Monday, 23 December 2013

Beautiful Bells Tutorial

Two styles: Fancy (top); Simple (bottom).
Fun in patterned paper.
Today's project is a bit last-minute for Christmas - but you never know. Rainy weather is great for crafting. Plus, these papercraft bells (dead ringers for the real thing - see what I did there) would make classy decs for a New Year's Eve party. Ring in the new. In addition to the star charms (shown), I have also included heart charms, so you can make the bells up as wedding/anniversary or Valentine ornaments.

There are two styles: Simple (they look a bit like Daleks), and Fancy (more curvaceous!).

Each bell has a real jingle bell as a clapper:
Here are your free downloads:


Tut follows. It's much easier than it looks! You can easily make these up in quanity as party favours or decorations.

Beautiful Bells Tutorial
1. Above, the bell pieces cut out and prepped. Clock the direction of the folds. Note that the handle centre fold is shaped, not creased. I am demonstrating the Fancy Bell. The Simple Bell is assembled in a similar manner. I have used Canford cardstock in Frosted Silver - the weight is just right. Patterned paper for the decorative bands. You also need a bit of craft thread and a jingle bell. 
2. Assemble two half-bells. Simply glue together the ajacent tabs. Tacky PVA glue does the job well. Note that holes have been pierced in the centre of each top hexagon.
3. Next, join the two halves of the bell together.
4. Next, glue one top hexagon on top of the other, sealing the bell top.
5. Join the decorative band into a ring. Apply glue (or d/s tape) onto the underside and lower onto the centre section of the bell. This is what you now have (the bell is taking shape!):
6. Next, it is time for the jingle bell:
Pass a thread loop through the top loop of the jingle bell. Make a half-hitch knot and tighten it:
Thread the craft thread tails through a needle.
Pass the needle through the hole in the top of the bell. The jingle bell cord should extend to the bottom of the bell.
Knot the craft thread at the top. Trim it off close to the knot.
7. Time to make the handle. Bend the handle into a loop and glue the
straight section near the base together. The decorative band is wrapped around the straight section, like so:
Glue the band in place. Wrap it around the bell handle, creasing the folds:
Glue the band in place. Trim off any excess paper:
The bell handle is now complete. 
8. Time to attach the bell handle to the bell body. Open out the bell handle - spread its "wings". Apply glue to centre section only (two halves of a hexagon). Glue this onto the bell top, aligning the hexagons, like so:
Next, fold the "wings" downwards and glue them ont the top section of the bell. The sections will align perfectly:
Your bell is now complete, apart from the addition of the decorative charm!:
9. The charm. Half-hitch the craft thread though the top loop of the charm.
Tie the charm around the throat of the bell handle:
All done now!:
You can tweak the appearance of the bells by making the handle out of contrasting cardstock. Add a bow if you wish.

Have a Happy and creative New Year!

Monday, 16 December 2013

Book Review: Fletvaerk - amazing Danish paper-weaving


By Anna Schepper & Lene Schepper


Hardback, 140 pages, 299.95 kr (Danish)

ISBN 978-87-641-0970-2

Today I am featuring a Danish-language title. I’ve never reviewed a foreign-language book before, but I am making a well-deserved exception for Fletvaerk, the first book by the genius papercraft team behind the PaperMatrix blog, which originates in Copenhagen, Denmark.

Flaetvaerk means braiding, as in interlaced strands. This concept is common to all of the intricate paper-woven creations in the book, which contains full-size templates for more than 50 designs. Papercraft wizardry to amaze and astound!

The authors, Anna Schepper and Lene Schepper, aim to “revive and reinterpret the tradition  of Danish woven paper hearts and ornaments” (such as cone-shaped baskets). And they have done so to spectacular effect, with some digital assistance in the design and paper-cutting department.

I have always been a fan of woven paper hearts. Here’s a link to my papercraft template for Hot Off The Press: hearts template . (Entry level compared to the PaperMatrix designs – but I try!)

Unfortunately, I have not picked up much Danish from watching Borgen and The Killing – so I am unable to read the text of the book. The good news is that there are plenty of how-to diagrams. A reasonably experienced papercrafter should be able to figure out what to do, since all the designs are paper-woven in a similar manner. Also – importantly – the fabulous PaperMatrix website and Facebook pages can be read in English – so it is recommended to visit them and get acquainted with the paper-weaving technique before attempting any of the book projects. 

Don’t get intimidated by the technical wizardry. Some of the projects can easily be tackled by the newcomer to papercrafting. There’s a pretty party bunting with a selection of pennant designs (p.23),  some traditional Danish woven hearts (p.23), and op-art style spiral heart (pp-24-25 ) that can easily be accomplished. The 3-D stars (p.49) are built up from modular sections, and can be assembled easily.
Woven-heart Christmas tree.
There’s a clever secret to making the cone-shaped baskets: an inner paper cone is used as an armature during the weaving stage. The puzzle-piece cone (p.72) is delightful – but probably best to attempt it after doing some simpler woven cones first. The heart-motif baskets (p.77) are ideal for Valentine’s Day. 

The Schepper’s total mastery of their art is expressed in their designs for curved shapes. They’ve got intricate balls, wait for it – egg shapes; and gently curving bells (p.88), which would make great tree ornaments. They can even craft ogee-curved domes, as seen on Russian churches. There are hot air balloons, a rocket ship, and some fun fancy dress crowns. Wow-ness – all of it. Such sophisticated shapes woven in paper.

To counterpoint the astonishing technical achievement of the designs, few materials are required to make them: coloured papers, glue, cutting implements, and a handful of paperclips (to keep strands in place as you are weaving).

I notice that the Scheppers come to papercrafting from technical backgrounds. So many modern-day papercraft designers have impressive technical CV’s and/or academic credentials!

Fletvaerk is a large format book, beautifully photographed and presented. It certainly deserves pride of place on any papercrafter’s coffee table. The virtuoso paper-weaving of the Scheppers is to be admired and shared!

You can order Fletvaerk directly from the Klematis website:

In fact, all of the book’s pages are available to browse online on the Klematis website.

And don’t forget to visit PaperMatrix online, Facebook or Pinterest.

Note: I was supplied with a review copy of this title.

Saturday, 14 December 2013

Glamorous Pull-Top Milk Cartons

I'm still on my milk carton binge. Today's project glams up the humble milk carton. Each milk carton consists of a base and a lid. The lid can be removed either by grasping the flat grab strip at the top, or it can be tugged off using the attached tassel pull. The tassel pull is embellished with a gift tag and a decorative paper charm.

Here are your free downloads:

Your printable files look like this:
I've given you a choice of three different Milk Carton Tops: curved edge, straight edge, or demi-hexagonal edge. The base for all three is the same. 

The idea is that you print the Milk Carton tops onto the cardstock of your choice, superimposing the cutting lines onto the patterned paper.
The elegant patterns that I used come from this Dover publication:
Create Your Own Printable Scrapbook Papers:
135 Vintage Designs for use with Photoshop Elements
By Jodie Lee Patterson
Dover Publications
Paperback with dvd, £19.00
ISBN-13 978-0-486-99171-9

This book is available from the Dover Bookshop.

Although the book is meant to be used with Adobe Photoshop Elements,
there are a number of full-colour .jpg files on the disc which can be printed out directly (including the Fleur-de-lis and chain mesh patterns I used for the milk cartons). 

This title has a very handy how-to section which talks you through exactly how to customize the designs in Photoshop Elements. You can change colour, add textures to create unique designs. So - it's a bit of a learning curve, but I am looking forward to exploring my design options. It will be an adventure!

Back to the nitty-gritty of this project. 

Here's a tut on how to attach the top of the milk carton:

Milk Carton Top
1. Above, the pieces required for the Milk Carton Top. Note that the top bit has been cut out of gold pearlescent paper. You also need to cut two reinforcements out of coloured cardstock. I have not included the fold lines on the milk carton top or base because they would interfere with the decorative pattern. You can easily figure out where to score the needed fold lines.
2. Glue the base of the topper onto the milk carton "grab bar". Align the edges.
3. Glue on the reinforcment, matching the holes. Turn the milk carton over.
4. Fold the side tabs inwards and glue them down.
5. Fold the flap down and glue it in place. Finally, glue on the back reinforcement. 

6. Now it is time to make the tassel out of craft thread in two co-ordinating colours. Here's a refresher on how to make a tassel:Milk Carton Matchbox Tassel Tutorial.

7. Tie the tassel onto the carton top, threading on a gift tag and a paper charm at the same time.

8. The milk carton base is made in the usual way. Fill the box, then slide on the lid to complete your elegant Pull-Top Milk Carton.
The tassel is 6cm (2-1/4in) long, has 12 cord turns and 8 wraps.

Monday, 9 December 2013

London Skyline Milk Cartons

Maxi - and minis.
Midi-Gherkin (variation)
Today's post is a bit of a stretch - but stay with me, since it is the festive season and you could probably do with some gift packaging solutions. I'm still on my milk carton binge - experimenting with new shapes. A worthy type of box! These milk cartons are loosely inspired by the new generation of London skyscrapers that have been popping up lately. So... there's a triangular Shard, a bulging Gherkin, and a top-heavy Walkie-Talkie. There's also a slightly wider midi-Gherkin - I just liked the shape.

Here are your free downloads:

To make the milk cartons, print them up on copier-quality cardstock and cut them out. I've used American Crafts Cardstock, which is printer-friendly - takes the ink beautifully and has a lovely texture. (You must trim it down to A4 to fit the printer). Score the folds, then pre-fold them. For the prints, you will have to eyeball the location of the folds - you'll figure it out. Next, glue the ajacent sides, then the top flap. There's access to the box contents through the "trap door" on the bottom:
Fold the side flaps first.
Then tuck the tab into the slot.
I like to punch two holes in the milk carton top and tie a craft thread bow through them. You can thread on the gift tag while you are at it.

Of course, you can enlarge or reduce the designs as desired.

So that's milk carton mania for today!

This project has been sponsored by Handy Hippo, which has 20% off its products today! (You must key in the code: SAVE20).