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28 January 2016

Three Social Media Tips

After learning lots on a photography course, today's tips are all about image size and the best ones to use!

Twitter / landscape orientated image of about 1024 x 512 pixels.

Facebook / landscape orientated image of around 1024 x 628 pixels.

Instagram / square image of around 1080 x 1080 pixels.

Catch up on all my social media tips here and don't forget to follow me on TwitterFacebookInstagram and Pinterest.

Want help managing your social media accounts or need a freelance blogger? Well, look no further, you've come to the right place! I also work as a freelance blogger and social media manager. Get in touch here for more info.

27 January 2016

Three Quick Sewing Tips

sewing tips for beginners

Sewing requires a lot or ironing, so today's three quick tips are based on exactly that!

1) Clean your iron regularly. There's nothing worse than mucking up your fabric before you've even begun!

2) Wash your ironing board cover to keep it fresh and to stop any marks getting on to your fabric.

3) Invest in a sleeve ironing board (i.e. those mini ironing boards!) for pressing sleeves and cuffs. Much easier to press a sleeve using one of these, instead of grappling with your standard ironing board.

Catch up on all my sewing tips here and don't forget to have a look at my sewing and haberdashery Pinterest boards for inspiration!

Happy sewing!

25 January 2016

Flat lay photography

What is it about flat lay photography that is just so scrumptious?

I am completely in love with flat lay photography and have become even more obsessed with it since finishing Emily Quinton's online photography course. I've taken a tonne of photos on the course - seriously, I could fill this whole blog up with images! Yes, I went camera mad taking snaps on the course but all in the name of, practice makes perfect!

Here's one of the flat lays that I did. I wanted to do lines of colours, with the strength of the colour getting lighter towards the bottom of the frame. 

The props are items I found in my studio, which I firstly layed out on a table to make sure I'd got enough for the shot. I tested the shot by taking a few photographs and then moved the entire lot, in order (thank goodness for trays!), downstairs to my sitting room where the light was perfect for the time of day. Then I got to work, snapping away with my camera. I worked using an auto-focus, so that I didn't have to worry about aperture and ISO numbers but I made sure there was plenty of day light and didn't get tempted to turn the lights on in the room.

I  enjoyed working with these lines of colours so much that I decided to try some more flat lay colour shots, using different props. You might be able to spot one of these on my Instagram page! I'll be sharing more of these soon, so stay tuned!

flat lay photo

flat lay photos

flat lay photography

flat lay photography

23 January 2016

Love Post (Red) Printed Brooch

Today's post is delving into the world of print, design and love, wooo!

See this little cutey below? It's called the Love Post (Red) Printed Brooch, designed and handmade by Matthew at Bonfire Cherry. Isn't it gorgeous?!

Not only can you pick one up with free postage (coupon code at the end of this post) but today you can find out exactly how Matthew designed and created it! So, I'm going to hand the reins over. Take it away, Matthew! 

Step 1: For the valentine’s brooch design, I thought about old love letters that couples used to send to each other and a Portuguese post box I took a picture of during my travels a few years ago. I started off from drawing the design onto a piece of layout paper but you can use tracing paper. By going over the design on both sides I transferred the design onto the lino.

Step 2: Before I started carving the lino I made sure to go over the reversed design with pen so I didn’t miss any details!

Step 3: After some time I finished carving the inside of the design. Usually I like to keep the background but for this brooch design it is not needed, so I used some scissors to remove everything around the design. Next step is the fun part, printing!

Step 4: Before I started printing, I made sure I had the correct ink, card, something that I could roll the ink on (can be card, glass, newspaper or plastic), and 2 rollers for steps 5 and 6.

Step 5: I rolled some red lino printing ink over the piece of lino, making sure the lino was covered with enough ink but not too much.

Step 6: When ready I gently applied some card over the lino and with a dry roller I went over the lino making sure that there was enough pressure for the ink to go onto the card and when I knew it was ready I then slowly peeled the card off the ink to the design you now see! This took me a few attempts to get right but you are going to get that with any form of printing.

Step 7: After the design had dried I then scanned it onto my pc where I adjusted the colour a bit before printing it onto a material called shrink plastic.

Step 8: I cut the copies of the design up, ready for the oven!

Step 9: In the oven they went at a high temperature on an oven tray covered with a sheet of grease proof paper making sure they don’t stick to the tray.

Step 10: After a few minutes in the oven the design as you can see from step 8 has shrunk 7 times its size. I waited for the brooch to cool down and then I applied the brooch pin on the back!

Thanks so much, Matthew! It's been fascinating reading all about how you designed and created the valentine's inspired brooch! I now want to get my screen printing set out to play!

For all you lovely readers, you can get free shipping on any item in the Bonfire Cherry shop! Simply enter the following code at check out: CHERRYLOVE. This code can only be used once.
What a great offer! I totally want one of EVERYTHING in the shop!

22 January 2016

What's on the jukebox, Jo?

stamp music

Where do you begin in describing the ultimate legend that is, Bowie? 

Since the news of his death, I've had Bowie on repeat, non-stop. Although, in fairness, he's been on my jukebox non-stop since I was first introduced to him. I remember my Dad pulling Jean Genie from his record collection when I was just a little girl. Dad said to me, "you're gonnna like this one" and so I did to the point of madness, listening to it on repeat.

Jean Genie is indeed a favourite but so too are many of his songs. I could quite easily fill this post with pretty much every song he ever wrote but instead I'll pick out just a few, which I've been returning to quite a bit recently.

This performance of Heroes is just pure brilliance!! The opening banter with his band and audience has me in hysterics and many, many happy tears!

Five Years I didn't hear until a lot later and oh boy, does it make my heart ache. That thread of sadness throughout....

Getting to see him perform at Glastonbury in 2000 was like nothing else. Wow, did he rock that stage! I'll never, ever forget it. 

What a man, an inspiration, a complete legend.

21 January 2016

Three Social Media Tips

tips on social media
Twitter / There's nothing wrong with a friendly debate on Twitter but a full blown argument doesn't do your street cred any good, especially if you run a business.

Pinterest / Did you know you can schedule your pins? Yup, you can schedule what time you would like your pin to go out, using an app. There are a load of free apps out there, including ViralTag and ViralWoot to name but a few.

Facebook / Want to know what you were doing on Facebook on this day years ago? Simply go to Facebook.com/onthisday and you can decide to share on your FB wall.

Catch up on all my social media tips here and don't forget to follow me on TwitterFacebookInstagram andPinterest.

Want help managing your social media accounts or need a freelance blogger? Well, look no further, you've come to the right place! I also work as a freelance blogger and social media manager. Get in touch here for more info.

20 January 2016

Three Quick Sewing Tips

This week I'm sharing three tips on sewing seams!

1. Press seams before pinning. It keeps them in place and sometimes means you don't have to use pins!

2. When sewing a curved seam, draw the seam on first, with chalk or removable ink. It's much easier to follow the line when sewing.

3. When sewing that seam focus directly on the area directly in front of your needle

Catch up on all my sewing tips here and don't forget to have a look at my sewing and haberdashery Pinterest boards for inspiration!

Happy sewing!

18 January 2016

Photography course

Last week I started Emily Quinton's online photography course and I'm loving it! I'm learning so much and really getting to know the way around my camera...and my house for the perfect places to take photos!

As you can imagine, I've taken a tonne of photos but here are three from one lesson where we looked at backgrounds, natural light and the rule of thirds! Each of these were taken in different rooms in my home, making the most of the natural light beaming through the windows and learning to turn the light off in a room to stop it from giving the photo a nasty, yellow tinge.

I really enjoyed having a think about backgrounds, starting with my home for inspiration. It really needn't be expensive finding backgrounds or indeed cost anything at all! What I particularly loved about this homework was thinking about how different backgrounds with the same object as a focal point, can give an entirely different feeling to an image.

The flowery background is a sample piece of fabric that I picked up for £1 from my local fabric shop. The marble is the original flooring in my 1930s house and the wood is actually a chest that I use as a coffee table in my living room. Oh and the little teapot was picked up in Hong Kong by my parents years ago. It was lovely to get it out the dresser and use it as a focal point. Made me really look at the teapot and appreciate it as a beautiful object. I'm now looking at objects and backgrounds around my home with a completely fresh pair of eyes!

I will be sharing more photos in the weeks to come but to see more, head over to my Instagram page and come follow me on Twitter!

17 January 2016

Recommended leather suppliers

sewing tools

At the start of the week I put a call out on Twitter for any recommended shops that sell leather for sewing with. I got quite a few responses, so I decided to put a list together of all the recommended shops.

A & A Crack & Sons

A.L Maugham & Co


MacCulloch & Wallis


I've ordered six free samples from A & A Crack & Sons for a new product idea I want to try out. I'll let you all know how I get on. If you have any other recommendations, please do let me know and I will update the list.

Happy sewing!

14 January 2016

How to combat those winter blues

Over on the Simple Stylish Makes blog today I'm sharing some ideas to combat those winter blues with. Pop the kettle on and have a read :-) And if you like the cut of my jib, catch up on all my Simple Stylish Makes blog posts here.

10 January 2016

Yellow themed photography

One of my new year plans is to put more time aside for photography. So far I've tried out Emily Quinton's taster course and have been watching her fab videos, full of inspiration. This week I tried out her idea for working with a colour and little objects from around the home that bring happiness to the dark month of January.

I chose the colour yellow. Not only is it one of my favourites but it's also a very happy, positive colour. So, with that in mind, I hunted around my studio for anything yellow and any objects that made me smile.

With my collection of yellow things, I began to play around, placing them on a white back ground and rearranging them to form some flat lay collages. Here are a selection of the photos I took. Some have been touched up slightly to give different lighting effects because I love how light can change the whole mood to a photo. I think my favourite is the first one.

Have you started one of your new year goals? How's it going? I'd love to hear all about it!

9 January 2016

Blog Gem - Bonfire Cherry

Something I love about social media, is the people you meet. Via the wonderful world of Twitter, I recently came across Bonfire Cherry, a handmade brand of gorgeous linocut prints, bags, brooches and notebooks run by solopreneur, Matthew. Once again, I have now added to my ever growing wish list of handmade goodies. Oh I love the handmade world!

Behind all of those handmade brands, shops and blogs out there is a person working passionately to bring you their designs. Being a big supporter of handmade (have I mentioned that?! Ha!), each month I like to share with you the face behind the brand and specifically behind their blog. This month I had the pleasure of interviewing Matthew of Bonfire Cherry. Read on to find out about his creative world and who he would take to a Creative Blog Award dinner if he could choose anyone!

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

 I would describe myself a very arty and creative person. I love Japanese anime and manga, the style and story always amazes me. I always have at least something on my mind to talk/draw about.
bonfire cherry

What is your creative space like?  
I have 2 places, I have a bedroom/studio where I produce all the sketches and prepare all the website orders and I have a print shed in the garden for me to get messy!

bonfire cherry studio

 If you had to take only one craft tool to a desert island, what would you choose and why?
That's a difficult one. I would have to say a lino carving tool so I can carve some cool designs out of the trees to keep me busy (and sane).

linocut tools
How do you work and get inspired? 
  Copying what I said for the first question, I always have at least something on my mind to keep me inspired but when that fails I always turn to my collection of books as I have a selection based on different themes to get ideas from.

bonfire cherry camera no.2
Camera No.2 (Black)
What top tips would you give to anyone starting a blog and small craft business?
 If you are going to start a business with a craft like mine, I would recommend not leaving all the advertising down to social media. I often host stalls at numerous fairs, which attracts people to your stuff that wouldn't normally see it online as not everyone is online to see your amazing work. For a blogger, I would recommend social media and word of mouth to get your blog out there.

craft stall

 Is there a story behind the name, Bonfire Cherry? 
Glad you asked that because there is an interesting story behind that, well that's what I think at least. While the business Bonfirecherry has been around for 2 years (3 in April), the name itself is over 5/6 years old.
Five years ago I was studying graphic design at college and for the final major project I decided to come up with a fictional t-shirt business (as I had learnt how to screen print earlier in the course) but I was struggling to come up with a name. It came to the evening of bonfire night and I was coming home from college on the bus. Earlier I had bought myself a bottle of cherry coke, which I honestly rarely have. I decided to open it but spilt some while going past a house, which was having a bonfire and that's where the name Bonfire Cherry comes from! At first it was going to be Cherry Bonfire but in the end Bonfire Cherry made sense.

prints bonfire cherry

If you could go to a Creative Blog Award dinner with any 5 people,
who would you choose? 
Roy Lichenstein (Pop artist) , Dave Grohl (Foo fighters), Beck (Musician), Jamie Hewlett (graphic artist) and Eiichiro Oda (the man behind one of my favourite mangas, One Piece).

sewing machine print
Sew Sew (Black + Gold)

If you had to choose one song to represent Bonfire Cherry, what would it be and why? 
Either Cherry Bomb by The Runaways or Bonfire Heart by James Blunt because if you put them together they make Bonfire Cherry, haha!

linocut in progress

If you could have produced a famous piece of art in place of the artist who made it, what would you choose?

It would have to be WHAAM! by Roy Lichtenstein, such a great example of pop art that I would have loved to produce it. I got around to seeing it in person for my birthday last year and I was not disappointed! If I had enough money I would so buy it but hey a person can dream, right?

Thank you so much, Matthew! It's been wonderful hearing all about your creative world. That's very good advice about getting your creative business out there and not just solely relying on social media. 

I hope you've all enjoyed this month's Blog Gem! Catch up on all my previous Blog Gem interviews here and don't forget to come follow me on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest!

Happy blogging!

All of the images and interview answers are the copyright of Matthew at Bonfire Cherry. Please do not use without seeking permission first. Thank you.


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