Blog, Makes

Want an easy craft project? Why not decorate eggs for Easter.

The blue eggs are created by using red cabbage, the brown are made from onion skins

These eggs are dyed using just onion skins and red cabbage. It is so simple to do and very effective.


You will need

Eggs with white shells. Asian shops are a good source of white hen’s eggs and some super markets and butchers sell white duck eggs.

Flowers, fronds and leaves to create a pattern

Onions with Yellow Skins to create a mid brown colour

Onions with Red Skins to create a mahogany brown

Red cabbage to make a blue dye. For pale blue, add bicarbonate of soda to the mix

Pair of old tights to hold the leaf or flower in place

Scissors to cut up the tights

Saucepan and water in which to dye the eggs


  1. Peel the onions and keep the skins. I made an onion quiche with my naked onions. Roughly chop up the red cabbage.
chop red cabbage

2. Cut a piece of tight, large enough to tie round an egg. Wet a leaf or flower and press it onto the egg. Tie a piece of the tights around the egg, holding the leaf or flower into place.

3. Put the wrapped eggs and either the onion skins or chopped cabbage in a saucepan with water.

4. Heat the tied eggs, in their dye bath, to a rolling simmer and cook for about half an hour. Leave the wrapped eggs in the water while it cools down. If possible, leave over night or 5 hours before cutting away the tights.

5. Remove all the pieces of tights, leaves and flowers and leave the wet eggs, with their lovely new designs, to dry

6.When all the eggs are dry arrange them all together and eat!

Blog, Makes

Waxed Cloth Food Wrap

Useful Presents

Make Waxed Cloth Food Wraps and give them away as  presents.

Do away with all that plastic cling film and make something that really works By Juliet Bawden 

Photographed by Antonia Attwood  MA RCA

This project is very easy to do, it smells delicious and it works. I had been reading about food wrap for a while and was curious, when happenstance made me do something about it. My neighbour, who keeps bees in my garden, presented me with a large piece of beeswax. I knew just how I could use it. I read lots of posts on line about different methods and possible additives to create the cloth, but in the end decided to do the simplest thing, just use the bee’s wax unadulterated on the cloth. Please note if you choose a white or pale background fabric and use bee’s wax, the yellow colour will come through into the design. Personally I like this as a look as it gives it a home spun feel. I recently wrote a post on this subject on 91 Magazine  blog. Since writing that I have been experimenting and found an even easier way to impregnate the cloth with wax and that is by ironing  it in between two layers of baking parchment.  

You will need

Closely woven cotton fabric, similar to a bed sheet in feel.

Wax – either grated, from a large block as this has been, or you can buy wax pellets on line.

Baking parchment 

Pinking shears

Step 1

 Using pinking shears cut round the edge of the material. By using pinking shears you will not need to hem the fabric.

Step 2 

Using a cheese grater, grate the bees wax. Wax is tougher to grate than cheese and it will stick to the grater. The wax will come off the grater when it is washed. 

Step 3

Cut out 2  pieces of baking parchment larger than the piece of fabric.  Place the fabric on top of one of the pieces of  baking parchment and sprinkle the bee’s wax evenly on the fabric.

Step 4

Place the other piece of baking parchment on top of the fabric and using a medium temperature, iron over the paper. You will see the wax melting and if the coverage isn’t even you can always lift the paper add more wax pieces and then recover with the paper before ironing again. Hang the fabric up to dry. Once the cloth is dry it will still feel slightly sticky and waxy but that is the nature of the beast. 

Blog, Makes, Uncategorized

Mini Makes – Envelope back notepad

This is a very easy and practical way of using up old envelopes to create a notepad. Useful  for writing shopping lists and phone messages. I would love to say this is my idea but I must be honest and admit to having seen similar elsewhere. I have one friend who creates wonderful works of art from old envelopes so that are really worth taking a second look at and also why waste them.

You will need a collection of old envelopes, split open to reveal the patterned inside, a hole punch, paper scissors, charity shop key rings with easy opening rings.



Cut the envelope backs to roughly the same size. Punch a hole in one corner and then thread on the envelopes, with the patterned side facing upwards, onto a key ring.

Blog, Exhibitions

British Surrealism

As I write this and the whole of the world seems to be shutting down and self-isolating, I am delighted that I was able to visit the British Surrealism exhibition at Dulwich Picture Gallery. 26 February -17 May 2020

Marion Adnams, Aftermath, 1946, Photo: 2006 Christie’s Images Limited, © The Estate of Marion Adnams 

         I love the Picture Gallery and it has hosted some fabulous exhibitions including the recent one on Rembrandt and light. DPG has a great modern extension that was completed in 2000, designed by architect Rick Mather described here by Don Cruikshank:

         “Mather’s work at Dulwich is a masterpiece of subtle, informed understatement where the feel for Soane has been combined with a flair for, and awareness of, the potential offered by new forms and new materials.”

 Edith Rimmington, Family Tree, 1938, The Murray Family Collection (UK & USA) © Estate of Edith Rimmington

         Dulwich Picture Gallery was founded in 1811 and was the world’s first purpose-built public art gallery. It gets no regular public funding and It cares for and displays an outstanding collection of Old Master paintings within Sir John Soane’s pioneering architecture. It runs fabulous and inclusive events programme that engages with as many people as possible, of all ages and backgrounds. So having laid out my pitch and said that I am a keen supporter of the gallery, I have to say I am not a keen supporter of this exhibition. Yes it does what it says on the blurb, It marks 100 years since the birth of surrealism. There are over 70 eclectic works from 42 artists including Leonora Carrington, Francis Bacon, Henry Moore and Paul Nash.  There is even a piece of work by none other than Desmond Morris who is better known for his work as a zoologist, broadcaster and writer than as a painter. 

Edward Burra, Dancing Skeletons, 1934, (1905-1976). Photo © Tate, Copyright: © Tate 

         The exhibition curator Dr David Boyd Haycock describes surrealism as ‘Probably the most exciting, transgressive and bizarre art movement of the twentieth century”  

 The Dulwich picture Gallery’s Sackler Director, Jennifer Scott says

“ Visitors will be invited to embark on their own adventures into the illogical through some spectacular loans and inventive exhibition design; it is not to be missed.”

         The positive thing about this exhibition is that it includes poets and playwrights from the 17th -19th centuries who shared and inspired the subversive qualities and absurdities of the movement. The exhibition includes works by the, so called, ‘Ancestors of surrealism’ including William Blake, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Henry Fuseli, Lewis Carroll and Edward Lear. Their inclusion feels as if they are there to bulk out what would otherwise be a rather thin offering of work.

 We are shown the echoes and elements of the uncomfortable, rejecting order and chronology to channel mischief and provocation of the movement.

Arranged to reflect the modes and methods of surrealism, with themes of war, dreams, the unconscious, the uncanny, radical politics, sex and desire. The common creative urge, between all artists, are highlighted throughout, revealing the power of the subconscious, and the liberation of the imagination.

Conroy Maddox, The Lesson, 1938/1970, © Christie’s Images Limited, Given with the kind permission of the artist’s daughter

         There are a few stunning of pieces of work such as Marion Adnams  Aftermath, and her painting called  The distraught Infants and  Edith Rimmington’s  Family Tree.

But where are the equivalent of the masters such as Salvador Dali, Max Ernst and Rene Magritte.   Conroy Maddox with his Typewriter is a close second to the work that was made by Marcel Duchamp.

Conroy Maddox, Onanistic Typewriter, 1940, Photo credit Murray Family Collection (UK & USA) Given with the kind permission of the artist’s daughter.

         It appears that many British artists ‘had a go’ at Surrealism but it feels as if their hearts weren’t  really in it as a movement. There is a truly awful painting called Landscape with Birds painted in 1940 by, one of my favourite artists, Lucien Freud. Freud was attending surrealist meetings during the Second World war. But as he later explained. “ I objected to the fact that under the laws of doctrinaire surrealism …… it was easy for people of no talent to practice art.’

         The Sunday Times described this current exhibition as a “Pythonesque celebration of British Eccentricity” and indeed there is a truly Pythonesque  black and white graphic  piece on one of the floors with long black intertwined arms ending to white hands that point in different directions with words such as Desire, Exit, Coincidence, Conflict, Politics, The Impossible “

         There is a small excellent book and gift shop and great café selling delicious food. The museum staff go out of their way to help and engage visitors even small boys, who want to wear the head phones that guide you round the exhibition. So if you have an afternoon to spare I would recommend visiting to find those true gems that are hidden amongst the dross.

Makes, Uncategorized

Customized seed storage jars


As we are having such glorious weather I thought it would be fun to create some interesting storage jars for any seeds you have hanging around. I searched for small  toy animals  in a charity shop, where  I found these wooden bunnies that I thought would be perfect for this project. I then  discovered Rustoleum’s wonderful Universal paint that works on all surfaces, and doesn’t even need priming, and can be left outside. I thought that’s perfect for this project and so easy to do.

You will need

Jars to store seeds

Universal paints in bright colours

Chalk board paint (optional)

Labels to write on

Glue gun and glue stick

Child’s toy

Step 1

Using the universal paint, spray the toy and the lid of the jar in a bright primary colour.


Step 2

Using the glue gun, stick the toy onto the center of the lid. Take the string out of the label and spray with blackboard paint. Leave to dry. Stick a binder reinforcement over the hole and re thread the string and then using chalk write the names of the seeds on the labels and tie round the jar.

Blog, Makes

Another use for old plastic bags, weave a wall hanging


I purchased a simple frame loom from a thrift shop but the similar can be found at Hobby Craft or Tiger or you can make your own using a picture frame and some nails.  I displayed  the hanging from a broken branch I found in the garden.


Plastic bags in a variety of colours

Cotton warp thread or string

Fat twig or thin branch for hanging



Weaving shuttle


Tape measure

Step 1

Cut the bag into strips  0.5cm wide. Knot the strips together so you have one long strip.1 cut strips of plastic

Step 2

Thread the loom by tying on the thread at one side and then going backwards and forwards between the top end and the bottom end of the frame. It is important to maintain an even tension. Tie off the thread in the same way as you tied on the thread.2.thread loom

Step 3

So that the weaving doesn’t fall out when you finish you will need to make a twisted header. Cut a piece of warp thread about two and a half times the width of the warp. Twist the thread round each warp thread in turn. As in the image.

3Making a twisted header

Step 4

When you get to the end of the warp return in the opposite direction push the threads down and tie off at the end.

4Return in the opposite direction


Thread the plastic onto the shuttle and then starting in the middle of the warp take the shuttle under and over until you reach one end, then go back the other way.

5thread the plastic onto the shuttle a.JPG

Step 6

As you work push down the weft to cover the warp. When you have made a stripe of one colour change to another.6push the woven pieces down to cover the warp

Step 7

To make tassels cut strips of plastic (blue)about 20cm long. Choose a middle section of the hanging and put the blue plastic behind two warp threads at the same time. Wrap one side round one thread and the other round the other , pull the threads through to the front of the hanging. Add as many of these as you like. Mine  was so bunchy that when I hung it up I gave it a bit of a trim.7constructing the tassels

Step 8/9

Weave another block of flat weaving. Repeat steps 3 and 4 to finish off.9Add another block of colour

Step 10

Pull the ends off the loom and then thread onto the branch. Cut off the warp threads from the other end of the loom and knot them one to the next one.

10Pull the ends of the yarn off the loom


Check that you are not creating a waist by pulling in the sides of the warp as you work.



Blog, Makes

Another recycling easy to make idea, reuse old plastic bags to make Pom-poms

Photographs by Antonia Attwood

Being very aware of all the plastic and rubbish that lands up on many of our beaches, and in our parks and roadsides, I thought I would come up with a project that could put some of that plastic to good use. The result is pom-poms created from plastic bags. I suggest you use and reuse the bags until they start to get holes. When they are finally  of no further use, make pom-poms out of them.

Image 1

You need very little in the way of materials, just scissors, plastic bags, cardboard and string or twine. You will also need something to draw round to make a large circle with a smaller one in the centre.

Image 2

Draw round a small saucer or a large roll of tape onto the card to create a circle. Use something like an eggcup and draw round it to make a circle in the center. Cut out the two cardboard shapes, with a hole in the centre. Cut the plastic bags into a long strip about 1cm wide.

Image 3

Place one cardboard circle on top of the other and then start to wind the plastic strips round the two circles as in the picture. Carry on until the whole of the cardboard is covered. The more strips you add the fluffier the pom pom will be.

Image 4

Cut a piece of string or cord and put to one side. Holding the plastic covered discs, insert the scissors between the two outer circles and start to cut. This is the tricky bit as you don’t want to end up with a load of plastic on the floor. When you have cut all the way round the outer ring insert the cord and pull the two ends together, drawing together the pom pom at the same time. Tie the string ends together.

We used our Pom poms to decorate a basket, but you could use them to decorate anything. Have fun creating crafting and recycling.