Hello! My name is Shelley and this is my humble craft blog. On my blog you'll find everything from origami Easter bunnies, to breeze-block Halloween tombstones. Proud to be an 'Arts & Culture' Finalist in the UK Blog Awards 2016. Look forward to crafting with you!
I love the arrival of Easter as for me it signifies the start of spring – what can be more cheery than sunny yellow daffodils and baby chicks? Over the years I’ve shared some Easter craft inspiration (such as decorated eggs here & amazing Easter cakes here), and even some DIY Easter tutorials (check out my DIY origami Easter bunnies, DIY origami Easter bunny baskets, and DIY Easter bunny cards), so this year I wanted to share some fresh DIY Easter egg inspiration – featuring paint, concrete, and dyes!
I don’t know if it’s something to do with having a home that is still fairly bare in the wall department (or empty in the frame department), or just generally because I have a love for art and colour, but I’ve been really excited to get tickets to some of this year’s contemporary Art Fairs in London.
One that I’ve been to for probably the last three years or so is the Affordable Art Fair in Battersea Park. But this year I’m branching out even further! As I was researching for myself anyway, I thought I’d share some of London’s most popular upcoming Art Fairs of 2018, so you can pop them in your diary!
Affordable Art Fair, Battersea Park, 8-11 March 2018
I feel like I talk about this one a lot, but I can’t emphasise enough what a fun day out this is. I bumped into an old colleague of mine there once (who was many rungs above me on the career ladder!). He sweetly asked if I had made any purchases, obviously oblivious to my wage packet at the time. But I do so aspire to one day buy my own piece of original art, and the choice at the Affordable Art Fair is fabulous.
I genuinely believe this makes a great day out, whether you’re looking to purchase art or just peruse it. There’s always a good variety of styles, and a welcoming prosecco bar in the middle – bliss!
The Other Art Fair, Victoria House, 22-25 March 2018
I came across this one recently via a Habitat email; as the official partner of The Other Art Fair, Habitat were offering customers the chance to nab one of 300 pairs of tickets for free! It’s first come first served, so check out their blog here to see if you can secure some in time. I’m excited to go later this month.
According to their website, The Other Art Fair, which is presented by Saatachi Art, gives you the opportunity to discover and buy art direct from 120 of the best emerging and undiscovered artists, who have been handpicked by a committee of art industry experts – let’s hope they know a thing or two! It’s a bi-annual event, and offers fun immersive art installations, interactive theatre performances, art tours led by Saatchi Art curators, live music from Soho Radio DJs, plus good food and a bar – bingo!
London Original Print Fair, Royal Academy of Arts, 3-6 May 2018
You know those times when you wonder where you’ve been all these years? Well, the London Original Print Fair is apparently London’s longest-running art fair. This year is the 33rd edition, and it’s held at the RA. I only needed to glance at the fair’s Instagram page to know that it’s for me. You can visit the fair to get your hands on a rare old master, or snap up contemporary prints that have only just launched.
Affordable Art Fair, Hampstead Heath, 11-14 May 2018
Don’t worry, it’s not deja vu! If you can’t make the Affordable Art Fair at Battersea in March, try and head to the Affordable Art Fair at Hampstead Heath in May. I’ve not been to this one (yet), but it promises thousands of original, contemporary artworks from UK and international galleries. Sweet!
Urban Art Fair, Brixton, 14-15 July 2018
I’ve not been to this one but it looks pretty cool. Now celebrating it’s 17th year, this South London avenue will be transformed once more it into a bustling open-air Urban Art Fair in July. See if over 120 exhibitors can tempt you to make any purchases! If you get hangry, never fear, because there will be lots of food stalls available to keep hunger at bay, with money raised going towards local good causes.
Happy New Year everyone! Better late than never, I wanted to finally share my #CraftBlogClub Secret Santa with you! If you’ve not heard me bang on about this before, the CBC Secret Santa is a brilliant initiative by Fiona and Katie who run the weekly #CraftBlogClub Twitter chat every Tuesday at 8pm.
Each year, anyone with a passion for craft can take part to make and receive a handmade present from the #CraftBlogClub community. Though I haven’t managed to join the chats much lately, my experience of this community is that they’re one of the warmest, most encouraging bunch of people you could ever wish to e-meet. It’s always a pleasure, so do join in if you can!
This year, my Secret ‘Santee’ was Naomi Jade. After a little stalk of her blog and social channels, I saw that she was a lover of all things cosy and also quite girly, so I decided to make her a DIY miniature wall hanging. I used a weaving kit that I got for free with a Mollie Makes magazine earlier this year.
This was only my second attempt at making a wall hanging; a few years ago my sister and I took part in a beginner’s weaving workshop with Peas and Needles at the BUST Summer Craftacular in London, and I loved it instantly. I wish I had learnt to weave as a child – if I had, I might actually be good at it by now!
Overall, I found the making process quite therapeutic – hours passed without me realising, when all I was doing was weaving back and forth, or cutting and tying bits of wool on to make tassels. I followed the tutorial on Mollie Makes’ website here, but changed some colours. I did find that a few of the stages were missing, but with the help of other sites and a bit of trial and error I got there, or close enough!
One thing that I think I can definitely do better for next time is to be more careful that I’m not pulling the lines too tight, as the shape did distort slightly, meaning that it didn’t hang completely straight. As I’m a bit of a perfectionist, I did worry about giving this to Naomi as a present, but then I remembered the spirit of #CraftBlogClub, and hoped she..
A few weeks back I received an exciting mystery package from the Etsy Made Local London Team. To celebrate their upcoming Christmas market in South London, the team sent me a box of specially curated goodies from selected Etsy sellers who’ll be showcasing their handmade wares in December.
I went to my first Etsy Made Local Xmas market in 2015, and I loved it. I went looking for Christmas presents for friends and family but went home with lots of lovely goodies for me! Back then I bought a set of tiny concrete diamond ‘baubles’ from PASiNGA, whose stall I loved, and they come out every year.
I was so excited to receive my package – the team told me that they’d tailored the contents to suit my style and audience, and I don’t think I could have picked better for myself if I tried. The first item I saw was this gorgeous hand-formed blue and white mini rope bowl by Zuzana of Rope Works. The bowls are naturally dyed with Indigo and make perfect trinket bowls for jewellery by your bedside.
Next up I spotted a brown leather key chain from Suede & Co who make handmade leather and suede accessories from coin purses to laptop sleeves. My second leather goody came in the form of a leather cord holder / cable organiser from By Law London. These are perfect for keeping your headphones together in your bag. Janet sells sets of two for £9, alongside other leather accessories.
Another of my favourite items was a fun laser-cut wooden jellyfish brooch by Martin Tomsky. Martin specialises in large intricate wooden laser cut artwork, as well as smaller items. This cute jellyfish from the Ocean Collection costs £10, and is also available in pink. Just in time for Blue Planet 2!
Next up I came across two fabulous glitter typography cards from Oh Squirrel which are hand-printed in London. One says ‘Do Your Best’ and the other says ‘You Got This’, so they’re great motivational cards. You should also check out their gorgeous collection of Christmas cards and stationery. Last but not least I found a geometric notebook (£5) from Made by Aiza who works with colourful, fun prints.
Buying even just one card from a small shop this Christmas can help to keep their creative businesses afloat, and handmade items that aren’t available on the high-street make super-thoughtful presents. Go check it out! If I haven’t tempted you enough, the first 50 people to arrive at the market get a free goody bag filled with a selection of designer-maker items like these. Tempted now?
You can find these sellers and 40+ more at the Etsy Made Local London Christmas Market on Saturday 2nd December 2017 (11am – 5pm) at Tooting Tram and Social. This year, as I’m away, I’m hoping to pop in to the Etsy Made Local Bristol market instead. You can find other regional markets all over the UK.
Thank you to the London Local Team and the makers for sending me this curated kit =)
A few months back I was invited to a festive gift-wrapping workshop with IKEA in London. It was far too early to really think about Christmas back then (I think it was June!), but the event also offered a sneak peak at IKEA’s Autumn / Winter collection (in-store now), which I couldn’t refuse!
You might remember that last year IKEA put on a Christmas tablescaping workshop for a few crafty bloggers, where I obsessed over a gorgeous black bear ornament. This time we were treated to a gift-wrapping workshop with the lovely Janine, who has a completely different creative job by day, but is a widely acknowledged ‘awesome gift wrapper’ on the side – nice to be multi-talented!
It was lovely to see some friendly faces in the form of Gabrielle from Design Curator and Anna from The Smell of Roses (not to be confused with The Only Smell is Roses, which I nearly wrote – too much TOWIE), and to meet some new faces too – namely Lou from Little Green Shed, Jess from The Only Girl in the House and Georgia from Flowers in the Window. As well as making some gorgeous gift-wraps, Georgia also patiently put up with a mega coughing fit from me on the train back to Essex – sorry!
The IKEA team, bless them, had stalked us all online before the event to give each of us a tailored craft ‘kit’ to work with, based on things we liked. They saw that I’d used boxes for some festive brush lettering DIYs for the We Make Collective, and so I was given a box, while Jess who loves monochrome was given black and white goodies, Georgia, who loves textiles, was given fabric, and Anna was given paper roses.
In between bouts of chatter about Christmas traditions, how we usually wrap presents, and scoffing our faces full of tasty IKEA snacks, Janine bestowed on us some handy gift-wrapping tips, as follows:
Instead of sellotape, seal your presents using hidden double-sided tape – why didn’t I think of that?
For the neatest presents, crease the edges and pull the paper really tight (to avoid Baggy Bums®)
Use a glue gun to embellish your packages with twigs, foliage, pom-pom things, or pine cones
Draw (or brush-letter) on your wrapping paper / boxes to make them truly unique!
Instead of using paper, try wrapping bottles in fabric (IKEA sells some FYI)
IKEA’s Autumn / Winter Collection 2017:
As well as the workshop, I got to have a sneak peak at the IKEA Autumn / Winter range, which you can find in-store now. IKEA always has a few different themes to choose from, so the chances are you’ll find a collection you’ll love. I’m always a fan of their sustainable lines like ‘Sustainable Futures’, and anything remotely Scandi-looking, but lush dark blues and greens are also on trend.
I often shop at IKEA for props and furniture for events (for work). Sometimes these shops get a little out of hand – this is me and blurry boyfriend heading home after one such venture – we turned the car into a jungle, and did get some odd looks as we squeezed them all in. I’m also quite impressed that I managed to dress to match IKEA’s rather opulent ‘Midnight Tropics’ range. Spot the difference…
The last time I went to IKEA near Lakeside they were just starting work on their Christmas market, so it’s probably open now, if you’re feeling festive already! Or, if you’re interested in other festive DIY gift wrap ideas (still too early?), check out an inspiration round-up (“that I made earlier”) here.
Last weekend the kind people at BUST Craftacular invited me along to their summer shindig at York Hall, Bethnal Green. I’m a huge fan of Craftacular (dubbed ‘London’s coolest craft fair’), which brings together over 70 unique designer-makers, DIY workshops, tea and cake, and fun-loving DJs.
If you’re looking for quirky handmade gifts, or just presents for yourself, Craftacular is the place to go. Last year I bought a gorgeous white trinket dish with a tiny leaf imprint from madebymememe (a humble #ceramicsmum), and the time before I bought a moon pin-cushion from Oh No Rachio (onr).
This year, my sister bought some beautiful trinket dishes stamped with gold bees from potter Elizabeth of Limehouse Ceramics (who was also super friendly and chatty). Another favourite stall was Sparkle Child, who made fun sparkly crowns, garlands and wands for children – perfect for play-time.
Craftacular always give a free goody bag to the first 100 people, so if you’re going, it’s worth getting in the queue early. In this year’s goody bag we got an issue of Mollie Makes magazine. Another highlight is the tea and cake from the Drink, Shop & Do cafe, which you can enjoy whilst listening to live DJ’s.
Aside from shopping and eating cake, there are also craft workshops that you can join – some are drop-in and free, and others you have to book in advance, but the selection is always great. This year my sister and I tried an hour-long brush-lettering workshop with Betty Etiquette, which was great fun.
Photo credit: Shelley Makes®. Workshop: Brush-lettering with Betty Etiquette
Using brushes and pots of ink, Rebecca showed us how to control the thickness of the line by exerting different downwards pressure. We started with straight lines of different thickness, and then moved on to letters (thicker on the downstroke), and then finally words. Practice makes perfect!
Other workshops on the day included making i-cord necklaces with I Make Knots, and watermelon pinata-making with The Make Arcade. A few years back we even did a weaving workshop with Peas & Needles, which remains to this day one of my all-time favourite and most memorable workshops.
To add to an already great day, there were also two artist-illustrators doing live portraits at Craftacular. I’ve long been a fan of And Smile Studio who does colourful watercolour portraits, and Benjamin Phillips was also there penning portraits in black and white, so you had a choice!
All in all we had a fantastic day, and I’d definitely recommend it to anyone. As well as the annual summer fair, Craftacular has a Christmas fair around November time, so there are a few dates for your diary!
Follow @craftacularuk for updates, and thanks Craftacular team for the invitation!
With less than a week until Valentine’s Day, here’s my round-up of this year’s Valentine’s craft inspiration, including everything from DIY cards, to DIY gift wrap, boxes and planters. Hope you love it!
For previous year’s inspiration, check out here and here, or find one of my DIY tutorials here.
Last week, I went along to Drink, Shop & Do near King’s Cross in London to preview Hobbycraft’s new Spring and Easter craft collections. Ever since I started blogging, it’s been an aim of mine to attend a Hobbycraft event, as I do buy a lot of my supplies from there, so I was thrilled to get an invitation.
I tagged along after work and was greeted at the door by the Hobbycraft team. They’d split the Drink, Shop & Do floor into various stations so that you could try your hand at different crafts, and learn more about their upcoming range expansions, from sewing supplies, knit craft, Easter craft, and baking.
My first stop was the sewing machine station where a helpful seamstress named Amy sat me down at a sewing machine for the first time, and showed me how to do some basic stitches. Some of you might recall that I was bought a sewing machine for Christmas a few years back, and am ashamedly yet to use it, as I wasn’t really sure where to begin, so I was really excited about this opportunity.
Amy explained that they offer in-store ‘Sewing Machine Driving Tests‘ where knowledgeable staff help you learn how to get started on your sewing machine. After showing me the basic controls and levers, we had a go on a ‘test sheet’ where the aim of the game was to follow the lines, and try manoeuvring around corners and curves using various stitches. Obviously practice makes perfect, but it was encouraging to hear about the ‘Sewing Surgeries’ that they offer in-store to help you if you get stuck.
Next up I wandered through to the baking section. Now, I love a good cake, but I’ve never really challenged myself to do a huge amount of baking. A lovely lady from Wilton (which is stocked at Hobbycraft) talked me through some of the cakes she’d baked for the event, and how she got some of the desired effects. I was completely mesmerised, and hearing someone talk through the process also made me realise that it is all entirely do-able if you have the ambition, the vision, and the right equipment.
After oo-ing and aah-ing at the gorgeous designs, I was shown how to pipe my own daisy cupcake, which again, was far simpler than I would have imagined. After telling me which new baking products they were most excited about, I was pleased to find said products in my goody bag – a ‘Colour Right’ Performance Colour System, and a Treatology Flavour System – so no excuses now!
In the very last room I stumbled across the ‘Knit Craft‘ division where some helpful Hobbycraft bods talked me through their range extensions, and gave me a Knit Craft goody bag, complete with gorgeous teal cotton thread, and a shiny 4mm crochet hook. The bag also contained instructions on how to knit and crochet a daisy. You can find tonnes of knitting and crochet project inspiration on their blog.
Apparently one of their most popular products is called a ‘Caron cake’, which is basically a huge wod of colour-changing yarn, available in a wide range of colours, which means that you can make really impressive colour-changing scarves with very little effort. Sounds good to me! Did you know that they also have their own Instagram and Twitter handle – check them out at
This year I was delighted to take part once again in the #CraftBlogClub Secret Santa. In case you haven’t heard of it, #CraftBlogClub is a weekly Twitter chat which takes place between 7 – 8pm every Tuesday, hosted by the lovely Katie (@katiegetscrafty) and Fiona (@fizzijayne), with occasional guest hosts.
As well as chatting all things craft, throughout the year, Katie and Fiona love to set us seasonal crafty challenges from spring-cleaning (stash swapping) to upcycling, but my favourite has to be the annual Secret Santa where everyone is paired off to create homemade presents for each other.
This year I was paired with @knitknatlaura and decided to try my hand at homemade soaps for the first time. A while ago, I found this pin on Pinterest, and decided to give this ten minute DIY a go. The tutorial is by Heidi at Happiness is Homemade – it’s super easy, and the results do look really great.
When Heidi says that this DIY takes 10 minutes, she isn’t lying. The bit that takes the longest time is waiting for your Amazon orders to arrive, but it’s worth the wait. Once you’ve got your materials together, all you need to do is cut your soap base into small chunks and place in a Pyrex cup or bowl.
I started with half the block (1kg / lb), and microwaved in 1 minute intervals, stirring to check how melted the soap was. Once it is completely melted (no lumps and bumps), it’s time to mix in your honey. Heidi recommends stirring in 3 tablespoons of honey, and then adding in a few drops of colourant, as desired.
I experimented with adding in a few drops of yellow and red to try and get a golden hue, however I found that adding varying amounts of honey was a simpler way to change the colour. Just 3 tablespoons of honey and you’ll have a lovely white soap, 4+ tablespoons and you’ll get a darker golden hue.
My main tip is to move fairly quickly at this point, as once the soap starts to cool and solidify it won’t pour into your moulds as easily. Before you pour (or do anything), make sure your mould is clean, dry and free of fluff. For best results use a Pyrex cup rather than a bowl, as it will allow a neater pour.
Pour the soap base into your mould, filling each segment almost to the top, and leave to set on a flat surface. This may take 20 minutes to two hours, depending on the temperature of your room etc., but I found it to be quite speedy. Once cooled (I left mine overnight to be sure), remove from your moulds.
A few years ago my boyfriend and I made homemade jam (with DIY jar labels) as Christmas presents for friends and family. A lot of people kindly returned their empty jars to us (no doubt hoping for more jam), but last Christmas we decided to do something a little different with them – homemade jar candles!
2x saucepans (one should fit inside the other), and a hob
Sticky labels, a pair of scissors, and a printer
This DIY is incredibly simple, and doesn’t take long at all. Start by melting your wax over a saucepan on the hob, in much the same way as you would melt chocolate. The wax should never be over direct heat, so lay your saucepan of pellets (or old candle wax) into a bigger saucepan with boiling water in the bottom.
It’s best not to leave the wax unattended, and not to let it get too hot, so keep an eye on it at all times, stirring occasionally. While your wax is heating up, prepare your jars – make sure they are clean and dry. Add your weighted wick so that it stands up in the centre of your jar, cutting it to the desired height.
Once all wax lumps have melted on the hob, remove the pan from the heat. If you are adding a colour or fragrance, now is the time to do so, but mine were just plain, resulting in a white wax. Whilst molten, pour your wax into your jars to the depth desired. Once poured, leave to cool and set on a flat surface.
Don’t worry too much about the wax going on any surfaces by mistake (though you can cover them in newspaper if you wish), as, once dry, you can pick it off without much trouble. While my candles were setting, I set to work on my jar labels, using InkScape – a free, downloadable design programme.
I really liked the hexagonal stickers that we made for the jam jars last time, as they matched the shape of the jars, so I decided to modify my previous designs to come up with something new and festive for the candles, changing the background colour to a deep blue, and adding italic Christmas slogans.
I downloaded my font for free from DaFont.com. My favourite slogans were things like ‘Wish upon a star…’ and ‘Mistletoe & Wine’. I also made faux bar code labels (using a font) to give the impression that the candle was purchased, when actually the bar code reads ‘Jelly Shack’ – a combination of our names.
Whilst the jar candles were just plain wax, I decided to do one experimental one using a candle mould in my set, adding in cinnamon sticks for extra effect. What I didn’t take into account is that the cinnamon sticks would of course fall into the centre, so I ended up with a slightly flammable, if pretty, candle.
Far from being deterred from giving this as a Christmas gift, I decided instead to make a spoof ‘Fire Hazard’ sign so that it could become a comedy gift, as it still looked pretty cool on the outside! Again, all this involved was a slight modification to the initial design, adding a red background and bold font.