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Craft Box Club – Pink Beach Houses

My second painting project this month, as I mentioned in my previous blog post, was the Pink Beach Houses kit from Craft Box Club. I liked the nostalgia around the theme of this kit as it brings back memories of trips to the seaside when I was little.

Included in the kit was:

  • Wooden house shapes x3
  • Brush
  • Sponge
  • Earth paints
  • Twine
  • Glue
  • Wooden decorations
  • Strip of fabric
  • Sandpaper
  • Paper house template

The first step was to sand down the wooden houses to ensure they were nice and smooth round the edges. As always every effort has been made to keep the kits as eco friendly as possible and the houses were cut by Love HeartWood, a wood turning business specialising in sustainable wooden gifts and toys using FSC wood. I love that a small business has been used to supply these crafts kits to support the creative industry, rather than purchasing them wholesale from a huge supplier.

The earth paints come as a powder and you mix them up to the right consistency. The pink colour was created by mixing the white with a tiny bit of red and it was really easy to apply with the sponge and still let the grain of the wood show through to keep the rustic look. It was very important to let the paint dry between each layer, otherwise it would have smudged together. One of the good things about earth paint is that when it dries out you can just grind it back down to a powder and rehydrate it with a little water again. I smudged my black when I was adding some of the window details, but I revived the white and pink paints and managed to hide the mistake. I’m still not a huge fan of earth paint, I find it still comes away on your hands when you touch the painted pieces even though it is dry, but it does give a nice effect for this project and is of course eco friendly!

Once all the painting is complete the finishing touches were added. I liked the way the twine was used to give the effect of a roof texture and the addition of the bunting was really cute. I definitely felt as though I needed to sit on the beach with an ice cream after finishing them!

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Craft Box Club – Macrame Semilunar

Quite a quick craft this week from Craft Box Club – a macrame semilunar with a bonus keyring project. I’m really glad I’ve done some macrame recently, especially learning the double half hitch which made up the main body of this project!

Included in the box was:

  • Macrame twine – white
  • Macrame twine – forest green
  • Wooden dowel
  • Macrame comb
  • Keyring clip

The instructions say you will also need scissors but you will need a length of string as well to hang the dowel from. The instruction video for this one is great. All the knots are shown slowly and repeated so that you can see them clearly. I paused and rewound the video several times to make sure I was doing it correctly. I think for this project the video was definitely better than the pictures, although the pictures were still useful. With macrame I much prefer to see the knot being created, rather than just a picture or description. It helps me to understand the structure of the knot a lot better.

Both the projects were really quick to complete. The semilunar was much smaller than I thought it was going to be from the pictures I had seen prior to receiving the kit, but I think that was a good thing because it wasn’t too repetitive and I quite enjoyed making something fairly small for a change! 

I thought the addition of the keyring was great too. It was a good chance to use a couple more different knots; a square knot and a gathering knot. There was a separate instructional video for this project and again was clear and slow enough that you could craft along with it.

Although it’s nice to get involved in a longer project I do enjoy completing something a little quicker every now and then. It gives a nice sense of achievement and satisfaction for only a couple of hours of work.

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Craft Box Club – Needle Punch Tote Bag

It’s been a little while since I did a punch needle project so I was quite looking forward to the latest Craft Box Club, embellishing a jute shopping bag with a Spring-themed motif. 

Included in the box was:

  • Jute shopping bag
  • Green yarn
  • Yellow yarn
  • Punch needle
  • Chalk
  • Paper template

Also included was the link to the ‘how to’ guide on the website. As well as the video tutorial they have also started to include a basic step-by-step photo guide for how to complete the project. I find this really useful, especially when I already know how to do the craft technique. However, the video for this project was quite short and worth a watch as the technique was slightly different to normal due to the lack of embroidery hoop to keep the fabric taut. The first stage was to cut out the paper template of the cheese plant leaf and draw round it onto the bag using the chalk.

Then all that was left to do was punch! I did the outline of the leaf and some veins in the middle and then free styled some daffodils around the edge. The instructions said to do five, but that upset my sense of symmetry a bit so I decided to stick to four, one in each corner! Once all the punch needling was complete I ironed it on the back which apparently helps to relax the fibres to keep the design in place.

Although I liked the project in principal (I always like making useful things and being eco-friendly) I did find the execution of it a little bit problematic along the way. I found the jute material very difficult to punch through and without a hoop to keep the fabric taut I found that several of my stitches fell out after I was too far past them to unpick all the way back to redo them. I also thought that the yarn was a bit too thin for this project. It kept falling out of my needle, which was a little tricky as I needed one hand to hold the needle and the other on the reverse side of the fabric pulling the stitches through. If the yarn had been a bit chunkier I feel that the stitches would have stayed in place better. The problem with only doing a single line of stitches is that usually with a larger area of punch needle the stitches on either side will help to hold the whole design in place. Without any neighbouring stitches the design felt a little precarious. I will be interested to see how long the design lasts once I have used the bag a few times.

Nevertheless, it was good to try a different technique of a craft I am already familiar with. I’m always keen to expand my skill set and try new things. And I love the Spring-like feel of the design, it makes me feel joyful and ready for the new season!

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Craft Box Club – Heart Felt Garland

The project in this month’s Craft Box Club (https://craftboxclub.co.uk/) was a heart felt garland. I have to say that needle felting is not one of my favourite crafts, once you get past the satisfaction of stabbing something I find it becomes a bit repetitive. However, I do think that the rainbow heart design for the garland is very sweet and brings its own message of hope and positivity.

Included in the kit was:

  • Wool skein x7 (rainbow colours)
  • String x7 (rainbow colours)
  • Heart cookie cutters x 3 sizes
  • Felting needle
  • Sewing needle
  • Cotton string
  • Sponge

The basic premise of needle felting is to form the wool into a shape by using the needle to condense the fibres together, thus creating felt. In this case the fleece was formed into hearts using the cookie cutters to mould it into shape. As well as the usual video tutorial at the link provided, there were also instructional photos, which I found really informative. I actually felt that I could do the project without watching the video, however I have done felting before on a couple of occasions. I think having the video there as well would be very useful as a beginner so you could see the technique involved.

The process was repeated for each colour of the rainbow twice, once with the large cookie cutter and once with the small. This was the part I found a bit repetitive! I think that the project probably took me around four hours to complete in total.

Once all fourteen of the hearts were done it was then time to string them onto the cotton using the needle provided. When they were all in place the coloured string was then tied in bows between the hearts. I really liked that each skein of wool was bundled with a co-ordinating coloured string, which was then reused in the project as a decoration.

There was so much wool provided in the kit that I could probably make a second garland if I wanted to, or it could be used in another project like a weaving or something similar. I also now have the heart cutters to use for another project, whether that be cooking or clay!

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Craft Box Club – Lino Cut

Another week, another linocut! This time its from Craft Box Club (https://craftboxclub.co.uk/). It was interesting to compare the two linocut kits, especially as they were making the same thing; greetings cards.

Included in the box was:

  • Lino
  • Linocut blades
  • Wooden handle
  • Sponge
  • Blank cards and envelopes
  • Tracing paper
  • Paper template
  • Paint powder 

The tool itself (handle and blades) were the same as the Makerly kit I did the other week, however one of the selling points of Craft Box Club is to be as eco friendly as possible and Adam, the founder, puts in an admirable amount of effort to ensure that his kits meet that standard every month. Reading Adam’s blog I found out that the lino was a traditional biodegradable type, the ‘ink’ was made from earth paint which comes as a powder so can be packaged in paper, the sponge was made from wood fibres rather than plastic and the cards were made from recycled paper.

The process was exactly the same in terms of transferring the image to the lino using tracing paper. The image provided was a leafy border and there was a link to print out templates for the alphabet along with the link to the video tutorial. I couldn’t decide which letter to use on my cards as I wasn’t sure who I would send them to if I just chose one initial, so I decided to draw my own design for the centre of the card. I used the leafy border to inspire me and drew a songbird singing a love song as it’s so near to Valentine’s Day.

The cutting out took a long time as the design was quite intricate and there were also a lot of empty spaces to cut out as well, but once I was done it was time to print! The instructions said to keep the paint thick and only use about a teaspoon of water, but I found that the mixture was still quite dry and powdery so I added extra water. My first attempts at printing came out blobby and you couldn’t see the finer details of the design. I added small amounts of water to the paint mixture to try and get it to spread more nicely over the linocut, but I just couldn’t seem to get the consistency right to get a clear print.

In the end I decided to use the ink pad from the other linocut kit to try and get a clear print of my work (sorry Adam!). I just felt that I had spent so long cutting it out that I just wanted to see it in all it’s glory! The standard ink worked well and I printed several good looking cards with it. I hope it’s not too environmentally unfriendly!

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Craft Box Club – Poms & Tassels

More wreaths! This time from Craft Box Club (https://craftboxclub.co.uk/) and although they are from December and were sent out as a Christmas box, I think these ones can probably stay up all year round as they aren’t too festive!

Included in the box was:

  • Balls of yarn x4 (grey, pink, white x2)
  • Embroidery hoop
  • Glue
  • Corks x2
  • Wooden stars x2
  • Wooden buttons x6
  • Lolly stick
  • Paper template
  • Dragonfly teabags x2

The link for the how-to video guide was also included along with some top tips and a lovely Christmas message from Adam. As usual I found the video easy to follow and each step was clearly demonstrated. The first thing to do was to glue the buttons and stars onto pieces of cork ready for attaching to the hoop at the end of the project. I thought the cork was going to be quite difficult to cut, but actually I just sliced them up with a bread knife! This is done first as the glue takes a little while to dry and you can be getting on with your tassels and pom-poms in the meantime.

This kit really appealed to me as I am a pom-pom lover! I feel like I’ve become well versed in pom-pom making this year. I made a pom-pom wreath back in April and more recently did a workshop using the Loome tool, and now this. Each one has used a slightly different method to create the pom-poms. For this project we used quite an old fashioned method with two pieces of card cut into circles and the yarn wound around. I always find this method quite tricky as you need about four hands to cut the yarn and tie the string around the middle and hold everything in place at the same time! I did accidentally hack my card template up a bit when I was cutting the yarn open, but it survived long enough to make three pom-poms! If I was using this method again I think I would use some thicker card, maybe cut the shapes out of the box it came in instead.

The tassels were really easy to make and were created around your hand, no special equipment required at all. I haven’t made tassels very often and was very pleased with the result as they all came out the same size!

I really like the use of the embroidery hoop to create the two wreaths as it felt as though you were getting two for the price of one! The larger hoop was wrapped in yarn, leaving gaps for the buttons and stars to be glued on. The most difficult part of this kit was having the patience to wait for the glue to dry before tying on the tassels and pom-poms to complete the wreaths!

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Craft Box Club – Rope and Wool Basket

I think this is going to be one of the last non-Christmas crafts I do for a while! I’ve just completed the November Craft Box Club (https://craftboxclub.co.uk/), a rope and wool basket. I’ve done quite a bit of basket weaving now, but the thing I like about it is that it is very rewarding and each of the kits or classes has something a little different to the others in terms of materials and techniques.

Included in this kit was:

  • Cotton rope
  • Coloured thread x2
  • Wool
  • Needles x2
  • Needle threader
  • Lolly stick
  • Teabags x2

As usual the link for the online video tutorial was also provided. The video this month was only about ten minutes long. I tried to craft along with it as the beginning of the basket is quite fiddly and I did have to pause and rewind a few times, just to make sure I’d got it right, but once I’d got into the swing of wrapping the rope I found that I could do it without watching until finishing off at the end. 

As I mentioned above, the start was a little fiddly, but I liked the use of the two needles to hold the first coil in place as you began to create the stitches that form the base of the basket. Previously I have only done basket weaving with raffia, so I really enjoyed having a go with rope and wool instead. I also liked the technique of wrapping the wool around the rope in between the stabilising stitches. It gives the basket a really nice texture and allows you to play with colours. I think my joins where I finished one piece of yarn and started another could use some work as they are a bit scruffy, but I wanted to make sure my work didn’t come completely unravelled so I was double knotting the ends!

The other part I liked was finishing off with the decorative coil that was held in place the same way as the very first coil. It gives the basket a really neat finish, rather than just cutting the rope off. I was very impressed with how little wastage there was and how good the instructions were, as I had the exact amount of rope to complete the basket and very little wool or thread leftover. There was the second skein of coloured thread which I didn’t use at all, but it was nice to have the colour choice and I will definitely be able to use up the spare thread in another project!

I’m not sure yet what I will do with my new basket, but I think it would look quite good on my dressing table so I’m sure I’ll find something to store in it. On the instruction page on the website it said that this project would take about two to three hours. I think it might have taken me a little longer than that, although I wasn’t timing myself, but I did do it over two sessions. It’s always good to be able to put a craft project down and come back to it again later!

I’ve got some lovely Christmassy projects waiting for me and I can’t wait to get started on them. I’m especially excited as last week two crafty advent calendars arrived in the post! Roll on December so I can start opening them!

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Craft Box Club – Circular Loom Weaving

I’ve been wanting to try circular weaving for a while as I always see so many beautiful designs on Instagram, so I was very excited to see the latest Craft Box Club come through the post (https://craftboxclub.co.uk/)! Included in the box was:

  • Embroidery hoop
  • Cotton warp
  • Chunky Merino yarn
  • Wool roving
  • Lolly stick 

The first step was to use the hoop and the cotton string to create the warp for the wool to weave through around the hoop. As usual there was the link for the video tutorial inside the box. On the website it said that this was quite a long video and that the weaving would take about one to two hours, however I thought the video didn’t feel too long when I was watching, it was only about ten minutes. The project from start to finish probably took me around an hour and a half. 

Once the warp had been strung it was time to get weaving. The video and handy hints guide recommended a tight weave at the centre to start off, becoming looser as you move further out and add in the roving to create texture. One of the parts I liked was the suggestion of not weaving round the whole circle every time, but just covering a segment of the hoop by going back and forth over the same few warps, rather than round and round. One of the things I didn’t like was the bulky bit in the middle where the warp is showing. I don’t think this can really be helped as the cotton string has to cross over in the centre, but I’d like it to be more hidden. 

After finishing off the edge of the hoop with the roving the last thing to do was create the rosette bit at the side with big loops of wool. When I first watched the video showing how to achieve this look I wasn’t convinced that it was going to hold in place, but once I started packing the wool in between the warps it gradually became more secure.

This was such a great taster of circular weaving. I like weaving anyway, but it was nice to have a go at doing something different with it. I have plenty of embroidery hoops hanging around so I might have to have a go at creating a larger version! 

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Craft Box Club – Paper Quilled Jewellery

The theme for the August Craft Box Club (https://craftboxclub.co.uk/) was paper quilled jewellery. The art of quilling involves rolling strips of coloured paper and glueing them together to create decorative images or patterns. I always thought it looked delicate and difficult to achieve, but I was keen to have a go as it’s a very popular craft that I have seen a lot of examples of. It’s also a great craft to do at home as the materials are cheap and easy to get hold of and it doesn’t make too much mess! 

Included in the box was:

  • Coloured paper strips
  • Quilling needle
  • Quilling template
  • Glue
  • Earring hooks x2
  • Necklace clasp
  • Wire
  • Cocktail sticks

And of course the link to the video tutorial was also included. This month there were two separate videos one for the earrings and one for the necklace. I thought that the process was going to be quite fiddly and frustrating, but I actually found it quite relaxing. The quilling needle was easy to use and the template with its cutout holes meant that I wasn’t struggling to regulate the size of my coils. It was also worked on a much larger scale than I thought it would be. I had imagined trying to wrangle tiny little coils of paper, but the holes in the template were quite big and I found it really manageable.

The secondary part of the project was wire wrapping. I am quite familiar with this technique already, but I thought that the video showed each step clearly and although I used my tools it would have been easy to do by hand. In fact I was surprised at how soft and malleable the wire was. I’m not sure what kind of wire it was but it was easily cut with scissors.

The only part of the kit I had a slight issue with was the glue. As Craft Box Club aim to be plastic free the glue is provided in a tin, however both times I have received glue from them it has been brown and the tin stained around the edge as though rusty. I can only imagine that it is a reaction between the metal and the glue. It didn’t have any effect on the glue’s sticking power and I used it just fine, but I don’t think it would have been suitable for a project that was using the glue as a varnish. Honestly, I can only praise Adam (the founder of the company) for his efforts to be as plastic free as possible and I don’t have any solutions to offer for this problem because I am sure he has done extensive research on the matter, so I can’t really complain about it too much.

The finished earrings and necklace are quite large, statement pieces and I love how colourful they are! The paper strips came in a great range of colours so you could make your jewellery in any combination you liked. I have tons of strips left as well, so I can practice my technique and make some more jewellery. I might even have a go at creating a picture as well, but I think I may have to watch some more video tutorials online to learn how to achieve different effects before I attempt that.

This project was so quick to do! It took me a couple of hours to complete and was a really nice way to spend an afternoon. I enjoyed the lack of mess as well as it meant that instead of sitting down in my draughty shed I could sit up at the dining table and quill to my heart‘s content…plus there wasn’t too much clearing up to do!

Also included in the package was a mini kit to make a face mask. I haven’t had a chance to complete this one yet, but I watched the video and it looks like a really easy method to make a reusable mask, so I’ll have to have a go at that soon as I currently only have disposable ones and I feel guilty about creating waste every time I wear one.

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Craft Box Club – Sand Cast Candles

One of the things I like most about Craft Box Club (https://craftboxclub.co.uk/) is that their crafts are really original and even if I have done it before, there’s always a new technique. I think a lot of the originality is driven by Adam’s quest for plastic free crafts, which pushes him to be more creative about how things can be achieved. I’ve made quite a few candles in my time, but I have never before made them using sand!

Included in this kit was:

  • Big jar
  • Small jar
  • Sand
  • Cardboard tube
  • Beeswax blocks x6
  • Cocktail sticks
  • String
  • Peg
  • Ribbon
  • Shells
  • Wicks x3

I think what was really great about this box was the recycling of all the parts; the big jar was used to melt the wax in but was later turned into a candle holder and it’s lid was used for the tea light, the small jar was used to create the mould for the tea light and was then turned into a candle. Even the sand used to cast the candles was then reused as decoration at the end. Plus, you got to pretend like you were making sandcastles at the beach! 

The wax does take a little while to melt, so there is a bit of waiting around with candle making, but whilst I was waiting I made the moulds by packing the wet sand into a bowl to create the shape I wanted for my candles using the smaller hexagonal jar for the tea light and the cardboard tube to make a taller, round candle. The third candle was made by anchoring the wick to the bottom of the small jar and pouring the wax directly in.

In the instruction video Adam does mention that sinkholes can occur so to reserve a little wax to refill them. I left my candles to set overnight and in the morning I found that two of them had holes so I filled them up and left them to set again. I always think it is reassuring when the instructions mention things that can go wrong and how to fix them, otherwise its hard to know what to do if something unexpected happens, especially if you’ve never done that craft before. 

Another part of the instruction video I thought was particularly helpful was during the decorating stage where you have to make a slip knot to tie the string around the top of the jar and the video was done in slow motion so you could clearly see how it was tied.

Being yellow, the beeswax candles really lent themselves to the beach theme and using the shells, string and hessian ribbon gave them a nice rustic feel along with the sand. I can totally imagine them on the terrace of someone’s beach house as the sun sets over the waves… The only problem is how to transport them without spilling sand everywhere!