Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Spread the love!

It is Tuesday! And I have yet to finish my holiday presents because I am an easily distracted bird with lots on my plate.
So there won't be a how-tuesday this week.

To make it up to you, I am giving you free shipping from my etsy shop!
Use the coupon code JOY2U at check out, and I will send your pretties right along.

Now I am back to the art room, to finish crafting for a gaggle of teenage girls.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Polymer Clay Book Pin Tutorial

Who loves books? I DO! I am completely guilty of reading 200 pages instead of doing housework.

These sweet little books made of polymer clay are perfect for the readers in your life. Use them as gifts alone, or to pin a ribbon around that book you bought them. The half dozen I made last night are going to the kid's teachers as part of their holiday gifts.

Let's get making!


PLIERS: Always handy, but these are used to manipulate the wire if you want your pin to be a pendant instead
POLYMER CLAY: Two colors for the cover (I like a quasi-dark color and something metallic) and white and ecru or butter cream for the pages.
TLS: Translucent Liquid Sculpey (it's your glue for your pin back)
WIRE: for a pendant instead of a pin
RUBBER STAMPS: we're looking for interesting textures. (If you don't have rubber stamps, you can use a bit of lace or a doily, or some window screen--get creative)
PIN BACKS: it's just easier than messing with a safety pin. Trust me. You can pick up a large pack for about $4.
NEEDLE TOOL: or just a straight-up sewing needle. Make sure it's for button thread. You need one that won't bend under pressure
CUTTING BLADE: a sculpey blade or an exacto or a sharp kitchen knife
RULER: yes, we have to measure. Sorry.
ROLLER: For this I really do recommend a rolling machine, but a rolling pin will work--just sandwich your clay between sheets of wax paper first

 Take your white and ecru and sandwich them together. Then run them through your rolling machine at 7. (you don't start at 7, you work up to it!) What do I mean by sandwich? Look down!

Cut them into slices, and alternate colors. But don't try to feed them through the machine like that!

Smoosh them a little and taper them at the ends. When you run them through the machine, the edges will start to look crumbly. When that happens, I fold the crumbly edge over towards the middle and run it through again.
For the cover, you'll want to run your clay through at a 3. (Again. Start at 1 and work up slowly!)

Lay out your white page sheet and colored cover sheet. Get out your ruler and your cutting tool.

For your pages, measure 7/8 inch tall by 1 3/4 inch long. Cut that with your cutting tool. You'll want 3 pages per book.

Next cut your cover. It will be 1 1/4 inch tall by 2 inches wide.

Lay out your pages and trim them just a bit so that they are successively smaller.

Lay the largest page down first. Center it in the cover and then use your needle tool to crease where the binding would be. you know, the middleish.

Lay down the medium sized page and use your tool again. really smoosh it down.

Take your last page and lay it on your rubber stamp. Press it down just enough to make an indent. Don't get too rough, or it will stick to the stamp!

Lay that page on top and use your needle tool to smoosh the center again. If you don't smoosh it, your pages fall out!

Next, use your needle tool under the top layers to lift the pages a bit. It's a nice touch, don't you think?
Place on a cookie sheet & tent it with foil.
Pop that in your 275 degree oven for 15 minutes.

Let it cool after and then get out your pin backs & TLS.

Squirt a line of TLS onto the back of your book, slightly shorter than the pin back. Place the pin back on top of the line and get some leftover clay.

Make your leftover clay into a little ball and place that over the pin back. Smoosh down the edges just a bit.
Flip it over so the pin back is on the back and bake again! Tent it with foil, so your pages don't get burned.

To make a pendant!

 Take a 2 1/2 inch length of wire (16 gauge), and fold it into a figure 8.

Flip your project over, add a dot of TLS and lay your wire on top.

Take a ball of leftover clay and smoosh that on top of the wire and TLS.
Tent with foil and bake again!

Wasn't that fun? You could make a whole bunch for members of your book club, the nice librarians at the library--ooh! or you could make slightly larger ones and use them to decorate a Christmas tree, or make a wreath for your front door...
I'm going to go make some more right now!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011


Hi everybody! I would like to apologize for not having a How Tuesday this week. Quite possibly I will make it up with a How Thursday. I was abroad this weekend, and am just starting to recover my brain from the jet lag--yesterday I nearly left the grocery store without my bags of food.

My lovely weekend was due to the generosity of my mother (Thanks, Ma!).

I left Chicago on Thursday, mid-day--flew out over Lake Michigan and got some great photos of the city. When I flew home Monday night, she was all lit up and sparkling like the world's tackiest Christmas tree--and I loved it.

I flew from Chicago to Washington, DC where I met with my mother and we flew to London together. We arrived in London around 9AM, as the sun was just starting to bathe everything in this gorgeous golden light and casting long shadows. It was beautiful--and I have no idea how best to capture that through an air plane window, but I tried.

I was shocked to see that the grass is still green. And when we walked through the city, there were a great number of trees who still had leaves. As we approached London, we had to circle before we could land--which gave me another GREAT opportunity to photograph.
The River Thames, as it serpentines through London.
We flew over so many familiar landmarks, it was amazing to be able to see them spread out before me like little game pieces.
We went through border control, where the agent asked us how long we were staying and why we were there, and thank goodness my Mom answered because I wanted to shout "WE ARE HERE BECAUSE IT IS LONDON! LONDON!"

We dropped our bags at the hotel and made our way to the British Museum, where we toured the Egyptian Hall & saw the great Assyrian artifacts, and THE ROSETTA STONE. I did not take pictures because it was a field trip day and I was up to my elbows in British school children. Once we made it into a quieter area, I whipped the camera out and took photos of artifacts from the Roman occupation of Britain.
Look at the little bronze animals! And the various and sundry deities. And look at the mosaics! I do love me some patterning.
Hi random security guy!
The view from the 12th floor of our hotel! The castle looking building is the Renaissance Hotel at St Pancras, and on the other side of that is King's Cross underground and railway station (where Harry Potter left for Hogwarts). Below is King's Cross Railway Station. And allow me to comment: Holy orbs, Batman! I counted 11. How many do you count?

This little building is the British Library. We went to the Illuminated Manuscripts exhibit and saw all kinds of beautiful examples of medieval painting--it was interesting to see the different styles of the continental painters versus the English painters. We also saw the MAGNA CARTA and the FIRST FOLIO of SHAKESPEARE'S PLAYS. Awesome.

We saw the Victoria and Albert Museum. I snapped this picture of perfume and pomander containers before the nice man told me there were no photos allowed...so then I spent the next hour drawing things from the jewelry collection. (Something I wouldn't have been able to do with 2 children at my side). Then we meandered through prints and drawings, stained glass and ate lunch. At the tea counter they had GIANT meringues that are sliced open and you fill them with clotted cream and jam. I wasn't brave enough to try them--the idea made my teeth hurt.  After that we saw the Power of Making exhibit--oh so very very good.

And since the day was still young, we popped on over to Harrods to ogle the Christmas decorations and ride the Egyptian escalator...

And visit the Harry Potter shop. Where you can purchase actual movie props.

Like the trolleys used in the King's Cross Railway scenes.

And if you love Harry Potter AND Legos, you can visit Lego Harry Potter and purchase the Lego Harry Potter swag.

The next day we got off at the London Bridge Underground Station, strolled along the Thames--past Sir Frances Drake's The Golden Hind fore...

and aft....

Past the ruins of the Winchester Palace--previous home of the medieval Bishops of Winchester.

Until we came to Shakespeare's Globe! As an admitted Shakespeare dork, it was AWESOME and AMAZING and AWESOMELY AMAZING.
A timeline...
Me and my man, Will. (Don't we look cute together?!)
An example of embroidery--I thought the frame was interesting, considering that today we use two round hoops.
And the interior of the Globe! Once again, it's looking a little orb-y. (But once the tour guide mentioned that the lead architect and the man who's idea it was to rebuild the Globe passed away before it's completion, the orbs made a little more sense)

And lastly, we swung by 221B--the home of the fictional character Sherlock Holmes. It was a collection of lovely buildings and touristy tourist shops.

My goal was to come away with inspiration, and I have to say that I have it in spades.
London is awesome. Do not hesitate to visit--there is something for everyone and the weather there is FAR SUPERIOR to Chicago's wintry bluster.

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

A mini break!

Over the weekend, I will be attending the Selvedge Christmas Fair with my Mom. I will be off line and incommunicado until Tuesday, December 13.

Have a wonderful weekend!

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

How to Upcycle Greeting Cards into Books

Hello! Here's another How-To post for your Tuesday. Since we are in the season of giving, I thought I'd stick with things that you can make and gift. This one is particularly nice, because if you still have last year's holiday cards, you can use those for the cover of your books. Best of all, this present is minimal in cost, but big on "hey, I got you something". And I DO love to give out presents, don't you?

First things first, per usual. Your supply list!
Greeting cards: old, new, vintage or blue--it doesn't matter. Still have the envelope: hang on to it!
Blank paper: I used printer paper, but you can use scrapbook paper, notebook paper, nothing too thick. About 6-10 sheets per book.
Needle and Thread: I use button thread, because it is strong and less likely to fray over time.
Compass or Awl: something with a largeish pokey end. A metal skewer from the kitchen works too.
Paper squisher: If I were Martha, I'd say you need a bone folder. What you need is something to crease your paper when you fold it in half.
Work surface: I use a cork tile, you can use a cutting board, a stack of newspapers, anything to protect your table when you are poking holes.
Ruler: There is measurement required for this one. But not too much!

Open up your greeting card on your work surface and measure the inside dimensions. Now subtract half an inch from your totals. Cut your paper to that size. Go on. I'll wait. OK, now stack up your 6-10 sheets and fold the stack in half.

Use your paper squisher to really crease the folded edge. Put some weight on it!

Now open up your stack and admire that nice clean crease. Get your ruler out and measure one inch from the top edge, and make a hole with your poker. Measure one inch from the bottom edge, and make a hole with your poker. Put your paper stack inside your opened greeting card.

Line it up so there is a bit of card poking out around the edges. (and yes, you caught me! My paper is smaller in width than what I told you) Now, poke through the holes you already made to create holes in the card.
Do you see hole A and hole B? Hole A is at the bottom and hole B is at the top. These distinctions will become important as we start to sew the whole thing together.

Prep your needle and thread: I usually make my thread the length of my arm. Tie a knot in the loose end of your thread. Pick up your paper stack and sew from the outside to the inside (this will hide the knotted tail of thread)

Sew the paper stack from hole A to hole B. DO NOT SEW THE COVER ON YET. Sew A to B on the crease, B to A on the outside.  

From A UNDER the paper stack to hole A in the cover. From cover hole A to cover hole B--BUT NOT THROUGH PAPER HOLE B.

 Bring the needle and thread over the TOP of the paper and sew into hole B. And back out through cover hole B. AT THIS POINT YOUR PAPER STACK SHOULD BE TETHERED AT BOTH HOLES A&B TO THE COVER (if not, retrace your steps). Go from cover hole B to cover hole A, all the way through to the center of your book.

Loop your thread around the inside bindings and tie a knot. YOU JUST MADE A BOOK!

Stand it up and admire your handiwork. I like to give mine a little jostle to make sure the pages are securely attached. If they aren't, go ahead and do two loops all the way through with your needle and thread.

 Still have that envelope? Slide your book inside, close it, slap a bow on it and you have one sweet little present!

You can always take the idea one step further...
Make a mini travel journal. I used 300lb press watercolor paper for the cover.

And on the inside, I made half-size sheets. This leaves me room to affix an envelope for bits of paper I pick up on my travels.

The benefit of this is that it weighs significantly less than my full size sketchbook, so carrying it around will be easier. When we travel we do a lot of walking!