Here is a quick idea to update plain and simple terracotta plant pots with paint and fabric. I made these pots for my book launch at Liberty to help personalise and style my corner of the store. Liberty print fabric works well as the ditsy pattern contrasts against the flat paint and it is available in a multitude of colours and variations, plus you only need a little so it is a great idea for using up those remnants you keep hold of.
The plant pots are easy to make and add a little detail to an otherwise plain vessel. I bought standard-shaped classic terracotta pots in various small sizes from a local independent garden centre, but they are readily available at big stores like B&Q and Homebase and are very reasonably priced. Paint your pot in a colour that fits with your scheme. I used household paint that was easily at hand, some left-over Fired Earth and a Farrow & Ball tester pot, that both happened to be water based emulsion. I gave the pots two coats to give the terracotta a solid covering and left them to dry.
To create a strip around the top, wrap your fabric around the circumference to mark the length then cut a strip of fabric slightly longer than circumference by the height of the lip of the flower pot. Stick double-sided tape onto the reverse and stick straight onto the lip of the flower pot, overlapping slightly at the end. Using tape also means you can remove the fabric and re-use it, or change it to another fabric.
I also cut out some small motifs directly from the patterned fabric. To do this, iron bondaweb to the reverse of the fabric to prevent fraying and then cut out the motif with small, sharp fabric scissors. Using a paint brush and pva glue paint the glue onto the reverse and carefully stick into place. You could have just one motif or continue the pattern all the way around. These are really suitable for inside use only (though may be ok outside for a dry summer). Don’t forget to place them on a saucer though before watering the plants as these type of pots tend to have drainage holes in the bottom.
I photographed them recently in the Curiosity Cabinet project from my new book The Homemade Home for Children, which hangs on the wall in my daughter’s bedroom. The pots and vases in the background create a trompe l’oil effect – a little trick to the eye.
This is just a small, fun way to update something ordinary that can make your house unique to you.
I snapped a few pictures of some wooden planes and boats that are sitting on shelves and chests of drawers in my son’s bedroom. They are little objects my father made about twenty years ago, simply put together from scraps of wood and old nails from his toolbox. I painted them in bright colours and personalised them with initials and words with meaning, like ‘Riba’ which means ‘Fish’ in Croatian and was the name of my grandfather’s little boat that we pootled along the coast in.
I left one of the boats as it was to show the natural texture of the wood and the simplicity of how it was made. My father and son still make driftwood toys together every summer in Croatia, see a previous post here.
When my son was born we hunted out this little airplane and hung it in his bedroom, suspended by a splash of a neon ribbon. It was this plane that inspired the ‘Balsa Wood Planes’ project in my new book – The Homemade home for Children – which has full step-by-step instructions if you want to try making your own. The image below is by Emma Lee and is an out-take from the photo shoots for the book. It is my little boy as he is now, enjoying being part of the fun.
These homemade toys are so simple and cost nothing but a little time, and I treasure them because of that.
They are things that cannot be bought, but made – with love and family.
One rainy day a month or so ago I was buying ribbons at VV Rouleaux on Marylebone High Street and the heavens opened. My tiny handbag-size umbrella was just too small to keep much of the torrential rainfall at bay so I ran into Tracey Neuls‘ shoe shop a few doors down. I adore her shoes and have bought a few pairs over the years, they always remain firm favourites. They are stylish and quirky and impeccably made from gorgeous leather and materials. So whilst waiting for the rain to subside I tried on a few styles and the ‘Jane’ shoe came home with me. An extravagance (or an ‘investment’ as I tell myself) but I have had wonderful comments about them whenever I wear them,which has been a lot, and I do feel that my outfit is complete when they are on my feet.
My friend Uli Schade photographs Tracey’s range, always with a twist of fun – have a look at the fabulous photos on Uli’s new website.
April and May are usually rainy here in the UK but it’s been especially wet for the last few weeks, making up for the fact that there wasn’t much rain earlier in the year. On one particularly dark and wet Sunday last month we hopped in the car and drove across London to Tate Modern to check out the Damien Hirst exhibition. It’s a pleasant drive on a Sunday as the traffic is less, you can park on the back streets for free and we get to see the amazing architecture on the route, from the historic landmarks to the new architectural structures.
Shooting from the car whilst moving meant my shots were abstract and blurred, reducing London to a range of grey tones with splashes of red – post boxes, telephone boxes, buses and traffic lights glowing in the monochrome views.
Maybe it’s why I love the use of grey, it surrounds me in my every day London life. I painted my front door dark grey about six years ago and with a slate front path and basalt chippings, my house often matches the the stormy sky.
We have the annual family membership which give you access to the paid exhibitions like Picasso, Kusama and Hirst at all of the Tate museums. If you live close enough to visit regularly it is brilliant and will pay for itself many times over.
Even a run down the steps to the Turbine Hall in the rain became fun and my kids loved it. We all enjoyed the Damien Hirst exhibition and although it was very busy, it intrigued and amazed the children and my husband and I enjoyed it too. It is well worth a visit.
We’ll be back again soon for more artistic inspiration, especially on these rainy London days.
It has been so busy lately with work that this almost slipped me by: it was one year ago yesterday that I posted my first blog post! It seems an eternity ago and like it was only yesterday all at the same time! It was my friends Holly and Leslie who talked me into starting a blog while we were working on the Decorate book launch and I really didn’t think I would get such an amazing response to my little ramblings nor that quite so many people would pop by to spend a few minutes at my corner of the inter web. Almost 100 posts later and it’s one year on already, it has flown by so fast. I took these quick snaps of the number one on one of my vintage surveyors’ staffs this evening before the light disappeared.
I will be able to share some of the styling projects I have been working on as and when they are published over the next few months but, with the book launch too, I haven’t had much free-time for a while. I have lots of blog posts planned and photos taken and stored up and will get back to posting more often as soon as I can.
It has been an amazing, crazy, fun, hectic and creatively rewarding twelve months. A heartfelt thank you goes out to everyone who has visited my blog over the last year, especially to those who have commented on my posts (they really mean a lot!), said hi on my Facebook page and on Twitter and to those who have bought my new book. Thank you.
The book launch for The Homemade Home for Children at Liberty was a very special day for me and thank you to all who joined me to make it that way. I know there were friends who would have loved to have been there but just couldn’t make it on the day, so I thought I would show you the details that helped to make my corner of Liberty so cosy, so you too can join in and feel as if you were there.
I had two dusky green coloured trestle tables pushed together to create a making area on one side of the atrium on the 3rd floor, by the entrance to the Little Liberty children’s wear department. I brought some of the actual projects from the book along with some items I had made especially for the launch. The Floral Wall Hanging project from the front cover of the book was hung above an original fireplace – the perfect place for it – and on the mantlepiece I added the Bowl of Goldfish Mobile project, one of the dolls I made for the Vintage-style Doll project, a variation of the Graphic Boxes project and also the Butterfly Table Lamp project. I made the flower pots especially for the event too.
Above the trestle tables I hung an adaptation of the Enchanted Branch project. I made a much larger version especially to hang over the tables using more leaves cut from Liberty print fabric.
In the centre of the tables was a pile of vintage books – props from the Liberty prop cupboard. Plant pots were balanced on top , a bird cage and vintage patterned china acted as vessels for the fabric and materials I had prepared for guests to make with.
I wanted my guests to be able to join in and make something from the book so that they would have a little gift to take home with them.
The Flower Hair Band project seemed an obvious choice as it could also be made into a brooch too. I spent the week before the launch preparing, cutting out the circles (100 in total) that the base of the flower is made from, leaf shapes, flowers for the centres and fabric strips, to save time for my guests. All were a little mismatched but Liberty fabric is perfect for this, it works brilliantly with different patterns jumbled together. So my guests just had to decide which patterns they liked. The results were really lovely and I hope people were happy with their little fabric flowers. You can see some the broochs here. If you would like to have a go at making one you can follow the Liberty video that we made.
Another simple project was the Wishing Board project. Guests could make a wish by drawing on a card tag and hanging it on the wishing board. I cut up thin strips of Liberty fabric and had a pile of labels and Muji fibre tip pens with little bits of washi tape wrapped around them. One such tape was a much-loved Merci for Liberty tape. Once the wish had been drawn the tie was threaded through and the drawn wish could be taken home or added to the wish board.
I loved that everyone got creative with these and started stitching on them and really making them personal. The full illustrated instructions for each of the projects can be found in the book which is available through CICO Books and at Amazon.
The idea behind the wishing board is that it isn’t material things children should wish for, not Playstations or Barbie dolls, but things that can make you happy; a bunch of flowers, a holiday, a pony, even a rocket to the moon. As one of the gorgeous girls who modelled in the book, and came along with her mum, said on her tag “I wish I had a Hamster”. So sweet. I think I had the same wish when I was eight.
What a fantastic day my book launch at Liberty was. In fact I would go so far as to say it was one of the highlights of my career so far! I had been preparing for the launch for the fortnight before, cutting fabric, getting materials together and planning it all in the evenings and weekends. It was an early start as everything had to be set up before Liberty opened its doors but thankfully I had the help of my lovely friend Caroline who was invaluable. And we also got to raid the Liberty prop cupboard to help style the table!
I wanted it to be informal so we had a big craft table that sat about a dozen people and it was filled all afternoon with people making, chatting and laughing and some children joined us after school, including my own, which was lovely, everyone making and drawing together. It was so much fun.
Everyone could have a go at making the flower hairband and hair clip project, and I also brought brooch pins so they could be worn on your clothing, showing how easily it could adapted for grown ups as well as children. Everybody seemed to love them and even guests who considered themselves non-sewers had a go and loved what they made. We also had the wish board project there, and guests could make a wish by drawing it on a tag and hanging it on the board with a Liberty fabric tie. There were lots of sweet and fun tags on the board by the end of the day.
On the Tuesday before the launch Liberty asked me along to be filmed making the flower hair band project for their blog too which was fun, though I am much happier behind the camera styling than in front of it, so if you couldn’t make it to the launch and want to have a go at making one it’s all in the video, I hope you like it. Liberty also interviewed me and you can read it on the Liberty blog here.
We have also uploaded all of the photos my husband took onto the Homemade Home Facebook page, so do have a look and please comment if you see yourself! Don’t forget to hit the ‘Like’ button too if you would like to get the updates there. Or if you came along and took pictures I would love to see them and feel free to post them on the page. I have been very busy since the launch but will be posting again with images of the displays and things we made.
Some special thank yous go to all of the Liberty team who were fantastic and helped it go so smoothly. Sonia, Cindy and the CICO Books team for all their support. Caroline, Polly and my husband Mark for all their help and to my mum and dad who brought my children along after school. And a big thank you to all of you who couldn’t make it along or were far away and sent sweet messages.
The biggest thank you goes to everyone who came along on the day. I really, really appreciated it and without you it wouldn’t have been the success it was. I do hope you enjoyed it as much as I did!
Well I’ve been super busy preparing for the book launch at Liberty tomorrow as well as working on client projects, having meetings and juggling the school run! My studio is covered in gorgeous Liberty fabrics which I have been cutting and making into things to display or preparing ready for you to make with.
It’s going to be a kind of ‘make and meet’ to celebrate the launch of the The Homemade Home for Children and I will be there between 2pm and 5pm on the 3rd floor near the entrance to Little Liberty. You will be able to join in the fun and make a Liberty print hair clip or brooch to take away with you or make your wishes come true by adding a wish tag to the wish board. And rather than doing a talk I am keeping it informal and will be there to show you how it’s done and help you have a go, and we can happily chat away while we make. So if you have any queries about projects from the new book or from my previous book or any other questions do ask.
I will also be taking along some of the items to display like the floral banner that is on the cover, the play sail and other projects which you can photograph if you wish. Copies of the book will be available to buy from Liberty and if you would like me to sign your copy just ask.
The invitation and details are on this link and if you haven’t visited Liberty before a map is here, it is a wonderful emporium so do browse the rest of the shop when you are here, it’s fab and you won’t be disappointed.
I do hope you can come along and say hi, or if you can’t make it but know someone who can please tell them about it. The more the merrier.
If you would like another peak into my new book, pick up the new May issue of Country Living magazine which contains a six page feature called ‘Get Creative’ with projects from The Homemade Home for Children. If you haven’t seen the magazine it is a complete lifestyle magazine and includes homes, gardens, food, crafts, health and travel. A big thank you to the Country Living team for the feature.
Things are hectic here as I have been busy preparing for my book launch at Liberty this Thursday and my house is covered with swatches of Liberty print fabric and other goodies in anticipation! More details of the launch are here.
This is a favourite brooch of mine that I made and wore at the Decorate book launch last year in April. I was intending on wearing a high street brooch I had bought from Hoss (a favourite store of mine), but decided the day before the launch that I should wear one that I had made rather than bought. So I got busy and made this little felt cloud brooch. The silver scissors and heart key charms were lucky finds at Sunbury antiques fair in Kempton and are little surprises amongst the glistening silver beads of rain. The scissors open and shut and are really quite special.
There is an embroidered felt brooch project in my new book and the rain cloud motif also features in a project too. Both projects have full step-by-step instructions on how to make them if you want to try this at home. If you love jewellery you might also like this post.
Wearing a homemade brooch on your clothing is something that people always notice, and, as I wrote in my first book, there is nothing like the feeling you get when someone remarks how much they like something and you can reply “I made it”.
I have some wonderful news about my book launch… it is to be hosted in my favourite shop – Liberty!
I feel very privileged to be having my book launch at Liberty and it is a dream come true. I have been a fan of Liberty since I was at school and I used Liberty print fabrics in projects in both my first book and my new book so the match is perfect. Last year I helped my friend Holly Becker with the Decorate book launch in Liberty which was such a fun event (see here and here), but I never thought at the time I would have one there too. One year later and a full circle has turned, I will have my book launch there with friends to help me celebrate too.
And I would love you all to come along!
It is on Thursday 26th April from 2pm until 5pm and we will have a couple of craft tables with simple projects from the book for you to make. I will also have some of the finished projects from the book on display and will be signing copies of the book which will be available to buy from Liberty. Of course it also gives you the perfect excuse to wander around Liberty’s gorgeous store!
If you would like to come along please RSVP by email to Liberty (see the invite above) so that we can gauge numbers as places will be limited on the craft tables.
I do hope you can make it and looking forward to celebrating and meeting you there. I can’t wait!
PS To keep up with the latest news on the launch please ‘like’ my Homemade Home Facebook page and you can also follow things on Twitter.
This Saturday I had some time with my son at home. My husband took my daughter to a party, so with just the two of us in the house, we had fun painting side by side on the kitchen table. We both share a love of drawing so it was a real joy to spend this time with him. I used my son’s drawings in the china transfer project in my first book and both of my children’s drawings appear in my new book on the wish board and the embroidered cushion projects. The ink drawings I made are reminiscent of designs I used to produce as a textile designer. I still love this type of free form sketching with paint and I wanted to show him some techniques. I had bought the Spring daffodils from my local florist the day before and he liked the idea of painting them using my Chinese brushes and just black ink.
I love the simplicity of jet black ink on cartridge paper, the marks, splatters, drips and dribbles that come when working quickly and freely. If you like this post, you may also like these floral paintings.
We had an hour or so drawing, chatting and sharing a love of creativity. He produced some really lovely flower paintings, they are all his in the photo above. My favourite is the ink illustration of the paint brush he was holding to create it – his own little joke.
This will be added to the little recess in the kitchen used to display the children’s art.
Is there a shared creative hobby or interest your children and you share?
This is a little place to share my work and the things that I love: interior styling and flea market finds; homemade and handmade; celebrating the old and embracing the new; creativity, family and fun.
These are the things I believe make your house a home.
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This blog is only my personal opinion. I try to be as accurate as I can but if you do try any projects, tips or ideas from this blog at home I can't be held responsible for the outcome I'm afraid!