Book Reviews: CraftCycle by Heidi Boyd and The Crochet Dude Little Books Series

Book Review
Heidi Boyd for North Light Books

Craft designer Heidi Boyd is perhaps best known for her best selling Simply Beautiful beading series, but that’s only a small part of her crafty repertoire. Heidi spent a number of years designing for a major craft magazine and she’s got some serious crafty skills. She puts them to good use in her wonderful new book CraftCycle that serves up crafting with an eco conscious focus.

There are great project ideas running through every page and a generous sprinkling of tips and hints for sustainable living. The book is broken up into the four seasons and Heidi shares a variety of seasonally themed green minded activities, recipes and ideas at the end of each section. I loved so many of the projects it’s tough to pick just a few, but some of my favorites include a whimsical bowl made from melted colorful plastic cowboys and Indians, a stunning avant garde hanging lamp fashioned from water bottles, an ingenious old slide lampshade and an adorable bracelet watch fashioned from used colored pencils. She covers everything from home décor to pet accessories to jewelry using a huge variety of techniques and materials and every idea, even if it’s familiar, is given a distinctive Heidi Boyd spin.

Craft enthusiasts will love these fresh ideas for upcycling and repurposing and eco minded folks will love finding new ways to stay green. This is a book for all ages and for both sexes, and includes some great garden and furniture projects that should get the men folk excited to get back into the workshop. “Recycle, reuse and recraft!” and have a darned good time doing it with Heidi Boyd’s inspiring new book CraftCycle.

Book Review
Leisure Arts The Crochet Dude's Little Books Series
Drew Emborsky aka The Crochet Dude

Drew Emborsky has four fab new crochet pattern books for the crochet enthusiast or the enthusiastic novice. These straight forward value packed portable tomes are filled with appealing designs, great pictures, easy to follow patterns and detailed back material that supports the skills you need to create the projects. Each book focuses in on a specific topic with a nice variety of designs to suit a wide variety of tastes.

I like that these are small bites rather than big meals, because it lets you pick the design focus that suits your needs. Drew has a gift for taking crochet and making it look totally fresh and modern. You won’t find any doilies here, but you will find a bevy of beautiful ideas. Sweet Pet Comforts has seven crochet designs for your furry friends. All Washed Up shows you how to make charming crocheted kitchen accessories. Must Have Handbags has 6 fetching purses that are perfectly sized for a gal who likes to carry her crafts along with her and are stylish enough to use every day. In All Caps focuses on cozy crocheted headgear for cooler weather. There’s a title for everyone in this series and they’re so affordably priced, you may just want to scoop them all up.

If you are looking for new patterns or if you’re looking for a new hobby, Drew’s new ‘little books’ are the perfect fit. I can’t wait to give some of these designs a spin with the yarn I stocked up on last winter!

Free Halloween Craft Project: Drop Dead Gorgeous Mixed Media Necklace!

All designs, images and text copyright Margot Potter
(Click on images to view in close up)

Drop Dead Gorgeous
A Darkly Romantic Short Story
Copyright Margot Potter

She was walking home from an evening of dancing with her friends. It was late. The streets were empty. Perhaps she'd had one too many glasses of chardonnay...perhaps...okay definitely. Her hips swayed in a syncopated rhythm as she struggled to maintain the illusion of sobriety. In the city, a girl needs to have her wits about her. One never knows what might happen if she doesn't.

She heard the faint sound of footsteps about a block behind her. Slow and methodical and most definitely male. She casually turned her head and saw him. Tall, dark, pale, dressed head to toe in black. He was strikingly handsome and she was sure she'd seen him before, but where? He smiled slightly and she quickly turned around. Something about this felt off. She was only a block away from her apartment and she needed to focus. Where was that key...she reached into her purse and began rummaging. Five different shades of lipstick, two lip glosses, a wallet, some breath mints...damn...she knew it was in there. She tried to ignore the footsteps behind her as they quickened.

She wanted to stop so she could find that damn key, but he was getting closer and she didn't dare give him any indication of vulnerability.

"Just keep walking, you'll find the key." She told herself.

He'd been watching her for months. He had spent centuries looking for the perfect red head and she fit the bill. His first love had been a red head...and...well...they'd had a complex relationship. That was in the past and this girl, this girl was most definitely the future. He'd waited patiently for an opportunity to get her alone. He would make her his. He would show her things that would blow her mind. They would travel the world, seize every moment, drink every last drop of every evening from sunset to sunrise...for eternity.

She heard him begin to whistle. Soft and slow. She recognized the tune. It was an old song that was meant to be darkly romantic...and one she happened to love...but it took on a darkly sinister tone here in the quiet of the city night. Then he began to sing softly. Find the key, find the key...

"I put a spell on you..."

Damn where the hell is that key? I know it's in here. Fine tip marker...subway ticket stub...another lipstick. Why do I have so many lipsticks? I always wear the same color. Still no key.

"Because your mine."

He was right behind her. She was only a few feet from her front door. She could hear his raspy breathing and the song was crawling under her skin. Should she yell? Was she being paranoid? What if he was just a guy, walking home? He probably lived in the neighborhood, they'd probably stood in line at Starbucks together. Sure. Calm down. He's just a guy. The key...she found it.

Then she felt his hand slowly slide around her left arm...

"I put a spell on you."

She tried to break free, but his grip was too strong. She started to scream, but his right hand covered her mouth in an instant. She felt his hot breath on her neck...then she felt his teeth...

"Because your mine."

"Drop dead, gorgeous."

Ah, Halloween.

I don't usually like horror flicks or shows, but give me a good twist and a complex hero or heroine and you may just have me. There is nothing quite like a villain who has redemptive qualities, something in the human psyche finds that endlessly compelling, which is why vampires are iconic and Dexter is a hit show. We are simultaneously drawn towards and repulsed by these dark characters. So here is the first in my bi-weekly offerings of Halloween themed projects...BOO!

Drop Dead Gorgeous
Copyright 2009
Margot Potter
For inspiration purposes only and not intended for resale

Tim Holtz Fragments large square pendant
Tim Holtz Ornate Plates
Tim Holtz Foliage Flowers in gun metal
Tim Holtz link chain in gun metal
Tim Holtz link chain toggle clasp circle only
Tim Holtz Grunge Paper
6 5mm CRYSTALLIZED-Swarovski Elements rounds

18 gauge dark annealed iron wire (Metalliferous)
Beadalon BeadFix AdhesiveTraci Bautista Collage Pauge Matte
Crafty Chica paint in redAleene's Liquid FusionEdwardian script font size 12 "Drop Dead Gorgeous" printed on white paper
Dover Books permission free
Great Anatomical Drawings skeleton image printed on white paper

Round nose pliers
Memory wire cutters
2 pairs chain nose pliers
Hole punch (1/16")

1. Create the words Drop Dead Gorgeous in a document on your computer using Edwardian Script ITC font in size 20. (Or similar vintage style font) Print. Trace with acrylic pendant and cut paper.

2. Mark and punch a small hole in paper so it’s in the same spot as the hole in the tile.

3. Adhere paper to back of tile with a thin layer of Collage Pauge. Seal back of paper with another thin layer of Collage Pauge. Allow to dry.

4. Use an old toothbrush or a small paintbrush to flick a small amount of red paint across surface of acrylic tile. Allow to dry.
5. Print Dover skeleton image. Place metal frame over image, centering skull. Trace around inside edge of frame using a pencil and reaching under the lip. Cut out image.

6. Place frame on grungeboard paper. Trace around inside of edge as before and cut paper. Adhere image to grungeboard with decoupage medium. Allow to dry.

7. Glue image edge to lip on frame using a thin bead of Liquid Fusion. Paint a thin layer of decoupage medium on image. Allow to dry.

8. Use the Beadalon jump ring making tool to create 2 15mm jump rings with the iron wire. Cut rings with Memory Wire shears (iron wire will ruin your regular cutters.)

9. Attach pendants together with jump rings.

10. Glue small flower on top of the hole in fragments tile with jeweler’s glue. (Make sure you don’t cover the hole!)

11. Glue a second flower on the lower left side of the pendant. Glue a crystal in the center of the flower. Allow the glue to cure.

12. Create a large hook using the iron wire

. Thread five crystals on a length of steel wire. Create loops on both sides.
14. Attach loops to chain on one side and your hook clasp on the other.

15. Slide chain through top jump ring on your pendant. Attach the circle end of the toggle clasp to the open end of your chain.

I Love to Create Girly Boyfriend Jeans

Girly Boyfriend Jeans by Margot Potter for I Love to Create
(Click on image to view close up!)

Girly Boyfriend Jeans
Margot Potter for
I Love to Create Teens

Copyright 2009

Boyfriend jeans are back and I’m a happy camper. Luckily my hubby had this pair of perfectly worn in jeans he was going to take to Goodwill. Okay so technically they’re husband jeans, but stick with me because I’m going somewhere with this! The ‘boyfriend jeans’ in the stores are all artfully distressed and shredded and absurdly expensive, but you can find worn in jeans just like them at thrift stores for a song. Since these were kinda raggy looking, I thought I’d gussy them up a bit.

Enter Tulip Dimensional Paint, Tulip Fabric Spray, Tulip Glam It Up crystals, Fabric Fusion and my Sizzix Big Shot machine. Add some fun fabric I scored in Tokyo (don’t fret my pet you can find plenty of fab fabric on the interwebs and in retail stores.) Mix it all up and this becomes a project a teen will love to make their own.

One pair thrift store ‘boyfriend jeans’
Durable fabrics in coordinating colors with paints
3-D Slick Fashion Paint (purple, coral, yellow, blazin’ blue, ‘lectric lime)
Fabric FusionTulip Glam it Up™ Crystals (clear in two sizes)
Fabric Spray (neon pink and yellow)Sizzix Hello Kitty Bigz Die Daisies

Tulip Cordless Heat Setting Tool
Sizzix Big Shot

More Madge, More!
Add more crystals in a variety of colors. Decorate both sides of the jeans. Use fabric sprays and stencils to add layers. Paint more planned patterns and dots instead of splatters. Use masks to leave unpainted areas you can embellish in different ways. Add some blanket stitch with colorful floss around the flowers and the pockets. If you want more rips, use a razor blade (carefully) to slash holes across the fabric and then pop the jeans in the washer, instant fray!

These jeans looked cute just with paint splatters. You can opt for a single color or to use black and white. Skip the crystals and just leave the flowers simple and folksy. Just paint the cuffs and the back pockets.

1. Get a pair of ‘boyfriend jeans’ from the thrift store. If you want to distress them more use the razor blade tip above.

2. Begin with a layer of splattered paint. Cover the area under the jeans with plastic and gently squeeze and flick the paint on the front of the jeans until you’re happy with the results. Allow to dry.
3. Use Fabric spray in neon colors to add further color layers to the jeans.
4. Use the Sizzix Big Shot and the Hello Kitty Bigz daisies die to cut out fabric flowers.
5. Spread an even layer of Fabric Fusion on back of flowers and adhere to jeans. Allow to dry. (You can opt to tack these down further with some colorful embroidery floss.)
6. Place three crystals randomly in center of each flower. I used three large crystals on each large flower and three small on each small. Attach the crystals to the flowers by holding the hot end of the heat setting tool on the top of the crystals for 12 seconds.

* Next week my I Love to Create post will be on Friday because I’ll be joining in the fun of Terroriffic Tuesdays. So be on the look out for four free Halloween Themed teen craft projects on Fridays starting on October 2nd and a post with links to fab projects all over the internet every Tuesday! BOO!

The Impatient Crafter Presents Le Cricut Artiste

We promised you a new video and here it is! We had to laugh when ten minutes after we uploaded the video someone had already given us a 3 star rating, wah, wah. Admittedly these videos are not for everyone, but we do our best to keep them fun! We tried to make this short, sweet and...well not neccessarily to the point but hopefully infotaining.

I'm loving the
Cricut Expression. It's got a lot of potential and I think I'm seriously going to enjoy exploring it. Having a variety of tools at your fingertips makes creativity far easier. We're hoping to get the longer cutting mat and the transfer tape so we can add some words to other walls in the house. Definitely get the transfer tape if you attempt this, we had a heckuva time lining the letters even with a laser level. I'm brainstorming ways I can use this machine for the holidays...


Madge (and family)

I Love to Create Recycled Magazine Mixed Media Decoupage Bangle Bracelets

Designing Diva Pattie Wack had a super fun make it/take it for I Love to Create at CHA Summer and on the last day of the show I sat down with her and created a one of a kind decoupaged mixed media bangle. I ran out of time and had to leave it unfinished...and fast forward to yesterday morning when I decided to make a similar project and finish the first one.

I adore these wooden blanks from
DIY Bangles and I’ve been playing with images from magazines since my second book The Impatient Crafter Gets Inspired. I’m particularly fond of using a section of a fashion image and adding layers on it to see how far I can take it while still being able to tell what the original image was. If your teen has a pile of fashion or teen mags sitting around gathering dust, this is a great project for them to do and to personalize with images and embellishments they love. The base layer is made from thin tissue or handmade fibrous paper.

This same idea would be fab for frames or other room décor don’t be afraid to take it to a bigger scale. Think how cool a dresser would be layered up like this!

So...without further ado...let’s get started!
Recycled Magazine Bangles
Margot Potter for
I Love to Create Teen
Copyright 2009


Wooden bangle
Recycled magazines
Fuzzy yarn
Patterened and solid tissue paper in coordinated colors
Tulip Iron-On Crystals in 2 sizes
Traci Bautista’s Collage Pauge Instant Decoupage™ in glossy

Traci Bautista’s Collage Pauge Instant Decoupage™ in sparkles
Aleene’s Quick Dry Tacky Glue™
Jet Black Archival Ink
Flourish rubber stamp
ToolsFoam brushTulip Cordless Heat Setting Tool

1. Tear small pieces of your tissue paper and adhere to the wooden bangle. Spread a thin layer of Collage Pauge glossy on the back of the paper with a foam brush and use your fingers and the brush to apply to the bangle. It’s okay if there are some wrinkles. Spread a thin layer of medium on top of the paper as you work.

2. Cover the entire bangle inside and out with collaged tissue. Allow to dry.

3. Cut out images to fit the flat oval surfaces on your bangle. I pressed the image on the surface and used my pointer finger to press it along the edge, then removed the paper and cut along the indentation I made so the image fit the surface.

4. Adhere images with a thin layer of Collage Pauge glossy and allow to dry.

5. Put a thin smearing of Extreme Paint in Paradise Pink on the front of each image. Allow to dry.

6. Paint the entire bangle inside and out with Collage Pauge sparkle. Allow to dry.

7. Stamp images using archival ink and a sparsely detailed flourish stamp.

8. Run a thin bead of glue along a length of yarn and work your way around the bangle wrapping and adhering the yarn to the spaces in between the images. Allow to dry.

9. Use heat setting tool to adhere crystals to images. I used two sizes and two on each image, alternating their placement.

The Evolution of a Jewelry Design

Almost...but not quite...take one...La Cage Prototype One (Before) Copyright Margot Potter 2009
La Cage (final) Copyright Margot Potter 2009

Incognito First Strand Copyright Margot Potter

Yesterday I started working on some 'in-use' designs. These are designs created for manufacturers that showcase their products in innovative and interesting ways. This work isn't easy because there are perameters and limitations you have to navigate. I've been working with architectural and sculptural wire designs for many years. My brain likes to think dimensionally, which is why I should really study casting and soldering and jewelry making techniques that would allow me to fully expand on that tendency. For now, I spent a lot of time making wire do what it doesn't want to do naturally and making a lot of glorious messes in the process.

There is value in those glorious messes, because that's where my brain is formulating new pathways. I began with a series of woven wire bits and pieces working on some ideas I had for dimensional designs and eventually I created this pendant, which I really like. It's basically a concave 'cage' in which I've suspended the new
CRYSTALLIZED-Swarovski Elements disk. It's created from a single core wire wrapped with a thinner gauge of binding wire and crystals. After I finished the pendant I needed to create a foundation. I began with this intuitive beaded design and realized when it was finished wasn't quite gelling. So I put it out there for other folks to see and got some great feedback. In the meantime I began reworking the foundation and came up with this.

I hammered some of the metal components and left others shiny. I created a small hook with the same wire I used in the pendant. I really like how the foundation supports the pendant without detracting from it. Everything leads the eye towards center and this looks really fabulous on a neck.

I know that seems sort of silly to state, but I can't tell you how many times I've created something I think is awesome and then tried it on and realized it didn't work on a body. It's a really good idea to try on your designs or throw them on a jewelry form as you're working just to be sure they're wearable.

I'm using the core beaded necklace for a multi-strand idea. (Forgive the lighting, it's dismal here today and I had a heckuva time getting decent shots!) I added a little felt flower from ArtGirlz I embellished with a sequin and a crystal on a head pin. I'm seeing chains and exposed wire strands layering down from this top strand in a bib effect. I'll show you the final result when I get there.

Back to the bead mines!


I Love to Create Recycled Denim Book Covers

Recycled Denim Book Cover Margot Potter for I Love to Create Copyright 2009
When I asked my daughter if she needed to make book covers for her school books she looked at me what that, “Are you daft?” expression on her face. Yes, it’s official, I’m daft and I’m old. Undaunted by these facts, I was certain that book covers hadn't gone the way of record albums and After School Specials and then we saw some ready made stretchy covers at our local Big Box store.

A ha! Maybe I'm not so daft after all!

I thought we'd try and make some recycled covers instead of buying ready made. Back in my day, we whipped up covers to protect our school books using brown paper shopping bags. Those brown bags aren’t as easy to score these days. No worries! I have a huge stash of recycled jeans from a class I taught last year and that’s where this project was born. I got these jeans for pennies at my local Goodwill. You can do this for school books or for any books that get a fair amount of use to protect them. I love the little pocket for your pencils and pens or anything else you want to take along with you. Teens can personalize these any way they like and make a different one for every book.
Recycled Denim School Book Covers
Margot Potter for I Love to Create Teen Crafts
Copyright 2009

Pair of recycled stretchy jeans (You’ll be using a pant leg and a pocket)
Aleene’s Quick Dry Tacky Glue
Aleene’s Patch and Applique Glue
Tulip Fabric Spray Paint Emerald and Fuchsia

Tulip Soft Matte Fabric Paints in Azalea, Ebony and Glacier White
Tulip Pearl Dimensional Fabric Paint Clover Green
Tim Holtz idea-ology Mini Masks Regal

Star Stencil
Hero Arts Writing Stamp

Stencil Brush
Fabric Scissors
Foam Brush

1. Cut a leg from a pair of old stretch jeans. Cut a pocket off of the back of the jeans, leaving the backing so it’s still a pocket.

2. Place your book on the jeans and determine width and length of your material. You want the material to be able fold over on both sides about 2.5” and to be able to overlap the edge of your book cover about 2.5”. The fabric when folded top and bottom should hit at exactly the width of your book. Measure twice and then cut to size.

3. Run a bead of glue along the top and bottom edge of your folded fabric, stop gluing approximately 2.5” from each edge. Allow to dry.
4. Slide the front of the book cover into each side of your folded and glued fabric, creating protective sleeve.
5. Adjust the fabric tension and glue the edge down on each side. Repeat for the back cover. Allow glue to dry.
6. Glue pocket on front of cover with Patch and Applique glue. Allow to dry.7. Decorate the pocket using a variety of fabric paints, stencils, rubber stamps and splatters. I used the Tim Holtz flourish mask with pink and green fabric spray paint, the Tim Holtz flourish stencil with the azalea paint, smeared and flicked on the green paint on the pocket with my pointer finger and stenciled the stars on with the stencil brush and black paint. 8. Use a foam brush to apply fabric paint to a rubber stamp with text and stamp on the center of the pocket. Allow to dry.

Free Teen Craft Project Pretty in Pink T-shirt Margot Potter for I Love to Create

Pretty in Pink Altered T-Shirt
Click on image to view close up!

This swanky top began life as a Fruit of the Loom boy’s value pack t-shirt. My daughter was mortified when I stood in the middle of the boy’s aisle at the store store and suggested OUT LOUD that we buy them and decorate them for her to wear. Can you imagine?

What is the fun of being a parent if you can’t humiliate your kid in public?

All joking aside...I wanted something with a more generous cut so I had more fabric with which to work. I always have a plan, even if it appears evil to my tortured teen.


That was my evil parent laugh.

Okay’s the project!
Pretty in Pink Altered T-shirt
Teen Craft Project
Margot Potter for I Love to Create


Fruit of the Loom bulk pack white boy’s t-shirt
Black grosgrain ribbon ½” thick
3 safety pins
Tulip Fabric Spray Paint Hot Pink, Soft Pink, Violet Pink
Tulip Metallics Dimensional Fabric Paint Black
Crafty Chica Glitter Be Bop Black

Aleene’s Stop Fraying
Complements Border Stencil Graceful
ToolsStencil brush
Bubble wrap
Fabric scissors
T-shirt form or cardboard insert to slide between tshirt layers while decorating
Heat tool

1. Pre-wash t-shirt. Slide your t over an insert or a form. This prevents the paints from seeping on to the back of your shirt.

2. Use your fingers to scrinkle the shirt on the left side. Spray a thin wash of each color, don’t overspray! Work paint from left to right, making coverage less dense on the right side.

3. Rescrinkle (it’s suggested that you wear gloves for this step.) Paint another thin wash of your colors. Allow to dry.

4. Pour black fabric paint on bubble wrap...spread with brush.

5. Dab on t, filling in the center of the spray painted areas. Allow to dry.

6. Place stencil on an angle across painted part of t.

7. Use stencil brush to apply black paint through stencil, dabbing the brush as you work to prevent paint from slipping under stencil.

8. While paint is still wet and stencil is still on your shirt. Pinch glitter on wet paint and gently rub in with your finger. Use a heat tool to adhere glitter, don't overheat or you'll melt your stencil! Remove stencil after paint has dried.

9. Cut neckline from shirt, leaving a 1” border on each shoulder. Cut along the top seam on the right border.

10. Use safety pins to secure this closed.

11. Cut along the top of each sleeve working up to the seam.

12. Cut a small slit on each side of the opening on the bottom of each sleeve.

13. Thread with a ribbon, tie ribbon and cut ends on the diagonal.

14. Cut a small slit on each side of the seam at the shoulder on the left side. Thread and tie another ribbon..

15. Use Aleene’s Stop Fraying on ribbon ends and allow to dry. Remove ribbons and safety pins when washing shirt.