Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Paper cutting and photos of Bude

On Sunday I mentioned I would be back during the week with another post - well, here I am!

Paper cutting

I've been working on a commission which is to be given as a wedding present. The couple have lots of interests which I've represented as images hidden within the piece. I've blurred the names in the photo below just in case they should stumble across it!

paper cutting

I'm thoroughly enjoying working on this one, right from drawing out the design on the reverse of the card to cutting it out bit by bit. Every evening this week has involved at least an hour of paper cutting and there's still some way to go.

paper cutting

I find it very therapeutic and if you want to have a go yourself, it's really not a very expensive or difficult hobby to start. Be warned though, it's very addictive.

I did a bit of research and found that the best blades for paper cutting are Swann Milton number 10A or 11. I went for number 11 as they've got a slightly narrower point but accidently bought a cheaper brand. 100 blades in fact! They seem to be doing the trick at the moment though.

There are a variety of paper cutting templates available to buy online if you're a little hesitant to draw your own. However, I recommend just doodling some patterns to start with and cutting them out to see how they look. You'll soon find out if they're too intricate!

The strings on this violin were tricky to cut. Having already got quite far into the paper cut I didn't want to slip and make a mistake at such a crucial point!

paper cutting art

Another paper cutting art project I'm working on is for our own wall. Trawling through a car boot sale the other week (don't you just love car boot sales?) we found a vertical box frame with five squares cut out of the mount. It originally had dried flowers in, but I had other ideas.

This collage will form the background for five little paper cut hearts which I hope to raise up slightly to give a 3D paper cut effect. I don't know how this will work at the moment but the inspiration came to me in a dream (really!) in which Simon Cowell was on a bus handing out awards for abstract art projects! If it's got his stamp of approval I'm sure it'll be a success.

paper collage from magazines

These are the little hearts I've cut so far, I'm not sure whether to make the other two slightly different or go for a uniform look for all five.

paper cutting art

Simon Cowell and paper cut hearts aside, we couldn't pass up on the chance to enjoy some of the lovely sunshine at the weekend.

We went to the pretty little town of Bude for a walk, browse of the surf shops and the inevitable coffee and cake.

I often take lots of photos which end up getting dusty in some distant corner of my hard drive, so I thought I'd share these with you.

This is the aforementioned tea, a view from the breakwater across to the fantastic sea pool, and the river which runs from the town to the sea.

Bude, Cornwall
I've got a thing about boats, so this little composition of boats, buoys, sand and cliffs really floated my boat. Haha.

Bude, Cornwall

Another one for good measure. 

Bude, Cornwall

Something else I find very aesthetically pleasing is rusty old objects. I must have hundreds of photos which, at the time, I had visions of drawing but never did. So here's another to add to the collection and one which I have actually drawn before, a rusty winch.

Bude, Cornwall
The last photos in this visual extravaganza are these, a few more snaps from around Bude.

Bude, Cornwall
If you've enjoyed reading this, please 'like' my Facebook page Clare Willcocks Art or subscribe using one of the buttons on the right to see future posts :)

PS. If you would like to order a paper cut, I do take commissions. Please get in touch to discuss what you're looking for - no pressure to go ahead if you decide it's not for you!

Today I'm sharing this post on the following blogs: The Seasoned Homemaker, Free Pretty Things for You, Savvy Southern Style and Knotted Cotton.

Sunday, 13 April 2014

Simple handbag: flower appliqué tutorial

At the end of my last post I had cut out some fabric ready to make a handbag using the Phoebe Bag free pattern found on Pinterest.

This is what it looks like with all the pieces assembled!

I love the shape, it's just what I was looking for; slightly rounded bottom corners, a narrower top, a perfect length shoulder strap and a neat fastening.

Rebeka Lambert's tutorial for the Phoebe Bag was so easy to follow, with clear step-by-step instructions and a printable pattern - I'd highly recommend it.

I did make a few changes. The interfacing I used was quite padded and I also included two inner layers of lining fabric to stiffen it. I like that it holds its shape without collapsing.

My auntie kindly showed me how to appliqué the flowers as she's been making them as brooches. I thought I'd share the process with you because they really are simple and look so cheerful on a bag like this. This is, of course, not the only way to go about appliqué but it worked for me!

Flower appliqué tutorial


#1 - Select your scraps

Probably the most difficult bit of the whole process - deciding which colours to use together! I rifled through the scraps box for a good half an hour wavering between pastel shades and bright patterns before deciding on the latter.

#2 - Draw your flowers

Draw out your flowers on the non sticky side of a piece of fusible interfacing such as Vilene. The stiffness of the interfacing depends on what you intend to do with your appliqué flowers. Mine was quite thin but could have done with being a bit thicker.

Once you're happy with your flower shapes, cut them out but don't cut right up to the lines. A circle around the flower will do. Iron them on to the wrong side of your chosen scraps. To avoid the iron getting sticky, use another piece of spare fabric on top of the interfacing as you iron.

#3 - Cut out your appliqué flowers

Once your interfacing is securely stuck on, you can cut out the flowers with fabric scissors. Here are mine all lined up on the arm of the chair. I chose to do a variety of sizes, but you can keep them all the same, or vary the shape and style.

#4 - Cut out the centres

Repeat steps two and three but this time with circles for the centre of the flowers. I used the same fabric as the lining of my bag to bring the design together.

Place the centres in the middle of the flowers ready to sew.

#5 - Sew the centres

I think that this is where ironing them on with Bondaweb may have been useful to keep them in place, but it wasn't too difficult without it.

Using the free motion foot on your sewing machine, sew on the centres in a contrasting colour. I've used black here. Lower the feed dogs when using the free motion foot to allow you to freely move the fabric around. You needn't turn the fabric, but instead direct the needle around the edge of the circle by moving it forwards, backwards and side to side smoothly. It reminds me of using an Etch A Sketch!

I stitched once around the centres at this stage.

#6 - Arrange your flowers

Place the flowers on your fabric where you'd like them to be sewn. I've arranged mine on the front piece of my bag. Play around with the arrangement until you've got it exactly how you want it. I had originally thought I'd sew the flowers over one another in a bunch, but it didn't look quite right when I tried it.

You can pin or tack on the flowers to keep them in position while you sew the others.

#7 - Sew on the flowers

If you haven't used a particularly stiff interfacing, you may need to put something underneath to stop the machine bunching the fabric as you sew. A tear away stabilizer should do the trick. It's a bit like paper and, as the name suggests, just tears away from the underside of the fabric once you've stitched on your appliqué.

I sewed twice around the edge of my flowers, and then once more around the middle as they'd already been stitched once.

Don't they look pretty!

You can then use your appliqued fabric to make up whatever project you're working on.

I'm so pleased with my lovely flower bag!

This isn't all I've been working on this weekend, I'll be back later in the week with some photos of our sunny walk and some half-finished projects!

Feel free to pin from this post on Pinterest and a little share on Facebook would make my day :D

I'm sharing today's post on the following blogs: Handmade Harbour, Be Different Act Normal and Tatertots and Jello.

Sunday, 6 April 2014

Cute Easter egg decorating ideas and creative highlights of my week

As schools have broken up for Easter now, it seems like a good time to begin getting stuck into a few Easter crafts. A while ago I blew out some eggs, leaving the shells to decorate. This little bunny was inspired by a sheep I saw on Pinterest. It's so simple to do so it makes a great Easter craft for children. The hardest part is blowing the egg out - it takes a lot of puff! There's a printable worksheet here if you'd like to try it yourself.

I like him because he stands up on his own. He's now taken pride of place on my desk at work.

Here's the little sheep that inspired me, the Pinterest link takes you to this webpage, but I'm not sure who to credit the design or photo to.

Easter eggs decoration idea
I think I'll attempt something a little more elaborate with the remaining eggs - I'd like to try cutting sections out but I'm not sure how easy that will be. Does anyone have some other Easter egg decorating ideas they could recommend?

It was Sam's birthday in the week so we went out for meal to East the Water, West the Orient, an oriental restaurant just down the road. It serves a variety of different style food - Chinese, Japanese, Vietnamese, Thai - and everything we tried was delicious. I ended up taking some home in a doggy bag which made a very yummy lunch the next day!

I baked Sam a birthday cake, but as you can see, cake decorating is not my strong point.

Luckily the taste was its redeeming feature!

I spent Saturday with my Mum at Trago Mills. For those of you who don't know it, it's a huge shop selling everything you could possibly need and a lot more. They've got a well-stocked haberdashery section where Mum helped me pick out some fabric to sew some more bags.

After a lot of deliberation and several laps of the fabric aisles, we settled on these.

The spotty fabric is to be lined with the red cotton and I'll applique the canvas on the right and line it with the dainty little hearts.

I can't wait to get started, but before I do, I'm trying out a few more bag designs in some left over fabric I already had. The pieces are all cut out ready to go and I've begun cutting out fabric scraps for the applique.

I'm using the free 'Phoebe' bag pattern by Rebeka Lambert. I just love the curved top and fastening, and the neat look of the finished bag.

Mum and I visited my auntie yesterday who makes beautiful fabric pieces, from bags and brooches to wall hangings and textured quilts. Any visit to her house always leaves me feeling very inspired, even more so when I walk out with a huge stash of scraps that she's given me! Her website, Lime Green Lizzie, showcases some of her work, but photos on the screen really don't do it justice.

Yesterday she showed us some beautiful stitched flower brooches she made which have provided the inspiration for the appliqué for this latest bag. Fingers crossed mine turn out as well as my auntie's!

I'll leave you with this biro sketch I've been working on. It's been a while since I've done some drawing, but this has reminded me how relaxing it is.

I chose buttons as my subject matter as I just love them! I'll have to start scouring charity shops to build up a stash as I don't own any at the moment and it would be great to have a good variety to dip into when embellishing projects.

This was drawn using an ordinary black biro and gently hatching to build up layers of depth.

Perhaps I'll finish it, perhaps not.

Today I'm linking up on the following blogs: Handmade Harbour, Lamb Around, Manon Popje's Illustrations, Tatertots and Jello and Be Different Act Normal.

Sunday, 30 March 2014

Embroidery and appliqué - the creation of the teacup tote bag

In my last post I extolled the virtues of the humble cup of tea. Well this post is a slight extension of that one because tea has once again become the focus of this weeks' creative endeavours!

This time, it's in the form of an appliquéd and embroidered teacup and saucer motif on the front of a simple tote. Here it is displayed on a handy tree stump in the garden!

I found the pattern for the tote on the blog Skip to my Lou. The instructions are really clear and simple, with photographs for each stage. I'm so pleased with how it turned out! It's got a kind of flat bottom as you can see a bit better in this photo.

The whole appliqué patch is on a separate piece of fabric. I didn't know what I wanted to do with it until I'd finished and the piece I'd done it on was too small to turn into a bag.

The interior is grey lining fabric, which was a little tricky to sew as it's so slippy. It was an off-cut bought from a haberdashery shop I've just discovered right next to work - I have a feeling I'll be in there quite often from now on!

The main dotty fabric was left over from my shabby chic chairs.

I couldn't stop at making just one bag, so I made another one with some fabric I bought in Malaysia. This time I attached the straps slightly differently as I wanted to put bias binding around the top. I made some out of the pink lining fabric, but I realise now I missed the point of 'bias' tape because I didn't cut it on the bias! Oops!

Here's a view from the top to show off the lovely vibrant interior.

Although the 'not-so-bias' binding looks quite neat from the outside, it could do with looking a little better on the inside, but not bad for a first attempt.

I've really got the bug for making these now so I may just have to pop into the haberdashery shop again tomorrow to pick out some new fabrics!

I'm in a phase of enjoying embroidery at the moment. I've done a bit more work on this crazy patchwork piece which I blogged about here.

I love these little flowers, they look so pretty and give the fabric a bit of texture and interest.

I like experimenting with different embroidery stitches. With so many edges, this piece has been great for trying out new techniques.

These embroidered sheep are just a bunch of french knots with satin stitched heads. They're so fun, I'm looking forward to doing a few more :)

I'm going to get back to it now, see you next Sunday!

If you've enjoyed this post and would like to see more, follow using one of the links on the right, 'like' my Facebook page, or follow me on Twitter. I'd love to welcome some new faces :)

Today I'm sharing this post on the following blogs: Handmade Harbour, Tatertots and Jello, Lamb Around and Be Different Act Normal.

Thursday, 27 March 2014

Celebrating the humble British cup of tea

I don't know about you, but I think tea is one of the best inventions in the world.

Apparently we've been drinking it here in Britain for over 350 years. They were a little luckier in China, having enjoyed a cuppa many centuries before us. In the UK we now drink over 165 million cups a day (thank you UK Tea Council) so I think we've just about made up for those years we were deprived of what is now the nation's favourite drink.

I thought it would be nice to celebrate tea in my own little way by making a papercut featuring a tea quote and surrounded by all things related to the delicious leafy infusion.

British cup of tea

It was quite nice to spend a couple of hours cutting out teacups, teapots and tea bags while drinking a cup or two of the wet stuff!

Here's what it looks like framed. The quote reads "A cup of tea makes everything better". Which it does!

Would you like to know how I made it? Yes? Ok.

I started by drawing out the design in reverse on the back of the card. I always make sure each element is touching or linked in some way at this point because if not it would all fall to pieces when cut.

Then comes the fun bit, getting the knife involved! (Please excuse the pants picture, it's from my phone and let's just say it's not 'top-of-the-range', but rather 'hand-me-down'!).

So then I cut it all out, which I completely forgot to take photos of, but I think you probably get the idea! I decided that, to make the letters show up better, they needed a different coloured backing. To get the backing the right size and shape I drew through the lacy papercut around the letters, took the papercut away and filled in the gaps. Probably not the most conventional way to do it but it worked.

Here's the letter backing cut out.

 To stick it on I applied PVA with a cotton bud so it didn't all squish out the edges and cause a sticky mess.

Then I had the fiddly task of aligning the backing and gluing it on level.

A little while later, all the letters were backed. The main colour, a dotty green/blue, was easier to stick on as I just dabbed glue on everything, aimed it for the backing and went for it.

And now I'm off to make oaty cookies. And a cup of tea. Mustn't forget that!

I'm sharing today's post on the following lovely blogs: I Gotta Create, Rhinestone Beagle, Domesblissity, Free Pretty Things for You, Manon Popje's Illustrations, Savvy Southern Style and Seasoned Homemaker.

Sunday, 23 March 2014

Four days in Paris - an action-packed itinerary!

This was shaping up to be a bumper post today, so I've decided to split it into sections to share throughout the week so keep your eyes peeled for the rest!

Sam took me away for a lovely four days in Paris last weekend (romantique, non?). The weather was beautiful; perfect for sightseeing.

We spent our time walking, eating, drinking, eating, visiting the iconic landmarks and eating. With so many delicious French foods we wanted to try, we visited a lot of cafés, restaurants and patisseries, and I still didn't manage to have one of the main things on my 'to eat' list - macarons. Good excuse to go back though!

While we were there, Paris was apparently experiencing severe smog, though it wasn't obvious. This meant that public transport was free, which, for us hopping on and off the Metro, was quite a bonus! This was the view from our hotel room, six floors up in the four star Best Western Opéra Faubourg on Rue La Fayette. See, no sign of smog here!

view from Best Western Opera Faubourg

On our first afternoon we made a beeline for a cake shop and scoffed a delicious, melt-in-the-mouth, chocolatey thing and a zingy citron tart overlooking the Jardin des Tuileries. Definitely a good start to the weekend.

patisserie jardin des tuileries

We headed up to Montmartre on Saturday, starting with a walk to see the Moulin Rouge and stopping for a coffee in the Café des Deux Moulins where parts of Amélie were filmed, before wandering around the artist's stalls and the Sacré Coeur. Then it was off to Le Marais, the Jewish quarter, for a famous falafel pita.

sacre coeur montmarte

In the evening we decided to go all-out with a three-course meal at the restaurant Au Général Lafayette, opposite our hotel. After a couple of glasses of wine we felt ready to try a very French delicacy which we've never been brave enough for before - snails!

Certainly not the most appetising of dishes, but edible nonetheless. I wouldn't say we were blown away by the flavour, which was garlicky with a hint of soil, but they weren't quite as repulsive as we'd thought they may be. Chasing them down with a delicious steak and a crème caramel definitely helped!

Our first stop on Sunday morning was the Marché Mouffetard where we could have gone crazy picking up all sorts of delicious French delights, from cheese and cured meats to chocolate and cakes. Reigning in our desire to try everything, we settled for a couple of wedges of cheese, some salami and a French bagette which Sam carried under his arm like some sort of Parisian accessory.

We spent the day taking in the most iconic sights along the Seine. First on the itinerary was Notre Dame cathedral, near which we popped into the famous Shakespeare bookshop.

notre dame cathedral

A visit to the Arc de Triomphe was next, followed by a wander down the impressive, tree-lined boulevard of the Champs Élysées. Unable to resist the temptation of our picnic, we devoured half of it outside the Élysées palace where there just happened to be a major showjumping event.

arc de triomphe champs elysees

We sat in the sunshine in the Jardin des Tuileries to munch the rest of our picnic before a sunny river cruise along the Seine on board one of the Bateaux Mouches, topped off with an evening climb of the Eiffel tower.

eiffel tower paris

As anyone who's walked up will know, the climbing the stairs is a challenge, but the incredible views from the top are worth every breathless step!

view from the top of the eiffel tower

We had to take the customary photo posing with the Eiffel Tower at the bottom!

Our final evening's meal in Paris was at Au Petit Riche, an overwhelmingly French restaurant split into several mirrored rooms with old-fashioned décor and a certain je ne sais quoi! The food was absolutely delicious, oysters followed by tender duck and an almond and pear tart for dessert. I honestly couldn't fit in another morsel. (Although that might be more due to the fact that prior to dinner I had eaten this, a 'religieuse' - could you resist?)

That concludes our long weekend in Paris! It went far too quickly but I've no doubt we'll be back again one day.

I'll be back with an update on what creative bits and bobs I've been working on later in the week, so if you've enjoyed this post and would like to see more, please follow using one of the buttons on the left-hand-side. If you feel moved to share this post, that would be lovely too!