Wednesday, 31 October 2012

my funny Halloween, sweet comic Halloween...

Wishing all of you lovely readers a happy Halloween with Spike Jones' and Olympia Le-Tan's crafty, naughty, un peu risqué tale!

I hope you'll enjoy this one-of-a-kind production as much as I did when I read about it on Ina's blog *thanks Ina!*

And all of you stateside readers who have been affected by the storm, I hope you are safe and doing okay!

Sunday, 28 October 2012

how i make last minute Halloween spider decorations

If you are after an easy and quick last minute project to make some creepy Halloween spiders then you will like this. 

You will need:
for 1 spider
  • crafting felt in black and grey
  • orange beads x 8
  • orange sewing thread
  • small amount of cotton wool or toy stuffing
  • black thread for hanging
  • about 30-40 minutes of your time

To make a largish spider, take a piece of paper and a drinking glass and draw around the top to make a circle for the spider's body.

To make the head, take a smaller round object - like a roll of tape - and position it centred on the bottom edge of the bigger circle like so:

Now you have the pattern piece for the spider's body - cut this out.

Next, find the centre of this shape and fold your pattern piece in half. If you need to adjust the shape to make it perfectly symmetric just trim it.

Next take the grey felt which we will use for the spider's legs and fold it in half. This is especially a good idea if you are using a scrap piece of felt, so you know how long you can make your spider's legs.
Place your folded felt on a piece of paper and draw around it. The picture shows the paper folded double but in fact you'll need a single sheet of paper here.

Once you traced around your folded felt, pin the pattern piece of the spider's body onto the edge of the tracing near the top and leaving more space at the bottom. Trace around it.

Then design four legs. Make sure the legs are nice and chunky! If you make them too thin they will tear easily, which we don't want. Also space them out more or less equally.


Pin this pattern piece of the legs onto your folded in half felt - make sure the fold of the felt is the middle edge of your spider. Make sure you pin through all layers - the pattern piece, and both layers of  felt. Pin like this:

Now cut out your spider - the paper helps to cut steadily on the spindly shapes of the legs. Be careful when cutting the spaces along the body between the legs not to cut into the legs!

Next, take your black felt and cut out the spider's body. You can fold out the pattern piece for this.

You can make different sized spiders by using different round objects to draw the pattern with.
Here I have both felt pieces for a big spider and a smaller spider. Now we can start assembling.

Pin the black body shape onto the grey spider shape. Pin through the middle to hold them together.
Next, mark the stitching line for stitching the back together - leave the head, we want to stitch a nice circle onto the body with easy running stitch.

Stop stitching when you have about 2 cms left to stitch. Push some stuffing through this hole, then complete stitching the circle.

Next, take two of the orange beads and position them to be at the centre on the lower edge of the head. These are the two middle eyes which will guide the placement of the rest of the eyes. Stitch them on.

I like making two rows of eyes, with 4 eyes in each row, like this:

Your spider is almost done!
We are just going to make some knees to stop the legs being floppy and to put some extra creep factor in this felt creature.

Pinch up the felt in the middle of each leg and stitch through a few times only on one side of it - on the side that is facing down when you hang the spider from its bum - like so:

Once you shaped all the legs with the simple 'knee-stitch' your spider should look like this.
Now thread it up by its bum with some black thread.

The length of the black thread is up to you but they look really cool hanging down from a long one.

You can make as many spiders as you want, in different sizes or the same size throughout.

You could make them in different coloured felts of course, they'd look great in black and orange, or black and purple too, or some green with striped legs if you feel very creative or have more time.

You could  also decorate them more, with anything you fancy, and for that you could even glue the bits on if you wanted to save time.

Do you decorate for Halloween - what do you like using?

Friday, 26 October 2012

flea friday: where the fleas are & odds, sods and random lots

Outdoor yard sales are over but in this country flea-markets are organised and kept indoors so we can hunt for treasure during the 6 months of snow and darkness too.
They are indoor spaces where sellers can hire a unit and are given a number to write on each price ticket, so the stalls don't need to be manned. Opportunities for haggling are seldom but things are usually cheapy cheapo anyway.

Above is an exceptionally nice example of an indoor flea-market near us - the rest of the local hunting ground is more utilitarian-looking.

So what's been hunted lately? Well, I'm gonna show you some random fleas.

I scored a great big 60's woollen blanket for a fiver - outstanding quality, great colours and spotless too!
It was made in Finland by Villayhtymä Oy and designed by someone called Aune Gummerus.

Look at that great big home crafted coat hanger with the hammered iron hook - I was amazed to find it in the take-for-free bin...!
My eyes were drawn to its irregular shape and accented woodgrain. I swooped down on it straight away and only admired it extensively at home.
It is a lovely object, the photo doesn't do it much justice... The other hanger is there just for scale.

I've been looking for interesting orphaned crockery and cutlery ever since we've got an own kitchen here. These espresso cups and saucers make me quite proud of my mismatching skills...

The 50's cup with the gilded handle is unmarked but is a fine bone china - it's my fave cup to drink my morning espresso hit from. The chunkier cup is Tams of England. The blue rimmed saucers are German porcelain, the red rimmed ones are Czechoslovakian.

Then I got some things that I don't usually get: a couple of wide 80's hair bands. The reason is that I found some decent sized pieces of soft-as-butter merino sheepskin and decided to make some earmuffs for myself and possibly as gifts.
Hopefully I can marry these items together into earmuffs - it's already subzero and snowing over here!

I also found a length of mustard cotton jersey - I'm planning to make it into a top.

The kitchen is always good to thrift for - this painted wood handled potato masher, a cheese plane and a french Mouli cheese grater (just like the one Amélie uses in the film) will be used well surely.

The kitchen utensils were practically free because we bought them alongside a rag rug from the local antiques dealer. When my boyfriend comes with me to shop at this dealer's store, we always get lots of discount - it seems to be a man's world in there...

We had a runner for the hallway on the wishlist for a while now and were happy to find this 3 meter long rag rug in a nice colour combination for a tenner.
I show you the corner of it - our hallway is very dark and the pictures didn't come out well.
Next thing to thrift is a good overhead lamp, I guess!

I'm sharing my finds on Apron Thrift Girl, on A Living Space and on Me and My Shadow this week.

More vintage finds same time next week!

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

lucky mail: flower art from Poland & from Mexico

I've been lucky enough to win wonderful things - have I mentioned that yet? wink, wink... 
And not just any lucky thing, but beautiful art made by amazing artists, and both in a flower theme!

Julia's parcel to me was filled with pressed flowers, tiny hand-painted stickers and handmade paper.

She writes her dreamy blog The Sheer Stories about delicate photography and nature-inspired creativity. 

She gave away a wall hanging that she and her equally talented carpenter boyfriend made. It's now hanging in our living room, adding a touch of Polish country home like hers to the thrifted eclectica of ours.

Julia is incredibly creative and she shares all of it on her blog. See how she makes citrus peel candles, or different things out of flowers like natural ink or ice cream.

Shortly after, I received  another piece of flower art - this time all the way from Mexico - and what came through my letter box was an original watercolour by the amazing Geninne!

She was giving away this unique piece of hers, with a bar of gourmet chocolate and a sweet paper posy in tow, to celebrate her birthday on her blog.

I'm very excited to own a piece by her; I'm looking for the perfect frame to frame it in.

The pink pepper chocolate is delicious! We've been enjoying it with friends and family. I still have a few squares left but probably not for long, it goes too well with my afternoon coffee....

If you ever wondered what does the creative space of a modern Mexican artist look like, see Geninne's sunny home studio here.

One bloggie thing I always look forward to each month is her calendar wallpaper, always illustrated with her favourite flora & fauna.

She collects vintage postal ephemera which she uses ingeniously in her art.

Thank you both Julia and Geninne for your amazing giveaways! All of your precious handcrafted gifts have come to a very appreciating home.

Friday, 19 October 2012

flea friday: a bird, some bearded ladies & Soviet crockery

Today's finds are about simple pleasures. 

I've found a sweet little hand carved wall plaque capturing a bird perched on a twig. The wood is extremely lightweight, I wonder what sort of wood it might be... balsa? I find its naivety and obvious hand-craftedness lovely and interesting. 

On the reverse, there is evidence of the carver practicing his or her craft; plus a resourceful example of how to hang pictures: piece of leather and thumb tacks.

The following pieces of tableware were found on separate occasions, but I photographed them together because they seem to mark the beginning of a spontaneous collection...

They are all by the Russian Konakovo Porcelain Factory and most bear the stamp Made in USSR.
I like certain Soviet Era designs, so I was quite happy to come across plates and bowls this lovely.

They seem to pop up quite often around here and are not very pricey at all - each piece were between 50 cents and a euro - so I'm hoping to be able to grow my collection without restraint.

We love our coffee. We love our espresso in the morning and our decaf americano in the afternoon. And we like to store our precious ground beans in good airtight tins.

I picked up this gem from 1976 for cheap - I suppose it was priced down due to the tarnish.
But guess what - on the inside it's perfectly impeccable and the tarnish on the outside is in perfectly funny places.

This way we get our coffee from not just a lovely vintage tin adorned with lovely art nouveau ladies - but from a lovely tin adorned with ladies who sport a 'tash and a beard!

What a great thing to be looking at first thing in the morning - they make me smile every time.

I'm linking up with Sir Thrift A Lot, with Apron Thrift Girl, with Cap Creations and with A Living Space today.

More vintage finds same time next week!

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

how I make no-fuss natural gel air freshener

There are lots of ways to use and enjoy natural essential oils in your home, from oil lamps to vapourisers and infused candles.

There's also another easy way which I happened to 'invent' by chance and found it very effective and now prefer it to lighting oil lamps.
I'm pretty sure that it exists out there in the world already, but in case you might like to read about it here I thought I could share my no-fuss method anyway.

So, firstly take some aloe vera jelly and 3 of your favourite essential oils.

Squeeze a smallish dollop of aloe jelly into a small non-metallic, non-plastic pinch bowl or saucer and add a few drops of the essential oils to it.

Mix with a toothpick, cotton swab or anything similarly suitable until the jelly turns opaque and whitish.

Spread this opaque jelly around the full inner surface of the pinch bowl or saucer so the contact surface with air will be bigger.

Place the pinch bowl or saucer in the room to be scented - I usually put it up on a high shelf out of sight.

Enjoy the aromas! This will be scenting the room for about a day or two.

You can use any natural essential oils of your preference and choosing, but do read up on them and their effects in advance! You can look them up here for example. It's important to know what you are handling, essential oils are lovely but some are an irritant and some are potentially harmful, because they are so concentrated.

My favourite oils are: lemon, lavender, bergamot, cedar wood, chamomile, benzoin, rose, neroli and eucalyptus.

I usually mix only three different oils; I use 2-3 drops of two of them and 4-5 drops of the one I want to be dominant.

A mix of lavender-chamomile-rose, or lavender-chamomile-bergamot creates a soothing, calming room, for example in the bedroom.

The mix of cedar wood-lemon-bergamot works well to freshen up the living room after a weekend evening party. This mixture is also good in a wardrobe to freshen up stale air in there.

And a mix of lemon-eucalyptus-chamomile is great to place into any room when we are ill with colds and flus. It clarifies the air and makes breathing easier.

I hope you have fun trying out this natural gel air freshener - if you do, I'd love to hear what you thought about it!

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

the winner is...


The Said the Pelican giveaway has a winner! The lucky reader is:

Evdokia T.

Thank you everyone who have entered this first giveaway on here, and have left all those lovely comments! I really enjoyed hosting a giveaway, so you never know there might be a habit in forming!
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