Strawberry Fair

Here are some photos of the group at Strawberry Fair

DSCN7525_4211Rod showing off some of the things we made

DSCN7540_4226Rod doing some tai chi (And check out our bunting up above them!)

DSCN7538_4224More tai chi

DSCN7532_4218Sarah relaxing

DSCN7543_4229People stopping to knit at the Knitter’s Arms

This is what the guys thought of their visit to the Strawberry Fair:

Rod Says:  “Dear Strawberry Fair I like going to the fair. I enjoy the strawberry Fair.  My favourite bit was doing tai chi.”

Sarah Says:  “My favourite part was the food.  I had chicken, rice and coleslaw.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A word from some of our members:

I’ve done a project today with Re-Creations.  Today I’ve done a lovely drawing.  It’s nice, and I had fun and enjoyed it.  It was flowers of different colours.  I like art work and have fun doing it.  — Luisa.

melted crayon flowers

I tried to make a heart, but it came out as a funny shaped one.  I enjoy what I’m doing and had good fun.  I want to do it again.  I made two pictures.  –Rod

DSCN7406_4093

Here are some of the finished pictures from our other members:

DSCN7420_4107 DSCN7414_4101

Why I’m a Mumsnet Blogger

Mumsnet

Earlier this week, during one of my frequent occasional Mumsnet coffee breaks, I came across an interesting (and now deleted) thread.  It seems a Mumsnet blogger had received what she felt was unfair criticism from another Mumsnet member on one of her blog posts.,So the wounded blogger hit the forums to remonstrate with the culprit.  Being easily led, I clicked through to the offending commentary to see what had been said.

Well.  What struck me when I got there wasn’t the unnecessarily catty comment (which it was) on an inoffensive mum’s blog. I was more surprised by the blogger’s response:  “AIBU?  Never heard of it…”

Ok.  This is only an opinion.  But perhaps if you’re thinking of joining a blogging network, or attending and posting about their blogger’s events, maybe you might wish to familiarize yourself with the site beforehand.   You see, AIBU refers to “Am I Being Unreasonable?”, Mumsnet’s most highly trafficked, fast-paced and emotionally charged  board, contributing largely to the Mumsnet reputation as a “nest of vipers”.  Stripped of the sunny influence of avatars, tickers and hugs, posters evaluate the reasonable-ness of each other’s predicaments with a barrage of opinion, sarcasm, swearing and above all, grammar correction.

Grammar_Police_by_Rysis

Indeed, even on a national level Mumsnet posters have gained renown for not pulling their punches, whether challenging David Cameron on free nappy provision for children with disabilities or demanding an investigation into Gordon Brown’s biscuit preferences.  Although it’s open to anyone, this parenting site won’t be everyone’s cup of tea.  So if you want to join the Mumsnet blogging network and stick one of their shiny badges on your sidebar, you should anticipate that Mumsnetters might stop by your blog, and bring their opinions with them.  They may hand you your grammar on a plate, and they won’t even ((hug)) you first.

So why join our project blog to this particular network?  For me, it’s because…

kiddiwinks

1.  We are mums–some of us, anyway.  Parenthood comes as part of our package, with all the funny and frustrating aspects of being a working mum.  Our work on the Re-Creations Project often happens with kids in tow, underfoot, mucking in and helping out, just like everybody else. And since we try to break down our projects for all ages and abilities, lots of our crafts and tutorials will be fun for crafty mums and kids to try.  It makes sense to belong to a network of parents whose interests may overlap to share info and ideas.

But there are plenty of parenting sites out there.  Why choose Mumsnet in particular?

2.  The Swearing.

I can’t actually remember what first led me to Mumsnet, but I do remember what made me decide to stay.  It was the unabashed and copious use of the F-word.  You see, I had put in time on  other popular parenting sites.  Bounty, MDC, Netmums, Babycentre, Kelllymom…  In the early days of no sleep and a desperate search for answers about reflux, PND, mastitis, weaning and potty training, I lived on parenting forums.  While on the surface, many were “nicer” than Mumsnet, underneath the “huns” and kisses were parents with equally strong opinions.

On one site I was told that the way I was feeding my 17 month old to sleep was inappropriate; that my husband should “remove me” from her evening routine. I was banned from another forum, having confessed that my 22 month old had “stolen” a juice box during a shopping expedition, while I was struggling with her newborn sister.

It wasn’t that they were all a bunch of big meanies, any more than Mumsnet is really a nest of vipers.  It’s just that parenting brings out some of people’s strongest opinions, and people get awfully defensive about the way they do things.  More than once, I fled in tears from message boards of “supportive parenting sites” under the cover of shiny profile photos and tickers celebrating years of co-sleeping.  The bans on swearing and insistence that everybody play nicely, gave me a false sense of security.   I was vulnerable and unprepared when I was told:  “How disappointing, hun.  Perhaps you should dig a hole and crawl inside it to meditate on how to become a better person.  HTH! xx”.

bite me

Ahh, the relief when I crash-landed on Mumsnet in the middle of a thread about a poo-covered-pouffe. These were human beings, who accidentally got naked at the swimming pool or farted on their pets (you know who you are) and sometimes even lost the plot and swore about life.  Instead of masking their derision under hugs and huns, Mumsnetters tell you exactly what they’re thinking with warts and all.  If they want to say “Screw you!”, they say “Screw you!”  Then they come up with a hundred new ways of saying it just so nobody gets bored.

lion belly

3.  The soft and fuzzy underbelly

Like any parenting site, Mumsnet can be a harsh and opinionated place.  Just ask Amanda Holden. Sadly, the same is true just about anywhere mums come together.  From baby cafes up to the school gates, mums will defend their way of child-rearing to the hilt.  But if you hang around the site for a while, listen to what everybody has to say and take some of it with a grain of salt, you’ll start to witness amazing things.

You’ll see that a mum at loggerheads with a poster on one thread will offer to drive 50 miles to help that same poster out in a crisis.  You’ll see a dozen parents working together to reunite a toddler with his precious cuddly toy.  On one thread, hundreds of mums flood Downing Street with letters in response to a familiar poster’s cry for help, while on another thread parents stay up late into the night looking for solutions when a taxi with a baby arrives unexpectedly at a poster’s home.  In my case, you’ll see hundreds of Mumsnetters raid their rubbish bins to find ring-pulls for our project.

Because in addition to their diverse and candid opinions, Mumsnetters also have compassion and the courage of their convictions.  When parents unite for a purpose, they can offer collective knowledge and support, and bring about real and positive change–which is what parenting sites are all about.

I’ll admit, I may have flounced from Mumsnet once or twice.  I’ve  disagreed with some very notable bans (you know who you are) and there are some posters with whom I’ll just never get along.  But if I’m going to have my arse handed to me on a plate by a parenting site, then for today I’ll have mine with a cup of tea, a biscuit, a few passive aggressive strikethroughs  and a smattering of creepy wee brackets.

<skulks off to await annihilation by Mumsnet grammar police>

Rubbish. What’s it worth to you?

While the world outside is  covered with fluffy, white & slippery stuff, indoors we’re getting ready for the spring and summer craft fairs.  It’s awesome.  While the world outside is frozen, we can just hunker down by the fire, throw on some Disney films and get busy making stuff.  (The kids are responsible for the choice of film, but I’m on board because every now and again they just randomly burst into song without realizing.) But once we have a pile of cool stuff to sell, we arrive at the crafter’s dilemma:  How much do we sell this stuff for?  We apply a number of different approaches to answer the question.

Creator’s pride: “It’s so pretty!  It’s the prettiest thing I’ve ever made.  One million pounds?.”

Logical:  “Well, if we take the cost of supplies, then break down how long it took to make it…”

Mates Rates:  “She’s our friend.  We like her.  How about one pound?”

More Logic:  “Don’t forget packaging costs, We need to buy boxes and bubble wrap.

Insecure:   “If it’s too expensive nobody will buy it –They’ll go to the pound shop instead.”

Artistic Integrity:  “We are way cooler than the pound shop.  These are like, limited editions. Fifty Pounds?”

Practical: “We just need to get it sold.  My husband’s gonna kill me if I don’t get this stuff out of his garage!”

Still insecure:  “It’s made from rubbish.  You know, the stuff people throw out because they don’t want it?”

Hungry:  “How much do nachos cost?  That’s how much we should charge. Plus an extra pound so we can buy a drink.”

This debate can rage on for hours without a conclusion in sight.  Apart from sorting out the tax returns, it’s the hardest part of our job. We just aren’t impartial.  Where a customer sees an end product, we see a whole windy afternoon spent picking up discarded ringpulls along the road, or a week spent mastering a new skill.

So, to avoid fisticuffs, we have to seek outside opinions.  This is where you come in.

We need feedback to help us decide how to price up our stock before we can sell it.  So we’re going to post photos and descriptions of our favourite upcycled items, and you get to tell us in the comments what you think they should cost.  Undiscovered masterpiece or garage sale fodder?  You decide!  And, if you’re a crafty so-and-so and have a particular system or handy tips for pricing up your stuff, we’d love to hear from you!

As you’re commenting furiously below,  we’ll putting sample items up for auction.  Although you can usually find our stuff on Etsy and DaWanda, this time we’ll be listing the items on ebay to get an idea of what the wider public thinks about them too.  All proceeds will go to the group’s “We want to eat at Nando’s fund”.  We’ll link to the auctions, so if anything takes your fancy you’ll have a chance to get your hands on it too!  So, without too much more rambling…

Item 1:  Bicycle Chain Ring Wall Clock

This clock was made by combining an 8.5 inch bicycle ring and recycled packaging materials with a new clock movement, for an end result that’s both functional and funky!  The clock runs on a single AA battery and has a hanger fitted on the back.  Because it’s made from used and upcycled materials, the finished clock may well have a few dents, scratches or imperfections–these are intended as part of the design.

DSCN7049_3738

chain ring clock

 

 

 

 

Item 2:  Bicycle Chain Beaded Bracelet

This lovely piece of work is made from bronze coloured acrylic bicone beads combined with salvaged bicycle chain links.  The beads are woven onto four strands of elastic for a strong and comfortable fit.

bike chain beaded bracelet DSCN7144_3831

Item 3:  Ring Pull Bracelet

These bracelets are simply woven from discarded ring pulls and ribbon, and fastened with a single button.  We always have a variety of colours in stock, but we also make to order.  Bracelets can be customized  to your chosen colour and length.

etsy 018 etsy 020

Item 4:  Stained Glass style jar lantern

Made from a combination of paint and sweet wrapper decoupage, these jars are one of our trademark creations.  Measuring 7.5 inches tall, this size works well as a vase or a tealight holder.

uj 006

5.  Wine Bottle Hurricane Lamp / Candle cover

Made by removing the top and bottom of a wine bottle, these are a beautiful way to shelter your candles from the breeze, and make a pretty decoration for your garden table.  Each comes with a terracotta base and the bottle on the left has been etched with a rose pattern.

DSCN6573_3266 DSCN6574_3267

6.  Wine Bottle LED lanterns

Made by inserting LED fairy lights through the base of a used glass bottle, we make these in a variety of styles. Some bottles are beautiful in their original state and some take a bit of “prettying up”.  We can personalize with initials or pictures, as well as using tie dye and tissue paper to make a creation that’s entirely unique.

bottle lantern, painted bottle upcycled bottle lanterns DSCN6610_3303

7.  Bottle Cap Keyrings

Pretty self explanatory, our favourite version is set with a 2p coin and topped with a dome of resin.

bottle top keyringAnd last (but not least) our most recent endeavor:

8.  Tile coasters

Start with some spare/salvaged tiles, add felt to the bottom and cover with something pretty:  Book pages, maps and most recently wax-resist watercolours, we sell these in sets of 4 or 6.

DSCN5539_1481 DSCN7134_3821

DSCN7132_3819.

The photo above is what we got up to yesterday–these coasters are going to be so cool when they’re finished!  And there you have it:  some of our favourite creations for your perusal.  Please do let us know what you think.  If you were bidding on The Price is Right or had to run our stall tomorrow–how much would you sell these things for?

*ebay auction links will be added when the items go live

Exciting Photo Ops PLUS a tiny tights tutorial!

We’re still all about bikes at the moment, and we are just so excited about the stuff we’ve made over the last couple of weeks!  (Ok, the 26 cups of coffee we drank while making it may have added somewhat to the excitement.)  In any case, here are some fancy photos courtesy of our very own photographer (and YouCanBike-erSarah Pledger, and thanks again to the guys at Outspoken for donating their old bike bits.

ring pull and bike chain bracelets

Making clocks

upcycled bike parts

Chain ring clock (I so love this photo!)

Chain ring clock (I so love this photo!)

Outside of the group, I’ve seized the opportunity for a little at-home-upcycling as well.

Question:  What do you do when your five-year-old manages to put holes in every pair of tights you buy, within an hour of putting them on?

Answer:  Turn them into funky fingerless gloves.

tights into fingerless gloves

Just cut off both legs below the hole and cut off the toes.  (of the tights. Not the child.  Just in case that wasn’t clear.)  Then cut a small hole in the heel for the thumb to poke through.  fingerless glovesNext, photograph your child wearing her new gloves.  Throw in some vintage photo effects to hide the fingerprints on your wall and Voila!  Instant Hipster.  We now have maybe 12 pairs of these gloves floating around the house, which is good.  Because after putting holes in her tights, losing gloves is my eldest’s next best talent.

A quick word from one of our group members

DSCN6866_3555
13/03/13

Hello, my name today is “Tom Riddle”. I like to tell you what we’ve been doing today in our Team. Making bracelets from ring pulls, and clocks from bike stuff and cd’s. We will sell them at a craft fair to get money. When we have enough money, we will go to Nandos. (They have chicken.)

Sick of junk mail? You can upcycle that too!

Well we’ve been quiet on the blog front recently, our fingers have been busy, busy, busy!  In our ongoing search for upcycling partners, we decided to tempt them in by offering some amazing upcycled receptacles that they can use to round-up their rubbish.  We followed this tutorial from Craftstylish for making paper reeds and came up with these:

DSCN6930_3619

Obligatory close-ups:

paper reed box 1

Paper reed box 2

paper reed box 3Paper reed frame

Do you know the best part?  Not only are they gorgeous, but we got rid of a whole stack of leaflets and catalogs in making these.  Want one?  Live in Cambridgeshire?  Head over to our “Supporting Us” page and find out how to become one of our recycling partners, and one of these awesome creations can come live with you and eat up all your ring pulls and sweet wrappers.

We’ve also had bikes on the brain a bit lately.  We’re getting ready for Bike Week in June, so we’ve been trading ideas for more bike-based upcycling.  Lucky for us, these guys at Outspoken helped out with a lot of spare parts for inspiration!  (Imagine it:  a bunch of exceptionally fit cycle couriers who have extra gears for upcycling.  In the repurposing world, that’s like double Christmas with added tinsel.)

So with bikes on the brain, our paper reeds took on some new shapes:

DSCN6976_3665

And finally we combined some old maps, and chain rings to come up with this little beauty:

bike chain ring clock

I sense a lot more of these clocks coming up before bike week!  (Sadly, the coasters may not make it up for sale.  My three year old has declared them “hers” and is now rolling them across the floor…) So what about you–any ideas for scrapping your junk mail or revamping your old bike parts?  Let us know what you think.

 

Tie Dye Tissue Paper Tutorial

OK, as promised, (about two weeks ago!) here is your quick and easy Tie-dye tissue paper tutorial. It’s kid friendly, and makes a really pretty end product.

First question:  Why would you want to do that?

Well, it actually started as an accident.  As I was transporting supplies to the group one Wednesday, there was… an incident.  With my fizzy water.  It spilled into the supply box and things got a little sticky.  But, we later found that the moisture had caused our tissue papers (which we use to make jar lanterns) to bleed colour onto each other.  They looked amazing!  Later, I tried to reproduce the same effect at home–and ended up with a pile of soggy paper.  Which brings me to:

Second question:  How do you do that?

At this point, I did what any crafter does in their uncertainty:  I went to Pinterest.  From there, I found cool links like this one from Honest to Nod.  She and her kids did an awesome Tie Dye upcycle with their leftover packaging tissue.  The tutorial has great illustrations on how to fold the paper too.

Third question:  What does this have to do with upcycling?

Ahh.  Well.  The tutorial above used food colouring and liquid watercolours to dye the paper.  But then I had a handy flashback to my student days in the dorm and remembered what we used to make tie dyes then:  dried up old felt tip pens! (This is awesome for us, given that my kids are terminally unable to remember putting the lids back on their markers.)   Pair those old pens up with some used gift wrapping tissue and you’re set to make something pretty from a pile of old rubbish.

What you need

  • dried up marker pens
  • tissue paper
  • water

Step 1:  Fold up your tissue paper

DSCN6486_3179

Honest to Nod gives instructions on how to fold into a neat triangle, but other shapes are just as good.

2.  Pull the centre out of your markers

DSCN6445_3138

I used pliers to pull off the end of the marker.  Then pulled out the dye-soaked wadding in the middle and the tip of the marker.  Put those in a bit of water to soak.

3.  Dunk your tissue

DSCN6446_3139

Soak the corners of your folded tissue paper in the coloured water.  You can use different colours on different corners for a fun effect.

4.  Try to avoid this:

DSCN6447_3140

If you allow the dye to touch your hands, they’ll be coloured for days. (However, your kids may think it makes you look pretty).

5.  Put the dyed paper aside to dry.

DSCN6497_3190

Optional: Drink copious amounts of coffee while you wait.  Also cake.

6.  Unfold

When the paper is dry, unfold it carefully and behold the glorious patterns you have made: tie dye tissue paper DSCN6448_3141

DSCN6532_3225

You can put them aside for funky gift wrapping, Or <drumroll>

Visit  this tutorial on buttoneering.com to learn how to turn your tie dyed tissue paper into awesome jar and bottle lanterns like these:

Tie-Dye tissue paper lanterns

Extreme close up:

DSCN6615_3308

So grab your kid’s old markers and go for it!  And while you’re at it, don’t forget:  6 days left in our Annual Christmas Crap competition, and our current total is a whopping 132 Quality Street wrappers in one envelope!  Keep that rubbish coming in!

Tutorial: DIY Cheerleader Pom Poms

OK, you may have noticed an increasing amount of cool stuff populating our shops over recent weeks.    (If not, why not? What are you waiting for, an invitation from the Queen?  Sheesh!)  But there is one special creation of ours that you won’t be able to pick up online. You can’t even buy them in person at one of our craft stalls.  Nope.  None for you.  I’m talking about these beauties:

Shabby Chic pom poms“But, why?”, you ask. “I also wish to be a sweet and funky non-conformist type cheerleader person.”    Well, it’s because this particular piece of awesomeness was an extremely limited edition, designed especially for this sewing-machine-snogging-vixen.

We’re not here to judge.

But don’t worry.  We’re not entirely heartless.  (Actually, I am, but lucky for you Jacqui isn’t.) We won’t sell you any, but we will tell you how to make them yourself and delight any small munchkins who happen to share your home.

It all happened kind of like this:  It was late summer, and in the run up to #wedstival2012, me and the guys were churning out miles of bunting like this:

2

We worked around the clock, tying bunting until our hands were sore and eventually we were lashing together any random bits of fabric we encountered.  Every surface in my house was layered in piles of fabric strips, so much so that random cats were inviting themselves in to sleep on them.

bunting cat

Around that time, Sheri (our bloggy bff from Awesomesauce and Asshattery) sent us a “cheer up” package of personalized T-shirts with our logo (also by Sheri) and names (we already had those) in sparkly, bosom-enhancing print!

Behold:  The Sparkle Bosom.  (She really is going to kill me this time!)

Behold: The Sparkle Bosom.
(Jacqui really is going to kill me this time!)

I thought it was really amazing that we had happened across this Canadian expat powerhouse in Germany who was cheering us on with all the energy of a birthday party full of cake-high 4-year-olds.  I remember asking Sheri if they had cheerleaders in Germany, and being really disappointed when she said no.  In my sleep-deprived state, the idea of angry German-accented cheerleaders really tickled me.

Cheerleader:  “Und now you vill give me un ‘A’!”

Crowd:  “Yikes, ok.  A! Just stop yelling.”

And somewhere around my eleventeenth cup of coffee, my mission revealed itself:  There would be a cheerleader in Germany.  But how?  Luckily, my youngest was “helping Mummy” at the time.

silly kid

And I realized that we were already surrounded by the makings of a kick-arsch cheerleader set.  This is how we did it.

1.  Cut strips of fabric around 2 feet long. (or twice the length you want the finished pom poms to be.)  We used fabrics of different colours and textures for added sensory appeal.  Lay the strips together in a pile.

DSCN5567_1509

2.  Use a thin ribbon to gather your fabric strips in the middle, and tie the ribbon in a knot.

DSCN5568_1510

3.  Grab a nearby candlestick.

DSCN5569_1511

4.  Make sure it is the kind that is hollow through the middle.

DSCN5570_1512

5.  Thread the ribbon through the candlestick from bottom to top.

DSCN5572_1514

6.  Thread the ribbon through some pretty beads, to prevent it slipping back through the candlestick.  Secure with a knot.

DSCN5576_1518

7.  Submit the finished item to your quality control team for vigorous testing.

DSCN5574_1516

8. Optional Wait until quality control team is sleeping before sneaking the finished product into a box and posting to Germany.

And there you have it:  a sweet surprise that will enchant budding cheerleaders everywhere.  And for extra fun, check out A Couple of Craft Addicts Scrap Skirt tutorial and make one of these to go with it:

Get Scrap Busting!  (Oh, and if  you see copies of these projects floating around Etsy in a few months time, do feel free to link to this post and taunt the vendors about their super-original ideas! Hee Hee Hee…)