Do you want to use your journal for painting or colouring? Will the paper take it ok? Well, it does depend on the paper type; but generally, if you’re buying a quality handmade notebook, it should take some form of paints. I’ve chosen a few things here for adding colour, including coloured pencils and felt tip pens – just to cover different options!
As mentioned in the pencils/pens write up (which you can find here) the paper in my journals is 140gsm cartridge paper; it will take paints and inks, but some better than others. Ideally for watercolour, you need proper watercolour paper; however, if you’re just starting out or experimenting, the sturdy paper in my journals is fine for testing things out.
Coloured pencils are readily available and easy to use. You can create more in the way of shading and texture with coloured pencils, simply by pressing harder for a darker tone. You should be able to work quickly and easily with pencils, starting light and building up colour where needed.
Felt/fibre-tip pens are nice and bold and bright, creating clean defined lines. While you can’t shade with them as you can with pencils, you can create a graduated effect by overlapping colours slightly with swift, light strokes. Issues? Leave the pen on the paper too long and it’ll bleed through. You can easily write or draw with pens too, making them more versatile.
You can create simple watercolours quite easily. Start with the lighter colours and build up to the darker washes. Blend/merge colours using wet on wet paint; for more defined areas, you’ll need to wait for the previous layer to dry. The paper may buckle slightly, but will warp if you get it too wet. You can place a scrap piece of paper or card under the page you’re working on.
As with watercolours, you can get heavier paper to use with acrylics, but the paper I use is great for a mixed media art journal. Acrylic paints are easy to just pick up and use. They’re quick drying and, once dry, you can easily paint over the previous layer. You can thin them with water.
Here you can see the other side of the paper from the mushroom drawings – it shows how much you can see the colours on the other side, and how much the paper warps. If you’re using watercolour or acrylics, I’d suggest not using paints on the other side of the page, but pencils should be ok to use.
Head to my Etsy shop for handmade blank journals and notebooks.
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.
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!
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.
Spring is the time of year for new growth and new life- so it’s the perfect time for a new craft idea! This seasonal papercraft project will brighten up your home.
Tassel and Feather Garland
These are simple and cheap to make, and look great using pastel shades or bright colours. You could even use old magazines for the feathers.
What you’ll need:
Tissue paper or thin paper
Thick paper or thin card
Medium-thick string or twine
For the tassels:
The tassels are made from the tissue or thin paper. Cut a rectangular length, twice the height you’d like your finished tassel to be, and fold in half from top to bottom. Take your scissors and fringe the bottom, snipping even strips upwards towards the fold, making sure you stop 2 or 3 cms before you reach it. Unfold, roll up and twist the uncut middle section. Then just fold and twist to make a loop, securing with a bit of glue.
For the feathers:
Use thicker paper or thin card for these. Practice drawing some feather shapes on some scrap paper, till you find one you’re happy with. Use the shapes below as guides or make your own up! Make sure the ‘stem’ of the feather is quite long.
Once you’ve cut your feathers out, fold over the long stem to create a loop (make sure it’s big enough to pass your string through) and dab a spot of glue on the end to secure.
Have a think where you’d like your garland to go and measure the string length accordingly, making sure you leave enough at each end to fasten it onto something.
Now all you need to do it thread your tassels and feathers onto the string and you’ve got yourself a garland! Make as many tassels and feathers to fill it as you’d like; experiment with a spaced out, even look so you can see each individual shape, or try grouping tassels and feathers together in bunches for a fuller feel.
Did you have a go at this? I’d love to know how it turned out!
Is 2019 the year you want to try something new and be more creative? There are so many different crafts with so many different books on each one, that picking a place to start can feel overwhelming; and so you just never get round to doing anything. Sound familiar? Well hopefully this list will help! I’ve scoured this here tinternet and found various craft books that I think are fantastic for starting out, but perhaps more importantly, keeping you motivated. There’s nothing worse than being put off something you’re trying to learn because you’re just not inspired. So, here you go, 8 books to get your creative mojo going. Some are craft-specific, some are all-rounders, all of them are designed to spark your imagination and keep that creative flame lit!
1. The Craft Companion
A good all-rounder, this one has some extras to keep you inspired! Along with a range of different skills to learn, the book includes a brief history on each craft, projects to try, plus it shows you inspirational makes from talented artisans. Even the titles of the different sections make you want to dive right in: fibre – stitch – surface – form. Go on, talk crafty to me.
Motivation value: 9/10 – background, ideas and projects all in one place.
2. Homemade (101 Beautiful and Useful Craft Projects)
Filled to the brim with creative ideas from and for around the home. There’s a lot about reusing and re-purposing in here, which I’m a big fan of. I nearly always start projects by going through everything I’ve already got in the house and seeing what I can use. It’s a great way to reduce waste and make use of things that you don’t use in their current form. The book is seasonal, so it’ll keep you going all year. As well as a variety of projects, it offers advice for practical and basic crafts, such as sewing and knitting.
Motivation value: 8/10 – it’ll get you looking at everyday objects in a new light.
3. Paper Craft Home
Papercraft has got to be one of the most accessible crafts around. There is so much you can do with a blank piece of paper! It’s versatile, affordable and simple to pick up. This book contains a range of papercrafting techniques for you to try out, before moving on to various projects. There are even some templates in the back to help you get started on some of the trickier projects, so no need to feel overwhelmed.
Motivation value: 7/10 – it’s a fun book for if you just want to get stuck in to something quickly.
4. Craft: Techniques and Projects
Fairly traditional in terms of layout, pictures and projects, this book is another good all-round source for those who don’t know which craft will suit them. There’s a mix of projects from simple to in-depth, with good clear pictures alongside the explanations.
Motivation value: 8/10 – there really should be plenty in here that you want to have a go at.
5. Everything Oz: The Wizard Book of Makes and Bakes
Whether you’re a fan of The Wizard of Oz or not, this book is an absolute joy. It’s filled with a wide variety of projects, both in terms of different crafts and skill level. Most are practical, some are just plain fun; I mean, I don’t know when I’d ever need giant paper poppies but this book makes me want to make them. Along with baking, sewing and papercraft projects, there’s a ‘beauty’ section which contains recipes for making a simple body scrub and skin tonic. Yes please.
Motivation value: 7/10 – a good ‘coffee table’ book, you’ll want to keep looking through this one.
6. Conscious Creativity: Look, Connect, Create
A ‘marmite’ book, I think, and you’ll know whether it’s for you if the title appeals! If you feel you simply want to bring more creativity into your life on a basic level, this book is for you. It will get you looking at your everyday world and really seeing it; colours, shapes, light, shade, texture. Your brain will open up and you’ll start noticing these things for yourself. Think ‘Amélie’ as she dips her hand into a sack of grain to see what it feels like… only it’s a book…
Motivation value: 8/10 – though it is more motivation and inspirational creativity than making.
7. The Wood Carver’s Dozen
Beautifully presented. Suitable for absolute beginners, it goes through tools, materials and techniques. The projects are for making everyday items that will look beautiful in your home. Everything is made using hand tools, so there’s no fear of having to invest in expensive equipment.
Motivation value: 7/10 – this craft is hard work but well worth the effort.
8. Mollie Makes: How to Crochet
Crochet doesn’t seem to be dwindling in popularity, probably due to the fact that you don’t need much in the way of materials and tools and it doesn’t take up too much space (yet. Wait till you get hooked. Pun intended.) This book is simple and clear, with great pictures and tutorials, making it easy to follow for the absolute beginner. There are a few simple projects and some trickier ones, so it should keep you going a while.
Motivation value: 7/10 – the colourful pictures and examples of what you can do with crochet will keep you coming back.
Heads up, Northamptonshire! There’s a brand new craft experience in town. Every Thursday (10:30-15:00), the mezzanine floor of The Emporium at Nene Court is the home to Coffee.Cake.Create.
So, what’s it all about? Basically, it’s a regular event where you can turn up, make something and enjoy a delicious cake and a hot drink. There’s a menu for the crafts, with 4 to choose from and a variety of skill levels and project times. You’ll get everything you need to make your chosen project, use of tools and a handy set of instructions; but never fear, the resident craft captain (that’s me, by the way) will be on hand to help if you need it.
If you’ve never been to The Emprium, here’s the deal: it’s the home of handmade in Northamptonshire. Situated within Nene Court, the shop houses 30+ makers, artists and crafters in the downstairs area, while upstairs is a space where various workshops are held, as well as Coffee.Cake.Create.
Next door to the shop is the Garden Deli, a marvellous little cafe that has an outdoor space as well as a new expanded seating area right in The Emporium. This is where the delicious cakes and hot drinks come from for Coffee.Cake.Create; the price you pay for a project includes a drink (up to the value of £3) plus any piece of cake. So, once you’ve chosen and paid for your project at The Emporium, it’s just a few steps through to the Deli where you can order your items – they’ll then be brought up to you so you can sit back, relax and do your project in your own time.
It’s a great thing to do with a couple of friends, for some time out from your day, or to learn a new skill. You could even hold a Coffee.Cake.Create. party, hen do or event – it doesn’t have to be in the day time! Contact me for more info, or follow the link below. The menu is set for September (see below), with new crafts, specials and festive-themed makes coming later in the year. Hope to see you there one Thursday!
It seems that there’s a ‘National Day’ or ‘National Week’ for EVERYTHING these days. But when it’s stationery I can get on board! National Stationery Week is, of course, all about stationery; from things to write with to things to write on and alongside this the #writingmatters campaign. This year it runs from April 23rd – 29th. You can find out all about it here. Don’t forget to use the hashtags #natstatweek and #writingmatters.
Being a stationery addict myself, I’m all for promoting the importance of writing by hand. Check out some of the reasons why in this article; it’s targeted at students but can be applied to everyone: “The act of writing itself can reduce stress”, it says, and I wholeheartedly agree. It’s a great way to switch off from what’s going on around you and focus on yourself.
I’ve recently added a new product to my Etsy shop that makes for a fun way to get back into writing – this hand bound ‘Luxe lists’ book! It’s full of hand written prompts for different lists, plus blank lined paper at the back so you can come up with your own lists. It’s great for focusing your attention and getting your brain going.