Gifts I made for my husband on our first anniversary

DIY first wedding anniversary paper gifts

As you may well have already read on my earlier post, it was my first wedding anniversary on Sunday. I often make gifts for people on birthdays and at Christmas, and this special occasion seemed like a good excuse to get crafting too.

First of all I decided to make a little book for him, a sort of collecting book for anniversaries. I drew a little picture to represent the traditional gift given on all the key anniversaries, then bound them into a little map covered book (maps being a favourite of ours and a theme at our wedding). I was rather pleased with the result, and I look forward to Adam ‘collecting’ anniversaries for a long time to come!

DIY first wedding anniversary paper gifts

DIY first wedding anniversary paper gifts

DIY first wedding anniversary paper gifts

DIY first wedding anniversary paper gifts

We’ve been having a bit of a copper obsession lately (long before it became so trendy, I might add!) and I actually tried to find some copper julep cans for Adam’s Christmas gift. I couldn’t manage to find any that were quite right at the time though, but I persisted and found a great set of quite old ones that needed a spruce up. Several hours of boiling in sea salt and vinegar, and yet more hours scrubbing them with citrus fruits later, and they’re almost perfect! I’m looking forward to tasting cocktails in them soon!

DIY papercut, wedding anniversary book, Moomin card and copper julep cans

Last of all I decided to attempt a paper cut for Adam. Because the traditional first anniversary gift is paper (I opted to go mostly with the US list as it makes more sense than the UK one!) I thought this would be a nice thing to keep, and also to frame in our new home.

I first drew a design on grid paper in pencil (using a hot hair balloon and a Winnie the Pooh quote, both of which were inspirations for our wedding), then transferred it in reverse onto the back of my heavy paper using carbon paper. Then it was a case of carefully cutting out the negative space with a scalpel (I swear by the Swann Norton handle with AA blade)….I found it best to start in the middle and work outwards so that I wasn’t pulling on any of the supporting pieces excessively. I also (despite my preference!) decided it best to cut out the really tricky and small fiddly bits first, as the larger and simpler ones required less effort.

DIY paper cut quote from Winnie the Pooh

Once I’d finished cutting, I created my backing paper by painting another sheet of heavy paper using gouache, starting with a blue at the top and fading into a green at the bottom. Then it was just a case of framing the paper cut and backing together…and I’m ever so pleased with how it turned out! In fact, Adam loved it so much we got quite emotional (perhaps also because he had an idea of how many hours I’d spent on it!).

DIY paper cut quote from Winnie the Pooh

Perhaps best of all though was Adam’s gift to me….another project to work on together! Rather fittingly, he had found and had sent from the US for me a copy of  ‘Our Adventure Book’ from the Pixar film ‘Up!’. It was made by the people who first made the album for the production team on the movie, and has our little tagline ‘An Adventure Begins’ on the spine.

First wedding anniversary gift: paper 'Our Adventure Book' from Up!

It’s full of gorgeous paper pages for us to fill with photos, notes, sketches and other bits and bobs from our wedding…..I can’t wait to fill it up together and make a real project of it! This may have to wait until after we’ve moved though, as most of our wedding stuff is still boxed up in various places!

Ems x

 

Advertisements

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

 

Mothering Sunday Embroidered Card Project

You may have read that I’ve recently taken up embroidery, and have been learning some new techniques and stitches as I go along. And because I’m enjoying it so much, I decided my next project would be a sort of embroidered Mothers Day card for my lovely Mummy. 

I had some nice pale pink cotton casement off cuts in my fabric box, and opted for shades of green and orange which are my Mummy’s favourite for for the silks. Having quickly sketched out a design on a scrap of paper, I pinned this to the back of my fabric which I’d stretched into an embroidery hoop, then traced the design onto the fabric. I used some of the stitches I learned whilst making my little bear plushy from the Mollie Makes kit, including a chain stitch for the lettering. I did the same again for the message on the back, then stretched both pieces back to back into a hoop, adding a satin ribbon for hanging to the top.

I’m rather pleased with the result, and my Mummy loves it!

I hope you’re having a nice Mothering Sunday,

Ems x

20150315-113047.jpg

20150315-113102.jpg

20150315-113054.jpg

20150315-113109.jpg

This year, I will learn to embroider……

OK so I know it’s rather late to be talking about New Year’s Resolutions, but as I’m currently still keeping mine up, I figure it’s acceptable! Having spent the last few years crafting various treasures to sell, I’ve recently been thinking how I’d like to get back to crafting for pleasure and also learning some new skills. I had a bit of a go at cross stitch last year, which I quite enjoyed, but I didn’t feel like I could / wanted to go any further with it. And for years I’ve been meaning to learn to crochet properly, only to drop it again after learning a single new thing. Anyway, last month I decided to subscribe to Mollie Makes to give me a little more inspiration and to help me keep my promise to myself to learn something new this year. I was lucky to get a copy of the 50th anniversary edition, which came with a darling little kit for an embroidered bear plushy. Now I’ve had those kits before (and many of them are sat languishing in the bottom of my sewing box) but the super cute little bear really appealed to me, and I decided I’d make it as a gift to my husband, who loves bears. The kit included a printed piece of fabric, showing guidelines of where to stitch, all the embroidery silks I’d need and instructions of how to do all the various stitches involved. Perfect for a newbee wanting to learn! Dutifully following said instructions, I fixed my fabric into a hoop and began embroidering….. I learned chain stitch, stem stitch, satin stitch, fern stitch, lazy daisy, buttonhole wheel, french knot, arrowhead and straight stitch! Not a bad start! Once the embroidery was complete (this took several nights’ work whilst snuggled up on the sofa watching The West Wing), I pinned the back of the bear onto the fabric still in the hoop, and stitched them together leaving a gap to fill him. I opted to fill my bear with lavender instead of toy stuffing, because a) I had lavender and no toy stuffing at the time, and b) I thought he’d make a nice pomander to go in the car (which can niff a bit of the dogs at times!). Once filled, I used the left over threads from the kit to make a four-way plait, then sewed this onto the back to make a loop to hang from the car’s rear view mirror. And now he’s happily installed in the car! We’ve named him Bear McCreary (after the composer of Battlestar Gallactica, because we named the car Caprica and used some of his music to walk down the aisle last year….don’t judge me!) and he’s a very happy sight indeed! Here, see for yourself….! Embroidered Bear Plushy DIY from Molly Makes Embroidered Bear Plushy DIY from Molly Makes Embroidered Bear Plushy DIY from Molly Makes Embroidered Bear Plushy DIY from Molly Makes Next on my list is to make a hundred (yes, a hundred) donkey pomanders to donate to The Donkey Sanctuary. I’ve recently started volunteering for them, and I thought they were just an adorable little treasure to make. I’ve learned blanket stitch and applique to make the ones I’ve done so far, but I’m hoping to make some fancier ones with some of the stitches I learned from the bear kit, and perhaps some more besides! Donkey Plushy DIY for The Donkey Sanctuary 7 I’ve used my new hobby as an excuse to buy up some exciting supplies too (no surprise)…..I have a load of hoops stashed away to make into pretty embroidered things, plus I hit Hobbycraft last weekend and purchased these lush neon embroidery threads! I can’t wait to use them….perhaps to embroider a cute mini shoulder bag for myself! Neon embroidery threads from Hobbycraft I’ve also started a Pinterest board (because, that’s what you do with a new hobby, right?!) to inspire me to take on new projects and to save some great tutorials for new stitches. Head over and have a look, and do share any advice you have on embroidery too, please! Ems x

Tuesday Tutorial: Purple Glitter Jewellery for Willow Foundation

Purple glitter jewellery tutorial

Last Saturday I was lucky enough to attend a friend’s “Purple Party” to help raise funds for Willow Foundation*. Clare is running the London Marathon for the charity this year, and so put together the brilliant themed party to add to her fundraising target. There were purple cocktails, purple food, a purple photo booth and the whole place was decked out in purple, including the guests!

Being a bit low on purple things to wear myself, I decided to make some purple glittery treasures, with extra for Clare to sell on the night. And because I know everyone loves glitter (not to mention with Half Term in full swing!) I thought I’d share a little tutorial for how to make them. The batch I made took a while because there were so many, but one or two would be very quick to make, and super easy too! You can buy everything you need easily and inexpensively at a craft shop or online.

Purple glitter jewellery tutorial

You Will Need:

  • Fine purple glitter (or another colour, if you must)
  • Original Mod Podge
  • A flat ended brush (about 10mm to 15mm wide)
  • A mixing pot (a yogurt pot or take out tub is perfect, especially if it has a lid)
  • An old teaspoon
  • Wooden laser cut shapes (I used 20mm and 30mm hearts, and 40mm stars)
  • Brooch backs and / or stick on pendant bails
  • E6000 glue

Purple glitter jewellery tutorial

How To:

1. Sprinkle about a teaspoon of glitter into your mixing pot (if you’re making a big batch just double this, and keep making fresh batches as you go, so none is wasted)

2. Add about the same amount of Mod Podge and mix them well with the spoon (then wash the spoon!)

3. Choose which side of your wooden shape you want to paint (there are often marks from the laser cutting on one side, so paint onto that as you won’t see it when you’re finished)

4. Paint a thin layer of the glittery glue onto your shape….best not to use too much at a time so that you don’t spill over the edges and it stays neat

5. Wait for that to dry and then paint on another thin coat

Purple glitter jewellery tutorial

6. Keep adding thin coats once the last is dry to build up the coverage….as with most painting projects, it’s better to do lots of thin coats than one or two thick ones (if your mixing pot has a lid you can cover your mixture whilst you wait for drying, so that it stays fresh)

7. I applied four or five coats to mine, and if you decide to make a big batch you can of course apply each coat to all of them, and by the time you’ve done the last, the first one will be dry and ready for the next

8. Once you’re happy with the coverage, leave until completely dry before flipping over ready for the backing

Purple glitter jewellery tutorial

9. If you’re using a brooch back, check it works ok before using it, then blob some E6000 onto the flat side of the brooch back and press it firmly onto the back of your wooden shape

10. If you’re making a pendant, blob the E6000 onto the flat pad of the bail and carefully press it onto the back of your shape….before it dries turn it over to make sure it’s on straight

11. Leave for 24 hours to dry well before adding a chain if you’ve made a pendant, or before proudly pinning your brooch onto your clothes!

Purple glitter jewellery tutorial

These would make great party favours for a Bridal Shower or Hen Party I think, or for children’s parties (although take care with brooch pins!)….or of course you could make some to raise funds for charity too!

Purple glitter jewellery tutorial

Ems x

Willow is the only national charity working with seriously ill young adults aged 16 to 40 to fulfil uplifting and unforgettable Special Days. These Special Days enable them and their families to reconnect and refocus on each other while enjoying an activity of their choosing. A day for them, a day about them and a day that will create memories they will all treasure forever.

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My NOT ON THE HIGH STREET shop is now officially open!

Screen shot 2013-09-10 at 12.06.08

 

It’s here! How exciting!

I now have a very professional looking shop open with NOT ON THE HIGH STREET!

You can find the shop here, which is full of my vintage stamp jewellery….it’s all hand made by me and every piece is totally unique! Look out for more treasure going onto the shop soon though….I intend to launch my treasure charm necklaces there very soon!

Hope you like!

Ems x

New items in my Etsy shop!… The Capy Collection

Just thought I’d update you about some new items I have up on my Etsy shop for sale now! I’ve been drawing Capybaras for ages now, as they are Adam’s absolute favourite, but when a friend told me I should really try to sell them I wasn’t sure how popular they’d be! It seems though that lots of people also think that capybaras are truly amazing, so they’ve gone down very well so far!

I’ll be making lots more capybara-based treasure before too long I’m sure, but in the meantime, here is my Capy Collection…..

‘Capybaras in Love’ Espresso Cup and Saucer Pair, £35

‘Monsieur le Capybara’ Pint Mug, £15

‘Mr and Mrs Capybara’ Salt and Pepper Shaker Set, £15

‘Partybara’ ‘Capyccino’ Cup and Saucer, £15

Hope you like!
Ems x

Vintage stamp jewellery

I’ve been making little bits and pieces of jewellery from stamps for ages now, and have sold some at craft fairs and pop-up shops, but I’ve never really gotten around to listing them to sell online. I had a whole load of really lovely stamps that were just begging to be used though, so I recently made up a big batch to sell!

They are something of a labour of love these brooches and pendants….they take over a week to make, as I have to remove the stamps safely from any backing, paste them onto veneer, strengthen the veneer, trim and file down the edges, apply *seven* coats of varnish to them, and finally add the brooch pin or necklace. I do love making them though and turning something old into something new is great fun, especially because these stamps are the sort of thing that just won’t get enjoyed otherwise….and they are too pretty not to enjoy!

I have lots all ready to go, but for now here is a little selection of my favourites….I’ll let you know when they are all online and ready for sale! What do you think of them?

Ems x

IMG_5288

IMG_5360

IMG_5413

IMG_5378

IMG_5301

IMG_5412

IMG_5345

IMG_5317

IMG_5376

IMG_5369   IMG_5385 IMG_5404 IMG_5408   IMG_5416

Yarn Bomb!

1005999_549850375076324_1686045488_n

When I was planning our move out of London to Hitchin, one of the things I looked forward to the most was the better sense of community. So when a friend told me about the local Time Bank scheme, I joined up before we’d even packed!

The Time Bank is a community skills exchange which operates across North Herts and recently launched in Stevenage and Buntingford too. The scheme enables members to give time to help local people, then ‘bank’ the hours they’ve given so you can exchange them for support when you might need help or want to learn a new skill. So for example, I might do an hour’s sewing for another member, then I get to bank that hour to use later, say when I need some DIY done around the house. I love the concept, as it so effectively brings the community together, helping you meet new people and share your skills. There are all kinds of people involved from all walks of life and at all ages….there are people who offer help with form-filling, crafts, gardening, IT skills, shopping and all sorts.

The Time Bank also has two very popular knitting groups, who meet every week to work on projects, share tips and just have a good chat. So, when Time Banker Carmen got in touch with an idea to get everyone involved in a big project to help promote awareness of the group, I was super excited!

Carmen’s idea was to stage a yarn bombing somewhere in Letchworth, to show how the Time Bank brings people together and benefits the local area. ‘Guerrilla knitting’ or ‘yarn bombing’ is a form of street art, whereby colourful displays of knitted or crocheted yarn are used to cover and transform trees, community sculptures and street furniture.

After speaking to the council and Heritage Foundation, we managed to get permission to cover the ‘Paradise Is’ sculpture in knitting and crochet. Carmen then rallied around, as well as lots of other Time Bankers and local knitters, together giving a whopping 300 hours to get the knitted and crocheted panels and details ready for the big day.

993303_549851308409564_230668145_n

We were so delighted with how many people wanted to take part, with people learning to knit for the first time and also members giving up their time and sharing their other crafty skills to help sew it all together. On the morning of the ‘bombing’ hours were spent carefully attaching the panels and other decorations to the sculpture  to ensure it wasn’t damaged and that it was all secure. I couldn’t believe how intricately designed it all was, with beautiful little details to represent all the elements of Time Banking and volunteering, such as the gardening project, photography and baking.

Here are a few of my favourite bits….

46299_549851208409574_1684418494_n

164220_549849825076379_819306358_n

1014162_549849851743043_1326816439_n

The Time Bank scheme, run by North Herts CVS, has been growing and growing, and the popular knitting group made up of fellow members takes place every Friday morning at the Community Coffee Bar held at the Brotherhood Hall on Gernon Road. The group is always looking to find new members to help take on new projects, and have recently raised money for Guide Dogs for the Blind by selling knitted clothing and gifts they have made. If you are interested in joining or learning how to knit just come along to the Brotherhood Hall on a Friday morning between 10:00am and 11.30am and join in the fun. It’s free to join in, and members of all ages are welcome.

The yarn bomb will remain in place until the end of the month, opposite the Broadway Cinema (which is currently showing Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright’s ‘The World’s End’ which was filmed in Letchworth and features the cinema as one of the pubs!)  and once removed the knitted panels will be re-sewn into blankets to be donated to local charities. The art form is unique in this way, as no public property is damaged and nothing is wasted.

The Time Bank is free and easy to join:  visit www.mytimebank.org.uk, call 01462 689405 or email timebank@nhcvs.org.uk to join.

You can also find out more about the Time Bank on the NHCVS Blog, which I also write for!

Ems x

154408_549850605076301_1256179689_n