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Monday, 2 May 2016

Banana leaf papercut - now in my shop

So. Much. Papercutting. 

I'm really enjoying being so productive at the moment. I'm really happy with my latest piece, this banana leaf design:






















It's also now available to buy in my shop if you want to bring some tropical decor into your home - and surely everyone wants that? 

I did a decent job of documenting stages of this piece: 

The intact outline, cut from one sheet
of black paper.
The first, lightest colour green is
added...
The reverse of the papercut which
is always a scrappy mess!


All the shades of green are added
and just need to decide on the
background.





























This was pretty daunting to begin to assemble. Once I finished the outline and had to start deciphering what leaf should be what colour I had a headache for a while. But once I got stuck in it all came together. 

It was fun to take the plants I've done earlier another stage further and get involved in some detailed foliage. 

I think this would be awesome as a tessellation print...it's got me thinking about papercut patterns and some of the blackwork embroidery I did.

More on that soon.  What other plants could I do? Thoughts?

Sunday, 24 April 2016

Papercut giveaway! Plants and lamps

I'm on a roll with the paper cutting - James bought me a drawing table for my birthday and I slotted my cutting mat onto it and hey presto: no more hunching over the living room table!

To celebrate my increased productivity and improved working conditions I thought I'd giveaway my latest papercut: 



I really like how this little guy turned out! I love the lamp...its a vintage red anglepoise that we picked up in a Crystal Palace second hand shop and I use it for all my crafting and cutting so it seems like a fitting tribute. 

So how do you enter? Well, this lamp is one of my favourite things in our home - so leave a comment on here or over on my Instagram post (or link on the right) telling me what your favourite piece in your home is. 

We are in the process of buying a house (eek!) and we'd love some inspiration!

This is open to anyone anywhere and postage is included. 

I'll choose a winner at random on Saturday 30th April. 

(A bit more about the piece: Its an original piece of papercut art, designed and handcut by me from layers of artist quality paper. Its 10cm x 15cm so will easily pop into a standard sized photo frame) 

Thanks for in inspiration and good luck!

Saturday, 23 April 2016

Pomegranate papercut

I love pomegranates. We had a little ornamental pommie tree in the front garden of my house growing up. The fruits weren't edible but it didn't stop me from trying (more than once).

I'm really enjoying the new direction of my papercuts so I decided an ode to my favourite fruit was in order.


Those pips! Gah. But it was worth it. Here's a closer look at some of the detail:


And here is an interim point in the cutting that shows the outline. I overlay it on each new colour to see how it will look...and I'm always tempted to stop at this point. 

In this case I'm glad I carried on but maybe with a future piece I'll stop, we'll see. 

This piece is now available in my shop

Monday, 11 April 2016

Pot plant papercut

I did another papercutting this weekend and although halfway through I felt like I was going insane I am so so pleased with how this turned out! 



This piece reminds me a lot of Jean Jacques Rousseau, He was one of my favourite artists growing up. I love all the stylised foliage in his jungle pictures. Apparently he spent a long time in botanical gardens painting different exotic plants which he later used in his paintings (that from a essay I wrote for my IB art class..). 


I especially like that this piece depicts our actual plants on our actual window sill. Most of my papercuts are pulled from my imagination so it was nice to do something different. 

But man, I could really tell that this was a new direction...I must have gone through 10 blades cutting this piece. That window pane was a killer. I'm glad I stuck at it as the lines of the panes work really well with the organic shapes of the plants. 

I'm excited to do more of these but for now this one is now available in my shop




Sunday, 10 April 2016

DIY terracotta plant pots

I have always loved plants. When I was a kid I used to save up my pocket money to buy African violets...very rock and roll of me, I know. 

Since we moved to London I have been slowly accumulating a new family of house plants and a couple of years in, some of them are in need of re-potting....which was a good excuse to do a DIY I had in mind for plain terracotta pots.


Pots are annoyingly expensive and most of the time not what I really want anyway. I really like terracotta but it does get a bit same-y if you have a lot of plants in one room.

I picked up a few different sizes of pots from my local hardware store. They were only a couple of quid each. I also got 2 pots of gloss paint in magnolia and turquoise - look for little 'small project' or tester pots to save money unless you have other projects in mind for the rest of the pot.






Stuff I needed: pots, masking tape (I actually used packing tape as I didn't have masking tape to hand which was fine but masking is probably better), brushes, white spirit and gloss paint.

I just wanted to try something simple so decided to try one colour block type-pot and one drip...






So for the drip one...


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I upended a pot and started by painting the base and slowly easing the paint towards the edge until it began to form drips and trickle down the sides of the pot. 

I think in retrospect I could have thinned the paint down a bit. I was quite thick and when it dried it went a bit crinkly. I don't really mind it though and James just described it as looking 'organic'. Fine. 




For the colour block one I taped off the base of the pot and painted the upper half. I also painted the inner inch and a half or so in the pot... I just think this gives it a more finished look but its down to personal preference.

I left it to dry for a few hours and then peeled off the masking (packing) tape. Very satisfying.

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They aren't perfect but I think they turned out well and unlike some other projects I have done, I don't mind the imperfections.

I really like the colour block ones - I'll be doing more of them for sure. And maybe something with more stripes or zig zags? I'll need to pick up some masking tape for that!

I think my plants look pretty happy with their new homes.




Saturday, 9 April 2016

Deer papercut - now in shop

So I finally did a new papercut! It's been ages as I have been busy with my quilt. I have had some plans rattling around in my head for a while and haven't really been able to get them out...



This isn't the actual project I had in mind but as it is a departure from my usual style and process for papercutting I just wanted to do a quick project to test the water. 

I actually did most of this piece one Sunday evening so it was fast which was really satisfying. 

The black outline approach is new for me...it does add a layer (haha) of complexity but I do like the way it looks like stained glass. 








Here's how it came together:


1. I used a white pen to sketch the
outline of the image and then cut out
the lines..
2. The finished outline - this is all cut
from a single piece of black craft
paper.












3. I started building up the colours inside
the outlines. I started with the foreground
- flowers, deer and worked backwards. 
4. Building up the various layers to
create the background and sense of
depth.






























And...done! I like how it turned out and it was fun to try a new style. I also feel like I have a better idea of how to take forward a bigger project that I am trying work out. Although probably more smaller projects like this are in order before I dive into that so keep posted... 

This piece is now available for sale in my Etsy shop

Saturday, 2 April 2016

Some good stuff I saw recently..

I've noticed some good stuff about at the moment and thought I'd share...


- A papercutting competition! If like me you’ve fallen off the wagon and need to dust off your scalpel and get back on.. check it out here.

- Last episode of Fresh Meat (Channel 4 here in the UK). This show was so great and the last episode was brilliant... I'm literally going to start re-watching the whole thing immediately. If you haven't seen it, do.

- This amazing work from Conrad Jon Godly. How stunning? Credit to Danielle Krysa @ The Jealous Curator for bringing to my attention. Reminds me of my love of Kyfin Williams and my own forays into oil painting.

- I just discovered Marimekko design. I am going to have to use some restraint in not buying all the plates, they are great. 

Enjoy!






Wednesday, 30 March 2016

Super easy spinach and feta pie


My main reason for starting this blog was to keep track of what I make (and how). Initially my papercutting work but also other crafting.

Over the last year I have started cooking more. Mainly because I am trying to eat healthier and buy less processed/packaged/preserved stuff but also because food is James and I’s favourite thing ever and we can’t afford to fly to Europe/eat out in London all the time so we (mainly me) try to re-create at home.  

As you can imagine this has led to some pretty disappointing dinners and the odd tantrum or two (mainly me).   


Failures aside, I thought I’d share one of my favourite, easy, go-to dinners. A Greek filo pastry pie. The original recipe is here:  and I haven’t changed it much but just in case it disappears from the Internet here it is:

1. First wilt 250g fresh spinach leaves in a pan (5-7mins should do it), remove from pan to strainer to drain and cool.

2. In a bowl beat 2 eggs and add ~180g (one pack) crumbled Feta cheese, 150g semi dried tomatoes, drained and chopped and mix well.


3. Unroll the filo pastry - I use about 3 sheets in total but this depends on the size of your sheets (mine are about 30cm x 45cm). Take the first sheet and lay it flat on your work surface, daub or brush with the tomato oil then carefully lay it oil face down in your pie tin (loose bottomed is ideal, mine is 20cm in diameter) gently easing the pastry layer to the edges. Repeat with the other 2 sheets arranging at different angles to ensure even pastry coverage.













4. Squeeze excess water from the spinach, chop finely and add to the eggs, mixing well.

5. Plop the filling into the pie tin, spreading evenly. Fold up the pastry edges over the filling toward the middle so the top of the pie is well covered. Daub the top with some extra oil and pop into a 170c oven for about 20 minutes (this pie is pretty forgiving).  














6. Remove and eat. It keeps in the fridge for a few days and is just as nice cold although you miss the crispiness of the filo.

This pie is also a good option for the 5:2 diet, if you care about that sort of thing. 1/4 slice is about 270 calories.

Also, taking photos of food is hard! Especially as I made this one evening so didn't have much natural light as I probably need...luckily this pie isn't much of a looker although it does taste great!




Sunday, 27 March 2016

Trying out blackwork embroidery

So when I was doing my quilt there was a bit of embroidery involved, which I don't really have much experience in but I really enjoyed it and I've seen a lot of super inspiring work from embroidery artists on the internet.

I mean, how stunning is this work by Chloe Giordano. 

James picked up on this and he got me this book for Christmas. There are a load of great projects but one style that I really liked was the the blackwork, very stylised, geometric patterns usually done with black thread on white linen. 


 The book had a load of different patterns and stitches, and as I didn't have a project in mind but did want to get stuck in I decided to do a sampler-sort-of-thing to test the different patterns. 

I sewed a basic grid pattern onto some white aida fabric - 6 squares by 4 squares - and tried a different stitch in each square. 





I love this sampler - I sort of want to frame it! Blackwork is so tidy and orderly. I really want to figure out a way to use this in another project - I feel like maybe something architectural or abstract? I'm working on it. 






Catching up on Christmas crafts

It's Easter Sunday and after my my last mammoth post on finishing my quilt I figured I needed to catch up on some of the other stuff I have done since. 

It feels a bit untimely but oh well. 

This past Christmas was the first one that James and I spent on our own. Aside from the initial panic of having to do a Christmas dinner, which turned out awesome in the end, it was really great to have total freedom to do what we wanted when we wanted. 


We got up unpleasantly early to get our lamb shoulder in the slow cooker. 

We more or less followed this recipe - I stuck the shoulder with anchovies, garlic and rosemary and it turned out really great, the gravy was especially good. 







We rewarded ourselves for our early start with some bucks fizz with freshly squeezed orange juice and champagne. 

Check out our vintage juicer - I love it. 









This was our Christmas tree - bigger again than last year but due to all the felt ornaments I made last year it was pretty full. 

It did need some bigger ornaments though so I took some inspiration from a xmas decoration given to me by a friend a few years ago. 


These hearts were quick, easy and I really liked how they turned out, they looked great on the tree too. 

I cut out 2 heart shapes from some felt, used a basic backstitch to embroider a snowflake in a contrasting colour with embroidery floss on one of the hearts, used another colour for a blanket stitch to sew the hearts together, leaving a small hole to stuff the ornament so its a little plump, and then blanket stitched the hole closed.

I finished then up with some floss as a hanging loop adding a few sequins for decoration. I'll be making more of these for sure. 

 



Elephant baby quilt - done!

I have finished my quilt! 

It was a LOT of work but it went really well and I got it to it's intended baby before he was more than a few month old so that was a result. 

I didn't blog about all the steps in between where I left off and the finished piece - I was all focussed on just getting it done. The previous posts on my quilt progress are here: part 1, part 2, and part 3.

So, the elephants are done and stitched to the quilt top and next I moved on to the balloons. I decided on 3 different red fabrics for them, and decided on an arrangement that worked with the position of the elephants and sun. As with all the other elements of the quilt I first drew and cut the shapes on to tracing paper and then fusible web. I then used the tracing paper templates to cut out the balloons from the three red fabrics - I prepared the appliqué balloons the same way as the sun - turning in a 1/4 inch seam allowance around the edges of the shape. 

Once these were done I was able to assemble the quilt and adjust placement of all the elements:


And then blind stitch/applique them all down on to the quilt top - it was a good feeling to finally have all these bits and bobs come together into one unit.

So after that, I employed some very basic embroidery to work in the elephants tails and the strings of the balloons.

I used chain stitch for the balloon strings and most of the elephants tail and satin stitch for the end of the tail.

I really have no experience in embroidery but I liked doing this and how these bits turned out.


So at this point I had a finished quilt top. Awesome. 

Next up, putting it all together. I knew my backing was going to be this great blue and white polka dot, but I wasn't sure on the binding... I was thinking about red or yellow but they seemed too close to the balloons and sun so I decided to bind the quilt with the backing fabric. 

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1. To make the quilt 'sandwich' you need enough floor space to lay the quilt flat. I laid the quilt backing, right side down, on the floor smoothing out any wrinkles. Then I laid the quilt batting on top - getting this positioned and flat can be tricky, batting is sort of clingy. 

2. Next the quilt top goes down - face up. You can see that the batting is cut slightly bigger - I find it easier to do this and then trim it down to size. 

3. I used a few pins to secure the 3 layers together. I find it best to start in the middle and work out toward the edges, smoothing it all flat as you go. I folded over the edges and clipped them together.

4. Finally, I used a basting stitch, starting at the middle and working toward the edge in straight lines and then again in increasing concentric circles. This is a sort of annoying and time consuming task but it is really worth it. It makes it much easier to work with the quilt all the layers are well fixed and not slithering about. 

SO THEN...actual quilting...finally. I don't really have any pictures of this as its hard to photograph but basically I used small running stitches in matching colours (yellow for sun, red for the balloons etc) to outline the different applique elements. 




The sky and grass had some large areas which needed some additional quilting to keep the layers together so I added some quilted clouds in the sky and some scattered flowers in the grass. 








Once all the quilting was done it was time to do the binding. I trimmed the quilt top and batting to 1 inch less than the backing fabric. I folded over the excess backing fabric twice, first fold with the raw backing edge against the edge of the topper and backing, then over again on the quilt top. 

I used the much more detailed instructions over on the super helpful tutorial on cluck cluck sew.





I added a last minute label to the back of the quilt - my name and date I finished the quilt. I guess this is a thing that's done? It's a good idea. 

And it's done! After a final wash in the machine (on gentle). 

I'm really pleased with it. And so was my friend, the baby seemed indifferent. 

This was a pretty all consuming project for a while and sort of bumped all other crafting and papercutting out of the picture for a while. I did manage a few other projects since then so more on those next...