Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Iron Craft 2012--Project 3 and Box a Week Challenge #2

This week we were challenged to re-create something from a catalog. The biggest problem for me is that I don't get catalogs. Most junk mail that I get automatically goes into the recycle bin and I have tried to reduce the junk mailings that I get as my contribution to reducing wasted paper. So, I was at a loss for ideas. I thought about going online and looking at items but that seemed too time consuming and daunting. Last weekend, I received a Swiss Colony catalog for a former tenant of the apartment where I now live. Just as a lark, I decided to look through it and came across this item:

I thought--I can make something like that (but without the coin counter). So I decided to make a desk valet to hold my keys and watch etc. The box is made from a double constructed lid that fits on a regular tray bottom. What that means is that you created a regular lid top and then add a second set of walls where the new walls are taller than the original lid. The purpose for this is to add depth to the lid so you can include dividers for the upper tray.

Here is the completed box. I used a German marbled paper for the lid with black velvet liners (like the original box). The original lid fits the bottom tray and has sides that are 1.5 inches in height. The second set of walls is made of sides that are 3 inches in height which then allows for dividers that are 1.5 inches in height. The bottom of the box is covered in book cloth.

Here you can see the velvet liners in the lid. I decided to line the interior of the bottom with the same marbled paper that I used for the top.

Here is the box in use. The coins will actually go in the box bottom and my cell phone will go in the slot where the coins are now. I had to use my phone to take the picture or I would have put it in the photo.

If I do another one of the these, I will cut a whole in the middle slot so that the change can drop into the bottom part of the box.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Box a Week Challenge--Box #1

As if the Iron Craft Bi-monthly challenges weren't enough, I decided that I wanted to do something different in addition to the Iron Craft Challenges. People who know me well know that I am most happiest when I am making boxes (even more so than making paper cuts). Boxes were the medium that brought me to paper arts and subsequently to bookbinding. I started collecting paper so I could make boxes.

So, to return to my love of boxes, I have decided to challenge myself to make one box per week. Here is the result of this week's challenge--a scrap paper box.

We try and recycle paper in our office before we shred paper. Since we regularly print on only one side of the page, we save our waste and use the reverse side for scratch paper before ultimately shredding the paper (which I then use as packing for my mailings).

Here where the instructions that I received from my boss: (1) nothing too fancy, (2) something using Japanese paper, (3) a box that he did not have to continually open, and (4) a zen feeling.

Of course, me and my OCD self also included a lid that prevented dust from getting on the paper when it wasn't in use.

Here is the result--
(above) The closed boxed--peep holes on opposite sides so dust can't get in.

In essence, the box is made up of two separate trays which each contains a peep hole so that paper can be easily reached.
(above) Each tray can hold paper but the peep holes allow for easy access to the paper.

The trays can be used separately, individually or together but more importantly, the bottom tray can fit snugly into the top tray and still allow easy access to the paper.
(above) The bottom tray--black and gold--fits into the top tray, flying cranes.

The choices of paper were very specific for this person. The black and gold paper for the bottom tray is from the "Emperor" series. It is based on a famous kimono of one of the Emperors of Japan. The second paper--the flying crane paper-- is significant because regardless of the direction you turn the box--cranes are flying upward which is a symbol of good luck and good fortune.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

More Paper Cut Examples

This is another example of one of my luminaria cards. This was made to celebrate the Chinese Lunar New Year--Year of the Dragon. What makes this card special is that it includes cutouts on the front and back of the card. As you can see above, the break in the dragon is where the card is folded in half. This is backed with orange vellum which really shines through when using a battery operated tea light.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Iron Craft 2012

For this challenge, we were charged with making something to withstand the cold weather. I knew exactly what project that I wanted to do and I needed a quick and easy project because I was so wrapped up in making Valentine's Day projects.

Unfortunately, the fabric stores weren't cooperating with me for this project so I decided to use fabric that I could find locally. So the project for this week is a No-Sew Fleece Blanket.

You need two types of contrasting polar, no pill, fleece. I wanted to do a Purdue University Blanket with Purdue Fleece on one side and a solid black on the reverse. Unfortunately, JoAnn's was out of stock of the Purdue fleece.

(Purdue Fleece that was out of stock--urgghh)

So, as I hunted the fashion district of NYC, I finally decided on the manly camouflage fleece with the black fleece on the reverse. I bought two yards of each which almost covers me height-wise. If I had to do it all over again, I would have bought 2.5 to 3 yards of each material. What I failed to realize that you will lose 6 to 8 inches on each dimension once you start cutting the ties for the material.

After squaring off the material and pinning the two layers together, you cut off square blocks from each corner (the height and width of the squares should be equal to the length of the ties--in my case, my ties were 3" long so I cut a 3 in by 3 in block from each corner). If I had to do it again, I would have cut ties that were 4 in long and the blocks would have been 4 in by 4 in.

Next you cut ties that are 1.5 in wide and your desired length (3" in my case) along all four sides of the blanket. While keeping the blanket layers pinned, you simply tie square knots for each pair of ties (one top layer to one bottom layer).

Here is the finished project (on left), you can see the black and camo ties of the finished project. The ties are more evident in the close up (on right).

This is a very simply and fast project. It would be a great project for kids to do especially with the fleece materials that feature college and professional sports teams (see below). Plus, boy scouts and girl scouts can practice tying square knots. Here is a YouTube Tutorial. I wish that I had watched this version before making my blanket.

This is a great project because it really is forgiving of errors. The ties cover any cutting issues since they all get bunched tightly together on the edge of the blanket. Also, these blankets are so fast and easy to make, I think that they would make great specialty gifts.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Happy Valentine's Day

This week, we are taking some time off from the Paper Cutting lessons so I can share with you some of my recent work. Hopefully, it will give you some more inspiration into wanting to do Paper Cutting.

Each Valentine's Day, I desire one or two cards for my friends to give their sweethearts. Almost always, they are paper cuttings. Here are this year's designs. This is a continuation of my luminaria cards--silhouettes backed with vellum. The recipient is given the card and a small battery operated tea light.

The card on the left is called "lace heart" and the heart on the right is called "rose heart." The Lace Heart is backed with patterned vellum. The Rose Heart is backed with orange vellum.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Paper Cutting 101: Practice

Here are my results from the More Straight Lines practice session that was posted yesterday. I did the first exercise in two sizes. The windows paper cutting was the fourth attempt. The smaller version is 2" by 2"

Here is my result for the bricks practice exercise. This was the third attempt. The smaller version is 4" by 2"

Overall, this was 2.5 hours of practice spread over both exercises.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Paper Cutting 101--Practice: More Straight Lines

So today, we have more straight cuts and more of them. You have the same goals as yesterday. PDF available for those that want it. NB: Start with the window before attempting the bricks. Also, I would suggest enlarging the patterns.

Diamonds Critique

For reference. This is the paper cut that was critiqued in a previous post. Actual size of this paper cut is 2" by 5"

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Diamonds Critique

Submitted without comment.

Paper Cutting 101--Practice: Straight Lines

Today's lesson is about cutting straight lines and not overshooting your starting and ending destination. This is trickier than it seems and for most projects you simply resign yourself to having a few extra "crosses," x's" and "t's". Most people don't care, some people won't even notice but I feel that if I am going to sell a piece of artwork, I should try and minimize them.

The above pattern is what I call--Diamonds. I know--it's obvious but sometimes I am simple minded like that. Here are your goals:

Goal #1: most importantly, have straight lines. When I design something like this, I try and design the line strength equal to the width of my cutting blade. In some pieces, you have to try and decide to cut in the middle of the line, the exterior of the line, or the interior of the line. So above, you should cut the blue lines as they are.

Goal #2: Don't overshoot your starting and ending points. As mentioned in a previous post, you can use pin holes for starting and ending points. When you first try this exercise, you might want to do that. At this point, I don't but for more complicated designs, I still do use pin points. The orange lines above should be cut on both sides of the orange line (in other words, the orange lines are the connectors of the odd number diamonds). There are seven diamonds (counted from the inside--out, they are 1 through 7. The connectors join all of the odd numbered diamonds together. If you overshoot cutting on the connectors you will separate them from each other.


(1) Make several copies of the pattern (trust me on this one, you will over shoot and separate your diamonds).

(2) Start with plain copier paper and practice on that. Print the pattern directly on the paper.

(3) Once you have completed one set, practice on a different piece of paper. Any other paper--preferably colored paper. Print the pattern directly on the colored paper and work on the colored side of the paper.

(4) Work next of light weight card stock. Print directly on the card stock.

(5) If you want, practice transferring the pattern onto a piece of paper or card stock.

(6) Finally, start shrinking the size of the diamonds by reducing on a copier. Obviously, the smaller the diamonds, the more difficult the process.

Please contact me directly if you want a PDF of the diamond pattern.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Paper Cutting 101--Practice

This week will feature some practice exercises that I do in order to sharpen some of my paper cutting skills. These are simple exercises but I try and do them with precision which is the name of the game. I try and do at least an hour of paper cutting per day. Some of that might be actual projects but many times it will simple be exercises or "doodling" with a scalpel. This week's lessons will deal with cutting straight lines.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Paper Cutting--Owl Project

After about six more hours over two days, I finally finished the owl project. Hopefully, now you can see the use of the connectors to ensure that the piece stays in one piece. I am thinking of simplifying the image so that I can turn them into greeting cards. The recipient really loved the final outcome.