Firstly, greetings to all, especially the phabulous Phizzychick. I've been busy and abroad, so you haven't heard much from me recently, but maybe I'll make a shrine or two this year - I do have a new flat to decorate, after all.
On the subject of themes, musicians and anniversarys, may I point out that January 27th is MOZART's birthday - and also Holocaust Memorial Day. Either of those would make a great shrine subject, but I wouldn't try combining them!
As regards the networking side of an artist's life, may I suggest you look over Yahoo Groups and see which crafty ones appeal to you? Totally free to join, lots of useful discussion and support in the good groups and if you join a dead one, it's only a mouse-click to unsubscribe after a few days. They are also very woman-friendly - I'm usually the only guy around!
I opted for the Daily Digest format, where I get one longish email a day from each group, but you can also get everything sent as individual emails. Have fun!
Very nice quick idea, and here's a tip for the sewing part: Make sure your sewing machine is set to do the longest stitches it will do - on many machines this is number 4. If the stitches are too close together they will tend to act as perforations and the book could tear apart along the sewing.
I've done a huge variety of crafts over the years (I'm 45) and now I find that I can combine elements or materials from different crafts into my projects, which is great fun. I do a lot of tailoring and dressmaking for stage shows and private clients, which leaves me with many gorgeous scraps (available to swap, btw!) and thanks to Craftster and the great tutorials, I've got quite heavily into the book arts over the last 9 months or so.
This means that I can bind books in remnants of great designer fabrics, use lace scraps to decorate pages, sew papers together when needed and generally blur the edges between paper and fabric. I also have all my embroidery and weaving and knitting supplies to draw upon when needed - and even some mosaic tiles left over. And of course if you are used to making clothes, the sewing involved in binding books is very simple.
Now all I need is a spare lifetime to make all the projects that are in my head and my notebooks!
You could definitely get both fronts for a waistcoat/vest out of 1 meter - I've done it with less - and then use a plain black or blue for the back and the lining. Not as hard to make as you might think, either!
I put this in an earlier post, but the way to lose your fear of ruining "the good stuff" is to do trial runs in cheap horrid fabric that you don't care about, make your mistakes and sort them out, then repeat (without mistakes!) in the better fabric. You may even be able to use the first one as a lining.