Wednesday, 31 May 2017

April in Pictures: a Creative Challenge and the Perils of Perfectionism

Better late than never, it's time for my April Instagram update!

April got off to a great start, with a couple of days of gloriously warm weather. The English weather in spring (especially on the coast) can be notoriously unpredictable, so I've been trying to make the most of the good weather when we've had it.


I'm continuing to go on lots of walks exploring my new neighbourhood, sharing photos on my Weston-super-Magic account (I post rather erratically there but it's great not worrying about when I "should" post or how my follower count is doing - it's purely a little collection of some of my favourite snaps from my walks).

Sadly it was rather chilly later in the month for the latest Made by Mrs M Photowalk, but we all had lots of fun regardless and took approximately a gazillion photos of London along the way. I still haven't edited most of my photos, but Kate's shared lots of awesome ones over on her blog.

This is definitely my favourite shot from the day - the sun came out just in time for our visit to the Barbican, which was looking as wonderful as ever. The Barbican is one of those love it or hate it bits of architecture, and I am firmly in camp "love it". 


Back at home, I had fun playing with threads...

 
 

... jazzed up a gift with some simple paper polkadots...


... and designed the latest wreath in my series for The Village Haberdashery: a fabric-wrapped wreath bursting with bright spring flowers.

 

I also decided to take part in The 100 Day Project: a global challenge where people do a creative task every day for 100 days and share the results on Instagram. I thought long and hard about what to do for this challenge and eventually chose #100DaysofFeltStuff, recreating one "real world" object in felt each day.

If you've been following me on Instagram you'll know that I've not kept up with the daily part of this challenge at all, but I'm pleased with the results so far - both the finished pieces I've made and what I've learned from the process.

I'll be honest with you guys, I regretted starting this challenge almost immediately. I loved making my first felt object (a slightly ridiculous felt washing up sponge) but photographing it was a nightmare. I realised that as well as giving myself the (difficult, and time-consuming) challenge of making a 3D object each day I'd also voluntarily signed up for the utter stress-fest of taking decent photos of the blinking things.

Frustrated tears were cried. There may have been a bit of sulking. I definitely considered scrapping the whole plan altogether - either backing out of the whole challenge or downgrading it to something much simpler that I could do with less effort. But I decided that I was more interested in the creative challenge of making these objects than in having a daily photo to share so I'd try to make things when I could, and then have a little photoshoot for the finished pieces when I had the time and some decent light (and when I'd worked out the best way to photograph them).

On Day One, I made a felt washing-up sponge, which made me laugh a lot:

 

On Day Two, I made a felt jaffa cake - I gave up trying to photograph this one and took a video of it instead. I mistook this for the real thing several times, which was very pleasing! You know you've succeeded in recreating a bit of food if you're actually tempted to eat it.

On Day Three, I made a felt lipsalve and discovered another challenging part of this project: sharing pieces which normally wouldn't see the light of day as I'd consider them flawed prototypes. My perfectionist tendencies were being tested - in a good way, I think!

At the time I was slightly mortified having to share this and could have given you a long list of what was "wrong" with it but now I look at it and just think "a felt lipsalve! how fun!"


On Day Four, I made a felt highlighter pen.

 

On Days Five and Six, I made an empty embroidery thread bobbin and one wrapped with felt "thread".


I then decided to mix things up a bit, adding some of the 2D pictures that are more my usual style. (3D objects are hard, guys! I also wanted a bit more variety, and to use this challenge as an opportunity to get a few old designs out of my sketchbooks and into felt-y reality).

So, for Days Seven and Eight I made a duck and a goose.


For Day Nine, I made an eraser.


Day Ten, a Barn Owl.


And Day Eleven, (my favourite so far) a Kingfisher.


I was (and still am) delighted with how all these turned out! I don't know what, if anything, I'm going to do with them all but the process of designing and making and sharing them has been very worthwhile.


Unfortunately I then got sick (ugh) and other life stuff intervened and I ended up pressing "pause" on the project for the moment, but more on that another day...

Want more colourful, crafty updates? I'm lauralupinhoward on Instagram - click here to visit my page and follow me. You'll also find me on Facebook and Twitter.

Monday, 29 May 2017

A Sunday Walk: Walborough Nature Reserve

Since moving to Somerset, I've been going for a lot of walks. I used to do a lot of walking on my Nice Days Out but I rarely just went for a walk, the walking was a thing that happened while journeying from A to B or exploring a new and interesting place.

I've been sharing photos from some of my recent walks over on Instagram, but I thought it might be nice to occasionally share a few special walks with you guys here on my blog... starting with yesterday's outing to Walborough.

Just south of Weston-super-Mare you'll find the village of Uphill, Uphill Hill itself and Walborough Nature Reserve.


With it being a sunny Bank Holiday weekend, there were a lot of people out walking and cycling along the main path through the reserve.

 
 

Little kids on cycles and scooters, people sitting on benches and watching the cattle, dogs sniffing and yapping at each other, strangers opening gates for each other and saying polite "hello!"s as they passed by, and everyone in agreement that the guy climbing this rock face was "utterly bonkers".


This time of year is so gorgeous, all that lush green abundance bursting forth. 

 
 

I got a little sunburned but it was totally worth it.

I walked back to Weston via Uphill Village, which is really very charming. I especially love this row of cottages, which makes me want to go buy a tub of Neapolitan ice cream! The house with the yellow doors always has a seasonal wreath on the door - it's so nice seeing it change through the year.

 

At the edge of the village is my new dream house, aka the gatehouse of Uphill Manor (which sadly suffered a major fire last year), and Donkey Field. A few weeks ago the field was full of bluebells, but now it's a sea of long grasses and buttercups. So lovely!


For lots more pics from Weston-super-Mare and its environs, check out my Instagram: Weston-super-Magic.

Friday, 26 May 2017

A Year of Wreaths: May Felt Foxgloves Wreath Tutorial

My free tutorial series for The Village Haberdashery continues!

May's wreath features some fabulous felt foxgloves:

https://www.thevillagehaberdashery.co.uk/blog/2017/a-year-of-wreaths-may-felt-foxgloves-wreath-by-laura-howard 

This month's project was an interesting design challenge - it was rather tricky translating the shapes of real foxgloves into something simple enough to a) fit on a wreath and b) not impossible to actually make! After a couple of false starts I was delighted when I finally cracked it* and I'm really pleased with how these flowers have turned out.

  https://www.thevillagehaberdashery.co.uk/blog/2017/a-year-of-wreaths-may-felt-foxgloves-wreath-by-laura-howard

The foxgloves do take a little time and patience to put together, but the individual steps are not difficult and I think the result is well worth it. (Okay so I am a little biased about this but shhh).

https://www.thevillagehaberdashery.co.uk/blog/2017/a-year-of-wreaths-may-felt-foxgloves-wreath-by-laura-howard

Click here for the free templates and step by step tutorial.

You can buy a kit with all the materials you'll need to make this wreath, or just follow the links in the tutorial to find all the individual supplies in The Village Haberdashery shop.

I think the foxgloves would also look lovely on a simple fabric-wrapped wreath - like the one I made for last month's tutorial - or a soft yarn-wrapped wreath like the one I made in March.

https://www.thevillagehaberdashery.co.uk/blog/2017/a-year-of-wreaths-april-felt-flower-wreath-by-laura-howard
https://www.thevillagehaberdashery.co.uk/blog/2017/a-year-of-wreaths-march-daffodil-wreath-by-laura-howard

Click here to find all the wreath tutorials in the series.
 
*I may or may not have done a very embarrassing happy dance at this point. I couldn't possibly comment.

Friday, 5 May 2017

A Year of Wreaths: April Felt Flower Wreath Tutorial

Every month this year I'm designing a seasonal wreath for The Village Haberdashery's blog. April's wreath is all about bright spring flowers:

http://www.thevillagehaberdashery.co.uk/blog/2017/a-year-of-wreaths-april-felt-flower-wreath-by-laura-howard

I've combined some bright and cheerful wool blend felt with a lovely neutral linen-blend fabric - I love how the felt colours pop against the plain background!

 http://www.thevillagehaberdashery.co.uk/blog/2017/a-year-of-wreaths-april-felt-flower-wreath-by-laura-howard

You don't have to stick to my chosen colour palette, of course, there are so many great colour combinations you could use for this design to totally change it's mood or tie in with your decor.

The individual felt flowers would also make lovely brooches or hair clips. (You know me, I love a design with flexibility!)

http://www.thevillagehaberdashery.co.uk/blog/2017/a-year-of-wreaths-april-felt-flower-wreath-by-laura-howard

Click here for the full step by step wreath tutorial and free template sheet.

You can buy a kit with all the materials you'll need to make this wreath, or just follow the links in the tutorial to find all the individual supplies in The Village Haberdashery shop.

P.S. Click here for all the tutorials in this series.

P.P.S. Yes, I know it's May already! :) I have had a bad case of Blogger's Block recently but I will be back soon, I promise.