What to Do With Scraps of Felt, Part VII: Make a Festive Garland

I confess: I have a thing for dangly art. I like making it, and I like looking at it. I like the variously gentle and energetic movement in the free-hanging kind, and I like the potential variability of the of the attached-to-something-but-not stationary kind.
In terms of design elements, I also like simple shapes and bold colors. These proclivities lend themselves well to the scraps-of-felt project---number seven in the series, by the by---that I present to you today. I think it's kind of fun and I hope you do too. Yay!

Materials


  • Scraps of felt
  • Straight pins
  • Scissors
  • Glue
  • Four-pound fishing line
  • A large jingle bell or other decorative doo-dad with a little weight to it (optional)

Steps

Cut a length of fishing line and tie a loop in one end. With a small piece of tape (fold one end over sticky sides together aid removal) secure that end to a table or the like.

Cut shapes from scraps of felt. I like to stack shapes on top of each other for a dimensional look so I cut several different sizes of shapes. 

Regardless of whether you decide to stack or not, start by cutting shapes of the same size to sandwich the fishing line between. Pin two pieces of felt together with their back (less fuzzy) sides facing each other and snip away.

Separate your pieces. Apply a line of glue to the back side of one of the shapes and align it with the fishing line. Set the line in the glue. Affix the other shape, fuzzy side up, to the first shape. Gently press together. 

Glue smaller shapes to the base shapes until you're happy with the result. Do this to both sides or just on one, depending on how you intend to display the result (if against the wall, one side; if free-hanging, both sides).

Display suggestions and tips: If you're going to hang your work vertically, say, in a doorway, tie a jingle bell or similarly weighted object to the loose end to stabilize it a bit. 

If you're going to hang your work horizontally, more akin to a garland, skip the jingle bell in favor of another loop. 

And there you go---a festive garland for everyday or party use. Enjoy!

Until next time,


Linda
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Tools on Tuesday: Hot Knife


About a year ago I became interested in working with EVA (Ethylene Vinyl Acetate) foam, a dense and somewhat rubbery material commonly found in craft stores (often in the form of model kits for kids). I was looking for a way to make colorful, lightweight yet durable sculptural shapes that didn't involve painting. I found myself a great tutorial about working with EVA foam and got myself the recommended tools and a few 1 mm sheets to play around with. As the tutorial had warned, I found the foam extremely hard to cut well. You need to use as few strokes of the cutting blade as possible, or else you'll get raggedy, uneven and/or choppy-looking edges. And you CANNOT trim, shape, or otherwise fix said edges after the fact. It just makes a mess---both of the cut piece and your work area!

What a mess!

And I thought that if I really want to make nice-looking things with EVA foam I should use a heavier grade of foam, which would be even harder to cut well. More research led me to the tool I needed: a hot knife. Then life intervened and I had to put my exploration of EVA foam on hold. Then, this past Friday I found out that I didn't get in to the renowned Renegade Craft Fair in June. Wah. So on Saturday I took myself to Michaels for a consolation prize. I still had three packs of 3 mm foam hanging around from a year ago waiting to be used, and a new project, especially one requiring a new tool, would cheer me up.

So I got a hot knife. But not just a hot knife. No. I got the ultra-nifty, anything-you-could-possibly-dream-of-doing-with-a-hot-thingamajig model of hot knife (the Creative HotMarks tool by Walnut Hollow, pictured at top). Not only does it cut, it stamps, burnishes, heat-transfers, and all kinds of other scrapbooky good stuff like that. I don't really need all of those things but I didn't find the basic model of hot knife until after I checked out. It was in the locked cabinet by the shopping carts. So it was kind of too late to get that instead. And I liked the heat-transfer capability of the niftier model. So I took it home.

I'm delighted to report that the hot knife part of the crazy hot thingamajig works on 3 mm foam---not super-great, but waaayyy better than the utility knife I tried first as a comparison. Hooray! Creating lightweight, durable, colorful sculptural shapes without having to paint has become a possibility for me. But it will take practice.

Utility knife, stencil and 3 mm EVA foam. My comparison case.

The results: Choppy...

...and uneven. As compared to:

First cut with the hot knife. Still a little raggedy and uneven, but better, and so much easier!

One thing I learned that may save you some trouble if you try this out yourself is that, at least with 3 mm foam, it's hard to go all the way through the foam without first tracing the shape onto it with your stencil.
The stencil limits your use of the knife blade to just the tip. But tracing the shape with a pen or pencil first will leave marks on your finished pieces. The solution? A stylus!

A stylus is a small hand-held instrument with ball-tipped ends. It's great for poking around in small spaces, and, it turns out, for tracing shapes onto EVA foam. The foam is soft enough for the stylus to leave a visible mark. No ink or graphite needed.


When I traced my shapes first I was able to use more of the knife blade and came away with much cleaner edges. It's still tricky to get the shapes even on all sides, but cleaner edges make a big difference.

When all was said and done I had a bunch of nice-enough pieces with the promise of better ones to come. To flesh out the vision I used my practice pieces to make a little something.


I glued smaller pieces onto larger pieces and then strung them together with fishing line. Voilà! Decor!


Until next time -

Linda