April 19, 2011

New Project in the Works

I've been working on a new project that I'm really excited about. I'm putting together a custom Google search engine that only includes crafty tutorials. 

At first I thought it would just be a good tool for me to use to keep track of the super long list of tutorials that I have been compiling. Then I thought maybe this is a resource that other people would like as well!

Imagine that if you did a search for "Easter eggs" every result would be a really good tutorial because it would be hand selected by a crafter.

By "really good" I mean it 1) includes photos (at least of the finished project and preferably of the steps) and 2) includes clear instructions that you can follow.  And it would be original and art/craft related (no computer programming or cooking tutorials here).

So you wouldn't have to wade through the crummy tutorials that turn up in a regular Google search. You could get right to the good stuff.

I'm also excluding tutorials from Martha Stewart, Instructables and eHow. I love those sites and use them all the time, but they already dominate the regular Google searches. You don't need my help to find their tutorials. 

I want to focus on the independent crafty blogs that put a lot of love into their tutorials even if they aren't getting a ton of traffic or showing up on the first page of a regular Google search.

So far I have entered 2,000 tutorials. It's a start. I still have a long way to go before it is the useful tool that I want it to be. But I'm too excited to wait, so I'm sharing it now.


Try it out and see what you think (but remember that it has a long way to go).

I'll be adding more tutorials as fast as I can, but I can't catalog the whole Internet! That's where I need your help. In the near future I'll figure out a way to let other crafters (including you!) submit tutorials automatically (but then I'll also need a way to let people flag inappropriate submissions...)

In the meantime, leave a comment if you have a tutorial you would like included. It can be your own or someone else's but keep in mind that it needs to include photos and clear instructions.

Please include direct links to specific tutorials (not links to entire blogs).

April 6, 2011

Top 10 Best Crafty Tutorial Sites

This little blog is all about collecting the best crafty tutorials, so I thought it would be good to write about the websites that I turn to when I look for tutorials. If you're a crafter, most of these will probably be familiar to you, but there may be a few surprises.

1. ReadyMade. ReadyMade is my favoriite magazine of all time. I have every back issue ever published and they are displayed proudly on my office bookshelf. But you don't have to subscribe to take advantage of RM's massive collection of DIY project tutorials. You can submit your own projects as well, including submissions to the famous bi-monthly MacGyver Challenge.

2. Craft. I was pretty sad when Craft magazine stopped publishing its print version after a mere 10 issues. But luckily for us, it kept the very popular website -- complete with lots of tutorials -- running. If you follow me on Twitter you'll notice that I like to retweet Craft's tweets a lot. That's because they are sooooo good.

3. Craftster. "No Tea Cozies Without Irony" is the motto of this message board site. It's more than just a place to read and submit tutorials -- it's also a community to meet like-minded crafters and share tips and techniques. The site also hosts monthly craft challenges.

4. Martha Stewart. I'm not ashamed to admit that I love Martha Stewart. If you haven't watched her show lately you might be surprised to find that she does a lot of hip and modern projects. All (or nearly all) of the projects she has done on her shows or featured in any of her magazines over the years are archived on her website. It's an incredible resource.

5. YouTube. It's so obvious that I almost didn't think of it. If you need a tutorial in video form, you might as well go straight to YouTube to search for it. Most videos on other websites these days are also posted on YouTube, so you're likely to find exactly what you're looking for -- and a whole lot more.

6. Etsy.  Etsy is well known as a place to buy things that other people make, but its blog also has a nice assortment of tutorials. And there is a new video tutorial every Tuesday (How-To Tuesday). http://www.etsy.com/storque/how-to/

7. Make.  Make's projects are a little more technical rather than crafty, but they are never boring. This magazine is by the same company that published Craft and hosts the Maker Faire. The website includes projects from the magazine as well as reader-submitted tutorials.

8. Instructables. This site has a lot of interesting tutorials with lots of pictures and rich detail. My only complaint is that you need a pro (paid) account to download PDFs of the projects.

9. Crafty Pod.  Unlike the other sites mentioned here, CraftyPod's tutorials are all the love children of a single person — a crafty lady who goes by the name Sister Diane. All of her tutorials are lovingly photographed and carefully documented. They are among the best out there, which is why she makes the list with all these big sites.

10. eHow. This website is a little hit or miss. Some of the tutorials are really good, and some are not. But there are so many tutorials here that it is a good place to check if there's something you want basic directions for.

If you have any recommendations of your own, please leave a comment.

April 5, 2011

ReadyMade MacGyver Challenge

I got the April/May 2011 issue of ReadyMade magazine in the mail yesterday. Yay!

The first thing I always do when I get a new issue is flip to the back and see 1) what the winning MacGyver Challenge project is and 2) what the new MacGyver Challenge is.

Every month I plan on entering and spend a lot of time and energy trying to come up with the best project. But so far I have never sent in an entry. I usually run out of time before I think of a good enough idea. Or I think of a good idea, but I can't get it to turn out the way it looks in my head.

That is what happened with the chopstick challenge. I went out and bought a boatload of chopsticks and some electrical wire for what was going to be my masterpiece. Let's just say it didn't work out. (It's still too disappointing for me to talk about.)

Because of my massive chopstick failure I was anxious to see what the winning project would be. I wanted to see if it was good enough to beat the idealized version in my head of what my project would have been. I wanted it to be better than my idea because then I wouldn't feel so bad. "See, I wouldn't have won anyway. Even if I did figure out how to weave the stupid wire between the chopsticks without making it look like a third grade art project," I'd say.

So I was relieved to see that the winning project is amazing! It is much better than anything I could have come up with.

You can see it -- along with the full instructions -- on the ReadyMade blog.

The new MacGyver Challenge is Frisbees. (That's a tough one!) Entries are due .... well, I don't know when they are due because it doesn't say in the magazine and I can't find it online. To be considered for the prize (a subscription to ReadyMade and "respect of ReadyMakers everywhere") you should probably submit your entry within about a month. If anyone knows when the due date is, let me know.