this blog is essentially an online diary of my little creative projects - if you can't fix it, throw some glitter over it and add a lacy edge and everything will be alright.

Wednesday, 30 January 2013

vegan chocolate and raspberry cake

i found a vegan chocolate cake recipe that actually is quick, easy, and tastes good (here)! i altered it slightly by adding coffee tequila, raspberry jam and chopped raspberries to the mix at the end. also i spread raspberry jam on the top and then stuck raspberries to it (rather neatly), here's how it looked:

it looked quiet professional compared with most of my other attempts at baking, plus it was really nice and moist (i'm thinking that that has something to do with the extra booze, jam and fruit in the cake mix, their flavours didn't come through that strong but it tasted a bit grown up, which is kind of what i was aiming for). anyway, it went down well and i think it's one i'll do again as it really was an easy recipe : )

woodland creature wine glass charms

i mentioned in a previous post that the accessorize sale is something of a haven for jewellery crafters...well, among my haul of goodies i picked up a hideous charm necklace with very cute charms on. so i made a set of wine charms from it and gave them to a wonderful friend as part of her 22nd birthday present:

i got the wires off ebay (a few quid for a pack of 20), onto which i threaded 22 glass seed beads on each, then i just hung the charms. i hope she liked them, i think they're a rather sweet set myself : )

Monday, 28 January 2013

super cute needle felted hedgehog!

oh i must have too much time on my hands if i have time to make something like this:

i bought 3 different shades of natural wool roving (though 1 was just for the nose, which could totally have been a gold bead or something), totalling about £3.

to make:

i stabbed at the beige with my felting needle until it was a sort of pointy egg shape, rolled up 4 smallish bits of beige for the legs and stabbed at those until they resembled stubby sausages (about the width of a pencil), attached the legs by prodding them into the body with the needle, covered it's back with dark brown, stabbed a tiny spot of medium brown on the nose, sewed two black beads for eyes and did large irregular running stitches for his spikes.

i was so proud of this fellow that i carried him around in my pocket yesterday while at work - definitely managed to convince one customer that needle felting is very cool.

homemade salt scrub : )

it was mine and my friends birthday recently, so as a treat to ourselves we went to a spa (they tend to have cheap january deals) and at the spa they gave us full body scrubs - it's a lot like being sandpapered down so that your skin feels all nice. anyways, afterwards we decided that these treats should be repeated but as spa trips usually cost a bomb i thought it would be prudent to have a go at making mine own salt scrub (and one for my friend's birthday too):

i used lots of coarse sea salt, non-perfumed baby oil, purple glitter, eucalyptus oil, patchouli oil and rosemary oil. it's very girly, smells very relaxing and leaves your skin feeling ace: win!

bee shrinkles (shrinkies) silhouette ring

i've been rather fond of plastic silhouette rings ever since i saw the classic 'diamond' rings which come in bright colours and feature a very simple princess cut diamond in profile. the idea has come quite far since then and now you get all sorts - animals, words, stack rings which have the background on one ring, the foreground on the next and the thing in the scene in front (they're really cute!), but as i don't have access to the means to cut acrylic sheets with such detail i made mine from shrinkles instead:  
it's just what i had in mind! only problem is that it's just a tad too small for my middle finger, and looks odd on my ring finger...and is too big for my pinky : ( i thought i was being cleaver by making a shrinkles ruler first (drawing out an accurate ruler and then shrinking it so you know exactly how much it shrinks by and thus what size to make things), with which i then measured a ring that fits me, took the radius, used a protractor to draw the right size of circle and added my bee. next time i shall be more generous with my circle! other than that it looks really professional and has the same finish as the acrylic yay!

i think the next one will have to be a hedgehog silhouette ring : D

Monday, 21 January 2013

japanese hair flower headband

i went a bit japanese hair flower mad a while back when making my bouquet of blue flowers that make a corner of my room even more pretty than it already was. but it didn't stop there! i also made this headband using some frida kahlo fabric, red buttons and an old mustard coloured band:

the largest of the flowers sits just above my ear when it's on so it looks rather good (if i say so myself). unlike the pointed petals of previous project the flowers here are rounded, this is because they are made by folding the circle of fabric in half ONCE and then gathered at the raw edge of the fabric to make a petal. the leaves are simply differing sizes of the pointed petals from previous projects. all stuck together with my trusty glue gun : ) huzzah!

1920's art deco style headdress

it was my birthday two days ago and i decided to make a thing of it - wine tasting, party bags, fabulous cake and glamorous attire. i must be watching too much poirot as my taste of late is taking a sparkly downwards turn (lots of OTT cocktail rings, red nails and red shoes), so, a headdress was in order! and here it is:

i must say that i am was rather pleased with how it went! i used stretchy sequined ribbon as the main band, sewed to that thick satin ribbon and a string of fake pearls. then out came the glue gun for the feather and broken hair clip centrepiece (gosh i love the accessorize sale - it's when they take out all their broken stock and sell it for 50p a pop....i must have spent about a tenner on broken jewellery and single earrings...).

so yeh, everyone was very complimentary and it cost me about £2.50 to make : ) i tried to take a photo of me wearing it...apologies for the mirror photo!

Friday, 18 January 2013

GUEST POST: "the highbrow and underbelly of crafts"

"The Three Fates" - cutter, measurer, and spinner - 
by Anon (Flemish c.1515)

[Guest post from 'technicalities' of that verbose blog just over there]

"Craft, from the Old English cræft: 'power'; 'skill'; 'trade'..."
- Wiktionary
I broke my wind-up torch in Africa. This was bad, cos our toilets were outdoors, and theoretical hippos and puff-adders could have lain in wait between me and my nocturnal squat. I spent a week or so brushing my path with a stick before Sharif, one of my brothers, laughed and asked to see my torch. Five minutes with a screwdriver later, hooking together two little bits of pulley, it was working fine. This is not remarkable as a feat except that it just did not occur to me that this was an action open to me - and that it did to him, a thirteen-year old boy with four years of schooling. I'm going to save face by blaming my upbringing in a mass culture of mass disposal. I'm going to claim I'm mentally blocked from moulding my trappings, owing to my moulding by the forces of Global Production.

I do not have to fix things; so I do not; and so do not know how; and I think myself improved. (But one longs to be a handyman of one's own soul. To be cræfty.)
From the Renaissance on, we have held craft talents to be beneath 'Artistic' or literary ones. This is pure classism, except where it is also sexism. Consider the radicalism implicit in these genteel arts. When one is crafty, one is just more connected to the ordinary objects one encounters; one can manipulate, combine, and repurpose things. You thereby include yourself in the history of the object; you live among possibilities. This object-agency is clearly a closer relationship to the world than the mere possession link. And since much of most people's lives today are constituted by a stream of encounters with artefacts, it's not excessive to call the life of the renarrating craftsperson an Authentic one - even when lived wholly inside urbane consumerist modernity. 

In this sense, one can be free only in proportion to one's craftiness.

(There's also the obvious individualism of the process; things one makes oneself are really yours: they're unique, individuating, copyright-free.)
By this measure Hobbycraft is a Very Bad Thing. By prepackaging thousands of identikit crafts and spelling out direct instructions, it co-opts the agent-based thing described above. Just the same old late-capitalist passivity; life-by-numbers. Less melodramatically: It also supplies people with 50000 cheap components to form millions of potentially Authentic objects. Similarly unreasonably, one might complain about Etsy as the ultimate commercialisation of the personal crafts form - but then, like few jobs, it's completely unexploitative, and it is allowing a growing number of people (75-95% women) to supplement themselves off their creativity.

It's counterintuitive but easy to see Punk and DIY movements as cræfts, what with the shared emphasis on authenticity, idiosyncracy, and independence. Though punk and DIY are obviously more consciously oppositional - with Arts and Crafts, as a movement, not really having an Other to match punk's rejection of Society or Taste or Capitalism - and DIY is much more theoretical - they're actually about as radical as granny always was in terms of Authentic self-determination.

It's a stretch, but say that (Greek-style) philosophy is one too - being just the least material cræft.
"The stay-at-home-daughters movement, which is promoted by Vision Forum, encourages young girls and single women to forgo college and outside employment in favor of training as “keepers at home” until they marry. Young women pursuing their own ambitions and goals are viewed as selfish and antifamily; marriage is not a choice or one piece of a larger life plan, but the ultimate goal. Stay-at-home daughters spend their days learning “advanced homemaking” skills, such as cooking and sewing, and other skills that at one time were a necessity - knitting, crocheting, soap- and candle-making."
- on the 'Christian Patriarchy Movement' movement,
fl. 2010 (!)
However, I'm not John Ruskin. There's no escaping that crafts have served as a gilded stick to keep women down throughout European history: anything to keep them at home, busy, tired, genteel, and not reading. Remember that embroidery takes about an hour per inch; that even little boys, where they are still taught needlework in school, whinge endlessly about the affront to their masculinity that such low-grade women's work represents.
More: crafts (construed as the decorative leisure thing I was going on about, above) have been bourgeois. We see this in the Georgian cult of feminine "accomplishment", where a girl's marriage market value was tied to shit like her skill in needlepoint. And since working class women had little time to craft after their: formal employment, cooking, washing, and less self-actualising helpmeet tasks, like mending and darning. (I'd include home repairs and shed obsessions in "crafts", if only to break down an arbitrary gender wall.)

The mindset is alive and well everywhere, whether in extreme form, as in Wahhabist states and ultra-fundamentalist Christian sects, or the dilute toxin found everywhere, e.g. the less openly psychotic 'family values' talk, or the institution of fashion in general. (Note that the 'Christian Patriarchy Movement' group summarised above self-identify as patriarchal. 'Patriarchy', the word coined to identify atrocities, has absolutely no negative connotation for the men and women of that benighted stripe. Ffs.)
So have things changed? Are crafts still a way of sapping the revolutionary consciousness of womankind? Hardly; again, the Etsy generation are more independent and self-expressing than most of us, and there's a consciously feminist and Queer reclamation of crafts in full flow - owing, I like to think, to the philosophical theme of cræft/DIY as well as the general radical program of makin a bad ting good.
"[Utopian socialist] William Morris wanted to save the world with nice wallpaper."
- Jonathan Meades
Whatever radical story I can tell using crafts can also be obscured by the actual materialism of it all. Even without capitalism muscling in, the love of things might well submerge the love of people, or the regard of people even. (Yes, yes, the existence and nature of craft groups goes a long way in disproving and ridiculing my alarmism.)
"Pretty things make the world a better place"; certainly, certainly. But the decorative arts only act on surfaces; they can have little bearing on the heart of things.

Thursday, 10 January 2013

shrinkles earrings - first attempt

oh shrinkles! how awesome are you?! i had a brilliant (if i say so myself) idea about making shrinkles rings...but had no shrinkles paper so have to wait for it to arrive before i do that...but then i remembered - i totally have a page of shrinkles with pre-printed designs on it which came free with a card making magazine ages ago. i thought i'd better practice though, so i made some earrings from the four prettiest designs:

there's two birds a butterfly and a rose, coloured in with pencils and stuck/hung from earring blanks. oh i can't wait for my shrinkles paper to arrive!!!

pearl bracelet with a teapot clasp

i'm going through something of a tacky cocktail ring phase just now, what with the accessorize sales and student loan coming in. one such ring i picked up is a lovely pearl cluster set in gold (all fake and cost £2 after the 70% discount) but i had no bracelet to go with it! then i remembered that i had some small baroque pearls left over from a previous project and a fabulously awful gold clasp i picked up from work for 75p. so yeh, bracelet:

it's actually quite cute and without the huge ring to compliment it it is fairly nice too.

making badges for work : )

head office decided that we need badges that indicate our craft area of expertise, so they made a competition of it (best branch badges wins) and i was picked to make the badges for our branch - yay!:

they're essentially card with a broach pin glued to the back, but i did try and make each one in the shape of the craft the wearer is meant to be good at. my favourites are papercraft and decopatch- i used foam pads on the mini card to raise the wording, and did some very tiny actual decopatch on the deco salamander (i chose a salamander as i'm pretty sure that's one of our best sellers).

fabric flower boquet

there are only so many times that one can bug one's boyfriend to by one roses. not that i've ever done this of course! a completely unrelated craft are some fabric flowers i made myself:

they're of the japanese hair flower variety (as seen in a previous post) but with seven petals each and with a pipe cleaner glue gunned to the back by way of a stem, and now i shall always have a blue posy on my bedside table : )