Tag Archives: craft

DIY: air drying clay Christmas tree decorations

13 Dec

I just love DAS clay… a couple of years ago I used it to make these simple clay tree decorations and this week we had a go at some more using different rubber stamps to create an embossed effect.

DAS clay Christmas tree decoration DIY LR

Air drying clay Christmas decorations LR

DAS clay snowflake Christmas tree decoration LR

{Decorator’s Notebook}

For those who haven’t used it before, DAS air-drying clay can be rolled and moulded like salt dough but dries to an off white ceramic finish. A big 1kg block costs under £5 from Amazon or local craft shops. We used about a third of  packet to make about 25 decorations.

Air Drying Clay Christmas Tree Decorations

1) Slice off about one third of a 1kg block of DAS air drying clay. Seal the remainder quickly in the packet as it soon dries out.

2) Roll out the clay to about 1.5mm thick on a smooth surface. Cut out shapes using a range of biscuit cutters – we chose snowflakes and hearts but anything festive will do… play around with the different ones you have cutting positive and negative shapes and various sizes.

3) Working quickly before the clay dries, emboss the decorations using rubber stamps or found materials like lace and hessian. Anything you can find with a pretty textures surface will work nicely.

4) Use the plastic casing of a biro to cut a small hanging hole in the top of each shape for hanging.

5) Leave until the clay is leather hard, then gently lift the decorations from your worksurface and transfer to a warm dry place to dry out. These are thin so will only take a few hours. They’ll harden up and lighten in colour when they’re dry.

6) Thread with twine or ribbon and they’re ready to hang on the tree!

These are really simple and certainly easy enough to try with the kids this weekend. Don’t forget to share the results with us on Instagram / Twitter / Pinterest @DecoratorsNotes or on our Facebook page.


Getting creative at Art in Action

24 Jul

This weekend I spent a brilliant two days exploring Art in Action, an annual festival of art and crafts in the grounds of Waterperry House near Oxford. Artists were there demonstrating everything from oil painting and printmaking to pottery and metalwork – plus we signed up for a couple of practical classes to try our hand at some new skills for ourselves.

art in action at waterperry house oxford

We spent our first day exploring the artists’ work on show, in between ducking into patches of shade to escape the blistering heat. Here are just a few of my personal highlights…

sarah spackman

sarah spackman still life in oil

In the painting tent I fell in love with Sarah Spackman‘s subtle still lifes painted in oil on linen. It was fascinating to chat to her as she painted, mixing up beautifully chalky colours on her enormous palette. Her paintings would have been the perfect thing for the living room in my old flat!

ian phillips linocut

reduction linocut ian phillips

I was really taken with Ian Phillips‘s linocuts in the printmaking tent – lots of his work features the Welsh coast, which might explain why I liked them so much – there are lots of examples on his website. He uses a reduction technique, gradually cutting away areas of his drawing and printing each layer with a different colour of ink. He’s done a step-by-step linocut tutorial here so I’m going to give this a try sometime.

helen murgatroyd printmaker

Helen Murgatroyd printmaker

Another printmaker who caught my eye was newcomer Helen Murgatroyd, who had a selection of fruit and veg inspired linocuts and lithographs on display. Opposite, we were drawn to the whirr of Harriet Riddell‘s sewing machine and watched mesmerised as she machine-stitched portraits of visitors completely freehand in just 15 minutes.

stitched portraits harriett riddell

institchyou by harriet riddell

portrait sewn by harriett riddell

Mum and I decided we had to have a go and came away with a portrait apiece. If you fancy one too, Harriet sets up her machine in Greenwich market most weeks and you can even book her to perform at an event! I totally loved her… check out InStitchYou (geddit) for more.

On the second day we’d signed up for a couple of practical taster sessions (book them ahead if you go along next year because spaces fill up fast). First up, we had a go at sculpture, which I’ve never tried before. We headed into the tent and were faced with this lump of clay on a pole, which apparently we’d be turning into a sculpted clay head in just an hour and a half!

clay head sculpture

Needless to say I was pretty sceptical, but the tutor (from The Art Academy in London) showed us how to measure different parts of the model’s face and quickly build up the shape with clay. Halfway through, the cocktail stick markers made the whole thing look a bit like a very lumpy voodoo doll…

sculpting head from clay

Ninety minutes flew by in a flash and in no time we were desperately rolling eyeballs to try and finish our heads!

sculpting heads from clay art in action

art in action sculpting clay head

Ok, so I don’t have a photo of it next to the model, but even if there’s not much of a resemblance it at least looks like a person! I was amazed that for a group of beginners everyone managed to create something really impressive in such a short time. After lunch, we’d enrolled on a woodblock printing session with Rachel Sim.

sketch of feathers

woodcut printing

We sketched out some quick ideas then used these beautiful tools to carve the design out from Japanese plywood. I thought it would be hard work but the tools were sharp and the wood was soft so it was easy to carve nice shapes. I did one block with some feathers…

woodcut printing block feathers

And another one with a funny leggy chicken-type thing…

woodcut printing block bird

woodcut printing blocks art in action{all Decorator’s Notebook}

The weekend was so brilliant I’m definitely going to make it an annual visit. If you’re at all interested in art and crafts I’m certain you’ll love it. Next year’s dates aren’t online yet but keep an eye on the Art in Action website to find out when it’s happening in 2014. I’ll be there!

15-minute make: vintage cigarette card garland

21 Jun

Caroline from Patchwork Harmony came up with this sweet and simple craft idea for the latest Crafty Fox Box and has been kind enough to let me share it for today’s 15-minute make.

vintage cigarette card garland DIY

Cigarette card garland

Vintage cigarette cards (try car boot sales and eBay)

Sewing machine


pretty floral cigarette cards

stitching cigarette cards to make a garland

1) Sort your cards into the order you want them to be in the finished garland. Take the first one and position it under the foot of the sewing machine so the needle is about 5mm from the top of the card.

2) Stitch across the top of the card. When you reach the end stitch a gap of about 5mm then add the next card.

3) Keep going to create a garland as long or short as you like!

Tip: The finished garlands can tangle easily so it’s better to make several shorter strings than one really long one and store them folded into a concertina.

cigarette card bunting{Project and photographs Caroline Taylor / Patchwork Harmony}

Thanks for sharing Caroline! If you’re antiquing this weekend keep your eyes peeled for bundles of pretty cigarette cards and have a go.

Cute and quick homemade thank you cards

28 May

I’ve had it drummed into me since I was little that it’s essential to send thank you cards to relatives who’ve given you presents. In recent years I’ve always tried to make them myself, partly because I think handmade cards are that little bit more special and partly to make up for the fact I usually send them weeks late. Here’s a quick how-to of this year’s design…

homemade thank you card ideas

homemade thank you cards DIY

handmade card ideas how to{all Decorator’s Notebook}

Once you’re on a roll, each handmade card will only take a few minutes and it’s easy to vary the design with different coloured washi tape, twine and snipping the flags and dymo labels into slightly different shapes.

These would made lovely homemade birthday cards or invitations too.

If you found my post useful, please share it! Buttons below…

52 Forms of Funghi (aka: a year of knitted mushrooms)

8 Apr

There’s only one thing I like more than a good photo project. And that’s a knitted photo project! Fibre artist Leigh Martin from Oklahoma is on a mission to yarn bomb trees with knitted mushrooms. One species every week for a year. Brilliant right!?

knitted funghi art installation

knitted funghi project

yarn bombed tree mushrooms

knitted funghi project

knitted funghi

bracket fungus knitted{Bromeleighad via The Jealous Curator}

I’m definitely going to be following the progress of this mycological adventure …and if you’re wondering (as I was) how on earth such an idea comes about, read Leigh’s mission statement for a full explanation.

15-minute make: pebble photo holder

11 Jan

pebble photo holder DIY craft idea{Danny Seo / Miki Duisterhof via Country Living}

When I was a child I was a bit of a magpie and my coat pockets were permanently filled with treasures I’d picked up and squirreled away… a grey feather, a scrap of ribbon, a patterned pebble or a shard of sea-smoothed glass. This simple craft idea takes moments and is one way to get part of your collection out on display.

Pebble Photo Holder

Nice smooth pebbles

Paper covered floristry wire


1) Take a 20cm length of wire and wrap one end around the pebble. Twist to secure it tightly at the base.

2) Stand the remaining wire upright then twist the other end into a flattened spiral – the easiest way to do this is grip the end of the wire with pliers then wrap the next 3-4cm of wire tightly around them. Press with your fingers to flatten.

3) Pop a postcard, photo or polaroid into the top and voila! Experiment with different sized pebbles and lengths of wire to make a pleasing group.

Have a lovely weekend – wrap up warm!

15-minute make: ribbon star tree decoration

7 Dec

So, here begins a new little mini series I’ll be visiting on Decorator’s Notebook from time to time. I love settling down to a day of solid crafting with only a box of materials, cake and tea for company as much as the next girl. But in reality, we all know that finding the time to be creative is hard. So in this post I’ll be collecting together stylish craft ideas that you can reasonably start and finish in the time it takes to drink a mug of earl grey.

homemade star Christmas decoration

{Crafts & Creativity}

To make this ribbon wrapped star Christmas decoration, simply bend a strip of wire into a basic star shape with a hook at the top, wrap with a length of ribbon and tie the loose ends in a bow. Visit Craft & Creativity blog for step-by-step instructions. Try Jane Means for a beautiful selection of seasonal ribbons or try it with jute string or striped baker’s twine for a more relaxed look. Your local hardware shop is the place to buy thick wire (pick up a pair of pliers at the same time to make it easier to bend into shape).

Let me know if you have a go at this and share a photo via Twitter @DecoratorsNotes or my brand new Facebook page.

Have a lovely weekend!

S is for Snail Mail

15 Jun

When I was growing up, I had several pen friends and I think it’s a shame that children today are pretty unlikely to exchange letters with a friend overseas or from an old school. A text message, email or BBM just doesn’t have the excitement of a hand-decorated envelope with foreign stamps dropping through the letterbox, containing answers to questions asked weeks ago on pastel-coloured notepaper.

Aside from birthday cards and thank-you notes, I hardly ever write letters for fun anymore. Collecting the inspiring pins for today’s Pinterest A-Z reminds me how lovely it is receive something other than boring window envelopes in the post. And that’s why…

S is for Snail Mail

{Camilla Engman via my Pinterest boards}

{Hooray via my Pinterest boards}

{100 Layer Cake via my Pinterest boards}

{Creature Comforts via my Pinterest boards}

{via Sallies via my Pinterest boards}

{Sweet Paul via my Pinterest boards}

If you’ve been inspired to try making your own envelopes I think this DIY envelope tutorial at Poppytalk is the best – save different shapes and sizes when it’s your birthday and build up a stock of templates.

Come and follow Decorator’s Notebook on Pinterest for daily snippets from the world of interiors, crafting and general loveliness!

%d bloggers like this: