Saturday, 25 April 2015

Racing Car Card

Here's another potential Fathers Day or birthday card for the petrolhead in your life.  Petrolhead of either sex I hasten to add.  You can personalize the card by using a local map and clay in the recipient's favorite color of the color of their car.  It also does not have read DAD of course.

Shopping List:
Basic card kit plus
White card blank 14cm x 18cm (5” x 7”)
Polymer clay in red, black and white
Scraps of white card
Silver peel-off lettering
Computer program with Acklin font or similar
Foil tray


 1.Cover front of card with map.  Cut out eight exhaust shapes using the leftover white card.

2. Roll out polymer clay to a thickness of about 2mm and lay the relevent templates on top; cut around using a craft knife or clay tools.  Lay car body onto a foil tray and assemble.  Bake as to manufacturer’s instructions.

3. Choose a chunky masculine font like Acklin (available in Word) and print out the word Dad in letters about 4.5cm (1¾“) high and transfer to red card using a fine embossing tool.  Cut out and stick in bottom right hand corner of card.

4. Stick peeloff letters reading Happy in top left hand of card and glue car onto bottom left hand area.  Postion and stick down the exhaust shapes to look as if they are billowing across the card and write Birthday in black letters, one in each.


Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Make A Racket!

Or a racquet if you are into spelling.  With the warmer weather upon us it might be time to think of getting fit and playing a sport.  Or even if this is not for you maybe making a card for somebody keen on that sort of thing is more your bag. With Father's Day coming up I am going to be posting some ideas for men's cards and this is the first one.

These four cards (yes I can count but this is just the first one) were made using just basic craft materials like coloured card, metallic thread, polymer clay and peel-offs.  Add in a computer for more lettering and clipart options and you have everything you need to make some simple but effective cards. Most men don't like fussy cards after all, do they...

Shopping List:
Basic card kit plus:
White card blank 5½“
Lime card or paper to cover the front
Scraps of black, red and white card
Silver thread (eg Madeira Metallic No6 Silver)
Masking tape
Pricking mat and tool

General Instructions For All Cards:

Using a sheet of A4 white card cut blank to size.  For the 14cm² (5½“²) cards you will need to cut a shape 14cm x 28cm (5½“ x 11”) and score down the middle with a craft knife or bone folder to make the fold.  Don’t throw the rest away; you will need it for all the scraps of white card mentioned in the Shopping List. 

For the 14cm x 18cm (5” x 7”) cards you will need to cut a shape 28cm x 18cm (10” x 7”). 

To make the templates either print, scan and photocopy or trace the pattern pieces onto card. 

  1. Cover front of card with lime card.  Cut out a racquet from black card (not too thin) and cut out the centre.

2. Using a pricking mat and tool prick out all the holes.
 3. Thread up a needle with a length of the thread.  Find the bottom centre hole and count it as one; count six more and bring the thread up through the hole.  Attach at the back with a piece of masking tape.  Take the thread up and push the needle down into the corresponding hole in front, and then bring it up through the next hole and repeat.  Do this all the way along the racquet until you reach the same place on the opposite side.  Cut thread and secure.

4. Do this all the way along the racquet until you reach the same place on the opposite side.  Cut thread and secure.

5. Next you string along the horizontal lines.  Find the bottom centre hole again and count it as one; count three more and bring the thread up through the hole.  To string this way you need to weave the needle under and over the vertical threads, then down the opposite hole and up the next one.  Repeat going under and over different threads to resemble a real racquet.  If you need to attach new threads do so in the same way.

6. Stick the racquet to the card and cut out a circle 2cm (¾”) in white card; stick this in the bottom left area.  Attach peel-off letters to spell Having A Ball in the top right hand corner.

Or Happy Birthday or of course Happy Fathers Day.  Simple but effective and like all the best handmade cards requiring more effort than actual cash.

Friday, 17 April 2015

Bee Friendly

What is nicer than standing in a garden filled with flowers and the sound of buzzing bees?  Add in some other pollinating insects and a few butterflies and you are on the way to a well balanced eco system.  If your garden is filled with flowers but is strangely silent there is a simple reason.  You are growing the wrong plants!  There may be other factors but garden centers and catalogs are filled with brightly colored showy flowers which are no use for pollinating insects. Many have no pollen or fancy tight shapes (eg double flowers) that nothing can get inside.  This is particularly true of bumblebees, and without pollinators or "real" plants we run the risk of losing vital crops as we rely on these creatures to do this.  In the last fifty years the UK has lost 95% of its flower meadows but there are a lot of gardens, so it is up to garden owners to help out.  

Here is a list of the garden villains which do no good.  How many do you have?

. Begonia
. Busy Lizzie - Impatiens
. Geranium - Pelargonium
. Hydrangea
. Livingstone daisy - Mesembryanthemum
. Pansy
. Petunia
. Polyanthus
. Scarlet salvia / Salvia splendens 

Most of these have been bred to look impressive to humans and of course nobody wants their garden filled with weeds or insignificant "wild" plants.  However there are a lot of plants that look just as pretty but which will soon have the garden buzzing again.  Here are photos of four of them:

FEBRUARY: A crocus, nice and early and easy to obtain.  This will help bees when they are looking for nesting sites early in the year.

MARCH: A wild primrose, also early but most assuredly not a polyanthus!

APRIL: A beautiful, sweetly scented bluebell.  In April the bee's nest is growing and the young need plenty of food.  This is a plant that looks best in profusion and needs to be planted under trees but not in deep shade.
MAY: Foxgloves are a tall, stately flower that is very easy to grow and will help the bees as the year goes towards summer. 

Here is a list of a few more:

. Berberis
. Bluebell
. Broom
. Bugle
. Comfrey
. Crocus
. Dicentra
. Flowering currant
. Hellebore
. Lungwort
. Mahonia
. Muscari
. Pieris
. Pussy willow
. Rosemary
. Skimmia
. Viburnum
. Winter heather 

All early plants that are around as I write this.  Too late to plant them now, but when you are planning what to plant for next spring do spare a thought for the pollinators who make it possible for most things to grow.   

Of course, not all varieties of these plants attract anything other than people.  A good catalog, website or garden center ought to have some symbols that show if a plant is good for nature.  The yellow RHS "Perfect For Pollinators" is one to look out for.

Next time it is back to the crafts!


Saturday, 4 April 2015

Coloring Crazy!

I do love to dive into whatever the latest craze is.  Line dancing, Scoubidou, loom bands, soutache...coloring books!  As a child I spent many a happy hour absorbed in a coloring book and as an adult missed that zen-like trance they put me into.  Nothing else quite hits the spot, does it?  Then I read that in France coloring books were outselling cookery books and when you think of the French and their passion for cuisine this meant this was one major craze.  Of course I had to get in on the act too and dug out every coloring tool I could locate (quite a lot but quantity rather than quality).  If you are like me and favor pens over pencils and don't have a lot of cash to splurge on the pricier brands you buy the budget packs in stores like W H Smith.  This means you require detailed pictures 'cos the pens run out so fast, and anyway these are ADULT coloring books not kiddy ones.  Here then are a trio of designs to print out and color in.  Let me know if you like them, and if you don't...
This is Mandala A.  Can you think of a more interesting title for it?  I hope so...
And this is Mandala B.  An all over design this time to keep it interesting.  I don't want them all to look the same...
Mandala C.  If you belong to a coloring group on Facebook do post your work so we can all see it.

But what do you do with a coloring book when the pages have all been filled in?  Use it as inspiration for another project perhaps.  Crafty Computer Paper has transfers you can iron on dark or light fabrics, fabric you can actually print on and all sorts of other things to do with ink and various crafts.  Of course you cannot break coopyright laws unless your picture is public domain but you can use it for inspiration or make your own in a graphics program as I have done with PSP.