You’ve Been Framed! (Frame Wall Part 2)

So it’s official!… I have 14 frames sitting on the wall above my sofa and looking absolutely gorgeous.

After having talked about it a long time (and having thought about it even longer), I finally got time this weekend – after J’s parents came and visited the flat on the Saturday afternoon – to get up the courage to knock some (small!) holes in the wall for the frames.  To make it easier for myself, I laid out the frames on the floor first to arrange them in the pattern I thought would be best, and then cut templates of each of the frames out of scrap paper (a tip that I picked up from Young House Love on their post about frame walls here).

For those who didn’t read Part 1 of the Frame Wall adventure, this picture below is kind of my inspiration – a nice jumble of different frames which match in colour, but are a mismatched style of new and old (I got three of the frames on the wall for a total of £5 in a charity shop in Monmouth all those months ago on my day trip… Others I picked up cheaply from eBay and IKEA).

The wall above the sofa has always looked incredibly bare, as it’s a very long wall, not broken up by any tall furniture, and stretches from the kitchen area to the window.  The frame was was designed to split the spaces up a little more and make the living room section of the large room feel more cosy (which the curtains – more about that later – have certainly helped with as well).

One reason why I’d been putting it off was the worry that I’d need to drill so many holes in one wall in my rented flat… However, when J’s dad looked at the wall, he pointed out we could use these nifty little picture hanging hooks (below), as they can hold quite a lot of weight, but don’t damage the wall quite so much as a big screw:

And so J and I thought we might as well give it a bash and see whether they worked… So far, so good…

The templates took a while to cut out, but the time spent on them definitely paid off when putting the picture hooks in the wall and  hanging the frames.  To make it easier when hanging the frames, I labelled the templates with the corresponding pictures in the frames, to make it a lot less confusing when hanging them all on the wall…

Once we attached the picture hooks on the wall, we replaced the paper on the hook, and until all the hooks were put into the wall (due to a liiiittle mishap that happened early on when we had hung one frame on the wall, which promptly fell off when we began hammering another picture hook in above it.. oops!).  Here’s the finished frames on the wall after all the hooks were in place.

(and yes, you can flip between the two pictures above and see a couple of different positions of frames between the two (specifically the bottom right where i switched the violin frame and the 4-square frame around, and bottom left corner where I flipped the A4 frame from portrait to landscape).  The chalkboard has a charming (!) picture of a cat on it, drawn by J, and the bottom left A4 frame is actually wrapping paper that J’s mum wrapped a housewarming present in.  The central frame is a pencil drawing that I bought in Venice… and the ‘Home Sweet Home’ picture is actually an advertising flyer that I was going to throw away in work, but thought it may look nice in a frame at home.. (how right I was!)

And so before the big reveal of the new improved wall, here’s a reminder of what the wall above the sofa used to look like:

Here’s what the wall looks like now…

What do you all think?…. Is this something that you’ve seen in magazines and want to replicate yourself?…

Let me know in the comments below!

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Welcome To The Family

Say hello to my newest additions of spray paint…! (The matt red, matt black and matt white spray paints).  They join my big silver spray paint in a big old happy family that will sit in my craft supplies and appear from time to time probably quite often.

 One friend joked half-seriously that come January, they’d have to pry the spray paint out of my clutching hands, but I’m sure I’m not that far gone with it yet (note to that particular friend – You.. Just… Try…it!). Me and spray paint = match made in craft heaven. Easy to use, relatively no mess (if you prepare and put protective bags over surfaces etc first), and a nice clean, professional-looking finish. What more could a girl / craft-obsessive nutcase want?!

Here’s a sneak peek at what I used the sprays for:

Also, the red and white spray paints will be being used in an upcoming Christmas project – keep an eye out for it!

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Christmas Part 3: Christmas Tree and Heart Banner

The Christmas decoration preparation is well under way, and everything has been coming together nicely.  I’m planning on baking my Christmas cake later this week (recipe to follow), and mince pies the week following.

This week though, I’ve been doing some more crafting with the left over felt from my christmas tree tree decorations (there seems to be too many ‘trees’ in that sentence, but it does make sense…).  I thought I’d use that alcove space above the television in the living room to display more festive decorations than the normal paper bunting that adorns that particular corner of the room.  Whilst the paper bunting is pretty, I thought it would be nice to make the most of all the felt and christmas fabric that I had to hand, and produce something more festive for the flat.

This project was a little more time consuming due to the amount of sewing I did (I had to do all of it by hand as I do not own a sewing machine!).  I spent around three evenings in front of the TV cutting out the shapes and sewing them all together, but it would be a lot quicker if you used a sewing machine (and perhaps a little tidier too).

First of all, I drew a template for a heart onto paper and cut it out.  I then drew around that template and cut out a smaller heart from the new (second) template.  Basically you end up with two templates, one about 1cm smaller around the edges than the other.

Once these templates were cut out, I used the larger template to draw around on the red piece of felt, to create the felt heart backing.

I then cut the hearts out carefully, and placed them to one side.

I then used the smaller heart template to trace around onto the back of the christmas fabric (I chose to use a red gingham material for the hearts, and a holly fabric for the christmas trees).  The reason why I traced onto the back of the fabric was so that no pen would show through once I cut out the shapes.

Once I’d traced enough smaller heart shapes, I cut them out, and put them aside with the felt hearts.

Next, I pinned one small fabric heart to the middle of a felt heart (there should be about 1cm-ish space between the edges of the small and large heart shapes).  I then sewed carefully around the edge of the fabric, to secure it onto the felt.  I chose not to hem the fabric first, as I quite like the effect of frayed fabric, which will probably occur quite slowly due to me packaging them carefully and not really stressing the fabric in any way.

From here on, it was a bit like a factory line, pionning small heart on big heart, sewing up, placing to one side, and repeat with new fabric shapes….

I then repeated the process with a christmas tree template to create the christmas trees.

Once I had all my shapes completed and sewn up, I measured the lengths of ribbon needed for the alcove, chopped and tied loops in each end to hang over the hooks in the wall.

I then got my packet of mini pegs out, and carefully pegged the shaped to the ribbon, making sure that the first shape was pegged first, and put in the middle of ribbon (and so then worked outwards on each side from the central shape).

I liked the effect of alternating the shapes, but this could have been arranged differently.  You could have all trees on one ribbon, and all hearts on the other.  The beauty of this garland is that it is easily interchangeable due to the pegs.  I’ll probably get the garland out again in February, but just use the hearts, for a Valentine’s Day decoration… Next year I may make stars or snowflake shapes, which can easily be added to the garland, or could replace the existing shapes.

Cost of Christmas Tree and Heart Garland:

Red and green felt: free (already owned, and used for christmas tree decorations)

Ribbon: free (already owned)

Christmas fabric (holly): 32p (for 1/8 of a ‘fat quarter’ that was used)

Christmas fabric (gingham):  23p (for 1/8 of a ‘fat quarter’ that was used)

mini pegs: free (already owned)

Total = 55p

Christmas Part 1: Candles and Cones

I’ve been super excited about Christmas since the beginning of November, mostly due to the fact that now I’ve got my own place, I can design my own type of Christmas this year (though I’ll be going back to my family for the actual Christmas eve – Boxing day festivities).  I’ve always loved Christmas… Growing up living with both my parents and my grandparents together meant that I got to experience different styles of Christmas; I love the mis-matchedness and the comfy collection of my grandparents’ decorations, which have been collected of the years and are so colourful and beautiful.  My parents on the other hand have a colour-scheme for Christmas, which is classic and timeless.  I like both styles, and wanted this year to bring some elements of both those Christmases and meld it with some homemade rustic-style ideas of my own that I wanted to do.

So, I’ve bought a few basic christmas decorations – one Christmas-themed bowl, some fairy lights (x 2), and some silver baubles.  I’ll be adding to these by creating my own decorations, on the cheap, to create a mismatched, pretty Christmas of my own.

I’ve been busy crafting away the last few days, and have a few Christmassy crafty treats in store for you readers!  This is the first of them… (and one which is easy enough for anyone to do, and only take about 10 minutes).

Christmas Pillar Candle

To make this project, I used the following:

pillar candle (free – already owned)

green felt (free – leftovers from another Christmas project – I’ll share this with you soon!)

red ribbon (free – already owned)

silver spray paint (free – already owned…  and I’ll be using this again in other Christmas projects!)

pine cones (free – picked up on my trip to the park, seen here)

silver tray (free – already owned)

superglue (free – already owned)

First of all, I measured the width of felt I wanted to go around the candle, and then measured again to make sure that there would be a small overlap between the two ends to be able to glue it down.  I dabbed a little superglue to one end of the felt to secure it to the candle, then wrapped the felt around the candle, carefully making sure that it was straight, then glued the other end of the felt to the first end.

I repeated this process with the red gingham fabric, only the fabric was 2cm narrower in width (to allow for 1cm of the felt to show either side of the fabric once on the candle).

To finish off the candle and to keep everything place that little bit more, I tied a red ribbon around the material.

To make the pine cones, I simply laid them out on a bin liner in my kitchen, opened the window (got to make sure you spray paint in a well-ventilated area guys!  The fumes are pretty stinky!), then one side of the cones, rolled them over carefully, and sprayed all the others until each pine cone was covered completely in the silver spray paint.

Once these were dry, I placed the candle on the silver tray, and placed the pine cones around it.  Ta-da! Super easy and super cheap (well… make that FREE!).

I’m looking forward to placing this on my bookcase and changing up the display on there once December hits! (only three more weeks… I’ve tried so hard not to sing too many Christmas songs yet… middle of November is still a tad early, but I can’t help but be very much in a holiday mood from making all these decorations!)

Spray Painted Frames – Frame Wall Part 1

I started this project quite some time ago (back in June before I found this flat and moved), so I still had the luxury of a garden (i.e. somewhere that I could spray paint items without it getting all fumey inside!).

The idea is that I wanted to create a frame wall, like this, which I will be putting behind my sofa in my living room area of the flat.

I decided to buy frames on the cheap if I could, as buying black frames were rather expensive, and I was struggling to find any with character (I wanted them all to look a bit different to keep it interesting, as they were all to be painted black).

I had bought three frames (both either end of the row below, and one not pictured) when I visited Monmouth for the day (see here for more on that trip), and I had picked up a couple from IKEA as well (middle three).

I laid the frames out on a piece of cardboard I had lying around the house, and then gave them two coats of black spray paint.  This is the paint that I used:


They turned out really nicely (though the sun does something funny to the colour of the paint, so it doesn’t look properly black, when in fact it is):

They looked lovely once they were dry, and will be hung up soon-ish on my living room wall… there’ll be a part 2 of this post.. watch out for it in the near future!

Cookie Cutter Collection (a.k.a. I Saw a Kitchen Shop and Couldn’t Resist)

So, this is the first of a couple of posts regarding my day trip to Monmouth with my housemate.  This has been my first weekend free from work for well over a month (hence the severe lack of any blogging for the past month – I’ve been working full-time, and had several paid projects on the side, so no time for indulging in baking and design projects *sob*).  Anyway I decided to make the most of the time off and go on a jaunt to this very pretty market town on the Welsh border.

This history geek in me came out and I had to photograph this information plaque about the bridge

I managed to bag a number of finds in the numerous quirky little shops there (more about that in a separate post), but I thought I’d ramble on a bit about the wonders of a kitchen shop called Salt and Pepper first.

It was hard to limit myself to only buying a few things in this amazing shop, as it seemed to have EVERYTHING (including so many different types of Le Creuset casserole pots… There was even a bright turquoise one… *drool*).  However, I told myself – and my housemate accompanying me – that I would only be allowed to buy necessary items or things I desperately wanted and would regret not buying when I arrived home.

So, enter the following items:

1 elephant cookie cutter = 49p!!!!! (You’ll understand my excitement of this in a minute)

1 butterfly cookie cutter = £1.50

1 plain mug = £2.75 (to be a gift)

2 polka dot egg cups = £1.50 each (£3 together)

1 small tube of heart sprinkles = £2.99

1 small tupperware box (180 ml / 6 oz) = £.1.45

… Coming to a grand total of £12.18 (I was a little shocked.. I hadn’t been keeping track of the prices much, but was surprised at the items that I managed to get for that price).

So now for the breakdown of the specific items…

It was a tough choice to decide which size tupperware container to get, as my small round tupperware container recently broke (note to self: do NOT try to open lid immediately after extracting from freezer. It will snap).  This one was so cute and tiny – but useful! – that I couldn’t say no.  And at £1.45 it wasn’t bad really (that’s what I’m telling myself)… Considering I have to package up lunch / tea regularly for work, I’ll be using it on a near-daily basis for all types of yummy foodie things from strawberries, small breadsticks, carrot sticks to hummus.

The cookie cutters were an instant YES for me because, well, one was an elephant.  I had to buy it.  Elephant  shaped things to me are like porcelain animals are to Sherry of the Young House Love blog (basically slightly obsessed.. I already have a wooden elephant statue, elephant canvas art, and various other bits and pieces… and I keep collecting…).  As well as the obvious choice of the elephant, I chose the butterfly because it’s pretty versatile;  I can make some pretty spring biscuits with it now, but it’ll also be just as applicable to use in summer / late autumn / birthday party food etc.  So these two beautiful cutters will be finding their new home amongst my slowly growing animal cookie cutter collection..

It started off by a friend’s trip to Sweden, and their bringing back of a pig, person and reindeer cookie cutter  for me – I’m rather enamoured with the reindeer one in particular.. It’s going to be used lots next Christmas!

The egg cups on the other hand were a necessity, due to my severe lack of egg cups, and my want to have boiled egg and toast for breakfast sometimes.  Balancing an egg on top of a small shot glass just doesn’t quite cut it.  Especially when it rolls off it unexpectedly…  I’d been moseying about looking for cute egg cups for the entire day, after first spotting a cute chicken one in the morning (which was £3.50), but eventually found these for only £1.50 each… I liked the mismatchedness of the different colours so got one of each to make me happy.  Still cheaper than buying only one of the chicken ones, so I felt I was onto a winner with these!

The mug is actually going to be a birthday present for a friend (I’ll be doing some more stencilling / monogramming – see here for what I did on some mugs previously), and the sprinkles are just yet anoooother addition to my rather large collection of cupcake decorating ingredients.  I’ll have to photograph all these decorating sprinkles together one day.  It might shock me / you how many I have…

Anyway, so yes, there’s a breakdown of my shop at Salt and Pepper (even the name of the shop is amazing!… And they have a website…).

More will be coming about this day trip as I managed to come across some great items that are part of one of my ongoing design projects…

In the meantime, I’ll be monogramming the mug in the next few days, and  I’ll be enjoying toast and a runny boiled egg for breakfast tomorrow!

Hand-Painted Monogrammed Mugs

I’m a massive fan of home-design blogs, and whilst reading one a while back I happened upon a link to some very cute cups from Anthropologie.

Missus Mug - Anthropologie

Whilst  they were only $6 in America (a bargain when converted to GBP at £3.72!), when redirected to the European site, they became £6… A little expensive considering they are quite small… (I’d need about three cups of tea in those to start my day!).  And so, disappointed, I turned away from the site, closed the browser and went on with my work (ironically, now at the time of writing, some weeks later, they’re on sale for £3.95, which is a far more tempting price again.. But they don’t stock ‘S’, so that’s a bit disappointing!).

However, a couple of days later I came across an entry in a completely different blog about how someone decided to make personalised cups for their family through using ceramic paint…  And then I was excited!  I could buy plain white cups, a ceramic black pen, and doodle to my heart’s content!

And so I did.  I bought a Maribu Porcelain Painter Pen from Ebay (it was cheaper than elsewhere), and some plain white 12 oz mugs – also from Ebay (I honestly don’t know where I’d be without that site sometimes).

Maribu Porcelain Pen - Black

I figured it would be safe to buy a 6-pack of cups, to allow for a couple of painting mistakes and mishaps along the way.

I then spent a long looooong time browsing the internet for some cute free fonts. I wanted something quite elaborate, so that it would stand out on the cup and look pretty on a shelf too, whilst not looking overtly handmade once painted on.

I decided to stay with the idea of an old-fashioned font, which whilst elaborate, wouldn’t be too difficult (I hoped!) to trace onto a cup with graphite paper.  I happened upon this site: http://www.urbanfonts.com/free-fonts.htm, which offered a wide variety of downloadable free fonts to use, and then narrowed it down to a select few.  It was a difficult choice to make, but I decided to use ‘Selfish’, by Eduardo Recife (you can see his website here: http://www.misprintedtype.com/v4/)

So the next step was to create a large stencil on Microsoft word, print, and then cut roughly around the letter.  I then attached it to a piece of homemade graphite paper (I used a 6B drawing pencil and scribbled hard over a small area of paper), and then very carefully traced over the outline of the letter on to the cup (make sure that the graphite paper is graphite-side to the cup!).

It looks a bit messy, but the graphite can be washed off when all is finished.

All in all, from the creating graphite paper, tracing on the letters, and painting over them with the porcelain pen, it only took me a couple of hours to completely finish painting monograms on three mugs.  The paint pen is perhaps a little too thick for very small details and thin lines, but it worked well with what I wanted, and I would definitely recommend it to anyone who is looking for a cheap and non-messy porcelain paint.

So, after I left the mugs to dry overnight, they looked like this:

S and T monogrammed mugs

I thought they still looked like they were missing something, so I added a little picture to the inside of the cups as well, leaving them looking like this:

 

S and J monogrammed mugs

I’m quite pleased with the results of my first design project… And am definitely raring to go for my next one now!

In other news, I shall be featured shortly on a cookery blog as a guest chef… I have a cookery photoshoot scheduled in the next few weeks, so that’s going to be exciting!