Google+ House Revivals: January 2013

Monday, January 28, 2013

Antique Woven Star Tutorial

Thank you all so much for sharing your Scandinavian stars with me over the last weeks!  I am collecting of portfolio of images and stories of these lovely woven stars.  I think the best part of this process has been the new friendships that have been forged.  I love you gals!  As a thank you, I have created a new tutorial inspired by one of your stars.

Readers have shared family heirlooms, antique store finds, Girl Scout craft memories, and stories of weaving stars from paper or straw or wood in the "old country" as children.  Please keep your stories and pictures coming!
Antique Woven Swedish Advent Star

Today I want to share a star from the private collection of Kristine Leander, executive director of our Swedish Cultural Center.  Kristine lived in Norway in the eighties and early nineties.  On weekends, she would travel to Sweden, haunting the antique shops there.  On one of her trips, she found this lovely antique birch star.  You can tell, simply by looking at this picture, that her woven star has seen many winters!  I adore the woven details on the star tips -- so very pretty. The fact that it has become a bit warped over the years just adds to its charm.  Kristine's star was woven from birch, and held a little light inside.  It would have been hung in a window at Christmastime, to welcome family and friends to the warmth and comfort of home.  This star held an electric bulb, but earlier Advent stars often held a small oil lamp!

I created a tutorial for making this paper star, inspired by Kristine's antique star.  As you all know, I love to work these stars from folded strips of vintage book pages; but you can make them from just about any material you'd like to use.  Most of my readers prefer to use heavy scrapbooking paper, cut into strips. Use whatever you like -- and pretty please, share your star with me!  I love to see your projects!

You will need twenty strips of your chosen material to make your star.  To see how I fold my paper strips, see this post.   In this case, Kristine's center strips are very wide, so I made sixteen strips that are approximately one-quarter inch wide by six inches long; and I made four strips that were three-quarter inches long by six inches.

Kristine's star had center veneer strips with tapered ends -- probably because the center strips were so wide, it would have been impossible to form the star tips without narrowing the strips on the end.  I tapered mine by folding the corners in and securing with glue, but I would recommend simply trimming the strips with scissors and securing the edges with glue (if you are working with multiple folded layers).

Next,  find the center of each fat strip, and glue two pairs together, as shown.

Now, take your skinny strips, and weave together with the fat strips.  You will be creating two sides, that will be joined later. Secure each intersection with a dot of glue. (note:  I am not sure it is necessary to glue the intersections, but I don't seem to have enough hands to make these without doing so. Plus, by gluing the intersections, I can control the spacing of the strips)

The next step is to glue your star tips together.  Begin by taking the adjacent strips and twisting them toward each other and gluing the tips together at right angles, as shown.

Kristine's star had that lovely woven detail on the tips.  To get this look, simply take the next adjacent strips and twist them in and weave across before securing.

If the written instructions seem confusing here, simply recreate the pattern shown in the detail picture above.

Next, take one of the sides and join it to the other side.  You will need to turn one side by forty-five degrees, so that each star tip joins with a fat center strip.

Glue to secure.

Embellish as desired, or leave your star plain -- whatever you do, I promise your result will be beautiful!

I like to add glitter and a hanger made from a strip of paper, but ribbon or twine would work just as well (and it will fit into those little square gift boxes much better without the stiff paper hanger)!   Just for fun, I wove some one-eighth inch wide strips through the center.  These strips are about four inches long and are secured with dots of glue in a couple of places.

These woven stars are an old traditional craft, and lots of variations exist, but the concept is the same for all of them.  If you choose not to make your center strips wider, you will end up with a star that looks something like the star shown below. See that tutorial here.

Notice the tips on this star are not woven like they are on Kristine's star?  This technique is easier to do than the woven star tips, but I must admit I'm kind of in love with the idea of weaving the tips from now on :)

Happy star weaving!  Maybe, if we all get started in January, we will have lots of lovely handcrafted items for Christmas gift giving this year :)

To see more star tutorials inspired by an antique woven star, go here, and here.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Valentine Garland from the Recycling Bin

For a Valentine's craft, I thought it would be fun to show our planet some LOVE, and create a project using only reclaimed materials.

I have been super inspired by Christy Tomlinson's videos, lately.  Have you seen them?  Christy does amazing collage art, using stamps and markers and paints and stencils and found materials to create amazing background canvases, then she cuts and pastes and draws girls or houses or  birds or whatever onto her backgrounds.  The results are beautiful.  Check out Christy's blog HERE.

My stuff tends to be a bit (okay, a LOT) less loose than Christy's, so I've been experimenting with working more "free-form".  What better way to experiment than with valentine decorations, right?  I don't -- for ONE minute -- consider my little valentines to be in Christy's class.  They are just a little baby step in loosening up, but I would love to eventually work up the nerve to introduce mixed media into my drawing and blur the lines a bit more between craft and design and art....

We have been inundated with cardboard boxes, lately, so I wanted to recycle the cardboard in my project.  I still have lots of book pages left from my woven star projects, so I wanted to use those, too.

Each valentine base was cut, free-hand, from a piece of recycled cardboard that had the top layer peeled away to reveal the corrugated texture.  Then the book page layers were added, and layered with torn pieces of cardboard. 

The book page layers are rolled, cut, torn, crimped or scrunched  -- just do whatever works!  Glue the hearts onto a bit of leftover string or ribbon and embellish with markers or stamps, and you have a pretty little Valentine's Garland that cost virtually nothing.  And the best part of this project?  It's truly easy on the planet!
Do you LOVE to craft with recycled materials?

Thursday, January 17, 2013

2013 Word of the Year

This is my fourth year of choosing a "word of the year", instead of making resolutions.  Resolutions never work for me -- they just may me feel like a failure a few weeks later.  The first time I heard of a word of the year, I thought it was such a cool idea.  Instead of writing out a long list of unattainable goals, simply take one word that can be applied to every aspect of your life.  For instance, my first word of the year was "health" -- the idea was not to run five miles a day and eat all organic foods.  Rather, the idea was to apply the word "health" to different aspects of life.  In relationships, I made a conscious effort to strive for health; I applied the idea to finances, time management, etc.  At the end of the year, my life was not perfect, but it was healthier.

Since that first year, I have chosen the word "beauty", which I talked about here, and I have chosen the word "simplify".  Simplify was probably the hardest word of the year to put into practice.  Our life had been so complex for so long.  The most important thing that made the word "simplify" work was our new granddaughter.  She's turned out to be kind of a big deal, and she and her mommy were living with us while her daddy served in Afghanistan.  We wanted to cherish every. single. moment. with our sweet grandbaby!  In spite of the fact that we had two renovations in progress, we brought everything to a screeching halt and snuggled in with our little sweetie. 

I needed to simplify my blogging life, as well, by returning to the concept "of blogging without obligation".  This turned out to be easier than expected, as my computer crashed and my camera broke right after choosing to "simplify" (kind of a "God" moment)!  Any blogging and photography that was done in 2012 was done with a cell phone camera and a borrowed and barely functional laptop.  I did continue to blog regularly, of course, but I gave myself permission to blog at a pace that was comfortable for our family.

When our son-in-law returned safely from Afghanistan, our daughter and granddaughter returned to Colorado, and we resumed our renovation projects, they didn't all make it into the blog, because, frankly, it's not always "simple" to photograph and document everything.  That's okay. Simplifying our lives was more important.  We needed the space and freedom simplicity gave us.

This year I'm moving in a new direction.  My word for 2013 is "action".  This does not mean I will suddenly become a marathon running super hero type!  Again, the word is just a guide to be applied to aspects of your life.  It could mean purposely parking at the far side of the parking lot or taking the stairs.  Or it might mean picking up the phone and calling a distant friend or relative, instead of just thinking you should call them.  It's asking yourself "what can I do right now to make a better life for myself or others?"  The action doesn't need to be monumental -- maybe it will be something as easy as holding the door open for someone. 

Ironically, I have literally been sick since New Year's Eve with that nasty cold and cough thing that has been going around.  Now, I am not one to get over a cough easily, I always try to "power through" and end up making myself sicker for much longer.  So, here I am, coughing and sneezing and thinking, "my word of the year is action. I must. push. on!"  WRONG!  I realized, after trying to power through, that I wasn't using my word right. Did you know that "rest" is an action word?  It is. I had one of those "duh" moments, realizing that sometimes taking action means slowing down, sitting down, or even laying down.  The idea of choosing "action" as my word is to thoughtfully apply my actions to living, and sometimes that means you just need to get some rest.

I continued to do the things that needed doing -- and stopped doing the things that didn't need doing. Period. So, here I sit, well into the month of January, with "action" for my word of the year, and the most physical activity I've had is laundry!  But don't worry, I've gotten quite a bit of other stuff done-- including lots of negotiating and paperwork.  After doing three renovations in as many years, we're under contract for another property.  And guess what?  It needs some work.  :)