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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!


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