Tuesday, 29 May 2018

Baby keepsake project. What to do with all those new baby greeting cards.

upcycled greeting cards

Our little nipper has turned 9 months this last week! Out almost as long as he was in. Of course I had a lot of plans craft wise of things to make after he was born, but then life sort of got in the way and everything still stands as a seed of an idea in my (what is still) baby brain.
One thing I have managed to complete, and probably what was the biggest project, is a keepsake picture frame of all the cards we received when he was born.

what to do for a new baby gift

It took about a week or so all in all, made in nap times and when he was happily amusing himself, or whilst at the grandparents. I'm so looking forward to hanging it in his room when we move home (currently renting where we can't hang anything).
So if like me, you really struggle throwing greeting cards from special occasions away then you'll probably have almost everything you need for this project.

What you'll need 
• Box frame in the style and size you love
• Stick glue
• Circular paper punch
• Scorer (or something that will do the same job)
• Collection of greeting cards

new baby cards diy project

I'm a real sentimentalist, romantic and planner, yet I'm also riddled with procrastination too, so I have gift bags full of stuff that I want to put together one day, wedding stuff, Mother's Day stuff, baptism stuff.... you get the picture. I'm so glad I finally got round to completing this project, though. It's been one of my favourites so far.
Right then, lets get started.

paper scorer

I cut the fronts off the greetings cards and saved the messages inside, I'm pretty sure little bubba will enjoy reading through them when he's older.
You'll need four punched circles for each (I'm gonna call them) dome, I found it easiest to punch out one card at a time and make the domes, then go onto the next card.

how to make a paper dome

First off, score a line down the centre of each circle on the front facing side. Get two circles folded in half and glue one semicircle as pictured, so they're still circular, but have a point in the middle. Use your stick glue for this one, it's not mandatory lol, but I found that using PVA to glue the domes just took forever to dry. We'll use the PVA later for gluing them down into the frame.
Do this again to create the other half of the dome. Then add glue to one semicircle and adhere both sides together as pictured. Then, take another punch circle and glue to the bottom so that the dome holds its shape better and does not keep folding itself up (you'll see what I mean as you're making them).

Box frame baby project

After a while it's a good idea to start laying out your domes on top of your box frame. The amount you'll need will depend on circle punch and frame size. It's also pretty cool because you can then decide what sort of layout you like best and how many more domes you need to make. It's funny because whilst working on this baby memory project, it didn't occur to me at all that I should use any other layout than just a full on 'fill the frame' delio. You could arrange them in a circle, a spiral, maybe even your child's name, up to you.

crafts with kids

Like I said, this project took around a week but it was in my spare time (if that's a thing when you have a little one in tow), when the baby was napping or at his grandparent's and when he was happy to just sit with me and watch. I'm not sure I'd recommend trying to knock it out all at once as I'll be honest, after a while you sort of get a tad sick of those little circles! Defo one for while you're watching Eastenders though!

paper crafts

Once you've made enough and are happy with your layout then it's time to start sticking to the frame innards (totally cannot think of the word for the bit we're using, here). If you're a bit more of a forward planning type than me, you'll probably have thought of using the innards to layout your design sooner, rather than using the glass on the frame and having to redo it!
If not, then don't worry, it doesn't take too much to lay them out again (honest). I used my PVA here to stick the domes down. If you're using a layout like mine then it's a good idea to get the outside rows stuck down first and work inwards, that way you know you have it straight already.
Make sure that when you place the frame over the top that you have enough clearance at the sides and your domes don't get squashed (along with your spirit).

baby room wall art

Well, that wasn't too bad was it? I hope you're happy with your finished project, I'd love to see your designs so why not leave a link in the comments for us all to see.

Wednesday, 23 May 2018

Let's make some colour palettes tutorial DIY

So here's a cheeky little project for you this weekend. Make some super cool colour palettes for your next product, or even for your next brand rejig.
It's quite surprising how addictive this can be, so be prepared, you may well just be starting off on your new obsession.

What will you need
• Photoshop
• Your camera, camera phone or some existing photos you like
• Some time and a little effort

Funnily enough, and I'm not blowing my own trumpet here, but with all my design skillz (ahem) and eye for detail, I really struggle putting colours together. I couldn't imagine how many hours I've wiled away looking for the perfect mix on Google. On the rare occasion that I buy new clothes I'm thrown into a panic with anything more than black and white, blue or teal.
So a couple of days ago I was flicking through my phone pictures and I fell a little bit in love with some leaves I shot (oof, sounds a bit graphic) over Christmas. I loved the mad colour mix that nature had thrown together, and you know what? they worked perfectly. I emailed some images to myself and opened them in Photoshop and here's the result of that first leaf collection.

There's a couple of ways to do this in Photoshop, you can either save the palette directly into the program as a colour swatch or create files that you can open and print and have at your disposal whenever you like. I prefer the way I'm using here as I once tried the other option and ended up losing all my colours!
Just because I love you, I found a tutorial for the 'hard' way here.
Here's what I did...

First off, select the rectangle tool. Then create a blank file in whatever size you like and create as many blocks as you want. Next, open the photo you want to work with. I chose one from a blog post I wrote a while back. Now select the eyedropper tool.

Using the dropper, select your first colour, I found that going from light to dark really helped the overall palette. Select the paint bucket tool, then click on the first block to fill with the first shade. Then go back to the dropper and continue pulling out colours to add to your swatch until you're happy.

What now?
Well, we've got our beautiful colour swatch but what use is it other than looking pretty? If you're a graphic designer then these are brilliant as you'll always have them to hand to use in your work. Maybe you make jewellery, you could use some nature palettes from your garden to inspire your seasonal pieces. Are you thinking of repainting your home? Well guess what, most DIY stores can mix specific colours for you, why not print out and take in your palette.

Here are some other sets I made from images I took from my garden.

Tuesday, 22 May 2018

Let's try floral letters tutorial

I love those fancy floral quotes and lettering that are floating around these days don't you? Today I'd like to show you how to create your own.
You'll need Adobe Photoshop and your favourite floral picture (it's a great excuse to get out in the garden or take a nice walk to the park with your camera, or phone). You don't need to spend hours gettings to know how to use Photoshop, just basic knowledge is required for this.
Here's my finished design, just click on the image for the printable, from me to you ☺

If you're struggling to find or shoot a floral image, then here's my original.
So first off, open the floral pic in Photoshop. Edit it if you would like to change the brightnessetc. and once you're happy, open a new blank file in the size of your choice. I just used a standard A4 base as it's always easy to frame.

For some reason I always prefer a vertical design but again, that's entirely up to you. So once you've picked your layout then it's time to face that age old decision, which font! If you're a bit of a font hoarder like me, then this can sometimes be a choice which actually sees the end of the design before it's even started!
So I'll make things easier for you, I used Bodini which is I think, a standard issue PS font.

Next up, make sure you have the move tool selected (top left on the tools menu) and the florals in the main display window and drag the image down into the project bin onto the sheet with your word or quote.

Now we need to merge the image and the text.
In the layers panel, put your cursor on the border between the text and image and hit 'ALT' on the keyboard. This will overlay the image and things start to get a bit more exciting!

I tinkered around with the flowers and reduced the size a bit to ensure more of them were included in my word. So have a play about to see what fits best for your layout, and once you're done, just hit flatten and you're good to go.

That wasn't too bad was it?
I'm using  Adobe Photoshop Elements here but the same function goes across all incarnations, I believe.

I do hope you've enjoyed this little PS lesson and if there's anything else you'd like me to have a crack at then do let me know.

As you can see, I've of COURSE added this design to my Society6 store ☺

 Joy products

Monday, 21 May 2018

Let's try abstract art. Your next weekend project.

Whether you're a seasoned artist, a weekend dabbler or when the mood strikes, kinda person, this project is perfect for you.
Even if you haven't picked up a paintbrush since childhood, I can guarantee you'll produce something to be proud of, and there's a little bonus too!
I painted these three designs in the week leading up to Father's Day, which came close to Valentine's Day in terms of busyness in my shops. They played a big part in helping me keep my head on straight and you wouldn't think it, but just putting lines a dots of paint on a canvas is an extremely effective (and worthwhile) stress reliever!  I showed a few snippets on Instagram and described it as putting my worries into little paint boxes. Each little line or blob holds a small corner of a problem; what time does the post office shut, will I run out of envelopes, will I have time to help with my Dad's birthday party, my leg hurts, I have a headache, have I eaten today, what if I get a bad review.......... So yeah, they're quite personal to me now.
You'll probably have all the materials you need already (you little art hoarder) the only things I had to buy were a new frame and canvas for the grand sum of £2.50!

What you'll need.
• Paints & brushes
• Canvas or paper (sizes of your choice)
• Picture frame
• Hairdryer for drying if you're a tad impatient, like me

Ok, so now you're ready with all your bits and bobs, you can choose your colour scheme. For one of my paintings I went for pink, corals, purple and gold. If you're stuck for ideas then just search for colour palettes in Google. Perhaps you have a favourite outfit or just love the colours in the wallpaper in your front room, the choice is yours.
Now it's time to just go mad. I tried to do just one colour at a time (it seemed easier). Even thougt these pictures look like a jumbled up mess, you can make them as random or as symmetrical as you like. The design with the black was quite methodical, every brush stroke was placed next to a 'like' brushstroke, but for the purple design, I just placed the marks where I felt like it.
Once you've got your first colour down, you can go on to add the rest. Now, you have two options here, you can either let each one dry (I used my hairdryer to speed that up) or carry on over the top while the paint is still wet to create a smudged effect.

I used different sized brushes to create a bit of texture and depth, how fancy, but again, just use whatever you have to hand.
Keep going until you're happy with your design. If you end up not quite liking what you've done, you can always paint over it and start again.
You may notice that some of my brush strokes have a bit of texture to them. I made quite a mess on my first go so painted over it with white emulsion. Then I thought I'd try and age it a bit with some crackle effect, THEN I painted over the top of that as I changed my mind, yet the crackle still showed through. I do quite like the overall effect to that canvas turned into a real success. ☺

And there we have it, once your painting has dried, simply frame it up and hang it. You could even give it as a gift or treat to someone special. You don't have to stop at one either, I like to have groups of three so I did a few more, experimenting with different colours.

** Bonus idea
As well as having a super cool and unique abstract art painting, you can also slap your design on many other products too!
All you need is either a camera or scanner to convert your work into digital form. You can tweak the colours in your design software (you could even just do this on your phone, these days) then upload to an online printer.

Sound scary? Well not really, I actually just used Asda for my phonecase here and it's pretty simple. You can upload yours here (I'm not affiliated with Asda, by the way. I just find them quick and easy to use).

So that's your little project, I hope you found it as enjoyable and therapeutic as I did. I also added a few items from this design into my Society6 store, you can take a look here.


Let's mess about with watercolours

Don't go mad but I'd always associated watercolours with old ladies sat in a field painting the wildflowers. Nothing against old ladies, like (I'll be one soon enough) fields, or flowers, but it just never appealed to me.
I watched a pattern design course online and the teacher was using watercolours to colour her drawings. Oh my flip, I was hooked. I have been hoarding a stash of pretty much anything you would need for any project, since childhood so I pulled out my dusty old watercolours there and then. They hadn't even been opened since I bought them!

So what will you need?
• Watercolour paints
• Brush(es)
• Something to mix on
• Something to hold your water
• Paper, ideally watercolour paper, but if not available, I just used copy paper
• A pencil & eraser
Ok, so now you've got all your bits together, what are you going to draw? I'm no still life artist so I was a little terrified at the initial thought of the sketching part.
The thing is, you don't know until you start and if you start and it looks like nothing like your subject, please don't scrap it and give up. Just concentrate on getting your first lines down with your pencil and you can fix it later.
I chose a pansy, I just typed pansy into Google and a plethora of choices came up. I sketched out a rough outline, rubbed a few sections out and redid them once I was happy, I was ready for the fun stuff!
WAIT.... DON'T PAINT YET. I was happy with my outline and painted it straight away, but I want you to scan yours into your computer first. This was you have your original outline saved as a template, it's especially useful if you want to replicate your design with more colour options.

Right, now it's time to paint. How cool does your colour palette look? Remember, you don't need to invest in anything fancy, I just used a plate from the kitchen!
First off I'd recommend doing a test on a separate piece of paper, this way you get to know what you're working with; how the paint mixes with the water, how much water do you need, how long it takes to dry etc.

So here we go, here are my pansies. You can see they have a pretty simple shape so it's super easy to draw. The beauty of using watercolours is that the shading pretty much takes care of itself. Once your paint has dried you can rub out your pencil lines.
If you scanned in your original drawing you can now print out a template and trace over another piece of paper. Why not resize a few to make an interesting pattern.

You can always use these in your product designs or personal projects. I painted a bunch of succulents and used them on my wedding invitations.


Saturday, 19 May 2018

What to make with cat hair DIY

Our two cats adore getting their hair brushed! I simply have to say "who wants to go to the hairdressers" and they come a'runnin. As they're housecats, I can certainly notice when those spring months are on their way and they start to lose their winter coats, it just gets everywhere. So I try to brush them as often as I can.
Now, being of the 'oh, I can make something with that' type, the mass amounts of soft kitty fur I was throwing away seemed like such a waste, so I kept it. In a plastic bag, In a cupboard.

Then one day I was at my Mum and Dad's giving our family cat a haircut (he used to get quite matted in the summer) and I did as I always had, rolled the excess fur into a ball in my hand so it was easier to stack up. Then it dawned on me, these cute little cat fur balls (I appreciate how odd that reads) are the thing I can do with all that leftover fur.

From then on, each time the salon opened, I rolled up as much fur as I could and found a fancy jar to keep it in.

Well there we go. The perfect answer to what to do with all that excess cat hair. This jar actually freaks out my husband, he thinks it's weird. I love it though, I think it's a nice keepsake.
Our family cat passed away a few years ago now, but in an out of the ordinary way, I can still stroke him whenever I like, I see him every day and he will always hold a place in my heart. The sweet, sweet good boy black Labrador I treasured and shared with my ex lives on in that jar too! Whilst dog hair is harder to ball up, it can be done with a little patience.


Friday, 18 May 2018

Denim beads DIY

You may not know it but I'm a master bead maker!
I started off with paper beads and then once I had got the technique down, I tried my hand at other materials. I soon turned my old clothes and any other fabrics I could get my hands on (including my Mum's old settee cover)into beads. I also found that all that Diet Coke I love wasn't so bad after all, I even turned my hand to making soda can beads, you can find my tutorial on that here.

So what will you need?
•A pair of old jeans
•Cocktail sticks (or similar)
•Coffee stirrers (or the like)
•Liquid glue, PVA is best
•Polystyrene or something to hold your sticks

Ok, so to start off we need to cut the jeans, this is both scary and exciting the first time you do it, and you may feel a bit bad about it!
**Hey, we don't need the bum bit of the jeans so if you fancy making yourself a pair of shorts then cut to your taste first.
What we're looking to get is as close to the seam as possible, all the way up the leg. Cut horizontally across the top of the leg (be careful if you're making those shorts, you big hussy) so that you're just left with the legs. Don't worry too much about getting a super smooth and straight cut at this point, what we want here is to just cut out the seams.

I usually just cut one length (or leg) at a time and make however many beads I need from that, but if you're a tad more organised than me, you may want to cut all four lengths (front and back of legs).

Coolio, so now we're ready to cut and roll.
I found that a 20cm strip seems to work best when rolling denim, if you've rolled beads before then you'll know just what I mean here. If not, well, the width and length of your bead strips will play a big part in the final shape of your bead. I prefer the traditional bicone look, but you can experiment with different widths and lengths and see which ones you like best, sometimes a project can call for a different mix of shapes and sizes of bead, so it's good to have a play around. I adore making cone beads, but as I've already cut, rolled and shot all this, we're doing bicone, flip damn it.
*Note to self, think ahead in future ☺
Ok, so 20cm length and 2cm width (ish) is pretty much the sweet spot for jean beads. I recommend cutting a rough 20cm square at a time. If you try and cut the whole leg into strips at once it gets a bit awkward to hold and you'll lose accuracy with your scissors.
Now, don't be getting all obsessive with your rulers here, unless you have some serious time to kill, you'll soon be cutting those bad boys like you've been doing it all your life, if they're not exact it doesn't matter.

WARNING ~ Graphic bad nail varnish pic below
Right, so now you've cut your strips, get your glue, cocktail sticks, and one of those Costa coffee stirrers you've been hoarding. Roll the thick end of the bead strip a little around the cocktail stick and put a blob of glue as close to the base as possible without ending up just gluing it to the stick. Then roll it up a bit between your thumb and forefinger or middle finger, whichever feels most comfortable to you.
*I hold the bead between my thumb and forefinger and twist the stick with my other hand.
The taper should be in the middle , keep adding small blobs of glue as you're rolling all the way to the end. You don't need to smother it with glue as this will just end up bleeding out of the edges, just enough to hold the shape. Once you've wound the whole strip up, tap the end (which should now be in the middle of the bead) with your stirrer (not the glue end) to flatten it down to get a better stick. Once you're happy it's glued properly, stab it in the polystyrene to dry off.
*If you're not happy with the shape, you can still unwind and adjust at this point, just add a bit more glue as the first coat may have soaked in a bit too much to get a good grip a second time.

Leave the beads to dry for a good few hours, I tend to leave a full day but just see how you go. The best why to check if they're fully dry is to give them a bit of a squeeze. If they're soft and squidgy then leave for longer but if they're hard and rigid then they're good to go.

And that ladies & gentlemen, is how to turn your old jeans into denim beads! If you fancy it, then why not get your paints out and make some patterns on the denim before you cut and roll. The possibilities are endless, here's a few different styles I made.

I'd love to see what you make with your beads, let us know in the comments. Any questions, I'm happy to answer, too.