Tuesday, February 27, 2007

A Couple of Articles of Note I Wrote

I have my very first review published at Craft Critique. Because of all the exposure I’ve had to papercrafting recently, I really wanted to give it a good try. So, I went out and bought the Cutterpede paper trimmer to test it out and write about my experience. Click here to see the full review.

I also have been adding to my helium.com articles. One of my latest ones I thought you might enjoy reading especially if you like making handcrafted items for gifts. Although I initiated the topic, I am no longer ranked #1 at the moment but the other articles written on the topic of “Why Make Crafts for Gifts” are great reads. I find great joy in creating my own gifts for people instead of always purchasing ready-made.

I hope you enjoy these articles and that they inspire to try something new or keep up with the projects you have. You might even join in on the conversation by writing your own article or leaving a comment here or at Craft Critique.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Finished Tote Bag With My First Punchneedle Project

Wow! It feels so good to actually finish a project. I love to start projects. I love to learn new techniques and will take an interesting class whenever I am able to. But most of the time I start a project or finish a class it usually gets so far then ends up unfinished because I find a new project or new technique I just have to try. Of course, I have finished many projects over the years but compared to all the projects I have started the list is quite short. Lately I have been trying to start items that can be easily finished and this tote bag is one example.

I did go on a special shopping trip to find coodinating fabrics. I decided to try a new quilt shop, Quilters Destination, in Arlington Heights, IL. I found fabrics by Kathy Brown of The Teacher's Pet in the From "A" to "Z" collection. I don't think I could have done much better since I really wanted to try to have something bright and springlike.

The punchneedle emboidery piece was squared to the best of my ability. I added a couple of borders to complete a quilt block I wanted to use for a pocket on a tote. I used Heavyweight InnerFuse by Dritz to fuse together the block with a piece of muslin. The block was then trimmed again. I used a satin stitch across the top edge of the block. Then I centered and pinned the block to a ready-made denim tote and stitched it to the tote with the same satin stitch as the top.

Welcome Guests from Craft Critique!

For everyone who regularly stops by and have seen my little tidbits about Craft Critique, my bio has been published over there. And because of that I have several more people checking Crazy Crafting Mama out.

I'm still a newbie in blogland and have been enjoying every minute of it but I'm still learning my way around so if you have any questions or suggestions please feel free to contact me or leave a post. One of my favorite things of doing this is being able to be apart of the very large crafting community and being able to have conversations with everyone.

Friday, February 23, 2007

A Cool New Bookmark

This past Wednesday night I went to my monthly meeting of The Chicagoland Craft Collective. Every month we try out a project someone volunteers to teach. This month Sarah Moore led us through a very quick but very cute craft. It is basically some paper glued to a heavy cardstock and adorned with a few simple trims including our initial and then attached to one of those huge paperclips. She brought her cute little Cuttlebug along to cut out the flower shape and letters. These bookmarks would make great gifts for teachers, classmates or any book lover and they are so easy you could keep a few for yourself.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

The Big Shot vs. The Cuttlebug

No, it's not the latest match in the WWF. It is the latest review over at Craft Critique about die cutting systems. Although today's feature is regarding The Big Shot, Colleen Schaan does a great comparison with the Cuttlebug. You can read the Cuttlebug review while your there.

They just keep making it more difficult to stay away from paper crafting.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Making a Pincushion in a Mug

If you are like many people you probably have an orphaned mug or cup in your cupboard. Maybe you can't throw it away. I know I can't. I'm one of those people who can't throw anything away especially if it isn't broke. Occasionally I may have a garage sale but not many people buy orphaned cups unless it has some special sentimental or aesthetic value to them. It may then end up going to a charity thrift shop. Then one day as I was walking through the aisles of Michael's , as I tend to do to entertain myself, I found these paints by Pebeo. I got an idea.

I had seen a pincushion made from a miniature flower pot and I thought I would try to do one with my miscellaneous cups. So I bought a couple of the Pebeo Porcelaine 150 colors and a booklet. Following the directions for painting on a glazed teapot I first painted a base of a fuchsia color. After drying I then did a rag technique with gold. Then when this dried it was heated in the oven. I cut a square of fabric about 1" larger than the diameter of the mug. I placed fiberfill inside the mug, tucked in the sides of the fabric and glued the fabric in place. I used a jewel glue to glue on trim, tassels and buttons. And that's it. It was really easy and it looks great. I also made a couple for gifts. I'm hoping to do some more and hope to share them here with you.

Monday, February 19, 2007

New Review at Craft Critique for the Cuttlebug

The biggest problem with making friends with fellow crafters is you add more things to your wish list. Today it is the Cuttlebug. Way back when scrapbooking was just getting started there were very few tools to cut and emboss your shapes for your pages which may have been why I could not just get into it then. If this had been around I may have worn it out. Plus it's so darn cute. Don't these companies come up with the most whimsical names? Last review was on the Crop-a-Dile. There is also something called Purple Cow that may be coming up soon. Can't wait to see those reviews because when I hear Purple Cow I think of yummy milkshakes at this great little restaurant in Little Rock, Arkansas.

Special Note: Make sure you watch the video in the review because if you don't know much about die cutters (like me) you will understand the concept a little more.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

A Birthday Cake Fit for a Princess

It's been a busy weekend. My daughter's 6th birthday party was this weekend. We traveled to my in-laws about a 3 hours drive away where she could get together with her one cousin who lives there and another one who also came in from out of state. We left on Friday morning so I could get the cake made and get some rest before the big day.

Every year she picks out a cake she would like. This year she picked out the doll cake pan the Wilton Wonder Mold. Although it makes a cute cake it would not be enough for the number of people who would be at the party so I used a 12" round pan to make a big 2 layer cake on the bottom. The doll dress was a Pillsbury Funfetti cake mix and the base was a Duncan Hines Moist Dark Chocolate Fudge mix. YUM!

She wanted the doll to be Belle from Beauty and the Beast. Usually I get to use a picture or pattern from the Wilton pan as a guide but not this year. I simply mixed up my batch of yellow icing and starting doing a dress. I used a #47 basket weave tip upside down to make long strips of yellow for the dress. I darkened the yellow icing and used a #103 petal tip to make ruffles down the sides and along the bottom of the dress. I switched to rose colored icing to make rosettes using a #16 star tip and a #4 large star tip for the bottom shell border. I also used some of the yellow to make some polka dots on the bottom cake. Then I was running out of icing (I made all the icing without color before leaving home) so I just added a couple of rosettes to the dress and sprinkled on some shiny pink sugar crystals. All the icing was made with the buttercream recipe from the Wilton decorating books. It took me about 2 hours to do the decorating but mostly because I was making up the design as I went instead of following a plan and because I had to wait for some of the cake to cool off. It's a lot tougher to make a cake outside my own kitchen. Luckily I have my own cake tool box for my major decorating supplies.

The cake was a hit but so were the special crowns I made for the 3 girls from $1 foam crowns from Michaels and $1 foam purses my daughter made. We used pastel glitter glue and a few sequins. See the photo of the lovely models. Mine is the one on the right.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

A Valentine's Quilt - More Than for Just One Day

Today is Valentine's Day and it's almost over. It was a very cold and wintry day here in the suburbs of Chicago and we still had to go to work and school. My project I'm showing today I technically finished it last week because I finally put the hanging sleeve on the back. But, I actually made it several years ago when I was just getting started in quilting. I can't even remember what book I got it out of. I think it was one that had nothing but heart related projects. It was one of the first quilt projects I ever did. This is the first year I actually hung it in my home to celebrate Valentine's Day and the month of February. I like to celebrate the holiday until the last day of the month. It is definitely worth more than one day especially when we are too busy to put everything we would like to do in just one day and when the day after is my daughter's birthday! She is, after all, my favorite Valentine's gift.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Crop-a-Dile and Craft Critique

I have some exciting news. I have joined a group of craft reporters that will be reviewing different craft products on a new blog called Craft Critique. I am very excited to be a part of this new venture and can't wait to fully participate in all the upcoming critiques.

The first critique is done. It is a scrapbooking tool called the Crop-a-Dile. This thing means business. Wait till you see what it can do for hole punching and setting eyelets. I haven't used it yet but from the reviews from those who have, it makes me want to go out and get one. I have non-scrapbooking ideas for it. Scrapbooking is not one of my crafts...yet. From what I've heard it is very addictive and I do have plans to do some. I do have a sweet little girl and lots of pictures sitting either in a box or a computer file. Hope you stop by and check Craft Critique out.

Friday, February 2, 2007

The Mother of Valentine Cards

I found an amazing historical video on the Hallmark website today. It is the amazing story of Esther Howland who made and sold handcrafted Valentines in the 1840's. You will be stunned by the creativity of this Massachusetts woman whose father owned a stationery store. Her cards sold for $5-$10 and her yearly sales were over $50,000. Can you imagine? I haven't made many cards but I think I will get my stamps, lace and fibers out and see what my daughter and I can come up with.

Thursday, February 1, 2007

Helium - No, it's not for balloons

I've recently discovered a new way to discuss things I care about or share ideas with others. Helium.com is a new info-sharing site that lets the community write and then rate each others articles. The best part is that as the community rates your articles you accumulate cash. It is very nominal but it is cool that you can write something and earn pennies a day. I've only been doing it for 2 days and I have written 3 articles and I've got $0.17. Yes, that's cents but it's my cents because people read and rated my work. Of course the articles earning that are about crafts.

It is a really new forum. The articles I've done so far started from an original article then I wrote another based on it. The articles are then read and rated by members. You also have to rate articles and that can be frustrating at first because until you write in a couple of different categories you could be seeing very similar articles before the subject changes. And some articles are better than others but that's what the rating is all about. You get to choose.

It has only been officially operating since October 2006 and it has a lot of kinks to work out. According to some press if it is going to take off, 2007 will be the year. If it does work I can see someone buying it like Google did YouTube. I think that's part of the fun factor that this could be the "next cool thing".

You really should check it out. And while your there you can check out my 2 crafting articles, The Lost Art of Crafting and Homemade crafts: Do imperfections matter?