Monday, April 16, 2012

A Summer Wedding

My best friend is getting married in August, so we've spent some girly time together doing the dress/hat/shoes thing in Bristol.

Her wedding dress is sorted - it's gorgeous and suits her beautifully, but I'm afraid you'll have to wait for the photos (obviously).  So - what am I going to wear?

You have probably already sussed that I am reluctant to spend a lot of money on things that can't be used more than once.  When we were trying on accessories (and having a good giggle at the same time), I was amazed at the prices being charged for items that frankly, I'd struggle to justify buying.  Example - cream and navy straw hat = £100.  Small red fascinator = £30.  Plain mid-heel court shoes = £30.  Er, no.

Luckily for me, I have a dress that I bought for a friend's wedding reception last year, and it still fits!  It's a fitted shift dress in a fairly firm soft-sheen satin, in a floral red, gold and navy pattern.  I also bought a red patent handbag.  The shoes I wore then have been jettisoned purely because I couldn't keep the damn things on (mules from Nine West - perfect if you don't actually need to move).  I liked wearing red shoes, so that's the first thing I went looking for.

Hurrah for charity shops!  I found a brand new pair of red patent peep-toe court shoes with a wedge heel in a nearby Scope shop (£4) which are very comfy, flattering, and should be OK for walking, standing, dancing, etc.  Now for the hat.  I'm not exactly a wild social butterfly, so proper lady hats don't feature largely in my wardrobe - do they in yours?  But this is my best friend's wedding.  I must have a hat.

Remember those fascinators for £30?  Well, when you look at them, there isn't really that much to them, is there?  So I have gathered together a selection of bits, with the intention of creating my own unique headgear and not having a hissy fit if I stand on it, sit on it, lose it, break it or get it soaking wet - we are talking August in England, don't forget.

OK.  The red straw hat is a child's sunhat from another charity shop (£1.50).  It had a sad, flattened flower on the front (you can see where I cut it away from the crown at the bottom of the picture).

The flowers are all hair decorations from our local pound shop, as are the three plastic hairbands.  Total cost of trimmings - £4.  The colours haven't really come out as they are - the orchid is more golden, the rose is deep red and the navy chiffon flowers are darker than they appear.  Anyhoo, I shall be wielding my glue gun and sewing needle shortly, so I'll make sure I get some photos of the finished article (however it turns out!)

Have a lovely crafty day!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

I love a bargain ....

.... and I'm always on the look out for little trinkets to add to my stash of potential presents.  I found something interesting on a recent shopping trip which caught my eye; they were so colourful I couldn't resist them.

These cockerels were in a dusty bargain bin, reduced to 50p each because the packaging had disintegrated and all the magnets on the backs had fallen off - no problem.  Back home, a quick wash in hot soapy water, clean off the dried glue, then fix new magnets with epoxy glue.  Ta-da!  They are quite big, too, so they will be  an eye-catching addition to any boring old kitchen appliance!

Don't you love the sad looks you get from the shop assistants when you plonk your purchases down at the till - who, in their right mind, would buy four plastic chickens that don't actually do anything?  Hmm, round one to me, I think!

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Where's the sunshine?

After a couple of days of warm spring sunshine, I decided it was time to make something that's been rattling round in my brain for a while.  Mr Owls and I like to sit outside in the garden whenever the sun is shining, only returning indoors when it gets a bit chilly.  However, after replacing our clay chiminea (after a pet related incident with a lead and an excited dog) with a metal one, the temptation to stay out into the evening with a cosy fire warming our toes is pretty strong!

A bit of ambient lighting in the garden never goes amiss, and I love fairy lights, candles and all things bright to make the outside space seem warm and welcoming.  So - I made these.

They were really quick to make, too!  I got the artwork from a book I bought at an art materials sale at my college:  "Floral Patterns" from The Pepin Press (Agile Rabbit Editions) which has a CD-ROM so you can download the patterns to use on your own projects.

If you want to have a go, here's what you need for each one:

A clean glass jar (I used a coffee jar with the label soaked off - try to peel it off in one piece, to use as a template)
An A4 sheet of tracing paper (for the dahlia jar) or an A4 sheet of printable acetate (for the paisley jar)
Some heat-resistant double sided sticky tape
Scissors or a craft knife, ruler and cutting mat (to save ruining your work surface)
A small church candle or a tealight candle
An inkjet printer
Your chosen design (download one of your favourite photos, or use some free downloadable images - scrapbook sites have some lovely ones)

Measure your peeled-off label - mine was about 675mm long by 74mm high.   This is the size of your wrap-around image.  If you can't get the label off in one piece, don't worry, just wrap a piece of newspaper around your jar, mark the ends, top and bottom of where you want the paper to wrap, and make your template that way.

Get your chosen image on screen, and using software like GIMP or Photoshop, crop and resize your image to fit your label measurements.

Print your image.  I've found that while the acetate paper behaves itself beautifully, the tracing paper likes to curl up as it comes out of my printer, and the ink is still wet in places.  So, carefully take the printed tracing paper out of the printer and lay it flat somewhere to finish drying.

When your printed image is dry, lay it out on your cutting mat and trim it.  Nearly there now!

Place a strip of double-sided tape down one side of your clean, dry glass jar.  You might notice a faint seam in the glass from the manufacturing process - that's a good guideline to keep your tape vertical.  Peel off the backing from the tape, and position one edge of your printed image on the tape.  Now just wrap the tracing paper/acetate slowly around the jar, until the edges meet over the tape.  Press down with your finger.

That's it - you're done!  Put your candle in the jar, light it, stand back and admire your handiwork.  As you can see from the photos, the tracing paper gives a lovely soft glow when your candle is lit; the acetate is more like stained glass.  The jars do get very warm, so best keep them out of the way of small children.

I find it quite difficult to get tealights lit once they are inside their holders, so I make a little holder by cutting a length of firm but bendy wire (sorry, I have no idea about gauge or thickness, trial and error for me!), wrapping one end around a narrow jar or bottle - I used a can of body spray! - to make a circle for the tealight to sit on.  Put the wire inside your jar, and bend the end over the top of the jar so you don't inadvertently stab yourself with the sharp end.  Now you can lower your tealight or candle into the jar without burning yourself, and lift it out easily to replace it when it burns out.

You might have some old drinking glasses that have gone a bit frosty in the dishwasher - you could recycle them by using them for this project, rather than just throwing them away.

I'm also working on a way to cut empty wine bottles to use instead of coffee or jam jars - that's still a work in progress at the moment!

I'd love to see your pictures if you decide to have a go at this project - it's very satisfying, and they do look gorgeous lit up in the garden.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Here's one I made earlier ..........

..... and I liked it, so I made another!

I found a great tutorial here: showing me what I needed to create these lovely 'eggs in a nest' pendants (I made another for myself afterwards!).  These were supposed to be 'practice' but I was so pleased with my initial efforts, I decided to put them on silver chains.  Mr Owls liked them so much, he suggested one for his mother, who will be celebrating her birthday next week.  He chose the one on the left for her, and I will be giving the grey pearl and silver one to my Mum for her birthday today.  Happy birthday, Mum!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

It's been a while ....

... since I've posted anything here.  To be honest, I've been rather busy with college work, exams, etc., so anything creative has been put to one side for a while.  Plus the weather has been a bit dire, so any opportunities for taking photos to share with you have been limited, to say the least!

Anyway.  I have begun to have a go at some of those fascinating ideas that you see from time to time, and promise yourself you will try - as soon as you have time!  Once I've arranged them artfully and photographed them, I will show you what I've been doing lately.

To keep things ticking over, I have relisted this piece of photo art in my Folksy shop, LittleOwls.  This floral print always cheers me up, it's so bright and sunny.  I also have access to an A3 printer now, so I'm itching to see how this looks as a piece of wall art.  I'm sure Mr Owls would be happy to produce a suitable frame, once I've decided what style I'd like ..................