Friday, April 23, 2010

A Flexagon Initiation

A flex-uh whut?! Heheh! welcome to a new toy that knows no age! While I was cleaning up taxes earlier this month, I was distracted by following a couple of links on U-tube to a folded paper creation called a flexagon. I have a weakness for folded paper thingies and found myself sucked glassy-eyed toward this new attraction like a moth to the flame. However, priorities prevailed at that moment and I bookmarked sites for later exploration. Today I had slotted a couple of hours for playtime and all too easily gave up much more after downloading a basic software for creating a flexagon with my own images. And I’m going to share this new little addiction without any apology!

First, a smidgen of history for those who like to know everything about a new thingy (I had to find out!), although this devious paper contraption has been around for some time, messing with minds of all ages. Although I imagine that this construction has been discovered by many and likely several times over, the established story is that in 1939 a graduate student in England, Arthur Stone, trimmed his American paper to fit his English binder. Keenly sharp in mathematics, he began doodling and folding these scrap paper strips, forming a “flexible hexagon”, or, as it was soon named, the “flexagon”. Evidently he quite happily spread the infection of this mysterious paper invention that could flex to expose faces previously hidden. Historically much of the investigations into addictive variations … caution: there are MANY! … revolved within the circles of mathematically bent adults for several decades until it broke out and into the hands of the young and restless.

Relax, I’m going to woo your interest with the classic flexagon, and this is a hexaflexagon also known as a tri-hexaflexagon because of the three faces and hexagonal shape. While I’m playing with creating a line framework in my draw software (yep, I have it that bad!), here are two flexagons generated with a free plug-in software I found in my online research. If you’d like to mess with this yourself … it’s surprisingly easy if you have a decent photo software … here’s the url and instructions for use: Foto-TriHexaFlexagon. I would recommend printing the whole website page for reference while setting up this simple software for the first time. Or you can simply play with ones I’m giving you!

Below is the very first flexagon piece I eagerly generated, a “what if I try” of photos of spring flowers from my garden … bright Dutch iris and alyssum. Follow the images and you’ll quickly be flexing your own flexagon. Click on the image below for the largest possible image … right click to copy and paste into your photo software to save and print. I would recommend printing on legal size paper if you can (I use 24lb), to maximize size for better folding and flexing. You can go into your printer’s Properties to select Legal and Landscape orientation to successfully print the image … for most printers you can also adjust the size percentage if necessary up to 13 inches in width for maximum size. This creates a completed flexagon of about 4 inches across.

After cutting the image from the background paper, fold the strip of triangles in half along the long horizontal middle line carefully aligning the open edges. Use a glue stick on the smaller side, folding and smoothing to keep it flat as it dries. Gluing the sides together will leave two white triangles exposed at each end, soon to be the connecting tabs to the completed flexagon. Allowing time for the glue to dry, pre-crease firmly along all marked lines and be sure to crease each line in BOTH directions as this will ease the first time flexing through the faces of the flexagon (say that out loud quickly!). The image below shows the glued strip kinked from creased folds.

Make a mountain fold (crease pops upward) along the black line shown above … tucking the left end underneath to match the image below. Notice that the photo triangles are matching across the fold of the left side and top.

Make a valley fold (crease pushes downward) along the black line … folding the right end over to form the shape below.

The photo image matches now with the exception of the last triangle, pinned with my finger. To complete a flexing hexagon, slip the mismatched triangle underneath — below left. Flip the flexagon over and the white ends are now next to each other, one extending outside the hexagonal shape — below right. Take this extended tab and fold it over to meet the other tab, white face to white face. Glue these two areas together, only allowing glue on the white backs; don’t let glue touch other areas or the flexagon will not flex properly. Note to parents and teachers: kids under 9 years are going to need supervision for clean edges, crisp folds and glue in all the right places.

Allow time to dry — oh, hard to wait! Pick up the hexagon and notice which lines from the center are open layers, not the smooth drawn lines. Pop these layered edges into mountain creases, pushing the hexagon into a tri-fold as shown — above right. These mountain folds will begin to open as the outside edges press downward. The first time these stiff edges are flexed, the tips at the center may need coaxing apart … this is why you did all the pre-creasing! As the center edges flex outward, a new face pops upward — below left. Repeat the same pinch ‘n flex to expose the third side of a two-sided hexagon. Come on, is this cool or what!

Ah, but wait! turn the flexagon over and the reverse side will show a face inverted … namely, what was on the outside corners of an original face is now at the center —below. Technically there are SIX faces; the original three, plus those three in flexed or inverted arrangement. Go on, play with it and find 'em all!

I’m handing off the second flexagon variation below because I couldn’t stop at just one (did I mention these silly things are addictive?). The second flexagon piece features fossil faces; ammonite chambers, suture pattern of an ammonite, and a seastar. This one should appeal to the guys, sons and grandsons, more than the floral variation. It is easy enough for a five year old to play with and charming enough to suck in an adult. And then, AND THEN you’ll start wondering about new combinations ….. maybe even coloring your own doodles ….. hmmm.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Mothers Day Postcard

This image would make a great
fabric postcard for Mom. I hope
you enjoy it!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Giving Birth

Patti and I sure had ambitious intentions when we set up the blog in late January to stay on top of fresh updates, but February darn well scuttled away from us. It was one of those months that we thought we had a handle on planned events, save the handle snapped off and we were both scrabbling after March in the blink of an eye. I don’t think I have to mention the little things in life that can abruptly collect into a flock and swoop all at once. Just catch a read of Patti’s misadventures below … it’s silly but I swear that appliances conspire to retire all at once! For me, February was a couple of shows, a healthy bite of family distraction, and a creative gestation that required prompt birth.

Heavens, no, I’m not rushing into actual motherhood again at my age, thank goodness! The development I’m about to muse over is a new tool and the journey from idea to physical form. For a couple of years I’ve been selling a set of round discs with open notched edges as a simple cord maker, kitted by a gal living in the Bay area here in California. I really liked the disc tool for braiding bead strands but my wandering mind found the basic cord it allowed too limiting. Certainly there were a fair number of ways to arrange threads from ribbons to fine thread, metallic cords combined with bouclĂ© threads, fabric strips, and that didn’t count the combination of bead strands with soft goods, but I kept thinking that there could be a single tool that would accommodate multiple braids that were not complicated to follow.

Then there was the discovery of a foam square plate last fall and the outright cool flat braids that was possible with that portable tool, but (now you knew there was another but coming, didn’t you?) those snug foam slits didn’t allow playing with textural threads or beads. Well, not without frizzing both the threads and your humor! The braids from the foam plate was quite firm but I was hoping for something pleasantly even and able to mold flat curves for sewn embellishment. And I believe those addicted to the handarts indulge in them because they really enjoy the full process so why not find a reasonable tool design for smooth technique. What to do? Uh huh, here it comes … what if I try a merge of needful qualities?

A scribbled sketch on a yellow pad plus a conversation with Edward, my handy-in-the-workshop mate, netted me a square plate of chipboard with open slots for experimental play. The hybrid worked precisely as I anticipated but the rough edges of the board wasn’t very kind to fragile goods and the time it took to hand cut a single plate was not cost effective for production. This prodded me into surfing the local sources and a few web sources for estimates in die-cutting different materials, such as chipboard or clear acrylic. The chipboard was quite inexpensive but, as you can see in the picture, not terribly attractive as the common color is a gray shade of kraft brown. Simply lovely! However, once past a particular thickness, the alternative choice of clear acrylic must be laser cut lest it crack or even shatter under a die press, so now the cost took a lively jump. Kind of like a drop of water in a hot frying pan. In order to have “picture pretty” and “silky to use”, both attributes needed a hitch of cost in time and hulking machinery. I took the plunge in mid-February with a small virgin run of 50 count, which nearly sold out with a debut at a relatively slow local show. Ever seen a middle-aged woman do a Snoopy dance? Uh, wait, maybe you don’t want to think about that too hard!

Now we are in mid-March with a new batch of plates under the laser, due to arrive in a few days. There were some small concerns with the initial run that were addressed in this new batch that prompted a small cost increase. A few additional slots were plotted into the sides to allow more potential in playing with kumihimo braids as there are many available books detailing more, MORE braiding stuff. It makes sense to tweak it fully early in the game! While I’m waiting for the shipment to arrive, I’ll be updating the plate image in the folded instruction pamphlet that goes with plate + bobbins + weight clip + ties. The ten page pamphlet covers three braid variations and helpful hints in using and traveling with the Braid Maid™. What’s in that name? … I wanted something that stuck in memory (rhyming truly helps), a Google-unique in search, and it is a tool that serves to keep those threads in the right place. No matter where, no matter when.

Here is an image of braiding playtime in ribbon, vintage seam binding, boucle threads, and satin cords in both flat eight strand braids and a chubby round K.I.S.S. braid. The expansive possibilities in trimming art-to-wear clothing, sweaters, ornaments, paperwork such as scrapbooking and decoupage, jewelry, and … and … well, I haven’t started on the beady potential yet. Or wire or chain or fabric strips or bias tape or metallic ribbon or twisted paper and, well, you gotta figure, there is always more. Do stay tuned.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Vintage Sewer

Hi, everyone, here is your first free vintage image. I used this darling lady to make a crazy quilted needlecase, of which the instructions for this project will be on the blog soon.

Originally scanned at this small playing card size, if you right click on the image you will be able to copy and paste it into your own photo program to save for immediate or future use.

Have fun with her and look for more free images soon! Or check out all of the images on my website as there are 5 CD's to consider!

Let me know how you like the freebies! — Patti

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Scissor Fob

You may call this beaded treasure a scissor fob, jewelry for your scissors, or use it (as I do) to hold a certain set of keys! A fob has many uses and is quite simple to assemble. This fob design is 6" long, but can certainly be easily adjusted. It can be as elaborate or as simple as you want to make it.

You will need:
  • Assorted beads ... I used one of the many wonderful colors of Bead Soup from Hofmann Originals. The pictured model is Foamy Azure ... a pretty assortment of beads from seed beads to medium and large pressed beads.
  • #10 beading needle or #10 "straw" needle
  • Beeswax or Thread Heaven to wax or condition the thread
  • Size D beading thread
  • Large lobster clasp
  • Fray Check to seal the knot

1. Reel off 30" of beading thread. Wax or condition it well and thread your needle.

2. String one of the medium size beads (Main bead), then 12 seed beads. This will attach your lobster clasp.

3. Now go through the lobster clasp and back through the Main bead as illustrated below, leaving a 4" tail. It's helpful to put a stopper bead or bead clamp on the 4" tail to prevent the beads from escaping.

4. Lay out your major beads before you start stringing. Use 3 -4 larger beads on each side, with medium and seed beads between to allow flexibility and interest, creating a 6" beady dangle. Play with the various sizes of seed beads in the mix, as the large-holed beads in a dangle will drape better with seed beads to either side of these beads.

5. Since the leaf bead has holes from side to side, I preferred it at the end of a dangle. String 8 seed beads, slide through the leaf, then add 8 more seed beads.

6. Take the thread back through the last larger bead in the line (white bead in the picture) and all the rest of the beads, including the Main Bead. Slip back through all the seed beads that go through the clasp loop and exit out the Main Bead to begin stringing the second dangle of the fob.

7. When you want to end a dangle with a centered bead, simply string on the bead and a seed bead. Return the needle and thread back through the larger bead and all the rest of the beads on that side until you arrive just before the Main bead.

8. You will see that both the beginning tail and working thread are now at the same place. Tie them into three snug knots one after another. After the knots are tied, thread each tail onto the needle and slip through an inch or more of beads on separate dangles and cut off excess thread.

9. Put one drop of the Fray Check on the final knot for added insurance. Now look at all the beads left! There's enough for several fobs and what a great gift this would be for your craft-addicted friends!

I hope you enjoyed this project, so be sure to check out the many colors of Bead Soup!

Happy beading, Patti

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Crazy Quilted Fairy Book

The inspiration for these books are my adorable grand daughters Sierra, who is 4, and Lindsay, just 15 months. Yes, I'm a doting grandmother. If you think I'm bad, you should see my husband ... talk about wrapped around a finger! There's something disarming about a little girl's smile for her Grandpa.

Although these directions feature "fairies" this process can be used with any subject.
When you scroll to the end of these "what if I try" guidelines, you will see a book I played with for Christmas. What a delightful tradition this would be for a small child through his or her wonder years.

  • 6-8 Crazy quilted squares, 6 1/2" across
  • 8" satin ribbon, 1 1/2" wide for binding book spine
  • 6-8 images, your own photos or vintage on fabric
  • Steam-A-Seam, 8.5 x 11 fusible sheets (fabric store)
1. In my previous post, I've given instructions for piecing the crazy quilt blocks with this project in mind. 8 fabric squares were assembled for this four-page book. If you don't want to make it that thick, just use 6 pages for a three-page book. So, go ahead and crazy quilt 6-8 pieces, measuring a finished 6 1/2" square.

2. If you have the Home Arts CD #3 or CD #5, available on my website, you will have the fairies I used in the first book sample. These images are from a vintage paper collection, printed on a wonderful cotton fabric called Printed Treasures. This paper-backed fabric is pretreated to accept the basic ink from any ink-jet printer (do not use premium photo ink). If you want to make this book with pictures of your grandchildren, check out this convenient product by clicking here.

3. Apply a fusible to the back of your images (I favor Steam-A-Seam). Arrange your blocks and images in the desired order, beginning with which one will be the front cover. Put a straight pin on each block to mark which edge is to be bound together. I'm having you do this because the binding swallows about 3/4". It's something I didn't consider until I started to assemble the first book. If I had realized the take up of binding the pages together, I would have moved the images more toward the center. Take a look at the picture below. The image on the left is almost tucked into the bound spine and would have looked more balanced another inch to the left. With this small warning, place your images and fuse them in place on each block.

4. Now comes the fun part! Embellish, Embellish, Embellish!!! As you can see I love to get carried away with the embellishments of laces, ribbons, and painted lace motifs. You can also add fusible to the back of an fabric image such as birds or butterflies, cut it out to fuse on a block as part of the embellishment. Click on the book to see a larger image.

5. Each page of the book will consist of two crazy quilted squares sewn together. Sew each set of "pages" with right sides together, leaving the spine edge open for turning. Trim excess fabric off the corners. Turn pages right-side out and press. Stack pages in order. To hold the pages together while you are working with the binding, sew a basting stitch with your sewing machine along the binding edge. This stitching will be covered up with the binding.

6. You can see the next two pages in the fairy book below.

7. For the binding of the spine, take the satin ribbon and place it with slightly less than half of the width to the front. Leave 3/4" at the top and bottom to finish the cut ends of the ribbon. Sew the front edge of the ribbon only where the ribbon rests against the blocks. To sew the back edge, tuck the ribbon ends at the top and bottom edge, then wrap the ribbon over the spine edge and pin in place. If done with care, you can machine stitch along the front edge of the ribbon (the ditch of previous stitching), catching the back edge in place. An alternative would be to hand stitch the ribbon edges along back and ends. Click on the binding assembly below for a larger image.

Okay, here's the shameless advertisement. All of the vintage images are on 5 CD's. There are hundreds of images and at least 12 pages of projects on a CD for $20 each. To see the page of samples for each CD, click here! Enjoy the samples of the Christmas Book in picture below (note the bound spine with small loop at top), worked in snowy whites and metallic golds. You'll find too many excuses to collect and swap fabric scraps for these charming childhood memories!

Thanks for joining me, as now I'm off to play with a Halloween crazy quilted book ... there is wide potential for those precious grand kids!


Saturday, January 30, 2010

Crazy Quilting How To....

How to crazy quilt? I can't tell you how many times I've been asked for instructions for crazy quilting. I finally have a way to share this with you. This is a very forgiving process so please don't be afraid to try! Remember....what if I try!!

1. Gather some favorite fabrics cut into strips, assorted widths. Mine were from 2" - 3" wide, and as long as the fabric allowed. This is where you will really use up your scraps.

2. Cut more strips than you think you'll need. It's better to have a lot to choose from.

3. This particular process will work around a middle piece. Choose a fabric and cut it into a 5-sided shape. As you can see, it measures about 3".

4. Choose a strip of fabric and lay it along one side of the five-sided fabric, right sides together. Sew along the edge and press to the right side. Trim off excess as shown below.

5. Choose another fabric and lay it, right sides together along the edge of the previous two fabrics. Sew and press open as shown. Trim off excess.

6. Choose another fabric (the blue in the picture), set it along the newly sewn pieces as before. Sew, flip, iron and trim.

7. Continue in this manner until you have a little more than you need. A 6 1/2" square is what I want you to have so I can show you how to do the next project. When you get to the end of the first go-round, you will probably be trimming off the tails of the previous fabrics as seen below.

8. You can lay your square ruler on the sewn fabrics to see when you have enough. If you don't have a square ruler in your stash, cutting a 6 1/2" square out of scrap shirt board or poster board to lay over the growing square will help to let you know when it is large enough. When you are satisfied, mark and cut the newly pieced square.

9. We're almost there! Now is the time to add your embellishments, images, etc. Decorative stitching is a must! I fused a vintage image of a lady at her sewing machine a little off center and slightly askew. Few crazy quilt projects are precisely centered which makes the process that much more forgiving than precise patterns. It's ready for trims, lace, beads, etc.

My next project will be a soft crazy-quilted fairy book using the above process. Take a sneak peek at the fairy book and please join me for more fun! (click picture to enlarge).