Archive for the 'All things crafty' Category

Craft space in the making

“I wish I could make something everyday. Be it some beading, some sewing, some drawing, it doesn’t matter, I think it would be really nice to carve a little creative time in my daily schedule.”

I have been telling myself this for a few years now, and there are some times when I do manage to do exactly that. But some other time, I get in a boring daily rut, where I don’t even feel like taking any supplies out. Which is just so, so sad.

So, to counter the rut and not be able to give myself the “but-I-have-to-get-the-supplies-out-and-then-put-them-away-again” lame excuse, I have set a little craft table in the room where I have my work desk. On it, I put my sewing machine, little plastic drawers in which I can put any beadwork in the making, and other odds and ends that may come handy if I feel the crafty bug coming. And as it turns out, this simple setting has made quite a difference for me. Having a dedicated space, however small, is a really good way to actually make something. For me, not having to put everything away after each sitting is definitely a big plus…because when an unfinished project is put away in a box…well, it tends to stay there, in all its unfinished glory, forever for a very, very long time.

I just hanged some little plastic buckets just to hold some more odds and ends (namely rubber stamps and zippers). I’m testing them right now and if they seem to work for this space, I’ll probably buy a few more.

(oh, and I decided 2011 will be the year I teach myself some more sewing, so what you can see just in front of the sewing machine is a little evidence of that. I’ll post about it soon !)

Now, I’d like to find a (smart) way to store all things paper to have them ready to use, but I’m not quite there yet. I’ll figure it out though ! If some of you have any suggestions, I’d be happy to hear them !


Sparking creativity : September workshops

With the sweet feeling of renewal sparked by the arrival of September, I wanted to shake things a little, do something inspiring just for me. It seems that the universe had a compatible agenda, because these two cool creative gals were planning cool creative workshops when I was on the look out for just the right project !

I decided to treat myself and registered for both workshops. These will be my Christmas present to myself ! Elise’s one, the Big Mini workshop, just came to an end and was chock full of very helpful information, basic and not so basic steps and ideas to  make minibooks of all kind. Elise’s workshop was just like her blog : fun, inviting, inspiring ! I took another of her workshops last year too and she managed to make it even better this time. I have wanted to try my hand at minibooks for a long while and never actually completed one, each of my attempts ending in me over-thinking the whole process, trying to make it “perrrfect” and being completely overwhelmed… which is the fastest way to kill any project !

Thanks to Elise, I am now equipped with  detailed guidelines, clear advice and fun suggestions to build my own minibooks, and I feel very grateful to her for making the whole process seem so much less daunting than it used to be.

Then this weekend began Kal’s workshop : Nurture your creativity & be bulletproof. The first session was inspiring and quite an eye opener for me. I can’t wait for what’s to come. !

Beadwoven necklace and a few other things !

February is already here, and I left my Kyoto home to go and teach a few classes in another region. I’ve been doing that for a few years and am loving it ! I’m just hoping I can soon find something a bit more permanent…

Anyway, so I find myself here, quite near Tokyo, spending most of my days teaching to very motivated (seriously) students a thing or two about Japanese society and religions. It is, this year too, a very fulfilling, incredibly inspiring, motivating and humbling experience. It is all that and some more. And I find myself thinking about when I’ll be back in Kyoto a couple of weeks from now, where I have no such real job, and no real friendship network. Just writing about it and my stomach turns into a messy knot. I so want to find something to do and to be in Kyoto, but I haven’t quite yet. (Don’t misunderstand me, Kyoto is such an amazing place, with so many things to discover, and I do feel lucky to live in such a place. But on the other hand, I have no job there yet and know very few people, none of which I can really call friends.) All of this makes me contemplate different ways to “make my own job” more and more, on the web for example, but I still feel too shy to really start something. I guess if I really want it, I will have to take the big plunge eventually and see where it leads me.

Wow, that’s a lot of rambling !

I started this post to actually talk about a necklace I beaded a little while back, but got carried away about the above things, I guess. It’s pretty much how my mind seems to work these days ! So, back to this necklace ! I know a very sweet old lady who I go and visit almost every week. In her younger days she was a painter and we often talks about our respective passion for art, beautiful things, creating things. It didn’t take too long for me to start talking about beading and how I loved it and what kind of things I was making or trying to make. It seems that my little lady was surprised and curious about it and asked me to show her my work. Which I did a few weeks later. She was even more surprised and quite impressed with what could be done with those tiny seed beads. The week after that, a bit shyly, she asked me if I would agree to do a commissioned piece for her to give as a present with her dear friend. I was so, so happy that she thought my beading was good enough to be given as a present to someone. It sounds a bit silly maybe, but I was fueled with joy and also with a little bit of pride. It was not my first commission, but in these particular circumstances, from this particular person, to this other person,  it really meant a lot to me somehow.

SO, the necklace was finally given to its recipient at the beginning of the year and I got some very nice feedback, so I felt I could show it here too !

The pictures unfortunately don’t do justice to the delica beads : they are opal with a copper filling. It’s quite an amazing shade in person, very soft and subtle, which I thought would be appropriate for the lady the necklace was destined to. Then just a slight bit of gold seed beads to add texture and shine.

Pintuck pillows and what we put into handmade objects

I have a bookmark folder named “craft tutes to try”. It contains exactly that. And admittedly it is ever-growing. It almost took a life of its own, so much so that I had to subdivide it by crafts : paper craft, sewing, patchwork, crochet, etc. Just writing about it, my heart goes just a little faster. Sigh. Crafty goodness and possibilities all over the place !

So when my sweet mum got tired of her old, sad, forest green pillows, I knew I had just the right project on hand to free her couch from these floppy things nobody in the house dared to call pillows any more (just a little bit of drama thrown in for good measure).

To my (and the couch) rescue, came the talented Ellen of The Long Thread and her great pintuck pillow project. I unearthed some home decor fabric purchased a couple of years back…just because it was pretty (I do that sometimes, yes), and followed the well written instructions. Being a beginner at anything sewing, I was curious to see if I could come out with a decent result, and I think I did pretty well. It’s far from perfect, but I’m still happy with them ! Thank you Ellen !

I did one pillow exactly as suggested, and for the other one, I put more and more space between the pintucks, resulting in a slight gradation.

I sewed these pillows just a few days before leaving home and going back to Japan (I arrived a few days ago, still enjoying the jet lag induced  fuzziness). The last days home are always filled with mixed feelings. Somewhat happy to go back to my other home, but so very sad to leave my family and friends behind. Especially my mum, because I know her life is not so easy. So among others things, I made pillows for her. I hugged, cooked, talked, and made pillows. Because I thought it might cheer her up when she looks at them. Because they’re not store bought pillows, but handmade pillows, that I took the time to make especially for her, her couch, her living room. To bring just a little bonus hint of happiness. For me, that’s what the pillows, and handmade in general, is about. I do believe these objects we make with our hands, especially for those we love, have this very special added value. Something that says : I did it for you, because I think of you and you’re well worth the time and the effort, because you’re that special to me.

So, I’m going to stop there before I start crying in front of my computer screen 😉 , but these are my thoughts.  What about you ? What do you put in your handmade objects ?

Simple beaded present : seed beads bracelet

My first beading this year is a present for one of my cousin. I have to admit I lacked a bit of inspiration and imagination when I first decided to sit down with this project, but I did have fun choosing the colors and that’s what kept me rolling !

My original plan was to make this beaded bracelet. A pattern called Fordan, provided by Mu, a much talented, prolific and generous french beaded. If you don’t know her yet, go pay her blog a visit, you’ll have dozens of pretty patterns and ideas to browse through. Pretty amazing if you ask me.

I ended up changing the beading path just a bit, and finally stopped before the last two rows. The result is a more classic, slightly less wide, less decorated bracelet. Exactly what I had in mind for the recipient (Hi G. !).

Talking about beading, I would like to start working on a group of pieces to…maybe…finally setting up a little shop. Probably on Etsy. I’ve been thinking and dreaming about it for a couple of years now. The idea itself completely overwhelms me, but still hasn’t left my mind or my heart. It’s really something I’d like to give a try one day, so why not try and start working on it now ?

I’m thinking clean lines, simple and modern pieces, pretty colors with an accent, a bit of texture. Versatile pieces. Pretty much the type of jewelry, especially beaded jewelry, that I love and am passionate about !

We’ll see. I’ll keep you posted.  But in the meantime, if you have some advice about this particular endeavor, maybe because you’re doing it yourself or would like to do it or have tried at some point, or just because you’re in an advice kind of mood, feel very very free to leave a comment, drop a line, send an e-mail. I’ll be more than happy to read your messages !

Beautiful day to you all !

Green !


I guess it grew on me. 🙂


Great week to you all !


Zippered pouch, boxy pouch

July flew by like it never even was there. What a strange feeling to realize that August is here. And that we’re ten days in it at that. But here we are. The heat has finally hit Kyoto full force, which let me with the urge to stay inside, turn some cooling tunes on, and stick my head in the fridge (which I actually do sometimes). I try to keep my use of air conditioning sensible, but it is a struggle of every instant (I like to be dramatic sometimes,  I do).
Anyway, though time has been playing its usual trick on me, life has kept on happening. Some good and not so good things on the job front, some good and not so good news from friends and family. All in all, it’s been a rich few weeks, challenging and motivating, with a hint of major self questioning thrown in for good measure.
But some sewing also happened. Some beading too, but the beading is still on its way, so I’ll come back to it when I actually have something to show !


Back to the sewing : It seems a sudden need for pouches of various kind hit the house lately, and I decided to tackle it. The zippered pouch (above) has been requested by the Man of the house, and joins a few he already has. Once I started making them and he started using them, it seems he awoke to the infinite possibilities of  these little things .


The envelope-type boxy pouch (for lack of a better name !) was made to accommodate a little appliance (like a mini laptop but that can only be used to enter text) I carry in my bag quite often. This pouch is fully lined and except for the flap is slightly padded (I used fusible quilt batting) to protect the little machine it was meant for.


The outer fabrics for both pouches are from Ikea (insert big heart). The lining of the zipper pouch is a Japanese cotton I already used in this project. For the lining of the envelope pouch, I used a remnant of a Kaffe Fassett print I love, and for the back of the flap, a fabric from Ikea (the same as the outer fabric, but in a different color).
Sewing is still so new to me, I feel I’m learning many new things each time I make something. Which is really great !
I still have a few other pouch-like projects on the go that I hope to get done soon.

Beautiful day everyone !

Hi ! Welcome and thank you for visiting this little corner of mine ! Feel free to leave a few words, they make my day ;)

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