Crafty As Mr L!

My right arm has continued to be troublesome and achy so I’ve still been unable to craft this week.  It has been driving me crazy not being able to create!!  The physio has given me different exercises this week and I think they are slowly starting to make a difference. Instead of crafting, I’ve been focused on ‘eating clean’ and getting at least 30 minutes of exercise every day (spurred on by my latest read, The Exercise Cure by Jordan Metzl, MD).  I have an auto-immune based arthritis and changing to a Paleo diet a few years ago put my symptoms into remission.  You know what it’s like though – I started to feel better so being as strict with my diet slipped a little…. then a little more.  The physio has determined that the pain in my wrist is arthritic so that’s made me focus on what I can do to help myself again.  We’ve upped our fruit and vegetable intake to about 8-9 portions a day and I’ve been very strict about no dairy as I know that my body doesn’t tolerate it very well.  Mr L has been doing a modified Paleo diet; his includes bread, peanuts and beer!

Focusing more on veg has meant making the most of the tail end of the growing season in our veg patch.  We’ve not been quite so organised with successional sowing this year, so we’re down to beetroot, tomatoes, chillies and cucumber now.  And the squashes!  They are currently sunbathing on the swing seat to harden their skins to improve their storage time.

We’ve tried storing the squashes in the garage but I think it was too warm and lots rotted.  Last year we stored them in the cold frame but since it was down the bottom of the garden, it was harder to keep an eye out for rotting fruits and we also forgot to use them.  We’ve done a lot of work in our garden in the 5 years we’ve been here and had many deliveries which arrived on pallets, which got stacked up on the front lawn.  I think our record was 27 at one time!!  Mr L has been using them to build compost heaps and he made a very study log store with them a few years ago so I asked if he’d be able to make a pumpkin storage rack that we could keep by the back door.  He was up for the challenge!

He began with the sturdiest pallet for the base and cut it to size using his chain saw.  Boys and their toys!!

Next, he removed some long slats from another pallet for the uprights.

These were joined lengthways in readiness for the roof.

He cut sections from other pallets to make the roof.

Next, he added some shelves….

…and a coat of timber preservative.

The sides and back were lined with some sacking, some damp-proof membrane was stapled onto the roof and a piece of scaffold netting was secured to the top to keep out the worst of the rain.  Here’s the finished rack.

Top job, Mr L!

 

Left-Handed Crafting!

I’m happy to report that I’m out of the sling this week although nowhere near back to normal yet ☹ The few days in the sling allowed my muscles to calm down enough so that the weight of my arm was bearable again.  This week I’ve had some physio and acupuncture and I’ve got this really jazzy strapping helping me out.

However, I still can’t use my right hand for very long until my arm starts to hurt so I thought I’d challenge my left hand to some everyday tasks!  The first was writing.  Well, I struggled to even hold the pen to begin with! My pages of alphabet look like they were written by a 6-year old but at least they look like letters.  My blog posts and photo editing is also all being done left handed, albeit slowly, but I have learned some useful keyboard shortcuts.

So, then I turned my attention to crafting and what I could make that would be simple, forgiving and hopefully not too frustrating.  I had some 2” strips of card left over from another project that I’d saved for tags, so tags it was! My coordination with my left-hand, when operating solo, is a bit sketchy so I used my Stamparatus to help with the stamping.  The bare trees from Winter Woods were mounted on one side of the door and the greeting on the other.  I stamped them onto the lining paper so I could line up my tags with the images.

Using Versamark ink and clear embossing powder, I stamped and heat set the trees on each tag.  Then I cut a wavy edge to the top of a Post-it note for the mask and used the overhangs of the mask to hold the tag in position.  I used a sponge brayer to colour the sky.  The ink is applied so gradually, it’s a very forgiving method so handy for my non-dominant hand.

The embossing resists the ink and any residue was easily removed with a tissue.  To give more texture to the sky, I spritzed some water on and dabbed it off with a tissue.

Next, the door of the Stamparatus was turned over so I could stamp the greeting.  I then punched the tops with the Scalloped Tag Topper punch.

Since they were Christmas tags, I wanted a bit of sparkle so I put them into my ‘spraying box’ and sprayed with Champagne Shimmer Mist/isopropyl alcohol mix.

The last job was to attach some ribbon, for which I did have to bring my right hand out of retirement!  The whole project probably took me twice as long as usual but at least I was crafting.  It must have given my brain quite a workout too as I had to have a nap afterwards!

 

 

Images © 2019 Stampin’ Up!

One Armed Crafter

Unfortunately, this week I have found myself needing a sling.  I’ve had pain in my wrist for some time but now have pain in my elbow and muscle soreness in my upper arm too.  The arm in question is my right which my dominant side so it’s quite a challenge to rest it.  Whilst I await further medical treatment, I figured the best way to stop me using the arm and causing more pain was to put it in a sling.  I tried the basic triangle sling out of the first aid kit but it was very uncomfortable so I decided to make my own.  Fingers crossed you won’t need this but should you ever be in need of a sling, here’s how I made mine.

Disclaimer: I have no medical training – use at your own discretion!

First, I measured from the outside of my bent elbow to the middle of my little finger and added 4” onto this measurement.  I don’t think there’s any rule about how high to have the sling so I went for about 6½”  and added on 1½” for seam allowance and boxing the elbow area.

I cut out 2 rectangles of the correct size, one for the outer fabric and one for the lining.  I also used some fusible fleece to give my sling a bit more strength but still be soft – I cut it out about ½” smaller all round than the outer fabric.  The rectangles were folded in half along the long side before cutting a curve through both sides at the top corner (I used a Pyrex bowl to trace my curve) on one short side.  On the other short side, mark 1” in from the edge along the fold and cut from there to the corner.  My pieces looked like this.

The fleece was adhered to the back of the outer fabric as per manufacturer’s instructions.  Both the outer and lining fabrics were then folded in half along the long side, right sides together and stitched down the short straight side (without the curve) using a ½” seam allowance.

To make some elbow room (!), I decided to ‘box’ the seam.  To do this, fold the seam back so that it lays on top of the centre crease.  Mark a line at 90˚ to the seam/crease that is 2” long.

Sew along this line and trim off the excess.

The boxed corner should look like this.

I had a broken luggage strap that I was planning to use for my support strap but I didn’t have any strap sliders 2” wide.  To overcome this slight problem, I stitched some 25mm wide webbing strap onto one end as I had 25mm plastic D-rings that would support the front of the sling.  I sewed some fluffy Velcro onto the wide section on the strap and the hooky Velcro onto the same side of the thin end of the strap.  It’s not easy to see as it’s black Velcro on black strapping!

Cut two 4” lengths of 25mm webbing and fold in half.  Place a D-ring onto each piece and position one on each side of the top edge of the sling, just as the curve begins, and pin in place. Match the edges of the webbing to the edge of the fabric.  Pin the long strap to the back of the sling, roughly about 2” from the seam.  Test for a good fit before sewing in place using a ¼” seam allowance.

Next, with right sides together, pin the outer to the lining, ensuring that all the straps are between the layers and away from the edges.  Sew all around the edge using a ½” seam allowance but leaving a 3”opening on the back edge for turning.  This method is called “Bagging out” in case you’re interested!

Clip the curved corners so that they will lie flat when turned out.

Turn the sling right side out through the hole in the back seam.  It probably won’t look very sling-like at this stage!

Press the seams flat, turning in the seam allowance at the opening.  Close the opening with a slip stitch or ladder stitch.

Top stitch all the way around approximately ¼” from the edge.  This will keep the outer and lining fabrics in place and provide additional support across the straps.

Lastly, I found that the strap dug into my neck a little so I made a padded cover for the strap.  This involved 2 pieces of fabric, one with fleece attached, sewn all the way around minus the hole for turning.

Once turned and pressed, the piece was folded in half and sewn close to the edge, securing the ends well.   This formed a tube that the strap could be fed though.

And here’s the finished article!  This is my Mark 2 version.  The first one wasn’t quite long enough and finished half way down my hand.  I felt that with my hand dangling, there wasn’t enough support for my arm to completely relax.  The Mk2 version is much better but I’m hoping I won’t be needing it for very much longer.

 

 

 

Brilliant Brusho!

Brusho is a watercolour pigment which is supplied in small drums of crystalline powder.  The powder is very vivid and a little goes a long way – often beyond your project and half way across your desk!!  The powder can be mixed with water to use as a traditional watercolour medium or can be used with sprayers and brushes to create a unique mix of hues and patterns.  This second use interested me for making backgrounds for my cards.

Warning! It’s quite a messy business.  Cover your desk with some scrap paper and if you don’t want multi-coloured fingers for a few hours, wear gloves.

I had chosen mainly blues with a purple and black as I wanted to create night sky inspired works.  The pots arrived and were identical in their anonymity!  The colour names were written on the pots but I thought it would make life easier if the actual colours were displayed on the pots.  I mixed up a tiny amount of each powder with a little cold water and painted a patch of each colour onto some sticky labels.  When dry, I cut out a circle (my 1” punch is the perfect size for the pot lid) and a couple of small strips for the sides of the pot.  I pushed a pin into each lid to make the pots into shakers to save taking the lids off each time.

I also cut out a smaller circle for my index card and also had a little calligraphy fun with this too.

Using shimmer paper (as I would be using a lot of water, watercolour paper would also work), I taped the pieces to a board to keep them flat.  It was more successful than not taping – the pieces still buckled but not as much.  For these four pieces, I either spritzed – powdered – spritzed or just powdered -spritzed.  Here you can see

1. the powder on dry paper;

2. the crystals starting to burst when the water is applied;

3. the patterns changing as more water is added making more colour release.  I used a mix of 3 or 4 colours on each piece.

When I was happy with the coverage and patterns, I left them overnight to dry.  I’ll warn you – it’ll probably look a hot mess at this stage.  The colours are lighter when they’re dry so wait until then before you decide whether to chuck it away!!  You may be surprised…

Remember the Friendly Silhouette dies from a few weeks ago? I wanted to use these again but using white rather than black card and the dramatic backgrounds created using Brusho are perfect for this.

What’s lovely about Shimmer White card is that it has a light glittery effect which shines through the Brusho and adds a bit of interest to the sky.

I tried a sentiment in a smaller font on this card but it looked a bit lost so instead I decided to make the most of the dark background and heat emboss the sentiment there instead.

This panel looked more like a galaxy so I added the star flourish and the star cut outs from Stitched Stars dies (to be released in the 2019 Autumn/Winter Catalogue on 4th Sept).  The coordinating So Many Stars stamp set has only Christmas sentiments so I used another star-themed one from my stash.

I had chosen these colours for making snowy night skies for Christmas cards and these two were made using only Prussian Blue.  The top one was sprayed first then had crystals sprinkled on.  The bottom one had crystals sprinkled onto dry paper and then brushed with a paintbrush and lots of clean water.  A little mist of spray created the blue haze at the bottom. I heat embossed the trees from Waterfront and Snowfront (another A/W 2019 catalogue release) stamp sets and stars from So Many Stars using white embossing powder.

This card also featured only Prussian Blue.  This time, I painted plenty of clean water where I wanted my sky and left the bottom white for the snow.  I then sprikled the pigment onto the wet area.  As the card bent with the added water, it allowed the paint to run and create that brilliant Northern Lights type of pattern.  Bet I can’t recreate that!

As the paper got quite warped, I used wet glue to adhere the panel to the card base and placed it under a weight until dry.  It emerged perfectly flat.

Here’s another galaxy style with a large cut out star with the new Mercury Acetate (A/W Catalogue) behind and some silver heat embossing.

Stampin’ Up! Have now released Pigment Sprinkles, their own version of Brusho in colours to match some of their card and inks.  The colours are mainly pinks, oranges and greens so will give a completely different look. I think I’ll be purchasing some of those in the not too distant future!

p.s. You remember at the beginning how I said the crystals go a long way?  This is what I cleaned off my desk afterwards despite having protective sheets of paper down…

 

 

Images © 2019 Stampin’ Up!