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Craft techniques:
best practices for the savvy crafter

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Here are articles on various craft techniques that we hope will inform and inspire.

How to decoupage: Seven steps to success. Anything in French sounds suave, doesn't it? Decouper means "to cut out." Decoupage is the art of decorating an object by gluing cut pieces of decorative paper to the surface, and coating it with varnish to create a smooth finish. In 17th century Europe it was called Japanning, because it was meant to imitate the appearance of intricate Asian inlays and painting. The traditional craft technique required dozens of coats of varnish, until the surface was glassy.

How to make paper machè: Two methods to your madness. Machè (probably 18th century French for "mess") is the basis for many of our crafts. It is one of the most versatile and liberating mediums, because it hides many sins and disguises recycled items. You can glue together a stack of bottles, cups and plates, cover them with paper machè, and with some decorative painting you have an exquisite hand-crafted candle stick. We've discovered the secret to simple paper machè success, and its name is liquid starch. Not near as messy as the traditional flour and water, either.

How to transfer images to fabric: Three techniques to create your own fabric designs. The earliest surviving examples of design-printed textiles date from around 220 A.D. in China. For the next 1,000 years or so, printed textiles tended to be used for decorative purposes rather than garments. They were probably tired of finding pink socks and underwear in the dryer. You can create your own printed fabric designs, right on your ink jet printer. Here we describe three methods that will do the trick.

How to transfer images to solid surfaces: Four ways to move those pictures. Since early man began sketching bison on his cave walls around 32,000 years ago, we have been struggling with the same issues of how to get an image onto a surface. Sure, drawing is one way, but what if you already have the image on a piece of paper? Enter the 21st century: There are now many methods for transferring vintage images to surfaces. Here are some of the best for the crafter.

Photo tinting: Four ways to achieve the vintage look. Photo tinting can lend a nostalgic, antique effect to your scrapbook or craft project. Just as the ancient Romans painted their white marble statues in vivid, life-like colors, early photographers tried to add realism to black and white photos with hand painting or tinting. Here are four methods to get you started tinting your photos, from hand coloring to computer graphics.

Pressed flowers: Two methods for creating natural embellishments. Dried flowers have been used decoratively since prehistoric times. Early Japanese art used pressed flowers and leaves. Pressing flowers flat while drying them, however, seems to have become popular in Western culture during the Renaissance (14th-17th centuries). This was a time of rebirth for the arts and the sciences, and botany, the study of plants, became a popular hobby. Plant classifications were developed and soon even amateurs were pressing and cataloging the herbs and flowers in their gardens. The Victorians, of course, raised it to an artform.

How to Make a Yarn Pom Pom. Here are illustrated instructions on how to construct the secret "pom-pom-making" tool that makes pom poms a snap.

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