Thursday, August 27, 2009

Wool Jar Cozy

So, I had some wool roving that I hand felted into little dreads because I was going to wear them as hair falls to this big dance. Well it turns out that the dj's weren't going to be spinning my type of music, so I didn't use them. Being a (happy) resident of the Midwest, I didn't forsee needing them any time in the near future, either. And even if I did, it's easy to make more. So now I had all of these wool noodles! Sometimes I use them for hair on stuffies I make, but this time I decided to needle felt them togther to make a jar cozy.

It was really easy to do, I just wrapped and poked the needle parallel to the jar as I went. It didn't take much felting at all to get it to hold well.

I think it will be nice to hold crochet hooks or pencils.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Happy Feet!

Sewing machine feet, that is!

Modern, new machines come with at least a couple of alternate feet, and there are actually dozens of types you can get, whether brand specific or generic. Today I'm talking about my two favorite feet: walking and darning.

Walking foot (generic):
walking foot (generic)

The walking foot has long been a favorite of quilters. The white plastic feet on this foot help to keep multiple layers from slipping apart. It also is a joy when you're trying to match plaids or stripes.

To be honest, this is my most used foot. It has taken the place of my "A" (basic) foot, simply because it is such a helpful tool. Those pesky 1/4" seams are so much easier, and it's a must-have for quilting "in the ditch" (along seam lines).

Darning foot (Janome, open toe):
darning/embroidery foot

Lately though, I've been having a little fling with my darning foot. Also called an embroidery foot, this baby lets me go to town and do some free motion quilting (FMQ); all I have to do is drop the feed dogs, set this foot on the shank and off I go!

It's not just for quilting though. I have also been using it to do some free motion lettering. Embroidery, if you will. It produces a sketchy, jittery looking stitch, which must be repeated in order to get a thicker looking letter.

Here's an example:

The yellow and pink lines are washable markers. I used a ruler to create them, and used them to help make consistently sized letters. The "Etsy" was done completely free-hand.

Each letter has about five up-down/back-forth sets. They're not meant to be terribly neat-and-tidy, they're meant to evoke a loose scrawl. Takes a bit of practice, and patience. I'm looking forward to using it in some near-future projects.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Alternative Craft Supplies

I have always enjoyed going to craft stores, their neat isles of supplies all new and shiny. Miles and miles of paints, papers, fabrics, beads, and every other craft supply know to man, and the 40% off coupons every week, who could resist? The real problem with craft stores is this, anyone and everyone is buying the exact same thing that you are and your hand made item may not be so one of a kind.

I love finding new and unexpected supplies. Some of the best places I have found are thrift stores, auctions and yard sales. And for the brave there is also dumpster diving and taking things off the curb.

Thrift stores have a variety of items from clothing to household to furniture. It’s worth the time to find out when sales days are and to visit a store a couple of times to get a good feel for the types of merchandise that each store carries. I have one store that has the best clothes and I always try to go there for their $.99 clothing sales, but the house wares and furniture are a bit pricey for my taste. Here’s a stunning cut paper picture I purchased for $3.99 at my local good will, bonus it’s already matted and framed!

thrifted picAuctions can be a lot of fun, especially since they usually publish a listing of what will be for sale and allow you to preview the items before hand. You can even leave bids with the auctioneer if you are unable to stay for the entire auction. Be prepare to pay cash and to bid on an entire box of junk for just for one item. A thing to remember is at the end of an auction there are usually a lot of items left behind, just ask, often anything left behind is free for the taking. This is an overnight case I got for $7.00 at an auction, it’s in excellent condition just waiting to be painted or decoupaged. overnight case interior

Yard sales can be a great source of supplies, you name it and I’ve seen it at a yard sale! Check you local paper, craigslist, or look for signs. There are two ways to shop, go early so all the “good” stuff is still there or go late and bargain for better prices, the later it gets the easier it is to haggle, nobody wants to haul all of that stuff back into their house! Here’s some coveralls, a winter coat, a stack of children’s books, two pillowcases, and some bird wall decorations I bought for $3.75.yard sale purchase: $3.75

The thing to remember is that you can always alter the item, furniture can be painted, clothes can be reconstructed, etc. and when you don’t have a lot of money invested your free to try new techniques. The down side it that making a duplicate item is almost impossible. Good luck and happy shopping. Where is you favorite alternative place to get crafting supplies?

Friday, August 14, 2009

LNK Handmade- Party Style

Our new recruit, Anna, with Crafterella

Lisa and Crafterella's shrunken head 'Steve'. Seperated at birth?

Crafterella and her fancy tote bag that she spent FOREVER on. Was it worth it?

Christy and her glitter filled icon to all that is awesome.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Design Your Own Fabric and Scrapbook Paper

One night a husband and wife were talking. The wife said, "You know what would be cool? If I could print my own fabric." In another house, miles away, a similar conversation took place involving scrapbook paper. The husband said, "Make your own darn scrapbook paper." Two companies were born and now people all over the world are able to design, print, and buy their own fabric and scrapbook paper.

Design Your Own Fabric

Spoonflower is a relatively new site dedicated to printing your own fabric. It is free to sign up and you can purchase fabric designed by others. But, the real draw is the ability to upload your own designs and see them come to life on high quality cotton fabric. At $18 a yard, it is pricier than your average fabric store. You can also get a swatch for $5 or a fat quarter for $11. Even though it is quite a bit more in price, the chance to have your own design on fabric could be worth the extra. If you've ever searched high and low for the perfect piece of fabric to complete a project, you know the value of just being able to make it yourself!

Spoonflower has a blog where they show some of the fabrics made by their users and each week they have a contest for the fabric of the week. That fabric is then available for sale in the Spoonflower etsy shop for a week and the winner receives 5 yards of fabric for free. I can't wait to try it out myself!

Design Your Own Scrapbook Paper

craft sassy scrapbook paper

CraftSassy offers a similar service but for scrapbook paper. I actually got to try out the process and use some of the scrapbook paper. Basically, you upload an image and you can have it printed on high quality scrapbook paper in a variety of sizes. I used two different images and made some 12X12 pages and 6X6 pages.

The most difficult part of the process was deciding on an image to use! This paper is also a little pricier than your average scrapbook paper. But, you are paying for the service and the ability to make it exactly how you want it. Looking at it that way, it seems like a bargain at $2 a sheet (price varies for sizes). One thing that appealed to me about this company is that they allow wholesale orders. How fun would it be to design your own line of scrapbook paper and have them available to the public?

Do you have it in you to become the next Amy Butler or Basic Grey? With all of these new opportunities online, it has become even easier to share your designs and creations with the world. If you decide to design your own fabric or paper, I hope you'll share what you made with us here in the comments. We'd love to see them!

image courtesy of Christy Nelson via flickr

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Who Labels Someone An Artist And Their Works As Art?

Both artists and art dealers are considered to be art professionals both of which earn a living from forms of art. The artist is of course the one who is the creator of the art itself, whatever it may be and the art dealer is the person that the artist generally will turn to in order to be able to market and sell their art.

Artists come in various forms there is no restriction these days on what is considered art, whether you are looking at the normal types such as paintings, sculptures or clothing designers even for that matter. The art dealer often will be purchasing the art from the artists with the intention of on-selling them to collectors and the like. The art dealer therefore must also be knowledgeable in the market for the particular type of art and also in their location of artists with styles relevant to their client base.

Often the artists require the assistance of the dealers for the display and sale in galleries or studios for example although it is not entirely unusual for the artists to open their own galleries and studios doing the marketing for their material themselves. The transition from artist to art dealer therefore can be a fine line where as the transition from art dealer to artist is a much more difficult task.

Next to define is the difficult question of what is art anyway? If you took a group of individuals and ask them that specific question you will no doubt find you have a variety or responses. Your definition of art is therefore not necessarily my definition of art. Some people will see an art work and consider it to be not worthy of further attention whereas another individual may view the piece and consider it has amazing artistic values. From this also comes the phrase Outsider Art.

This basically broken down means art that is not within the norm of the majority population consideration of art. Many people who have had no specific training will create items of their own impression which may not fall into the standards currently on offer and can therefore obtain the label of outsider artists.

Some people consider that outsider art is created by artists who have received no formal training and therefore is perhaps not worthy. However you will find there are various forms of outsider art in open view to you on a daily basis. The way you're neighbor chooses to display their garden gnome collection may be considered a concept of outsider art. However that may be stretching the limits of outsider art just slightly.

The forms of outsider art can be considered in paintings not following normal processes but can also continue to a variety of different styles of art, often unheard of by normal collectors. Art forms such as tramp art or folk art. Generally, but not always, these creations of outsider art are 100% original in that the artist will then move on to create something of an entirely different theme or even material depending on what form of art it is in the first place.

Generally an artist of any form, the standard artist or the outsider artist, is defined by the style of art that they create. Whether this is in the form of writing, photography, sculpture or even music the choices are almost limitless. You can consider that the popularity of the art itself is due to the impression the art gives to the viewer in whatever form it is. If someone likes what the artist has created then their art is considered by others and not just a simple form of expression for the eyes of the artist only.

In my opinion art is in the eye of the viewer. There are many times I have seen where some item is noted as artistic and yet I can not see any feeling or visual beneficial effect from the piece itself does that mean I am able to decide that this is not art? Of course it can not, our grandparents considered everything we did as children to be art, even the often scary and misshapen clay works we did in our classrooms and they treasure these items for many years, is it art? To them it is. -Michiel Van Kets