Posts Tagged 'craft'

The Psychology of Pysanky

Hi again all!

Easter is almost upon us again, and the time has come when that traditional Easter Egg shape (or “Spring Sphere” shape, depending which circles you run in) just seems to be calling out for a decorative touch.

Whatever you call them, these blank little ovoids seem to be the perfect canvases for a wide variety of paint and dye techniques. One of the more homespun methods of decoration also happens to be one of the most intricate and spectacular.

Pysanky is a form of egg decoration that uses various dyes and a wax resist, like batik. It may be one of your Ukranian grandmother’s favorite hobbies, but it also lends itself to an almost unending series of reinventions.

A little while back, I was lucky enough to find a class in the area that taught this spectacular technique. I have to admit, it’s sort of impossible to get the awe-inspiring results seen below from only a 3 hour session, but it was a decent introduction to the process.

http://spindlesend.net/images2/Misc/P0001432.JPG

Essentially, you draw on your basic geometric breakdown lightly with a pencil, heat a very simple small metal funnel called a kitska over a flame, and use it to paint beeswax resist over an ever-darkening series of dye layers on your egg.

What this meant to my design above was that I painted beeswax where I wanted the white of the design to be. Then, I dyed the egg yellow. I painted the beeswax over the part of the egg where I wanted the yellow to be, and then tinted a section of my egg green. And so on and so forth until you end with your black dye. Then you melt all of your beeswax off with a candle.

As a perfectionist, this particular craft pursuit could easily have driven me to the point of a nervous breakdown, especially due to the 3 hour time constraint. And, note to all of you who may want to try pysanky in future, do NOT try to down a mug full of coffee before trying this for the first time…

But, no offense to the sudoku aficionados out there, I think this is a way more fun method of training your brain to think backwards and plan ahead.

So everyone out there with a Ukranian grandmother, go tell her she’s awesome, just because. And if you’d like to learn more about the art of pysanky, please see this generously free tutorial site.

Happy Easter everyone :-)

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Both candy and corny at the same time.

I really like things with happy faces on them. Especially food. Even food I don’t eat.

I don’t eat candy corn, but boy I’m going to love wearing it! And even more than that, I love how simple and quick this project was.

All you need is:

  • Shrink plastic (the regular old clear plastic Shrinky Dink kind is the standard, but there may be other brands available); You should be able to find this at your local craft store or online
  • Colored pencils or markers (I’d stick to the colored pencils; They seem to give the best results; I’d avoid Sharpie markers because the pigment is too saturated)
  • Candy corn template (please see below)
  • Scissors
  • Hole punch (A standard hole punch will work just fine, just make sure you punch your hole 1/8″ or so from the edge of your original-sized shrink plastic, before shrinking; If you leave less space than that, your hole may break open entirely as the item shrinks); However, I have found that a 1/8″ hole punch gives you a much smaller and more precise hole, and will still accommodate a standard-size jump ring or earwire after shrinking
  • Oven/tin foil/cookie sheet
  • Earwires and pliers for attaching the earwires to your candy corn
  • optional**: Acrylic sealer (It will help to prevent the color rubbing off your finished piece of jewelry)

  1. Print out the above candy corn templates; Notice that the two candy corns are mirror images of each other; If you like your earrings to be 100% identical, you can trace one image twice
  2. Trace the images lightly onto your shrink plastic. Please note that you will be drawing on the rough side of the shrink plastic, not the smooth side. Start by coloring in the white, orange, and yellow, then go back in to add the pink for the blushing cheeks, and the black for the eyes; If the colors do not seem vibrant enough to you, don’t worry; Colors will intensify during shrinking.
  3. Once all of the colors have been filled in to your satisfaction, trace around your image with black for a nice crisp outline; Note: If you want to conserve your shrink plastic, try to trace your images as close to the edges of the plastic as you can. Also, don’t leave wide spaces between the images you trace. The closer they are together (while still allowing you cutting room) the more finished projects you can get out of one sheet of plastic
  4. Carefully cut your pieces out, following the outlines/edges you drew for yourself
  5. Make sure to punch a hole at least 1/8″ away from the edge of your piece with your hole punch so that you can hang your image safely from an earwire
  6. Preheat your oven to 325 degrees F. Line a cookie sheet with tin foil and place the cut-out pieces colored or rough side up onto the foil.
  7. Slide your cookie sheet into the oven, but do not leave the area; It will only take 1-5 mins for your item to shrink. For safety’s sake – and for fun – you should watch the entire process through the oven window. Please note that your piece will buckle and curl as it is baked, but don’t be too hasty in removing the piece from the oven while it is still in a curved shape. The curves should flatten out again on their own in a few moments
  8. Let your pieces cool; If you like, once pieces are fully cool, you can take an acrylic sealer and paint or spray on your design to seal in the color and prevent rub-off
  9. Now, using pliers, carefully open an earwire and slip 1 of your candy corns onto it; Repeat for the other earring
  10. That’s it!

Hope you’re enjoying Halloween week to the fullest all!

Sickness? Perhaps…

At a certain point, you have to step back and look at a situation with objective eyes…

Take, for example, my ever-increasing yarn collection. Because, see, if I wasn’t me, I’d think that this was insane.

It just never quite seemed to occur to me as I acquired a skein here and a skein there, that I would end up with vastly more yarn than finished projects. You may note that those 3 large balls of gray yarn a little ways down on the left, should be a sweater with owls on it by now…

But I know I cannot be alone in this drive to acquire enough craft supplies to keep me stitching/beading/knitting, etc in the unfortunate event of a worldwide apocalypse. And…it just seemed to make so sense to buy the stuff when it was at a good price….

Really though, I have to institute a moratorium on 1) Attaining any new craft hobbies, and 2) Buying any further supplies for crafts that I already do – at least without using the ones I bought earlier.

So hopefully, this resolve will translate into lots of yarn craft posts over the winter months.

Anyone else want to weigh in on their craft hoarding and make a craft pact with me for winter 2011?

You…light up my life….

I’ve really started to love lamps in the past few years. They can add such personality to a room, and a whole lot of “homey-ness.”  That’s why I was so excited to see lots of lamp and light fixture projects in Mark Montano’s Big-Ass Book of Crafts. It was a major selling point for me in fact.

I made this lamp, with a few alterations, from Mark Montano’s clothespin lamp project in the above book. Pretty much all you need is a simple printout of an image that you like (goooo internet!), a couple of dollar store frames, a night light, and an extension cord (if it’s not a battery-operated night light). I also used some recycled posterboard (to make the sides of the lamp), white acrylic paint, and glue (Weldbond brand is awesome). Mr. Montano used clothespins to make the sides of his box lamp, which gives a kitschy pretty look, but I didn’t have any around, and I do love to use what I’ve already got around the house. If you want to see this project in in its original incarnation, please go find the book in your local craft store (or it’s less than $14 on Amazon right now!), or see Mark Montano’s blog post about the project here.

The hardest part about this project is getting the 2 wooden frames (the front and the back of the lamp), to stay the proper distance away from each other while you are gluing on the sides of the lamp. In my case, I was trying to glue thin recycled posterboard to the sides of the wooden frames, and it was tough going a few times. My best advice if you don’t have a 2nd pair of hands to help you, is to use books or stable heavy objects to prop the frames against while you glue. You can also use random found objects to place between the two frames to keep them from leaning in on each other too much. Heavy objects can also be stacked on top of the frames once the adhesive is in place to help keep the glued pieces from moving while they are drying. That way there should be less warping/migration as the glue cures.

The other difficult part of this project is cutting out a shape in the back of your frame to stick the night light into. Mark solved this problem on his blog by using some recycled cardboard to make the back of the frame. Even corrugated cardboard is easier to cut with a craft knife than the dense chipboard backing that comes with many frames. I did a pretty decent hack-job on the back of my frame trying to get the light in there at first. But, please remember, this is an extremely economical project, and, if the back of the frame isn’t so perfect, who cares? You’re doing this for the fun of it right?

Anyway, final tip: to get kind of a whitewashed “beachy” look on this lamp, I used a slightly dried-out thick white acrylic paint to coat the wooden frames and cardboard sides of the lamp. I brushed through it a few times with a rough bristly brush before it could fully dry to a smooth finish. The end :-)

Please let me know if you have any questions about this project, and go check out Mark Montano’s Big-Ass book! Trust me, your $14 would be extremely well-spent!


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