Corks galore!

This cork mat was made by a friend’s son for me many moons ago but I have always planned to make some more like it and so the collecting of corks began!

If you are thinking: “Wow, I enjoy wine but not THAT much!” – then there are lots of ways to get corks. Try asking nicely at your local pub, restaurant, club or boozy friend’s house!

The basic frame here is made from recycled wood but you could just buy a plain wood photo frame and frame a piece of hardboard and then distress it. The fun part comes with laying the corks onto the hardboard and gluing.

It’s important to use strong glue. I used Pinflair Glue Gel when I made a teapot stand to match but it did use quite a lot and I felt it might be too expensive to recommend for this job. We now sell a glue called “Yes” which is all purpose glue and would work well. But any strong glue would be fine.

Take care when you are attaching the corks – to me this is the fun part – choose the prettier, more decorated sides of the cork (if they have some) to be visible and mix and match different varieties if possible. You can find some really pretty ones and the overall effect is very rustic and French and rather effective I think.

To finish your mat/stand – add some baize to the underneath or you can buy little pads to stick on as feet. This is important to ensure that no tables get scratched when it is in use!

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Hearts of stone…?

I love using aerosol paints and paint finishes – so quick and easy (usually) assuming all goes well! We sell these lovely MDF heart shapes and I thought it would be fun to make them look as though they were made from a totally different material. A spray can of stone effect paint is available at any of the large DIY stores.

I would advise against spraying out in the garden with a dog nearby (can’t think why I would say that!) and take care that you don’t choose a windy day either – but it’s nice and quick to coat the heart on the front – leave it to dry (several hours) and then spray the back too so it looks neat and tidy. It’s really effective and the hearts look as if they should be really weighty.

Once you have a sprayed heart it’s easy to choose something to decorate it with. You could use paper sentiments from a CD or printed card kit that you have. Bits and pieces from some pot-pourri as I have used here, or some rosebuds or lavender, ribbons and other embellishments – or of course, it could be time to go foraging!

Tie some pretty ribbon through the holes to hang your heart – and hey presto you have a unique and pretty little gift!

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Seashore inspiration…

It’s been so warm this past week I was determined to set foot on the beach at least once! I adore beachcombing – it’s relaxing, therapeutic, invigorating and just plain old fun!

Finding pretty shells is an obvious attraction, but some of the plant life is fascinating. Sea holly, beloved of many flower arrangers, looks stunning in its natural setting, alongside grasses and samphire and other weird and wonderful looking things that I don’t even know the name of.

Thrift is another favourite – such a cheerful little plant – I really look forward to seeing it every year – but goodness knows how it manages to grow in such barren rocky areas.

I love the colour palette of the seashore, and I’ve used it for inspiration when decorating – restful and cool blues and greeny-greys alongside pale blonde sand. But there can be vibrancy too, as in the thrift and in startling yellow/orange lichens. We are blessed with turquoise blue seas down here and that is a wonderful colour to use as a starting point for any water-themed project.

On my recent beachcomb, I picked up a spider crab shell. The detail in both colour and texture is extraordinary. I’ve no idea what I’ll do with it, but I’ll store it away for future use!

 

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Willow Sunset

Stamping has had a real surge of interest over the past couple of years – and quite rightly so. It is a craft that is relatively inexpensive once you have a collection of rubber stamps.

Unmounted stamps are a great way to go for so many reasons, saves space, saves money all that good stuff! You can choose to use EZ Mount (my choice) or Rock-a-blocks, glues and various other ways of attaching the stamps to clear acrylic blocks.

This card has a pretty background created with the Inkylicious brushes or the Inkssentials Ink Blending Tool and the Tim Holtz distress ink pads. Just build the layers of colour – taking care to overlap and gently keep adding depth of hue. You can make every card completely unique to you as you choose the colour, the depth of hue and the ‘look’ of the background. Then stamp the willow tree – in this case from my countryside stamps “Garden of Dreams”.

The artist Michelle Radford actually sat and drew the tree looking at the willow in our garden that was a collective present from all the staff at JS Limited when Richard and I got married (ahhhh!).

There are so many fun techniques you can do with a silhouette style stamp such as this – it works really well if you stamp and emboss – for example a white embossed or silver embossed tree on a black background. Another look I like is using a sepia coloured ink pad on a cream background – the options are endless – have fun!

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Turning ‘nothing’ into ‘something’

Whether you refer to it as Folk Art, Barge Art, Canalboat Art – or even the modern version One Stroke or Fusion Painting – they all cover roughly the same territory. The artwork is bold and simplistic and once tutored, even a relative beginner can produce some really fun pieces of artwork.

Many moons ago my mother and I signed up for barge art evening classes and for ages, we plagued the entire family with decorated gifts for birthdays, Christmas, anniversaries – you get the drift! But joking aside, it is a fun way to decorate the most inexpensive household bits and pieces.

These enamel items are all painted using glossy paint (small pots of Humbrol) but you could use other mediums on cards or canvas. I think it’s a great way to pretty something up and it encourages me horribly to hoard more dilapidated bits and pieces ‘for when I have time…’!

We’ve decorated wonderful flat irons, horseshoes, hat boxes, coal scuttles, washing up brush containers, bottles, trays, jars… the list is endless, and many of these bits and pieces we managed to collect for nothing.

One of the joys of crafting I guess… turning nothing into something and creating a really pretty thing that takes pride of place in your home!

Smiles, Joanna

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