Red, Red Robin

It’s that time of year again when the muggy heat of Summer is replaced with that creeping chill of Autumn.

I love the long Summer days (especially as it means I can live in flip flops for a few months!) but the change in seasons means it will soon be time for cosy nights huddled by the fire under big knitted blankets whilst drinking hot chocolate.

In a bid to be organised this year, I promised myself I would keep on top of my festive products. I know alot of you are going to flip at this point, but yes I’m talking about Christmas decorations. I adore the festive season and I love designing my own gifts and decorations. After a few years of developing ideas, there’s finally  a nice collection forming including one of my favourites, the little Bobbin’ Robin.

Each wooden bird is given a few coats of paint before being sanded down to give them a smooth finish.

His bright red tummy really turns him into a cheerful robin and this is left to dry before the tiny paint brushes come out! After another quick sand down, he’s given a wing, an eye and his song is painted onto his red tum.

A bit of string finishes him off and he’s ready to hang on your tree!

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Uncle Bill’s Shed

Anything you could ever want or need was in my Uncle Bill’s shed.

A collection of flower pots to cater for any size of plant and all the various fuses you could need in a lifetime filed into old tobacco tins. Ladders of all sizes hung onto specially made racks on the walls and any tool you could ever need all organised into a system only Bill could fathom.

A lifetime of collecting and storing and it’s amazing how much you can accumulate! A few weeks ago, we went over to the house to try and sort through some of the bits and bobs there.

Dad was the only one brave enough to go in the shed for risk of spiders while I waited outside – as long as said spiders weren’t clinging to anything he passed me. We discovered Bill had at least 3 of everything, including a separate shed full to the brim with pots and planters. In between these, were some very plain wooden boxes which caught my eye. They looked like they had once been containers for seeds and small garden tools. More little boxes were filled with dusty electrical bits and ties.

Hiding among all these was a lone red vintage OXO tin, and in the corner, an undisturbed pile of papers was sitting on another lovely find. A very old suitcase with the letters WHL on each end. This made it even more special, as these were Bills initials, William Hanby Lowe.

These things probably wouldn’t mean much to anyone else, but most of them would have been made and used before I was even born! This fascinates me and they will be looked after from now on.

Something Borrowed, Something Bumbleblue

It’s a day where nerves, hopes and high expectations float around everyone’s minds.

The two people at center stage will spend months, maybe years before merticulously planning every detail to make sure nothing is less than perfect. All this excitement and anticipation just for one day? It must be a wedding!

Everyone wants their wedding to be the most special and unforgettable day and more and more are looking to add personal, creative touches to make theirs unique.

I’ve got to admit, I never really got the whole wedding hype. Yes I want to get married but I haven’t been visualising my wedding dress since I was a little girl. It was only when my sister got married and I helped with her stationary, I started to see what all the fuss was about.

Some of my creations are perfect for someone wanting to add a bit of a handmade touch.

The idea of one of my creations helping to make the perfect setting for a bride on her wedding day is a great thought. Knowing how important the ‘little things’ are, I will hand craft every product to ensure every bit of my care and concentration makes the perfect favour or sign.

And lets not forget after the ceremony…

Picture Perfect

Ever since we moved into our own house, I’ve always wanted to create a wall of photos.  A whole wall filled with pictures of family and friends past and present just like a huge open photo album. I’ve got albums filled with our adventures and it’s always nice to dig them out and flick through them. Having all our favourite memories on the wall means we don’t have to find them to look at them.

 

I love the mis-match look with all the frames being different. Some are shop bought and some are my own creations (with a little help from my good friends Farrow and Ball)

Feeling the home interior bug, I finally got round to hanging my newest purchase. These gorgeous antique shoe lasts were an absolute find! I had always wanted a pair but often found they were a bit too expensive. A bit of searching and a LOT of patience, and I finally have my own set. Little bits like this really add character to a room and the history behind them and where they came from makes them even more special.

 

One Lump or Two?

I love scented candles and I think it’s safe to say I’ve got an unhealthy addiction to these and reed diffusers. They make my home smell amazing and different scents remind me of certain things or times spent with people.

A beautiful daffodil scented candle reminds me of a wine evening spent with my sister Zoe. It was summer and we’d just bought a new patio set so Zoe and I sat in the garden and enjoyed it (and a few glasses of wine). This was until Zoe smelt the rain – obviously a special talent on her behalf, and I insisted on folding all the furniture up and taking it inside just before a thunderous downpour. In my defense, it was new and I couldn’t leave it to get wet for the first time!

Another sandalwood and amber candle brings back memories of the first Christmas we celebrated in our house. Ed and I spent the whole Christmas together – something we hadn’t done in our 8 years as a couple! The candle was huge and an early present to myself (well why not) and it lasted throughout the whole festive season.

It would be nice to think that someone is reminded of something when they burn one of my candles.

So what scent to use in my new teacup candles? A recent present from Ed sorted this problem out, a gorgeous orchid with a delicate but sweet perfume. I moved Bumbleblue into the kitchen to start creating the candles…

I think the secret to making candles (and I’m by no means an expert) is ‘slowly does it’. Adding the wax slowly and in parts seems to create a more even candle in the end but this obviously requires a little patience! While the wax cooled, I got on with painting the wooden heart tags to add a touch of colour to the cups.

Tied together with string the teacups are finished off with a brown label and a little hand painted wooden heart tag. This turns them into a proper present and a great gift for someone who is as crazy about candles as I am!

Making a Bumbleblue Keyring

My hand painted keyrings always seem to go down very well whether it’s in one of my online shops, my website or at a craft event. When I’m preparing for a show, I usually pack as many as I can make because they just fly out!

They were one of the first ideas I had for a product when I started working with wood, and I still make them pretty much the same way. As the old saying goes ‘…if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it…’

Each keyring starts life as a disc of fine quality birch wood. My fabulous Dad then has the fiddly job of drilling a hole through each one and like a true professional he never moans, even when I turn up with 30+ little circles!

 

 

Each one is painted with a few coats of Farrow and Ball and is slightly sanded down giving it a lovely smooth surface with distressed edges. The letters are painted on by hand with a very small paint brush. As time consuming as this is I find it quite therapeutic, even though I tend to go a bit cross-eyed after the first 10 or so.

A little bit of string tied in a bow holds onto the keyring and adds the perfect shabby chic finishing touch. So there you go – it may only be a little thing, but I put alot of care into the making of every Bumbleblue keyring and I hope that anyone who buys one is happy with their new purchase.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Just What I Always Wanted!

“Perfect – it’s just what I’ve always wanted!”

It’s great to hear that after giving someone a present, but it takes some work. I’m not someone who can buy a present in a hurry – it’s got to be just right, and if it’s been uniquely hand made just for one person, even better!

Online market places are great to shop and seek out those specially made products. I have shops on a few selling my wares and it’s a selling point to be able to say everything is hand crafted for each individual customer.

A new venture in this field is a fantastic new website ‘What I Always Wanted’. It all started with two friends Ann Ellison and Deborah Bancroft, who started a mission to showcase ‘…the work of creative and innovative British gift and homeware designers…’

I first spoke to Deborah a few months ago when I received an email from her telling me about a new website to sell hand made products. I’m always intrigued when it comes to new selling platforms and the enthusiasm of these two was infectious! They have created a clean and fresh backdrop for the most gorgeous products (including mine!) All the individual designers are introduced  so customers know who they’re buying from. Shopping online can be a very ‘robotic’ process, so I love this personal touch. You can browse products by category or by designer if you like the work of someone specific.

With Facebook and Twitter accounts and a blog which regularly features the sites sellers, What I Always Wanted is constantly promoting themselves and with that, us.

If you haven’t already found them, I would really recommend paying them a visit especially if you love browsing through carefully designed and lovingly created products. You’re sure to be spoilt for choice!

www.whatialwayswanted.com

A Little Cupboard Dreaming…

…of Farrow and Ball.

A few months back on a sunny Sunday I went along to a car boot. As I’ve mentioned before, I love to find those hidden treasures often over-looked by others but that jump out to you.

Ed’s face was a picture when I pulled some tatty candlesticks, a huge piece of un-inspiring piece of artwork in a tired frame and a wooden cupboard from my KA (it was a bit of a squeeze but determination got them in!)

With a bit of love and a lot of sandpaper, the candlesticks were transformed into a pair of little gems.

And soon to follow, minus the hideous picture was the huge wooden frame. Now it’s a bit of shabby chic finery and is perfect in our kitchen as a chalkboard…

 

The cupboard has been a bit more of a challenge. It was gorgeous, but hidden under a thick layer of tar-like varnish (and bright red paint inside!) It was going to need some serious elbow grease.

Too big for the Bumbleblue desk, I had to wait for some decent weather to tackle it outside. It took a whole afternoon to get down to the wood, but it was definitely worth it.

Many, many sheets of sandpaper later and it was bald! Not an inch of gloop was left and after a quick wipe down I could finally get the paint out.

Farrow and Ball no. 229 Elephants Breath was perfect. Delicate and chic, perfect for a little cupboard that had been hidden under caked-on varnish. Only a few coats in and already it looks like a new piece of furniture!

 

 

 

Hopefully with all this gorgeous weather, I will get this little beauty finished in no time. Watch this space…

Afternoon Tea

I’m sure most people are aware by now, that when it comes to baking cakes I’m no Mary Berry. Still, I keep hoping one day that natural instinct to bake fabulous cakes and biscuits will kick in.

It doesn’t seem as though today was that day.

I’ve tried scones twice before and neither attempt was that successful. I forgot the eggs the first time, creating scones so hard you could have used them to build houses with. The second batch included all the right ingredients and would have been the right consistency. Would have if I hadn’t rolled them out as thin as biscuits thinking they would rise. I had created what I named ‘scone-scuits’; all the taste of a scone in the handy size and shape of a biscuit (Dragons Den here I come!)

I can honestly say I don’t know what happened with my latest batch. I followed the recipe carefully and stuck to the method. When the recipe told me to ‘…turn the dough-like mixture out onto a lightly floured surface…’ I slopped out a wet, gooey and sticky mess. I’m guessing too much milk.

After using what must have been my body weight in flour, I managed to cut out some scones and get them into the oven. They looked a bit pasty going in…

…At least they came out smelling yummy. They won’t win any W.I rosettes but I’m sure they’ll go down a treat with a cup of tea.

 

Lino Printing For Fathers Day

I still can’t get the hang of designing and making products for specific occasions months in advance. We’re coming towards the end of May and I’m only just thinking about Fathers Day.  I have however made a note in my diary to start thinking about Christmas decorations in July – last year was just a bit too manic to repeat! I can’t wait to see Ed’s face when he starts spotting snowflakes mid-summer.

With Fathers Day round the corner, I’ve been scribbling down suitable images and designs for cards without going down the usual routes. I’ve been trying to keep my designs fairly original – to me there’s no point hand crafting a card that’s the spitting image of something you can buy in every other high street card shop.

I’ve also been experimenting with how I produce my cards and even had a go at some lino printing. The last time I tried this was in uni and I sliced into my hands that many times, I’ve been reluctant to try it again! When you’re looking to be original, a few risks are necessary now and then (any lino printers reading this will be laughing their socks off!)

Feeling brave, I attempted two simple designs to start with – better to work your confidence up with something small right?

I drew out the design and armed with my lino, iron (a very technical and necessary aid) and my cutting tools, I was ready.

The iron tip was from my house mate at the time. She’d had a good chuckle at me trying to hack away at the lino cold, and out of sympathy (and probably my sanity) she told me the lino is easier to cut if it’s heated slightly.

Just one amazingly important point I’ve got to stress, that might seem obvious. Keep your fingers out of the way! I know this and I know the tools I’m using are incredibly sharp. This all said, I still insist on holding the lino I’m working on, in the direction of all my cuts. One day, when I’ve got no fingers left, I might learn.

After I was happy with the stamps, I tried them out to see what they would look like and if they had actually worked.

Chuffed with how they had turned out, it was onto the cards and a few Fathers Day type messages…

I think I’m a little bit hooked to lino printing now and can’t wait to try other designs – I just hope my poor hands will forgive me!