Thursday, 25 June 2015

Introducing Yourshelf; One of a kind and unique handmade shelving

Quick warning it's all going to get a little bit pun-tastic around here!

I changed my mind again but have now decided on a permanent name for my range of hand-made, one-of-a-kind shelving.

Yes, Yourshelf.
I love it. It's perfect and what I've been searching for. It's short, memorable, easy to spell and search for and it sums up my product in one word.
As I remove the knots - and only the knots, each shelf is as different as the tree it came from.
Each shelf I make is dictated to by the shape of the tree it came from, and also where the sun was and how good the soil was and a host of different natural reasons combine to make each and every shelf unique.
Which means, each shelf is unique to you.
Each shelf is unlike any other shelf.
It's Yourshelf.
But not only am I thrilled with the name of my product, it also lends itself to many happy hours creating puns. Here are a few just for you. Do let me know more in the comments?

It's also an exciting time as I have booked my first craft fair. I want to take my very first group of Yourshelf's to people and really see their reactions.
I've booked a fair one month away (no pressure!) in my home town as what better place to start.
So now, not only am I crazy busy with you know, full time job, kids, making shelves, I now have to design and make all the stuff I need to have a waterproof and secure booth at a craft fair. I'm maniacally searching Pinterest for ideas on craft show booths and using the #craftfair on instagram while simultaneously feeling like I can't possibly make a stall look good enough on a tiny budget and then you know buying cable ties and hanging basket hooks cos I can totally secure a 4 metre square gazebo with those and a bit of duct tape.
It's all doable, right!
I just keep muttering to myself, if you want something doing, you ask a busy person. Current mantra. Repeat.
Next on the to do list is creating price tags, as it's raining and I need a break from standing outside staring-glassy-eyed at the second hand gazebo with a curtain hook in my hand trying to solve all the problems.

Finally, for all those readers who have been here since the beginning and watched me obsess over try out many different names. Thanks for coming on this journey of Shelf Discovery!
I warned you at the beginning.

Wednesday, 17 June 2015

Evolving Interior Design; The dining room

Or maybe I should call it the slightly-more-than-two-year-saga-of-removing-a-fireplace... Yes folks, that is honestly how long it took! I know because of the wonder and sometimes sadness that is timehop.

Do I feel ashamed? A little. Does my husband feel ashamed. No, speed doesn't matter to him at all and the fact that I'm always after INSTANT GRATIFICATION does drive him a little bit mad. Same for all the people I know really, I don't get it. Why not want things done yesterday now!

The dining room was pretty much the worst in the whole house. It's hard to remember exactly how grim it was, but looking at this picture I'm sure the point comes across.
The wallpaper was hanging off, and an ugly used-to-be-green-but-is-now-nicotine-yellow. The carpet was one of those exceptionally good quality yet exceptionally ugly patterns. The curtains were filthy and disgusting. Although, after a wash, they now are exceptionally good painting cloths so every cloud...

The fireplace. Oh, the fireplace. Strange stone, exposed and ugly-shade-of-beige concrete, painted black bricks, random gold fire-hood-type-thing, a semi-decent fire surround and then a gap above the fireplace with a strange and badly fixed strip of wood across it.

On a side note though - look at that original pantry cupboard. Stunning! We even found some left over crystal glasses in it, surely from the days of glamour and before anyone installed the monstrosity to the right.

Here is a more recent picture. Just so you know, I kept the beautiful pantry and managed to uncover a gem! That is the best thing about old houses (ours is around 110- 125 years old).

Back to the beginning. We had to live with it for a while. This must have been a very early picture as I took the curtains down very quickly indeed. (Wearing gloves). I love the way I've photographed a feather duster on the table, as if, yeah I dust regularly! (I don't.)

After much persuading, I convinced the chap to tackle removing the bricks to see what was underneath. I had a good feeling, but even I was surprised by how good it turned out to be.
Above you can see husband in the act of removing concrete and a close up of that strange fire hood thing.

After about two hours.
Doubts and feelings-of-omg-how-long-is-this-going-to-take started here.

A mere 4 billion hours later we were here. Ok, it might have been more like 15, but it felt a lot looonger.

And then another 4 billion later we got to this. I stopped taking pictures of the bits in between due to the general despondency and tiredness.
It's hard to get a sense of scale but the bottom of the lintel rests on my shoulder. It's about 5 foot high. The removal of bricks was just neverending. But look at the lintel. It's mahoosive and sandy-coloured-stone and just overall gorgeous!
We saved all the good bricks though, for the garden. The fire surround was painted matt black and put to good use too. Waste not, want not and all.
But then, we didn't really know what to do.

We lived with the whole room like this for a long time. I stripped the wallpaper and painted the whole room white.
As you can probably tell from the pictures the light in this room is wonderful and it's also very private. Nobody overlooks this space.
I cleaned and repainted the pantry cupboard too and sprayed the handles black.
Then very little happened.

We looked into the soot blackened hole every day and stopped noticing it.
We had had the chimney swept so it wasn't a dirt or soot problem. It was just ugly.

I restored a beautiful 1950's kitchen cupboard to match the gap where presumably a second pantry cupboard would have been. On this piece of furniture I cleaned it and sanded it and replaced the handles and sprayed them black. It had these stunning three vents though, so I painted them purple so they stood out slightly more. It was one of those serendipitous moments as it fitted so perfectly.
Then we finally hired a plasterer, the lovely Steve, who is a friend of ours and also supremely talented and he made it look amazing.
There was a lot of cleaning prior to that, but, you know, cleaning isn't the most exciting thing to discuss. Basically hot water, spray bleach, wire brush, repeat ad infinitum!

Here was the first moment I started to love this room. I knew it had potential and could be beautiful but at this point I sort of fell for it.
The window is huge and looks out over my garden, it isn't overlooked and the light is fantastic. I started spending a lot of time in here.
It's the room where I blog, where I journal and where I talk to my friends and where I read.
Recently I also got rid of the carpet and my brother-in-law and husband fitted some beading around the wood floor. I sanded and then painted the floor and it's now a lovely space.

And after all that, I think that concludes the saga of removing a fireplace.
It was worth it.
Yes, I wish it had been quicker.
Honestly, it's just the way things happened. I've moved on from ashamed to proud! Happy days.

Friday, 12 June 2015

Sewing Paper

I love to collage and place different images and colours together. It's restful for me and a great way to spend an evening.

Mostly I glue these, but every now and then I get my sewing machine out and sew the papers together and sew them into my journal.

It's very easy to sew paper and I think it looks really good.

I mostly use a zigzag stitch as this gives great patterns. I like to leave the threads loose too and that creates some movement.
I also have used this technique to make home made cards before. 50 Thank You cards for my wedding gifts was one.
Why not try sewing some paper together this weekend?

Thursday, 11 June 2015

John's Paintbrush

I've been away. I've had a few days in Scotland. It's a long time since I've been anywhere on my own too. I usually have taken my son, or have gone somewhere with my husband or as a family.

It was pleasant, this time, going on my own and having some thinking time while I drove.

I went to Edinburgh to say goodbye to my grandma's cousin John. He lived to a good age and died at Ninety-tooo (read this in a beautifully lilting old Edinburgh accent) which wasn't sad, but he lived all his life with his twin sister and she is now alone which is sad. However, seeing his sister, I expected a frail old lady. She was frail, but she was also still her. She was full of life still. Fiercely independent, drinking gin and tonic, telling stories and laughing. How she always has been.

It was wonderful.

In fact, it was inspirational.

The twins were always happy, always laughing and making everyone around them laugh. Seeing them has always been fun, and their stories are/were as much about them doing daft things as all their life experiences. I'm sure there were other times for them, but this is my memory of them.

John was an artist and illustrator and the very first time I met them, he let me and my brother paint in his bedroom/studio. I think I was about 8. I never really did any painting before or after until last year.

I've been painting in my journal for about 18 months now and it's so therapeutic for me. It helps me to get some of my fears and concerns out of my too-busy-mind and helps me to relax and be happier.

I brought one of John's paintbrushes home. I don't know if I'll use it or just have it to remember him by. It's beautiful to me. (Twin sister thought I was crazy to find it beautiful!).

What do you think?

Here is one of my paintings, I call it 'Barnoldswick the centre of the world'. Literally there are maps underneath the paint and I have placed Barnoldswick in the centre. I was trying to express my fears of being stuck in a small place which often seems miles from anywhere. I love living here, and you have probably picked up how much I love my house, but sometimes I'd wonder if I was missing out by not living somewhere more cosmopolitan! So this fear and worry was poured into my painting and it has worked. I don't really think about that anymore.
Except my obsessive planning as to how I never have to spend another January in Northern England, obvs.
I know it is hard to see the detail above, so here are a few close ups.

Then there is another one. This is very personal. It reflects my fears around having another baby or not. Sometimes I think I should, sometimes I think I'm done. It's a hard decision as I'm happy with the way things are but scared to regret the choice and scared to make the choice.
I'm maybe not expressing myself well here but it's a hard thing to put into words. I found it easier to paint it.

I've used yellow to represent my cowardice and a large black unsightly circle to represent my knot of fears. It has helped me.

Maybe that is the secret to a long and happy life. To create something that lives on after you. To get all your fears and negative emotions out in some way.
I don't know the answer, but I do know if I live a life like John I will be grateful. I hope I'll get to pass his paintbrush on to someone else in sixty years too.

Friday, 5 June 2015

The Alphabet Quiz; Do you see what I see?

Just for fun-a-challenge-actually-to-frustrate-you today, I've created an Alphabet and let's play a game called 'Do you see what I see?'

Could we be eyesight twins? (Yes, I just made that up; No, I don't think it's a thing.)

I made collages of all the letters of the alphabet and wondered if you can spot the same things I saw as I made them. Maybe you can see more? Answers at the bottom in tiny print!

A colour, an object.

A colour, a cartoon character, two pop groups, a vehicle, two objects, a structure.  

An item, an animal, another language, a pattern.

Someone from the Netherlands, a pattern.
Bonus Point - Something you wear beginning with D.

A bodypart, a word, something you wear.

A pattern, something that grows.
A colour.
Bonus Point -  a verb meaning something farmers do to hay.

The absence of something, an animal, something you use.

A word. (Some are quite easy!).

Inspired by a place in India. (Some are quite hard!)

An item, my name, something you wear,
Bonus Point - a pattern which you see through a tube.

A word, an item.

A cartoon character, two titles, visible sound.
Bonus Point - a inspirational picture beginning with M.

A set of colours.

A colour, a film (which after beta-testing this quiz with my 3 pedantic boys, might not actually begin with the letter O).

A skyline, two things that grow, a print, two colours. 
Bonus Point - 6 round items.

Ok, nothing Q related.
Q is difficult.
A shape, something that grows, a colour.

Something people used to use, part of the body, an item.

A word, an animal, something used in printing.

Surprisingly as hard as Q!

A pattern/ shape.  

Something you use, a colour.

Just a pattern really that references X, not begins with it.

A colour.

A pattern/shape, a South American style of print (that contains the letter, not begins with it).  
Well what did you think? There were a total of 61 answers and 5 bonus points (which my beta testers said were impossible-what-was-I-thinking-how-strange-am-I!).
How did you get on? And did anyone see anything I missed? Let me know in the comments.
A: Aqua, Anchor. B: Black, Mr Bump, The Bangles, Bananarama, Bicycle, 2 Buttons, Bridge. C: Cross, Paper Crane, Chinese Characters, Chevron. D: Dutchman, Dots. Bonus D: Dark Glasses. E: Eyes, Eyepatch, Embrace. F: Flowers, Floral. G: Green. Bonus Point G: Gather. H: Hook, Horse, Holes. I: Important. J: Jaipur (Even I don't know why!). K: Key, Kirsty, Kirby Grip. Bonus Point K: Kaleidoscope. L: Love, Ladder. M: Mickey Mouse, Mr and Mrs, Music Score. Bonus Point M: Mood Board. N: Nudes or I would accept neutrals. O: Orange, A Clockwork Orange. P: Paris, Palm Tree, Poppies, Pink, Purple. Bonus Point P: Pink Beads. Q: No answer. R: Round, Roses, Red. S: Safety Pin, Stocks, Skull. T: Throw, Tiger, Typeface. U: No answer. V: Venn diagram. W: Writing pad or  book, White. X: Cross Shape. Y: Yellow. Z: Zigzag, Aztec.