Saturday, June 30, 2012

Stab Binding Notebook (with Collagraph Printing!)

I've been needing a little notebook/idea–catcher/sketchbook that I can keep close at hand. This week's craft book allowed me to attempt several techniques I've been wanting to try, and I have a usable notebook to boot.

For the notebook pages, I cut ten sheets of 8x11 sketch paper into quarters for a total of 40 4x5½–in. sheets. I chose Japanese stab crossed–ribbon binding to assemble the notebook.

Japanese stab bindings traditionally use four holes to bind the pages. Basically, you draw a line half an inch from the edge, and then measure down half an inch from the top and make a mark for the top hole. For the bottom hole, measure up half an inch and make a mark. For the two middle holes, measure the distance between the top and bottom marks and divide the space by 3.

I chose silk embroidery ribbon to sew my papers together, so I used a 3/8–in. hole punch to make holes large enough to accommodate at least two passes of the ribbon.

Fun fact: I made the cutting board in junior high wood shop and the metal hammer in junior high metal shop.

Japanese stab binding books can be made with a paper back cover. I used watercolor paper, which is utterly boring left in its natural state. It needed some color, which a collagraph print can provide.

Collagraph? It's a method of printing using thin cardboard plates. You collage or glue items (or other bits of cardboard) onto a cardboard plate, seal the cardboard with Mod Podge, and then ink the plate and press it onto paper.

I used my electronic cutter to cut part of a hymn into thin cardboard. I then Mod Podged the phrase onto a cardboard plate and sealed all the surfaces.

I mixed craft paint with glaze and rolled it onto the printing plate with foam rollers and placed it on top of a piece of water color paper that I had cut just slightly larger than my 4x5½–in. pages. I used the Mod Podge bottle to burnish the paper against the plate to aid in the paint transfer.

Not bad for my first try. I also cut out a three–layer sun to print onto the back cover.


Once the covers were dry, I cut holes in their margins using the page template. I used a criss–cross sewing pattern using a blunt darning needle and silk embroidery ribbon. It really was that easy.

I punched the holes on the wrong side of the back cover, so I've converted it into another front cover.

I really enjoyed making this little notebook, and collagraph printing is a blast. The printing plates can also be used for crayon rubbing.

Crayon rubbing using the collagraph printing plates.
I was able to strike two more items off my crafty wish list of techniques to try. Happiness is painty fingers and bits of paper strewn all over.


Linked Up @
Mad in Crafts * homework

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Stacked Paper Pendant

Strips of paper can be rolled and stacked in many configurations. Depending on how wide you cut the strips and how many times you add a layer to the stack, you can end up with barrel or round(ish) beads. The barrel beads (left) are made with scrap paper and covered in magazine images before the next layer is added. The round bead (right) is junk mail.

For the blue pendant, I cut strips from a junk mail flyer. As I added each new layer size, I covered the larger layer with a strip of envelope liner. I have a file folder where I keep my stash of envelope paper.

Isn't it amazing what trash can become?

Monday, June 25, 2012

Craft Book Challenge Week 26: Handmade Books and Cards

Here I've made it to Week 26. I'm halfway through my year challenge to use a craft book each week. How ironic then that I could not pick a book for this week. Nothing caught my fancy. I had to literally pull a book at random from my craft book shelf.

I'm actually quite pleased with this week's book choice: Handmade Books and Cards. The book is older, but it delves into paper decoration as well as book construction. I made a hardcover book for my daughter during finals week as a proof of concept that a book could be constructed in one day. She ended up getting her drawings spiral bound (time constraints), but we proved it could be done. I'll show you that book.

I have no idea what's going to come out of this week. I haven't even flipped through the book yet. I was just desperate to get a book chosen. What do you do to get your ideas flowing?


Sunday, June 24, 2012

Paper "Wake" Beads

Paper beads generally are made with triangles of paper cut from wrapping paper, magazines, or other decorative bits of paper.

What do you do when the design you want to use is only a small part of the paper?

You make a paper bead blank and cover it with the pretty paper.

I made tons of ½–in. wide rolled tube beads while watching a movie one night. The paper is from my scrap pile.

I cut the decorative paper wrappers from a wake board catalog and glued them around the paper tube blanks. A coat of Mod Podge sealed them up and gave them a gloss. I use a foam cone and toothpicks to dry my beads.

  Bracelets generally are 7–in. long. My tube beads were ¼–in. wide, so I needed 28 tube beads to make a bracelet. Using stretchy cord and the double–needle ladder stitch, I strung up several bracelets. My daughter is a wake boarder, so she snagged the red and black bracelets.
I kept the pink/purple set for me, even though it's been years since I got up on the wake board.

Have you gotten any ideas for your scrap paper pile?

Linked up @
Mad in Crafts *

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Stacked Paper Beads

As soon as I saw the chapter on making your own beads, especially paper beads, I was hooked for the week.
I have tons of scrap paper just waiting to become pretty beads.

This summer, I've been wanting a chunky Wilma Flintstone–style necklace to wear with my tee shirts, so I came up with a stacked chunky paper bead.

For each bead, I cut the following strips across the short side of a letter–size piece of scrap paper (and one old Texas road map):

One ¾–in. strip
Two ½–in. strips
Three ¼–in. strips

I rolled each strip from largest to smallest on a toothpick, securing each layer with a glue stick. Each bead is ¾–in. long. I wanted a 16–in. long necklace, so I made four of each color paper.

I sealed each bead with a layer of Mod Podge gloss.

I followed the directions in The Complete Idiot's Guide to Beading for stringing, and now I have my chunky necklace.

Have you ever gotten so immersed in a project that time simply disappears? The beading continues...


Monday, June 18, 2012

Craft Book Challenge Week 25: Making Beads

I wanted to do some beading this week. I picked up some pretty pearl–like beads last week, and I could envision a woven cuff to wear to summer events.

As I was paging through The Complete Idiot's Guide to Beading, I found my true calling: paper beads.

I love paper beads and have been making them for years. I have a lovely pile of beads that need a purpose. This week, I'm going to try some of the beginner beading techniques. I never know what's going to happen until I get there.

I just had to show you how bad I was today.

As I was paging through a cookbook, I found a recipe for funnel cakes. I've always wanted to try make funnel cakes, so I did. Even though I am trying to avoid flour, I suspect the coming finger stiffness will have been worth it.

It's too yummy for me to be the only one misbehaving. Care to join me?

Funnel Cakes
2 eggs
1½ c. milk
2 c. flour
1 tsp. baking powder

Combine eggs and milk. Add flour and baking powder. Beat until smooth. Add more milk if it is too thick to flow through a funnel. In an 8–in. skillet or deep fryer, heat at least 2 c. oil. Pour ½ c. batter into funnel and release batter in a spiral shape into the hot oil. Fry about 3 min. and then turn carefully. Cook 1 more minute and drain on a paper towel. Sprinkle with powdered sugar and cinnamon. Makes 4 large cakes or 7 small cakes.


Sunday, June 17, 2012

Drying a Meal

Your microwave can double as a food dehydrator.

I started a batch of "sun" dried tomatoes.

You run the microwave in 15–minute intervals at low power until the tomatoes are leathery and then pop them into olive oil. You have to watch them near the end of their drying cycle so they don't scorch.

I also dried more parsley for my spice pantry.

Parsley took about 1:30 minutes at low power to completely crisp up. But, I made the mistake of walking away just for a moment.

Apparently, you can dry all sorts of veggies and fruits in the microwave as long as you nuke everything at low power. Each microwave is different, so you have to experiment, which I love to do anyway.

I have my eye on the lemon and mint sugar recipe as well as the soap crayons recipe. So many ideas, so little time!


Saturday, June 16, 2012

Craft Nuked

One of the recipes in Zapcrafts is for rose beads. As you wear them, they are supposed to emit a fragrance. No roses here. I do have lavender.

I wanted to use the leaves. They seem to hold scent as well as the lavender buds. My buds are promised elsewhere.

Following the directions for the rose beads, I placed a cup of lavender leaves (and a few buds) into a bowl of water and nuked it all for 15 minutes. You're then supposed to let it cool and repeat the heating process three more times until the rose petals become pasty.

I wasn't expecting the same process to work for the tougher lavender leaves. I did do the heating/cooling process, and then I whizzed the mess in the food process to finish the breakdown process.

Ewww. I don't have to mention what the result looks like. The mess did smell like lavender, so I soldiered on.

No. I don't care how good these beads would have smelled had I let them fully dry. No one wants to wear a necklace that looks like goat droppings.

Lesson learned. Sometimes you can't substitute supplies no matter how badly you want them to work.

Any lessons learned the hard way in your crafting adventures?


Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Pressing Flowers in the Microwave

Thinking about microwaves reminded me that I have a microwave flower press that I have not yet used.

I also have a TON of parsley but very few flowers.

The press consists of two plastic plates, two thick pieces of felt, two sheets of thin cotton lawn, and two side clips. You place the flowers or greenery between the felt and cotton, place the plates on the top and bottom of the felt sandwich, and slip the clips onto the side of the plates.

For my 1000–watt microwave, a cycle of 20 seconds, 15 seconds, and 10 seconds produced crisp, vibrant pressed parsley flowers.

I did some lavender too, as well as some weed flowers. I need to get a better garden.

I placed my stash of pressed parsley into my card–making supplies. I can't wait to make some Father's Day cards!


Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Craft Book Challenge Week 24: ZAP!

This book is OLD. I bought it through a mail–order book club when my kids were little because the title intrigued me.

The cover graphics are enough to zap your eyes out.

Zapcrafts covers recipes to crafts. Basically, if you can put it in your microwave, you can zap it.


Sunday, June 10, 2012

Colorful "Faux" Embroidered Peasant Blouse

So Thursday rolls around, and I still haven't drafted a blouse pattern. Finally, I knuckle down and make some 8–cm graph paper because all the measurements are in centimeters. I remember a big push to go metric in the '70s. In this case, I was happy to use metric because it made transferring all the markings much more accurate than just estimating.

This blouse is embroidered, but I do not do embroidery. I did cross stitch eons ago, but that ship has sailed. I'm certainly not going to pick up satin stitch and expect to have a blouse done this century.

When my daughter was young, a pack of crayons went through the wash. I spent hours trying to salvage the crayon–spotted clothes. So I knew drawing the pattern onto my fabric would work. I used a cotton/polyester blend and traced the pattern onto the fabric using a mechanical pencil. I found it was important to keep the fabric taut as I colored because it otherwise would bunch up.

Just to be certain I wasn't going to spend hours on a design that would wash out, I tested the crayon on a scrap of fabric, set the color with a hot iron, and scrubbed the design with soap. No fading whatsoever with the Crayolas. Other crayon brands do wash out. Regular Crayola crayons work the best on fabric.

This pattern folds at the shoulders and is stitched up the front, back, and sides.

The hardest part of the pattern was deciphering the cuff instructions. I finally had to make them up.

I wore my new blouse this morning!

Next time, I'd make the bottom a little longer, but I love it otherwise. Even the back bands match up. Happy!