Monday, 22 April 2013

Craft: Experimenting with Craft Photography

For a while now I've been wanting to improve the pictures of my craft projects. I really admire some of the craft photography on blogs like Monsters Toy Box and Fresh Stitches. I came across this post from Caught on a Whim which details Erica's process for taking pictures for her blog. She makes it look so simple and uses very basic equipment - a low table, two pieces of foam board and a camera (she also recommends a furry assistant!). I found some foam board in a craft shop last weekend and set up a trial photo shoot. Unfortunately it was too late for natural light but I gave it a go anyway.

For subjects I used these cute tiny chickens that I have been knitting up for the Mochi Mochi photo competition. The pattern is from the Teeny Tiny Mochi Mochi book which I have previously raved about.

I decided to try experimenting with some bigger toys....

And then this happened... the background somehow disappeared...

I almost managed to take a picture with no visible background, replicating the pictures I like from other craft blogs. I have no idea what caused this to happen, but it was easier to get the effect if I took the picture from an angle where the vertical board couldn't be seen at all. These photos may be far from perfect but they have definitely inspired me to keep trying :-)

Monday, 15 April 2013

Craft: More Card Making

A few weeks ago I posted about a Stampin' Up card making class I went to and I liked it so much I went back for another class. In this class we made three cards which were slightly more involved than the cards and labels I made in the first class.

Here is a Mother's Day card that I made first. 

I really love the bright colours in this one. It was the simplest of the three cards to make. The only techniques involved were stamping and gluing! 

This next one is also a Mother's Day card. For this one I had to emboss the paper after it had been stamped using Stampin' Up's "Big Shot" machine. I actually got this completely wrong and got the embossed pattern on the wrong side of the card. I did the embossing on the right side and you can hardly tell... in the photo at least :-P

The third and final card is definitely my favourite. I think it's too somber for a Mother's Day card so I decided not to put a sentiment on it. The stamp in the middle is done with an interesting mirroring technique. Basically you stamp onto a piece of acetate or something similar that the ink isn't going to be absorbed by, and quickly transfer the mirror image from the acetate to the paper below. 

Another cool effect used in the card is the "paper stretching" technique, which is a way to create a border with shapes that are the same size - like the main image in this card and the black outline behind it. This is a lot simpler than it sounds (I was disappointed that there wasn't any stretching involved). The black outline started out the same size as the white piece in front of it. To "stretch" it you cut the paper in half down the middle, from point to point, and position the two halves out the sides of the main piece. In this case the black pointy tips stuck up at the top of the white piece and had to be cut off. 

Like the last class I didn't design any of these cards. I'm not sure if they were designed by Stampin' Up or the class instructor. Whoever designed them, they are pretty cute and I'm glad I'm now prepared with cards for Mother's Day!

Monday, 8 April 2013

Craft: Fresh Stitches Scrap Along

Do you have lots of balls of yarn that are too small to make anything with, but are too large to justify throwing away? If you do, the FreshStitches website has the answer! 


This month FreshStitches is hosting a scrap-along; a crochet-along using all your leftover bits of yarn. The idea is to create a "magic ball" using yarn scraps to create a colourful skein. FreshStitches has a post explaining how to join the different scraps together to create the magic ball. Here's the one I made. 

(The paper clip is my stitch marker!) 

It was fun crocheting with the "magic ball" and seeing all the different yarns come together in the finished piece. It was also nice crocheting with different types of yarn again. Lately I've been buying fairly cheap wool for making amigurumi, but some of my scrap yarn was from my days of knitting clothes for myself using fancy wool/cotton blends. 

I chose to make this cute monster for my scrap-along project. The pattern is called Lark. It's a FreshStitches pattern that is published on the KnittingFever website (this might disqualify it from the FreshStitches competition...oops!).  It was really fast to crochet and the pattern was nice and easy to follow. I like the funny oversized eyes! 

If you're not familiar with FreshStitches patterns you'll notice the texture of her patterns are different to most amigurumi. This really confused me the first time I saw it - I actually wondered if I had been crocheting wrong all this time! Now that I've made one of FreshStitches patterns I realise it's because the whole piece has been crocheted in the back loops. It does give a nice texture.

Here are some more pics of my scrappy monster.

Monday, 1 April 2013

Baking: Easter Treats

This year I decided not to buy Easter eggs for my family (with the exception of my twelve year old brother, I couldn't resist giving him some Angry Birds eggs). Instead I made my family this Easter banoffee pie!

I used the same recipe from my previous mini banoffee pie post, but used chocolate biscuits for the base and grated dark chocolate on the top.

The family were impressed with it, although we all had very small slices because it was very rich and sweet.

I also made some fudge (which I blogged about last year) and some chocolate hazelnut truffles. I neglected to take nice photos of either, but here's a shot of the pretty packaging I put them in. I found some cute icecream tubs in the shops as well as some Easter ribbon. I used this truffle recipe which turned out really well. Next time I make them I will write a proper post about them!

Hope you had a happy Easter! :-)

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