Thursday, 27 September 2012

Now you're Two - Happy Birthday to the Gift Gallery!

Happy Birthday to you,
Happy Birthday to you,
Happy Birthday Dear Gift Gallery...
Happy Birthday to You!

I just wanted to pass on my very Best Wishes to The Gift Gallery York who are 2 Years Old today!

The Gift Gallery is one of the most lovely shops I have had the pleasure of visiting, in that in only sells handmade items produced by a range of designers and craftspeople from across the UK and Ireland (including my felt accessories!)

Kate and her small team of friendly staff have been fantastic supporters of the handmade scene, and have been some of the loveliest, not to mention most professional people I have had the pleasure to work with.

So I hope you'll join me today in saying a very Happy Birthday to The Gift Gallery York!

Hip, Hip Hooray!  - here's to many more years of success!

If you are in York today, it would be grand if you could pop in to say hello - but if not, please feel free to leave The Gift Gallery York a message on their Facebook Wall or on Twitter

Monday, 17 September 2012

Monday Makeover - Upcycled Picture Frame Message Board

Today's Monday Makeover is a very simple craft tutorial!

It just takes 3 items,

3 minutes,

and can cost less than £3!

It's also perfect if you'd like to make yourself a new memo board but don't fancy having a go at the
DIY Chalkboard Paint from last week!

The 3 things you will need to create an upcycled picture frame message board:

1. An old picture frame with the glass still intact
2. An interesting piece of paper or fabric the same size as the frame
3. A chalkboard pen or dry-wipe marker pen

The 3 steps to follow to create an upcycled picture frame message board:

1. Remove the old picture from the frame, and clean the frame and the glass thoroughly
2. Place your new picture/paper/fabric into the frame behind the glass and replace the back
3. Decide where to hang your new picture frame message board and what to write on it!

Told you it was simple!

I use my frame to record very important messages:

What might you use your DIY dry erase picture frame message board for?
As always, comments welcome!

Saturday, 15 September 2012

Ideas and Inspirations: Fashion Trends

As a designer/maker, how important is it to follow the latest trends?

This is a question I have been pondering - because, as a designer/maker of felt accessories I have to acknowledge that my items will be worn - and in order to create a successful business, I have to ensure that those items will want to be worn by as many people as possible!

But does this mean I should blindly follow every fad, jumping on the latest fashion bandwagon no matter what direction it's heading in? With the newest fashion trends being shown at London Fashion Week, it seemed that now was as good a time as any to ponder this question!

As luck would have it, Chappell Ellison has been pondering the same thing - and her recent article on the Etsy blog has some interesting ideas to consider. As she points out, following the herd and giving the customer what 'they-think-they-want' can be very lucrative!

But I'm not sure that it's the creative path I'd like to take.

Firstly it's not really in my nature to follow the latest trends (I will stubbornly refuse to read a book or watch a film if I think it's been over-hyped!) and secondly I'm not sure that the current popular trends (which as far as I can tell from my extensive research on Pinterest are 'ombre', 'chevrons', furniture made from wooden pallets, DIY chalkboard paint and if you're from the UK, owls on just about everything!) are appropriate matches to folded felt flower accessories!

So, I have been saved from hitching my business to the fashion bandwagon, because for the moment at least, the trends do not coincide with my own ideas. But is there a way I can still use fashion to my advantage?

I have recently started to use the website Polyvore
If you're not familiar with the site the easiest way to describe it is a 'wardrobe creating tool'. It is similar to Pinterest in that users can upload pictures of items they like, but really that is where the similarity ends.

Funky Folk
The collection shown above is called 'Funky Folk' and features my Folk Art Daisy Corsage The rest of my collections can be found here

Rather than collecting individual pictures into a folder, Polyvore allows you to drag the different pictures onto a canvas to create a fashion 'set' - similar to the clothing combinations that are found in fashion magazines. It's great fun, and a really visual way to build a virtual wardrobe.

In one of my collections I have only included designer items - creating a wish list that could only be purchased following a HUGE lottery win! But then I thought that it would be useful to create a range of 'sets' to show other Polyvore users how my felt accessories can be incorporated into different outfits. (And the great thing is, once my pieces have been uploaded onto the site, other users are then able to use them in their own sets and share them with all their followers!)

I'm hoping that by using this site, I will be able to engage directly with shoppers, share my accessories with a wider audience, and show how my items can be incorporated into many different outfits regardless of whether you are a trend setter, a fashion follower or perfectly happy with your own personal style!

But what do you think?
Have any of you ever used Polyvore?
Do you think it could be a useful tool to be used by small business?
Or is it just a bit of fun?

I'd love to know your thoughts!

Sunday, 9 September 2012

How to make your own chalkboard paint - UK Instructions!

A DIY Custom Colour Chalkboard Chicken!
As you may have gathered from lots of my previous posts - I am now seriously addicted to Pinterest!

I mostly use it for ideas and inspiration for made by lolly - but thanks to the huge diversity of 'pins' available, it is also really easy to find lots of hints and tips for other subjects - including craft tutorials. The DIY craft tutorial that pops up most often is the 'How to make your own chalkboard paint'

The majority of these pins take you back to blog posts written by DIY craft enthusiasts in the US who have all had a go at making chalkboard paint for themselves. Every single one of them has a slightly different recipe, and different hints and tips - but the one thing that unites them is the fact that it actually seems to work!

So... I thought I might have a little go myself...

The most common recipe for DIY chalkboard paint appears to be taken from Martha Stewart's website and can be found here: Custom Colour Chalkboard Paint But for my attempt at DIY I wanted to combine this basic recipe with all of the hints and tips that I had found - and convert it for a UK audience!

So... Here is the incredibly simple made by lolly recipe for DIY chalkboard paint:
Powdered Tile Grout, Water, Acrylic Paint : MIX : PAINT
In case that's just a little too minimalist for you,
I have also written out a slightly more detailed recipe:
1. This chalkboard paint is made in the ratio of 1:10
e.g. for each measure of tile grout you will need approximately 10 measures of acrylic paint. For my sample pot I used half a teaspoon of tile grout (2.5ml) and 25ml of paint - for larger amounts just increase the quantities
2. Use 'unsanded' tile grout
I used Wilko White Tile Grout which cost just £1.40
3. To avoid lumps, mix the tile grout with a few drops of water before adding the paint, then stir well
The final colour of the chalkboard paint will be a little lighter than the original colour. If you want a very vibrant colour chalkboard paint then make sure you start with a good quality acrylic paint with a high level of pigment!
4. Ensure the item to be painted is clean, dry, dust free and suitable for painting
i.e. some surfaces, such as laminate wood may need to be painted with a suitable primer first
5. Use a roller to apply the paint in thin layers to avoid brush marks
I found my paint dried very quickly and  I could re-paint a second and third layer almost immediately
6. Wait at least 2 hours for the paint to completely dry
At this stage you my wish to lightly smooth the surface using sandpaper - but I found that this wasn't necessary with the items I had painted
7. 'Condition' the surface by rubbing the whole area with chalk, then rub off!
Use a damp cloth if necessary
8. Think of silly messages to write on your new chalkboard!
You should be able to use both traditional chalk and chalkboard pens on your newly painted chalkboard!

EDIT: Since I wrote this blog, I have found some really fab tips for how to draw like an artist on a chalkboard on the '' page. Click HERE for the link!
Once you've had a go at making a small sample - why not try something a little bigger...

A terracotta plant pot decorated with it's own chalk paint label?
A chalk paint memo board on one of the kitchen cupboards?
A giant chalkboard painted directly onto a child's bedroom wall?

Once you start looking, you'll be surprised at what uses you can find for chalkboard paint!

Please feel free to use my chalkboard paint tutorial to create some projects of your own! I'd love to know what you use it for!

Leave me a comment below if you think you might try this for yourself!

Thursday, 6 September 2012

Ideas and Inspirations: Personal Style

Folk Art Daisy Brooch - made by lolly
Do you think your personal style affects your work?

Do the clothes you wear, the books you read and the music you listen to influence your work?

Does how you decorate your house and the things you surround yourself with make a difference to how you design?

Let me tell you, I wasn't so sure that it did. My usual designing style is less of a structured research and development job and more of a result of 'playing' with the felt colours and shapes I have in front of me until I find something I like. From this point I begin creating more things that co-ordinate with that first sample item, until before you know it, I have a colour scheme and a range of designs!

But this season, I have tried to be a bit more deliberate in my choices, and rather than settling with the first colour combination or design I liked, try to keep pushing myself to find the best colour combination and design!

As you know, in the end I decided that my new Autumn/Winter range would feature pink, red, grey, black and cream in various co-ordinating or clashing combinations. I was inspired by the repeating patterns and strong colours found in folk art (see my inspiration board here) and I developed new designs including the 'Sweetheart' and 'Sunburst' pin brooches, as well as my personal favourite, the Folk Art Daisy

But what had drawn me to those colours and ideas in the first place?

After the initial excitement of designing a brand new collection had died down, I had time to look around me... at my red cord sofa, my black and white cushions, the red and white spotty tins in the kitchen, the vintage nick naks and the lino cut and letterpress art that I've been collecting over the last few years...

Including work by Inkmeup and Ryan Hannigan

All items with strong clear outlines, repeating patterns and bold colours -
heavily featuring red, black and cream!
Hmmm... so maybe our personal style does have an influence on the things we design?
What do you think?
Please feel free to comment below, I'd love to know your thoughts!

You may also be interested in my other Ideas and Inspirations posts:
Ideas and Inspirations
Ideas and Inspiration: Pinterest

Sunday, 2 September 2012

Shopping in York - a crafty guide!

York Minster
On Friday I visited York.
The main reason for going was to call at The Gift Gallery so I could re-stock them with lots of new season made by lolly goodies but frankly, who needs an excuse to visit York?!
Apart from the brilliant tourist attractions (of which there are many!), York is also a great place to go shopping if you are a lover of craft. As the city has so much to offer, I thought I would create a crafty shopping guide for York*
Looking for gift shops in York?

Your first visit of the day should always be The Gift Gallery situated on the historic street of the Shambles. Specialising in selling only handmade items from makers and artists in the UK and Ireland, you'll find an excellent selection of jewellery, cards, accessories, gifts, art-work and ceramics (including a large selection of new season stock from me!) The fact that all of the items have been handmade ensures the shop (and the items it sells) remains unique amongst everything that I have found in York!

The Gift Gallery and The Flax and Twine - both on The Shambles

Right next door is the newly opened The Flax and Twine This shop is full of lovely items for your home, with a focus on kitchenalia, homewares, haberdashery, crafts and gifts. They also sell a selection of vintage and antique furniture and collectibles, and have an on site cafe!
If you're into retro nostalgia items, then Give the Dog a Bone on Fossgate is the gift shop you're looking for. A stockist of Batman, Tintin and Marvel, they also stock Sass and Belle, Paper Plane and Rob Ryan.

Looking for haberdashery shops in York?
Did you know the famous Duttons for Buttons now has a shop in York? 32 Coppergate, is the place to go if you have a serious button fetish - but be warned, you will not be able to leave without purchasing something! An absolute treasure trove for button lovers, they have every size, shape and colour button you can think of - and with over 12,000 designs this button shop is sure to be some that you probably haven't thought of yet!
Gillies Fabrics found down Peter lane - a unpromising looking side road - is a proper old fashioned haberdashery shop. Selling sewing machines, fabric, buttons, ribbons, notions and tools this is an amazing resource for all sewing enthusiasts. I wish I had a shop like this near me!

Grace and Jacob is a working studio where Fiona Hirst, who is a felt maker and textile artist, has her studio. It also doubles as a shop. And although this shop is very small it is probably one of the best selections of feltmaking, spinning and textile supplies I have come across!
Tired out after all that shopping?
In need of some cake? 
Although tradition would dictate that you make a visit to Bettys, sometimes the idea of queueing for your cake just doesn't appeal. If you find yourself in that situation, I can heartily recommend both Cafe Concerto on High Petergate and Bullivant of York Ltd on Blake Street.

And if you're in need of a quick pit stop on a limited budget then it's well worth the walk down to Walmgate where Piccalilli's will give you a warm and friendly welcome as well a two cups of tea and two cakes for a fiver!
If you have any must-see crafty shopping recommendations then please feel free to leave a comment!
*Please note, I have not been sponsored, paid or bribed to write any of these reviews! All of the shops and businesses I mention are my personal recommendations, based entirely on my own experience of shopping in York
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