Friday, March 29, 2013

Some sketches

I thought I'd share some sketches I did months and MONTHS ago when I was still living in London.

A sketch of a friend of mine. Notice in all these sketches the ridiculous amount of repetitive fine points. I was having a bit of a craze with them (still am). Man it makes my fingers hurt. I'm worried I'm developing arthritis in my fingers.

Little girl lost in the woods. This sketch is based on the work of Don Kenn who sketches on post-it notes and I love.

Another copy of a Don Kenn sketch.


More fish. This one really made my hand ache for hours afterwards.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Indian hand embroidery

When we were in Jaipur (India) over the Christmas holidays as well as block printing we also saw men embroidering fabric by hand. They were working on a man's wedding jacket and using real gold thread. It was beautiful work.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Crafty tips in the classroom: Name cards

I am terrible at remembering names. I'd list it as one of my biggest weaknesses. Superman has his Kryptonite and I have the inability for names to stay in my head. It is quite terrible. Usually I forget a person's name whilst they're still introducing themselves.

Now think on that as I tell you I'm a teacher and in London I was a guide leader. Yup. I regularly have groups of 30 children or so under my command. Have you ever tried to control a group of children when you don't know their names? It leaves you powerless. So I'm always up for new strategies to help me memorise names.

When I was teaching in India earlier this year I had an even bigger problem when trying to remember names. Indian names are hard. And long. My brain refused to co-operate. But luckily I was struck with inspiration. I cut some drawing paper I had into cards, handed them out to my students and had them make themselves name cards. Then I made them wave the cards in the air whenever they wanted to answer/ask a question.

Inspired idea. They loved making the cards. This was my grade 4 class and as they have such regimented school day they adore anything creative they get to do. I was impressed at how different all the cards were. Here is a selection of them:

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Saturday, March 16, 2013

The benefits of crafting

I've been thinking about the benefits of crafting recently. I follow lots of people on twitter who when feeling down or ill often turn to craft to perk themselves up. I know I do this as well. Whenever my spirits are low, when the black dog is biting at my heels then simply completing a project makes me feel better. No matter how small - even if it's just colouring a page of my notebook in red. Just doing something and being able to see a solid result at the end soothes me.

There was an interesting project starting last summer on this topic. A woman was starting a magazine called Tre La Creativity. This was going to be focusing on creativity and ill-health. I got involved in it because this subject matter resonated with me. Sadly, the first edition of the magazine has yet to be published and I slightly regret the time I put into the project, although I am glad I didn't put in more. I suppose this is the downside to creative projects - sometimes they can wait for years, waiting for the one finishing touch. Sometimes they never get finished.

I think for a long time "crafting" was slightly looked down upon as a way of wasting time. A craft kit was something you'd give to a child to keep them out of your hair. Recently there has been a huge revival though with etsy and folksy offering an easy way for people to showcase and sell their makes. Crafting has now become big business (well...bigger than it was). It is now trendy - not just something for grannies in the WI to do. In fact the WI (women's institute) itself has gone through a revival with new trendy groups opening.

It's times like this I really miss having access to the British Library, or my log in at UCL. I know there are lots of interesting books and articles on this topic, but I can't quote them because I can't read them. I wish there was more open access in the world. You will have to take my word on it that there have been studies into the benefit of crafting on the body (improving arthritis in fingers) and on the mind. If I manage to find the names of such studies (as I'm in Uganda I don't rate my chances) I will post them. Please post in the comments if you know of any.

As it is - crafting soothes me and makes me saner. This is why I filled my suitcase with craft supplies rather than more practical things like clothes, or waterproof shoes.

Everyone should have a go making something. It spreads smiles.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Crafting: A definition

What is this thing we call 'crafting'? This term has become increasingly popular. People call themselves crafters, there are magazines dedicated to craft. But what is it, exactly? I've been musing on this as I rewrote my instagram description. I describe myself as a crafter. What does that mean? What do I mean by it?

I just looked up the definition of 'craft' in the Merriam-Webster dictionary. This is what it said:

: skill in planning, making, or executing : dexterity
a : an occupation or trade requiring manual dexterity or artistic skill<the carpenter's craft> <the craft of writing plays> <crafts such as pottery, carpentry, and sewing>
b plural : articles made by craftspeople <a store selling crafts> <acrafts fair>
: skill in deceiving to gain an end <used craft and guile to close the deal>
: the members of a trade or trade association
plural usually craft
a : a boat especially of small size
b : aircraft
c : spacecraft

I think when I describe myself as a crafter I'm focusing more on definition 2a. I make things. I make art. Using all kinds of materials. Sometimes it's felt, sometimes old jam jars, sometimes even re-used plastic bags. That's what we  do as crafters. We take things and use them to make beautiful, or interesting objects.

What is so wonderful about crafting is how open it is as a definition. You can take it and do pretty much whatever you want, make it yours.

I define it as a way of looking at the world. You find an object (a leaf, a paper bag, a ball of wool) and you think to yourself "Hmm, how can I use this?"

It's an exciting way to be.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Safari Brooches

The other weekend I was lucky enough to go on a 3 day safari in the Maasai Mara in Kenya. It was brilliant! We saw so many animals I lost count and filled my camera with pictures. To celebrate I've been playing around with African animals as my theme and have started making some brooches in memory of the animals we saw.

I started off by sketching animals onto calico and then painting over them with my fabric dyes. This was fun.

Our cleaner thought I was quite, quite mad when she discovered all the drying fabric scraps I'd littered the bedroom with though.

Once they were dry I started embroidering the animals. Then, I cut them out and sewed them onto felt for the backing.

I've finished three badges so far. What do you think? The lion is my favourite so far.

I have an elephant planned. What other animals should I do? 

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