Monday, May 04, 2015

coiled rope tote bag

I've been making coiled rope baskets for a while now, I even shared a tutorial last year about my process. 

Since then I have done a lot of playing and experimenting with sewing rope, I even used my scraps from failed attempts to make coiled rope pouches

Finally, after all kinds of trial and error, I was able to figure out how to make coiled rope tote bags. Since my art and crafting process is all about figuring it out on my own (no patterns for me) and coming up with a way that works best for my brain- it took a while to sort out the process. I tried over and over again to create a large tote bag and finally had success and today share the process with you!

I start with cotton clothesline rope. You can use just about any kind of rope but I really like the clothesline rope because it is easy to work with and doesn't fray. While you could wrap your rope in fabric, I actually like painting or dying it.

To begin, coil the rope into an oblong shape. When you are making a basket you simply coil the rope into a circle but making a tote or purse requires an oblong shape for the base.  

Using a sewing machine, zig zag stitch the coil together and keep coiling and stitching. 

My oblong coil base roughly measures 4 x 10 inches. This step is actually the most important because the size will determine how big your purse or tote will be. 

When I began figuring out my tote bag design, I made the mistake of making the bottom portion too long and ended up with a GIANT bag. After a lot of experimentation, I finally figured out that base needed to be smaller- a base around 4 x 10 inches will get you a pretty standard sized tote.

FYI- I spend lots of time sewing heavy duty and non-traditional materials on my machine- I typically use a denim needle for these kinds of projects.

Once you have the base of the basket, create the sides of the tote by tilting the coiled rope as up as you sew. The minute you begin tilting is when the sides will begin to form!

Continue sewing until the sides are the desired size. My tote bag measures 13 inches tall, my purse is 10 inches tall.

The last step is to add handles. I found some fun handles at my local craft store and hand sewed them on.

The result is a really simple and unique bag...just in time for the Farmers Market!

Friday, May 01, 2015

mothers day sale!

Mothers Day is coming soon and to celebrate I've got a big sale starting today through May 10th.  Online classes are marked way down! Head on over to the SHOP for a complete list of all my class offerings.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

clay plant stakes

If there is one thing that I love to give and receive it is plants and with Mother's Day right around the corner, I thought I would share one of my favorite ways to add a little bit of whimsy to a plant. Adding a decorative stake to a potted plant is a really fun way to incorporate something fun, especially when giving a gift.

I used oven bake clay because it is super easy, colorful and a fast!
I created round flowers and leaves- I kept the design of the flowers simple because Lucy was helping with this project- she was in charge of rolling out all of the little balls of clay.
I poked a hole in the bottom of each flower and then baked them in the oven according to the directions. After removing them from the oven I mounted the flowers onto stakes.

I love that there are endless ways to put your own spin on this project! I also love that with a few simple supplies, a pretty plant becomes even prettier!

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

my 3 favorite toddler art activities

As I shared a while back, Lucy's little brain is developing and growing so fast and gone are the days where she is dazzled by paint! I used to be able to pull out the paint and she would be endlessly entertained. Now paint is not so dazzling, instead it's just another supply that she is comfortable using. This new stage has challenged me to come up with all kinds creative activities that will keep her challenged, interested and creative. I've found that she is most inspired and engaged when we take time to plan and teach new techniques that appeal to her current interests. While these creative activities are always changing, today I am sharing the top three (right now) that are really getting her excited!

1. PRINTMAKING: So far printmaking continues to be her favorite creative activity, specifically monoprinting with a gelli plate. I introduced gelli printing to Lucy when she was about 1.5 years old and it is still something that is really exciting. Parents of toddlers- go out and get yourselves a gelli plate! Not only is it fun and easy to use for adults but it is a really great supply for kids. The sticky surface makes it easy for little hands to imprint all kinds of textures (leaves, stencils, stamps, flowers, etc). I typically gather anything and everything that has texture and let Lucy go wild printing. Her favorite part of the process, just like mine, is peeling the paper away to see what the print looks like.

2. FIZZING WATERCOLORS: Watercolors continue to be a favorite supply but Lucy loves experimenting with materials. A BIG favorite lately is fizzing watercolors. This process involves mixing watercolor paint with baking soda (I like using using liquid watercolors). 

You use this mixture to paint paper and then add vinegar to the surface of the paint. We use paint brushes to swipe and drop vinegar onto the painted paper- the result is a reaction between the baking soda and the vinegar- the surface begins to bubble and fizz! It is super fun and a really creative way to make some interesting watercolors backgrounds.

For even more DRAMA (and mess) you can pour vinegar into to the cups of paint/baking soda mixture and watch the entire cup erupt with bubbles and fizz- this is a favorite around here!

This process is fun for adults too but keep in mind that you are left with residue from the baking soda on the surface of the paper which makes it challenging to create with. I like to scan these colorful pages and use them in digital projects.

3. HOMEMADE COLORING BOOKS: I am not a big fan of traditional coloring books so we have been making our own custom coloring pages for Lucy since she was around one year. For a while she lost interest in coloring but recently she started up again and now really enjoys using watercolors instead of crayons. Andy and I spend time creating simple line drawings that appeal to her interests or we even let her request the images- the subject matter seems to change by week! We scan the pages and print them out and she spends hours painting these pages.

To read and see more of my time creating with a kid check out the entire series posts HERE

Monday, April 27, 2015

lettering with makewells: dress up your mail

Hello! It's Megan here with another guest post about lettering, and I'm super excited about what I have to share today!

One of my favorite 'simple pleasures' in life is opening up the mail box and finding a hand addressed letter. Tucked away inside the ads, bills, and catalogs, there's a special goodie just for me. Oh the joy! As I open it, I know that I don't owe the sender money, they aren't trying to sign me up for the latest credit card, and, even if what's inside is a simple 'hello', it can be a wonderful moment in my day.

Today I am challenging you to take what you've learned so far in this lettering series, and put it into practice in a very tangible way. Send some snail mail!

Addressing an envelope is the perfect way to practice your lettering skills.  Each name and address is simply a combination of letters, words, and phrases. Addressing creatively can be an extension of your lettering practice. The only rules are that it fits a stamp is is legible! (I sometimes do the "husband test" and if he can read it easily, I trust the post office can too!)
And just think of the smile you will bring someone when they receive your work of art!

If you aren't super confident in your lettering skills yet, painting your envelope first is an easy way to dress it up. Painting simple patterns on your envelope before lettering is easy, but makes a big impression.

But if you don't have time for paint to dry, practicing your lettering techniques with pen and pencils can make just as big an impact. 

In the envelopes below, I used my white uniball signo gel pen to do the lettering, and then a graphite pencil for the drop shadow. 

The drop shadow gives it that extra pop which I love...

Or for an even softer effect, try using a colored pencil. With this navy blue envelope, I drew my letters with a white colored pencil. On the dark paper, it really pops - and almost gives it a chalky effect.  Little doodles and embellishments add a finishing touch.

And if you have the time to make something extra special, try painting the name and address! I love painting on kraft envelopes - the colors pop so nicely against the neutral brown. For this one, I drew the letters very lightly in white pencil before painting on top, adding a drop shadow at the end for dimension.

So practice away AND brighten someone's day with your work. In today's world full of emails and texts, and hand written note says goes a long way. And with an envelope disguised as a work of art, your mail is bound to make someone smile! 

Remember to use #redefinecreativelettering on instagram to share what you've created!

Megan Wells

Makewells - an art blog

Friday, April 24, 2015

around these parts

I am pretty much smitten with Instagram and it is a place where I am able to document, show and share a more personal look into our life (without words). You can follow me HERE for a peek into our daily happenings.


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