If you’ve found yourself doing more craft things during lockdown, you might be on the lookout for some new equipment. But why go for bog-standard when there are things like this available? These Miffy scissors might not be up to much hardcore cutting, but they’re great for simple paper and card tasks and darn it, they are cute.
I am a massive Studio Ghibli fan. Their films are fantastically animated, moving and just downright magical. Creator Hayao Miyazaki has a penchant for strong female leads: “…brave, self-sufficient girls that don’t think twice about fighting for what they believe with all their heart. They’ll need a friend, or a supporter, but never a saviour.” Here are a few favourite inspirational quotes:
“Just follow your heart, and keep smiling” ~ Kiki’s Delivery Service
“Always believe in yourself. Do this and no matter where you are, you will have nothing to fear” ~ The Cat Returns
“You cannot alter your fate. However, you can rise to meet it” ~ Princess Mononoke
Mother’s Day is just around the corner. Whether you’re after something big, small, a keepsake or something edible, Modern Guy has you covered! This fabulous gift guide showcases 34 small businesses for you to support.
Do you find your creative clutter soon gets out of hand? Being a maker myself, I have lots of different tools and materials and I need them all within reach; which quickly leads to having stuff everywhere. I have found a few things that help, though, so I thought I’d share them with you.
Recycling or rubbish? I’ve got a bin for both. I end up with lots of scraps of paper and keep them all together to recycle, or for turning into handmade paper (a constant future project).
Upcycle and repurpose. Got an old chipped mug? Use it to keep your pens and pencils in. If you’re like me and have LOTS, you can keep a particular collection in each mug; felt pens in one, fine liners in another etc. You know those little glass pots you get delicious desserts in? They are GREAT for keeping small bits and pieces in.
Make the most of desk tidies. A purpose-built desk tidy has plenty of room for larger items and can happily accommodate your bulkier stationery. These wooden houses are the perfect home for big brushes, scissors and chunky pens.
Store your bits & bobs. A shallow tray or dish is the perfect place for anything that you need to hand, but that’s too small for a tall holder. Use them so you’ve got easy access to things like pencil sharpers and rubbers, or any small bits of string/wool/beads that may usually accumulate on your desk.
Stash your stationery. If there are things you need tidied away, the classic pencil case is the way to go. They’ll keep all your creative tools tucked away until you need them.
Hope these hints and tips have helped to get you a bit more organised! What are your top tips for staying on top of creative clutter?
Find my full range of handmade stationery in my Etsy shop.
Have you seen? I’ve brought out a new range of handmade stationery! Fitting nicely alongside the journals and notebooks, you can now get rescued leather pencil cases, wooden stationery holders, slogan pencils, fun clips and stickers for your planner or diary. These are available from The Emporium, Nene Court in Wellingborough, or peruse a selection in my Etsy shop.
Stegosaurus bags. The kind of bag you’d want at the start of a new school year, but were never allowed. Well, now you’re an adult and guess what? Having a dinosaur bag would still be cool. Rawr! Dino bags from Pordein.
Do you see faces or shapes in everyday things (this is called pareidolia! Every day’s a school day)? Or look at a crack in the wall and think it could be… something else? Well, maybe it could be turned into the thing you see; these clever street artists have done just that. Next time you’re out and about, take a look around and see what you can spot and imagine what you could turn it into…
Bonfire Cherry is run by the lovely Megan, who specialises in linocut printing, producing things like prints, tote bags and badges. I’m a big fan of her art which has a very distinctive style. Along with selling her work, Megain is a prolific blogger, posting every Friday. You can read the latest Cherry Post here! Prefer a podcast? No worries. Check out Bonfire Banter, run by Megan and Dene.
Ahoy there! If you’ve not already signed up to my newsletter (and why not? It’s THRILLING! Check out the handy pop-up and stick your email address in there!) then this is for you to peruse. A little of this, a little of that, just some stationery, fun and creativity. Enjoy!
Like a dress with pockets and a wallet with enough slots for your cards, having a desk tidy with ample spaces for all your different stationery essentials is a much searched for item. But is there such thing as the perfect one? I think this one comes pretty close. Plenty of places for pens and pencils, plus a couple of drawers to hide all those bits you’re not quite sure where to put.
Creativity is great when it’s running free, but how do you motivate yourself when your mojo is running low? Here are a few hints and tips for you to try out:
Brainstorm your ideas – just go with it and write down everything that pops into your head.
Carry a notebook with you, to capture all those on-the-go random thoughts.
Take a break from social media! It can be a great source of inspiration, but try and mix up your input.
Try something new – break out of your comfort zone.
Listen to music – how about something completely different to usual?
It’s been proven that craft can be great for your mental health, and I think everyone could do with a little boost at the moment! Why not take a break and try something simple? Pinterest is a goldmine of ideas for fun crafts to try, often using just a few items you can find around the home. You can find a few over on my ‘Craft Tutorials & DIY‘ board. Go get your make on!
At the end of last year, I was commissioned to create a book of epic proportions. Code name: the Beast.
The request came from a brewery, as they wanted something to house their recipes in. They use a lots of old, re-purposed parts for their equipment and the fact I work with upcycled leather fit perfectly.
The client gave me a brief outline of what they wanted, and we went back and forth getting the details right; I really wanted to make sure I understood just what look/feel they were after. Here are the specs I was given:
A3 size book
Arcane meets modern look
Leather ‘patchwork’/made-from-spare-parts cover
Unlined pages with weathered/tarnished look
Some kind of fastenings, latches or old leather belts, on upper & lower sections of the cover, with the ability to lock
To get the A3 size, I had to order A2 paper to fold down. Luckily, my favourite cupcycled paper comes in that size- made from upcycled takeaway cups, it really ties in with the whole repurposed/reused feel. Further completing this theme, and giving the paper that weathered/tarnished look the client was after, I stained all the pages (and my hands!) with tea. The paper then dried with a lovely ripple to it, adding to the aged feel.
Once folded, the signatures (sets of folded pages) were sewn together using waxed thread, onto linen tapes- these attach to the covers and help make such a big book sturdier.
Heavy duty card was used for the covers, thick enough to take the leather I was using; bookbinding typically uses very thin leather, but as I was using scraps from my rescued leather stash, it was around 3mm thick (believe me, for bookbinding that’s thick!). I’ve boxes of scraps and offcuts and it was lovely to be able to use them. Thankfully I love jigsaws.
The spine was made from a single piece of leather; rescued, like the rest, from a shoe factory, it was slightly worn with a few scuffs. So, perfect for the project. I have a say this took a while to wrestle into place, as it needed to be even at the top, bottom and both front and back, along with the fact that it’s a huge book. But I got it there eventually, fixing the front and back covers into place and creating a nice soft spine that opens and closes easily.
The original idea was to have old leather belts attached, so the book would fasten closed using the buckles. However, as I worked on the idea, I discovered it just wasn’t going to work; the book was so big, the belts and buckles quite cumbersome, and attaching them fully meant they were tricky to unfasten. After going through and disregarding several options with the customer, I found a diagram to make latches from leather, rivets and D rings and we settled on that. They took me a while to get just right, but I absolutely love them and will be using them again!
The old leather belts didn’t go to waste though. I attached the lengths of leather so it gives the appearance that they’re part of the latches. They also help break up the patchwork of the cover.
So, finally I was finished and the Beast was ready to be sent to it’s new master! I was sad to see it go and nervous to see how it would be received. I’d been sending updates throughout, but it’s very different to holding the finished work in your hands and looking over it in real life. I’ve put their response below!
“… I LOVE IT! This is so awesome, you’ve really nailed it!
I’m incredibly happy with how it turned out and am ultra-excited to start filling it up and make part of our lore.”
It’s been a while since I’ve written about Coffee.Cake.Create. Last time, I was talking about how it would start running on the last Thursday of the month- which is what’s been happening for the past year! Now, it’s a craft club with a twist; you can just come along, bring your own project to work on, and chat with fellow crafters. But, if you want to have a go at something new, each session there’s the option to do the Monthly Make – a different project every month. All tools, materials and tutorial will be provided; plus of course there’ll be hot drinks and sweet treats on hand for refreshments!
I’m amazed that this is in its second year; thanks to everyone who’s come along and kept it going. We’re a small group of hardcore regulars, with a few who keep an eye out for a particular craft they’ve always wanted to try. We’ve done leatherette purses, scrap fabric pin cushions and crepe paper flowers to name a few, as well as getting through a fair few festive makes in the Christmas session.
Want to keep up with what’s going on? Join the Facebook group for updates. Here’s what’s coming up over the next few months:
Coffee.Cake.Create. Craft Club takes place on the last Thursday of the month at The Emporium at Nene Court, 19:00-21:00. It’s £5 for the basic craft club, plus an extra £5 (sometimes less!) if you’re doing the Monthly Make. Book & pay in advance on 07747 029400, call into the shop or pay via PayPal to secure your spot.
Makers are a bit like elves, really. Hard at work creating handmade products perfect for gifting. So many people these days are starting to look past the big companies, trying instead to purchase from small businesses, creatives, and support their local economy. Which is AWESOME! And if you’ve stumbled across this blog post for that very reason, thank you.
If you don’t already know, I essentially make products from paper and rescued leather*; journals, notebooks, bookmarks, origami animals to name a few items. My products are perfect for avid readers and lovers of all things cute. I sell online, mainly on Etsy but also Folksy too. Plus, if you’re based in the Northamptonshire area, you can head over to The Emporium at Nene Court in Wellingborough to browse my handcrafted products (as well as a whole host of amazing locally made awesomeness). So, what have I got to offer all you lovely people this year? Let’s take a look!
Gifts for book lovers & readers
These soft leather bookmarks have been hand stamped with slogans – READERS GONNA READ and ONE MORE CHAPTER. They’re £6.50 each and you can find them in my Etsy store and The Emporium.
One way I use up the off-cuts of paper and leather from my big journals is to make these mini books, which I then turn into necklaces. I have a few different styles available, which you can look at online from Etsy or Folksy, plus I have a selection over at The Emporium.
Presents for notebook & journal addicts
Soft, leather-wrap notebooks & journals with blank insides, ready for you thoughts, drawing, lists and more! While they are often quite similar, because they’re made from rescued leather, each one is unique.
Kawaii origami necklaces
Currently only available online are these super cute origami animal necklaces. Folded from small squares of origami paper and then set in resin; choose from a crane, fox or butterfly.
Hope you like what you see! Please don’t hesitate to get in touch if you have a question about any of these items.
– The Captain
*When I use the term ‘rescued leather’, I mean leather in different forms which is being discarded for one reason or another. I use leather from bags and coats, off-cuts and samples, and waste from the shoe industry.
Bring on the trumpets, my Folksy shop is open once again! You can find my range of hand bound leather journals and mini book necklaces there, plus… something completely new for me. Origami jewellery is something I’ve been thinking about doing for a long time, but couldn’t really think how to get the results I wanted. Paper is so delicate and needs reinforcing or coating if you want to make it durable enough to wear repeatedly. After going through a few different options, I finally hit upon the answer – setting the origami in resin is the perfect way to preserve it!
I’m so pleased with the results. To start with, I’m doing 3 animals, just to see how they do. I’ve chosen a crane, a butterfly and a fox. Which is your favourite? Are there any other animals you’d like to see?
You can find these in the jewellery section of my Folky shop and they’re also on Etsy, too.
Next up something not quite new, just a little improved: ‘Once Upon A Time’ book necklaces.
These are made, as always, from upcycled leather – the section used for the cover was rescued from a shoe factory. For the insides, I’ve used ivory paper; I think it just goes with the whole feel of the mini books. I’ve also added an extra stamp at the bottom, a kind of swirly flower – and of course there’s a little key charm.
Well that’s about it for news. Let me know what you think: anything new you’d like to see? A particular origami piece or a certain style of journal? Let me know! As always you can get in touch at email@example.com or via the contact page.
I’ve made gift bags similar to this from old sheet music, but they are great made from old magazines. Once a week, I help out at The Emporium, Nene Court; it’s a shop full of locally made things (including mine!) and upcycling old craft magazines to use as little paper bags in the shop just made so much sense!
You can easily make this simple upcycled version yourself, all you need is an old magazine page and some tape. If you’re after something fancier, you can use any nice sheet of paper you like (A4 works well) and instead of taping, overlap the edges slightly and glue them down for a neat finish.
Lay your page out landscape, as above.
Fold one side in to the middle (you needn’t be exact) and run your thumb over the fold to crease well.
Fold in the other edge so that it meets the first one.
Tape it up, right the way from top to bottom (or overlap slightly and glue).
Fold up the bottom – roughly a quarter, but again, it needn’t be exact.
Open up the bottom section you’ve just folded over…
…squash each corner down in turn, so they make triangles…
… like this.
Fold the edges of the bottom section to meet each other in the middle.
Tape it up! Again, you can overlap slightly and glue at this point- just make sure you’ve glued the edges well, as this forms the bottom of the bag.
Ta da! Done! Stick your hand in (carefully) to open it out; the bottom should make a nice flat base.
Once you get going, they’re really quick to make. They make great bags for small gifts instead of using wrapping paper; they look so colourful!