Posts tagged ‘craft’

January 17, 2014

Matt Sewell Print.

As we continue the journey of making our new flat feel like home, we’ve started creating and buying art and craft pieces that feel like ‘us’. My proudly made letterpress work hangs in the sitting room, together with a new print from Matt Sewell.

I had the very good fortune to meet Matt at a book launch and signing in Colours May Vary  last year, where he signed a copy of Our Garden Birds for me to give to my mum for Christmas. With the benefit of hindsight, I should have bought one for myself as it was definitely a gift I handed over begrudgingly!

Anyway, back then, I was painfully coveting one of his giclée bird prints for our home. Since we’ve moved into this flat we’ve both become avid bird watchers. I’m going to write about this a bit more in the coming weeks but suffice to say, I’m a little surprised by how important these little birds have become to us over such a short period of time.

This month, the prints were back in stock and in a rare ‘sod it’ moment, I went ahead and bought a blue tit print. We have many little blue tits dancing on the branches outside our home and so it felt like a very fitting choice. Needless to say, my collector’s mentality now wants a row of prints along the wall but for the moment this little guy will do very nicely indeed.

Matt Sewell print

Have you bought or made any new things for your home this month? I’d love to know…

December 17, 2013

Home-made Christmas decorations

We’re starting again with Christmas decorations in our flat. So everything we have this year has either been bought from the Country Living Christmas Fair, given to us by generous relatives or made at home.

We have the two decorations bought at the Country Living Christmas Fair (not shown is a Christmas Pudding fairy, a gift from my lovely mum) on the tree. Alongside those are three knitted characters – Father Christmas, an elf and a snowman. Thanks to my lovely Grandma for those. Then, there’s the decorations we made with the kids. Felted baubles, made with wet felting, are strung onto the tree individually. I also hope to do a felted bauble garland. There’s the wet felted star, made by my daughter, using the same technique as the baubles, but pressing it down flat, then cutting a shape out. I’ve strung pine cones onto fine cotton, attached ribbon bows to the top of each and put them on the tree. And lastly, we have the loo roll fairy, made by my girl without any help at all, who is now sitting on the top of the tree!

Home made christmas decorations

September 18, 2013

Three Good Things: Week 9

Hello, and welcome to this week’s edition of Three Good Things!

As ever, this post is about finding the small things that make me happy and grateful for my life.

Last weekend, I did a two day course at the West Yorkshire Print Workshop, and so this week’s Three Good Things is heavily influenced by that experience…

One: Hello!

Hello letterpress print

I did loads of different prints on my course, and this one, which was the fastest to create, is a bit of a favourite. It’s a brighter lime green than it appears in this photo (taken in poor light), and will be framed to go on the wall in my new home.  I love the simplicity and the way that the old, wooden type has created imperfections in the print. To me, letterpress  (with old type, rather than new photopolymer plates) is a wonderful example of the Japanese aesthetic of wabi-sabi; the beauty in impermanence and imperfection. I’ll be blogging more about my experiences at the West Yorkshire Print Workshop on Friday!

Two: Uppercase.

Uppercase magazine

Uppercase magazine is a visual treat every issue. The special stationery issue in this photo was the final push in my decision to sign up for a letterpress course in the first place and I read every issue from cover to cover and keep them for inspiration. They describe themselves as ‘creative and curious’ to which I’d add joyful, colour-filled and uplifting.  Even, if, like me, you’re not already working in a creative industry, it’s really inspiring. It’s definitely influencing plans I’m dreaming up for the future and I’m already looking forward to the next ‘gem’ themed issue.

Uppercase is available from loads of places, but I buy mine from Colours May Vary.

Three: Just My Type.

Just My Type

This book about fonts is my current read. I’ve loved Simon Garfield since I read his beautifully edited trilogy of books based on Mass Observation diaries from before, during and after the Second World War, and I’m loving this just as much. He has a wonderful way of taking something that could be  rather a dry subject, and bringing it completely alive. I cannot pass a poster now without wondering about the font. He begins the book by discussing Comic Sans, which feels a bit like tackling the elephant in the font room straight away and now I’ve discovered that it’s really valued by dyslexic children, I’m feeling somewhat gentler towards it! It’s a great, fun and informative book that I highly recommend. Learning more about type and fonts is a great way for me to continue my education now I’ve done my introductory letterpress course. Now I just need to decide what’s next!

Now, I recommend that you hop over to  Espresso Coco  and Tonight’s Menu to see what they’ve chosen as their Three Good Things and then share what’s been making you smile this week in the comments. Or, if you’re a blogger too, I’d love you to join in with this series on your own blog!  Just let me know you’re writing it and I’ll make sure to link up with you next week…

August 28, 2013

Three Good Things: Week Six

Hello! After a week of holiday, Three Good Things is back for the usual dose of positivity amidst a busy week. It’s a pretty brief post this week, because I’m still recovering from a week in a yurt (which I’ll tell you more about on Friday) and am surrounded by laundry that I really should do something about.

So without further ado…

One: Collective nouns.

The first thing bringing me joy this week is collective nouns. I know, it’s perhaps not quite what you were expecting from Three Good Things. But I love the English language for collective nouns, especially those for animals and birds. There appears to be several variations for some animals, in many cases where it’s a group in a different situation, such as a hive of bees and a swarm of bees. We’ve all heard of a pod of whales or a pack of hounds but how about a shrewdness of apes? Some other favourites of mine are a glaring of cats. A business of ferrets. A murder of crows.  And I defy anyone not to smile at a flamboyance of flamingos. If you’re ever stuck for something to do, I highly recommend looking up collective nouns. It’s most entertaining!  Here’s a parliament of owls. We made them this week out of loo roll inners. I’m becoming quite the loo roll art expert…

A Parliament of Loo Roll Owls!

A Parliament of Loo Roll Owls!

Two: Cheese!

Second up this week is a new cheese, discovered by me, and lots of other people, during a tour of the Wensleydale Creamery on our holiday. It’s called Bishopdale, and it’s a cheddar. But, oh what a cheddar. Utterly gorgeous. Sadly, only available from the Creamery shop, not even online. So, a regular trip to Hawes is going to be needed. Ah well. Any excuse for a trip to the Yorkshire Dales! Alas, I have no photo to share with you because I’ve eaten it all. Sorry about that. But you can all imagine what a block of cheese looks like, can’t you?

Three: Playmobil silo.

My third thing this week is the most utterly perfect toy I’ve ever found for my son. Like many young boys, my son is a huge fan of farms. Tractors, combine harvesters and other machinery feature high on his list of loves. But absolutely top of the list is grain silos. I know. Don’t even ask. I have no idea why.  Before our holiday last week, I told the kids that, rather than buying loads of holiday rubbish, I’d buy them one decent toy each. And my son wanted a toy grain silo. Cue a spot of panic, until I came across the Playmobil catalogue and lo and behold, a grain silo. Thank goodness for Playmobil!

Now, if this was a weekly ranting post, I’d tell you all about how it comes with a bag of teeny, tiny plastic grain that gets spilled all over the floor every time he plays with it, and that are soon to be put in the bin and replaced with red lentils that I can just vacuum up. But its not a ranting blog post, so instead I’ll concentrate on telling you that he loves his grain silo so much that he takes it to bed with him alongside his toy monkey. And that makes me very happy indeed.

Toy grain silo. Weird, but he loves it!

Toy grain silo. I know, its weird, but he loves it!

So, those are my Three Good Things this week. What are yours?

Don’t forget to visit Hello Kirsty and Mummy Plum  to see what they’ve chosen as their Three Good  Things this week too.

August 7, 2013

Three Good Things: Week Four

Welcome to this week’s edition of Three Good Things!

I can’t believe it is week four already, time really does fly…

One: Orange is the New Black.

My first good thing this week is a TV series. And when I say a ‘series’ its because I watched every episode pretty much back-to-back! ‘Orange is the New Black‘ is a show created by Netflix, which means that you have to subscribe in order to watch. But given that this series, based on a true story and set in a women’s prison, manages to be simultaneously funny, heart-wrenching, terrifying and endearing all at the same time,  it’s completely worth it. Or you could do what we did and get a free month’s Netflix trial to watch the show!  Though, we’ve ended up keeping Netflix, because it’s actually great for those of us without a TV.

I do love it when a TV show steals my heart so much that I want to completely immerse myself in it. I can’t remember the last time that happened to me. Maybe it was The West Wing?

The show is now multi-Emmy-award nominated and series two is already in the pipeline, which I’m already impatient about. Highly recommended.

Orange Is The New Black (image: netflix)

Orange Is The New Black (image: netflix)

Two: My new bag!

My second good thing this week is my new Fjallraven Kanken bag. It was a gift to me, and I love it. In my humble opinion, it’s an iconic design. It’s really simple,  with one large main section, a smaller front pocket and an extra zip-out part at the back which increases the capacity to be big enough for me to fill it with enough stuff that I can barely carry it. Each Kanken comes with a little seat pad too, which came in very handy this week when I had to wait half an hour on a seat-free platform for a delayed train…

Me with my Fjallraven Kanken Maxi waiting for a train...

Me with my Fjallraven Kanken Maxi waiting for a train…

Three: Cardboard Lions.

My last good thing this week is a cardboard loo roll. Well, several loo rolls, in fact. Covered in yellow paint and made into lions, they are the proof that I am ok at craft. And a decent mother to boot. I’m going to blog a bit more about this later on, but I wanted to share this today, because I’m really happy with how they turned out, and the kids were thrilled. The inspiration for these came from a lovely blog called  A Patchwork Life, and we are hoping to keep going through the summer holidays, with a different animal each week until we have a cardboard safari!

Fabulous cardboard lion!

Fabulous cardboard lion!

Do have a look at the lovely ‘Three Good Things’ posts from Nyssapod and A Hell of A Woman.

What are your Three Good Things this week? 

March 20, 2013

Sweet Cecily’s lip balm kit: A review

I bought a lip balm making kit for my daughter from Sweet Cecily’s a little while ago, and promptly forgot about it until the other day when we were looking for something fun and a little bit different to do together. It proved to be the perfect choice, combining my girl’s love of making things and her desire to be a real ‘girly girl’ with her own lip balm, just like her mum!

It’s been a while since I wrote about a skincare company and Sweet Cecily’s is exactly the kind of brand I like. A small company based here in Yorkshire, creating hand-made skin care with natural ingredients and complete with pretty packaging, there is a lot to like. I look forward to trying out more of their range in the future. The Sea Buckthorn Berry hand cream looks particularly good for us gardeners!

The kit I bought contained all the weighed-out ingredients for five pots of orange essential oil lip balm and the little pots, lid stickers and instructions needed, all inside a cotton drawstring bag. My daughter added all the ingredients to a double-boiler saucepan for me to heat up. Everything melted easily together and there was the perfect amount for the five tins included. I then poured the melted lip balm into the little pots and left it to cool. It took hardly any time at all and so as an activity, it wouldn’t have been enough on its own. But – plenty of time was needed for creating five mini masterpieces to decorate the lids and so Eve was happily drawing oranges all afternoon!

PicMonkey Collage

Originally, the plan was for Eve to give out several pots away to friends, but in true diva fashion, she has decided to stockpile it all for herself. I have been honoured to receive a pot of my own to keep though, so I’m happy enough. The lip balm contains a lovely combination of shea butter, cocoa butter and almond and calendula oil and so is really moisturising and the orange essential oil adds a lovely fragrance. My pot is made all the more special because of the unique picture that has been drawn for the lid, which makes me smile every time I see it. I keep it in my bag and use it every day. I really recommend this kit as a gift, it’s been a great success.

October 12, 2012

Saving up and sewing.

As I mentioned in my last post, I’ve made some travel plans. I really want to take my kids on a big trip when they are a bit older and so now comes the dull part – saving up. I’m awful at saving up, but I’m determined to try my best. I don’t want to miss the chance to visit the places on my long-held wish list and share an exciting adventure with my family, purely because I’ve spent all my money on magazines and takeaways. I have also asked a Twitter friend to act as my spending police, and she’s being rather vigilant, which is a good thing…

Of course, there lots of other grown-up and serious things that I spend money on too, but (apart from trying to get better deals on things) they are non-negotiable so I’m going to focus my efforts on the areas I can change.  Which is primarily food and entertainment. Food I’m going to tackle in another post. Today I’m going to tell you about my new plan. Which is to go back to attempting to learn crafts in order to enjoy my new Blythe hobby without it bankrupting me. Blythe is one of the most expensive hobbies I’ve stumbled into. And I talk as someone whose long term hobby is horses, for heaven’s sake. The point to the exercise is that it’s likely to take me four years or so to afford the trip I have in mind. That’s a long time to save. So, I’m hoping to still do the things I love, but in a more economical way!

Anyway, I’ve mentioned in the past that I feel as though I will never, ever learn to knit and I’ve shared my attempt at crochet with you. But I do feel reasonably confident that I might be able to sew. I had a lesson in machine sewing at the start of the year with the supremely talented Abi Manifold and I’ve been promised the loan of a couple of sewing machines so that’s all lovely (and free!) but the first step is to learn how to use a pattern to create something.

There are lots of free patterns for doll clothes online so I’ve printed one off and I’m using a bag of things I bought in a fit of enthusiasm a while ago to try and hand-sew a simple dress. In a week. Which to those of you who know what you’re doing must be laughable. But to me, is about as easy as performing surgery. You will notice from the photograph that I also have glue, but I’ll try my very best not to use this!

This time next week, I will either share a blog post with you in which I share my success or my failure. Fingers crossed…

October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween!

When you live with small children, Halloween is basically one long sugar-fest, interspersed with a bit of craft and dressing up. May I present a selection of this year’s offerings…

Bats in the kitchen…

Spider in the sitting room..

…and a pumpkin in the garden!

If, after consuming too much sugar (in the form of stolen Haribo from the kids) you fancy a something a little more grown up for Halloween, then may I direct you to the writing of G H MacDonald.

A collection of Victorian, gothic and ghost stories, this writing is truly ‘forget-to-breathe-until-I-get-to-the-end’ stuff. I particularly love the Parisian story  ‘The Red Men’ which is stunning. I’m sure you’ll enjoy reading this work as much as I do.

Happy Halloween everyone!

June 27, 2011

Quernus Crafts

This is a slightly different post to my usual writing, because today I’d like to introduce you all to Coco Chanel…in polymer clay form.

Coco Cat

Coco Chanel is a commission of mine from the incomparable Kirsten Miller of Quernus Crafts. There’s more detail here about her and how she was made: Quernus Crafts: Coco Chanel Cat (b.8 April 2011). I do love the story of Coco Chanel, although I know she wasn’t an altogether pleasant character, she is fascinating to read about and I think that Kirsten has captured her attitude perfectly. I only wish I could afford that outfit myself!

Some of you may remember that I previously asked her to make me a Captain Robert Falcon Scott cat for my lovely sister in law, and here he is:

Scott of the Antarctic

There are a few more photos of him here: Quernus Crafts: Scott of the Antarctic Cat (b.18 February 2011). Scott Cat is very much loved and is now proudly exploring the sitting room of Sam’s new home.

I love looking through the website to see what new commissions people have requested, they’re so unique and personal to each individual. The combination of over-active imaginations and Kirsten’s  talent seems to mean that nothing is impossible! For those of you who don’t want an individual commission, she also makes the most adorable mice, cats and other assorted characters, particularly for celebrations. The Christmas mice are my favourites. The detail on these figures is even more astonishing when you see them for real. Which probably explains why I seem to have developed something of an obsession with presenting Kirsten with new challenges and we’ve agreed on a couple of new commissions – one to celebrate the launch of this very blog, and another secret one for Christmas which I am HUGELY excited about…

If you get the chance, Kirsten is going to be at the Made- It Craft Fair this Saturday, 2nd July in St Margaret’s Hall, Horsforth, Leeds, LS18 5LQ. If you can’t get along to that, then do visit her website Quernus Crafts to have a look at all the wonderful characters she has created, and maybe buy one for yourself!

May 22, 2011

The Hepworth Opening Weekend.

Today we braved the blustery weather and went to the opening weekend of the Hepworth in Wakefield, a major brand new gallery space to showcase the work of Wakefield born sculptress Barbara Hepworth. It’s an incredible building; dramatic, dark, imposing and beautifully situated  on the River Calder. Although the building looks pared back and almost severe, the welcome inside couldn’t have been more warm and friendly.

It has to be said that we nearly didn’t make it inside as the outdoor play area is really rather brilliant and the kids insisted on trying that out for a while before we even got through the door. What a great idea to have a play area. I do love how galleries, museums and stately homes are now encouraging the whole family to spend time together experiencing art, sculpture, design and history, as it means I get to spend time indulging in my fondness for art and the kids get to have fun too!

There are several gallery rooms holding a permanent collection of works, plasters and working models by Barbara Hepworth, pieces by some of her contemporaries, and the Wakefield Art collection. Between now and October 9th 2011, there is also a temporary exhibition of the work of Eva Rothschild entitled Hot Touch.

We got a great bag of craft materials to make our own homage to Eva.

Our instructions.

We had  a child paced (ie: very speedy) tour around the gallery, during which we were all very well behaved. Hepworth’s sculptures are just so tactile, I have to look at them clasping my hands together to stop myself from stroking them! Although it was a quick walk around, I was able to view some beautiful pieces of work, some of which I’ve already had the pleasure of seeing in St Ives, and I’m looking forward to another viewing at a more leisurely pace.

We then had a bit of badge making and a cup of tea, before heading home to make our own sculpture, and here it is!

Ta Da!

We are already blessed to live so close to Temple Newsam and the Yorkshire Sculpture Park, and the Hepworth will definitely be added to the list of regularly visited places. At the time of writing, the kids are safely in bed and I am just going to take a look through their Summer 2011 programme of events and activities to see what we might try next…