Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Reader Question: How Do You Cut Your Snowflakes?

A pile of junkmail snowflakes.

You sometimes have questions. I know I do. When this happens and you think I might be of some service, do as Bridgitt did and shoot me an email. You never know, I just might be able to help. Bridgitt writes:

I was reading through the junkmail snowflake garland post and was amazed at the snowflakes you cut out. Any chance you could post pics of how you cut those? I need a little help getting in the holiday spirit, paper snowflakes just might do it.



I blush... Thank you for your sweet message Bridgitt. And while I'm no doctor, I can attest to the therapeutic effects of making paper snowflakes. Let's see if I can put my process into photos for you. Let me just say though, that every snowflake is unique - as proven by science - and it's no different in this case. Once the folding is done, I just kinda go at it haphazard-like, without any real plan or goals (sounds a little like my life...) so every snowflake is a surprise. Yessirree. I am a surprise-lover.

To make snowflakes, here's what I do:

1. I start with a square of colourful junkmail. Christmas-flavoured junkmail is easy to come by at this time of year.
2. I fold my square in half. It's now a rectangle. Now put a crease in the bottom center of that rectangle. See that?
3. From the center crease, I fold the bottom right edge of the rectangle 2/3 to the left across the rectangle. I do it by eye, and just go with it. You see how the shape is now divided into 2 even thirds?
4. Now fold up the left hand side, so it meets the outer right edge.

5. Next I fold the whole thing onto itself again...
6. And chop off the top.
7. Now the serious cutting begins. I start by taking out large chunks. Chunks can be any shape imaginable: triangles, half-circles, long curvy lines, rectangles, you name it. Just make sure you don't completely remove the side edges.
8. Then I go ahead and cut out some medium-size chunks. Any shape you like. Go krayzee.

9. Finish up the cutting phase by carving out tiny pieces.

10. Now for the best part: unfolding. It's magical, isn't it? Oh look at that... So nice!... And the final touch? I finish it off by pressing out the creases with a steamless iron. Rainbow snowflakes baby!

So... I hope I've shed a little light on my snowflake method, Bridgitt.  Making these guys is one of my favourite activities this time of year. Thanks for the email, and have fun making it snow!

Alrighty then. I'm off. You have a fine day and I will be back soon. ♥M

Edited to Add on 10 Dec 2011: What To Do With Junkmail Snowflakes - Wall Blizzard

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Series 7 - Ornament-ED Finale: Heart House Ornament

I have been feeling some feelings lately. Like, feelings of well-being. Like, spontaneous-breaking-into-song-and-general-wonderfulness-type feelings. I know... It sounds pretty floofy, but I can't help it. And I can't explain it either. I do not know where the feelings came from, when they started, nor why they've been persisting. Maybe it's menopause? Or some sort of hormone imbalance? Could that be it? I don't know... It's a combination of things I figure. Like the fact that I have such a fine husband... Or the fact that I've been graced with three healthy/crazy/amazing offspring maybe?... Or maybe it's that I'm doing what I love everyday. Whatever it is, I'm feeling darn blessed. In fact, that's where this little ornament comes in. It was inspired by our home and all those feelings I've been feeling. I call it the "Heart House Ornament" and it is the final installment in the Ornament-ED series!

Before I Begin:  I made two versions of this ornament. The first one I made out of a tissue box; the second one I made out of old greeting cards. In my opinion, the greeting cards were about 100 times easier to work with because the cards are quite a bit thinner than the tissue box. Also the finished greeting card ornament is as light as a feather. So, yes, if you're going to attempt this ornament, don't think twice. USE GREETING CARDS. 

Tutorial ♥ Heart House Ornament

You will need:
  • Old greeting cards or tissue box (but I strongly recommend old greeting cards)
  • Pair of scissors
  • Exacto knife
  • Craft glue
  • Clothespins (for clamping)
  • Pretty string
  • Two wooden beads (I stole these from The Boy's stash. Does that make me a bad mom?...)
1. Start with either greeting cards or a tissue box. To give my greeting card ornament a cohesive look, I  chose several muted Christmas cards of similar style and colour (as above).
2. Create your template similar to the one below. I made mine out of a cereal box. Note that the right and left sides of the template MUST BE mirror images of one another. 
3. Using your template, trace and cut out twelve identical houses. Fold each house along its center line.
4. Take a house and apply glue to half of the bad side. 

5. Take a second house and join it to the gluey house, bad sides together. Clamp this pair with a clothespin or two. Repeat steps 4 and 5 for the remaining 5 pairs of houses. You now have six pairs of half-glued houses. Now apply glue to the bad side of half a house in a pair and glue two pairs together. Continue glueing pairs together until you have 3 groups of four houses.
6. Now glue all groups of 4 together as before and clamp as shown in photo #6. Allow to dry.
7. Glue the two end houses together to create the completed heart house. Clamp and let dry. Gather your beads and string.
8. Place a bead on your string. Now thread both ends of your string up through the heart house. Once through the top, place a second bead on your string. Tie the ends of the string to make a hanger. Trim the string ends if necessary. Apply glue to the very peak of your house to adhere the upper bead to the house.

Don't look now, but the cute heart house is complete and ready to hang! 

It reminds me of a itsy garden gazebo or merry-go-round, hee hee.

On that note, it is time to bid a fond farewell to this little series... Goodbye sweet series, à la prochaine. I certainly hope you've enjoyed my ornamental foray. I've got to get to some gift-making now, wouldn't you say? I best get at it quick!

Have a happy weekend. I'll be back here on Tuesday.


Thursday, November 24, 2011

Michele Made Me: An Ornament Overview


Since I'm so obviously in the mode and blind to anything but ornaments right now, I thought I'd gather, in one handy catch-all post, every Christmas ornament I've created since the beginning of this blog. There are one or two... Here they are:


✲ Free Christmas Ornament Tutorials 

1.  Egg Carton Snowflake Ornament
2.  Juice Container Gift Box Ornament
3.  Denim Disc Tree Ornament
4.  TP Roll Wreath Ornament
5.  Spiral Notebook Binding Wreath Ornament
6.  Plastic Bottle Ornament
7.  Twiggy Christmas Tree Ornament
8.  Plastic Greenhouse Ornament
9.  Twig 'n Bead Tree Ornament
10. TP Roll Flower Ornament
11. Twiggy Skate Ornament

✲ Christmas Ornament Tutorials in The Shop 

12. TP Roll Thistle Ornament
13. A Dozen Egg Carton Folk Ornaments
14. Juice Cap Ornament

Edited to Add #15. Heart House Ornament

Edited to Add #16. Petite Purse Ornament

Edited to Add: ✲ Christmas Ornaments 2012 
#17. Dusty Miller Snowflake Ornament
#18. Puzzle Piece Angel Ornament
#19. Twiggy Snowman Ornament
#20. The Boy's Tree (Kid Craft) Ornament
#21. Hexagon Junkmail Snowflake Ornament

As I make more - stranger things have happened - I will add them to my little inventory here. Also, I'll soon add a swank button link to this post in the sidebar. That'd be helpful, eh?

You have yourself a fine day. Happy Thanksgiving to my American friends!


Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The Boy Says

 "Mommy, I forgot to eat my three Halloween treats today. But that's okay, I'll have six tomorrow." 

Is that the deal?

 "Mommy, on the first day of December you have to remember to hang up that number thing with a treat for every day until Christmas. If you want, you can borrow my Halloween candies to fill it up, okay?" 

That's actually a good idea.

"Mommy, maybe by the time I'm 18 years old, paleontologists will have discovered why Argentinosaurus had a so small head." 

One can only hope.

 [In reference to one of my egg carton people] "Mommy, that one looks like an ant-eater." [Followed by peels of laughter.] 

Does it? Really?

 [In reference to the great family movie: "Akeelah and the Bee"
The Boy:  "Mommy, they used the F-word in that movie." 
Me:  "No they didn't!" 
The Boy:  "Yes, they did. They said freak."

Oh. Right... I guess they did use the F-word...

Saturday, November 19, 2011

A Dozen Egg Carton Folk Ornaments Tutorial in the Shop!

Happy Saturday!

There's a new PDF Tutorial in the Shop...

As you can imagine from today's post and Thursday's as well, I've been obsessing over my stash of egg cartons lately. Over the last little while, I've spent some time (maybe way too much) creating a dozen egg carton people. Of course, they were so darn cute I had to (I had no choice, man) make Christmas tree ornaments out of them!

It's amazing how many little people you can make with egg cartons. Honestly. I made 12 of them. And then I turned the whole thing into a 28 page PDF tutorial. Crazy? Okay, I admit it may be a little nutty of me but hey, it was a hoot-and-a-half to do! And I have no doubt that someone somewhere will have a fantastic time making these, just as I did.

So "A Dozen Egg Carton Folk Ornaments" PDF Tutorial is now living in the shop. Why, in heaven's name, can't I come up with shorter titles for these things, I ask you?... At any rate, the characters you'll be able to create using the techniques in the tutorial are limitless, but I've come up with 12 to get you started. They include a set of fraternal twins, an angel, a school boy, a knight, a little ol' lady and several more. Aside from the egg cartons, the list of materials required is short and sweet. You'll need egg cartons, string, gesso if desired, acrylic paint, a marker, a pair of scissors, an exacto knife, a regular hole punch, some glue and a large needle.

Edited to add: Please note that, unfortunately, English egg cartons are not compatible with this North American egg carton pattern.

I hope you're in the midst of a fantastic weekend. I will see you again on Tuesday!


Thursday, November 17, 2011

Series 7 - Ornament-ED: Egg Carton Snowflakes

Quiet Tutorial  ❅ Egg Carton Snowflakes


Glue together.
Embellish with dimensional paint.
Add hanger.
Step back.
Pat self on back.
Relax with huge glass of lemonade.


Other posts from this series: here, here, here.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Reader Question: Nesquik Can Ideas

 Multi-layered, rotatable Nesquik can inspired by MeiJo's Joy

A question showed up in my inbox recently. It went something like this:

SA: I have a question... Do you have any ideas for the Nesquik can?

Ah yes, the Nesquik Can... So useful and quite impossible to relegate to garbage-dom. Good question SA!

Well... to start, here's a swell collection of possibilities from the craftosphere:

1. Candy Totes @ Craft
2. A Little Tin of Shamrocks @ You Are My Fave
3. Organizer @ Chrystal's Corner
4. Vintage Holders @ Parsimonia
5. Tin Can Pincushion @ Living With Punks
6. Idea Board w/ Cans @ I Didn't Sign Up For This
7. Soup Can Organizer from HGTV@ Craft
8. Can Cover @ Elsie Marley

But I also found this super-cool Rotatable Layered Storage Box tutorial by MeiJo's Joy so I decided to try it out on my one and only Nesquik can. My results:

Thanks so much for the great tutorial MeiJo. It totally works. Absolutely rotatable AND layered! I mod podged the outside of the can with a page from an old space calendar; the top part innards I podged with some old tissue paper.  I also couldn't help but slap an egg carton flower on top there to jazz it up. Just have to decide what to store inside. Maybe it could become someone's fancy two-part Christmas wrapping, eh, with candies on top and chocolates in the bottom? Or love notes in the bottom and a beautiful trinket on top?

So I'm curious... Put on that thinking cap of yours and let me ask you this. What would you create from a lovely Nesquik can?

Monday, November 14, 2011

Just a Little Something I "Whipped Up".

You've no doubt heard of Whip Up, website of the unstoppable craft entrepreneur and author Kathreen Ricketson. Well, today you will find me guest-posting over there with a fair and festive recycled project. Curious? Well, dagnabbit, go on over and have a look-see. Click HERE to check it out!

Oh, and speaking of Ms. Ricketson, be sure to check out Sister Diane's thorough review of Kathreen's latest book, "Little Bits Quilting Bee" right HERE.

I'll be back tomorrow. ♥M

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Series 7 - Ornament-ED: Twig 'n Bead Trees

Welcome to Series 7 "Ornament-ED" Part Trois! I hope you're enjoying my little Christmas ornament series. I'm making hangy things like they're going outta style over here. I'm up to my bushy eyebrows in twigs and glue and paper and other stuff I won't mention - I don't want you to guess what I'm up to next. There'd be no fun in that now would there? And do not worry, I will clean up eventually. Sometime pre-Christmas perhaps? That's the plan anyway... Oh but let us not fret over a petite mess here and there. Naw. What do you say to a little craftiness right here, right now? Yes, OK.

Tutorial  ❉  Twig 'n Bead Tree Ornaments

You will need:
  • Beads (to make them you'll need: paper, pair of scissors, skewer or drinking straw, and glue)
  • Twigs with V shaped crotches
  • String
  • Pair of scissors
  • Handsaw to trim the twigs
  • Drill with tiny bit
  • Large-eyed needle
Begin by scrounging around the neighbourhood for a few fallen twigs-slash-branches with v-shaped crotches as shown below. Trim off the excess wood according to the diagram. I've trimmed the sides of my "V" (technically, it is an upside-down "V" but I'm going to call it a "V" to keep things rolling...) to approximately 9-inches long. More will be taken off later on.

Next, roll up some paper beads. You know how to make these right? Here's a tutorial courtesy of Paper University just in case you don't. I used 8 to 11 beads for each little tree but it really will depend on how big you want your ornament to be. Go with the flow, roll with the punches, use as many beads as you like!

Now let's get to down to the meat and potatoes.

1. Grab your drill fitted with a tiny bit and your V twig.
2. Arrange your paper beads in a little tree shape within the V. You want to mark your twig with dots adjacent to the beads. You will locate your drill holes at the dots. You want an additional hole in the top and side of your twig to accommodate a hanger (where the arrow is pointing). Drill the 6 holes as shown in #2.
3. Cut five pieces of string. I cut mine approximately 14 inches (36 cm) long.
4. Insert 1 piece of string into each hole pulling the string through each hole until it is doubled, as shown in #4.

5. Thread paper beads onto the three central doubled strings as shown.
6. Tie a knot in the collection of strings at the base of the central bottom bead.
7. Insert 3 more paper beads as shown in #7.
8. Bring one string from the base of each side bead into the center.

9. Again, tie a knot at the base of the central bead incorporating one string from each side bead in the knot.
10. Using the two strings set aside in 8, tie a small knot above the other big knot you just tied. Turn the ornament over and using those same two strings, tie another small knot above the big knot. Slip a final bead up the center strings.
11. Bring those two side strings down and around the final bead and tie knots front and back as in #10.
12. Thread those two knotty side strings onto a needle and pass the needle up through the final bead to hide the two strings. Trim the excess.

13.  Trim the ends of all strings at the base of the final bead, leaving a small decorative tassel. Using your small handsaw, trim any excess wood from the top and bottom of your twig. Finally, add a string hanger at the top.

Lookie there, a mini beaded country Christmas tree ornament! Ain't it sweet?
Here's my giant hand and morose face doing a closeup shot. Smile much?

You have a beautiful weekend. I will be back here on Tuesday and hope to see you then!

Earlier installments in the "Ornament-ED" series include

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Series 7 - Ornament-ED: Spiral Notebook Binding Wreaths

Series 7 "Ornament-ED" part 2 continues today with a nifty ornament utilizing the spiral binding from a child's used-up sketch pad. Not entirely uncute and so simple to make it's really rather shocking.


Tutorial ✽ Spiral Notebook Binding Wreaths

Easy-breeziest craft of your life?... I say!

Well you have yourself a pleasant day. I will return forthwith!

The first installment of Series 7 - Ornament-ED can be found  Twiggy Skate Ornaments.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Question: Should Blogging Be Fun?

Have you ever clicked on the "Next Blog" button way up there in the navbar of most Blogger blogs? Try it. It's pretty interesting. You get to see a huge variety of personal type blogs. What really struck me, though, was the number of abandoned blogs. Blogs that hadn't been updated in months, even years.

It just goes to show. Having a blog, and keeping it updated and vibrant, is harder than one might think.

I was responding to an email last week and the following thought sprung to mind: sometimes I am just elated by something bloggy like a comment I receive or a good post I've written; yet hours later, I'll find myself struggling to even begin to write the next post. There's a tension between loving what I'm doing and NOT loving what I'm doing. Does this spell the end to my blogging? Am I doomed to become one of those blogospheric casualties? I don't think so. I certainly hope not. I mean, think of any good marriage. Do you know of any happily-married people who smile incessantly and live in a constant bubble of bliss? Neither do I. Sometimes there are moments of doubt and strife. This is common and normal, right?

And so it goes for blogging. It's not 100% ferris wheels and picnics.

Take, for instance, my newly-designed Tutorials-At-A-Glance page. My husband was showing my blog to someone a while ago and noticed that when you clicked on the thumbnails on my old page, you got an error message. He sent me a concerned email telling me my Tutorials page was broken (I guess he cares...)! It wasn't broken... It just wasn't as straightforward as it could be. So he made some suggestions for improvements. Now I knew it would take a ton of work to change. But I heeded his advice and began making those changes. Yeah... And what a nightmarish hell-job that was. It took me days and days to get a grasp on the html, start a fresh page from scratch, re-organize, and get it up and running. And there's still some tweaking to be done. But it's essentially there now.

Did I enjoy this task? NO! Not even one iota. Am I glad I did it? Yes I am. Because now I have a more navigable, better organized, easy-to-update Tutorials page. I learned something. I pushed my boundaries. And that feels good. It was worth it after all.

I think the time has come to be realistic. Blogging can be darn hard. Especially if I care at all about my content and about making my site any good. It takes time. It takes a hell of a lot of creative energy, effort, sweat, maybe even a couple tears now and then. I love it. I don't love it. Welcome to something worth doing, Michele!

So. In answer to the title of this post: Should blogging be fun? Yes. Darn tootin'. Absolutely. No question. But ALL the time? No. NO! And it would be silly to expect it to be.

Note: The above "tiles" are recycled foam meat trays which I have etched with designs originally created by my three children - Elle, Dia and The Boy - when they were little, and painted with layers of liquid acrylic paints.


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