Friday, 29 November 2013

black Friday fun


vintage picturebook badges
Zero points for originality here guys: I decided to jump on the bandwagon and join in the 'black Friday' fun. Don't know what that is? I didn't until last year. Apparently this is the day when the highest number of online purchases are made each year in time for Christmas, so there are lots of sales on to draw in customers. Commercial Black Friday makes me feel a little queasy at the rampant consumerism of our world, until... I think about all those small, ethical businesses and handmade shops that are boosting their sales. Yes, Black Friday can be fun! Maybe this year we can all think carefully about where we're shopping and why?

owl brooches
Anyway I'm having a little sale myself, so from today - Friday 29th November - until Friday 7th December you can take 15% off everything in my Etsy shop with the coupon code BLACKFRI13. Have a look around and you just might find an unusual little Christmas gift or stocking filler. Now is the time if you want to order in time for Christmas: last non-EU orders must be made before 8th December, EU 10th December and UK 18th December if you want them to arrive in time. I'm working on a commission at the moment, but after that I won't be taking any more custom collage orders, as there is so much going on making things for a careful Christmas!

vintage magazine slogan badges
Coupon code for 15% off in The Owl Club shop = BLACKFRI13
Lasts until end of Friday 7th December

Thursday, 21 November 2013

my fiction project


You may remember I previously took part in the Sketchbook Project and the Memoir Project. My next undertaking was the Fiction Project, with an almost all-encompassing theme of 'tell the world a story'.

Inspired by some old photographs of unnamed people I came across among my grandmother's things, I decided to gather photographs from old newspapers and magazines, plus a few from my collection and imagine a story for each one.

I ended up writing quite close to the deadline and things progressed quickly because they had to. It was exciting to feel the stories pouring out, and to inhabit all these different worlds.

I imagined myself into the skin of someone looking at the photograph who was either pictured or close to someone pictured. Gazing at the image I found myself becoming that person. Sometimes I drew on information in the newspaper article or on the back of the photo. One image of a little girl had '19 months' written on the reverse, for example. The old magazines had dates and captions to incorporate into the stories.

It was a stimulating writing exercise and I was surprised sometimes by what unfolded. I called it 'All the Lonely People' after the refrain from the Beatles song Eleanor Rigby. It will be digitised once it arrives in the Brooklyn Art Library, where the original will be kept. I hope you'll consider having a browse and let me know what you think.

Saturday, 9 November 2013

giveaway winner!


I'm delighted to announce that the winnder of my happy handmade giveaway is Laura from Blue Eyed Night Owl. Congrats Laura! Thanks so much to everyone who entered and spread the word. I'm glad Rafflecopter had to choose the winner automatically for me, because all the entrants were just such lovely people and bloggers! By the way, the winner Laura's blog is a great place to stop by... for instance her latest post features this ridiculously appealing cardi from Knitted Dove for Modcloth...

Sigh... so pretty! Laura makes and sells beautiful felt accessories (stop by her Etsy shop for your Careful Christmas gifts) and is a huge supporter of all things handmade, so definitely worth following if you're not already.
Anyway, I loved doing this giveaway - must do them more often! I'll try to do another one before Christmas, okay?!

Friday, 8 November 2013

vintage fabric

You might have noticed that I've got a bit of a thing for vintage fabric. I think this has it's roots in my fascination with my mum's fabric stash.

Being a bit of a hoarder (yes, that's where I get it from) my mother accumulated an immense treasure trove of fabrics, mostly bargains and oddments, and quite a bit from when she used to trawl the bins outside London fabric shops! These are the fabrics that surrounded me as a child, when she would make clothes or lavender sachets or toys. Before that she used to make shirts for my Dad, really flowery 1960s pointy collar numbers with French seams.

Since my mother doesn't enjoy sewing these days she is passing on her knowledge and materials to me, for which I am incredibly thankful! I love wearing things that have something she's given me included in them. And no matter how disorganised my own stash gets, I always know what has come from her. But I've also expanded my collection - I just can't get enough! The vintage feedsacks shown above came from Texas, where my Dad lives. Occasionally I get lucky in a Charity Shop, but I'm also willing to pay the quite high prices that often come with buying on Etsy, eBay, or Rag Rescue.

vintage cottons from vintagelady7

For me, using vintage fabric - be it new old stock, or used bed linen or whatever - is an particular pleasure, because it is fabric with a bit of history. Each piece reflects something of the time it was made, and I love the idea of giving it new life in the present. More importantly, using new fabric is not (I hate to say this but it's true) very environmentally friendly. Cotton is the most pesticide-heavy crop in the world (source) and foreign demand for cotton contributes to water shortages in cotton-producing countries (source).

1970s owl fabric from FrauSvensson

Now, I don't deny I have quite a bit of new fabric in my cupboards. I do find it hard to resist a bargain, or a fat quarter of something just gorgeously pretty. Also there are some producers making organic and sustainable new fabrics. But when there's so much lovely old fabric floating around it does seem crazy not to try to use (or reuse) it. Last year at a Christmas craft fair, I mentioned to a customer that some badges were made with vintage fabric. "Does that just mean old?" she said, sceptically. I guess this post for people like her who don't get why using "old" materials can actually be really rather lovely, in a whole variety of ways.

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

plan a careful Christmas


logo by Ashlie Blake

A couple of years ago I had this idea of moving away from the consumerism of Christmas and planning something a little more careful. I came up with the Careful Christmas project to help me have a handmade, recycled and reused Christmas, rather than over-spending on stuff that taxes the earth's resources and encourages the exploitation of cheap labour. This year, my dear friend Ashlie of PaintingBliss has relaunched the project to encourage everyone to join in.

handmade gift tags by MissChaelaBoo

Here are the original guidelines I gave myself:

  • homemade gifts, e.g. badges, sewn things, preserves, food
  • handmade gifts, e.g. bought on Etsy, craft fair or similar
  • vintage/second-hand gifts
  • gifts that recycle or upcycle things I already own
  • re-use saved wrapping & ribbons
  • or use up new wrapping bought in previous years
  • I have a lot of cards already, any extras must be handmade
  • decorations: same principles as for gifts


Ashlie is crocheting up a storm making the most gorgeous mittens (all I can say is I hope I make her Christmas list!) and I am planning several infinity scarves, some cuffs, and some cafetière cosies (the latter is a request from my Aunt). I am also making a large batch of my Spiced Apple Chutney (get the recipe here!)

And don't forget that I'm running a little handmade giveaway on the blog - you could win some gifts to get your careful Christmas off to a great start (or just keep them for yourself!)

And I also recommend checking out Ashlie's mixed media art, available in her Etsy shop, as you might just find the perfect and completely unique gift there.


What plans will you be making for a careful Christmas this year? If you're making things and use Instagram or Twitter, please tag them #carefulchristmas so we can see all the lovely creativity!

Friday, 1 November 2013

happy handmade giveaway {closed}


So a while ago I mentioned that I've updated my Etsy shop, and that a giveaway would follow... well, it's taken me enough time but here it is finally! You can enter to win everything shown here, made with love by yours truly.

There's a big old lavender heart made with vintage fabric, a button and garden twine...

There's a brooch made from a vintage wooden jigsaw puzzle, varnished and fitted with a brooch back, like the ones in my Etsy shop...

There's a little set of fabric pinback badges, made with vintage fabric...

And also one of my upbeat little collage badges, made from vintage magazines and one of a kind...

...And finally an owl brooch, in a larger size than the ones available in my Etsy shop, and with colours that have more than a hint of a certain festive event that will soon be upon us (haha!)

I like to think that these things would make a cheering November parcel, full of handmade and vintage goodness, and I'll be delighted to send them to whoever Rafflecopter picks out of the entries! Rafflecopter do a neat little widget that will guide you through entering and offer you lots of extra ways to gain entries too. The giveaway is open to anyone, anywhere, and will close next Saturday 9th November at 12 noon GMT. Spread the word, and good luck!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

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