Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Honeycomb Decoration

 Bringing the 70s back.

Some of the best decorations found in any 70s photo I've seen of my parents celebrations are honeycomb decorations.  Some have survived and they are Awe.Some.  I'd never really thought about whether they were easy to recreate or not - so had a go at creating a simple, classic version before trying something a little more modern - here is the result [spoiler: so much easier than you think].

What I Used:
Tissue Paper [4 sheets]
Glue Stick
Paper / Ruler / Pencil / Scissors
Needle and Thread

As long as you have tissue paper and a glue stick, you are good to go with this DIY, but this is definitely a case of the more tissue paper, the better.  4 sheets was the minimum I would use to create a full honeycomb decoration, however; if you want to create intricate or 'tight' honeycomb designs, you will need to add more accordingly - which is easily done and I'll mention it a little later on in the process.

To start, you can approach your decoration from two ways - creating as many layers as possible and then creating a template to fit the paper, or drawing a template and folding the tissue paper to fit. I hope that makes sense - for this DIY, I'm folding my tissue paper 4 times and then drawing my template to fit the paper:
Once your folds have been made, cut [scissors or craft knife would be perfect] around the outsides to remove the folds and create a pile of equal tissue sheets that you are about to spend a fair amount of time with........
On to a sheet of paper, outline the size of your tissue paper sheets to create your honeycomb template.  You need to create [at least] two sets of alternate lines - each set at an equal measure for a uniformed look - and preferably with the first line set also being the last line:
I went for a simple two sets [marked '1' and '2'] to start and illustrate the above, but you can hopefully see that you can easily start to add other sets to create tighter and more intricate designs [I'll hopefully try this out soon and post the results]

The basic method of creating the honeycomb is to layer the tissue paper, gluing in turn the template lines of set 1:
...and then adding a new sheet on top, before gluing lines from set 2:
...and continuing this until every sheet has been glued in alternate lines.
It takes some time, your back might ache a little, but it will all be worth it in the end.  Leave underneath something heavy, just to make sure that all the glue fixes the sheets and is fully dry:
....before having a quick check of the design - pulling the top and bottom sheets apart gently to reveal the honeycomb design.  turn the sheets towards each other in a circle to check if they meet neatly and without any strain - if you find this difficult, add more sheets, continuing the gluing pattern until you are able to make them meet easily.
Now, we can cut the circle design.  I went for a simple ball for my first attempt, so created a semi circle that was around 1cm shorter than the length of the tissue paper at either side to allow for any mis-alignments and used a side plate as my guide:
Line the template with the edge of the tissue paper and 
cut this [if you have one] with a craft knife - I found that this gave precision and helped line 
everything up when you cut the semi-circle with scissors - cut in stages and this should minimise any movement between the sheets that misaligns the cutting:
Once your shape has been cut, create a hanging by threading trough one end and tying to secure with a loop that will allow the decoration to open [a good guide is to tie the knot around your finger]:
Repeat this step at the opposite end, but cut the excess thread to hide the thread.
Now, you have two option for the finish - and it will depend on whether you intend to reuse the decoration and want the option to pack it away and bring out when needed, or if you are like me and don't bother with that and still have decorations hanging around from birthdays and celebrations over a year ago......[but seriously, if you fancy a re-usable option, cut two pieces of card using the same semi-circle template and glue these to the top and bottom layer.  when you create the decoration, bring these two card ends together and hold in place with a paperclip].  For this DIY, I coated the top layer with glue and then opened the decoration to meet the bottom layer and glue in place:
Press between the layers to hold in place and use some paperclips to help if needed - then you are ready to hang!  If any layers haven't glued, you can easily fix these up - but if these are as the sheets are having to pull away to make the top and bottom layers meet, try adding some more layers to remove the strain [hopefully this would have presented itself earlier]:
I need to stock up on some sheets to make giant versions of these.
Let me know if you have any questions - 
do give it a try if you want to add some party decor with impact!
I'll be back tomorrow with an idea of how to adapt these for embellishments - see you then x

Friday, 22 August 2014

Meringue Moulds

Can you mould meringues?  These are the questions that keep me up at night.  Lets find out.
P.S Not 'do meringues go mouldy?'

It is probably no surprise to you at all, that the only moulds I have in my home are Christmas-themed:
 I resisted the urge to make robins, trees and Santas, though, and went with the star mould for my experiment.  It is vital that the moulds you use are silicon - you need to be able to manoeuvre, re-shape and pull away the moulds at the end.  I whipped up one egg white and 40g of warmed caster sugar and transferred this into a plastic sandwich bag, cutting the corner to create a piping bag:
 ...and used this to make sure the meringue reached the corners of the mould and filled to the top:
 I left the top unfinished, but you could over-fill the mould and then neatly scrape the top to
remove the excess with the flat of a knife to give a cleaner finish:
 Once my moulds were filled, I popped into an oven at 90 degrees C for 2 hours:
....and was pretty impressed when they came out in one piece and didn't blow the oven up:
The meringues had risen in the oven, but seemed to retain their shape.
After cooling I attempted to remove the meringues, presuming they were welded to the moulds or would come out in broken pieces, but they were tougher than I thought and came free easily....
....and in one piece too.
I pulled the tops away from the meringue to start, moving down the sides and then easing
the meringues out.  This is why you need the mould to be silicon.
 The meringues were nice and crisp, the bottoms and sides a little more crunchy and a few
that the sugar had caramelised at the bottom:
So, if you've ever wondered - yes, you can mould meringues.
Have a great weekend!
see you next time x

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Tissue Paper Flower Wrapping

As you may know, wrapping presents is one of my favourite things to do.  Imagine me at Christmas.  If you need any help, send presents to be wrapped my way - I love it.  Today, I have a new favourite extra I have been adding to my plain wrapping, tissue paper flowers, and they couldn't be easier.

What I used:
Tissue paper
Round template

I had three sheets of tissue paper that I folded in half four times [or to the largest number of folds that my template would fit] and used my template to mark the size of the flower embellishment I wanted to create.  Using this as my guide, I then cut scallops around the template to create my petals:
...creating a pile of scallop circles:
To attach them all [48 layers in total] together, I pierced the centre with a brad:
....the metal bottom also help when creating a little shape with the layers, however; you could also staple, glue/sticky tape [but this would take so, so much time] or thread the layers in place.

To start making your flower, take the top layer of tissue paper and bring the paper in to the centre in a 'neatly scrunched' method:
...continue this with the second layer, third and continue down the layers, scrunching at the bottom centre to help the tissue paper take shape and hold:
Continue until the layers have create the shape and look that you are happy with:
Neaten any layers that may have been missed with the scissors and you are ready to embellish your presents.  I added a ribbon for decoration and the flower added some detail:
Perfect for your present wrapping arsenal.
Not only are they are perfect for creating for any sort of embellishment - smaller versions for cards, tags and artwork, change the material to create fabric versions for accessories and other crafty projects.
Layer different colours to achieve varied or ombre effects.
Other wrapping ideas?  How about personalised wrapping paper, oversized present bows, mini wrapping garlands or - my favourite - chalkboard wrapping?

Monday, 18 August 2014

Mini Pinboards

What I Used:
3 Cork Pot Stands [Ikea, £2.50]
Sticky Back Plastic [HobbyCraft, £5.00]
Craft Knife / Scissors / Ruler / Pencil

Before I get started with this Mondays DIY, I thought I'd just give you the heads up that painting on to these cork pot stands isn't going to end happily.  Don't spend time creating, carving and cutting stencils - you'll only end up with at least an hour of your life you can't get back and abandoning the project for a good month to recover.  Just letting you know.
Add those 15 layers of paint with no visible difference to the opacity:
Told you.

I'm a fan on storage / space saving / accessories being decorative as well as functional.  I've made a speech bubble noticeboard before and this project largely follows from that - creating pinboards that are decorative if not in full use, three times lucky.  
As the paint was a huge fail [I should have known, these cork pot stands were only ever going to absorb everything] I pondered on what to use instead for a few weeks until I decided sticky back plastic deserved a come-back in my life and found a nice roll of embossed light-gold plastic in my second home.  A little pricey - but I used such a small amount, this has many a projects-worth for your pounds.
 I tried three [OK, two] different styles to try out the vinyl - the first was a simplistic geometric style - made simply by cutting small triangles from the plastic [thank goodness for the guidelines on the back]:
...and placing in a fairly random style directly on to one of the corkboards:
Although the plastic adheres really well to the cork, it isn't permanent - unlike if used on paper - and can be moved about if you change your mind on the placement [or in a couple of months, the design!]
The second design was a little more intricate and I opted for a short and typical 'hi' which I drew free-hand and transferred to the back of the plastic by taking all my pent-up aggression out on the reverse:
I cut the majority with scissors, but for the slightly more intricate parts - that needed a smooth line and not a creased mess that turning scissors around would have created - and detail of the 'h', I used a craft knife.  Remove the backing and test yourself with how well you can centre your design:
For the third and final board, I re-used my animal head pins to add a little functionality and used them as hooks - if you fancy making them for yourself, you can see how here.
see you next time x