Tuesday Tutorial: Glitter Name Bunting

Glitter Name Bunting Tutorial by Under a Glass Sky

Yes, you’re right, my last tutorial was about glitter too. But then glitter is worthy of repetition.

A trend has been emerging with my recent crafting projects….glitter. And why the heck not? After all, glitter is the quintessential crafting supply, and everything is better with a good sprinkle of the stuff.

I bought a stash of glitter card ages ago, and did the usual thing of ‘saving it for something special’. And what could be more special than my niece’s first birthday?! Having decided I wanted to make something glittery for her, I thought about what a one year old could best make use of…..she’s mostly pointing at me and laughing right now though, and doesn’t seem to be in need of anything other than whatever food is out of her reach, so I opted for for something to decorate her bedroom. And because (I think it’s fair to say) I’m pretty bunting obsessed, that’s what my first thought ran to!

You don’t need any crazy equipment or mad skills for this DIY, but it does take some precision and patience. The result is pretty rewarding though I think!

Glitter Name Bunting Tutorial by Under a Glass Sky

What you will need:

  • Glitter card
  • Wooden pennants with pre-drilled holes (enough for each letter of the name)
  • Mod Podge or PVA glue
  • Ribbon (enough to go across the width of each pennant, plus about 30cm extra)
  • A plastic spatula
  • Craft knife or scalpel
  • Metal rule
  • A pencil
  • Small scissors

How to make it:

  • Place your first pennant on the back of a piece of glitter card and trace around it with a pencil as close as you can get
  • Cut the glitter card with scalpel and ruler or scissors if you prefer, and check it up against the pennant to see that it fits
  • Now give the pennant a good generous coat of glue….it’s better to have too much on there than too little
  • Carefully place the glitter card onto the pennant, squaring it up quickly before the glue dries to ensure all the edges are aligned
  • Press firmly down on the card so that any excess glue comes out at the sides
  • Use the spatula to remove this excess by sliding the flat edge along the side of the pennant….this will also help to nicely seal the edges
  • Repeat this for all your pennants and then set them aside to dry for a couple of hours
  • Whilst you wait, cut out your letters from the glitter card…..I used the pencil to draw onto the back of the card then cut around that, but remember to draw in reverse
  • Once the newly glittered pennants are dry, arrange them in the order you’d like them and offer up each letter to check that the colours contrast well enough to see them
  • Apply glue to the back of your first letter, again using plenty as you’ll need a good coat to get in between the bumpy glittery surface
  • Carefully place the letter on the pennant, check you’re happy with the positioning, and press down firmly
  • Again, use the spatula to remove any excess, although don’t worry too much as the glue will dry clear
  • Repeat for each pennant and allow to dry well, preferably over night
  • Now you just need to thread the pennants together by cutting through the glitter card to reveal the hole in the wood with the scalpel, and posting the ribbon through each hole of each pennant, then moving on to the next
  • Finally, tie a knot in each end to stop the pennants moving about, and you’re done!

If you find it tricky to get hold of some wooden pennants (I got mine from an online craft shop who sell lots of laser cut MDF shapes) you could always cut them yourself from foamex.

I also made a single pennant with a star shape on it for a friend’s birthday, and of course you could apply any pattern to your bunting, or even just leave it plain in all its glittery glory!

Happy glittering!

Ems x

 

British Pie Week, and my regular Friday Pie-day!

I never needed an excuse to eat pie. I’ve loved pie since very young, and I have fond memories of burning my tongue on scalding hot pie filling erupting from freshly made Wrights Pies (a delicacy of my native Stoke on Trent!). My all time favourite dish my Mummy cooks is her incredible mince meat pie and onion gravy….one day I will perfect it!

But in case unlike me you need an excuse, or perhaps the humble pie isn’t something you often opt for (I won’t hold it against you, promise), you may be interested to hear that we are currently in the middle of British Pie Week! Conceived to share the pie love, promote this wonderful British dish and to show people new and wonderful recipes, Pie Week is a perfect time to indulge in something yummy and pastry-encrusted!

Now we have a bit of a tradition in our house…..Friday Pie-day! Whilst we sometimes swap out for Fish Friday, we very often like to scoff a home made pie on a Friday….a sort of ‘you made it through the week!’ treat, and a way to use up whatever ingredients we may have languishing at the back of the fridge to boot!

For me, pie is best served with a creamy mash, but gravy is an absolute MUST (another Potteries, or perhaps Midlands thing I think!). But beyond that, anything goes in my book! I often use up the end of a ham in a pie with cheese sauce and leeks….I adore a fish pie….and anything with a mashed potato topping is a grand idea as far as I’m concerned (cottage pie and shepherds pie feature heavily).

We’ve recently taken up a new organic vegetable box subscription though, from nearby St Helen’s Farm in Tadcaster, and so this week I’ve had some squash that I need to use up. I visited Fodder in Harrogate yesterday and came away with a log of Yellison Goats Cheese which is also made nearby in Skipton. So along with some other things I needed to use up, I made up a tasty pie filling in a rich tomato-based sauce.

It always feels quite rewarding to home-make a pie, but it’s really the easiest thing. I like making pies when we have guests as I can pre-prepare the filling, then clean up before finishing them off in the oven once our guests arrive.

For this pie I simply peeled and cubed the squash, and roasted it in the oven until soft. Then I fried up some onion and garlic, followed by sliced fennel and spring greens. Oh and some chick peas left over from a salad earlier in the week. Next I added a tin of chopped tomatoes (the fresh ones we got in our box are long gone!) to the whole lot, seasoned well and reduced slightly before spooning into pie dishes, crumbling in some of the cheese and topping with puff pastry. Lush!

Ems x

It’s Pancake Day, It’s Pancake Day, It’s PPPP-PPPP Pancake Day!

Like the man said…it’s Pancake Day! And I for one will be enjoying a day of mostly eating batter based foods! I bally love this day….it wouldn’t occur to me to make a meal of pancakes any other day of the year (with the exception of a breakfast of American style pancakes now and again!) and I love the excuse to gorge. I even made a Pinterest board this year with ideas….I like to have both sweet and savoury options, you know, to make it a balanced meal of course.

For breakfast we had Belgian waffles with banana and maple syrup. Then for lunch I had another go at making Okonomiyake, which is a sort of Japanese pancake. This dish is a favourite of Adam’s and although I’ve never had it ‘properly’ in Japan, I’ve been trying to learn to make it. Last week’s attempt was rather poor, but I think today’s was pretty good!

Home made Okonomiyake, or Japanese pancake for Shrove Tuesday

I based mine loosely on the recipes in my Pinterest board, with (as usual) a couple of changes for my own taste (and to use up things we had in the cupboard!). Here’s how I made it…..

  • I mixed one cup of flour with one cup of chicken stock, then added one beaten free range egg to form a batter.
  • Then I stirred in a large handful of savoy cabbage and one small leek (both finely sliced and from our yummy organic veg box) and seasoned.
  • Next I heated up a large non-stick skillet and sprayed a little olive oil onto the surface before pouring the mixture in.
  • Having spread the mixture out as much as possible, I pressed it all down into as thin a ‘pancake’ as I could, and let it cook for about eight minutes until the underside was golden.
  • Then I slid the pancake onto a plate, added a little more oil to the pan as well as some strips of free range streaky bacon.
  • Next I flipped the pancake onto another plate before sliding it back into the pan with the cooked side on top.
  • It was then just a case of waiting for the bacon to cook well, and the pancake browning nicely before serving it all up!

To top our Okonomiyake I mixed up a dessert spoon each of ketchup and barbecue sauce with two dessert spoons of Henderson’s relish and a teaspoon of golden caster sugar. We spooned this sort of Tonkatsu sauce onto our pancakes along with some mayonnaise, which I believe is the traditional topping. Yummy!

For supper this evening we’re planning some more traditional crepe-like pancakes with lemon juice and sugar….although I think I’ll also make some of these delicious sounding apple, banana and cinnamon pancakes to try, and maybe even some of these fabulous looking cinnamon roll pancakes too!

How do you like your pancakes?!

Ems x

Christmas Crafting

Having a bit more time on my hands this year, I managed to get round to some Christmassy crafting for myself! Not nearly as much as I’d hoped still….hopefully I’ll be more organised still next year! I thought I’d share some of my projects though, now that all the gifts have been given and no surprises will be spoiled!…..

Hand stitched personalised Christmas tree ornament gift idea Hand stitched personalised Christmas tree ornament gift idea

First of all, I got my stitch on to make some little embroidered Christmas tree ornaments. It being the year Adam and I got married, I made a little tartan-backed heart which I embroidered with ‘Mr and Mrs McDowall’s First Christmas’….and finding myself rather pleased with it I made another for our friends Claire and Matthew who also got married this year (Claire is Christmas mad like me too!), as well as one for our new niece!

Hand painted salt and pepper shakers with Capybaras

We had some prints made up from the wedding, and the usual doggy calendars for our Mums featuring our own hounds as gifts too. I got a bit more hands on though making some hand painted salt and pepper pots for my Father in Law….annoyingly I forgot to photograph them, but they work on the same principal as the Capybara ones I sell on my Etsy shop, but featuring a gold finch and a green finch as they’re his favourites!

Quick and easy home baked Christmas dog treats; cheese, parsnip and swede stars Quick and easy home baked Christmas dog treats; cheese, parsnip and swede stars

The dogs are never left out in this house, and so I baked some yummy (yes, I tried them myself!) cheese, parsnip and swede star biccies for the six McDowall dogs who live in the UK (I will make it up to Bree in the US I hope one day!). They were super easy to make, so I’ll be making more again soon I’m sure.

Home made Advent calendar idea; a riddle and treasure hunt for each day

I have made some sort of alternative Advent calendar for Adam for a few years now, and this year has been his favourite by far! I wrote out a riddle for each day, giving a clue as to where he could find that day’s treat! He loved working them all out, and searching the house for chocolates and little gifts…his first day’s treat was a pair of tweezers as he’s always pinching mine!

Home made Christmas cards with pet portraits

I also tend to make our Christmas cards too, and this year I painted portraits of our beloved hounds which I turned into cards….I scanned in the paintings, then we had them printed before I attached each to a pretty pastel card with silver photo corners. I was really rather pleased with them actually….not least because I managed to get them out in time for them to be delivered at the start of December this year!

Very easy, home made Christmas crackers in candy stripe

I took to making our own crackers a few years ago, and like to put new and fun things inside each year, as well as changing the way they look. I have been crazy about candy stripes this year, so used that to wrap them (as well as our gifts), then wrote out little jokes to go inside as well as funny stick-on moustaches for everyone to wear in place of hats!

Candy stripe Christmas nail art

Festoon lights Christmas nail art Snowflake Christmas nail art Christmas pudding nail art

I’ve also had more chance to decorate my nails in a festive fashion this year too….not least because they’ve not been covered in glue all the time! I painted tiny festoon lights, little Christmas puddings, pretty snowflakes and of course some candy stripes too….now for a New Year’s Eve design!

Christmas tree at home

I didn’t get round to making a wreath this year as I often do, in part because there wasn’t really anywhere suitable to hang one. I’m rather pleased with our tree though, and the other bits and bobs we’ve decorated with….but mostly I’m looking forward to being in our ‘forever home’ next Christmas so that I can really go to town!

Ems x

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Something from the weekend….Foraging, gardening, making and treasure hunting

I had such a lovely weekend! The weather really does help of course, and all the sunshine hours make such a difference!

I spent a lot of the weekend gardening….the front garden has been transformed after many hours of hard work and is benefitting from having been totally dug over and filled with plants! I can’t wait to see it all bloom, although I guess I have to wait til Spring for that. Still, it looks better already and has tidied up the front of the house no end.

We did some great foraging too…..we picked loads of blackberries and elderberries from the local common, as well as some sweet pea pods and honeysuckle berries I’ll be planting for next year. We also raided the back garden, and came back indoors with stacks of apples, more blackberries and greengages too. There is a medlar tree that is also looking rather full, but I think we have to leave those a little longer before harvesting them.

We spent an absolute age rinsing the elderberries, plucking them off their stalks, rinsing them again and then bottling them….I hope it’s going to be worth it! We made one bottle of elderberry schnapps and one bottle of spiced elderberry liqueur….can’t wait to try them! I made jam from the greengages, and it was probably my most successful yet….it tastes yummy and is the perfect consistency so I’ll have to share some tips soon!

As is traditional, we also visited the antiques market on Friday and the car boot sale on Sunday….I picked up some great treasures to use at the wedding and the place was really buzzing in the fine weather. It was also the crafts and  farmers market on Saturday, and we dawdled around there awhile, spotting some great new stalls too.

Other than that, it was a weekend of domesticity, relaxing, cooking endless amounts of marrow, walking the dogs and watching more Buffy. Bliss!

Here are a few photos from the weekend…..

Ems x

Tuesday Tutorial: Jewellery Picture Frames

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I actually first made these to display my jewellery in at a pop-up shop I was exhibiting in, but once I’d brought them home I thought they’d just be perfect for keeping my own collection all tidy! I have a beautiful big jewellery box, and a big hat box that’s crammed with jewellery too, but despite all that my things invariably end up strewn across the fireplace in the bedroom!

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I have my flavours of the month, then they get buried underneath the next favoured few, and before too long I’ve forgotten what I have! This way though I get to show off several pieces at once, keep them all de-tangled and then just swap them back into the jewellery box when I want a change!

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These are super easy to make, and only took me moments. They’re cheap to put together too (I made them using bits and bobs I already had at home!) and don’t take any special skills!

What you will need:

  • Picture frames (broken, or with the glass and backing removed)
  • Pencil
  • Ruler or tape measure
  • Small cup hooks
  • Drawing pins
  • String
  • Mini pegs
  • A bradawl tool, if you have one, or something sharp and pointy if not! (Please be careful!!)
  • White tack or picture nails

How to make:

1. Along the top edge of your tallest frame, measure the inside edge and mark out where you’d like each hook to go using the pencil

2. Using the bradawl, start off a hole at each mark

3. Screw your hooks into the holes, ensuring they all end up facing the same way

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4. Along each side edge of another frame, measure out and mark with a pencil where you’d like a string to cross, leaving a good 5cm in between each

5. Push a drawing pin into each mark

6. Tie string across and between each set of drawing pins

7. Attach pegs to the strings

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8. Now they’re ready to go on the wall, either suspended on nails or just attached with white tack (like mine!)

9. Hang long necklaces from the hooks, and rings, brooches etc. from the pegs

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10. Stand back and admire your work!

Ems x

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Something from the weekend: Fudge, walks and White Russians

Another little whistle-stop tour of my weekend…..

Saturday:

Lie in due to headache….followed by a naughty breakfast of Staffordshire Oatcakes with cheese and bacon…into town after that, to buy eggs from the farmers market as well as some much-needed fudge….

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Some home-alone training for the dogs, leaving them for twenty minutes at a time to pop into town…coffees back at home in between and reading up on the upcoming Hitchin Festival….

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A little gardening, plus a good couple of hours building our new barbecue….Home made veggie Moussaka for dinner….

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….then watching The Big Labowski whilst drinking White Russians.

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Sunday:

A lovely morning walk at Chick Sands….followed by a walk around the car boot sale and more home-alone training for the hounds….

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Gardening and barbecue prep after that…..then Adam’s parents over for an afternoon of grilling meats and other goodies….and some slobbing on the sofa for the evening, watching The Fifth Element….

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Bank Holiday Monday (yay!):

A stunning walk around Ickleford, through beautiful fields of barley with blue skies above….

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Another trip into town to visit the Humanitas shop and to buy sweets….then some more gardening time as well as some wedding stuff whilst sat outside in the sun eating too many sweeties (including strawberry ones shaped like brains!)…

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A lazy dinner of nut cutlets then more weddingy stuff before an early night.

Lush.

Ems x

Wednesday Wants….. Washi washi washi

Right. Before you say ANYTHING, I am allowed to obsess over stationery and packaging, *for professional reasons*. And so what if I did spend an inordinate amount of time last week building a washi tape dispenser in my studio? It was *for professional reasons*.

I mean, I have to ensure the goodies I spend hours making are carefully wrapped up against those brutal Posties, and the goodies also have to be pretties don’t they? And washi tape is just so incredibly versatile too….I mean, what other tape could you make such pretty mini cupcake bunting from?!

Needless to say, I’ve become a little obsessed about washi tape lately, but all the cool people are, and any combination of Japanese kitsch, pretty packaging and super cute stationery is bound to get me over-excited, so I’m going with it. And now you are too….here are my favourites….

mt 2012 Autumn NEW- Japanese Washi Masking Tapes / 6mm Slim Twist Cord A set of 3

Twist Cord A set of 3, from Little Happy Things, £3.39

New-Sanrio My Melody Paper Deco Tape / 15mm (Pink)

Sanrio My Melody Paper Deco Tape, Little Happy Things, £3.73

MT ex 2012 Autumn NEW- Japanese Washi Masking Tape / Map


MT Map Japanese Washi Masking Tape, Little Happy Things, £4.75

Green and White Grids Washi Tape / Masking Tape - Classic, 15m, 1 Roll

Green and White Grids, GoodiMochi , £1.83

Pink Inch Scale Washi Tape / Masking Tape - 10m


Pink Inch Scale, GoodiMochi, £1.83

Fluorescent Color Washi Tape / Masking Tape // Your Choice of Color - Yellow, Pink, Orange, Green // 10m, 1 Roll


Fluorescent Color Washi Tape, GoodiMochi, £1.83

Black and White Chevron Washi Tape / Masking Tape - 10m


(*cough* Twin Peaks) Black and White Chevron, GoodiMochi, £1.83

Heart in the Clouds Washi Tape


Heart in the Clouds Washi Tape, Wishy Washi Tape, £2.03

Washi Tape: On the Road

On the Road, The Sewing Post, £2.03

NEW- Moomin Carriage and Umbrella Series Japanese Washi Masking Tape / Salmon Pink

Moomin Carriage and Umbrella Series in Salmon Pink and White, Little Happy Things, £5.93

Ems x

How To…. Transform a nasty dresser into a nice dresser

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You may have heard me going on about the dresser we’ve been transforming for our kitchen, and I’m so pleased with the results that I thought I’d share how we did it here.

We bought a very orangey-varnished dresser for the kitchen from a local-pick-up Ebay seller last year, and although it’s a nice shape and size, it looked very dated in its finish. So, we decided we’d give it a make over, to make it brighter and fresher, and here’s how…..

What you will need:

  • Your dresser or other piece of furniture
  • Fine grade sand paper (an orbital or palm sander makes it easier if you can get one!)
  • Lots of scrap paper or newspaper
  • Masking tape
  • Wide and narrow brushes
  • White (or any colour for that matter) DURABLE kitchen-friendly paint (we used Wilkinsons Durable emulsion)
  • Tester pots in contrasting shades for handles (we used Wilkinsons emulsion tester pots in pastel shades)
  • Satin finish durable varnish
  • A piece of dowel for stirring the paint and varnish
  • Sugar soap
  • Rubber gloves
  • Protective goggles and mask (wear these all the time you’re sanding and preferably when you’re painting too!)
  • A clean cleaning cloth

How to do it:

  1. Prepare the area you’re going to work in by ensuring you have good ventilation, your piece of furniture is free from any obstacles, and any other furniture or belongings are covered in newspaper to protect them from saw dust and paint. Also remove any handles etc. and take off the doors and drawers to make them easier to paint separately.
  2. Decide which areas of the furniture you want to paint and which you want to leave as exposed wood, and put on your goggles and mask.
  3. Sand the entire piece, just roughly all over, so that the first layer of old varnish or paint is roughened. This level of sanding will suffice for all the areas you want to paint.
  4. For the bits you want to leave as exposed wood, continue sanding until all the old varnish or paint has gone, and you are left with a nice smooth surface and a more natural colour.
  5. Now mask off these areas you want to keep un-painted with newspaper, sticking this down carefully to the edges with masking tape so that none of the not-to-be-painted surface is exposed, but all of the areas to be painted are exposed.
  6. Wearing your rubber gloves, pour a little sugar soap onto the cloth and clean away the dust from the sanding, so that your to-be-painted surfaces are nice and clean. You’ll need to wipe over a few times with water too, in order to get rid of the soapiness.
  7. Now you can finally start to paint! Don’t forget to stir the paint pot well before starting!
  8. It’s better to paint three or four very thin coats as opposed to one or two thicker ones, as you’ll get a better finish and the paint job will be less prone to chipping. Use a narrower brush to get into all the nooks and crannies and corners, then a bigger brush to fill the larger areas.
  9. Let the paint dry THOROUGHLY in between each coat….it’s hard to be patient but the finish will be much better if you are!
  10. Keep painting thin coats all over the piece until you have a good coverage, then leave it to VERY THOROUGHLY dry before carefully removing the masking tape and newspaper.
  11. Now you can clean the un-painted surfaces with the sugar soap, and get on with the little details.
  12. Lightly sand the handles and clean them with sugar soap.
  13. Then paint each one in your chosen colour, again in several thin coats, waiting for each coat to dry in between.
  14. Once those are dry, stir your pot of varnish well, then take a small brush and thinly coat each handle with the varnish. Again, you’re likely to need around three thin coats.
  15. Once the varnish is dry, replace the handles and doors and drawers, then fill up your dresser with pretties, sit back and admire your hand work!

All in, our dresser cost less than £100, including the piece itself and all the painting things. A bit of a bargain I think and well worth the effort! So much so in fact, that we’ve already done our kitchen table to match (with exposed wood top and white legs) and we’re planning on painting the chairs in the pretty pastel shades of the dresser handles!

Hope this is useful and you enjoy your project!

Ems x

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Wednesday Wants…. I Am A Bird

I came across these stunning treasures on Etsy a few weeks ago, but was very happily reminded of them today when they featured in a daily ‘Etsy Finds’ email!

I Am A Bird is an enchanting Etsy shop hosted by the wonderfully talented Madeleine Belanger, a 21 year old artist and jewellery designer from British Columbia, Canada. Madeleine also has a darling blog that you can find here, but it’s really her stunning jewellery that has my attention.

Taking inspiration from her surrounding Canadian landscape, colors and animals, Madeleine hand paints each completely unique piece featuring owls, deer, evergreen trees, squirrels, racoons and birds.

You can even order a bespoke piece by Madeliene, and I think a pet portrait necklace would be an incredible gift!

fox necklace in wood necklace- framed fox necklace- hand painted unique fox necklae

Fox in wood necklace, £30

How adoringly crafty is this little fox?! This beautiful pendant was made from unique wood retrieved from wine vats, which has been cut, sanded and drilled by Madeleine’s Dad! The pendant has been painted and sanded, then filled with a crystal clear resin.

honey harvest bear- fall fashion wooden bear necklace- wheat field dark wood- iamabird black friday cyber monday sale

Honey harvest bear, £30

I love this sweet little grizzly bear who stands in front of a wheat field. Another original painting, every order is completely unique!

summer owl - turquoise teal summer fashion owl- hand painted wooden necklace black friday cyber monday sale


Summer owl, £27

I adore the teal backdrop to this owl necklace! It just looks stunning against the blonde wood and golden owl.

Framed Fox Necklace- Hand painted wood fox necklace- reclaimed wooden fox necklace

Framed fox necklace, £40

The oval shaped pieces rather remind me of cameos, and I find this little fox utterly enchanting! The wood, which is recycled from old bed posts and the like, has been hand stained.

honey bee spring fashion necklace- hand painted bee necklace- honey comb wooden necklace

Honey bee necklace, £30

I’m loving bees at the moment, so this one was bound to appeal to me. For this particular style, a hole is drilled into the wood and the bee is forever suspended in his quaint little home, safely behind a super glossy resin.

valentines bird wood slice necklace- hand painted wood slice necklace


Love bird necklace, £17

And the super-cute winner is this Love Bird necklace! The little loops are secured into each piece of wood, and from those the pendants hangs on a silver chain….you can even choose the length and colour!

Should funds allow, I’d go crazy and buy all of these….and probably lots more on the shop besides! And with an exceptionally reasonable £3 shipping cost, it’s all the more tempting!

Ems x