Archives for posts with tag: Craft

Last Christmas one of my favorite gifts to receive was a set of handmade fridge-magnets. My pal made these with old bottlecaps (never throw them away again!), glue, magnets, images, and glitter. Remarkably simple, and completely fantastic. This link provides clear instructions on how to make them, but basically, you just need to apply those objects together in a way that makes sense. One good note is that “you want to glue the non-magnetic side so to the bottle cap and leave the magnetic side exposed so it adheres to metal.” Yup!!!

My friend gave me a Catholic picture to remind me of her, and two Simpsons images chosen especially for me.

Natasha Henderson in Montreal

A few months ago I taught felt-making and other craft techniques to a large group of students. The project was massive, and very rewarding for me to see what the kids could do. While working there I received a pretty neat book as a gift. If you are really motivated to learn a new craft right now in time to make “stuff” for Christmas gifts, you could try some of the projects in this book: “Felt (Handmade Style)“, by India Flint. A worst-case scenario would be to buy this book, and then give it as a gift (or a promise of gifts… “I’ll make you what’s on page 36!”) if you just don’t have time.

Kids really love felt-making.

The idea of a promise is a good one… I have a few people on my gift-list who I have promised specific things to this year, and they will receive a rain-check on them. If I don’t have time to devote a whole morning to someone’s gift right now, then they will receive it later! That holds especially true for experimental gifts… trying to make a fitted hat for a friend who lives across the country, or trying to design a massive piece of felt that would be light enough to wear as a head-wrap. These things take time and creativity.

CRAFT TIP FOR NOW: If you want to do one craft that is mentioned in the book that you can do right NOW without referencing the book… well, you can make some wool beads! It’s easy. If you have a small amount of wool roving (or batting) then you can do it. Take a pinch of wool, use a drop of dish-soap and some warm water, and start to roll it around in your palms. Over time this will form a ball, and you can keep rolling it in your hands or on a bamboo mat or piece of bubble wrap. Experiment adding different colours to it, experiment with different sizes. A little wool bead normally takes about 5-10 minutes to do. It’s a good craft for kids, because it takes up time, keeps their hands busy, only involves soap and water as the “messy” stuff, and for some magical reason all kids like to do this! In the end you can use your wool beads for jewelry, as decoration on other things like tuques or mittens, for Christmas decorations… the sky is really the limit what you can do with them.

Last year I gave my family all a variation of the same thing for Christmas… Coasters. They were Cute felt coasters,  decorative and waterproof!  Real wool felt is great for this project, because wool is a natural insulator from temperatures and also moisture. I like to line the felt with cork, for an added layer of insulation.

Cork for the bottom of the coasters can be very thin.

Take some felt, a bit of cork-board (available at many stationery stores), glue, and something for “edging” (like a scrap of leather, a bit of twine or ribbon, sequins…)

Make a circle out of paper as your template. No-one likes a miniature coaster, so be generous. One time I used a plastic thing that was headed for the recycling-bin, another time I used the top of a huge mug I have (keeping the pen-tip away from the cup, of course).

Use this template to trace onto the cork, then cut out the cork circles. Next, cut circles out of the felt. Simply glue together, and then glue your edging around to look all pretty.

My personal coaster, after a year's HEAVY use (every day at least twice, still holds up!)

I used home-made felt, but store-bought felt would do, as would any non-fray or cute-fraying fabric (other wool, denim…) Keep in mind that most “felt” sold at craft stores is actually made from synthetic fibres, unless they mark it clearly to be wool. Real wool felt is more expensive than synthetic; however, it provides a real barrier for heat, cold, and moisture so it’s better for coasters. Happy crafting!

I have a small, possibly boring (no! Don’t leave!) story to share. A couple of years back, I had a job in “The Fashion Industry”. One of the little perks they’d give us was access to a mass Sample Sale twice a year.

This one has the beautiful Indian ribbon sewn to it.

Leftovers from the stores, samples that were made and discarded, and assorted wearable rejects were sold to employees of this nameless corporation by the pound. It worked out to about $1 per garment, and somehow everyone would score some nice stuff. I got my yoga-pants from one of these, and believe me I’m wearing them to the ground. Anyhow, during one of those sales I came across a bag of black polyester-fleece gloves with little pom-poms sewn on the wrists.

Quite cute already, but I thought “I’ll do something with these…” A year or so later, I did! I stuck with a colour theme for each pair, and used embroidery floss and sequins and beads that I already had.

So cool they're hot; so hot they're cool. Fire and Ice...

The most popular gloves have turned out to be the ones on which I simply sewed a colourful ribbon around the top. This ribbon was imported from India many years ago, and at the time was rare to find in mainstream shops. Since then, thankfully, many of the craft and sewing shops have similar ribbons available.

You could sew on a fringe, a bit of cord, some braided leather, some leftover bits and pieces of most anything. I would like to do something similar with old gloves I find in the fripperies and second-hand stores!

A couple of technical pointers: if the gloves are stretchy, either use stretchy thread or make certain that you stretch the material as you sew on the decorations. Try to not sew where there will be a lot of wear. This way your threads won’t be in immanent danger of breaking when the gloves are worn. You might notice that I stuck to decorating just the cuff area. Another suggestion is to tie knots often, so that if a thread does break, all your work will not come undone.

Happy decorating! I glove Christmas!

Decorated Gloves

Natasha Henderson in Montreal

Memoir by Natasha Henderson

Felt is non-woven, non-knit fabric that is made of bits of wool or other fur. Felt-making has been around for a very long time… we’re talking about five thousand years. The contemporary method for making felt is similar in science to the ancient method: a combination of pressure, heat, water, and friction make individual fibres cling together into this versatile fabric. Soap doesn’t hurt the process, either.

Fluffy wool is layered onto bubble-wrap, sprinkled with soap and boiling water, then rolled up and agitated 'til it is done.

I came to start to make my own felt because of three major influences. One, I had always liked felt (and felted) objects. Two, I have a friend who offered to teach another friend and I how to make felt one rainy evening… an evening that also featured soup and beer. The third influence was my own desire to learn another craft that I could possibly make products to sell in my freelance artistic lifestyle.

The main reason I keep making felt is that I find it to be a relaxing and enjoyable activity, and I am proud of my creations!

Felt wool scarf with unrecyclable trash built into it and decorative stitching.

I also find that the process of laying out thin layers of loose wool in a multitude of available colours to be similar, in an odd way, to painting. My background is as a painter; I’ve painted and exhibited my works for years. So when I found a means to make wearable-art out of an incredibly practical material, I was very, very happy!

This craft has opened up new opportunities for me to teach workshops in felt-making, too. There are several people who are curious about this medium, and who want to try things out. I am glad to offer courses in my own studio, and I’ve also had the opportunity to travel to classes to teach kids “how to make felt”. One such event concluded with the kids making their own felt into little puppets. The kids had a satisfying time making their own piece of fabric, and then had a creative time crafting this fabric into their unique creatures.

The latest thing I’ve discovered is felted soap. When I first saw felted soap, I thought it would be itchy, that the felt would fall off the soap and you’d find little fibres all throughout the bath… nope. Thankfully wrong on all accounts! The soap inside makes a good lather that keeps the wool at a gentle level of exfoliation. It’s cool, too, that as the soap insides slowly shrinks (these soaps last longer than naked soaps do) so does the felt.

Felted Soap I made.

Thanks for letting me talk to you about this thing I do. It’s a lot of fun.

Natasha sells her felt wool scarves and soaps at craft fairs, as well as through her Etsy site, HendersonArt.

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