I design craft projects.
I like to look at things that please me, decide what I like about it and think about something else that I might make that included the features that I liked from my inspiration…a cluster of holes in a crocheted curtain, the color combinations in a nonrepresentational painting or print. I like to imagine the dance in the process and do something similar in my own interpretation.
I also enjoy knowing the principals and elements of design and how to use them to create a pleasing effect in my own work. There is also the understanding and control of certain stitches, methods, and steps that allow one to produce something that was possible with previous knowledge but needed the inspiration of seeing how someone else has stretched the idea a new way allows me to grasp a tiny corner of that and pull it out into a happy new design experience.
I like to collect fabrics that are unusual and use them to build pictures. I’ve done several by using various embroidery threads to hold the fabrics in place, as well as protecting the fabric with netting, or layers of netting to dull one color and build up values of secondary colors. For instance a red net over a red piece of metallic fabric will scarcely be noticed, but put another layer on part of it and the metallic effect is reduced. Add a purple layer and the color is modified to red-violet. Add still another partial layer of purple net and the metallic is almost gone and there is a warm purple hue on that part of the red underlay. I look up the various embroidery stitches and see which of some one hundred stitch variations will give the effect I want to create and choose the thread combinations that will pull that off.
When the collage is finished with trims, beads and other notions, I have it double matted and framed.
On PBS I saw a method using interfacing that will allow me to applique the easy way using double sided interfacing and still another way to use single sided interfacing. Fusing with an iron, fabric paint and close trimming, or long trimming and fraying are also options for interesting effects.
Free Form Crochet
I found a book of crochet and knitting stitches and I learned how to do the stitches that I needed to get the effects that I want for the design I’m making. I like to make curtains, wall hangings, hats and circular pieces spread over wire hoops. I sometimes crochet pockets into them for hiding things. I have put squeakers and bicycle horns in crocheted works and when people start squeezing I get to have some fun when the horn blows, or the squeaker does its thing and the explorer jumps and yells.
These projects often have dangles that drive cats crazy and make me wish I hadn’t done that when the cat succeeds in getting the dangle and wrecking it.
Off Loom Weaving
One of my favorite ways to get some texture into the decor, is to do an off loom weaving which is actually done on whatever ingenious device I am using to put the warp on and feed the fillers through. I like offloom weaving because pretty much anything goes as long as it is true to the theme of the design. Pieces of, wood, broken pottery, spoons and forks, or jewelry can all be woven into the piece. Also, cloth, plastic, twisted paper, recycled fabrics, bulrush leaves, pretty little bottles, handles off broken tea cups, grommets, old tools and all sorts of wonderful things that deserve a new lookat can be incorporated into an offloom weaving.
Eventually, the weaving is finished and it is time to finish the bottom part of the weaving and decide where I will finally hang it. Crooked twisty branches are good for interesting bottoms on a weaving. Crooked branches are also good for interesting tops although these crooks complicate the weaving of the convex space that they create.
Even while the off loom weaving is still in the production stage, it must hang in an area and at a height that is convenient for all that laborious passing back and forth of the needle or shuttle that puts in the filler thread etc. So an offloom weaving is decorative even as it is being made although still not in it’s final stages. Or in it’s final place.
I have lots of ceramic molds for things that people don’t want to buy from me when I pour them, clean, fire, glaze, use up electricity firing them and all sorts of energy dragging them off to craft shows and packing them up to come home again.
So! I decided to see what would happen if I just poured some ceramic slip onto the outside of the mold. A little judicious pouring with a sharp spouted blender pitcher, adding some great little blobs here and there to balance the design, punching holes with a straw for hanging, and covering the outside with a ring of waxed paper so that the outside does not dry first and crack. I let it dry gradually so that I had something interesting to remove sharp edges from, underglaze, fire and overglaze before firing again. Then I lustre glazed them and fired them again. Very stinky process.
Finally, I glue a piece of coordinating felt on the back to strengthen the piece and protect the wall, take a piece of leather thong of an appropriate colour, string some glazed handmade beads on it and attach it to the drizzle so that it can be hung up.
Free Form Embroidery
Learn the many stitches from an embroidery stitch book. Gather other stitching ideas from craft books. There is enough to invent in free form embroidery without coming up with newtome stitches that others already know how to do. Decide on a theme and colour scheme and do something somewhere on the space. Then balance what has been done until the space is full enough to admit that the project is finished.
It is best to put in the most complicated thing first. If I’m doing a giraffe, I need to know that I can get the giraffe onto the piece of cloth and I usually cut the feature out of scrap paper and trace around it, so that I have it placed where it looks best. Then I embroider it using various stitches to create the effect desired for the foreground and background. The trick is to stop before I have cluttered it.
Wooden Yard Art
I love simple things in the yard. Wooden birds with decorative painting is an example. I give them stick legs from the pruned branches of my Manitoba maples which grow like crazy and constantly need to be lopped off.
A little group of branch dolls with legs and arms using the natural crotches of a tree can be amusing.
Effectiveness of yard decorating is not simply in the single piece of folkart, but the artful arrangement of those individual pieces.
Freehand Decorative Painting
Learn your brush strokes from a teacher in class, a TV demo, a book, or teaching sheets such as Donna Dewberry puts out through Plaid.
Become aware of the effect of the intensity of colour on distance and learn how perspective and light affect a single unit so your brushstroke flower is not telling people that there are two suns in the sky. They will know they don’t really like that, but they won’t perhaps know just quite why.
Learn how to use line to conform to the contour of the shape you are working on. Paint a few waste samples and when you can slap down a rose with your eyes practically shut, then it is time to paint Aunt Millie’s hall if she asks you.
Supposing you’d like to paint your own hall but you are renting?
Get a piece of dry wall, a piece of Masonite or some rigid Styrofoam and paint your design on it and place it in your room. Use gesso to seal the smooth side of the Masonite, or both sides of the Styrofoam. Then apply your basecoat and brushstroke your design in place.
Decorate your lawnsale finds, or your walls if you own them.