Wednesday 18 December 2013

Christmas Crafting: Making Paper Pom Poms With Napkins

It's almost here! We've spent the last couple of months preparing for or thinking about the festivities and all of a sudden, it is but a week away! As the school term ends and the Christmas prep becomes a frenzy, we find ourselves in need of entertainment for the younger members of the family. Why not take a break and spend a couple of hours as a family creating some handmade decorations that are easy to make and a fun yet sophisticated addition to the Christmas decor?

These paper pom poms were made with napkins instead of commonly used tissue paper. These napkins are part of the Sainsburys Christmas range. Grab an extra packet to make a lovely centrepiece for your table or some festive bunting that fits perfectly with your colour scheme.

Tuesday 17 December 2013

Meet the Maker: Ruth of Blue Eggs and Tea

I love this illustration! I'm sure you will too. It's the sort of thing that I might pick to be a focal point in a room! I also love the name Blue Eggs and tea! Ready to meet this weeks maker?
Firstly, two very important questions.

Tea or coffee?
You’re right, that is an important question: Tea, milk with two sugars. Don’t try and pass off any of that sweetener on me, and ideally don’t squeeze the bag. Yorshire Tea or Ceylon will be fine ;-)

Biscuit or cake? 
Hmmm. I have got into cake since meeting my partner (his family bake a lot) but I would have a tendency towards biscuits, particularly bourbons. But actually, I’d like to play it in the middle with Tunnocks Tea Cakes – a bit of both...

So, tell us a bit about yourself.
I’m Ruth and I draw! Mainly birds, which you can find on my blog and for sale at Etsy and Not On The High Street. They’re all podgy, and quite cute! My business is Blue Eggs and Tea, in homage to my enduring hero Dr Suess. At Blue Eggs we have a simple motto: Be nice, Be kind and I hope that this love for life and for people and nature runs through my work in the pictures and the words. You can see a little more about the Blue Eggs philosophy here on my blog About page: By day I work in Higher Education, by night I create and I like it this way: I’m not just one person, I need creativity but I also need the structure of my career in education. I have a background in science but also a degree in poetry and creative I’m a mixed bag! Apart from all this my main prerogative in life is to be outdoors, enjoying the solitude and wildness of nature, giving some time to volunteer pursuits or paddling in my kayak. Leave me outdoors and I’ll be fine!

...and what about the item that you are sharing with us? 
Today I’m sharing one of my favourite illustrations called ‘This Is How We Know About Life’ and this is up on my wall in a long thin frame. It really epitomises the Blue Eggs and Tea outlook of caring and sharing. My philosophy is Ben Nice, Be Kind, and this print is very much a nod to that community of kindness that I think we all have in us. I hope you’ll like it! It’s really about extending the hand of friendship, opening our hearts and minds to each other and not taking life too seriously. A lot of social ills could be cured if people were kinder to their fellow beings. 

How long have you been an artist and how did you learn? 
I opened Blue Eggs and Tea this spring, when people kept saying to me that they liked my doodles and would love a print. So, I bit the day I was doodling, the next I was selling. It has grown from there really. I’m self-taught, but have always loved art from school so doodling has always been a go-to activity. But from the outset I was immediately struck by digital painting and digital design and this is now the method I feel most comfortable with. I do love to paint and draw on paper and canvas but I love computer art. Almost every person that buys a Blue Eggs print tells me that they can’t tell that it’s not an original watercolour – that’s the best feedback for me when it comes to a testimony to quality. 

When did you start Blue Eggs and Tea and why? 
I started Blue Eggs and Tea as a ‘brand’ this year as a creative outlet and to share my particular vision and philosophy. My blog supports that, and also explores other things I’m interested in. I’m a big believer in life-long learning and I’m trying to build a blog that is good to read, but also useful and interesting for other creative types. Starting a small business is a fascinating and exhilarating journey and I love sharing that with other like-minded people or folk who are thinking of sipping their toe in themselves. 

What inspires and motivates you? 
Being outside in nature inspires me mainly. Spending time in all weather, walking, cycling, kayaking, running...being amongst it! I always come back from a day or a week out, or even an hour, with lots of ideas. Beyond that, people inspire me! Good people. I really believe in people and their ability to do good. Not all do, but enough do that I feel cheered by the endeavours of others. I’m also all about recognising and celebrating the ‘little things’ in life; the moments that make you smile and brighten your day even if it’s just unexpected sunny weather, text from a friend, a nice biscuit....just the things that are often overlooked. 

Do you have a crafting space? 
I’d love to say I have a studio, but I have a spare room. It contains all my paraphernalia for Blue Eggs and Tea as well as a sewing machine for extra crafting when I get the time – but I’m a sewing newbie so that keeps being shelved! I need more space, and I’m moving soon so that will be a priority, but I couldn’t say it was a studio. I would of course love a summer house in the garden but that’s for another time... Generally, I draw wherever I’m sat...just whenever the spirit moves me, as it were! My space is increasingly become a shrine to the works of others that I love – it’s particularly cluttered with brooches. I run a regular #broochoftheday feature on Twitter where I mix my own brooches by Blue Eggs with others that I keep buying from myriad other talented makers! I love brooches. They’re a revelation to any outfit! 

What did 2013 hold for you?
So much! This year I started my business, got married in November, relocating to Nottinghamshire two weeks later (from Lancashire) because I’ve got a new job that was too good to turn down... so lots of big things for me as the person behind Blue Eggs and Tea. T interesting thing will be to see how my art develops and responds to all the new things. I feel super motivated at the moment, despite the busy time, so who knows what new creations might come out of it. My focus this year has been raising the profile of Blue Eggs; getting it going, blogging etc. I have not been focused on craft fairs or wholesale, which doesn’t interest me in a broad sense at the moment. I love the internet and how it can be leveraged for business, so my plan is to grow that and get more birds to more people: they have something special to say to people and everyone should have a little print on their desk to remind them of happy times. 

So can we join you in your virtual world? 
Please do! My blog is here and I am also on Facebook as ‘Blue Eggs and Tea’ . I’d love to see you on Twitter, which is my primary social media outlet @blueeggsandtea, and also on instagram for behind the scenes photos! (Blueeggsandtea). So, in short I’m all over the place! My work is for sale on Etsy and Not On The High Street: 

And some quick fire questions.

Favourite colour?
Green, theoretically. But increasingly Blue Eggs Blue!

The best season? 
Tough one. I like all of them as they are about to start. At the moment I’m sure Autumn is my favourite! I love mushroom spotting and photographing – you can see my recent snaps on the blog!

Your favourite food?

The best day of the week?
Saturday, until the point when it’s nearly Sunday, which means nearly Monday. Not a fan of Mondays....these days I use my own Blue Eggs Daily Happy Plan to help, but still.... 

What is the best word?
Any of the made-up words my other half invents and pretends are bird species. He does it to catch me out when I’ve come back from an hour to myself birdwatching. I’ll say ‘Oh, a stonechat was about all’ and he’ll say ‘oh, you didn’t see a whimplepliffer then?’ and it cracks me up everytime because he thinks up something new in an instant. It’s a whole book waiting to be illustrated!

Favourite place?
The Northwest highlands of Scotland and the Cairngorms. Failing that? Home.

Your biggest achievement?
I have a doctorate in Himalayan Geology – I’m proud of that. But starting Blue Eggs and Tea is something I’m very proud of. I bit the bullet one day, and learnt as I went along with no formal guidance, and now I really couldn’t imagine life without my birds. I would like to think though that my biggest achievement is still to come...

Thanks Ruth. Can't wait to see that potentional husband and wife collaboration. You saw it here first folks! 

Well that's a wrap you crafty B's (pun fully intended!) That was the last of our 2013 makers. Thank you so much to everyone for contributing and reading. Meet the Maker will be back in 2014 with some more lovely creatives. 

Mrs Crafty B

Tuesday 10 December 2013

Meet the Maker: Elaine of Lily and Nells

I am a little bit 'into' scarfs. I mean wearing them (eek!). I think you can change up any outfit and for me, it's the first thing I notice. I would definitely notice this pretty scarf!
Before we get down to business, lets ask our maker whether they would like tea or coffee? 
Umm. Tricky. I love both but if I could only have one it would have to be tea. Leaf tea, made in a pot, one sugar and a splash of milk.

Biscuit or cake to go with? 
Carrot cake.

Good choice! My favourite. So, tell us a bit about yourself. 
I’m Elaine Jeyes and I’m from Northamptonshire. My business name is Lily and Nells. I have a blog on my website When I’m not making and creating I work part time as a community care worker, looking after the elderly in rural Northamptonshire.

...and tell us about this lovely item. 
The item I am sharing is a hand knitted, lacy scarf/wrap. I had been reading about lace knitting and it’s history and had already made a shawl in thicker yarn. This time I wanted to try something a little finer. I didn’t make it with anyone in mind, I fell in love with the yarn, which is lovely soft alpaca. It was perfect for what I had in mind. I made it by using a combination of two different stitches/patterns and it was knitted using fairly thick needles.

I love reading about the history of various crafts too. How long have you been knitting and how did you learn? 
I having been knitting since I was a young girl and had my first knitting set, complete with plastic needles! My Mum and my Nan taught me a lot of my skills and I’ve honed them over the years. Crocheting was my Nan’s forte and she taught me the basics (not saying how many!) but I still cannot do the intricate work she did. Sewing was down to my Granny and my Mum. I’m still learning!

Anything else you would like to try?
I’d love to have a go at felting as I always admire felted creations. Jewellery could be good fun too :-)

Never enough hours in the day is there? So when did you start Lily and Nells and what made you decide to do it? 
I started Lily and Nells in spring this year. Family and friends like the things I make so when I was off work ill for a time I used my crafting to channel my thoughts and energies into and decided to start the business., which I initially did via Etsy. I now have my own website which I’ve built myself.

Good job on the website! Tell us what inspires and motivates you? 
My inspiration comes from anywhere really. Something I’ve read. A walk in the countryside. More often than not it’s something that pops into my head in the middle of the night!! The joy of making things and the fact that I am addicted to crafting is what motivates me.

Any crafting heroes? 
She is unknown but I think my youngest son’s girlfriend, Jenny is the one. She’s very talented at drawing and painting and manages to succeed at other crafts she tries such as soap making. I am still trying to persuade her to go more public! She is also my hero as she lends an ear when I want someone to bounce ideas off of. She also kindly modelled the item I’m sharing with you.

Tell her to get in touch. We can showcase something here on Meet the Maker for her! 

Do you have a crafting space? 
I’m very lucky that I do have use of a spare bedroom. I store all my stash (which is constantly growing) and made items here and I have a nice area by the window which is perfect for sitting and making. It’s not quite as I want it to be yet (I need to be more organised) and I need some hubby-help for that.

What's happened in 2013 for you and what's planned for 2014?
I did a small Christmas fayre at the end of November in my village and I took part in CraftFest (via Creative Connections) and also a staff led event for Children In Need at Leicester District Land Registry. Staff bought my wares and I donated 10% of my takings. I have bigger plans for 2014 when I hope to start a new line but I’m keeping mum at the moment.

Where can we find you online? 
My website can be found at . I Tweet @LilyandNells and I am also at

Up for some quick fire questions?

Favourite colour? 

The best season?

Your favourite food? 
A good Indian curry

The best day of the week? 

What is the best word? 
Discombobulated (I think we had this answer before...!)

Favourite place? 
Anywhere in Wales (and home)

Your biggest achievement? 
I think as a Mum I have to say having my two lovely sons and seeing them grow up into such fantastic young men.

I have truly enjoyed this interview Elaine. Thank you for sharing and letting us into your world. I wish you and your family a very merry Christmas.

Mrs Crafty B

Wednesday 4 December 2013

Crafty B's Christmas Crafting

The time of year is upon us when people are dropping like flies with various coughs and colds. My two little ones are no exception. Whilst they are cosied up, dosed up with paracetamol, teething gel and vapour rub and napping, I am taking this opportunity to break from the never ending piles of washing and housework, have a cup of tea and a piece of cake and update the blog for you lovely lot.

Apparently Christmas does come earlier when you have children. I was always a big fan of NOT getting into the spirit in September and waiting for the appropriate time. This year I spent everyday of November talking to the biggest Baby B all about Christmas and what it means for us as a family. He's two this year so he understands a bit more. I knew I was harbouring a festive spirit, eager to get out and I waited in anticipation for the right time to let it all out.

The right time was November 30th, when 10 very Crafty B's came together, had tea and mince pies and crafted their hearts out with festive music from Michael Buble and Frank Sinatra filling the air.

Those that came to the launch of the next Crafty B's group, came either with ideas of things they would like to make or an eagerness to be inspired and just go with the flow. The results were wonderful and the taster session led to some very happy B's leaving at the end with some lovely handmade things to add to their Christmas. Some even picked up a Lucky Dip Craft Kit to create some lovely things with or give as a gift.

Each person was given a tile, a magnet and a card and envelope and with all the crafting supplies available they were able to be creative in their own ways. Inspiration for their makes came from imagination, creative flair and inspiration from books, magazines, other people and some handcrafted items that were pre made for everyone to nosy at.

Armed with their glues, papers, felts, fabrics, needles, threads, a die cutting machine and many other tools at their disposal, they got to crafting. Here are a few pictures.
This group served as a taster session of what is to come in the new year and Crafty B's will be holding several Saturday meets at Bourn Golf and Leisure, Bourn, Cambridgeshire throughout 2014. They will run in a similar way to the Christmas Crafting but details will be sent out for each meet as it happens. If you are not already receiving updates from Crafty B's and would like to be informed of upcoming events, please email

Saturday's craft group also served as an outlet for my festive spirit and there was not reigning it back in.  On Sunday, the advent calendar I made last year was hung, the tree came out and the films and music were played and sung.

Happy December one and all.

Mrs Crafty B

Tuesday 3 December 2013

Meet the Maker: Hayley of Nappy Cakes and Gifts

Well, I've never seen anything quite like this. Some baby based crafting up next with Hayley.
Firstly, two very important questions. 

Tea or coffee? 
Always tea! With a big splash of milk and no sugar. I'm one of those people who believe that any problem can be made a bit better by putting the kettle on! 

It can Hayley, it can. So what do we have with it in your opinion, biscuit or cake? 
That's a hard one... Anything that contains chocolate is a winner for me! 

Tell us a bit about yourself and the item you are sharing with us.
Well my name is Hayley, I'm 22 and live in the North East. I started Nappy Cakes and Gifts on Facebook in May after getting a great response over a nappy cake I made for my cousin. I started making custom orders and attending craft fairs and I really enjoy it! This is one of my favourite products at the moment, the sleeping baby! It is a baby grow and hat padded with nappies to resemble a sleeping baby. I can make them in any colour or style and they have proved very popular! 

How long have you been making nappy cakes and how did you learn?
I watched a video online to pick up the basics and after that I mostly learned by doing. It's a bit trial and error when I try a different shape/style but I enjoy challenging myself =) 

When did you start the Nappy Cakes and Gifts blog and why? 
I started blogging in August as I wanted another way to reach potential customers and connect with other crafty people. It's a great place to record new ideas and talk about my plans for the future. Its also good to know that I don't have to rely on just Facebook, especially as it can be temperamental at times! 

What inspires and motivates you? 
The fantastic comments and feedback that I get from family, friends and customers! I also get a lot of inspiration from craft fairs when I talk to other crafters. 

Do you have a crafting space? 
Yes, I still live with my parents at the moment so my craft space is the desk in the corner of my room. I've had to be quite inventive with my storage solutions as my room isn't very big to start with lol! So I have boxes of extra supplies under my bed, under my desk in the wardrobe and on top of the wardrobe! Although my brother has just moved out to go back to university so I'm starting to move some things into his room to give me some space =) 

So can we join you in your virtual world?
Please do, it can be lonely in the interweb ;) 

Finally, some quick fire questions.

Favourite colour? 

The best season? 

Your favourite food?

The best day of the week? 
Sunday- Lie in, Sunday dinner and lazy afternoon watching TV. What more could you want?

Favourite place? 
The beach! 

Your biggest achievement? 
Taking the plunge and setting up my business =)

Thanks for sharing this with us Hayley. I'm sure this will give a little inspiration to some readers out there and prompt others to head over and see some of your other creations.

Mrs Crafty B