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…
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!
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…
I love doilies. Call me old-fashioned but I’ve always been drawn to them – paper doilies, pretty linen doilies; often with delicate hand-embroidered flowers on them – I’m not fussy. The dictionary defines them as ‘a decorative mat of lace or lacelike paper, laid on or under plates, originating in the 18th Century and named after a London draper, called Doiley’.
I define them as something incredibly useful for crafts. I don’t actually use them for serving cakes or biscuits – I cut the paper ones up instead and use them as a decorative mount for photos or pictures in frames, like this one from my first blog…
….or they can be usefully employed in cards, as in this little glimpse of one on a lovely card I bought in Brighton recently, when we were filming one of the shows.
Tiger have some fab green and blue paper doilies for sale (good Crafty Beggars colours) and of course with Christmas nearly upon us, silver and gold doilies are more in evidence in the shops. These always seem to be a bit tougher than the standard white doilies, which is a help.
I made this keepsake box recently and as it’s a tad risqué in its style, I wanted some black lace to adorn the inside. Frantic scrabblings in my ribbon box yielded not so much as an inch of black lace, and as I’m incredibly impatient and didn’t want to wait until the shops opened the next morning, I daubed a white doily with a black felt pen and used that. It kept tearing whilst the ink was wet (and it won’t withstand tough handling now it’s dry) but at least I finished it – and my tried and trusted doily supply came in useful yet again! Look out for full instructions on making Keepsake Boxes in February’s ‘Make of the Month’ :0)
I have a long list of random things I love: aside from my family and friends (and in no particular order) it’s things like Brussels sprouts, cruises, crumpets, dogs with really squashed faces, halloumi, bike rides, chips with vinegar, Gewürztraminer, shopping, the word ‘gusset’, my spotty tablecloth, carrot cake, stationary, Bingo, stargazer lilies, Dusty Springfield, chai tea, watching Pointless & Gogglebox…and so it goes on.
The list of things I hate is thankfully much smaller, but topping it right now is superglue. I HATE superglue. Right now I am trying to type with every finger caked in the stuff – and to add insult to injury it has ruined the coke can brooches I spent hours cutting out last night, because I’ve managed to cake them in it too. I haven’t actually managed to stick on the brooch backs as intended (no such luck) but considering the brooches now look like they’re made by next door’s poodle on a bad hair day it’s pretty pointless anyway, as I’ll have to junk the lot. (Note to self – do not buy Poundland superglue – actually do not EVER buy superglue again for the rest of my life.)
And I like Poundland – they do some decorative border tape that is amazing value for a quid. It’s just their superglue that may be a tad suspect. Then again it’s probably me – I’ve always been a messy crafter. Which brings me to the current problem – how on earth do I get it off my fingers without the ‘suitable de-bonder’ that I unwisely failed to purchase with said superglue??
Several Googlings later, and courtesy of a brilliant article by wikiHow, there is a small chance that I may retain my fingerprints. (On the other hand, should I decide to do some injury to the inventor of superglue I may wish the potent combo of vodka, salt and WD40 hadn’t worked so well.) Yep – it has taken all three, and there are still white, crusty vestiges of glue that are seriously marring my manicure. It would have been easy with nail varnish remover that contains acetone, but my remover boasts ‘Acetone-free’ on the bottle, so there’s no way it’ll soften cyanoacrylate, which is the evil ingredient that’s done the damage. The only way to deal with this is to pour myself a soothing glass of Sauvignon (also on the list) and polish off the Curly Wurly that’s calling to me from the back of the fridge (and which is most definitely on the list.)
Check out the following if you’re ever stuck like me…
7 Ways to Get Super Glue Off Skin – wikiHow
I was fortunate to grow up in a very creative environment. In the spirit of ‘Make-Do and Mend,’ Mum was always cutting up old clothes to make rag rugs, or recycling newspapers and magazines to make bowls and waste paper bins.
I always wanted to follow in her footsteps (and make some pocket money) so, when I was eight, inspired by a dangerous combination of Blue Peter and Ladybird books, I began making Christmas decorations and persuading my neighbours to buy them. I was also inspired by the shells I collected every weekend on Cleethorpes beach – I’d stick them on anything and everything: découpage boxes, mosaic surrounds for mirrors and picture frames.
As an adult, hours have been spent upcycling old furniture, rubber stamping wallpaper, beading, making collages, transforming socks into teddies and creating mobiles, lamps, candle holders and jewellery from old tins, plastic bottles and soft drinks cans. I’m like a homing pigeon for anything that can be recycled instead of being chucked away. I just wish I had a huge crafts workshop to store it all, rather than having to cram everything in cupboards (with the risk of concussion once they’re opened because of everything falling out!)
What started as a hobby has grown over the years into a passion and, in spite of a busy schedule, I’m managing to devote more time to arts and crafts as I get older – especially now that Crafty Beggars has become such a big part of my life. In fact, it’s actually because of my schedule that I’m making the time to be creative. Being a driven person can be a mixed blessing and – according to my husband – crafting is the only time I’m truly relaxed!
The therapeutic effect of making things with our hands can’t be underestimated and crafts enable us to express our personalities too – plus there’s such a feel-good factor about designing something unique and original. At a time when it’s easy to feel like you’re drowning in a sea of technology (which can compound stress rather than reducing it) crafts can be the perfect antidote. Besides which, home-made is so contemporary, and bespoke products are in such demand, there’s no better time to become a Crafty Beggar!