Friday, 27 June 2014

Lampshade Making Workshop at Creative Biscuit

handmade lampshades from lampshade making workshop

I love doing workshops. Not only do you get to learn a new skill but it means that I actually have time in my diary dedicated to making something. It's all too easy to let it slip down the to-do list at home. A friend introduced me to Creative Biscuit in South Woodford, a lovely crafting cafe that serves great tea and cake where you can paint ceramics which also runs some brilliant workshops. So last Thursday night, after a few glasses of wine nearby, a friend and I went along to the Lampshade Making Workshop to join three other girls and the super nice teacher Karen who also owns the shop. It was very friendly and informal; we were offered tea or coffee when we arrived and two of the girls were drinking Prosecco that they'd brought with them so I knew I was in the right place!

attaching fabric to plastic to make a lampshadelampshade making kit at Creative Biscuit workshop

We started off with a lampshade making kit each and initially I think we were all wondering how we'd manage to make lampshades that would look as professional as Karen's. But the good news is that it was incredibly easy. It is a little bit fiddly in parts and you can definitely do with another pair of hands for some of the steps but the end result is well worth it. Everyone's material looked lovely once it had been stuck to the backing and we were all very pleased with our final lampshades.

handmade lampshade made with Michael Miller Retro Rocket Rascals

I chose to make one for my little man's bedroom. It's surprisingly difficult to get an interesting, stylish lampshade that isn't too babyish, too twee or just too expensive. I used the Michael Miller Retro Rocket Rascals fabric that I have used in the past to make lots of bibs and baby gifts for Stars and Buttons. I'm really happy with the way it turned out and it was a really enjoyable way to spend the evening; making something in a relaxed atmosphere while catching up with a friend. You can buy lampshade making kits online and you could probably find some instructions online too but I think that you can't beat having someone experienced to show you their own little tricks and shortcuts.

The owner Karen told us that she is planning some more workshops at Creative Biscuit in the future so I'll be keeping an eye on the website for the next set of dates - past classes have included wooden jewellery making, screen printing, vintage tea cup candle making and embroidery.

Visit the Creative Biscuit website.

Friday, 6 June 2014

Happy Birthday to the little man

I know everyone says it, but I really can't believe how quickly the last year has gone. We've been celebrating the first birthday and yet again we've been overwhelmed by the generosity of family and friends.

I am also breathing a sigh of relief, as to be quite honest, I wasn't sure how this whole motherhood thing would pan out. The good news is it's totally awesome and we are lucky to have a happy, smiley little boy who makes us laugh every day. The second best thing is that when people say things like "you will never be the same again once you're a mother"  I've discovered this is mostly bullshit. I was pretty damn happy with who I was before so this kind of worried me. Turns out that after you emerge from the crazed, sleep-deprived fog of those first few months you're just you, but with the added bonus of a cool little person. Life goes on, you can have fun, go out for drinks, return to work - you just need good childcare and a partner who understands your need to go out and be you again. I know I'm very lucky, so this week I'm celebrating that as much as anything else.

Tuesday, 20 May 2014

SHOP: Space EC1

There are so many wonderful independent shops stocking up-and-coming designers that I've decided to spotlight some of my favourites. When you're in a rush it can be all too easy to fall back on that well-known online retail giant to buy last minute presents, but recently I decided to make a concerted effort to avoid doing that and buy from independent and local shops instead. After all, they will only survive if we support them. I'm planning on making this a regular feature so if you know of a great independent shop that deserves featuring just let me know.

I'm about to leave my day job to start with a new company in a different part of London and I've been making the most of my last few weeks in Farringdon and Clerkenwell (where my current office is based) to visit the local shops, cafes and pubs for the last time.

Space Shop front on Exmouth Market

Space is a really sweet little shop on Exmouth Market, an area that has been growing in popularity as a foodie destination in recent years but also has a handful of great independent retailers. If you do visit, the fabulous tapas bar Morito, sister to the more famous Moro, is definitely worth a visit as the food and wine is delicious. Anyway, back to Space, it stocks all manner of useful and unusual present ideas and lots of lovely things you'll be tempted to gift yourself as well. There is lots of luscious stationary including Sparrow & Wolf notebooks, some highly covetable jewellery, unique greeting cards as well as home ware, kids toys and books.

I bought some lovely children's books and I couldn't resist this retro Fisher-Price Classic Record Player for our little boy's 1st birthday. His dad remembers playing with this toy the first time round and is hoping it will distract the little one from touching the real vinyl records in the house - we'll see!

Fisher-Price Classic Music Box Record Player in packaging on Space shop shelf

And I've got my eye on these Mengsel Whale & Sea mugs and plates from the Abode collection:

Mengsel Whale & Sea mugs and plates from Abode collection on Space shop shelf

You can find Space at 25 Exmouth Market, Clerkenwell, London, EC1R 4QL. If you can't make it to the shop in person, you can buy lots of their stock online at the  I Found It In Space website.

Thursday, 1 May 2014

The homemade cot bumper is finally complete

There will come a time when your small baby that once slept placidly starts moving around in their cot. Hitting their arms, legs and then probably their head on the bars - often at the same time. This can be a bit frightening so you'll want to rush out immediately and buy them a cot bumper. Then maybe, like me, you will stand in the shop looking at them thinking 'how much?' before spluttering 'but it's just a big rectangle of material'!!! I also didn't like most of the designs which were all pretty twee and certainly not worth over £40. Hopefully, you will then head home and run one up on your sewing machine. Sadly for my son, I bought the materials then moved house, dealt with Christmas, didn't unpack the sewing machine, <insert more excuses here> and so the poor boy continued to bump his head as he wriggled around at night.

Finley in cot with handmade cot bumper

But lucky boy, I have now finally made him a cot bumper. So when he wedges himself in horizontally to the end of the cot he should no longer have bar marks! He likes to hit it enthusiastically before he goes to sleep which I think must mean that he likes it. It is actually incredibly easy and just needs some large pieces of material and wadding. I'm sure there may be 'proper' patterns online but I couldn't be bothered to hunt one down and just decided to make my own based on the material I had. I will post a full tutorial on here soon.

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Easter treats

At a Spring fair a while ago, I did the usual trick of finding lots of lovely things for myself rather than buying the presents for others that I'd told myself would justify the visit. I'm a sucker for beautiful handmade ceramics and couldn't resist this porcelain bowl by Sarah Field Ceramics. It's perfect for mini eggs, although they didn't last too long!

The great thing about buying at fairs is getting to meet the producers and having a chat about their work.

I also bought these really sweet little Easter decorations too to hang on some willow branches.

ceramic easter egg decorations by Sarah Field Ceramics

ceramic happy easter decorations by Sarah Field Ceramics

I had planned to take some artfully shot images of them adorning the Easter table but to be honest we were so busy this weekend we never quite got around to having a sit down Easter feast. Next year, I'm planning on a proper roast with Easter decorations and all the trimmings so they will have to wait until then for a starring role.

You can learn more about Sarah Field's hand thrown porcelain on her website.

Monday, 7 April 2014

Nursery decor from A-Z

Alphabet cards by Nursery Names pegged to nursery wall
The alphabet cards on Finley's wall
It's hard to believe it was almost a year ago that I went to the Pick Me Up contemporary graphic arts festival at London's Somerset House. I had meant to blog about it at the time, but being pregnant and constantly tired I never quite got round to it. It was so inspiring and the sort of exhibition where I would genuinely love to own the art so I'm planning to go again this year, and I will post about it this time round.

Custon prints being created by Nursery Names at Pick Me Up
Personalised prints being created by Nursery Names at Pick Me Up 2013

One of the surprising things was how child friendly it was - it's funny how you start to look at things with a different perspective. We were there early on a Saturday morning and not only were there lots of parents with little ones (a revelation: so this is what you do when you're not hungover and up at the crack of dawn), but there were printing workshops and creative spaces where older kids could get involved in creative projects too. There were also quite a few artists creating work aimed at children and the stuff that really caught my eye was by Nursery Names. In their own words it's a "customisable alphabet print project founded by London based graphic artist & art director Emily Forgot". They were creating personalised prints on site, or you could buy individual letter prints or alphabet prints. But I went for the beautiful sets of alphabet cards. I love the quirky illustrations and the fact that they are fun without being too twee.

Nursery Names aphabet card R for Roller skating

I had originally planned to frame the whole set but after struggling home from Ikea with a giant picture frame and trying to arrange them in it, they still didn't look right. Luckily, as I was looking back at my children's nursery Pinterest board for inspiration, I looked again at a nursery that had used traditional twine to peg alphabet cards to the wall. I decided this would be perfect and would make a different yet stylish way to display the cards. I'm really pleased with how they look and now just need to get a few more prints up in Finley's room so it starts to look a bit cosier. I'm also booked in for a lampshade making course at a local creative cafe in June so I can make him an original lamp shade - decent kids ones are surprisingly hard to find.

Nursery Names alphabet card M for Moustache

The alphabet card sets or personalised prints would make a brilliant birthday or christening present for little ones and they come in a variety of colour ways. You can find out more at the Nursery Names website.

Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Blogging resolutions

It's been a very hectic couple of months; moving, decorating, cramming in the Christmas shopping, unpacking boxes, cleaning and hosting Christmas for all the family. And juggling all that with our lovely little man who is now seven months old and growing up far too fast for my liking.

After being crammed into a temporary one bedroom flat with a growing mountain of baby stuff, the wonderful news is that we are in our lovely new house. We're feeling properly grown up with a garden complete with a shed and everything! 

After a hectic few months, the last visitors left yesterday so we finally had a chance to sit back with a glass of wine, look around our new home and appreciate how lucky we are. 

There's still plenty to do though, as my study/craft room needs decorating and seems to have been designated as the junk room and is stuffed full of boxes. When it is cleared and the sewing machine gets unpacked I'll start some new projects and write some tutorials.

My resolutions for 2014 are all about positivity rather than denial, so here's to a  productive and creative year with lots of making and blogging.