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30 March 2014

Guest Blogger: 10 DIY Lampshade Ideas by Ian Holbrooke

Today Ian Holbrooke is my guest blogger!

Ian is the owner of Premier Lampshades, a UK company specialising in bespoke, handmade fabric lampshades and repair services. He's put together a great collection of DIY lampshade ideas, which he thought you all might like to try your crafting hands at! So, without further ado, over to Ian!
Next time you gear yourself up to buy a new lampshade, take a pause for breath and ponder trying your hand at the latest home-design craze: DIY lampshades. You can make a sharp and snazzy lampshade out of almost anything! Creating something genuinely unique can be fun and challenging, as well as adding a personal touch to your home. With many blogs and articles on the subject, the popularity of DIY lampshades is snowballing… so take some inspiration from the bright ideas below and get involved!
1) The Literary Lamp

Recycle old books by pasting their pages across a plain white lampshade, to create a refined and intellectual aura by which to read some Proust, Sartre… or the TV guide.
2) The Faux Flower Lamp

Bunch together fake flower blossoms on your lamp to create a summery, natural atmosphere. You can even make your own with some simple fabric origami, securing them in place with staples or glue.

3) The Yarn Lamp

What could be simpler than spinning a yarn around your lamp? Not the made-up story kind, the woollen kind. Twine can be substituted if desired and involves minimal effort; for a more complete and unique pattern, use different coloured threads to create contrast.

4) The Wanderlust Lamp

Use a map of the Earth to paper your lampshade and have the light of the world shine into your bedroom! A similar, duller effect can be achieved by cutting a globe in half and positioning over your open bulb, creating the perfect light source to welcome home an avid traveller.

5) The Chopstick Lamp

Stockpiled a small mountain of chopsticks from all those takeaway sushi deliveries? Well, now you can put them to use by suspending them from the upper frame of your lamp, for an oriental and minimalist lampshade.

6) The Vintage Slide Lamp

Dig out those old negatives from the days before digital cameras were quite so dominant and have them converted to slides at your nearest photographic developer. Then, simply safety-pin them together and arrange around your light source, creating a retro shade to evoke nostalgic memories of the good old days.

7) The Balsa Lamp

Balsa is a pliable wood, making it easy to bend and contort around your lamp. With a little bit of invention, you can come up with some really interesting ideas and designs.

8) The Twig Lamp

Scout around in the back garden and gather today a bundle of dry twigs. Once they are cleaned off, simply arrange them around your lamp and secure either with twine or by suspension to create a rustic and ‘au naturel’ look to your room lighting.

9) The Fork Lamp

Create a trendy and modern pattern on your lampshade with a pot of paint and an old fork, imprinting the three prongs along the fabric in any sequence you desire.

10) The Cityscape Lamp

Use a stencil to draw a cityscape along the bottom of your lamp rim, leaving the rest of the shade untouched to act as your sky that will glow with its own individual 60W sun, and fall to darkness when sleep beckons.

Aren't these wonderful ideas! It's so hard to decide which is my favourite! Possibly the map of the balsa lamp for ceating a clever but subtle design. Which is your favourite? 
Thanks so much Ian, for this great DIY blog post! 
If you fancy guesting posting on Adventures & Tea Parties, please do get in touch!

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26 March 2014

Yarn bomb day!

Who me officer? Well, I can neither confirm nor deny that myself or my friend was in the vicinity but I must say it looks pretty darn cute don't you think? And aren't those hearts crocheted? And ooh, do I spy a rainbow theme...Richard Of York....
So yeah, after what was an awesome day at the Sewing for Pleasure show, Ruth and I decided to take a stroll around the park. It was the perfect morning for a walk .... and a bit of pre-planned yarn bombing of course, hee hee!
Ruth had to show me what to do as I was a complete novice. In fact, Ruth is the talented hands behind the crocheted hearts. You wouldn't know she hasn't done much crochet. They are the cutest, neatest, prettiest things ever! And now I've got the taste for it, so maybe there will be a few more park benches decorated by crafty hands this year!
Have you done a bit of yarn bombing? I'd love to hear all about it and do send me any pictures if you have any! 

Happy yarn bombing!

24 March 2014

Review: The Sewing for Pleasure show

On Saturday my bestie and I headed to the Sewing for Pleasure show at the NEC, Birmingham. Neither of us had been before and being of the creative variety, we were a little excited to say the least!

After our initial, "OMG, this place is massive!" and realising that our £10 tickets entitled us to not only 'Sewing for Pleasure' but 'Fashion, Embroidery & Stitch' and 'Hobbycraft' (bargain!), we decided to do a recce of the entire place, marking off on our programme the stalls we wanted to visit later. This certainly helped how overwhelmed we originally felt but I do have to say, the map in the programme was terrible! It made navigating the place really difficult and at times a tad frustrating, especially at lunch time when the world and his mother landed! 

Anyhooo, on our second walk round (and several cups of tea and a bag of mini eggs later!), we got stuck into oohing and ahhing over all the masses of gorgeous material. Our purses might have felt the heat at this point! ;-) 

I managed to achieve my only goal (I don't like to set too many at places like this and instead go with the flow - more relaxing that way) to have a go on an overlocker machine. In fact, I tried out three and I now HAVE to get one! They are A.MA.ZING!! 

My bestie had a mission to find small enough buttons to make Mr Octopus's eyes with and there were plenty to choose from. In fact, the range of haberdashery items was pretty impressive and we may have purchased a few extra bits, as well as eyes for an Octopus!

There were all sorts of crafts and supplies at the show, including plenty of yarn and awesome knitted displays. Mr Dragon above made me chuckle because he had so much character, especially the fact he was wearing a pink ring. So much detail and effort had gone into creating him. I was rather impressed!

There were also plenty of tutorials and interactive stalls, like this hand knitted yarn chain. When I say hand knitted, I actually mean finger knitted i.e. knitting on your fingers, not with needles. We didn't get to have a go but it's now on the list of things to try out. These ladies were actually working on the longest finger knitted yarn chain for the Guiness Book of Records. It was rather spectacular!

We also made it along to one demonstration by no other than the rather lovely, Stuart Hilliard of the Great British Sewing Bee 2013! He did a fantastic demonstration on customising clothing and we both came away wondering if or where he teaches sewing classes because he made the demonstration so much fun! Stuart, you rock!

Soooo, I think it's safe to say, we had a darn good day and cannot wait to go back next year!

Did you go? What did you think? Have you blogged about it (send me the link!)? I'd love to hear what you thought and maybe see a few pics of your purchases! On that note, I will soon be sharing the goodies I bought - not enough space to fit them in here as I bought too much sewing goodness!

Stay tuned for a rather yarn themed blog post this week. I will say no more!
Until then, happy sewing!


Disclosure: I reviewed this independently and wasn't sponsored to write this post.

11 March 2014

Writing for Terrys Fabrics

Exciting news! I've just joined the team at Terrys Fabrics as a How To Contributor!

The How To section of Terrys Fabrics is full of gorgeous tutorials, written by a team of lovely people in their spare time and I'm very proud to be a part of it! I hope to bring you all lots of easy projects, great for beginners. So, get your sewing machines ready!

5 March 2014

Going on sewing leave

Ok, so that's a slight exaggeration. I'm not exactly going on leave to sew - though that would be truly great if I could!

I've decided to give myself a month off from making made-to-order handkerchiefs - it seems I cannot make them fast enough for you lovely Not On The High Street shoppers!

Why? Well, after upgrading my sewing machine, I've done nothing but make hankies on it and I'm not only desperate to try out some new projects on it but also, and possibly more importantly, I want to get to know my machine and find out just what it is capable of.

So, I've decided to sign up for a few evening sewing classes to get me focusing on new projects and using my machine in different ways. I'm also going to be blowing the dust off various sewing books, which are sitting unloved on my shelf. I'm hoping that will help me and my sewing machine get to know each other better and to say I'm excited about it is a complete understatement!

I plan to share my makes, so do check back soon to find out what I've been up to.

While my machine and I are becoming better acquainted, my onlines shops will still be open. The only difference being that my made-to-order handkerchiefs will be unavailable for a month. If you desperately want a handkerchief for a special event over the next month, please do drop me a line.

Happy sewing!

2 March 2014

Blog Gem - Blue Eggs and Tea

Hello March and hello Blog Gem time! This month as part of my Blog Gem series we get to find out about the lovely, talented Ruth - the face behind Blue Eggs and Tea, an utterly gorgeous blog I discovered recently. Ruth not only runs a blog but she also runs an Etsy shop, full of her beautiful illustrations. I simply want to buy everything in it!

So, lets find out more! 

Hello there Ruth, can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

I daren’t call myself an artist or a blogger – I just happen to pour myself into both, whilst also juggling my career as an academic adviser in Higher Education. I’m recently married with two cats and fish, and I just moved out of the hills and into the flat lands of England. I have an on-going love affair with Scotland and the mountains. I’m a geologist by training. I’m allergic to aubergine, pathologically fearful of Ginger but also, ironically, a redhead, and I long for a small herd of Alpaca. Oh, and I love birdwatching! 

What's your creative space like? 
In my old house I used my spare room, which was a fit-all room for everything that didn’t fit into ‘kitchen’ ‘lounge’ or ‘bedroom’. But moving was a great chance to go out with the intention of finding something bigger, which we did. I now have a spare room, which is solely for Blue Eggs and Tea and I’ve really relished filling that with all my stuff. I have a long desk of about 2 metres where I can do general stuff including packaging orders, and then there is my computer desk where the main work happens. I also have my sewing machine in there, a load of plants, a load of books, and a load of pictures. I am obsessed with buying other people’s art work. I don’t think it’s massively important to have a dedicated space – it can become another form of creative snobbery and I don’t go in for that. You do what you need to do in this life, and find the space you need however that comes. 


If you had to take only one art or craft tool to a desert island, what would it be and why? 
I love craft, but if I was on a desert island I’d be far too excited about the rocks, and the plants and the birds to bother with crafting! Seriously though I’d take some sort of knife and get down to some woodwork. I’ve always wanted to carve my own canoe!  

How do you work and get inspired? 
I work when I can, however I can, in every available scrap of space I can find around the edge of my full-time job. This can be hard work, especially as they are so different, but I try not to moan because I chose this life and it’s a privilege and a joy to have the choice. My major creative inspirations and the True North for my work are Dr Suess and Quentin Blake with a myriad of other people popping in and out at different times. An average day on twitter will leave me inspired. Who can be more inspiring than the people we choose to spend on this planet with? Day to day it’s all about people and places and the world we live in. Clearly, I love birds. Animals generally. But I also love people and believe in the goodness and kindness in the human spirit. So the birds become a vessel for conveying the message of what I am feeling at any given time about people and our relationships together. I tend to feel something, and then I go out and surround myself with nature and let the idea ferment into something bird-orientated and colourful. Something uplifting. I’m a huge believer in positivity. I’ve had some bad times in my life, periods of darkness, but I also know the transformative power of time spent working on your personal outlook in life. Working on recognising happiness, and accepting pain as normal, which is a skill that needs developing in us all. 

What top tips would you give to anyone starting a blog and online shop? 
When it comes to blogging I am all brand new. It’s been less than a year, and I didn’t really pick up any momentum for several months. I think you need to find your voice and then run with it – I learned this a few years ago when I did a writing MA. I try and keep the focus on things that ‘speak to’ Blue Eggs and Tea. Topics that relate to the underpinning values: kindness, happiness, triumph over adversity and fun! I don’t want to portray a fake life on my blog because I find those sorts of blogs intimidating. So I write the blog I would be happy to read. Another tip is to let your blog grow organically – don’t be worried about followers. Just be authentic. 

When it comes to starting an online shop there are so many tips I could give, and I try and put these on my blog if you have a raid of that, but primarily it has to come down to this: just get on with it. You’ll regret what you didn’t try more than you will regret what you did. If you have a passion chase it. The worst that can happen is that is doesn’t work. Don’t waste time wondering exhaustively about the pro’s and con’s. These days you can make your choices low risk, by testing the water through free social media, you can invest a little money with new ideas without going bulk. Social media has made this possible so why wait? Bravery and risk taking is rewarded in this life: the research proves it. 

Is there a story behind the name 'Blue Eggs and Tea'?
There sure is. My all-time biggest influence is Dr Suess, it’s the combination of moral issues, picture and word rhyme. As a kid we read them aloud with my parents all the time. My dad’s favourite was Green Eggs and Ham and so the name came from that. My dad died suddenly a few years ago and I’ve found that lots of things that I’ve done since have connected with him in some subtle way. I find it’s a good ‘way back’ to my memory of him, as the years pass and I get scared of losing the memories I have in photos. I also love blue eggs. It’s that banal. 

If you could go to a Creative Blog Award dinner with any 5 people/fictional characters (dead or alive), who would you choose? 
Let’s assume Dr Suess and Quentin Blake are busy that day. This would leave me with a longlist that’s still too long! Ask me on any other day and I would probably say something different but let’s say for now: Margaret Atwood (I love her books, Life Before Man in particular), Captain Scott (Adventurer and all-round hard man. We’d discuss the strength of the human resolve), the Head of Dept. at Nottingham Veterinary School (so I could persuade him to let me study with them part-time for free and fulfil the one dream that will always be the one that got away), Aung san suu kyi to discuss how she has stayed so brave and focused in her fight for the liberation of Burma, and then finally, my Dad. There’s lots I never said; I think we’d get on really well these days. A weird mix, and as I say I could switch some of those out for a chinwag with Neil Armstrong, Philip Larkin, Germaine Greer, Hazel Irvine….haha. 

And finally...book & tea or film & wine?
I’m a hideous cliché. Book and Tea please. I’m not a big drinker to be honest, though I do like Rekorderlig cider a lot. And Rose wine. Oh, and Baileys….ok, maybe I lied. Still tea though. Ceylon preferably. And the book needs to leave me with something. I need to come away better for reading it. Saying that though I seem to rarely finish a book these days, if only books were 110 minutes long…  

Wow! What inspiring words! I wholeheartedly agree with your tip for those thinking of starting an online shop: just go for it, there's no time like the present! Thanks so much for stopping by, Ruth. It's been fantastic hearing all about what inspires you and of course who would come to that Creative Blog Award dinner!

I hope you all enjoyed reading about Ruth's creative world. Stay tuned for next month's Blog Gem and until then happy blogging!

All of the images and interview answers are the copyright of Ruth at Blue Eggs and Tea. Please do not use without seeking permission first. Thank you.


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