The idea for my dad’s Father’s Day present this year began with a conversation about my mum’s severe allergy to strawberries. She developed this allergy in her early 70s, and with it relinquished any dream of remortgaging the house to fund an afternoon of sitting on Henman Hill scoffing a bowl full of Wimbledon strawberries and cream. Such a great shame, as my mum has always enjoyed eating strawberries!
After commiserating with Mum again about her dreadful allergy, we then landed on the subject of ‘favourite fruits’. My mum’s favourite fruit is now peaches, my favourite fruit is mangoes, and it turns out that my dad’s favourite fruit is pineapple.
Well, you learn something new every day!
A week or two later I was wondering what I could make my dad for Father’s Day this year, and the conversation about favourite fruits came to mind… and thus the idea of a pineapple-themed pressie was born. A pineapple candle holder I thought… just what my dad needs!
Being a Crafty Beggar, I of course wanted to make use of things that were already lying about the house waiting to be recycled, hence the body of the pineapple being an old plastic bottle.
I simply covered it with some air-drying clay and got the pineapple texture affect by mixing paint and wall filler, and pushing it through a stencil in the design of some netting.
I hope my dad enjoys his Father’s Day present this year. Actually it’s a good job his favourite fruit is pineapple… trying to do the project with a blueberry for inspiration wouldn’t have had quite the same result!
Fancy trying your hand at creating an eye-catching candle holder, or something else ornamental this Father’s Day? Viva Decor Concrete is a fantastic modelling clay which is easy to mix and work.
Practical and versatile, it can be moulded with the hands; all you need to do is wet your fingertips and get shaping! It can be rolled or pressed out, shaped using cutters, or patterned using stamps and stencils. It can even be shaped using objects, such as a bowl, (it can be applied to glass and plastic) so you could create your own pot, fruit bowl or other ornamental gift, with ease! Once it’s completely dry, you can then go on to decorate it with Viva Decor Paints, and make your Father’s Day gift truly one of a kind!
I was on a walk with my dog Newt the other day, and whilst sniffing around on a grassy knoll she cleverly brought my attention to an abandoned hubcap. Most would have left it where it was… but I know a crafty opportunity when I see one!
If I find a lonely hubcap in good condition I always take it home for a crafty project… and once you start to look out for them, it’s amazing how many you see! The one Newt found only had a few wear and tear scuff marks on it and, after a wash in some soapy water and a touch up with some paint, it was ready to be turned into a mirror with a flower theme.
I had a set of chipboard flower shapes that had been sitting in my craft stash for ages, and now here was the perfect use for them!
I decorated the shapes with metallic paint, and added steam punk themed embellishments at their centres, for extra detail. These provided the perfect decoration for my revitalised hubcap, and gave my brand new mirror a gorgeous spring theme!
When I’d finished the project, I wondered what Newt would sniff out next. I didn’t have to wait long. On the very next walk we had, she came across a complete wheel from a bike. It’s in excellent condition and I have the start of an idea of what I can do with it, Crafty Beggars style!
New to upcycling and don’t know where to start? Since almost anything can be upcycled given enough thought, it can be a pretty daunting craft to explore! But it needn’t be… check out our upcycling ideas below, and give your first upcycling project a go!
Upcycling Old Boxes:
It goes without saying that boxes make excellent storage solutions – but old cardboard boxes certainly aren’t the most attractive thing to have on display. Enter upcycling! Cardboard is so incredibly versatile, you can paint it, decoupage it, cover it with fabric, add adhesive embellishments and more. Add extra strength to your box’s corners and edges before you begin with good quality duct tape, then decorate to match your decor.
Upcycling Coat Hangers:
Oh, the things you can turn a coat hanger into! Think wind-chime, photo frame, hair accessory holder and more. If you own the metal variety you can be extra creative by twisting them out of shape and creating something entirely new – but even if your coat hanger is not malleable, it’s still usable! Add some pretty coloured pegs and attach a row of photographs, or attach strings of pretty translucent beads to hang below, and pop it into your window as a colourful sun catcher.
Upcycling Old Glass Jars:
Glass jars are so upcyclable, we cannot do them justice in just a couple of sentences… which is why we dedicated an entire blog post to how to upcycle glass jars! You can read it right here.
Upcycling Old Clothes:
Maybe they don’t fit, maybe they’re no longer fashionable – whatever the reason, there’s no need to throw them out! The opportunities to get creative with old clothes are limitless – think pet beds, tote bags, toy bags, baby bibs, oven mitts… you just need to start thinking of unwanted clothes as fabric freebies! Take your scissors to them to create usable fabric squares and other shapes, then start creating things to love!
Coffee, cooking sauces, preserves, fruit jams, and a thousand other spreads have one thing in common: they come with a glass jar! I can’t actually remember the last time I chucked an empty jar into the recycling bin. They make such a great base for a range of crafting mediums that I have cupboards full of jars, just waited to be decorated… they’re awaiting their turn for a new lease of life!
Fabric, String, Embossing Powder, Wands, Blackboard Paint…
Jam Jar Project #1:
Leading the way is the mighty coffee jar! I found a huge piece of rich purple and gold fabric in a charity shop and used a scrap of it to wrap around the widest point. I actually made this to match a cat that I stitched in the same fabric. It was a project for the first Create and Craft UK show that Crafty Beggars appeared on! Sadly, I don’t own a cat and had to search the kitchen cupboards for something that resembled cat biscuits. The keen-eyed readers of this blog will already have spotted that the ‘cat biscuits’ in the jar are in fact Coco Pops!
Jam Jar Project #2:
The next decorated jam jar is my absolute favourite, and one of the very first things I made using embossing powders. The enamel adheres so well to the glass, this jam jar project produces really spectacular results! Plus, the mix of purples and greens was, to me, a winning combination. – think mermaids, unicorns, and all things mystical! Note again the use of garden string – an essential bit of kit to have on hand for any jam jar upcycling project. You can see I make great use of it!
Jam Jar Project #3:
Yes – it’s another decorated coffee jar! But this time it holds bits of lace instead of fake cat biscuits. The ‘thorny branches’ were adding using Pinflair Wands, which come in several different colours. The wands produce perfect dots to embellish many different types of projects. To create the effect you see on this decorated glass jar, I drew a straight line using the Pinflair wand, then flicked a pencil tip through it to add the thorny spikes. You could also experiment with glass paints, for more exciting ways to add art and design!
Jam Jar Project #4:
A simple square of blackboard paint gave purpose to this jam jar. It’s much better than a sticky label, and a small pot of blackboard paint lasts for ages!
Putty, Raffia, Glitter Rub-On Transfers, Paint, Buttons…
Jam Jar Project #5:
Another coffee jar heads up this trio (I drink loads!). The peacock feathers that decorate this jar were made out of a unique crafting product called ‘Nutty Putty’. I made the design on the glass then put the jar in a hot oven for 10 minutes. This lets the putty ‘bake’ into a silicone rubber which sticks firmly to the glass. I finished off this one with raffia ribbon instead of garden string and, as you can see, I store old scrabble letters in it. If you’d like to add 3D embellishment to an old glass jar but don’t have any Nutty Putty of your own, you could create 3D decorations using the ColiDo Pen, or some modelling clay. Be sure to create them atop the jar you wish to add them to, so that they dry solid with a perfectly curved base, then stick them to your jar using craft adhesive!
Jam Jar Project #6:
Next is another tea light holder. This time, the blackboard paint is inside the jar – a perfect backdrop for one of my favourite embellishments: Create and Craft Glitter Rub-On Transfers.
Jam Jar Project #7:
Once again, the seventh jar is a candle holder. I gave it a very summery feel by using a splash of yellow paint inside the jar. The rabbit buttons are my own but you can stick any to a band of ribbon for an attractive result. Try random plain buttons or other embellishments!
Coordinating Candle Holders with a Vintage Feel…
Jam Jar Projects #8, #9 & #10:
These three jars sit together on some shelves in my kitchen and I use them all as candle holders (I do love a glowing candle – if you couldn’t tell by now!). By using similar colour and material combinations, jars can be grouped together to give out a warm glow in unison. These particular fabric scraps have a vintage feel about them and, again, you can see where all my garden string goes! The jar in the middle features the Hand of Fatima – an old jewellery charm – and the jar on the right is brightened up using some metallic thread.
Well, that’s my Top 10 Jam Jar Craft Ideas – I hope I’ve inspired you to jazz up your jam jars (or coffee jars, or any other empty jars you may have lying around)… and I hope your partner is as understanding as mine when they open the kitchen cupboards and see how many you’ve got stashed away!
You know how it is after the festive season has come to an end. Boxes, wrapping paper, broken decorations, countless bottles, crackers tins, biscuit tins… all needed to be got rid of OR turned into a crafty project or two! In my case, it’s not only the stuff chez Turner Webster. The other day, my mother-in-law (Kath) came to visit and brought with her several unwanted biscuit tins, sure that I would be able to find a use for them. She was right!
The shape of the one featured here immediately made me think of a sunset. To give this project some purpose, I thought it would be good to have the ‘sun’ as a mirror.
To start with, I covered the entire tin with two coats of Debbi Moore’s Vintage Chic Chalk Paint. This went on like a dream and covered the metal without any problem.
I’ve recently started to use painted book pages in my various crafting activities and this time was no exception. All the paints used here are from the Liquid Buff-It range from Pinflair. They have amazing colours with a beautiful sheen finish, without going so far as to be outright ‘glitter’. The depth of the tin meant that I could create a 3D effect with the mountains, and a souvenir elephant I bought years ago whilst filming in Africa has now, finally, found his starring role!
As a vegan, I have to say that the original contents of Kath’s tin wouldn’t have given me any pleasure… but the new crafty content certainly brings great satisfaction!
As a ‘Crafty Beggar’ I’m up for recycling anything, but it’s not often I resort to using dirty rubbish in an effort to produce a work of art! The idea for this seahorse canvas came to me when I was walking along the beach with my pal Jane at Watergate Bay in Cornwall.
We go to Cornwall every year (and pick up other people’s litter every year!). Whilst doing the same a few weeks ago, I thought that this time I would put our bags of rubbish to good use — and try to make a bit of a point at the same time! I used a large canvas and then a variety of creams to create the sand and sea colours. The plant and clock stencils are from the Stamps Away range and I mixed paint with a white wall filler to create a thick texture.
The glue that is holding all the rubbish in place is Pinflair Glue Gel! After I’d finished, I got to thinking. What would happen if the litter got worse and worse and worse? (Particularly the plastic). I imagined a situation in which it got so bad that the beaches as we know them simply disappeared. This thought came to me in the middle of the night — as thoughts like this do — and I slid out of bed to write the poem below.
Until next time! Love,Wendy x
There’s a little girl on the beach, a tub of sweeties in her hand
It’s shiny and plastic and destined for the sand
She had wished for the sweets and the wish had come true
Who cares about the plastic? She has better things to do
Mum doesn’t care, she can’t see a bin
Dad doesn’t care either; well, it’s hardly a sin!
Nearby, two lovers lie together under the sun
The magic of the beach, an adventure just begun
They whisper and they kiss as the sun gently sets
They leave the beach at midnight, no looking back, no regrets
But they forgot the condom, the champagne bottle and the cork
A morning surprise where others will soon walk
The sea creatures gasp for life as the years pass by
More rubbish and plastic, more reasons to die
But the kids and the grownups and the sun seekers, they don’t care
Not a care in the world, this world that we share
Their cups, their bottles, their plastic bits lay forgotten on the shore
And the waves roll in and spew out some more
For it’s not just this beach, it’s every beach in the land
Knee deep in plastic where there used to be sand
“No point going now” is the latest I’ve heard said
The beach is a dump and the sea creatures are all dead
No star fish, no sea horses, no crabs, no fish
And the little girl returns to the beach to make another wish
She stands among the rubbish with the wind in her hair
She’s an old lady now and now she does care
But like most things in life, the knowledge comes too late
Humans were so happy to be lazy, never contemplating their fate
Years of rubbish on the beach, killing and harming for all that time
Now there’s nothing left to do but admit to the crime
Yes! Confess! We must all take our turn
And then ask the question — do we humans ever learn?
We killed the beach and we killed the sea and we shake our heads but it’s true;
A landscape of plastic — not the paradise we once knew.
A new year, a new diet (why did I eat so much over Christmas?) and of course… a new melting project! I am rather taken with melting things in the oven to create something unique – and when I saw bags of plastic soldiers in Poundland there was only one place for them to end up! They melted easily and after a good coating of gold spray I was happy with the finished bowl. If you fancy giving this a go here are a few tips…
It’s rather sad, post-Christmas, to have left behind all the festive creations – but I found happiness as always in the form of driftwood! The candle holder pictured here was made by gluing driftwood pieces around a coffee jar (I never chuck them away now, they are so useful!), then adding broken pieces of china for decoration. It really does look great in the evening with the light flickering through. If you’re not close to a beach head over to EBay for some bargain bundles of driftwood for sale. And if you haven’t got any smashed china to hand this too can be purchased from Ebay (is there ANYTHING that can’t be bought on this site?!). In terms of glue – Hobbycraft’s PVA ‘Fabric Glue’ is way ahead of the rest.
Sewing isn’t my favourite occupation but I was glad I put in the time and effort with these wedge satin sandals. I thought they would benefit from a splash of colour, and after a trip to the bead shop in Kingston I found just the embellishments I was looking for. The crucial bit was sewing the second sandal well enough to match the spacing of the first – but I got there in the end. Roll on summer!
We have always been more Twitter people, but over the festive period we were determined to master the art of Facebook (one has to move with the times after all!). I am glad to say that Crafty Beggars TV is now up and very much running on Facebook so do check in with us there. We are under Crafty Beggars Presenters and our ‘Page’ is Crafty Beggars TV. Or just click on the FB logo on our homepage here! We put up lots of ‘makes’ and news on Facebook and enjoy sharing some amazing works of art that we find along the way!
This is our guinea pig who is a rescue from The Mayhew Animal Home in north London. We have had many guinea pigs from The Mayhew over the years and they are a fabulous charity if you are looking for a rescue pet. Barnaby was found in a park in a shoe box… someone took him to The Mayhew and they called me to see if I would like to give him a new home! He lives in the kitchen as guinea pigs are pack animals and shouldn’t, ideally, live on their own. In our kitchen however he gets lots of company and we always leave the TV on for him when we go out! To find out more about The Mayhew visit them at www.themayhew.org
Just before Christmas I had a wonderful evening at The Mayhew’s ‘Tinsel & Tails’ event (I read out a poem and drank lots of lovely fizz!). My animal loving pal – TV presenter Anneka Svenska – was also enjoying the evening! It was great to catch up with her and we are doing some filming together this winter/spring – promoting animals that need rescuing, and championing the cause for animals that don’t want to be eaten!
It’s been another busy week at Crafty Beggars HQ as we get ready for Christmas and begin to look ahead to filming series 2 of the show in the spring of next year. Julie and I always say that actually presenting the show is the easy bit – it is all the pre and post production which takes the hard graft! However, even though our days are still jammed with meetings, press and paperwork we have still found time to squeeze in a bit of crafting. There is nothing like a tube of glue in one hand and a glass of wine in the other to slow things down and find some pleasure in an otherwise manic day! Having said that, my initial efforts at making a bowl made from buttons was less than relaxing….
They did not! The smell of burning buttons was so bad that the kitchen stank for a week and Gary and the boys complained bitterly! Not to be deterred I came up with a Plan B, which was to line a small cereal bowl with tissue paper and simply glue the buttons on top. When it was bone dry I took it out of the cereal bowl, turned it upside-down and sprayed the underside gold.
Now this one DID do as it was told! This bowl was made using white plastic ‘pony’ beads and bottle tops. I put some sea creature pictures in the bottle tops because the melted white beads reminded me of sea foam! These bowls are so easy to make yet look like something you’ve spent hours on.
I painted this oil on canvas recently to help raise funds for the Born Free Foundation. I am a Patron of Born Free along with my husband Gary and my sister Anthea and we have all had the pleasure of working with them over the past 15 (at least!) years. My lion went into an auction and some kind person purchased him for £350. For more info about the charity visit www.bornfree.org.uk
On a more festive note I had fun making these earrings out of a used Coke Life can and a couple of sparkly red charms. If you have a look at our December Make of the Month video you will see that I am wearing them in that. They are certainly unusual and people always admire them when I wear them – which goes to show that sometimes the simplest and cheapest crafts can sometimes be the most effective!
At the end of November we had a Crafty Beggars / Hobbycraft stand at the Hobbycrafts Simply Christmas event at ExCel in London. Visitors could stop by and have a go at making a Desk Hog or a Sock Teddy, and also have a look at some edited highlights of the first series of Crafty Beggars. Our stand was busy from dawn til dusk and it was really lovely to hear such kind comments about the show. We will be back at ExCel at the end of March next year so do hope to see all our crafty friends there again.
My heart just melted the second I set eyes upon this baby spider monkey named Aurora. Anthea and I were in Cancun in Mexico on a shoot for Hello! Magazine and took the opportunity to visit The Jungle Place – a sanctuary for spider monkeys, mainly rescued from the illegal pet trade, poaching and habitat destruction. If you are out there on holiday please visit – the residents will be thrilled to see you, as will Heidi and Joel who run the charity.
To find out more and to make a much needed donation please visit www.thejungleplace.com
I have recently been in the Femail section of The Daily Mail, telling my story about clinical depression and the pills I take to help ease the problem! The online version of the feature is here below. Depression/mental illness is a health issue which needs as much coverage as possible – both to dispel myths and to raise awareness of this much misunderstood subject in general. I am truly grateful to the paper for giving me the opportunity to tell my story and to make other sufferers aware that they are not alone.