craft kit · subscription box

Spring Flowers Masterclass MakeBox

I’ve just completed the MakeBox for May; a Spring flower masterclass. The instruction booklet for this month’s box takes you through the steps for how to create five different kinds of flowers using crepe paper and wire. The results are absolutely gorgeous and much bigger than I thought they were going to be! I think the flowers look really realistic, and although delicate are much sturdier than I would have thought too.

Included in the box was:

• Italian crepe paper in cream, yellow, pale pink, hot pink, pale purple and green
• Wire
• Florist’s tape
• PVA glue
• Wire wreath base
• Velvet ribbon
• Paper templates

The instructions started with how to make pollen using the yellow tissue paper and then went on with a step by step guide on how to make anemones, camellias, daffodils, tulips and peonies. The basics were the same for each flower but obviously varied depending on their petal shape, leaf type and whether or not they had pollen. The Italian crepe paper was excellent quality and was really nice to work with. It doesn’t rip easily and holds its shape well. And my new best friend is florist’s tape! It is so satisfying to work with and hides all manner of sins, but between that and the PVA glue be prepared for very sticky fingers!

Once the flowers are all made there are lots of suggestions at the back of the booklet for what you can do with them. I turned some of mine into a wreath using the wire base and velvet ribbon included in the kit, but there were plenty of other ideas including a flower crown, napkin ring, gift wrap, or just styling them in a vase or bouquet.

As usual this project was lovely. It was something different that I haven’t tried before, which is something MakeBox are great at delivering. The supplies were all of excellent quality and the end result is gorgeous. Hannah is obviously very passionate about flowers and this craft is clearly one of her favourites as you can tell from the intro at the start of the booklet. This was not a quick craft that could be done in a couple of hours on a Saturday afternoon. I have had this out on the dining table all week and have been coming back to it whenever I have a moment to cut out more petals or stick wire to leaves. Having tried to rush a few bits I can also say that its best to leave the glue to dry if you can as it’ll only make the following steps harder if it’s still a bit wet.

Unfortunately the instructions were once again a bit of a let down. To start with, an email was sent out to everyone who received the kit to say that the tulip instructions had been printed in the wrong order and a link to download the correct ones was provided. I wasn’t ready to make the kit when I received the email so I didn’t download them immediately, but when I tried to get them to make this kit last week the link had expired, less than a month after they were sent. The main problem was that the pictures were out of order and did not match up to the numbered instructions, but as this was the fourth flower in the booklet I could match them up in the logical order as I’d made three types of flower already.

This was not the only problem I found with the instructions. Also in the tulip section it says to cut a piece of wire 5cm by 9cm. This didn’t make sense to me. A piece of wire can only be one length surely? In the end I cut it to 9cm and it all worked out fine, but I’m still unclear as to what was intended by the instruction. The other part that had me confused was in the peony section. It said to cut 6 x 5 sets of petals, a total of thirty petals, however the instructions then went on to say cut six lengths of wire and glue six petals to each piece of wire. This means you would need a total of thirty-six petals. You could use five petals per wire, but I chose to cut six extra petals instead to give the flower more volume. In the instructions for each flower type it said how many flowers you had the materials to make. All of them were to make three flowers, except the peony, which was two. I made the suggested amount for each one but found that when I got to the end I didn’t have enough wire left for the final peony.

It’s these kind of confusing instructions, oversights and miscalculations which I find very frustrating, especially as the overall craft and final products are always lovely and worth the effort in the end. I had debated cancelling my subscription but I know I would regret it and feel I was missing out when I saw the new project each month, but I do hope that MakeBox think about proofreading the instructions and testing the kits before sending them out in the future as this is not the first time that instructions have had mistakes or been omitted, or not quite enough materials have been included.

workshop

Embroidered Origami

Another week, another online workshop! I’m really enjoying online workshops, it’s such a lovely way to spend an evening crafting with other crafters, and it provides a real sense of community and support. This week I did an embroidered origami workshop co-hosted but Est of Origami Est (https://origamiest.co.uk/) and Beth of Freckle and Knot (https://www.instagram.com/freckleandknot/). Prior to the workshop they asked what colour we would like to use for the project and then they both posted out the materials we would need to join in.

Included in the parcels were:

  • Patterned paper x3
  • Plain paper x3
  • Ribbon x3
  • Glue
  • Embroidery thread
  • Needle
  • Tracing paper
  • Stitch practice sheet

Once everyone had joined the Zoom session Est showed us how to fold the paper to achieve the diamond shape we were aiming for. Each diamond was made up of a patterned piece and a plain piece of paper. 

When we had folded our diamond halves Beth then took over for the embroidery section of the workshop. We started off using the practice paper to try out the stitches. Some people in the class hadn’t done any embroidery before so Beth demonstrated each stitch. Sewing in paper is quite different to sewing in cloth, mainly because you have to punch the holes through the paper first. Beth showed us a good trick using a roll of washi tape to raise the paper up and avoid lots of holes in the table! Once we were confident sewing on the paper and had completed the test sheet we could then move onto the real thing. We used the tracing paper to draw our designs on, which meant that when we were punching the holes in the patterned paper we could see where the folds were. This helped with positioning the design. Having punched the holes we could then sew our design onto the paper. I used backstitch and lazy daisy stitch for my rain cloud.

After we had finished our embroidery, during which we all had a lovely chat, Est then showed us how to assemble the diamond. First we cut a small slit in the point of the top half, in my case the patterned side, and threaded the ribbon through to create a loop to hang it from. We put a small amount of glue on the inside to hold the ribbon in place and then finally attached the two halves of the diamond together by glueing around the edge and manipulating each side so that it would slot in nicely and line up.

At first I thought this was quite a time consuming craft, but when I moved on to my second and third ones I realised that it’s actually quite quick! I now have lots of ideas about creating baubles for the Christmas tree, even though that’s still quite a long way off! I’m really enjoying these online workshops and hope I can find more to sign up for. Although I’m missing going out and joining in with them in real life, it’s such a great alternative.

workshop

Crochet Bunny with Tea and Crafting

Last week I attended another online workshop, this time to learn how to crochet. It was hosted by the lovely Jane from Tea and Crafting (https://www.teaandcrafting.co.uk/) who are running several online workshops at the moment so you should check them out if you are interested in learning a new crafty skill. 

I have had a go at crochet before a few years ago now, and actually created a blanket out of lots of basic squares which I sewed together. However, I have since totally forgotten how to do it! Crochet and knitting are two crafts that I would love to be able to do, but unless I continuously practice them I find that they just leak out of my head and I have to relearn how to do them every time I want to have another go. The first time I tried crochet I learnt it left-handed, which was such a pain because most tutorials are for right-handers, which means that you have to resort to finding YouTube videos. At the beginning of the workshop Jane asked if anyone was left-handed and I said I was, but she convinced me to give it a go right-handed. I have to admit that I was a bit sceptical that I would be able to do it ‘backwards’, but I was willing to give it a go to make it easier for the rest of the class.

To start the workshop Jane talked us through how to check the wool label to find out information about what size of hook we would need to use, the tension square and washing instructions. We received all the materials we would need for the workshop in the post a few days before, which included:

  • Chunky wool in light grey
  • Wool in darker grey
  • Length of black wool
  • 6mm crochet hook
  • Darning needle
  • Stuffing

Once we had discussed the wool and hook size Jane talked us through how to cast on and create the chain stitch which would form the base of our square. She took us through each stage slowly and we followed along. Then she showed us how to begin the first row by stitching into the chain stitch. After demonstrating a few stitches she then left us to complete the row. I was absolutely fine whilst I was following along but as soon as I had to do a stitch by myself I just couldn’t keep each step in my head and got in a terrible muddle! I must have some kind of mind-block for crochet because this always happens and I find it incredibly tiresome having to keep referring back to videos or books to find out where I have to put my hook next. Well, Jane was incredibly patient with me. I’d like to apologise to the other people on the workshop for putting up with my painstaking progress as Jane talked me through it very, very slowly! Eventually though I did get it and made it up to the second row. By this point I think I was trying so hard and was so tense that it was showing in my work and the tension of my wool was so tight that I actually managed to snap the hook…by accident of course! I had some spare hooks from my previous ventures into the world of crocheting, which I quickly found so I could keep up with the rest of the class and I finally felt that I had found my rhythm and was starting to get it. I lost a couple of stitches along the way somewhere as my finished piece was more of a trapezium than a square, but I was pretty proud of it! 

During the workshop Jane showed those who were quicker and had finished how to create their bunny by sewing a running stitch across the square which was then pulled to gather the top half and create the head and ears. I put a bit of stuffing inside the head and then sewed the body shut, leaving a small gap for stuffing before finishing it off. Lastly I made a little pom pom with the darker grey wool and attached it to the bunny’s bottom and stitched on some eyes and a nose. For those who didn’t finish or wanted a reminder Jane emailed round a video of the workshop a few days afterwards.

Having completed my bunny I didn’t want to forget what to do so I made another sample piece out of the leftover wool. Unfortunately I ran out of wool so I couldn’t make a second bunny, but it was great practice. I also decided to give my new skills a bit more practice so I looked up a tutorial on how to crochet a granny square and had a go at that too. I’m pretty pleased with my attempt. It’s a bit wonky in places so I think I still need to work on my tension, but I might continue making them to try and imprint the process on my brain so I don’t forget how to do it again! Maybe one day I’ll be able to make something more complicated…

subscription box

Artful – Spring 2020

I recently subscribed to another crafty box (I know, I know, it’s a problem!) called Artful (https://artful.co.uk/). This is a quarterly box focusing on art materials and encouraging people to experiment and play with them to expand their skill set or just to get more creative. I unwittingly signed up for the first ever box without realising that they were such a new company. I saw an advert on Facebook, who obviously have me all figured out because I was very interested and decided to check out their website. Each box will be created in collaboration with an artist who will have an input into the materials that are included and offer projects to get you started. You can either sign up for the quarterly subscription at £35 a month or the annual subscription at £120 a year. The only difference is that you save £5 per box with the annual option.

Included in the box is:

  • A5 sketchbook
  • Posca pens x4 (green, turquoise, pink, orange)
  • 3H pencil
  • Tombow dual brush pen x2 (grey, black)
  • Tombow hard brush pen
  • Tombow Mono twin marker
  • Eraser
  • Artful magazine

As part of the subscription you also get three free months of premier membership with Skillshare (usually £13 a month or £84 a year). This is good because the first project is a video based tutorial which you can find on Skillshare at the link provided in the magazine. Just something to note; when signing up you have to input your card details and you will be billed in three months time unless you remember to cancel your subscription. I’m happy to sign up because I was planning on having a look at Skillshare (https://www.skillshare.com/) anyway so I will just let mine continue, although I will probably forget and be confused why £84 has been taken out of my account at the end of July!

The magazine is full of inspiration. It starts by outlining the materials included and an interview with the featured artist. This issue it is author and illustrator Mike Lowery. The interview covers his career and inspirations and then continues focusing on the first project. After this there are two more projects to complete using the materials in the box. The rest of the magazine is dedicated features on a wide range of various artists from ceramicists to chefs and everything in between. 

Before starting any of the projects I decided to have a go with each of the materials in my new sketchbook so I could see how they felt to draw with. I started off by writing the name of each pen and then drawing some lines so I could get a feel for how each one flowed. On the following page I tested out the Posca pens, drawing lines and a square of each colour. I was surprised by how fluid they were and I accidentally lifted the page too soon causing two of the colours to run together because they hadn’t dried completely. On the next page I decided to try mixing the materials together. I started by drawing some basic shapes with the Posca pens and then used a variety of the finer pens to draw details over the top. Each one had a different effect over the top of the colour, some of which I liked and some of which I didn’t.

Project one was map making. The video of Mike Lowery featured on Skillshare shows how to create an illustrated map. It’s actually broken down into eight short videos taking you on a step by step guide for how to create your map from researching your chosen location, sketching and colouring your map and finally to adding the details with the Tombow brush pen. I really liked that the video was broken down into short tutorials. It meant that you could watch one and then complete the step before moving on to the next one without having to pause or rewind if you missed something. The longest video is just under seven minutes, so it’s the perfect project to complete in stages if you are a bit short on time. I chose to draw a map of the first time my husband and I went on a cruise. It was a cruise around the Mediterranean/Aegean, although I have called it our Mediterranean Adventure! We had such an amazing time and really enjoyed being able to see the highlights of each place we visited and now we have been once we know there are a few places we would like to return to and explore more thoroughly. Mike suggests that you don’t have to do a map of somewhere you have already been, you could gather information about a place you have been dreaming of visiting and create your own sightseeing wish list in the form of a map. I really like this idea and might have to give it a go next time we are planning a trip…soon I hope! I like the stylised feel of the map because it takes away the pressure of it having to be perfect. The only thing I added to mine was the blue roofs of the Santorini buildings. I used a sharpie for the colour as it just didn’t seem right to have them any other colour. 

Project two and three were both focused on the Posca pens, which lets face it, are the most fun things in the box! Project two was decorating terracotta flower pots. Although they suggest in the magazine that you can pick these up cheaply I didn’t want to go out to get some and I also didn’t want to buy them online as I thought they would take forever to come at the moment, so I phoned my parents and got them to rummage around in their shed to see if they could find any! They did have a few knocking around so they said I could have them and very kindly dropped them off on my doorstep. Don’t worry, we observed all the social distancing rules! The terracotta pots were very easy to draw on and the colours looked so vibrant. Some of the lighter colours needed a couple of coats to get a nice even covering.

Project three was drawing on glass. In the magazine they had mason jars and they got three creatives to make their own designs for inspiration. I didn’t have any mason jars but I did have some old Nutella jars which I was saving because I’m a hoarder and in the words of my wise dad “You never know when you might need it!”. Anyway, I decided to decorate them and now they are done I think they would make great tea light holders. I actually copied one of the the designs from the magazine, the stylised rainbows, because I really like it and I’ve seen loads of things done in this style recently so I wanted to have a go at it myself. 

I had a lot of fun with this box. It was something really different to my usual crafting and gave me the opportunity to try out some new things, some of which I’ve been looking at for a while but was too scared to invest the money in them in case I was rubbish at using them! I’m really intrigued to see what the next box holds. Artful also features a daily drawing challenge on their Instagram (@artfulbox) if you are looking for some prompts to practice your drawing.

subscription box

The Baking Club

If you follow me on Instagram you may have seen that I’m quite a keen baker. I usually do my baking at weekends and I really enjoy a good afternoon of making something delicious to eat. In the past I’ve stuck to fairly easy recipes, usually making cakes for birthdays or sugar cookies at Christmas, but since I started this blog last year I’ve been trying to push myself to try more difficult and interesting recipes. And also recipes that I might otherwise have dismissed… I’m a bit of a chocoholic and when left to my own devices that’s what I tend to pick! Obviously I still sometimes go back to basics when I  don’t have much time but still want to bake, but I definitely think I’ve become a bit more adventurous!

One of the ways in which I’ve tried to diversify my range is by subscribing to The Baking Club by BakedIn (https://bakedin.co.uk/). The Baking Club is a monthly subscription box which includes a recipe and all the dry ingredients in pre-measured bags. The box fits through the letterbox so you don’t even need to be in to receive it and they email you before it arrives to let you know what ‘wet’ ingredients you will need e.g. butter, eggs, fruit etc, whilst still keeping the contents a secret, so you won’t know what you are going to be baking until the box arrives. They also ask that subscribers don’t post on social media until after a certain date to ensure that it remains a surprise for everyone. Also included is usually some greaseproof paper, a wooden skewer for testing the bake and a piping bag if needed.

The box only costs £9 a month (or less if you sign up for a three, six or twelve month block), which I think is pretty good for all the ingredients you get, plus a step by step recipe. I think it would be a lovely activity to do with your child to get them interesting in cooking and baking. Some of the recipes are more complex than others but you will find a skill level and times on the back to give you an indication of how much work it is. Also included are the weights of the ingredients so you can make it again if you want to and all the nutrition information, although I prefer not to look at that!

The Baking Club was started five years ago with the support of Michel Roux, who very sadly passed away last week. All of the recipes which the BakedIn team developed for the boxes were sent to him to review, adjust and approve, ensuring a high quality. The team sent out a lovely message in honour of him last week to all the subscribers, and I’m sure they will continue to do him proud. I know I always look forward to my box every month.

I’ve made some great cakes since I started my subscription, ones which I would previously have felt beyond my skill level, but now I feel like could replicate with confidence. If you’re looking to get some more baking in your life I would highly recommend this service and if you don’t want to commit to a monthly subscription they also sell their kits individually. If you don’t want to end up with a load of cake to eat up, they also do a mug cake subscription for those times when you just want a single portion of cake!

Event

Alt Summit 2020

What a week it’s been! The Alt Summit conference is over and I’m finally back in England. I feel like I’ve had a great adventure, but also like I’ve been swept up in a whirlwind of learning, crafting and networking!

One of the best things about Alt has been meeting so many amazing people. I feel like I have made so many great connections. Everybody I spoke to was welcoming and willing to share their experiences and ideas. The networking highlight for me was the craft bloggers meet up. They had an opportunity for attendees to organise meet ups with people who are in to the same things as them. Although I had already met some brilliant people it was so great to have the chance to chat with other creatives who are just as passionate as me about crafting. We talked about lots of different aspects of crafting and blogging and exchanged contact details. That group of women were so genuine and supportive. I know I will definitely be getting in touch with a few of them to tap their knowledge.

My other favourite part of the conference was the opportunity to try out so many different crafts. ‘The Commune’ at the Ace hotel hosted an array of makers running different crafting sessions throughout each day. To be honest I could have just stayed there the whole time, but I thought it was important to do some learning on the business side of the conference too! I tried my hand at a macrame rainbow keychain, sign stencilling, painting a leather business card holder, meditation with macrame, abstract watercolour painting, biscuit decorating and embroidery. It was so fun to have a go at all of them in such a calm environment, looking out on to the sunny pool with a nice breeze blowing through. In fact, it was during the crafting sessions that I met the most people and had the best conversations because everyone was so relaxed.

The other sessions were a bit of a mixed bag. I found some of them really insightful and I was taking notes like crazy because there was so much to learn from the speakers. However, other sessions felt a bit flat or I felt like I already knew a lot of what they were talking about. It’s hard to organise such a large conference with enough content for everyone because everyone is at such different points in their journey. There was plenty of options to choose from, but because the conference took place over three venues sometimes it was hard to get between the hotels in order to reach the sessions you wanted to attend. Having said that, the shuttle bus service between the hotels was fantastic. It was running constantly during conference hours and I never had to wait more than two minutes for one to show up.

There was some great evening entertainment too. In addition to the craft bloggers meet up there was also a 90s themed party which was so nostalgic, and a brilliant improv show on the last night.

Lastly, I’m glad my new friend Ros and I found time for some sightseeing. We took the aerial tramway up to the top of Mount San Jacinto, where there was spectacular views and even snow! Although I had an amazing time at the conference I think it was also important to take that time out to be a tourist. 

If you are a creative entrepreneur I would highly recommend a trip to Alt Summit. It is amazing for personal development and you will come away feeling so enthused and motivated to build your business, not to mention supported by a host of fabulous women.

workshop

Make Your Own Leather Trainers

Yesterday I went to Tea and Crafting (https://www.teaandcrafting.co.uk/) for a very exciting workshop! I put the vouchers I received for Christmas towards a ‘Make your own leather trainers’ workshop. Prior to attending I received an email from the lovely Maddie who works at Tea and Crafting asking for our shoe size and colour preference so that they could have the kits ready for us on the day. It took me ages to decide what colour to go for. I didn’t want to go for white as I already have white trainers but I wanted to pick a colour that I thought I would wear and would go with my wardrobe. In the end I chose a mauve colour as I thought it would be neutral enough to go with most things but still a bit fun.

When we arrived our kits were waiting for us. They included:

  • Coloured leather
  • Rubber soles
  • Insoles
  • Wax thread
  • Needle
  • Paper template

Plus each of our stations had the equipment we would need such as scissors, hole punch pliers and a pen to draw on the leather.

We started off by cutting out the paper templates. There was only one template, which you had to flip over to create the other shoe, so we had to be careful to note which side was which. There were three options to choose from; a low trainer, a normal trainer or a high top. I decided to go with the normal trainer, but some of my classmates made the high top and I have to admit I was a bit jealous as they looked so good! Once the paper template was cut out we positioned it on the leather and drew round it, then flipped it over and drew around it again to create the reverse pattern for the other shoe.

Then it was time to cut the shapes out. The leather was pretty tough to cut and it was important to be as precise as possible.

We then attached the templates back on to the leather pieces so that we could punch the holes. There were two sized holes to punch; the larger holes for the shoelaces and the smaller holes around the bottom to secure the uppers to the soles. Punching was probably the most difficult part of the process. You needed quite a bit of hand strength! The smaller holes weren’t too bad, although there was a lot of them, but the larger holes caused a bit of trouble in the class!

Once the holes had been punched in the leather it was then time to punch the holes in the soles. The holes were marked around the edge of the soles so it was just a case of going round with the smallest size on the pliers and punching through. The rubber was really easy to punch, but there were a lot of holes to match the uppers! When all the holes had been punched with the pliers we then went round with our needles poking out all the little pieces of rubber to make it easier when it came to actually sewing.

After lunch we moved on to construction. Our tutor Alex showed us how to line up the leather with the sole and how to sew it all together with the wax thread in the correct order. Starting along the inside edge we worked our way around to the nose, then down the other side, finishing with the heel, then sewing back around the other way to secure it all. Once the uppers were attached Alex showed us how to create a little stitch on either side to hold the tongue in place.

Lastly the insoles went in and the laces were threaded through! I couldn’t believe I’d made a pair of trainers! They just came together so quickly and with so few materials. I can’t wait to wear them! I think they’ll look good with some of my summer dresses, so roll on summer!

The workshop cost £150 and took place at their Covent Garden studio in London. Jane, the owner of Tea and Crafting, took part in the class along with Maddie and it was great to meet them in person. The tutor was Alex of Sewrendipity (https://sewrendipity.com/) a sustainable sewing blog. She was fantastic and really knowledgeable. I can’t recommend this class enough. It was a lovely day out and not only did I get to meet other creative people and spend the day crafting, I also created something that I’m actually going to use; my favourite kind of crafting!

craft kit

Mosaic Bee

This week I’ve been doing another craft kit that I picked up at the Handmade Festival. This time it’s mosaic. I’ve never had a go at mosaic with actual tiles before, and I’ve never had a go at grouting either so I was a little bit daunted by the prospect of that before I started!

I bought the kit from Rachel Shilston (https://www.rachelshilston.co.uk/) and it cost £25. It was one of the beginner kits, so I didn’t have to buy any extra tools like tile cutters. Any tiles that needed to be a shape other than square came pre-cut in the kit.

Included in the kit was:

  • MDF bee shape
  • Whole tiles on brown backing paper
  • Pre-cut tiles
  • Round tiles (for eyes)
  • PVA glue
  • Sponge
  • Grout powder
  • Glue spreader
  • Cocktail stick
  • Ribbon

The first thing to do was soak the tiles in warm water to release them from the brown paper and give them a dry with some kitchen towel. Once all the tiles were loose it was then time to start creating the mosaic by spreading glue on the MDF shape and placing the tiles in the correct pattern. The kit came with really detailed instructions on how to build the pattern and where to position each tile, along with a nice clear picture on the front of the box. When it was finished you had to leave the glue to dry overnight.

Once the glue was dry and all the tiles were fixed on it was time to grout! As I said, I haven’t done any grouting before, however I needn’t have worried. Again, the instructions were really clear, including descriptions of how the grout should be the consistency of buttercream icing and stressing the small amount of water required to do this. There was no way I could make a mistake with instructions like that! If you were still unsure Rachel also provides a how-to video on her YouTube channel. I didn’t actually check this out as I didn’t need to in the end, but I think that’s great support.

After I had mixed, applied and wiped off the excess grout I used the cocktail stick to clear the grout from the hole used for hanging the piece once it’s finished. I then left it to dry inside a plastic bag. This helps it to cure rather than dry out too fast and crack. Once it was dry after a few hours I gave it another wipe with a clean cloth and threaded the ribbon through, ready for hanging.

I really enjoyed this kit because it was something a bit different and it was learning skills I’ve never used before. I don’t know if mosaic is a hobby I would take up regularly, but if the mood does ever take me again I would definitely feel confident about doing it. As with most crafts it wasn’t quick because you had to allow for drying time, but each section of the process probably only took me an hour or less.

Rachel’s website is really nice and easy to navigate and I had a little explore on there and saw that she offers a monthly mosaic subscription box if you really get into it, and she does workshops. The only warning I would offer is that it is a messy craft so you really need an apron, gloves and a face mask and make sure you cover your work area in newspaper before you start!

workshop

La Basketry

Yesterday I went over to the London Loom again, this time for a basket weaving workshop run by the lovely Tabara N’Diaye from La Basketry (https://labasketry.com/). This was a totally new skill for me, but Tabara was very patient in explaining how to do each step and even though there was seven of us in the class she gave each of us individual attention when we needed it. I felt very well looked after and she was really encouraging, even when our work came out a bit wonky!

To start with we were given a bunch of grass, a special needle with a bent tip and a flexible silicon tube. We had to select which colours we wanted to use for our basket from a selection of plastic strings. You would recognise them if you made scoubidous at school (showing my age)! I chose purple and peach. 

We began by threading a few of the grasses through the silicon tube, which kept them all together and made it easier to begin the pot. Tabara then showed us how to create the first coil by tying the plastic string round, wrapping the grass and creating a stitch to hold it in place. This was the base from where we would continue to build the pot, adding a stitches as we went round. 

When the coloured string ran out you just threaded the new colour into the previous stitch and carried on. As the grass ran out you just had to feed some new stems into the bunch to ensure you maintained a consistent thickness all the way around the basket. 

Once the base was wide enough then you could begin to build up the sides. That was where the peg came in useful if you were having trouble holding everything in place. I didn’t use the peg as I found it much easier to weave going up the sides than I did creating the base. I also found that my stitches became more uniform and fell into a natural pattern, which created a nice look for the basket, and meant that my messy bit was luckily hidden on the base!

The little basket we created was to hold a cactus and Tabara had one for each of us. I didn’t have enough time to build my basket as high as I would have liked but I think it still looks cute with it’s little spiky friend inside it! The workshop cost £55 for two hours and took place at the London Loom studios (https://thelondonloom.com/v2/).

Creative blog

What crafting means to me…

I know this is a bit of a detour for me as I usually post a review of something crafty or creative that I’ve done, but this week I just wanted to talk about craft and mental health. One of my reasons for starting this blog in the first place was my belief that crafting is good for the soul.

I was in quite a low place for the first few months of this year. I was disillusioned with my jewellery as I had done a few really bad Christmas markets, I didn’t have any inspiration for new products and in short I felt like it was going nowhere and I was wasting my time. I put it on the back burner and spent a lot of time thinking about if it was the right thing for me to do or if I should find something else. I knew in my heart that I didn’t really want to let it go, which is why in the end I went back to my jewellery making roots and started again, as discussed in my previous post about my showcase. However, before I got to that point I went back even further to my childhood and remembered all the things I liked to do back then; sewing, art, reading, baking, and anything that involved making something with my hands. I’d already begun to make my pointillism pictures inspired by a visit to a David Hockney exhibition and I’d already started writing my novel.

I decided that I wanted to bring more creativity back into my life, and that I wanted to document what I was doing in order to keep myself on track and also share my journey with others who might be feeling in need of a bit of inspiration of their own. I set up this blog and my Instagram account with no idea what I was going to post at first! I spent a long time researching crafty pastimes and came across the idea of subscription boxes, bringing a different craft to your door every month, which I loved. I also researched places to go. I wanted to make sure that I went out and about in order to experience new things. I’ve always enjoyed going to art galleries, but I also signed myself up for as many workshops as I could afford in as many different disciplines as possible!

I’ve been thoroughly enjoying myself over the last few months since starting this blog. I’ve learnt so many amazing new skills from candle making to punch needle, but I’ve also remembered lost loves such as embroidery. I now feel that I’m brimming with ideas, not just for my jewellery but also for artwork bringing a range of techniques together in a mixed media style piece.

However, the reason I’m not posting a finished piece today is because I don’t have one! Over the past two weeks I’ve had a severe cold. Not quite the flu because I haven’t been stuck in bed, but I have really pushed myself to keep going because I had deadlines to meet, like my jewellery showcase, and it has definitely been to my detriment. I should have taken time to rest because I haven’t had the energy to complete some of my other projects in time and that’s made me really upset. So whilst crafting has definitely had a positive effect on me and I feel inspired, relaxed and overall in a better frame of mind, it’s always good to know when you need to take a break and recharge. I don’t want to let something I enjoy become a burden again. I have a nice quiet week lined up and I’m going to spend my time crafting at a leisurely pace and not put any pressure on myself. I’ve nearly finished one of my subscription boxes so I’ll be back next week with a review on that! I’m hoping to catch up with myself so that I can start on some of my own projects and get some of my ideas out there!