My dear Dad, Syd, passed away in 1999, and one of the most moving discoveries I made when clearing my family home, was that Dad had kept just about everything I had ever made for him. Cards of all descriptions (including every single Father’s Day card), plaster of Paris gnomes with only a trace of paint left on them, and an ancient jam jar pen holder with just one lonely shell left languishing in the Plasticine – all of which had been cherished well beyond their sell-by date.
This year, I have continued the crafty Father’s Day tradition, by creating this coaster for Nicho, my son-in-law.
He is a wonderful dad to Saha, my two-year-old granddaughter, and he’s a great fan of coasters! I made this one by gluing smooth white pebbles onto a piece of heavy-duty grey felt (which started life as the casing round an old scented candle in a glass).
I got the idea from a very similar coaster I spotted in an upmarket gift shop in Norway – except that one was £18, which I think is a high price for a coaster (understatement!)
Needle felt carpet tiles make a good base, so as well as being a fraction of the price, these are easy enough for kids to make (with mum or another adult cutting the tiles with a Stanley knife). Try to search out thin, flat pebbles that are evenly sized though, so cups and glasses can sit as steady as possible.
I found a picture frame in a charity shop recently – not particularly special, but I reckoned I could give it a new lease of life with a thin wash of white chalk paint, to enhance the attractive grain of the wood.
It was the perfect size for the ‘pot of flowers’ design I wanted to create from some shells collected in the Outer Hebrides last month. Harris (the largest island) has the most spectacular white sand beaches, like granulated sugar, washed with a transparent blue sea. I loved beachcombing there, and I even managed to find a piece of slate in a perfect plant-pot shape!
My first challenge was how to display everything – or rather, how best to stick the shells and slate down. I found that mixing up some cheap DIY filler did the trick, coloured an appealing shade of mint green with some lovely paint, which I mixed in with the filler, rather than painted on.
I placed the slate and shells into the filler whilst it was still wet, and left it to dry overnight. I then painted the shells with various shades of coloured paint. When that was dry, I got to work with Pinflair’s Pearl Wands, which proved ideal for embellishing the shell flowers; I also used lines of pearl dots to create the flower stalks.
The plant pot was given a thin glaze from a Pinflair Glitter Wand, and as a final touch I added various sparkly gems – I can never resist a bit of bling! I now have a Summery picture that will always remind me of a treasured holiday…
Sadly, my mum passed away many years ago now, but I think she would have loved making her lists in these little handmade books. They make a perfect Mother’s Day gift – and can be made from just a scrap of material… perfect for using up those leftovers!
It’s easier if you use a darker material (they show less marks!) and preferably one that doesn’t fray.
You Will Need:
Lay out your materials, and place your fabric face side down. It should measure 13x8inches. The cardboard (for the book cover) measures 3ins by just under 4ins, and your spacer is also just under 4ins by 0.75ins. Your pages should be 3.5 ins by 3ins.
The secret to making a successful book is to use as little glue as possible – you apply it and then you scrape nearly all of it off! You do need to use bookbinding glue too – it might seem just the same as PVA glue, but it’s not. PVA is cheaper, but it contains a lot of water, so it can stain the material you’re using. Bookbinding glue may be a bit more expensive, but it has a drying agent built within it, so it’s stronger and won’t mark your material.
After laying everything out, take your pages and group them together. Next, apply a thick layer of bookbinding glue to the top edge (this is the ONLY time you use the bookbinding glue quite thickly!) Place the shirting on the top of the pages (measure a strip of it – 3.25ins) and press down to seal. Glue the sides down too, but wait until everything is dry to neaten it up and to chop off any stray edges.
At this point you could disguise the shirting with some material (so the shirting doesn’t show when the book is opened) but depending on your choice of material, it can sometimes make the book rather thick to close.
The next step is to position your cardboard pieces and the spacer on your material (which you have placed face side down). There doesn’t need to be lots of material around the edges of the cardboard; 0.25ins is enough to create a good overlap.
Glue both the thicker cardboard rectangles onto the material (but DON’T glue the spacer!) and turn them over to gently smooth out any creases.
Next, cut around each of the thin cardboard rectangles – again leaving 0.25ins all round. Cut the corners off (to avoid build-up of material) and as the corners are likely to be messy, just dab a tiny bit of glue on them (with your spatula) to smooth them back.
Now cut the two thicker cardboard pieces all together (the thinner cardboard pieces are cut separately, but the thicker cardboard forms the outside of the book and therefore needs to be all one piece). Cut the corners again and turn the material over the edges, and then glue on the thin cardboard pieces.
Glue the ribbon across the centre of the book (again face side down). Then take the pages and glue them where the spacer was – and hold the book together with the elastic band until it’s dry.
If desired, glue the first pages at the front and back to the inside cover to make it all look neat and tidy!
When I first saw these polystyrene hearts from Pinflair I immediately thought how good they would look decoupaged. Although they’re wonderfully light, they are surprisingly robust too – perfect for popping in the post if your loved one isn’t close at hand.
I decided to use paper napkins to decorate a few of them with (as I have an ever-increasing collection of serviettes that feel a bit too pretty to wipe my mouth on!) I also tried wrapping ribbons of material on two of the hearts – this worked really well as it’s very fast and easy.
You Will Need:
I secured the material with Pinflair’s super-strong Bookbinding Glue. Little plastic beads in the shape of hearts (of course!) added a sweet touch to the shiny heart, making it a pretty adornment for a little girl’s room.
Paper Wrapped Hearts:
For the paper napkins I used Napkin Glue and Lacquer – a special jelly-like formulation also from Pinflair. It’s extremely light and goes a long way, so it’s perfect for working with very soft papers – including tissue paper – and it gives an appealing handpainted look.
Every year since she was 17 (and in the midst of boyfriend troubles) I have sent my daughter, Kate, an anonymous Valentine so she always felt she had a secret admirer.
She is now 36 and a happily married mum, but I still keep up the tradition – even though she’s long ago rumbled that the card is always from me!
This year I shall be sending her one of these hearts – from a secret (and crafty) admirer!
Our lovely Create & Craft Blog Editor, Ciara McAuley, recently came up with the suggestion of doing a project using paint sample charts. I immediately loved her idea as one of my favourite pastimes is poring over colour swatches in my endless quest to get exactly the right shade of grey for the hall (or whatever!).
I wanted to make some bunting using all different colours of paint samples as not only have I collected masses of them (and I love bunting) but when the decorations come down after Christmas, I find myself thinking which rooms might benefit from a lick of paint.
Find Your Inspiration & the Rest Will Follow!
Inspired by finding my favourite paintbrush (which never sheds a hair — amazing), I then thought how the swatches could represent bristles glued onto a cardstock brush. For the handle, I used the fabulous Topsy Turvy pastel coloured cardstock from Create & Craft. They have different colours each both side, making them perfect for bunting.
After cutting them into little strips, I arranged them on the brush giving them uneven edges to mimic real paint. Some silver masking tape and a couple of ‘rivets’ (screw brads) later, they had the authentic look I was after but without any of the hassle of cleaning them up. Not a hint of white spirit in sight!
The best part about this type of art is that it’s virtually free. We’re probably all guilty of hoarding samples every time we decide to redecorate the house! Paint samples offer us a wide breadth of colours in several different shades, meaning we can create spectacular ombre effects. As such, there are some beautiful works of art displayed on Pinterest and other social media channels. Who needs to buy the actual paint when you can decorate your walls with paint sample art?!
Wallpaper!! I love wallpaper – always have. My mum, Pearl, was a self-taught genius at paperhanging, and as a child I used to gaze in awe as she manhandled huge, pasted-up sheets without so much as a tear or even a crumple. I have yet to try my hand at the art, but when the time comes I will attempt it with optimism and industrial strength wallpaper paste, hoping that some of her skills have been passed down the line to me.
This may not of course be the case. Mum was a tightrope walker and juggler in Bertram Mills Circus before she settled down and had four little Peasgoods, and I have inherited none of her bravery on a high wire or indeed any of her juggling ability (unless you count juggling my diary to squeeze in everything I want to do).
But I digress…I have witnessed some wonderful wallpaper examples recently – most notably in hotels, and especially in their loos. In fact, I have been so struck by a couple that I’ve spent ages photographing them from different angles, leaving whoever is waiting for me outside assuming I have a problem with my bladder.
I think the collage-like effect of these latest wallpapers is what makes them so attractive to me. Years ago I loved a Laura Ashley blue stripey paper so much that when they discontinued it I painted a room white and created my own fat blue stripes, and I have a lovely roller that creates a lacy stencil in long bands of colour too.
I have also used ‘Tema E Variazioni’ (not stripes, but the amazing ‘faces’ paper – see pic below) at our Crafty Beggars HQ in Brighton. It’s one of the most famous designs by iconic Italian designer Piero Fornasetti, but it’s no longer produced and therefore now considered a rare collector’s item. (Note to self: buy more than one roll in future.)
My husband, Patrick, finds the Fornasetti a tiny bit busy, but it’s nothing compared to a ditzy-print flower paper from Cath Kidston that hangs in our spare bedroom. Normally I love 99% of everything Cath Kidston sells – I am a huge fan of her style (take a look below at her fab circus paper, which Mum would have liked) but the spare room one is so busy I start reaching for the Anadin. It was very difficult to tell from the tiny sample what the overall effect would be like, but I have learnt my lesson as no guest ever wants to stay more than one night in there.
I am now on a mission to reproduce my own jaw-dropping wallcovering. It obviously won’t be on a roll, more likely panels that I design myself for our small loo at home. But I am so inspired by the samples I’ve posted here and my long-term passion for paper, that now I have the brush between my teeth. Watch this wall…
P.S. If you have any fantastic wallpapers (or wallcoverings of a different kind) to share – or have even created your own, please send pics of them to us at www.craftybeggars.tv and we’ll be delighted to post them up for you!
I had the honour recently, in my capacity as Contributing Editor for Cruise International magazine, to go to Gallipoli for the Centenary commemoration of Anzac Day – here is my report.
Julie Peasgood reports from Saga Sapphire in Anzac Cove as tribute is paid to the thousands who lost their lives in the Gallipoli campaign 100 years ago.
As the early morning darkness envelops the once bloodied battlefields of Gallipoli, the only sound is the gentle lapping of waves.
Then the uniquely Antipodean hum of a single didgeridoo, heralding the beginning of the centenary commemoration for thousands of allied troops who lost their lives on the shores of the Dardanelles.
It is 4.30am and our ship, Saga Sapphire, is bordering Anzac Cove, where Australians and New Zealanders – alongside their British counterparts – have arrived in unprecedented numbers to pay homage to their courageous ancestors, many of whom never lived beyond their teens.
On 25 April 1915, at precisely this time, the first troops landed and the ANZAC (Australia and New Zealand Army Corps) legend was born.
“That was the day our nation came alive,” says 81 year-old Bruce Atherton, a long time serving warrant officer in the Australian army, proudly displaying his own array of hard-won medals. “Gallipoli was the first major conflict in which we fought, and it forged our national identity.”
Passengers gather on deck to remember the sacrifice of 46,000 Commonwealth soldiers who perished here.
The emotion is palpable as a roll call of the men who died is played out, together with messages from loved ones.
“Sleep on, dear son, and take thy rest, they miss you most who loved you best.” And, quite simply: “Our Sid.”
Heads of state from around the world have come together for this momentous event. Australian Prime Minister, Tony Abbot, speaks of ordinary men doing extraordinary things.
“In volunteering to serve they became the founding heroes of modern Australia.”
John Key, Prime Minister of New Zealand, salutes the bravery of both the allied troops and the Ottoman Turkish soldiers. “Both sides were doing what they believed was right and what they believed was necessary.”
“Gallipoli symbolizes too the pity of war, because while this was a place of courage and heroism and duty, it was also a place of fear and waste and loss. It was a place of unspeakable suffering on both sides of the fighting.”
“The generosity of Turkey in welcoming us back year after year means that Gallipoli also symbolizes the healing power of time, forgiveness and diplomacy.”
Dawn light filters through a cobalt sky as Prince Charles, accompanied today by his son Prince Harry, delivers a moving reading of one soldier’s last letter to his beloved wife. It is written with a devastating simplicity that reduces both men and women around us to silent tears.
Wreaths are laid to the strains of a single bagpipe. We all stand for the final blessing, including the new generations of Australians and New Zealanders who have travelled here to honour the fallen. The ceremony concludes with the singing of the Turkish, Australian and New Zealand National Anthems.
One voice in our midst rises above all the rest in its purity, as Dame Kiri Te Kanawa joins her compatriots in singing their country’s national song. Like all of us she is here to commemorate one of the most significant days in history.
The traditional drink of rum and milk is served on Saga Sapphire at the close of the ceremony, served with ANZAC biscuits, and passengers begin to speak of their own reasons for being here.
“This is my father’s dog tag,” says Graham Douglas Moore, who has travelled from Australia with his wife, Alexandra. They are here to honour the bravery of Graham’s dad who fought in the 25th Battalion C Company. “My father survived the campaign – that’s why I wear his identification tag as my lucky charm – but so many thousands didn’t make it.”
“Too many mistakes were made,” says Andi Von Zeppelin of Australian based Zeppelin Travel, who has brought 71 passengers all making their pilgrimage to these shores. “On the morning of the landings, one hundred years ago to the day, several boats which were destined for different beaches were rammed together by strong currents and heavy mist, causing huge numbers of casualties. Those that did make it onto the narrow beaches were gunned down by the Turks as they tried to scale the cliffs. The whole bay was red with blood.”
Terry O’Connor agrees. As Chairman of the Royal British Legion in his village of Liss in Hampshire, he is here to represent the five villagers who were killed at Gallipoli, ranging in ages from 16 to 38. “Two thirds of soldiers who died here have no known graves – they were either lost at sea or their bodies were not identified.”
Terry has come to lay a wreath at the Helles Memorial, in a service conducted by Canon Richard Hanmer, who also leads the special service on board Saga Sapphire. It is poignant and respectful in honouring the vast numbers who gave their lives for others. “It is important to remember this war was not in vain” adds Terry. “Although the campaign was a failure, the men went with a glad heart because they felt they were doing right.”
The Turkish representative at today’s memorial spoke some of the following words from the Kemal Atatürk Memorial on Anzac Parade in Canberra.
If anything positive can come from the devastation of this war it is expressed in the words of the Turkish leader, the man who became known as Atatürk: “Those heroes that shed their blood and lost their lives…you are now lying in the soil of a friendly country. Therefore rest in peace. There is no difference between the Johnnies and the Mehmets to us, where they lie side by side here in this country of ours…You the mothers who sent their sons from far away countries wipe away your tears. Your sons are now lying in our bosom and are at peace. After having lost their lives on this land they have become our sons as well.”
Additional reporting by Karen Attenborough
Nearly a fortnight into January and I’m actually sticking to my New Year’s resolutions. This is a first. I usually abandon them all within a few days and then focus on Chinese New Year (I’m a Monkey) giving me a second opportunity to lose weight, drink more water and get rid of my clutter (yep – same old, same old…)
This year though, I am determined to shed both the pounds and my clutter (I’ve been giving something to the charity shop on a daily basis) and also to create my own crafts room, as I’m driving my poor husband Patrick bonkers by constantly hogging the kitchen table. BTW if anyone reading this has their own crafts room/workshop, please send a photo to www.craftybeggars.tv and we’ll display it in our gallery as a source of inspiration!
And talking of inspiration, I can’t believe how many crafts, sewing, knitting and baking mags there are these days. I popped into WHSmith recently to check if the new copy of ‘Simply Homemade’ is out yet (Wendy and I have had a double page spread for the last few months) and the shelves were awash with magazines packed with ideas and free gifts – it’s just a shame they’re so expensive!
December was very much about amassing ideas as I was in Panto all month. With two shows a day I didn’t have much time for crafting, although I did enjoy making tin can tealights, like these three, which are upcycled old baked bean tins. The secret is to fill them with water and pop them in the freezer before you try hammering any designs onto them – it’s crucial for the tin to be rock solid with ice, otherwise a nail won’t go through it and the can will just buckle. If you want to use your finished can as a lantern, make sure you hammer out two holes into opposite sides at the top (again whilst the can is still filled with ice) and then you can thread through some thin wire to hang it (the wire looks lovely with some beads threaded onto it too).
When you want to hammer out a design, use as long and thick a nail as possible (it’s easier that way) and it’s also a good idea to draw the image on a piece of paper first, which is then sellotaped onto the frozen can (and it does stick, strangely enough!) You can then use that as a template and when you’ve finished, peel it off, immerse the can in boiling water (to melt the ice quickly) and paint if desired.
The final step is to have some fun glueing on ribbons, buttons, decals or whatever you fancy – and then just drop in a tealight. Use an extra-long match for safety and let your new lantern light up your new year!
P.S. Just in case, Chinese New Year 2015 falls on Feb 19th and it’s the Year of the Sheep. Now I’m going to pour myself a big glass of water…
This December I did Panto in my home town of Grimsby, playing the Queen of Merrydale in Jack and the Beanstalk. Last year I was the Good Fairy in Sleeping Beauty and I enjoyed it so much I was keen to return. As you can see from the attached photo, the character was a tiny bit bonkers – and I loved playing her!
I stayed in a Bailey caravan on the excellent Hunger Hill site (a couple of miles from the Grimsby Auditorium) and I found I loved that too. If you’re interested in knowing more, my ‘Caravan Capers’ blog can be found on the Caravan Club website http://www.caravanclub.co.uk/community/your-stories/Julie-Peasgood/Day-Three/rb/1029511/
For many years I have been a supporter of St Andrew’s Hospice in Grimsby. It is the only round-the-clock facility for adults and children with life-limiting illnesses from Northern Lincolnshire, Hull and the East Riding, providing free care for anyone with such an illness, whatever their diagnosis. The aim is to make each day count, and I was very grateful to St. Andrew’s for the kindness and care they gave my mum and dad, Pearl and Syd, in their final months and days.
My daughter Kate and I appeared on ‘Celebrity Who Wants to be a Millionaire’ to raise money for the hospice, and we managed to win £16,000 – not bad, though I still wish we’d been able to win the million for them!
A new hospice is now being built (the biggest project since the charity was established about 30 years ago) to increase patient capacity and create a health and wellbeing centre. To support St Andrew’s – or to learn more about the invaluable work that they do – please visit www.standrewshospice.com