Thursday, 12 September 2013

Top Ten Basic Craft Tools

Hi Everyone

I've often been asked by people new to crafting what are the first or most important craft tools they should invest in. So I decided to write a list of the top 10 basic craft tools that I can't live without. Now depending on what type of craft or craft technique you are interested in this list could change a little but I think that the 10 items I've picked are pretty core items which have potential uses no matter what you enjoy creating. 

Yes, I know technically I've cheated with no. 1 but what good is a craft knife without new blades every now and then?!

1 through 8 I think are all pretty self explanatory but you may wonder about 9 and 10. 

I can't live with out baby wipes! (You can see my personal brand of choice in the photo.) They are amazing at what they clean up! Not only do they clean rubber stamps but they clean my air brush and paint - whenever I spill anything I always try cleaning it with a baby wipe first. (Goodness only knows how baby's bottoms withstand their power!)

You may think that No. 10 the old blusher brush seems a little bit odd but it's something I first started using when I began enamelling with Efcolor powders. I found it invaluable to clean my work surface of powder and now I find myself using it all the time between and during all sorts of projects!

I know for some crafters that a vital piece of equipment is their rubber stamping heat tool or a die cutting machine but I've not included big items like that as for newbies that's not necessarily viable or needed for their chosen technique when first dabbling in crafts.

So what I'd like to know is: What are your Top Ten items you can't live without in your craft tool kit? 

Please comment below with your 10 top craft tools.  

Thanks and happy crafting!

Fee x

Sunday, 8 September 2013

Needle Felting Show coming soon!

Hi Everyone

Well the kids have gone back to school and, if the temperature is anything to go by, summer is definitely over (boo hoo!) but one really good thing about this time of year is that it's crafting season (yay!). With the changing weather and the nights drawing in you no longer have to find excuses or justify time spent playing with your craft stash! And, of course, it won't be long before we start to see those beautiful and inspirational autumn colours and that pre-Christmas excitement will start to gain momentum (especially with the kids - both small and big!).

But before I get into Christmas mode proper I'm preparing for the new Efco needle felting show on Ideal World's Create and Craft on 21st September. So here's a little taster of what you can create with a polystyrene ball and egg, some of Efco's superfine merino wool fibre and embossed wire and a felting needle...

Peppy Penguin

Material List
70mm Polystyrene Ball
120mm Polystyrene Egg
Black/White Mix Merino Wool Fibre
Needle Felting Tool (Medium needle)
Felting Pad
Black Embossed Wire
Combi Plyers
Craft Knife
PVA Glue
Large Sewing Needle

(All materials available from Efco)

1. Use a craft knife to carve a chunk out of the polystyrene ball.
The aim is to get the ball to sit neatly on the pointed end of the egg.
2. Cover the egg with grey wool, needling it to adhere it to the polystyrene.
3. Then pop the carved polystyrene ball onto the pointed end.
(Optional - you can use a little PVA glue to help hold it in position if you find it easier when it comes to continuing to felt.)
4. Use more grey wool to continue the felting over the ball. Add a little more wool around the neck join, if needed, to create a smooth transition from the egg to the ball. You don't need to cover the entire ball at this point - just make sure to have firmly attached it all the way around and to have covered at least two thirds of it (see photo).
5. For each wing: take one long and one shorter section of fibre. Open out the longer length and lay the shorter length at 90ยบ across one half of it, tucking or folding the ends as necessary. Fold the non covered half of the long length over the shorter and carefully start to needle felt it. When it has started to hold together a little, shape the fibres by folding the folded corners into the middle thereby giving you a gentle point to the bottom of the wing. Fold the edges in slightly towards the upper end of the wing to gently taper it. Continue felting, turning it as you work so that you can lock all the fibres in together and end up with a smooth finish.
6. Needle the upper ends of the wings onto the egg and ball body, making sure they are firmly attached.
7. Needle black wool to create the face. This needs to cover almost half of the ball, ranging from the edge of one wing to the edge of the other.
8. Needle some white wool over the top of the black, leaving two little holes for the eyes and the area down the centre for the nose (see photo).
9. Take a short length of wire and fold it in two, squeezing the folded end tightly. Bend the folded end over slightly to create the end of the beak.
10. Insert the wire ends into the centre of the face. When you are happy with the position use a dab of PVA glue on the wire ends to fix the beak in position.
If necessary, use a large sewing needle to help break through the felting to enable you to insert the wires.
11. Wrap a small piece of black wool around the base of the beak and lightly felt it into position, leaving the tip of the wire exposed.
12. For each foot: Bend a piece of wire (as shown) to create a base. Make sure the wires are tightly folded and slightly bend the tips down. Wrap some black wool around the wire, weaving some in between the 'toes' and needle it to secure it in position.
13. Insert the wire ends into the base of the body just behind the centre line. Flex the feet, bending the wire as necessary, to make sure your penguin will stand up. When you are happy with them, remove them to add a dab of glue to the wire ends and reinsert them.
et voila!

And here's an idea of what else you will be able to create with the kits that will be on the show...

Ollie Owl
Shirley Sheep
Penny Puppy
Cory Cat
Rafferty Reindeer
Felted Bauble
Felted Sheep
Floral Felt Bag
Owl iPad Case

So as you can see you can create all sorts of things with the needle felting technique, including unique Christmas decorations. Project sheets for all the felted animals will be coming soon. However, if you'd like to know how the other items were created just click on them to be taken to the correct page for the step by step instructions.

Happy Crafting Season!

Fee x