‘Painted Ladies’ MakeBox

When I started this blog celebrating creativity one of the things I wanted to do was subscribe to a monthly craft box that gets delivered to your door, bringing a new project each month. I started researching which ones were out there and found out that there are loads! I narrowed it down to a few I liked the look of and checked out their Instagram and website to have a look at past boxes. In the end I decided to go with MakeBox+Co (https://www.makebox.co/), so each month I’ll be reviewing what’s in their box.

I received my first box a couple of weeks ago and was very excited to open it up and get started. MakeBox+Co share the content of their boxes on social media and their website before it gets sent out, so if you are looking for a surprise this is probably not the box for you. The theme of the June box was ‘Painted Ladies’. The idea was to make three flower pots out of plaster of Paris, paint faces on them and then use them to grow succulents using the seeds provided. There was also a mini project to create a flower ring.

Inside the box was:

• Plaster of Paris
• Paper cups
• Mixing pot
• Flower pots
• Clear round stickers
• Two types of glue
• Paintbrushes
• Practice sheet
• Stirrer
• Sandpaper
• Acrylic paints
• Mosaic tiles
• Ring base
• Succulent seeds

The instructions were clear and each stage of the project was well laid out with good photographs. MakeBox+Co also provide helpful videos on their website and YouTube demonstrating some of the trickier parts.

This is not a quick project you can finish in a couple of hours, it’s a nice big project that actually took me several days to complete. Each step required drying time for the plaster to set or the paint or glue to dry, but I quite liked coming back to it and working on it a little bit each day. It was nice to see it progressing. The drying times varied between half an hour to an hour and a half, however my things took a lot longer to dry than that. Perhaps because I was working on them down in my studio, which is a bit damp, but if you had a nice warm place to dry your pots then you probably could complete this project in a day.

The box costs £19.99 (plus shipping) a month and renews automatically each month unless you stop it. There are also ‘prepay’ options where you can choose to pay upfront for three, six or twelve months, which includes a discount compared to the monthly rate. You can also order past boxes if you see one you missed that you like the look of.

The thing I like most about the monthly subscription box is that it brings something new to try each month. These pots are not something I would have thought to make by myself, but I really enjoyed doing it and that’s the idea behind my journey; to be creative everyday, but also keep learning and trying new things.

I’m looking forward to receiving July’s ‘Over the Rainbow’ kit!

Book club

The Bee’s Book Club: June

The Song of Achilles and Circe by Madeline Miller

For June I’m looking at two books by Madeline Miller. Both of these books explore Greek mythology in more detail, focussing on people and their perspective of the story, rather than just recounting the famous deeds. I have always had a passing interest in Greek mythology and remember enjoying learning about it at school, but I’m a little hazy on the facts. I read these books back to back as I got so into the theme of them, but I have no idea how much is based on the original story and how much is Miller’s own artistic licence. Either way I thoroughly enjoyed them both and felt truly immersed in the worlds of both Circe and Patroclus (the protagonist of The Song of Achilles).

The Song of Achilles is a heart-breaking love story that follows two young boys as they grow up together and are thrust into a war that has nothing to do with them, all thanks to the whims and manipulations of those in positions of power. Being familiar with the overall story of Achilles I struggled to see how the naïve characters introduced at the beginning of the book would make their way to their inevitable end, but the detail that Miller supplies draws you into the narrative and you begin to understand the decisions the characters make that lead to the twists and turns of the story.

Circe follows the lesser-known daughter of a Titan, famous for turning sailors into pigs. This is all I knew of Circe before I read this book, but again Miller explores the motivations behind the actions of the characters that appear in the book and opens up your understanding as to what makes people behave in the way that they do; the shape their lives take due to the influence of others and how they choose to react to it. It’s a great journey of someone who is made to feel powerless by those around her, but gradually begins to discover the extent of her own power and how to use it to carve her own impression on the world.

Although The Song of Achilles was published first I actually began by reading Circe. Some of the characters do appear in both books, namely Odysseus who is at a later part of his story in Circe than he is in The Song of Achilles, however I didn’t feel it made a difference which way round they were read. The stories stand alone so you do not need to read both books to feel like you are getting the full story either.

I would recommend a basic knowledge of Greek mythology prior to reading these books. Having a good idea about the Gods and the Titans and other mythological creatures helps to set the scene and bring the ancient world to life, however I think these books are so well written that they can be enjoyed even without this background knowledge.

Have you read these books? I’d love to hear your thoughts about them.