Tuesday, 27 December 2011

Small pantomime

The girls' main present was a puppet theatre. We've been treated to a couple of little plays since Christmas morning, mostly involving a monkey, a selection of pigs and a rather two-dimensional princess. I captured one of these performances yesterday morning. 

It's chaotic. Part way through one of the stage hands gets bored and asks if she can 'play with playdoh in a minute', I ran out of batteries before the finale and the entire production takes place in pyjamas but I think this might become a family favourite. Merry Christmas.

P.S. Festive preparations took over in the last week and I haven't yet managed to compile the Making Winter mosaics. They'll be on their way soon. 

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Christmas commission

I think this has to be my favourite silver fingerprint commission to date. The customer was keen on the pendants hanging along the chain rather than graduated sizes on top of one another. She requested aquamarine (which would be my choice) and a handmade silver flower and leaf. The two outer prints are of six year old twins and the central one is of a ten year old.

This is a new necklace style for me and I think I'll be offering this as an alternative to my other fingerprint designs. It'll reach my customer in time for you-know-when (thanks to the rather wonderful Royal Mail special delivery service), which is a lovely thought. I'm hoping she might wear it on the big day.

Sunday, 18 December 2011

O, Christmas twig

Our Christmas tree is little - it has to be or it might be a struggle to get in through the front door. I kept a few decorations back to make a painted Christmas twig, inspired by a few I've seen in recent weeks. I have to admit, I really like minimal, natural Christmas decorations, especially on our newly exposed very old brickwork. 

The surface of this wall was sad, sagging ancient plaster board and crumbling plaster until a month or two ago. The replastering hadn't worked in this bit of the room so we had to rethink. The crumbly bits were removed to expose this beautiful wall and, very excitingly, the fact that the mysterious cubby hole I blogged about last year did used to be a teeny tiny window. It has now been reinstated. 

We can peep through from the living room to the dining room. You might imagine that a certain toy pig and monkey enjoy speedy transit through the window at regular intervals, sometimes narrowly avoiding landing in cups of tea.

We're not exactly sure how old the brickwork and window are but a glazed window from the far side of this wall has been dated to the early to mid 1700s. Our neighbours claim to have Tudor brickwork in their garden! 

As for the doily bauble, it was quite tricky - there was a spot of reconstruction required after the balloon was popped but it was serious, gooey fun to do and I recommend it.

Officially, Making Winter week draws to a close tomorrow, but I suspect we'll be extending it for a few days as there's so much lovely festive creativity going on. There are some truly beautiful projects and images over in the Flickr pool, I'm especially keen on Amy's exquisite origami, Lola Nova's paper house diorama and Julie's stunningly beautiful mittens. Mrs TH and I will be working on mosaics over the next few days.

Thursday, 15 December 2011

Making Winter: doily bauble experiment

Firstly massive thanks for your contributions to Making Winter. I have definitely been enjoying myself more  due to making more and seeing the results of others' making. This month's blog hop is here at Thrifty Household if you fancy joining in. 

In the last few days I had a definite makey urge when I spotted two festive online projects in particular. My Star Wars nerdery is not something I mention much around here. Myself and Big Lad share a knowledge of the scripts of the original trilogy that is frankly a little embarrassing. That said, certain lines can be useful in a variety of everyday situations, in particular

'I have a very bad feeling about this', or perhaps, in the face of vegetable-eating reluctance:

'This is the broccoli you are looking for.'

Imagine my excitement when I saw this Death Star lego bauble.  The Mr and I will be making one.

I spotted this beautiful doily lampshade tutorial too. I will be making one of these for our stairwell, but I thought it might translate to a small bauble version so I have given it a try with my ever growing stash of dolls house doilies and vintage lace (plus a small balloon and some wallpaper paste):

Imagine my delight when from a certain angle it resembles a slightly folksy vintage version of the lego creation above. Excellent!.

This is a work in progress. I shall pop the balloon tomorrow morning and report back on its success.

In other Making Winter news my favourite decoration of all, the bottlebrush Christmas Squirrel bought from Neal Street East donkeys years ago, has emerged from the cupboard. He's looking wistfully at the village green as though he fancies a game of football.

I am knitting. Yes, knitting: a baktus scarf thanks to excellent advice from Ali and Tracy whilst in Loop recently.

I am crocheting too. Huge thanks to Not So Granny, who taught me how. So far I have only made a coaster/mug rug, but it has a picot edge, and it is my first successful project so I'm foolishly proud of it.

Gaining and using some yarn skills was part of my Making Winter wish list. I'm thrilled that I've managed it.

Monday, 12 December 2011

Making Winter: pinecone bauble tutorial

Today marks the beginning of December's Making Winter week. This purpose of this project is to help those who can find winter a slog (including me) to embrace the good things of the season through making, baking, cosying up and getting out for winter walks. You can read more about it here and November's celebrations are here.

Yesterday we decorated the cottage. Never have I enjoyed it more. Most of our decorations are handmade and include lino print reindeer and thrushes from Celia, screenprinted Bloomsbury stars and baubles from summersville, a peg angel from Gina, and my newest additions, a knitted leaf garland by A Crooked Sixpence (Emma Lamb's Mum) and two beautiful stockings with crochet heels by Minus Sun.

The little ones and I add to the decorations each year. I tried out an airdrying clay pinecone bauble design in 2010 and have made a few more this year. Here is a  tutorial if you'd like to give them a go.

You will need:

White airdrying clay (I used this brand)
Graduated primrose/dogrose-shaped cutters (available here and here).*
Small rolling pin (a large marker pen would do)
1mm galvanised wire (from garden centres)
Pliers (preferable round-nosed) and wire cutters
Piece of plastic to stop clay sticking to tabletop (I used part of an old carrier bag)
Tile or plate
Small pot of water
Optional: Oven set very low (around 80 degrees C)


1) Roll out some clay on the piece of plastic to around half a centimetre thick and cut out four of the largest primrose shapes. The edges will be slightly rough so smooth them out with your finger (a paintbrush works well too). 

2) Place one of the shapes smoothest side down. Wet the centre slightly and place the second shape on top, pressing the middle firmly with your finger and ensuring that the petal shapes are off centre (misaligned with the petals beneath to create the look of a pinecone). Repeat this process with the remaining two shapes.

3) Pick up the partially formed pinecone and begin to bend the 'petals' upwards gently to create a pinecone-like shape.

4) Make a ball of clay the size of a small marble. Wet the centre of the pinecone and place the ball of clay in. Press firmly.

5) Roll and cut out three of the middle-sized primrose shape. Smooth the edges as before, wet the top of the ball of clay in the centre of the pinecone and stick one of the newly cut shapes to it, ensuring the petals are off centre. Bend the petals up slightly to continue to create the look of a pinecone. Repeat with the remaining two shapes.

6) Roll and cut out two of the smallest primrose shape. Using the same process stick one into the centre of the pinecone to complete the shape.

7) Cut a piece of galvanised wire around 10cm long and create a loop at one end using pliers and cutters. Insert the loop about 2 cm into the top of the pinecone and turn it through 90 degrees. 

8) Wet the top of the pinecone around the wire, pierce the remaining small clay primrose with the wire and push it down onto the top of the pinecone so that it sticks.

9) Let the pinecone airdry overnight or bake it on a very low oven for 10-15 minutes.

10) Use your pliers and cutters to create a loop using the wire at the top of the cone. The wire may be a little loose - don't worry, simply push the loop into the top of the cone.

11) Add ribbon and hang from your tree.

Mrs Thriftyhousehold is hosting the Making Winter bloghop this week. If you'd like to share some festive creativity do pop over and link in, then we can all have a peep. Mrs TH has a new button to grab too. 

The Making Winter Flickr pool is looking wonderful. I especially love Lina's Graham Cracker tiny houses.

I'll be back later in the week. I have plans for some homemade willow stars.

I can safely say that Mrs TH's homemade Limoncello is by far the best I've ever tasted. Her recipe is here. This stuff is seriously good...

*Flower shapes with smooth-ended or pointed petals would also work well

Tuesday, 6 December 2011


Just dashing past to announce the winner of the silver clay giveaway: it's number 65, Calico Kate. Congratulations Kate - please could you email me your address and the book and kit will be on its way to you soon.

Sorry for the delay, there was a sixth birthday party here at the weekend.

Monkey cake pops featured, as did make-your-own glitter pipe cleaner hats,

and a game of musical flowers.

Happy Birthday little one.

December's Making Winter Week will begin next Monday (12th). Mrs Thriftyhousehold will be hosting the blog hop this month where you can share winter's good things.

I suspect next week will involve decorations. I have a tutorial planned.

Meanwhile it's back to preparation for the Selvedge Christmas Fair.