Monday, 19 December 2011

Paper Cutting at The Make Lounge

With only 2 weeks to go before Christmas, I thought I would treat myself to craft course, something relaxing and not to difficult.  Lately I’ve been mesmerise by the work of Rob Ryan. If you don’t know his work, essentially he specialise in paper cutting, but over the last year it’s taken on a new commercial lease of life, with his work appearing on mugs, bags, plates, umbrellas and even as the cover of the Stylist magazine. 
I think he is a true romantic, look out for him, his images are perfect for valentines day.. hint hint!

It was quite apparent I was never going to produce a paper cutting image to the same stand as Rob Ryan in a 2.5hour class, but I’ve never tried paper cutting before, so I was keen to learn the basics. I couldn't find anywhere in south London which runs a course or workshop, so I booked onto an after work class at The Make Lounge in Islington.

The Make Lounge runs multiple classes during the evening and even though I loved my paper craft workshop I was getting craft envy for the lampshade making workshop going on in the next room, it may possibly be the next class on my to do list.
Our tutor was Suzy Taylor and her own work really does speak for itself, not only is she talented with a knife! she's also very, very patient, which for a workshop like this is a necessity, as our group worked at different levels, each person with a different style and she made time for each of us.
I found the Make Lounge welcoming and with groups for no more than 8 people it was just the right size workshop.
We started by learning some very basic techniques and searching through books for inspiration.

I think most people can pick this craft up easily and be good at it, you just need to be accurate, patient, have good attention to details and even if you aren't great a drawing or your imagination is taking a break, you can still trace images from books or magazines etc. As Suzy said ‘it’s a really inexpensive craft, all you need is a cutting board, scalpel and paper”

Here’s one I made earlier....

Here are some more made by other people in the group.

Click on the link to find out more information about The Make Lounge Website
Find more work by Suzy at her blog: Suzy Taylor's Blog
Be inspired by Rob Ryan at his blog: Rob Ryan's Blog

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Card Making in Brixton

By Guest Blogger - Lizzie of Look who has a Blog

Last Sunday saw the lovely people at Makerhood turn the upstairs of the Dogstar in Brixton into a festive hub for their annual Christmas card making winter social.
For those of you that don't know, Makerhood is an online marketplace and community website, run by a small group of local volunteers, for people based in Brixton, Camberwell, Clapham, Herne Hill and Stockwell.
The Makerhood website helps to connect local makers and buyers who want to learn to make things or find local workshops and courses. It also provides a place to share information and ask questions about all things making-related.
 The event saw a fantastic turn out, with some people resorting to taking refuge on the floor because it was so busy. It was nice to see such a vast variety of people gathered together and enjoying the Christmas spirit that was oozing out of the room.

Music by Marmaduke Dando added to the festive occasion, with his beautiful acoustic set that made absolutely everyone stop what they were doing to pay attention to him. Also The No Frills Band, whose alternative/folk sound really added to the atmosphere of the night.
And let's not forget the resident DJ for the night, DJ Prophane, who spun a special Christmas set just for the event. Entertainment came in the form of the Improvisation Players, who did a number of improv games with the audience, before performing a hilarious 'improv pantomime' in the shape of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, with the help of a few volunteers from the crowd.
The night was a lot of fun, and was well worth venturing out of the house for. The atmosphere was lively, and the card making went down a treat with children and adults alike. It's definitely got me in the Christmas spirit!

Find out more information about Makerhood on their website:

Sunday, 11 December 2011

Upcycle Shoes: Twinkle Toes Tutorial no.2

Guest Blogger Natasha De Vil of the The Crafty Ms De Vil Blog shoe you how to upcycle your shoes for the festive season.

So it Christmas the time of festivity and celebration but you have a problem you spent the last of your pennies buying fab gifts for all your friends and family and now you have no money left to get those awesome shoes for the office Christmas party. Never fear Ms De Vil is here to show you how to vamp a pair of old shoes that will cost you less than a fiver but make your feet look a million pounds!

First you need to select your shoes and choose a glitter that a matching colour.

You will also need a tray, a bowl and a small artists paint brush and some fabric or pva glue.

Evenly cover your shoes with glue using a paint brush

Then sprinkle with glitter covering the whole shoe and then leave to dry.

 When dry shake off the excess glitter in the tray and then mix this and the remainder glitter in a bowl with some more glue, I’d go for an even ratio of glitter and glue.

Give the shoes an even coat of the glitter glue mixture and leave to dry. This second coat will seal the glitter on the shoe to stop it shedding.

And voila once the glue is dry your new dancing shoes are ready to hit the dance floor.

And that is how you revamp a pair of old shoes into new.


Natasha De Vil x

To see the first Twinkle Toes tutorial, check out Ms De Vil's blog:
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Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Streatham - a Haven for Crafters

Shop in Streatham is a new local campaign and set of fun, free events to encourage the folks of Streatham to shop local and in particular to buy from our brilliant range of independent shops. 

Streatham has over 700 shops, was home to the UK's first ever supermarket and is reputed to have the longest shopping High street in Europe.  
But what does this have to do with crafters and those keen on craft? 

Well, I remember meeting a local designer-maker Gail Florio in 'All Aboard',  a charity shop earlier this year and having a great conversation about the joys of finding stuff for making in Streatham. She makes lovely tiaras and sources her vintage gems and materials from the wonderful range of charity shops Streatham has to offer. I happened to find myself in the same shop as her while sourcing materials for my mini mosaic hearts. Sadly I haven't had much making time in recent months but this was then in the hazy days of early summer and I had plenty of diary space to experiment and make things.  We agreed there are loads of fabulous charity shops in Streatham - Oxfam, Trinity Hospice, British Heart Foundation and Give a Little to name a few - the place is just an adventure playground for anyone who loves making and upcyling. 

Streatham High Rd is also good for the basics bought new. The 99p Store and WH Smith are of course handy but its also really worth supporting our smaller shops such as Unikob, a reliable stationers also on the High Rd and also their sister shop a few doors down which sells arts materials specifically.  These are two shops that I often spend time browsing and imagining all the things I could make. You can find all kinds of items in there that you won't see in the bigger shops plus all the usual basics. I ran an arts workshop in Streatham Library last Christmas for young children - a hilarious and brilliant experience and my goodness they were genius little creators that knew no bounds.  We made Christmas decorations out of found materials such as the usual yoghurt pots, bottle lids and cereal packets and I also found some very handy new materials at the Unikob shop such as glue sticks, sparkles and table covers. 

Sadly we don't yet have a designated art gallery on the High Rd (although check out Sprout  Community Arts based in the Furzedown area) but you could create a pop-up shop, maybe in one of the empty shops on the High Rd, but please let's pledge to shop local to prevent any more sad, empty spots. Also many venues are happy to host an exhibition to boost their footfall and profile. I ran an artists collective in Streatham called Yellow Bowl for several years and bars, cafes, pubs and the library were only too happy to exhibit our work.  We both brought new customers to each other and we made good sales too. This kind of project makes for a good partnership and that's what we need now to keep our community strong and sustainable in these tough times. 

There has also been a recent and welcome upsurge in the visibility of arts and crafts makers lately in Streatham. I've listed a few that spring to mind below. And before I sign off, lets' not forget the furtive and anarchic group, Streatham Ninja Knitters! You can catch this guerilla group on YouTube covering drab grey bicycle racks in the street with knitted coverings and then running off with faces hidden by scarves to maintain their anonymity. Wonder where these crazy ladies will pop up next?

Crafters to watch:
Streatham is full of great makers, far too many to list here but here's a few:

Earl Grey & Rose Cafe sell gorgeous contemporary jewellery at affordable prices. They also run sewing groups and rent sewing machines out by the hour
Image by Zara Kordas 
Flaming Nora - who runs local sewing classes

MooCat- Kirtsy makes funny and quirky things for kids such as sock monkeys and bedroom decorations.

Steve Glynn makes stunning mosaics - a must see.

Your Corsage - Anna makes, guess what? And she says she is 'corsage crazy'!

Nazareth Gifts - Yvonne offers sumptuous handmade soaps, candles and more.

Have I missed any of your favorite people and shops out? Probably.  Its my guess that there are probably thousands of unknown crafters in Streatham.  I would love to hear your feedback. Please leave your comments here and I invite you also to follow @shopinstreatham on twitter to join in the conversation with fellow Streathamite crafters and shoppers about the shops and places we love in Streatham.

Please also get out on the High Rd and buy your Christmas presents from the small, local shops. For some great local ideas suggested by Personal Stylist & Fashion Editor, Zoe Robinson have a look at her Gifts on a Budget Guide. I promise you, you will find some great gifts out there on our High Rd and you'll also be helping to preserve the heart and soul of our community. 

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Book Review: Patch! By Cath Kidston

Words and Photos by Fran Swaine ( Skulls and Ponies Blog)
Patch! Is the fourth book in Cath Kidston’s series of sewing books taking an innovative approach to the traditional art of patchwork. It aims to combine established techniques with a more contemporary approach to the craft.
My first reaction to the release of this book was one of excitement because Sew! (one of Cath Kidston’s previous books) inspired me to get me back into sewing after several years hiatus. I should also admit that for some reason I thought this was a book on quilting, and when I realised it was patchwork I felt a little disappointed. However, this disappointment soon dissipated when I flicked through the pages and discovered some fantastic projects that got me frantically bookmarking all of the things I wanted to make!
Like all of Cath Kidston’s books, the first section is dedicated to the sewing basics informing you what you will need and detailing basic sewing techniques. This format is great for beginners; it means they can easily pick this book up knowing nothing and learn as they go. It also works for advanced crafters like me, acting as a prompt section when you can’t remember all the fandangled names for sewing terms!
The next section of the book is split into explaining the different types of patchwork such as traditional techniques, hand applique and embroidery and embellishment. These sections are really useful as they don’t assume you have any prior knowledge;  you might be great at patchwork but never done any embroidery so need the different types of stitches explained. 

The rest of the book is made up of 30 projects. The first few projects are very traditional such as patchwork bags which to be honest I found rather boring. Where the book gets exciting is where Kidston starts applying these traditional techniques to contemporary ideas such as a cute little patchwork dog and patchwork ball. 
The Dresden Plate Tote Bag (featured on the front cover) even though traditional I really loved and the book included everything you need to make it.

My favourite thing about this book was being introduced to the Suffolk puff! An incredibly easy to make embellishment which is extremely eye catching, especially in vast quantities like the Suffolk Puff cushion.

I chose to make the Suffolk puff necklace and embellished with a few buttons. 
I give this book an impressive 3/5.

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Monday, 28 November 2011

DIY: Gift Wrap

When I first decided to write an introduction to gift wrapping blog post, it was washi tape which inspired me, I’ve just fallen in love with it. washi tape has a similar texture and versatility to masking tape, but that’s where the similarities end. washi tape was founded in 2006 in Japan and its made from rice paper.  It comes in pretty different colours, patterns, designs and widths and is historically used for arts and crafts.

With Christmas just around the corner and some very uninspiring gift wrap on the high street, I started to research DIY gift wrap, with the aim to create something special, which hopefully the recipient will enjoy as much as their gift. It turns out there are a loads of bloggers our there with blogs dedicated to gift wrapping. My favourite gift wrapping blog is The Gifted Blog

Here’s my take on making your own gift wrap, using different techniques and paper ready for this Christmas.

Equipment List

Textured paper
sellotape – for concealed wrapping
Plain gift tags
Twine/ string
Washi Tape – Thank you to the website papermash for donating the washi tape

When picking the gift wrap and tape remember to consider, colours, tone, the occasion you are making it for and the texture of the paper.
I’ve used different textured paper for each of these gift wrapping tutorials to help to inspire you!

Tissue Paper

Parcel Wrap

Plain Paper (or like me a reverse of a poster)

As you can see, each accompanying gift tag has been decorated in a different pattern
Visit the website papermash for more seasonal washi tapes and gift wrap ideas.

Pinterest examples

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Friday, 25 November 2011

Book Review: Peggy Favourite Cakes and Cookies

By guest blogger Victoria of blog

You may not have heard of Peggy Porschen unless you are interested in cake decorating like me.  Peggy is an expert in decorating cakes in a beautiful girly way.  Peggy has released several books full of gorgeous cakey projects. 

Peggy’s Favourite Cakes and Cookies is Peggy’s latest book.
 This is a lovely book packed with beautifully decorated cakes and some simple recipes.  The victoria sponge recipe is the best I have come across, lovely and moist and full of flavour.  The best tip being the sugar syrup you brush on after baking which locks in moisture and adds flavour. 
The book has instructions for cupcakes, wedding cakes, cookies and fondant fancies.  I made the fondant fancies, they tasted delicious and looked pretty. 

I have also made sugar cookies from Peggy’s recipe for a hen party, I decorated them in sugarpaste, everyone loved them. 

Peggy is obviously a practised and expert cake decorator and therefore she makes everything look easy.  For those of us who aren’t experts some of these projects can be quite technical and time consuming.    

This usability of the book could be improved by the recipes being printed and laminated and being separate to the projects.  It was very time consuming keep flicking through the pages for the cake recipe, buttercream, royal icing and then back to the project.  I love keeping my books looking immaculate and that’s quite difficult when you’re covered in sticky icing!  I also wish publishers would spiral bind recipe books so they sit open properly. 

If you do already have some of Peggy’s books you should be aware that this is an amalgamation of her other books.  If you are new to Peggy’s books this is the perfect one for you. 

I would give this book 5/5 for girly prettiness and 3/5 for ease of use.

Peggy’s website Peggy Porschen

Last month we had a blogger’s outing to Peggy’s Parlour in Belgravia, the cakes were divine and the parlour is so pretty.  Peggy has also opened an academy that is running a diploma in cake decorating, how I’d love to do that!

I was lucky enough to be able to ask Peggy some questions:
When did you decide you wanted to be a professional cake decorator?
I was always given a fabulous cake every year on my birthday as a child growing up in Germany which is a nation that loves cake! The cake was always the highlight for me and even then I was incredibly passionate about both the taste and the look.

When I was 14 yrs. old I decided to make my own and it really just started from there. I moved from home in Germany to London in 1998 to study at the internationally renowned cookery school Le Cordon Bleu. After successfully completing ‘The Grand Diploma of Cuisine & Patisserie’, I worked as a pastry chef at London's Lanesborough Hotel and celebrated caterer Rhubarb Food Design, followed by a position as cake decorator for German master-baker Gerhard Jenne, proprietor of Konditor & Cook. I set up my
business in 2003 from my home in Battersea.

Where do you get your inspiration from?
I’m a really typical girl! I love anything pretty, dainty or feminine. Anything can inspire me from fashion to vintage tea cups or stationary – just whatever catches my eye.

What is your favourite type of cake to make?
It would be absolutely beautiful, elegant and incredibly pretty, intricate without being over the top, the classic and traditional softened with a satin bow perhaps and plenty of my signature sugar flowers.

What is your top cake decorating tip?
My tip would be to attend my academy and take a 3 day professional wedding cake class which I run regularly. My students not only go away with a cake made under my supervision, but also with the skills and techniques to recreate for friends and family again and again in future.

What is your favourite recipe?
My cravings change with the seasons but at the moment I am obsessing over my sticky toffee cupcakes which are sold in the Parlour, they are incredibly comforting, with a gooey toffee centre and nutty sponge - I just can’t resist.
Everyone Loved Peggy's Cakes....

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