A lenient twist on the "item a day" craft challenge

The "item a day" craft challenge has always intrigued me. But it's a huge commitment! Lots of crafters have work, families, and other obligations that may prevent them from crafting every single day. So I decided to see if I could make 7 things a week. Let's see how long I can keep this up.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Week 2: Queen of Hearts

Soooooo.... when I decided last week to go with complicated I didn't quite realize how much time I was going to end up sinking into this week's projects.  For a first try I'm quite happy with the results, so it was totally worth it.  I've always been intrigued by polymer clay; I've seen so many people on so many websites do AMAZING things with the stuff.  But every time I've tried to replicate some of the simpler projects I've been confronted with the fact that I can't sculpt anything for crap.  I shelved all my polymer projects for about a year, and hadn't touched the stuff until this project.  While cleaning up my craft drawer I found the remains of my polymer clay excursions and decided to using it up rather than dedicating a drawer to the stuff.

In one of my many craft books or magazines (I unfortunately don't remember which one so I can't give them credit) I saw a neat little article on how to attach a homemade "bail" to a polymer clay frame.  It showed how to make an eyepin out of wire, then insert that into the top of the frame to create a loop for hanging.  Baking the clay secured the eyepin, allowing it to be used to hang the pendant.  I figured that if you could essentially stick an eyepin in clay and it would stay I could probably stick other metal things into clay and they would also stay.  Because my sculpting skills are so remedial, i decided to take one really basic shape I knew I could make, create several out of the shape out of the clay I had available, and embellish them in a variety of different ways.  I can make two things: Hearts and blobs.  Hearts seemed to be a better choice, so I went with that.

I created the first batch with hardware I had sitting around in the junk drawer at the house.

Hex nuts and nails are fun!
Nails again, with a screw.  I used a plastic knife from a fast food joint to add the texture.
I stabbed this one with some "gears" I had laying around.
Small brass nails attached this Tim Holtz keyhole.  The gouges were made with a very small knitting stick that I have never, ever used for knitting.

Once I had gotten started it was pretty much impossible to stop.  I ended up having a bunch of ideas and not quite the right materials to execute them.  So after a fun and productive trip to Lowes, I made batch two:
Copper siding nails are wonderful!
So. Many. Tiny. Nails.
This one is my favorite,  Hence it's status as the only pendant to actually make it to a necklace.
The addition of short silver nails with tiny heads let me use some more of those cool keyholes.
Franken-heart!  I was really happy with the small hinges I found in what appeared to be the "drawer making" isle.

I still have seven other heart bases that I haven't "finished" with wire, paint, gloss or other embellishments.  I worked at least three evenings on these bad boys during the week, and Saturday AM too.  I may have gone a little crazy, but it was so much fun. Still, I'm thinking that a slightly less labor intensive project for next week may be the key to keeping this up.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Week 1: Life's a Drag

This week's craft adventure involved making accessories for my friend Millie's first foray into the fabulous world of drag.  She wasn't performing, but she was going to a drag show in drag.  After we gathered all the gowns, undergarments, and padding that we needed I set about making some accessories to complete her look.  She was going with a blue / ice bitch thing, and these were my results:

Button rings
A hair clip with feathers

The button earrings were easy to make; I used my largest wire cutters to nip the shanks off the back of the buttons, then filed down the remaining stubs so they were level with the back of the button.  Then I just glued them to ring bases!

Clip on earrings (my first!)
A simple bracelet
I did the same thing for the clip on earrings.  The hair clip was simply gluing feathers and a rhinestone to a circle of felt, then gluing that to an alligator clip.  And the bracelet simply a bracelet.  I put beads on a wire.

Cameo and lace choker

Millie didn't want to be the only person in the audience in drag, so I decided to faux-queen up and go with her. I ended up making myself a couple of accessories to go with my outfit.


 The choker took the most work; I started with two rectangular pieces of ivory felt and two lengths of white ribbon.  On one piece of felt  I used Fabri-Tac to attach both the ribbons, and then used more Fabri-Tac to cover them with the second piece of felt so they were sandwiched inbetween.  Then I added a layer of black lace, which I had to cut down the middle into two strips to get it to not be clown-collar large.  Fabri-tacked those bad boys right on and sealed the ends with a lighter to prevent fraying.  I did the same with the white lace overlay.  Finally, I added the cameo charm (purchased from Michael's); it came with a pinback so I just pinned that sucker right on there.  I figured it would cover up my distinct lack of Adam's Apple.

The earrings were also simple; I got a set of two flowers from Michael's that had metal backings with two holes.  I connected an ear wire to the top of each flower.  Then I got into my stash and found some black tassels that I had gotten from Joann's upholstery department and never used, slid a jump ring through the "knot" at the top of the tassel, and connected those to the bottom ring of the earring.  Those things were HUGE.

So, this brings my total to six.  SOOOO CLOSE.  Unfortunately I didn't get a picture of the necklace I made for Millie.  But I did make it, I swear!  You can kind of see it in this picture of the two of us at the end of the night.

It's half covered by her hair, but it's a large blue rhinestone pendant from Michael's that I strung onto three different layers of antiqued chain.
For a first week's attempt, not so shabby!  Especially because I spent most of my free time this week running around wig/dress/shoe/padding shopping.  I think I whipped up the entire accessory batch on the hectic, long Thursday night before the Friday show.

I do have some goals for next week that involve doing more than just basic "glue crap to other crap" type crafting.  Don't get me wrong!  It's my FAVORITE type of crafting.  But not super challenging at the moment.  So I'll endeavor to do something a bit more complex in the coming seven days.  I also think I need to work on improving my picture taking skills, though.  I think a good place to start would be to find somewhere to shoot the pictures other than in my apartment building's hallway.  high hopes!  We'll see what happens.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Introduction to Madness: 365 creations in a year?

TAX SEASON IS OVER.  Hurray!  Now it is time to begin the grand experiment I've been pondering for the last couple of weeks.  For Xmas a couple of years ago, a good friend and fellow crafter gave me a copy of '365: A Daily Creativity Journal' by Noah Scalin.  The book was full of interesting ideas and tips on how to create something on every day of the year.  I found the idea to be intriguing, but unrealistic for my lifestyle.  I work at a desk job that can tire out my hands, and I have some health issues that can make individual days problematic when it comes to creating.  Some days I just don't feel like stringing beads when I've been poked with needles by med students for hours on end.  I shelved the book as well as the idea, and went about crafting on my own haphazard schedule.

The book sat on my shelf for two years while I occasionally thumbed through it for ideas.  Then one day in early April it struck me.  I make about seven things on a good week; I just do it in two or three marathon sessions.  If I challenged myself to make at least seven things every week then by the end of the year I'd have made 365 things in 365 days.  That seemed to be a much more attainable goal than creating something every single day.  But in order to play fair, I decided to lay out some ground rules to keep myself from "cheating", as I do love my shortcuts.  : )

The Rules:

-  Seven complete and different things must be completed in seven days.  Creating multiples of the same item only counts as one item.  That should keep me from gluing a lot of buttons to earring posts and calling it a week.  Several different styles of earrings, however, will count as different items.

-  Ideally, items created should be different from, or at least an alteration of, previously crafted items.  So no set of button earrings one week, and then the next, and the next, and the next...

-  One thing I picked up from the 365 Journal was how many different types of things can be counted as creations.  My typical craft media is jewelry, but I'm open to and excited about trying new mediums.  The list of "do's" is nigh infinite so I'm going to outline some of my "dont's" below and hope that they will keep me on the straight and narrow.

1.  Significant alteration of a preexisting item will count towards an item for that week.  But I can't just draw a smiley face on a t-shirt and call it a day, no matter how fun that sounds.  OK, I can (and will probably) do that but it doesn't count for the items created in that week.

2.  If I cook something, it has to be from scratch and ideally will be something that I have never tried to make before.  It should also ideally be something that actually involves cooking.  Making myself a bowl of cereal or a salad (no matter how awesome the salad is)  doesn't count.

3.  Writing something complete does count as one item, but I'm not allowed to count the blog post used to display my weekly creations as an item.  I'm keeping the blog for self-accountability, and it seems a little cheap to count a post that I'm using to The one exception to the blog post rule will be if I decide to create a tutorial and post it in a separate blog entry.

4.  Things created at work can count if they meet other criteria, but things made FOR work don't.  Those were created for an entirely different purpose other than challenging myself.  So no matter how awesome that spreadsheet is, I can't count it unless I made it for leisure purposes.  Unfortunately, that has happened before.  Don't judge.

5.  Sometimes I'm lucky enough to get to hang out with other crafters, and we work on projects together.  These collaborative projects can count if they are finished during the craft session (not, for example, if we get it halfway done and my friend takes it home to finish).  I also have to get permission from my craft partner to count the item.  And finally, the craft has to be at least 50% created by me; no counting mere assistance!  So helping someone set a hem in something is nice and helpful, but not a creation.

6.  Creating a wire wrapped stone, complicated pendant, or other focal piece definitely counts as a creation.  However, slapping that bad boy on a simple chain and calling it a necklace doesn't count as a second creation.  For a necklace made with a "creation" item to count it should be pretty darn cool, detailed, unique, and should ideally be its own creation apart for the pendant itself.

7.  Other things that I can and frequently do make that do not count to my weekly creation goals: a mess, a fool of myself, a mistake, a scene, and any other "intangible" type items.  The goal of my project is to have physical results.

8.  And finally, I'm allowed to create more rules when I choose to curb "cheap" behavior, but I'm not allowed to create more exceptions to existing rules.  Hopefully this will discourage me from effectively eroding my guidelines over the course of the year.
  OK.  I think that should do it!  I've got my ground rules and a huge stash of crafting materials, let's see what I can make in a year!