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Arts and Crafts Ideas | Old, New and Out of the Ordinary

Art, and Craft Ideas to get the creative juices flowing

ARTS CRAFTS IDEAS|OLD, NEW AND OUT OF THE ORDINARY

There is an endless supply of arts and crafts ideas out there and you are never too old or too young to begin learning a new craft.

In this post, I’ll take a little trip down memory lane to discuss some of the arts and crafts I’ve enjoyed or come across in my 70 something years on this planet – some traditional, some that were trendy back in the day and have become trendy again – and others that are highly unusual.

WHERE IT ALL STARTED FOR ME

My foray into crafting was making paper dolls and their numerous outfits with my sisters and a friend.  This occupied a lot of our time which I am sure was a great relief to our mothers. It was wonderful creating the dolls and their outfits.

Naturally, there was a great rivalry as to whose dolls were prettiest and which clothes were the best. All in all, it was fun and taught us a lot about design. My older sister, Pat and I went on to design and sew many outfits for ourselves and others.

It wasn’t long before we were pestering our mother to use her sewing machine. As I was deemed too young and perhaps would do some damage, it was Pat’s privilege to learn to sew on our mother’s machine first. Well, I guess it was right as she was three years older than me.

MY FIRST SEWING MACHINEMy First Sewing Machine

Growing up with two older sisters, there were always times spent together working on #artscraftsideas. We would see who could come up with something new and creative as gifts for our parents and each other.

When it became apparent to my parents that I also wanted to sew they gave me a child’s Singer sewing machine for my birthday.

This solved the problem and fights between my sister and me.

Many dolls dresses and bits and bobs were created on that little machine. It gave me such a thrill to actually create things that could be used, the creative spark was there and I ran with it.

Sewing became a passion years ago and has remained so.

I have built businesses using my sewing skills and the various sewing machines I have had over the years.

THE JOY OF MAKING CREATIVE FRIENDS

Forty-nine years ago, when my husband had completed his university degree in Theology and became a minister in the Presbyterian Church, our first church we served was in Krugersdorp.

When we arrived there we had two little boys and I was heavily pregnant with our daughter. Getting to know the ropes of the ministry was one thing and getting to meet the congregation and remember all their names was something else.

This was especially so as I was experiencing what is now termed “preggie brain”.

While busy unpacking and settling into the manse, I noticed a young woman coming up the pathway. She was also heavily pregnant, with two little boys in tow, She had come to welcome us into the community. What joy!

Who would have guessed that we would have so much in common and have the opportunity of exploring so many arts, crafts and sewing ideas over many years of friendship?

Kirsty became my closest friend and remained so for these past 49 years until her sudden passing last year.

The Highs and Lows Of Cake Icing

PLAYING WITH ARTS AND CRAFTS

There were no half measures with Kirsty. She was my inspiration in so many ways.

When Kirsty started on any project that was it, and she would be so excited about it.

Swept along by her enthusiasm it wouldn’t be long before we would have amassed the required materials needed to get going to complete the project.

It was clear from the beginning that we had a lot in common and together, over time, we learned to do so many different arts and crafts, and of course, anything and everything to do with sewing and embroidery.

We scoured the shopping areas together for the fabric, notions, threads, art and craft supplies, whatever we required for the task at hand.

It was enormous fun even with the children in tow. They knew if we were venturing into Johannesburg (Gauteng) on the train if they behaved they would be rewarded with a large sucker from Dick’s Sweet Shop.

Although we eventually both worked full-time as well as looking after our families, we were always trying something new.

ICING CAKES

For a while, K taught cake icing and naturally I became an avid pupil. The novelty, for me, wore off very soon when I saw the beautiful cake being cut up, and all the effort I had put into the icing of it, destroyed.

It soon became apparent to me that this was not what I wanted to spend my time doing.

Baking pies was more my line as they were easier and the family had to be fed.

PAINTING – WATERCOLOURS AND OIL 

When I was a single girl living in Pietermaritzburg I joined an art class and painted in watercolours. This was a very satisfying art form for me as it was almost immediate gratification. The paint dried quickly and it wasn’t long before the painting was ready to be taken back to be hung up in my room at the Y.W.C.A.

Oil painting took quite a while for me to get used to after painting in watercolour, but in time it became a great favourite for both Kirsty and me, and this we both pursued for a number of years.

Fortunately, my very clever husband whose hobby was carpentry made all our frames for us, he also made a stand for me to put wet paintings in to dry.

This stand was especially helpful when we moved to Port Elizabeth and often went to visit friends on a farm at Paterson where I painted out in the open fields. It was quite something picking off the little insects that came to inspect the work and got stuck in the wet oil paint.

Although painting, “en plein-air”, outside is fun, I do recall the wind blowing the easel over and having to scrape all the sand off the almost complete picture. The midges also loved to investigate and would get stuck in the paint.

This was one of the things I enjoyed about oil painting, if I wasn’t happy with what I had done it could be easily remedied.

Lately, I have returned to watercolour painting and am slowly learning to master it. As with all things, the more your practice, the better and easier it becomes.

HOW ARE YOU MANAGING THROUGH THE PANDEMIC AND LOCKDOWN?

What are you doing during this strange time we are living through? As I go through my Facebook messages it has become clear that many people are suffering from depression.

This certainly hasn’t been the easiest period during our lives but there are ways to make it more bearable and enjoyable by learning new and unusual crafts.

You are never too old or too young to begin learning a craft. There are so many to choose from, so there are no limits to what one can learn either.

Whatever your gender it matters not what you takes your fancy. It makes me so sad to hear people complain that they are bored. There is absolutely no need to ever feel bored as there are so many things to learn.

I have female friends who do wood carving, turning and also make furniture. Men I have met who knit, sew and quilt. One man I met many years ago, used a knitting machine to knit up fabric to cover his lounge suite and it looked amazing.

Although I have enjoyed using a knitting machine and made many jerseys, caps, etc. for the family and for sale and craft markets, I was never tempted to cover my lounge suite with knitted fabric. The task appeared far too complicated and time-consuming.

A NUMBER OF IDEAS FOR YOU TO TRY

Here are some suggestions of crafts you can try if you haven’t tried them already.

LOCKDOWN PROJECTS – DECOUPAGE AND MOSAIC Upcycling an old food warmer with Decoupage

ROUND ONE – DECOUPAGE

Not in a million years would I have thought that I would need to upcycle a food warmer not once but twice during the lockdown period.

When I received the food warmer it was to be used by me to store my collection of magazines. Living in a two-bedroom apartment in a  retirement complex, I needed more storage.

The food warmer was not in working condition so was perfect and what is more, it fitted on my balcony so was out of the way but still very useful.

Deciding not to get into a lockdown funk, I would put my time to good use and upcycle the cupboard by decoupaging it. I had some really lovely pictures of dogs and got cracking. Out came all the magazines, packed away, out of sight for a while.

Now I am not sure how many of you reading this have ever tried your hand at decoupage, if you haven’t, I would advise you to get a copy of  “Manning on Decoupage” by Hiram Manning. It is a very old book but amazingly helpful and inspiring.

This was not my first rodeo with decoupage but in the past, I had only tackled very small jobs, like teaching the children at holiday club to decoupage on a bar of soap and then, later on, teaching my grand-daughter to decoupage a large smooth rock to use as a door stopper.

There are a number of things to do and to get before embarking on a Decoupage project. First of all, make sure that you protect your floor surface as you don’t want it all messed up with glue, varnish and such.

Here are some of the things you will need to have before you begin your project.

Hot Soapy water to clean the metal cupboard

Cloth or paper towel

Plastic sheet to protect the floor

Craft knife or Scissors

Pictures to decorate

Roller to flatten out the pictures

Applicator for applying glue

Applicator for applying wood glue to protect the finished piece.

Step 1. Clean the surface of the item you are planning to decoupage very well and make sure it is perfectly dry before placing any pictures onto it. If there is any rust at all paint on a rust-retardant paint which you will get from the hardware store.

Step 2.  Select the pictures and make sure they will fit the space you want to cover. Space them out carefully, you may have to use a tape measure or ruler to get the spacing correct.

Step 3.  Very  carefully glue the pictures into place

Step 4.  Allow drying thoroughly between each picture. If using a quick-dry glue, which is what I used, it doesn’t take long.

Step 5. Use a roller to ensure that there are no air bubbles. The rubber rollers work very well, but if the surface is large you may use a rolling pin. If you notice that an air bubble has formed and it is not too large, prick it with a pin to let the air out.

Step 6. Once this is dried varnish the entire top with wood varnish (Podge works as well). Because my cupboard was for on the balcony I gave it quite a few coats of varnish,  Spread the varnish one way, allow it to dry and then do it the other way.

All this went splendidly and I was so happy with the results, BUT,  sadly for me, I hadn’t taken in the extreme heat of the South African sun beating down on the poor dog pictures into account, and although I had used outdoor varnish, the pictures all faded to varying shades of blue.

Hence the dreadful job of stripping off all my hard work and starting over with Mosaics.

ROUND TWO – MOSAICCupboard Upcycled with Mosaics

Mosaics are such fun to work with and so rewarding. Over the years I have used them in a variety of ways and really enjoyed making the cupboard presentable once again. Magazines are back in place whenever I want to browse through one. At least I know they are safely stored away.

Getting the decoupage off the cupboard, and then having to really clean it up again was not a job I would want to do again.

For one thing, because it is such a messy process and the pictures were so well stuck on and loads of varnish had to be scraped off,

I had put heaps of plastic liners under the cupboard and I tripped over it and nearly went through the glass sliding door.

Please be very careful.

Another thing that was a real pain was having to use a mettle grinder to remove some of the old varnishes.

Once that was all done and I felt happy with the preparations the fun part was choosing the tesserae with which to decorate. It is always good to have a little sparkle and I generally add a few mirror tiles to any piece I am mosaicing.

Over the years I have mosaiced a number of outdoor tables, birdbaths, and other garden decorations. All fun to do and really worthwhile. One of my old birdbaths resides now in my daughter’s garden. It is badly in need of redoing and I have the tiles ready and waiting for the energy to tackle removing the old tiles before revamping it.

Recently my young grandson of 7 and I mosaiced a rhino which now hangs in their kitchen. Ben is so proud of it and I really enjoyed the shared experience of teaching him how to mosaic.

There is always something new and exciting on the horizon.

Well, you get the idea, something a little different to try.

Or… you could even try your hand at designing and building something as big as a car or a plane.

WHY NOT DESIGN AND BUILD A CAR OR PLANE?

Recently, I was out at Riebeek Kasteel to attend my sister-in-laws birthday party. Fortunately, I was seated with the most interesting people and learned what Andy and Richard created.

So now, if that isn’t enough to keep you busy, or you have tried all of them, why not do what Andy did.

Build Your Own CarHe built his own 6 wheeler car from a kit.

The car was used for many years in the United Kingdom.

Ann, Andy’s wife would take their little son and all his mates out into the countryside for picnics. Space for all the children was no problem at all.

Not only that, when the rain came down, which, as you know is commonplace in the U.K. she would set the picnic up in the back of the vehicle which was big enough to house them all in comfort.

It didn’t matter how much mess was made by the children as, when she returned home, she would just hose the inside of the car, out.

The design of the car was perfect for shopping expeditions and for carting the children around.

It was a great pity when they left the U.K. that they could not bring the car out to this country as it would have needed a special licence to drive a six-wheeler vehicle here.

Richard designed and built his own plane.  Unfortunately, although Richard built it, he did not have a licence to fly such a sophisticated plane.

This machine was so sophisticated, it was used in aerobatics. Richard received an award for designing this plane.

At a later stage, it is my hope that I will be able to share more of the car and plane building ventures, and who knows, even about trains?

If you have read this post, my hope is that you have been inspired in some way to try something new and exciting and also that you will share it with me.

I would love to hear from you.

Please let me know what you have been up to during lockdown.

You will be able to encourage others who are perhaps at their wit’s end, wondering if they should carry on knitting beanies or try something a little different.

For more interesting ideas have a look at these 19 Adult Craft Ideas on Good Housekeeping.

Jill Alexa du Preez

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