I stumbled across this beautiful flower pot during a country walk the other day. I love the floral pattern, the crackled glaze, and the wonderfully rustic charm.
With December approaching fast, I feel the need to share these wonderful advent calendars by Sally Swannel. These flat-pack wonders are assembled to create a free-standing three-dimensional house, complete with chimney and dorm windows, with 24 numbered advent windows on all sides. They are relatively easy to assemble too; we did add a tiny bit of double sided tape on a few of the tabs to make it more secure, but it was more for peace-of-mind than any physical need for it as the slot and tab design holds the house together very well!
I also adore the miniature advent cards, which come with an envelope, perfect for giving and receiving. I enjoy these traditional picture advents like these so much more than chocolate ones!
I have recently stumbled across the beautiful jewellery of Rachel Eardley. Each piece is constructed from vintage coins, with painstakingly cut out figures and details used to adorn necklaces, rings, pins, cufflinks and bracelets. Examining her work has made me look at some of these coins in a completely new light; the little hares, dogs and horses which cover some of the Irish coins are my favourite, along with the intricate bird on the Fathings. There is something wonderful about transforming outdated coinage into something charmingly decorative and functional. The thing that really completes these lovely creations, is the boxes they are displayed in; each piece comes in a beautifully hand illustrated craft box, detailed with drawing and dates of the specific coins used.
The night before I was due to do my first craft stall for my etsy shop, I had the sudden realisation that I had nothing to hold my business cards. I spent many hours working on the cards, and I am thrilled with how they turned out, so naturally, I wanted something lovely to display them in.
I remember walking around a craft show and seeing an ornate vintage display for a company’s business cards. It set them off beautifully, and I had an impulse to take one of the cards home as a token to remember both the products they sold and the carefully considered display. But with mere hours to go before my stall, I knew I had to whip something up quickly.
I’ve been collecting old spoons for a while, with the hopes of making something beautiful from them, but never finding the perfect project. I never wanted to waste them or ruin them of a craft that wasn’t right, so they just sat in my art cupboard looking lovely.
But this was an emergency. I rummaged for a hammer from the tool box, and failing to find a large rubber coated one which would have been more suited to the job, used an ordinary metal one to hammer the spoon flat. A combination of pliers and hammering was used to make an ‘n’ shape from the spoon handle and form a basic stand. I was lucky enough to get some metal alphabet stamps for my birthday last year, and tried to stamp ‘business cards’ into the edge of the underside of the spoon, which was then bent upwards at 90 degrees to hold the cards in place.
The whole thing was surprisingly quick to do, barely taking 25 minutes. I was rather pleased with the last minute project, although I doubt the neighbours were thrilled to hear me hammering metal at 9 pm at night!
There is something unmistakable about holidaying in Britain, and this time of year brings up memories of childhood trips with surprising fervour. I believe it may be partially due to the weather, which seems to change its mood hourly; the smell of rain mingled with cut grass and sunshine, wet sandal-footed feet and BBQ’s that end with in a crowded kitchen, or sheltering under a porch. This June I’ve found myself looking at holidays in Devon with a kind of longing, whilst mulling over old photographs and doodling vintage-style caravans decked with bunting and flowers. The caravans and trailers owned by parents and their friends were always decorated and altered with personal touches, in honour of their travelling days.
Having a dog throughout most of my childhood meant we felt compelled to take relatively local trips which allowed our furry friend to join us, and so I have a great nostalgia for British holidays. I can safely say that those planned for July and August share the same possibility of being dictated by the weather as those booked for June. Alongside that, however, they equally have the potential for some amazing memories. On the occasions where the sun shone and the heat was almost unbearable, we would hike to high places so that the deep blue of the sky stretched for miles around, or make dens in the fields surrounding the campsite or play hide and seek in apple orchards and have picnics on chequered blankets. The rain tested our innovation and our ability to conjure up new ways to make fun; board games were always a firm favourite, building forts from the chair cushions, or making up stories, like that one time we were oceanographers and our caravan was a submarine lost in the Atlantic. In later years we got Gameboys, and would trade Pokémon and narrate our adventures; when the rain cleared again, we would explore the long grass.
I am certain things were not always so rosy as I remember – a bunch of children in a confined space is never wholly pleasant – but the boredom and childish squabbles are easily forgotten and only the wonderful bitter-sweet moments remain in my memory. Such is the nature of nostalgia.
A few years ago a small group of friends and I stayed in a caravan in Devon for a week in June, and a half-hearted attempt to celebrate our collective childhood British holidays. That June bought thunderstorms and torrential rain instead of the usual intermittent drizzle and showers. We spent half the week in a caravan with water pouring down the windows, busying ourselves with games of scrabble and Artist Charades, (in which the players use famous artworks – installations, paintings, sculptures, sound and video, – instead of the usual books, films and TV shows,) and when the clouds cleared we donned wellingtons and took walks across country fields, discovered secret beaches, explored rock pools and ate cheese sandwiches under the shelter of oak trees.
Although I have no time for a holiday this year, I have been looking for some kind of caravan escape for next summer, or even scraping together some impromptu weekend camping before then. Last night I discovered a website for an enchanting campsite in Cornwall, which offers some truly beautiful converted vintage vehicles as accommodation, which I feel is definitely worth perusing by anyone considering a holiday soon. In the mean time, I wanted to make a bag that would encompass these happy memories, which I could take on my outdoor wanderings to carry my spare leggings and jumpers for when the weather turns! I found it difficult to decide whether I wanted a blue or mustard colour on the illustration, and settled with making both so I could mix-and-match depending on my outfit. Even when it is raining I am now able to have cheerful little reminder of summer with me.
After many weeks with long hours in front of the computer, I am so pleased that the Mystic Moose website for my craft shop is finally up and running. It was a wonderful place to put all the lovely photographs of totes that never quite reach the etsy listing photos – usually because they are too detailed or busy for the thumbnails. It links to my etsy shop, since that is the only place I sell my things online at the moment, but I really enjoyed making and designing the site, and will sell things from it directly someday soon!
On the theme of lovely new things, I have also branched out from the cotton tote bags I sell in my shop. For the last few weeks I have been perfecting my designs for pencil cases and purses, heat pressing my illustrations onto un-dyed cotton and sewing them in my studio. I had a huge delivery of zips at the end of last week, but couldn’t start immediately because I was searching for the zipper foot for my sewing machine. Even though I used the normal foot for the trail runs, and it looked okay, I felt it was important to take extra care when making something I was planning on selling. I visited my local sewing shop hoping to by a new zipper foot, but they had sold out of that morning. Eventually I found it last night when I crawled into the attic to look in the box the sewing machine originally came in. The box now holds a collection of beloved children’s books I can’t seem to let go of, and right at the bottom of the box, nestled between The Lorax and The Cat Who Walked By Himself, was the zipper foot. It was still in its plastic zipper bag with a needle threader, and apparently had been left behind in my excitement to use my new sewing machine two years ago.
After that little adventure, the pencil-case-making road had few bumps, and it wasn’t long before I had quite a selection to choose from. Not using a pattern or instructions meant that it was an interesting learning experience, working out how to have all the seams on the inside and yet leave a space to turn it inside out. I tried various places for this visible seam, including along the zip and on the bottom of the lining, but eventually settled on the side of the lining since it is least visible, and it meant I could sew in a lovely little Mystic Moose tag. I altered designs that are currently used on my totes, such as the typewriter, and the vintage map hearts, but I have some new designs floating about in my head right now.
I am hoping to order my new business cards soon, but I’ve been waiting for the perfect photograph of my products, and this wider range of sizes should making interesting compositions more exciting!
Also, don’t forget to enter the Mystic Moose giveaway over at Lazy Explorers! You could win your favourite Mystic Moose cotton tote, and the winner will be chosen on 13th June 2012, so head over to find out how to enter! This giveway is now closed, and the winner can be found here.
I am delighted to announce that the lovely Chloe from Lazy Explorers is hosting a Mystic Moose giveaway! Which is your favourite cotton tote from Mystic Moose? You can have up to four entries per person, and be in with a chance to win the tote of your choice!
Take a peek at her latest blog post to read an interview with me about Mystic Moose, and make sure to comment on her post once you have entered. (The rest of her blog is full of beautiful and inspiring things and is well worth a read as well, so make sure you wander through!) The lucky winner will be chosen on 13th June 2012 over at Lazy Explorers.
This giveway is now closed, and the winner can be found here.
I gave my studio a good spring clean this week because I have a tendency to collect various scraps of interesting materials and memorabilia which may one day make something wonderful, but, inevitably, never get used! The result is a studio full of rather lovely bits and pieces which unfortunately just turn into clutter, and could be more valuable to someone else who might actually use them. But whilst I was clearing the space, cleaning scraps of thread and fabric which got swept onto to the edge of the desk and onto the floor in my haste to start some new, crafty project, I began to notice how beautiful some of the most basic of craft materials are. The piles of lined up thread spools which I gaze at daily, for example, inspired a lovely colourful illustration which evolved into a tote design, which is for sale in the Mystic Moose etsy shop.
I am now looking around my studio in a new light. I have already taken inspiration from my typewriter, and my blue typewriter tote is one my my more popular items in my etsy shop, but I haven’t yet fully appreciated my sewing machine, or the piles of lace and wool I seem to collect and never have time to use!
The weather this weekend was somewhat delightful, a wonderful change to the dark clouds and patchy rain we had in the middle of last week. I had been planning a photo shoot for my Mystic Moose website all week, but even though the sun was shining, the lighting just wasn’t quite right for it – it was too bright and harsh, and by the evening it had gone a little cloudy again. So instead I took my new teacup tote bag for a walk whilst I scouted for potential locations for photos.
I made this new bag last weekend, after a rather lovely day in the garden of a cafe. Although I didn’t intend to, I spent about four hours sitting at the slightly rickety duck egg blue table with a friend, drinking cup after cup of tea. The little teashop had some delightfully quirky cups and saucers and no two were the same; having been sitting there for many hours we’d gotten through quite a few different cups! If the wonderful waitress hadn’t been popping back and forth to collect our empty cups, our table would have ended up looking very much like this tote bag! I took to doodling some of these cups, whilst sitting in the sunshine, and once I got home I began to ink and colour them in. As with my other totes, I then reversed the image heat pressed it onto the cotton, resulting in the colourful drawing being transferred!
This walk was extremely lovely, and the air had that lovely freshness that comes when people realise that spring has finally come and begin to cut grass in the hopes for some outside activities in the coming weeks. Flowers seem to be re-emerging recently, so I spent a lot of time admiring daffodils and daisies and gathering inspiration. I also got to see some lovely dogs – lots of beautiful collies, a couple of Labradors and Staffies and an extremely friendly terrier puppy wearing a pink collar that was owned by a muscular biker-y-looking man. I had several dog walkers compliment my teacups tote bag, which is always a lovely experience, because it’s great finding out in person that people like the things you make.
I also met a lovely ladybird when I was drinking tea, who was kind enough to let me take some photographs. There were some lovely parts of the gardens, some beautiful patches of architecture and I think I found some nice stonework against which to photograph my totes – I’m still looking for the perfect banner photo for my new etsy Facebook page! Go take a peek – I’ll be posting discount codes and updates on new crafty delights!
I’ve been very busy working on new artwork and illustrations recently, I am particularly happy with having used the old atlas I found at a carboot sale last year. It was such a beautiful book that I felt almost ashamed of cutting it up and making things from it, so I made sure to keep copies for future use. Regular blog readers may remember the map lampshade I decorated last summer, which still sits beside my bed and with my alarm clock, but I wanted to make something which I could share with the wider world, so to speak. Whilst I’ve always loved hearts with maps on them, I wanted a larger image to be displayed with them forming a pattern. This latest tote bag design is one of my favourites so far, and it’s ready in time for Earth Day in April!
I decided to use geographical map because the colours were so stunning, but also to avoid out of date political borders. I managed to conclude that the atlas must have been printed sometime between 1914 and 1921 since the adverts for other educational books at the back (which are priced in shillings and pence) state that they were revised in 1914, and despite large portions of the map being described as being part of the ‘British Empire’, certain country names and borders indicate that it was before 1921. Of course this information is not present on the geographical map, but seeing the different depths of the ocean and the heights of mountains makes the design so detailed.
I hope to make many more things with my maps, but the pages seem so precious that I only want to use them on crafts I’m sure will be lovely! Then again, I suppose that attitude has kept the atlas almost unused in my studio for the last year!