Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Piquing Your Interest in Pinterest!

There is a new social networking site that has been taking the internet by storm:  Pinterest.

What is Pinterest, you ask?

Think of it as a giant, digital bulletin board that you can tack pictures onto.  Or think of it as a giant, digital folder that you can stuff new recipes into.  Or even think of it as a giant, digital dish of creativity ice cream topped with do-it-yourself sprinkles and a cherry of inspiration on top!

Basically, Pinterest allows you to share website links via pictures or "pins."  Right now you can only join Pinterest if you are invited by a current Pinterest user (feel free to ask me for an invite...) but once you become a Pinterest user you can organize these interesting websites or "pins" into different groups or "boards" and you can share your "pins" with other users.

So before I found Pinterest I would search the web for interesting craft projects that I wanted to try and I would bookmark blogs and websites with cool stuff on them.  However, a bookmark in a typical browser is usually just the name of the webpage.  This is fine if the bookmark is for "Facebook" or "e-mail," but after a week I would completely forget what "a glimpse inside: fall garland" was... and I realized that I had lists and lists of meaningless words...

But then I found Pinterest and my vague bookmark link became this:

They say a picture is worth a thousand words... and this is especially true of Pinterest.  For us visual learners and creative types it is wonderfully helpful when organizing favorite craft tutorials and recipes.  Of course, there are other people who use Pinterest to catalog their wishlists of the latest fashions or to collect funny cartoons and memes.  Because you can search for and see other pins that people have pinned it's easy to gather inspiration for themed parties or holiday decorations too.

Anyways... I recently found a group of crafty people at our local library who meet twice a month to try out crafts and recipes that they have found on Pinterest!  I was so excited!  It's been an awesome way to get out of the house every so often and it's a great way to try new things.  Last week we tried (you guessed it) the fall garlands pictured above as well as some cinnamon bun popcorn.

The fall garland is simply a number of little pumpkins and apples that have been stung together on jute twine. The pumpkins and apples are made out of toilet paper tubes of all things!  I was quite happy with how mine turned out:

For a little added flair I ripped up some green plaid fabric and tied it in between the pumpkins.

It's beginning to look like autumn!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

The Elder Sign

During my quest to make all of my siblings personalized pillowcases I have found some pretty nice fabric prints.  It's been a lot of fun matching colors and patterns to everyone's personality and interests!  However, my brother-in-law had me stumped.  With such an eclectic taste in obscure music, foreign films and science fiction he was a hard one to shop for.

It wasn't until I stumbled across a hand-stamped fabric project by Frou FruGal that an idea began forming in my head.  What if I MADE some customized fabric?  I knew that my brother-in-law really liked the legends of Cthulhu by H.P. Lovecraft... so I decided to draw on that for some inspiration.

Apparently, there are a lot of important symbols within the Cthulhu universe, the most notable being the "Elder Sign" which is supposed to protect you from monsters.  There is also the "Yellow Sign," which I thought looked pretty cool.

Elder Sign and Yellow Sign

I happened to have some stamp-making rubber and some speedball carving tools lying around from when I did some print-making back in school.  (Yes, I am one of those weird people who save everything "just in case!" ...and look!  It paid off!)  I sketched the symbols onto the rubber (which is pretty much the same as a big, flat eraser)... and it wasn't until after I finished the Elder Sign that I realized I should have sketched it backwards.  I made sure to do so with the Yellow Sign!

Using my speedball carving tools it was pretty easy to cut around the design and gouge out the negative space.  

If you try to make your own stamps at home you will probably find some blogs that say you can just use an x-acto knife, but I highly recommend getting some carving blades.  They are curved in "U" and "V" shapes so that they scoop out the rubber and allow you to carve small, intricate details with ease.

Once I had my stamps made I played around on some small squares of black fabric until I found a pattern that I liked.

Stamping with fabric paint onto fabric is much different than stamping with ink onto paper.  You have to first create your own stamp "pad" for applying the paint onto the stamp.  Much like Frou FruGal created a stamp pad out of felt and fun foam, I created mine out of some scraps of fleece and some disposable plastic lids.

I mixed up some light blue and yellow fabric paint with some translucent fabric paint and spread it onto my "pad" with a plastic knife.  It was a challenge to get just the right amount of paint on the stamp... too much and it globbed all over the place and obscured the stamp's details... too little and the imprint was too light to see clearly.  I decided to print a yard and a half of fabric because I knew I would make a few mistakes.  

It took several long hours to turn this...

...into this!  

But it was worth it!  The end result was pretty nice.  And as an unexpected bonus, the mix of bright and faint symbols gave the design a bit of wizardly shimmer...

...And the pillowcase I made with the fabric turned out pretty cool, too!

UPDATE:  You can now purchase Elder Sign fabric on Spoonflower!  It's not stamped by hand, but it is custom printed using a design made by these original stamps.  Check out the shop here!