Category Archives: crafting

A year (or two) in craft

It’s been over a year since we last posted on this site, as much of our energy is now going into our farm project – see http://treesbeesandcheese.wordpress.com for more on that. We also have a busy nearly 2 year old son so much of our creativity is now funnelled into finger painting, play dough sculpture, cubby making, and cardboard kitchen construction!

However my fingers have not been idle on the sewing front, here’s a few projects I’ve made over the last little while:

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Embroidery of a Stubble Quail (a bird we just discovered lives on our farm!) for Joel’s birthday

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A pig and a goat knitted for Asher

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A wedding “coat-of-arms” for friends Renee and Ben, featuring their daughter, dog, and other family interests

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A “message in a bottle”, left on a seat in the neighbourhood

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A wedding embroidery for sister and brother-in-law Abi and Shane, the house image is a replica of the one they share together (this embroidery inspired by Stitched Gifts by Jessica Marquez)

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I ran a workshop as part of Adult Learners Week on “Repurposed planter pots” – the community brought in various secondhand vessels to become pot plants which they took home or gave as Christmas gifts

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Little shoes made for Arlo and Asher

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Knitted booties made for Arlo – an antique pattern that I’m never making again!

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A bath mat made from a recycled towel

I’ve also been working on and off on a rag rug, I’m at the stage of stitching together the plaited part into a big coil, but just can’t summon the motivation to finish that job!

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Tools, tools, tools

I’ve been a bit of a sucker for old, hand-powered tools and utensils for a while. At every opportunity, I’ve snapped up rotary egg-beaters and mincers from secondhand shops, and my souvenirs from a trip to West Africa were a sickle and a machete, purchased from tool sellers in the Bamako markets.

Liberty Tools, profiled in the video above is a kind of paradise for those who are excited by mysterious, rusty objects, and in the last couple of weeks, I’ve come upon some other, local vendors for tools. If you’re in Adelaide, check out:

Bakker-Burke
49 Torrens Road, Bowden SA 5007
0417 885 571
Mon-Fri 10.00am-5.00pm
A very impressive collection of old farm and shed tools, as well as kitchen utensils. I was particularly delighted by the presence of scythes, sickles and a comprehensive cross-section of egg-beaters.

Cross Road Collectables
441 Cross Road, Edwardstown SA 5039
Mon-Sat 9.00am-5.00pm
Sun 11.00am-3.00pm
Woah. This place is astonishing, with an array of antiques, tools and kitchen utensils overflowing from the shopfront and spreading, tsunami-like, through the house, the backyard, the carport, the shed. If you like mincers as much as I do, then this place is for you, together with vintage beer bottles, old LPs, comics, saws, soldering irons, souvenir beer steins, you name it really.

Stop By Op Shop
Church of the Trinity, 318 Goodwood Road, Clarence Park SA 5034
Tues-Friday 9.30am-3.30pm
Stop By is conveniently located in a cluster of secondhand and antique shops on Goodwood Road, and while it has a modest collection of goodies, the volunteers are delightful and seem determined to extract as little cash as possible from customers. They’ve recently been receiving tools, and local tradies have already started getting in on the action, regularly checking in for $1.00 chisels and more. Also have great kitchenware and oodles of baby gear. The Salvos have a giant shop across the road too.

There are more, and I’ll share any other discoveries as I come upon them – feel free to share some of your own too!

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Upcycling Pallets: the urban timber source

I’m a long-time admirer of pallets and am regularly delighted by the possibilities they offer for reuse and transformation into other useful objects once their life as a pallet is ended. Likewise, I’m often surprised by the quality of the timber used. I’ve used a red cedar pallet to make a light-weight bike crate, and a couple of years ago used another pallets to bang out an extremely rustic stool. I’ve been pondering some other pallet-based carpentry projects, and have gathered together some inspiration below. It’s especially exciting to see some craftspeople using rough-hewn materials with such elegance. The examples of intelligent reuse are seemingly inexhaustible, so I’ll update this post whenever I have the time and energy!

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Made by Hand

Made by Hand is a new short film series produced in Brooklyn, New York, celebrating, in the words of the creators, that “which is made locally, sustainably, and with a love for craft.” It’s a thoughtful, beautifully assembled series, the first piece a portrait of Brad Eastabrooke, of Breucklen Distilling Company, and the second, shown above, a piece on writer-turned-artisan-knife-maker Joel Bukiewicz of Cut Brooklyn. The films are inspiring, and offer insights into the nature of craft, the value of objects well made, and the kinds of communities that spring up around and in support of good, honest crafts.

See the full series at Made by Hand.

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Upcycling pallets: how to make a bike crate

Sophie's Belleville, with finished crate affixed

Since Sophie purchased her snazzy new bike, a three-speed, step-through ladies’ Trek Belleville, replete with racks on the front and back, she’s been in need of a receptacle to make those racks all the more user-friendly.

This seemed like a perfect opportunity to hone my fledgling carpentry skills as well as implement my passion for upcycling. Some time ago, I’d spied a pallet abandoned outside a shop at the end of our street. The soft, silvery wood looked to me like red cedar, so partner-in-craft Jeremy and I returned later to collect it. Lightweight and easy to work, a bike crate sounded like the perfect use for such fine timber!

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Baby Anticipation

Some friends of ours recently had a baby – Mathilde. In the lead-up, we organised a Baby Anticipation Celebration as we wanted both men and women to be able to share in the culture of looking forward to bringing a child into the world. Though don’t worry, we did still organise some traditional baby shower games such as “Guess the flavour of the baby food!” (as well as some other baby-themed games of our own creation).

Our parent-to-be friends bought a chest freezer to be able to store large amounts of cooked food prior to the baby’s birth. So as a gift idea, we asked guests to the Baby event to bring along a frozen meal to help tide the parents through the crazy months ahead. After all, every parent needs food!

At the event, we set up a craft station where guests could sit and make various kinds of origami animals and nice things out of nice paper (we had books showing how). We also asked people to write messages inside the origami, wishing the baby well. This origami was then constructed into a mobile and given to the parents later which they then strung up above the baby’s bed. Years down the track with the child they will be able to open up all the shapes and read the messages together!

The completed baby mobile

As a gift for the baby, I made a knitted tortoise (my first attempt at stuffed toys!). It seemed a good way of using up lots of small amounts of leftover wool. I found the instructions in a book called “Knitted toys: 25 fresh and fabulous designs” by Zoe Mellor. I did sew on buttons for eyes, then realised buttons are a choking hazard, so I will add felt eyes instead. I really like the idea of making a series of Depression-era toys – toys that don’t require you to go out and buy any items whatsoever, you just use up things you already have – bits of string, cardboard boxes, wood scraps, buttons, fabric or thread. Wool could even be ripped back from an old jumper or something. Joel has a great old black and white family photo of his Dad and uncle as small boys, playing nude in a tiny pool of mud in their backyard with a boat made of wood shards and a leaf sail. Awesome!

The completed knitted tortoise

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How to make a stool from salvaged wood

Inspired by Nina Tolstrup’s book One Block of Wood, and its 15 slick carpentry projects, Jeremy, Innis and I decided to have a bash at the Pallet Stool. Using salvaged wooden pallets, we adapted and belted out a couple of stools in a matter of hours. Due to our breakneck speed and willingness to use our body weight to get results the legs are a bit wonky, but overall they’re more or less stable and bring a robust, post-industrial/Depression-era charm to our living rooms. Apart from the adjust-as-you-go changes we made as a result of having timber of different dimensions to that recommended, the main adaptation we made was to raise the base cross to halfway up the legs, improving the stability and creating the option of a little shelf!

 

The finished products, given a rough sand and oiled with linseed. Photo by Jeremy

 

Click here for downloadable instructions on making the stool, from Nina Tolstrup’s design company Studiomama.

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