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!
I hope you are all enjoying this sunny bank holiday! It was my birthday this weekend and I had such a lovely time celebrating with my family and friends. We’ve had some people staying with us this week as well so it’s been quite busy so I just have a small crafty project to share with you this week!
I bought this little badge making kit from The Make Arcade (https://www.themakearcade.co.uk/). They have loads of little crafty kits ranging from badges to felt sewing and cross stitch or embroidery kits and they are really reasonably priced. I think loads of the kits would make a great party bag gift or activity for a party or hen do or even just to keep the kids entertained for a while!
My kit was £4.00 (plus postage) and included:
• Wooden cactus shape
• Green glittery fabric
• Pink felt
• Orange string of pom-poms
• Brooch pin
• Pot of glue
• Paper templates
All I needed were scissors and a paintbrush for the glue. It was very easy to put together, all I had to do was cut out the fabric using the templates and glue it to the wooden cactus. Then finish it off with the pom-poms and trim them to size and lastly glue the brooch pin onto the back and leave it to dry.
I really enjoyed it as a quick project and I’ll be sure to wear my new cactus badge out and about!
The main project was an embroidery hoop designed by embroiderer Emillie Ferris. The design was called ‘Sweet Bee’ and features a bee inside a wreath of flowers. After fixing the fabric in the embroidery hoop you had to trace the design onto the fabric using the template provided. Then, following Emillie’s instructions, you built up the image using the embroidery thread provided. This is the most intricate sewing I have ever done. Each piece was sewn using only one strand of the thread and using tiny stitches to create smooth lines and curves. A lot of the outlines were done using a split stitch; bringing the needle up through the middle of the previous stitch. This can be quite tricky when you are only working with one strand of thread! The other part that I found to be very fiddly were the French knots. The centre of each of the flowers and all the flower buds were created using loads of tiny French knots placed very close together and again using only one strand of thread. There were times during this project when I had to stop because my eyes were hurting or my back was aching, but as I completed each stage I felt really proud of myself!
The second project was a recipe for a honey and ricotta cheesecake. I’ve never made a cheesecake before so I was really excited to see how it turned out! It was a baked cheesecake and there was a moment when I took it out the oven when I wasn’t sure if it was done. You have leave a slight jiggle in the mixture, but I wasn’t sure if I had too much jiggle! I was also worried that it had just turned into scrambled eggs and that my base was way too crumbly, but I should have just had faith because it all turned out fine in the end. I made it for my family and they all agreed that it was delicious and that the flavour of the honey really came through. My favourite bit was the nut clusters on the top. They were really easy and quick to make and tasted like sweets. I would actually consider making them just to snack on in the future! There was supposed to be real honeycomb and edible marigolds on the top but I couldn’t get hold of either of those so I added some honeycomb from my local sweet shop instead.
I haven’t used my notebook or worn my pin yet, but I thoroughly enjoyed this box. It was full of great things and it’s so nice to have that drop through your door each season. I also like to have an ongoing project to work on in front of the TV in the evenings or if I have a spare couple of hours in the day and this embroidery project provided just that. I can’t wait for the next one to come through my letter box. Roll on Autumn!
The theme for the July MakeBox is ‘Over the Rainbow’ and it’s inspired by rainbow babies; a child born after a loss. This is a really personal subject for the couple who run MakeBox+Co and 10% of the profits from this kit are to be given to Tommy’s Baby Charity (https://www.tommys.org/).
There were three projects to make; a large woven rainbow wall hanging, a woven rainbow necklace and an embroidered postcard.
Inside the box was:
• Large rope
• Small rope
• Embroidery thread
• Several different coloured balls of yarn
• Wooden beads
• Wooden birds
The wall hanging and necklace were made in the same way by wrapping the yarn around varying lengths of rope and wire. The wire gave it stability and allowed you to form it into the correct shape. The balls of yarn were a random selection of colours, which didn’t give you the option of following a regular rainbow pattern, but did mean that your wall hanging would be unique. The rope I had was not the same as the type in the instruction photographs and it meant that it came unravelled really quickly as I was trying to wrap the yarn around it, which made it a bit tricky to keep it under control at times. I think it may also have affected the length of some of my pieces as they didn’t seem to match up as well after I’d wrapped them! Once each length of rope was wrapped you had to add a ribbon (or wire in the case of the necklace) and wooden bead to the top colour before stitching them all together on the back. This ensured that all the pieces were kept in place. The wall hanging then had the wooden songbirds added using super glue. The necklace had the pearls stitched on to look like raindrops and the chain added.
Each stage of the make was easy and I didn’t feel like I had to do it all at once, I just came back to it whenever I had a spare hour and it was nice to do something relaxing and different for a while. The instructions were fairly clear, but if I wasn’t sure about something there were plenty of pictures that showed each stage in progress to refer to.
Lastly I completed the embroidered postcard. Using the leftover yarn from the other two projects I backstitched each layer of the rainbow to create a lovely piece of art which I’m going to hang on my inspiration wall in my studio. I especially love the quote on it – “After the rain clouds there’s a rainbow.”
I’m really enjoying receiving my MakeBoxes and have even ordered a couple of past boxes to complete as well!
They have already announced the August box and it looks pretty exciting!
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
• Practice sheet
• 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!