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30 August 2016

Photography - Cornish Hedgerows

Adventures & Tea Parties Photography

Back in July I went on holiday to the southernmost tip of the UK - the Lizard Peninsula. While I was there I spent some glorious hours wandering along the beautiful coastal paths, bird watching, catching my breath over the sea views and admiring the pretty hedgerows, which were covered with wild-flowers. 

Whenever I go on a coastal walk I always end up taking tonnes of pictures of the stunning cliffs, headlands, bays and views out to sea. This time I decided to take some inspiration from the stunning pathways on Sark and turn my attention to the hedgerows. And so, I spent one glorious afternoon looking inland and capturing the colour and texture of all the wild-flowers and grasses bordering the coastal paths. 

It felt good focusing on something different and getting creative with my camera and I'm now thinking about how I can use these photos to inspire me further. Maybe get the ink pens out and sketch a hedgerow with a dash of paint or I could try something with textiles and embroidery. Whatever I plan to do, I'm definitely not finished with these photos yet.

Adventures & Tea Parties Photography

Adventures & Tea Parties Photography

Adventures & Tea Parties Photography

Adventures & Tea Parties Photography

Adventures & Tea Parties Photography

Adventures & Tea Parties Photography

Adventures & Tea Parties Photography

Adventures & Tea Parties Photography


26 August 2016

Bank Holiday Sale!

Bank Holiday Discount Code
Woohoo, it's the bank holiday and you can get 15% off everything in my Etsy shop until midnight on Monday 29th August. Simply enter the following coupon code at checkout: AUGUST16

This discount applies to absolutely everything in my Etsy shop, so, dare I say it, but go do some Christmas shopping!

Have a fab weekend everyone!

What's on the jukebox, Jo?

In the studio this week I've been working flat out on a new range of products for my online shops. If you follow me on Instagram and Facebook you may have already seen the sparkly clues, oooh! 

Keeping the sparkle flowing has been these tunes, which have been at the top of the studio playlist this week.

Kismet Kill by Haley Bonar
Boom Boom by John Lee Hooker
If I Ever Was A Child by Wilco
See Saw by Don Covay
La Bamba by Ritchie Valens
Great Balls of Fire by Jerry Lee Lewis
Rock Around The Clock by Bill Haley

Pop them on, have a sing and have a dance for the bank holiday weekend is here, hurrah! And what's that? Yes, stay tuned (see what I did there? Ha ha!) because I'll be sharing a special bank holiday discount code at lunch time, which will give you 15% off EVERYTHING in my Etsy shop. So, keep your eyes peeled on the blog, my Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages for the extra special code!

Happy bank holiday weekend! 

23 August 2016

How to look after your craft scissors

Oil them regularly
Just like your sewing machine, you need to keep those scissors happy by adding a drop of oil. Add a drop of sewing machine or scissor oil at the front and back of the screw. Open and close the scissors until the blades open smoothly, adding more oil if necessary.

Keep them clean
Lint can really build up on scissors, so remember to wipe them down with a dry cloth regularly. Keeping them clean helps them work like scissors should do. 

Avoid water
Scissors are not the best of friends with the water and steam an iron produces, so to avoid any damage keep them away from each other. They don't need to be in separate rooms, just don't let them hang out together on the ironing board and all will be well.

Label sewing and craft scissors
Ok, so first thing first: DO NOT CUT PAPER WITH SEWING SCISSORS! Why? Well, quite simply sewing scissors blunt by cutting paper and you need to keep them sharp, so that you can cut fabric accurately. In order to avoid family members borrowing your scissors, keep your sewing scissors out of reach or label them, so that you and any eager craft assistants know which ones they can use.

Sharpen them
If it's not possible to get your scissors sharpened by a professional, then fold a piece of tinfoil over four times and cut through it several times until the blades are sharp again. This works the same for a rotary cutter too.

19 August 2016

What's on the jukebox, Jo?

Adventures and Tea Parties Orange Typewriter Notebook

Another busy week in the studio. Lots of ideas were formed and designs tested resulting in two brand new products, which will be hitting my online shop in autumn/winter. Wish I could show you a sneak peek but you'll just have to wait and see!

Keeping the design ideas rolling this week, and definitely at the top of the playlist, were these numbers. 

Afterlife by Arcade Fire
Under Neon Lights by The Chemical Brothers
Crash by The Primitives
Dancehall Domine by The New Pornographers
Happiness by The Pointer Sisters
Think by Aretha Franklin
Let's Twist Again by Chubby Checker

Pop them on, turn them up, have a sing and have a dance for it's the end of the week and the weekend is nearly here, hurrah!

17 August 2016

Guest Post - Upcycled Bedside Lockers and Drawers

 Today the super talented Maura from The Messy Brunette is sharing a great furniture upcycling project. Read on to find out how she updated this gorgeous duo and go grab your sander and paint brush to try it out! I'm now handing the reins over to Maura!

Upcycled bedside lockers and drawers

I was given these bedside lockers ages ago, they were in good nick but I wanted to change them to match my bedroom . They were originally painted in a creamy colour, which was a bit bland but there was a nice print of bicycles on the front drawer. I debated whether to leave the bicycles on or not but I did manage to tear a piece off by mistake so that was that!  Here's a before picture. I had just started to work on it when I remembered I needed to get a shot ..... ooops!

Upcycled Bedside locker

I like the look of dark stain against white, which has been popping up on my Pinterest feed lately so I decided to try this look.  Also I wanted to try out General Finishes Milk Paint and their Gel Stain which I was happy to find out was stocked by the lovely Eileen over at Sew Darn Pretty.  A successful trip ensued!

Here are a few work in progress shots. You can see there was a lot of paint to get off.  They were very rough and I think some other design was used underneath.

Upcycled Bedside locker

To be honest, I wasn't mad about them at first. I thought the dark stain was too dark but I have to say they are growing on me and the little knobs (these were a bargain find in the Tiger store) really completed the look. 

Upcycled Bedside locker

Here's the locker all done and finished and look at those little knobs, only 1 Euro each!

Upcycled lockers

Seeing the end result, I decided to upcycle my chest of drawers to match.

Upcycled chest of drawers

If you want to give it a try here's a list of materials and a brief tutorial.

General Finishes Milk Paint in Antique White
Foam brushes or paint brush
Sandpaper or sander 

1. First up, I sanded down the lockers with my hand sander and gave them a good clean.
2. I applied the gel stain with a foam brush and in the end I gave it 3 coats because I felt it was a bit patchy with just two.  I very lightly sanded between coats.
3. I then applied the paint and left it to dry. I gave it two coats in total and I must say this paint is the biz! Excellent coverage and very nice to work with, so I will use it again.
4. I waited for a couple of days before I applied the topcoat as the gel stain was oil based. It also needed to rest before applying the topcoat as this is water based.

All in all a happy result, and I will definitely be trying out more of General Finishes Milk Paint. Maybe next time in a different colour. Have you tried it? Any success?

Thank you so much, Maura! This is a great project to try out at the weekend!

Would you like to guest post at Adventures & Tea Parties? Drop me a line for more info!

13 August 2016

Meet the local artist - Donna Vale

This is a brand new blog series meeting artists and finding out how they work, what inspires them and what the art scene is like in their local area. To kick start it, I thought I'd go with a fabulous artist who is local to me, Donna Vale from Somerset. 

Donna Vale

Hi there Donna, can you tell my readers a little bit about yourself?
I have lived in Somerset for forty years and have worked in a variety of jobs from a glass engraver to a sign writer.  I was knocked off my bicycle on the way home from work one day and that changed my life.  As I lay in the road I thought, what have I done with my life? It was after that time I decided to return to education and did an Access Course at Yeovil College.  I secured a place studying Radiography at Exeter University but because of recurring injuries from the accident I couldn’t continue.  That summer I enrolled on a two year Art Diploma and following that completed a combined degree in art and textiles, in 2012 I graduated with a First Class Honors.

Further Education and re-training has always been key to my journey and it was a natural progression for me to train as a teacher.  I was lucky enough to be working at Yeovil College as a Learning Centre assistant when the opportunity came up but the idea of a venue where I could teach skills and creative courses for people became more appealing.

I have always loved Langport for the river walks and history and it was on one of those days a few years ago I saw an empty shop and For Every Cloud was made a reality.

People from all walks of life use the facilities here.  From people wanting to do a day course such as lino and screen-printing, furniture painting and watercolours. which I hope reflects the business and the company logo: where friendship and creativity meet.

In my spare time I like to visit the bird hide, spend the day beachcombing and geocache through the countryside.

What kind of art do you do?
I create work through a collection of ideas, stories and history, displayed in a variety of ways.  Textile pieces are interwoven with narratives belonging to local voices, bringing together history and storytelling through the arts.

I am currently Artist in Residence for the National Trust at Brean Down, Somerset for the Sense of Place project; a collaboration of artists working together to create an exhibition in a unique Site of Special Scientific Interest. This beautiful peninsula has many tales to tell.

Responding to the stories of the people, the landscape and the buildings, a connection will be formed with those who lived and worked at the fort and the surrounding areas.  These will be made during Somerset Art Weeks Open Studios 17th September - 2nd October.  The work will then form the exhibition Art on the Edge from 6th - 16th October.

One part of the project, ‘The Threads Of Belonging’, shows my work through place and identity.   Personal stories and events were researched to create a visually appealing exhibition. Using sound and smell to ignite senses and trigger emotion. Through recollection and memory the viewer is taken on a story-telling journey. A fleeting glance, a missed opportunity and time captured creates a feeling of loss and of hope through the work displayed within the fort buildings.  The artwork is viewed and the moment taken away to be remembered another time.

How do you work and get inspired?
I like to work with locations that haven’t been explored artistically.  This allows a total freedom to create pieces unique to that place, to be completely absorbed in the history.  I find researching the most exciting part. Uncovering layers of time and connections I never knew were there.  I use a variety of print processes from disperse dye and manipulated photographs to wire frame sculptures and objects that ignite memory.

What do you love about art?
The freedom it gives me to be expressive.  It can offer a momentary reflection or stay with you long after you have viewed it.  Creativity is so important for mental wellbeing and friendships.  It is a shared experience for me.  When I create something it opens page one of a book and the viewer carries on turning the pages.  Often work is created from the visitor experience and how it has touched them.

What's the art / creative scene like in Somerset? 
It’s vibrant and exciting, lots of unique artists who are out there being creative in their own way. With the Somerset Open Studio event just around the corner there is a fantastic community spirit. So many diverse studio spaces tucked away down narrow winding lanes. Half the joy is the journey into the unexpected and seeing what the county has to offer. 

If you had to take only one art tool to a desert island, what would you choose and why?
It would be my calligraphy pen. I would make paper from leaves and ink from things I found, to be able to write, sketch and keep a journal.

If you could go to an Art Award dinner with any 5 people (dead or alive) and/or fictional characters, who would you choose? 

Sophie Calle
Anselm Kiefer
Christian Boltanski
Marina Abramović
Andy Warhol

Thank you so much, Donna! It's been absolutely wonderful hearing all about how you got into art, what the scene is like in Somerset and how you work and get inspired!

12 August 2016

What's on the jukebox, Jo?

Colour Me Happy

Lets just say life is a little hectic inside and outside the studio at the moment! So, I'm going to keep this post short but sweet and list my top tracks from the week....

Boops (Here We Go) by Sly & Robbie
Go! by M83
Teddy I'm Ready by Ezra Furman
Devil´s gun by CJ & Co
Impossible Tracks by The Kills
New Slang by The Shins
Peaches by The Presidents of the United States of America

Pop them on, have a dance, have a sing and go get ready for the weekend! Have a great one everyone!

11 August 2016

Summer Colours - Dark Teal

Summer Colours Dark Teal

Over on the Simple Stylish Makes blog I'm sharing some ways you can have fun with one of the colours that is on trend this summer - Dark Teal! Pop on over to find out how you can add a splash of teal to your life. And don't forget to come and tell all of us at the Simple Stylish Makes Team about how you're using Dark Teal this summer!

10 August 2016

Essential Embroidery Tools

essential embroidery tools
Embroidery needles
There are three needles available for different types of embroidery:
  • Crewel needle - this is a basic embroidery needle. It has a sharp tip and a medium-long length eye, making it perfect for most embroidery threads.
  • Tapestry needle - this is a shorter, blunt needle but with a longer eye. It's perfect for cross stitch, whip or lace stitch as the blunt needle doesn't catch the other threads.
  • Milliner needle - this is a long, sharp needle with a small eye. It is perfect for making french knots with.

It is best to get yourself some small, hand embroidery scissors. They have a much sharper point and allow you to get in close where other scissors can't.

Embroidery hoop
A good quality wooden hoop / frame that has a brass screw will help tighten the tension of your fabric. You can also bind your inner hoop with twill tape to help with the tension but this only applies to wooden embroidery hoops. 

Thread / floss
There are all sorts of gorgeous embroidery threads /floss you can use. From cotton to silk, satin, wool, wire and more! If you're just starting out try cotton embroidery floss as it's reasonably priced and easy to work with.

Make sure you give yourself plenty of light when working, otherwise it's a real strain on the eyes. There are loads of lovely lamps out there from desk to floor lamps and ones you can clip on to tables. So, wherever you prefer to embroider, make sure you've got a lamp nearby.

Happy embroidering!

6 August 2016

Guest bloggers needed!

Guest Blogging

Hello you lovely lot! I'm currently on the hunt for some awesome creative bloggers to come and guest blog at Adventures & Tea Parties. I'm particularly interested in any creative topics, so it could be top tips, tutorials, your favourite paints, what inspires you....anything that is creative!

Guest blogging is a great way to meet like-minded bloggers, build up your blogging CV and get traffic to your website!

Interested? Drop me a line for more info and please do share with anyone you think might like to give it a go! 

5 August 2016

What's on the jukebox, Jo?

Adventures & Tea Parties

It's been a busy old time in the studio this week. Lots of lovely shop orders were stitched up and sent out, yummy colours were snapped up for my rainbox Instagram theme, I got my brain engaged thinking about what a creative person is in the Creative Bloggers' weekly chat AND I started working on Christmas designs, which involved lots glitter and gold, oooh!

As ever music has been keeping my creative juices flowing - where would I be without it?! And top of the playlist this week were these awesome songs!

Atlas by Beth Jeans Houghton And The Hooves of Destiny
Try My Robe by Goat
Feels Like We Only Go Backwards by Tame Impala
Tinfoil Boy by Jamie T
You Think I Don't Know (But I Know) by Charles Bradley
Another Day by Steve Mason
O B 1 by Jagwar Ma
Jist by Boxed In

Get your ears wrapped around them and have a dance people, it's FRIDAY! Have a fab weekend!!

4 August 2016

Gardening jobs for August

gardening jobs for august

Over on the Simple Stylish Makes blog I'm sharing some gardening jobs for August. Have a read here, get those gloves on and start gardening!

New in the shop - Fiesta Red Hanky Set

Fiesta Red Hanky Set

New in my NOTHS shop - Fiesta Red Handkerchief Set

Handmade from start to finish, the set includes three cotton handkerchiefs in gorgeous fiesta red prints. They come beautifully wrapped in an Adventures & Tea Parties branded box and are ready to give as a fun present or as a perfect little treat for yourself!

Want to hear more about new designs in my shop? Follow me on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and sign up to my newsletter too!

Photo Credit: Onetenzeroseven

3 August 2016

Blog Gem - Em Makes and Bakes

Yay, it's that time of the month when I share an interview with a face behind a gorgeous creative blog! And this month I had the great pleasure of interviewing the lovely lady behind the blog, Em Makes and Bakes.

Em Makes and Bakes

Hello there, can you tell us all a little bit about yourself?
Hi, I’m Em from Em Makes and Bakes. I’ve been creating things for as long as I can remember. After my very crafty wedding (which included 100 metres of bunting!), I found myself needing a new challenge. I’d thought about starting a blog for a few years before, but finally took the plunge in 2015, using it to document my makes, bakes, and things I generally like!

Em Makes and Bakes

Where do you blog, make and bake? 
I make and bake in two separate spaces, and they are quite different. My kitchen is functional, I need everything to be organised and tidy when I’m baking (as I tend to make quite a mess). In contrast, I’m lucky enough to have a whole room to craft in, and although functional, I’ve put a lot of effort into making it look nice too. What’s common in both spaces, is that I have lots of sentimental items. I use my Granny’s rolling pin to roll out pastry, every piece of fabric is cut with her fabric scissors, and photographs taken by my Grandad decorate the walls. My most treasured possession is a Singer sewing book from 1957, which was given to my Granny by my Grandad. 

Em Makes and Bakes

If you had to take only one craft or baking tool to a desert island, what would you choose and why? 
My immediate thought was a sewing machine, but that would be no fun without a lot of fabric as well. I think a permanent marker would be a good choice as I could draw on anything and everything to keep me entertained. 

Em Makes and Bakes

How do you work and get inspired?  
I get inspiration from a lot of places, I love craft books and magazines to get ideas, and a trip to my local fabric shop always helps me. I spend almost two hours commuting each day, which is my thinking time, so I carry a small notebook with me for jotting down ideas on the go. Generally, I like to experiment, that means that there are some bad makes as well as the good ones, but I think that’s how my best ideas come out.

Em Makes and Bakes

What top tips would you give to anyone starting a blog? 
Just go for it. Whilst having an initial plan is great, I think your best ideas happen once you’ve got something you can build on. I look back on some of my previous posts and think that they could be improved, and that’s ok! The great thing with a blog is that you can constantly tweak it; it’s a learning curve.  Also, stick with it. It’s fair to say that it took me a while to get going with the blog due to other events in life taking priority. I’m now in a routine of posting much more regularly, which is helping me build up my content.

Em Makes and Bakes

Is there a story behind the name, Em Makes & Bakes? 
I worried that the name was too obvious at first, but I wanted my blog to be clear, and easy to understand. I purposely picked Em over Emma; as that is what my closest friends and family call me. I want my readers to see me as approachable, relaxed, and encouraging, I didn’t want it to be too formal. 

Em Makes and Bakes

If you could go to a Blog Award dinner with any 5 people (dead or alive) and/or fictional 
characters, who would you choose?
Tilly Walnes, so that I could talk sewing tips and admire her beautiful handmade clothes. Kat Molesworth from Blogtacular, because as well as being a fountain of blogging knowledge, she comes across as so down to earth. Lisa Congdon, so that we could maybe do some doodling on napkins. Mary Berry who is my baking hero, and finally, my crafty friend, Rachel from Handmade from Holchester, because she would want to meet Tilly and Kat too! 

Em Makes and Bakes

And finally...if you had to choose one song to represent Em Makes & Bakes, what would it be and why?  
My soundtrack for crafting is anything by Ellie Goulding, and her song ‘Army’ represents my blog quite well. Although it’s primarily me creating the content, it wouldn’t be possible without the support and encouragement of my nearest and dearest, particularly Mr Makes. He reads all my posts before I publish them, helps with the pictures, and tolerates my need to Instagram at 6 in the morning!

Em Makes and Bakes

Thanks so much for stopping by, Em! It's been great hearing about how you get inspired, what your creative space is like and those blogging tips are brilliant!

I hope you've all enjoyed this month's Blog Gem. Catch up on all my interviews here and don't forget to sign up to my newsletter too! 
All of the images and interview answers are the copyright of Em at Em Makes and Bakes. Please do not use without seeking permission first. Thank you.


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