Friday, 31 July 2015

Mollie Makes Papercraft. Review.

Mollie Makes Papercraft
Mollie Makes
Pavilion Books, June 2015
Hardback, £16.99
ISBN 1-978-1-909815-91-9

Star rating: ****

Here’s a welcome new addition to the Mollie Makes-branded range of craft titles (they’ve already got Crochet, Patchwork & Quilting, Embroidery, Knitting, Weddings, and Christmas). What were they waiting for with papercrafts??? – perhaps because the Mollie Makes publication was originally a sewing craft-lifestyle mag. Well – you know what to expect from Mollie Makes – quality crafts with a quirky contemporary/hipster edge – but accessible to all. 

You will find 20 new projects here, designed by a talented team of contributors and put together by the competent Mollie Makes editorial team. This is an ideal title for a newbie who wants a taster of different aspects of papercrafting. The majority of the projects are delightful – dimensionality and the surprise factor figure in most of them. The Techniques section, back-of-book, is very meaty – intros to a variety of papercraft techniques (origami, quilling, pâpier-mâché, paper manipulation, embellishment techniques) are handled concisely – packing lots of useful - and fascinating-  info into the available space. 

The book takes on board how we have all been spoiled by the internet – and instead of clickable links, you will find text boxes with interesting related details like author bios and  project motivations (papercraft story). It is always a pleasure to find out what makes papercraft artists tick.

The step-by-steps accompanying the projects are excellent. Plenty of info about materials, photos or illustrations where appropriate.
My favourite projects include the Teeny-weeny pull-out house (flip back the roof to reveal a fold-out greeting) by Alix Swan; the Origami lampshade, by Esther Thorpe (lovely, and so very do-able); the Foxy nights papercut (urban foxes shadow box – fun!), by Jaina Minton,  and Three little cacti pots, by Sarah Matthew, which is a masterpiece of paper manipulation (two flowering cacti and a succulent – ideal for plant lovers sans green fingers). 

The beautiful cacti project brings to mind the elephant in the front room of 21st century papercraft projects. Just how many of these projects were designed and made digitally? I don’t know for sure how this project was made, but the preferred method must surely be digital papercrafting. This project is very fiddly and, at the very least, a link to a printable.pdf and cutting files for papercrafters with digital papercutters would be a useful addition to the book. The contributing designers featured in this book are professionals – surely they design digitally. 

So: to book editiors who are reading this review, I am broadcasting a request: there are more and digital papercrafters out there. We want craft titles, too!

Summing up – if you are a fledgling papercrafter, or are looking for a gift for a fledgling papercrafter, Mollie Makes Papercraft will do nicely.

Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Slider Pillow Box

My pillow box binge continues. I had a bee in my bonnet - just had to make that slider box. Easy access - I've added a handle and a tassel so you can simply pull the lid off.  

I guess I should have been a packaging designer - but in a way, I guess I am one now. Re: the Slider Pillow Box - I intend for it to conjure up visons of elegant Art Deco dressing tables - not Maccy D pies!

Here are your files - there's a tassel refresher course below. 
Slider Pillow Box
Print and cut! Score and crease the folds. Glue the handle tabs onto the box lid end. Assemble the boxes (top and bottom pieces) - use d/s tape or tacky glue. The tag is optional.

Tassel Refresher Course:
1 Cut a piece of card 7cm wide. Cut two slits at one end to catch the beginning and end thread tails.
2 Wrap craft thread around the card 12-15 times. Tails in slits.
3 Pass a craft thread loop through the tassel top - make a half hitch knot.
4 Cut the tassel off the card. Don't worry if the bottom edge isn't level - trim it later.
5 Time for the amazing tassel wrap:

With a piece of contrast craft thread, lay a downward-facing loop near the top of the tassel. Spiral thread downwards, 10-12 wraps. Don't let go of the spirals. Cut the thread end short and pass it through the loop.
Now gently pull from the top. The thread end will be concealed and the loop secures. Trim visible tail ends. Tah dah.

And that's it. But I'm not done with pillow boxes. Stay tuned.

Monday, 27 July 2015

Celtic Knot Pillow Purse

I'm on a pillow box binge. Everybody likes them (check out last week's post Pillow Box Pockets . ) They are easy and fun to make (a wow moment when the construction puffs up, if you are a papercraft geek like me). 

Today I thought I'd make a gift purse - flap closure. (You don't always have to use the pillow box sides as the openings.)

Okay. Purse designed. How to decorate it? I was browsing through Kerry Richardson's excellent book, Celtic Calligraphy
(reviewed here earlier in the year) - and I thought I'd have a go at designing Celtic knots (digital style, that is). I worked out a hearts entwined motif and a twisted border - the learning curve wasn't too steep. Will have another go soon.

Soo- here's the purse. (I've included a gift card enclosure, too.)

Very easy to make - no tut required. Print, cut, score the folds. For super-sturdy holes, glue the reinforcements behind. The purse front pillow box folds (the marquise shapes) belong on top. For the handle, thread a ribbon through the holes and knot ends inside the box. A sticky dot makes for a re-sealable flap.

It would be appropriate to inscribe the gift card using a calligraphy felt-tip!

I'm not done with pillow boxes. I am keen to try a slide-close design...

The Novel Cure, by Ella Bethoud and Susan Elderkin

The Novel Cure
By Susan Elderkin and Ella Bethoud
Canongate Books 2015
Paperback, £9.99 ( September 3, 2015)
Hardback: £17.99 (already published)
ISBN 978 085786 421 5

I have often noticed that many crafters are readers, too. Example: the Book Club on the UK Scrappers website.

So – today I am going a bit off my brief to share a delightful and extremely entertaining new paperback. The Novel Cure is a genius concept – a reading directory, the lightbulb idea of Susan Elderkin and Ella Bethoud, who run a “bibliotherapy” service recommending good reads to clients. The Novel Cure is a guide to finding the right book at the right time – prescriptions, if you will. (I can empathize because I am rooting around for an epic read at the moment –  there is no obvious Goldfinch this summer.) 

How to read it? You can browse it, or use one of the indexes at the back – the  Index of Reading Ailments, or the index of Authors and Novels – or the Index of Lists. (Of course, there would be indexes plural). (Taster: “Ailments” include: Fear of Sci-Fi, Empty-nest Syndrome, or just plain Boredom.)  Match the read to your mood or life situation.

This book is destined to be the geek-appeal Xmas stocking filler of 2015. And it will be purchased in pairs – because if you intend to gift a friend, you will want one for yourself. It is an ideal book to dip into during a craft-y timeout coffee break. (Yes, I suppose it is a quality “loo read”.)

Note: this is a light-hearted title for serious readers. It is not just about directing you towards specific titles – it is about how to fit reading into your busy life.

I will be back on my usual craft-y book review track very soon. I’ve got some great new titles to bring to your attention. 

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

Saturday, 25 July 2015

Xmas in July: Snowflake Pentagon Ball Ornament

Xmas crafting in July. Sounds counter-intuitive - but it is a thing. A very big thing. And it makes so much sense. School's out. The pace is slower. No pressure! And crafting is the ideal antidote to dismal holiday weather.

Today's project is a printable papercraft pentagon ball ornament with snowflake decorations. If you have a digital papercutting machine, then you can print-and-cut it. But it can also easily be made by hand once you've printed it out. Assembling it is lots of fun - a bit like a jigsaw puzzle.

Here is your free papercraft printable:

Snowflake Pentagon Ball Ornament

1 Print the template onto 160gsm white photocopier card.

2 Cut out the pattern pieces by hand or by machine. Score the fold lines using a fine-point embossing tool held against a small metal ruler.
Crease the folds.

2 The pentagon ball is made in two halves. To assemble each half, first join front to back to make a ring. Next, fold down the lid and glue it in place (PVA tacky glue applied with a cocktail stick does the job). 

3 Glue top to bottom along the zig-zag edge, matching the points and gluing the tabs. Note: if you wish to pop a jingle-bell inside to raise the fun factor, do so before securing all the tabs.Try to avoid having segments of like colours touch - but this won't be entirely avoidable.

4 Next, make the hat-like ornament top. (The printed fold lines belong on the wrong side.) Score and crease the folds.  Join tab of long strip to front of long strip, to make a ring. Fold down the lid, gluing the tabs inside. Fold the curved tabs outwards, making petal-like projections.
You can knot and insert a hanging loop through the hole on top or, alternatively, you can add the hanging loop arc (the extra bit), for a more elegant finish. Two mirror-image pieces are required. Glue the arcs together and fold the pentagon-halves outwards. Glue onto ornament top, matching edges. Tie on a hanging loop. (Craft thread or baker's twine recommended.)

Whichever style you selected, you must now glue the ornament top (the "hat") onto the top of the pentagon ball. A printed pentagon indicates placement - glue the "petals" down.

Your ornament is now complete. 

You can, of course, enlarge or reduce the template on a photocopier.
(Always nice to have varying sizes in an arrangement.)

Tuesday, 21 July 2015

Pillow Box Pockets

Today’s project channels two of my favourite papercraft-y hobby horses (three if you count digi-papercrafting, which is a given). Number one is papercraft storage ideas. If you visit IKEA Marketplace, you find lots of paper products – storage boxes, magazine files. Papercrafting storage solutions is a great way to produce effective temporary storage ideas. (Plus – you can change the look frequently.) Number two is reversible paper projects. Double-sided papers double the design possibilities. Print on one or both sides of a sheet of paper to produce designs with contrast trims and attractive turn-backs.

So - here are some tweaked pillow boxes (open top + added hanging tab) you can assemble into a cascade or use solo. They remind me a bit of those pockets you make from a sandwiched paper plate-and-a-half.  

I use 160 gsm white photocopier card to make the Pillow Box Pockets. Print one side with the gingham print and print the Pillow Box template on the flip side.

Here are your free files:

Pillow Box Pockets

1 Print the gingham on one side of your sheet of 160gsm photocopier card. Print the template on the back.

2 Score the fold lines with a fine-point embossing tool. Hold the tool against a small metal ruler for straight lines.

3 Fold the scored lines, paying special attention to the curved pillow-side marquises.

4 fold the decorative tab onto the gingham side of the card - stick down with a snippet of d/s tape.

5 Fold the thread-hole parts in half, securing along one long edge with d/s tape. Your choice as to "innsies" or "outsies" (plain or gingham side) - just be consistent for all the pockets in the hanging organiser.

6 Stick the back piece unit onto the pillow box like so:
Remember: you don't need a back piece for the bottom organiser pocket!

7 Fold up the sides of each pocket and stick the pillow box marquise-shaped sides together with d/s tape or PVA glue. The back-piece marquises go underneath, the top-piece marquises on top.
8 Thread ribbon or baker's twine through the holes, overlapping to join units where necessary. Tie in pretty bows. Hanging loop on top.

A solo Pillow Box Pocket can sometimes be as useful as a railway-style cascade!

Monday, 20 July 2015

Fröbel Star Connections

A solo Fröbel Star is a thing of beauty in its own right – but being crafty and curious, it may not have escaped your notice that the star points of each Fröbel are pockets. Tah dah – these can be used as connectors. Each Fröbel is a modular unit which can be used to construct larger shapes. Point to pocket - perfect fit!

The star points can be connected in two different ways – seamless link or gappy. See the pic, above. With this knowledge, you can experiment and construct all sorts of ornaments (below).
Here’s a pic of a Fröbel wreath (not my original idea – it’s a thing – Google it). There are also methods of folding down one point and interlocking the shapes – but I’m not doing advanced Fröbel construction in this post. 
You can also insert a Fröbel weaving strip through the weaving slots to make a hanging loop. (The strip ends will come out on opposite sides of the star.) Trim the strip ends below the slots. Add a dab of glue inside the slots to secure.

Now – if you want your Fröbel ornaments to stay together, it is probably a good idea to put a dab of PVA glue inside the pockets using a cocktail stick applicator. 

Tempted? Check out my Fröbel Star Tut & Tips posted earlier. Enjoy!