#CraftBlogClub Secret Santa 2015

#CraftBlogClub is a Twitter chat which runs every Tuesday between 7 – 8.30pm for craft bloggers and lovers alike. It’s the brainchild of founders @KatieGetsCrafty, @Fizzijayne and @LivePeachy.

CraftBlogClub

Last week I was really excited to learn about an awesome festive initiative they run called the #CraftBlogClub Secret Santa which is open to everyone, and now in its third year!

You can find details on how to sign up here, but make sure you do so before 8pm on Thursday 5th November. You’ll then be matched at random to another crafty secret santa. Cool, huh?

Inspiration from past #CraftBlogClub swaps: 

#CraftBlogClub Secret Santa Presents

Once you’ve emailed to take part, you’ll be emailed back by Tuesday 10th November with the name and address of the person you’re making a gift for, and the making begins!

There are no rules when it comes to gifting – you can make anything you like from any craft – past examples include mittens, baubles, Christmas stockings, and personalised Xmas bunting.

So that everyone can receive their gift by Christmas, they ask that gifts are sent (with a note, revealing your identity) by 21st December, and then the excitement of receiving and blogging begins!

I can’t wait to take part in this awesome initiative. There’s nothing nicer than a homemade gift, and what better way to spread the joy at Christmas than by sharing it with fellow craft-bods!

The makers of these Secret Santa presents are:

1. Handwarmers by Icy Sedgwick | 2. Owl Pllow by Zoflo | 3. by Fizzi Jayne Makes | 4. Christmas stocking and bunting by Katie Gets Crafty | 5. Red Stocking by Kay Gets Crafty | 6. Homemade Soap by The Little Soap Kitchen | 7. Crochet mug warmer with coasters by LoveTwoCraft

London Craft Dates For Your Diary 2015

Over the next few months there are some fantastic crafty events taking place in London. Below are my top three spanning October and November. I’ll be going – hope to see you there!


The Crafternoon Cabaret Club

When: 24 October 2015 (2-4pm)

Where: The Book Club, 100 – 106 Leonard Street, London

What: The Crafternoon Cabaret Club host a different craft workshop every month. Next weekend, we’ll be making Macrame Hanging Planters to display indoor succulents. As well as taking part in the workshop, each event introduces a cabaret artist, in this case Ukulele songstress Jo Stephenson.

Price: £15 with all materials included. Click here to book.


The BUST London Christmas Craftacular

When: 22 November 2015 (11am – 5pm)

Where: York Hall, Bethnal Green, London

What: The BUST Christmas Craftacular features over 70 vendors, as well as a Drink Shop & Do pop-up cafe, DJs and your choice of DIY workshops. I’ve signed up to weave a Mini Wall Hanging with peas and needles and Amy Ilic (£5),  but you can also make a geometric Christmas decoration with bobbin & bow (free), arm-knit a snood with Wool and the Gang (£20), create a sweater bobble hat with Traid (£5), customise a Christmas jumper with Fabrications (Free), and stitch your signature on Craftivist Collective’s Giant Petition (Free). Check out the website for the full schedule.

Price: £3 entrance, plus workshop costs.


The Holiday Renegade Craft Fair

When: 7-8 November 2015 (11am – 6pm)

Where: Old Truman Brewery, 81 Brick Lane, London

What: The Renegade Craft Fair is a curated marketplace of indie-craft goods which showcases the best and brightest talent from the modern Maker community. I attended the fair last year, and had a great time browsing the stalls, and being inspired by an array of makers. Not only will this event provide great inspiration for festive gift-giving, you can also participate in DIY workshops at a small cost.

Price: Free to attend, plus workshop costs.


Stay tuned to see how I get on at the weaving and macrame workshops!

Upcycling Christmas Envelopes

Christmas is a busy time of year, and as such, I had to blow a kiss to my former self for having the foresight to upcycle Christmas envelopes back in May, using illustrated paper!

Christmas envelopes

You can buy some wonderful cards on the high-street, but equally, you can knock some up yourself in no time, and even effortlessly upcycle your own envelopes. Check out the full DIY here.

You will need:

Upcycling Envelopes

  • A used envelope (to use as a template), or a downloadable template
  • Paper that you want to turn into an envelope (mine was from The Country Diary of an Edwardian Lady, however you can use pages from magazines or wrapping paper etc.)
  • Double-sided sticky tape
  • Pencil
  • Scissors
  • Ruler

Envelopes in pictures…

Hope you enjoy making Christmas envelopes this winter!

DIY Air Dry Clay Christmas Stars

This Christmas (I gave you my heart) – ahem, I decided to take my first foray into air dry clay. To follow is a series of posts to document the things I’ve made – the first is DIY festive tree stars!

Reindeer star

You will need: Pack of DAS air dry clay, rolling pin, star cookie cutter, a straw, set of festive stamps (mine were from Hobbycrafts), string (for hanging on your tree).

In the absence of a rolling pin (I know, I know, #Amateur), I used the closest thing to hand – a pint glass, and used a Grana Padano cheese knife instead of ‘professional’ clay cutting tools.

How to Make Tree Stars:

Start by opening your pack of clay and rolling out a small blob to about 5mm thickness. Once rolled, lay your cookie cutter over the top and press to indent. Remove the excess clay from the outside.

Next, you’ll want to make a small hole so that you can hang your decoration up. I used a drinking straw, pressing it in and twisting it on the spot until the dot of clay lifted and could be removed.

Star

Next comes the exciting bit – providing you’ve found yourself an array of festive shapes and stamps, you can start creating your unique army of decorations by simply pressing them onto your star.

Try to use uniform pressure to make your shape stand out consistently on all sides. To smooth any edges, wet your finger (I licked mine), and gently run over the edges – et voila!

Don’t worry about the colour of the clay when you get it out of the pack – it will start a sludge grey whilst malleable, but dry to a nice bright white – this may take up to 48 hours.

Robin star

As my boyfriend and I are due to move house next week (just before Christmas!), I also made a trio of stars for him to unwrap on Christmas day – one of which I stamped to say ‘Home’.

Whilst half of the stars are for decorating the tree, I decided to give some away as gifts, tieing them on to A5 cards (much like my Orange Thank You cards) to create Christmas card-present combos.

These tree decorations are really easy to make and quite therapeutic too. They’re also very easy to personalise, perfect if you like things to be ‘just so’ or want to give them away as gifts.

Easy and fun for adults and children alike, I can’t wait to decorate!

Jewellery Making at The Turpentine, Brixton

On Wednesday night I was lucky enough to attend an intimate jewellery-making workshop for bloggers at the Turpentine in Brixton, a brand new creative hub on Coldharbour Lane.

Turpentine

Launched by three friends (Amber Rogers, Alice Waters and Jude de Berker), the Turpentine sells gorgeous hand-crafted wares from independent aritsts, designers and makers, as well as offering a range of evening workshops from jewellery making, life-drawing and Christmas wreath making.

DIY Geometric necklace

Our class was led by qualified art teacher and Central St Martins Alumnus, Jude de Berker, who showed us how to cut, shape and finish our own necklace pendant from silver. I’ve only ever strung beads together to make a necklace in the past, so I was excited to learn how to cut my own.

Equipment: You will need – a piercing saw with spare blades, bench peg, drill, metal file, sheet of silver or brass, necklace chain, jump rings, nail and hammer, pliers and sandpaper (400 / 600 grit).

How to make your own necklace pendant:

Our first task was to sketch out potential pendant designs. With pencil and paper, we sought inspiration by doodling and Googling, until we settled on the shape that we wanted. This took a little longer than anticipated, as we were all distracted by the beautiful wares around us!

Whilst at first I was embarrased by my lack of drawing skills (being in the presence of graphic designers and all), I decided to stick to a simple yet striking geometric design. Once we were happy with our shapes, we cut them out and stuck them onto our sheet of silver / brass with tape.

Whilst jewellery designers usually try out a new design in brass, and then move to silver once they’re happy (as it’s cheaper), I really liked the colour of the brass, so I stuck to this. Apparently I just have to be careful that it doesn’t rest against bare skin, as otherwise I might turn a bit green.

Once taped on, Jude showed us how to thread and use our piercing saw to cut around the template on the bench press. The secret was to make sure the blade was nice and tight, and to use an upright sawing motion, trying not to apply too much pressure (so as not to break the blade).

To change sawing direction, Jude showed us how to maintain the sawing action whilst slowly turning the saw to create a small ‘hole’, so that you can continue in a new direction without getting stuck.

Once cut, we used metal files to neaten and straighten the edges, keeping the file at an angle, so that it travelled up the whole length of the edge (so as not to create unwanted indents).

Once smooth, we were shown how to drill holes, so that we could connect our pendant to our necklace chain. We used a nail and hammer to make a small indent where we wanted our holes to be. This was a tricky business, as the jump rings were quite small, so we had to stay close to the edge.

Making jewellery

For the finish, we had two choices – either we could use sandpaper to create a brushed finish, or we could leave our pendant for a few hours in the polishing machine to give it a high shine. I decided to go for a brushed finish; Jude showed us how to drag our pendant along the sandpaper using either a straight or ‘figure of eight’ method, transforming it instantly.

Next, we grabbed our pliers, and split our jump rings so that we could connect them to our pendant. As my design was quite long, I used a jump ring at each end, and connected these to a gold chain.

Although it is a simple design, I am chuffed with my necklace, and amazed that I have made it myself. As well having my necklace to take away with me, it was also a wonderful evening in itself. I loved the mood lighting and Christmas songs, and Jude was a fantastic teacher.

Jewellery Making

Given that Turpentine is just 7 months old, I can’t wait to see where Jude, Alice and Amber take it. I had a thoroughly enjoyable time, and would definitely go again.

Turpentine

If you’re heading to this weekend’s Crafty Fox Market at The Dogstar in Brixton (6-7 December), do pop in to the Turpentine which is just a few doors down. You can also check out the Turpentine’s upcoming workshops here, and follow them on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

Well done!

I also had the privilege of meeting four other creative bloggers whose brilliant write-ups you can read here: Emilia Buggins (Graphic designer / illustrator) made a brilliant dog pendant. Shoshana of Shoshy Caboodle made a fancy bow-tie style pendant. Watch her YouTube video of the experience here.

All in all a fantastic evening, with fantastic company! See you next time, Turpentine. Thanks to StreetHub for organising the event. Check out their website to find more independent boutiques.

Sewing Geometric Christmas Cards

Christmas is one of my favourite times of year – I love the cosiness, and the handmade gestures. This year, I decided to make a few Christmas cards for my nearest and dearest.

Four cards

Inspired by the branding of Mote & Produksjon (Fashion & Production), I decided to get with the trend and sew different geometric patterns onto the front of my A5 cards.

Geometric Sewing Card

Instructions:

Start by creating your A5 folded cards (cutting down from A4 if necessary). I used dark colours (a navy, and mocha) that would contrast with my cream cotton thread.

I decided to make my pattern 5cm x 5cm, so I cut out a template square to size that I could position where I wanted the pattern to be, and marked the corners with a pencil.

Using the marks as a guide, I then made further pencil marks every 1.25cm until I had a square grid consisting of 25 dots. Using a needle, I then pierced holes over each of the dots.

Geometric shape

I used a cream cotton thread for my patterns, and selected the designs by Mote & Produksjon that had the most festive feel – aka, the ones that most resembled stars and snowflakes!

Once each pattern was complete, I tied the ends of the thread together on the inside of the card and cut the loose ends. I then added a smaller black paper insert to each card.

Sewing Geometric Cards

I tried two different techniques for this – on some I used double-sided tape to secure the insert, whilst on a couple of the designs, I stitched the spine to bind the insert to the card.

Personally, I love a good theme – you could also make matching gift tags using the same emblems. What do you think? Are you handy with a needle and thread?

What Christmas cards have you been making?

Christmas Inspiration: DIY Advent Calendars

Can you believe that it’s nearly December? As I write, it is just 26 days until Christmas! I haven’t got round to making a Christmas advent calendar yet, but here’s my DIY inspiration round-up.

It seems I have a thing for boxes dangling from festive branches. All of these designs are stylish and suitable for any grown-up home. From giving 25 mini gift boxes, to writing 25 personalised messages, there is something here for everyone, and all are quick and easy to make.

DIY Advent Calendar

 For full DIYS, follow these blogs:

1. The Merry Thought, DIY Advent Calendar | 2. Hank and Hunt, Hanging Chalkboard Advent Calendar | 3. Oh Happy Day, Mini Tree Advent Calendar | 4. The Lovely Drawer, DIY Printable Advent Calendar | 5. The Marion House Book, DIY Advent Calendar | 6. Love From Ginger, DIY Forest Advent Calendar

Roll on Monday, and let the Christmas countdown begin!

Renegade Craft Fair London 2014

You might remember back in September, I told you about the upcoming Renegade Craft Fair at London’s Old Truman Brewery, just a stone’s throw from Old Spitalfields Market.

After waiting patiently, I was excited to attend the fair today. Packed full of talented stall holders, the Old Truman Brewery was the perfect venue to showcase an array of festive crafts.

From jewellery to cards, there was the opportunity to buy a range of wares in different styles. My favourite stalls were Mister Peebles, Peggy & Kate, Hello Harriet, and Blank Inside.

Blank Inside Design:

Blank Inside was the first stall I fell in love with – feat. gorgeous wrapping paper, gift tags and cards.

Blank_inside_Christmas_fox_let_it_snow_eco_recycled_wrapping_paper_liz_temperley

Blank Inside_' - www_blankinsidedesign_co_uk - Copy

Mister Peebles:

Mister Peebles had some truly gorgeous illustrations which he’d adorned on a range of stationery.

Mister Peebles

Peggy & Kate:

I was constantly drawn back to Peggy & Kate’s stall, as they use such a beautiful deep blue pallet.

Peggy & Kate

To conclude, Renegade Craft Fair was a blast. As well as browsing stalls, there was the opportunity to take part in some workshops such as pom pom making and letterpress printing, for a small fee.

I was also pleased to receive a complimentary ‘geometric neon mug cosy’ kit from Mollie Makes. The fair is open tomorrow (Sunday 23rd Nov) for the final day, so do check it out if you can!

Dried Orange Slice ‘Thank You’ Card

Call me old fashioned, but I like to make traditional ‘Thank You’ cards. This Christmas (back in Jan I promise), I decided to recycle the drawer full of dried orange segments I had leftover, by making pendant-style dried orange slice Thank You cards.

Dried Orange Slice Card

Not only do they look great, but they also (providing your orange was fresh) smell fantastic, and help bring Christmas into the New Year seamlessly on your dresser. You can also recreate these cards at any time of the year!

Dried Orange Thank You Card

To make the cards, I threaded a length of twine through individual dried orange segments. I then folded A5 plain card in half, as you would to make a traditional card. From here, all you need to do is cut two slots into the front of the card with a craft knife for your thread to go through, and tie your charm on accordingly on the inside – voila!

Dried Orange Segment Card

If you use the orange charms as Christmas decorations in your home, all you need to do post-Christmas is take down your decorations, and instead of storing them in the loft, tie them straight onto your prepped Thank You cards!