Category Archives: Art + culture

Flowers everywhere!

It’s officially autumn, which means my brain is already thinking about Christmas! No, I’m not one of those super-humans who has all their shopping and wrapping done by Halloween – I make Christmas wreaths and sell them locally.

So the arrival of autumn is my queue to start squirrelling up pinecones, rose hips and honesty seedheads; to book stalls and markets and start ordering wire, metal frames and dried oranges and cinnamon sticks.

This year I’ve decided to run workshops so that locals can come and learn to make their own bespoke design.

My autumnal centrepiece, made at Judith Blacklock Flower School
My autumnal centrepiece, made at Judith Blacklock Flower School

And it’s got me so excited that I’ve started swotting up my skills across the floristry board. Yesterday I began a Floristry for Business course at the Judith Blacklock Flower School in Knightsbridge, and it is heaven.

A buttonhole comprising Rosa vendella, Sedum spectabile and Hedera
A buttonhole comprising Rosa vendella, Sedum spectabile and Hedera

I’m surrounded by bucket-loads of flowers every day and get to while away the hours working on my wiring and arranging skills; creating wedding corsages, buttonholes and garlands; styling an autumnal table centrepiece and designing a contemporary linear arrangement for a banqueting table. And that’s just in the first two days.

A corsage of Rosa snowflake, gypsophila and Eucalyptus
A corsage of Rosa snowflake, gypsophila and Eucalyptus

I can’t wait to see what I make next…

A linear display for a banquet - not quite finished at this point!
A linear display for a banquet – not quite finished at this point!

5 Hot Ikea hacks

No one likes to admit they go to Ikea for their furniture, even though we all do. Now, savvy shoppers are pimping their Ikea pieces to create bespoke designs at bargain prices

There’s no need to be embarrassed about buying furnishing your flat from Ikea – no one need ever know with these clever Ikea hacks that will transform the identikit items into unique, hand-crafted furniture. There are even entire websites and companies dedicated to transforming Ikea basics into brilliant bespoke furniture for a fraction of the cost. In fact, even the Swedish giant is now encouraging shoppers to customise their kit with specialist wood paints, fabric, paper and new handles. Try these hacks out for size..

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Personalise with a fine pine canvas
Ikea is famous for its wooden furniture, especially solid pine, which is easy to paint, stain, collage and customise. The Tarva range of untreated pine drawers have been deliberately designed to be a blank canvas.
“Both the simple design and the untreated wood are typical for the Scandinavian furniture tradition,” say designers Knut Hagberg and Marianne Hagberg. “And because you can stain or paint TARVA without further treatment, the design becomes a collaboration between us and the person who decorates it”.
Here the Tarva six drawer chest, £125, has been painted with Ikea’s own Behandla glazing paint, 375ml, £4.20, which comes in a range of colours.

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Updated door handles

This Malm chest of drawers (£49) is an Ikea staple, but add some handles and it takes on a fresh new look.

Take a selection of stones – the ones here are flint and chalk (which already had natural holes in it – that are between five and 10 centimetres in size. Glue around the middle of the stone with a glue gun, wrap twine or rattan cord twice around the glue and leave a good length of twine at either end to attach them to the drawers. Thread twine through the holes in the chalk stones.

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Decide where you want to put your handles and drill two holes for each handle, 2cm apart.

Then thread the ends of each cord from your handles through the holes and tie them together on the inside of the drawer.

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Relax in a reading nook

Take three Ikea Lack side tables (£25 each) and put them together to create a bench, then measure the top to work out what size your seating pad should be – leave some space at the end if you want a surface to put down a cup of tea or books.

Cut a piece of foam to fit the bench, then choose your covering fabric and cut it out with and extra 5cm in length and width than you need. Fold the fabric in half, right side in, and sew the length and one of the short sides, leaving 1cm seam allowance. Turn the cover the right side out and cover the foam, then fold the corners of the open end and stitch it closed. Then place it on the bench and accessorize it with books, cushions, and a tray. See how to do it at www.hestershandmadehome.com

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A hanging book shelf

This on-trend leather and wood shelf looks reassuringly expensive, but blogger Ronja Lotte made it for just a couple of pounds. Using and Ivar (£4) shelf board (which she cut down to her desired size) and an old leather belt, the whole thing cost less than the price of a book.

First saw the shelf down to the size you want (cutting off the ends to create a neat edge), then paint the shelf. If you have two identical belts to hang at either end you’ll get the best finish, but you can also cut one wide belt in half. Cut or drill a hole at each end of the belt, about 4cm from the end, then hang it from the wall. Find her project and others on www.ikeahackers.net

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Create a four-poster bed

Serial hacker, Hester Van Overbeek’s latest book Furniture Hacks (£14.99, Cico Books) features this striking contemporary four-poster bed with an integrated shelf and storage, which looks as though it could have cost ten times the £165 price tag of the original Malm double bed that it is made from.

It’s a bit more of a DIY project as you’ll need to build the four upright posts and top beams, but it only costs a few pounds for the wood and paint (it’s worth painting the existing bed and the new posts so that it all matches) and a bit of elbow grease.

For the full lowdown visit Hester’s blog.

3 Instant Ikea Hacks

Don’t like DIY? Then get a professional to do it for you…

Superfront

Swedish design experts who take Ikea kitchens and cabinets and customise the colour, doors, tops, legs and handles, to create spectacular furniture that is still cheaper than buying bespoke. www.superfront.com

Pretty Pegs

It’s amazing what a difference small details can make. These replaceable wooden furniture legs add instant personality and panache to your regular Ikea sofa, bed, table or sideboard. www.prettypegs.com

 Mykea

These graphic and photographic patterns stick onto Ikea furniture to create a completely different look, that’s easy to create and to change when you get bored. www.thisismykea.com

ALISON TYLER

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Don’t just recycle, Upcycle

Don’t let boring furniture bring you down – with a bit of imagination and some elbow grease you can upcycle it into something amazing in no time. Try these design projects out…

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A Paul Klee-inspired dotty chest

Chalk paint creator Annie Sloan was inspired to create this chest of drawers after seeing avant garde artist Paul Klee’s watercolour, Polyphony (1932).

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  1. Find a fairly modern chest of drawers to upcycle and paint the entire chest with Chalk Paint Decorative Paint by Annie Sloan in Paris Grey (from £5.95 a pot, www.anniesloan.com) to provide a good neutral background.
  2. Rip off large flaps from cardboard boxes and paint onto them. Then press the cardboard squares onto the cabinet to give a slightly uneven effect.
  3. When the entire area is covered, roughly apply the same colours onto some bubble wrap and press the ‘tips’ of the bubble wrap onto the surface of the chest of drawers to create the dot effects.

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Skateboard shelves

Upcycle That (www.upcyclethat.com) collaborated with Bacardi to turn these skateboard into a suspended shelves drinks cabinet, but we’d like them in our own home, too. Best of all, it’s dead easy to do.

  1. Take three old skateboard decks and stack them in the order that you want to hang them; add new grip tape if you want to freshen up the look of the decks.
  2. Working from the bottom of your lowest deck, thread one length of 1/8” aircraft cable (at least 4 feet long) through the pair of outer holes, where the wheels were once screwed in. Pull the cable taut to make a tight loop at the bottom of the cable and each side of the wire is even. Repeat on the other end of the deck.
  3. Unscrew the bolts of four 1/8” wire rope clamps and tighten them snugly around the cables above the skateboard.
  4. Measure 14 inches up the cable and mark the point with a marker pen on all four cables. Secure wire clamps to the spots, then thread the cables through the bottom of the next deck.
  5. Repeat steps 3 and 4 to secure the final two boards in place. Then measure 14 inches up again (or as long a length as you want your shelves to hang down from the ceiling), add four 1/8” wire rope clips (to form a loop) and secure with clamps.
  6. Drill four hooks into the ceiling and hang your shelves (http://www.upcyclethat.com/crafted-cabinets).

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Crate storage

Old crates are a mine of creativity, Stack them on their sides to create a quirky shelving unit, like this one from Great British design brand Loaf, add wheels the bottom to make drawers, screw four of them together, each facing outwards to create a coffee table with shelving for magazines underneath.

You can pick up old crates in junk shops or buy these pretty, vintage-looking ones (from £12.50, www.pastellane.co.uk).

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Create an interesting wall display with old fruit crates by first sanding down any splinters; then paint the inside back of the crate with two coats of Curpinol Garden Shades Forest Mushroom and Warm Flax. Lastly screw them together and fix them to the wall using shelf brackets and screws if you choose, in any configuration that you like.

 

 

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Half-painted furniture

Brown wooden furniture looks old-fashioned, but completely painted wooden furniture can look a bit “Changing Rooms”. For a modern update, try “dipping” the legs of a chair or table in bright colours – use masking tape to get a clean finish and then sand and paint the lower half of the legs. Mix and match your chairs for a really contemporary look.

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Or paint the top half of the chair – the seat and back of this retro British cult design Ercol chair have been sanded and then painted in Farrow and Ball’s St Giles Blue (£38, www.farrow-ball.com).

 

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Jam jar mugs

If you haven’t heard of Sugru (£12.99, www.sugru.com), you soon will. The mouldable, play-dough like glue sticks to virtually anything and is great for repairs and for modifying and upcycling everyday items.

  1. Take an old jam jar, remove the label and glue and thoroughly clean and dry it.
  2. Bend a fork into a handle shape.
  3. Mould a ball of Sugru about the size of a ten pence piece into as round a sphere as you can. Mould a second one the size of five pence piece.
  4. Stick the larger ball of sugru onto the jar where you want the top of your handle to be then press the jar against a flat surface to flatten the ball; stick the small ball onto the base end of the fork handle.
  5. Press the fork handle onto the Sugru and leave it to set for 24 hours before using it – because Sugru doesn’t conduct heat you can use your mug for tea and coffee without the handle getting hot.

 

 

My favourite upcyclers

Like the look but lack the DIY gene? Then buy a unique piece of furniture from one of these talented upcyclers, instead.

Refunk’d

Ursh Stevens – whose fans include Theo Paphitis and Jacqueline Gold – upcycles pre-loved furniture and scrapyard finds into quirky pieces of art and practical-but-cool everyday items – shop mannequin standard lamp anyone? www.refunked.com

Florrie + Bill

British designer Amy Cawson takes vintage furniture – think mid-century Danish armchairs and Sixties’ G-Plan – restores it, and then breathes new life into it with modern fabric. www.florrieandbill.com

Trong Upcycling

Find Jez’ fab snowboard benches, golf club coat hooks and petrol can mini bars at www.remadeinbritain.com

ALISON TYLER

This article appeared in Metro on 26 May

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SUMMER MAKE & DO PROJECT: DIY TEEPEE

I spotted this lovely craft project on the Laura Ashley website that blogger Gathered Cheer created using their Bluebird fabric.

Teepee1Perfect for sunny spring days …

Follow the link here to learn how to make your own

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Handmade wreaths

 

 

 

It’s no secret that I’d love to be a gardener, a florist, or better yet, a flower farmer, but it’s easier said than done in when you live in south east London.

 

 

 

 

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But this year I have finally started making my annual Christmas wreaths as a commercial venture, after five years of making them for friends and family.

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They are all unique and use local and traditional festive foliage, from ivy and holly to bay and eucalyptus, with pine cones, cinnamon, oranges, thistles and berries, designed to suit an array of different door styles.

 

 

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I can also make bespoke designs to suits your style and door – call or email me for more info! And I can deliver to The local Blackheath, Hither Green, Greenwich, Lewisham areas.

 

 

 

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5 fab christmas decorating ideas

Get creative and make your own decorations for a hand-crafted and home-spun Christmas

1. Cookie cutter lights

If you can't make your own, you can buy these lovely lights from Cox and Cox
If you can’t make your own, you can buy these lovely lights from Cox and Cox

Pick up some cookie cutter shapes – stars, snowflakes, christmas trees, bells, reindeer, or even hearts and circles – Sainsbury’s and M&S sell copper versions like the ones pictured. Then, drill a hole into each one, push the light of your fairy lights through the hole and secure them in place with some clear glue. It’s that easy!

But if you’d rather buy some, those clever folks at Cox & Cox have created their own.

2. Make a twig decoration tree

cl-frosted-christmas-tree-decoration-christmas-crafts-med

Head to the park, or your garden, and forage some long branches with lots of twiggy stems.

If you want them to look extra festive you can spray paint them in white, gold or silver paint, or dip them in clear glue and sprinkle them with glitter.

Then insert them into a bucket that you’ve already filled with sand or soil so that they will stand upright.

Next, hang some festive decorations – you can even make your own, paper chains, paper doily snow flakes, and hanging christmas biscuits, or dried orange slices, all look really effective.

TIP – turn this into a stylish advent calendar by tying on old smarties boxes that you can put treats in (or even new smarties boxes with said sweets inside), wrap up in plain paper and add numbers to each one. It’s looks really effective and is completely personal and unique.

3. Create your own snow globe

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Start with an empty jar with a lid. My daughter used a Bon Mamon jam jar to make hers, but you could get really stylish with a Ball Mason or Kilner jar.

Decide what you want to put into your jar – it might be something your kids make from Fimo modelling clay, or you could choose a christmas ornament or make a scene, like a church or tree. Whatever you choose it needs to fit inside the jar itself, and also be no larger than the lid.

Glue your finished scene securely to the lid of the jar.

If you want to make a traditional globe which you shake and let the snow slowly fall down, you’ll need to ensure whatever goes in the jar is waterproof. Fill the jar with water and a handful of fake snow (buy it here), then fix your lid securely onto the jar. Easy.

Use small jars and tie string around them to hang them as decorations, like home-made version of the ones pictured.

Can’t face making it but love the look? Buy these from Rockett St George.

4. Make a bauble place name

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1. Choose some pretty baubles and attach a round paper clip to the top of each one.

2. Then write your place name on a piece of card and slide the card into the paper clip so that is is held in place by it.

3. In order to make your baubles stand up, either attach a bit of blue tac to the bottom, or for added cuteness, sit them in egg cups.

4. For a twist on the idea, follow steps 1 and 2, then thread some ribbon through the bauble hook and tie them around napkins to kill two birds with one stone.

5. A wreath chandelier centrepiece

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For a new spin on a Christmas wreath, attach ribbon to hand it from the ceiling over a table and create a stunning centre-piece. you can even hang baubles from it for really impressive look, and add candles to the top to add atmosphere.

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Don’t want to make your own? This hanging Narnia centrepiece from Sarah Raven, is just gorgeous.

 

Go now: Sebastian Cox

For one weekend only (this weekend, 6-7 Dec!), designer Sebastian Cox, who works with British coppiced hazel to create unique furniture and home accessories for the likes of Heals, will be opening a shop, close to his workshop in Deptford, south-east London.

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He’ll be at Gallop on Deptford High Street with Nottingham-based textile designer Tori Murphy, and both will be showcasing their British wares as well as a collection of Christmas gifts and decorations.

If you’re heading to Cockpit Arts Open Studios this weekend it’s worth a detour to seek them out – and you can stop for pizza and a pint at the Big Red Pizza Bus (an indoor/outdoor pizza place built around an old Routemaster bus) on Deptford Church Street.

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Open 11am-6pm Saturday and Sunday, with an open evening from 6pm-9pm on Saturday with mulled wine and cobnuts.

www.sebastiancox.co.uk

 

Brompton x Thornback and Peel

Love cycling? Love craft? Then you’re going to love this cute Christmassy collacboration between Brit bike brand Brompton (you know, the folding, skinny orange bikes you see all over London) and pretty, quintessentially English eccentric  printmakers Thornback and Peel.

Head to Brompton Junction on Long Arce in Covent Garden this Sunday and you can print your own jolly Brompton-tastic festive cards. Tickets cost a tenner, but that includes the cards (in red or black) that you’ll screen print, and bubbly and mince pies, too.

What a fab idea. Folding is optional.

www.thornbackandpeel.co.uk

Merry Craftmas

 

Lush Design Studios at Cockpit Arts in Deptford
Lush Design Studios at Cockpit Arts in Deptford

Leave Black Friday weekend for the masses and make your way way to one of the vibrant and creative craft and artists independent fairs this advent – it’s a much more imaginative and enjoyable way to shop.
And you get something unique and handmade.
And… You’ll feel better for helping a local artist instead if a tax-dodging international corporate entity too!

Made in Clerkenwell
Made in Clerkenwell

Try these:

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Crafty Fox, this weekend in Dalston; next weekend in Brixton; Peckham the weekend after.

 

Tea for One table from Made in Clerkenwell at Craft Central
Tea for One table from Made in Clerkenwell at Craft Central

Made in Clerkenwell at Craft Central –  today and tomorrow (to 30 Nov). At John’s Square.

 

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Thornback and Peel at Cockpit Arts in Deptford

Cockpit Arts open studios in Holborn this weekend and Deptford next weekend.

 

We’re going on a (Paddington) bear hunt…

That quintessentially British bear (despite hailing from Darkest Peru!) Paddington, hits the cinema screen today in a star-studded film following the polite, bumbling bear’s adventures.

And to celebrate, Britain has gone  all gone soft – and cuddly – for a certain small bear from Darkest Peru, with a penchant for marmalade sandwiches. The Paddington Bear film, starring Hugh Bonneville, Julie Walters, Jim Broadbent and Ben Wishaw, only opens today, but he’s already making an impression elsewhere around the UK.

In London you can search for 50 different Paddington statues on the Paddington Bear trail or visit the exhibition at the Museum of London. Get into the look with wellingtons from hip boot brand Hunter or a blue duffle coat; or simply tuck in to Elevenses – with marmalade sandwiches, of course.

A Bear Called Paddington, Museum of London
This small, free exhibition feature original memorabilia, including author Michael Bond’s typewriter and Paddington’s actual costume from the film. Visit on 29-30 November and take part in Paddington’s Picnic Weekend when there will be storytelling, craft activities and even a chance to meet Paddington himself. www.museumoflondon.org.uk

truffles

Toast & marmalade truffles, from £2
Using 70 per cent Pacari Piura Quemazon chocolate from darkest Peru, brown bread toast, butter and marmalade, star chocolatier Paul A Young has reimagined Paddington’s favourite foodstuff in confectionery-form. www.paulayoung.co.uk

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The Paddington Curiosity Shop at Selfridges
The Paddington story began at Selfridge’s department store, when in 1956, author Michael Bond bought the last teddy on Christmas Eve – which then inspired the adventures of the bear from Darkest Peru. So it’s fitting that the a golden Paddington statue (one to tick off on the trail) takes over one of the windows, while Selfridge’s Wonder Room concept store has been taken over by all things Paddington. From one-of-a-kind archive pieces to props from the film it’s a trove of delights. Expect exclusive gifts and fashion items inspired by the much-loved bear, including a blue duffle coat from Gloverall (kids £109, adults £295) and Globetrotter suitcases (from £285). www.selfridges.com

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Hunter boots, £95
The original gloss wellington boots, as favoured by the festival set, in military red – team them with a duffle coat for maximum Paddington effect. www.hunterboots.com

Paddington Bear with wellies soft toy, £19.99
With his cardboard label saying “Please look after this bear”, shiny willies and blue felt duffle coat, this gorgeous bear is just like the original. www.johnlewis.com

A bear called Paddington, Michael Bond, £10.99
The hardback edition of the very first book, originally published in 1958, has beautiful illustrations by Peggy Fortnum and tells the story of a bear, found at Paddington station, having travelled all the way from Darkest Peru with only a jar of marmalade, a suitcase and his hat. www.waterstones.com

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Robertson’s limited edition Golden Shred, £2.29
Grab one of the limited gold label jars of the UK’s favourite marmalade featuring the new-look Paddington Bear from the film and the story about his inception on the jar. Exclusive to Selfridges, www.selfridges.com

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Elevenses and afternoon teas
Known for his love of a snack – elevenses was his favourite – there are Paddington-themed afternoon teas popping up all over the place. At Aqua Shard the afternoon tea of orange marmalade macaroons, praline cream buns, chilli-chocolate taxis and orange blossom scones, is served 31 floors high in a battered suitcase (£34.50, www.aquashard.co.uk). At the Athenaeum you’ll find marmalade-glazed ham sandwiches, marmalade tarts and chocolate tea cups filled with orange and white chocolate mousse (£39.50, www.athenaeumhotel.com). And at the Lowndes hotel you can try Elevenses – a morning ritual that Paddington Bear famously enjoyed with Mr Gruber – and a Pastuso cocktail (that’s Paddington’s original Peruvian name) as part of the Paddington Bear experience, which also includes a night at the hotel and a toy Paddington Bear (£252, www.jumerirah.com/JLH).

paddington cocktail

Paddington Pisco Marmalade Fizz, £7.95
The Fable in London’s Farringdon has created a cocktail that may leave you feeling like a bear with a sore head – Peruvian Pisco, lemon, sugar, Prosecco and two healthy dollops of marmalade. It even comes served with a mini marmalade sandwich. www.thefablebar.co.uk

Paddington wallpaper and fabric
Jane Churchill’s London Sights Paddington range of wallpaper and fabric have a vintage feel that will give any child’s room a timeless feel. www.janechurchill.com

Paddington case

Paddington Bear suitcase gift, £20
This gorgeously-presented bath set contains shower gel, bubble bat, bath fizzers and a marmalade-shaped sponge – too cute by far to give to your little ones. www.marksandspencer.com

This feature appeared in Metro on 27 November 2014. To view the newspaper version visit http://e-edition.metro.co.uk/2014/11/27/