Crafty Saturday Favorites: Black and White

Crafty Saturday Show and Sell Favorites: Shop for one of a kind items and support small, handmade and vintage businesses


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Tutorial: Clay Pens

Create colorful, one of a kind pens with Sculpey clay and love.After I made my clay crochet hook handles, I started thinking about all the different things I could make using the same technique. The most exciting idea to me, since I am an obsessive writer and list maker, was pens.

At first, I tried covering some cheap plastic pens. It worked fine, but once you add the clay on the outside, you can no longer cap the pen. Too messy! So I did a little investigation and found some twisty pen inserts online. These are designed for wood workers, but work perfectly for clay projects as well.

Materials




Directions


When working with clay, remember to protect your work surface. I like to lay down a sheet of parchment paper. Also, take off your jewelry. You don't want to gunk up your pretty rings.

It's perfectly fine to use a single color of clay for this project. However, it's not difficult to create an ombre effect, so let me show you how.

Thinly roll out three small pieces of clay. The thinner the better. I used my clay conditioner, but you could also use a rolling pin.

Use a small circle cutter to make some confetti.
Stack the clay circles, alternating colors, into two rods that are about 1 1/2 - 2 inches long.
You can use either of the two smallest circle discs for extruding.
Press each of the clay rods through the extruder to make two separate strands. I loaded one into the extruder with the blue side first and the other with the yellow side first.
The pen insert set contains a number of pieces. Before assembling the pen, you'll wrap the two gold-colored tubes with the clay strands.
Gently wrap the clay around each tube. You want to make sure that there are no gaps. Also, wrap slightly past the ends of each tube to make sure they are completely covered.
Once the tubes are covered with clay, you can bake them according to the directions on the clay package.
After the tubes are baked and have completely cooled, sand the ends so the clay is even with the ends of the metal tubes.
Once the ends are sanded, brush off any clay dust. If you would like your pen to have a little bit of shine, use a brush to apply 1-2 coats of gloss glaze and let it dry completely.
Finally, assemble the pen. The pens come with assembly instructions, but I'll give you an idea of how they work. Gently tap the pet tip into one of the tubes.

(I used a small hammer, but you are better off using a rubber mallet so you don't damage the pen parts.)
Next, slide the twist mechanism into the other end of the same tube.
Tap the clip and end cap onto the other tube.

Finally, insert the ink, and slide the two tubes together with the decorative band in between.

Create colorful, one of a kind pens with Sculpey clay and love.

Here's a pen I made with light pink clay.

Create colorful, one of a kind pens with Sculpey clay and love.

Once you discover how simple it is to create a clay pen, you'll want one in every color of the rainbow!




10 Ways to Package Your Handmade Items

10 special ways to package your handmade items for customers

One of the things I truly appreciate when I buy an item directly from an indie artist is the care that goes not only into the product, but also the packaging. Many sellers on Etsy and other online venues go the extra mile to make sure the wrapping is just as delightful as the item it contains.

When I package the crochet hook and knitting needle cases from my shop, I carefully wrap each one in handstamped brown paper and use a logo sticker to seal it up. I also include a handwritten note and of course a couple of business cards.

Here are ten more packaging ideas that my insanely talented friends were kind enough to share on my Facebook page.
Bungalow 42 - Whimsical adornments pairing sterling silver findings, gemstones, seashells, pearls and beads

"Bungalow42’s packaging evolved from my penchant for using Kraft paper to wrap gifts which I decorated with stamps. I love stamps. When my oh so talented graphic designer friend created the Bungalow42 logo, we talked about packaging and it was just sort of obvious. Lucky me to have such talented friends!"
- Connie
Echidna Art and Cards - Australian nature and abstract photographs, original mixed media art, leather jewelry and greeting cards

"This is an example of free gift packaging I offer for my jewelry, with my business card inside. I hand make the envelope and embellish it with special paper and twine. It's all ready to be given to a loved one by the customer!"
- Anita
Hanji Naty - Asian craft with a Western twist including items such as paper earrings, hair accessories and coasters

"I use kraft CD envelopes to package my jewelry. I got long stickers printed with my logo, that I use to keep the pocket shut (it almost looks like personalized tape!). I complete the packaging with a ribbon. One of the benefits of this packaging is that it fits nicely in a bubble envelope, which makes shipping very easy."
- Natalie
Joliefemme - Fabric accessories like sunglass/eyeglass cases, change pouches, card cases, clutches, kids gifts and handbags

"I wrap with re-used tissue paper and include a hand stamped thank you card and a little gift card, sometimes an extra gift item."
- Diana
LeRu Gallery - Artistically needle felted toys and dolls

"Special packaging is always great! I make different kinds of bags or boxes for my dolls"
-Elena
North and South Shabby - Artful crafts, lovingly revived gems, vintage finds and nautical treasures to adorn your home

"We wrap all our treasures with hand stamp tissue paper made with a rubber stamp that we had made of our shop logo. We tie with baker's twine, apply a thank you sticker, and attach a business card."
-Patricia
Seadbeady - Handworked jewelry made for wedding, special occasions or every day

"This will be my new package from now - I can put it in the envelope in the flat way and people can unfold it and give it as a lovely gift package."
-Renata
Serendipitini - Handmade jewelry with an emphasis on creative reuse

"When I ship jewelry orders I use a mesh gift bag which dresses up the necklace or earrings and makes it more special. Then I ship in a small bubble mailer."
-Teena
Serendipitini Pet - Ornaments, coasters and jewelry for pet lovers

"When shipping pet ornaments I wrap the ornament globe in tissue paper and ship in a sturdy gift box. Sometimes people want the ornament personalized so I write on the ornament insert the message they want. Sometimes they want to send a personal note so I include a small card with the message sent from the purchaser."
-Teena
The Meticulous Whim - Crochet accessories, felt plushies, funny ornaments, and original art

"My packaging isn't too fancy, tissue paper, a business card, but I do like to include a random meep (like the yellow guy in the middle) with each order, just to give the recipient an unexpected smile :)"
-Marcela



Crafty Saturday Favorites: Harvest Red


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Sewing Pattern: Medium Shopping Tote

Free Sewing Pattern: Create your own reversible shopping tote bag.I am seriously obsessed with reusable shopping bags. Everyone in my family carries 4-6 bags in the trunk of their car so they are available to use whenever we go to the store. My husband recently asked me to replace his old set because, after who knows how many years, washings and shopping trips, they were starting to wear thin in places.

Not only are reusable bags good for the environment, they can be a fun way to show off your personality. I let hubby come to Jo-Ann to pick out a couple prints for his new bags. Since we are an Arizona house divided, he chose a University of Arizona and Arizona State University prints.

Of course you can choose whatever prints, patterns or designs you like. Please note, the amounts listed in the materials are enough to make a single bag.

Materials

  • 16 inches of 44-inch wide cotton fabric in a main color
  • 16 inches of 44-inch wide cotton fabric in a contrasting color
  • 36 inches of 1-inch wide nylon strapping
  • cutting and sewing supplies
  • tote bottom pattern PDF

Directions

Print out the tote bottom pattern PDF. When you print it out, each grid square should measure 1/4 inch.

Also, notice that there is a fold line. You can either print two copies and tape them together or fold your fabric and use one pattern piece.
Cut one 14 x 33 inch rectangle out of each piece of fabric.

Cut one tote bottom from each piece of fabric.
Fold one of the rectangles in half, widthwise, wrong sides together. Pin and stitch the edges opposite the fold using a 1/2 inch seam allowance.
Press the seam open.
Turn the fabric right side out. I like to align the seam on what will be the side of the bag.

Press both sides of the bag to mark them.
Fold the top edge of the bag under 3/4-inch and press.
Fold the bag bottom in half lengthwise and press, marking the center of the piece.
With the right sides together pin the bag bottom to the bag.

I think it's easiest to align the pressed center line of the bottom to the pressed bag sides. Pin the rounded ends of the bag bottom first.
Then pin the straight edges of the bag bottom.

Stitch using a 1/2-inch seam allowance.
Repeat the process for the second set of fabric.
Cut the nylon strapping into two 18-inch lengths. You can use a lighter to melt the ends of each strap so they won't fray.

Position the straps 4 inches away from the sides of the bag.
Place your contrasting fabric into the bag so they are wrong sides together and pin around the opening.
I used a straight stitch 1/4-inch and 1/2 inch from the top of the bag to secure the inside to the outside and hold the straps in place. You could also use a decorative stitch.
Now we're ready to go shopping and cheer on our favorite schools!

Free Sewing Pattern: Create your own reversible shopping tote bag.




Crafter Thoughts: Bead Crochet

Bead crochet is not for the faint of heart (or poor of eyesight) but the geometric patterns are highly addictive!I love when I can blend techniques from different crafting disciplines, so my curiosity was piqued when I read a discussion on Ravelry about bead crochet. Because of the complexity, I don't know if bead crochet will ever appear here on the blog in tutorial form, but it is too incredible not to share.

Before I go on, I think it's only fair that I issue a few warnings:
  1. This craft is not for the faint of heart (or poor of eyesight). It takes a lot of patience.
  2. Once you get the hang of it, this craft is highly addictive.
Don't say I didn't warn you!

Today, I'm just going to give you a general overview of the craft and show a couple projects I have made so far. If you are looking for some free patterns, ideas or more details about the technique, don't miss my Pinterest board about beading.


Most of the free designs I have run across so far are in German or Russian. However, since they are also charted out graphically and color coded, it's not impossible to figure out what to do. After choosing a design, you begin by stringing the beads.

Since this is my first project, I chose a pretty basic design. You can find it here on the Bead Dust blog. Yes, it's in German.

This is about 1800 seed beads on a string. Each bead is just over 2 mm in diameter, the entire strand is about 10 feet long and it took 2-3 hours of my undivided attention to get the beads on the string.

Bead crochet is not for the faint of heart (or poor of eyesight) but the geometric patterns are highly addictive!

Did I mention that if you mess up the pattern, there's no easy way to fix it or add beads once you begin the crocheting part?

I used a heavy duty, polyester upholstery thread to string the beads and a US size 7 (1.5 mm) crochet hook. This is very tiny, delicate work. The design is crocheted in the round and there are six stitches per round.

Bead crochet is not for the faint of heart (or poor of eyesight) but the geometric patterns are highly addictive!

The crocheting was a little slow at first, but once I figured out the technique and could see the pattern revealing itself, things sped up. It only took five or six hours to crochet an 18-inch long rope.

Once the rope was done, I ran into another challenge, finding clasps to use for the ends of my necklace. Tucson is not a mecca for specialty craft supply shops and none of the big box craft stores carried what I needed, so I headed over to artbeads.com and browsed their selection of Kumihimo findings. It was my first time shopping there, but they have a nice selection, the prices are reasonable and the shipping was fairly fast.

While I waited for my clasps to arrive, I tried a smaller design that wouldn't need clasps, a bracelet. I couldn't find any specific directions for joining the ends of my rope so it took a little trial and error, but I'm pleased that my join is virtually invisible.

Craft Inspirations: Bead crochet rope bracelet

Once my clasps arrived, I was able to finish off my necklace

Craft Inspirations: Bead crochet rope necklace

and create a second one.

Craft Inspirations: Bead crochet rope necklace

If I were to offer a single piece of advice to anyone getting started with bead crochet it would be to make sure you are using high quality beads that are all the same size. Even the slightest variation in bead size makes the crocheting part unnecessarily difficult.

Now, go browse Pinterest for some bead crochet patterns, if you dare. Once you get started, you'll be hooked!