Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Made from books

First I have to say that I'm a reader, and a hoarder, and I hoard books before almost anything else.  Finding a new bookshop, the small quirky local ones, makes a day super special.  I always like to buy something from the small bookshops, but it takes a while to figure out what sort of things are their specialty, and does this sit well with the things I like too?  If not, then I have to find something for someone else, and I know there WILL be something if I keep looking.

So having said all that, and owning up to having many many linear metres of book shelves, and a few piles in odd places (beside my favourite chair, on a side table, under a side table, on the seat in the hallway)...........I also know there are lots of books which are a waste of paper.  Sorry to those authors, but its true.  Combine this with me hating to waste anything that just might come in handy (see hoarder note above), and you'll understand why this post is about re-purposing pages......

The quickest things to make are flowers, and they can be as neat or as random as you like.  There are 3x in the photograph, and all are made by drawing a spiral on a page torn from a paperback.  All you have to do is cut along the line you drew, right into the centre which you leave as a vaguely round shape.  Starting from the outside edge of the spiral, curl it in on  itself, as if you were quilling.  It might help to roll it around a toothpick to begin, but then you'll be able to finish it fwithout.  It wont be neat.  Using a hot glue gun, put a blob of glue on the centre of the spiral while you hold the rest that you've rolled up.  Carefully letting go of the roll will uncurl it a little and if you quickly push the cut edges down into the glue, it will become a flower like the ones above.  There are kaisercraft dies which will cut the spiral for you if you like things very tidy.  Cutting a spiral freehand (no lines to follow) will give you an even more random finish to your flower.  And some will turn out better than others.

Try using pages with illustrations or chapter headings to give your curls some extra interest.

Also easy to make are birds to hang, and they use the simplest method of two shapes (body and wings) which are threaded together by aligning a scissor cut in each shape.  You can see the pieces above, and the finished bird is in the foreground of the first photograph.  These birds are very flimsy and if you REALLY want to make them from book pages, glue two together first to give you a material with more strength.  Card stock is perfect, and being double-sided, you get two birds for the price of one.

My favourite recycled book product is a piece of fruit cut from the pages and using the original spine of the book to form the core.  Each piece takes about an hour of cutting, using a template and a utility knife.  If the paper is cheap and soft, it can be hard to get a crisp edge, so that's where your scalpel and lots of patience comes in handy.  That's a pear coming to life in this photograph.....

Once the shape is good, you need to bend the spine back on itself, like those old-fashioned paper decorations, and glue it.  Strengthen the spine by gluing a drinking straw wrapped in paper into the centre before gluing the first and last pages together, and holding them fast with clothes pegs until the glue dries.  I like to add a twig and sometimes a paper leaf.

Last of all are Christmas baubles...........all you need are large paper punches of symmetrical shapes (circle, square etc).  Cut out 6x whatever shape you choose, for each bauble.  Fold each in half (that's why the shape must be symmetrical).  Glue each half shape to the one before it, enclosing a loop of thread so you  can hang the bauble when its dry.  I used my biggest circle punch (3 inch) for the round ones, and then tried a square (2 inch) folded on the diagonal for the other.

....and now I have two less books, and lots of vintage paper crafts around the house this Christmas.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Coffee time..........

Sharing a coffee with friends is my favourite past-time, apart from sharing a pot of tea of course.  In my life there's instant coffee, brewed Turkish coffee, and the delights of whatever cafe I happen to be in, and the skills of the barista.  Coffee, whatever your favourite, is the theme of the latest challenge from Opus Gluei and I have added to my ATC collection to provide inspiration........

Each one uses a handy little stamp from Kaiser called "Friends", with a variety of papers and bits and pieces from the busy room drawers.

Click here to see what Deena has created at OG, and then see what our followers create too.......

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Halloween is approaching.............

I always thought the best thing to do with a pumpkin was to roast it and eat it, and I thought witches were good at luring children into the woods then tossing them into the oven, and I thought they came in threes, lived with a black cat, and rode broomsticks............ and then there's Halloween, which is growing in acceptance in Australia, but mostly in the $2 shops which are over-run with plastic pumpkins and spiders, and witches hats.  

However, I do have an affinity for things witchy...having been once given a fabulous broomstick by a dear friend with a suitably wicked sense of humour.  The gift has blossomed into a small collection of witches who live in my house, along with my favourite real life black cats.  

Challenged to contribute to the Halloween theme at Opus Gluei, this is my small contribution..........a tag to hang off a broomstick.  I love the paper, and I keep it for special things just like this.

And here is a glimpse of my favourite Hocus Pocus witches.......
Don't forget to look at the OG page where you'll see Deena's very spooky candles, as well as the work of other clever people who REALLY understand Halloween!

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Opus Gluei 212..... red & white

Over at Opus Gluei, the latest theme celebrates Thanksgiving Day in Canada, because some of our Poobahs hail from there.....but over here in Australia, we're up to our eyebrows in football Grand Finals (pick a code, any code), and I personally am giving thanks that it will soon be all over, but only because my team didn't make it that far.

So, Thanksgiving Day is a national holiday celebrated primarily in the United States and Canada as a day of giving thanks for the blessing of the harvest and of the preceding year. It is celebrated on the fourth Thursday of November in the United States and on the second Monday of October in Canada.It will be Monday 12th next week, so in honour of my Canadian friends. I've gone red and white for my cards and ATCs this week, and now I see them in 2D, its clear I've gone minimalist.

...and finally, two new ATCs using some papers from my decoupage stash which is not getting any smaller.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Happy Birthday to you

I think I make more birthday cards than anything else, and to open the newest OG era, we're beginning with birthdays.  It just happens to be the birthday of one of the Grand Poobahs on the day this post goes live, so what better way to say Happy Birthday?

I made a couple of cards for forthcoming events, trying to use different colours for each.  I found the black cards, a version of a gatefold, at my local big craft supply warehouse, and turned one on its side for a change.  The colours are not so bright AND, there's not a flower in sight.

Then because I found the garland on my work table, I made this one too....  The hologram centres in the flowers seem to have taken on the colours of the papers.  How did THAT happen?

There'll be more birthday goodness over at the Opus Gluei workshop.  Drop in and see what them all.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Its been a while...........

....in fact its been 4 months since my last post.  Since its been winter in Australia, you could be forgiven for thinking I've been in hibernation, but I have not been sleeping.

The precious lemon tree that we planted and nurtured has had a bumper crop, and the possums didn't discover it like last year when they chewed the skins off a dozen or so.  I was pleased not to have to juggle the netting and poles this year, but instead of possums there were gall wasps.  One fine cold morning, I took all the lemons off the tree, pruned it back to a stick, and burnt all the infected branches in the fire pit.  What to do with many kilos of lemons?  Preserve them.........

The recipe is Emmy's and involves coarse salt, lots of muscle-power, and some big jars.  This is the result of the first batch.
I've added some to the onions steaming under a slow-cooked lamb shoulder, and rubbed the meat with them too.  My friend Emmy, a culinary mastermind with a Turkish heritage, advises turning each jar upside down a few times through the first month they're stored, and topping up with extra lemon juice if the level settles too much.  

The next challenge was to turn the last of the quinces into something useful...........and I didn't have the heart to try jelly (all that straining was off-putting), so hunted out a recipe for quince paste.
I should have taken a photograph of the finished product because once we tasted it, everyone took a piece home, and its all gone!  Definitely worth repeating.

The Opus Gluei Poobahs have also returned this month, and we'd love to see what YOU've been up to over the winter (or summer).  Share your holidays exploits with us all.

Sunday, May 3, 2015


Of all the techniques I like to use, decoupage would have to be the one I like the most.  It takes weeks to finish and everything about it is hard on the hands, but I like being able to use something as temporary as paper and make something much more long-lasting.  It also appeals to the hoarder in me, and its hard to use that special image.....that last scrap of precious something.....until its gone, and then I just have to hope I like the way I used it.

This is one of the eggs I finished (there are quite a few awaiting yet another coat of varnish) and its an example of using feathers as decoration.  I think I still have the callouses from cutting these ones out.

The base egg shape is a cardboard one, painted gold and overlaid with paper feathers.  The varnish is oil-based so that it gets deeper with age, and makes the gold glow.  Here's another side of the same egg, with the eye of a peacock feather as the central image.

Its hard to display eggs, and I don't like them sitting up like trophies, so it usually lives in a bowl with a collection of others, not sitting on the mantelpiece in a napkin ring like it is here.

Trip over to Opus Gluei and see what other ways to use the feather image in your work....its out latest challenge.  Please join in.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Tiny thngs for Easter....

While my childhood was marked by religious ceremonies and the significance of Easter means more than rabbits and chocolate, our multi-cultural world finds new ways to connect people and let them find joy together. I think everything can rest alongside everything else, in an "everything in moderation" sense....so this is a celebration of the secular side of Easter, the bright colours of silverfoil and exuberant decorations just because you can..........

I've added to my collection of ATCs and used a set of wooden egg shapes from Kaisercraft as my beginning.  There are bows and glitter and lots of colours.... and if you look very carefully, there is in fact one rabbit, albeit a very tiny one.  And the chocolate?  That's lying in wait in the bowl.

Come over to Opus Gluei and see what the other Poobahs have made too....

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Black is back

Its so easy to make something eye-catching if you choose black, so the challenge I'm hosting at Opus Gluei (starts Sunday March 22) is all about using my favourite colour and another of your choice.  I refuse to enter into conversations about how black isn't a colour, I KNOW that, but humour me.

Inspired by an artwork given to me last year, I played around with a butterfly punch and used up lots of tiny pieces of "just big enough to keep" paper scraps lurking in corners of my work bench.  Once I started, the project assumed a life of its own and I made several cards in different shades.  Inside each one is a lighter piece of paper on which to write, and another butterfly.  Here's what my work bench looked like...

and here's one all by itself....

and this is the inside of one...

I like the look of the raised wings, despite that meaning applying many many tiny pieces of double-sided tape.  I'm thinking this could be adapted to be framed, so I'm off to Ikea to buy a box frame or two and experiment.  Is it too early for Christmas?

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Inspired by Irish....

...which is all green to me.

I have a very empty store of cards in my come-in-handy folder so I have been inspired to make a collection of green ones.  

There are so many different shades of green, and my very favorite has a hint of blue, hence this first card which uses some patterned and some embossed card stock and some cut-outs from Kaisercraft.

The next one is for a friend who just loves to move her furniture around and redecorate.  I have lots of twine left over from some Christmas crafting and I think it goes quite well with the tracery on the green paper.  The vase is from a TE stamp set, embossed with glossy black, and the flower and chest of drawers were lying in the scraps tray.

....and finally a salute to St Patrick's Day which falls on March 17th, the birthday of one of my grandmothers.  The clover is made from 4 heart shaped scraps, and it DOES say Good Luck too, but I should have used the glittery gold embossing dust instead of this one.

There's an Irish challenge over at Opus Gluei this week....these will be featured there, and I wonder what the others have created?

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Winter Vacation.......

....which in Melbourne is still 6 months away.  One of the Opus Gluei ladies is off on a cruise to avoid all the cold weather in the US at the moment, and here we are in Victoria, sweltering in yet another heat wave.  I hope the leaden skies overhead will drop some of their watery content right over my roses, but right now its just humid.  This is the day my air-conditioner has been waiting for - to convince me it was a necessary purchase.

So in spite of Deena reveling in summery warmth, I am dreaming of a cooler holiday, hence my ATCs to celebrate winter.  The first uses a new embossing folder and my almost forgotten Cuttlebug.

The image was a Christmas one I was going to use for decoupage, but seems to have been overlooked, and under the pearls are the embossed dots.

Then I got a little carried away, thinking I might crochet an ATC, but sanity re-surfaced and I compromised by crocheting a scarf instead.  Hate to think how long this little boy has sat waiting to be used.....

Now lets see what the other ladies have come up with for this challenge.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Love is in the air....

...and as Valentine's Day looms again, and the shops are full of red satin hearts and teddy bears with boxes of chocolates under their paws....its time for some romance.

Adding to my collection of ATCs are these two: 

made with a collection of oddments from the desktop.  

If you're feeling romantic, join in the 202nd challenge of the Opus Gluei team and show us how you feel.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Australia Day 2015

When asked to illustrate Australia, my country, I have to stop to think which part of this island to show.... Is it the wild and largely uninhabited west coast where crocodiles roam the waters, pearl farms dot the inlets and on land the colours are dusty shades of grey green red and orange but the skies are a burning clear blue?  Is it my home state's capital city with its jigsaw of old and new buildings, its maze of theatres, shops and cafes, and home to so many stylish black-clad women?  Is it the wide pale inland spaces between country towns where fields stretch into the distance, cattle rest under the trees and farm buildings cluster in shades of weathered grey.

I learned the art of decoupage and love the challenge of recreating something from scraps of paper.  A teacher introduced me to the idea of filling some of the spaces with paint rather than paper, and then challenged me to start with a picture but then to extend it myself, using the original artists colours and shapes as a guide; make the picture a different shape, take a small part of a larger one and make this scrap into a work of art all its own....and this is what I like doing best of all.

This box begins with a piece of a Fred Williams painting, The Nattai River painted in 1958.  Its colours instantly bring the bush to mind, the vast spaces where it seems no-one moves except birds high above you.  The piece I used is from the right hand corner and is on most of the lid, and then I extended the painting down the sides, creating a sky and ground and horizon where there had not been one before.  

It might not say "Australia" to you, but it does to me.

This post celebrates the 201st challenge at Opus Gluei and I wonder what other people will create?