You wouldn’t think the tiny books I make create such a mess, but they do. My paper crafting studio is not really big enough to do more than store supplies and write blog posts, or enable me to complete one very contained task at a time. And if my husband and I didn’t already use the long kitchen table for eating, reading the newspaper over breakfast, or (for me) laying out patterns for sewing, I’d have a permanent extension to my paper crafting work space.
“Not gonna happen,” John reminds me.
But I must admit that the kitchen table is handy for setting up bookmaking stations all the way around its perimeter for cutting paper, gluing and pressing paper flat, sanding chipboard smooth and staining the edges, rounding the corners of pages and covers, punching pages and covers and binding them together, gluing embellishments to the cover, and tying ribbon to the owire and/or adding labeled tabs to book sections. That’s 10 or 11 steps, depending on the type of product I’m producing.
At any rate, my husband and I have a pact for the moment. There is no place in the house that is better for all of these bookmaking work stations than the kitchen table, but for obvious reasons I can’t leave them there 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Between work sessions, I have placed neat work stacks on the piano bench, beneath the piano bench, and on the flat surfaces of the piano. Basically, if it’s horizontal, it’s potential storage space. The piano is in a corner of the living room and I don’t know how to play it, so at least it’s being used for a good purpose. Our son, of course, took many years of lessons and one day—if he comes and collects it—the piano will be his. But for now, it’s a great place to keep my work out of the way.
Long term? Well, I have an old dining room table in the basement family room, filled with unorganized bits of this and that, plus a photography station. That’s the future home of my paper crafting work stations. My husband can’t wait!
This evening I used all of the work stations in the first photo to complete a custom order for a “Save the Date” book. My buyer wants a shamrock-embellished, Irish-themed book, so she chose papers from my inventory and I cut out a shamrock from card stock, backing it with “Fun Foam” to make it dimensional. This was a fun project to complete, and the first one where a customer asked for a cover embellishment that was different from the buttons or flowers that normally get adhered to the front of my books.
I know that I’m not alone in feeling cramped for workspace. If you’re like me—and I believe this is more common than the editors of magazines that tout so-called “small” workrooms measuring 10 feet by 12 feet would guess—you are probably taking over multiple rooms in your house. How do you manage your craft? What rooms of the house do you use all the time, or part of the time?
In this day of electronic reminders, I still like to keep a few of them in paper format. I guess it’s very similar to the feeling you get about a card someone sends you in the mail versus an electronic greeting. You’re more likely, I think, to store the former as a keepsake over the latter. At any rate, in keeping with my preference for certain reminders to be in paper format, I am introducing a “Save the Date Notebook,” a few of which you’ll find in my Mister PenQuin shop on Etsy. The five-inch by five-inch book is divided into 12 sections for the 12 months of the year, and each month you’ll have 84 opportunities to enter a special date for a birthday, baptism, anniversary, graduation, bar mitzvah or something else.
I used BoBunny’s Flutter Butter “Breeze” paper for the above book. The papers in this collection are so cheerful that I couldn’t resist combining several of them in one cover. I joined together different sizes and shapes of the paper, patchwork-style, using a combination of straight and zig-zag stitches from my sewing machine. Really fun!
I also made an aquamarine-colored Save the Date Notebook from the same Flutter Butter collection. There’s something about this color that just makes me happy!
How do you keep track of important, recurring dates?
Decades ago, when the elementary schools in my hometown of Wauwatosa, Wisconsin organized summer recreational activities, I was introduced to many types of arts and crafts. If it weren’t for those programs, in fact, I suspect I might never have learned about many of the crafts I enjoy today. We wove lanyard keychains, pounded and rolled clay to make animals, filled easel paper with poster paint drawings, soaked reeds in water to weave baskets, and paper machêd balloons with strips of newspaper and paste to form bowls. Between one craft activity and the next, we played softball, freeze tag and box hockey; held tourneys for ping pong. chess and checkers, and acted out skits. We made homemade kites, threw water balloons at each other, and played hop scotch and four-square. One day there was a corn roast after we soaked the cobs in barrels of water and wrapped them in foil to cook over hot coals. My mother, who was a stay-at-home photographer who specialized in retouching negatives for wedding photos, likely needed some quiet time to get her work done. She sent the two older kids, my brother and me, to the summer school playground while the younger kids, eight and ten years younger than me, stayed home. She got something out of the arrangement, and so did my brother and I. They were glorious summers, ones I probably would not have had a chance to enjoy, for left to my own devices, I would have sat at home all summer and read books.
Left to right: Mark, Monica (in my mother’s lap), Rick and me. This photo predates the summer playground years by a couple of years, but it is one of the few photos in which all four children in my family are pictured.
One summer we made hundreds of crepe paper flowers for a 4th of July playground float. We folded layers of crepe paper squares into quarters, and then folded each half of the quarter once more. We rounded off the open, unfolded edge with scissors, cut a tiny hole into the tip, and threaded a pipe cleaner into the hole to form stamens on one end, and a flower stem on the other. Then we wrapped the flower “stem” with green floral tape to secure everything together. With our fingers, we fluffed out the crepe paper folds. In just a short while, we had a beautiful flower that was easy to assemble.
That folding method—taking a square and folding it into eight parts, then rounding it to form a scalloped circle—is the principle behind Clover’s Flower Frill Templates, which come in three sizes: Mini, Extra Small, Small, Medium, Large and Extra Large. Each package comes with two templates of each size, presumably so that when you wear one out, you have a spare. I am not certain why Clover did not laminate these card stock templates the same way that maps are laminated for durability, but I am guessing that this is their way of anticipating future sales!
Clover Flower Frill templates come in Mini (2″), Extra Small (2-1/2*), Small (3″), Medium (4″), Large (5″), and Extra Large (6″).
So, how do the templates work? The instructions that come with the tool are the same for every size. You cut squares of fabric (such as muslin, batik, organza, lightweight crepe, lightweight satin or Georgette), medium weight paper (no heavier than 24 lb.), tissue paper or basically any crisp but not-too-thick material. Fold your squares in half. Ahead of time, thread a needle with some strong thread at least 18 inches long, and tie a knot on the end. Then:
Fold the template in half with the folded fabric sandwiched between both halves. The white half of the template should be on one side of the “sandwich,” and the colored half of the template should be on the other side.
Fold the template in half again, with the number “2″ sections facing each other.
Fold the number “3″ sections on one side together so that they face each other.
Fold the number “3″ sections on the other side together so that they also face each other.
You are now finished folding, and should have a wedge of fabric with one curved edge. With fabric scissors or pinking shears, cut the fabric along the curved edge of the wedge, making sure not to cut the template.
Insert the threaded needle into the point of the wedge, and pull the thread all the way through the fabric, leaving a few inches for tying later.
Remove the template.
Repeat Steps 1 through 8 as many times as you wish (Clover suggests 15 to 25 times), adding wedges to the thread according to your personal preference to form the petals of a Frill Flower.
Remove the needle and tie the two ends of the thread together with a double knot.
Open up the fabric folds to form your flower. If you like, add a bead, pearl, brad or button to the center of your flower.
If you prefer visual instructions, you can view the Clover video below.
Here is a mini gratitude journal I embellished with a cream paper flower using the Clover Mini Flower Frill Template. I originally tried to use lace fabric, but didn’t like the results.
The instructions called for squares measuring 2.75 x 2.75 inches, but after I cut my paper, I crumpled it to give the petals a more distressed look. Then I uncrumpled the paper, folded it in half, and continued with the template instructions. I threaded 10 “petals” onto a length of buttonhole thread, then cut a circle of heavyweight stabilizer that I glued onto the back of the flower using Fabri-Tac™ Permanent Adhesive. This glue is a great alternative to using a glue gun, especially since the adhesive is flexible when dry. I sewed a button to the center of the flower, then opened up each petal and fluffed it a bit. Then I walked over to my kitchen sink, got my fingertips wet, and drizzled water liberally over the flower. I crumpled the paper a little more, opened it up again, and then dried the flower with a heat gun. Yes, there are lots of steps to this process, but it was fun because I didn’t really know what the outcome would be.
You can use Flower Frills not only for paper crafting, but also for hair ornaments, corsages, wedding decorations, home decor and more. You can visit the Clover site to download project templates found HERE.
Making these flowers was definitely an adventure. I suspect every flower turns out differently, and that’s part of what makes it fun for me. It was so much fun, in fact, that I’d like to share some of that enjoyment with a giveaway that includes a complete set of Clover Flower Frill Templates in all available sizes. To enter the giveaway, tell me in the comments below about a craft you learned and enjoyed during childhood. I will announce the winner this Friday, May 17th.