Monday, February 25, 2013


As expected, the booklover's swap has turned out awesome.  From my partner's list of books I chose to buy and craft on Orwell's 1984, one of my alltime favourites. 

My partner said he'd love to receive wall art or hoopla, and so I jumped to cross stitch!  But these days my cross stitch thoughts turn to blackwork most of all, and I thought that it could work well with a graphic almost comic book aesthetic.

I ended up making this hoop with Room 101 at the centre, and the pattern all around made of eyes (can you tell those are eyes?) to suggest the eerie everpresent suffocating surveillance of the authoritarian state.

It's a bit odd, a bit striking, and a lot me.

I also made a bookmark (as the swap required), focused on the main characters work rewriting the news/historical record to the party line.  My cool number stamps came in handy and I like the way they look.

Now I can't wait to see what my partner made me!

Saturday, January 26, 2013

January again

And so 2012 drew to a close, and for me it was the year of crafting.  Spurred on to new levels of productivity by Craftster swap fever, I made more than ever throughout the whole year.  I'm also pleased that I tried new things, exploring mediums and themes I would never have done before.

I think I might take it a bit easier in 2013, but then again it's not yet the end of January and I've signed up for four swaps already; ongoing atc swap, 4x6 art swap, book lovers swap, and gamers swap.

Here are a few atc's I made this month that were particularly fun.

Did you know a group of flies is called "a business" ?

Brownwork owl.

A rare word; 'susurrus' whispering or rustling.

For the 4x6 swap I picked up a wooden canvas (?) and painted it with acrylic, added a bird, of course a Robin, from a page in Pinnochio, and used watercolour crayons.  It turned out a complete surprise to me and very cute if I do say so myself.

P.S.  a couple special items I made for holiday presents, that I can now post.

For my boys, my brothers, I did a cross stitch and sewed it into a patchwork pillow cover, I love these fabrics.  

And now that it has arrived in Winnipeg, this quirky Akbar and Jeff hoop I made for Alison

Tuesday, December 11, 2012


Happy Holidays!  Would you believe I actually showed some restraint and only signed up for one holiday season swap?  Well it's true.  And still I am now in a panic feeling like I have no time left to make some gifts for my friends and family.  Sigh, I love my job but it does interfere with the crafting time.

Thankfully the one holiday swap I signed up for was super fantabulous!  Which should be no surprise as it was organized by two amazing crafters who seem to attract the best crowd to their swaps, Craftsters Rackycoo and Cackle.  Swap rules were to make three items on a theme for your partner, one special item and two smaller things.

I chose my partner's great theme of the classic Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer stopmotion animated show.  My partner said her tastes and holiday decor was electic and colourful, and she liked somewhat practical items.

First I made a little altered tin with the adorable Abominable Snowman.  The tin is decoupaged with a lovely paper, inside white roving is perfect for snow, and a simple print cutout with a bit of colour added is the star.  I made a rolled paper bead for the top to slip a ribbon through so it can hang on the wall or tree.

Second, in order to feature more of the fabulous characters using pictures from the show I cut up paper towel roll into rings, and decoupaged colour print pictures on top.  For a bit of sparkle I dipped the top and bottom of each in some sparkly paint.  I think they turned out really fun and I am already making another set of napkin rings for a friend.

Finally, my major item.  I made a cross stitch, then used my very new basic sewing skills and some fun fabric to incorporate it into a pillow cover.  I used five colours for the cross stitch, and non-christmas fabric so that it was less purely christmasy but still fun and festive.  I was really happy with how it turned out (though it has some imperfections).

Three cheers for the Island of Misfit Toys, where I and all my best friends belong :)

Happy Holidays!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012


I've wanted to try a zine for sometime, and the craftster zine swap seemed like the best way to jump in (and have a deadline to make me follow through).  Once I signed up my brain went blank and I couldn't think of a theme! Yikes.

Eventually I landed on a idea, thank the stars.  In the summer I visited my sister's cabin.  Pulling out my camera one day I wanted to do something different than the usual 'look how beautiful the lake is' photos.  Luckily I had my toy robot in the car trunk.  I took a fun series of photos of Robot enjoying all of the pleasures of Georgian Bay.  It turned out great and popular amongst my facebook friends (my gague of most things).

So for the zine I thought how about a follow up, Robot adventures around the city!

I made a photo-zine, with each page a different adventure for Robot, and a short text/caption.  Here's a small sampling.



I was thrilled that my swap partners and friends have all had a big laugh at my zine and love the Robot.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

and sew it goes

My crafting life is about dabbling, trying various things.  It's about variety and a little of this and that.  Except there are somet things I just don't do, which leave gaping holes in my repetoire.  Perhaps the biggest of these is sewing. 

As a kid I knew how to use mom's machine, but never well.  And I hadn't used a sewing machind in probably 27 years.  Until this fall, when I took a 'sewing essentials' beginner class at The Workroom in Toronto.  The Workroom is a great little store with fabric and a number of sewing machines, which you can rent by the hour.  They offer a range of courses, and the starter course is about learning to use the machine, thread it, and basic sewing.

The class was great and we sewed pillow covers.  Here's mine!

My friend and I then signed up for a four session class on following a pattern.  I picked a small square bag (ahem, it is not a purse).  I found it kind of stressful, my attention to detail wasn't great and the lining and outside were hard to match up, but I did it.

What I really gained was the ability to do a little bit of sewing, just the basics, for the odd crafting project.  And a great place to go to use a machine so I don't have to invest in one (or have space for one).

So far I had three little bags, with drawstrings and two fabrics.

One of the best parts is picking the fabric!  This fabulous squirrel fabric came from etsy.

On these two I stencilled a monster to make them more unique.

I pushed myself on the sewing front by signing up for a swap on craftster exchanging little stuffed creatures called Ninni's on a halloween theme.  I made a big, a little, and a ghost version.  The sewing's a bit rough but again the fabric makes up for it.

And finally, I made a couple little fabric dishes following a tutorial I saw online somewhere in my wanderings.  The one with taller sides is a bit better.


Friday, August 31, 2012

I got altered

Just discovered another fascinating little niche world within the craft universe (craftiverse?), three dimensional art projects made with altered tins. 

Often starting with an altoids tin, though other tins will work of course, artists make them into anything from a decorated box to a diorama.  Some keep the lid on, some take it off.  Most involve decoupage or paint over the tin itself and making use of the inside space to add objects or layer pictures.

Here's a great flickr group to show a range of altered tins:

I joined a 'Wicked Children Altered Tin' swap on Craftster.  Partners supplied each other with five real or fictional wicked characters, then chose one and made an altered tin portraying that wicked character as a child.  For example, my partner listed the Borg Queen from Stark Trek as one wicked favourite, and I went from there.

I decoupaged the tin with dark green brocade like paper.  On top I added a decorative cameo frame.  I photoshopped a picture of the borg queen, changing her features out with those of a young girl.  I added one little bee.

Inside I portrayed my vision of the wicked borg girl's pets and doll.  She loved her pet bees, because of the connection of bees to a 'hive mind,' they have a queen, and they sting wickedly.  I imagined she pulled her doll apart and painted her grey, adding machine parts to work towards a cyborg baby. 

The screw in the eye is my favourite part.

My final piece was more 'assemblage' than diorama, and I didn't know how it would be received.  This swap has some amazing artists in it who do fabulous frame style pieces with tins.  I sent the tin off to my partner in Germany, and was so thrilled when she opened it and said she loved it!

While I waited for it to arrive and be revealed I did a second tin as a bday present for a dear friend.  I decoupaged the tin inside and out with the some pretty paper.  Inside I lined the deep part with a little blue and green blanket of felt I made.  Sitting in this pretty nest I put a tiny Robin.

Happy to say she was happy with her present :)

I will definitely be making more tins, in fact I have a round tin from a friend that I am currently planning to alter and give back to her on the theme of sleep.

Thursday, August 23, 2012


It's summer in Toronto, and my craftster swap addiction continues apace. 

Recently I was in the 'hoopl round 7' swap, the 'hoopla round 8, the wordy round' swap, the Wicked Children altered tin swap, still working on the Covert Art Abandonment swap, the Monster Swap, and the 6x6 More Art Less Craft swap.

One of my recent favourites is this wordy hoop I did, with one of my best new words.  Petrichor, n. the scent of earth after the rain.

Working on the black fabric was hard.  I used three different blues, the darkest blue barely shows.  I added the swirl of a cloud at the end, and was happy with it.

A few other recent items:

Codex from The Guild, a fabulous web series, stitched and painted.

Curse of the Dinosaurs, a quote from Wash on Firefly.