Archives for posts with tag: DIY

We all do it. Don’t be ashamed. If you know how to knit, you have some… FAILED KNITTING.

An anecdote: A friend of mine announced she was pregnant with her second child. In anticipation, I bought a pattern for a cute little sweater. Friend had baby: A girl! So I bought some pink-ish wools and started in.

A year later, it evolved into a first-birthday gift.

Many other years later, it evolved into something for one the child’s dolls, perhaps.

Yet more years later… and I will be incorporating the pieces and bits of knit into some scarves.

I have done something like this a couple of times before. Once I felted an unfinished knit charity quilt-square (I missed the deadline, of course) into the end of a scarf. Here is a photo of the finished scarf:

my scarf!

I have more recently created a similar scarf. This time I used a finished, knitted scarf I wasn’t happy with, and sewed on (by hand!) some ruffly chiffon. I have this for sale on my Etsy page for a few days, and if it doesn’t sell it is MINE.

a knitted scarf and some chiffon find a new life together

Some of us just aren’t true knitters. We can’t find happiness with what we make; however we are continually drawn to trying again and again. The path to peace within the realm of knitting is perhaps in finding a mixed-media outlet for yourself. Sew on knitting. Felt with knitting. Re-purpose knitted bits. Go on, you can do it. Do It Yourself.

knitted bits of pinky wool will find their ways into scarves

Natasha Henderson, Montreal

*note this would work with crochet, too… and there’s nothing stopping you from making something like a cup-cosy out of your little knit and crochet bits. Small is good…

One evening, Tuesday December 6, 6:30-8:30pm $50, everything included!

Felt is an amazing material. Real felt is made from wool or other animal fibres. It is compressed, agitated, boiled, and manipulated until it becomes a single piece of fabric. Felt was developed in every culture where herding animals were kept, and used not only for clothing but for housing and industrial purposes too.

In this workshop, students will learn about the technique of making felt fabric from loose wool roving. They will make their own elegant, warm, snugly, beautiful, handsome, thick, or thin scarf out of wool. All materials and instruction (and fun) will be provided!

Instructor Natasha Henderson is a visual artist, painter, crafter of wool scarves, puppets, and cat-toys. She loves making things by hand and teaching others how to do so, too. She has years of experience teaching workshops in painting, felt-making, and other crafts. Her work (including felt scarves) can be seen in various galleries and shops, as well as being available for purchase online.

Register online: nhen@videotron.ca
Check out Natasha’s scarves at http://HendersonArt.etsy.com/

Workshop is located in Fleurbain at 460 St Catherine West, Suite #917, H3B 1A7, Montreal.

scarf with rescued materials in it

Go to any craft fair, fashion expo, or design show these days and you will undoubtedly find upcycled clothing. Old garments, say for example a beautiful coat or sweater that developed wear and tear over the years, could be combined with another garment to be new, fresh, and exciting.

In Montreal, there is a hip shop in the St Henri neighbourhood that caters to this idea. La Gaillarde features finished clothing by Montreal designers, as well as sewing/alteration classes in their sewing room. They also sell fabric remnants and used garments that are ready to be worn as-is, or upcycled into something more enticing.

At the Biodome in Montreal, every winter there is a craft fair that features crafts and clothing and all sorts of exciting things made out of over 75% post-consumer waste. Many of the offerings I saw last year were of better quality, more stylish, and clearly more functional than their brand new counterparts.

This article in the Guardian newspaper outlines some of the challenges that manufacturers and retail stores face in regards to textile waste. The manufacturers must be more responsible, and we as the purchasers of garments must be more accountable for what we do with them as we finish. It does take an effort. As the article says;

“…the various fibres that comprise clothing make reprocessing and recycling a challenge. Some materials such as cotton and linen can be composted, but petroleum-based fibres such as polyester have little chance for reuse. Few municipalities accept textiles into their recycling programmes… the result is a resource that is not as easily recyclable as aluminum cans, glass, or even plastic.”

scarf with unrecyclables

The ability to truly recycle textiles is rare. We will donate unwanted (but still wearable) clothing to charity, but what do we do when there are too many holes or stains? We usually throw them into the landfill… Though I am not anywhere near perfect in this regard, I have tried to save fabrics from this fate.

I make felt wool scarves, and have been incorporating bits of used fabrics into them. Also I like to take unrecyclable (yet durable) materials, such as plastic/foil catfood bags, and use them within the scarves, too. This is more fun than anything, but I hope that my efforts have diverted yet more toxic landfill from accumulating!

Check out some of the DIY ideas we posted over the last while on Fleurbain… you can use old garments for these things, too!

*Coasters

*Braided Rug

*Mittens, Cushions…

*Scented Sachets

And have some fun while you’re at it!

Natasha Henderson, Montreal

orange: beautiful in many ways

orange: beautiful in many ways

A few weeks ago, I shared a link to a video that showed how easy and inexpensive (and non-toxic) it can be to make one’s own hairspray.

Shortly after, I went out and bought myself an orange (something that I normally don’t buy) and some rum (another thing I don’t buy… I’m a gin or scotch girl!) and went about making me some home-brewed hairspray.

The results: I find that it maintains a gentle hold, and smells very nice. My head smells faintly like an orange daiquiri! Not unpleasant at all. When it was very hot and humid, and I needed to perk my hair up a bit for a wedding event, I used a blow dryer on my dampened, hairsprayed hair. This added a lot of body. I then styled it, gave a short squirt, and presto I was done. It held its shape pretty well, again not rock solid like an AquaNet net.

Final Words: I would recommend trying this. It took only a few minutes, and the price of an orange and a drop of rum. You can use rubbing alcohol, if you have it, instead. I’ll try boiling it down a little more next time, to see if the hold increases.

I am glad to not support an industry where the bottles have dozens of mysterious ingredients on the label!

Natasha Henderson, Montreal

From “David Suzuki’s Queen of Green“, comes this Youtube video:

I am a fan of hers on Facebook. I love Facebook for the tailored information and priceless international contacts I’ve made.

All that aside, though, I am looking forward to buying an orange and a little rum to make my OWN hairspray!

Oh, yes!!!

 Natasha Henderson, Montreal

so fascinated with light... he'd certainly paint if he could...

Artists who paint are often fascinated with light. Light allows us to see; light forms the subject matter that is painted. When we paint, we are painting light both as it hits objects, and as it filters through atmosphere. However… sometimes we might like to paint actual light sources. Here is a short example on how to paint a “Christmas Light”.

Each Sunday, artist Natasha Henderson will guide you through some simple “How To” tips for painting. Having been (honestly) inspired at a young age by the oft-spoofed televised artist Bob Ross, Natasha would like to offer some simple tips on How To Paint Stuff.

Just like last week, this time I started with a piece of paper that I’d smudged some white acrylic paint on. Again, it is not 100% necessary to add the acrylic. If I had thick paper, and I’d wanted to allow the paper’s texture and absorbancy affect the paint’s effect, I could have worked directly on the paper.

getting started

I made a simple shape, similar to an Xmas light bulb.

a simple shape, similar to an Xmas light bulb

Then, I made the “cords”. Most Xmas lights have a casement for the glass bulb, and then cords leading away from this. I opted to imagine a simple cord going each way, although in reality there are usually two twisted cords, per side, that lead away in both directions. Sometimes it is more poetic to rely on memory than observation. Who wants a painting of electrical cords?

bulb with simple cords

Next, I smudged a little watery black down the middle of the bulb.

swiped watery-black paint in the bulb...

Then I wiped some of this paint away, quickly, with my finger. It smudged the paint, giving it a bit of a hazy effect, just like staring into a real light…

smudged!

The most important thing right now was to let this DRY. After it had dried, I painted some watered-down black around the bulb area. I left the imagined-light to “glow” in a circle around the bulb.

painting the world that is not so affected by the light

Next, I added more black, solidly, onto the outside area. The light isn’t reaching there at all…

suddenly, the light seems a lot more "light"

The final, final step was to put a dab of pure white into the middle of the bulb.

final bit... unless I decide to go in colour...

If I wanted to create this image in colour, then I would glaze some colour into the image. Next week, I will do just that!

Paint on! Paint on.

Natasha Henderson, Montreal

beginning the first tree...

Everyone likes trees. They are pretty and useful things. So why not paint up a little stand of trees to call your own?

Each Sunday, artist Natasha Henderson will guide you through some simple “How To” tips for painting. Having been (honestly) inspired at a young age by the oft-spoofed televised artist Bob Ross, Natasha would like to offer some simple tips on How To Paint Stuff.

Before we begin, a few notes on what I’m using to paint. I chose a simple, broad flat brush. I used black acrylic paint. I used a piece of paper. I smudged some white acrylic on the paper first, so that the paint and any water in it would not bleed into the paper. I could have used the paper alone, and the texture of the paper would have had more effect on the paint, and I could have treated it more like a watercolour. But I chose not to.

a line. This will become a tree...

Once the white acrylic base had dried, I used a small amount of paint on the tip of my brush to draw a line. This would be the trunk, the centre of the first tree I would paint.

dabbing on branches, needles, it's all just paint

Then, I simply dotted and dabbed little marks across this line, to make a tree. Simple.

tree is lonely... time for some more

After that I added more lines, and the dabs to create the four trees that followed these lines. I had my stand! I was naughty, and didn’t follow the Law of Odds, but life’s about taking risks.

more trees, made in exactly the same way

The final touch was a sweeping mark that suggested land. The trees needed to be situated in some sort of environment, and I felt that this would suffice.

trees and their land

Paint on! Paint on.

Natasha Henderson, Montreal

nesting bowls in felt are cozy, homey, and cute

Felt bowls are cute, no doubt about it. Little fuzzy display bowls that can fit into one another, that’s even cuter! I decided to make some nesting bowls today, and documented the process to share with you.

If you know how to make felt already, and are looking for a craft that will provide you with two or three hours of crafting and will be suitable for an Easter display or gift, look no further. If you haven’t made felt at all yet, I would advise you to first try making a piece or two of flat felt, to get an idea of how felting works.

some of the basic supplies

To start, I gathered my basic felting supplies. I used bubble wrap, soap, a kettle of water, loose wool (roving), scissors, and a measuring tape. You might also like to have a towel on hand, a bowl, and perhaps some paper and a pen.

a trick to cut your templates: fold them in half to ensure each side is even

I thought that I’d like to make three little nesting-bowls. I choose three colours of wool roving that coordinated well together. I decided to blend colours for two of the bowls, and wanted to add dashes of all the colours on all the bowls. I had intended to just make single-colour bowls, but I couldn’t help myself! Obviously, you can use whatever mix of colours you would like.

The basic procedure for making the bowls, no matter what size they are, is relatively simple. The challenge was to make bowls that would “fit into” one another… to account for sizing and so forth. I decided to make a simple bowl shape, then add 1 inch on every side for the next size up. I added about an inch or so to THAT one for the largest bowl. I cut all these templates out of bubble wrap. In retrospect, I’d have preferred to have made some smaller bowls, too. However, as I had saved my templates, I can make smaller ones at a later date.

three layers of roving, and the template on top

To begin any sort of resist felting, lay out three layers of wool roving at right angles to each other, so that they extend about 2 inches past the template-size. In this case, I made sure that the top of the bowl didn’t have this extension, because it would be left open in the end. If I’d wanted to make a more spherical object, I could have extended the top end too. I like to lay my template under my piece of bubble wrap as a guide for the first overlapping layers. However if you find that is too hard to see through the bubble wrap you are working on, you can trace the template shape onto a piece of paper and place this under the bubble wrap to guide you. Remember it is important to extend up to about 2 inches PAST the template-shape, in order to create a meshing of wool.

Once the first three layers of roving have been placed, gently spray some lukewarm water onto them. Be gentle, allowing the water to just fall onto the wool. Next, place your template on top of this. Make sure that the top aligns with the top of the wool. Remember there should be almost 2 inches of extra wool all around the rest of the shape. Take this extra wool and fold onto the template.

encased, with soap on it... ready for boiling water!

The final step before really felting is to lay three more layers of wool roving, at right angles to one another, on top of this. Try to fill the entire “template” area, even though much of it is covered around the edges. This will ensure that there are no holes or awkward seam parts to your bowl.

Spray the wooly work again, being gentle. Then drizzle  pure dish-soap overtop. Pour some boiling (or very hot) water on it, and then lay another piece of bubble wrap on top. Pat it (if it’s not too hot to do so!) and rub it. Pay special attention to rub the seam area… we really want the wool there to mesh quickly. After a minute or so of patting, flip the work over, and pat the other side.

pay special attention to the edges, to ensure the wool meshes

Try opening the bubble-wrap up to rub the wool directly. Within a minute or so of patting and rubbing, you should be able to gently lift the object. Pry open the top part, and gently rub the edges. If it’s fused, force it open. It’s ok at this point; you can do almost anything to this malleable mass.

this doesn't look much like a bowl... but it will!!

Lift the object, turn it in your hands. Rub the inside and outside of the seam area. If there are sparse patches or holes, try adding a little more wool roving on top. Put some more soap, a dash of water, and gently rub it in your hands. Work on the seam area, and rub the entire object.

Turn it inside out, and rub the inside on your bubble wrap. turn it back outside-out, and rub the whole object on the bubble wrap. Keep it open, don’t allow it to lay flat again.

After a few minutes, you can gently drop the object onto the table. Do this a few times, trying to hit a different part of the bowl each time. Start to hit it harder; and focus on any bumps or strange parts. It is almost magical, how the wool will tighten into felt as you do this. It will shrink quite a great deal, too! If you have a bathtub nearby, try hurling the wooly mass into it several times. Start more gentle, then hurl with all your might.

while hurling, rubbing, getting the bowl felted and fulled and shrunk. ten seconds later, the seam had disappeared. Like magic.

If the bowl is cold, pour some more boiling or hot water on it. Friction, compression, and heat all conspire to turn wool into felt. So, more heat can’t hurt!

Finally, when your bowl is looking like a bowl, set it. You can set it “rim-side-up” on a table, or you can stuff it with bubble wrap (like I’ve done in the examples) and turn upside down. Like a sweater that you lay flat to dry, wool felt will have a memory. It likes to maintain the shape that it is left to dry in.

after being felted, fulled, and rinsed, I formed my bowls by cramming bubblewrap into them, and leaving overnight on my table.

If you are in the Montreal area and would like to take a felt-making class, please be in contact with me. I will be teaching this technique (and more!) in workshops of varying lengths. Happy felting!

Natasha Henderson, Montreal

You need: -Paper  -Good solid cardboard  -Scissors or cutting edge  -Gluestick  -White glue or rubber cement  -Cheesecloth or similar fabric  -Pretty paper or fabric for covering  -More pretty paper for inside of covers -Thread and needle

As I mentioned once before, I managed to take a book-making course during my final year of art-school. We learned various techniques to make books, and some of the simpler ones I’ve outlined here. I did promise to go over the method of making a “real bound book”, though, and now it’s time to deliver on that promise! Happy New Year… let’s make us some books!

A classically bound book has a few elements. There is a cover, there are the pages, and there are the things that hold them all together.

The little parcels of paper pages that are sewn together to make the body of the book are called signatures. When I make a book, I make my signatures first. I decide on how many sheets will be in a signature, and then I decide on how many signatures will make up the book. In some situations, you might only have so much paper available, so this guides the size and number of pages in the book. A single piece of paper that is in a signature is actually four pages, if they were numbered within the finished book. A paper-piece in the signature is the height, and then twice the width, of the finished page, folded in half. You can layer two pieces of paper, or three, or four… or many. It depends on how thick your paper is. Normally, for “art-grade” paper (thicker) I would layer about two or three pieces of paper in a signature. An older book in my collection has about ten very thin, but strong, layers of paper in each signature.

In the inside of a signature, you will see the stitching. This is an old book, finely crafted.

Once you have decided on your layered papers for a signature, you fold the pages in half, re-layer them, and sew a little stitch or two down the centre. I recommend knotting at each stitch on the outside, binding edge of the work. This will add strength and stability to the binding, and to the signature. Use about three or four strands of thread to add even more durability. Make your stitches on the “inside” of the signatures about a half-centimeter, and make the stitches on the “outside” about two centimetres. Don’t worry about the outside, binding edge of the signature, it can be messy. You won’t see it later! If you were to rip the outer binding off of a finished book, though, you would see a mix of knots, threads, glue, and something similar to cheese-cloth covering the whole mess.

When you have a number of signatures ready to be bound, the next step is in to bring them together. I can’t show you this in person, unfortunately. But simply put, just weave a threaded needle between the threads that are on the “outside” of the signatures. Knot. Tie. Weave. Make it sewn together… keeping the thread OUTSIDE. Don’t puncture the papers again. This will all be hidden, so don’t worry if it looks bad. Just try to keep the inside of the pages neat-looking!

As soon as the signatures are bound together, you have the basics for a book. The next step is to make the cover. Cut two pieces of good cardboard to a little bit larger that the size of the inside pages. Good, solid cardboard is normally found in craft stores. If you don’t have any, use your imagination. You’ll want a material that is pretty tough, that you can cut, and that won’t roll up with a bit of moisture from something like glue. An old piece of rubber or plastic could be interesting…

Once you’ve cut the outer covers, you can cut a binding-cover, too. This is big enough to cover the ugly, outside edge of the bound-together signatures. It’s ok if it is a little thinner than the depth of the book. This piece just basically provides a little structure and protection to the sewn-together signatures. In some books this piece is rolled back and forth to form a rounded-binding, in others it is straight and flat. For your first book, though, perhaps just leave this piece flat.

One of my early books: Signatures, Three cardboard pieces to make the cover, Decorative covering. Note I also sewed some pretty gold thread along the edge of the bound signatures.

You need an outside surface for the covers… a piece of fabric, a piece of decorative paper… and old fancy pillowslip, a shiny satin skirt, anything that is pretty will do. You just need enough of this to cover the outside edge of the entire book. If your decorative paper or fabric is thin (like satin or fine paper) you should glue it to another piece of good, strong and flexible paper (such as rice-paper) first. Lay this piece out on your table, pretty-side down. Lay the two covers and the little binding-cover next to one another on this piece. Keep a small distance of about 1/8″ between the covers and the binding-cover. This space is important so that the covers can open and close… this is a hinge. Make sure that this pretty covering extends at least an inch past the edges of the cardboard covers. Rub a bit of glue-stick on the surface of the cardboard covers, then place them again on this pretty covering. Press flat with your hands, just making sure there are no “bubbles” or lumpy bits of glue. Fold the edges in, glue down to the inside of the book-cover with white glue or rubber cement. What you are doing is sort of like wrapping a present, and you are doing the outside first.

Next, take your bound signature-pages. Using a bit of cheese-cloth (or similar fabric… I’ve used a number of woven, light-weight fabrics at hand for this task), cover the ugly outside edge of the bound-together signatures. Make sure there is about two inches extending past the edge, as though the cheese-cloth wants to grow into a book cover. Rub white glue or rubber cement glue over the cheese-cloth, so that it is truly adhered to the outside edge of the binding. Let this set. Good time for a coffee or tea. Cake. A film. Really let THIS glue set.

Here you can see the "decorative inside page" that is glued to the front cover, and slightly glued to the front page of all those signatures.

FINAL ASSEMBLY: Once this signature-set is dry, take the cover that you’ve previously prepared, place the signature-set in place, and glue the cheese-cloth to the inside of the covers. It helps to know that there will be a final, decorative piece of paper attached to cover all the mess. I recommend using a bit of glue-stick, then closing the book to set for a few minutes. Open the book, and rub in some white glue. Close it again, and leave it at least half an hour to really set. You can check it a couple of times to make sure it hasn’t shifted, but be careful.

Once it is dry, the very last thing is to add a thicker, decorative paper to the inside of the covers. This paper is cut to just a little shorter that the original “double-page” size, and you need one for each inside cover. The function of this decorative paper is to cover the inside of the cover (remember the “wrapped present”?), and also to be a decorative front and back page. Glue (with white glue or rubber cement) one side to cover all the uncovered-part of the inside covers. Glue a little bit on the first page of the signature-bundle, so that it is stuck to this decorative paper… about 1/4″. This way the book is solidly made, and is held together by the cheese-cloth as well as the decorative paper. Set it aside… let it dry thoroughly. Press it between some heavy books, leave it overnight. It’s all in the layering…

This old book is made with a gently rounded binding-cover. You can see the importance of leaving space between the three pieces of cardboard, so that the covers can hinge.

When you examine an old book from your shelf, or look at my photos here, you will see the basic elements to a bound book. Don’t be afraid… my first bound book was a gluey mess. The binding-cover was cut too big. I used an ugly fabric to cover it. However, by making my own book, I was then inspired to work out a fun comic to live inside the book. This developed into the first storyline for my “Cluck and Lurt” comic series! Drawing in my own book was inspiring for me. I hope that you are inspired to try some book-making yourself.

Natasha Henderson, Montreal

Basic, basic, basic supplies are all that's needed for this gift. That, and an idea.

When I was a kid and Mother’s Day or Valentine’s Day or Easter or a birthday or… any holiday rolled around, I would break out the felt pens and paper and glue and scissors. I would make my family and friends little imitations of “real world” honours, things like badges, crowns, and certificates. When I grew a little older I transferred this urge to cut, draw and paste my gifts into the idea of specialized coupons.

Coupons are great to offer services that cannot be wrapped up in a box: “One Free Car Wash”, “One Free Babysitting”, “One Dozen Cookies (need 24 hours notice)”, “A Vacuum of The Entire House”… you get the idea.

You could use some of the simple book-binding skills we covered the other day, as I did in the example below. Simple-simple! I just cut may paper to size, stapled once. I took care that the pointy-bits of the staple went to the inside. I also cut a little into each page just inside from the “binding”, so my coupon-recipient would find it easy to rip them out of the little book.

Easy gift: Proving that it's the thought that counts.

All of the papers in the Coupon Book were destined for Recycling… they’ll still be recycled, just are being diverted along the way.

Natasha Henderson in Montreal, wishing everyone a Happy Holiday and a Merry Christmas!

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