Recommendations for new and unusual crafts?
August 18, 2009 4:44 AM   Subscribe

Knitting, crochet, beading, sewing.. what am I missing? Looking for some unusual craft techniques and projects.

Oh hivemind, I'm asking for your most obscure and unusual self-contained craft techniques and skills that will keep a long-time crafter entertained over the long autumn nights. (Level of experience if it helps: intermediate jeweller, no stranger to beadweaving, improving knitter and crocheter.)

I'm looking for separate craft techniques and projects rather than something that is a sub-set of another craft. So, good examples would be quilling or kumihimo. Not so good: Tunisian crochet.

Bonus points for crafts that do not require the purchase of a whole heap of new, single-purpose supplies.
posted by psychostorm to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (36 answers total) 49 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Don't forget tatting!
posted by Melismata at 4:47 AM on August 18, 2009

Best answer: Macramé springs to mind. Perhaps embroidery and spool knitting as well. Cleaning, carding and spinning raw wool would keep you busy too. If you are willing to depart from textiles there are loads of things you can do with paper, like origami, decoupage and mabling your own paper (and even making your own paper).
posted by bjrn at 4:52 AM on August 18, 2009 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Marquetry might fit the bill. It takes an entirely different skill-set from the other things you've mentioned. The basic tool set is: a steel ruler, a craft knife. Materials (wood veneers) are widely available online - I bought some nice mixed bags of veneer offcuts on eBay for very little money. It's one of those crafts where you can start with quick, simple projects and advance to whatever level of complexity you like.
posted by le morte de bea arthur at 4:58 AM on August 18, 2009 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Rug hooking. Some people buy the wool ready to go, but for some, the real fun is shopping for beautiful wool and cutting it into strips.

Spinning wool. Making your own yarn is this wonderful, meditative, feast of the senses. I learned on a rented wheel before getting my own. Imagine pumping, pumping your feet, getting into a rhythm, feeling the wool slipping through your fingers, in controlled tension, watching the yarn grow on the bobbin, this single strand you made. Wonderful. And you can knit/crochet it. Hand-spun wool is also great for felting.
posted by degrees_of_freedom at 5:05 AM on August 18, 2009

Best answer: Papercutting. You can begin with silhouettes or move to something more intricate.
posted by mochapickle at 5:15 AM on August 18, 2009

Best answer: Scherenschnitte!
posted by Lucinda at 5:16 AM on August 18, 2009

dagnabit, beaten.
posted by Lucinda at 5:17 AM on August 18, 2009

Best answer: whittling?
posted by rmd1023 at 5:17 AM on August 18, 2009

Best answer: I was going to suggest quilling but I see you got that covered, but along those lines what about origami or general card making (you can't start on Christmas too early!).

If you're into knitting I would second spinning your own wool. On the other hand, I knit too, but personally I've been getting curious about weaving.

posted by like_neon at 5:20 AM on August 18, 2009

Best answer: Needle-felting?

Go all out and incorporate all of the above into the creepiest of crafts: puppetry?
posted by cobaltnine at 5:35 AM on August 18, 2009

Best answer: Gocco. Although depending where you are, it can be difficult/expensive to get supplies.
posted by hibbersk at 6:34 AM on August 18, 2009

Best answer: Screen printing (surprisingly inexpensive and easy) (example)
Embroidery (example)
Felt applique (example)
Lino block carving (example)
Soapstone & rock carving
Marzipan sculpting (example)
Polymer clay sculpting & crafts (example, example)
Foam board crafts (example)
Ceramic & glass decoration with specialized markers (I use Pebeo brand Porcelaine and Vitreo markers) (example)
posted by Alison at 6:38 AM on August 18, 2009

Best answer: Have you seen Martha Stewart's Encyclopedia of Crafts? Lots of ideas and different crafts in there.
posted by pised at 6:55 AM on August 18, 2009 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Tablet weaving doesn't need much kit.
posted by Coobeastie at 6:59 AM on August 18, 2009

Best answer: Papermaking?
posted by lleachie at 6:59 AM on August 18, 2009

Best answer: Temari.
posted by candyland at 7:04 AM on August 18, 2009 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Bobbin lace making?

It is kind of supply-intensive, though.
posted by corey flood at 7:08 AM on August 18, 2009

Best answer: Shibori , and on a somewhat related note in the sense that they are both resist dyeing techniques, batik, though batik would require purchase of some tools. Shibori is pretty much cloth, string and dye.

Bobbin lace making.

posted by hecho de la basura at 7:11 AM on August 18, 2009

Best answer: I had an idea that I haven't really acted on yet - making "ugly bags" out of old jeans. I take the legs off worn out jeans and tear them into strips. I then finger-crochet them into a loose mesh bag. They'd have to be pretty big stitches to make it work. The one I did turned out to be too small for a bag, but with some googly-eyes it made a great surprise monster.

One time I saw a knitted sweater vest made from torn strips of silk. It looked ratty an rough, but it was really soft and comfy feeling.

I had an uncle who was constantly turning junk into art. One of his simpler crafts was with empty beer cans. You should just need some tin snips.
posted by lysdexic at 7:11 AM on August 18, 2009

Best answer: Embroidery is a great cold weather craft, it's totally something you can do while snuggled up in a blanket on the sofa. I know you said you want to avoid buying new stuff, but the equipment is minimal and cheap (needle, selection of floss, and embroidery hoop, the likes of which I've purchased in different sizes at thrift stores for <$1) and can be contained in a small box. It's super easy and and can be as simple or elaborate as you want it to be.
posted by hegemone at 7:20 AM on August 18, 2009

Best answer: Cold process soapmaking is my craft of choice this year.
posted by thirteenkiller at 7:41 AM on August 18, 2009

Best answer: I tend to lean toward the former bit of Arts & Crafts, so forgive me if my suggestions are not grandmotherly and textile-oriented enough for you.





THREADBANGER. It's a weekly web show that shows you all sorts of DIY fashion projects at varying levels of difficulty. It's got a younger hipper demographic slant so it's more upcycled hoodies, less BEST GRANDMA EVER embroidered sweatshirts.

GRAFFITI. This is not "how to break the law" filter, so I've leave the details of it up to you. Don't hit private property and don't get caught.

STENCILING. I generally use this technique to make quick t-shirts with simple designs I only want one or two of; it's a lot faster and easier and cheaper than silkscreening. It can't handle as much intricate detail and you need to have a basic grasp on negative space, pylons/bridges and islands, etc.

I take uncut stencil blanks, sketch out the design and spray-adhere the sheet of paper to the stencil blank, cut out the areas where I want paint to pass with a x-acto blade or stencil knife* (cut on a cutting mat for the x-acto and on glass for the stencil knife, I use an old cheap framed Dali print), apply spray-adhesive lightly to the back of the stencil and place on the shirt securing with tape if needed, brush Jacquard Textile Color** through the stencil with a basic paintbrush, let dry and set with an iron according to the directions on your fabric paint. You can also use two different stencils to create multi-color designs, like this.

You can also use freezer paper, but the nice thing about plastic stencils is you can reuse them for more than one shirt. Plus, a stencil that's been used for a shirt also works for graffiti.

*these are basically a soldering iron with an x-acto blade attached and about $20, only worth getting if you cut as many stencils as I do and you don't mind the danger of a blazing hot razor blade

**The other major easy-to-find brand is Tulip; I strongly suggest against using it, it's pretty poor quality.
posted by Juliet Banana at 7:53 AM on August 18, 2009 [3 favorites]

Best answer: Nalebinding. Using a lucet.
posted by QIbHom at 7:56 AM on August 18, 2009

Best answer: Cross stitch
They are not unusual, unless you want to make them that way.
posted by SLC Mom at 7:57 AM on August 18, 2009

Best answer: Dorodango! Instructions here.
posted by illenion at 8:05 AM on August 18, 2009

Best answer: Paper and foil embossing. It's simple but satisfying, and can be very low-tech. You make or buy stencils, then use an embossing tool to create a raised image on paper. You can make a simple light box, or just afix your paper+stencil setup to a bright window pane and go to town. The idea is that the light shines through the paper, allowing you to see the outlines of the stencil which is affixed to the other side of the paper. By tracing the outlines of the stencil with the embossing tool you create a raised image. Simple embossing can be understated but beautiful, or you can jazz it up with stencil paints or embossing powder. Embossing can be a nice complement to other crafts like paper-making and stamp-making.
posted by messica at 8:14 AM on August 18, 2009

Best answer: Glass lampwork beadmaking!

It costs less than 100 bucks to get enough supplies to get started, and if you already enjoy making beaded jewelry, this is a fun next step.
posted by np312 at 10:40 AM on August 18, 2009 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Bookbinding! I was downright obsessed with this in college - it's incredibly fun and rewarding. You only need access to some nice handmade papers (any crafty store has this), some sturdy illustration board, pvc glue (acid free), a bone folder, some heavy thread/cord & needle and an xacto knife. All of this shouldn't cost you more than $25.

This book was how I learned. It has very clear instructions and I've made *every* project in it at least a few times. You will *love* the outcome. The end result is super impressive to people and you'll be making books for everyone you know as presents. I even sold some during craft fairs! They make excellent journals and photo albums. I can't recommend it enough.

Once you get the basics down, it's really fun to experiment!
posted by bienbiensuper at 2:42 PM on August 18, 2009 [2 favorites]

Best answer: BTW: the book has lots more supplies you can buy to make it easier. The only other things I'd add that really make a difference are a cork-backed metal ruler (for cutting/scoring) and a awl (for bunch sewing holes in the paper).
posted by bienbiensuper at 2:46 PM on August 18, 2009 [1 favorite]

Best answer: You can make many cool things with paper mache.
posted by bigmusic at 4:55 AM on August 19, 2009

Response by poster: Folks, these are absolutely fantastic. Thanks also for the excellent links. Do keep them coming!

(Grandmotherly, Juliet? Uh..)
posted by psychostorm at 7:47 AM on August 19, 2009

Best answer: Did I sound like a jerk? I didn't mean it like that! I should have used something like "traditional." For the record, I think grandmothers are awesome, I call myself one all the time (ex: "I'm going to be a grandma and crash really early tonight"), and I don't think you're one. Knitting is all young and hip, I know. Hell, Yokoo is getting interviewed in Vice.

So this post isn't comprised solely of me furiously backpedaling, didja know that you can print textiles with potatoes? It might be a nice cheap bridge to the lino block carving that Alison mentioned.
posted by Juliet Banana at 9:04 AM on August 19, 2009 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I've gotten really into mask-making. The best link I could find to describe the steps that I take (I learned them in a class) is here, except rather than simply sanding the mask, I apply gesso first, then sand after it dries, and repeat those steps until the mask is perfectly smooth.

All you need is vaseline, plaster strips from a craft store, white acrylic gesso, sandpaper, and whatever other materials you want to decorate the mask with. I've used dried flowers, feathers, paint, metal leaf, and sea shells. And of course, a volunteer whose face you can use to make the mask on.

You can also make body casts with the same steps in the tutorial.
posted by mollywas at 11:35 PM on August 19, 2009

Best answer: My two faves for autumn and winter are baking and soapmaking. I'd be glad to walk you through easy steps for both of them. :)
posted by dejah420 at 1:30 PM on August 20, 2009

Response by poster: I hope it won't be excessive to mark every answer as best- thanks so much for all the input!

(Juliet Banana: Since I seem to have my great clodhopping Internet Boots-o-Cement on, my response came out as rather sarky- mea culpa :/)
posted by psychostorm at 2:24 AM on August 21, 2009

Best answer: Thirding spinning - you can make a hand spinning from a CD.
posted by paduasoy at 8:05 AM on August 21, 2009

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