Monday, 15 July 2013

Last Minute Teacher Gifts

Just a quick round up of last minute teacher gifts found on ETSY. These are all from UK sellers and if ordered very quickly should arrive by the end of term especially if you don't finish until next Tuesday like my boys. I can't wait for the school holidays to start!
Apple for teacher keyrings by BluebirdsGlass

Thank you teacher tags by CraftyMushroom Cards
Wild cherry bookmarks by CottageCoppicing

Kindle Fire 7" Case APPLES by WhimsyWooDesigns

Two Glass Magnets by BlueDaisyGlass
Giant Paperclip bookmarks by BlueDaisyGlass

Friday, 12 July 2013

Lino Cuts

For those of you that are linked to my facebook page ( feel free to go and like) 
you may have noticed I've had a thing going for lino cuts this week. Oscar got some tools and lino in his birthday tool box and I thought I should have a go to iron out any problems! Good job I did they are so sharp I sliced my finger within the first two minutes. There was quite a lot of blood! 

I had in mind some 'Thank you' cotton bags from the boys to their teachers. Oscar drew a picture of a sun and wrote 'thank you' on sheet of paper the same size. Then I turned the paper over and rubbed the back. I remember doing this at school using that odd tracing paper from the toilets. (Humour me those of you that are young enough not to remember this paper!) So glad I remembered to turn the words backwards. I did however forget the part where you leave the part you want and so on the 'Oscar 'test piece I actually cut the letters.

 It doesn't look too bad though. It took a while to cut off all the excess and I did my first print onto paper. It was obvious where I hadn't cut enough so I cleaned it and scraped some more. After another few test sheets I was ready to print on the bags. No room for mistakes here.

 I did an extra one for me with a dandelion style cut. The bags are hanging to dry while I cut personalized lino for each teachers name. I think if they were mounted onto wood they would work as a stamp so I'll include those in the bag. Each child has drawn then carved their own name on a circular piece of lino add a 'from' element to the bags.

I enjoyed this project and so delved into the online crafty world to find some professional examples. I cannot believe how intricate the designs are. How on earth!

Jools Yasities
I love these stylized flowers.

King and Queen of Hearts by JaneDukeArtist
I love the multiple colours in this one. I may have to do a 'how to' on youtube.

Moleskin bee notebook by Talented Apple 

I think my boys would love to print on books and paper with name prints they have been working on.

This is so precise. One slip of the tool and a whole row of cabbages would be wiped out! I love the perfection in this one.

Saturday, 6 July 2013


So it's the final weekend of Wimbledon and Murray Mound is heaving. It's actually sunny and the forecast predicts that it will remain so for Sunday. Let's grab some strawberries and a bottle of Pimms and think positive thoughts. 

Door hanger by Picocrafts

Strawberry facts.....

Nearly 27,000 kilos of strawberries are eaten at Wimbledon each year.

Kindle pouch by Bluebirds and Daisies

Eating eight strawberries will give you more Vitamin C than an orange.

There are approx 200 seeds in every strawberry.

Strawberry Pincushion by Hippywitch

The strawberry plant is a member of the rose family.

Ellagic acid found in strawberries can help to fight cancer.

Cholesterol may be reduced by the flavonoids in strawberries.

Baby newborn strawberry hat by The Yarn Owls Nest

I think I'm going to go and look for a jam recipe as I have a bit of a glut. I keep buying those special offer boxes and no one else seems to be eating them except me. A 100 g serving for 50 calories is pretty good though. Perhaps it's the cream I am adding! 

Enjoy the tennis.

Friday, 28 June 2013

Up-cycled art chair

We didn't have iPads or computers when I was growing up. We played in the garden and collected stamps when it was raining. If we felt a bit arty we cut up cereal boxes and made dolls houses or heated crisp packets in the oven to make our own shrink plastic. 

I knew one day my stamp collection would come in handy! I selected the brightest ones and weeded out the best ones that ' might be valuable' one day and added a few I had stashed ready for a project. Last weekend I went to the local boot sale to source my item to up-cycle. Within minutes I had found the perfect kitchen chair at a rock bottom bargain price. It was in a pretty bad way! 

First I sanded the chair. I tried bribing my children to do this part as I hate the preparation part of a job but they weren't interested, not even in a fiver! It took ages but  I was happy with smooth finish after a few hours. Then the fun part. I used copious amounts of mod podge to stick the stamps to the chair. I tried straight lines and minimal overlapping but that didn't look quite right. The slap it on and fill in any gaps approach worked so much better. I'm sure there are still a few gaps but you would need a magnifying glass to find them. The hardest parts were the corners and then making sure the perforations didn't stick out. The easiest way to do that was using mod podge with bare hands to smooth out any rough parts. The glue peeled off my hands like the PVA we used to use at school. I have unused two coats of non yellowing varnish to seal the chair and give it a tough durable finish. 

I think it would look great in a shabby chic style room or a contemporary boys bedroom. 

I've really enjoyed this project and now need to source more stamps for another. I think a Beano chair might be fun too.

The final ETSY on the picture for more info.

Thursday, 27 June 2013

Wimbledon Week

Vintage Pair of Wooden Tennis Rackets with Wood Press by PickleVintage

I'm not much of a tennis fan and the thought of running around a tennis court fills me with horror but I have to admit I do quite like the way we Brits get excited about Wimbledon. Henman Hill, Murray Mound we love to get behind our players. 

Keep Calm and Play Tennis dictionary art print by PeregrinJewellery


 Did you know that it's the oldest tennis tournament in the world. It started in 1877. I've never been but I'm sure I would enjoy some strawberries and cream washed down with a glass or two of Pimms. I love this tennis inspired set of stone coasters.

Tennis Love, GAME, SET, MATCH Natural Stone Coaster Collection (4) by DandWstonecrafts

Did you know the total prize fund this year is a jaw dropping £22 million. Suddenly my boys might be enrolled in tennis lessons!

My final tennis inspired item today is this fantastic upcycled change purse. What a fabulous idea!

Recycled Tennis Ball Mini Bag/ Change Holder by MANIkordstudio

Saturday, 22 June 2013


Homemade Lemonade

The best homemade lemonade tasted has to be from The Hotel Con Corazon in Granada, Nicaragua. I drank gallons of the stuff! Each country we visited had it's own local soft drink. Lemonade was a favourite but we also had pineapple, papaya, and various other fruit mixtures. Some were better than others. Some had even slightly fermented and were quite revolting!

 Today with my new squeezer from Mexico me and my helper tried to recreate lemonade. Well the squeezer broke on the first squeeze and we resorted to our traditional glass one. 

You will need : 
1 cup of lemon juice (about 6 lemons)
4 cups of water 
1 cup of sugar

First make a syrup by dissolving 1 cup of sugar in 1 cup of water.

Squeeze 1 cup of lemons.

Mix and add 3 more cups of water.

We poured ours into a lovely bottle and added a tag. Keep in the fridge. 

Easy peasy lemon squeezy!  Couldn't resist that one.

Had a quick search for lemon related products and look what I found!

Inspirational quote by Rock The Custard
The lemonade would look great served in one of these pitchers.

My Vintage table 2 U
And how perfect is this print.....
Purdey and Blue 

Polymer Clay earrings by Cute Enough Crafts
Please click on the links to go straight to the shops.

Wednesday, 12 June 2013

The Crafty Folk Team on ETSY

This week I'd like to shout about the wonderful crafts people on my favourite ETSY team. The Crafty Folk team. It's a team that works together and promotes one another in many ways.

Shop of the week - this week it's the turn of SimJaTa, I must remember to ask where the name came from. I love all the original bags but this sewn card caught my eye this week. A great sentiment. I'm sure most of us know someone that would be a perfect recipient for this original art card.

The hot 100 - an item is chosen at random from participants and the idea is to increase the items views until they reach 100 or a sale.  You can use any social media that works for you to promote as well as viewing and favouriting the item. 
This pendant by  is completely unique and a real eye catcher.
If an item is favourited it shows up in the feed of all your followers. I've been building up my followers slowly.I thought I was doing well until today I saw someone with 23,000! The more followers you have the more feeds the item favourited will show up in. So an item favourited by me in theory should show up in over 2000 in boxes. Build up your followers Crafty Folk and our reach will be in the millions!

Themed Pinterest boards. A willing team member chooses a theme and everyone uploads images of their products that fit into the category on the thread. . Last week Shirley from chose 'The Blues' . The pieces are all collated into one Pinterest board. Repinning from the board is encouraged as repins rank  higher in Pinterest searches.

This weeks board -

Thanks Shirley and everyone else that has curated these.
A kindle touch case by WhimseyWooDesigns
We also have a daily listing thread. I try to list something everyday and while on the thread favourite everyone elses new items. My favourite today is this felted scarf from FrouFrouFelt.

This is not an exhaustive list there are many other ways that this team helps each other. Next time treasuries!
If you think you'd like to be part of this fabulous supportive team......

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

Hama beads - 3D designs.

I am constantly amazed when I sneak a peak at my blog statistics that the Hama bead posts are a constant source of traffic. The first post was my children's basic dinosaur shapes. In post two I discovered that Perler beads were taking over as they had more colours and were better suited to the detailed realistic pictures that were being created. So post 3 ?  I decided to find out what's new in the Hama world.

 It's 3D Hama! 

Check out these 3D bowls from Very Melicious on ETSY 
These look amazing with lights shining through.

The ever popular Nintendo and Pokemon images are still super popular but with a 3D twist. These cubes look so hard to make. There are lots of You Tube videos and tutorials for these. 

I think these cubes by JingleBells042 on ETSY would make great pencil pots for a child's desk.
Another version of the pencil pot is this 3D Tardis Dr Who style.
 How pleased would a Dr. fan be to receive this original gift. 

by Soranoo on ETSY

Pacman is still popular. There are lots of Pacman earrings in MangoCats shop on ETSY but my favourite is the Pacman cuff. Do they still have those glass game tables in pubs with Pacman as the only game? Many happy hours with a packet of crisps and bottle of coke.

A final link to a French blog magazine. Plumetis le blog . Please click on this link to go to the site where more information can be found about these amazing pots. This is much more my style. I wonder if I can persuade the boys to try these as a change from the normal dinosaur theme.

I have created a special Pinterest board especially for Hama. Inspiration for the rainy school holidays!

Thursday, 23 May 2013

Ceramics in Nicaragua

San Juan de Oriente,the next stop on our tour of the Pueblos Blancos, is famous for its ceramics. In a town of approx 5600, 4000 are directly involved in the production of ceramics. The history of ceramics in the town dates back to 1000 BC. Legends tell the story of a female spirit that lived in the nearby Masaya volcano that was rewarded for he prophecies with offerings of food on plates made in the village. The Spanish named the town San Juan de los Platos as the 'plates' were so significant to the economy. The name only changed with independence in 1821.

We visited the house and shop of one potter. He explained that all the clay was dug from local sources and each potter has to prepare it ready for use himself. This involves removing gravel then adding sand before working to a suitable consistency. We watched his demonstration carefully. He used his feet to turn the wheel and copious amounts of water to create his perfect shape. Some of us were inspired to have a go including the boys. 

What brilliant first efforts!

Glazes are added often using recycled items. Human hair and old pens make the perfect paintbrushes. Intricate designs are then added and the pieces left to dry. 

 All the work needs to be fired and I was delighted to be able to see the homemade adobe  kiln, a style used by all the artisans in the area. It made me think about my own beast of a kiln in my workshop at home.I have electrical power and a temperature controller. These kilns are heated by  burning wood and need a whole lot of experience to control the temperature. The fire needs to be tended constantly for approximately 10 hours.

The finished pieces are displayed around the house and then sent to souvenir shops all over Nicaragua.It a pleasure to meet such a talented man. We all bought a few pieces and I'm pleased to report that they all made it home to England safely.

Browsing online I found an amazing charity called Potters for Peace.
The charity help potters develop their techniques and help them to find outlets for their work. They have helped develop fuel efficient kilns to make the process less fuel thirsty. The new kilns have reduced the amount of fuel needed by 50%. After the devastation of trees in the area by Hurricane Mitch this helped many potters back into production.

Browsing on ETSY as you know I love to, I searched Nicaragua and found a number of ceramic artists with work for sale. Try and take a look-amazing!



Friday, 17 May 2013

Basket Weaving in Nicaragua

 Can you locate it on a map? 
Do you know one snippet of information about this off the beaten track spot?

I was lucky enough to visit Nicaragua this February as a stop on my journey through Central America. What a fantastic country to visit! I would thoroughly recommend it. It's a country dominated by volcanoes and filled with super friendly people.

I stayed with my family for a week at the Mariposa Spanish School near Masaya, an area famous for local artisans.

 In the mornings we studied Spanish and in the afternoons we explored the local area. We crawled through ancient lava tubes, sampled local delicacies and watched in awe as local artisans created masterpieces before our eyes. 

 One afternoon we visited Los Pueblos Blancos. The buildings in these towns were originally painted white (blanco) to ward off evil spirits. Each village specializes in a particular craft. We started in Niquinohomo, the birthplace of Augusto Cesar Sandino, to visit a basket weaver and his family. 

First the bamboo is sliced lengthways. Note the knife is pointing towards to the man! Not a job for wimps! The man was covered in cuts and scars from knife wounds. His brother then creates a frame from the sliced bamboo strips in a star shape. A length of thinner bamboo is then woven in a spiral from the centre towards the edges of the basket. This too resulted in blood letting while we watched! The men worked at speed and at the end of each day have a pile of baskets ready for sale. Most of the baskets are used by locals to carry their wares to market. They are huge and sturdy enough to be thrown from the roof of the chicken buses on reaching the market.

Oscar was completely mesmerized by this process and later in the trip we made a mini woven rug from bits of palms on the beach. 

Searching online I found some great projects. Purchase of baskets from this site provides food for children in schools. Local women have been empowered by basket weaving projects. A little monthly income in Nicaragua goes a long way. This clip shows a lady using pine needles for her basket.