Tuesday, 21 April 2015

New paracord handles for my skating bag

Hello! One thing about roller derby and, I assume, all skating to some extent, is that you accumulate a lot of stuff. When I go to training I have my skates, knee pads, elbow pads, wrist guards, a helmet, mouthguard, tape, a skate tool, a couple of water bottles, a small towel, and an extra set of wheels. Plus usually a couple of pairs of socks which I've forgotten to take out and wash (yup, I'm gross!). Which means my bag is pretty heavy, which means this happens:

Ugh! Fake leather bag straps are the worst! I brought this bag from the opshop since it was a) pretty, b) cheap, and c) big, but it's handles have not coped with the amount of stuff I lug around in it.

So, I decided it was time to replace them. Luckily, although the handles are pretty ruined, the rings and other hardware attaching them to the bag were still in pretty good shape. So I brought two bundles of 5.4m long black paracord, cut off the old handles, and started tying some knots!

The knot that I did is called a Solomon Bar, and this video was a huge help in teaching me how to do it. I started off by folding my paracord in half and putting the folded end through one of my bag rings, then I pulled the loose ends through the folded end to knot the paracord onto the ring.

I used the old handles as a guide for how long I should leave the paracord hanging between the rings, and then threaded the loose ends through the other ring. Then it's just a case of doing the knots until you have reached the first ring again. To do one handle look me about 15 minutes, so this is a pretty quick and easy fix!

My Solomon's Bar is not as tight as it could be, but I quite like how it looks looser and anyway, that was all the paracord I had!  ~____^

To finish it off, I cut off the long loose ends of the paracord, and then used a tea light candle to melt the ends and help secure them.

A lighter probably would be better for this, but I don't have a lighter and I do have an overabundance of tea light candles. Seriously, I think they breed when I'm not looking. As long as you hold your tea light steady and move your cord around (instead of vice versa!) you will not drop hot wax on yourself. I got distracted and dripped some wax on my bag, but it wiped off easily so no harm done! ^___^ When you're doing this, the important thing to remember is that you are not touching the paracord with your flame; just use the heat generated by the candle to gently melt the paracord.

Melting the cord gives a neat finish, and should ensure that the knots don't come loose ^____^

Since the paracord is quite soft, these handles are still comfortable to use, and hopefully a lot stronger than the original ones!

I have given up on so many bags because of split and stretched handles (I obviously ask a lot from my baggage!), so I'm really happy to have found a solution! My craft store has a lovely range of colourful paracord which means that finding a matching cord to make handles shouldn't be too tricky! And, if in doubt, I can simply remember that black goes with everything ~____^

- Lisa xx

Tuesday, 14 April 2015

Phases of the moon necklace

Hello! So, just recently, Cat from Cut Out + Keep asked me if I'd like to be one of their DIY Fashionistas and, after squealing a bit at the computer, I said yes! I decided to go for a casual witch inspired look and I embellished a thrifted felt hat to tie in with my outfit. You can see some dorky photos of me trying to be a model, plus an interview, *plus* the full tutorial on making the hat over on Cut Out + Keep. However, if you want to know more about the moon phases necklace that I also made for the shoot, then you've come to the right place! ^____^

This necklace is really easy to make, and surprisingly light; considering that it looks quite chunky! To make it, you will need black polymer clay, silver acrylic paint, a paintbrush, a thick needle, tiger tail (or other jewellery wire), a clasp, clear and white seed beads, and two jewellery crimps.

To start off, I conditioned the polymer clay until it was soft, and then rolled it into seven balls of the same size. I then gently squashed them to make thick circles and pushed the needle through them to make them into beads.

After I baked them, I used the silver paint to make each circle bead represent a moon phase. I did this freehand, but taping off the areas you wanted to keep black would probably work out neater.

I let the moon beads dry, and then threaded them onto tiger tail, about 48cm long. Then I added seed beads to each side of the moon beads, and finished it off by bending the tiger tail around each side of the clasp components and fastening with a crimp.

One of my favourite things about this necklace is how the seed beads look; the size, shape, and transparency of the beads varies I think the subtle variety gives it extra sparkle ^___^

I feel like if I was a real witch, I would charm the beads on this necklace to actually cycle through the moon phases but, alas, I am not. So this shall have to do! ^___^

I'm still working on my amigurumi, so I shall show you that next week. And, after that: roller derby crafts! Huzzah! We are offically halfway through this cycle now and I've got my fingers crossed that I might be ready for assessments in just six short weeks - eek! I'm sure crafting some pretty things will help me relax ~___^
- Lisa xx

Tuesday, 7 April 2015

Morticia and Gomez clay dolls and a TV cake

Hello! Recently my lovely friend Clare had her birthday party, which had the absolutely awesome theme of Cult Cinema Characters. I had so many ideas of things I could have made for her gift, but after I saw a gorgeous papercraft ornament of Morticia and Gomez, I knew I would have to craft a tribute to the cutest spooky couple of all ^____^

Eeep! Aren't they cute? I made my Morticia and Gomez from polymer clay, which I then painted. It wasn't particularly hard, but it did take a long time!

I completely forgot to measure them before I gave them to Clare, but I think they were about 12cm long. They have wire armature in their arms (and legs, in the case of Gomez) and a long wire going through the middle to connect their heads, necks, and bodies. After I sculpted their bodies, I tried to smooth down the clay using a little bit of water and my fingertips, but they didn't end up quite as smooth as I would have liked. However, after they were painted, any bumps were much less noticeable!

I based my Morticia and Gomez off the Addams Family Values movie, instead of the original TV show. There probably isn't all that much difference really, but I found it really helpful to look at the cast photos for details like Morticia's hair and Gomez's suit.

I used acrylic paints to add most of the details, but Morticia's long hair is actually made from a piece of thin cardboard. I was indecisive about her hair for quite a while; I originally planned to add some fake hair from my Blythe doll kit but then decided that would be too messy to attach properly. Then I thought I would just leave her as is, but she just wasn't really recognisable without that long hair! If I hadn't been so indecisive, I think a piece of thin clay would have worked a bit better. 

Gomez's suit was definitely the hardest part to paint - all those pinstripes! You can see that my fine brush control still needs some work here ~____^

After all of the painting was done, I gave them a couple of coats of matt spray varnish, to hopefully ensure that they don't chip, or flake, or become too dirty. I also made a tiny Thing to sit on Gomez's shoulder with a scrap of clay. Thing balances perfectly on Gomez's shoulder - which makes me very pleased!

I used some black card stock to make a coffin shaped gift box for Morticia and Gomez to go in; really, what else would have done? After spending so long making these two, I was getting a bit worried that Clare wouldn't like them. But I needn't have - Clare loved them! ^___^

Rebecca and I also decided that Clare needed a cake; any occasion is better with cake, right? And if it's a novelty TV cake, then it must be extra better! ^____^ I used a 23cm (about 9 inches) square tin and a double quantity of my ANZAC cake recipe.

The icing was made with unsalted butter, icing sugar mixture, water, and a touch of blue food colouring. This cake was a little difficult to ice, since it has a rough texture, but with enough icing anything is possible and it turned out looking alright ~___^

The fun part, of course, is decorating! Rebecca had the excellent idea of using sour stripes to make a screen reminiscent of the old TV test pattern. All we did for this was draw a line in the icing where we wanted our screen to be, trimmed any stripes that were too long and rounded the corners of the two stripes on the ends. If you weren't able to find sour stripes though, I thought Scott's suggestion of making white noise using black and white sprinkles was quite inspired! The bunny ears aerial, the legs, and the speaker grill were made with chocolate Pocky, the coloured buttons are M&Ms, and the two dials are Rolos. It was a big hit with the party guests, and Clare really loved it too - huzzah! ^____^

There's less than a month until Scott and Pip's birthdays, so more cakes will be on the agenda soon! But I shall see you next week with a jewellery project, and maybe even an amigurumi! ^___^

- Lisa xx

Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Roller skate baby booties

Hello! I'm a big believer in the idea that mini things are just somehow cuter than regular sized things. I don't know why, but they just are. These baby booties that I made prove this rule; they are SO TINY and SO ADORABLE. I can barely even stand it.

I made these for my friend Toni, who is also my Skate Fit instructor. Skate Fit is pretty awesome; it's kind of like a circuit class mixed with a skills lesson and is super helpful if you want to improve your skating and fitness and bit quicker than just going to social skates (which I also love, by the way!). This week was our last Skate Fit class for a while though because, as you may have guessed, Toni is having a baby! Toni is an artistic skater by trade, so she wears those sweet high topped white skate boots that derby freshies like me lust after. When I found this pattern I knew it would be perfect, since the booties look really similar to Toni's skates!

I used a pattern by Andrea Collins to make these and they turned out perfectly; I'm very pleased with them and would definitely recommend the pattern. The only thing that I would have liked was a guideline for size customisation. As I mentioned, these are tiny; probably really only good for newborns (I'm not positive as I don't know many babies, but they are only about 7cm long so pretty small!) and I would have liked to have the option to make them a little bigger (cough *to fit me* cough).

The pattern recommends black yarn for the trucks/ sole but I went with grey because Toni's trucks are silver. It also suggests hot pink for the trim and laces, but I had this gorgeous mint green yarn which I desperately wanted to use for something; plus, it's pastel, so perfect for babies, right? I kept the boots white, but I did the wheels in the same mint green instead of grey because I thought it would be cuter. Toni's wheels are actually transparent with glitter, but I didn't think I'd be able to recreate that, unfortunately!

The wheels are sewn onto the sole which meant, for me at least, that in the inside of the boot some of the stitching was visible. To fix this, I crocheted a little insole for each skate, just by doing the first three rounds of the sole pattern. I also added a little non-toxic glue to the tops of the stitches inside the boot to hopefully prevent them from fraying or coming loose. Loose wheels are never a good thing!

The pom-poms on the ends of the laces are possibly one of my favourite things about this pattern. They're so tiny and cute! The smallest size of my pom-pom maker was way too big for this project, so I made these tiny pom-poms using a fork

I used 100% acrylic in DK weight for all of yarns in this project, and a 4mm hook. Baby wool would probably be a good option for it too, but I didn't want to use any of my wool yarn as I thought it could be too itchy. I personally can't stand the feel of wool on my skin, so I avoid it unless it's super super soft.

The wheels were the worst part of this project. Basically you have to crochet tiny spheres, which really hurt my poor fingers! If I was doing this again, I might resort to needle-felting them! They do look good though, so I'm pleased I stuck with it.

I gave these to Toni today at our (last *crying*) Skate Fit session and she really liked them! I hope that her little one will get some use out of them ... until they're ready for proper skates anyway! ~___^

I'm mostly definitely sold on baby booties as a gift now though, as I did these in only a couple of hours over two days; gotta love a nice quick project!

- Lisa xx

Thursday, 26 March 2015

Imperial Eagle Cross-Stitch on a Crochet Dice Bag

Hello! If you've been reading this blog for a while, you've probably heard about the elusive creature that I call my husband, aka Scott. Scott is very, very patient with me as I constantly promise him things and then take ages to actually make them so his presents are quite often late. But, a strange thing has happened! I promised Scott a dice bag for his birthday this year and it's finished ... two months in advance! I think this means I better make him something else to give him on the actual day, what do you think?

I used this pattern by Geek's Dream Girl to crochet this bag, but made a few changes so that it could accommodate Scott's largish dice collection, which he uses (along with *a lot* of tiny, hand-painted army figurines) when he plays Warhammer 40K. The pattern suggested doing five rounds to make the base of the bag, but I did eleven. I did 21 rounds to make up the majority of the bag, and then seven rounds to make the bit that ruffles when you close the drawstring.

I used a DK weight wool to crochet the bag, and a thinner acrylic yarn to be the drawstring. For the drawstring, I just threaded two lengths of yarn through the trebled section of the bag (that will make more sense if you take a look at the pattern!), knotted the ends, and added a toggle.

One of the other advantages of making the dice bag bigger was that I had room to test out a technique I'd been keen about giving a go; cross-stitch over crochet!

I made a pattern for a very simplified version of the Imperial Eagle (which you can grab from my Google Drive here if you'd like to!) and cross-stitched it onto the bag, using the lines of the crochet as a guideline. It's certainly not as easy as cross-stitching onto Aida cloth, but I'm pretty happy with the result! 

Here's a kind of action shot, with Scott's Space Marine Centurion and Chaos Space Marine Maulerfiend looking on. Open ...

... and closed!

I'm currently working on some ~secret things~, which I absolutely can not wait to share with you, as well as a couple of gifts ... I think I better whip up something for myself too so I have something to show you next week! ^___^ What I'd really like right now is a bathtub to soak my skating-induced aches in, but I think that's a little beyond my abilities ~____^

- Lisa xx

Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Polymer clay foods

Hello! It seems that Autumn has arrived today in my city! I woke up this morning to find cloudy grey skies and plenty of rain! I'm sure I'll grow tired of it soon, but right now it's a lovely novelty ^___^ One thing I love about cooler weather is that is really makes me want to crochet and knit! I've got a few projects on my list that will be perfect for rainy days, but lately I've been messing around with polymer clay. 

I made these peas in a pod, which has been done many, many times before by other people ... but look at those little faces! Eeep, they're so cute! I only had one colour of green clay, so I mixed some green and white together to make the lighter colour for the peas. The peas are made simply by rolling clay into three balls of the same size (or, well, same-ish size). For the pod I made a rectangle and wrapped it around the peas. I pinched the ends together and cut off the excess, and then smoothed everything on the back down. You have to do this carefully, because otherwise you might squash your peas! Once it was baked, I painted on the faces with black paint and a very tiny brush. I have made this one into a brooch ^___^

I added brooch backings to these two pieces of fairy bread as well, but I'm planning on wearing them as collar clips ^___^ I don't know if people in other countries eat fairy bread so, for the uninitiated, fairy bread is buttered white bread covered in sprinkles. It's a staple at children's parties, and good for invoking nostalgia in older Australians ~___^ To make these, I made a square with beige clay and then sliced it in half to make triangles. After it was baked, I used brown paint dabbed along the outside edges to make the crust. The butter is cream coloured puffy paint, and the sprinkles are from thin clay "snakes" that I baked and then sliced with a razor. If you sprinkle on the, uh, ... sprinkles while the paint is still wet, they will stick in place ^___^

Pancakes!! I am so in love with these pancakes. I made them by making three disks of beige clay, all about the same size. Rebecca made me a little nub of butter by making a little square of yellow clay. I baked the pancakes and butter separately and then glued them together with a mixture of dimensional magic and brown paint. I glued this onto a ring base so now I have a pancake ring just like Annika! It's kinda an enormous ring, but I love it ^___^

I also made these two toasts and a jammy dodger, but I'm not sure what I will make them into yet. I dabbed them with brown paint, the same as the fairy bread, to make crusts and give them a just baked look. The jam on the toasts and inside the biscuit is acrylic paint. The jammy dodger was baked in two pieces and then glued together with the paint.

And lastly, I made this zombie brain! It glows in the dark, which I think is pretty cool, but it still needs a little something-something. Time for some experimenting! (insert mad scientist laugh here)

I'll see you next week, hopefully with some crochet! ^___^

- Lisa xx