Showing posts with label crafting. Show all posts
Showing posts with label crafting. Show all posts

Thursday, 25 September 2014

The Handmade Fair

Last week's Nice Day Out was a very crafty one as I had a ticket to The Handmade Fair!

After attending the taster event at the V&A this summer, I was delighted to be sent a press ticket to the Fair itself. A day of crafty goodness is always nice and I was very curious to see what this new event would be like...

The fair was held in the grounds of Hampton Court (which you know I love) and although the morning started out a little chilly and overcast, it soon warmed up and we had lots of autumn sunshine.


You know you've arrived at a fun event when this is the first thing you see - hundreds of pompoms!

The Fair was very making-focused, with each ticket including a "skill workshop", a "grand make" and a talk or other event in the "super theatre". Unfortunately I missed my super theatre session thanks to the traffic (rats!) but I arrived in plenty of time for my "grand make" - making origami flowers.


The "grand make" aspect of this (hundreds of crafters all making together) didn't really happen as there were only a couple of dozen of us making flowers that session... but it was still fun to sit and make some origami for half an hour.

Samuel from Sesame's Origami was a great teacher, and very entertaining giving us lots of tips and chatting about his origami business. Apparently his most common customer is husbands buying bouquets for their "paper" wedding anniversary. He talked us through folding a little paper t-shirt, then a paper tulip. Here's my tulip...


... and here's how a whole bunch of the tulips look when made with pretty multicoloured origami paper:


You can find lots of beginner-friendly video tutorials on Samuel's website, along with info about his upcoming workshops.


After making my tulip it was time to explore the Fair!

You had to buy a show guide (£5) to get a map of the site, but luckily it was quite easy to find your way once you'd walked round once and got your bearings and there were lots of friendly staff around to ask for directions if you got lost. There were two big shopping tents and some smaller tents where things like drop-in workshops and book signings were happening at various times during the day.

My first stop was the Etsy tent, where a selection of Etsy shop owners were selling their wares and folks from Etsy's UK team were running business workshops and answering peoples questions about opening a shop.

I loved Neon London's bright stationery, Anna Wiscombe's charming wooden jewellery and Spin City's yummy handspun yarn. 


Throughout the day I bumped into lots of lovely people I know from Etsy and blogging, and spotted lots of famous faces from the world of crafting - including Tilly who was teaching a sewing masterclass.


As well as taking part in drop-in workshops and the three sessions you signed up for as part of your entry ticket, you could buy tickets on the day for extra "grand makes" and "skill workshops". Each tent had a blackboard up outside listing the times and details of the events happening that day and the number of tickets left, so you could see what was still available. 

Lush were running drop-in workshops including one on making hairpieces with fresh flowers which really added to the "crafty festival" vibe of the day as there were lots of people walking round with flowers in their hair!


Food-wise there were lots of food trucks and a vintage-themed tea tent (with live music, which was lovely). The food was a bit on the pricey side but there was lots of variety and I had some seriously delicious icecream (yum).


The two shopping tents were packed with a mix of different vendors - handmade and indie-designed products rubbing shoulders with vintage loveliness and crafty supplies like fabric, sewing kits, yarn and scrapbooking supplies.

Here are some snaps of just a small sampling of the wares on show... 

... vintage pretties at Simply Vintage Designs:


... awesome giant knitting needles from Rachel John, handmade treats from We Make London, paper loveliness at Paperpoms, and sweet homewares by Jessalli:


... coastal-themed decorations by The Wooden Fish Company and fab dolls & felt mobiles by A K Traditions:


... colourful craft supplies from one of my blog sponsors, Blooming Felt:

... gorgeous block printed designs by Molly Mahon, deliciously scented soap by Odds and Suds, colourful haberdashery from Millie Moon, and beautiful homewares & prints by Sarah Hamilton:

As always at events like these it's so nice to be able to chat to the makers and artists about their work. It was especially delightful to see some printing and painting in progress at Red Hen Originals.

After lunch it was time for my "skill workshop": lino printing with Zeena Shah. This was a huge amount of fun - I blogged about it earlier this week - but it was a shame we didn't decorate something that we could have taken home with us.

Finally I met up with Fiona for a cuppa and a chat about bloggy stuff in the Hotchpotch Vintage tea tent.


Just look at those cakes! Yum. Our tea was served in vintage teacups too, which was lovely. 

Then it was time to head home, tired but happy. I have my fingers crossed that there's another Handmade Fair next year as this one was a lot of fun!

Disclosure: I attended The Handmade Fair as a guest of the organisers who sent me a free ticket.

Sunday, 21 September 2014

Lino Printing at The Handmade Fair with Zeena Shah

I had a very fun day out on Friday at The Handmade Fair - a new, crafty fair with a focus on learning and making. One of the lovely bloggers I bumped into described it as being "like a crafty festival" and it really was, with lots of tents for workshops and talks plus shopping and eating... lots of famous faces from the world of craft and sewing... and lots of bunting! :)

I'll be blogging about the day later this week, but in the meantime here are some snaps from the workshop I attended: lino printing with Zeena Shah.

I'd never tried lino printing before so I was quite excited to give it a go at the Fair - although I was a teeny bit nervous about using the sharp lino cutting tool! Me + sharp objects = usually a bad combination.

We started by drawing a design we wanted to print. I had a bit of creative block but I eventually settled on a simple star design and drew it onto my lino. 

Then we carved out our designs, leaving raised areas where we wanted to print and cutting away the sections that would be white space. The lino was easier to carve than I expected but still quite hard work after a while (I suspect lino cutters elbow might be a thing!) and you had to be very careful with the cutting tool as it was indeed very sharp - as proven by one of the ladies on my table who cut herself (ouch!)

It was really fun to see the design gradually appearing in the lino and really nice sitting and chatting with the other ladies as we worked. We laughed about the mistakes we were making, admired each others designs and talked about the things we'd done at the Fair earlier that day.

My design was finally finished...

... just in time for me to do a couple of prints before the workshop ended.

I used too little paint (oops) then a too much (double oops) then my third print was just right. Hurrah!

Trying new crafty things = so much fun!

If you'd like to try lino printing, Zeena runs lots of lino printing workshops.

Disclosure: I attended The Handmade Fair as a guest of the organisers who sent me a free ticket.

Friday, 5 September 2014

Crafty Ladies: Meet Liz Smith

This week's Crafty Lady is Liz of Made in Lowell

Liz is a master of many crafts! In her shop you'll find felted pincushions, knitted cup cosies, sewing-themed jewellery, beautiful polymer clay egg ornaments and more. 

If you're looking for something new to watch or listen to while making, I highly recommend Liz's (now ended) show Makers in Business. Her interviews with makers are all so interesting and inspiring.


Hi! I’m Liz Smith.

I grew up in a town near Boston, Massachusetts. I now live in Lowell, Massachusetts which is the first industrial planned city in the US. It used to be a great textile manufacturing hub. It’s situated at the confluence of two rivers and threaded with canals. It went through some hard times in the later part of last century but is currently in the midst of a renaissance.


Many of the old brick mills are gone but some of the ones that remain have been converted to housing and artist studios. I live in one old mill with my writer husband, and our quirky cat, Chester, and I have a studio in a different old mill. Something about the history of the textile industry being all around lends itself well to a creative life here.


Recently I’ve been making…

I’ve been making and selling things as long as I can remember! I went to school for Fine Arts and I’m self-taught in crafts. When I finally got the chance to go full time as a maker in 2007, I concentrated on needle felting and polymer clay items. As the years have gone by I have expanded to quite a large product range.

I feel like I’m at a time of transition. I’ll keep making many of the old favorites (pincushions, ornaments , jewelry) but reduce the actual number of items so I can more easily keep up with inventory when things get hopping at the holidays.


Meanwhile a new passion is creeping into everything I do these days: sewing! I’ve been hand sewing at home for a hobby (yes professional makers can have hobbies too!). I’ve been making coasters, zipper pouches, and pillow covers. I also taught myself to embroider on these items. I even started 3 queen-sized quilts! I love using scraps and vintage fabrics.

I’ve been buying old quilt squares, too. Something about these unfinished pieces from the past touches my heart. I restored a 1914 treadle Singer 66 and I’m learning to sew on it. I feel like the next phase of my business will incorporate all of these things. It takes so much time to learn whole a new skillset to the point where I’m satisfied enough with my craftsmanship to sell my work, but I’m right on the edge of that moment and it’s exciting!


I have no idea, of course, if anyone will buy the new items but that’s the chance makers take following their hearts. I do believe that if you absolutely love making something you will find a way to get it to your right people or adapt the item until it is something that sells without giving up what you love about making it.

I’ve been working on…

For two years I created a once monthly interview show on local access TV. It’s called Makers in Business. I interviewed people who make things about how they run their creative businesses. I ended the show but there are 22 episodes still available on Vimeo and as audio-only on iTunes. I feel like makers have so much to learn from each other and I’ve always loved hearing how other folks solve the puzzle of being a business person and a creative person both.

I’ve been blogging about…

I blog whenever I feel like I have something interesting to share, otherwise I don’t keep to a schedule. It’s usually about what I’m up to lately, whatever’s got me excited, whether it’s Clutter Busting, or the book jacket illustration I designed for my Sister in law’s book of poetry, I try to make it have general interest as well as be specific to me and my world.

I’ve been reading…

To be honest I’m a lazy reader! I have all kinds of aspirations but then TWITTER. Seriously, if I told you what I was reading lately the true answer would be Twitter. But I’ve got my Twitter feed arranged so a wide variety of topics come across my screen at all times. I read tweets that contains local, national, and international news as well as pop culture and tweets by creative people in many fields.

If someone links to a blog post on Twitter I will probably go read it. But I’m not likely to visit various blogs every day or week without the prompt. When I find something that may be relevant to my followers I ReTweet it to share. I love this system and I rely on my clever twitter friends to ReTweet the things they find interesting in their streams as well.

I’ve been listening to… 

I don’t enjoy TV or movies as much as non-fiction magazine type information so I’m a National Public Radio and podcast junkie. I love the Slate Culture Gabfest, On The Media, Planet Money, and the New Yorker Out Loud just to name a few. I also bought an app that allows me to listen to the Red Sox baseball radio feed. I don’t even really care about sports but I find the sound of a baseball broadcast in particular very relaxing.

Liz’s 3 Top Tips for using Twitter

1. Don’t be intimidated, overwhelmed, or worry you’ll “do it wrong”, just jump in and start reading tweets. You’ll eventually learn the lingo if you watch how other people you like use it. Twitter is great for connecting with folks you’ll never have a chance to meet in real life as well as for finding out what’s going on in your own neighborhood. Tweeting something funny or cute is always a good bet.

2. Interact! Twitter is a conversation. If someone talks to you, do your best to answer back. (Unless it’s a bot or a spammer, of course). You don’t even have to do it right away. Twitter happens in real time but lots of people are reading your tweets later and understand if you are doing the same. Twitter is your chance to be a real human as well as the voice of your brand. Tell us what you’re up to at home and at work. That said, PLEASE don’t be an all commercial channel just posting links to your online shop constantly, that is super tedious.

3. Twitter and Facebook are not interchangeable! It’s possible to set it up so that all your Facebook status updates auto post to Twitter but I really don’t recommend that. I had to unfollow some folks because it seemed like they were at the Twitter party but when you tried to interact with them all you found was an empty room with a tape recorder making Facebook announcements for them. Very off putting. You don’t have to be on twitter all the time, just check in now and then and you’ll be fine.


Friday, 15 August 2014

Crafty Ladies: Meet Mollie Johanson

Don't worry , you're not going crazy, it's not been a fortnight since the last Crafty Ladies post... I've just got so many fabulous creative folks I'd like you to meet that I've decided to make this a weekly series!

This week's Crafty Lady is Mollie Johanson of Wild Olive. Mollie has a lovely blog where she shares lots of cute free printables and tutorials, and a shop where you'll find adorable embroidery patterns.

If you've bought some of the crafty books I've contributed to (like Heart-Felt Holidays and Mollie Makes: Woodland Friends and Felt-o-ween) you may recognise Mollie's work. My projects and hers have rubbed shoulders in quite a few books over the years! :)



Hi Laura's friends!

I'm Mollie and online I'm often known as Wild Olive. I live near Chicago in a house full of crazy awesome, where I work from home, and where my parents and younger siblings also live and spend most of their time. When people ask me what I do, I go into this awkward list of jobs and roles. It goes something like this:

"Well, I do some freelance graphic design, and I have a blog and a shop that I design embroidery patterns for. Oh, and I write craft tutorials for books, and I have a book coming out soon, and um..."

And that pretty much sums me up. I'm a little all over the place, but I'm okay with that. Ultimately, I draw, I stitch, I write, and I make.

Recently I’ve been making… 

...a lot more quilty things than I usually do. My 50 States Stitching Club is a year-long quilting and embroidery project, and as far as single projects go, it's definitely the biggest, longest thing I've worked on. I've also been making a quilt for my parents' anniversary, and getting some other smaller quilt projects going. Much to my surprise, the process of quilting the layers together on a sewing machine is very relaxing to me. Plus, I think it's been a good complement to my embroidery.


I’ve been working on…

...finalizing my book, Stitch Love: Sweet Creatures Big & Small. It's set to be released in January, so we're currently proofing and getting everything just right. This has been in the works for just over two years now, so reaching this point makes it especially exciting and satisfying.


I’ve been blogging about…

...fruit! And belugas! And new stitches! I love a good theme, and adding them into my blog posts helps me organize my thoughts and I think it gives my readers an idea of what to expect. For example, in July, I did a series of posts on how to make fruit placemats. Now for August, I'm making some fun beluga whale projects, starting with my free embroidery pattern. To go with that, I'm introducing folks to a stitch I don't use very often: coral stitch. It's fun for under the sea sorts of things!


I’ve been reading…

...a large mix of blog posts, thanks to Pinterest. I like that, but I also kinda don't. My blog reading list goes unread as I skim. In books, I've been poring over Vintage Quilt Revival, Little Quilts, and Stitch Along (I have a few projects in here, and seeing everyone else's work is so inspiring). In non-crafty and non-light reading, I've just started Bonhoeffer. Good stuff so far!


While I stitch, I’ve been watching / listening to… 

...all the Netflix and lots of TV on DVD. I enjoy lots of genres and shows, and often I'm stitching while my sister and I watch together. Shows with some crime or mystery are a favorite, and we just finished The Glades (spoiler: the last episode is a terrible ending), and are waiting for the next season of Person of Interest. I also like some good British television, and I'm nearly done with The Paradise. When I'm working at my computer and drawing embroidery patterns, I listen to Andrew Bird, The Welcome Wagon, and my favorite, Sufjan Stevens.

Mollie’s 3 Top Tips for Embroidery

1. Start simply. Learn 2-3 stitches and you're on your way!

2. Practice spacing. Well spaced, even stitches will make your work shine!

3. Get creative. Using different materials for your embroidery (think yarn, ribbon, etc.) can do fun things for your stitching! 


Click here to visit Mollie's blog. You can also find her on Twitter and Instagram.  

Want to read more posts in the Crafty Ladies series? Click here!

Please note: the Amazon links in this post are affiliate links.

Monday, 11 August 2014

Getting Crafty with Kirstie Allsopp

A few weeks ago I got invited to a lovely "taster" event for Kirstie Allsopp's Handmade Fair - a new craft fair being held in the gardens at Hampton Court this September.

Would I like to come to the V&A (one of my favourite places in the world) to drink tea, eat cake and do some crafting? Um, yes please!

After discovering a few days earlier how horribly hot the Tube can be in the very hot weather, I walked to the V&A via Kensington Gardens and (thanks to a delayed train) got there just in time for the start of the event.

Kirstie Allsopp welcomed us all and introduced us to papercutter Poppy Chancellor. Poppy gave us some useful papercutting tips (use a sharp blade, cut details first and always cut towards yourself) and we got cutting!

Poppy had designed pretty bunting flags, inspired by the V&A's Wedding Dresses exhibition. We each cut out a few flags and then they were all strung together to make the bunting at the end of the afternoon.

It turns out that papercutting is a huge amount of fun. I was pretty pleased with how my flags turned out - though they were a bit of a mess if you looked close up! Professional papercutting is probably not a career path I will be pursuing :)

It was really nice to sit and try something new, while chatting to the ladies sitting near me (lovely to meet you all!).


After we'd done lots of crafting it was time for a cuppa and some cake. The cupcakes were provided by the Hummingbird Bakery and they were quite delicious... and it was lovely to bump into Claire in the cupcake queue! 


Kirstie then told us all about The Handmade Fair, the joys of crafting and how she hopes every visitor to the fair will be able to experience that joy for themselves.

She said she'd wanted making and learning and community to be a central part of the day so the ticket price includes a skill workshop, a creative talk in the "super theatre" and a "grand make" with hundreds of crafters making together. There will also be free "sewing masterclasses" and Etsy will be running business workshops.

Kirstie and the team are also hoping to break the Guinness World Record for the longest line of pompoms - a challenge they're calline World Pomination.

At the end of the event, we were given the chance to visit the Wedding Dresses exhibition which was rather gorgeous, with a wide selection of very different dresses. It was especially nice to see photos of the dresses being worn alongside the garments themselves, so you could peer at the delicious textile details of fabrics and lace and beading but also see how they suited each bride.


After a quick visit to the V&A's fabulous shop, I went for a short walk around Kensington...


... and visited the Travel Photographer of the Year exhibition at the Royal Geographical Society.

Last year's exhibition was one of the things I visited on my first Nice Day Out last year! Just like last year, the photos were wonderful. The exhibition is also dotted with entertaining signposts pointing you in the direction of places near (the cafe) and far (Beijing, San Jose), real (the moon) and imagined (Mordor and Wonderland). 


I wanted to wait out the worst of the rush hour before catching my train home, so I sat near the Albert Memorial (looking particularly shiny in the sunshine!) for a while reading my book...


... then strolled back through the park enjoying the views.

Of course, I also had to stop and watch the bunnies (spotted a few days earlier) for a while before finally heading homewards.


Many thanks to the folks at the V&A and The Handmade Fair for the lovely crafty afternoon! If you're interested in attending the Fair or reading more about it, click here to visit their website.

P.S. Wanna see a little video filmed at the event? If you can't see the video below click here to watch it. I'm not in the video, but you may be able to spot me in this photo :)


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