Creating a flexible workspace

Tuesday, 17 January 2017

Now that I have my Etsy shop up and running, I feel like I can turn my attention back to the house. Taking advantage of the grim weather this weekend I have given it a good old clean and feel ready to start the week/year a fresh and write some lists. I have seen a lot of people on Instagram lately taking up more creative hobbies for the new year and what with the need to get organised I thought I'd share my ways of creating an organised and flexible workspace. 

Over the years I have worked everywhere from kitchen tables to sitting on the floor, when I designed tights I was squashed in the corner of an accounts department, sharing my desk with a huge scanner - my work areas have all been different. One thing I wish I had paid more attention too was getting organised and really thinking about what I needed in terms of storage. 
Use a trestle table - When I moved into my craft room I knew that it needed to be really flexible and have a good storage system so that tidying up wasn't an all day event. I have a fixed desk where I keep my computer but even this can be extended. For the desk above I bought two trestle table legs from Amazon and a piece of pine from Homebase, I painted one side white and left the other natural (the white side hasn't worked very well if I'm honest, so I have the wooden side up most of the time). The best thing about the table is its really light and can be tucked away, if you are short of space this is a great alternative to having a table up permanently. We've used the legs with a different table top over christmas to extend our dining table and it works really well. 
Keep everyday items close by - I keep the 'stuff' I use on a regular basis within easy reach - ribbons, stationery, jewellery making supplies can be accessed and more importantly put away in seconds. Other supplies such as wool, leather, random craft supplies are stored in large plastic boxes in a large cupboard which is organised but harder to get into. 

I use this shelving unit from Ikea, its really reasonable and the depth between the shelves is perfect for stacking.
Organise by type - This might be a bit OCD but I have my ribbons organised by colour, I like to keep sewing supplies with sewing supplies, paper with paper etc. I find that by keeping similar items in the same area saves going through loads of different boxes to find what I'm looking for during a project and reduces tidying up. 

I use a mix of boxes, baskets and jars - I really like these from Ikea and glass storage jars for sewing supplies and bits that I want to see quickly. 
Don't be afraid to have a clear out - Crafting and hoarding come hand in hand but if a supply isn't working for you it's ok to get rid. Last year I had two huge clear outs, I'd accumulated masses of other peoples craft cast offs and stuff that I'd had for nearly twenty years. I donated and sold fabric, beads and various tools - the space both physically and mentally was amazing and meant I wasn't climbing over scrap bags to get to the good stuff. I clear out on a really regular basis now which means my work room is always under control.
Keep only what you have space for - when we lived in our flat I had stuff crammed into any spare space and on reflection it made the whole place feel really stressful. Despite having more space now have a lot less stuff and I keep only what can fit on shelves or in boxes. Not only does this stop me keeping supplies for 'best' I no longer feel overwhelmed but more creative as a result. 

I hope this has given you an insight into how I organise my craft room, its not always this tidy (ha!) but it is always organised and I know that it will only take me 30 mins* tops to put everything away.

*ok it probably takes an hour but thats because I rediscover things and start planning new projects.  

My Etsy Resolution - Lotts and Lots is open!

Wednesday, 11 January 2017

I'm delighted to announce that my Etsy Shop is now open for business - hooray! One of my most frequently asked questions is 'do you sell your jewellery?' the answer until today has always been a shameful 'no!'. Between working full time, writing my blog, running jewellery workshops, home renovations and being pregnant there never seemed to be a spare moment to sit down and get it off the ground. I have to admit since not returning to full time work to be a mama I've struggled with the idea of not working, I've had a job since I was fifteen so losing my financial independence has been hard to get my head around. I was thinking of work I could do around childcare and in a lightbulb moment, I finally thought 'it's time to start an Etsy shop!' and so it began...If you need a push to get your Etsy shop going in 2017 then you need to take part in the Etsy Resolution. Starting at the end of the month Etsy will be offering a four week online bootcamp offering you all the mentoring and skills to build your confidence and get your shop open. I think confidence is what holds so many of us creative types back but 2017 is the year to get going and stop worrying! 
I found the most daunting part in starting was deciding what to sell, I have made so many projects over the years that pinpointing the right items to sell was tough. I looked at my most popular tutorials and then pulled the pieces that I have made for my friends and sisters, quite naturally a collection came together before my eyes. It needed some updating but I could see what I was working towards. I went supply shopping and pulled out my best jewels and then started to create. 
Beginning  with the materials, I pulled a moodboard together so there was a consistency with colour and styles. Using all the extra childcare available over Christmas I worked over three days to make necklaces, earrings and bracelets. Compared with writing tutorials it was brilliant to be able to work when and where I needed too. As I didn't have any reliance on daylight I could work at night once Stanley went to bed which gave me plenty of family time in the day. Once complete I laid the finished pieces out on a white board so I could see the collection coming together and fill in any gaps. 
When it came to photographing the jewellery I had a definite 'this is what I should be doing moment'. The sun was shining, the window was open and I spent a day photographing everything that I had been making - it was such a good day. I used my flatlay board, some grey fabric and lots of flowers to create scenes. I had looked at lots of Etsy sellers to understand the range of shots I needed, so took a mix of wide and detailed. If photography is something that puts you off then my tip would be to shoot on a bright bright but not too sunny day, try lots of different angles to see what looks best and keep the background clear (no plug sockets or bits of paper). The less you have to edit the better. 
I'm not the most technical person in the world nor the most patient so I was dreading the uploading photos. This turned out to be one of the most fun (and speedy) parts of the whole process, I loved seeing the listings grow and seeing my shop come together. The process of picking a shop name and adding products couldn't have been easier. I loved the copy feature which meant I could copy each listing and just change the images and some of the text. It took me about two hours to upload my 10 products but (I was checking my phone, getting snacks in-between!). I still have some tweaks and want to add a proper about section but I had to go and collect Stanley so ran out of time. I love that now the shop is open I can still make amends and keep improving and learning as I go. 

I'm really excited about finally having a place to sell my jewellery and being able to turn my hobby into a business whilst being totally flexible to my life and childcare. I love being a mum but for me I need to feel like I'm working on something that is independent to the family to retain a sense of my own identity. If like me you are feeling a little lost - you might just be entering motherhood, having a career change or looking for an alternative from the 9 - 5 slog (been there!) then make sure you join the Etsy Resolution. For years I've been searching for a way to express myself creatively and I finally feel like I've found my path. I know that starting is the hardest but make 2017 is the year that you can,  there's nothing stopping you so lets do this together and have fun! You can see my full collection here

This post was written in collaboration with Etsy, all thoughts and experiences are my own.

Inspired, January

Wednesday, 4 January 2017

Happy New Year everyone - I'm a little late to the new year party as it always takes me a while to get back into the swing of things. For this months inspiration I decided to share a glimpse of a project I've been working on over Christmas. I wrote here that I'm finally ready to set up an Etsy shop selling my jewels, taking advantage of the extra childcare available I have been busy making away in my craft room. I'll be sharing more next week but for now here is the moodboard I put together, soft peach, grey and gold mixed with a few brights and some faded hydrangea. It feels fresh but cosy which is what you want/need in January.
Have you been making resolutions or plans for the year? I like to wait a while see how the year feels before I write anything down its tempting to write plans and make big statements but I think I'm just going to go for it this year, less worrying more doing. Have a great month and I hope that 2017 is full of all the good stuff. 

Christmas 2016

Friday, 23 December 2016

As Christmas is almost here I wanted to share some of the decorations and festive touches I've been adding around the house. There have been a few tough baby weeks so not everything I had planned got done but I am really happy with whats gone up and whats been made. I'm looking forward to weekend ahead, I hope there will be lots of fun and food in store plus a nap or two! Have a wonderful Christmas and thank you as always for reading. xx 
Above - Snowflake garland -  I attached snowflakes (from Poundland) and wide twinkly ribbon to a long piece of string using staples (so nothing fancy!) and hung over the dining room table to create a winter wonderland.

A few Christmas fairy cakes that I tried to make with Stanley (it wasn't that successful!) but they do look pretty.  
Handmade present using scrap fabric from my stockings and last years gift wrapping label.
This years Christmas stick, a silver birch branch with silver birch star decorations and lots of fairy lights. I love filling big vases with baubles and am slowly building up a Christmas tree collection. My mum made the little glass tree and I hand drew little trees on the tea light holder using a chalk pen

I thought it was time to update our stockings, I made these really simple ones using tie dyed calico and ran a simple running stitch and then zig zag around the edge, they took about 2 hours to make all three (including the time it took to make the pattern). For the rest of the fireplace I decorated with silver bells from Laura Ashley, lots of candles, a little greenery and paper decorations (which I picked up in the summer). 
I prefer dark pink flowers to red at Christmas time and have been keeping this jar filled with blooms over the last few weeks. I found some holly in the woods which I added in to make it look a bit natural. I'm not a huge fan of fake candles but they are much safer with a bubba around, to soften I added salt to the jars to make a snow effect which I think works pretty well. Once it's dark they look really sweet sparkling away and I don't get candle fear! 

Star necklace

Friday, 16 December 2016

Every morning Stanley and I read his 'Twinkle, Twinkle' book at least five times which might explain the star theme for my latest necklace. I made this in November and have been wearing to any occasion which requires me to wear more than my usual mum clothes.
I thought its about time I stopped saving my precious bead stash for best and start using everything I have in my collection. For this necklace I mixed some of my favourite glass sequins that I bought at the magnificent Tinsel Trading in New York a few years ago. They are very special and still come in their original 1940's packaging which makes me very happy indeed. 

For me inspiration always comes from two places; colours and the materials I use. I love creating layers of textures and soft subtle colours. For this necklace I've mixed leather stars, sequins, beads and jewels both old and new, which all sit on a vintage necklace that I picked up somewhere along the way. 
After many years of talking about it I finally feel ready to start selling the jewellery I make. I'm working on a small collection of my most liked pieces but plan to add one-off's like this to sit along side. For me creating something special is my favourite thing to do - I love seeing a necklace or earrings take shape as I let the materials guide me as I go. If you're interested in having something made then please get in touch, wedding commissions or just because jewellery are really fun to make and I'd love to create something for you. Have a great weekend. x 

Five quick and colourful Christmas DIY's

Wednesday, 14 December 2016

With Christmas almost here, I've been back through my archives to share some of my favourite quick and colourful Christmas DIY's from the past few years...

(clockwise from top left)

Simple Christmas Crackers

White and Metallic Gift Wrapping

Star Garland 

How To Lay A Christmas Table 

Feather Baubles 

Happy making! xx

DIY - Handmade bauble jars (for under five pounds)

Friday, 9 December 2016

If you want to give a handmade gift this Christmas but don't have loads of time/money to spare then these bauble jars will be perfect for you. They make an ideal hostess gift or even better secret santa present. I've been guiding my friend through how to make these this week so thought it's time I shared a proper post. 
You'll need - Small baubles, I used these from Wilko but also recommend these glass decorations from Poundland (you can see them in my Inspired, December post), glass jars , pretty fabric scraps - you can't beat a bit of Liberty Tana Lawn but any silk or cotton fabric or ribbon will look really pretty. 

Cut strips of fabric 2cm x 30cm and thread through the hole in the top of the decoration.

Add all the decorations into a jar. I could fit about 12 decorations into each of my jars.

To finish tie a bow or add a little foliage to the top of the jar - that's it!

I love jewel colours at Christmas but if you prefer something more natural then you could use some simple bakers twine or strips of cotton, silk or lace.  It's a perfect project for using up your special scraps of fabric and ribbon.

If you have more time to spare then you could make your own decorations you can see my clay stars, feather filled baubles or Liberty print baubles for inspiration. I really like how these have turned out, they really do make a great alternative to a standard bottle of wine or box of chocolates, plus they'll last much longer! Happy making x
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