Sunday, November 25, 2012

And the winner is... (and a runner-up prize!)

Thanks so much to all my readers, old and new, who entered my 2012 Christmas giveaway.  I always enjoy the flourish of comments, after all, it's what we bloggers live on!

So, I've compiled all the entries, including the multiples for those of you who commented and shared my page on Facebook.

AND, I've added a runner's up prize, which I just can't resist doing.  The runner's up prize is one hand carved stamp (edelweiss or reindeer/stag - your choice), and your choice of a white or brown pigment ink pad).

So, without further ado, and drawn by my lovely, still-pyjama-ed six year old, the winner of the main prize pack is...

Congratulations Carla!  The hand carved stamps, pigment inks and marker, cardboard and craft punch will be winging it's way to you this week.  I'll be in touch to get your details shortly.

And the winner of the runner up prize is...

Congratulations Tartankiwi!  I'll be in touch shortly so you can make your choice of stamp and ink, or you can leave your preference in the comments section of this post :).

It's been a busy week here but I have been having some fun packaging my hand carved stamps up.  I thought I better include some instructions on how to care for them, so I made a little card and a matching wrap.

It's always so hard to get good photos in the winter when the light disappears so early!

I've made stamps for all of my closest girlfriends, and got to work packaging up their gifts using the same cards and wraps.  

I have to meet postage cut-offs for New Zealand and Australia, so it forces me to be organised! I stumbled into the post office this week with eight packages - the lady at the post office saw me coming and gave me a look, I don't know if it was pity for me, or for her!

Saturday, November 24, 2012

A pirate interlude...

It's less than 12 hours until I draw my 2012 Christmas giveaway (if you haven't already entered, click here).  While we wait, I just wanted to show you a few photos from today.

Two of my good friends here had a pirate-themed combined birthday party for their four year old boys. It was a great party.  My friends really are a clever pair, each combining their numerous creative talents to put on an amazing afternoon that I know my kids won't forget in a hurry.

I offered to bring a fruit platter since I know it can sometimes be a bit fiddly and hosts usually have their hands full with cakes and other party food.  I had a wooden treasure chest I bought for the kids to play with and decided to make the fruit platter look like opened pirate treasure.

I cut thin slices of rock melon and pineapple and used a small round cookie cutter to cut them into lots of circles (to be silver and gold coins), and then just included as much seasonal fruit as I could find, as well as dried dates, spilling over the chest.

The treasure chest lay on top of a cake board that I covered in kraft wrap, then cling film.  I took all the bits to the party in bags and the whole thing took only five minutes to assemble once I was there, which was a good thing as Miss M was on my hip the whole time!

And speaking of Miss M, I decided at 8am this morning that I wanted to make something a little piratey for her to wear.  I managed to find a pair of velvet-feel pantaloons at the supermarket(!), and decided to make her a quick neckerchief to go with them.

I found a jolly roger image online and printed it out on the computer.  I placed it behind the fabric and then traced through on a window, using a pencil.  I then used fabric paint to paint the image on the neckerchief, which was just a slightly larger (and only single sided) version of my baby and toddler neckerchief pattern.  Sometimes these last-minute projects can be so satisfying.

Happy birthday to Bowen and Tyler!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Tutorial: Christmas Cinnamon Stick Wreath...

I have noticed that this above photo from last year is one of my most pinned pics on Pinterest, which reminded me that I wanted to do a tutorial to show you how I made it.  It's really a lot more simple than it looks (and smells really, really good!) and as far as materials go, as long as you've got a good supply of cinnamon sticks and a hot glue gun, you're good to go!

So, here's what you'll need to make a Christmas spice wreath:

My wreath measures 28cm (11") wide and used around 105 cinnamon sticks, but the amount you will need will depend on the size you choose.

* Craft-grade Cinnamon sticks, around 8cm (3") long.  Food-grade cinnamon sticks tend to be quite flaky and are not suitable for this project - just look on the label
* A hot glue gun (and plenty of spare hot glue sticks)
* Star anise (or other natural objects to decorate the wreath if you want to - dried berries, dried orange slices, small pinecones etc)
* A dinner plate and bowl, to make your template
* A pencil, and a piece of cardboard - like a cereal box - that is slightly bigger than your plate

The template:

Find a plate and bowl and draw around them to create the template as shown.  The gap between the plate outline and the bowl outline should be between 5.5 (2") and 7cm (2 & 3/4").  My cinnamon sticks were 8cm (3")and the gap was 6.5cm (2 & 1/2"). 

The wreath is created in six rounds.

Round one:  The inside circle.  Lay out four or five cinnamon sticks around the outline with a small gap in between.  

Lay more sticks on top covering over the gaps.  When it all looks good, lift the top sticks up one by one and glue them down with a fairly generous dollop of glue.  

Once it is dry, hold it up to check that it is structurally sound.  You should do this after each round.


Round two:  Do the same again for the outside circle as shown.

Round three:  Keeping the outside and inside cinnamon stick circles on the template to keep the shape of the wreath, lay more sticks on an angle between the two circles and glue down, as shown.

Round four:  Do the same again, but going the opposite way.  Don't try to be too perfect about it, it needs to be a reasonably balanced composition but not too uniform.

Round five:  This is the "eyeball" round.  You can be a bit more random here.  Lay more sticks on until you get the look you're going for and then stick them down.

Round six:  Flip the wreath over.  Place sticks between the two outside and inside circles as shown.  This will give the wreath a more full look, with less gaps, without adding any height to it.  You can lift the wreath up and look at to see where there are gaps that need filling in.  

Completed underside

Again, you need to "eyeball" it, until it looks right to you.  This is the time to use all the misfit cinnamon sticks - the ones that are broken or that weren't suitable for the upper layers.  

Your wreath is finished, but you can continue on to decorate it if you want. 

I used whole star anise, placing them to get the look I wanted then gluing them down.

Clear away all the fine threads of hot glue that may be remaining, or use a sweetie to bribe a small child with little fingers to do it for you.

You can use as a table centrepiece with a candle in the middle or place a small arrangement of flowers, such as white lillies in oasis in the centre.  I also think this would be lovely with a wide piece of gingham ribbon threaded through it's centre and hung on the front door.

Friday, November 16, 2012

2012 Christmas Giveaway...

This giveaway is now closed - click here to see who won.

It's that time again!  It's always my pleasure to put together a little giveaway to thank my readers for their loyalty and interest in this blog over the past year.  I so enjoy the comments, both here and on Facebook, and have also been enjoying a lot of offline correspondence from readers too, which is lovely.

...just loving the simplicity of brown paper and customising paper and tags as I go...

So, would you like to win some goodies that might help you get started with your own Christmas crafting?

Here's a run down of the prize pack.... All you need to do is add some kraft giftwrap and kitchen string or baker's twine and you've got Christmas all wrapped up - literally!

*  2 hand-carved stamps (reindeer antlers and edelweiss)
* 1 x white mini pigment stamp pad
* 1 x gold mini pigment stamp pad
* 1 pack 200 gsm cardboard in brown (6 pieces)
* 1 pack 200 gsm cardboard in off-white (6 pieces)
* 1 x 2 & 1.2" (6.25cm) scalloped oval craft punch (to make your own tags)
* 1 x white pigment marker, for writing on dark card

... and of course as with all my giveaways, anyone can enter and the prize pack includes postage to anywhere in the world.

There are three ways to enter
and you can do all three if you like!

On the blog:
* Simply leave a comment on this post.

On Facebook:
* Leave a comment on this Facebook post.
* Hit "share" on the above Facebook post and share the link with a friend or friends.

The winner will be drawn at random on Sunday the 25th November at 8am my time (GMT +1).  The winner will be notified directly (if possible) and will also be announced in a blog post shortly after.

Good luck!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Early Christmas Crafting...

I've managed to tick a few more Christmas projects off my list this week.

A couple of months ago I had this idea to make a present for Miss M - a hanging heart for her nursery door.  Unfortunately I knew at the time I wasn't going to have time to make it.  So I made some sketches in my visual diary for later.

This week, when I could steal a few moments, I transferred the design onto a linen heart, (it was already sewn as it was a previously abandoned project!), and began to stitch...

I used the same fabric and palette as my hoop art (from my previous post).  Together with that hoop art, that's Miss M's present done and dusted!

I've also been carving up a storm.  Rubber stamp carving is my newest hobby and I'm really enjoying it.  I got inspired by this lovely video tutorial from an artist called Geninne Zlatkis.  She also has a book out on the subject which I am willing Santa to stuff in my stocking this year!  These stamps are presents for friends, and also for my annual Mucky Macbook Christmas giveaway (watch this space!).

...brown paper packages, tied up with string...

... And because most of the gifts I have bought/ made need to wing their way to the other side of the world, I've started on the wrapping early, customising the paper and tags with the stamps I've made.  Such fun.


And on another note, if you're like me and you like to listen to Christmas music while you craft or bake, I can recommend this station to you -

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