a quick cup of tea


Today I present to you — a teacup book­mark, with a hang­ing tea tag! :D Pos­si­bly a father’s day gift for a tea-drink­ing, book-lov­ing dad?

Or for any­one who enjoys a good cup of tea. And a good book. At the same time.

So! Instead of favourite things Fri­day this week I’m going to share how I made this teacup book­mark, because one can only do so much in a week, and I’ve had this idea in my head for a while now. It was some­thing that Mike has seen some­where and told me about it, and I was inspired by the Vic­to­ri­an Tea we had at the Toll­house.

It may look like there are lots of steps, but it’s actu­al­ly a pret­ty quick project. It prob­a­bly took me under an hour to make all three, and that’s with my picture-taking.

So! It’s time to get out the glue and scissors!

… and a bunch of oth­er stuff… here are all the mate­ri­als and tools I used.

  • Used gift bags (one could use oth­er kinds of paper as well, but I thought gift bags would be a good idea because it’s coat­ed, so it’s slight­ly heav­ier and more durable than, say, con­struc­tion paper, and they have nice pat­terns. And because I save them when peo­ple give me gifts and I have tons on hand)
  • Cot­ton thread (I used cro­chet thread because that’s what I have, but thin yarn or kitchen twine should work too).
  • A glue stick
  • A mark­er (or pen)
  • Scis­sors
  • A thick tapes­try needle
  • A util­i­ty knife
  • White glue
  • A ruler (if you want to be precise)
  • A cut­ting mat (or some­thing to cut on, like old magazines)
  • Teacup tem­plates

I made up this project part­ly to learn how to use Illus­tra­tor, par­tic­u­lar­ly draw­ing sim­ple shapes and curves. So I made this set of tem­plates with dif­fer­ent teacups and a tea mug. Just click on either the image or the link above it and it will bring up a PDF file. Print it at 100% and you’ll get the same size teacups as the ones I made (each is 3 inch­es wide).

First, I cut out a tem­plate. It might be eas­i­er to cut out the part inside the teacup ear with a util­i­ty knife. (Or teacup han­dle? It’s “cup ear” in Chi­nese and I’ve always called it that…)

Next, I traced the tem­plate on a part of the bag with the pat­tern that I liked. (I used a Sharpie for this so it’s eas­i­er to pho­to­graph, but one could use a pen or a pencil)

Then I removed the side of the bag where it’s fold­ed, so it would be eas­i­er to cut out the teacup.

Then I cut along the top edge of the teacup, and the gen­er­al area around the teacup through BOTH lay­ers of the bag.

So now we have two pieces, with a straight edge at the top.

I then cut a piece of cot­ton thread, about 5 inch­es in length.

I tied a knot close to one end of the thread. Then I placed a drop of white glue on the back of the piece that does­n’t have the teacup trac­ing on it, about 3/4 inch from the top edge. I then put the end of the thread into the drop of glue, with the knot just below the glue, like so…

Then I cut out a scrap piece of paper (from the cut-off of the tem­plate) about 1/2 inch tall and 1 inch wide. I glued this piece of paper on top of the thread and glue dot, with the knot stick­ing out, like so…

The thread is now locked in and won’t get pulled out easily.

I then slather a gen­er­ous amount of glue from a glue stick onto the back of the piece with the teacup trac­ing on it (not white glue, or the paper will buck­le), and then pressed it onto the piece with the string, lin­ing up the top straight edges of the two pieces (it’s OK if the oth­er edges don’t line up, as long as the top edges are lined up).

Wait a moment or two for the glue to dry com­plete­ly, then cut out the teacup shape. Again, it’s prob­a­bly eas­i­er to use the util­i­ty knife to cut out the inside part of the mug ear (aka mug handle).

Ta-da! We’re almost done!

Now for the tea tag. One could do lots with it, like write a mes­sage (like hap­py father’s day?), make a mono­gram (cut out a let­ter from the mag­a­zine?), or just leave it blank. But here’s what I made…

I sal­vaged the fold­ed side of the bag that I removed ear­li­er, and cut out a 1“x2” rec­tan­gle, then fold­ed it in half, with the white side fac­ing out.

I then cut out some tea leaves on one half with the util­i­ty knife (free-hand too! I was pret­ty proud of myself).

I then used a tapes­try nee­dle to poke a hole through the mid­dle of the fold.

Then I thread­ed the end of the thread (with the oth­er end already attached to the teacup) through the hole. I then slather a gen­er­ous amount of glue with the glue stick on the half of the paper with the leaf design. I placed the thread end on mid­dle fold of the paper, so it lied along the fold, then I put a drop of white glue on the thread.

Fold the top down and… ta-da! A one-of-a-kind paper-cut tea tag!

And guess what? The book­mark is ready to mark those pages! :D

I also made a pink one, with a flower tea tag, for an herbal tea kind of day…


Now I’m going to make myself a nice cup of tea. Thanks for stop­ping by! Have a great weekend!


blooming kaleidoscope

Recent­ly I received a love­ly email from a vis­i­tor to the blog :D She’s an edi­tor of a book arts jour­nal in Aus­tralia (being able to con­nect with won­der­ful peo­ple from dif­fer­ent cor­ners of the globe is one of the best things about keep­ing a blog! :D), who kind­ly shared not only encour­ag­ing words but also lots of great ideas and inspi­ra­tion about print­mak­ing and book arts. (One of which is gelatin print­ing — so intrigu­ing! I’ve got to try that out soon!)

Con­ver­sa­tions about book arts remind­ed me of a book­bind­ing class I took while in uni­ver­si­ty. (Ah, that was quite a few years ago…) The book­bind­ing course was one of my favourite class­es, and one of the coolest assign­ments was the altered book project, using dis­card­ed books from the Ref­er­ence Library.

I pulled this botan­i­cal ref­er­ence book from the dis­card­ed book pile.


I could­n’t read the text, but I loved the pic­tures of flow­ers and plants. One of my first child­hood toys was a kalei­do­scope, and I remem­bered how much time I’ve spent look­ing through it, could­n’t put it down, just mesmerized. I thought the bright pho­tographs of the plants and flow­ers would make beau­ti­ful images to look through with a kalei­do­scope. So that was what I made (cylin­der on the right), and I cov­ered it with the end papers of the book.

It real­ly does work! See? This is the hole through which one looks in, made with the table of contents.


The book now hous­es the inter­change­able “lens­es”, made with the pages of pho­tographs and illus­tra­tions from the book. Kind of looks like a col­lec­tion of spec­i­mens in petri dishes.


The end piece fits around the look­ing tube like this…


And you turn it and take a look through… (psst! click for a larg­er image!)


It’s more crafty than “art­sy”, and I guess since I was attend­ing an art col­lege I should be mak­ing some­thing “art­sy”, with more of a state­ment or mean­ing or what­ev­er, but I was rather hap­py with it. Just a sim­ple appre­ci­a­tion of light and the per­fect beau­ty of nature.

And with the bril­liant weath­er we’ve been hav­ing late­ly, I’ve had a great time look­ing through all of the “spec­i­mens” again with the love­ly sun­light stream­ing through.

In order for the kalei­do­scope to work I made the images trans­par­ent. That process in itself needs a post of its own, I think. I’ll write about it more in the next week or so, stay tuned! :D

Have a great day! :D



Not exact­ly like Kevin from Up, but since I was wear­ing blue when I took the pho­to it kinds of remind me of him :D

More craft­ing with kids last week. A rather large group of kids. What’s sim­ple and straight­for­ward and costs next to nothing?

The ani­mal masks from Rice­Ba­bies remind­ed me of the mask-mak­ing work­shop from school. The masks we made were less “sculpt­ed” than the Rice­Ba­bies masks, but still three-dimen­sion­al. Last time I pre­sent­ed the idea to oth­er kids they were pret­ty impressed, so I decid­ed to go with it. I even found a pack of 200-sheet con­struc­tion paper at the dol­lar store for $2. The cashier would­n’t believe me until she scanned the bar code.

This is the tem­plate we used. See? Pret­ty sim­ple. I sup­pose one could refine its shape more by hav­ing 3 cuts on each side instead of 2. And it does­n’t have to be per­fect either, since it’s going to be dec­o­rat­ed and shaped. This is just on a piece of 9“x12” con­struc­tion paper, and it’s large enough for an adult’s head, like mine. I just esti­mat­ed the posi­tion for the eyes; I think plac­ing them slight­ly above the mid­dle and 3 fin­gers apart gen­er­al­ly works well.

And then it’s build­ing and draw­ing the fea­tures of the mask — the sky’s the lim­it! We weren’t going to be able to use paint, so I made this test one with con­struc­tion paper and drew on it with pen­cil crayons. It worked out fine, though it need­ed to be dec­o­rat­ed first before shap­ing and sta­pling the mask togeth­er. Def­i­nite­ly bet­ter to use card stock.

I think it’s a pret­ty good project for a rainy day, like today. Hap­py Sat­ur­day, everyone!

city of light


One of the best things about mak­ing crafts with chil­dren is that I get to try it out first :D

Fru­gal Fam­i­ly Fun Blog has a bril­liant idea for mak­ing sun­catch­ers, with con­tact paper (or clear shelf-lin­ing) and bits of tis­sue paper, or this self-adhe­sive doc­u­ment pro­tec­tor I found at the dol­lar store, for $1/roll.

I built my “city” on one sheet of plas­tic, sticky side up, and then cov­ered it with anoth­er sheet of plas­tic. And there are so many oth­er things one can make with the same idea, like this love­ly fall tree, and snowflakes.

When I was a kid I liked to make sun­catch­ers with wax paper and cray­on shav­ing, like these, and these. I loved to mix dif­fer­ent colours and watch them swirl and blend togeth­er under the heat of the iron.

Any­way. I thought the con­trast between the tis­sue paper city and the real city makes an inter­est­ing pic­ture. And I hope the kids enjoy mak­ing this as much as I did. We’ll see…

I’m def­i­nite­ly enjoy­ing get­ting more sun­light each day as we approach sum­mer. How about you?

happy spring!

Hap­py first day of spring, friends! :D



Dia­gram for my daf­fodil came from this book. But a sim­i­lar one is post­ed here if you’d like to make some to cel­e­brate spring’s arrival, like our friend Wage here.

Have a great day!



Every once in a while I test myself to see if I’m still able to fold the paper rose. A friend showed me how to fold one back in high school. There was no dia­gram, just visu­al learn­ing and mus­cle mem­o­ry. Per­haps that was how Japan­ese chil­dren learn origa­mi in the past.

And I’m always sur­prised to see that, after all these years, my fin­gers still remem­ber order and posi­tion of every crease and fold. After all, it’s a rather com­plex mod­el, involv­ing a long series of pre-creas­es and three-dimen­sion­al shap­ing. I’ve nev­er timed myself but I know that mak­ing a small bou­quet takes more than half a day.

For all the work that goes into it, I’m struck by how much it also resem­bles a crum­pled ball of paper when looked at from far away. In fact, I can eas­i­ly oblit­er­ate all the care­ful­ly cal­cu­lat­ed folds and metic­u­lous artistry with one squash of a fin­ger, reduc­ing it to noth­ing but a crum­pled bit of scrap paper. And how much, I thought, that resem­bles our human existence.

And yet our lives are so rich. We build rela­tion­ships. We share laugh­ters and sor­rows. We love. We may be here today and gone tomor­row, but the echo of our love is endless.

Ini­tial­ly I took the pho­to only for the post, but then I thought it would also make a nice wall­pa­per on my desk­top, so while I was cre­at­ing that I made sev­er­al dif­fer­ent sizes to share with you :)

Down­load wall­pa­per with origa­mi rose:
1920 x 1200
1280 x 1024

Please refer to Con­tent Shar­ing for use of images from this blog.

If you’d like to fold your own paper rose here’s one instruc­tion.

Take care, friends.


If time is mon­ey, then I’ll spend it all for you
I will buy you flow­ers with the min­utes we outgrew
I’ll turn hours into gar­dens, plant­ed just for us to take
I’ll be reck­less with my days, build­ing cas­tles in your name

– Sleep­ing At Last, Next to Me

if pain

I have been work­ing on this for a while now. I start­ed a paint­ing on a small wood­en braced pan­el but I did­n’t feel very inspired to con­tin­ue, so the paint­ing, with print­ed leaves in fall tones, had been sit­ting on my shelf col­lect­ing dust for a few years now. Last fall, one of my teach­ers brought in the idea of mak­ing shad­ow box­es, and I had been want­i­ng to try mak­ing one. When I looked around the house for boards and things to make shad­ow box­es with, I saw this half-done paint­ing and I thought, the back of it would make a great shad­ow box.

But still I did­n’t start work­ing on it, because I had no vision for what could inhab­it the shad­ow box. And then on the first Sun­day of the year, I saw this quote in the ser­mon note:

If pain caus­es us to go inward, there is no com­mu­ni­ca­tion with the world out­side; if it caus­es us to go out­ward in retal­i­a­tion, then we lose the mes­sage we bear… If pain caus­es us to go for­ward, then we are not bear­ing the pain, we are using the pain.
- Dr. Samuel Kamale­son, 1976

Some­how that led me to the image of the Walled City. Like I had men­tioned before, I have nev­er set foot in the actu­al Walled City. All I have of it are sto­ries, from videos and posters and muse­um exhibits and a friend who’ve spent time there, and a tour of the metic­u­lous­ly man­i­cured park that holds the same space as the Walled City but looks noth­ing like its for­mer des­o­late self.

I sup­pose it’s easy to roman­ti­cize what life was like in the Walled City. The pover­ty, the injus­tice, the suf­fer­ings of the soul, the resilience of the peo­ple. And frankly that’s what I imag­ine, but I also know that the real­i­ty of the place was any­thing but roman­tic. And I have no idea, and I will nev­er have any idea, about what it was real­ly like to live there because I have nev­er been there.

But some­thing about that place res­onat­ed with me. Per­haps not the real­i­ty of that place but what it rep­re­sents. And I can’t real­ly explain what it rep­re­sents to me. I sup­pose that’s why I made this, because I don’t know how to express it otherwise.

I used the clas­si­fied sec­tion of a Chi­nese news­pa­per, with small box­es of text and many men­tions of the word “home”. And ink, which react­ed with the adhe­sive I used to paste the news­pa­per and crack­led in frost-like pat­terns. And pieces of roots, which were sal­vaged from a yuc­ca plant that did­n’t sur­vive the win­ter. On what was the front of the pan­el I wrote part of the quote, and the leaf prints were still vis­i­ble through the black paint. I think as a whole it has said what need­ed to be said.

I have been work­ing on this for a while now. The mak­ing of the image is com­plete, but the work of learn­ing, and of under­stand­ing, isn’t.

Hope you are well. Enjoy the weekend!

Favourite things of the week!

My favourite craft projects are the resource­ful ones involv­ing clever incor­po­ra­tion of things one can eas­i­ly find around the house. Like this lone mit­ten squir­rel I saw via Craftzine!

Mit­tens (or tech­ni­cal­ly gloves?) that have holes in the fin­ger­tips also make excel­lent squir­rel mate­r­i­al! I’m hop­ing I can find a lone white mit­ten so I can make a white squir­rel ♥

And while brows­ing on Dol­lar Store Craft (a gold­mine of thrifty craft ideas!) yes­ter­day I came across these love­ly skate orna­ments from Not Quite Vin­tage, clev­er­ly fit­ted with paper clips!

The post was from almost 3 years ago so you may have seen it already, but I just thought it’s bril­liant and felt com­pelled to post it!

And my own thrifty project of the week was to make trav­el tags. The air­line web­site sug­gest­ed tying “unique” tags to our lug­gage for “easy iden­ti­fi­ca­tion”. I don’t own any trav­el tags and I thought the ones that the air­line gives out at the air­port aren’t very good for “easy iden­ti­fi­ca­tion”. So I scoured the house for mate­ri­als and this is what I end­ed up with…

I found some vinyl mate­r­i­al from pack­ag­ing and bright colour­ful pic­tures from mag­a­zines. I then stacked them togeth­er and taped them to death with pack­ing tape, scrap­ing out as many bub­bles as pos­si­ble with a plas­tic card. I’m par­tic­u­lar­ly pleased with the rub­ber ducky one.

My mom also sug­gest­ed tying thick rib­bons onto the lug­gage so we’ll be doing that as well.

Will be report­ing from far, far away land of Hong Kong in a few days! (hope­ful­ly… depend­ing on inter­net access) See you soon! :D