Archive for June, 2010

{week 3} papier-mâché

Before I get stuck into this week’s craft I just want to say a huge thank you to whipup for featuring my crazy little endeavour this week and to say hi to everyone who’s visited, commented and subscribed because of it.

Papier-mâché is a craft as old as paper making itself and has been used for decorative purposes as well as in toy- and mask-making for centuries.

I’ve had the book Home, Paper, Scissors by Patricia Zapata for a while but I haven’t had chance to try anything so I was keen to make something from it for this project. The bowls featured on the front cover grabbed my attention but in the spirit of trying not to spend too much money (or none in this case) I chose to take Patricia’s suggestion of using shredded office paper rather than beautiful brand new coloured paper.

home, paper, scissors

This is probably the most therapeutic craft I’ve tried so far – I loved using my fingers to spread the glue around rather than a brush and as it’s water-based PVA it washes out easily. It was interesting picking out the different snippets of information from the shredded paper – there were splashes of colour among the office-white, and handwritten scribbles as well as printed type – and I recognised receipts from different shops and my husband’s foreign travels.

Papier-mâché in progress

And here’s the finished bowl, full of my collection of vintage cotton reels. Such an easy, practical and effective project. Give it a try!

Finished papier-mâché bowl


{week 2} freehand machine embroidery

I’ve always been too scared to have a go at freehand (or freestyle) machine embroidery as I thought you needed fancy threads and a large degree of accuracy and precision that I just don’t possess. But ever since I got my lovely Bernina (Nina) I’ve been thinking about giving it a try and this thread sketching tutorial was enough to give me the kick I needed.

Before I show you what I did, I thought I’d share some inspiration I found on flickr:

1. End of Season Poppies cushion, detail, 2. 3 flower side, 3. ‘Eastbourne Promenade’ (Detail), 4. Bunting Cushion (C365: day 64), 5. fabric, print and stitch, 6. Roach, 7. Yellow Spinebill Blanket Cushion- detail 2009, 8. Leaves – stitched monoprint

If I can achieve an ounce of the gorgeousness demonstrated by these artists I’ll be happy!

I wanted to do something fairly simple for my first attempt so here’s my sketch:


I then drew the design on to some gorgeous screenprinted fabric by Lu Summers and got ready to sew.

Ready to sew

As I’ve got a darning foot and can drop the feed dogs I decided to be brave and use both facilities. According to the tutorial I used, it doesn’t matter if you don’t have them and you can just use your normal foot (sewing foot, not actual foot, it goes without saying that it’s best to use your normal, actual, attached-to-your-leg-foot when sewing).

Wibbly wonky lines
It’s a good job I’m aiming for a sketched effect!

And here’s the finished stichery!
Finished flower

Let me know what you think in the comments and share any of your own freehand machine embroidery. See you next week!

{week 1} paper quilling

This week I’m exploring the art of paper quilling.

Quilling has its origins as far back as the Renaissance – nuns and monks used the technique of rolling thin strips of paper (usually remnants gilding the edges of books) to decorate book covers. It’s a massively popular art form today – commonly used for cards but there are also creative and beautiful framed examples such as this stunning flower design.

It requires very few tools – just paper, glue and a quilling tool (some quillers use their fingers alone to make the coiled paper) – so it’s great if you don’t have much space to store craft supplies.

Ann Martin’s Quilling 101 on craftzine is a great resource if you want to give quilling a try – the two shapes you need for my project are coils and teardrops.

Here’s the sketch for my design – it’s a simple birthday card for my father-in-law’s birthday. I always struggle with cards for men so I think I’ll use this design, or something similar, again.


I chose a simple colour palette of red, blue and yellow. I used teardrop shapes for the candle flames, short strips of paper for the candles & the edges of the cake, and coils to fill in the cake shape.

Quilled birthday card

I definitely see more quilling in my future – if you want to have a go, here are some suppliers (UK) I’ve found:

and more paper and even more paper. Or you could use any paper you already have and cut it into thin strips.
Glue – I used mod podge but any clear-drying paper glue will be fine.

Let me know in the comments if you have a go at quilling or know of more resources about this simple but beautiful craft.

A life more crafty

In the pursuit of “a life more crafty” I’ve decided to try a new craft every week for a year. I must be mad.

It’s possible that I may end up bankrupt in the process – 52 new crafts (or at least most of them will be new) isn’t going to be cheap so I’ll have to find the lowest cost ways possible to get creative by hunting down bargains in charity shops, on ebay etc. And I may have to beg forgiveness from my husband on more that one occasion as the craft room starts overflowing.

But hopefully it will be fun and along the way I’ll learn new skills and make lots of pretty things for me, my home and my friends and family.


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Email: christinenancyevans [@]
All images and text are © Christine Evans unless otherwise stated.