Daisy Tattoo Design

Daisy tattooAbout a month ago I designed a tattoo for my friend. I’d never done tattoo work before, had never even crossed my mind. So it was a bit of a challenge when I was asked. She wanted a daisy with the famous Shakespeare quote from Midsummer Night’s Dream “And though she be but little, she is fierce!” It suits her down to the ground really.

The daisy was the easy part – an organic, loose-petalled flower head in simple black and white with grey shading. I found the lettering harder, because she’d chosen a specific font that I struggled to hand-letter. From what I understand her tattoo artist is going to be able to handle the font easily and just needed something for reference.

She got it done this week. allie tat1

 

A big hello to anyone popping in from Handmade Monday! Do pop over and have look at the awesome work being done over there.

Suspicious Asparagus

free asparagusWelcome to MoonMunkie’s Suspicious Asparagus, the place to explore the world from child’s eye view. And today we’re beginning with the original Suspicious Asparagus Event that inspired this page. MiniMunkie has a unique take on the world. Don’t say you weren’t warned!

The Modern Guide to Asparagus Dining, by MiniMunkie.

Step One: Ignore asparagus until it is the final item on your plate. It tastes better when it’s stone cold.

Step Two: Poke it a bit with your finger to make sure it’s been correctly dispatched. Many an unsuspecting diner has been killed or maimed by asparagus that was just playing dead.

Step Three: Hold asparagus in a pincer grip and wave it furiously around the table. This aerates the asparagus making it tender and tasty.

Step Four: Dip it into lime squash. This step is so obvious that it needs no further explanation.

Step Five: Rub it carefully through your hair to remove loose scales and avoid choking. Better restaurants will provide a comb amongst the silverware for use after Step 5.

Step 6: Take a small bite, remembering to maintain the correct facial expression. It should suggest that the chef has mistakenly served up woodlouse in a piquant wasp sauce.

Step 7: Don’t chew as this can ruin the flavour. Scrape the asparagus off your tongue and dump the remaining stem on the floor.

Don’t be caught out. Etiquette and manners are among the most important elements of a person’s character and personality.

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Top 5 Zentangle Resources

It’s always exciting when a friend takes up a hobby that you already enjoy. I  heard from my oldest friend ever this week. We’ve known each other since she was 6 and I was 9 – let’s round that up to 30 years. She probably knows me as well as its possible to without living with me. She helped me out last October at the trade fair and has been a total support. And today she told me she’s started to Zentangle. We had a big chat about it and it got me thinking about my favourite Zentangle supplies. Speaking honestly, all you need for Zentangle is a piece of paper, a pen, 10 minutes and some imagination. But we all have our go to resources and my favourite are these:

A nicely proportioned book which allows lots of variety of sizes of tangle, but is still easy to carry around is essential.  I favour the Pink Pig Square 6×6 inch With 150gsm, archive quality paper your tangles will be safe forever. 70 pages, or 35 leaves if you prefer not to use the reverse side. The hardback allows for tangling on your lap. And at £4.52, you can afford to choose a few from the 36 different colours that are available. They also do a really wide range of sizes and orientations for other work.

 

Some people who tangle swear by the Sakura Pigment Micron Pens. If this is you then then there’s a great deal on them at Amazon here at the moment. These are the ones recommended by the Zentangle.com website. But for me,  they seem to be a bit hit or miss. They dry out so quickly and become scratchy, which I hate. I prefer these by Staedtler. I’ve had much better longevity from them. Smooth and clear in 6 widths: 0.05 mm, 0.1 mm, 0.2 mm, 0.3 mm, 0.5 mm and 0.8 mm although I get most use from the 0.2mm, o.5mm and 0.8mm. They’re designed so that the lid can be left off – even for a few days – without them drying out. Waterproof for easy colouring and the case is handy to for preventing them rolling away or getting stuck down the side of the sofa.

 

 

That’s the basics covered. But for inspiration and ideas I love the series of books by Suzanne McNeill. Zentangle® Basicsis the first one I owned. It’s got a step by step guide on how to begin and then lots of ideas for tangles and how to use them. The book as also been re-published as a workbook, whereby you can work alongside the instructions. I’m far too obsessed with books to be able to comfortably work in a text book, but for someone less … pedantic … this might be a good starter option.

 

 

 

Pre cut tiles  are a great way to make zentangles as quick gifts or to mount on greetings cards. There are 75 in a packet and it’s easy just to grab a few to keep in your bag for emergency tangling. 3.5″ x 3.5″ and made of white or black archival quality card, they don’t bleed and also handle watercolours quite well.

 

 

 

 

Dangle Designs are my favourite way to tangle at the moment. They’re so whimsical and full of flow. I find them easier to do out-of-my-head than the original tangles – where I want to get the official designs accurate. Dangles are very quick, feminine and a lovely way to put a border around a journal entry or sketch. I felt very proficient very quickly. The book by Joanne Fink is also available as a workbook.

 

 

 

 

“HM"If you tangle, I’d love to hear about your favourite resources. Drop me a line below. If you’re here from Handmade Monday, over at LucyBlossom – do you like my new blog header? If you don’t know about Handmade Monday, click here and go and say hello.

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Exciting App for Busy Mums

I use the internet a lot. A. Lot. It’s on all day every day, helping me with the various things I’m doing, whether I’m preparing lessons, researching editorial copy, playing and making with my little Munkies, sewing, knitting, painting, whatever. If I’m not using it to research I’m listening to a podcast, watching a box set on Amazon Prime or browsing Pinterest while I watch TV. The internet works for me in so many ways: it’s almost exclusively the way I communicate with family and friends; shopping for groceries; keeping my own and my family’s diary; managing my music and books; blog planning; book-writing; you name it, I do it online.

Logo blue 7482x2000I’m always on the look out for  apps and services that will add something to my life, whether that is time-saving, communications-oriented, work based or just for fun. It’s not often these days that I come across something that is so good that I wonder how I managed without it. But just recently I came across Touchnote and it’s already making a difference.

As I said before, I communicate mostly online, but there are some times when this is not appropriate. I’m talking specifically about thank you cards, birthday cards, Christmas cards and those little notes to say “I’m thinking of you” when an email is just not enough. And postcards. Holiday postcards are a big thing in our family. I ADORE getting a little snippet of someone’s vacation.Knowing they were thinking of us while they were away is such a blessing.

Touchnote allows me to personalise our postcards by taking a photo on my phone and thpostcarden adding a caption to make the postcard’s front. I can then write a personalised message and address to go on the back, just like a traditional postcard. With one more touch of a button this can be printed and mailed directly from Touchnote. And last week I could do all of this from the beach, to send thank you cards for MiniMunkie’s birthday gifts. It was the last job on my list that didn’t get done before we left for Yorkshire. I even sent one to MiniMunkie’s godmother in Alabama, USA for no extra charge.

I bought a pack of 6 credits that meant each card cost £1.66 inclusive of p&p. This is slightly more than I’d usually spend on a bog standard postcard, but these were personalised, plus I didn’t have to leave the beach so I didn’t mind the extra approx 50p per card. Had I chosen to send greetings cards, these would have cost me £3.32 each, a saving of about 30p on the price I’d usually spend on sending a nice greeting card through the post.

I can think of a bazillion ways I’m going to be able to use this app. Why not give it a go yourself?

This review is entirely my own opinion, unsolicited by Touchnote and I was not rewarded for it in anyway. I just loved the service!

 

 

The Book of Books by Mahe Zehra Husein [Free tutorial and printable]

I made a paper-bead tutorial a year ago during a sleepless season. It was so popular, I couldn’t believe it. I ran a class at my studio and also gave a talk and workshop at the local women’s group about it. And then to my total surprise, I was approached by the wonderful Mahe Zehra Husein of AlteredUpcycling.com and asked if I’d put together an upcycled project for her publication The Book of Books. Obviously, I was ridiculously excited to be included and got to work straight away, adapting the paper beaded bracelet by making it from pages from a book. It’s one of my quickest but favourite makes to date. And oh so stylish. My primary photograph was even featured on the front page! There I am in the bottom left hand corner!paper bead necklace

 

 

I’ve included the tutorial again below, with the free printable patterns. But it’s definitely worth popping over to see what Mahe is up to at the moment, too!

Materials:

  • Printed pattern x1 for a bracelet or more for a necklace, depending on length.
  • PVA glue
  • cocktail sticks or skewers
  • shellac / varnish /Mod Podge (optional but recommended for longevity)
  • beading thread or elastic
  • seed beads (optional)

DSC02310

1. Print your pattern and cut out the skinny triangles.

 

 

 

 

DSC02313

2. Choose a triangle and start to roll it on to the cocktail stick, wide end first. DO NOT USE GLUE YET as it will stick your bead to the stick. (Ask me how I know!) Once you’ve done half an inch or so, you can add a spot of glue. It doesn’t matter too much if it oozes a little, because you can smooth it over the bead with your fingers. But don’t go wild.

 

 

DSC02316I actually prefer to switch to roll with my thumb at this point – I seem to be able to keep the bead tighter this way. I turn the stick with my right hand and use my thumb to press the paper down. As you get towards the end of the strip add another little dot of glue to secure the tail.

 

 

DSC023193.Your bead is now complete. Poke the end of the cocktail stick into something soft to hold it upright while the glue finishes drying. Take up your next skinny triangle and a new cocktail stick and repeat from step 1 until you have sufficient beads.

 

 

DSC023224. Once all the beads are made and dried, cover them with a coat of lacquer or mod-podge or varnish. This is optional but it will mean that you can wear your bracelet out in the rain. The beads are made of paper, so they’re never going to survive a bath! But you can keep them looking smart for a long time by giving them a coating of something. You could also make them lovely and shiny, if that’s your thing. Me, I prefer a matte finish, so I used a good quality gel matte medium to coat mine. (Don’t use a cheap one or they’ll end up sticky for ever!)

DSC023235. Again, once the drying time is done, you’re ready to string them up. Use anything that takes your fancy. Beading thread, ribbon, elastic, leather thong, embroidery thread even dental floss (not dental tape – it breaks too easily- and probably better to choose the non-minty type!) will all work. I alternated my paper beads with tiny glass seed beads for a bit of extra pretty.

To finish off: if you’re using elastic then just tie a knot. You can see mine there on the left – it will slip under a bead and become invisible once I’ve finished. If you’re using a non-stretchy type of thread, then you’ll need to engineer yourself a clasp of some sort. An extra bead through a loop works well. Or a button and loop. Or just a pretty bow if it’s a ribbon. There are some other ideas for fastenings right here.

DSC02329Voila!

If you’re here from Handmade Monday over at Lucy Blossom Crafts, HELLO THERE! Do drop me a lime to say hi! (And if you’d be interested in doing a guest blogging exchange with me, email jemmafifield@gmail.com)

First Sewing Projects for Little Ones [Free tutorial and pattern]

MoonMunkie made Yellow-Stitch Fifield a week or so ago. It was her first sewing project and she was so thrilled with herself. Stitch came on holiday to Yorkshire with us and he been given a veritable palace to live in.

It was so successful that I’m going to put together a book of first sewing projects for little ones. And to give you a taste of that, here is a pattern and tutorial for Stitch. It uses the smallest amount of fabric and stuffing, so you can probably make it without needing to buy anything. However, I would definitely recommend purchasing a set of doll-making needles. They are large enough to allow more independence for small people learning to sew, but are still sharp enough to sew with. See my previous post for more tips on teaching small people to sew.

Materials11794312_10153419749700491_5740603297487370971_o

Wool felt off-cuts

Stuffing (wool roving or polyester filler)

Anchor embroidery thread I like Anchor, as I’ve said before!

Doll-making needle

30cm wool in contrasting colour

Pattern (Free PDF download)

 

 

Instructions

Body

  1. Cut 2 body pieces from felt and place them together, right sides out.
  2. Thread a doll-making needle with embroidery thread, tying a knot at the end.
  3. Show your little person how to push the needle through from the front to the back, carefully drawing the thread all the way through to the knot.
  4. Bring the needle back to the front, the yarn trailing over the top of the work. Move the needle along about 0.5cm (1/4 inch) to the left and push it in from front to back again. [TIP: if they need help keeping stitches even, make dots on the fabric to show them where to put the needle in.]
  5. Continue this whipstitch all the way around, leaving about an inch open.
  6. Stuff the mouse with wool roving or polyester toy filler.
  7. Stitch up the gap using the same stitch.

Ears

  1. Cut two ears from felt. We used a contrasting colour.
  2. [Optional] Fold the ear in half. Mark the dart line in pencil. Use a small running stitch to stitch the dart. This will give the ear more shape, but is not essential if it’s too fiddly for little fingers or they are in a hurry. Repeat for second ear.
  3. Help your little person to attach the ears to the body, about a third of the way down from the pointy end of the mouse. Sew straight through from side to side, through the flat edge of both ears.

Tail

  1. Cut three lengths of wool against using the line as a measure.
  2. Leave 5 cm (1.5 inches) at the top, tie a knot to secure the 3 strands together.
  3. Plait the strands and tie a knot near the end leaving a cute fluffy end.
  4. Use the 5cm at the top, to tie the tail through a stitch at the blunt end of the mouse body.

Eyes

[Option 1] Draw ‘em on with a felt tip pen. Cute and quick.

[Option 2] Stitch back and forth on the spot, from side to side through the entire body in a contrasting colour.

[Option 3] Buttons look cute, but can be fiddly for tiny fingers.

 

Happy Stitching!

Really Easy Felt Cupcakes [ Free Tutorial with PDF pattern]

I’m hoping to take part in Handmade Monday, over at lucyblossomcrafts next Monday. This is going to be the first time that I’ve joined in a link party, but I hope I’ve understood how it works!

 

We’ve been at the cupcakes again! Although this time they’re felt and completely calorie free. We had such a great time that I put together a PDF pattern with instructions to share at Handmade Monday. I hope it goes ok! Do drop me a line in the comments below and say hi!

I’m just putting the finishing touches to 2 more tutorials which will be uploaded before the end of August, so drop back in soon!

037Materials*

Wool blend felt offcuts

Anchor embroidery thread in matching or contrasting colour

Needle

Pattern (Free downloadable pattern and instructions PDF)

Silicon cupcake cases (optional)

6 cup baking pan (optional)

* contains Amazon affiliate to a product I recommend. See disclosure  for more info.

Instructions

  1. Use the pattern to cut out the various pieces of the cup cake – don’t feel constrained by the colours. Go wild!
  2. Using blanket stitch, attach the base to the smaller curve of the cupcake side. Ease the curved edge around the base. It’s a bit tricky, but felt is very forgiving, so don’t worry too much. (I like Anchor 100% cotton thread – much longer-lasting and less tangly than the cheaper multi-buy brands.)
  3. Stitch the 2 short edges of the cupcake side together.
  4. You could turn the inside out now, but I rather like the stitching effect on the edge.
  5. Attach the icing top, centrally, to the cake top. You could use a contrasting colour for a fancy icing effect. Use running stitch or any decorative stitch.
  6. Attach the cake top (with recently stitched icing) on to the cake base you completed in step 2.  Again, use blanket stitch and don’t forget to leave an inch empty to stuff!
  7. Stuff with wool roving for a nice weight or with polyester stuffing if you prefer.
  8. Continue with the blanket stitch to close up the hole.
  9. At this point, if your cupcakes are going to be a toy, it’s worth considering over-stitching the top and bottom seams for sturdiness. For a pincushion or decoration, this step probably isn’t necessary.
  10. To make the icing swirl, tie a knot in a long piece of matching embroidery thread. Along one long edge, make a fairly loose running stitch along the edge. Don’t tie it off when you get to the end. Slowly
  11. Pull the thread to gather up the fabric. As it begins to wrinkle, encourage it to twirl. Don’t go too quickly. It will eventually curl in on itself, in a spiral.
  12. When it is swirly enough, use the tail of the thread to firmly stitch the bottom of the spiral so that it won’t untwist.
  13. Using blindstitch, attach the swirl to the centre of the icing on top of the cake. Again, if it’s going to be a toy, take some time over this so that it won’t come off during play.
  14. For authenticity, you can place each cake you make into a silicon cake case. For play purposes, a cheap bun tin also adds an extra element of fun.

Et voila – cupcakes. Make some for your little chef today!

 

Art Unfinished [Venn Diagram and Questionnaire]

craft_time_vennMaybe it’s the teacher in me, but I work well with deadlines. If something has to be finished and with my editor or a client by next Tuesday, then it is likely that I’ll be done with it, spell-checking, proof-reading, final presentation checks and all, by Friday evening. It’s the way I’m hard-wired. I like the finality a deadline brings. I like accountability. Ticking completed work off a list gives me a real sense of satisfaction.

However, with personal art or craft projects I become an utter drifter. A complete bum. Jack Kerouac would be proud of me. Maybe it’s a reaction to being professionally deadline oriented, but projects for my own pleasure rarely get finished. I get so inspired by the next idea that I can’t wait to begin it and so I put my current project on the back burner. But then the next must-make item pops into my head, or appears on my Pinterest board and I’m distracted once more. I’ve taken to having Finish-Up Februarys in order to get projects completed and out of my work box as well as off my conscience.

I know I’m not alone because there are threads on most art or craft forums dedicated to works in progress, and most people will happily confess to having several projects on the go at once, some dating back several years!  I’m really interested to find out more about the way other artists and crafters cope with unfinished work. Please share your experiences in the comments section below. How many projects do you have on the go at one time? How old is your oldest work in progress? What strategies do you have for getting things finished? Please could also share this page with as many crafters / artists / makers as you know? I’d like to collect as many responses as possible. Thank you!

 

Teaching Small People to Sew

11794312_10153419749700491_5740603297487370971_oIt gets confusing when I talk about MoonMunkie. The original MoonMunkie is my oldest daughter.  She spent a lot of time awake at night when she first arrived. I had PND and spent a lot of time sewing to get through it. (If you want to read more about my journey out of PND then you can head over to my other blog Followed By a Black Dog. I don’t need to write it any more, but I keep it as a reminder.) That’s how the name was born.

Since I started my little art and craft business, it seems that I’ve become MoonMunkie. It doesn’t really matter at all. We’re all Munkies together here. But this post is about the original and best. My amazing winter baby. My MoonMunkie. She’s 5½ now. Unbelievable.

She sewed her first softie this week. Yellow-Stitch Fifield, commonly known as “Stitch” is a purple mouse. He’s made from wool felt, stitched with yellow wool, stuffed with raw wool roving. He has BIG pink ears. You can probably guess what they’re made of. And, if we’re being honest, he’s a wee bit cheeky. He’s not keen on bedtime. He has commandeered the dining room furniture from the Sylvannian Families. He sleeps on their table. He likes to hide and then we all have to spend AGES looking for him. We haven’t been able to find the NowTV remote control since he arrived, and although I’m not directly accusing him of hiding it, you have to admit it’s a bit of a coincidence.

I digress. Tips for teaching small people to sew was my purpose for being here. And here they are:

Mostly, it’s about allowing the small person to have ownership of the project. Show them some simple projects on Pinterest and let them think about what they want to make. Guide them in the direction of simple shapes and little and therefore fast projects. Quantity is way more important than quality when you’re 5.

Let them choose their own fabric, or at least the colours. Wool felt makes sense because it’s forgiving, doesn’t fray and comes in at least a bazillion colours. I buy kilo bags of pure wool felt offcuts from Ebay for not a lot of pounds. They have tons of shades and are perfect for so many crafts. And being offcuts I don’t get all precious and obsessive about cutting into them.

Purchase a doll-making needle. They are reasonably sharp, but long and quite chunky.  Easy to thread. Easy for small fingers to hold and manipulate. Hard to lose. Unlikely to get swallowed by SmallestMunkie. I found a bodkin was too short and too blunt to sew with, even for grown up hands. I had to show MoonMunkie that I could press it against my skin and it didn’t hurt. She was worried about getting scratched, but the doll-making needle was very easy to control and we had no injuries.

Allow for short concentration spans and for messy workmanship – see my note on quantity not quality. I firmly believe that if we encourage mistakes and free thinking now, it will develop creativity and a love of the task in hand. Tidiness and “perfection” will come along in their own time.

Choose a strong, chunky yarn for first stitching. Pick a contrasting colour to the fabric so stitches can easily be seen

Whip stitch is a good one to begin with. The needle only goes in one way and comes out one way. No “which side am I on?” confusion. It’s fast. It’s sturdy. You can quickly see where you’ve been. The rhythm of it is conducive to finishing a project.

Resist the urge to help unless asked. This is hard for me! I like things even and neat. MoonMunkie wanted the mouse finished fast. I sat on my fingers and bit my tongue and just allowed her to stitch. She loved it so much, and that was my reward for not interfering. She was pleased with what she’d achieved, rushing off to show MisterMunkie.

Finishing touches may be hard for little, inexperienced hands. Stitch had to have yellow button eyes. Had to, you understand. So MamaMunkie had to do those, or they would become a choking hazard for SmallestMunkie. A piece of wool was attached as a tail, but it wasn’t taily enough, so it was replaced by a short chain of crochet. Again, MamaMunkie needed to assist there too, but only when she was asked!

She adores her finished mousie. So do I, but I love him because I watched her concentrate and work hard and make it herself. And I saw her feel good about it when she was done. She already wants to make him a baby!

 

 

 

Art Swap (UK)

If you are at all creative and you fancy having a bit or arty fun, join in our art swap! Please read the rules below before joining.

1) PM me on FaceBook or email me (jemmachan@yahoo.co.uk) with your postal address to join in BEFORE 12 noon on September 19th

2) Include some information about yourself – anything that would give another person a hint about what to make for you. For example, “I like the colour green, poppies and reading.” The person you swap with may choose to follow the hints OR NOT. They’re there in case someone is stuck for inspiration.

3) I will pair people randomly and send each person the name and address of the other

3) Create your art! I’m suggesting that we keep pieces to a maximum size of 6″x6″ – just so that materials and postage costs don’t get out of hand.

4) Have it made and posted by October 31st.

5) Comment on the MoonMunkie Facebook Page with a photo when you receive your piece.

If you enjoy it, we could make it in to a quarterly event!