Tag Archives: Crafting

Welcome One, Welcome All!

The new students arrived on the 8th! It was so nice to see everyone after spending the past six months working with their files and the whole first week of September in Residence Life training… it was almost a relief to finally have people out and about campus. I decided that I wanted to have a welcome sign to hang in front of Merlin on move-in day. I threw a batiking party in the spring and thought I might be able to make some quick bunting using the same technique.

I printed W-E-L-C-O-M-E out on heavy cardstock and cut letters out to make stencils. Then I cut 7 pieces of white cotton fabric into roughly 8×11 inch rectangles. I held the make-shift stencils somewhere towards the middle-bottom of the fabric squares and, using a thick paintbrush, brushed over the stencils with Elmer’s Water Soluble Gel glue so that I had an even, thick layer. For the “O” and two “E”s I just held the centers of the letters in place with one hand and painted the glue on with the other.

I think painting the glue on worked much better than drawing onto the fabric straight from the nozzle of the glue bottle. It’s less wet and meant that the letter’s didn’t smudge or drip as much.

I set them on a wire rack to dry for a few hours then I got out my acrylic paints and a foam brush. I mixed some colors that I liked and watered them down to about 50-60% their original paintiness. I spread some newspaper on the sidewalk and, making sure the glue-side is up (I forgot on the second “E” and had to paint BOTH sides. It’s a little duller, but still legible) I just painted right onto the fabric. I hung each square on the clothesline and let them dry.

After three hours I filled a sink with hot, soapy water and hand washed each piece of fabric. It was so much fun watching the letters re-appear bright white from under the paint when the glue washed out! Instead of waiting for the to dry I took a hot iron to them and quickly dried them that way.

To make them an even size with actually measuring anything I cut a rough piece of cardstock in a 4×7 inch rectangle. Then I flipped the first letter over so that it was right-side down. I put the paper rectangle on top of the fabric so that the white letter was where I wanted it on the end rectangle and folded each side over the paper, as if I were wrapping a present. I pressed each side with iron and then slipped the paper out so that I could use it on the next letter. When all of the panels were pressed, I quickly sewed up along the edges with the sewing machine. Easy peasy!

I just tied them to a piece of string along their tops so that I could reposition them along the length if I needed to. And voila! It only took me an hour of actual crafting. It doesn’t get much easier!

Straight from the Gutter

I picked up a book last month that made my eyebrows shoot up and my mind start to whirl with possibilities. The book was Pine Needle Basketry: From Forest Floor to Finished Project. I’ve been vaguely looking into make baskets but materials like willow wands or other grasses require lengths of time where they’re drying and, therefore, a considerable amount of forethought. Something I don’t particularly enjoy doing. Pine needles, on the other hand, blanket forests and are already dry and ready to go. All you have to do is bend over, pick some up, take them home and soak them in hot water for 15 minutes and you’re ready to basket! I’ve been using some 3 inch pine needles, some from the tree in front of Simpson and some from where they were innocently clogging a gutter in Franconia. They’re ok, just a wee bit short for my purposes. What I dream about… even aspire to are Florida Long Leaf Pine needles. They’re ten inches long and perfect for big-ish baskets. In the mean time, I made three wee baskets out of the 3 inch needles…

This one is made from the pine needles in front of Simpson. I used hemp to bind the needles together in this one. It’s a bit too thick, but it did stay where I wanted it to. I bought some waxed linen that I haven’t tried… that’s next.

This was my second basket. I used needles from the Franconia gutter and some synthetic sports thread my aunt is lending me. The needles are a wee bit too thin and the thread is really slippery so these baskets aren’t as sturdy as the firs one and took much longer to make.

You can see how the basket is started…

This is a teeny tiny basket. I’m not sure what I would ever put in any of these but they were great practice for bigger, interesting things. Plus they took long enough so that I can gauge how well I’ll be able to stick with this sort of craftiness if I ever did a larger project.

Love Boat

There was a time when, if asked if I would ever go on a cruise, I would vehemently even passionately said “NO WAY!”

That being said, I just found something that would make me pause a moment and then slowly say “Nooo-o-ooo-o…?” not quite so decisively.  That thing? They’re called Craft Cruises. They’re pretty much what the title hints so alluringly at; luxury boats that travel about, stopping at various ports where there are things to do and see that would be interesting to a crafter. Not only do they have the very idea of craft cruises… they even have cruises geared toward specific kinds of crafting (crochet, knitting spinning, needle point). For example the hand spinning subcategory of Craft Cruises is described thusly:

Our enriching handspinning cruises allow you to improve your skills while visiting some of the most interesting ports in the world. Each day you will experience something new.

Unlike most handspinning retreats, with our handspinning cruises you are pampered onboard a beautiful cruise ship.   Our handspinning cruises provide a safe and comfortable atmosphere where you can be yourself without having to worry about anything except having a good time.

Handspinning classes will be offered while the ship is cruising and while we are in port there will be numerous opportunities to meet local fiber artists along the way.  Visiting fiber farms, local handspinners and yarn producers along the way will inspire you and give you a glimpse into other cultures that most tourists rarely enjoy.

Doesn’t exploring the Norwegian Fjords or New Zealand & Australia while knitting and spinning along the way sound fun!? Sure does to me…

Dorm Batik

So. I threw two batik “parties” (I’m using that term lightly… there were brownies involved) and this is what those crazy kids made (more or less). The fabric is about 4 feet long (shorter in some cases because, as the glue was drying, two strips got stuck together so firmly that they had to be amputated) and roughly two feet wide. We used elmer’s glue, watered down acrylic paint and plain ole white cotton fabric. It doesn’t get any simpler.

Now these beauts are hanging around the common rooms. The process and results were awesome, but I’m not quite sure that these are as impressive as I’d imagined them turning out. Ah well…

Block Printing

I did some block printing in college (so long ago, I know!) and I loved it. So when I spied block printing supplies in an art store when we were in Worcester over the weekend, I splurged and bought a roller, some ink, some carving tools and three different sized blocks. I carved my first (and smallest) block yesterday and did some test prints…

Look familiar?

I’m looking forward to making more prints from the dream bunny and carving more from the extra blocks I bought. My next project is to figure out how to make a recycled frame for these. Any ideas?