Tuesday, September 29, 2009

How to make your own faux barbed wire

Whilst working on a rustic project for a recent workshop I decided it needed a finishing touch. And I had just the thing in mind - barbed wire! Not exactly the safest thing to put on a card front you might be thinking - surely it would be too sharp and dangerous. Well, read on to see what I did.

Materials required:
brown beading cord
white glue
sharp scissors
Lumiere paint: Metallic Silver, Pewter and Metallic Rust

Cut two lengths of beading cord, 10cm and 15cm. Set aside the 10cm length. Coat the 15cm length with a thin layer of glue (hint: use your fingers to coat it - they make the best paintbrush!).
Stretch the cord between your fore fingers and thumbs and then twist it tightly by turning one hand towards yourself and the other hand away.
Keep twisting until it begins to twist back onto itself. Twist a little bit more. The glue will stop it from untwisting. Set this piece aside.

Cut the 10cm length in half. Set one piece aside and coat the other piece with a thin layer of adhesive. Wrap it once around one end of the twisted cord to create a barb.
Repeat with the second length of cord wrapping it around the other end of the twisted cord.
Trim all cut ends at a sharp angle so that the barbs look sharp.

Use your finger (remember, they are great brushes!), randomly paint on Lumiere paint to create the rusty, weathered look associated with barbed wire.
And there you have it - ultra light weight, no sharp points in sight and absolutely no rust to tranfer to your project. Pretty realistic looking isn't it?

Edited 30/9/09
....and here's the finished sample. Click on the image for a closer view of the barbed wire.

Edited 2/10/09
For a downloadable pdf of this tutorial, head on over to the tutorials page on my website: Mill Lane Studio

Friday, September 25, 2009

Get Creative!

Get Creative magazine has made me a star!

Well, maybe not a star but they have put me in the spotlight this month. I'm the profiled teacher in the Spring issue of Get Creative - what an honour!

In this issue, I even get to share an ATC project with you with full step by step photos and instructions. If you'd like to see what I made, grab yourself a copy of the latest issue. It's available from all Spotlight stores and selected newsagencies.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Twist Bead Jewellery

This week, I've been replenishing my Friendly Plastic jewellery stock.

I had no idea that people really liked my stuff until after many of the samples I had taken to stamp camp in Newcastle on the weekend found new homes, much to my delight!

But now, with another demo and workshop at Stampin' Daze stamp club this weekend, I needed to replenish my supplies so that attendees can see how you can turn some simple twist beads into stunning pieces of jewellery.

So it's been head down and tail up to put together some pretties for your eyes. Well, actually, for your wrist, neck and dainty ear lobes!

Here's a preview of what you can expect to see this weekend if you're at the demo and workshop. Enjoy!
Ruby Bracelet
featuring glass pearls and gold metal beads
and matching Ruby Earrings
featuring tear drop beads to tickle your neck!
Rose Glow Bracelet
featuring Swarovskis for sparkle!

Sweet Candy Necklace
A little bit of whimsy

There are more to come plus some Friendly Plastic pens as they too proved to be very popular items for Christmas presents.

If you're a regular visitor to my website gallery pages, you'll notice that I've added a new page dedicated just to Friendly Plastic pens and jewellery.
It's a work in progress so check back often as more pieces will be added as they are ready for sale.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

City Meets Country Stamp Camp

This past weekend I've spent in Newcastle teaching workshops at the annual City Meets Country Stamp Camp. And what a lovely weekend it was spent with such a nice group of people who warmly welcomed DH and I. It was Brian's first experience at stamp camp and not being a crafter, he thought he would have a restful long weekend and just pop in and out of the workshops as he pleased. But before he knew it he was working in the shop and helping with the workshops! It was surprising how quickly he picked things up and he really got into the swing of things, much to the delight of the campers.

And it was non stop fun from the moment we arrived and set up shop (with a lot of help from Wilma and Tara) and assembled the kits with the help of Tara (what a little speedster she is!).

The product we featured over the weekend was Friendly Plastic and regular readers of my blog will know that it has become one of my favourite mediums. Whilst it's been around for a very long time it's new to so many crafters so a demo of its versatility was in order.
After the Friday night demo, it was straight into the workshops on Saturday.

The first class was what I like to call Recycle, Re-use and Repurpose. It's a "green" class using materials from the recycling bin, the tool shed and left overs from your craft room. It's a wonderful class finding new life for stuff you just have lying around at home already.
I offered two different versions - one for those who love colour and also a more rustic version but they both follow exactly the same technique.Notice the barb wire on the rustic version? Well, look out for a tutorial in the coming week on how to create it using beading cord.

After lunch we tackled a Friendly Plastic project - an altered cigarette tin featuring a marbled butterfly which makes a lovely gift or presentation tin.Nestled inside is a pair of Friendly Plastic earrings.
And once again, there were two colour options using similar but slightly different techniques.In the evening we altered venetian blinds! Who would have thought they could look so good? Run them through the Cuttlebug for lots of texture or paint them with alcohol inks and stamp them as we did. Our theme was Paris but you could easily substitute your favourite theme to make this project your own. We also made a matching kimono-fold holder for our bookmark.

Sunday was a free day where campers were able to have one on one basic jewellery making lesson to complete the Friendly Plastic earrings which matched their butterfly tins. Many ladies jumped right in and assembled their own earrings, mastering the basics of opening and closing jump rings and turning loops in eye pins whilst others preferred to watch whilst I assembled them for them.

So whilst some of the projects were a bit of a challenge, everyone managed to tackle the projects successfully and they were delighted with how well their projects turned out. It was such a delight to teach you all.

At the end of the day, we were pooped but hungry so it was off to a local Chinese restaurant with our hosts for the weekend - from left, Wilma, Pat, me, Ron and Brian. Unfortunately, Tara was unable to join us but it was lovely to share a meal before heading back to the motel and crashing for the night.
And my thanks to the committee for inviting me to be your guest this weekend - your tireless efforts to make the camp run smoothly didn't go unnoticed and the huge rousing applause from the campers during speech time is a testimony to that. You girls absolutely rock!

Friday, September 4, 2009

How to use up all your cardstock!

When you're lucky enough to be building a new house, how do you choose the colour of your new kitchen splash back? Do you visit the manufacturer's showroom and select the colour from the samples on display? Or perhaps visit your local paint shop and collect some paint chips? Or maybe you find a kitchen to die for on the glossy pages of House and Garden?

Well they all sound like good ideas but if you're a paper crafter (and avid paper collector), then you raid your paper stash of course!

Here's what you do:

Gather together every shade of every colour of 12 x 12 card stock in your stash.

Tape the squares to the wall with double sided tape.
Stand back and eliminate, eliminate, eliminate.........
until you find the perfect colour..........Then match it to a paint chip.And the final colour choice: Dulux Jewel or in papercrafter's terms: Bazzill Purple. Mmmm....... deliciously sophisticated!

Who said you could never use every piece of card stock you had ever bought? I might not have cut them up, but I definitely did use them all!

And I just can't wait to do it all over again in my new studio!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Spectacles Chain - Not this time!

I've been working on a large collaborative project for some weeks now and having finished the original piece, it's now just a matter of completing duplicates for the other participants, so I'm working on them production-line fashion. It's definitely the quickest, but also the most tiresome way to complete them so I've taken a break to have some fun making Friendly Plastic beads.

My original plan for these beads was to make them up into a spectacles chain to hang off my glasses. At home I'm always careful to put my specs down in the same place so I know exactly where they are, but when I'm teaching, I have a terrible habit of taking them off and putting them down and then being unable to remember where. Just ask anyone who has done one of my classes!

But anyway, back to the beads. Somehow, they feel too big for a specs chain - I'm sure they would keep catching my eye as they swayed around. So I decided to turn them into a necklace instead.I'm really happy with the combination of wire and beads in this piece. There are 3 different coloured metals in the necklace: copper for the serpentine connectors, gold for the bead caps and rose gold for the closure. Strangely enough, I think it works quite well.

I've played with the wigjig and wire before - together they create such great little connectors and focal pieces. But in this piece I used some new toys, I mean tools, that I treated myself to: a chasing hammer and anvil. This is the first time I've played with them and I had so much fun that I decided to form the chain from wire too. An hour or so later and all my components were formed, flattened and ready to put together.

I'd been wanting to try hammering metal wire for a long time but I was worried that it would be noisy and hard to do but with this lovely soft 20g copper wire, not only was it a breeze but it was therapeutic too. I will definitely be trying this again!