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Jul. 13th, 2010

Craft

skyeblux

Week 11 ~ Hearts and Parcels





For all those Magpie Minded like myself, attracted to the colourful, pretty and shiny - you know who you are! You're out for the day, casually window shopping and 'Oh isn't that the most unusal, beautiful fabric - well I'll just buy a piece as I'm sure I'll find a use for it one day!' - yes crafters you've been caught!

So this week I'm having a clear out, that beautiful silky metre of lilac fabric I bought, or the cut off of turquoise butterflies etc
I've decided to finally use these little gems by doing something really simple with them.

For this weeks challenge I'm going to make novelty cushions or ornaments from my scraps.
The easiest way to do this is just to fold the fabric over, lining up the patterns you want, tack it together with pins and draw with chalk a rough outline of a heart or a star or another simple shape and cut it out, leaving about half an inch (or more if you're worried about not leaving yourself enough material - it can later be trimmed down) and sew along the pattern line.
I know it's not as neat as hiding your stitches inside which you can do just by leaving a little material around your design and folding it over along your lines, turning the fabric inside out and sewing the edges together!).
I've choosen the more messy method as a lot of my fabric is quite thick and doubling it up would look messy!
But simply put you can hand stitch or use a sewing machine to trace your pattern, leaving a little hole in the stitching, and stuff it with cotton wool or the stuffing you'll get in your local wool shop.
To make it look a little neater and more home spun you could then cut the excess material around your stuffed novalty with pinking shears (those jig-jagy scissors) to give a gentle, cerated edge and add a bit of character.

If sewing isn't your strong point, like me, just make a small rectangular cushion, nice straight, uncomplicated edges!

And be creative, we all have left over beads or buttons or sequins so decorate your finished piece.

These can then be used as pin cushions or you could sew on a little lace hook and hang your pretty fabric off those stylish twigs in a vase things or even fill your material with potpurri and use them as drawer smellies or to hang on your coat hangers.

How about lacing a few together to make a wall hanging decoration or giving them as presents to your favourites nephews and nieces?

Apparently decultering is good for the soul and help harmonies the mind so mens sana in corpore sano!

Have fun and turn those random finds into something beautiful.

Jul. 9th, 2010

Craft

skyeblux

Week 10 ~ Plastic Paraphanalia!

I know ‘Hello Stranger’ – sorry about the inexcusable delay in posting of late but I have an excuse!!! Internet has been down – don’t you just love technology! Plus a lot of real life annoyances have intervened including scenes from ‘Kitchen Nightmares’. Also I have to admit that sometimes I will fall behind – I’m afraid that’s the nature of depression. Sometimes those dark days pass quickly but at other times they can incapacitate you for ages.

 

But enough of this bleak talk. The biggest challenge of this recycling challenge was the fact that I don’t drink carbonated drinks and have very few tinned items so I kind of had to create rubbish to recycle which was probably ironic and counter productive.

 

I had ready supplies of plastic bottles so I wound up craftily recycling them with creative spark inspired by one of the you tube videos I researched!!!

 

Plastic Paradise!!!

 

Creating a retro, quirky dish for votive candles or potpourri or randomness of your choice using common or garden recycled rubbish!

 

What you need:

 

Plastic Bottle/aluminium can

Stanley Knife

/Thick gloves

Scissors

/Pliers

Super glue

Pen

 

Step 1.) Thoroughly rinse out your bottle or can and remove any labels.

 

2.) If you are mutilating a metal can wear thick gloves as the metal tends to form sharp little shards that the soft skin of your hands will not appreciate! Ok now we have to cut the top off our project draw a straight line around the cylinder or follow one of the manufactured ridges already there and carefully cut around using your Stanley knife. Scissors may work although the knife is handy for first puncturing the plastic/metal.

 

3.)    For this step I suggest using scissors as I used a knife and found it so much harder to keep my lines straight and my hand would slip and cut off strips of plastic (luckily not fingers!!!!). in this step we are going to divide our topless cylinder into say 16 equally spaced strips so the first thing you have to do is decide how far down to the base you are cutting your strips so they are all level – there’s usually a ridge in plastic bottles near the base that you can follow but on cans you’ll have to focus more to keep it level. You’re looking to stop about 1.5/2inches from the bottom.

 

4.)    Begin cutting in straight lines down the side of your bottle/can up to the bottom rim you’ve selected. It’s a good idea to cut maybe 8 wider strips and then cut them in half again as it helps you to space them easier.

 

5.)    Fold over the top centimetre on all your strips. (top line peeled back to go further down the strip) Make these folds strong – you many need/or find it helpful to use pliers for this.

 

6.)    Taking one of the strips pull it gently down like your opening a petal and then twist the folded end slightly so that fold line is now vertical (parallel to all the strips) and stretch the strip to the right about 3 or 4 strips over from it and tuck the fold around that strip at the base where the cut ends and meets the base of the can/bottle. I know that sounds weird and it’s hard to explain but basically you are hooking the tab of the fold around the third strip to the right of the one your holding and you are tucking it in down at the base so that the strip loops around.

 

7.)    Keep doing this with each strip in turn making sure you don’t skip one and tucking the folds in the same number of strips across each time. I did manage to do this eventually but often some of the strips ping back up when you are working with them, if you find it really difficult I would use some superglue or even those circle glue dots to hold the folds in place. I think I might do this the finished piece anyway otherwise it’s very fragile.

 

8.)    If you are patient and follow the circle around, bending and tucking then you will have a rather pretty and usual dish in the end and have saved at least one item from a land fill site!!!



 

Jun. 21st, 2010

Craft

skyeblux

Week 9 ~ Random Recycled Riches

The importance of recycling has finally hit hime in recent years but there's no reason it should be arduous or dull.
This week I'm going to give you two examples of what to do create crafts out of drinks drinks and tins and hopefully make something unique and less worthy of the rubbish dump!

Firstly I got it into my head that I really wanted make wind chimes to drown out the fighting cats down the street and lull me to sleep in these humid hot nights.

What you will need:

Nails
Hammer
empty tin or aluminium cans
Two short pieces of wood (A bangle bracelet would also do)
string/twine or something prettier
Pliers
Tin Opener

1.) Peel off labels and wash tins
2.) Use a tin opener to remove the top and/or bottom of your tin (if you are using drinks cans then you'll need to use a stanley knife to cut off the top and bottom and make a slit down the side - flat and cut out circles of designs of your choice)
3.) Use pliers to bend over any sharp edges.
4.) Draw out your design (tracing paper works best)
5.) Lay your paper on top of the circle of tin and use your hammer and nails to indent the design (make sure to do this on a durable solid surface)
6.) Use hammer and nail to puch a hole at the top rim of your design.
7.) Repeat with the same or different designs so that you have at least three pieces of decorated metal. (note you can just indent your design or punch right through if you want the light to cast through it)
8.) Tie and glue your cord through the holes of your chimes.
9.) Attach cords to bangle (equally spaced) (again you can cover the bangle in material or thread or lace/ leather etc and you can make the lengths of cord different as long as the metal hangings hit one another at some point) OR
9a) You need two strips of wood about an inch wide and 5inches long. (An idea I had for this was sawing up some cheap photo frames as I know you can get a pack of three 6x4inch frames in light wood from ikea for about £2.00) Nail together to for a cross usinf small nails that you can easily bent flat into the wood on the reverse side.
9b) You will need four metal decorations for this and you can make them different lengths. Either drill a whole at the end of each piece of wood or just tie the cord on and secure with superglue or even staples.
10.) With a bangle you will need at least three short pieces of cord tied to the frame at equal distances apart and pulled up togther in the centre so that it hangs straight. Knot the pieces togther in the centre leaving one piece a couple of inches longer to form a hoop to hang your chime.
With a wooden cross you could probably get away with use having one piece of cord wrapped round the centre cross section to form you hanger but again it would be more stable if you have cord running from each length.

Tips: Cutting up an old metal coat hanger could make a great and more resilient hook.
In the theme of recycling how about using old shoes laces to attach your chimes?
Some people also like to hang a 'clanger' in the centre, a marble or a big metal bead would be great.
Windchimes can also be made cheaply using sea shells, stones or even bamboo or twigs.
To make your chimes more colourful why not spray paint your finished designs.

Secondly - I love warm summer nights as I'm ginger/freckly and pale skined and BURN but nights are cooler but still plesantly warm to take a stroll in summer clothes and a lot of us this summer will be having parties or BBQs outside so another recycled decorative idea are tea light holders or lanterns.

What you will need:

Nails
Hammer
Tin/aluminium can
tea light
sand or small pebbles
water
freezer

1.) Peel off any labels and wash out cans
2.) Fill can with water and place in freezer until frozen to ice (this helps you work with the can and prevents it denting as your punching through it.)
3.) Draw out your design which you will make in dots or you can just randomly punch holes to let the light through or even cut out more complicated designs if you wish.
4.) Use your hammer and nails to follow your design by punching holes through the tin. (hint: Don't make the holes too close together and for a more intricate design use smaller nails).  I haven't tried using a stanley knife or cutter yet on cans so i don't know how easy it would be to say, cut out stars.
5.) Remember to punch two holes at the top rim of your can if you want to hang it up.
6.) Leave in sink for ice to melt.
7.) Why not use metalic spray paint to make your lantern more colourful?
8.) Put some little stones or snad into the bottom of the can to hold your tea light in place.
9.) Light and enjoy.

These ideas are a bit madcap and vague as you need to add your own flair and creativity to produce something either very simple e.g. Instead of bothering with all the cutting just hammer a hole into the top of your tin and hang the full tin as a chime and similarly just hammer in random holes to let the light out in your lantern, or as complex as you wish.  I can't wait to hear what you come up with!

Happy Summer Solistice!


 


Craft

skyeblux

Week 8 ~ Bleached Outcome!

Howdy gals and guys! It's your crazy crafter reporting in!
So doing just that, I have to say that I love this idea. I was bleaching outside in the sun, making a mess and causing water fights AND giving my clothes a cheap face-lift, where's the negative!

This really is a great craft because even if it goes wrong all it's cost you is a 40p bootle of beach and an old t-shirt that you were going to dump anyway and as times are tough at the moment why buy new when you can make new!

For my t-shirt, a purple number from tesco!!! (with shoulder pads - what's that about?) I drew out a butterfly stencil in my sketch book, cut it out using a stanley knife that was less than sharp so that bit did take me quite a while and then cut around it with those funky material scissors that chop in zig-zags so as not to fray the fabric (I can't remember what you actually call them!)

I also cut out to strips and used one of my craft paper punchers to decorate those. Having laid these out on my flat t-shirt i also sprinkled some stars on one side and some shells on the other and put some small pebbles on the design to try to make sure it didn't move - a more patient and professional person would probably use sand paper to make there stencil or buy adhesive spray.

The result as you can see for a first attempt ain't half bad and the variety of easy designs is endless. I was thinking about trying laying feathers on the shirt of flowers or leaves, bottle caps, tin can pulls anything.

The only problem I encountered was that I didn't either 1.) use enough bleach or 2.) leave the bleach on long enough to have a sharper contrast but that's trial and error and I will know for next time.

I also tried tie dying a pair of purple 3/4 length trousers and it works - easy just grab bits of material and stick a rubber band (once you have chased the cat plus rubber band round the house that is) around them and soak. Again I didn't leave the bleach on long enough so it didn't really work as the colours were too close but you could see the effect that the bands had and how easy is was to achieve.

Many thanks to all of you who are following this challenge


Jun. 15th, 2010

Craft

skyeblux

Week 8 ~ Bootilicious Bleaching


Everyone has out dated or old t-shirts kicking around the bottom of the wardrobe never to be seen again, they go to that secret place where odd socks live!

Or maybe like me, you're a bit of a hippie and can't aford all the cool clothes from specialist hippie stores or even like my friend you want something funky and different to wear but are male and stuck with choice a.) plain or b.) wise cracks about beer or 'birds'.

Well how about getting your creativity on and transforming your style at the same time.

How?

Bleaching tees!

This is also a great activity to do with kids during summer boredom or to keep the mischeivious little monsters busy!!!

What you will need:

A t-shirt
Spray bottle like you get for gardening
Bleach
Big basin of warm water
Decorative Supplies

1.) Gather or make your decoration - for example you can get your kids to gather leaves and twigs or shells and flowers and make this a fun outdoorsy activity or for the more creative you could draw out your own stencil using card and a stanly knife.  If you are not doing this outside make sure you are in a well aerogated room!
2.) Lay out your t-shirt flat (old/new whatever though prewashed is better) and place an old towel between the front and the back i.e. inside your shirt.
3.) Place your leaves or beads or crisp packets or neat stencils, whatever you are using in a a pattern on your t-shirt - remember that when we spray it with bleach it will be the uncovered parts of the t-shirt that form the design.
4.) Fill your spray bottle with a pretty strong solution of bleach ( get all the children to take cover) and carefully spray your shirt - you can spray the whole thing or just a few centermetres around each object depending on what you want your finish image to look like.
5.) Your t-shirt will visibly begin to lighten before your eyes so again leave on the bleach depending on how light you personally want it to go.
6.) Carefully rinse your t-shirt in the basin of water using a stirring stick or rubber gloves.
7.) Hang it up to dry.
8.) You won't get all the bleach out first go so it's a good idea to wash the shirt properly and SEPARATELY from other clothes before you wear it.

The designs can be as simple or as complex as you like.  Another variation of this is simply to tie dye your t-shirt using bleach - this works similiarly except instead of lying out a pattern you pluck the fabric into points, like a hanky and tie rubber bands around these or you can simply roll your shirt up and tie bands around the length of it in intervals to get a strippy look.  Remember this works best with darker t-shirts as the colour contrast is more definite!

Happy bleaching!


Look back in Anger

skyeblux

Week 7 ~ The Results are in!

Sand casting - fun, messy, creative, perfect for your inner child plus outer adult that wants to sun bath on a nice sandy beach and what better an excuse - "Hon, are you coming home yet?  You must be finished bronzing - it's just a wate of time and the kids are driving me crzy and you need to start dinner...", "Actually darling, I'm creating a unique piece of modern art and it isn't dry yet so I have to lie in the sun for at least another hour (so bleh!)".  (we won't tell that it doesn't take that long to dry if you won't?)

Sounds perfect doesn't it - minimal effort - maximum fun!  Of course when you live in Northern Ireland that turned out to be - Millisle, broken beer bottled beach after a warm day, about 7:30pm and unfortunately a sudden unexpected temperature drop along with an increase in a chilly sea breeze.  16 degrees according to the car thermometer but what would the stupid German vehicle know!

So anyway there's me, walking around the surprising completely abandoned beach in my bare feet studious studying the sand for fascinating shells and beach treasues while my friend, the designated driver shivered below a blanket and tried to look nonchalant!

Well we followed my instructions with an old mixing bowl that had already been destroyed during a candle making debacle and a measuring beaker and made our bowl shaped inpression in the damp sand and studding it with shells and stones and sea glass then poured.

I easily braced the cold, scripting poetry in a soggy jotter while iain bitched and moaned while we waited for our beauties to set.  After about 20minutes and a slight case of phenmonia we dug them up - oops - one broke, the other actually came out fine polling on the little cord I stuck in there for hanging purposes.

The consistency of the plaster of Paris was just like a thicker powdery mulch and crumbled leaving an icky paste on your fingers but hey maybe the plaster was feeling the cold to so we brough them home, left them over night and low and behold, next day they'd set!!!  After ruining a blusher make-up brush gently stroking the sand of the moulds like some archeological excavator I was left with something mildly successful!  Unfortunately the plaster sank down around the shells and covered them more than I wanted and the seagull feather I tried wound up floating!!!

So I reckon maybe I should let the mixture thicken a little first and pour slowly, maybe even spoon it out. 

Another disaster after the first try was what I thought was an ingenious idea, I bought some candle decorative sand and thought hmmm I can do this in the warmth of my own home.  Turns out adding water to that kind of sand makes a doughy plaster of its own so I couldn't get it solid enough to make an engraving so I gave it ago in the dry dust and the pattern just disappeared in the heavier liquid so either wait for the summer sun or get a hold of proper beach sand sand.

I loved this though - it was great fun and triggered so many happy memories of sand castles and sticky sand between my toes that would stay there for a week and days of youth which seemed so much sunnier and brighter and beautiful and I realised the possibilities are endless.  Anything that leaves any kind of impression could be used, or you could actually keep the silly drawings we all do in the sand with a bit of random diftwood.  You could make sand tiles, sand masks, anything and add anything to your design - beads, metal, leather, you could even push a candle in there and it would be secured so this craft I will definitely have to revisit as I sense a great deal of potential.


 


Jun. 1st, 2010

Craft

skyeblux

Week 6 and 7 - Sand Casting!


Summer's here and hopefully lasts so I thought I'd be seasonal this week and propse a beach excursion!  Fun for all the family and friends and we can create some sly crafts on the side!

I have given this project two weeks as it may take a little time to get the materials needed - I've just ordered mine from ebay!

As a child (and ok now as well) I loved beach combing and felt like an adventurer discovery a brave new eco-system with weird curiosities and treasures.  I would forever be littering the car with colourful pebbles, sea smoothed glass and delicate shells and while researching summer crafts I came across this little gem:

Sand Casting!

What you'll need:

A Sunny Beach (sun preferrable but not necessary)
Sand
Plaster of Paris
Scavenged beach finds (shells pebbles, sea weed etc)
Water
A bowl to stir up your Plaster mixture and utensil
A small piece of wire or cord

1.) Walk the beach and remember your childhood as you look for the bestest shells and stones!
2.) Dig a bowl shaped hole into the sand (you may have to add water if the sand is too dry to manage)
3.) Press your beach finds pretty side into the base of your sand bowl in whatever pattern you choose.
4.) Mix up your Plaster of Paris which I think is usually about 100ml of water to 70 of plaster mix.
5.) Pour into sand bowl covering your shells and stones until you have a flat even surface of liquid mix.
6.) Leave to start to set then make a hoop out of your wire or twine and dip the ends into the setting plaster at the 'top' of your bowl
7.) You can sprinkle some sand over the top.
8.) Allow to dry and set completely (20-30minutes) and dig the now solid form up and you'll have a decorative hanging sand cast.

Of course if you don't live near a beach or it's raining as it is want to do you can do this in a basin with store bought sand or some you've nicked from your neighbour's kid's sand box! And as you can see from the picture, why stop there - be adventurous and try pouring your plaster into a more adventurous shape than a bowl!

Enjoy the outting and bring home your unique spoils and as ever have fun!


Look back in Anger

skyeblux

Week 5 - Results!




I'm such a little kid!  I love the idea of a mystical web catching and ensnaring all your nightmares and watching over you while you sleep.  I also let my girly side out this week by choosing bright colours and pretty floaty feathers and beads!

I found that crating y own dreamcatcher was time consumming but rewarding even if I did get my hands and even my lip (don't ask) gummed up in superglue!

As you can see in the picture i used a selection of glittery embroidery thread, strips of fabric, lace, leather and even wool to wrap around my bangle hoop.  I found gluing the tied ends secure made unravelling much less hazardous and frustrating. 

My first attempt at the webbing was 'let's stick this thread anywhere there's a gap' but I quickly got the hang of it and found that if you tie a needle and thread to the end of whatever your using (if it doesn't already pass through the eye of the needle) made it a lot easier to manage though I did need three hands - one to hold the thread tight, one to maneuover the thread and one to thread on beads etc (my mouth came in handy but I looked ridiculous!)

Again i found that with bigger fabrics you either had to tie a needle and thread to them and force the beads through or buy beads with bigger holes and I was able to pick up a pack of cheap feathers at my local early learning centre (its for kids really, it is!). 

To secure the dangling laces i knotted them onto the frame, added a little superglue and used the basic friendship bracelet knot (make an 'L' shaped loop lying over your dangly threads and bring it underneath and through the angle of the 'L' and pull up) so the knot wouldn't unravel and I could cut off the ends.

I found that the best medium for wrapping was leather to use as it's quick and chunky.  Wool gets wipsy and has to be wrapped around in many layers and fabric strands tend to fray.  And the best for the webbing was embroidery thread as wire wasn't as flexible and a sewing spool wasn't visible enough (I wound up coating the thread in glitter glue to help it stand out).

You can cut long feathers up, they don't have to be full length but the fluffy shorter ones are better and my Granny liked the feathered strands closer together but I guess this is personal preference.

My mate has promised me he will bring home a large hoop to try, it's some car accessory he has in work so I'll let you know how that goes otherwise I think that's it for tips but do contact me with any ideas or problems!


May. 25th, 2010

Craft

skyeblux

Week 5 ~ Dreamcatcher


 

As the world becomes more advanced in technology, science and intellect there seem to be more questions than answers than ever before. Where do we come from? Why are we here? How do you learn more about ourselves?

For thousands of years cultures the world over have been fascinated by the dream state. What is our subconscious trying to tell us? A lot of people believe that our dreams are a result of our complex brains working through the images and emotions of our daily lives and trying to process them and understnad them.

There are many books written on the symbolism in dreams and what it may represent to our unconscious minds.

I've always been fascinated by dreams and love the idea of keeping a dream diary. The ancient myths and traditions surrounding dreamcatcher seem beautiful and fantastical to me.

These myths vary. Generally it is thought that these webs like decorations should be hung near where you sleep. Some then believe that they catch nightmares and bind them so that you have pleasant dreams and, especially for scared children, this magic seems reassuring and pure.

Whether you believe in their mystical uses or not, they are beautiful adornments to your bedroom and this week we will look at how to make our very own!

What you will need:

A hoop or a lot of people reccommend using flexible, bendy, twigs. (I just popped down to my local pound shop and bought 3 simple bangles for a pound!)
Leather Strips (again you can use other things - some use strips of fabric or lace and I used cross stitch thread as I had some lying around)
Waxed thread (again you could use jewellery making wire or I simple used strong sewing thread)
Optional decorations (beads, feathers etc!)
Optional - some use glue or a clothes peg to help secure or work with the dreamcatcher)

Ok these steps are all open to interpretation so this is just a simple and vague how-to guide!

1.) Wrap your ring - using the leather or alternative material - keep the wrappings tight. Some use a clothes peg to secure the leather to the hoop while they work on it or some simple knot it or glue it to the hoop.

2.) Making the web - take your waxed thread (or alternative) and knot it onto the hoop. Then mentally divide the circumstance into say 12 and loop your thread around these 12 points, making taught straight lines of thread between them.

3.) Now you'll have a straight sided shape in the inner circle of your hoop, made out thread. Tie your thread to the centre of one of these sides and hoope or tie your thread to each of the consentric centres (basically you keep repeating step 2 until your inner circles get too small to work with). You might also want to thread some beads or feathers through this design!

4.) You can then add further decoration - tying lengths of thread to your hoop and adding beads or feathers to them.

The Youtube video below will help you visualise these steps.

Really it's up to you to be as creative as you llike.

I admit now that the bigger the hoop the easier to work with and leather lengths are so much easier than the thread I used which needed to be plaited and secured and fiddled with. I even messed up the stringing in the centre so my dreamcatcher wound up not looking as neat or web-like as most but it was still fun and looks pretty!

A helpful tip might be to go into a kids toy shop as they sell big beads and feathers and kids craft items for cheap.

These don't actually take too long to make and can be as professional and personal as you like.

Have fun with this and do get in touch if you have any questions or ideas!



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Craft

skyeblux

Patience and Paper!




Who knew such detailed artistry could be achieved with a sheet of A4?

I don't know if any of you are 'Bones' fans? I always remember Booth (the gorgeous David Boreanaz) presenting an origami crane as a Christmas present in season one when our intrepid protagonists are quarentined in the lab at the Jeffersonian over the seasonal festival and they make their own secret Santa out of whatever's available.

Well I can now say that I could finagle a fancy paper pressie myself which will cetainly cut down the cost of Christmas!

What I discovered on this week's journey was my hand muscles are not used to such demands of dexerity.
Using colourful paper makes the outcome look for more impressive.
Origami takes time and patience as the finished article looks so much more impressive if the folds are straight and accurate.
Using a ruler and a flat surface helps to really establish those folds.
Craft/scrapebbok paper looks cool and comes in squares already.
And there is no limit to the deigns and creations of outstanding origami!

I started off on some of the simplier designs but being me quickly threw myself into something more frustrating and challenging and I am very proud of the result. (see Picture - Origami Lily(youtube video below - try it, it's not as hard as it looks!(oh You'll need to turn the sound off on the video!)) I followed a video I found on youtube and after dismantling and tearing a few times found, that as with anything else, there is a nack to origami and when you get used to the common folds you can use variations of them to make all sorts of things! When I saw some of the life size scultpures that have been produced with only paper I realised I was only scraping the surface of an ancient and fascinating art.

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