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Customised denim jacket

13 Sep

My denim jacket heirloom was looking a little sorry for itself, and to be perfectly honest, it rarely gets worn.

You know those crafty tid-bits that you buy, despite having no idea when you might quite use them, that’s exactly what I used. A bit of excess cutting of crochet trim I had foraged from a market stall, and a sew-on patch with my initial embroidered on it worked perfectly together.

The trim was sewn around the up-turned cuffs with a loop stitch, while the sew-on patch was fixed to the top left-hand pocket with a simple running stitch.

There’s something about crisp white and deep denim blue that makes for such a pretty contrast, interested to know what you think though…

Crochet, crochet trim, denim jacket, arts and craft SONY DSC SONY DSC SONY DSC SONY DSC SONY DSC SONY DSC


Craft: British beauty Perri Lewis on her amazing new book ‘Material World’

21 Dec

I’ve been following the glittery footsteps of one, miss Perri Lewis for a while now. Famed craft specialist for the Guardian, Lewis even headed up features for Psychologies magazine (great for some new year motivation!) – Lewis has finally released her highly anticipated ‘Modern Craft Bible‘ for the masses. 

Material World, Modern Craft Bible, Perri Lewis, crafting

Lewis’ ‘how-to’ debut is stocked pretty much everywhere, from Waterstones, to Foyles, to Amazon and even Anthropologie, Regent Street, London! This book does no fluffy skirting around; here you will find sterling craft techniques and expert advice from in the industry’s top designers. You’ll learn how to employ classic craft skills to decorate your modern world!

Let’s catch up with the main woman herself…

Perri Lewis Material World Craft

Your personal style in 3 words…

It rarely matches.

What influenced your journey in to a life of arts & craft?

Like plenty of crafters my Nana and Gran taught me how to make when I was about eight. I put my knitting needles down for a bit until I was in my late teens and was desperate to make clothes that were more alternative than you’d find in Topshop. By that time craft was starting to become big. I was pleasantly surprised, because knowing how to knit/sew/make already meant that I had a bit of head-start

I like craft best when it’s mixed with a bit of fashion, politics, current affairs or something else that makes it more than just a bit of stitching. Craft that aims to change the way people think -whether it’s intentionally or not – is where it’s at for me.

SONY DSCWhen is crafting not just fun but useful?

When you make something that you actually want to wear/use/display, rather than something that hangs around in the bottom drawer, unfinished, because really it’s actually a bit rubbish. There are craft books/blogs/shows that are full of stuff that might be super-fun to make, but actually, are you ever going to use a penguin-shaped pan holder, or a hat made from shells? My craft box is full of stuff like this – I spend two weeks making it, but then I never actually use it.

You’ve written a fabulous craft book: ‘Material World: The Modern Craft Bible’ how did it happen? What is it about?

Thank you, I’m glad you like it. I’ve been so nervous about people seeing it. When I wrote it I didn’t actually think that anyone except my mum would get a copy. Which is a bit ridiculous really, but when you’re holed up on your own for six months (I wrote it in my evenings and weekends with a full time job), you lose touch with what you’re doing it all for.

It’s different to traditional craft books – it’s not full of 50+ projects designed by me to follow step-by-step. Instead, I introduce people to 15 different techniques: How to do the basics, then we see some of the world’s most awesome designers and makers offer their insider tricks for making it really brilliant. There’s a project based on the technique, and lots of ideas for other stuff you can make once you master the method. I love the idea of not being too prescriptive so people can put their own spin on things. I’ve written around 15 features on the amazing world of craft, it’s about so much more than just making something on your own in your bedroom.

Autumn/winter are fabulous seasons for craft – any upcoming projects? Top tips?DIY jewellery, jewellery making techniques, Perri Lewis, crafting

Get knitting quick. You might see it all over the spring/summer catwalks but I don’t think it’s as easy to rustle up something that’s wearable when it’s boiling hot outside. This is your chance to stay in, watch boxsets and dive into your craft box. Start making a double quilt now and that’ll keep you busy until spring.

Three essential things that you’ve needed to be successful, in craft and journalism?

Fearlessness – I’ve emailed super-high profile people, CEOs and grand editors asking for help/a meeting/an interview and some of them have actually said yes. Sure, plenty of them never replied, but if you don’t take it personally then there’s no harm done and potentially a lot to gain.

Twitter – has been really useful. It’s a way of meeting people who already do what you wish you did, and I’ve found so many of them are really willing to engage with others on there.

Fuel – realising that I’m no good to anyone when I’m hungry. When I finally realised that, I got a hell of a lot more work done.

Proudest career moment?

Writing a small piece about a Barack Obama cross stitch for on day of his inauguration. It stayed at the top of the Guardian homepage for a couple of hours, which is BIG, because it meant people were clicking on it. I know I wasn’t exactly a massive part of that momentous day, but it felt pretty great to have been part of the news package of one of the world’s biggest liberal newspapers.

Perri Lewis Material World CraftAdvice for aspiring journalists and creatives?

Be nice and work hard.

Everyone I know who has succeeded in craft or journalism – hell, in life – does those two things. And I’m sad to say you will have to do things for free at the beginning – again, whether it’s craft or journalism – because it’s a great way to get your name out there. Just make sure you’re picky about the things you do for free. Always think: ‘how is this going to help me in the long term?’ or ‘is it giving me experience in an area I didn’t have?

It’s also important to ask whether you’re associating yourself with a smart brand/organisation/set of people that reflects really well on you? Are you getting a chance to meet people you wouldn’t otherwise meet? Yes, it’s cheesy, but if you think of all the unpaid stuff you do as an investment in your future, it makes it easier to swallow. That’s what I did anyway, and it hasn’t gone too badly for me.

Do you think interest in crafting is still as strong as ever in the UK? Or has the fad passed?

I think it is. There’s proof in the fact that Mollie Makes is now one of Future Publishing’s best selling magazines, and was only launched last year. This autumn loads of amazing craft books are coming out even though we’ve already had couple of years of really strong craft publishing: Katie Allen’s Just Sew Stories, The Merchant and Mills book of sewing, Momtaz’s 101+ Things To Do With Glitter, Cassandra Ellis’s Quilt Love, the list goes on.

Perri Lewis Material World CraftWhat’s next for craft?

God, no idea. Although what I hope happens is that more people recognise the incredible effect craft has on our wellbeing. So you don’t fancy taking up yoga? Well, craft can be just as de-stressing.

Perri’s seriously smart book: ‘Material World: The Modern Craft Bible’ was released for purchase November 1, 2013 by Virgin Books. Londoners can pop in to Anthropologie, Regent Street to find ‘Material World’ nestled amongst crafty loveliness. For everyone else, head to British book retailers: Waterstones or Foyles.

You can also find Perri blazing the craft trail in the following places:

Make & do with Perri (blog)


Perri Lewis Material World CraftPerri Lewis Material World CraftPerri Lewis Material World Craft

NYT Newspaper Archives: Digital Versus the Physical

21 May

“Hindsight is a wonderful thing” this short  but captivating insight in to The New York Times‘ clippings library leaves you feeling a little melancholy and extremely nostalgic.

The Lively Morgue – The NYT Paper Archives

The mini-documentary depicts the Goliath-sized problem baring down on The NYT and its extensive archiving system, cost. As stated in the video – ‘chasms of space in the heart of Manhattan are expensive to hold and easy to fill.’

Nicknamed The Morgue by staff – who say it is the physical place ‘where stories go to die’ – has ironically found a home for itself on Tumblr.

The blog feed of Lively Morgue invites us to look at an endless feed of past triumphs & failures, histories and faces both famous and unknown.

Morgue Attendant – The NYT Newspaper Archives

A silver lining to this sad situation is that the archives are ultimately still used by staff at The NYT to refer back to pictures, facts and previous features. Although, as expected, the vaults are disturbed less and less by young members of staff.

Take a look for yourself:

Interiors: Love of Beauty is Taste, Creation is Art

7 Mar

Hoorah, after 21 years of life I finally have a room that I can swing a cat in – and more creative freedom than you can shake a stick at.

Work began on December 05, 2011 – a freezing unrelenting winter, and finished in mid-January when London days became longer and there began a faint promise that Summer might be glancing down from a distance, waging her warm sweet smile.

The thought behind my room is a beautiful clash between strength and fragility. The BHS ‘world craft’ collection lampshade is bold but intricate. A striking structure of black-stained canes – which create such a soft, organic picture when the light shines through it. Stretching long hair-like strands of light all around the ceiling.

The colour scheme is equally soft and strong; the key colour being grey – with the dominant colour being ‘French grey‘ (Dulux silk) which transports you to a southern French wooden shuttered chateau, complimented by a feature wall dowsed in ‘urban obsession‘ (Dulux matt) – a deeper more industrial shade of grey. The real impact is carried in the fact that the feature wall itself is the very peak of our chimney breast, perfectly angular and masculine.

Within the nook of the chimney breast I’ve compacted my entire book collection (coded by colour of course) slotted this way and that way with a sort of organised chaos.

Some other details and accents I decided needed to be pungent popping colours and textures, a bright pillar-box red felt flower petal cushion, with loops instead of tongue-like petal leaves. Plus tonnes and tonnes of pink silk and plastic Peony flowers dotted in tote bags hanging from the door, and old glass cookie jars.

My favourite feature out of the lot though, is my country kitchen picnic table (Ikea, Norden) which I use as my desk. Painted in a wipeable white coat, it consists of 6 skinny drawers, perfect for keeping candles, socks, sewing needles and thread – or any bits and bobs you can think of. The clever part is that you can fold the sucker away and it takes up the least amount of space possible.

Here are some snaps from around my attic chambre, including a rain splattered viewpoint from the window:

Treasure: Guyanese Leather-Bound Passport from 1967

12 Jan

Guyanese passport:1967 was the year

In a recent bid to clear out the loft and create some much needed living space, we uncovered hoards of little treasures along the way. Most items we found were toot to be tossed, but we also uncovered some gems that had been forgotten and lost for years.

He’s even cuter than I used to be…hmph!

Just take a look at my Dads’ beautiful forest green leather-bound passport from the first country he ever called home, Guyana, South America. A West-Indian jewel of a nation, full of things that glitter; gold, Demerara sugar and warm-natured people.

Jewel green Guyanese leather bound passport

I couldn’t resist showing off these pristine passport ink stamps and British Guyana paper stamps. Perhaps it’s simply the fact that this well worn item from the 50’s still looks so handsome after all these years (no I’m not talking about you Dad.)

One EBay seller who shares my passion for stamps and snapshots of the past, is this wonderfully curious vendor; selling his collection of stamps on six envelopes sent from Guyana to the U.S. in 1968, 1976, 1981, 1983 and 1985, and what treasures they are.

A little taste of Guyana’s history: 1815 sees the beautiful West Indian country under the grasp of British rule. It isn’t until 1966 (yes that long) that Guyana receives its independence.

It borders Suriname to the east, Venezuela to the west and Brazil to the south.  It’s also the only English-speaking country in South America.

Famous for its gold, Guyana’s Omai mine is one of the largest gold mines in the whole of South America.

My fathers’ family who own a property in the capital ‘Georgetown’ moved to England in ’67, but I’m desperate to meet our charming and vibrant family members that reside in Guyana.

Christmas Snowflake Gift Wrap Bomb

6 Jan

Inspired by Etsy blog‘s Christmas wine bottle glitter bombs I felt compelled to craft my own presents in their own unique way.

Inspiration: Snowfall, crystallisation, textile patterns, contrast, bold hues, simplicity, random arrangement, odd numbers, Christmas and empty branches.

Project: I began by wrapping my new Christmas purchase in eccentric fuchsia tissue paper. I followed this with a scattering of plastic snowflake sequins on to some cling film laid out flat. I then tightly tucked my wrapped recipe book in to the film, pulling as firm as possible at the end of the plastic wrap.

I finished off with a little tape, and ensured the sequins had been shook in to a perfectly random pattern, et voila – fit for any good boy or girl with eyes like a magpies‘.

TOPTIP: Be sure to use a flat surface, this project is no good if placed upon a lap, or the back of a snoozing relative – you’ll simply end up with sequins everywhere, and loose gathered cling film. Use paper and decorations that present a stark difference, and try to stick to a colour scheme that’s easy on the eye. You could also perhaps use the same idea for birthday or easter gifts, just use your imagination; glitter, sequin stars, diamonte’s, handsome pencil shavings.

Snowflake sequins

Here are some other snaps I gathered when Christmas spirit was brimming from wall to wall:


Early Learning Centre: Rorschach Psychological Assessment Art

11 Nov

Inspiration: For weeks upon end I kept visualising creating some kind of art with paint, repitition and some element of fading.

Like most other unreasonable women the name of a product is a major factor in the buying process. A prime example of this is make-up, and brands like Topshop make-up and Barry M cosmetics have got this art down to a ‘T’.

Another influence to this piece were the pictures used in psychological assessments – which I have since found out (thank-you Google) are named after Swiss psychologist Mr Hermann Rorschach; appropriately named ‘the Rorscharch test’ or simply the inkblot test, designed to reveal the details of our subconscious (see below).

The Rorschach test

The names I gave each finger print stain are pretty self explanatory, but I just wonder what they say about me. Do let me know what you see through your own eyes in these ‘inkblots’.

Project: Whip up some simple paint, one part poster paint powder, the other simply water. Place on a flat surface (a plastic plate works well) dip your finger in and press down on five different points along in a line on some paper. Place pressure on different parts of your finger each time, then leave to dry and write down the first thing that comes to mind.

TOPTIPS: When choosing paints, keep in mind that bolder colours tend to be the best for inkblot tests, evoking passion and emotion the most.