Tag : creative
It’s certainly been a crazy few days in our little nation.
And, amongst all this craziness – it is calming and restorative to return to think about crafting.
The calm before the politics storm – last Thursday 23rd June – I had a wonderful trip out to ‘Nude Jewellery’ in Reigate to meet the lovely Nikki in her small, but perfectly formed studio. And, actually more importantly (sorry Nikki) to meet her very little, and very cute bundle of fluff puppy, Gizmo – who also came along for the day. Heart meltingly beautiful!
The day didn’t start well. I hadn’t slept too well, but actually – as I was up early (5.30am early) I thought I would make sure to leave in PLENTY of time to get down to Reigate. Google maps estimated around 2 hours – and watching the morning news with my brekkie and morning cuppa – it was saying how bad the weather had been/still was, and to allow extra time for your journey. With my early start I was envisaging getting there serene and ready to nip into one of the lovely little boutique type cafes on the high street for a chill, and an early snack (cake basically), before on with my lovely day. So, 3 hours should be enough – right? Wrong.
I can honestly say, it was quite possibly the most stressful drive I have ever done in my quite little-driving-experienced life. The weather was as bad as the BBC had advised – which meant traffic accidents and slow-going areas a-go-go. I was diverted off the M25 by my sat-nav to go literally around all of the houses, small villages and towns across South-West London and Surrey borders. The diversion, I can handle – you almost start to feel like you are making progress – but, I couldn’t handle it almost being just as bad traffic on this new route too involving the SatNav changing its mind approximately every 5 mins, so – on to the M25, no – actually go this way, oh no hang on – I reckon try the M25… Basically, the traffic was so bad everywhere it couldn’t make up it’s mind – it didn’t really matter which way I went! I also couldn’t handle being nearly 6 months pregnant and being stuck in traffic… eventually one Esso garage later me pleading with their staff to let me use their facilities later, semi-calm was restored – but it was touch and go for a while!
Four hours and twenty minutes, very late for the course, later – I did eventually get there. Oh, and then trying to park in a multi-storey I somehow manage to also graze one of The Husband’s car alloys. You can imagine I might have been abit tired, weary and stressed. A few (several) choice words may have been muttered.
However, who could fail to be calmed by then making something beautiful and a cute puppy dog?? All was ok in the world.
When I left my full time employment role back in October of last year, I was very kindly given a gift of going on a silver jewellery making workshop. I was all ready to schedule in going as soon as possible! However, Christmas, one studio move for Nikki, and various other life related plans later – we didn’t manage to get anything firmly into the diary until this date in June! So, although late – we quickly got going, and Nikki very nicely let me know, not to worry about time and that we would still get everything required taught, practiced and made.
We started with a piece of brass to practice with and a little saw – gently cutting out lines – starting out straight, then wavy, before progressing on to zig-zags – which is harder than you’d imagine as you have to very gently turn the saw and the metal at the same time whilst still cutting! The saw blades for the metal are ever so delicate – and no surprise for a beginner – I broke several of them. However, I soon learnt how to re-attach the new blades and the gentle techniques required to implement your ideas.
Now for the fun part – what did we want to make? I was given a small square of silver, and needed to think about designs, the size, whether a pendant, a necklace, a brooch… A few sketches and idea changes later, I settled on making some little cloud earrings, and a lightning bolt pendant! The weather was certainly apt… I liked the idea of a ‘silver lining’ cloud.
The design ready – I drew around the square of silver on to paper to give me an idea of how I would lay everything out, drew in my shapes so I had a visual point of reference, before then replicating the same on to the actual silver. Drawing on to the silver with a pencil – just provided a gentle marked shape to cut towards – which we followed up with a permanent marker for extra guidance. Now we were ready to go!
Starting with my new found gentle cutting techniques, it didn’t take long before I was well on the way to everything being ready for the next stage – filing the errors I had made!! It isn’t that simple to cut in EXACTLY straight lines, or exactly on the pen lines (unless you are Nikki of course, an experienced jewellery maker!) Luckily, I had followed Nikki’s advice, and in most cases had managed to cut outside the lines to allow a bit of wiggle room and adjust accordingly with the file. Eventually ready and semi-happy with the finish, we now needed to solder on some jump rings/earring backs.
Nikki – blowtorch and solder at the ready – did the first earring, and I followed up with the second. Gently heating up the metal/solder until a glowing orange and everything was seemingly-magically-stuck together. Next into a cooling liquid to bring back to a temperature we could actually handle, and a quick ‘wiggle check’ – e.g. – has it worked, can I move the earring back? Nope, all good. They then moved into some acid to ‘clean’.
As the lightning bolt was abit fiddly to attach the jump ring to (due to the ‘pointy’ nature of the design) Nikki kindly and expertly took over attaching that for me. I used the opportunity to nip out for a quick break and finally into one of the lovely high street cafes for some lunch. No cake surprisingly, but a lovely bagel with avocado, mozzarella and sun blush tomatoes – delicious! Anyway, it was a quick pit stop before back to the studio as time was cracking on…
The cloud earrings were out of the acid, and now ready for polishing. A few filing adjustments to still be made, and a quick use of the ‘buffing stick’ (basically a wooden triangular shaped stick with the equivalent of fine sand paper on) – it was ready. However, I decided that the ‘brushed’ look enhanced the cloud design – and maybe it didn’t need to be polished to a shiny silver? Whilst Nikki still worked on the lightning bolt – I continued to buff in little circle shapes on to the clouds, and the more I did this, the more and more I loved and actually became very proud of them! Nikki then provided the earring ‘butterfly’ backs, and a lovely little box to keep them in. Dare I say it, all packaged up – they perhaps even looked professional?? Well, maybe not if you study them too closely… they’re not perfect – but I would actually wear them and be excited to say ‘I made these’. I suppose the whole point of the course had succeeded 🙂
Time had inevitably ticked away, and with more to be done to the pendant (it was now sat in the acid, cleaning) we decided that Nikki would kindly finish this for me and post on to me when cleaned, buffed, and polished up. The bolt will look great with a shiny finish! A lovely contrast to the matt finished clouds.
A quick goodbye to Nikki and Gizmo – and back to the car-park to the scuffed-alloys car, and a hope for being home within a shorter time than on the way here. I’d reached a lovely point in the day where despite the horrid journey, I had actually learnt something, achieved something and left with something beautiful (to me)…
The journey back did not go to plan.
The weather had improved, but the roads – had not. Two huge diversions, eventually stopping off via a friends house for a rest stop, a well-needed cuppa (and finally!) some gratefully received and well-earned cake, a chat and a Google searching-BBC traffic checking plan of action for the rest of my journey.
Just under FOUR hours later, and stopping to make the EU Referendum vote – I was home.
The Husband, despite the aforementioned car issue, had even kindly planned dinner (a delightful idea of and delicious Indian takeaway!) and again after another stressful journey, calm was temporarily and briefly restored.
Thank you Nikki for a great experience, and one I will cherish. Thank you to everyone who contributed to buy me the gift as a leaving present – it was a well thought out and brilliant choice!
Looking for a way to personalise your wedding with some unique handcrafted decor and favours? Looking for a special personalised gift? A new baby celebration? Throwing a party with a difference?
If you have an idea, want something creative, have an event you would like to make extra special – see if The Crafty Lass can be of help. 🙂
Please contact for further information and pricing.
Starting on Wednesday at the Waitrose Head Office in Bracknell, where 19 of us were not only making our fabric wreaths – we were singing along to some festive carols and music, there were mince pies, Cadbury’s roses… it certainly felt like Christmas!
With so many of us, and all nattering away, tearing up the fabric, and methodically and therapeutically knotting onto our wreath bases – at times it felt like we were in some sort of factory production line! 😉
The event was even filmed for the Waitrose Advent Calendar (a daily internal video highlighting what partners at Waitrose have been up to!) and, I have been lucky enough to be allowed to also use the video in this blog post. Check out here how we got on!
Thursday evening, I was at the John Lewis Head Office at London Victoria – where there were 8 of us making wreaths – and I actually also made mine tonight too! 🙂
It always amazes me, that each person starts out with very similar fabric selections – but the range and array of the results – are all so different and individual! We had ‘Italian flag’ wreaths where they blocked out colours, we had pastels only, very ‘natural’ holly-style looking wreaths, all stripes, all plain – amazing! Have a look through the photos below for all the different versions! 🙂
I had a really important moment over the last two days – with the magical mood, festive music, and lots of people enjoying themselves…it felt like – this is it! I am really doing it – The Crafty Lass workshops are really happening. Of course, I have done other workshops pre-these, but perhaps it was just the festive atmosphere, lot of smiley and happy faces – it just felt very special and I can’t wait for 2016 and all the craft workshops of the future!
If you would like a The Crafty Lass workshop in your place of work (or at home, or in a local venue!) please do get in touch!
I am very excited to announce that on Thursday 25th February 2016 – I have been asked to do a talk at The Women In Business Group!
The location is TBC – but likely to be in/around the Basingstoke area… get the date in your diary!
“Paula will be talking to us about how she went from quitting her standard 9-5 job, to both running her own business and working on The Craft Channel. She will also provide us with a brief, fun craft workshop/demonstration.”
Once full details are confirmed, I will let you know so that you can book your tickets! 🙂
To read more about it, please go to the WIBG website:
Well, it’s that time again – where exactly has the Summer gone? To be honest, we haven’t had much of an actual ‘Summer’ have we? It’s the 27th August and I am sat here writing this with a hot cup of tea, wearing a warm and cosy woolly jumper looking out on to a grey sky!
So, it’s back to school time! I always loved the start of a new term – sad, I know – but I loved getting my new uniform all ready, packing up my pencil case with lots of lovely new stationery. (Yes, I am definitely a life-long stationery addict!)
I loved the thought of all the new possibilities and opportunities with the term ahead. And you’d get to see all your friends everyday (albeit in Maths or Science!) Even now I sort of feel like September is the start of a new ‘term’. I do like sunshine, but September means it’s nearly Autumn! I look forward to the colourful leaves, the colder nights bringing with it hearty stews, cosy blankets, hat scarf and boots fashion combos – and then even better – Winter and my favourite time of year – Christmas!
Well, in the meantime while I am apparently wishing what is left of our Summer away – love or loathe school – why not start the new year with some great creative ideas with my Top 5… Back to school crafts!
1. Ombre Notebooks.
Look cooler than cool with your own ‘Ombre Notebooks‘. Simply add spray paint…
2. Milk Bottle Lunchboxes!
This DIY is MEGA cool – reuse and recycling at it’s absolute best. This tutorial talks you through turning a 4 pinter milk jug into a lunchbox! Sounds crazy, but it does actually work and looks pretty nifty too.
3. Felt pencil ‘roll’.
A simple, but very effective – and useful! – creative project. Making a little ‘pencil roll out of felt and ribbon – a lovely and easy craft to make! This link is in Greek – but hopefully ‘Google Translate’ will work it’s magic for you. If not – there are some photos that make it a very helpful and thorough tutorial.
4. Flower topped pencils!
Simply cut out different shaped flowers, punch out a hole, and add on to pencils! This little tutorial shows just how effective this can look!
5. Ribbon page markers!
Never lose your place in a textbook again with these clever ribbon markers. All you need are paper clips and ribbon…!
Make, create, inspire!
Today was great – in fact it was a ‘hoot’! (Haha! – hoot, get it?)
We had lots of lovely brightly coloured paper, feathers, little shiny gems, googly eyes, plenty of pva glue – and some cute owl photo frames to decorate.
Held at Elaine Marston’s Studio at Turweston, Brackley – across a two hour workshop we spent the time choosing colours, tearing up the paper, and sticking on to our hearts content!
As you will be able to see from the photos every one was different – some with pinks, some with blue, some patterned, some without feathers, some with LOTS! After the owls were complete, as we had a little bit of extra time – we moved on to creating some lovely drawings and collages to go into the frames.
Everyone seemed to have a fun and creative time and with a few little bits of feedback direct from the attendees of ‘Let’s do this every week!’, ‘Can we do decoupage again?!’ and ‘I’ve really enjoyed myself’ – I personally am of course, pleased as punch!
From starting out on this creative journey of becoming ‘The Crafty Lass’ as a business – today, the moment a parent walked back in to collect their children – to be met with a ‘Mummy! Look what I have made!’ moment – it was very special, and one that I am certain, I will never become tired of.
A great and rewarding morning’s work! 🙂
If you’d like The Crafty Lass to host a creative party or workshop – why not get in touch. 🙂
Let me know if you would like to book a space!
Well…it rained. And it rained. And it rained. And, Oh! Cleared up a bit!… And then rained. To say it was ‘damp’, would put it mildly.
However, what a wonderful day! The event, although slightly marred by the weather, was brilliant. It was very quintessentially British!
We were very lucky in the ‘Craft and Bake Off’ marquee… it was inside, warm and dry for a start! But, we had the luck to see ‘Titan the Robot’ up close and personal with not one, but two performances – the ‘Pre Hee Men’ paid us an uplifting ‘bake off – cake demanding’ visit, and, we all ‘bonded’ over our love for our crafts and how rubbish an English June could be!
My day started off well, I actually entered the Brackley Bake Off… And WON! Yay, go me… I even had a little prize giving and certificate presentation from The Mayor in the ‘main arena’ later in the day! Marianne’s Cakes and Waitrose and had kindly sponsored the Bake Off and my prize was a lovely selection of baking goodies, and equipment to fuel future bakes! 🙂
I know it is very British to keep talking about the weather, but, in the rain that we had on a Saturday, in the middle of June – the grit, determination, and smiles that were still ever present from the organisers, the volunteers, the wonderful people all in the soggy but brilliant carnival procession, were just fantastic. One particular volunteer was physically shaking from the wet and cold, but was still happily chatting to me about the map he was trying to show me of the event, what other things that there were to see and do on in the other fields… it just summed it up for me. Just a pure happiness to be there! He, as did everyone – deserved a warm cup of hot chocolate (or perhaps something stronger!) last night! I personally indulged in a well deserved snooze under a warm blanket, and later a celebratory glass of vino with my upbeat and happy to get involved ‘assistant’ and well-loved friend ‘dearest’ Jenny!
There were so many people involved, I would love to mention everyone here – but, I would just like to say it never fails to amaze me just how brilliant Brackley is at these kind of events. I have only lived here for 3 years, but it has very quickly become home and mainly due to such a great and wonderful community spirit! So, a BIG thank you.
PS Despite the aforementioned (many a time!) weather, I did sell (quite a few actually!) greeting cards, and chatted to many people who were interested in my ‘craft, and creative workshops’! I know I keep saying it – but the cards are coming online SOON… It just takes longer than I thought to get organised… !
PPS I can’t wait for next year’s Brackley Community Carnival AND Bake off (I surely HAVE to enter to challenge as reigning champion…!?) and this time – I plan on packing my sunglasses and sunscreen… (fingers crossed!) 🙂
With a V.I.B. (Very Important Baby) on its way within the next week or two – what better way to celebrate than a cup of (Yorkshire) tea and a cupcake (or three)! And so, why not get crafty with some creative baking?
Royal blue, pillarbox red, and brilliant white to represent the gloriously patriotic Union Jack with bunting and flags a-go-go!
I made these cupcakes three years ago now in 2012 for the Queen’s Jubilee – but with the fourth in line to the throne about to be born, I thought it would be a welcome return for some spiffingly British crafty inspiration!
PS – Be warned, too much of the blue icing and it’ll leave your tongue turning blue, so easy on the colouring 😉 !