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The August Break

It's almost time again to join in with The August Break. If you've not heard of it it's a lovely little project by Susanna Conway, originally started as a\ blogging holiday that's now evolved. 

I've got posts to get up and things to say so I won't be taking the break this month, but my photo's will be over on my Instagram. Pop by and have a look if you like. And let me know if you're joining in so I can have a little spy too! 

A lighting obsession

This whole house doing-up thing can really change what you think is important. Right now on that list is lighting.

I know I've mentioned before my dislike of 'big lights' and preference for a lamp, or a low light, which I think from living in a flat with terrible spot lighting for a long time. What ever has caused it, looking at lighting sources makes me happier than it should. Especially when there are so many rooms to choose the perfect lamp for. We currently have a lot of rooms with cheap, white, paper lantern shades on them, you know the ones that every student house ever had, which, trust me, are better than what we moved in to, but are certainly NOT what I want for the long term!

The big problem is I am not sure what I want long term, I swing from having a chandelier in the hallway to bare industrial style lighting, from wanting something low and big over the dining table to swooning over cluster lights, from simple table lamps to huge floor pieces, I fall in love with huge turquoise shades that won't match anything and debate rethinking my decoration because of it. And do not get me started on fancy light bulbs!

I think I need help. Jim just tells me 'it all looks nice' which does NOT help. Not at all.

1. The turquoise shade in question is this stunner. Don't you just love it? 2. The angles of this table lamp make me really happy! (Although I realise the background white on white might not be the best!) 3. I'm a  massive sucker for the simplicity of this bead light. 4. Maybe a few of these cage lamps with a beautiful Buster and Punch bulb in them would be better than a chandelier in the hallways? 5. I've long been a fan of cable and cotton, and this Big Lamp but in either of their grey shades might be just the thing for the living room.

C'mon, give me some help here? What do you think?

House Tour - The Craft Room

The house is a disgraceful mess of half stripped walls and jobs that need doing but we can't quite find the time to do and really not ready for the guests we have this weekend. But the space that I escape to when it's overwhelming me is my little haven on the top floor. My craft room. It might seem a little excessive to have a craft room, but one of the things we looked for when buying a house was space for Jim and I to distribute our stuff. In my case all my incredibly important crafting supplies, in his case computer games, drum kits and that sort of crap! We were lucky with this house because it came with 4 bedrooms, 2 of which are on the top floor and and could easily be used for this. They are slightly dubiously decorated, but hey, we'll just have to live with that because due to our limited budget, we've decided to ignore decorating these rooms for the foreseeable future and just work with what we have. 

The brighter of these rooms was the back one, so I chose that for the craft room. It's also a *fun* shade of mint green woodchip which works better for a craft room than it does for a boy den don't you think?

It's been a pretty cheap transformation and it is no where near finished, but I'm happy with what I've managed to achieve so far. The shelves in the alcove were already there so they seemed like the perfect place to store my crafting books, jars of stamps, and ink and stamp making supplies and pretty boxes full of beads. Further down we have gift bags and envelopes and right at the bottom we have a giant box of fabric, it's mostly scraps. 
The desk is a classic Ikea number. It was slightly annoying as it's too short for the space, but the longer desk was too long for the space, so for now there is a gap, but I am looking at getting some drawers or something to sit there and not leave such a gaping hole. The desk itself houses my sewing machine, my crafting drawers and this ace desk lamp from Lighting Majestic*. Because I'll be doing the majority of my crafting and all my sewing at the desk I really needed something that would light the whole space in the evenings and well, during 80% of the year in the UK and this is just the ticket. Plus it looks so pretty too. When I get the extra storage I'll probably swap the lamp and the crafting drawers over. I think that'll make more sense in the long run. I just need to find the right unit.
Above it we have a pocket folder with ideas and notes and things in and to the other side it's my re-purposed kitchen hangers from Ikea again. They are perfect for storing Washi tapes and twine and the likes.
And under the desk we have a shoe rack turned printer stand. I saw this on Pinterest and picked up this little number to give it a go, and look, it's perfect. Printers on top and that middle shelf, well, it is as if it was made perfectly for the Cricut isn't it? I've not posted much about this beauty as there hasn't really been much in the way of space to use it so when I have had it out I've done fun things with it, but they haven't been blog worthy. I see bright things in it's future though. Especially as I have sticker and fabric transfer paper for it! Hello all the wall and tshirt decals!

The view from the desk isn't bad either is it?
The shelves were reclaimed from my brothers bar when he renovated. They were really long so my dad cut them down for me (and fitted them) but they are pretty perfect for storing everything although one day I might get round to painting them a fun colour. I love the fabric baskets too. They were just cheapies from Dunelm but I love the way the pink looks against the turquoise. 
I'd love for them to be perfectly sorted and all organised but for now, I at least know where everything is and can see what I have. And what I have learnt is I have a LOT of glitter, a nice selection of spray paints, a great collection of soap making supplies, loads of papers and cards and more zips than necessary.
And to make sure the room was functional, we added a futon in here so that we can have guests stay and not have to blow up air beds for them (I even fitted a blackout blind!) Most of the time it's a sofa, and a place Flash likes to play with things he's found on the floor and really shouldn't be eating!
Now, I know that it's not as fancy as some of those perfect all white beautifully put together craft rooms that you see on American blogs but I love it up here and you know what, I think it might be better than those fancy ones because, well, it's on the top floor of my house not thousands of miles away. What do you think?

Also, if you're one of my 3D friends and you pop by unexpected and it's this tidy, please tell me off. Its a craft room, I think the purpose of it is to be a mess (but if you tell me you're coming you know I'll tidy up, because well, that's just what I do).

*I was sent the lamp from Lighting Majestic for free, but I wasn't paid for this post*

Country Baskets 'Accessorise Yourself' Challenge

You might remember last December I took park in Country Baskets Festive Face-off, well, they are back with a summer craft challenge 'Accessorize Yourself'. This time the brief was to make a wedding accessory and as per the last time, Country Baskets were kind enough to send us a wonderful box of crafty goodies. You can see the treats I got below;
We have an unusual year this year for us, it's one without an influx of weddings. For the last few years we've had a good few of them, enough to warrant more pairs of high heels than I feel comfortable owning and lots of pretty dresses. 

The things that really stood out to me, the things I thought I'd try and incorporate were the fake flowers, the various sparkles and the organza. I racked my brain thinking what I could make out of them and settled on a facinator. I really struggle when it comes to knowing what I wear in my hair, if anything. So I raided my crafting box for a few extra bits to make it work and set about making. 
Don't you just love the sparkles that they sent me. 
So, on to the fascinator making. I started with a scrap piece of felt from my stash and a long hair clip. I drew a tear drop shape the clip to make sure it would be big enough and cut it out. 
Next I beheaded a lot of the fake flowers, chopped off the leaves from the stalks and started figuring out where I'd place them on the base.
Due to the move I've absolutely no idea where my glue gun is, so I turned to my trusty extra strong glue. I layered the leaves over the felt base and used the hair clip to hold the less cooperative ones in place. Next I played with the placement of the flowers. I started with the lily at the bottom and worked up from there. 
Once all the flowers were in place I started on the jewels and jems. The ones on stems were twisted and turned and manipulated into place, where as the long string of diamant├ęs was cut up into single pieces and glued onto the spaces on the that needed a little extra sparkle.  
Last up, I sewed the clip on the back of the felt, making sure that it was in the right position to sit just right on my head.
And here it is, what do you think? I'm pretty happy with it - I know it might look a little big, but I love the splashes of pink, and the way it tapers upwards to the middle of the head. And I love how it sparkles too. 

*Country Baskets supplied the crafting materials but I wasn't paid for this post!

'Volts shock, Amps kill' or an afternoon at The Neon Workshop

Some of the available neon workshops. Who's up for a trip to Berlin?
A few weeks ago I got a super exciting email from Groupon asking me if I wanted to go to a neon workshop. Well, how do you say no to an invite like that? You can't can you? So on a Saturday afternoon my friend Sarah and I headed to a little neon workshop, on a side street in Wakefield, for a fun afternoon of glass bending and some unexpected science.
Around the workshop
After we signed our lives away on the disclaimer (the most alarming bit was to not cross the white line at the other side of the room. The other side of said white line housed some very exciting and I-want-to-touch kit!) we had the chance to peek round the little workshop, meet our co-creators and have a chat with Millie, the experience manager from Groupon. 

Our instructor Richard Wheater, started the afternoon by talking us through the intricacies of neon. My previous knowledge of the stuff was limited to the fact that my bar sign at home was on the blink (literally) and that it was super expensive, having ordered one for work. Now I know the science behind it, I know that I can fix the flickering bar sign (did you know that neon signs can be refilled? No, me either) and that they are so expensive because each one is hand made. Every single bit has to be done by hand. Madness.

We learnt about the different ways to make coloured lights - did you know that different gasses produce different colours? Or that you can also coat the tubes with colours to create other shades and by varying the width of the tube you can control the brightness too? Me either. We also learnt about the volts and amps, and their ability to hurt us and just why the white line we shouldn't cross, was there (check the title of the post for more info on that one!)

Science has never been my thing, especially not on a Saturday afternoon, but this was interesting. Just no-one tell my dad I said that. Ok!
A basic neon colour chart
Before we got started making anything of our own, Richard showed us the technique behind creating a neon sign. Now, having not given much thought to neon I wasn't sure what to expect, but I didn't imagine it would be so much work. Basically, to light the tube, you have to add conductors to it, which being glass need melting on, then once the tube has electric conductors on the ends of it, it has to be cleaned or 'bombarded' with the fancy looking machine below to make sure that there are no impurities in it, twice, once with helium, then if I remember correctly, filling with the right gas for the colour you're after for it. And then we saw it begin to splutter into life! That was pretty awesome. You can read a really in depth account of making neon lighting here if you like. I promise you it's way more interesting than you think it is.
Bombarding the tube. 
And then we got to play with our own pieces of glass. The first challenge was cut the tubes. Easy. We made a small score on the glass and snap. Done. The next challenge however involved tying hair back and flames. Big flames, blowing in tubes and mouth pieces, and the ability to twizzle glass tubes on your finger tips. It's amazing how uncoordinated I can be when required to turn a piece of glass in the right direction, even more so when I'm trying to remember to blow into a tube and bend the glass at the same time.  
Bending Glass
Here's Groupon's Millie giving it a go. And here are the bent pieces of glass......mine is the right angled one facing away from us - impressive right?
Bent Glass
Next up we got to be all fancy and really play with a ribbon of hot glass. This flame below heated the glass all the way along so you could twist and turn it and bend it into a shape. (The tube is in the mouth as when the glass is out of the flame you need to keep blowing down it to keep it 'open' rather then closing in on its self) You have to keep blowing the glass, twisting it, but now so much that it touches itself, and do it all before it cools. Not easy!
Glass ribbons
Here are the little glass mouth piece we used in our tubes, and this is my finished article. I kind of love it. (Ignore the nails please!)
And here are the pieces the whole class made. We were a talented bunch weren't we. Seriously. if you'd have been there and tried it, you'd have been impressed too!
Sarah and I left the class with little bent glass tubes and a desire to learn how to neon properly. You can have your tube neon'd for you after the class but you'd have to figure out some way to power it and my new found love of science doesn't stretch quite that far! But it was a really different, interesting and exciting use of a Saturday afternoon that I know would have been otherwise misspent in the pub!  

And if this has ignited a spark to learn more about neon and I think once you do learn you'll be surprised how interested you are (everyone at the party we had later knew all about it!)You can get your tickets to The Neon Workshop from Groupon for just £19 rather than the £60 they retail for.

*We were given the tickets to the Neon Workshop for free, but I wasn't paid for this post!

A June round-up and July's goals

In the midst of all the chaos of last month I missed this for a month, but I am back. So, June was a month of ups and downs again. It's been 6 months of that I'd say. We finally moved into our new house, but we still don't actually own it. Long story that pretty much gets worse every week so we'll leave it there. I started stripping orange wallpaper, and I used a lot of white paint. Flash found ALL the tennis balls in the garden. We got some awesome, mostly boozy, house warming gifts. I ate a lot of junk food and pub meals and drank a little too much and am feeling it now. I played with chalk paint. Our first house guest, Flash's cousin Molly, came to stay, as did my friend Sarah so I created us a guest room. There was blue beer at work. We went to the Sheffield Doc Fest launch - A film about Pulp! I put together so much furniture - beds and futons and tables and desks and butchers blocks and side tables. I've looked at far more sofas than I ever thought I was. I've spent far more time on ebay than necessary. I also packed Jim off to Glasto and threw a pineapple party with cocktail drunk from the hollowed out fruits! 

And on to July. Here's what I'm hoping for; 

What are your July plans?