Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Halloweenies - Get That Fall Feeling!

There's something spooky going on over at Mad Cow Beads - a set of four different beaded charms to make up.  Available singly there is Jack O Lantern to start with:
He's a folksy pumpkin with a style of his own, gloriously orange.  Then there is Scary Skull, the scourge of the High Seas...
He comes with his own crossed bones!  Next up there is Catkin:
He's a witch's cat, nobody tugs his tail!  Last but by no means least there is Wanda The Witch:
She has a broom ready for a game of Quidditch, or to sweep away the snow if the upcoming winter is as hard as everybody keeps telling me it is going to be.  Look at all those huge bunches of berries on the trees...

The kit contains all you need to make all four and is a snip at £1.98.  Suitable for older children and of course adults they are a great way of personalizing all sorts of things, ideas given in the packet.  Soon there will be a Christmas set as well...just the thing for the long dark evenings ahead.

Sunday, 23 September 2012

Popular Crafts Oct-Nov 2012 Out Now

Get your copy of Popular Crafts now, the last one before the Christmas issue.  There are lots of projects in here to try, including plenty with a Halloween theme and a children's section.  Turn to page 16 and see my project for a fun Geisha makeup bag.  The figure on this is made from applique but not a stitch is sewn thanks to Bondaweb - you have to stitch the actual bag of course but it cuts down the time and makes attaching lots of fiddly little bits a breeze.  This is a good way of using up lots of small pieces of fabric, and then decorate it with the Gem Master.  Clicking on this will take you to the Antex website where you can buy the item plus extra stones and studs to use with it.  It is simple to use, just plug in, turn on and applying the tip (you get several different ones) to the stone heats the glue on its base and thus it is stuck where you want it.
Turn to page 95 to see another project, this time one for the tweenager (or teenager) in your life.  The Deluxe Charms Bracelets Kit contains enough polymer clay and other materials to make two Pandora style charm bracelets.  Read the article to show you how but here is a photo to whet your appetite showing what it contains:
Popular Crafts also has a website filled with more projects, many with an autumn theme right now as well as stockists in the UK, a forum and more.  Click on the link to take you there.

Friday, 14 September 2012

Pond Diary - Genesis of a Wildlife Pond

Pond  Diary - Genesis of a Wildlife Pond

As promised, my first green issues entry on a blog that is not going to be just about crafts.  I am now the proud possessor of a wildlife pond, although as yet there is nothing in it besides water.  Surely a pond is a pond is a pond many of you are thinking, but there is more than one type.  Most shops and catalogs stock items for a koi pool which is something else entirely, so if you are wondering - as I was not long ago - what the difference is here is the lowdown.

Q What is the main difference between a koi pool and a wildlife pond?  Surely it is a hole in the ground filled with water?

A Not really.  If you want to keep koi carp you won't have much else in the pond as they are voracious and eat everything in sight!  You will also want to keep the water clear so you can admire your beautiful fish and to do that you need a pump.  These get rid of impurities such as fish droppings and waste food and keep the water clear.  They are pricey to buy, expensive to run and difficult to maintain so feel pleased that if you are going to have a wildlife pond you won't need one.  You are going to have a proper ecosystem!

Q But I still buy a fiberglass pond base from my local garden center, right?

A I shouldn't.  They are rather on the small side, fine for carp being fed but not much good for encouraging native wildlife as they aren't big enough.

Q So how am I going to line my pond and what size does it need to be?

A You can find butyl lining on a roll in garden centers and buy the best you can get as you don't want to have to do it all again in a couple of years when the plastic wears out.  A good entry size wildlife pond for your back garden would be about 8' x 12'.

Q How deep does it need to be?  Can I dig it straight down like a tank?

A If you want water lilies - and I would suggest that you do for a number of reasons - the water needs to be at least a meter deep.  Not all over however - have lots of ledges of different depths and an area that slopes down gently from the ground level.  Birds and other creatures can drink here and take a bath, and snakes can glide in for a swim.

Q Okay, now I have dug and lined it (or got somebody else to do this as I did, nothing like a proper professional job) what happens next?

A  You need to fill it with water.  The most natural way to go about this is wait for it to rain, but it will take a long time to fill and every time you have a shower you have to go out and tweak the liner.  Better to just fill it from the tap unless you are on a water meter.

Q But the water isn't fit to drink and has to be filtered before I do so!  Surely it will kill all the livestock?

A  It would if you put it straight in!  Wait at least a fortnight so the impurities can evaporate before doing anything.  All you need to do as you wait is to obtain some oxygenating plants or your water will go stagnant.  But that is where I leave you this time apart from a few photos of what it all looks like...

The pond being dug in my back garden, first stage after being marked out with a hose.
Hole in the ground!  Turn on a tap somebody...
That is better.  Pea gravel on the edges and you can see the wrinkles of the liner.  Nothing you can do about that, but you won't see them when a few plants have been added.  Haven't Ben and Luke done a great job?  Now off to the garden center and hang on in there for more Pond Diary and of course some crafts.