Friday, 26 April 2013

Friday's Craft Crush!

Last week I stumbled upon this amazing blog by artist and maker Lucille Michieli.

Not just content with giving us beautiful illustrations she also manages to add quite a few tutorials and easy to follow projects which are not just pretty but also useful. You'll find all sorts from darning tips to making your own collars.
I'm quite taken with her leather Peter Pan Collar and will actually have a go in making one... though I might use pleather but that's just because as a veggie I'm more comfortable using imitation leather. But anyway there are lots of projects to do!

Peter Pan collar tutorial...

Also she reviews lots of other designers which is a fantastic way of getting to know of other talented designers and their work.
Everything about this blog is yummy - yes I said yummy, you heard me and it's very unlike me but that's the power of imagery and the draw of this blog... it makes one come over all girlie - lots of soft photography, illustrations and very gorgeous French people in beautiful clothing.  Ooh la la...très chic et très mignon! A big stumpy European thumbs up for this amazing and talented blogger/designer!

Photoshoot...see I told you there was lots of gorgeous French people in pretty clothes!

Lucille also makes a range of accessories which you can purchase in her shop!


Thursday, 25 April 2013

Mastering the art of embroidery... our review!

"Mastering the art of embroidery"  is the new book by embroiderer extraordinaire Sophie Long an expert crafts woman and the very talented lady behind this fantastic book.
As a lover of embroidery and the stitchery arts I was stoked to be able to review this book.

Mastering the Art of Embroidery (9781906417956) 

I've been wanting a stitch compendium for quite some time. I've got a few stitch based books which are pretty OK but they're predominately soulless and almost mechanical... not that mechanical isn't great for learning but I just feel that my mind wonders if all there is to a book are pages and pages of technical drawings and nothing else! Well this book definitely has SOUL... and lots of heart too. The works included are obviously made by stitch lovers and enamoured embroiderers.

Sophie Long, embroidery queen and craft author

It's a really well structured book filled with amazing modern embroidery work and... dare I say it's a little bit edgy too? Hey, edgy is good!
Apart from edgy "amazing" is a word I can safely use when referring to this book. The instructions are clearly explained and the illustrations concise plus the variety of work is just delicious... yes I said delicious! You'll find amazing, modern work ranging from embroidery, stump work, needlepoint to even quilting and free motion embroidery!
also featured embroidery work by Leisa Rich
Also featured are lots of gorgeous works by numerous designers, tons of inspiration and techniques which will; even if you are not a seasoned embroiderer; get you started with a head full of ideas and hands ready to stitch! This book is one that I will be keeping close at hand as a reference and will sit on my shelf as a "stitch bible"... so many stitches that I haven't even heard of so definitely a keeper.

Needlepoint work by Heather Gray

So what's my verdict? It's a top book and essential for any super star embroiderer wanna be!

Mastering the Art of Embroidery
To order Mastering the Art of Embroidery (9781906417956) for £24.00 including p&p* (RRP: £30.00), telephone 01903 828503 and quote offer code JS199. Or send a cheque made payable to: Littlehampton Book Services Mail Order Department, Littlehampton Book Services, PO Box 4264, Worthing, West Sussex BN13 3TG. Please quote the offer code JS199 and include your name and address details. *UK ONLY - Please add £2.50 if ordering from overseas.

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Something for the weekend...

Unlike me you might have a proper weekend so here's a fab little blog which you may enjoy trawling through at your leisure...

Packed to the rim with the best craft projects on the net, fun and easy tutorials, quirky links to stuff like smart phone wallpaper and it even features a host of copyright free images/art work which you can use in your projects.

Run by "Bolacha Maria" - she is an enigma but a very crafty enigma none the less - what this blog does is take the best of the best and collates it all in one easy to browse blog. Even if you can't read Portuguese it really doesn't matter... follow the pictures and be prepared to make!

Check out the To DIY or not to DIY blog here:

IKEA hack by Bolacha Maria...the crafty brain behind this blog!
Brillo Wallpaper for all you smart phone/tablet needs!

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Make with us!

Here's a cute tutorial featuring some vintage inspired fruit which you can make into bag charms... I know, I know...If you believe the fashionistas bag charms are so yesterday but I've never owned a bag charm until now so I'm not following fashion besides I've always loved strawberries!
Plus when I'm tired of them I can use them for shoe clips or other projects so... go on...try it! They also make cute pincushions if you make them a bit larger.

Friday, 19 April 2013

Friday's Craft Crush!

"Stay Gold Mary Rose" is my latest crush! As a ceramicist I truly admire this lady's work as well as experiencing a tiny little smidgeoun of jealousy!!!

What S.G.M.R. has managed to do is to reinvent the tea cup... or rather... upcycle the tea cup into something truly beautiful. I just wish I had thought of it first!!!
But no, I joke,  honestly I don't really begrudge this clever clogs I do admire and love what she's managed to create and that is why I'm sharing her work with you...

"Stay Gold Mary Rose" is a collection of creations by Brighton based designer Abigail MaryRose Clark.
Abigail has been designing and making her 'Repurposed Vintage Teacup Bracelets' since 2004 and is currently supplying them to Anthropologie along with her other china jewellery collections for the last three years running, selling in their stores through out the US and UK.

So if you love these beautiful wearable pieces as much as I do go buy something from the "Stay Gold Mary Rose" boutique here:

Abigail's work reminds us of sitting in the The Wolseley,  afternoon tea on the table served in beautiful china... we gasp as we bite into the eclairs and blush as we go back for a second helping! Delicious and decadent... just like "Stay Gold Mary Rose"!

Thursday, 18 April 2013

Contemporary Upholstery, a book too inspiring to keep to myself!

When this book landed on my door step I couldn't quite believe it as upholstery has been something I've been wanting to try for ages. I never quite managed as I'm a bit scared of the enormity
of the task...  but after flicking through the pages of Contemporary Upholstery I think that might all change!

ISBN: 9781906417918

This book by Hannah Stanton is pretty complete and straight forward. You have everything you need to begin your project with confidence; actually it's almost like having your very own tutor standing next to you holding your hand; as this little gem of a book shows you everything you need to upholster from techniques, easy to follow step by step tutorials, advice on choosing and styling fabrics to rescuing and reviving all sorts of furniture.
Hannah Stanton is a graphic designer turned upholsterer. Her lifelong obsessions with design, interiors and traditional craft techniques led her to re-train as an upholsterer and subsequently gain awards in the field. Hannah is currently working on her own collection of furniture exploring new ways of combining materials and techniques.

Hannah Stanton:

Another thing I really like about this book is the variety of case studies featuring before and after photos which are perfect as it's so much easier to follow and envisage how things progress from start to finish.

After reading a few pages I started immediately looking around the flat searching for bits of furniture I need to work on... lets just say there are quite a few but Hannah's managed to inspire me to revamp and upholster my old Ikea desk chair. It's looking really tired and tatty so I'm sure that with the aid of this book that I can easily transform it into something beautiful! I think I may ever try to print my own fabric... watch this space!

my chair which I'll be to come soon!

Contemporary Upholstery
To order Contemporary Upholstery (9781906417918) for £16.00 including p&p* (RRP: £20.00), telephone 01903 828503 and quote offer code JS200
Or send a cheque made payable to: Littlehampton Book Services Mail Order Department, Littlehampton Book Services, PO Box 4264, Worthing, West Sussex BN13 3TG. 
Please quote the offer code JS200 and include your name and address details. *UK ONLY - Please add £2.50 if ordering from overseas.

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Something for the weekend...

We met Cat and her partner Tom about 4 years ago and what struck us was the energy and enthusiasm they both shared for craft. I'm happy to say that that energy and enthusiasm is still going strong and so is their beautifully web site Cut Out & Keep - a dynamic and cool craft website with tons of stuff you'll want to make!

Filled with amazing tutorials, great articles and features as well as a friendly and thriving user community... plus it's free to join! We are very big fans and we hope you will become one too...
so if you fancy getting your hands busy this weekend then take a look at Cut Out & Keep... but beware - you will spend a lot of time on there!

And here's a very special exclusive tutorial for our readers compliments of Cut Out & Keep, thanks Cat & Tom.

See Chalkboard Bunting and 1000's of others - or share your own on Cut Out + Keep

Or you can follow the step by step instructions here:

 Chalkboard Bunting
Rewritable bunting for every occasion!
I've been obsessed with chalkboard paint recently and when trying to come up with a fun decoration for our bookcase, the idea of chalkboard bunting came to mind! It's perfect because I can change the message from Happy Birthday to Merry Christmas, depending on the season or our mood...

You will need:
Thin Wood
Chalkboard paint 
A paintbrush 
Hole punch 

Step 1: 
Start by cutting triangles out of thin wood. We used some scrap shipping wood that came as packaging with a piece of furniture. You can buy wood triangles in craft shops, if you struggle to find a piece that works well. You'll need about 12 triangles to be able to write a nice long message.

Step 2:
Paint your triangles with a coat of chalkboard paint and leave to dry.

Step 3: 
Paint with a second coat of paint and leave to dry again.

Step 4:
Punch a hole at either side of the top of the triangle. My wood was thin enough to use a hole punch.

Step 5:
Loop some string through the hole.


Step 6:
Secure at the back with a knot and then string through the second hole, securing with another knot.

Step 7:
Leave a small length of string between each triangle and continue threading them all on to the string.

Step 8:
Now the fun part. Write on your bunting with chalk. I used a ruler to give mine a neat outline, but you can decorate yours however you like!

And you’re done!
Hang up and admire your handy work! 

Here's the bunting in action the new Cut Out & Keep Google video:

Saturday, 13 April 2013

Spring time at Black Duke & Cashman...

As you know by now we are suckers for a good window display and always go to a huge effort into making our window look extra delicious and crafty!
Hanging a few paper pom poms in a window is hardly going to cut it in today's cut throat market! There's a lot of competition out there so if you want your shop to stand out then you really must go that extra mile.

We've used hand made paper maché tea cups with fabric applique inserts to give that extra lovely look... The paper pom poms were also made by us in a selection of relevant colours IE Spring!

Over sized paper maché tea cups...I love the way they are slightly wonky and rough. I think it gives it a hand made charm!

For over 8 years I have designed and produced window displays varying from degrees of simple and sweet to elaborate and to the down right "more is more"!

But it's really easy to get it wrong so here are my handy tips to help you display not just your window ( We're aware not everyone has a shop window ...) but also your stand display or even your craft fair stall... these tips can be carried over to help you achieve an awesome "buy me" display!

W.I.P. Window in progress!

For our latest window display we went on the Spring Time Tea Time theme as the shop sells not only hand made items and vintage furniture but also a selection of teas and coffee! I so wish we had a few taxidermy pieces to add to this...

So here are my top tips...

Tip one:
If you're going to bother to decorate... then bother! Don't do a half hearted job. As much as paper doily bunting looks nice a sad lonely string of beaten up doilies looks uncared for and can be perceived as an after thought! You are no longer selling just a product...I hate to use this expression but...hell, I'll say it: You are selling a life style! It might make me cringe but it's true...

Tip two:
Work on a theme and draft out a design. Things like the colour pallet of your products or even the facade of your shop can influence your choices.
Having a layout is good as it will give you something to go by. You don't have to be a Khalo or a Rembrandt but a sketch will help you look at the over all balance before you actually go to all the trouble of doing it. Also it's not written in stone so follow your layout but don't be too rigid... it's there to guide you not to restrain you!

Tip three:
Don't be afraid to experiment and use your imagination!
Using materials which you don't normally associate with a specific item or idea is not a mistake. Do a few samples before you use it as your final material, final design or final layout. You might not like it so this way you'll have time to  remake....but you might just absolutely love it!

Tip Four:
Now that you're ready add your elements one by one. Adding each individual item gives your eye time to focus, adjust and construct the design elements in your mind so that you can tell if they sit harmoniously or not plus it's an easy way to add layers.
You might find that even though your original design used 12 of something that it actually looks great with just 9!
 *Note - using odd numbers makes a more pleasing visual then pairs.
For extra reading on harmonious design have a look at the "golden ratio aesthetics" philosophy.

Tip Five:
Keep your window/ display neat, clean and tidy! If your display is cluttered and looks like someones just thrown the items on there from the other side of the room then that can come across as if the person selling the items doesn't really care about what they are selling. If it looks unloved then that's probably because it is unloved! Remember you are trying to sell not turn people away...

Tip six:
Step back and look at the bigger picture!
Have a look at it as though you were a costumer approaching it for the first time.
Check the decorations/display additions aren't taking over what you are trying to sell...unless you are selling decorations!
Allow yourself plenty of time to "tweak" elements... sometimes it might be an item that needs moving by an inch. Believe me the more you do it the better you'll get at it.

Tip seven:
Don't over "Tweak" and don't stress... that's the danger if you're super fussy like me but as perfectionists it's in our nature but know when to stop!
For example after putting away the step ladder I noticed one of the pompoms was sitting almost to the same level as another so it looked cluttered and messy. I brought the step ladder back, scrambled back up the runs and literally it (the pom pom) just needed to be pulled up a fraction of an inch but it made all the difference! But after that I was happy and content with the over all look of the window as a whole.

I hope these tips help and inspire you!

Our sweet and very spring like window! Pop by to see it at Black Duck & Cashman: 83 Grove Rd. E17 9BU London

Friday, 12 April 2013

Mini Make - Bike Bunting

Tomorrow sees the annual London Tweed Run - a fab retro bike riding fest through the streets of our fair capital city on machines old and new powered by crazy individuals sporting all things Tweed!  I shall be there, but sadly not riding as it's such a popular event entry is made by drawing applications out of a hat; but I will be there along the route to cheering and photographing - I am sure my shutter finger will have RSI at the end!

For anyone interested you can find out more about the Tweed Run on Facebook at  The route for tomorrow (Saturday 13th April) is:

12 noon     Start at Marylebone High Street
12.30         Regent Street/ Savile Row
1.00           Piccadilly Circus
1.30           Houses of Parliament
2.00           Finish at Trafalgar Square

Even though I can't take part, I did  want to do something to tart up  my bike and while I was wasting some time browsing Pinterest; sorry, what I really meant was;  I was researching for ideas on Pinterest when I came across this lady who crochet’s flowers and squares to make into decorations for bicycle baskets, she also crochets saddle covers and handle bar ends.  I was love struck!  The down side is that I am totally rubbish at crochet (and knitting for that matter) and any ideas that I may have had about crocheting my own quickly evaporated.  But I still really wanted to make something for my bike!  Then it hit me, how about some bunting from fabric and fortunately I have made loads of bunting in the past so it seemed to be the perfect solution.

Mini Bike Basket Bunting
1.       Draw a pattern for the shape on paper making sure you have left enough allowance for seams.
2.       Measure out enough tape to reach round your bike basket rim, add in 30 cms to either end for tying the bunting on.

3.       Lay out paper patterns on to your chosen fabric and cut out pennants.  *I like to have double sided pennants, but you could choose to only have a single layer of fabric pennant.
4.       For double side pennants: iron pennants flat, place rightside to rightside, pin and stitch round outside edges leaving top open.  Turn rightsides out and press flat.  Finish raw edges using zigzag stitch or overlocker.

5.       Place pennants along the length of your tape leaving enough spare at either end (I left 30cms at each end) to tie bunting to basket.  *If your tape has a front and back, then make sure you pin so the tape covers the finished top edge of the pennants.  Stitch in place

6.       Add any top stitching/embellishment to the bunting and tape.
7.       Press the whole flat and now attach to the top edge of your bike basket – Taa Dahh!
(To make sure the bunting doesn’t slip, I added a small stitch through the tape and basket rim in 3 places to hold it all in place.)

I think Dorothy (my bike) looks fabulous, wish she was going on the Tweed Run, maybe next year!

Friday's Craft Crush!

It's been one of those crushes that's been slowly simmering away!

I first came across Rosita Bonita about a year ago and it was love at first sight. I was quite taken and to be honest... I'm not easily smitten by anything! BUT that's another story...
I have a weak spot for jewellery, even though I don't wear masses of the stuff, I do have a "capsule collection" of pieces which I tend to wear all the time.

Rosita Bonita stands out on it's own with a healthy pinch of "quirky" but manages to look glamorous and classical without losing it's fun and playful side!
Rosita's pieces are made using screen printed and embossed leather plus a whole host of experimental processes based on illustrations created especially for the label's collections.

From Hollywood glamour, synchronised swimming mermaid performances, side shows to Mexican Folk Art inspired pieces... I'm sure you'll find something that will make your heart skip a beat!

For further info please visit:

*Rosita Bonita reminds us of driving on long dusty roads in a 1940's black Ford Delux Opera Coupe with a beautiful blue eyed Russian circus contortionist named Ivan. We hit the road and The Side Show frames itself perfectly in the rear view mirror as we drive away, the twinkling lights fade in the background as Tom Waits sings on the car radio. And we're gone. As easy as that we leave. We're heading out to Hollywood to become stars of the silver screen and not even the strong man, Zippo  and his clowns can stop us!*

Thursday, 11 April 2013

Craft Guerrilla hit the road!

Craft Guerrilla with the aid of Toyota and their Positive Ideas campaign went out into London to storm bust stops, train stations and anywhere else we found commuters waiting! Toyota lent us a couple of cars for the day so we could get what we do out there on the streets! Getting out of the Craft Guerrilla bunker with all our stuff is quite a chore so this was a perfect opportunity...

The whole idea was about bringing a bit of positivity to people through craft. By getting people to make something quick and easy while they waited we also brought to light the positive impact and benefits that "using your hands" has and how important it is to get back in touch with the simple things! Believe it or not making, especially craft, is a very healthy pursuit and using CRAFT as a therapy is nothing new.

Me and our fab Guerrilla Karen Dunn
Two lovely commuters at Marylebone Station
Craft Making in Brixton at a bus stop

We want to encourage more people to "make while they wait" because of it's stress busting qualities. Let's face it, we all spend way too much time waiting around for public transport and getting angry about it so getting people to relax and enjoy their wait was absolutely amazing and fulfilling...
PLUS it shares the love between people in our city, our beautiful Ye Old London Town which we absolutely love!

Everyone loves a moustache even guys with already quite generous facial hair!

Brixton bus stop hosted our very own pop up "crafternoon"

We thank you London...and remember: Do something positive, do something nice!

If you'd like to watch the other videos which include our fabulous friends Knit The City visit the Toyota web site: