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Archive for January, 2012

How To Save a ‘Dying’ Craft

Tuesday, January 31st, 2012
By Twistie

(Illustration via Stuart King)

Mention bobbin lace, and chances are if the listener knows anything at all about it, this is what they think of: an old woman in antique clothing doing something they can’t for the life of them figure out.

A hundred years ago, that’s exactly what bobbin lace looked like, too. It was something nobody needed to do for themselves anymore, so they didn’t learn it. It was something only very poor people did, and most of them had been run out of the market by the machine laces that were so much faster and cheaper to make.

By the time I took up the craft in 1990, most people I saw at demonstrations thought it was tatting and would pontificate that it was a ‘lost art.’

In reply, I would hold up a tatting shuttle to show them the difference, and explain that bobbin lace isn’t lost at all. I found it just fine.


Quickie Question: Trying Anything New?

Monday, January 30th, 2012
By Twistie

Every once in a while it’s fun to try out a new craft.  Some of them will stick with us only a short time, others the rest of our lives. Either way, it’s good for the brain, the manual dexterity, and keeping your friends from fearing presents from you because they’ve already got all the (fill in the blank) they could possibly want if they live to be as old as Methuselah.

So I’ve decided to try two new crafts and have gone so far as to order me some instructions and equipment to get me started.

The first one is needle felting. I’m finding I’m fascinated with the range of possibilities in the craft. Besides, there are days when sitting there repeatedly stabbing something sounds kind of like good, cheap therapy. I’m  eager to get started.

The other one I’m giving a go is nalbinding. It’s something of an ancient forerunner to knitting, but done with a single needle and your fingers. I’m kind of in love with the idea of making my own socks, but regular knitting and I… we just don’t get along so well. I’m thinking that I’ll have an easier time with the thing that gave me the most trouble with both knitting and crochet – the gauging – since in nalbinding it’s done with each stitch using your own fingers. Besides, it doesn’t get much more travel-friendly than something you can do as long as you have something resembling a darning needle, a ball of yarn, and your own fingers at the ready!

Stay tuned for adventures in these two crafts!

Now what about all of you? Tried anything new lately? Picked up a book or toy you can’t wait to test out?

Tell me all about it!

Wrap it Up, Quick!

Friday, January 27th, 2012
By Twistie

Imagine, if you will, being asked to make a fabulous designer outfit in just six hours from concept to runway show.

Yes, this week’s Project Runway All Stars asks just that of the remaining designers. But wait! There’s more! They have to show these to guest judge Diane Von Furstenberg, design icon and all around weirdly wonderful lady. I always love it when she guest judges because her mind is a fascinating place I enjoy rooting around in.

But wait! There’s still more! The designers need to base their designs on…


I Felt You Needed to Know About This

Thursday, January 26th, 2012
By Twistie

I admit it. I’ve always had a bit of a thing for badgers. When  I was two, my parents took me to the toy store to choose my own teddy bear. I ignored them all, but refused to leave the store without the Steiff badger. I still have him. He was the constant companion of my childhood, but Diggy is still in beautiful shape.

This little fellow may not be Steiff, but he’s absolutely adorable. He’s a felted badger head brooch by UK Etsy crafter lizzieneedles. And right now he’s just $55.00. He’s regularly $78.00.

But wait! There’s more! Right now you can get 10% off of lizzieneedles’ incredible needlefelted  jewelry if you use sale code FELTOFF2011.

Now, do I want this badger, or do I want the white rabbit ring…..

Cubby Hell

Wednesday, January 25th, 2012
By Twistie

It’s fascinating what can be done with photography.

The contemporary art online magazine, Hi*Fructose has a gallery up of Russian born artist Oleg Dau’s work in the medium. This body of work, entitled ‘Cubs,’ starts with photographs of children gazing full on at the camera. Then the bodies and skins are digitally manipulated to get the effect the artist wants, which is heavily influenced by Victorian post-mortem photography. Warning: the last link includes images that some viewers may find extremely disturbing.

Having always had a certain fondness for the surreal and slightly macabre, I have to say I want one of these portraits. I want to know more about how the artist got the effects, and what inspired him. I want to put one of these on a wall and ponder it at odd times and in different moods.

And I do want to see how people react when they see it!

Words of Felting Wisdom, and an Awesome Project

Tuesday, January 24th, 2012
By Twistie

The ever-fabulous Croshame has written an excellent essay and a few words of wisdom about being a newbie needle felter. You can read it here. It also happens to be where the illustration above hails from. It’s her second – that’s right, second – needle felted piece.

I am so not worthy.

If needle felting sounds like something you’d like to try out, you might want to take a look at this entry from last March on Heidi Boyd Crafty Inspiration with her tutorial on making needle felted hedgehogs. Hmmm… I’ve been thinking I could use a new pincushion for my lace pillows, and hedgehogs are popularly associated with lacemakers in Britain. I wonder how a felted hedgie would do.

Quickie Question: Snacks?

Monday, January 23rd, 2012
By Twistie

I don’t know about you, but being creative can make me hungry.

Still, there’s an art to coming up with the perfect snack that can go with crafting. You want something that isn’t going to drip, melt, or get your fingers greasy. After all, whether you’re working with embroidery thread, paints, wood, or clay, you don’t want it staining your work! And some crafts aren’t conducive to having snacks around at all, due to toxic fumes, or toxic chemicals you wouldn’t want to ingest.

But still, I tend to wind up sitting at my pillow for hours at a time and need fortification.

I find that having a variety of tea sandwiches and bite-sized sweets sans frosting or gooey fillings works best for me. And I turn my head away from the pillow, so as not to spill crumbs. In addition to that, in cold weather I keep a mug of either coffee or tea by my side. In warm weather, it’s ice tea or lemonade. After all, it wouldn’t do to get dehydrated, either!

So what about you? Do you snack while you craft or not? If you do, what do you snack on?

Tell me all about it!

This Little Piggy Says….

Friday, January 20th, 2012
By Twistie

… “Oui! Oui! Oui!”

Ah, but to whom?

On last night’s Project Runway All Stars, the guest judge was the inimitable Miss Piggy on a truffle hunt for the perfect cocktail dress to wear to promote her latest cinematic triumph… The Muppets.

To learn more of what happened, follow the bouncing spoiler cut!


Polymer Passion

Thursday, January 19th, 2012
By Twistie

I remember well when I first discovered polymer clays. I was busily trying to find the perfect craft for me and thought beading looked fun. I got myself a couple catalogues to check out supplies and educational resources. Lo and behold, there was this amazing new product called FIMO, a colorful clay from which you could make your own beads in the oven. What a cool idea! I ordered some and made a few beads. It was fun. I enjoyed it. I did it a few times… and then I lost interest in actually making the beads. All the same, I really enjoyed seeing what people did with this intriguing new product.

I’d moved on to tossing bobbins, but I still admired a good FIMO or Sculpy bead artist.

So imagine my delight when I recently discovered the Polymer Art Archive. It’s a fabulous site dedicated to polymer clays, their history, uses, and dedicated artists. On the site, you’ll see many lovely pieces like the ones above… but you’ll also see more ambitious uses of this versatile material, like this bracelet at a recent show of polymer jewelry artists in San Diego:

Who knows? With inspiration like that, I might just give polymer another try!

Quickie Question: New Projects?

Wednesday, January 18th, 2012
By Twistie

Sorry about yesterday, everyone. This is what I looked like then:

… only rather less glamorous.

I must admit that dripping as I am, I’m loathe to begin a new crafting project at the moment. And so I want to live vicariously through all of you.


What are you working on now? What have you just taken up? What are you gathering materials and/or equipment for? Taking classes?

Cheer up a sick crafts maven and tell me what you’re up to!

Disclaimer: Manolo the Shoeblogger is not Manolo Blahnik
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