Posts Tagged ‘repurpose’

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I’m still decluttering my studio, which is taking forever: I have so much stuff in there.  Yesterday I rediscovered a pack of replica vintage garden ephemera that I bought at the Chelsea Flower Show many years ago.  I’ve used a few bits from it, but the rest had been chucked in a drawer and forgotten about.  I’ve chosen a few cards with which to decorate my studio, and today I turned the remaining bits and bobs into a notebook.

Let’s just take a moment to appreciate how useful a curved needle can be, especially when one is binding envelopes into a book.

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I ended up using the biggest garden leaflet to make the cover (which is lined with card from some posh shirt packaging that came into my possession), the leftover garden bits and some repurposed paper (brown paper that had been used as packaging in something I received in the post, and some squared paper from an old maths exercise book) became the pages.  I found some old envelopes lurking in another drawer so those got thrown in too.  It’s turned out beautifully!

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…bridesmaids.  This is something I learned recently when I was asked if I would make notebooks as gifts from a bride to her bridesmaids.  Sure, I said, no problem.  How many bridesmaids?


I can’t lie, that threw me a bit, but in the end it turned out to be terrific fun because I got to design nine different notebooks.  The bride wrote down a few words about each woman, and off I went to select papers and binding styles.


An eclectic mix, let’s show off each notebook individually so you can have a proper look.  Although it was occasionally challenging to find the right paper for each cover, it was very satisfying to rummage through my studio trying to find ‘the one’.  Even more so to then decide which binding style would be best, and of course the question of thread, and inner lining – oh the choices!  These books have been made using everything from scrapbook paper through to a repurposed paper carrier bag, and some of the vintage linen thread is older than I am!  I hope that the bridesmaids like them as much as the bride and I do 🙂










Here they are all wrapped up and waiting to go.


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Beatrix Potter notebooks now back in stock.  This includes a few Peter Rabbit ones, which are usually the first to sell out so grab them while you can! Click here to visit my shop.

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So I was out walking my dog in the park last month when I was given a bag full of matchboxes.  This isn’t a normal thing, I don’t habitually receive random bags of matches while I’m playing fetch!  It was excellent timing though as I’d been musing on making some matchbox sized books.  As it turns out these weren’t the size of matchbox I’d had in mind: Swan Vestas come in skinnier-than-usual boxes, but that doesn’t mean they won’t get used.  My first project was a little secret set of drawers.  The card and paper I used to make the covers was leftover from other projects so this was a nice way to use them up (the only new things are the little handles).  I’m happy to say that this box has already gone to a new home but I’m sure I’ll make some more in due course.





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I’m clearly not quite back in the swing of the CPSH, running a few days late, but once again it’s been busy here at the Shed.  If you’re taking part then please post a comment below to let me know, and I’ll link to your blog.  At the moment I know that Serotiny and Ruth are also back in the CPSH game, so please do visit their blogs and check out their photos!

Edited to add: Rachel at The Awesome Lady is also back in the CPSH mood!  Click here to view her photos.


In June I treated myself to lots of new art supplies, including a table easel and lot of pretty pencils…


Something I made

These were made on a wet day in mid-June… still haven’t added them to my Etsy shop though, must remedy that!



It’s been one of those years when every seed sown came up, and as such I’m drowning in tomato plants.  Ran out of pots, so had to repurpose some old tins…



Had a wonderful visit to Kew Gardens at the start of June, and my current favourite thing there is the Rose Garden Tea Party (part of their IncrEdibles summer festival)



My studio and garden have been a constant source of happiness this past month.  The garden looks incredible at the moment: filled with a profusion of roses, and the scent wafts into the studio (together with the odd bumble bee, which has to be gently shooed out).


What’s happening next month with the Crafty Photo Scavenger Hunt?  Sara over at Cinders & Rain is our host for July, so please pop along to her blog and see what topics she’s chosen.

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It’s been over two years since my last thread about redecorating.  That’s a long time, and the reason for the delay is Brent Council: we began the process of purchasing our loft space from them in January 2011, and because converting our loft will involve dropping the ceilings in the rest of the house, as well as potentially removing two chimney breasts, we decided not to do any more redecorating until after the loft conversion.

We really, really didn’t think it would take the council over two years to complete the matter, but it has and we are still waiting.  To say I’m unhappy about this is possibly one of the biggest understatements ever.

Anyway, certain changes are afoot and, although I won’t say any more about that just yet, I have been inspired to just go ahead with the redecorating regardless.  What’s the worst case?  I’ll have to repaint the top halves of any freshly decorated rooms after the ceilings have been dropped, which is annoying but not really the end of the world.  So last week I attacked our sitting room, here’s what it looked like before I started…







Yes, I know it’s a right mess.  It hasn’t been repainted in years, and that desk in the corner has been there about twenty years (my dad built it for me when I got my first computer)!  Definitely time for decluttering and redecorating.

I wanted to create more storage in this room, and after a lot of thought and discussion we decided to keep the chimney breast and just work around it.  I also decided to do the room in stages, so that things could be moved around gradually, so I started with the wall behind the sofa…


I cleared everything out, was briefly horrified to find that my mother hadn’t even bothered to take the picture down last time she repainted the room (I still can’t believe that she just painted round it!), then got to work filling holes, stripping down the skirting board, washing the wall, and generally prepping things.  I took down that shelf (built by my dad to hold a mixture of books and records) and replaced the three big shelves with new ones to match the others and reduce the depth of the whole unit.


I then stole the shelves I’d built for the small bedroom…


…and moved them into the sitting room.


In between all this I gave the wall a good couple of coats of a nice light cream/white (Wickes chalky flat matt in Harvest Moon).  That was day one of the project, and it was a good start.  Of course it meant that we no longer have any shelves in the bedroom, but we’ll get back to that later!

Day two saw me attacking my desk area.  It’s served very well over the years, but it’s a bit too bulky and I have a tendency to keep a lot of clutter on my desk as there’s so much room.  With the advent of flat screen monitors I haven’t really needed such a deep desk for years, and so I decided to reduce the overall size of the desk, make the plugs less visible, and generally give it a cleaner look.




A while back I was lucky enough to gain a whole load of shop fixtures from Lush when they closed their shop on Portobello Road.  Loads of shelves, a trolley (which now lives in my studio) and a couple of tables.  Some of the shelves have already been put up in the kitchen, but the rest have been saved very carefully for this very occasion.  I used one of the large corner shelves leftover from the kitchen to create a new desk, and then (with the aid of an enormous drill bit and some special supports) turned some others into floating shelves.

The next job was to tackle the chimney breast area… well where to start with that?  About 15 years ago we covered up the fireplace with some cladding and shelf units, so that all had to be dismantled and removed…






Isn’t that fireplace VILE?  You can see why we covered it up!  Time to get rid of it once and for all.



That’s about as far as we’ve got with the fireplace, the rest will be removed hopefully this coming weekend and then we’ll get a plasterer in to cover up the hole and make good.  For now we’ve moved the television to sit in front of it (the TV will eventually be mounted on the chimney breast, so we’re taking the opportunity to have the telly there and raise it up on bits of wood until we work out what height we want it at), which suits us well for the time being.

Onto the last corner of the room… which is now also home to some floating shelves, and as there’s now room on the floor we’ve moved some boxes into the space for now.  Some of you may remember that I bought a lovely vintage trunk from a boot sale a while ago – it’s currently in storage elsewhere, but eventually it will go into this alcove.

So, it’s about time you saw the final photos!




It looks so much bigger!  Despite moving that chest of drawers and the TV in front of the chimney breast there is actually loads more room, and it feels so spacious.  Decluttering and throwing out a heap of stuff helped, as did tidying up 😉  We’ve moved one of the tables from Lush in there temporarily (although it’s eventually destined for the kitchen), and the chest of drawers will stay there until the loft is done and we’ve got somewhere else to put it.  Aside from finishing off the chimney breast (and recarpeting, but that’s a post-loft job), though, this room is pretty much done (and you’ll note that I left the top 30cm of the room undecorated as that will all be hidden once the ceilings have been dropped!).  I love it, mum loves it, and Matt loves it – so it’s a job well done, and despite being absolutely knackered now I am very happy.  Can’t wait to start on the rest of the house now!  Oh, I suppose you’re wondering what happened to the little bedroom after I stole the shelves?  Well, the shelves were replaced with the ones that were in front of the chimney breast.


They look a little high up in that photo, but bear in mind that there’s no actual bed in that room, just a mattress on the floor!  We’ll be sorting out a day bed for the little room very soon, at which point the shelves will look more in proportion to everything else 🙂

For those who like to know these things, I set myself a budget of £300 to complete this room and came in just 69 pence over that.  Not bad, and it included paint, fixings, and a Hippobag for removal of the waste from the fireplace.  The timber for the shelves and my desk was, as mentioned above, obtained for free, and the other shelves were all just moved from one room to another.  The wooden chair which has replaced the ghastly office chair was found on the street (I seem to attract chairs, this is the fourth one I’ve found in the past two years!).  I do like working with a small budget, the challenge makes the whole process far more interesting for me!

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That there, in the photo above, is my usual sketch kit.  Sketchbook, watercolours, water brushes, and pens.  All of those things are pretty much essential (I do have a small pencil case which usually houses the water brushes and pens, but it’s gone walkabouts…), but overall do take up quite a bit of space in my handbag.

What to do?  Well I could downsize my sketchbook, which is something I’m considering for the next incarnation, but as I’ve just started this book it’s not really practical to change it right now.  So that leaves the watercolours.

The set I’ve been using for the past few years is the Cotman Sketchers’ Pocket Box, and it’s been a good little servant.  The selection of colours is fine, although I have added my own colours (Winsor Newton artists’ water colour, from tubes) in the little area that originally held a brush.  It is a bit bulky though and the Cotman water colours aren’t as richly pigmented as the artists’ water colours, something which I’ve been wanting to remedy for a while.  I’ve toyed with the idea of buying a bijou box, but they cost around £50 and that’s quite an investment.

Downsizing my watercolours has therefore been on my mind for a while, and when I was away in Norfolk last week I spotted a lovely little vintage tin in a secondhand shop and snapped it up at once as it was the perfect size for what I had in mind.

Doesn’t look very inspiring at the moment, but bear with me.  The transformation was an easy process – I bought some Fimo clay and fitted it into the inside of the tin, then made some wells in it.  This required a bit of trial and error as I knew how many wells I needed, but finding the right sized thing to make the wells proved challenging – in the end it was the round knob at the top of a wooden knitting needle that did the trick!  Once I’d made wells in the Fimo I stuck the tin in the oven and baked it as per the Fimo instructions.  After it had come out of the oven and cooled down I coated the inside of the lid with white enamel paint to create a mixing palette.

See, that looks much better!  The last stage was the easiest, squeezing my tube paints into the wells and letting them dry.  I did invest in some new tube paints for this (and invest is the right word, artists’ water colours aren’t cheap) and it would have been cheaper to just buy a bijou box… but it doesn’t take much paint to fill the wells, and I reckon I could fill each of them three times from the tubes I’ve got, so in the long term it does work out cheaper.

For those who are interested, these are the colours I’ve got in there (left to right)

  • Top row: Permanent Rose, Winsor Violet, Winsor Lemon, Olive Green
  • Middle row: Scarlet Lake, Winsor Blue (red shade), Raw Sienna, Hooker’s Green
  • Bottom row: Permanent Alizarin Crimson, Burnt Sienna, Neutral Tint, Titanium White (opaque white)

And did the downsizing work? Well…

…size-wise, yes it did.  BUT (and it’s a big but) the new tin weighs a surprising amount for its size; I didn’t expect the Fimo to weigh quite as much as it actually does.  That’s a bit of a down side and I’m now keeping a look out for something else to turn into a watercolour set instead (I’m thinking perhaps an eyeshadow compact, so I can clean it out and use the existing palette).  I do like this little tin though, and will be using it from now on as, weight aside, it does take up less space in my bag (and even fits into most of my pockets) which is a good thing.  I might also, once the paints have been used up, remove the Fimo (I checked and it can be eased out!) and replace it with a more lightweight something or other.  We shall see.  For now I’ll leave you with a photo of my sketch kit as it will look for the foreseeable future.

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