Soul Food Studio

Book Review - Making Winter: A Creative Guide for Surviving the Winter Months by Emma Mitchell

Book ReviewsAmanda Russell
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Winter can be a tough time for many with the shrinking of daylight hours and the near constant grey weather Making Winter: A Creative Guide for Surviving the Winter Months by Emma Mitchell is a manual of creative projects designed to help keep the winter blues at bay. During winter months because of the lack of sunlight mood elevating serotonin is at lower levels often leading to gloomy moods, crafting is known to raise levels of serotonin which in turn helps boost mood. Drawing inspiration from the natural winter world Mitchell has designed a beautiful survival manual of simple craft projects calling on a variety of skills to help people escape low moods during the winter. With perfect timing, at the darkest time of year, the book arrived on my desk to be reviewed.

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It is an attractive book with beautiful images of domestic cosines and creativity inspired by nature. Divided into chapters, each themed around the different phases of winter, there are several projects to fit the theme with clear step by step instructions. In High Days and Celebrations there's a recipe for streusel cake, a berry cocktail and woodland wreaths, it's a varied selection and none are too time consuming. I enjoyed the outdoors chapter Nature as Nurture, here Mitchell gently coaxes us out of the house, subtly persuading us with the promise of crafty joys such as preserving autumn leaves or making silver fossil pendants after a good walk observing nature. As a stylist I'm always trying to bring nature into interiors and there are lots of examples of this, and don't we all love spreading the love with specimen blooms in vintage bottles. There are also very beautiful crochet projects which I lust after, the hawthorn wrist warmers, with a bobbly berried design is very nearly enough to tempt me to pick up a hook and have a go.

Making Winter, with its beautiful images and full of plucky hope is a wonderful happiness manual to inspire, a great gift for a crafty friend, whether or not they find the winter months taxing. Making Winter: A Creative Guide for Surviving the Winter Months by Emma Mitchell, out now in hardback, priced £14.99 (LOM Art).

Making Winter, with its beautiful images and full of plucky hope is a wonderful happiness manual to inspire, a great gift for a crafty friend, whether or not they find the winter months taxing.

Making Winter: A Creative Guide for Surviving the Winter Months by Emma Mitchell, out now in hardback, priced £14.99 (LOM Art).

Book Review - Millinery, The Art of Hat-Making by Sarah Lomax and Rachel Skinner

Book ReviewsAmanda Russell
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Now more than ever we all want to learn new crafts and skills and the New Year is as good a time as any to start mastering one. Sadly, hat wearing has been relegated to special occasion wear, the book Millinery, The Art of Hat-Making by Sarah Lomax and Rachel Skinner has a varied collection and wearing one to top off a carefully curated outfit is made a real possibility. With its beautiful timeless illustrations, variety of hat designs and detailed techniques it gives plenty of information to help you get started creating your own unique hats. After a detailed browsing of this book, as an eclectic designer, maker, I felt fired up with ideas for the many possible occasions for sporting a distinctive and elegant hat.

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Have you ever wondered how a hat shape is made from a flat piece of fine woven straw or how to create a distinctive trim that is guaranteed to lift a bought hat from ordinary to extraordinary? With a wide choice of hat shapes and embellishment to create, Millinery is the book for you. A beautifully designed volume it is divided into two sections. The first covers the nitty gritty with equipment, materials and techniques each supported by text and images. The second section has twelve very different hat projects with easy to follow step by step instructions. Choose from soft sewn hats to a gorgeous feather creation to a full on felt trilby. I am drawn in by the detail, and long for a neat feathered tear drop, complete with the swish and flourish of a long plume. 

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Emphatically, yes, I would recommend Millinery, as it gives a glimpse into the art form and plenty of information for you to successfully make your own high-end millinery. With its wealth of inspiration and variety of techniques it won't be long before you have created a unique hat collection.

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Millinery, The Art of Hat-Making by Sarah Lomax and Rachel Skinner Published by GMC £16.99 Available from www.thegmcgroup.com

Millinery, The Art of Hat-Making by Sarah Lomax and Rachel Skinner

Published by GMC £16.99

Available from www.thegmcgroup.com

Star Light Canvas

CraftsAmanda Russell

As if you need to be reminded of the star you are, who could resist making a bright starry statement like this? A really simple project, with just a couple of halogen lighting chains, a canvas and emulsion paint my glittery star project will brighten up any room.

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You will need-

Emulsion paint

2x Halogen Lighting chain

Paint brush

Paper

Masking tape

Electrical screw driver

Bradawl

1.Paint the canvas with pink matt emulsion paint

2. Draw a large star on a piece of paper then cut out, stick to the reverse of the canvas with a line of masking tape along each straight edge.

3. Work out where you want to have the lights, I had about three along each straight edge and one on each point end.

4. Start making the holes to push the lights through. With one hand supporting the front of the canvas press the bradawl through the masking tape on the reverse and make a pilot hole, next enlarge the hole with the screwdriver, don’t make it too large the light is held in by it. Press the light from the back through the hole to lodge just around the collar of the fitting. Continue round the star with the lights.

5. Hang the canvas up using Command hooks. Do not leave lights on when unattended.

Tip

Before putting the lights into the canvas decide where you want the cables to come out, mine was at the lower edge. I worked out the middle of the total number of light positions on the canvas, this was where I inserted the light at the end of the light chain.

Turn an old ladder into a contemporary Christmas tree

CraftsAmanda Russell
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I made this picture perfect tree out of an old ladder with near-on zero prep, using a coat of chalk paint to cover ancient paint drips and to create a matte finish.

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You will need-

  • Planed timber
  • Saw
  • Spirit level
  • Pencil
  • Drill
  • Screws
  • Crown Cloudburst matt emulsion paint, £11.99 for 2.5l, Maxwells DIY
  • Polyvine Chalk Paint Maker,  £11.36, Amazon
  • Paintbrush
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1. Put up the ladder and decide how steep you want the sides of the tree to be; you might have to remove the retaining cord. Mine was quite broad as I wanted to max out on the display area.

2. To make the back leg shelf supports, cut batten from 2.5cm x 5cm planed timber. With the spirit level balanced on the front step, extend the level line and mark where to locate the support batten on the back legs with pencil. Screw the battens in place.

3. These shelves projected 25cm beyond the edge of the step to give extra display space, but you could make yours shorter if you’d like. Decide on the length, then cut each shelf from planed wood. Screw in place on the front steps and back batten.


4. To make the chalk paint, mix 400ml Crown Cloudburst Matt Emulsion with 200ml Polyvine Chalk Paint Maker. Then, with a crosshatch strokes, paint the ladder Christmas tree and let dry before decorating.

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Learn to create your own decoupaged hand plates

CraftsAmanda Russell

Who’d of thought charity shop find vintage plates could so easily be transformed into such elegant wall art. A really simple project, you will need an inkjet printer to make the transfer images. I found these gorgeous copyright free eighteenth century wood engraving designs for teaching hand language.

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You will need

Charity shop plates

Inkjet Water slide decal pack clear

Sponge

Acrylic spray

Copy right free images

Scissors

Instructions – Select the images you want to use. Print them out in a variety of sizes, cut out using scissors then try them for size on the plates. 2. Follow the manufacturer instructions print the images onto decal paper, then spray with acrylic varnish. Apply a couple of coats covering the printing completely to seal, so it doesn’t break up in the water. 3. When the images are completely dry, cut out with scissors keeping close to the edge of the design. To help the images slide onto the plates sponge on a thin layer of water. Put the paper backed image into a bowl of warm water, leave for about 30 secs. Lift the edge of the image off one corner of the paper. Hold the image over the plate, gently curl the backing paper away and slide the image onto the plate. Use the sponge to pat out any bubbles or wrinkles in the image. 4. Leave til dry then mount in place on the wall using Command strips Credits Inkjet Water Slide Decal Pack clear: Specialist crafts LTD Command Strip http: command.3m.co.uk

Instructions –

Select the images you want to use. Print them out in a variety of sizes, cut out using scissors then try them for size on the plates.

2. Follow the manufacturer instructions print the images onto decal paper, then spray with acrylic varnish. Apply a couple of coats covering the printing completely to seal, so it doesn’t break up in the water.

3. When the images are completely dry, cut out with scissors keeping close to the edge of the design. To help the images slide onto the plates sponge on a thin layer of water. Put the paper backed image into a bowl of warm water, leave for about 30 secs. Lift the edge of the image off one corner of the paper. Hold the image over the plate, gently curl the backing paper away and slide the image onto the plate. Use the sponge to pat out any bubbles or wrinkles in the image.

4. Leave til dry then mount in place on the wall using Command strips

Credits

Inkjet Water Slide Decal Pack clear: Specialist crafts LTD

Command Strip http: command.3m.co.uk

Make your own Funky Feather Christmas Wreath

CraftsAmanda Russell

Who wouldn’t want this incredibly chic colourful feather wreath to bring bright carnival colour to your room? I show you how to make this unique wreath with the minimum of effort.

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You will need:

Turkey Quills in assorted colours

Polystyrene wreath form

Glue gun

Fishing line

Command Hook

Satay stick

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The secret to the wreath is to put the feathers in at an angle so they completely cover the white polystyrene form. Starting pressing in feathers on the outside edge, first, make a pilot hole in the edge of the wreath with a satay stick, press the feather into the hole, then squeeze on a blob of glue to hold. Add the feathers in staggered layers, about 3cm from the next one. Work from the outside to the inside edge moving, around the wreath with each new layer.

When finished decide which is the top of the wreath and tie around a loop of fishing nylon to invisible suspend the wreath from a removable Command hook.

I used:

Specialist Crafts: 3 packs Turkey Quills in assorted colours £6.17

Specialist Crafts: Polystyrene ring approx £1

Create your own handmade Christmas decorations

CraftsAmanda Russell

This nifty little project making Christmas decorations, is one for people who have pets using old pet food containers. We are talking about those lightweight aluminium ones with a lip round them.

You will need: Clean pet food containers Patterned paper Ribbon Wooden picnic spoons PVA glue Paintbrush Acrylic paint Thin card Clear sticky tape Double sided tape Acrylic paint Felt tip pens pencil Scissors  

You will need:

Clean pet food containers

Patterned paper

Ribbon

Wooden picnic spoons

PVA glue

Paintbrush

Acrylic paint

Thin card

Clear sticky tape

Double sided tape

Acrylic paint

Felt tip pens pencil

Scissors

 

Instructions: First cover the inside of the container with the paper face down. Draw around the edge with a pencil. Take a pencil and extend the sideline of the square. 2. Cut out the paper cross shape. Fold the side arms in to crease the paper. Paint the reverse of the paper with a layer of PVA glue, put the paper into the tray, press the two shorter sides onto the tray, then press out the long sides onto the sides. Along the top edge of the tray cut deep nicks in the paper and wrap the paper over the edge to stick in place. 3. To cover the outside of the tray, take a contrast printed paper. Paper face down draw around the base of the tray, cut out square shape. Measure around the outside of the tray, add 1cm for overlap. Cut a strip of paper the measured length and 3cm wide. Paint with PVA glue then wrap around the tray cutting long nicks in the paper to ease around the curved corners, press the loose strips into place on the base, then glue the square of paper over to cover. Poor glitter onto a plate, paint the front edge of the tray with PVA and dip in glitter. 4. To make the portraits, if you like use scissors to trim the top of the spoon into a hairstyle, then paint the spoons with a base coat of white acrylic paint. While they are drying make the shoulders for the portraits. Cut a strip of thin card slightly narrower than the opening of the tray and about 2cm high, fold in half along the length then glue on printed paper. 5. Use acrylic paint to mix a variety of skin tone colours, paint the spoons. Leave to dry then use felt pens to draw on details. Use sticky tape to attach the portrait onto the shoulders. To keep the portrait in position cut a narrow support strut from thin card about 4cm long, fold in both ends by 1cm, then tape one to the reverse of a portrait. Stick the shoulders to the bottom edge of the tray with double sided tape and tape the end of the support strut to the back of the tray. With the point of the scissors make a hole through the top edge of the tray. Cut a length of ribbon and pass one end through the hole and tape in place.

Instructions:

First cover the inside of the container with the paper face down. Draw around the edge with a pencil. Take a pencil and extend the sideline of the square.

2. Cut out the paper cross shape. Fold the side arms in to crease the paper. Paint the reverse of the paper with a layer of PVA glue, put the paper into the tray, press the two shorter sides onto the tray, then press out the long sides onto the sides. Along the top edge of the tray cut deep nicks in the paper and wrap the paper over the edge to stick in place.

3. To cover the outside of the tray, take a contrast printed paper. Paper face down draw around the base of the tray, cut out square shape. Measure around the outside of the tray, add 1cm for overlap. Cut a strip of paper the measured length and 3cm wide. Paint with PVA glue then wrap around the tray cutting long nicks in the paper to ease around the curved corners, press the loose strips into place on the base, then glue the square of paper over to cover. Poor glitter onto a plate, paint the front edge of the tray with PVA and dip in glitter.

4. To make the portraits, if you like use scissors to trim the top of the spoon into a hairstyle, then paint the spoons with a base coat of white acrylic paint. While they are drying make the shoulders for the portraits. Cut a strip of thin card slightly narrower than the opening of the tray and about 2cm high, fold in half along the length then glue on printed paper.

5. Use acrylic paint to mix a variety of skin tone colours, paint the spoons. Leave to dry then use felt pens to draw on details. Use sticky tape to attach the portrait onto the shoulders. To keep the portrait in position cut a narrow support strut from thin card about 4cm long, fold in both ends by 1cm, then tape one to the reverse of a portrait. Stick the shoulders to the bottom edge of the tray with double sided tape and tape the end of the support strut to the back of the tray. With the point of the scissors make a hole through the top edge of the tray. Cut a length of ribbon and pass one end through the hole and tape in place.

Styling your Dartmouth Flower Urns

Interior, StylingAmanda Russell
Pedestal vases were inspired by the 30s to the 50s ceramics designs of the international household name, high society florist, Constance Spry. The most popular designs were copied and reproduced in the 50s for the thousands of housewives who read her books. To style an interior treat as a stand alone gorgeous sculptural statement piece, or fill with grasses, flowers, trails and twiggery. As a characterful vintage piece expect the cream coloured glaze to have light crazing along with slight iron staining to the interior.  

Pedestal vases were inspired by the 30s to the 50s ceramics designs of the international household name, high society florist, Constance Spry. The most popular designs were copied and reproduced in the 50s for the thousands of housewives who read her books. To style an interior treat as a stand alone gorgeous sculptural statement piece, or fill with grasses, flowers, trails and twiggery. As a characterful vintage piece expect the cream coloured glaze to have light crazing along with slight iron staining to the interior.

 

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How to style your home using Sylvac Urns

Styling, InteriorAmanda Russell
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This Gorgeous voluptuous loop handled mantle urn is a stylists dream. With so many ways to style it up who wouldn't want to fill it with twiggery and flowers or keep it simple with a moss cushion. With vintage pieces expect some wear which adds character, theres often light crazing to the cream glaze along with slight iron staining on the interior.

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The Gentleman’s Wardrobe: Vintage Style Projects for the Modern Man by Vanessa Mooncie

Book ReviewsAmanda Russell
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I was really excited when The Gentleman's Wardrobe by Vanessa Mooncie arrived on my desk. I'm a designer maker and creating a capsule wardrobe that sums up your own unique style, seems like a very fine thing. There are lots of sources out there for women but what about the men? The book does just what it says on the cover with all the know how to make an entire gentleman's wardrobe. The garment collection was inspired by old black and white family photos showing beautifully dressed relatives taking great care over their immaculate appearance.

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This is a beautiful book packed with a wealth of contemporary lifestyle fashion plate images to give you all the inspiration you need to get cracking. The 14 projects cover a wide range of skills, there's an elegant garment or accessory for everyone to make following the easy step by step instructions and sewing patterns. All levels of sewing are covered from simple beginners projects like a cravat and for makers with a higher level of expertise there are more complex garments such as shirts and jackets. With a wide range of projects all styles are catered for, choose a different fabric and change the style of garment to create a unique expression of yourself.

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With its indepth knowledge and lots of attractive fashion images it's an easy and approachable way to start building a stylish gentleman's wardrobe. Flicking through the pages a young man with beginners sewing skills was blown away by the idea of making his own silk dressing gown and I was taken with the images for making a tweed flat cap. Whether you are a maker yourself or want to give this book as a gift it's the perfect book to turn to for both reference and a source of projects. With ideas for a quick project or something that will take longer this book would win long term space on my book shelf and remain there long after today’s love of vintage fashion has been superceded.

The Gentleman’s Wardrobe by Vanessa Mooncie

Published by GMC £16.99

Available from www.thegmcgroup.com

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How to make Mattisse inspired wall art

CraftsAmanda Russell

Create a bold Matisse inspired fabric wall art. Use simple motifs to make an impactful piece of wall art.

You Will Need

  • Canvas, £8, Hobbycraft
  • Tracing paper
  • Bondaweb £3.90 Akaban
  • Fabric scraps
  • Stapler
  • Pencil, paper and tracing paper
  • Command Strips from £2.70 B&Q

Step-by-step

  1. Place the canvas on a large piece of paper and draw around the edge of the canvas, add 10cm to each side.
  2. Draw your design on the paper and mark each colour. Using the tracing paper trace the shape for each colour.
  3. Iron paper backed Bondaweb to the reverse of fabric scraps. Cut out the shapes, then remove backing paper and iron to bond in position. Use a sewing machine to sew around the edge of the fabric shapes.
  4. Place the fabric image on the canvas and stretch the fabric over the edge, use the stapler to secure the fabric at the back.
  5. Hang on the wall using Command Strips

Tips

  • When stapling the fabric on start from the middle and work towards the outer edge so there are no creases in the fabric

Book Review: House of Cards By Sarah Hamilton

Amanda Russell
Have you ever wanted to find out about the ins and outs of selling your own handmade cards? We are a nation of card givers, greetings cards punctuate and chronicle our lives, House of Cards by artist Sarah Hamilton is a book that celebrates the greeting card industry as well as showing you how to become part of it using your own designs. It is an attractive book full of fresh bright visuals and shows you how to make money from your art. Full of sassy know how, packed with expert tips and advice from practising artists, it's a designers must have manual. A practical as well as informative book it helps short circuit some of the hard work of starting out selling your own cards.

Have you ever wanted to find out about the ins and outs of selling your own handmade cards? We are a nation of card givers, greetings cards punctuate and chronicle our lives, House of Cards by artist Sarah Hamilton is a book that celebrates the greeting card industry as well as showing you how to become part of it using your own designs.

It is an attractive book full of fresh bright visuals and shows you how to make money from your art. Full of sassy know how, packed with expert tips and advice from practising artists, it's a designers must have manual. A practical as well as informative book it helps short circuit some of the hard work of starting out selling your own cards.

Card by Sarah Hamilton image by James Bolston The book is divided into two sections, the first contains an informative account of the history of greetings card giving, along with all the nitty gritty and practical detail to help get you started with card creation and sales. There is also an invaluable chapter by artist agent Jehane Boden Spiers giving inside advice on liscencing art work as well as insight into the deals available to designers to increase their portfolio of earning potential as well as providing a nest egg.

Card by Sarah Hamilton image by James Bolston

The book is divided into two sections, the first contains an informative account of the history of greetings card giving, along with all the nitty gritty and practical detail to help get you started with card creation and sales. There is also an invaluable chapter by artist agent Jehane Boden Spiers giving inside advice on liscencing art work as well as insight into the deals available to designers to increase their portfolio of earning potential as well as providing a nest egg.