• creativity

    On Sundays We Explore

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    Every weekend Bea and I make sure we get out and about for a couple of long walks. It makes up for the necessarily shorter walks on weeknights, and does us both good to have time off the lead – for Bea, literally, and for me, away from time constraints the inevitable ‘stuff to do’ of the average weekday.

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  • creativity

    Beat the Winter Blues: Time to Journal

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    I have been keeping a journal, on and off, since I was fifteen. I think I started to keep one in the first place because writing was my original craft, and everyone used to tell me that it was one of the best ways to flex those writing muscles. It was also a good way for teenage me to pour out all those complicated adolescent emotions. Most importantly, though, was the desire to keep a record of my life. The memory plays tricks, you know. I read my old journals now and think, ‘no… that didn’t happen at that time of the year, did it? I thought that happened when I lived there, not there.’ It’s really interesting to read back and realise how my use of language has changed, my handwriting has changed, even the format in which I write the date has changed, and read about the things that were important to me then – a decade ago, or a couple of years ago – compared to now.

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  • creativity

    11 Ways to Add Creative Magic to Your Journey to Work

    11 ways to add creative magic to your journey to work with Tea With Miss Beatrix

    Ah, the daily commute. I worked out recently that at the moment  I spend between five and seven hours a week driving to and from the day job. And that’s nothing compared to some. AND I am a pretty enthusiastic driver – as in, I love having a car  and feel very lucky. But there’s no denying that up to seven hours a week behind the wheel – driving the same route with just a few hours in between before it all starts again – can get incredibly dull. I had started to hate my journey. Even worse, I am a morning person, but my sleepy lull time of day is exactly the time I drive home from work… and that makes me even more grumpy, and less alert too.

    Being a creative sort, I decided to bring creativity to my commute, and now, yes! I do look forward to getting in the car every morning!

    Here are my tips for adding some creative magic to your work journey – whatever form of transport you use:

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  • creativity/ history

    Feeling Inspired at Chatsworth

    Inspiration at Chatsworth Through the Trees

    Inspiration at Chatsworth Along the Lake

    Yesterday I went on a visit to Chatsworth. It’s been on my to-do list ever since I heard of the refurbishments taking place there, but between the rarity of a day off and the rather – understandable, I think – hefty entrance fee, I hadn’t felt able to justify going. But telling myself that no summer holiday this year meant a day trip is well deserved instead, I scooped up my trusty culture vulture companion, aka ‘Mum’, and off we went, giddy as kippers.

    There is a ‘but’ here…

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  • creativity/ SAD/ seasonal affective disorder

    New Beginnings: An Update on Seasonal Affective Disorder

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    In January last year I wrote a post about Seasonal Affective Disorder. To my surprise lots of people have been in touch since, to tell me that they suffer from SAD too, or to say that they read this post and came to realise why it is that they feel like a different person during the dark winter months. I’ve come to a significant decision in my dealings with this disorder in the past week, so I thought now, as we emerge from another winter, might be as good a time as any to give you an update on how I’ve coped with it this year, and other little positive habits I’ve picked up in doing so.

  • creative life series/ creativity/ ideas generation/ inspiration

    The Creative Life Series: Overcoming Creator’s Block

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    So here we are, we have arrived at the last in my Creative Life series. You can read the rest of the series right here.

    I want to address the problems of creative inspiration and ideas generation. It’s well documented that anyone who creates regularly will experience barren phases. The well of creative ideas runs dry, the bucket comes up empty. It happens to bloggers, crafters, artists… in fact everyone with a need to regularly produce fresh creative ideas.

  • Books/ creative life series/ creativity

    Creative Life Series: My Favourite Books on Creativity

    As we start to near the end of my Creative Life series, I’d like to bring your attention to one of the main pillars of my own creative soul – books. You all know how much I love books, and I really love books about creativity. I’ve racked up quite a reading list over the past few years, and here are some titles that I return to over and over. It’s so comforting to think that if you have any of these to hand, you need never be without inspiration or your creative mojo ever again!

    I love Keri Smith. I bought this book, Living Out Loud: Activities to Fuel a Creative Life in 2007, and it changed my whole perception on how grown ups create and view the world. I realised I had lost that unique magical perspective kids take on life, and I was inspired to start embracing creativity through play once again. This book contains all sorts of fun activities (and stickers. STICKERS!) and I must have come back to it dozens of times in the last six years.
    Speaking of which…

  • art/ artists date/ creative life series/ creativity

    Creative Life Series: The Creativity Date and the Creativity Box

     “Every child is an artist. The problem is to remain an artist once we grow up.” ~ Pablo Picasso

    I think of myself as a creative person. My interests, my approach to solving problems, my button business and my dreams for the future all revolve around creativity. It has had such an influence on my life, particularly in the last two years, helping me to discover new crafting hobbies, make things I can be proud of and that build my confidence, introducing me to lots of fellow creative sorts through this blog, and acting as invaluable therapy during the tough times, that I am increasingly passionate about helping others to discover and strengthen their own creativity too. The benefits it can bring are boundless.

     

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  • creative life series/ creativity/ goals

    Creative Life Series: Writing Down Your Creative Goals

    We’re approaching the halfway point for 2013, and because my birthday is around the same time, I have two ‘life assessment points’ fairly evenly spaced in my year. I often find myself taking a breather at the proverbial halfway house and reviewing the goals I set at New Year. In December I invested in the inspiring Leonie Dawson’s Create Your Incredible Year workbook and one of the most valuable things I have got from it is the encouragement to write down this year’s goals, rather than just saying to myself, ‘this year I’d like to…’ I came up with 100! Some big, some tiny, all important to me.

  • clipping/ creative life series/ creativity/ inspiration/ moodboards

    Creative Life Series: Cutting and Pasting for Inspiration

    Creativity is a subject that has always fascinated me. Over the last few months I’ve been investing a lot of time in exercising my own creative muscles and learning more about how they work, and whether creativity really is something everyone has access to. So welcome to the first in a new series of posts where I share some of the techniques that work for me, and muse on some of the bigger questions around this subject.
    Between blogging and my many creative pursuits, I’m always on the lookout for inspiration. Quite often it floats into my life through little effort on my part, simply through living life, but I’m also a great believer in actively seeking inspiration. One of my favourite ways to do this at the moment is cutting and pasting from magazines.
    It’s so much fun because I was an expert at this as a kid! A pair of scissors and Kay’s catalogue could keep me quiet for hours. 
    Lots and lots of very posh, often hardback, publishers’ catalgoues turn up at my workplace. No one else has use of them, so… in a snip, home they come with me!
    Once I have quite a collection of these and used magazines I make a cup of tea and have a session of leafing through all this paper goodness and cutting out any images that interest me in some way.

    And what do I do with them all? 
    Sometimes I stick an interesting image to a plain page in my sketchbook and mind map it – anything at all that comes to mind is scribbled down. It’s amazing how many ideas emerge that way. A picture really does paint a thousand words.
    Other images go on to inspire creative projects such as stationery making – I can scan in an image and print it to make writing paper – or use them to make envelopes, gift tags, etc.
    Others go to play in my smash book, or I create moodboards. I love moodboards because they can act like goal-setting to keep me motivated, or simply act as a board of inspiration next time the creative ideas are being sluggish.

    All this is made easier by a discerning expert in image selection…
    It’s great to know I have a go-to pack of images and real-life clipart stashed away. These clippings both inspire creative projects and provide materials for them. I absolutely love Pinterest, but there’s also something wonderful about the smell and texture of paper, and the therapeutic snip snip snipping of an afternoon spent sitting on the floor surrounded by beautiful pictures.
    Of course, the magazines and catalogues then go on to be recycled!
    Do you collect images from magazines, etc.? And if not, what do you do with the magazines you won’t read again?

  • cold weather/ creativity/ depression/ health/ lifestyle/ mood/ SAD/ seasonal affective disorder/ winter blues

    Some Thoughts on Seasonal Affective Disorder

    I was eighteen years old when I was diagnosed with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). I was in my first winter of university and felt I wasn’t quite handling life with the same verve, capability and energy as my new friends. While they appeared to run on batteries that never drained, I felt shattered all the time, thought about hiding in my bed even more than is normal for your average student, and in fact, felt miserable. Not knowing why made me even more miserable. I even joked that perhaps I’d been a badger in a previous life – after all, I really identified with the impulse to feed myself up then crawl into a warm safe place and shut down until the blossom was on the trees. I didn’t realise that I was right – I was trying to get my brain to work in tune with the demands of the modern day lifestyle, while my body wanted to make like my ancestors and feed up, be active for the short daylight hours, then sleep whenever it was dark. It seemed I was fighting my own chronobiology. (Word of the day for you there). 
    Diagnosis was a relief because it meant that a) it wasn’t anything too serious (in my case), and something I could quite definitely handle myself without medication, and b) I was normal. I had been worried until that point that the student life wasn’t for me, that I was in some way not cut out for it.
    Life continued, as it does, and to be honest, I didn’t take the disorder too seriously. I noticed it, alright. I noticed that by October everything from doing the laundry to getting up in the morning became much, much harder work. I noticed that I craved sugary food and hot drinks almost constantly, felt more dopey – less switched on in my work. I noticed that I seemed to crawl through the days and weeks, feeling frustrated because I’d fall into bed every night having lived exactly the same, unproductive, shattering day as the one before. I obsessed over silly mistakes, worried even more than usual and lost the ability to concentrate without monumental effort. But I suppose although I’d had a proper diagnosis I didn’t want to acknowledge the disorder as a real presence, something that very much dominates half my year and needed dealing with.
    I’m not sure what changed. Perhaps I finally got fed up with feeling constantly tired, lethargic and frustrated with myself for never achieving all I wanted to each day. I remember being surprised when work colleagues would ask, say on a Wednesday, what I would be doing with my evening. Doing with my evening? Isn’t being at work all day enough? 

    It began to feel as though my twenties were slipping away, and I wasn’t filling my days with all the fun stuff I’d imagined. In fact, I was losing half of each year to SAD and spending the other half trying to get the right amount of daylight vs. too much sun exposure, and recovering from the winter. That’s half of my entire life. I was also irritated, because I actually really love autumn and winter. I look forward to the leaves falling, warm woolly jumpers, boots and gloves, Bonfire Night and Christmas and snow and hot chocolate. Having to dread the colder months because it meant putting life on hold until the spring wasn’t an option. 
    So in 2011 I started to take SAD more seriously. To be grown up about it, and to view it as a presence which visits each year, but with the right attitude, something which can be accommodated and can even help me to live a healthier lifestyle. 
    You may be wondering why I decided to write about this topic on a blog which is primarily about crafts, creativity and splashings of vintage. Well first of all, it’s thought that the numbers of sufferers of SAD are really quite high here in the northern hemisphere. For some it’s a case of feeling a little down, more sleepy than usual. For others it’s full blown, debilitating, life-ruining depression. Famous gardener Monty Don, for example, suffers terribly (interesting article here, by the way). I thought that if any of you reading this might identify with any of what I’m saying, you may be able to do something about it. Simple. Second, if you’re a regular reader of this ‘ere weblog we probably have a fair few interests in common. In which case you’ll identify with number 3 below:
    How I Deal With SAD

    1. Don’t be a llama like I was. Take it seriously. SAD doesn’t mean you’re going to spend half of every year on anti-depressants (some sufferers do need them, but for most it isn’t necessary). A few lifestyle changes should help you through.
    2. I do have a lightbox. I’m not entirely convinced it works, but then I’ll take the placebo effect. I like to pop mine on first thing in the morning as it helps me wake up if nothing else. Read about those here
    3. CREATIVITY. I actually feel at my least creative at this time of year. Or I come up with ideas, but lack the motivation and energy required to bring them to fruition. But being creative – or doing whatever it is that you love – will go a long, long way in helping you. SAD is one of the main reasons I started Creatives Unite. Take advantage! I can’t put into words just how much this blog and crafts help me feel more energised and give me purpose and confidence at a time when I usually feel worthless, miserable and worn out. Whether it’s gardening like Monty Don, painting, crochet, writing or playing the ukulele, make time in your day for it. It’s the perfect excuse, after all. 
    I’ll stop carping on in a minute
    4. Get outside whenever you can. It seems obvious, I know, but it’s the single most important thing you can do. It’s no coincidence that I started dealing with my SAD better when I got myself a dog. Bea makes me get outside in the fresh air and daylight every day, without fail. If I had a day where I couldn’t be bothered, she’d suffer. If you don’t have a dog, borrow one, or get yourself a walking buddy and hold each other accountable. If you struggle to get out in the daylight during the working day even ten minutes during your lunch break helps. Then at weekends get outside as much as possible, come rain or shine. Gardening’s actually a really good one because it helps you work alongside nature – after all, fighting it is one of the main reasons folk suffer from SAD. This January seems to be lacking that very bright crisp sunlight we usually get, so it’s even more important. The exercise will work wonders too. Speaking of which…
    5 Exercise. Or, to rephrase – be active. SAD makes me want to curl up on the sofa or in my bed and not wake up until March. I feel sluggish and cold and the last thing I want to do is grab my shorts and a cold bottle of water and hop on the exercise bike. So I don’t try. Nowadays I go to jive classes with a friend once a week. I’m so busy giggling and trying to remember the steps I don’t realise I’m exercising. I walk Bea every day, even if it’s dark out. I try and do some yoga at home several days a week too. Stretching my muscles and doing the poses at my own pace is something I can manage even when I feel lethargic. The meditation time also gives me an excuse to imagine myself on sunny beaches and in summer meadows – perfect for convincing the brain that it’s not really winter after all. (Heat wave!) Failing all that, I pop some cheesy music on my iPod and dance around the house with the hoover. Trust me, everyone does it. 
    My partner in SAD thrashing.
    Having a furry friend who doesn’t know how not to be happy really helps!
    6. Food. In the warmer months I truly love a good salad and lots of fruit. But in the winter I feel the cold, and the idea of sinking my teeth into chilly vegetation doesn’t always appeal. This year I’m making more of an effort to eat hot food packed with vegetables instead. I get a Graze box once a week, and drink fruit teas when I’m at work. I also have a fruit smoothie with spirulina most days. SAD – and winter in general – makes us crave fatty, salty foods, so it’s about making sure I feel full without eating rubbish that will make me more sluggish and sleepy. (That said, I never want it written on this blog that a slice of cake or a stodgy pud every now and again won’t do you the world of good. Just not every day.) 
    7. Make the most of your more productive hours. Once I prise myself out of bed I am actually a morning person, so I make sure I get all the boring stuff that must be done out of the way in the mornings. If it’s not a working day I use the time when I’m more sleepy in an afternoon to go out for a walk, or do active stuff like housework. Feeling down can mean a lot of procrastination, which leads to frustration and feeling more down, so I try to stop it creeping in and work to my own rhythm as much as my working day allows. 
    8. Lastly – and this is a new thing for me that I’ve just brought in with the new year – I’ve given myself a bedtime. I feel like I’m about eight again, but it seems to be working. Getting enough sleep and having a good sleep routine help to curb the sleepiness and lethargy during the day. I also try to get up at the same time every day, even if I’m craving that Sunday lie in. I get up, head straight for the kettle, then spend the lie in time crafting instead. 
    I really hope this post has given you some ideas for beating SAD if you think you may be a sufferer (check out my SAD Pinterest board for more inspiration), but let’s face it, January and February can be difficult for everyone. No money, getting up in the dark, cold weather and illnesses flying around can make even the most sunny personality feel a little blue. One thing we can all be sure of – Spring always arrives. Bulbs seem to be sprouting early this year, and before you know it we’ll be stripping off that third scarf, raising our faces to the sun and giving a whopping sigh of relief. It’s a magical feeling every year. 
    Over the next couple of weeks I hope to feature a few different recipes and food ideas I use at this time of year to feel comforted and full, but without stuffing myself with the sugar and fat I crave. 

    If you’ve made it this far, thank you for reading, and if any of the above sounds familiar, I hope this post can help. Now go and create something!

    PS: If you suspect you may suffer from SAD, rather than just a touch of the January blues, do read this on the Mind website. Also, allow me to sound like your mother and tell you to see your GP if you’re not sure whether you have depression. It could be part of SAD, or it could not, but both need taking seriously.

    PPS: The photos on this walk were taken on an awful day where I had wanted to take some craft project photos for this blog, but it never really got light in the house (any other bloggers having this problem?) I took Bea for a walk instead and found that there is always something to photograph after all. 

  • bits and bobs/ costumer jewellery/ crafting/ crafts/ creativity/ dolls houses/ home/ jewellery/ making/ miniatures/ recycling/ upcycling

    How to Be a Thrifty Crafter, Part 2

    Hello my dear crafty chums! Today is the second in my thrifty crafting feature (part one here). 
    I was in my early teens (stop me if you’ve heard this story before – this is going somewhere!) when I first stumbled across the idea of owning a doll’s house as part of a hobby, rather than a child’s toy. I had grown out of playing with my own beloved house years before, but as my grandad had made it for me and it was very special I didn’t feel I could move it on to a new home, so it simply sat in the spare bedroom, ignored.
    One day I was on a visit to Rochester with my family when I spotted a shop selling doll’s house miniatures. I was instantly captivated by the idea of grown ups having doll’s houses, and collecting furniture for them. I could create my dream house, or even my dream world, from any era – and I already had the house! 
    There was just one problem. I could see from a quick glance in the shop’s window and then a Dolls House Emporium catalogue that I had fallen in love with a hobby which cost a lot of money. I’m talking hundreds. Thousands. It’s a popular hobby for the middle and upper class retired, and no wonder. I was a teenager with a minuscule income. I quickly realised I was going to have to use my imagination and a lot of creativity to turn my doll’s house into the vision I held in my head. 
    That Christmas, I received just the help I was looking for, in the form of these two books:
    Andrea Barham and Patricia King opened my eyes to the world of making your own doll’s house miniatures out of things you have hanging around your house. Perfect! Since then I have made all sort of craft projects – not just miniatures – simply by looking at household objects from a different perspective. I have added many items to my ‘must have’ crafting list, and I’m going to share this list with you… (yes, we finally made it to the end of my little story!)
    The contents of my dressing table are made from household finds. Bits of lace, an old keychain, a candle made from a birthday cake candle and a button, and a perfume bottle made from beads. 
    1. Head for your jewellery box. We all have old costume jewellery which is now out of date or broken. Grab these items like Gollum and clutch them close to your chest. They are incredibly useful for all sort of crafting projects. Next, any old Primark handbags, embellished shoes or belts. Cut the shiny bits and buckles off and add those to your pile. Old costume watch? Keep that too. Hurrah!
    Just look what clever Patricia King made with an old pair of sunglasses. I’m tempted to wrap some old frames with washi tape and wear them when thinking up crafty plans…
    2. We’re on a roll! Head out to the garage or shed. Take a note of any semi-used pots of paint or cans of spray paint. Look out for wire, garden twine, lovely pebbles (perfect for painting!), varnish, metal washers, plywood and balsa wood. 
    3. Think like a child. Remember junk modelling? Very handy when it comes to thinking about packaging. Never throw anything out without checking to see if there’s anything useable on it. Cereal boxes provide useful cardboard, lipstick cylinders, toothpaste lids, metal wine bottle tops… the list goes on!

    An old disposable razor and a toothpaste tube. 
    Another of Patricia King’s creations.
    4. Now you’ve gone shopping in your home, it’s time to shop from other people’s! Once or twice a year I email friends and family, and ask them ever so nicely to have a clear out. I make it easy for them by giving them a list of things I’m looking for. The first time I did this I was in the sixth form, and hadn’t told more than one or two close friends about my crafting hobby. They found my requests a little odd at first, understandably, but then they really got into the spirit of it and produced some brilliant finds, including a guitar plectrum (perfect for a spot of Tatty Devine-style jewellery making!), an old locket – which I made into a double photo frame for my doll’s house, and some handy bits of driftwood! Since then I’ve handed this list out to work colleagues and family alike, and always find they’re genuinely interested in hearing what I’m planning to make with it all. And as you never know what you’re going to get your little gifts can inspire all sorts of new ideas. 
    I have popped my full list of the items I ask/look for here, but first, a little word about storage. You’ll need it. I only store small and medium items. There is no need to keep every cereal box that passes through your home – if you need cardboard for a project, you know it’s in the cupboard. I am making my own Christmas crackers this year so have kept (and microwaved to get rid of germs) twelve loo role centres, but I don’t keep the centre of every loo roll used in my house! You don’t want to become like one of those poor hoarder folk off the telly… 
    If you’re collecting small items such as jewellery findings, I learnt early on that they need to be carefully stored and easily accessible. There’s nothing more annoying than losing a precious hour of your Sunday afternoon to hunting for that teeny tiny cabochon. I use a box with lots of compartments, so I keep earrings, beads, brooches, chains, etc, in separate sections. 
    I like this way of storing because I can easily take a look inside to remind myself of what I have in stock. 
    I mentioned in my last post useful shops for art and craft materials. If you’re struggling to find handy items for free, of course there’s always car boot sales and charity shops. I’ve found loads of handy bits of bobs from those. It’s also been known for me to buy cheap jewellery from Primark, only to dismantle it an hour later. They often have sale racks full of costume jewellery – score! 

    The jewel on my mini Jubilee hat was a Primark pendant, bought for £1.50. It’s supposed to look like Kate’s engagement ring. 
    Some handy books and blogs if you fancy having a bash at crafting with household items:
    Inspiring blogs:
    Do you make things out of household finds? I’d love to hear about your projects!
    Have a collectible Monday,

    P.S: If you have borrowers residing in your home, please treat them kindly and at least leave some useful items for them to borrow. Bea seems to think we have some here, as she thoroughly sniffs around all the skirting boards every morning.
    PPS: New buttons will be in the Etsy shop before the end of the week :)

  • art/ art supplies/ bargains/ cheap/ crafting/ crafts/ creativity/ handmade/ imagination/ kids/ making/ materials/ play/ shopping/ thrifty

    How to Be a Thrifty Crafter, Part 1

    If you’re reading this, it’s probably a fair bet that you’re quite a crafty person. And crafty people often own all sorts of materials relevant to their creative interests, whether it be art supplies, wool and knitting needles, sewing patterns, paper or well – you name it. 
    If you’re like me, you also seem to gather crafting materials wherever you go. You never come out of Hobbycraft with just that glue you went in for. You often find yourself scrolling through the listings on eBay, drooling over pretty ribbons, stamps and novelty cookie cutters. And let’s face it, few of us would like to tot up exactly how much we spend on craft materials over the course of the year. 
    This crafting thing we do can get pretty expensive. Many retailers charge an absolute fortune for items too, leaving us feeling that if we want to finish a project to the high standards we set for ourselves, we need to spend cash.
    One of my favourite ways to keep my art and craft supplies well stocked and ready for anything my imagination can throw at them is to buy from the kiddies’ section of art shops. Glue, acrylic paint, brushes, paper, card and clay are all so much cheaper than in the ‘grown up’ sections. 
    To be creative means to use your imagination to make something original. I firmly believe that your imagination is the only craft material you ever really need to make a craft project you can be proud of. Anything else is an added bonus. So I use my imagination to look at typical kids’ craft supplies in a different way. Pom poms, dolly pegs, clay, balloons for papier mache, glitter, foam, googly eyes and felt can all be used to make some really professional-looking projects… and at a fraction of the cost.
    Shops such as The Works, Wilkinsons, Hobbycraft and Homecrafts have great kids’ art sections where you can not only pick up bargains, but bright, colourful art and craft treasures that will get you excited too, after all, they’re meant to inspire imaginative play in children, so why not us! Just yesterday I picked up some stickers, glitter, a new paint mixing tray, some white acrylic paint and some card from Wilkinsons and The Works and the whole lot came to £4. Now I can play and experiment to my heart’s content and not worry about wasting precious materials. 
    You’ll often find exactly the same product as in the more sophisticated arts section, but in different packaging. I get through a fair few paintbrushes, so I now only have a couple of expensive fine ones, and the rest of the time I buy cheaper multipacks I can use without feeling precious about them. 
    Lastly, I often turn to shops such as those above for crafting related supplies such as disposable gloves, picture hanging wire, tester paint pots (brilliant – grab yourself a few!), sponges (Poundland), tin foil, wallpaper samples (those are free!) and items such as cheap lunchboxes for storing tiny beads and jewellery findings. By looking outside of the typical crafter’s shopping haunts for your materials you can save a lot of money and find new ways to use interesting materials in future projects, too.
    Join me on Monday when I’ll be sharing a post on finding crafting supplies even closer to home… for free!
    Do you shop for art and craft supplies in the kiddies’ section? If you have any shop recommendations please share them below!
    Have a brightly coloured, messy Friday,

  • art/ crafts/ creativity/ expression/ handmade/ journaling/ paper/ pastels/ scrapbooking/ smash book/ smash booking/ smashing/ Tea/ tea party/ teapot

    Latest Smash Book Page: A Tea Party

    P.S: I realised last night that I have now been blogging a year! Talk about an eleventh hour realisation there. Thank you to all readers, followers, penpals, fellow bloggers, retweeters and commenters for all of your support over the past year, it’s been an amazing journey so far, and I have learned so much about myself, creativity and the world of blogging. Long may it continue! x

  • blog/ book review/ craft books/ crafts/ creativity/ crochet/ making

    Craft Book Vlog: Super Super Cute Crochet

    Join me as I simultaneously laugh at and glomp all over this bizarrely charming latest craft book to be added to my collection…

    If you can’t view the video you can watch it on my YouTube channel here.

    Since making this video I have popped on Amazon to read others’ reviews of this title (buy it here), and notice some people comment that they had a few difficulties with making some of the book’s patterns work properly, so you may want to bear this in mind if you’re not an experienced crocheter.

    How to Make Jewellery with Tatty Devine, mentioned in the vlog, is available from The Book People (£3.99) and Amazon (£9.09).

    Happy Friday me dears, I’m taking Beatrix to Wales for some beach time this weekend, and will be back on Monday.

  • art/ crafts/ creativity/ ideas/ nautical/ nautical series/ sea/ seaside/ smash book/ smash booking

    Nautical Series Part 2: Smash Book

    Arrrr, me hearties, I am back with the second in my Nautical Series. (First post here). 
    I decided to gather all sorts of seaworthy ideas and pop them into my smash book to make a themed page. Smash booking is already becoming an exciting new craft for me because I have come to realise lately that every craft or art I do is pretty precise, whether it be working with miniatures, embroidery, knitting or sewing. One slipped stitch or lapse in concentration and it’s often all over! Even when writing – although writing can be a very free artform – I tend to spend a long time choosing that perfect phrase to describe that situation.
    So my smash book allows me to just get my ideas on a page, to stick them in haphazardly without worrying about doing it wrong, or being neat, and to just enjoy the process. It feels like getting back to the rawness of creativity.  
    I’m sure this page will help spawn ideas for the rest of my nautical series too!
    Have you tried smash booking yet? This video explains things pretty well if you’re wondering exactly what it is:

                              

    I’m off to drink copious amounts of rum walk the plank,
    Ta ta!

  • bunting/ crafts/ creativity/ fabric scraps/ making/ nautical/ projects/ seaside/ sewing/ vintage/ whitby

    Nautical Series Part 1: Seaside Bunting

    I decided to push myself to sail uncharted seas by making a series of craft projects with a nautical theme. You may be wondering why I have chosen autumn to do such a thing when all things seaside are generally associated with the summer. Well you see, to me, they aren’t! 
    Traditionally four generations of my family gather in the North Yorkshire seaside town of Whitby every October, so I associate the seaside with warm boots, turbulent waves crashing over the pier, stormy skies and eating fish and chips all cosy and warm in the kitchen of whichever cottage we’re renting that year. For me that week is full of seafaring legends and ghostly goings on, the gothic Whitby Abbey and looking out for seals in the harbour while wrapped up in a scarf and coat. My nan also lives by the sea in North Wales, so I’ve always been used to visiting beaches at all times of the year, whatever the weather!
     I can’t make it to Whitby this year, so I decided to fuel a series of creative projects instead. 
    Over the next few weeks I’ll be exploring all things seaside and nautical through a variety of art and craft forms, playing around with ideas and sharing my results here with you.
    So first of all, I made my first ever bunting!
    It does actually look rather summery, doesn’t it, but then bunting is supposed to be cheery and I made it to brighten things up a little. 
    In traditional bunting fashion I used fabric scraps left over from other projects and appliqued on some seaside scraps I bought for a few pence on eBay. I have quite a stash of bias binding because it’s one of those things you see in craft books and think ‘where on earth would I buy that from?!’ so when I see it, I tend to buy a couple of metres, and it turns out I’d got into a bit of a habit and built up quite a stash!
    I really enjoyed making this project and found it a lot less nerve racking sewing such a long length in a straight line on the sewing machine than I thought I would. This piece is only short at eight pennants, but I can now see me making bunting in longer lengths and for every occasion!  
    And I have a new entry in my sewing journal…
    I really hope you’ll join me for the rest of my nautical series. I’m going to be posting projects erratically because I don’t want to lose the fun of creative exploration by pushing myself to produce them by a certain deadline, but there will be more soon.
    What does the seaside remind you of?