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.
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.
Using the universal paint, spray the toy and the lid of the jar in a bright primary colour.
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.
Annie Sloan has just launched her third Bookazine , The colourist (hard copy, editorial like a magazine, no adverts like a book). Here is the interview I did with in her, in her eclectic studio and headquarters, about her life, passion and rise to fame. Annie Sloan is known for her paint company and in particular her chalk paints. She also produces at least one book a year on different aspects of painting, decorating and up-cycling furniture. Recently she added a limited edition of printed textiles to her products.
JB Did you go to art school originally and if
so where and what did you study?
AS I went to Croydon art school to begin with and
then I finished at reading University, I was at art school for seven years.
Stared off doing a foundation, which I actually did for two years whilst I
tried to figure out what I was going to do. I wanted to do everything!! In the
end I chose Fine Art because Fine Art seems to be the basis of everything.
JB Annie I met you many moons ago when we were
both craft authors. Can you tell us how you made the leap from being an author
to running your international paint company?
AS Yes I remember well!! I wrote books and I was also going out and painting for people who had commissioned pieces. I had a young family and I wanted to be able to have something that I was doing and making but that could be sold whilst I was still raising my children. I was looking for something, I got the idea for paint from other paints that were around at the time. People were beginning to think back to traditional paints such as milk paints. From that idea I started to think about what I could make, and one thing led to another.
JB What made you want to produce your own paint
and was it difficult to find a manufacturer?
AS Once I became keen to make a paint, I happened
to mention it whilst out for dinner in Utrecht. I spoke to a Belgium man who
just happened to know someone who owned a paint factory and made paint.
JB You have to create a range of colours and
obviously some will sell better than others, was it difficult in the beginning
to know which ones would sell best?
AS I wasn’t thinking about selling to be honest, I was thinking about
what colours I would want and need. Money doesn’t come first. I was already painting furniture and I was
after certain traditional colours that weren’t available. It was important to
me that I could mix colours to make other colours, just like an artists paint
JB Can you influence sales of certain colours by presenting a
fabulous upcycled project on your web site or blog?
AS We do know that when we get something printed
in a popular magazine, we often see an influx in sales of that particular
product. I think that’s the same in the shop, if I painted something in
Antibes, people would buy more of that colour.
JB You sell abroad do any of your suppliers hold
how does this work?
AS No we don’t have any franchises at all, the
reason being that we are a creative company and I feel to offer someone a
franchise is too restrictive. Creative people need to be able have there own
style, we just look for wonderful shops to sell the paint, run workshops and be
inspiring. We love passionate people to get involved.
JB Are any members of your family involved in running the business
and if so what roles do they perform?
AS My husband works with me, he is in charge of
the finances. He’s the calm cool one!! My middle son Felix is the Brand
Director and has a Graphic Design background, he’s very much like me but also
completely different. Felix’s partner Lizzy is also involved in the business,
she does the Digital Marketing but at the moment has just had her third baby so
she is on maternity leave.
JB What is a typical working day like for you or is there no such
AS No such thing!! Every day is different, tomorrow I am off to
Venice, we make some of our woven linens , so I am off to do some colour
matching there- it’s important to get these things right! Last week I was at
conference in Rotterdam with our European distributors. I was painting
yesterday, working on some new products which I am excited about. We are
painting furniture for photo shoot in London next week. I am also doing plenty
of events this year. (Handmade Fair in London September and I also do The Country Living Fair). Things are
JB One of the reasons I am interviewing successful
women who are over forty is that they have often had to take a career break, or
had to slow down to deal with child care and or aged parents. Have you ever had
to deal with either of these of issues and did it impact on your creative life
AS Yes and no, I didn’t really start the business
until my children were a little bit older, I was 42 when I started making the
paint and running the business. I wanted be a around when the kids were small
so I suppose I put it hold for awhile, I always worked but was able to be there
when they were ill and look after them.
JB You run creative workshops at many different
events and venues. Do you enjoy doing them?
AS Yes I do! I love meeting people, I find people
JB You collaborated with Oxfam producing a colour
for them how did this come about?
AS Well it was just one of those magical things. Oxfam are based in
Oxford, hence the name Oxford and Famine, and they were looking for a paint
company to work with. The discovered that we were also in Oxford, it was a
marriage made in heaven. They asked us if we were keen to collaborate and I
didn’t even think twice about it.
JB What did it involve and did you enjoy the
experience? AS It was one of the
most excellent experiences of my life, so impactful. I went to Ethiopia and
made a colour inspired by my travels. It makes you realise that people are
people, for me it confirmed that money is not what it’s about- it’s about other
things. The people there are just amazing, they do need things but they are
still vibrant and positive.
JB What is the best part of your work and what is the worst part?
AS Collaborating with some amazing people and
groups, it’s just so incredibly special to work with some wonderful people and
places. It’s open up so many worlds for me, such as Oxfam. Worst part endless
days were there are just so many meetings and I can’t get any painting done.
JB Who or what inspires you?
AS The Punk approach to life is absolutely
fabulous- anyone can do anything!! You don’t have to be posh, you just have to
be interesting. People inspire me, I talk to everybody and want to find out as
much as I can about others.
JB How long have you been working as a
AS I suppose since 1975, so guess over 40 years…oh
JB What advice would you give to any designer
starting out today?
AS Don’t give up, practice and keep at it. Trust
your gut. It doesn’t happen overnight. Someone once criticized me in Art school
and it really had an effect on me, don’t let criticism put you off!!
Many thanks Juliet. Photography by Antonia Attwood RCA
Second Hand September aims to raise awareness of fashion’s environmental impact
Create a twenty first century version of a nineteenth century, Smoking Cap from an up-cycled 1980’s jacket. I made this for my brother who loved wearing smoking caps. Here it is modelled by the beautiful Elsa.
The embroidery on the Jacket was beautiful but the style was somehow lacking. So I chose to turn it into, what used to be called, a Smoking Cap. This is in essence a pill box shaped hat often with a central tassel.
You will need
Old lined jacket
Pen and paper
Optional a tassel
Instructions .We made a pattern with the crown, top of the hat having a 18cm diameter. The brim of the hat is 8cm deep x 59.5 cm long including the seam allowances. Cut a paper pattern and then cut a calico pattern and sew the calico brim onto the calico top. Try it on for size and adjust as needed. It should be a little bigger than the finished hat, as the finished hat as a layer of wadding in it.
Cut the jacket into pieces and then lay the pattern pieces on them so they use up the best parts of the pattern. Pin and cut out the pattern pieces. Remember to add more seam allowance if you need to make a join.
Cut the interfacing so that it is slightly smaller than the pattern pieces. Pin it onto the wrong side of the hat’s crown and brimSew the wadding onto the brim. Pin the crown onto the brim, and sew them together, including the wadding around the crown
Using the jacket lining, make a lining for the hat as you did the one from calico. With wrong sides together, and the bottom edges turned under to neaten, sew the lining into the
outside cap. Sew a tassel into the centre of the cap.
I was lucky enough to attend The Royal Horticultural’s Chelsea Flower show this week. I got there at 8am, opening time and headed for my favourite section The Artisan gardens. I am not going to write about the large corporate sponsored gardens as so much has been written by others about them. Instead I am going to talk ARTISAN
Three gardens particularly stood out, The Finnish Summer Garden that was inspired by the biodiversity of Finnish Meadows and Woodland. The garden was designed by Taina Suonio a Finnish landscape designer, horticulturalist, environmental biologist and researcher in the Fifth Dimension- Green Roofs in Urban Areas research group.
The garden comprises clear Nordic lines and includes a 100 year old weather beaten barn wall made of granite. The cascading water feature reminds visitors to the garden about the relationship the Finns have with their roots in the country and the much-cherished respite by their countless lake-side, riverside and seaside cottages. The garden included many Finnish forest flowers and herbs.
The Donkey Sanctuary Garden celebrated the 50 years of transforming the lives of Donkeys. The designers were Annie Prebensen and Christina Williams.” We have a real fondness and appreciation for these hard The working animals, so were delighted to be asked by The Donkey Sanctury to design an Artisan Garden to explain ‘why donkeys matter’ The garden demonstrates how owning a donkey means access to clean, fresh water for some of the poorest and most vulnerable communities in the world. Set in an arid location a shelter near a well provides some shade. A dripping bucket hangs above the well and colourful planting surrounds it. The planting in the garden includes plants typical of dry regions, including Eryngium bourgatii, Iris germanica and Lavendula angustfolia. The colour palette is claret, purple and silver
The Camfed Campaign for Female Education won the Artisan Garden Gold Medal.
The designer of the garden is Jilayne Rickards
‘ I wanted the garden to reflect CAMFED’s strong commitment to supporting girls in eduction and the vibrancy of rural communities in Zimbabwe. It is a powerful message of how, by educating girls, we can tackle gender inequality and poverty, and break the cycle of poverty for good.’
At the heart of the garden is a classroom which is surrounded by plants and trees and edible fruit, leaves and roots that provide vital nutrition, particularly for mothers and school children.
The crops, which have been developed by scientists backed by UK aid, are also enriched with key vitamins and minerals such as vitamin A and iron, to tackle “hidden hunger” in developing countries.
The plants include bio fortified varieties of maize, beans and sweet potatoes and are in a garden which, unusually for Chelsea, evokes a rural Zimbabwean school yard – complete with dusty red earth, a black chalkboard and orange trees.
If like me you are interested in craft and design there are some first class designers showing in the artisan section of the show. There is a Dyers Studio set up by ex RCA student Lola Lely. She uses plants and natural materials to create dyes, pigments and paints.
Charlie Whinney Wood & Steam celebrates what is possible using locally sourced green wood and eco-friendly steam-bending processes to create beautiful works that enrich your life.
Ceramic artist Corrie Bain is a British ceramicist based in Barcelona . she studied ceramics at Edinburgh college of Art. Her ceramics are inspired by microscopic imagery of seed pods, pollen and fractals. They are made from hand built porcelain clay.
Botanicla, Applique Artist Natasha Hulse creates handmade fabric artworks for interior products such as bedheads lamps and cushions. She celebrates the beauty and phenomena of Flora found in British Woodlands, English gardens and the effect that nature has on us in our home.
As well as the artisan sections, one of the other visual joys of the show was the Alitex green house styled by Selina Lake. She always designs her spaces to feel like somewhere you want to spend time.
My all time favourite, innovative and very comfortable seats in a variety of designs by Cacoon are on sale. Every season their chief designer Nick McDonald comes up with new designs, so watch this space.
As I finish writing this piece, I must not forget the Chelsea Pensioners who are still very much in evidence in their smart red uniforms.
The show is still on and the weather is good. so if you can get in, do go and visit.
This is the most unusual and beautiful pressed flower book I have ever seen. It is full of amazing compositions that are reminiscent of traditional American Quilts.
Early leafwork (1998)
using sycamore leaves and fennel seed heads. 15 x 15cm (6 x 6in)
As the publisher describes it, this is a contemporary twist on a traditional craft. It is a must-have guide to pressing flowers and leaves packed with exciting ideas and practical information for creating beautiful botanical works of art.
Ashmore, flower artist, breathes new life into traditional flower-pressing
techniques with a unique and spectacular kaleidoscope of floral and plant
designs, using everything from flower petals and leaves to seaweed and lichen.
Jennie studied painting and printmaking at
Exeter College of Art and for many years taught in art schools and worked in
environmental education, conservation and gardening. Her work has always
concerned the natural world and she has a strong interest in surface texture,
pattern and geometry, which are key to her designs. She teaches workshops and
sells her work.
The leaf works, guide and inspire through every stage of the process, from working seasonally and selecting the right plants for a vibrant colour, to experimenting with interesting texture and pattern. There are also tips for incorporating watercolour, gouache and other exciting materials into beautiful botanical creations.
The art of pressed flowers and leaves will
inspire readers to celebrate the beauty of their local landscape, a favourite
walk or garden, or even capture special memories through eternalizing wedding
bouquets or plants collected on a holiday.