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Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Tutorial 3--More Junk Mail X'mas Cards

This is yet another Christmas card that I made out of junk mail that needed to be reused/recycled/upcycled.  I've continued with the idea of iris folding from tutorial 2, except that this time, I decided to tape the strips to the back of the frame instead of to the front of the card.

Another Christmas Card Made from Junk Mail (this tutorial is for the wreath on the left)

Thick paper for the card (I used 67 lb cover stock)--one large piece and one half its size
Junk Mail, magazine, used wrapping paper, or any pretty paper
Scotch tape
Color pencil
Compasses, bowl or some circular object for drawing a circle

Time Taken
1 hour

General Idea
Cut a circular shape out of the frame, like a round Christmas ornament, or a wreath.  Tape strips of junk mail to the underside of the frame in a circular fashion.

Step 1 and 2)  Same as in Tutorial 2.

Step 3)  Draw a circle on the half sheet of card stock (I will call this the frame).  Make sure the circle is centered horizontally.

Step 4)  Draw lines right through the diameter of the circle, at regular intervals.  I used compasses to space the lines so that each pair of adjacent lines formed a 30-degree angle.  You can just eyeball the position of the lines if you don't have compasses or a protractor.

Step 5)  Draw as big a circle as will fit onto the card, with the same center as the existing circle, ie you will have 2 concentric circles.  This step is done only to improve the speed at which you can tape the strips on.

Step 6)  Cut the smaller circle out.

Step 7)  Number the lines in a counterclockwise manner.  It doesn't matter where you start numbering.  Whether you number the lines in a counterclockwise manner or clockwise manner doesn't matter, just choose a direction and number them.

Step 8)   Cut 12 strips of junk mail, about 1.5" by 3".  Fold a raw edge of each strip to the wrong side.

Step 9)  Tape a folded strip so that its folded edge crosses:
the intersection of #1 and the outer circle
the intersection of #6 and the outer circle
Trim the strip so that you can see where each of the lines crosses the outer circle

Step 10)  Tape a folded strip so that its folded edge crosses:
the intersection of #12 and the outer circle AND
the intersection of #5 and the outer circle
Trim the strip so that you can see where each of the lines crosses the outer circle

Step 11)  Continue taping strips in a clockwise manner, trimming the access.  Whether your taping in a clockwise manner or counter clockwise manner does not matter, just make sure to choose one direction and stick with it.  As you are taping the last few pieces, you will need to overlap pieces so that the design is consistent.

Step 12)  Make sure the design looks regular from the front of the frame.  Trim off any pieces that are jutting out of the edge of the frame.

Step 13)  Glue the frame to the front of the card.

Step 14)  Tie a piece of ribbon into a bow and glue it to the bottom of the wreath.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Tutorial 2--Junk Mail X'mas Card

Since Christmas is getting close, I thought I would make a few Christmas cards.  I loooked around at my materials, and I again see junk mail that could be reused/recycled/upcycled.  I had read about a type of origami method called iris folding, and decided to incorporate it into my Christmas card.  This card can also be used as a Christmas ornament since it has a piece of string attached to the top.

Making a Christmas Card out of Junk Mail (this tutorial is for the card on the left)
  • Thick paper for the card (I used 67 lb cover stock)--one large piece and one half its size
  • Junk Mail, unwanted magazine, used wrapping paper, or any other pretty paper
  • Scotch tape
  • Glue
  • Scissors
  • Ribbon or String
  • Color pencil
  • Compasses, bowl or some circular object for drawing a circle
  • Computer Printer for printing the template

    Time Taken

    1.5 hours

    General Idea
    The ornament portion of the card is made by overlaying strips of paper to create a 3-D look.  A piece of thick paper, with the shape of an ornament cut out of it has been glued over these overlaying strips.  This tutorial is good for understanding how iris folding works, and for looking at how your card develops from the front.  After writing this tutorial, I found some templates on the internet that I could use to make the process easier, by working on the underside of the frame, building the iris backwards.  See Tutorial 10 for free instructions on using the template.

    Step 1)  Fold the large sheet of thick paper into half.  If the paper is too large for the card, cut it to an appropriate size.  I cut mine to 6.2" by 4.5" before folding.

    Step 2)  Cut a piece of thick paper (I used the same cover stock) to the same size as the front of the card (i.e. half the size of the paper in Step 1).

    Step 3)  Trace a circle onto the paper from Step 2.  I will call this paper the frame.  Draw a little rectangle at the top of the circle.  Cut the circle and rectangle out so you have the shape of an ornament on the frame.  It was too difficult to get my scissors around the corners of the rectangle so I didn't actually cut the whole rectangle out.  I simply folded the rectangle to the back of the frame.

    Step 4)  Lay the frame over the front of the card and locate the center of the circle.  Lightly mark this center on the front of the card, with a pencil.  This will be the center of the ornament.

    Step 5)  Cut several colorful pieces out of the catalog.  These pieces will be used for the colored portions of the ornament shown in the completed card above.  The number of pieces you cut will depend on their size.  you can always cut more later if you need more.

    Step 6)  Select a piece of colored paper and cut it into 4 strips, each 1 inch by 2 inches.  You may tear the pieces instead of using scissors.

    Step 7)  Fold the raw edge of each of the strips under.  Form a square with these folded edges; Tape each strip to the card so that the INSIDE of the strips form a square.  Place the tape on the OUTSIDE edge of each folded strip so that the tape will not be seen.  The center marked in Step 4 is the center of the square.

    Step 8)  Cut 4 strips from the leftover cover stock.  Tape these strips around those from Step 5, so the INSIDE edges form a square.  As in Step 5, tape on the outside edge of the strips.  Note that this square is bigger than the one in Step 5, and is has been rotated.

    Step 9)  Cut 4 more colorful strips.  Repeat the process of forming a square with the INSIDE edges of the 4 strips.  Note that each square is bigger and is rotated just a bit.  You can use a ruler to help make sure the square isn't a trapezoid.  I made mine without the use of a ruler.  I just eyeballed the squares.

    NOTE: Before taping junk mail, fold one long raw edge under first so the square you form will look neater.

    Step 10)  Alternate using junk mail to form a square, and leftover cover stock to form a square.  Altogether, I formed 4 squares with junk mail and 3 squares with leftover cover stock.  

    Step 11)  Place the frame over the front of the card so that the ornament looks centered, and no tape is showing.  This step is done just to make sure everything looks alright so far.

    Step 12)  Cut 3 pieces of colorful paper, preferably in a color that stands out from the rest of the ornament.  These will be used to fill in the rectangular ornament holder.  

    Step 13)  Fold these 3 pieces into squares and overlap them so that the bottom edge looks like a zigzag.

    Step 14)  Tape these 3 pieces to the back of the frame so the zigzag shows through the rectangular portion.  If the front doesn't look good, you can always remove the tape and reposition the squares.

    Step 15)  Tuck a piece of string into the upper 2 corners of the rectangle that was cut out.  Tape the ends of the string to the back of the frame.

    Step 16)  Glue the frame to the front of the card.  Outline the cut out part of the frame with a color pencil for a bolder effect.  I used a blue color pencil for my outline.

    Sunday, November 29, 2009

    How does Poo Clean Hair?

    I used to have a book called "Why, What, Where", which provided explanations to everyday questions, like "How Does Soap Work?"  It was a book for children, and the answers were simplified.  I remember that it stated soap pulls dirt out while water pushed dirt out, and that soap is made of things that we might consider dirty, like fats and ash.  

    Bubbles (or suds) in soap do not actually help clean.  Their purpose is to increase the surface area that the cleaning agent comes in contact with.  Bleach cleans well, but has no suds.  There is also an industry standard of dirt, appropriately dubbed "industrial dirt", with which detergents are tested for validity.  Here is where my knowledge of how soap/detergent/shampoo cleans.  I decided to do more research into the the chemistry behind soap:
    Soap cleans by acting as an emulsifier. Basically, soap allows oil and water to mix so that oily grime can be removed during rinsing.
    Swishing the soapy water around allows the soap or detergent to pull the grime away from clothes or dishes and into the larger pool of rinse water. Rinsing washes the detergent and soil away. Warm or hot water melts fats and oils so that it is easier for the soap or detergent to dissolve the soil and pull it away into the rinse water.
    Shampoo works in a manner similar to that of soap and detergent, except that shampoo will not leave soap scum.  But what if I only want to remove the grime, and keep the oils?  Well, that's why I am washing my hair with baking soda rather than with shampoo.

    I've read that, to keep hair shiny, I should wash my hair in cold water.  This makes sense as warm or hot water melts the natural oils in my hair.  These oils give my hair a gleam.  I would like to keep most of these oils and only be rid of the dirt.  Possibly, by regulating the temperature of the water I am using to wash my hair, I could change the greasiness of my hair.  During the initial days of my no-poo treatment, I could use hotter water to rinse my hair, and, as my scalp gets used to getting no poo, I could decrease the temperature of the water.


    Friday, November 27, 2009

    A no-poo experiment

    I read about washing my hair with a baking soda solution and rinsing with vinegar solution, and doing away with shampoo entirely.  I decided to give it a try.  I have been experimenting with this now for about 8 weeks.  Here is a summary of my before-and-after experiences.

    In the months before starting the experiment, my hair would start feeling greasy about 20 hours after being shampooed and conditioned.  It's not just my hair that started feeling greasy around then, but also the areas of my face near my hairline, namely my forehead, cheeks, and chin.  My hair would be tangled after shampooing/conditioning, and would be difficult to comb.  I lost a lot of hair while combing.  The purpose of the hair conditioner is to put artificial oils into my hair, that's why it's easier to comb conditioned hair; however, either my hair conditioner didn't work well, or I was using too little.

    After reading a few blogs and articles regarding shampoo, I have come to the conclusion that shampoo strips the natural oils from my scalp, and my scalp is trying to replenish those oils.  Perhaps the shampoo also touched my face, and so my face, too, is trying to replenish those stripped oils.

    The articles I read suggest using a baking soda solution for washing hair instead of shampoo, and an apple cider vinegar solution as a rinse.  I did not have any apple cider vinegar so I used rice vinegar instead.  Apple cider vinegar has 3-5% acidity.  The rice vinegar I used had 4.1% acidity.

    1 tablespoon of baking soda
    1 tablespoon of rice vinegar
    2 cups of warm water

    1) Mix baking soda with 1 cup of warm water.
    2) Mix vinegar with 1 cup of warm water.
    3) Wet hair thoroughly.
    4) Slowly pour baking soda solution onto hair, rubbing it into the scalp.  Keep eyes  closed.  This took about 1 minute.
    5) Let stand for 3 minutes, during which time I cleaned the rest of myself.
    6) Slowly pour vinegar solution onto hair, rubbing it into the scalp.  Keep eyes closed.  This took about 1 minute.
    7) Rinse.

    My hair was easy to comb after washing with baking soda, even though I did not use any hair conditioner.  This was to be expected since I did not use any shampoo to strip the natural oils out of my hair.  Hence, I lost less hair.  Washing with baking soda solution and rinsing with vinegar solution is more inconvenient than using shampoo and conditioner, primarily since I mix the baking soda and vinegar before each treatment, whereas the shampoo and conditioner are already in bottles ready for my use.  It would not be convenient for me to  premix the baking soda solution and store it in a bottle for later use unless I were willing to use the baking soda solution cold.

    The first 3 weeks of the no-poo experiment were the hardest.  My hair felt greasy and even waxy.  My scalp itched.  The baking soda did not remove the oils that my scalp was producing.  Once a week, the waxiness became too much to bear and I would use shampoo.

    By the 4th week of the no-poo experiment, my scalp seemed to be adjusting much better to the absence of shampoo.  The waxiness waned and I felt less discomfort.  I continued to shampoo my hair once a week, using less shampoo each time.  Slowly, my scalp is adjusting.  A few hours after my weekly shampoo is when my hair feels its best--it feels like baby's hair, soft and fluffy.  As the week wears on, my hair feels greasier.

    Ultimately, by weaning myself of shampoo and conditioner, I hope to have baby soft hair more permanently.


    Thursday, November 5, 2009

    Tutorial 1--Junk Mail Basket

    I get far too much junk mail.  I used to think that if I put a piece of junk mail into the recycling bin, it would get recycled into a brand new piece of junk mail.  Since then, I've learned that this is not true.  Only about 60% of, say, newsprint, can actually be turned into new newsprint.  The other 40% really does become junk.  I don't have the numbers for glossy paper from catalogs.

    I was looking for something in which to store my little odds and ends like my staple, paper clips, etc, and decided to make an eco-friendly basket out of junk mail.  I used a catalog that I didn't want.

    Making a Basket out of Junk Mail

    Unwanted catalog or magazine
    Optional--stapler, tape, or glue

    Time to Make
    2 hours

    Step 1)  Dig a catalog or magazine out of your wastebasket.  The one I dug up was 8 inches by 10.5 inches.  It doesn't really matter how big the catalog is if you are not picky about the size of the basket.

    Step 2)  Tear 9 pages of similar thickness and size from the catalog.

    Step 3)  Tear each of the 9 pages into half lengthwise.  It's not necessary to use scissors.  Just crease and tear.

    Step 4)  Fold up half an inch along the length of one strip.

    Step 5)  Continue folding up half an inch lengthwise until you have a strip that is about half an inch by 10.5 inches (or whatever the length of your catalog was).

    Step 6)  Unfold two of the last folds you made.  Refold along the creases you've already made in Step 4, starting from the opposite edge.  The purpose is to hide the raw edges of the catalog  within the strip.

    Step 7)  Repeat Steps 4 to 6 for each of the remaining strips.

    Step 8)  Place 6 of the strips vertically.  This will be the beginning of the base of the basket.

    Step 9)  Weave 6 strips horizontally, going up and down the vertical strips.  Leave small gaps (about 1/8th of an inch) between the vertical strips.  Likewise, leave the small gaps between the horizontal strips.  The gaps will make weaving easier.  After you have woven about 3 of the horizontal strips, the strips will no longer come apart as easily.  See, no hands in the following picture.  The bottom of the basket is done.

    Step 10) Now we will start forming the sides of the basket.  Fold each of the 12 strips upright where the square base ends.  This results in each strip having 2 folds.  By using your hands to hold the strips upright, you can see roughly what the basket will look like when complete.

    Tip:  Place a ruler along one edge of the square base and fold the 6 strips that are along the base, using the ruler as a guide.

    Step 11)  Now pick 2 of the unused strips.  Each row of the sides will be formed with 2 strips.  Fold 2 strips as shown.  The placement of the folds coincide with the length of each side of the square base.  Note that the 2 strips have been folded in such a way that they share 2 corners.  This will lock the square in place so it doesn't come apart.

    Step 12)  Place the overlapping part of one strip inside the other so that you get a square.  If your catalog was too short to allow 2 corners to overlap, then you can either use more strips to form the sides or use staples, tape or glue.

    Tip:  If your catalog was too short to allow 2 corners to overlap, then you can either use more strips to form the sides, or use staples, tape or glue to prevent the square from coming apart.

    Step 13)  Weave the strips sticking out of the base (from Step 9) over and under this square.

    Step 14)  Repeat Steps 11 to 13.

    Step 15)  Repeat Steps 11 and 12.  This strip will form the top edge of the basket (I'll call this strip the top square).

    Step 16)  The strips from the base will be sticking up above the top edge.  Fold each strip over the top square.  Tuck each of those strips under the top square.  If the strip is too long to tuck neatly, trim the strip first.

    Tip:  Do Step 16 for the overlapping corners (from step 12) last.

    Wednesday, October 28, 2009

    No more cross-stitch

    I have finally sold my cross-stitch fabric on ebay--2 pounds worth.  I haven't cross-stitched in several years since it takes such a toll on my eyes.  The cross-stitch pattern books and cross bars were the first to go (to the Salvation Army), followed by most of my DMC floss (see the blanket I made in my second blog post).  Now, even the cross-stitch fabric is gone.  I only have a few incomplete skeins of floss, the cross-stitch organizer boxes, and floss card holders left.  I was planning on giving the floss card holders to the person who had purchased my cross-stitch fabric, but that would have increased the shipping cost quite a bit, so I decided not to do so.  I'll have to think of something I can do with them.

    Sunday, October 25, 2009

    Macrame and Crocheting in one project

    After reading what one person said he/she wanted as a gift for a 4-year-old girl, I decided to make what I thought would be a good gift for that girl.  I crocheted a little red bag with a shell design, which had holes in between the shells so you could see what was in the bag, just in case the child was carrying something she shouldn't be (I know how kids can have sticky fingers sometimes).  I macramed 2 stars in bright girlie colors, since the child liked those types of colors.  I stitched the stars onto the bag.  I left tassels on the ends of the stars for her to play with, so they look like shooting stars.  It can be used as a wristlet in case she is prone to losing things that aren't tied to her.  It's meant as a keepsake, and can be used to hold her iPhone when she is older, although by then, we could have iPhones implanted directly into our brains.

    I enjoyed making the bag and thinking of what the child might like.  My only regret is that I didn't have many colors of crochet thread to work with, so my choices were limited.

    Materials used: crochet thread, knotting cord, glue
    Time taken to make: 6 hours

    Thursday, October 22, 2009

    Micro Macrame Goldfish Earrings

    I made these earrings out of 1mm synthetic cord.  They are 3-D goldfish.  Most of the macrame jewelry I have seen are in 2-D.  I used 6 mm black crystal beads for the eyes.  I like how the goldfish are posing for the camera in the second picture.  

    Materials used: Knotting cord, crystal beads, blue
    Time taken to make: 3.5 hours

    Wednesday, October 21, 2009

    The History of Knotting

    Knotting has existed for centuries.  Stone blades would be tied to wooden handles with knots to form axes in prehistoric times.  Rope ladders were made with knots.  Some knots were meant to be functional, others to beautify.  Knots existed in many different cultures.  Here are a few interesting excerpts about the history of knotting, which I found on the internet.

    In 1867 after observing Scottish physicist Peter Tait's experiments involving smoke rings, Thomson came to the idea that atoms were knots of swirling vortices in the √¶ther. Chemical elements would thus correspond to knots and links. Tait's experiments were inspired by a paper of Helmholtz's on vortex-rings in incompressible fluids. Thomson and Tait believed that an understanding and classification of all possible knots would explain why atoms absorb and emit light at only the discrete wavelengths that they do. For example, Thomson thought that sodium could be the Hopf link due to its two lines of spectra. (Sossinsky 2002, p. 3–10)  The History of Knot Theory
    A resent study has found that man is not the only specie to tie knots, that gorillas use them to hold creepers and saplings down in their nests. In one nest two dozen knots were counted, most were grannies but some were square knots. There is a bird that ties knots to fasten their nest. There are still primitive races who fasten their huts, traps and even clothing with knots. KnotPro

    Tuesday, October 20, 2009

    Crocheting a Gift

    I learned to crochet when I was about 10.  I recall making a brown granny squares bag as one of my first projects, as well as worm-like bookmarks.  Where did they go?

    I still enjoy crocheting, and still like granny squares.  Here are pictures of a more recent project of mine, which was given away as a gift about a month ago.  The multi-colored portion consists of granny squares made from cross-stitch DMC floss.  I don't cross-stitch anymore since my eyesight is not as good as it used to be, so I used the floss for this project.  My initial plans were to make a baby blanket, but the granny squares turned out to be, in my opinion, too heavy for a baby blanket, so I decided to assimilate the granny squares into a blanket large enough for a twin bed by sewing a blue border and tassels around the granny squares.

    Some computations:
    I used 2 skeins (of different colors) of floss per granny square, and was able to make every square in a unique color combination.  There are 15 X 15 squares (i.e. 225 squares), so a total of 450 skeins of DMC floss was used.  In order to make 225 different squares by choosing a combination of 2 colors per square, I would need only 22 unique colors of floss:

    Combination(22, 2) = 231 > 225

    I am very sure I had far more than 22 different colors of floss, and made an effort not to duplicate color combinations.

    Materials used:
    1)  2 skeins of cross-stitch DMC floss per granny square.  Each square is about 2.75" X 2.75"  (7cm x 7cm).  Total of 15 x 15 squares.
    2)    knitted fabric for (blue) border
    3)  blue bedsheet for backing
    4)  white, pre-made tassels

    Time taken: 4 months

    Size:  5' X 6' (1.5m x 1.8m)

    Tip: I found it convenient to connect the granny squares in a diagonal manner:

    Sunday, October 18, 2009

    My First Post

    This is my very first post on my very first blog. I'm planning on posting my thoughts about my crafting projects here.  This way, I can have a crafts portfolio to flip through when I'm old and have arthritis or can't see well enough to make anything.  It is possible though, that when that time arrives, I won't be able to see well enough to read my own blog. :)