Thursday, September 29, 2011

A review of the "Collage Vintage Notecard Kit" from Accord Publishing

I recently bought a cool collage kit from Amazon.  The "Collage Vintage Notecard" kit is published by Accord Publishing.  The artwork, papers, and projects in the  "Collage: Vintage Note Card Set" are designed by Maryjo Koch who is known for artwork and her book "Vintage Collage-Works: Artful Ideas with Antique Ephemera".  The kit is a complete collage kit with instructions and an assortment of supplies.  It is affordable at a price of under $16.00.  


The instruction manual is full of pictures of the various things designed and made by Maryjo Koch with the materials in this kit.  They range from cards to decorating journals. It offers very simple step-by-step instructions that are written for those who not familiar with collage work and/or working with antique style ephemera.  For someone seeking more advanced knowledge and ideas in collage, I would recommend one of Maryjo Koch's books.  This kit is created for beginners and is represented as such through the materials in the kit.


The kit contains:


  • A Detailed Instruction Booklet
  • 12 notecards and envelops
  • 96 sheets of assorted artwork
  • A proportion wheel
  • A glue stick
  • A handy organizational box to hold and protect the supplies.

    Collage Kit

    Don't be fooled by the picture of the box above, there are a lot of supplies provided in this kit.  The selection of decorative papers is so varied that it will appeal to a broader group of crafters. 

    There are papers with maps on them.
    There are cool vintage looking letter style papers.

    There are wall paper print papers.


    There are postage stamp images.
    There also a great selection of music sheet papers.

    There are various animal images.

    There are also a nice selection of rose papers.

    The kit also supplies a "proportion wheel" which is a very handy tool for the beginner who likes to pre-calculate their layout.  It helps the beginner figure out the measurements when working with different size ephemeral.  For those who enjoy the more traditional "cut and paste as you go method" you do not need the tool.

    The instructional booklet is really easy to understand.  It goes into detail on the composition of decorative papers and ephemera.  It also gives you some fun collage project ideas to build on.  
    First Project.
    My first project was very simple, I combined some of the different papers from the kit to create a simple card.  
    First, I chose the background image.  Then I cut out the bird image and the flower image and glued them onto the card.
    Bird Collage Card

    Second Project
    For my second project, I decided to cover a plain journal with some of the papers from this kit.
    I choose the papers, ephemera, and plaid paint products to cover the book.




    Then I took the butterfly that I had cut out and added some "Martha Stewart Glitter" to it.


    I cut the various pieces out and then glued them onto the book cover.  The project took about 20 minutes to finish (including paint drying time).
    Journal
    Third Project
    For my third project, I decided to make a small wristlet type purse for my daughter.  I started with a wood triangle purse blank.  


    Then I decided to use some scrapbooking papers that I had from the Echo Park Paper Co "Dots and Strips" collection.  The first paper I used was the "Large Leaf Dot" paper.  
    I put the wood frame onto the paper to trace the pattern.

    I then did the same thing with the "Ruby Red Large Dot" paper.


    Then I cut out the "Tuxedo Dot" paper for the side of the triangle shape.
    I added a border from Colorbox to the front of the piece.
    I painted a couple of coats of Modge Podge to protect the papers.  To finish, I added some hardware, wire and beads to make a handle for the piece.

    The finished wristlet.
    Purse

    The techniques covered in the instruction manual cover a nice base from which a beginner can create some fabulous work and build upon.  Beyond instructions on how to make your first collage card, the book offers hints on aging, scumbling, and other tips and techniques.  Additionally, due to the very generous amount of supplies, you can apply the knowledge learned from the kit to journaling and home decor pieces.



    Tips
    Plaid Extreme Glitter Paint
    • Lay out the papers and ephemera that  you are planning on using to make sure they compliment each other.
    • Keep the paper scraps, you can use them for other projects.
    • Don't forget to add fun items like buttons, charms, etc. to give your pieces dimension.
    • When working with the Plaid Extreme Glitter paints, I put a piece of plastic wrap onto the container before I put the lid back on.  It keeps it from drying out.

    Thursday, September 22, 2011

    My Experience with the "Handmade Embroidery Kit" from EK Success Brands


    I was very excited to find out that I would get a chance to make and review some embroidery products.  I love embroidery because it allows for so much creativity and it is a very portable craft.  Those of you who sit on the sidelines of your children's sports events can relate to the need for that.  The kit I received is from Dimensions and is from the new "Handmade Embroidery Line".  The Butterfly Ornament Kit is designed by Carolyn Gavin for the E.K. Success Brands company.    The project is 4.5" by 5" and  is simple enough to finish in one evening.

    Above is a quick look at the contents of this kit which include the following:
    ● Project directions.
    ● Printed poly/cotton fabric
    ● Die-cut polyester felt shapes
    ● Pre-sorted cotton thread
    ● Polyester Stuffing
    ● 1 needle

    The instruction booklet and the Dimensions website do have some simple instructions and diagrams for their versions of the following stitches and knots:

    ● running stitch
    ● straight stitch
    ● back stitch
    ● chain stitch
    ● french knot

    The first thing that I did was to lay out the supplies to see what I had to work with.

    Then I followed the instructions that said to fold the long edges of the yellow piece fabric, so that they meet in the center.  I found it is easier to iron the edges down so they woud hold their shape while I stitched.
    I then sewed a running stitch down both sides of the folded fabric.  This piece will be used to create a hanger for the ornament.


    The instructions directed me to sew the yellow piece to the large blue butterfly die cut.  Once that was sewn, I added the small pocket on to the back.
    Then I took the white flower die cuts and stitched them according to the directions.  I found using two strands looked much better than just using one (as the instructions suggested).


    I then stitched the rest of the die cuts loosely following the directions (since I used two strands instead of one). They give you plenty of thread in the kit, so this was not a problem.  I took the different die cut shapes and sewed them onto the orange butterfly die cut.

    The orange material started to fray as I sewed the die cut pieces on, so I put a little liquid seam sealant to prevent that from continuing to happen.  I thought about trimming the frayed bits off but I think they added a little character to the butterfly ornament. 

    As I was working on this project, I realized it would make a cute tooth fairy pillow.  That cute pocket in the back is just the right size.
    So once I had finished all the accent stitches, I added some beading to add a little more dimension to the butterfly ornament.  I know my daughter will enjoy this cute decoration to hold little treasures.  This would be an easy project to introduce someone to embroidery.  All the tools are included and the directions are simple to follow.

    Tips:

    ●  Keep the color picture, you can use it as reference, incase the diagrams do not make sense to you.
    ●  Utilize the color coded card to perfectly match the colors to the diagrams.



    ●  Place all the parts in a ziplock for an easy and inexpensive traveling kit.  Just grab it and you have something to work on in the doctors waiting or sports events sidelines.
    ● Thread is on a presorted color coded card to make it easier to complete project, just match the color to the drawing and stitch.
    ● Be careful of the aqua green and blue which are kind of similar in color.   They blend together to easily.  A brighter green would have been nicer mix with the bright pink and yellow to give more dimension to the project.
    ● The orange butterfly die cut does fray.  I used a liquid seam sealant that prevents fabric from fraying to avoid any frustration on my part.


    Disclaimer

    Wednesday, September 7, 2011

    A review of what you will find at the "Unique LA" Gift Show


    The "Unique LA" gift show is known for it's unique handmade and/or hand decorated items that appeal
    to folks who enjoy items that are different. This particular craft and gift show takes place several times a year, each with its own theme.
    View of downtown Los Angeles from the show windows.
    Now, this is not a traditional craft show it has a more adult setting (since it is in the downtown LA area). It is not geared for small children and does not offer an area for children to run around and play.  If that is a concern for you, then I do not recommend bringing small children to this show.

    The vendors will vary at each show as will the merchandise available for purchase.  However, there is

    always something exciting planned by the sponsors, including goody bags, hourly drawings, and more.
    Upcycled old purses
    At this show, you will not find teddy bears or traditional hand made dolls.  I did find jewelry made from

    lego's, plastic toys,

    mortorcycle parts, aluminum, and other non-traditional materials.


    You will also find unusual and recycled material gift items like the fun doll furniture set below, made by local artisians and crafters.

    The doll furniture set is made from recycled metals cans.
    The chair above was made from a large food can and the ottoman below is made from a small food can

    (similar to a tuna can).  I love all the small details and scrolling that the crafter did with the tin can pieces.
    You can just about find anything at this show, including a booth that made

    and sold wood ties.

    Another booth sold seed bombs and sling shots.  Apparently, you throw these wild flower seed bombs into ugly empty fields and within a few weeks they sprout and the field is filled with flowers.

    The selection of merchandise available for purchase was beyond belief.  I had a great time checking out

    the different booths, demonstrations, food vendors, and photo opportunities that were available for show
    The chocolate booth.  
    guests to enjoy.  I had the opportunity to try all types of bacon desserts,

    Bacon Sticky Bun


    some unusual sodas (made from vegetables) and other unique snack items.   I also found a booth with personalized socks, a foldable bowl that comes flat
    and then snap it together to create a bowl.


     handmade chocolates (unique flavors), leather jewelry and so much more.

    There were also "Make and Take" mini craft workshops for folks to experience.

    Christi Friesen was there doing polymer clay works shops featuring projects from her various books.
    For those who love polymer clay or just want to try it out, she also has a monthly"Blather and Stuff" newsletter and free project downloads on her projects page.
    Christi demonstrating sculpting techniques.

    One of the many cool pieces made by Christi that were available.

    There was also a glass focal bead workshop by  Cathi Milligan (Author of "Mod Knots"), who teaches glass bead making workshops locally.

    Tamara Berg had a very cool project made from champaign corks.

    Her workshops were wildly popular
    with this crowd.

    As you can see they are really cute and easy to make.

    The Craft and Folk Art Museum sponsered a very cool craft workshop on hair accessories made with scrap materials.

    They started with some simple supplies:

    followed by some simple steps.  Like choosing your materials and then folding the bits of fabric.
    Then tie them together to hold the pieces in place.

    Then to make moving the bow parts around, you make a sew snips in the fabric.
    And end up with this fun bow.


    The Craftside Publishing Booth featured a fun "Ugly Sweater" that folks could pose with (Photo Op Stops are always popular with this crowd).  Notice all the fun 80s icons you find on the sweater.  It was a big hit with the show visitors.
    Christi Friesen posing with the "Ugly Sweater"
    The "Craftside" publishers arranged for a two day whirl wind of mini workshops and "Make &

    Take" demonstrations for this particular event.  They also donated journals which are made from the
    Journals made from the book printing over runs.

    over runs from their book printins.  Since they do this to recycle the left over materials from the printings,

    you never know what the outside cover or inside covers will look like (nor the information contained within them).
    The photo above shows a page from an embroidery book which could be used to learn stitches to make something like this quilt box cover.
    Quilted box top my daughter made.
    They do not do this at every "Unique LA" show, so you need to check the website to see if they are participating in the "Make & Take" workshops at the upcoming shows.

    For those who are not familiar with the term, a "Make & Take" is a craft project that you make in a very short time (usually 10 minutes or less). Pictured in the photo below are Stefanie Girard,   Cathi Milligan, and  Linda Swingle who taught some of the workshops offered at this show.


    Stefanie (author of "Sweater Surgery") taught her recycling sweater projects.  Cathi demonstrated glass focal beads and showed off her handblown beads.

    Linda Swingle taught a water color technique featuring images

    from her new set of stamps sold by Stampington & Co.
    Happy Student with his "Linda Swingle Images" card.

    Nancy Langdon was hand to share some of her sewing secrets and techniques.
    Nancy Langdon, is the author of "Sewing Clothes Kids Love".  Nancy was on hand to give a workshop on ribbon rose techniques.

    Each of these artists contributed their time and materials to provide this fabulous opportunity to learn a new craft and/or technique to the various visitors to the "Unique LA" show.