Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Silhouette Curio Button Box Matchbox

Simplified sketch pen version.
Papercraft sewing accessories are some of my favourite things to make - they are useful and giftable. I am looking forward to attending The Knitting & Stitching Show next week (Oct 7-11, Ally Pally, London) - so my crafty thoughts have turned to stitchery. Can't wait to see the creative exhibitions - and add to my ribbon stash.

These Button Box Matchboxes are sized to fit on a Silhouette Curio machine. The Curio has a petite cutting area because it concentrates on its other powerful creative capabilities - such as embossing, stippling, and cutting heavier materials. (You can also make it on a Silhouette Cameo or Portrait - if that is the machine you have. Or even cut it out by hand if you have not gone digital yet.)

I have made a print-and-cut version of the design and also a simplified version, suitable for the Sketch Pen feature on all Silhouette machines.

Here are your files:


Your matchbox consists of a drawer and the wrap. Cut the matchbox drawer out of plain coloured paper. The drawer pulls are brads. 

You can tweak the colours and make several for a colour-coded button stash!


Sunday, 27 September 2015

Stippling with the Silhouette Curio

I am going dotty – playing with the Stipple function on my new favourite toy – the Silhouette Curio machine. The Curio is the new digital cutting machine from Silhouette – it features a powerful bag of creative tricks, the Stipple effect being one of them.

My first “real” job was as a colourist in a textile studio. Many of the designs I worked on had stippled features – a budget airbrush-style pointillist effect. It was achieved by flicking a paint-loaded toothbrush. The paint was applied through a stencil. Fun, but labour-intensive. Now you can get a stippled effect – with much more sophisticated results ­– by clicking a selection on the Curio.

To actually produce the Stipple effects shown, I have used Sharpie markers held by a Silhouette Pen Holder. (You can also use Silhouette Sketch Pens, which need no holder.) A handy feature of the Curio is that it has two blade carriages – so you can double-up and do two operations at a time – two colours at a go or one colour, then cut.

The Curio Stipple has lots of fun options. You can stipple outlines, stipple-trace designs (great for photos), apply dots in undulating patterns of grids or shapes. You can also combine the Stipple effect with othe Curio functions, such as the Sketch Pens. So for some designs I have done the text in Sketch Pen outline and the design in Stipple.  I am still playing – but I am posting some of my first Curio Stipple experiments to share the wonder.
The stippling process isn’t quick if there are lots and lots of dots in your design (and you will probably want to go for it) – so make yourself a cup of tea and/or browse the web while the Curio is busily clicking away.

If you are lucky enough to have a Silhouette Curio machine and want to have a go with stippling, I would recommend two different ways to get started. Either start with a simple linear vector design and tweak it or scan in a photo and do the same. Select a photo with lots of contrast.

Another tip: if you want a multi-colured design, then you must stipple-prepare each section of the design that you want in a specific colour individually. When you output the design, you can then stipple colour by colour.

Thursday, 24 September 2015

Snowflake, Seashell, Star. By Alex Bellos with Edmund Harriss. Review.

Snowflake, Seashell, Star

Colouring Adventures in Numberland

By Alex Bellos with Edmund Harriss

Canongate, Sept 2015

Trade paperback: £12.99

ISBN 978 1 78211 788 9

Star rating: ****

I’m telling you upfront that I’m not the greatest fan of the difficult-to-ignore colouring-books-for grown-ups phenomenon. I do get it – mindful relaxation, decision making without consequences (pencils or markers?/what colour next?). I am glad that talented artists have an opportunity for publishing success – colouring book specialist is a whole new creative field. But, my personal reaction is that I’d rather be crocheting a scarf or jumper – just as relaxing and something useful produced. Until now.

Today I am featuring a themed colouring book that I can really get excited about. I am so enthusiastic about it that I am blogging about it on its publication date!

Snowflake, Seashell, Star is an interactive mathematical colouring book. No – don’t shy away. This is big fun. Fun and awe. It is a collaboration between Alex Bellos, who writes about popular mathematics (he has a Guardian maths/puzzle column and has written two bestselling books, Alex’s Adventures in Numberland and Alex Through the Looking-Glass) and Edmund Harriss, a well-known mathematical artist.

The book is divided into two sections, with a total of 80 images. Upfront is the colouring section featuring exquisite patterns from nature, optical illusions, tessellating shapes (they interlock, as in the art of M.C. Escher). Just looking at these pages is a treat – they have a life all their own, even before colour is applied. Part two of the book is interactive. Here you will find sophisticated connect-the-dots pages and directed colouring exercises (follow the sequence to get an impressive result). Wish my maths workbooks had been like this! 

Back-of-book is the reveal. It gives capsule descriptions of the principles featured in the colouring pages of the book, explaining  their mathematical significance in friendly and accessible jargon.

So – congrats to Alex Bellos and Edmund Harriss for producing a colouring book with a sharp new angle.
Tessellating fish on the back cover.
BTW, if you live in the States, this title has a different title - and cover (see above): Patterns of the Universe. Cosmic!

Saturday, 19 September 2015

Sharpie Art Workshop, by Timothy Goodman. Review.

Sharpie® Art Workshop

Techniques & Ideas for Transforming your World

By Timothy Goodman

Rockport 2015

Paperback £14.99 UK/$22.99 US/$27.99 CAN

ISBN 978-1-63159-048-1

Star rating: ****

I received my review copy of this fun title yesterday, at the very same time I received a pack of Sharpies that I had ordered in the mail. I am taking this to be a cosmic message, and am posting my book review a.s.a.p. to seize the moment!

Sharpie®- love is a mega-phenomenon in the craft and graphic design world. For the uninitiated, Sharpies are permanent-ink markers that can write – and draw – on most surfaces. They come in a range of colours and tips. Timothy Goodman, the author of Sharpie® Art Workshop, is in the lucky position of being able to earn his living as the world No. 1 go-to guy for Sharpie artwork.

The author, a graphic designer, had a Sharpie® epiphany five years ago. He brainstormed an assignment using Sharpies and the experience was so successful and immediate it changed his way of working. It resulted in snowballing commissions. And now he wants to spread the word about Sharpies, hence this lively and enthusiastic book. The concept: the Sharpie® is a universal, multi-purpose medium of creative expression, available to all – pro-artist and guy in the street alike. 

There is an enthusiastic buzz to this title, in both the visual content (Sharpie®-created A/W, natch) and the text, so, as a Sharpie® love-in – mission accomplished. 

For those, like myself, just getting acquainted with the – um – finer points about Sharpies, there is an extremely useful pictorial guide to all the Sharpie® products. (There’s a pretty big product range – different nib widths, colours, standard inky type or paint marker.) You get a pic of each marker, sample scribble above, a line drawn with the pen, plus a capsule description. Handy. 

The Sharpie® History + Facts spread is big fun. It is an anecdotal timeline of Sharpie®-ness. (The Sharpie® was invented in 1964.)

The book is both a gallery of Sharpie® artwork – complete with bios of contributing artists, and a guide, complete with useful tips, such as working with tracing paper to refine your designs. There are lots of great ideas – such as whimsically embellishing photos with Sharpie® adds. There’s also chapter on Sharpie® Post-It art – a winning combination, two of the 20th century’s greatest stationery inventions, destined to be together. As you would expect, word art figures large. There is also good coverage of using Sharpies to decorate surfaces other than paper.

A bit more on projects featuring the different types of Sharpie® markers – such as paint markers or metallics, or simply more multi-coloured projects – would have been nice – but I guess there were space constraints. 

For those who are into digital designing, this book offers a refreshing time-out. An opportunity to get doodling and re-charge your batteries (and not an adult colouring book in sight – just a Sharpie® marker and a non-intimidating blank surface). (BTW - Sharpies® can be used for making digital artwork, too, if you pop them into the pen holder of a digi-cut machine.)

For birthdays or Christmas, this title – plus a pack of Sharpies (and perhaps some Post-It notes) – would make a memorable, treasurable gift for a creative friend.

Wednesday, 16 September 2015

Faux Leather Paper Granny Square Tote

Yes, this is a papercraft project. Well, papercraft plus. I love to crochet, - so I grabbed the opportunity to combine both. The crochet skills required for the bag are pretty basic, so beginners can have a go.
The granny square centres are cut from very lovely Silhouette Faux Leather Paper. There's a double layer of paper for each square - the cut-out motif plus the contrast backing - makes a nice "peekaboo" effect. The Faux Leather Paper works well with the cotton yarn.

I'm not a trained crochet pattern writer (not yet, anyway) - but you should be able to follow my how-tos, especially since I've done a photo tut for you. 

Here is your Granny Square template:

Faux Leather Granny Tote

You will need:

Silhouette Faux Leather Paper in Natural and White

Yarn: Rico Creative Cotton Aran, 3 - 50g skeins of Cherry 65; 2 skeins of Brown 58; 1 skein of Powder 61

Crochet Hooks: 2.50; 3.00

1 Large button

Tapestry needle

1 Cut out the following from Silhouette Faux Leather Paper: 12 flower squares and 12 backing squares in Natural; 12 flower squares and 12 backing squares in white. Wet the leather squares, scrunch them up (not too much around the cut-out flowers), then smooth them out on a protected flat surface. Let the squares dry naturally (this might take a day or two).

2 Make sandwiches of the squares with edges and holes aligned. Natural-coloured flower on top of plain white square; white-coloured flower on top of plain natural square. Set out twelve of each type.

3 Thread tapestry needle with 85cm (33in) of the cherry yarn. Work blanket stitch around the square, through both layers. Take two stitches in the corner holes.  Knot the join firmly.(See pic above.)
4 First round of all granny squares: with 2.50 crochet hook, work two half-treble stitches (USA half-double) in each buttonhole stitch compartment. At the corners, work one half-treble, ch2, work another half-treble. Continue around until the square is complete.(See pic, above.)
5 Round two: one row of double crochet (USA single crochet) all around the square in Powder – ch2 at corners. (See pic, above.)
6 Round three: one row of double crochet (USA single crochet) all around the square in Brown, ch 2 at corners. (See pic, above.)

7 Sew the squares together using brown yarn. Make two tote sides, each with 12 squares – alternate the square colours as shown (four rows, three squares each).

8 With the Cherry yarn and 3.00 hook, double crochet (USA sc) all around the edges of each tote side. 

9 With the Powder yarn and 3.00 hook, work 3 rows of double crochet (USA sc) along both long sides of each tote panel.

10 Strap: with the Cherry yarn and size 3.00 hook ch 9 stitches. Sk one ch and go into the next ch for the first stitch. Work 8 double crochet stitches (USA sc) for a length of 200cm (79 in). Seam the short end to make a continuous loop – take care not to twist the strap.

11 With wrong sides facing, and with Cherry yarn, oversew the strap to the tote sides, placing the strap join at a top edge of the tote panel. (Tip: pin the strap to each panel using safety pins or yarn markers, marking the corners and distributing the space.) When you have stitched both sides to the strap, turn the tote right side out.

12 Sew the button onto the tote, going through the centre of the flower on the top centre front square. 

13 Make the button loop. With Cherry yarn and 3.00 hook ch 5. Double crochet (USA sc) 4 for a length of 6cm (2-1/2in). Continue dc (sc) over two stitches for 8.5cm (3-1/2in). Join the two-stitch length to the top of the tab to complete the button loop. Sew the button loop onto the centre back of the tote. 

All done now. Good to go.