Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Goodbye 2013 - You've been great!

So Christmas is over for another year and sometimes that can leave me feeling a little deflated. I love Christmas and the build up and I get really excited about the whole thing so when Boxing Day is over and normal life resumes, I often feel a little blue. I always forget how quickly New Years Eve comes around and this year I am celebrating in London with my best friends and boyfriend!

2013 has been a mixed year for me but on the whole a lot of good things have happened. I started my job on the 2nd January 2012 and was thrown into the chaos of that and then I needed to find a flat and move out because my parents were also on the move. By March my Boyfriend and I had moved in together, I began my Blog in May, visited my parents for the first time in their new house and then I was off to Brussels come September. More recently Christmas was one of the best yet spend relaxing with my family and  now I have a new, long awaited job starting in January which I'm very excited about. Oh and did I mentioned my Etsy shop will be open in the New Year!? 

So a lot has happened but it almost feels like 2013 has been a series of steps and milestones and that 2014 perhaps things will feel more together and less in the process all of the time. Don't get me wrong, there have been low points of 2013 with constant job rejections, low self esteem and lots of 'my life is going nowehere' sort of statements but I have tried my hardest to keep myself busy and focus on the good points.

There's a romantic notion I attach to welcoming in the New Year; I always have lots of hopes and aspirations and make silent plans as to what might happen. I used to make a list of resolutions when I was younger but I still bite my nails and I have never given up biscuits yet so now I'm not quite so formal about it all! I think there's one thing that a lot of people feel, whether it's silly or not and that is hope. If you've had a bad year and been down on your luck, 2014 will be better for you. If you have had a good year I hope your success continues. So however you are celebrating and whatever 2013 has thrown at you, I hope that 2014 is a happy, healthy and creative year for you all.

Sunday, 29 December 2013

12 Days of Craftsmas - 12. My Christmas Presents

So firstly I hope you all had an amazing Christmas, were thoroughly spoilt and spent it with all of your favourite people! 

Secondly, I need to apologise for missing my 12th craft of 12 days of Craftsmas! I had it all planned to leave the best craft until last and then I spent the last few days before Christmas eve with a migraine! Not fun and not good for productivity!

So I thought just to finish my series off for number 12 I would show you a few of the lovely things I got on Christmas day.

 This may seem like a strange combination but I have a really broad taste in music! Both of these were from my Boyfriend, plus Beyonce's new album but that's in my car already! I recently played a concert with my orchestra and we played the Star Wars Suite by John Williams which quite frankly is epic. Even if you don't like Star Wars, every time I play John Williams music it blows my mind that one man has written most of the most famous music scores in film history. So now I own 6 CD's of all of his best work! Then there's Beyonce's DVD Life Is But A Dream which has a film about her and a sort of behind the scenes look at her last year and a whole live show. If I didn't love Beyonce enough before, I love her even more now! If you're a fan, go and get it it really is heartwarming and very revealing about her personal life. So much love for Queen  B.

I have wanted some proper bunting for ages but couldn't find one I liked that wasn't a rip off! So to my surprise one of my best friends bought me some handmade bunting and it's in nice festive mismatch material so I'm already excited to put it up next year with all of my (ever growing collection of) decorations!

If you have read any of my other posts you will know that I am a little bit (read: full on) obsessed with Rob Ryan and his work! Once again my Boyfriend has been taking notes and bought me his latest book The Invisible Kingdom. Unlike his other books this is quite big and is A4 in size so lots of lovely paper cuts inside and a very lengthy story. I haven't read it all yet, more skimmed it and looked at the pictures but I'm excited to settle down with it soon and read it all.

 Typical present from my mum here. I drink A LOT of tea and we are all proud to be from Yorkshire! So it comes as no surprise that she would buy me something like this. I will be drinking my tea from this with pride now. It is Gods country as they say...

I grouped all of these things together because they are all paper related! Everything bar the diary is from my Mum who knows my love for writing notes, makings things and saving money! So if you get snail mail from my, expect a Pug through the post at some point....they are so cute I can't even begin to explain how much I want a Pug! I've also wanted to try Origami for a while but haven't got round to it or found any clear instructions so now I have a little kit I have visions of me being one of those people who sit there making little animals out of paper for no reason (I'm not sure this is a good thing?!) And finally to satisfy my obsessive organisation habits, I have a second diary from my manager and a daily calender which also gives me thrifty tips. Ace.

Last but not least is this pair of Fenton china cups and saucers from the 1920s which my Mum and Dad got for me. I LOVE vintage china and cups and saucers so much and have quite a little collection growing. I just need people to come round for tea now and somewhere to display them so everyone can see just how lovely they are! I really love the bright blue as well, it's one of my favourite colours anyway but it's quite rare to get colours like that in old china. They know me well.

What did you all get for Christmas? I would love to know and hopefully see you all wearing/using your new gifts soon on your blogs!

Tuesday, 24 December 2013

12 Days of Craftsmas - 11. Paper Garland Present Wrap

This is another last minute gift wrapping trick that can also double up as a festive decoration if you use the same principles and make a bigger version. This tutorial is a little bit of a twist on normal twine or wrapping ribbon and it's fun to make!

What you will need:

1. Old pages from books, music paper or scrapbook paper
2. Glue
3. Scissors
4. Pencil
5. Twine

Time to make: 15 minutes

Draw out your shape onto your paper of choice. It helps if you double up the paper so your shapes are exact copies and it also saves time. Alternatively you can use a craft hole punch to make it extra quick.

Then when you have all of your shapes, lay them out in a line and place your twine or string across all of them like in the photo above. You can secure this with a little strip of tape if you don't have a strong glue.

Once one side is secured you need to put another shape on top so you sandwich the twine in the middle. It helps to glue apply glue to the top shape and just press it to it.

Then once it has dry use it to wrap your presents! I made a little tag to match but I think it makes nice alternative to plain ribbon and it lets you be a little bit crafty too!

Monday, 23 December 2013

12 Days of Craftsmas - 10. Snowflake Gift Wrapping

You know when you buy a few too many presents and you don't quite have enough decorations or the good paper to make it look pretty? Well think about to your school days of making paper snowflakes and they make perfect present decorations and are really simple to do!

What you will need:

1. Leftover wrapping paper or plain paper
2. Pencil
3. Glue
4. Scissors
5. Ribbon or twine
6. Rubber

Time to make : 5 minutes

 You need to start with a square of paper and fold it in half and half again so you have a small square and then fold it again so you have a triangle shape. I didn't see the point of doing photos for this because they are easy steps. If you do struggle play around and see what you come up with!

Now you should have something like this and you can draw your design on it. If you are stuck for designs check out Pinterest  for ideas but generally if your sides aren't completely cut then your design with stay together!

It may be a bit tough to cut through all of the layers so use a Stanley knife if you are able to for the tricky bits. When you are done open it out and see how it looks! 

Glue down the top of your snowflake to your present and the sides and add some ribbon and you now have a present that looks equally as good as the shop bought bows but was quick and handmade! If you have little bits of wrapping paper left over after wrapping odd shaped presents why not make some smaller snowflakes and do multiples?

Thursday, 19 December 2013

12 Days of Craftsmas - 9. DIY Photo Gift Tags

Ever get fed up of writing lots of tags on all or your presents? Or having to work out whose is whose on Christmas morning?! Well by making a tag with a photo of your recipient or even better you and that person then they know instantly that it's for them and who it's from! Simple!

What you will need:

1. Photos
2. Brown Christmas tags or card to make your own tags
3. Craft Scissors
4. A small hole punch
5. Glue

Time to make: 5 minutes

Get a photo that has the people in it you want and make sure it covers the whole of the tag or cut a piece of card to the right shape. Then you need to line up your tag with the people in the photo, hold it in place or draw round the tag and then cut to size. 

Now you should have something that looks like this and you need to glue it in place because you cut any further. This just makes it easier so everything stays in place, there's nothing worse than thinking you have everything lined up, punch a hole and somewhere along the way it has moved slightly! Once you have glued it down, use your hole punch to make a hole through both layers and trip round the corners. 

 And now you have a completely personalised, one off gift tag which you don't have to write anything on if you don't want! If you want to be a little bit more creative how about doing all black and white photos, photos of the giver and recipient on both side even pictures of when you were kids (if you're all grown up!) and see if everyone can guess whose is who?

Wednesday, 18 December 2013

12 Days of Craftsmas - 8. Festive Craft Haul

This post is a little bit different as I'm not showing you how to make something but showing you a few festive craft bits I have picked up and been using! I haven't gone too overboard but I guess I will get a few bits each year and be able to have a full on festive craft box!

I got these stamps from The Works (Can you tell I go into this shop a lot?!) and they were only £1.99 for all 9! I have wanted some Christmas stamps for ages but they seem so expensive and I couldn't justify spending a lot of money on something you only use a few weeks a year. So this year I used them on the envelopes for my Christmas cards and on some tags and they work brilliantly!

I got this sheet of Echo Park scrapbook paper on my first visit to Fred Aldous in Manchester's Northern Quarter (make a point to pay it a visit....it's amazing!) and I was on what could be described as the 'craft floor' and noticed a sale section. As you can imagine I had to check it out and there were a few stacks of different Echo Park papers all for 25p each instead of 97p! I didn't quite know what I was going to use this for but I've made some tags from it and may do a couple of festive scrapbook pages in the New Year!

You didn't think that I wouldn't invest in some festive washi tape would you? I was a little bit early in getting it so I didn't find much choice which is possibly a good thing or I would have gone a bit mad but I have found two suppliers who have lovely festive washi tape if you want to get your hands on some in time for Christmas and they're under £2 a roll! Click here for dragonchant and joeandflo.

This is my most recent purchase from Wilkinsons. I had bought set similar to this off of ebay which was about £4.99 and I think I prefer these patterns! I can't believe it was only £2.50 for all of the pages and I will be hopefully be making some festive bunting with it very soon!

Monday, 16 December 2013

12 Days of Craftsmas - 7. DIY Holiday Art For The Home

This has to be the easiest tutorial I will do and the quickest Christmas decoration there is to make! If you have an old frame lying around and some scraps of craft paper, follow my quick tutorial on how to make some festive art work for your walls!

What you will need:

1. An old frame
2. Scrapbook paper or wrapping paper off cuts. You will also need some plain card for the lettering
3. Scissors
4. Glue
5. Pencil

Time to make: 15 Minutes

Take your frame apart and use the backing to cut a piece of your paper to the right size for the backdrop to your art work.

Take your plain card and write your phrase on the front. If you are clever enough, you can write it backwards so that you don't have to worry about pencil lines showing when you cut it out. I chose the word joy because it is simple and festive and not too complicated against my busy background.

Once you are happy with your letters, cut them out carefully and then stick them onto your background.
Now all you have to do it put it back in the frame and place it where you want it. Simple!

Sunday, 15 December 2013

12 Days of Craftsmas - 6. How to make Origami Christmas Tree's

Christmas Tree's are one of (maybe the most) significant symbols of Christmas, so I wanted to make a mini Christmas tree myself to decorate another part of my house. I have seen variations of this tutorial online so thought I would do it my way and keep it nice and simple. I love books too so it's the perfect festive make for me!

Don't get put off by the word 'origami', if you can make a paper snowflake....you can make this!

What you will need:

1. An old book
2. Scissors

Time to make: 45 minutes to an hour 

This may seem like a strange picture but this is how your book needs to be before you begin. So pull the cover and spine off until it's just the inside pages. Also, you don't want your book to be too thick like this one above so this gives you chance to get rid of some of the pages first so it's easier to work with. I would recommend you don't use a book thicker than an inch.

Roughly find the middle of the book and bend the spine back so it can sit flat on a table or a flat surface. Take one of the pages and fold  the top corner in at a right angle so that the top edge now meets the middle of the book. If that is confusing, just look at the picture above for help!

For the last 'folding' step. Fold the page again so the new diagonal line matches up with the centre this time. You should have something that looks like the above photo.

Once you have got the hang of it carry on folding on the side that you started and it will start to look like this. 

So you need to keep going on both sides until it looks something like this. You will notice at the top, the further you get along the harder it will be to keep it neat at the top but keep trying to fold everything properly and in towards the centre and then you get a nice shape like this. You will know when to stop because it looks pretty full and feels quite solid or you can't keep folding because of the top issues like I just said.

Then you need to do exactly the same on the other side until they meet in the middle and it goes all the way around with no gaps.

Tip: Because one side is now curved and you are used to working on a flat surface, try putting the side that is done face down onto your knee's. This will help to now squash all of the work you have done but don't worry, it's quite sturdy!

Last but not least you need to trim the bottom of your tree now because at the minute it won't sit flat on the table. This take a little time because you need to be careful where you are cutting but just do each page by page like in the photo above and you will be fine. 

To make the star you will need:

1. Silver or Gold card
2. Bobby pins (Also called Kirby grips!)
3. Glue
4. Scissors
5. Pen or Pencil

 You need to draw 2 identical stars onto the reverse of your card so that you have 2 half's to stick together. I traced a template off my computer but you can just type 'star' into Google and you will get lots of examples to trace so you get the perfect one. Once you are happy with your shape, cut them out. 

 This may seem like a strange picture but I just wanted to show you what you have to do with your bobby pin in order for it to work! So you need to bend it out to be as straight as possible (The little curve in the middle is fine though as that will help it sit up straight in the top of your tree)

 Line up your straight bobby pin with the centre of the star and secure with glue or sellotape. Then you need to add the other half by putting plenty of glue on and holding them together for a few minutes so they stay together. Then all you have to do is slot it into the top (there will be a little hole where the spine of the book has curled round) and you have finished. As you will see below I made a trio of different sizes. Why not try making quick mini tree's or using books with colour or magazines?