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Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Custom papercut map

A relatively new addition to my Etsy shop has been these custom papercut maps...These are great fun. I love the variation in each and getting a small glimpse into places that matter to homes, places where you got married, places where you lived.

One of the things that I have had to wrestle with these is they often look massively hectic and messy halfway through. With most papercuts I think of them like carving a sculpture, chipping away the negative space to reveal the image. These are more like lino cuts, layering up the different colours, figuring out what layer needs to be cut away to expose the one below.

Once these are through the hectic phase it all falls into place. I love how these turn out, looking quite abstract to someone who doesn't know but make perfect sense  to the person that commissioned it. 

I think its such a neat way to commemorate a place that means something to you.

Available in my Etsy shop, or just drop me a message if you want to know more. 

Monday, 29 December 2014

Hand stitched Christmas tree ornaments

This Christmas has been a busy time - For the first time in a few years I feel settled. Having moved from Cardiff to London just shy of 3 years ago and moved 4 times in that period we now have a flat with a 2 year lease and for once I feel like the luxury of gathering up my sewing machine, reams of paper and material is actually worth the hassle of moving it in the end. 

As I mentioned in my first post, this year we had a larger Christmas tree than usual...and we found ourselves a little short on decorations. Having seen some lovely decorations on Etsy I thought I may as put my hand to some as we ploughed through the pre-christmas tv extravaganza of Masterchef and Strictly Come Dancing.

My first attempt was actually last year, and was the paper stars from this tutorial. I love how these turned out and I have a bunch of them on the tree. This year I turned to felt as I had a bunch left over from a previous project so a pudding was my first attempt, it received the all important stamp of approval so I did a few more. 

When I was growing up in Kenya, I always remember putting the first ornament on our family tree - it was always the same one, a little, red, glittery strawberry, so I knew I wanted something similar for my own tree...

Another hit were the robins - some of them ended up looking like Angry Birds but these were pretty popular as Christmas gifts.

I wish I'd started these earlier to get them into the post to folks. I'm hoping that next year I'll remember and maybe even have some extra to put in my shop.

Sunday, 21 December 2014

Dragonfly papercut

I started working on papercuts in 2009 on a bit of a whim. A good friend of mine had heard me talking about wanting to quilt and bought me a rotary cutter and self healing mat. 

Five years on I am still thinking about quilting and have never got round to it but having the mat, paper and some time to kill started me on my papercutting journey. 

I always have plans for my next piece but recently I have been doing a lot of commissions, which is great, and always takes me in directions I wouldn't necessarily go. 

My friend Gareth wanted me to do a piece for his friends birthday. It was a pretty flexible brief, she likes dragonflies and Tenby and her name begins with the letter J. I have always fancied trying dragonflies but had never got round to it so this was great.

First, I did a preliminary sketch and selected the palette of colours. 

The three shades of green for the hills were taken from the colours in from the coastline at Tenby. These are the first pieces layers I fix in place. 

Next was the J - letters are tricky and any you can really tell if they are a bit wonky so I always print them off to use a template for cutting

For the grasses, and most things I cut in black, I sketched directly onto the paper with a white pen. The only tricky bit with this approach is you have to do it in reverse as the pen-side will be stuck down.

For the dragonflies I cut the initial shape out, 

 Then add the detail to on the reverse..

Cut away the detail in the wings,

and finally, assemble the final piece. I'm quite happy with it. The clouds were a last minute addition, they really helped lift it in terms of colour. 

It's a gloomy winter day here and the pictures have suffered as a result - but hopefully you get the general idea. 

More to come!

Thursday, 18 December 2014

Christmas crafting - Tree Skirt

Of all times of the year I seem to have the most energy for crafting around Christmas time. It may be because the weather is often gross and its a good excuse to stay indoors or because I have a good outlet for excess crafts in people I need to get presents for anyway...

But actually it's somthing my family has always done. As far as I can remember my brother and I always bought our parents a present and made them one too. I'm fairly sure that these were pretty dire early on (rocks with a bit of felt glued to the bottom = paperweight, piece of wood with a peg glued to it = 'note holder'?) but one that I remember best was a Christmas tree skirt.

I guess I was about 14 and my brother 11, and somehow we managed to create something useful and attractive. It was also three in one, both sides and reversible and we used it happily every year - I wish I had a picture of it.

This year, in a new flat, we have a larger tree than usual and I decided I would give a tree skirt a go. Embarrassingly, 20 years on, this attempt was much less ambitious. But I am pretty happy with the end result, especially because it only took 2 evenings after work to throw together - pretty speedy turn around for me.

This was pretty intuitive and I basically followed the tutorial over here on Design Sponge. 

I saw the burlap in the haberdashers and immediately had it earmarked for a tree skirt, the candy cane binding was an impulse buy and I only regret not buying the whole roll, I love it. 

I got a bunch of Christmassy fabric on this trip. I really like the how rustic the burlap is. I have plans for it. More soon..