PlanetJune Craft Blog

Latest news and updates from June

Archive for Other Crafts

adventures in making skincare products

I’ve been experimenting with making my own skincare products using natural ingredients, and I thought you might be interested to hear about it…

handmade skincare products
I’ll tell you all about these later in this post!

Hand cream and nail oil are secret weapons in my business – it’s only because of them that my hands (hopefully!) never look objectionable, even in close-up tutorial photos.

crochet tutorial photo showing my hands
Not a hangnail in sight!

How I Got Started

My journey to make my own lotions and potions began with a quest to protect my face from the harsh cold of the Canadian winter. After developing eczema while living in South Africa (where it never gets very cold), I discovered I had a whole new set of skin problems to contend with when I came home. I needed to find a way to protect my now-sensitive face, which had become extremely intolerant of the cold.

I bought and tried lots of creams that I’d been recommended, with results ranging from ineffective, to eczema-triggering, to disastrous (e.g. covering my face in Aquaphor without realising that it contained lanolin until my eyes swelled up and the allergic reaction began…)

So I decided to take the plainest moisturising cream that didn’t give me any symptoms, and supercharge it by adding extra skin-friendly oils to rebuild and protect my skin’s moisture barrier. And it worked! My skin is much happier these days 🙂

But this wasn’t just useful… it was fun! I realised I could probably mix my creams and oils in different ways, with a few extras, to make different skincare products for myself.

Choosing Oils

There are lots of 100% pure oils derived from plants that have beneficial properties for the skin: grapeseed, sweet almond, jojoba, rosehip, argan, marula, and many more. To figure out which I should try, I looked at the ingredients of products I already liked, then did some googling and borrowed books from the library to find out which oils sounded like they’d be most helpful for my needs.

And then there are essential oils: highly concentrated plant extracts that must be diluted before use. They are used for aromatherapy and may have other health benefits. There’s a passionate community of essential oil advocates and I briefly got sucked into that – the potential benefits of certain oils made them sound very appealing. After I bought a few bottles and tried them, I realised that I don’t do well with most scents – giving myself a headache was not what I intended! Now I only use the essential oils that have a scent that makes me feel happy and calm (more on that below).

Once I’d sorted out what to try, I bought some of my supplies from a local health food shop, and some online.

handmade skincare products
Supplies: ingredients and empty containers

I did some more research to figure out roughly how much of each oil I should be using (here’s a very rough starting point: up to 10% of regular oils and 1% of essential oils), and then started experimenting with adjusting the proportions until I got a result I liked.

Combining the Ingredients

If my end product will be an oil, I use droppers to add the different component oils into the container and then close the container and shake it to mix them together.

It’s a little more difficult when making a cream or lotion. First I measure or weigh out all my ingredients into a bowl and mix them together with a little spoon:

handmade skincare products

In these photos I’m making my pink grapefruit hand cream, and yes, it looks pretty unappealing at first! But after a good mixing it looks smooth and creamy:

handmade skincare products

I’ve discovered that you have to mix and mix to get the oils to emulsify properly with a cream or lotion – even if it looks well-mixed, the oils can begin to separate out after a few days or weeks. Now, I stir for an extra minute or two after it looks like its fully mixed.

Then it’s just a matter of decanting into a container and it’s ready to use and enjoy!

handmade skincare products

(All my containers are reusable: I wash them out when they’re empty and refill them, so I can be a bit more environmentally friendly.)

My ‘Products’

(I’m calling them products, but these aren’t intended for sale – they’re just for my own use.) These are my favourite skincare products that I’ve made so far:

handmade skincare products
L-R: headache oil, hand cream, nail oil

I made a spearmint headache oil in a glass rollerball bottle, with a sweet almond oil base. I massage it onto the sides of my forehead when I get a tension headache and it helps. Spearmint essential oil has a sweeter and more uplifting scent than peppermint, it’s gentler on the skin, and I find it very relaxing. And doesn’t the yellow oil look pretty in my blue/clear glass bottle?!

I came up with a really rich moisturizing hand cream enriched with jojoba, rosehip and pink grapefruit oils, which completely stops my hands from getting dry or rough (even with all the hand washing we have to do these days!) I find the sweet citrus scent of the pink grapefruit to be a great mood-lifter and very relaxing.

I replaced my favourite (and pricey) nail oil with my homemade version – sweet almond and jojoba oils and vitamin E in a container with a built-in brush applicator keep my cuticles looking good for all those close-up tutorial photos. It doesn’t have the almond fragrance of my favourite brand, but that’s just an artificial fragrance anyway, so I’m happy to live without the scent. I get the same results as the brand name for a fraction of the price, so I can use my nail oil as often as I want without feeling guilty!

Verdict

As any crafter knows, it’s always a special feeling to be able to use things you’ve made yourself.

I know this may seem like a small thing, but using my own customized creams and oils with my favourite uplifting natural scents gives me a little happiness boost every time I wash my hands or prepare my cuticles for taking photos, or comforts and relaxes me when I have a headache or eczema symptoms.

Try It Yourself

If you want to try dabbling, it can be as simple as adding a couple of drops of your favourite essential oil to a jar of lotion and then stirring it well until it’s all mixed in. For example, I add a few drops of spearmint essential oil to my tub of foot cream and it adds an extra zing to the unfragranced moisturizer.

Or, if you want to try just one moisturising oil, I’d recommend jojoba oil. Its molecules are close in size to the natural oils produced by the body, so it absorbs very easily, making it a highly effective moisturiser. You can mix it with other ingredients like I do, or use it by itself as a moisturiser (it’s safe to use anywhere on your face and body) or cuticle oil. It’s light and gentle – despite the name, it’s actually a liquid wax, not an oil – and, as it absorbs so well, it won’t leave you feeling greasy or looking shiny. It’s stable, and a little goes a long way, so one bottle will last for ages – my first bottle is still going strong after 18 months!


Do you make your own skincare products? What are your favourite ingredients? Or are you tempted to try something for the first time now? Tell me about it!

Comments (4)

Needlefelted Poinsettia

Every December from 2006 to 2015 (with only one year off) I designed and made a PlanetJune Poinsettia. As a multi-crafter, it was a fun challenge to keep making the same thing using different tools and materials and slightly different styles, but I’ve let the project drop for the past few years.

But, after designing a new crocheted poinsettia for my Christmas Decor pattern collection this year, I was inspired to revisit my poinsettia collection this holiday and add another craft to the collection: needlefelting!

needlefelted poinsettia by planetjune

This Poinsettia is made from Lion Brand Spinnables roving, sent to me by a kind friend many years ago, and it’s been sitting in my craft stash since then, just waiting for inspiration to strike! The most interesting part about Spinnables is that it’s 100% acrylic roving. It’s very soft and fine and has some very pretty and muted variegated colours.

Although Spinnables has the benefit of being completely non-itchy for my wool-sensitive fingers, I found it more challenging to felt than natural fibre roving, so I kept my poinsettia very simple and didn’t worry about making it too perfect – after all, real plants aren’t perfect either.

I’m not going to write up a tutorial for this poinsettia:

  • If you know how to needlefelt, it should be fairly obvious how to assemble it by making 12 individual leaves and 3 balls, and felting them together.
  • If you’re new to needlefelting, I recommend you find a book or YouTube tutorial to cover the basics, then look for a tutorial on how to felt animal ears – the leaf shape is very similar to an ear, so that should give you the idea of how to form a leaf shape.

And now let’s take a look at my entire collection to date…

The Poinsettia Collection

11 poinsettia designs – it’s a real collection, spanning 14 years!

tsumami kanzashi poinsettia by planetjunecrocheted poinsettia by planetjune
polymer clay poinsettia by planetjunepunchneedle poinsettia by planetjune
felt poinsettia by planetjunebeaded poinsettia by planetjune
thread crochet poinsettia by planetjuneknitted poinsettia by planetjune
origami poinsettia by planetjunecrochet poinsettia by planetjune
needlefelted poinsettia by planetjune

Top (L-R): 2006 kanzashi poinsettia (no tutorial); 2007 crocheted poinsettia
2nd Row (L-R): 2008 polymer clay poinsettia; 2009 punchneedle poinsettia
3rd Row (L-R): 2010 felt poinsettia; 2011 beaded poinsettia
4th Row (L-R): 2012 thread crochet poinsettia; 2013 knitted poinsettia
5th Row (L-R): 2015 origami poinsettia; 2019 crochet poinsettia (paid pattern)
Bottom Row: 2019 needlefelted poinsettia (no tutorial) – this post!

(You can find almost all my Poinsettia designs as PDFs in my shop, or use the links above for the free online versions of most of them.)

Which is your favourite?

I don’t know if I’ll continue adding to this collection, but I suspect I’ll be drawn back to it again and again in future – I’ll leave it flexible and just add a new poinsettia whenever the inspiration strikes.

I love seeing how similar and yet different these all look together, and how it’s a tangible record of many different crafts I’ve played with over the years. I wonder what else I could make a poinsettia from..?

I hope you’ve enjoyed seeing my collection, and maybe it’ll inspire you to try (or re-try) a different type of crafting this holiday! 🙂

Comments (10)

greenhouse photo workshop

Yesterday, I took the opportunity to learn more about photography and plants at a photowalk workshop hosted by Colour Paradise Greenhouses and taught by local photographer Abbi Longmire. It was a great pairing – Abbi encouraged us to experiment with our cameras, and the greenhouse offered beautiful and varied subjects to photograph (and maybe some ideas for future PlanetJune plant designs…)

I used the manual (M) setting on my camera for the first time ever(!) and, after a shaky start, ended up with some half-decent shots. I thought I’d share my favourites with you – bear in mind that composition etc is not my strong suit and I’m very much a beginner at this type of photography!

(These are unprocessed, out-of-the-camera shots – all I did was resize them to blog size.)

Greenhouse Photowalk photo by June Gilbank

Greenhouse Photowalk photo by June Gilbank

Greenhouse Photowalk photo by June Gilbank

Greenhouse Photowalk photo by June Gilbank

Greenhouse Photowalk photo by June Gilbank

Greenhouse Photowalk photo by June Gilbank

Not too bad, are they? 🙂

Thanks to Abbi and Colour Paradise for the inspirational afternoon! I hope I’ll be able to bring what I learnt into my nature photography, and maybe even my pattern photos…

Comments (8)

announcing my Mum’s book!

For the past year or so, I’ve been working on a collaboration with my mum, Lilian Linden, who is an acclaimed Scottish music pianist and the founder of the Invercauld Scottish Dance band.

For three decades, Mum has been composing original music ranging from lively jigs and reels to traditional strathspeys and lyrical slow airs, and now we’ve collected them all for the first time in her own music book, The Lilian Linden Collection of Scottish Music!

Lilian and June with The Lilian Linden Collection of Scottish Music

From learning how to use professional quality music notation software to create the sheet music (mostly Mum’s side of the collaboration), through designing, editing, laying out and publishing the book (mostly my contribution), via endless international Skype calls to progress the project, publishing this book has been a new challenge for both of us, but we’re delighted with the result.

The Lilian Linden Collection of Scottish Music - sheet music sample
Doesn’t it look good?

When I visited my parents last week, Mum and I had a final check of the proof copy to make sure it was 100% perfect, and now it’s up on amazon and available to purchase worldwide!

Amazon links: US, UK, CA, DE – and you can also find it on all the other Amazon international sites by searching for “Lilian Linden”. 🙂

If you know anyone who enjoys playing Scottish or Celtic music or who plays for Scottish dancing or ceilidhs, please let them know about this book. It includes 33 original tunes with chords, and is intended to be played primarily on piano, accordion and/or fiddle.

The Lilian Linden Collection of Scottish Music - cover

I’m so proud of Mum for all the work she’s put into this project and for finally getting all her original music published in print form. Please leave my mum (Lilian) a comment to congratulate her on this huge achievement!

Comments (14)

book review: Making Pipe Cleaner Pets

As always, I was not compensated for this review, and the following is based on my honest opinions!

Overview

Making Pipe Cleaner Pets by Takashi Morito was originally published in Japanese, and has now been translated into English.

book review: Making Pipe Cleaner Pets

I’ve previously reviewed another translated-from-Japanese craft book (Crafting with Cat Hair) and, like that book, this is another book of adorable crafts you’d probably never think of making until you see the book!

book review: Making Pipe Cleaner Pets

Throughout, this book has a very Japanese aesthetic. On the photo pages, the dogs are posed in cute tableaus with a variety of unrelated props – books, craft supplies, crackers – and a haiku-esque poem to introduce each dog, for example:

The morning air feels good
Now, we’ll all play ball
And bathe in the morning sun

The overall effect is charming in that bizarre Japanese craft book kind of way.

(I should mention that ‘Making Pipe Cleaner Pets‘ is a bit of a misnomer if you’re looking for a variety of pets – this is a book of dogs. It has designs for 23 different dog breeds, plus puppy-sized miniature versions of several of the breeds.)

book review: Making Pipe Cleaner Pets
A few more of the included dog breeds.

After the cute photo gallery of all the dogs, we get to the tutorials for how to make them. The first three dogs (Toy Poodle, Pug, Boston Terrier) have detailed step-by-step instructions, including both a diagram of each step and a photo of the result.

book review: Making Pipe Cleaner Pets

Those three designs teach you the basic techniques you’ll need to make all the dogs. The other 20 dog breeds have text and diagrams only, but the basic idea is the same for all the dogs, so you’ll rarely need to look back once you’ve tackled a couple of the easier dogs.

book review: Making Pipe Cleaner Pets

My Experience

I found the perfect pack of pipe cleaner colours (two browns, grey, white and black) and got started! I planned to make 2 or 3 dogs, to give myself a chance to get the hang of the technique.

First up, I tried the Toy Poodle, the first and apparently easiest dog in the book:

book review: Making Pipe Cleaner Pets

My completed effort definitely looked like a dog, but nothing like a poodle! The legs were too short, so I decided to embrace that: I shortened them further by folding over the ends, and reshaped the face a bit (by squashing it around), and now it’s a dachshund puppy. 🙂

For my next attempt, I thought I’d try the actual Dachshund model:

book review: Making Pipe Cleaner Pets

I felt like the proportions in the instructions weren’t quite right, so I lengthened the body and shortened the legs as I made my initial bends in the pipe cleaner, and I think it looks pretty good!

Okay, I’m getting the hang of this now; time to step it up a notch with a multi-colored dog. I tried the Jack Russell Terrier:

book review: Making Pipe Cleaner Pets

I like the result – the head colours are good – but I somehow made it all a bit skinny (my fault, not the book’s). I think mine has a bit of greyhound in him 😉

And then the Pug:

book review: Making Pipe Cleaner Pets

I learnt from my mistakes and used the basic method from the book, but tweaked all the proportions to be more suited to how I think a pug should look. I ended up with lots of the dark brown showing on the back of the head, so I wove a bit more of the light-coloured pipe cleaner over to hide that. What a cute pug face!

After making a few dogs, you get a feel for what you’re doing, as the basic concept is very similar for all the dogs. I decided to make some modifications for my last two dogs…

book review: Making Pipe Cleaner Pets

The Miniature Schnauzer model seemed like a bit of a cheat to me – the white beard and eyebrows were formed separately and glued into place! Instead, I used what I’d learned from the Pug and built the beard into the face.

book review: Making Pipe Cleaner Pets

And finally, the Corgi. I used the book for the face colours, but built the body myself, plumping it up and omitting the tail completely.

The advantage of this book is that, as all the dogs are constructed along the same principles, once you’ve made a few, you should be able to get a bit more creative and extend the same principles to different animals. I thought I’d test my theory by trying – what else – a grey cat!

book review: Making Pipe Cleaner Pets

I basically made another dog, but tweaked all the proportions as I went (shorter muzzle and ears, wider face, longer neck, etc) to make it more feline. The great thing about pipe cleaner models is they are completely poseable, so it’s easy to adjust the leg positions, add a curve to the back, or reposition the tail, if you decide it doesn’t look quite right.

The book suggests some finishing touches – glued-on plastic eyes and noses, trimming some of the pipe cleaner fuzz to make e.g. pointier ears, and an occasional glued-on mouth or tongue. Even my smallest (4.5mm) animal eyes are too large for my dogs, so I decided to keep my dogs (and cat) as pure pipe cleaners. I’m sure they’d look even cuter with faces, but I like them as they are, and I like that there aren’t any glued-on parts this way – they are simply twisted pipe cleaners and nothing more.

Top Tips

  • The first stumbling block is that all the designs in this book use 1m (40 inch) long pipe cleaners, which may be common in Japan, but I’ve never seen in all my years and countries of craft shopping! The book instructs that you can instead twist multiple regular-length pipe cleaners together to make a long one, but I’d recommend you use one at a time, and twist on a new one as you reach the end of the old one – it’s a lot more manageable that way. I used 3 or 4 pipe cleaners for the main colour of each dog (and 1 or 2 of any secondary colour).
  • All the dogs’ muzzles are made by coiling the pipe cleaner and then feeding the remaining end through the middle of the coil. I found this to be impossibly difficult to do neatly, until I coiled the pipe cleaner around a narrow tube (I used a small knitting needle), which gave perfectly round coils, and a nice space in the middle for feeding the end through.

Verdict

I found the concept of pipe cleaner dog models to be fun, but it was more challenging than I’d expected. Although it looks like a kid’s craft, I definitely wouldn’t recommend it for young children – it’s not easy to make a dog that looks like the photos! Teens with good dexterity and patience may enjoy making dogs, and it’s great for crafty adults like me.

The dogs are very cute and fun to pose, but there’s a bit of a learning curve, and every dog will end up with its own personality, no matter how closely you follow the directions. But that variation is part of the enjoyment of making things by hand: I feel it adds to the charm – just like a litter of real puppies, you never know exactly how each one will look until you see it!

If you persevere through a couple of practice runs, you’ll be able to make cute pipe cleaner pups too, and, once you’ve made a few dogs, you’ll see how the general idea works, and be able to try designing your own animals, if you want.

book review: Making Pipe Cleaner Pets

If you’re looking for an unusual craft to try, I can recommend Making Pipe Cleaner Pets as a fun diversion, and a great introduction to sculpting pipe cleaner animals!

Comments (8)

« Previous entries
  • Quick Links: Crochet

    navigation: arrow

    buy crochet patterns and accessories from my online store

    Idiot's Guides: Crochet and The Complete Idiot's Guide to Amigurumi by June Gilbank

    Crochet video tutorials and step-by-step photo tutorials

    Free PlanetJune crochet patterns

    Frequently Asked Questions

    Quick Links: Crafts

    navigation: arrow

    Punchneedle Embroidery information, ebook & patterns

    Papercraft ebook & tutorials

    Free PlanetJune craft projects & tutorials

  • Blog Post Categories

  • Blog Archives

  • Welcome to PlanetJune!

    June Gilbank

    Hi, I'm June. Welcome to my world of nature-inspired crochet and crafting. I hope you enjoy your visit!

    If you'd like to get in touch, you can contact me here.
    crocheted Canadian flag by PlanetJune
  • Support PlanetJune!

    Want to say thanks? You can send me money in seconds at paypal.me/planetjune or send me a donation through my shop.

    Or simply click one of these links before you shop at Amazon or Etsy, and I'll make a small commission on your purchase, at no cost to you: Thank you for your support!
Back to top