Wednesday, 10 September 2014

The ringbox - a quick and easy way to add some, well, ceremony to your ceremony

We had a civil wedding ceremony, rather than a religious one. Which in many ways I loved as it was just more us, we're not tied to a particular faith and while I have faith, in people and love and goodness, I'm not tied to one group of people enough to join them wholeheartedly. So a civil ceremony was definitely the way to go.

What I wanted to bring to the ceremony though, was some formality and some drama. It is the one part of the day which is, and should be, really serious. It's a massive commitment and giving the wedding ceremony itself some extra touches was a really nice way to celebrate the formality in promisng ourselves to each other.

I know it sounds a little silly, but the ring box was one of the things which did this for me. I can't imagine another occasion when you'd ever use one. I store jewellery in cake towers, on an upcycled baking tray and more in our bedroom. But having a special place to keep our wedding rings, even if we only used it just for that day was perfect. 

Like many other things (too many to think about or my head hurts) I had a small wooden box in the loft, which I was conveniced I'd use some day. I think it came from a car boot sale, yes it's been that long I can't be sure. I'm not proud of my hoarding ways, but when it comes to crafts, unfortunately you really can make something from nothing, so there are many times I've kept what might be considered pointless rubbish. In this case though, it was a little rough and a little beaten up, but I knew a coat of paint would give it a new life, to treasure the most important jewellery we'd ever wear. 

You know, I'm actually glad I kept it all those years. My habit may not be cured just yet!

The box was dirty and full of holes, so first up I cleaned it with soapy water and dried it properly before using Polyfilla to smoth out the external surfaces. The inside was less important because I knew I'd use fabric and cover it up, but there were small loose dividers which I removed, you can see slight gaps in the middle of the left and right edges around the fabric in the photo above.

Once the Polyfilla had dried I sanded it thoroughly, touched up few small gaps repeating the process once more and then painted it with our signature colours and gave the inside of the lid a coat of black acrylic so I could fake a blackboard style design on top. The design was simple enough to add on top of that but I used a brush and white acrylic paint to make it a strong contrast, using a chalkmarker just wasn't bright enough.

I let each layer dry properly and once it was finisehd sealed the outside of the box with a matt varnish.

The inside was simple enough, I cut a piece of white felt and folded it over to make a cushion, before covering it with some of the fabric scraps from other wedding projects. After I'd sized it up correctly, I cut four splits in the fabric and threaded through two small ribbons, to tie the rings in place. Using fabric glue, I stuck the fabric pad to the base of the box and left it overnight.

I was really happy with the final result, for a small project it added such a lovely sense of promise, and well, ceremony to the ceremony. :)

So, will you or did you have a ring box, or are they a bit over the top for you?

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

My new love of hand lettering

I have a new love, I never thought I would be able to do it accurately or have enough patience but while we were planning the wedding it became a new favourite hobby and  something I'm definitely going to continue.

I have long cherished our chalkboard wall in the kitchen and have really enjoyed adding pretty typography to it when I had chance, but I'd nver really attempted it using a pen or pencil before, where you have the ability to take more time and make things more accurate.

I set up a new board on Pinterest to help, which, if you like hand drawn type is going to absorb some time and generate more than a few ooohs and ahhhs! I had an idea of a few signs that I'd need for the big day, just to direct guests around the venue and answer questions before they were asked.

Our venue was a National Trust property, where the general public would be milling around and I wanted to make sure guests knew where to sit, where to go - but keeping the signage sympathetic to our handmade theme.

I used black mountboard, as that felt substantial enough to withstand a few bumps and bruises without creasing and while chalk markers. The markers I used were Artline multipens, acid free and water based pigment ink.

The majorty of the design I sketched on with pencil into some ruled guidelines, but the finishing touches were added straight away in pen. The typefaces were really varied, using the theme of mixing it up to tie them all together.

This was the biggest of the boards and was placed just after the doorway in the ceremony room on a lovely easel the venue provided, decorated with a few of our tissue paper flowers.
I really like the variation in the strength of the letters, some of it looks like my handwriting, other parts are more stylised, but it all came together really nicely.

Unfortunately our cocktail menu didn't make it onto the meadow as it rained in the week running up to the wedding, so our lawn games and cocktail hour were tailored to suit the weather and moved into the courtyard. But I had so much fun signwriting, I couldn't be disappointed.

It's funny how much learning a new skill helps in other more subtle ways, I've always enjoyed handwriting styles, but I'd just never had the need to try something more formal before. It's given me confidence to try other new things as well, to see what my imagination can do and push myself a bit further.


The sign for the basket of flip flops was a big hit, so much so one guest now has it displayed in her hallway! It's a true sign of approval, when your work gets pinched!

Once the signs were finished I added type to other parts of the decorations,  ceremony placenames were a quick and easy make which politely and sweetly made room for our VIP guests on the front row.

Our ring box benefited from some cute initials and I broadened out with some knot tying illustrations too.

Instead of bunches of flowers for our two mini me bridesmaids, the youngest carried a fabric heart lollipop with Love Wins on it, Dave didn't realise at the time, but this was the title of my surprise poem in the ceremony.

My Glastonbury flag designs were painted with their names, as the chalkmarkers bled in to the fabric, they look longer to do that way, but they looked great  when they were finished.

 All these things were slightly different in their own way, but the colours helped to keep them consistent (we stuck to grey and yellow predominantly) and mixing typefaces gave me much more freedom to explore and despite having to repeat things like the flags above, having some creative freedom made the job easier, more varied and more enjoyable to complete.

I'd love to know who your favourite hand drawn typographers are, we have a print my Sean Wes in our kitchen which Dave bought for me some time ago, so he's my favourite. I've told you mine, please tell me yours!

Monday, 8 September 2014

To Do - once it's all done, what next?

This has essentially been my view for the last few months and my focus. While planning our wedding and working full time I realised that something had to give, and while I still crafted and made a million and one pretty things, I knew that trying to fit in blog posts into an already hideous schedule just wasn't going to happen.

Strangely enough, I realised that I haven't enjoyed blogging all that much in the last 12 months. I've been suffering from feeling 'behind'. Behind what I'm not sure, but it was another way to put more pressure on myself and instead of being a release and something indulgent and fun, it was becoming something which made me feel guilty. So enough of that!

Planning the wedding has been a lovely experience for the most part, we really made an effort to enjoy everything we could as it's such a busy time and could easily turn into feeling overwhelmed and harrassed. It's been a wonderful 6 months of working with our best friends, evenings sharing wine and food while crafting and exploring some lovely places around Cheshire.

A lot of the decorations were handmade, predictably so if you know me! Of course I took on a bit too much, but I did manage to find some good local suppliers to take care of a few things, leaving me time to concentrate on some little extra touches which made us smile and made the day perfectly unique.

My biggest lesson learned is not to expect or chase perfection. Having a perfectly unique wedding is enough, we had parts of our day that will never be repeated or recreated, the most notable was probably the poem that I'd written one afternoon for Dave, which I read during our ceremony. I was really surprised by these words that flowed through the pen during ten minutes one day, after thinking about our relationship and how much had changed over time. Time is really all that matters, it can make such a difference to your thoughts and feelings. I've never felt like a writer, or a poet, but in that moment the words came so easily and naturally that I knew I had to read it aloud to him during the day.

I spent a lot of time on Pinterest, looking at other crafters past projects which inspired me and felt like a good mix of handmade but not overengineered. I don't have huge amounts of time and so I chose decorations which were quick and cheap, that Miya could help with to make sure she was included.

Having her share in the planning was great, she had loads of ideas for the kids table and the dresses. She came to almost every dress fitting for my wedding dress, knew every secret and never told a soul. I was sure she'd slip up and mention something to Dave by accident, I was prepared and wanted her to share in the planning more than I wanted to keep it all a secret. But she was so grown up.

Now that the planning is over and we're sorting through what to keep, what to give away and what to sell, my focus has shifted. The massive to do list has been happily rubbed off our kitchen chalkboard, replaced with our beautiful corkboard, repurposed from the wedding and I feel more relaxed but ready for a new challenge. As if there is space in my mind to take on something new. There's nothing missing from my life, but it's interesting to feel that we've completed such a massive project.

There's a definite feeling of 'what next?' It's exciting, like a new world to explore.      

Saturday, 12 April 2014

{Kiddos Interiors} Patterned perfection in place!

So after a couple of days prepping and painting it was great fun packing all Miya's clothes into her new chest of drawers and giving her room a good tidy. She loves the new pattern, she actually pointed out it looked like it was woven before I'd even realised it and she loves the colours.

Getting it upstairs was easy enough, fortunately we managed it before Dave went away this weekend!
So here's the finished chest of drawers after painting.

And here it is in the backdrop of Miya's colourful bedroom, against her pink chalkboard wall and the yellow wall. I was a little worried that the white drawers were too stark against the patterned top and base but once it was up here next to all the colour it was perfect.

She loves that she can reach over the drawers to draw and create straight on to the wall now. Because the old chest of drawers was so big she only had a bit of space at the side for drawing. Her friends are always amazed that she is allowed to draw on the walls!

We put the essentials on top of the drawers, her iPod speaker (she loves to play music in her room and I gave her my old iPod - it's got heaps of Colbie Callait, Carly Rae Jepson, Emma Stevens, Frances England and Taylor Swift on there for her) her clock, a card from Dave and I and some all important teddies.

This girl doesn't need any prompting to draw, she loves to create - you can see here she wrote 'Love is the best thing' next to her drawing, I couldn't have said it better myself.

Here's a quick before and after...


So have you been painting furniture this weekend, livened up some walls with chalk or have you just been reading an old copy of Adrian Mole and saying a farewell to Sue Townsend, I loved her books growing up - she will be sadly missed.

{DIY Tutorial} Upcycled Chest of Drawers - Painting Patterns

So, now that the prepping for the chest of drawers was completed the real fun part could start! I looked at fun children's patterns on Pinterest and added a few ideas to my board For The Littlies, which has loads of ideas for kids; interiors, toys, costumes and more.

I loved this one,  the Fiesta 2 Art Print by Garima Dhawan. It reminded me of strips of washi tape and that would have been a really quick and easy way to decorate the top of the drawers, but I was worried about Miya trying to peel them off!

I loved the way the colours were overlayed and slightly see through - but the pattern was too random for me and the colour blocks too perfect, too straight. What I wanted was brushstrokes rather than perfect lines, but in a more ordered arrangement.

I stated by painting the wood with a bright aqua blue emulsion, it took three thin coats to cover it fully.

Then I broke out the paints and my favourite brush, a 3/4 flat wash which was perfect for the shape I was aiming for. I used five B&Q Funky Colours; Rocking, Foxy, Fireburst, Taxi and Grasshopper. I really like dthe way the colours complemented each other and I wanted a thinner paint rather than a thick acrylic.

I began the layering, using brushstokes in two directions, keeping them free - I didn't mark out where they would go, just tried to keep them evenly spaced and let each one dry before going to the next colour.

It was really exciting to see the pattern developing every time I finished a colour.

The corners and edgeswere tricky to keep control of the brushstrokes, but I liked the way they looked handpainted. You can already see in the photo above the paint showing through once I started overlapping the colours.

Once I got this far I knew I wanted a really dense pattern and it started to look more like a woven fabric than a paint job.

Here it is, the finished paint job, I love how a project develops organically and changes as you work.

Looking back at the pattern which inspired it all, it's nothing like the finished article now.

 But I love the brushstrokes and imperfections coupled with the accurate ordering of them.

Just as the prepping is a really important part of the process, so too is sealing the paint to stop chips and damage from everyday life.

So I used a B&Q matt wood varnish to coat the whole lot after the paint had fully dried. I've never used an aerosol varnish before, but I'll certainly use it again if usability is anything to go by! It was so much easier, much quicker to dry and after two good coats the finished chest of drawers was ready to go upstairs. And voila! 

{DIY Tutorial} Upcycled Chest of Drawers - Prepping!

This week had a long to-do list as we've had time off work for wedding planning, but as well as giving notice at the registry office and looking at caterers we wanted to finish Miya's bedroom - by removing her old tall chest of drawers and replacing it with a lower, wider version.

Here's the tall drawers in place, they're fantastic quality as they're solid wood, but on the opposing wall is Miya's tall, ultra modern cabin bed and in such a small room another tall piece of furniture just doesn't work.

We got this gorgeous old Stag chest of drawers from our best friends, in a delightful game of swapsies - Coco now has Miya's drawers in her room (I can't wait to see how Karen customises it for her!) and Miya has a new lower chest perfect for her new room.

But of course, it needs a little customising before it enters Miya's room! The white drawers would balance nicely with the white of her cabin bed, but the bare wooden base and top needed some colour and a stain on the top needed covering up. But first, the prep!

I started by cleaning it of any dust and then sanding it off with a fine grade sandpaper. To sand the soft edges I wrapped a sponge in the sandpaper and did the same with the drawers.

Once the drawers were finished I dusted them off again and grabbed my paint, because the drawers are plastic I picked a Rust-oleum all surface spray paint in matt white. I've got to say, it cost almost 50% more than the spray paints I've used before, but the coverage was brilliant, no spotting or drips and it lasted really well. Because the existing paint job was a really pale grey and was even so I didn't need a separate primer to prep the surface.

It took three light coats of paint and the drawers were done, I also used this to cover the sides of the chest of drawers.

But now that the prep is done the real fun can begin! To be really honest, I'm not a fan of prepping, it's so tedious and I'm always excited to break out the colourful paint but, it's unfortunately neccessary if you want your renovation to last.

An on to the paint job... and the real fun!