Wednesday, 25 May 2016

100 Simple Paper Flowers, by Kelsey Elam. Review.

100 Simple Paper Flowers

By Kelsey Elam

Ivy Press 2016

Paperback £ 14.99

ISBN 978-1-78240-308-1

Star rating: *****

Have you been watching the magnificent floral designs at the Chelsea Flower Show? Kelsey Elam’s fab new book is a papery celebration of all things floral – ideal for those of us who have crafty hands rather than green fingers (a green thumb)! There are plenty of paper flower titles out there – but this new one is distinctive for its designs and for the content and planning of the book. First off is Kelsey’s delightful style. Her flowers are realistic --- but recognizably papery. They are not fake anything – they are beautifully designed, well-thought-out creations, most of which are made of tissue paper with textured paper leaves Especially stunning are the hand-dyed blooms.

The author, Kelsey Elam, is a paper artist whose company, Moonflora, sells paper flowers. The designs in her book showcase her expertise and share her floral construction secrets. The flowers, marvels of paper engineering with carefully observed components, are showcased in a gallery section.  These are paper flowers for grown-ups – Kelsey has designed the subtle details, so you don’t have to. The flowers are simple to construct, as promised in the title. 

The book is divided into three sections, Gallery, Techniques, and Templates. In the Gallery section, the flowers are simply photographed, propped in a non-fussy but thoughtful way (appropriate no-frills container on a plain background). The Techniques section is a goldmine of flowercraft info – illustrated step-by-steps on hand.Topics include Paper Dyeing and Painting, Petal Styling, and the lowdown on Plant Structures.The aim is to impart an understanding of how are flower are put together, so you can go it alone with confidence.The author shares an abundance of tips. 

All the designs are superb, but some of my personal faves include the Philodendron (love those waxy, textured, well-cut leaves), the Jasmine (elegant lines with bursts of hot pink), and the Mallow (beautiful brushwork petals plus clever-fold leaves).

The four projects are all basic things that you would actually use your paper flower-making skills for – a bouquet; corsage boutoniere & hairpin; a flower chain, and a floral crown.  All suitable for occasions , special or small.

Full-size templates are in the back.  Another plus - the book has a quality stitched binding – so it will stand up to repeated use.

Note:  I was given a review copy of this title.

Saturday, 21 May 2016

Pompomania, by Christine Leech. Review.


how to make over 20 cute and characterful pompoms

By Christine Leech

Photography by Joanna Henderson

Quadrille 2016

Hardcover, £ 10 UK, $16.95 US

ISBN 978-1-84949-674-2

Star rating: *****

Papercrafters love their embellishments – and pompoms are having their happy fluffy moment. Three cheers then for this genius book that takes the craft of  pompom-making to dizzy new heights. The author, Christine Leech, has worked out how to incorporate pattern into pompoms. Wow factor! By manipulating yarn colour placement and number of winds, patterned pompoms can be produced. Best of all, the author very generously teaches you her method, so you can have a go at designing yourself, after you have mastered the basics and taken pompom theory on board.  

Mega-admiration for the author, who takes us on her pompom-making personal journey. She shares her learning curve with us – and all her technical secrets. The book contains fun, imaginative projects and superb technique nitty gritty. Learn how to engineer stripes and shapes into your pompom, and how to craft pompoms in different shapes. All with clear photographic step-by-steps accompanied by well-written, entertaining text. Helpful colour-block diagrams showing yarn placement are included where required.

The projects  are imaginative: a flowering cactus (so on trend), pompom emoji, an elegant bonsai tree, sushi, macarons, and a painterly pompom pear. Pompom soft toys include a parrot, an Inuit, and a Pompomeranian (of course).

It is worth noting that pompom making is a craft that does not require a huge investment of cash – or time.  Most of the projects in the book are made with acrylic DK yarn and an inexpensive pompom-maker gadget (although for the no-frills crafter, pompoms can be made with D-I-Y cardboard discs).

This book is highly giftable, and would make a great gift for an older child. Better buy two – this title is a keeper. 

Note:  I was given a review copy of this book.

Thursday, 19 May 2016

Bandana Ice Cream Container

I'm still on my bandana binge. Bandanas in non-traditional colours are very now. Today's project is a sweet gift container or party favour that has several special features. The slotted lid has a handle - which makes it easy to remove. Clock the lovely swirl flower topper. Concealed under the lid: a "secret message" gift enclosure. Plus the entire print-and-cut project fits on just one page of photocopier card!

Whether you call this type of container an ice cream cup - or a tub - it is one fun-to-make project.

Here is your free design (hand-cut or Silhouette digi-cut):

 Bandana Ice Cream Cup
1 Print and cut out the template pieces. If cutting by hand, take care cutting the cup slots with a craft knife held against a small metal ruler.

2 To make the cup base: Glue the tab to make a ring. (Tip: "prime" the cup shape by moulding it around your hand to make it curve gently before gluing.) Fold the tabs on the cup base up and apply tacky PVA glue. Lower the base into the cup on a flat surface. Stick all the tabs, making sure the base is flush with the tabletop.

3 Lid: if cutting by hand, carefully cut the curved slits and pierce the centre hole. Cut out the swirl flower (and pierce centre hole). To fold the flower, crease each petal in half. Fold each arm of the swirl at the base, then fold down consecutively, tucking the last ones under. Attach the flower to the lid with a brad at the flower centre. After flower is attached, attach the lid handle. Prime the handle to make it curve. Fold the lid handle tabs and glue them onto opposite cup lid tabs.

4 Finally, fold the gift enclosure in half and slip it in place on the lid underside, under the tabs.

This is an ideal project to make up in quantity. It also makes a fun project for a child's craft party - just pre-cut the pieces and package them in a cello bag for each guest.