01 October 2014

I love... Peru!

Two years ago this month I went on an amazing 17 day tour of Peru! It's somewhere I'd wanted to visit for most of my life, and I'm so glad that I finally went. I've not written a lot here on my blog about the trip, because it's so difficult to sum up such a wonderful trip with visits to so many varied, interesting and colourful places, and to narrow it down to a handful of photos that represent my whole experience of the country.

Some of the things that I found inspiring were the markets, with their colourful textiles and fruit and vegetables; the architecture, from the beautiful terracottas and cobalt blues of Santa Catalina Monastery, to the amazing and skilfully built Inca sites, to run-down peeling colourfully painted buildings; the friendly people, especially on the islands of Lake Titicaca; the delicious food and drink; and the wildlife.

I knew that I wanted to do some crafts based on Peru, and I did make Peru-themed Christmas cards in 2012, but now I'm devoting a whole month to Peru-inspired crafts!

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30 September 2014

This month on emuse

Another month of crafty posts has come to an end here on emuse!

September's crafty goodness started off with a week of posts about photo backdrops and staging:

I showed you a few bits and pieces of home decor:
And some fun craft projects:
Including two from the leftovers of my vintage dress:
And some easy earring ideas using plastic canvas:

And there was a week of older projects that I hadn't posted before:

I hope that you've enjoyed all this month's craft projects (I certainly have!), and come back for more over the next month - it's going to have a distinctly Peruvian theme!

29 September 2014

This month I have been mostly...

Listening to:

The new series of Life is Goodish by Dave Gorman (brilliant!), Crimes of Passion (not sure about this but love the '50s outfits), and I've been more hooked than ever this year on The Great British Bake Off. Other than that I've been avoiding TV a bit, as it's been wall-to-wall referendum coverage, and it got to be a bit too much after a while!

I've been so busy blogging that I hadn't read much in the last few months, but I read a review of The Incredible Unlikeliness of Being by Alice Roberts and couldn't wait to download it. It's on a subject I find really interesting, how the stages we pass through as an embryo are related to our evolution. It was a slightly challenging read for a popular science book, I think I'd have struggled if I didn't have a scientific background and some memory of Latin classes!

I then read The Secret Place by Tana French. I've read a few of her books before and enjoyed them. This one was based around the murder of a pupil at a private school, and it jumped back and forward in time between the school kids and the detectives, which made it a bit like a cross between the boarding school stories I loved as a child and the detective stories I love now!

I had a bad cold at the start of the month, so homemade spicy vegetable soup was very much required!

I also dyed my hair, adding a tiny bit of turquoise to the ends!

27 September 2014

Making a stop-motion animation

You may have noticed that recently I’ve had a few stop-motion animations here on emuse, yesterday’s raku pottery one for example. Whenever I take photos, I take a lot, because I like to choose the best one. While flicking through the photos on my camera, I realised they would make a fun animation, so I taught myself this way of doing it. It’s a great way of using your outtakes from a portrait or self-portrait session, and I think that children would find it fun to see pictures of themselves this way too!

This tutorial uses Windows Live Movie Maker, but other software is likely to have similar features.

1. Ensure that you’re on the Home tab, and click Add videos and photos in the bar at the top.
2. Browse to your photos, and choose the ones you want, holding down the control key to select a few or the shift key to select a whole bunch of them.
3. Press Ctrl-A on the keyboard (this selects all the photos)

4. Select the Edit tab at the top of the screen
5. In the duration box type 0.2 (this means each photo is displayed for 0.2 second). If you want it to pause on one photo for longer, try selecting that one photo and changing it to 0.3, 0.4 or 0.5.

6. Click the play button on the left to check what it looks like. Some of the photos might look fuzzy as you do this, but don’t worry, they will look fine in the final video.

7. If you want to change the order of any of the photos, drag them to rearrange them. To delete one, right click on it and select Remove (I did this to remove a few close-ups that wouldn’t have worked well among the other photos).

8. Click the Home tab at the top of the screen, and click Add music. Browse to a music file and add it.
9. You can then choose the Start Point for the music (for example if it has a quiet beginning that you want to exclude) and the fade at the end.

10. Play the movie a couple of times to make sure you are happy with it.

11. In the File menu select Save movie for computer. This will take a few minutes.

12. I find that if I add the photo directly through Blogger (which uploads it to YouTube) it comes out a bit blurry, so I tend to upload it to Flickr, copy the embed code, and add this to my blog post on the HTML tab. There are various online tools if you want to convert a short video, or a segment of a longer one, to a gif.

To make a one-minute long video like this, you'll need in the region of 300 photos (yikes!), but I usually make much shorter ones with fewer photos.

26 September 2014

Hobbies scrapbook

It's old projects week here on emuse!
I had kind of forgotten about this tiny scrapbook, until I was filling in a questionnaire for a feature on a craft site, which asked what my non-craft related hobbies are. When I pulled the scrapbook out of its box, I was quite prepared to cringe at an old project from exactly 10 years ago. But when I looked at it I realised that I loved it as much as when I'd made it! I haven't really followed all the changing scrapbooking trends over the past 10 years, to tell the truth (and I kind of dislike that scrapbooking does have trends, I think that's one of the things that put me off following scrapbooking sites).

I love that I left lots of tags at the end to add new hobbies! I will have to fill a few of these in!

25 September 2014

Decorated Moleskines

This week on emuse I'm posting some old projects, some of which haven't been seen on the blog before. Today's post is all about the Moleskines!

I've got a fair collection of Moleskine notebooks of different styles. I use them as travel journals when I go on holiday, as my everyday sketchbooks, and for keeping notes about the books I read, films I see, etc. When you've got so many, you need to be able to tell them apart! So here are some of the ways I've decorated them.

1. Using origami paper, cut-out letters, mod podge, and a few cute accents
This is the main way that I decorate my travel journals - the ones here are Austria 2001, Japan 2006, China 2008 and Peru 2012. I haven't done my Kyoto 2013 one yet! I added coins and tassels to the China and Japan ones, and a pompom trim  and tiny ricrac braid to the Peru one. I decorated a memo pocket folder in a similar way, for storing old (ancient!) love letters. I use a simpler version of this on my sketchbooks, just adding a simple band of origami paper.

2. Drawing on them
This is how I've decorated my Cahiers, which I use for keeping notes on movies, books, tv, theatre, and music. The books one was done with just a black pen, but the others used coloured pencils.

3. Stamping on them
This is a Moleskine that I decorated for my brother. I made my own stamps from erasers, and combined these with use of coloured pencils.

4. Using patterned paper and stamping
This is how I decorated a couple of tiny pink Moleskines.
5. Making a felt cozy
This is a simple way of keeping your Moleskine safe, easy to find in your bag, and pretty to look at!

24 September 2014

Raku pottery

Mum recently bought a piece of raku pottery, which got me thinking about the course I went on a few years ago to make raku pottery. I decided it would be fun to put together this video of the process from the photos I took then. And above you can see some of my finished pieces!

23 September 2014

Steamcream cat

Today's the second day of my week showcasing some of my older projects. This was made for my sister-in-law a couple of years ago.

The main gift was a tin of Steamcream, with a lovely design of a grey cat on a yellow floral background. To match it I made:
  • A yellow felt case for the tin, with an appliqued grey cat
  • A cute cat keyring (based on one of the Aranzi Aronzo patterns), in shades of grey and yellow, with a purple metallic bell to match the flowers on the tin.
  • A card with a grey cat on a floral yellow background

This is a great way to take a gift that might seem quite small on its own and enhance it with some matching items!

22 September 2014

Wedding table cards

Today I'm starting a week of old craft projects, but ones that haven't been seen here on emuse before! I'm starting with a project that I'm really proud of.

When my brother and sister-in-law got married a few years ago, the tables at their wedding were named after herbs and flowers, and they asked me to make a card to go in the centre of each table.

I started off by finding photos online of the plants that they'd listed, then I drew a sketch of what the cards would look like. Once I got the OK on the sketch, I set about making the cards.

I drew the lettering by hand on plain paper, then used this as a template for cutting out the letters in a dusty purple colour.

I printed out the reference images I'd found, and drew images of the plants based on these. For each plant, I chose a paper that imitated both the colour and texture of the leaves and petals. For some of the leaves I embossed the veins on them, and for some I added colour along the edge with ink.
It was great to be able to get involved with my brother and sister-in-law's wedding in this way, bringing a handmade touch to the tables!