Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Snow is falling

I'm still busy painting salt dough stars and planning a crafty Christmas decoration evening tomorrow night with Kate and Lauren. In the meantime I've been keeping my eyes peeled for lovely decorations in the shops. I think it takes a few years to build up a really nice collection of decorations filled with nostalgia and good vibes but these would get you off to a good start.

1) Cat Bauble from Liberty 7) Silver Bauble from Toast
2) Penguin Bauble from Paperchase 8)Wooden Angel Bauble from Cath Kidston
3) Deer Bauble from Paperchase 9) Parrot Baubles from Selfridges
4) Tin Soldier Bauble from Liberty 10) Father Christmas Bauble from Selfridges
5) Ginger Bread House Bauble from Liberty 11) Tarnished Silver Bauble from Toast
6) Toad Stool Bauble from Liberty

If you're in the market for some inspiration, check out Tobias and the Angel. Angel keeps a beautiful shop in White Hart Lane which gets transformed over Christmas into a treasure trove of hand made and vintage decorations, furniture and fabrics.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Dog Day Afternoon

I had dinner with my Mum last night and she told me all about a needle felting workshop she went to recently, run by one of her friends. Needle felting is a technique where you use pieces of un-spun wool and shape them using a very sharp needle with barbs at the end. You basically jab at the wool and this felts the fibers together, causing to to gradually get more and more solid.

She showed me an article in Decembers issue of World of Interiors magazine which inspired her, featuring the work of artist Domenica More Gordon. Domenica makes the most beautiful needle felted dogs - each with such endearing personalities.

Aren't they brilliant? You can read the full article on her website here.

Here are a few snapshots of my Mum's first attempt...

She's not very proud of it but I think he's lovely - he's not finished but you can already see the personality coming out. She came away with all this beautiful wool, some needles and a foam pad so I'm hoping to have a go myself when I visit for longer over Christmas.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

DIY Salt Dough Christmas Decorations

I'm really looking forward to getting a Christmas tree this year as I finally live somewhere big enough for a really tall one. I love the smell of real Christmas trees when you come downstairs in the morning, the only problem is I don't have a single decoration. I'm not minted so don't really want to have to spend a good portion of my presents (or wine) budget on decorations but I still want to have the nicest tree in the street.

The solution? Time to get busy with the needle and thread (and glue and scissors, and paint and glitter). I had a think about the kinds of decorations I wanted and decided to re-create some of the decorations of my childhood. These stars are made out of salt dough and are really easy. If you've already got paint then they are basically free.

First make some salt dough, you will need:

2 Cups of plain flour sifted
1 Cups of table salt
1 Cup of water
Juice of half a lemon (optional but makes the finished dough a bit harder once its dry)

Put all the dry ingredients into a bowl and make a well in the centre. Add the water and lemon juice bit by bit, combining to make a soft dough. Kneed the dough for about 10 mins until it gets soft and smooth. Roll out the dough onto a clean, floured work surface and cut out shapes like you would with any pastry. Place the shapes onto a baking sheet covered with grease proof paper and bake in the oven for approx 8 (yes 8!) hours at around 100-120 degrees Celsius. Its a good idea to leave the shapes for a couple of days before you paint them just to make sure they're completely dry.

I'm looking forward to making some more decorations in the run up to Christmas!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Lampshade making in Lewes with Lauren

Last Saturday I spend a brilliant day with my good friend Lauren in Lewes in East Sussex. Every so often there seems to be an 'it' area where everyone wants to move to and at the moment everyone is talking about Lewes and I can see why. It's a tiny little town, surrounded by green hills, full of winding streets and little always with some lovely independent shops and pubs. It's also got it's own castle which sits proudly in the middle. Despite it's picturesque surroundings the town isn't at all twee and doesn't seem to market itself as a 'tourist' town. It's only a hour outside of London by train and 10 minutes more to the sea.

We were there to take a course run by the talented Annemarie O'sullivan who creates beautiful woven baskets and sculptures. Our workshop was focused on lampshade making and you can read a lovely account of it on Laurens blog here. Annemarie teaches from her home which is a lovely little cottage with a cosy kitchen / living room with a panoramic view of the downs. Lauren and I both wanted to learn traditional basket weaving skills whilst creating the lampshades so made ours out of willow. We both started with an idea in our minds of the shape and style we wanted to achieve and these developed as we began to work with the willow.

I love the retro vibes of our finished lampshades and the shadows they create. Working with the willow is really rewarding - it can be quite tough at times but you can also be very precise with it. Weaving in the round like this reminded me of making pottery on a pottery wheel...future project perhaps?

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Preparing to hibernate

The weather has suddenly turned much colder and crisper which is perfect for thinking about being in doors and doing some cosy crafts. This weekend my good friend Lauren and I are doing a one day lampshade making workshop. The workshop is run by the wonderful Anne Marie O'Sullivan who does fantastic work with willow weaving. Have a look at her website here.

In other news I'm looking forward to starting work on some home made Christmas decorations this week and am hoping to share my progress soon.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Remember Remember

Here's my very important TO DO list for this weekend:
- Watch the fireworks on Clapham common tonight and drink mulled wine.
- Eat some roast chestnuts.
- Go out for a drink and then a Indian meal and then another drink with Ciaran.
- Sleep in until noon.
- Meet friends and host a champagne brunch.
- Go to a beer festival.
- Meet up with more friends and go out for dinner.
- See Christy Moore at the Royal Festival Hall.
- Sleep in on Sunday and then brew another batch of red wine.
So much to do, so little time! I'm really excited about the fireworks tonight - such a cosy wintery thing to do. Clapham common fireworks are free come along, bring your friends.
I'm also really really looking forward to seeing Christy Moore - a very well known and popular Irish folk singer. My favourite is his version of Black Is The Colour but he's made so many beautiful songs. Have a look on Spotify. His version of 'Shine On You Crazy Diamond' by Pink Floyd. Ciaran's Irish and if he's a good example of his fellow countrymen then tomorrow night is going to get rowdy.

Also, look, Christian & Jess's wedding that I attended in the summer (and blogged about here) has been featured on this cute wedding blog: Love My Dress. Go have a look!