Sunday, 28 March 2010

Soccer Ball Update

My first soccer ball is finished at last!

Patched and quilted (or rather top-stitched - there's no batting underneath) and stuffed with foam pillow-filling, I am quite happy with how it turned out.

I used the colours of the South African flag as my inspiration for this ball. The fabric is called Shwe-shwe and is traditional to South Africa. Read more about it here.

The next ball will hopefully not take so long to make and will be something completely different - watch this space...

Sunday, 21 March 2010

Traditional Islamic Embroidery

Look what is coming to town!

A new exhibition opening soon at Gallery One, Emirates Palace, Abu Dhabi:
from 7 April to 28 July 2010
The show is curated by Isabelle Denamur.
The exhibition will be accompanied by a series of educational programmes including lectures and hands-on workshops.

I can't wait!

Dubai in Pictures 8

Today I am making an exception by showing you a place popular with the tourists. The Madinat Jumeirah. It is a modern shopping experience based on the old traditional souks (markets). Even though it is aimed at tourists it has a lot of character and and we as locals love to go there too. Of course, if you live here you know where to buy all these things at a fraction of the price they charge at the Madinat.

Fashionable Arabic scarves

Shisha pipes at the cafe waiting for customers. You can order a shisha pipe from a menu, with the tobacco flavour of your choice. My favourite is mint.

Beaded and embroidered shoes.

Shisha pipes for sale

Copper trays. I love these!

The inside of the souk. It is really beautiful.

Maroccan lamps

Maroccan chandelier

Monday, 15 March 2010

More butterflies..

It seems like I have been bitten by the butterfly-bug...

I can do all sorts of arty-crafty things, but I have never painted on a canvas before, so over the weekend I convinced my son to show me how to use his acrylic paints. I copied a picture of a butterfly onto a canvas and painted it. It is hardly art, it felt more like a colouring-in excercise, but it was fun.

As you can see, I can't let anything be without poking a needle and thread into it.

I started embroidering on top of the painting to add some texture.
I am not really happy with the way it turned out - I think I should have used thicker floss or more textured thread. Unfortunately once you poke a hole into the canvas it stays there, so I can't really undo it now...

I think next time I'll use a waterbased paint, or something...

I got the idea of doing embroidery on top of a painted canvas from mimilove. Her work is absolutely stunning, and in a completely different league from everybody else.
Check it out here and here.

Sunday, 14 March 2010

Left handed embroidery lessons

One of the things I have never done before is to teach embroidery to someone else. I am a mainly self-taught embroiderer and if I can't find a method or tutorial in a book or the internet, I just figure it out for myself.

I have now taken the big step to offer a Beginners Embroidery Class at my children's school. The class will start after the Spring break in April and will be aimed at children aged 9-11. The course will run for 10 weeks, with a 1-hour lesson once a week. I have limited the class size to 12 kids, but I am thinking about inviting their mothers to join us too.

I am now in the process of designing my class program, and I need some advice from all you creative people out there, please! I was thinking about giving each child a simple butterfly design and then teach them one (or maybe two, if it is simple) stitches per lesson. They can do a few practice runs and once they get the hang of it, do it on the design, filling in the butterfly as the weeks go by.

As I was browsing the web the last few days, looking for some guidance I found this post on Needle 'n Thread. Mary uses the butterfly design to practice on first and then do the 'final run' on a sampler. Should I do it this way too? It means that every child would have two hoops, one with the butterfly pattern and one with the sampler...

I was also thinking of providing a variety of pre-cut floss ready for the kids to choose their own colour scheme in stead of providing a pre-packed kit. It gives them a little bit more freedom and creativity. Should I use normal DMC (or similar) floss with 6 strands or should I use a cotton perle that won't split? I was thinking of using the stranded floss, firstly because I have a good stash and secondly because I thought it would be good for the kids to know how to split the strands. They will also see how a variety of thicknessess will influence the final design. Now I think it might be to complicated for them to start with and they might be put off when they tangle the loose strands... What do you think?

Another issue where I need some input is this: I am left-handed. I have never felt handicapped by it and I can embroider, crochet and knit without any problems. I just wonder if I won't confuse the kids if I work 'the other way round' from them. (I assume they will be mostly right-handed.) My mother and grandmother taught me to do needlework by using the mirror-method. That is the teacher and pupil sit facing each other and the pupil copying everything the teacher do in a mirror image. Are you a left-handed teacher, or were you taught by a left-handed person? How did you do it?

My main goal for these lessons is to teach the children to love needlework. I want them to understand that to be able to embroider is to open a whole new world of creativity and fun. It is something you can do anywhere and at any age. Most life-long embroiders will tell you that they learned the craft at around this age of 9 to 11, and that even thought they might have neglected it during their teenage/young adult years they never forgot the pleasure it gave them, and eventually returned to the craft.

So, even though it will be a challenge and achievement for me to teach, I would feel very happy if I can succeed in passing on the love of the craft and not just the skill to a few children.

(All photos in this post comes from either Mr X-Stitch or FeelingStitchy. Unfortunately I do not know the names of the individual artists)

Friday, 12 March 2010

Embroidered butterflies

While I was looking for inspiration for my butterfly design (for my planned embroidery classes) I browsed The Handembroidery Network's gallery and came across these beauties:

by Sue Noble

by Lynn

by Jo van Kampen

by Jeannie

by CathyH


Tuesday, 9 March 2010

100 best small business podcasts

My brother sent me this link with a list of the top 100 Small Business podcasts for 2010.

The list is sub-divided into headings like:
Leadership and Management
Marketing and Sales
Operating a Small Business
Tax & Finance
Home based Business
Small Business Technology
and more...

Although this list is not specifically aimed at crafters, it contains a lot of info that is relevant to us.
So, download a few of these to your iPod and get educated while you craft away!

Sunday, 7 March 2010

Dubai in Pictures 7

Last week friday Dubai was hit by a serious sandstorm. We had sand everywhere! Sandstorms or shamals hit the city two or three times a year, usually during the change of season (from hot to very hot) but this one was extra severe.

On saturday, while we were still trying to rid ourselves of all the dust, it started raining. Now if you live in the UK or somewhere similar where rain is nothing out of the ordinary, you wouldn't think much of this. But this was our yearly rainfall all in one day. It turned the city from a dust bowl into a mudbath and then into a big lake. As we don't get a lot of rain there isn't much of a stormwater drainage system in place. Which causes a big problem once a year.

Now, a week later, most of the water has drained away and we are back to hot and dusty, until next year this time...

Saturday, 6 March 2010

Design Indaba Superstars: Feedback

The winners for the Design Indaba Superstars was announced last weekend. Congractulations to all the winners - your entries are really great!

Also a big thank you to Mr X-stitch and Futuregirl who both did a great post on their blogs about my entry. I really appreciate your support and enthusiasm!

Craft room / Guest room

The Craft blog had a feature over the last 2 months called Make Space for Crafting, where they showcased some well known crafters' studio spaces. If you missed it have a look at it here.

They inspired me to show of my craft space. I use our extra bedroom on the ground floor. In the beginning I used to say "I work in the guest room". These days, after some re-organizing, I say "the guests sleep in my work room."

This is the wall right next to the door.
Craft room: The table usually house my craft book collection, my sewing supplies and all the bits and pieces of the project I am currently working on. The shelf houses all the crafty bits like beads, floss, buttons,etc
Guest room: The table gets cleaned up and covered with a white cloth (to hide a multitude of 'stuff'). The shelf gets cleaned but otherwise stays as is. It will probably one day get a roll-down blind to cover all the bits and pieces.

The wall opposite the door:
Craft room: An Ikea table for the sewing machine and cutting mat. This is where most of the action takes place. The window gives lots of light and I have a view on the garden.
Guest room: The table gets dismantled and pushed underneath the bed. The sewing machine etc gets stowed under the first table behind the white cloth.

The third wall:
Craft room: The bed stands on its side against the wall with the ironing board in front and some fabric stash on top. Big Ikea bins with fabric stash fills the rest of the wall space.
Guest room: The bed comes down and the side tables and bedside lamps comes out of the cupboard. The plastic bins goes into the store room for the time being.

The Build-in cupboards and bathroom:
Craft room: The bathroom is usually full of all sorts of extra stuff like camping equipment and bicycles. (We don't have a garage...)
Guest room: The bathroom is cleared out and decked out with fluffy white towels and perfumed soaps.

It takes about two hours to do the change over. I spend most of this time to find temporary space for all the things I have to hide away.

Monday, 1 March 2010

Tin Can Stars Tutorial

Ever since I blogged about my tin-can-star mural in June 2009 I promised to do a tutorial. I kept on putting it off because I haven't done any tutorials before and the whole idea seemed a bit overwhelming.
Not any more! Here it is at last:

This tutorial shows you how to make the stars. You can then use the stars to make anything you want from mobiles to Christmas decorations.

You will need:

Empty soft drink cans
Utility/kitchen scissors
Star template (download and print)
Permanent marker
Sharp object. I used an awl, but a thick needle or nail will also work
Flat nose pliers

Step 1:
Cut the can open.
Start by forcing the one edge of the scissors into the can near the top rim and away from the logo. Cut all around.

Cut from top to bottom. Make sure you keep the logo intact by cutting on the bar-code side of the can.

Cut off the bottom.

This is what you have now:

You can now clean the inside of the can to make sure your work surface and hands don't end up all sticky.

Step 2:
Trace the template onto the can with the permanent marker.

Make sure you place the template over the logo and in such a way that you can fit two stars onto each can.

Step 3:
Cut out the stars.

Step 4:
Score the stars.
With the logo side facing up, line the ruler between two opposing internal corners. Use your sharp tool to mark a straight line. Make sure you don't cut right through the metal. Repeat with the other internal corners.

Flip the star over. With the logo side facing down, line the ruler between two opposing sharp points. Score as before. Repeat with the other sharp points.

Step 5:
Hold the star between your fingers and fold on the lines.

Repeat the folding along all the lines.

Use your sharp tool to sharpen the corners and edges.

Step 6:
With your flat nose pliers pinch the sharp points of the star to flatten them and to bend them slightly upwards.

Step 7:
Hold the star down on the work surface and push a hole through the flat ends with your sharp tool. You can put a cutting board or cork tile underneath.

That's it!

If you want the metal side of the star to be on top you have to change the scoring around. The shorter lines (between internal corners) on the metal side and the longer lines (between the sharp points) on the coloured side.