It shouldn’t surprise anyone who knows me that I have a bit of a craft/DIY book collection. From practical, old-school home maintenance guides, to kitschy ’70s craft encyclopedias, to beautiful, modern books filled with knitting and sewing patterns, my collection runs the gamut. But with so many great tutorials and patterns available online, why do we still need books? Victoria Hudgins, the author of Materially Crafted (and the blog A Subtle Revelry), argues that with the sheer volume of incomplete and often contradictory information online, it can often be difficult and time-consuming to figure out what you need to know to work with your chosen materials. So she wrote Materially Crafted to help fill this gap. Divided into chapters by material, the book walks you through the basic tools and skills you need to know to successfully complete projects with paint, plaster, concrete, paper, thread, wax, wood, clay, glue, fabric, and metal. That way when you come across an inspiring project image online, you can quickly refer to the relevant chapters here for advice on how to begin replicating it. After all, while it’s easy to pin projects you plan to make one day, actually getting started can be the real challenge.
If you’re short on ideas, Materially Crafted also includes advice on how to get inspired, plus a few creative home decor projects for each material. My recent cake stand project made me especially excited to see the instructions for a concrete cake stand (pictured above), and I was intrigued by the stitched wooden chair. My only complaint is that I wish there were more tutorials, but I think I’m just being greedy. Plus the end of each section has links to more projects online, including, I should disclose, my waxed tote bag in the “Wax” section.
Even without my tiny contribution to this book, I can honestly say that it would be a great addition to any craft library. It would be especially perfect for a beginning DIY-er, but even as someone who has done a lot of projects, I found a lot of new tips and inspiration.
Materially Crafted is published by STC Craft | A Melanie Falick Book. I was gifted a copy for review.
Recently I saw some striped bars of soap, thought they looked cute, and had the classic, “I could make that!” realization. I had soap base leftover from my coffee mint soap, so all I needed was some soap colorant. Turns out it’s just as easy as it seems: pour colored soap in layers, then slice it up to reveal the stripes. Super simple, but the graphic stripes really make an impact.
Soap base – I used this Goats Milk Glycerin Soap.
Soap colorant – I used this ArtMinds colorant, in blue.
Soap mold – I used a mold I made out of cardboard and tape.
1. Cut the soap base up into chunks, and place it into a microwave-safe container. Melt the soap according to the directions on your package. I melted mine in 30-second increments, stirring between heating, until it was fully melted. The amount will depend on the size of your mold, but I think I used about 2 1/2 cups of melted soap, total. Divide into two equal amounts.
2. Add colorant to one container of the melted soap, and stir until the color is evenly distributed. I originally wanted a navy blue color, but even though I used most of the bottle of colorant, the soap didn’t get much darker. If you want dark, saturated color, you might want to try different colorants.
3. Pour the first layer, using half of that color. This will ensure that your stripes are even. I didn’t keep very good track of how much soap I was using, so my stripes aren’t the same sizes. Also I probably could have done one more white stripe on top for perfectly-proportioned bars. (Perfectionism is a disease!)
Let the layer cool until solid. I stuck my soap in the freezer to hurry the process along. Then pour the next layer. Repeat until you’ve poured all of your layers.
4. After you’ve poured all of your layers, let the soap fully solidify overnight before removing from the mold. I had to destroy my mold to get the soap out, but that’s ok, since it was from the recycling bin in the first place.
5. Slice up your striped bars.
Wouldn’t these be great in a nautically-themed bathroom? And you could put together a great little gift set with a bath tray, some bath bombs, and a couple of bars of handmade soap.
Now that spring is really here in the Pacific Northwest, I’ve been thinking about the vertical garden project I want to attempt in our back yard. I’ve assembled lots of inspiration and ideas for how to make it happen, and I think I have a pretty good plan in mind. Don’t hold me to this, but I’m pretty sure it’s going to involve an Ikea hack. In the meantime, here are some ideas for vertical gardens I’ve come across.
1. Succulent living wall from The Felted Fox.
2. Cinderblock vertical garden.
3. Living wall tutorial from Dremel.
4. Tons of inspiration from landscaper Randy Rayburn Design.
5. Woolly Pocket makes wall planters that look like they’d work, but they’d be way too expensive for the size area we want to cover.
6. DIY hanging vertical garden from Handmade Modern.
What do you think of vertical gardens? Would you attempt to make your own?