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Hanna-Mae Illustration

Illustrator & eco clothing designer

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Conscious gift giving

I have a couple of birthday’s coming up in June and I like to get gifts that go further. I’m always on the lookout for new ideas and last year discovered the Woodland Trust will plant a tree for almost any occasion. You can then visit your tree and enjoy the tranquil woodland surroundings (take a look here: link) Your recipient will receive a certificate with your own personal message on and a map to their tree.

This year I still have good causes in mind but with the added benefit of supporting small businesses. Below are some of my discoveries to suit all budgets.

I know many people who would love to receive a hand-picked beauty bundle and when I came across LanglochBotanics I was pleased to see that many of their products are vegan-friendly. Not only that, the business is a social enterprise and products are made by volunteers who have experienced hardship in their lives and are gaining work experience and training. Lanloch Farm is pesticide-free and ingredients are all natural, with herbs grown and processed on the farm.

I’ve got my eye on the bitter orange & lemon lip balm and the rosemary & mint soap. There are 5 soaps so choose from and 6 lip balms. I can imagine getting a soap and a lip balm and putting it in a little kraft paper bag as an eco-friendly gift for someone special.

Price range: £3-£3.50

Visit LanglochBotanics here: link

 

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Lemon balm & calendula soap

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My next pick supports the charity ‘Made With Hope’ which supports children living in poverty in Tanzania. I’m a hippy at heart so this bracelet from AkelaRose Jewellery with the combo of vibrant turquoise and peace charm really appealed to me. As someone with a slim frame I often find bracelets too big for me and end up having to reassemble them smaller. The great thing about this item is that it can be made to a size of your choice for no extra cost. Choose from XS all the way through to XXL.

Price range: £15

Visit AkelaRose Jewellery here: link

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I thought the idea behind this next jewellery collection was really clever. The ‘Share a Hug’ creations by Posh Totty Designs are unique and would make a really thoughtful gift for a special woman in your life. £5 from the sale of the adjustable ring gets donated to ‘Women for Women International’ and 100% of profits from the personalised gold necklace. Various quality materials are available.

Price range: £27-£450

You can visit Posh Totty Designs here: link

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I’m a self confessed stationery addict and compulsive list-writer, so I had to include this next item from Paper High. These albums are made using recycled paper and sari material and can be used as a photo album, sketchbook, or notebook. I can imagine filling this with photos of good memories and giving it to a close family member of friend. The paper is made from cotton left over from the huge garment industry in India by a charity that supports women’s education ad social standing in rural Rajasthan villages.

Price range: £26.95

You can visit Paper High here: link

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If like me you have some birthdays coming up why not consider getting a gift with extra impact? My three go-to places online for handmade, unique gifts are etsy, folksy, and Not on the high street. It’s also worth checking whether your favourite charities have online shops. WWF, BornFree and The National Trust all have a variety of new items that help fund their work.

 

 

Monthly tutorial: Spring decorations

This month I’m showing you how to make your own spring decorations. These clay butterflies are super easy to make and would make a lovely handmade gift for someone.

You will need:

  • Polymer clay in two or more colours (such as Fimo or Premo)*
  • Thin ribbon or embroidery thread
  • A small rolling pin (or even a pencil will do!)
  •  Something to make holes (such as a large safety pin)
  • A cookie cutter

* A more eco-friendly alternative to polymer clay is air-dry clay. I’ve noticed it now even comes in different colours, take a look at hobbycraft’s selection here: link

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Step 1

Take a chunk of each of your coloured clays and warm them between your hands until pliable. Roll your clay into a sausage shape and twist, working the clay until you get a marbled effect.

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Step 2

Roll your clay out evenly using your rolling pin and place your cookie cutter over the clay, before pressing down firmly.

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Step 3

Carefully pull away the excess clay (save this, you can use it to make unique beads!)

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Step 4

Poke a hole in the top of your shape (depending on your shape you may need two) and thread some colourful embroidery thread or ribbon through and knot the ends.

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Handmade Easter gift guide

It’s official, spring is here, which means Easter is just on the horizon. Instead of chocolate or something mass produced, why not get something unique with the added benefit of supporting small business and creative individuals? I’ve been scouring Folksy and Etsy to find you some great Easter alternatives!

Cards

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I love print so this card really appealed to me. I like the use of bright, cheerful colours and the detail on the eggs. You can find this and other beautiful cards here: Louise Slater Cards & Prints

 

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If you have a few people you want to send a special card to this ‘Trio of Lambs’ set is perfect. I’d actually frame one of these and have it in my kitchen. You can find this set along with many more goodies here: Bear Print Design

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This design is simple yet effective. This is another one I’d like to frame and put on my wall. I love that this card is also eco friendly, even down to the biodegradable protective sleeve it comes in. Find this card and eco friendly offerings here: Hayley Potter Studio

Decorations

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How sweet is this ceramic bunny decoration? Hand cut by the talented Sarah Duke, this decoration is just one of many gorgeous items in her online shop (inluding the egg decoration below!). Visit: Dottery Pottery

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These make a good change from the usual eggs/chicks/bunnies you find at Easter and would also make a lovely gift! You’ll find all sorts of stained glass creations in Handmade by Joolz (I’m loving her stained glass flowers!)

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Gifts

Every little girl (or boy of course!) will love this super cute bunny bag. Made from quality 100% cotton in the UK. You could fill it or give it as a gift on its own. You can find it, along with other sewn goodies here: Sarahjane Sewing

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I love this quirky brooch, which can be worn all year not just as Easter. This would be great for a loved one and arrives boxed. This was made in the UK by Ellen McCabe who runs Willowgifts on folksy. Her shop is well stocked with all sorts of ceramic gifts, from beautiful plant pots to unique buttons.

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This would be the ideal gift for that person in your life who celebrates the seasons or follows Celtic traditions. This intricate brooch comes ready to gift, wrapped in tissue and a pouch (though I’d be very tempted to keep it for myself!) You can find this item along with Shron’s other metalwork in her online shop: Archives Crafts

 

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More wonderful metalwork! This cute bunny is made using sterling silver and copper and is cut by hand. It comes in a gift box and a silver chain is included. You can find more unique jewellery in Silver Birch Studio online shop.

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Next week I’ll be bringing you some inspiration with my Spring craft tutorials, perfect if you want to give something specially made!

Monthly Review: Making Handmade Books

Last week I showed you some ways to use up your leftover wrapping paper from Christmas, including how to make a boring notebook look a little more interesting by covering it with paper. It got me thinking about how over the years I’ve liked to create my own books and folders to suit my needs (in fact I’ve only just recycled the planner I constructed two years ago; I made it to suit everything I needed, including a to-do section,a shopping list section,a notes section,an emergency contacts section,a day-by-day plan section, and even an inspiration section for when I was low and in need of focus). As someone who loves to work things out and create my own patterns (it’s the asperger’s in me! I love to construct/deconstruct things!) I’ve spent many hours working out measurements for folders,books and boxes. However, sometimes a little inspiration is useful in creating new designs, and for those who aren’t sure where to begin it’s good to have some step-by-step instructions along with lots of visuals. In my second year of university we had an exceptionally brief workshop on bookmaking, which actually set me off on the joy of creating my own books and folders. In the workshop a book was recommended and that’s the book I’ll be reviewing today: Making Handmade Books, by Alisa Golden.

Full title: Making Handmade Books 100+ Bindings, Structures & Forms

Author: Alisa Golden

Price: £9 – £20

Where to buy: Waterstones, BookDepository, Amazon, Ebay

Brief description: Step-by-step instructions along with a generous helping of visuals showing you how to create many different books, wallets, folders and more.

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The Good

For me the best feature of this book is the use of images. I benefit greatly from being shown visually what to do in addition to just being told/given written instructions so this book is great for both text-based learners as well as more visual learners. However, not every single step is shown, just ones that the author deems most in need of extra explanation.

The second thing I like about this book is the layout. Each project is divided clearly, with a bold title for each. Each step is also clearly numbered and diagrams are labelled. I feel this approach is very useful for those who struggle to follow instructions, as it allows you to break your project up into smaller bits, allowing you to focus on one step at a time.

Another thing I like about this book is that you get more than you may have initially expected. You learn not only how to construct some interesting books/folders etc but you also find yourself discovering some unique artists. As someone who enjoys learning, I read the ‘Artist’s Bio’s’ section with curiosity. I feel this would also be useful for art and design students who may wish to research the artists further.

Continuing with the topic of ‘extras’ this book is full of them! In addition to the bio’s the book also includes several pages dedicated to ‘Ideas & Concepts’, complete with inspiring images and stories of interesting collaborations.

The not-so-good

Whilst the book provides lots of information and numbered steps to guide you through each stage of your project, some designs are particularly difficult. The majority would be too complex for children, which is why I feel this book is aimed at adults and older teenagers. This is a foray into the world of serious bookmaking as an art form, rather than a weekend project to occupy children. I admit that some of the designs put me off as it was evident that a lot of time and concentration would be needed and the diagrams themselves were very complex (for example the ‘Tetra-Tetra Flexagon’).

The only other potentially negative point is the need for specific tools for some of the projects. For example, linen tape, awl, certain boards.

Conclusion

Personally, I would recommend this book to anyone who has a serious interest in bookmaking. I think it’s best suited to adults and older teenagers, particularly those on design courses or who have a love for making and creativity. I find myself revisiting this book on regular occasions and for myself it has been worth every penny. The price is reasonable and it can be found easily.

 

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Happy New Year!

Happy New Year! I hope everyone had a lovely festive season, I know for some it’s still not over yet but with a little disappointment I took down my decorations earlier today. On the other hand, I’m ready to start a brand new year and have been creating an ‘inspiration board’ to refer back to when I’m feeling a little lost.

An inspiration board can be a great way to almost ‘meditate’ over your goals. Get yourself some mountboard (available in hobby/art shops like Hobbycraft), a stack of old magazines and any crafty extras you want to make your board beautiful (glitter glue etc) and pull out any images or text that relates to your goals.

Collaging can be very relaxing and I find it very therapeutic allowing myself to just be creative with no worries of how the final product will look. You can make words by cutting out different letters, make areas stand out using 3D tape/craft dots and really experiment creatively. Put it up somewhere where you can look at it throughout the year, to refresh your enthusiasm.

If you’d prefer a less ‘busy’ board or have some material hanging around that you’re not sure what to do with, you can take a look at one of my tutorials from a couple of years ago that takes you step-by-step through creating a fabric-covered inspiration board (click here)

Before Christmas I visited a local Christmas market as I like to support local small businesses, especially art and craft-based ones. Unfortunately I was on crutches meaning hobbling at a snails-pace from stall to stall, but I discovered some real treasures! The handmade item that made me most excited was the gorgeous fairy tree topper I came across from the ‘Magical Fairy Emporium’. You can find them on facebook here: link 

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In my last post of the year ‘How to have a greener Christmas‘ I told you to hang on to any wrapping paper you couldn’t recycle and gave some ideas on how to put it to good use. Next week I’ll be demonstrating some of these ideas in a step-by-step tutorial.

Happy New Year to all my blog followers!

Monthly tutorial: Halloween treat bag

Halloween is coming up so this month I’ll be showing you how to sew your own mini drawstring treat bag. As my blog followers will know I’m a huge fan of recycling/upcycling material (take a look at my eco wear: link) so when I was given a stash of random bits of material I was keen to get stuck in and get sewing again. I hand-sew all my items as I like the control and the feeling that i’m really engaging with what I’m doing. I also feel that hand sewing can be therapeutic due to the repetitive motion and concentration it requires but this bag can be done using a sewing machine if you don’t have much time. Some materials are easier to work with than others. Generally speaking thinner cotton fabric is quite easy to work with. The spiderweb material I used had a lycra-esque quality to it which made it difficult to work with, for this tutorial I recommend sticking to non stretchy fabrics.

You will need:

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♦ A cutting mat (optional but useful!)

♦ Fabric scissors

♦ Fabric marker/pencil

♦ Pins

♦ Sewing needle

♦ Cotton thread (in colours matching your material)

♦ A piece of material measuring at least 32 x 18 cm

♦ A piece of contrasting material measuring at least 32 x 8cm

♦ 2 pieces of ribbon approx. 32cm

Step 1

You’re going to need to cut out two pieces of material for the main part of your treat bag. Using a fabric marker/pencil, mark out two rectangles measuring 16 x 18 cm and cut out.

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Step 2

For your casing you’ll need to cut out two rectangles measuring 16 x 8cm.

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Step 3

To give a neat edge, fold shorter ends of your casing over 1cm and pin in place before sewing. I used basic backstitch.

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Step 4

Pin your larger pieces of fabric together around three edges (2 long edges,1 short) with the wrong sides facing. Sew with 1cm seam allowance and turn the right way.

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Step 5

Take your casing pieces and fold in half so you can see the neat side of your stitching. At this point if you have time it’s good to press your pieces with an iron but as I had limited time I skipped this step. It just makes your material more well behaved and neat. Pin your folded pieces to the top of your bag (raw edges at the top)

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Step 6

It’s up to you how far down you wanht to sew, the further down you sew the less of the contrasting material you’ll be able to see and bear in mind you’ll need to be able to get your ribbon through. As I had a gap at the top of my material where the spiderweb pattern stopped I chose to sew quite low down, just above half way but anything 1cm or over is fine (providing you can fit your ribbon through).

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Step 7

Turn your casing in. This is also a good time to press your material to keep your joins/edges crisp. Please remember that some fabrics can only be pressed at a very low heat though! Stretchy fabrics can actually melt. If you’re using cotton as recommended this isn’t a problem.

Step 8

Attach a safety pin to the end of your ribbon and feed it through the gap you’ve made with the casing.

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And there you have it, your own unique Halloween treat bag! This pattern is so versatile, it can be used for any occasion, including Christmas and birthdays. You can alter the sizes to make a smaller or larger bag and is a great way to use up scraps of fabric.

Happy Halloween everyone!

Creative chaos!

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Chaotic! That’s the best way to describe my creativity lately, flitting from one project to another depending on my mood. I’ve been in search of inspiration in many areas, from spending time in beautiful natural spaces (which often stirs something in me) to searching pinterest for art, sewing, interiors, and everything in between. I’ve been re-visiting pieces and photographs, working on my seascape (yes, finally tackling it again) and searching my photo file to create a ‘thank you’ piece for a kind health professional.

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That’s one tip I’d give anyone embarking on learning/developing artistic skills: compile a reference image folder. That way, when the feeling to draw/paint strikes, you only have to reach for your file for inspiration. Mine is divided into sections: places, people, flower/plants and misc. It also encourages an interest in photography, and is a way to capture a little part of your day. I often carry my digicam with me, even if I’m going somewhere familiar. The beauty of natural spaces and even man-made spaces/views is that things are constantly changing, so there’s a constant supply of new material to work with.

Sewing-wise I’ve been letting my creativity have free-rein, and have been creating a colourful panelled skirt with bright colours, beautiful patterns, and those little details that bring a piece together. I found the perfect fabric which I immediately saw the potential in the moment I set eyes on it.

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Although my clothing project is a little behind where I’d initially planned by this point, I’ve decided the best route to take is to take my time making and researching, and to try to enjoy the creative process, which is in keeping with my objective to be more ‘in the moment’.

 

 

Spring/summer eco clothing collection

April is finally here, which means it’s time to reveal the textile project I’ve been working on since last year. Below are my 100% hand-sewn children’s clothes, made predominantly from recycled/upcycled materials/garments.

 

Green skirt: A skater skirt featuring vintage decorative ribbon from a local market, with each bead stitched individually. This is age 10, and has a stretchy waist band.

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Floaty shoulder-tie top: Made from wonderfully cool cotton, this floaty top has an adjustable neck/shoulder, and features a hand-embroidered element, as well as unique, patterned wooden beads and leaf design buttons. Age 8.

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This summery skirt is made of lightweight, cool cotton, and is decorated with upcycled red glass beads. Age 4-5, with a stretchy waist band.

 

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Layered skirt: this layered skirt includes beautiful rescued shell-like beads, as well as vintage ribbon from a local market, and is decorated with individually sewn bronze-colour sequins. Age 12, with a stretchy waist band.

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Peacock dress: In a former life this colourful creation was a faux pashmina, and has a lovely smooth feel, whilst still being lightweight enough to keep cool in spring and summer. Decorative lace added to the bottom was sourced from a local market, and each bead attached individually. This is a tie-sleeve design, so can be adjusted. Age 6.

 

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The following items will be donated to charity shops.

Colourful pattern top: A loose and light-weight cotton top with adjustable shoulder ties. For this piece I included vintage buttons. Age 9.

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Feather-pattern top: A cool, light-weight cotton top with adjustable neckline and shoulder ties. Each sequin was attached individually.

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Colourful skirt: Similar in design to another skirt, but with individually-attached wooden beads.

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Tag design

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nextOver the coming weeks I’ll be adding these to my online Folksy shop as soon as I include care labels, so keep an eye out! If you’d like a custom order please contact me (I’m happy to create skirts in ‘grown up’ sizes as well!)

 

 

Spring has sprung!

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The days are getting longer, the daffodils are in bloom, and each morning I’m greeted with the sound of a blackbird singing his heart out. It can only mean one thing…spring has sprung! I’ve been celebrating the changing of seasons by capturing the beauty of nature by collecting and pressing interesting leaves and flowers (non-protected species of course) to use in a craft I’ve been wanting to try for quite some time: paper making.

I have a family member who adores card making, and her birthday is coming up in April. I’m always looking for something meaningful that reaches further than just being a mass-produced item, so, in support of recycling and hand made crafts, I’ve decided to make a mini paper stack for her to use in her own craft, with petals and leaves from my mini adventures set in. I’ve been taking photographs of the beauty I’ve witnessed along the way, to share my experience with her, which I’ll put in a miniature handmade album (tutorial to make your own coming later this year!)

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Whilst on the subject of unique and handmade gifts, I’d also like to introduce you to a talented crafter who works with stained glass. Wanting something beautiful to brighten someone’s day I came across Joy’s Folksy shop and found a gorgeous one-of-a-kind sun catcher. I recommend taking a look at the stunning items in her shop. It was so difficult to choose just one!

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Joy’s Folksy shop: link

Joy’s website: link

As my readers will know I’m often working on multiple creative projects, and one I’ve been working on for a good half a year is soon to be revealed! At the beginning of the year I promised to produce a collection of spring/summer eco wear by April, and now April is just around the corner. On the 1st I’ll be posting the first images of my hand-sewn children’s clothing, made almost entirely from recycled/upcycled material. I promise lots of colour, pattern, and of course uniqueness. And just for my blog readers, here’s a little sneak peak of what to expect…

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How do you turn frustration into something productive? How do you share an experience with someone when the moments gone?

Until the end of 2017 I’ll be working on a mini-project (project ‘Speedy Sketch’) where I’ll be documenting the health-related side of my life through quick illustrations. Moments spent in hospital, doctor, and clinic waiting rooms will be put to use to capture my surroundings, and at the end of the year I’ll curate an online exhibition, to share with my readers little glimpses of what I’ve seen along the way.

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nextmonth

1st April – the big eco clothing reveal!

7th April – Easter Inspiration, including alternative (and further-reaching) gift ideas

15th April – Monthly tutorial: The second of 2017’s new content addition: vegan recipes. This one will be how to make a healthier, delicious alternative to Easter eggs for those wanting something a little more nutritious or different; Vegan bunny-shaped savoury oat cakes (and how to present them)

23rd April – The previously promised Graphitint pencils review

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