Okay, so maybe playing cards are a bit of an unexpected collector’s item… but it also kinda makes sense! I love stamps, too, in the same way I love playing cards–they’re cool little art samples that happen to have a function, too.
I’m pretty new to this playing card-collecting world, so here’s a handy FAQ that covers the basics. There’s a lot of fun in just owning these cards, but there’s also such thing as a Franken Deck (see here for an example) which takes each individual card from a different deck! So… you have to have encountered 54 decks over time to collect a Franken Deck. It’s a fun challenge to make a pretty one and/or stick to a theme across the deck.
You’ll probably need examples to get inspired, huh? No worries! I’ve got plenty of those. 🙂
Though these playing cards are definitely fancy, I’m not really a true snob about them (yet!). So none of these decks are terribly expensive. I honestly acquire most of mine from random trips to Walgreens. They have Bicycle playing cards, for some reason. But anyway, let’s get into it!
Art of Play has some reallllyyy cool, artistic decks of playing cards. They’re a little bit more expensive relative to some of the more common ones I’m going to list here, but this deck isn’t ridiculously expensive–it’s $15 at the time of writing.
This Harmony collection is all about the creatures of the land, air, space, and sea. It has super intricate and colorful illustrations that make me happy. And if you’re going to collect something a bit odd like playing cards, they should make you happy, right?
I think my favorite here is the Air deck but seriously. These are little works of art!
These Bicycle cards are so cute! I’m not gonna lie; I bought these and have them sitting in front of me right now. I mean, they’re $5, from one of the most reputable playing card brands, and yet are still unique.
I think what makes them extra special is not only does the back have a neat bird theme in a Scandanavian folk sort of style, but the front of the cards have stylized details to match. So the hearts or diamonds or whatever the suit also has matching decorations. I love that. These aren’t plain Jane playing cards!
Gent Supply’s Day of the Dead cards are monochromatic black and cool as hell. If you know what the Dia de los Muertos aesthetic is like, take that but picture it shiny black on a smooth black card.
For example, the court cards feature skeletons decked out in royal attire, so on and so forth. This may not be the most practical deck in terms of immediate recognition of your cards, but man does the aesthetic appeal make up for it.
These are architectural art playing cards! The style is minimalistic line art that captures just the right amount of detail on famous landmark buildings in four options of major cities (London, Paris, New York, and San Francisco).
I don’t even know how people come up with these ideas. Imagine pulling up to the kids’ table to play a round of Go Fish with this sleekly designed deck. Your little cousin would definitely say “whoa.”
This deck is a little bit different from the others–it’s intended more so for playing card magic tricks than for collecting. But there’s no reason not to admire how satisfying it is to fan out the backs and see a gradient, you know?
I will say that this deck is probably not as interesting to add as a component of a Franken Deck because the beauty lies in the deck as a whole. But then again, for $5, just collecting it for the sake of its looking cool will not lead you to financial ruin.
So there you have it, folks! Have I convinced you that playing cards are a surprising venue for creative inspo, whether you collect them or not? I hope so! Art is everywhere. Sometimes you can even play solitaire with it.
Thank you so much for reading and I’ll see you soon!
Maybe you’ve got bored kids on your hands and plenty of paper to put to use. Maybe you’re just an adult who wants to make stuff with paper, because who says only kids can?
No one, that’s who. Or at least, no one you need in your life. 🙂
Either way, I’ve got some fun ideas for cool stuff to make with just one sheet of paper!
Everything I list here has written instructions, but there’s no reason why you absolutely have to use these exact links. I just personally hate watching videos. Diagrams are the best for origami-type crafts, amirite?
One of my favorite things to make with one sheet of paper is the legendary one-page minizine. With one simple cut along the middle fold of regular printer paper, you can turn it into a little booklet to fill with any kind of art or writing you want.
The best part? Zines are specifically made to be really easily scanned and copied. So even though there’s a part where some folding magic happens, all of your work is still on the same side of your original sheet of paper. Sound confusing? No worries. Ya need a visual, I think.
Check out this blog post to see how it’s done. Pay special attention to this infographic:
I hope that helps. There are tons of other resources that lay out how to make minizines, but this infographic was the one that really sunk in for me.
As a bonus, let me offer you an extra-easy way to start making minizines: a Canva template!
This template is what I made for my own use as I make zines–it’s nothing fancy, but gives you guidelines for each page so that it’s a little easier to keep everything visible and know where to fold.
You can use this to design zines digitally OR simply print it out, write/draw as desired, and scan it into your computer afterwards. Don’t forget that some pages will appear upside down from the original orientation, though!
Let me give you a simple example so you can see what I mean:
There are multiple ways of doing this, but in this case (my first zine ever, before I made my template) the page that says “Things that make my life bright” is the front cover; the one right before it is the back cover, and the numbering should make the rest clear.
Zines are really fun little projects that can really be about anything. I especially enjoy swapping zines with people via Swap-bot, but you can just make them for fun or for sharing with family and friends.
A close cousin: a one-sheet pocketbook
Okay, so I’ll admit–this one is a little more involved than the minizine. You might need binder rings to make it look nice in the end. But you still make it from just one piece of paper! Find the instructions here:
Cute, right? I’ve never really made a pocket book before, but I think I’ll give this one a shot when I get around to it.
If you have any interest in mail art, fun envelopes are a must! They make snail mail that much more fun to receive. And you don’t really need that much paper to make them.
First on my list are a couple of kid- or beginner-friendly ones that you can find here:
These instructions are written really well, I think, with super clear pictures.
Unless you happen to be fluent in Italian, you’ll need to translate the page to English. Chrome does this automatically, I think, though? So maybe try it on Chrome if it’s all “Greek” to you.
There are way, way more ways to make envelopes from one sheet of paper. I also tend to enjoy the template method. I find that most of those are behind a paywall, but you can find some really nice template files on Etsy. I can vouch for this one, for example. And it’s only $2, so that’s not too bad, right?
Single-sheet origami animals
Origami is such a huge craft in and of itself, but I think it belongs here as a reminder that you can make cool little animals with just one piece of paper. 🙂
I can’t start talking about origami without including a crane model. Like, c’mon. This was my go-to model (or approximately this) when I was a kid. It’s a classic origami model for a reason! Find some instructions here.
If you’re following along in order here, you might notice that this dragon model shares a lot in common with the crane. That might make it easier, if you’re new to origami! I just really like this take on an origami dragon–look at those cute little feet! Lol. Find the instructions here.
I’m extra excited about this one because, well, it’s a dog and dogs are the best. But I also noticed, like the author did, that there aren’t all that many origami dog models out there? I don’t know why not, but it makes me extra grateful for this one! Here is your link.
Well folks, that’s what I have for you today! There’s a lot you can do with just one piece of paper, huh? Please let me know if you end up trying any of these and how they went!
Thank you so much for reading and I’ll see you soon! 🙂
Okay, so maybe I play The Sims 4 too much. And… I also have a probably unhealthy quantity of TS4 CC pinned on my Pinterest board… but! This is a rare opportunity for me to share my unhealthy obsession!
Today, I will present to you some of my favorite Sims hair custom content!
Necessary disclaimer: I will double-check that everything is still downloadable at the time of writing, but I might not necessarily remember if I’ve tested a particular cc hair in-game. I don’t do adfly or anything that looks fishy, though!
*Please note that the links are ABOVE their respective images!
Artist trading cards are fun to make, but artist’s block is a legit thing. It’s not always easy to magically be inspired to make stuff.
So today I bring you an idea that I hope will inspire you! I actually don’t know that “improbable maps” is an accurate way to describe them… but that’s how I think of them! I’ve recently been making these abstract “maps” on a ton of cards.
For example, here is the simplest variety:
As you can see, these improbable maps are really just a lot of shapes drawn so that the spaces in between, or the “roads,” are approximately the same width between all the shapes on the card. The shapes themselves are pretty random, but drawn carefully in a bold pen to keep the edges looking clean and straight.
What you’ll need
ATC blanks, standard 2.5 x 3.5″ size (thick, sturdy paper like watercolor paper works best)
Something to draw with (I used a Sakura Pigma Micron pen, size 08, but this is really up to you and your favorite drawing tools)
Patience! Go slow to keep your lines as clean as possible.
This is the fun part–deciding how to vary up this concept to make a unique design. I find that something that feels limited like this simple idea is actually very freeing for creativity.
For example, you can try:
Different pen thicknesses
Different shapes (e.g., all straight edges, including curves or not, only triangles or only rectangles, etc.)
Selectively coloring some parts but not others, for emphasis
Different simple patterns to fill the spaces
Cleaner or messier lines, depending on how many times you trace over them
Different sizes of shapes or “roads”
Structuring the map as a logical grid versus centered around a point or random
Looking at real (probable) maps for inspiration!
My examples: photo dump time
I hope that my ATC examples sparked some inspiration for your own art! Thank you so much for reading and I’ll see you soon!
Artist Trading Cards (or ATCs) are cute little pieces of art meant to be traded with other artists. What are ATCs used for? Collecting! That’s it.
I mean, I guess you could argue people use artist trading cards for inspiration… either for more ATCs or other forms of art. But really, it’s just a lot of fun to trade your art away and get someone else’s in return. Especially in such a small, collectible format.
Okay, so… how do you make an ATC?
One of the coolest things about ATCs is that there are very few rules. All you really need to do is make sure you’ve got something (thin cardboard or watercolor paper, ideally) that measures 2.5 x 3.5″, which is the same size as a typical poker playing card or trading card.
(You can optionally round the corners off like a playing card. This is super easy with a corner punch and I do it literally every time because I just like the way it looks. I’ve never seen it required for a swap, though.)
Got it? Now make art! 🙂 Just decorate one side of the card however you’d like. Collaging, painting, drawing, sewing… anything goes, really.
When you’re satisfied, it’s a good idea to seal the card with Mod Podge or the like. I alternate between matte and glossy Mod Podge because the glossy stuff looks cooler but takes a lot longer to cure (so it might be sticky even if you don’t realize it).
The final step is labelling your ATC with your information. How much you provide is totally up to you, but personally I include the following:
My full name, username, email, city and state, and country
The title of the card
The date I made the ATC
What kind of exchange it’s for (Swap/trade/mingle/RAK [Random Act of Kindness])
The theme of the exchange it’s for
At first, I just handwrote this info in Sharpie on the back of each ATC. Now, though, I print premade ATC backs and glue them to the back, filling in the blanks with a Sharpie.
I mostly use Swap-bot and ATCs For All, personally. Those links are my direct profiles, so feel free to reach out and say hi. 🙂
Swap-bot has a lot more to it than specifically ATC swaps, but they’re all swaps–meaning you send a card(s) to someone and they send to someone else. It’s a lot easier to get involved in ATC swaps on Swap-bot once you’re in a mail art-specific group.
On ATCs For All (or AFA), you can also find trades. So you might message someone if you see a cool ATC in their online gallery, they respond with what they like of yours, etc. You directly exchange in a trade.
A swap on AFA means that every player sends cards to the host, who then redistributes them among all the players (sometimes randomly, sometimes thoughtfully).
In some private groups, there are “mingles,” which mean the same as swaps do on Swap-bot (so you send to one person, who sends theirs to someone else).
RAKs (Random Acts of Kindness) can take place anywhere, basically. If someone feels like sending you their cards out of nowhere, with no expectation of a trade or swap, that’s a RAK.
I’m stuck at the “make art” part. Where can I find ideas for ATCs?
The good news here is that usually you’ll have a theme to work with for whatever kind of exchange you choose. Limiting your options can help you get creative!
A while ago I wrote about creative video games worth trying out and The Sims 4 was at the top of that list. And for good reason! There’s just so much you can do with sims, and community-made mods and Custom Content (or CC) add even more possibilities.
So many, really, that it’s hard to know where to go to find the best cc and… “collecting” the best stuff for your sims is almost a hobby in and of itself.
Or maybe I’m just a hoarder, you know. Whatever. 🙂
Anyway, I thought I’d share some of the best places I’ve found a lot of great custom content to help you get even more creative with your sims.
First off, here’s what you DON’T want to do:
download anything that looks sketchy; for instance, if it uses ad.fly? Not worth it!
simply place .rar or .zip files in your Mods folder without extracting the files first
if you don’t know what I’m talking about, don’t worry; I’ll explain below
download mods or cc that requires expansion packs you don’t have
many downloads will specifically say “base-game compatible” or “bgc” OR note what expansions are required to use the content
(optional) download a ton of content without also getting mods to help you manage it
for example: expanded CAS columns becomes verryyy necessary at a certain point
Yeah, so I would suggest NOT doing the above things. Here’s the basics of how you actually DO download mods/cc for your game:
Disclaimer: I have a PC and am running Windows 10. I honestly have no idea how this changes if you have a Mac. YMMV, etc etc.
Find cool stuff and download it! Yay! This is the fun part. Make sure you know how to get to where everything downloads, i.e, usually your Downloads folder.
Look at what file type each download is. PACKAGE files are the easiest to handle; go to 2a. Go to 2b for .rar and .zip files.
2a: If the file in question is a PACKAGE file, all you really have to do is move that sucker into your Sims 4 Mods folder. Click to select it, then you should see “Move to” up at the top of your file browser. Use that to navigate to your Mods folder, which for me is in Documents, but you might have to look around. The path should be something like Documents > Electronic Arts >The Sims 4 > Mods. Once you’ve moved the file to Mods, you’re done with this step.
2b: For a .rar or .zip file, I would recommend using 7zip, which is free and by all accounts much better than winRAR or whatever else is out there. With it installed, right click the file, then 7zip > Extract… and click the three little dots off to the right to browse for your Mods folder. The path should be something like Documents > Electronic Arts >The Sims 4 > Mods. Press OK to extract the files to your Mods folder and now you can delete the files from your Downloads.
Now you’ve installed your mods/cc and want to actually play, right? To do this, you’ll need to start the game, go into Options, and enable mods and scripted mods. You’ll find the options in the “Other” category. Note that you’ll need to re-enable mods every time the game updates.
Now you’ll need to restart your game. Do this and you should be all set!
Now that you get the process, where do you actually find all this cool stuff to download??
This one can be divisive because you have to pay to conveniently download anything, but it’s pretty cheap. I think it’s very worth the price.
The content here tends to be high-quality and there’s a lot of it. It’s kind of overwhelming, honestly. Often I find cc through another source (like Pinterest) that points me back to TSR, though I wouldn’t have ever seen it there otherwise. Maybe their search needs some tweaking? Not sure.
You can absolutely try TSR for free for a while and if you use it a lot, consider upgrading to a paid plan.
So-called “simblrs” tend to host free cc, but sometimes they link to Patrons-only Patreon accounts.
Simblrs are great for going down rabbit holes, because often they reblog each other and/or have lists of other simblrs you can check out.
You don’t need a tumblr account of your own to search tumblr!
The biggest downfall of searching tumblr is that many of the links are broken. Sometimes it feels like a cc cemetery. 😦 But there is still so much left up there!
I unironically love Pinterest lately. It learns quickly what you’re into and suggests infinite sources of cc once it picks up on your interest in it.
Pinterest is also great for organizing all that stuff you want to download later!
I would recommend adding a “note to self” when you download something so you don’t forget. For example, I would add “Downloaded 5/11/22” to everything I download today. These notes are only visible to you, don’t worry.
ModTheSims is especially great for, well, mods. I means mods as opposed to cc that doesn’t really function in an innovative way, e.g., clothes.
You can download stuff for free here!
Beware of very old mods–I haven’t seen anything malicious on MTS, but some modders have abandoned their mods over time and they can either just not work and/or cause problems with your game.
I’m sure I’m missing other sources, but these are what I use, generally. I’m a little hesitant to recommend Simsdom because I find the wait time (if you don’t pay) to be extremely annoying and the price doesn’t seem worth it. That said, sometimes I’ll download from there anyway.
Maybe you’re looking for even faster shortcuts to the good stuff. 🙂 Don’t worry, I got you.
My more specific faves for cc sources
The following list is probably well into “overwhelming” territory, but I’m providing little notes to help you determine which links to follow based on what kind of cc you’re looking for. Have fun!
Like I mentioned above, TSR is technically a paysite, but it’s well worth the cost, in my opinion. There’s no other site as legit, high-quality, and (almost) free of ads.
Some of my favorite TSR artists are:
KaTPurpura: clothes, especially female kids and toddler clothes cc
McLayneSims: clothes, especially male clothes cc (for all ages). Really prolific creator on TSR.
This is Them: skinblends cc that make sims look like real people. It’s crazy.
My Pinterest board
If you want a direct way to see what I’m into as far as Sims 4 cc, check out my Pinterest board.
I will warn you, however, that some links may be broken and/or lead to adfly or be otherwise sketchy. I can’t guarantee everything on here because I don’t download before I pin, typically.
Most of these are on Patreon, but here’s a protip: scroll down to “See all posts” and then filter on the tier dropdown to only show public posts. This lists all the free content for you!
Around the Sims: an unreal quantity of buy/build objects as well as clothes cc. If you aren’t a paid member, you need to download items individually (sometimes a pain, but I think it’s worth the effort).
myshunosun: object/furniture cc with a distinct minimalist style.
Gorilla Gorilla Gorilla: clothes, especially male clothes cc. They have a very clean and professional style and are super prolific. I probably have hundreds of Gorillax3 pins on my Sims board.
Creativity and video games don’t always go hand-in-hand. I mean, it’s not uncommon to picture a “gamer” as someone who’s great at some first-person shooter game or something. Halo? Call of Duty? I don’t know. I might be outdated in my references because I usually hate FPS. 🙂
Point being… gamers aren’t stereotypically creative. If anything, they’re destructive.
But! I’m here to tell y’all: there are games out there that allow for tons of fun with art. And they aren’t even kid-oriented! Yes, that’s right–you can play video games and be creative over the age of 18. You’ll be better off for it!
Now, I present the games:
The Sims 4
I understand this might be a divisive choice because it’s popular and therefore many people have Opinions(TM). But honestly, find me a better game in which you can create people AND houses. I don’t think you can!
(But, um, if you do? Please let me know like yesterday because I would probably love it too.)
If you don’t know Sims at all, essentially what you do is make a person or people (Sim[s]) and set up their house (which can be premade or you can make it however you want) and then… you do whatever you want.
The open-endedness almost makes it difficult to make a case for its addictive game-esque potential, but you can lead your Simulated lives just however you want.
Maybe you want a vegan blogger who barely leaves the house, or a giant traditional family, or a supervillian in a mansion, or [insert whatever you want]. Your sims have a personal appearance, a wardrobe, and a personality you create in Create-A-Sim.
And if you’re like “idk what I want, lol” there are always randomize buttons. So you can see something you hate and then change it. 🙂
Customization potential of The Sims = ridiculous
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the extra layers of creativity that Sims 4 Custom Content (or cc) provides.
There is just So Much out there to download for your sims experience. Like, I don’t know how to quantify it precisely, but as for my personal collection, I have over 2.5 THOUSAND files just from The Sims Resource alone.
I think I might write a whole post just about Sims 4 cc because it’s too much to cover in brief, but basically, you can download not only objects, rooms, entire houses, clothing, makeup, etc, but also scripted mods that change your gameplay. You might want Myers-Briggs-based personality type traits or a nursing career track in your game and the cc community provides.
If you’d like hints on where to start with Sims 4 cc, here’s my Pinterest board devoted to it.
The creative possibilities for Sims gameplay are really pretty endless. And the base game itself is not too expensive. The catch is that EA charges an arm and a leg for expansion packs, which add things like the ability to own pets or perform magic. Just wait for a sale on those, maybe. 😉
I’m really excited to give a shout-out to House Flipper because it’s indie and I’ve loved it since it came out in 2018. It’s the most played game in my Steam library at 506 hours of playtime. I’ve played for the equivalent of three weeks, 24 hours a day. I mean it when I say I love this game. Lol.
The premise of House Flipper is that you’re a handy(wo)man trying to fix up old and/or trashed houses so you can make them pretty and sell them for a profit. The making money dimension is not the focus of the game, though. Making them pretty is where it’s at.
Every house or job you take on has you starting with tasks like cleaning up literal garbage and sometimes vacuuming cockroaches (ew), but you’ll always end up doing a great deal of interior design.
And when I say “interior design,” I mean you, as a one-(wo)man crew, can go in there and change as much or as little about the house as you want. Don’t like that wall? Take a sledgehammer to it. Oh, whoops, you needed that? Rebuild it!
Then you do all the painting/siding/paneling/flooring and then you have a huge catalogue of furniture and decorations to make the house look like an actual home.
This part is the most time-consuming part, really. You’ll spend most of the time choosing and arranging furniture to your (and your buyer’s) liking. Although I should say, again, the emphasis is not really on the people-pleasing objectives but rather the potential to do whatever you want.
Customization potential of House Flipper = also ridiculous
Speaking of doing whatever you want, House Flipper has a decent modding community, too! So people have taken the time to custom-make basically any object or wall or flooring you can think of.
I used to spend time every day downloading every single item I thought was cool. I did this for probably a few months and eventually got overwhelmed.
The mods are available through the Steam workshop, too, so the downloading process feels considerably less sketchy and is always free. There’s no guarantee that player-made mods won’t dramatically break your save, but, you know, they probably won’t. 🙂
I should also note that if you’re scared by House Flipper’s price tag, bear in mind that it goes on sale pretty often. And it’s so worth it!!
SuchArt! is another indie game on Steam that I absolutely adore. You’re an artist in some future environment where you get your own studio to paint and decorate and weak havoc if you so choose.
That’s because the game feels very realistic and immersive, with amazing physics behind it that make you feel like you are actually throwing paint onto that wall-sized canvas. Or carefully pencilling in the lines on your next tiny masterpiece. You know, whatever.
You do technically do commisioned art “jobs” that will specify canvas size and sometimes the subject or preferred style/colors, but I’m not sure how much the AI actually cares what you paint, as long as it’s the correct canvas size.
With the jobs comes money and thus upgrades to your space and tools. There’s really a lot of content in the game and the devs keep updating it.
But I think what’s most incredible about SuchArt! is that not only is it just a fun and content-rich game, but the artistic potential is surprisingly legitimate. I mean, when you look at the gallery of what other players have created, you have enough tools at your disposal to create genuine virtual works of art. You wouldn’t expect to have that kind of control with this virtual interface and just your mouse and keyboard.
I sincerely hope you give this game a shot because it’s criminally underrated. And there’s a free trial! Please? 🙂
Coloring Game (any/all versions)
I hope you’re not tired of my references to Steam games, because here’s another series on Steam!
This one is arguably less open-ended than any of the others because it’s coloring in predetermined pixel art, but it’s still worth mentioning because it does what it does really well. It may be a simple ask to play a coloring game, but I’ve tried many and this one is by far the best.
I think where they got it right was integrating the idea of coloring with pixel art, because you’re able to zoom in and out without distorting the image or accidentally coloring outside the lines.
My favorite thing about the Coloring Game(s) is just that they’re very relaxing and satisfying. The most complex designs take several hours, though you can always save and return to it later.
There’s just something about coloring so cleanly–the pixels you need to fill in are highlighted for you, too, and so you just legitimately don’t need to worry about anything other than finding all the little gray squares that correspond to the color you have in hand.
Also of note is the plethora of versions and expansion packs available, and all of them are surprisingly cheap. I mean, typically about $1.99 each? Don’t quote me, but that’s in the ballpark.
Hopefully at least one of these games speaks to you! Video games don’t have to be about violence and shooting. They can also be about creativity and art!
But I think there’s kind of a steep barrier to entry for a lot of people: the diagrams look really complicated. It’s easy to get overwhelmed and never really get going. But you’re missing out, y’all! So let me try to explain how to read the patterns.
I’m going to use my own submitted pattern because that seems like less of a copyright concern, no? I mean, I did create the thing myself.
So, first things first. This is what the bracelet looks like:
Now, there are a couple of things to remember here. For one, there’s no fixed number of times that the design needs to repeat. You just make it as many times as you think you need to to get an appropriate length for a bracelet.
Also, this is the perfect princess digital version. So… it doesn’t look exactly like that as a bracelet. It’s hard to explain why, exactly, but something about how the knots stack and the embroidery floss stretches plus the tension you hold it with… yeah. It gets complicated.
Now, here’s what the pattern looks like:
Please don’t run away! I can explain!!!
Take a deep breath. Good? Ok.
The very first thing you should notice is that we’ve only got two colors going on. A (black) and B (blue). The reason we bother to say A or B instead of just the color is because you can and should pick whatever color combos you want; this black/blue is just a suggestion.
The second thing you want to look at is the very top row:
Never mind the arrows for now–just notice how many strands of thread you have “leading into” the first row. You’ve got A B B A A B B A A B here. Which is 5 A strands and 5 blue strands.
You need to know this because your next step, if you want to try following along, is to cut 5 strands of each color you want to use.
The million dollar question: how long do I cut each strand?
Good question, pal. I’m still trying to figure out how to guesstimate this more precisely, but most people use a rule of thumb of the length from the tip of your middle finger to your shoulder. Per strand, mind you.
(There are also a lot of people who double this length and fold each strand in half to form a loop at the top. I think this sounds very legit, but I haven’t actually tried it yet, so I can’t really talk about it :D)
Ok, so you have your embroidery floss, right? 10 strands, 5 of each color?
You can just knot them all together in a simple overhead knot about three inches down from their ends. It will be thick and you’re about to tie a billion other knots directly below it, so don’t worry about it being super secure. This is just your starting point.
I would recommend you somehow secure this end to something solid before we go on, though. I like using a clipboard, but maybe that’s weird?
Ok, back to the scary diagram:
If you’re following along, you’re basically sitting at row 0 right now.
Now each row tells us–according to how the last one led into this row–how we tie each knot. Because each knot only includes two strands at a time, and you can skip strands on the ends (more on that later).
So if we look at the very first knot:
A is supposedly on the left and B is on the right, because we read top-down and left-right. (I only say “supposedly” because at the very beginning, you just have a random arrangement of strands coming out of your overhead knot. When you reach the bottom of the pattern and repeat, however, you will actually see the arrangement in “row 0.”)
So what that arrow tells us is that A is wrapping over B first. So you lay A over B like an L first before pulling A back through the loop it just made. It’s important that you hold B straight in your right hand while you pull A tight (like really tight) and all the way up as close to the original overhead knot as you can get. Then do that exact same thing again. Loop A over B, etc.
You should have made your first real knot–congrats! So any diagonal arrow in a diagram means make two knots with the same two strands in the same direction.
Now, my friend: set those two strands off to the left. Seriously. You will NOT be able to keep track of where you are if you don’t habitually set your completed strands aside.
Now, the second knot is eerily similar:
EXCEPT: we should start with a B/blue strand on the left and A/black on the right. And we wrap B around A, holding A tight and straight in our right hand. Don’t forget to actually do the knot twice and then set these two strands aside, too.
Oh no, a new challenger has emerged!
So the third knot in the first row is our first departure from the one type of knot we know, but, spoiler alert: there are only 4 basic types of knots and only 3 of them are in this pattern!
So the only real difference is who’s looping over who at any given time. Again, if we look to row zero, we should have an A on the left and a B on the right. But instead of looping A/left/black over B/right/blue first, we’ll lay B/right/blue over A/left/black. So instead of an L, we get… a backwards L shape. But we still pull B through the loop it just formed. And we hold A straight in our LEFT hand instead of our right.
Remember to do the same knot twice and set those two strands off to the side!
Still with me? God, you’re killin the game. Nice work. Soon you’ll be making friends and friendship bracelets left and right.
Here’s the whole first row again:
You should have just set two more strands off to the side for the third knot. So I think you can handle the last two without me helping you out! Go on. I have the utmost faith in you.
By the way–if you were to mess up a knot, you can easily undo it by sticking a needle or a pin in the offending knot. It’s actually surprisingly easy. And worth it, trust me.
So if you’ve gotten here, you probably knotted that whole first row, right? BIG CONGRATS
I would recommend at this point that you print off the pattern and trace what row you’re on by following it with a paperclip. I’m sure there are a million other ways to do this, but that’s my method.
Ok, so peeking at the second row:
I want you to notice first that what we did in the first row matters. So even though in the first row, we had black on the left and blue on the right in that very first pair, it’s now flipped around. You should see that your strands have a natural preference to lie in a specific order now–and you should let them.
Over time, you’ll get better at not mixing up who’s who, but in the beginning, just do your best to see where everything wants to go. Like if you collect all the strands together and let them fall, what order do they like? The point being that you shouldn’t have to force any strands over or under another one to have it in the correct place.
You should also notice that we have TWO different symbols going on.
So on the far left there, you should have a blue strand coming down. LEAVE IT ALONE. That’s literally all that means. Take your leftmost blue strand and just set it aside without knotting with or on it at all.
Your first knot will be with the next two strands, which are A/black. I trust you know how to do this and the next knot. Good luck. 🙂
All right, now the third knot in on the second row has some funny business taking place. Just what does that confused arrow even mean, you ask?
So it’s a bit unfortunate that in this example, both strands are the same color. But the principle will remain the same. Let’s call the black strand on the left Al and the black strand on the right Fred.
This confused arrow means we WON’T make two little knots in the same direction–rather, we need one of each. And because the arrow first points left and then points right, this means that Fred will cross over Al first (as if it’s a left-pointing normal arrow) and once that ONE knot is tightened, Al is gonna cross over Fred (as if it’s a right-pointing normal arrow). You’re still only tying one knot made up of two smaller knots; it’s just not made of two identical ones like it normally is.
I really hope that makes sense, y’all. You can tell me if it doesn’t and I’ll try to explain again!
The rest of knotting is just… keep going! When you reach the end of all of the rows, go back to row 1! I won’t cover how to finish it off here, but rest assured you can just tie a basic overhead knot again if all else fails.
I honestly think that’s the bulk of how to read patterns. The only one direction not shown here is the confused arrow that first points right and then left, but it’s the same principle as the other confused one.
I really hope this helped! I had to figure some of this stuff out on my own and it was pretty confusing. Please let me know if something is unclear.
By the way: to see this pattern in full for yourself, click here.
First: try a lot of other origami models that are not this star, because life is hard and so is origami. 🙂
Actually first: you’ll need six sheets of paper. Squares! And it would be ideal if there’s either color on both sides or the back is plain white, because you’ll see a bit of the backside on the finished star.
It’s funny because I literally didn’t follow my own advice. This is where we’re headed:
This is an example of modular origami, so we’ll be making a relatively simple unit–and then making the same thing five more times–AND THEN we’ll put it all together and it’ll actually look like something.
I really like this model because it’s not ridiculously hard to put together. It’s a cool introduction to modular origami if you’ve never tried it. Or a breath of fresh air if you have tried modular origami.
Sound fun? Cool. Buckle up.
Okay, so you’ll need to start with your first square white- or backside up.
Then we’re going to fold it in half, bottom to top (top being the edge furthest from you):
You might not be able to tell in the picture, but the raw unfolded edge should be furthest away from you at this point.
Got it so far? You’re doing great. You made a fold!
Now we’ll take that folded bottom edge and act like we’re going to fold the whole thing in half again, but we’re only kidding, so we’ll just make a light crease in the approximate middle. We’re only doing this for reference, so as long as you know where it is, you’re good.
Now we’re going to take the top-left and bottom right corners of our little rectangle and make them line up with the crease we just made–AND we’re going to make these folds run through the bottom-left (from the left) and top-right (from the right) corners.
This might sound confusing, but that’s why we have pictures, right? I got you.
You should have a parallelogram now. It’s pretty cute.
Take the cute lil guy and fold him left to right so that the left diagonal edge lines up with the right diagonal edge. You’re folding it in half, really, but it won’t be pretty because it isn’t symmetrical.
Okay, so now you’re gonna undo that fold. I know. I’m sorry. We’re just kidding again and only doing it for the crease.
Don’t hate me, but we’re actually going to fully unfold it now. you should have the white side up, like this:
And now we’ll fold along creases that already exist, so that’s fun: fold along those diagonal creases on the left, both top and bottom. You should see triangles of the front side of your paper:
Now take that crispy crease across the middle and let it happen. I mean, fold the top edge down to meet the bottom edge:
This, my friends, is a trapezoid. Welcome back to geometry class.
Okay, we’ve come to the hardest part, now. I 100% believe in you, but if you don’t know origami, you might need a moment to catch your breath.
Do you see how, in the trapezoid, we have a couple of parallelograms and a triangle made out of creases? What we’re going to do is flip the paper inside out at the point where the two parallelograms meet.
Still breathing? Good. If you’re lost, think about reversing that fold across the middle, but leaving the leftmost parallelogram segment alone. If you invert that crease, the paper will want to flatten out to the shape I have pictured. I promise.
It might not seem like it, but we’re kind of almost done.
Now we’ll need to invert those triangle pieces through the white part on the bottom. It’s a lot like the last part, but a little less dramatic:
Because I’m an imperfect human being, my module isn’t quite lining up right, but hopefully you get the picture. the white part should approximately line up with the front edges, leaving you with a front-colored parallelogram on the left + a white triangle on the right.
Okay, so that’s… one module. Of the six you need. 🙂
It’ll go by faster than you think. I’ll be here waiting once you’re done.
I’m serious. Literally take another square, white/backside up, and repeat all that. 5 times.
If you’re still with me, I am so proud of you. Hats off to you, honestly.
So when we put this together, try to keep the white triangle off to the right, to make it easier.
We’re going to use the little triangle arms to lock around other units. Give em a little hug. These are two, pre-hug:
Okay, so you’ll want to put three units together, then set that half aside and put the other three together. THIS IS REALLY IMPORTANT
Once you have two 3-piece halves, it should make sense where they fit together. Just keep folding those little arms in, giving hugs.
CONGRATULATIONS. You made it.
At least, I hope you did. If you cheated and are reading past the point you’re at, cut that out, pal.
Thank you for reading and trying this out! I’ll see you soon!
By that I mean: there’s a robust community of people who make amazingly intricate patterns and share photos and challenge each other…. It is a bonafide social crafty hobby for adults here in 2022. I had no idea.
Now, necessary disclaimer: I’m just getting into this world, so I might misspeak or leave out important details I should know. But I wanted to let y’all in on the secret.
First things first: I’ve been using this website to find patterns and dip my toe into the social stuff. It’s called Bracelet Book and the kicker is that it’s not even the only community like it. I can’t speak for the other ones, but this one has an incredible number of patterns posted, complete with variations and tutorials and photos/videos and a forum, etc etc.
Maybe you can tell I’m excited because I’m less articulate. 🙂
If you have any interest in time-consuming but satisfying crafts like cross stitch/embroidery, quilting, diamond painting, coloring, or anything along those lines, you should seriously check this out.
It is easier than it looks, trust me. When you boil it down, you’re really only doing one (1) knot, but in four different orientations. You get so much variation just from one knot. We’re talking tens of thousands of designs, and that’s not counting the variations.
I would like to explain the finer details of how to get started, but for now, this is just for encouragement and inspiration.
Let me show you what I’ve made so far:
The one on the far right (#117860) is the first one I ever did. It’s a little bit “messed up” in that it’s thinner than it should be, but otherwise, you can see I was able to pretty much jump right in with something cool. It’s thinner because I only used 2 strands of floss for each string, and people typically use all 6 (as I did in the other two pictures).
As far as materials, you only really need to get your hands on a bunch of embroidery floss and some way to anchor the bracelet as you work. I like to use a clipboard, but you can also tie one end around something or tape it down to a flat surface.
I would also recommend figuring out a method of keeping track of what row you’re on in your pattern. I use a pen cap that I just slide up and down the side of the page to point to my last finished row.
You should have no problem finding patterns, though. And learning to interpret them doesn’t take long at all.
Honestly, some of my favorite hobbies are those that are easy to begin, but difficult to “master.” Making friendship bracelets seems like it’ll fit right in with those hobbies.
If you try this out or have any tips, feel free to let me know! I’d love to know how to better predict how much floss I need for a given pattern, for one. My profile on Bracelet Book is here if you’d like to be friendship bracelet… friends. 🙂
That’s all for now. Thanks for reading and I’ll see you soon!