{How to} make Snowball Decorations

Video

This the second of 3 tutorials I’ve filmed for christmas this year. I’ll upload the final one before Christmas, watch this space!

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{How to} make a fabric bowl

Because all of your beautiful things need pretty places to live. No more tangled necklaces or frantic searches for house keys as you are rushing out the door, these bowls are a great way to use up all scraps of fabric and add some style to your storage solutions at the same time.

You will need:

  • {How to} Make a fabric bowl: you will needfabric
  • rotary cutter and cutting board and scissors
  • craft glue, water and water-based varnish mixture (recipe below!)
  • bias binding
  • glue brush / foam applicator
  • bowl to use as a mould
  • plastic wrap
  1. Cut your fabric into stripsCut the fabric into strips that are roughly 1 inch (2.5 cm) wide and long enough to overhang the edges of your mould. The fabric you use is up to you. Cotton-y fabric works best as it soaks up the gluey slop nicely and is thick enough to hold its shape and whatever you want to put in your dish once it is dry. I’ve tried this with just about every scrap of fabric I could find, you can layer up nets and chiffon and other spangly fabrics to make things a bit more textured or glitzy as long as you keep in mind that you need a reasonable glue-to-absorbent fabric ratio for you creation to hold its shape once it is dry.
  2. The slop. To make your magical wonder glue you will need equal parts of craft glue, water-based varnish and water. I mix the glue and the varnish together first, then thin it with the water to help get the right consistency, you are aiming for that international standard of ‘a pudding-like consistency’. You want your mixture to be thin enough to soak into the fabric but thick enough to stay in the fabric and set the shape of your creation rock solid. Lay your strips onto the mould
  3. Cover your mould in the plastic wrap as smoothly as possible to stop your fabric strips sticking to your mould. Soak your strips in the slop and then lay them onto your bowl crossing them over the centre and filling in the gaps as you go. (I put mine on the inside of the bowl but you can use the outside instead, it just depends what you want the final shape to look like.) The first bowl I made got quite bulky on the base where all of the strips overlapped in the center of the bowl and it wouldn’t sit still. To stop this from happening lay the first four strips in a star shape and then cut your remaining strips in half and use these to fill in the gaps. Build up two layers.
  4.  The easy step. Let it dry. Completely.
  5. Lift your bowl out of the mould, peel off the plastic wrap and trim off the excess fabric at the top.Trim off any excess
  6. Cut your bias binding to length. Apply some glue mixture to the inside of the bias binding and glue it over the edge of the bowl. A fiddly business at the best of times, but made slightly easier by gluing the tape and the edge of the bowl at the same time and allowing them to go tacky before pressing them together. Once the binding was finally all glued in place I covered just the bias binding in a layer of the glue mix so that it would have the same finish as the rest of the bowl.
  7. You can always add a layer of varnish to your finished bowl if you want it to be super sealed and sturdy. (I decoupaged a trunk when I was a teenager which I sealed with a couple of layers of varnish and my son uses it as a toy chest now. The colours have faded a little but the magazine pages are all still perfectly intact!) I don’t think I’ll bother with varnishing mine, I’m happy with how solid and sealed they seem, once yours are dry it’s up to you!

and you are finished! There is something really pleasing about making these bowls, it’s one of those cutting-sticking-paper-mache-being-a-kid-was-the-best happy places that finishes up with a grown up bowl that you can personalise to your heart’s content and show off to all your friends.

For more bowl based inspiration see my {Gallery} here.

{How to} Grow borax crystals

Home grown crystals to add a little sparkle to your life in a few short hours. I made some of these to go on our Christmas tree but with Spring in the air (or at least it was!) it’s time to take the snowflakes down and make room for a new season full of makes. I wondered if the decorations would get brittle as they dried out but they seem just as solid as when I made them back in December, so I am going to put them away to next year and see how well they fare. They are so simple to make though if I have to make a whole new batch it wont be much of a problem.

To make your own borax bling you will need:

borax pipe cleaner jar crystals

  • borax powder
  • hot water water
  • pipe cleaners
  • jar/ heat proof container large enough for your pipe cleaner shape to be suspended in the solution without touching either side.
  • thread
  • a pencil
  • food colouring (optional)

 

 

  1. Bend your pipe cleaner into shape. I have tried this with super fluffy pipe cleaners, normal pipe cleaners, metallic pipe cleaners and twisted metallic pipe cleaners. They all worked fine but you can see from the photos that the crystals grew differently on each one. It’s also worth knowing that I untwisted the same type of silver and blue pipe cleaner I used to make the snowflake to make the heart and the star. Weirdly the crystals grew differently on the pipe cleaners after I had separated them… although maybe that was to do with something else. I guess we’ll never know!
  2. Tie a  loop of thread around the pipe cleaner shape. Then thread the loop over the skewer so that you can suspend your decoration in your jar so that it is not touching the sides or the bottom.
  3. Boil enough water to fill the jar and completely cover the decoration.
  4. Pour boiling water into your container (allow it to cool slightly first if you think your jar might pop!). Add one tbsp of borax powder, stir until dissolved, then keep adding a tbsp of the powder and stirring until the borax stops dissolving and starts collecting at the bottom of the jar, at this point the solution is saturated. If you want to you can add food colouring to the solution and grow coloured crystals, (I haven’t tried this but if you hop on over to the Yoyomax12 YouTube channel they’ve given it a go. [If you aren’t already hooked on Yoyomax12 click here and prepare to loose hours of your life] )
  5. Gently lower your decoration into the solution. In all the tutorials I have read it says that you should see some crystals growing after a couple of hours, I don’t know if I got a bad batch of borax (is that even possible?!) but I have found that I need to leave mine for at least 4 hours to get a good covering of small crystals. As far as I can make out you can leave them to grow as long as you like I think but the crystals will only ever grow so big. Out of curiosity I  left mine over night and ended up with some really great cubic crystals, which leads me on to step 6…
  6. When you are happy with the size of the crystals gently lift your decoration out and either hang it up somewhere to dry, or lay it down on some absorbent paper away from prying fingers.

Cleaning up – Crystals will grow on the inside of the jar but these will wash straight off with  a little warm water and you can pour any unwanted solution down the sink. Just like you would with any laundry detergent type chemicals it might be worth wearing gloves when you are washing up and obviously be careful not to splash it in your eyes and to clean the sink carefully afterwards so that it doesn’t come into contact with anything you would use for cooking.

{How to} Care for your felted lantern.

crumpled lanterns

Whether your lantern has just started to soften and sag, or your cat has mistaken it for a comfy sleeping spot, the following steps will restore your lantern to its former glory.

You will need:

your lantern
a balloon
soap
hand hot water
a tea towel/ drying rack

  • Sit your lantern on a flat surface.
  • Inflate the balloon inside the lantern. The idea is that when you have inflated the balloon and tied a knot in the end, the knot will be roughly in the middle of the lantern opening. The curved top of the balloon gives the curved shape to the base of the lantern. When inflating the balloon it is important that the walls of that lantern should be taut over the balloon to avoid too many wrinkles, but not so tight that it puts pressure on the neck of the lantern. But there is no need to be overly precious.
  • Now we need to wet the wool. I always use hand hot water to wet the wool first and  just a touch of olive oil soap. (You can use a little of whatever hand/ dish soap you have by the sink.)  Agitate the wool gently, make gentle circular movements across the surface of the felt for 1 or 2 minutes. Trial and error has taught me that if you apply too much pressure you can end up forcing the balloon to bulge on the opposite side to the one you are rubbing and because the wool is wet, it can stretch the shape.
  • Rinse all of the soap out of the wool. This one needs to be done with cold water. Turn the cold tap on to a slow steady flow and holding the lantern close to the spout of the tap allow the fresh water to gently displace all of the soapy water.
  • Leave your lantern to dry. Apply some gentle pressure to press some excess water out or pat with a clean, dry tea towel and then it’s up to you. You can leave your lantern on a windowsill, on the radiator ( if you have the sort of radiator that has two raised lines across the top you will get lines in the bottom of you lantern, but there are worse things that can happen!) or you could also dry them upside down by resting them in a bowl. How long they take to dry will depend on so many things – how much you patted them dry, how thick they are, how warm the room is. I guess the best advice I could give you is don’t dry them with a hair dryer but don’t let them stay wet for so long that they start to smell like a damp sheep.
  • Pop the balloon and your lantern will be as proudly upstanding as the first day it was made.

If I haven’t made the process clear, or you’ve tried this and think I’ve missed something out please let me know, I’m only to happy to help and am always on the look out for new hints and tips!

Pictures coming soon!