Blog, book review, Book Reviews

The web site Design*Sponge is closing 31st August

To honour a great web site here is a review of the book Design*Sponge At Home

By Grace Bonney

Published by Artisan $35

The brilliant talented and inspirational Grace Bonney is closing down her web site ‘Design*Sponge.’ She was always well ahead of the game when it came to web sites and inspiring content. With this in mind I was thrilled to come across one of her books in a charity shop, Called ‘Design*Sponge at Home’ It came out in 2011

It even has a forward by Jonathan Adler.

In the book’s introduction Grace describes how she set up her web site in 2004 not realizing what a storm would come of it. She had always believed that good design didn’t have to come with a high price tag or with a professional degree.

         Even though no one joined the discussion at first, Grace was delighted to have an outlet to express her love of design and decorating. Within weeks her blog was eliciting comments and e-mails and she felt like she was communicating with a community that she hadn’t previously known existed.

         When she was writing this book she said “Today, I wake up every morning and share news and inspiration from the design world with an audience that could fill Madison Square Garden. (How cool would it be if we could meet up every day like that?) It is quite simply a dream job.”

The first part of the book focuses on one of Grace’s favourite pastimes: sneaking a peek inside some of the most inspiring homes she has seen. Every home featured in the book is packed with ideas that anyone can copy in their own houses. In addition to practical tips on decorating and renovating, you learn about the history behind design classics such as Chesterfield sofa’s and Hudson Bay blankets.

         Inspiration and knowledge is only half the battle when it comes to designing the home of your dreams, so the second half of the book features do-it-yourself projects that have been tested by the team of editors of the book.

There are also Before and After makeovers featured with hints on how to turn a dowdy flea market dresser into a design delight, or on a larger scale, how to transform a dark hole of a kitchen into a modern chic space for cooking and entertainment.

This is the ultimate décor bible. The book includes home tours from artists and designers, clever DIY projects to help personalize your space, step-by-step tutorials on everything from hanging wallpaper to doing your own upholstery, a flower workshop with bouquets for every budget, and amazing before and after transformations.

With hundreds of inspiring tips and photo’s this is the only design book you will ever need.

Below is part of the letter that Grace Bonney has put on her web site prior to the closure of it on 31st August.

‘I’ve spent a long time trying to figure out the right way to close this beautiful, complex, and wonderfully meaningful place that I’ve had the honor of running and contributing to for the past 14 years. I’d written and re-written a letter like this dozens of times until this fall, when someone snuck into my mind and heart, and put everything I would have said onto (digital) paper. That person was Tavi Gevinson and when she closed Rookie she wrote the closing editor’s letter that I had always imagined, down to the very last word.

She talked about the changing publishing world, social media and the endless demand for more and more content (usually sponsored) that resulted in less and less support (financial and traffic) for publishers and their teams. She talked about the privilege and honor of doing what we do, and knowing the choices that would have to be made to keep things afloat would be at odds with the mission of the site (please do read her piece, she outlines the struggle of indie publishing better than anyone I’ve ever read). Most of all, she talked about starting and ending an artistic project with honesty and love at its core. And for me, that is all I have ever wanted.’

So as I finish this blog post I would like to say Thank you for all the joy Design*Sponge has given over the last few years. Juliet Bawden

Blog, Makes

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.

Uncategorized

Potato Printed Wrapping Paper

Print your own Christmas wrapping paper.

If you’ve been reading the press recently, you may have seen the headlines about how many Christmas wrapping papers are none recyclable. So we waste lots of resources on something we then cannot get rid or reuse. So apart from it being fun why not print your own Christmas wrapping paper and save the planet at the same time.

You will need

Cutting board

Kitchen knife

Tape or string

Acrylic or poster paint

Potatoes

Kitchen paper

Spare sheet of paper to practice on

Brown wrapping paper

Lid of a food storage box

½ inch Paint brush

Instructions

Step 1 

Using the kitchen knife cut the potato in half and then score and cut out your design from one half. Choose a simple design such as a star or a stylized Christmas tree.

Step 2

Press your potato onto to kitchen paper to get rid of the excess starch. Pour some paint onto the lid.Using a paint brush apply paint to the stamp you have just made. Try the design out on a piece of scrap paper. Print on the brown paper.

Step 3

Leave the paper to dry and then wrap it round your parcel, tying it with stringand adding a bit of foliage as decoration.

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.