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Hanna-Mae Illustration

Illustrator & eco clothing designer

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upcycling

Monthly tutorial: Fun paper projects

Before Christmas I promised I’d show you some crafty ways of making use of that mountain of wrapping paper that inevitably amasses after Christmas day. If you’ve recycled your paper already (some papers can’t be recycled, see last months post here: link) this is a good way to use up those annoying bits that are too good to recycle but that clutter up your wrapping stash.

Please forgive my less than perfect photos, my 8 year old digicam has served me well but I have a suspicion it’s on its way out!

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You can easily find origami tutorials online and your library may even stock some books. If your new years resolution was to try a new craft, what better excuse to give it a go? This works best with thicker wrapping papers.

Another craft you may enjoy (and which I find very relaxing) is decoupage. You can buy special materials such as decoupage papers and glue/sealer but really all you need is some thin wrapping paper and PVA glue. It’s so simple you can get stuck in without much preparation. The Range stock extremely reasonable wooden shapes. I’ve used a little wooden birdhouse.

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You will need:

  • Your base shape (such as my birdhouse)
  • Scrap wrapping paper
  • PVA glue
  • A paintbrush
  • A container with a little water in

Instructions

  1. Tear your wrapping paper into small pieces
  2. Mix a little bit of water in a pot with a blob of PVA glue (make sure to stir well until fully mixed)
  3. Paint a thin layer of your PVA mix onto one area of your shape and put bits of wrapping paper over it
  4. Paint over with your PVA mix
  5. Keep layering and painting on glue until you’ve finished the entire shape
  6. Put somewhere to dry

Useful Tips

  • Don’t mix your glue with too much water or your paper won’t lay flat
  • Smooth the paper as you go along to get rid of any lumps and bumps (yes, you will get a little messy!)

 

This is great to do with children as it’s simple and your get results quite quickly. The next how-to is also fun to do with slightly older children but again be prepared for gluey fingers!

Paper beads

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You will need

  • Left over/scrap wrapping paper
  • cocktail sticks or kebab skewers
  • PVA glue

Instructions

  1. Mix a small amount of water with PVA glue
  2. Cut strips of wrapping paper approx 1/2 cm in width (the length you use will depend on how layered/thick your beads will be)
  3. Get one of your skewers/cocktail sticks and loosely wrap your paper once, fixing it with a dab of glue (try to avoid getting too much glue on the wood or you won’t be able to get your bead off later!)
  4. Continue to build up, adding a coating of glue as you go and smoothing out gently with your fingers
  5. Once you reach the end of your paper strip, make sure the outside has a coating of glue and either put your bead stick somewhere to dry or continue using it
  6. Leave until completely dry (the glue will have given your beads a slight gloss and hardened them up) then gently twist to get your bead off the stick.

Tips & Notes:

There are two ways you can make your beads, either tapered at the ends or just even. To get a tapered effect (like the red beads above) your beads will be a bit longer as you need to work from one side to the other. The easiest way is to just keep rolling your paper up, but once you’ve practised a little you can start trying other ways of wrapping.

This works best with brighter, patterned paper and you can use this method with fabric too. Get creative and try wrapping bright threads around your beads!

The most useful tip is to NOT WRAP TOO TIGHTLY around your cocktail stick/skewer as you won’t be able to get your bead off. I made this mistake myself when I started learning to make paper beads but you’ll soon get the hang of learning just the right ‘hold’ on the stick.

Whilst I waited for my wrapping paper beads to dry, I made a bracelet using some paper and fabric beads I’d already wrapped before. For these I used scraps of handmade paper, felt scraps, recycled sari material and even some left over paper I’d been stamping on (rubber stamping that is! Not foot stamping!)

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Monthly tutorial: How to have a greener Christmas

Although for many this time of year is one of the most exciting, it’s also one of the most wasteful. It’s lovely to see the beautifully wrapped gifts under the tree, and the sparkling decorations hung everywhere, but so much of it eventually ends up in the bin. Unfortunately not all wrapping paper can be recycled (you can read more about this on recyclenow.com, which also has a handy search tool to find your nearest local recycling centre!) and plastic can take hundreds of years to biodegrade. Recycle what you can, but if you fancy getting a bit creative, today I’m going to give you some ideas on how to give your wrapping paper and broken decorations a second life.

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Beaded Christmas jumpers, beaded tree decorations…we’ve all had that moment where somehow they catch on something and suddenly beads are scattering in all directions! Instead of chucking them in the bin, save them and make yourself a brand new decoration! These make wonderful gifts, especially as each is guaranteed to be unique! It’s worth saving little metal charms etc that sometimes come on posh packaging as these can be used too!

Upcycled hanging decorations

You will need:

♥ Jewellery-making pliers/wire cutters (an investment if you’re thinking of making jewellery/decorations in the future. You can get these from most craft shops and online)

♥ Collection of beads/charms

♥ Moderate thickness wire (you can double up beading wire but I like to use florists wire)

♥ Thin ribbon

 

Start by cutting a length of wire. Mine is around 19cm (you’ll be cutting the excess off later, it’s better to have too much than too little as this can be amended)

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It’s good to work out a ‘pattern’ for your beads, for example ‘big  bead, small bead, medium bead, big bead, small bead, medium bead… etc. Bend your wire a little so the beads don’t fall off the end.

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Keep going until you reach the desired size and can make a small circle.

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Slide the right-hand bit of wire through a few of the beads on the left and pull lightly so you have a complete circle.

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Now you need to secure things. Tightly twist the bit of wire on the left around the straight wire that the beads are threaded on a few times, then snip off the excess wire. Slide the beads over to disguise it.

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Do the same with the other side until you have a complete circle.

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Now’s the time to add your charm. If you can see a bit of wire, this is your chance to disguise it. Fold your ribbon in half and slip it through the loop on your charm.

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Put your ribbon through the circle, with the folded half facing you and slip the untied side through the loop of ribbon, like below.

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You need to secure your charm into place, so gently pull the ends of ribbon through the loop until it’s quite tight and the charm is hanging down.

Now you can tie the ends of your ribbon so you can hang your decoration.

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This ‘pattern’ is really versatile and can be adapted to use up what you have. You can use broken earrings, broken necklaces, and you don’t even have to limit it to just Christmas! You can use any colour beads you have to create summery, girly, gothic, any style of decoration to suit your taste and hang them in your car and around your home.

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Wrapping Paper Inspiration

There are so many ways you can reuse wrapping paper too! Here are just a handful of ideas:

♦ Wrap boring notebooks with it to transform into interesting stationery

♦ Shred it and reuse as colourful gift shred

♦ If your new year’s resolution is to learn a new craft why now try origami? The colourful papers make beautiful decorations!

And finally, as someone who loves making unique clothes out of upcycled/recycled materials, next month I’ll be showing you how to make your very own paper beads! They’re fun to make and you can get really creative incorporating other materials.

Merry Christmas everyone and as we say in Wales: Nadolig Llawen!

 

‘Allow yourself room for your ideas to blossom, take root, and grow’

Welcome to the third week of the New Year! I’m glad to say that so far I’m keeping up with my resolutions, and finding them quite rewarding. The wonderful thing about pledging to do a ‘deed a day’ is that there’s mutual benefit. Studies have shown that people who help other people report feelings of satisfaction and gratitude. There’s also proof that doing good benefits your mental health. Win-win! To read more about the science behind this, and get even more inspiration to help others, take a look at this interesting article from goodnet.org (link) which brings me to my second resolution – to be aware of what I Put in my body, physically and mentally. In a previous post I mentioned the book Touching Peace by Thich Nhat Hanh, in which he explains the importance of maintaining ‘a proper diet for our consciousness, refraining from ingesting toxic intellectual and spiritual food’. I realised that by starting my day by reading of all the sadness in the world in the newspaper, and then flicking on the news channel to also view it, I was starting my day with thoughts of what I was seeing and hearing – violence, death, crime. In common with other people who suffer from anxiety, I find mornings to be one of the most difficult times of the day. Research has shown that cortisol levels (the fight or flight hormone) is at its highest during this time. By ingesting negativity I was feeding this anxiety, which is why I made the decision to instead fill my morning with craft and creative journaling. This has definitely given my sewing projects a boost! And I’ve started work on a St Dwynwen’s day (Think Welsh Valentine’s Day) inspired skirt.

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As with all my clothing this is entirely hand sewn, and made using upcycled material and vintage broderie anglaise found in my local market. The material is fantastic quality, and of course this piece will be one of a kind due to limited material. Next month I’ll be bringing you a tutorial on how to make your own basic children’s skirt, which is so easy it’s even suitable for beginners. If you feel the need to get crafty in the meantime, there are plenty of tutorials from the past couple of years to choose from:

Last week I was excited to drop off my piece at Y Galeri Caerffili (website) ready for the Winter Exhibition. It’s uplifting to see how the small town of Caerphilly has evolved over the years to now have a real presence of creativity. Next month I’ll be bringing you a review of the visitor centre/art gallery, and hopefully inspiring you to visit for yourselves. If you’re interested in seeing this year’s Winter Exhibition, which showcases the work of 72 shortlisted artists, the gallery is open from 10am – 5pm Tuesday – Saturday. The exhibition will run until 2nd February. You can even participate by nominating your favourite work for the Visitor’s Choice Award.
Although I’ve found my focus more craft-based than art-based lately I’m occasionally dipping in to an autobiographical piece that I started late last year. I’m taking my time and enjoying the process of creating. I found a wonderful quote by producer Carlton Cuse that I feel really expresses the creative process: ‘The creative process is not like a situation where you get struck by a single lightning bolt. You have ongoing discoveries, and there’s ongoing creative revelations […] along the way you must allow yourself room for your ideas to blossom, take root, and grow’. As I paint I feel different things, ideas come to me, and the piece almost always evolves from what I originally envisioned. I like to think that’s what puts ‘soul’ in to a piece.

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Identity crisis

So far this year I’ve been on a journey to live my life in a way that’s within my means. Whilst it’s so easy to compare yourself to others, sometimes you have to remind yourself that you’re you, with your own individual needs. The past few months in particular have felt really significant in terms of identity and adapting the way I live to enable me to go about my daily life in a reasonable, albeit limited way, thanks to fibromyalgia and the host of trials that it brings.

The past few weeks have been focused on the way I create. My creative identity. This is something I relish in – a huge part of who I am, despite the health conditions that can sometimes seem like such a dominant part of life. But whilst I’ve adapted my daily life, I’ve battled with the creative process. So what do you do when the way you’ve always worked is not always doable? I started to actually feel quite excited about the possibilities and the chance to experiment, but that openness recently brought with it a sense of aimlessness and a questioning of where ‘I’ was in all of this. I did a lot of soul searching (as I often feel art comes from the very ‘being’ of who I am) and looked to other artists for inspiration. Finally, after much thought and experimentation, I feel I’m making some headway to getting the balance I need between detailed work and more laidback work. For a few days I explored the illustrator in me, and just went with the flow to try some children’s book illustration.

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Whilst I found this relaxing I couldn’t let go of my love of detail, so combined this sort of illustration with more intricate pattern.

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I realised I felt I had to fit in to a specific category: am I a ‘children’s book illustrator’? Am I a ‘fine artist’? I now realise I can combine elements to work around my difficult days when I’m in a bit of a ‘fibro fog’, to keep doing what I love.

In other areas of my creative life, I’ve been busy trying out a new bag pattern, using upcycled material to create useful (and unique!) pouch-style shoulder bags (picture below). I’m also thrilled to share the news that my piece ‘Flower Power 2’ was chosen to be shown in the current Penarth Pavilion exhibition. You can visit the website here. The exhibition runs until 28th August.

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