Kiln separate from studio, but close by.
  • Good light. Overhead track lighting is best. You can direct your light to each work station.
  • Sink near throwing and glazing areas, where it is most useful.
  • Work table and ware carts on wheels to allow for flexible use of space.
  • Ease of cleaning, what with the danger of clay (silicosis) dust.



Handmade gifts are from the heart.

 

Rubber Stamper Tip:
For you that use rubber stamps for your projects, clean them with a mild detergent after each use, making sure you keep the wood parts dry. Use a paper towel to dry the stamp and then store them with the stamp side down, away from direct sunlight. This way they will remain pliable and last longer.

 

FABRIC CUTTING

1. When cutting strips of fabric with a rotary cutter and a ruler, more often than not, your ruler will slip. Try taping down each end of the ruler with painters (blue, 2" wide, works best) tape, so it will stay in place while you are cutting, leaving a few inches free to tape to your cutting board.

2. The frugal way and another option is to place a strip of sand paper on the bottom of the ruler

3. Use 'ClearGrip' by Sew Easy - It comes on a role  and is clear, removable & reusable.You just cut it to the size of your ruler or template & it will just cling without any glue, etc. as it 'clings' like 'static', so you can easily remove it any time you want. It certainly makes cutting easier not having to push down hard, to stop your work from slipping.

 

None-Skid Tip: If you need a non-slip surface, simply take a automobile rubber floor mat and turn it over, using the smooth side up, the ribbing will keep it stationary.

 

                                                                         CERAMICS 101

TERMINOLOGY:

BISQUE or BISCUIT

Unglazed ware fired to a temperature sufficient to harden but not mature the body.

GREENWARE

Unfired clay articles.

KILN

A heating chamber for hardening and maturing clay and glaze.

DRY BRUSHING

An effect achieved by applying color very lightly with an almost dry brush.

GLAZE

A liquid suspension of finely ground minerals that is applied by brushing, pouring, or spraying on the surface of bisque fired ceramic ware. After drying, the ware is fired to the temperature at which the glaze ingredients will melt together to form a glassy surface coating.

OVERGLAZE COLORS

Colors applied on top of a previously fired glaze are called overglaze colors. After application of the overglaze colors, the final firing requires a temperature only high enough to allow the flux to melt into the glaze and seal the color. This lower temperature parameter allows use of more delicate hues and a wider range of colors.

UNDER GLAZE COLORS

Blues, browns, grays, gold pinks, reduction reds and celadon hues are typical underglaze colors. As the term indicates, these colors are used under the glaze. Since they will eventually be fired at the same temperature as the glaze, the variety of colors available is less than for overglaze colors. Most of the delicate hues available in overglaze colors will burn out completely if fired at the high temperatures used for glazing. Underglaze colors are made up of: (a) a colorant, (b) a flux such as feldspar to allow the color to adhere to the body, and (c) a dilutent like silica, calcined kaolin or ground bisque ware - - - these last materials are chosen to either lighten the color or equalize shrinkage. Practice and experience are needed to obtain the optimum thickness of application for all colors so that the final glazed surface shows no change in gloss over the decoration. The advantages of using underglaze rather than overglaze colors include: more uniform coloring; less likely to produce running (than oxides mixed with water); and greater durability.

SLIP

Slip consists of extremely fine-grained clay particles which are sorted out from the clay matrix by soaking in water. Slip is often applied to exterior and interior vessel surfaces as a method for strengthening the bonds between coils and also to create a smooth surface.

 

EMBRODERY 101

 

Beginners Tip:

·         Always loosen off the embroidery hoop when not in use. This will prevent the fabric from being stretched or soiled.

·         Always fold you embroidery inwards to prevent snagging and soiling.

·         Use a number 10 or 12 crewel needle. These needles have a bigger eye which makes threading stranded embroidery thread easier.


When you start a thread, you must secure the end. There are several ways to do this, but usually tying a knot is never recommended. Knots cause bumps on the surface of your project. One method is to pull the threaded needle up through the fabric, leaving approximately a 1" tail on the wrong side. Hold the "tail" with your fingers, and work over it at the same time you are working the first few stitches on your project.

To begin a new thread in an area that has been partially worked, run your needle through the backs of a few of the stitches that are nearby. Draw the thread through until the end of the tail just disappears under the stitch backs. Then proceed with your stitching. 

The Loop Method, can be used when your project calls for an even number of strands. Separate half of the number of strands needed, i.e., if your project calls for two strands of floss separate out one strand of floss. Cut the strand(s) twice as long as desired for stitching, approximately 24"-30". Fold the strand(s) in half, and insert the cut ends in the eye of your needle. The folded end is at the opposite end of the strand(s). Come up through the fabric, leaving the loop on the underside. Make your first stitch. Bring the needle down through the loop in the folded end of the strand(s), and pull until loop lies flat against the fabric. 

When ending a thread, run the needle through the backs of a few stitches. You do not want to create bumps or knots in back of work.

Where you begin to stitch will depend on the type of embroidery you are doing and the design you are executing. In counted cross-stitch, for example, it's usually recommended that you begin at the center of the fabric and design

Do not carry thread far on the back if you are going from one area of the design to another. Even the slightest pull will cause a pucker. To get from one area to another that is nearby, you can run your thread under stitches on the back for short distances, as long as the two yarn colors involved are similar. Otherwise, end off your thread and restart it at the new area. Never carry a very dark color when you are working on a light color fabric.

If your yarn becomes twisted or "kinked" as you work, just drop the needle and allow it to hang until the yarn untwists itself.

If you make a mistake that involves only your last few stitches, carefully remove your needle from the thread and, use the end with the eye, slide the needle under the last stitch and pull up, taking out the thread. Continue to take the stitches out one at a time until the error has been removed. If the mistake is over a large area, you must carefully slide sharp embroidery scissors under the stitches and snip, being careful not to cut the fabric.

 

SOAP SCRAPS: Use old panty hose or knee highs to keep soap scraps in them.  Tie to the faucet of the shower or a hook. The soap never gets lost and it doesn't matter if it gets squeezed into shape.  PLUS...the texture of the hose is a great way to gently scrub and revitalize your skin (especially face and arms)

 

 

BASKET COLLECTING

Numerous cultures around the world practice basketry, providing for very beautiful examples of traditional baskets, found in many museums. Basketry is a craft which involves weaving or twining flexible materials together to create containers which are known as baskets. All sorts of materials may be used in basket weaving, although plant materials such as wicker, rushes, bark, bamboo, and grasses are probably the most common. Baskets can also be made from thread or wool, strips of hide, and metals.

Because baskets are made from materials which are subject to decay, no one is entirely sure how long humans have been making baskets. Evidence in the use of baskets date back at least 10,000 years, and possibly longer. A basic basket is relatively easy to make, and it can be used to store supplies such as grain and personal belongings, catch fish, and perform a number of other tasks, depending on how it is designed. As a result, most human cultures have a tradition of basketry, from Native Americans to African tribes. Throughout out Asia, Cane weaving is prominent. It appears that each Continent has produced a variation of weaving, each distinct, yet similar in construction.

Generally, baskets can be categorized into at least three primary descriptive classes, based on their construction and form, each exhibiting a wide range of variations. The three classes are:

Plaited basketry, construction elements are active and strips of material are woven into baskets by passing under and over each other usually at regular intervals. The continuous intersections of the plaited constructional elements provide a cohesive unit, so no additional stitching is usually required except, in some examples, to secure the edges. Of the three types of basketry classes, the coiled types were by far the most commonly produced in ancient Egypt.

Twined basketry is constructed by weaving horizontal fiber elements called wefts around a stationary vertical framework called warps. Many different knots and stitches can be employed for securing these elements. For twined basketry, one set of construction elements is active (the wefts) while the other is passive (the warps).

Coiled construction, a basket is formed by spirally coiling a continuous foundation of tightly wrapped bundles of fibers which creates a circular or oval base and walls. This coiled foundation is then bound by stitching, which intersects and binds the successive coils one to another. The stitching usually provides the products unique look. In the Bee-skep technique of coiling, the stitches are spaced widely apart without touching one another. The Furcate coil technique uses the new stitch to split the stitch in the preceding coil.

Woven baskets have two sets of elements - rigid stakes or spokes which create a warp and more pliable elements which are woven in and out to form a weft. Materials in woven basketry can be flat or round and can be any of a wide variety of materials such as willow, wood splint, paper and reed. 


The framework for a basket is made from stakes or spokes, depending on the style of the basket. The elements of the frame are firmly connected before the craftsperson starts making the basket, so that the basic shape is outlined and so that the finished product will be firmly supported. Typically, the materials used to make the framework are larger and stronger than the material woven around them, so that the basket will be load bearing.

Once the framework is done, the craftsperson can start weaving or twining construction materials around it. A basic basket may be very simply woven, but there are numerous schools and styles of basketry design which create intricately woven patterns which may be accented with the use of materials in different colors or textures. The end result can be a work of art as well as a functional household good.

People who want to learn basketry can get information about classes from local craft stores, which may also sell necessary supplies. Many sources of information pertaining to basket weaving are found on the internet.

There are as many different types of baskets as there are uses for them. Some are decorative, some are functional and some are used in recreation. A basket is really just a container that holds items. 

Decorative baskets may be used simply for decoration or to hold other items. A decorative basket may be made of straw, rush, vine, wood or fabric, among many other materials.

Another kind of basket is functional. Perhaps one of the best known of this type is the picnic basket. These baskets are rather iconic, as they have featured in numerous movies, television shows and commercials depicting happy couples or families enjoying an afternoon outside. These baskets often have a double-hinged top so the contents can be easily accessed.

Many people choose baskets to hold an assortment of gifts or fruit.  Another is Deli baskets.

Baskets are also used in recreation. One universal occasion that of the Easter basket, used to hold Easter eggs children collect at the Easter hunt.

Balloon gondolas are the largest of the recreational baskets, and they a true basket. They are usually woven of strong materials and must hold at least two humans comfortably.

Of late, the Internet has brought froth an accelerated quest after the elusive antique basket of our dreams have another option. Both information on the evaluation of an antique basket's qualities and the opportunity to buy old baskets is available from the comfort of our own home.

Many auction houses publish full color catalogs that can be a great source of information on historic baskets. You can purchase rare individual copies of past auction catalogs such as Sotheby's, Skinner, Christie's, Bonhams and Butterfield from vendors like Rare Catalogs, Bev's Books, Picky Weekly and The Auction Catalog Company.

When you have decided that you have a solid enough background in the type of basket you seek to collect, you can get down to the actual collecting process, or simply making your own.

A great site for "How to" with regard to design and construction techniques about a certain basketry forms & collecting:

The basic's, to begin basket weaving:

  • Basket Handles
  • Basket Reeds
  • Basket Weaving Patterns
  • Binding Canes
  • Dressmaker's Measuring Tapes
  • The Basket Book
  • Clothespins
  • Drop Cloths
  • Ice Picks
  • Pruning Shears
  • Adhesive Bandages
  • Rubber Gloves
  • Dish Pans
  • Old Non-aluminum Pots
  • Old Scissors
  • Tongs
  • Wooden Spoons
  • Pencils
  • Design book for your designs.
  • 5-gallon Plastic Buckets
  • Awl
  • Side Cutting Pliers

 

POTTERY

If you are thinking about Pottery making as a hobby, consider trying your hand at in an inexpensive way, as do children at school. Visit a craft store, Toys-R-Us or Wal-mart and pickup children’s non-firing pottery clay. This is great for beginners to work with and doesn't need to be fired. It air dries nicely on a table and doesn't require being baked in an oven to complete the drying process. While picking up your clay, pick up a few bottles of poster paints and a few brushes.  Most of these items can be purchased at the Dollar store.


Your pottery table will be replaced by your kitchen table or counter with smooth a surface. If you do want a working table than turns, consider utilizing cutting board, place on an garage sale "lazy susan", to turn the pottery as you're working on it. Do be patient, the first time is for practice, and is very inexpensive. Allow your creativity to make your first masterpiece.

Other than clay and poster paint, all you need is the following:

  • stiff wooden ruler (used to smooth edges or create angle bevels)
  • pencil (used to apply your designs and images and of course sign your creation)
  • butter knife (make a mistake, simply dampen the knife and re-do your designs)
  • water
  • Plastic bowl (this is your mold form)
  • waxed paper (used when you drop your bowl out of the plastic bowl)

Note: If you plan on using your creation for actual planting, you will need to coat both the inside and bottom of the pot with some sort of waterproof sealer.

General Instructions & Tips


You should always knead your clay thoroughly in order to get rid of any air bubbles. If the clay begins cracking or seems dry, add tiny amounts of water to relieve the problem. Do not use too much water! Just add a teaspoon at a time. You want your clay to be manageable without cracking. But not running!

With almost every project you will need what is called "slip" (a kind of clay glue or binder). You make this by adding water to a small amount of clay, mixing well until you reach the consistency of smooth yogurt.

For the coil method projects, you will be making a lot of clay "worms". In other words, rolling clay into long thin 1/4" to 1/2" round worms. This is best done slowly to avoid breaking pieces.

When allowing the clay object to dry, use a damp room to slow the drying, thus avoiding unnecessary cracking. Allow your clay to dry naturally, and not by force, such as a hair dryer. Ideally, you should allow the object to dry for about a day (24 hours) before painting it.

It might be a good idea to play around with the clay just to get used to the texture and limits, as well as the kneading process. No glazing! When the object is thoroughly dry, just use poster paints! Create your own designs, use stencils, or just plain colors. Use a kitchen "sealed bag" for storing your leftover clay and slip.

Add white poster paint to your basic colors if you want to create lighter shades or pastels.

A few ideas to test your pottery making skill, before you jump in all the way. Make a simple bowl, a rolled snake, a flower, a small boat, a heart, or a cup. There are many web sites that can provide you with simple pottery projects, utilizing non-firing clay.

Once you have mastered your first work of art and believe you are destined for the next lever Pottery  and working with clay and furthering your creativity, now it time for you to spend some time playing with it to see the types of forms you can create. However, if you actually want to create something that will be glazed and fired, you'll benefit by spending some time to understand the process so you can select the right materials and go about it in a way that will lead to your success.

Visit your local arts and crafts store, check their bulletin board or ask employees for suggestions. You can also go to a local arts and crafts fair and ask the potters there if they teach classes or know where you can find a class. You want to have the valuable interaction with a teacher who can give you feedback as you work with the clay. Classes often run one or more times a week for several weeks, and also provide a studio with equipment you can use.

A great thing about the art of pottery making, you will never run out of thing to create and ways to do it, as there is always something new out there to help in improving your skill. There are numerous excellent books available to you, just for that purpose.

 

KILNS 101

 

-Make sure the kiln is centered on the stand and that the stand is stable. Remove flammable materials from around the kiln.

-Vacuum the kiln with the brush nozzle of a vacuum. Remember to vacuum the brick grooves. If you have difficulty removing debris inside the grooves, use a narrow wand-type vacuum cleaner nozzle being careful not to scrape the brick walls.

-Vacuum around and under the kiln: floor, shelves, and walls. This keeps the kiln interior cleaner and adds life to the vent motor.

- Check the kiln wash on shelves and kiln bottom for cracks and bare spots in the coating. Remove any glaze drips. Re-apply kiln wash if needed.

-Check the power cord and outlet for heat damage. Has the cord touched the side of the kiln during firing? This will damage the cord insulation. Replace the cord set or wall outlet that shows signs of heat damage.

-Make sure elements are not bulging out of the grooves. Repair if necessary.

-Coat the inner lid surface and the top rim of firebrick with kiln coating cement after every few months of regular firing.

-Kiln Downdraft Vent: Check the aluminum vent duct for leaks.

-Digital kilns: Make sure the thermocouple extends far enough into kiln. (1/4” wide: 1”; 1/8” wide: 5/8”.)

Kiln Sitter Maintenance

-Use the Kiln Sitter firing gauge to calibrate the trigger every 20 firings. If you do not have a gauge, order one.

-Remove and examine the cone supports. Replace if warped.

-Apply kiln wash to the cone supports and end of the actuating rod.

-Move the actuating rod up and down. It must move freely inside the porcelain tube.

A few for properly loading and using a kiln.

  • For most shelf and prop configurations use a tripod prop (also called stilts) floor plan.
  • Use a kiln wash or ITC spray coat to protect kiln shelf surfaces. A wash coating will prevent running glazes from sticking to the shelves.
  • Dip each end of the shelf props into the liquid kiln wash. This will prevent props from sticking to the kiln shelves, making unloading the kiln furniture easier. Coating the ends of kiln props will also prevent chipping, and therefore extend the working life of the furniture.
  • To prevent kiln shelves from warping, flip or reverse each shelf every two to three firings.
  • A split-shelf configuration can be used as you stack a kiln with pottery. Use 3 props per shelf as supports. This allows the stacking of a variation of pottery heights – short pots on one side of the kiln and taller pieces of pottery on the other.
  • Use a minimum 6" prop height at the bottom, or floor, of an electric kiln when loading. Likewise, a 6" space at the top of the kiln will assure even heating.
  • When stacking dry pottery for bisque firing, the first low temperature firing, the ware, of course, is unglazed. The pieces of pottery can be stacked inside each other, laid on their sides and otherwise carefully "crammed" into the kiln. This "dry stack" option makes good use of the energy used to fire a kiln.
  • As the pots are being glaze-fired the powdered glazes melt to a liquid glass. Make sure the glazed pieces of pottery do not touch as they are set in place onto the kiln shelf. Otherwise, a "kiss" will develop two pieces of pottery stuck together by the glaze melt


Firing Temperature.

The speed at which the temperature climbs during a firing is critical, especially during the first 600c of a biscuit firing, as it is during this period that most of the physical and chemical changes occur. Once 600c has been reached, the clay has changed to a permanent ceramic material. Continuation of the firing to a higher temperature increases both the strength and durability of the ware. Gloss firings do not usually require the initial slow firing rate needed for biscuit, but they offer an opportunity to vary the glaze through using a range of atmospheres and techniques, such as raku, oxidation and reduction
.

Loading your Electric kiln
It is important to remember that one element groove must be between every shelf with the exception of half shelves.

Every object in the raku area should be treated as if were capable of causing severe burns instantly on contact with your skin. This includes bricks, kiln shelves, tongs, pots, peep-hole plugs, reduction containers (garbage cans), water buckets, and all parts of the kiln. Before you touch anything, confirm that it´s not hot. Anything that is hot (especially bricks or kiln shelves removed from a hot kiln) should be kept out of the way of passers-by and preferably cooled by a squirt from the hose or a dunk in a bucket of water.


Kiln sitters:
are called automatic shut-off, but it should not be left unattended.  Your absence and the kiln sitter tube may cause an over-firing which could damage your kiln. If this happens you should be near at hand to shut it off manually, within an hour of estimated firing time.


Gauging Temperature
If you look in your kiln through a peep hole, pieces that are near the same temperature will be the same color. Brighter objects are hotter than darker objects.

 

Cleaning an Antique Quilt

By: Tracy Crowe

If you have just acquired an antique quilt, there are some things to watch for before you think about how to clean it. You need to look carefully at the quilt's age and condition. You also need to think carefully about whether you should wash a quilt. It is a good idea to seek the advice of a professional textile conservationist first. You can find one by contacting The American Institute for Conservation, 1717 K St. NW, Suite 200, Washington DC 20006. It is true that no matter how careful you are, you may permanently damage a quilt by washing it. You should certainly never wash a damaged quilt before repairing it.

There might be stains on your quilt, since old quilts are made of natural fibers which absorb things like body oils, liquids, soils, and other organic substances easily and over time these invisible stains oxidize and become colored stains. That makes it difficult to know how to pretreat them. Often what we think of as blood stains are really the remains of a dead bug and these stains are nearly impossible to remove. Another problem is dye migration. Changes in temperatures will cause dye migration that results in brown stains in quilts folded and stored for years. Since, the dye has permanently stained adjoining quilt fabrics, most stains caused by dye migration can't be removed. You shouldn't even try because you can do even more damage by trying than they have already. In addition to these stains, your quilt might have damaged scattered spots known as foxing, which is caused by the growth of molds.

If your quilt is very stained, it may be a good idea to spot treat areas with sodium perborate, the active ingredient in Clorox 2, before washing the whole quilt. Another way to spot clean is to brush a paste of Biz, Ivory Snowflakes or Shaklee’s Nature Bright on the stained spot and then vacuum it well with the brush attachment of your vacuum cleaner after it dries. Be careful to have all portions of your quilt equally clean. Using lemon juice to bleach stains, or laying linens on the lawn stains is not a good idea as your fabric may be temporarily brightened, but this usually turns to yellow after a while.

If you are going to display your quilt folded over a rack, and there are no holes, rips, frayed seams, stains, delicate fabrics or embellishments etc. in it, you may be able to just simply air it outside on a nice warm day to remove dust and dirt and freshen the quilt. You can lay it on the lawn with a clean sheet underneath it and another on top of it for protection, especially from sunlight. If you don't have a lawn, you may hang it over a wide railing with a sheep protector.

You could also vacuum it with the brush attachment of a low powered vacuum cleaner, although you would need to put a clean fine mesh screen over your quilt first, to prevent threads and yarn from getting sucked away, if it had elaborate embellishments or damage. You want to vacuum gently, use a Dust-buster if you have one. Be careful not to pull loose material from your quilt. Hold the vacuum cleaner at least half an inch above your quilt, vacuum both sites, and repeat that if you need to. Never vacuum painted quilts since you may strip the paint off.

In summary, cleaning an antique quilt can be a challenge. A lot depends on the age and condition of your quilt, and whether it has delicate fabrics or embellishments on it. It is probably a good idea to avoid washing it if you can, although you do want to get rid of dust and dirt as much as possible. Always check with a professional textile conservationist first to see what they think about the advisability of washing it.

 

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