Sunday 15 April 2012

Thrifty ways to get creative with Ikea frames

When I was last down at Ikea, I couldn't resist the bargain that was these 3 frames for the equivalent of a pound.

RAM frames from Ikea

They do the job if you want a postcard-sized frame, but are pretty dull - just a plain wood finish and a little rough around the edges. I decided some customisation was in order!

I have a favourite photo of a day out in Brighton that I wanted to display and thought a seaside-themed frame would be just the thing to top it off.

I do like to be beside the seaside 
I painted the frame with different coloured acrylic paints (bought in the art shop sale back in Strasbourg) and gave it a wash of white to make it look a bit driftwoody.

For the top decoration, I painted some small wooden kebab skewers and inserted them into some holes I drilled into the top of the frame. I then used some bakers twine to create a washing line, from which I could peg some stamps of Brighton that I had bought a while back (see, hoarding is a good thing!).

I then took inspiration from the postage stamp framed collage that I had seen on Sweet Paul and decided to put my dusty old stamp albums to good use. 

Purple stamp selection with matching frame
I picked out several purple stamps from around the world and then put them in a RAM frame painted green. I added a triangular stamp to the corner to add to the stamp theme. Again, this cost me nothing to make as I had all the stamps already and the green paint. Free art, what could be better?

Finally, I took a postcard of my favourite Mucha Art Nouveau piece, which is also my Blogger profile photo (I blogged about my trip to visit this sculpture here) and made a glitzy frame for it.

I found a very old pot of silver acrylic paint, which was just about usable and after the two coats had dried, glued on some craft gems that my boyf had given to me for Christmas. I think it sets the picture off well.

So, by spending just £1 on frames and using up craft materials and items I already had lying around, I have made 3 lovely new pictures to decorate my craft room :)

Sunday 1 April 2012

I can make that!

Do you suffer from Icanmakethatitis (aka No-need-to-buy-cos-I-can-make-it-myself disorder)? This disorder is fairly common amongst arty-crafty types and also among DIY enthusiasts. It can creep up on you without warning. Just small signs at first ("I will have a go at making a bracelet") then moving on to full blown symptoms: "Why buy a fitted kitchen when I could make the whole thing myself from scratch?!"

I admit, I have Icanmakethatitis. I blame my Dad. I caught it from him. When I was little we would wander around the shops or craft fairs on the weekend and I would say, "Daddy, can I have one of those puppets/doll's houses/games/scooters?" and his reply would be "No, dear. I can make you that!". However, he vary rarely did. It's not that he couldn't, he's very talented and has made lots of things around the home from metal and glass coffee tables, to whole sheds from scratch and he always did all the DIY. He also worked 12 hours a day and half days on Saturdays, so no wonder he didn't really have time to make a lot of these things for me.

I mentioned to my Dad in passing last year, not expecting him to get round to it, that I would like a darning mushroom. I was therefore extremely excited when he sent me this lovely creation in the post. Sometimes knowing someone with Icanmakethatitis is not such a bad thing!

Turned yew wood darning mushroom
Since I got into crafting on a more regular basis and especially since I decided to make all my Christmas presents, the Icanmakethatitis has worsened. I find myself thinking and saying "I can make that!" when wandering around shops and looking online A LOT. But, is that really such a good thing?

When you see an item that you like, you are not just paying for the materials, you are paying for the time it took that person to make it and also the original idea that they had. However, isn't it tempting when you see something to start planning how you would go about recreating it for yourself? Thoughts such as "I would save money if I made it myself. I could personalise it. I could learn a new skill!", all flit through your mind. But how many of us have the time and inclination to make these things?

Here is a case in point. About 3 years ago I saw this amazing lamp on sale in London. It has an amazing price tag too, unfortunately.

Via: Meme en Autriche
Essentially, it is copper wire with those small birds you can get from craft and floristry suppliers sitting on wire rods inside. I really wanted it, but couldn't afford it, so my first thought was, yes, you guessed it, "I can make that!". I set about collecting as many colourful birdies as I could and even started looking at old lamps that I could reappropriate. However, I didn't get any further with my project and those dear little oiseaux are sitting forlornly in my craft room.

"We had big dreams once. Now we just sit in a jam jar gazing out at the world"

You would have thought I'd learnt from that failed lamp attempt, but, no! My boyfriend and I have always liked this rather groovy Campari bottle lamp, which can sometimes be found hanging in trendy bars and restaurants:

Photo by Vineyard Adventures
Goodness knows how I would manage to make this light shade, but here are my little empty Campari Soda bottles waiting on the window ledge for a day that will probably never come:

Five Campari bottles, sitting on a wall...
I'm not sure I will ever be cured of Icanmakethatitis, but I will try and be more realistic and accept that I don't have the time (even if I think I have the wherewithal) to make all these things. If I really want something, then I should give credit where it's due to the person who made it by buying the one they made.

I think the key is to stick to making things that you are not able to buy: something personalised or unique that will have special meaning for you or the person you are making it for. It's much nicer to have something that you know nobody else will have, because you came up with the idea and made just the one :)