Wednesday, November 18, 2009

perhaps the least deadly mafia around....

As many of you know I regularily attend an event called Lo-Fi FIY which is run by Manchester Craft Mafia... its a fun and friendly night where you can go to craft and learn new skills.

I've been going for just over a year now... and led a skill swap a few months ago, showing people how I make my fabric and paper portraits.

Anyway, last month Mike from Wythenshawe FM came to see us and interviewed myself and Nico (who runs the events).

Check out Mike's blog for a clip of me and Nico talking crafts... as well, lots of clips from his work with Wythenshawe FM.

Monday, November 9, 2009

sunday craft-in on the cheap.

I must say, there is nothing better than a cold autumn sunday spent crafting and cooking a roast... and what better to accompany a whole afternoon of work than watching Gone With The Wind is all its amazing nearly-four-hour glory!

Ahh.... a perfect sunday in.

Now, make it even a little better because you are crafting and eating on the cheap!

The Meal: Roast Pork Neck Fillet (cheap from the butchers, and made from a Jamie magazine recipe)
The Craft: turn a few rolls of clearance sticky back plastic into a total flat make over.

Ta Da!

Here's how to do it...

Draw a rough design of what you want for your wall (I obviously have a fixation with trees and bird silhouettes and shadows, so naturally this craft lends itself to my own design interests....)... but you can do virtually anything. Basically if it has a recognizable shape and/or casts a shadow, you can craft it.

If you don't feel confident with your own drawing skills... cheat a bit with google images or... log on to fontface a site with tons of free fonts - many of which are not letters at all, but interesting shapes and silhouettes!

Then measure out your drawing, measure your wall, work out a rough scale, cut out the shapes and mount them on the wall.

Ok, so I glossed over those steps for ease - but really, it can be as easy or complicated as you want it to be. If you aren't very confident start with something simple.

For this craft I free-cut the trees as I mounted them piece by piece, measuring each end to make sure the pieces lined up - and then I randomly cut the holes and knots to give a birch tree effect.

The birds are a combination of images of birds I found online, and a bird font I found online as well... I then enlarged them to the right proportions.

Once you have gently laid all the pieces in the right place and you are happy with it, run your library card/credit card over the whole thing to make sure there are no air bubbles and everything is well stuck on.

Note: This is a temporary decor idea, which will stay up as long as you want it to (as long as you don't leave any huge air bubbles)... if you use the right products, they will peel off without pulling the paint... when you are ready to take them down, just use a hair dryer to warm up the plastic (as instructed on the packaging) and it will be far less likely to ruin any paint job.

all this for only £6.48? not a bad sunday afternoon in my books!

And if you are watching films and making nice food, why not share it with some friends who can lend a hand and advise on turning your ideas into a mock-mural.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

crafts to indulge with!

In prep for an opportunity to teach some courses with a local craft school, I've whipped up some little treats to prove that you don't have to go to high street shops and spend lots of money to indulge yourself.

PLUS, I think these little things are just plain nicer and better than what you can buy at poshy high street shops.

For less then thirty quid you can buy all the stuff to make these delights... it may seem like a lot to spend, but a little goes a long way and the recipes I've worked out, make quite big batches!

Here i've whipped a few cupcake bathbombs (scented with lavender), some body butter massage melts made with cocoa butter and coconut oil, and some orange scented tea cup candles... a whip through town and a trip to a charity shop is all you need to make these beauties.

I shaped the body butter melts to look like chocolates... to tie the look of everything together.

Plus as a varation in preparation for Christmas, I've made a few more scented with orange, ginger, cranberry and other nice spices to make Christmas Pudding bath bombs... although perhaps its just a little too early to be consumed enough by the Christmas spirit to bathe in the scent of a cheeky little pudding.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009


These days everywhere you turn around the Beatles are back... for a group that broke up many many years ago, they seem to be doing a lot of business in 2009!

I've been playing with my layered portraits a bit more, and decided to try layering paper on canvas... who better to be a test project than the fab four themselves?

This little gift idea was inspired by catching site of the Beatles Rock Band game in the window of a shop the other day... I figured it would be a fun challenge to see if I could preserve such inconic faces in paper craft!

Beatles portraits and other famous faces are for sale in my Dawanda shop!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

don't forget furry friends!

Furry friends are worth of crafting too!

here is a portait based on a snapshot of what is definitely my most favourite dog in the world.

I did this portrait in heavy card, to give a stronger/bolder look than the lighter/feathery papers I usually use... seems like the possibilities are endless!

Saturday, October 3, 2009

illustrator hater

With all the amazing tools and techniques now available in photo and illustration software packages, everyone can transform their photos into digital art within a few short clicks. In some ways these editing suites have opened up art and design in amazing new ways, but the luddite in me acknowledges that these programs now instantly and effortlessly perform artistic process which craftspeople have been doing for years and years.

There is something amazing about taking a process once done by the skill of a good eye and a steady hand, and turning into a effect which takes milliseconds, but there is also something kind of sad about it.

As such, I'm always trying to find ways to mix new fashioned and old fashioned art and craft techniques... which is what brought me to making fabric and paper portraits.

With facebook, flickr, and other sites which let you publish photos online, we all have access to the photos of our closest (and sometimes not so close) friends and family. I love all the ways that you can digital transform these photos, and then quickly print them - but I've been looking for a way to take the ditigized moments and turn them back into something which is textured and tactile.

Thus enter portraits like these;

After first editing images and printing them, I can then turn a posterised image into a set of layered fabrics or paper... the possibilities are really endless, depending on what materials they use - and its a beautiful way to preserve your favourite digtal images in a way which does not require access to a computer or the internet.

here are some of the gifts I have made for friends, family, and customers...

Sunday, August 9, 2009

up in big smoke... I spy with my little eye

my lingering fascination with London and skyline silhouettes has lead me to create a new piece of work focused on the Big Smoke.

previously I did a very personalised piece, based on the very specific view from my flat in Battersea, but I've decided to create something with appeal to a wider audience than simply myself and my former flatmate.

I've chosen my favourite London landmarks and have created a London Skyline done in cut out paper... see if you can recognise the 12 featured works of architecture.

(London Eye, Tower of London, Big Ben, and the Battersea Power Station are the easy ones, but see what else you spot).

As always these little beauts are available on my Dawanda site.

Monday, June 15, 2009

cake and make

the only thing better than a Sunday spent crafting, is when you take a bit of time on Saturday to whip up some treats to get you through the following day.

Why stop for lunch when you have an array of cakes to help you push through an afternoon well spent making things?

Recently I have become more and more obsessed with Jamie Oliver's magazine. I pretty much devour every issue I buy and then meticulously pour over the pages matching recipes I want to make to various appropriate occasions. Mostly the recipes seem to be savoury dishes, but every now and then a dessert slips into the mix - and these incredibly simple, but amazing cupcakes, had crafternoon written all over them!

These little lemon cakes are topped with a delicious icing made with fresh pressed raspberries, and I improvised a bit and added mint leaves I candied to enhance the light and airy flavour of the cakes.

Last year, when working at a restaurant I discovered the amazing combination of berries and mint, and I can't miss out on an opportunity to marry the flavours.

Candying mint leaves is dead easy... you just whip up some egg whites with a bit of lemon juice (or dried egg whites if you want to be a little safer), and then dip each leaf in and lay them all out of a wire rack... sprinkle caster sugar over them lightly as they dry so that the sugar melts into the foamy egg coating... by the next morning you'll have an amazing collection of candied leaves that you can use to decorate or top any number of desserts!

Just a warning - these cakes are dangerously good - they are just sugary enough to satisfy your sweet tooth, but not so saccharine sweet that you'll ever reach dessert capacity while eating them... In other words, you can eat them steadily all day without realising that you missed lunch, or even dinner for that matter!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

3-D knitting continues to loom...

I have mentioned before on this blog that I have dreams of learning 3D knitting... its something I carry with me in the back of my mind, and something I plan to tackle one day.

Although I don't feel too pushed to get going on my 3-D skylines, every now and then I stumble upon something amazing, which reminds me that I still have much to learn.

Over the weekend I went for a country walk in Hebden Bridge, and spotted the most amazing window display in a closed shop/community centre. It was an entire tea and cake said make completely out of wool.

If only it had been open, I could have gone inside and questioned the maker, or failing that at least admired it with a close eye... unfortunately it was too early on that sunday morning, and instead I had to admire the treats from the behind a glass window.

I only hope that one day I can knit goodies like these!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

a present unveiled

I am so excited to finally be posting photos of this quilt... Although Lazy Crafternoons often produce things you want to show off and be proud of, you have to keep mum about the things you make which are going to be gifts.

I've been sitting on this work for a while now, waiting until my friend's wedding day when I can let the secret out.

I took this photo a few years ago during Autumn, and was inspired by the way the leaves looked scattered across the patchwork-like tiles.

I actually took this photo, to show off how enormous the leaves were, but when I stood back and looked at the image, it reminded me of a quilt.

With the help of some quilting skills once imparted to me when I was a child, by my great aunt and a heapload of internet tutorials, I have up with a way to interpret the tiles into a patchwork, and then came up with a leaf design which I could patchwork together and them applique to the quilt.

Since it was my first endeavour and I was a bit unsure of doing the acutal quilting, I enlisted the help of a long arm quilting service to finsh off and bind the patchwork. I just wanted it to be perfect, and didn't trust myself to not to ruin it in the quilting process after all my hard work on the front and back.

The back is done with a single wide stripe and a few leaf cut outs so there was an alternative to the busy top... and in one of the leaves I wrote my friends name and their marriage date with fabric pen.

Working on this quilt obviously took more than just one lazy crafternoon, and although my work was inspired by the original photo, it was also fuelled by a wide range of inspirations, much of which came from the quilting forums on ... hopefully this quilt can be one little addition to the vast array of works out there, and add to the collective pool of textile creativity!