Saturday, 31 August 2013

Teapot Magnet

I go to a weekly pottery club called "All Fired Up in Monmouthshire", Monmouthshire being my home county. It's great we meet every Thursday during the school term-time as it's held in a local secondary school.
Due to this we have no access to the kiln during the school holidays and to get my clay fix, I use air-drying clay. Obviously it's not quite the same as real clay but it has some great advantages- you don't need access to a kiln, the results can be achieved much quicker and it's great to use with children. Once it's completely dry, it can be painted with most types of paint, for example acrylic, enamel or emulsion- those little tester pots coming in very handy again.

If like me, you have a lot of friends who positively can not live without their daily cup of tea, here's a great little present you can make for them using air-drying clay.

You need air-drying clay of whichever brand you choose, there's quite a few available, here are two examples:

A cookie cutter in the shape of a teapot
A magnet
A sharp or pointy implement
Something to roll the clay out, e.g a rolling pin (not used for food) or a chunky knitting needle
Possibly sandpaper/emery board

Mini letter stamps are great but optional
A small oval shape cutter is also very handy but not strictly necessary
Varnish if you desire a shiny finish (nail varnish or watered down PVA both work well)

Roll out a section of clay so it's evenly approximately 5mm (3/16") thick.

Use the teapot cutter to cut out as many teapots as you require.
Using your sharp tool or the oval cutter cut out a shape to create a proper handle, make sure the top and bottom aren't too thin.

Using either the letter stamps or your pointy tool write a tea related slogan into the pot.
For example "Time for a Cuppa" or "Stick the Kettle On". Alternatively if you have a steady hand to can paint this on afterwards or leave it plain even.

Left teapot's slogan done by hand, right side using stamps
Now you just have to leave it somewhere safe to dry. As it's quite thin it shouldn't take too long depending on the conditions. I tend to leave it at least 24 hours and turn it over a couple of times during that time so it dries evenly on both sides.
Once you are happy it's nice and dry if the edges are a little rough, a gentle rub with sandpaper sorts smooths it out.
Left teapot, edges are unsanded. Right teapot sanded
Then it's time to get the paints out. The colour and design can be as simple or bold as you decide but I do like to highlight the lettering. Polka dots always look great and blue and white are a classic choice. Once the paint has dried coat in varnish if required.

All that's needed now is to glue a magnet on the back (making sure it's strong enough to hold the weight of the teapot) and you're done!

If you're giving it as a gift a little personalised tag attached to the handle with a ribbon is a lovely finishing touch in my opinion.
Keep crafting in earnest, Craftin' Ernest x

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Statement Kumihimo Necklace

Have you ever liked something so much you decided to make it in every colour? That's what's happened with this necklace.
I bought a jazzy, beaded belt from a charity shop for the beads as it was completely chocked full of them. As a belt it wasn't to my taste but I decided to take it apart and make something new and that led to the first necklace. Then it was a case of making one in each of the colours ;-)
As I have mentioned before, I really enjoy Kumihimo weaving, the basic method is quite simple to pick up and once you've got it it's very quick and a little bit addictive. That's before you even start to use beads, then it takes on a whole new dimension. I have a foam Kumihimo "loom" from Beadsmith and it's brilliant. They're quite cheap, less than £4 (UK) and can be used with everything from nylon thread to chunky wool! They come with instructions and you can also buy kits that include the materials to make your first project.
I have seen people make they're own using cardboard but I think the foam one helps as it holds the strands well.
Here's great link to a video direct from Beadsmith on YouTube which is fantastic if you're new to using beads with Kumihimo - 
It's how I learnt to add beads and explains the technique perfectly! I also have the Beadsmith bobbins as seen hanging down from each thread in the photo below but prior to owning them I just used cardboard bobbins such as used with cross-stitch cotton.

Make a length of beaded Kumihimo weaving approximately 12cm (5") in length.
Wrap your chosen coloured wire around something of a suitable diameter. For example I use knitting needles as I have a lot of them to hand and I can use whichever diameter I think best suits each particular necklace. The picture below is a 5mm needle which is my standard go-to size. You can wrap it as tightly as you like. Sometimes I do it pretty tight but a little loose as in this example looks good too.
Wrap it until you have a coil approximately 3cm (1") long
Thread 3 beads and your wire coil onto a length of wire and create a loop at the end. Hook this onto the end of your beaded Kumihimo. (From the second necklace onwards I actually put a jump ring on the end of the beaded section before I started and one after I finished weaving to make things easier. If you do this hook the length of wire to the jump ring.) Then create a loop at the opposite end, where the beads are, and cut the excess off. Secure the end of the loop inside the last bead.

Thread a length of chain through the loop to create a double layer of chain.
Attach a jump ring the both ends of the chain.
Attach an extension chain to one side and a lobster clasp to the other side.
That's it ready to wear!
As I said I have made it in lots of colours thanks to the belt and a few more with other slight alterations :
I hope you like them too!
Craft in earnest, Craftin' Ernest x

Monday, 12 August 2013

Button-tastic Clock

This post involves something I had been meaning to make for a long time but had never gotten round to. Well, as is usually the case it took for me to have things I need to make, in order to get round to making something I wanted to make (and yep the things I need to make still haven't been done).

I really liked the idea of making a clock with buttons instead of numbers. I bought some clock mechanisms from the online store that has everything- good ol' Ebay. Unfortunately I used the mobile phone app and didn't look at the description properly so bought the wrong type of hands to the ones I wanted. Totally my fault but there's always a way round these things.

I used a piece of "wall art" I picked up for 50p in a second hand shop. I was going to use a blank canvas but this was very similar with a piece of hard board in the back and therefore already had support built in. With the help of my hubby I measured and drilled a hole in the centre of the picture for the clock mechanism to go through. It's amazing how keen he is to help when power tools are involved ;-)
I had some lovely Moda fabric: Lucy's Crab Shack by Sweetwater #5481 - Deep Sea Kite Ties .I just love the colours especially the lime green so choose this colour for the buttons and the handles.
I'm usually a do-it-by-eye kind gal but this is one craft a tape measure/ruler and a protractor really is a must!
Firstly I drew around the frame on the back of the fabric making sure I had enough excess around the edges to fold over and cover the frame to the back. Then using the tape measure I placed an up-turned plate in the centre of the square and drew around that too. With the aid of the protractor I marked a dot at every thirty degrees from the top of the circle all the way around.
Hey presto, all that's needed it to sew a button to the right side of the fabric where each of the dots are and you have the twelve "hours". I used a vintage shank button for the twelve o'clock position and an assortment of holed buttons for the rest.
I used double sided sticky tape to attach the fabric to the frame. Getting the positioning right was actually the trickiest part and took a couple of goes but a necessity for accurate time keeping. I folded the corners as neatly as possible and used thumb tacks to hold them in place.
With a scalpel I carefully cut a hole in the fabric where the hole in the canvas was located and attached the mechanism following the manufacturer's instructions.
If I had been happy with the hands I had ordered all that would be involved now would be to lightly sand them and paint them the desired colour, again lime green, with nail varnish and fit them to the clock. However, as I messed up I had to do a few alterations first. Also I choose black ones and think if I had picked gold ones, the other option available, I could have skipped the sanding and gone straight for the nail varnish, another lesson learnt.
The hands I received were far more ornate than I had intended but as they were made from quite thin aluminium, I used some wire cutters to trim of as much excess as possible and to shorten them. I gave the edges a quick rub with sandpaper too to smooth them out. I'm rather pleased with how they turned out.
Again I followed the instructions to correctly attach the hands and popped in a (rechargeable) battery.
Now I can tell the time using buttons- perfect!
Until next time, craft in earnest! Craftin' Ernest x