It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas…

Ahh Christmas, we have a bit of a love/ hate thing, don’t we? While I love the aspects of celebration inspired by the Winter Solstice, I love being with friends and family and I love creativity, I don’t like the commercialism and the huge amount of waste… But, for now, let us focus on the good stuff. Here are some of the recent creations from our house:

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/06e/41074496/files/2014/12/img_3396.jpg

Our turquoise front door has got in the seasonal spirit. The wreath is made from willow, holly and a bit of spruce, all cut (with permission!) and made with my own fair hands. The result is something very ‘rustic’, but I’m down with all that this year.

 

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/06e/41074496/files/2014/12/img_3397.jpg

Talking of greenery, to celebrate the Solstice, the Tiny Overlord and I gathered some evergreens from the garden and proud displayed them in the front room.

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/06e/41074496/files/2014/12/img_3399.jpg

And we have received some really beautiful gifts, the centre three decorations all came from the Tiny Overlord’s playgroups. We’re really touched by how much love and care have gone in to them.

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/06e/41074496/files/2014/12/img_3398.jpg

Rather belatedly (or cleverly in advance of next year!) I’ve made some advent bags from simple small muslin bags (available in most cookware shops) and some iron-on appliques (ours are from here). Hopefully they’ll last us for many many Decembers to come.

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/06e/41074496/files/2014/12/img_3400.jpg

And even the Tiny Overlord has got in on the crafting action – His very first decoration, made from Salt Dough and painted all by himself, after he’d tested the paint by eating it, of course.

Obviously I can’t yet share what we have made for presents for people yet. But if you need anymore festive makery, here are the posts from Christmas 2013 and Christmas 2012. And, of course, you can also keep up to date with our general makings on Instagram.

Seasons greetings everyone X

Advertisements

The tale of two chairs

As mentioned in my last post, fuelled by a heady combination of Pinterest and ‘Fill Your House For Free‘, I’ve taken to upcycling in rather a manic way. Why upcycling? Isn’t it just a fashionable pursuit for the privileged with too much time on their hands? Well, maybe. Though being a full time carer of a small child, I’d dispute having too much time on my hands…

But I also rather believe in conscious consumption (I blogged about it here). I worry about our disposable society and what kind of environment the Tiny Overlord will inherit. And well, I just like old things, I love things with quirk and charm and character. I love things that are unique and if I can achieve some of those things through a good old bit of re-loving, then that’s just fine with me.

school chairs Made in Britain

The chairs came from a playgroup, via a reclamation yard in sunny Margate for a whole Four British Pounds (tip: avoid the ridiculously overpriced ‘vintage’ shops in the Old Town and head up the hill past the Shell Grotto to the real thing).

Covered in rust and grime, but proudly Made in Britain, I bequeathed them a stay of execution from the scrap heap and after lugging them home on the train (that lovely parquet floor above is in Ramsgate station), set about transforming them for the Tiny Overlord.

Chair makeover in progress Chair makeover in progress

It took me HOURS to sand all the flaking plastic paint and rust off the metal legs. It took me ages to scrub the plastic clean with sugar soap, so they could be primed and painted. But, after a lot of hard work, a couple of emergency trips to Wilkos for more cans of paint and a lot of cursing, they were transformed in to my primary coloured dream.

Yellow upcycled school chairs Play area

Can I be honest with you? Was it worth it? In principle, yes. These perfectly useable chairs have been saved from landfill and given a new lease of life and I love the colour of them. But, to get this finish on them took two cans of Plasticote paint (not including a coat of primer and lacquer) and two cans of spray Hammerite on the legs. That’s not only a huge amount of money to spend on £4 chairs, that’s an awful lot of VOCs released in to the atmosphere! Someone with more knowledge on these matters than I will have tell me if they really have better environmental value than new chairs.

Even though I have upcycled furniture many times before with a brush, I found the spray paint very hard to handle. I wasted loads of it spraying the thin chair legs. It didn’t dry in the time stated on the the can, the paint is uneven from where they were knocked over on to the grass by rampaging cats (that never happens to Kirstie Allsop…) and one chair has an amazing imprint of my finger prints for prosperity from where I had to pick it up, wet. Which is useful as a crime deterrent as there is absolutely no mistaking they are mine, but it wasn’t exactly the Pinterest perfect polished finish I was hoping for.

However, despite the resulting costs and imperfections, we really do love them. And paired with a slightly less ethical table from IKEA (I had planned to upcycle a table but this one was just too perfect. And it cost a lot less than all that spray paint…), we think they make the perfect pieces for the Tiny Overlord’s play area. And that’s really all that matters. Quirky, colourful and uniquely ours.

Messing about with paints

There are few things I enjoy more than painting. Not that I have much prowess and skill with paint or brush, just mainly I find it deeply satisfying. That, and it is a completely legitimate excuse for making a bit of a mess in the name of creativity. Recently I’ve been trying to get the Tiny Overlord involved in a bit of creative play, so here’s some stuff that he and I have been painting:

Little Stitch Blog: Hand Painted Onesies

Painted onesies: I don’t know about you, but I really struggle with children’s clothes at the moment. I don’t really want to dress my baby boy as if he is heading to the golf club, I want to dress him with fun, brightness and all the colours of the rainbow. Like a baby. But I find a lot of bright gender neutral clothes prohibitively expensive, for the amount of times a rapidly growing tiny human wears them. So I made my own, using Pebeo fabric paints on H&M Conscious Collection vests.

They are washing and wearing very well, especially given the fact the Tiny Overlord loves to paint his entire body with food several times a day. Bicycle loving friends will also note that the delusions about my son wearing the Rainbow Jersey have started already.

Little Stitch Blog: Baby-made Mother's Day Cards
Hand painted Mother’s Day cards: These were made by the little guy (with a little bit of artistic direction from me…) for his Grandmothers. He hand printed using simple poster paints in spring colours and I finished them using my favourite ink stamps. Both Nana and Grandma loved them. Though I may hold off revisiting poster paints with the Tiny Overlord until he is less inclined to eat them.

Dress to impress

dresser1

The lack of ‘before’ photos means I’ll never make a good DIY blogger, but I just wanted to share with you what has been taking up most of my spare time this week: Our secondhand 1980s dark wooden kitchen dresser is a fantastic bit of furniture, but the dark colour of the wood meant that was absorbing all the light in our tiny north-facing kitchen. A transformation was needed and after 10 hours of sanding, priming and 3 careful coats of eggshell paint, the dresser got its new green lease of life.

We’re really happy with the result, the kitchen is already a much lighter brighter place. The light green colour compliments our cream kitchen units and the dark green of my beloved ‘Tube’ tiles.

And just to prove it was all my own work, here’s the dresser mid paint, ably assisted by a cat who later had a slight green bottom…

dresser2