Hack: Handmade Gift Ideas: Sharpie Mugs

Sharpie hack - cool mug set (c) ellasplace.co.uk

I’ve been coming up with ways to make my gifts a bit more personal by making a few pressies myself. I need to make things fairly quickly without lots of faff (stuff I can do in the evening with the telly on basically). This is where my enormous collection of Sharpie pens come in super handy. I’ve a plain set of ceramic tableware; mugs, saucers and plates plus some spare mdf coasters from my previous Shibori project that I can easily jazz up with these ever practical pens and a little patience.

Sharpie hack - cool mug set (c) ellasplace.co.uk

First I thought I’d do a pair of mugs. I was inspired my Marimekko designs but obviously I adapted it so I wasn’t ripping off a classic. It took me about 30 mins to finish them both and I really like the look of them – contemporary but with a definite handmade edge so as not to be confused with anything shop bought.

Sharpie hack - cool mug set (c) ellasplace.co.uk

Sharpie hack - cool mug set (c) ellasplace.co.uk

Sharpie hack - cool mug set (c) ellasplace.co.uk

My Illustrated Christmas Cards


Christmas Stationery Ella Johnston Art and illustration. ellasplace.co.uk

While everyone was sunning themselves this summer I was busy putting together my illustrated Christmas card collections. I’ve got a number of designs available this year ranging from the traditional (we all love a wee robin) to playful (as a veggie I couldn’t help but showcase what most people will be eating at Christmas) to vintage (I’m a huge fan of retro illustration).
Christmas Stationery Ella Johnston Art and illustration. ellasplace.co.uk

I thought it would be nice to coordinate your Christmas greetings, gifting and thank you notes with my Festive Robin Stationery Box Set.

This year the robin was crowned the nation’s favourite bird in the National Bird Vote – so my festive motif featured on greetings and gift tags is sure to be a real favourite with friends and family and a time-honoured way of ‘tweeting’ your Christmas wishes.

In a Scandi-inspired theme of red and white, the pack also features a simple heart motif print, designed and printed by me. The pack features ten illustrated Robin Christmas greetings, ten thank you notecards and ten Robin gift tags. You can take a look at it here.
Christmas Stationery Ella Johnston Art and illustration. ellasplace.co.uk
I’ve got a pack of 10 illustrated Goose and Turkey Christmas cards (five of each) so you can send a season’s greeting with a cheeky twist. Get your set hereSo what better way to say ‘Season’s Greetings’ than with a lovingly drawn illustration of the creatures that are kindly sacrificing themselves to ensure your Christmas dinner is absolutely perfect; a fattened goose and succulent turkey?

Christmas Stationery Ella Johnston Art and illustration. ellasplace.co.uk
Christmas Stationery Ella Johnston Art and illustration. ellasplace.co.uk

My pack of 10 vintage inspired Christmas cards was inspired by old designs of the 1950s and 60s. There were lots of baubles, bells and kitsch motifs (which I adore). I wanted to see if I could do something similar so I went to the shed and pulled out all my old decorations and got drawing. Check out how you can get yours here

Christmas Stationery Ella Johnston Art and illustration. ellasplace.co.uk

Four Fab Christmas Trends

From House of Fraser
From House of Fraser

Now it’s November I think it’s fair enough to talk about Christmas, isn’t it? Over the coming weeks I’ll be looking at festive ideas so that Ella’s place will be the coolest venue for yuletide food, drink, gifts and decoration inspiration – so watch this space.

As a journalist I’m very lucky to get an early insight into the trends for the upcoming festive season. It’s part of my job to visit trade shows and talk with my colleagues of what’s hot and what’s not for 2015. I’ve really enjoyed putting the festive issues of my magazines together and if you want some immediate crafty projects and ideas – head here and here.

If you’re stuck for what look to go for this Christmas (you’ve still got time to stock up with some yuletide updates for the big day) then this round-up of the year’s top trends should help.

Vintage trad
I love a bit of nostalgia at Christmas and the high street has really appealed to our love for yuletides past this year. This look reminds me of when my mum would get the decoration box out and my sister and I would busily get on creating the most stylishly decked-out tree. We were both very particular about the tree and the overall festive scheme. We were also as one on it: we didn’t want classy or cool, we didn’t want restrained, we wanted red, white and fir-tree greens, and we were all about santas, bells, robins, puddings, snowflakes and snowmen. This trend is perfect for this and I know me and my and sis would have been all over this lot when we were kids.

From BHS
From BHS
From Sainsbury's
From Sainsbury’s
From House of Fraser
From House of Fraser
From Homebase
From Homebase
From Tesco
From Tesco
From Jan Constantine
From Jan Constantine

Luxury lodge
If I’m being honest, this trend is really for my fantasy grown-up home. I should explain… When I was a teenager I watched a lot of TV and I always thought that when I reached a ‘certain age’ I’d be living in house with white furniture, bleached and shiny surfaces, sumptuous soft furnishings in a palette of greys and alabaster, pale flowers in the hallway and soothing classical music playing practically all time. I would also wear crisp, expensive shirts. Anyway, while Ella’s place really isn’t like that (those shirts are a pain to iron),  I do love the mix of textures this look combines and the lovely natural touches with the incorporation of foliage and woodland elements – these all work together to create a cool wintery feel without being too clinical or cold. It’s really lovely.

From Amara
From Amara
From BHS
From BHS
From Houseology
From Houseology
From Homebase
From Homebase
From Amara
From Amara
From Sainsbury's
From Sainsbury’s

Glam metallics
If there’s one key trend for winter 2015/2016 it’s copper and gold. I’ve seen these metallics teamed with navy blue, teal, deep green and almost every shade of grey. I love this look – to me it evokes a sense of old-school glamour and adds an opulent finish to those festive arrangements. It’s also super adaptable; complementing a lot of different interior styles, you can just have small touches, with baubles and little accessories, or you can go all out with lampshades, cushions and crockery for the ultimate foxy looking display that is bang on the money.

From Marks and Spencer
From Marks and Spencer
From The Contemporary Home
From The Contemporary Home
From Next
From Next
From Lime Lace
From Lime Lace
From Marquis & Dawe
From Marquis & Dawe
From House of Fraser
From House of Fraser

Elegant brights
Seeing as it’s Christmas you can indulge your playful side. That’s why it’s great to go for bright colours and quirky designs – after all it is a celebration. The collection shown below illustrates that you don’t have to go for traditional festive motifs or tacky glitz to have a bit of fun with your decorations. In fact you can put together a classy look with nods to contemporary design that will still make people smile and get into the festive spirit.

From Marks and Spencer
From Marks and Spencer
From Acorn and Will
From Acorn and Will
From Tescos
From Tesco
From The Contemporary Home
From The Contemporary Home
From Rigby and Mac
From Rigby and Mac
From Oliver Bonas
From Oliver Bonas

IKEA hack – revamp a step stool

Revamped Ikea Steps photography (c) ellasplace.co.uk

Revamped Ikea Steps photography (c) ellasplace.co.uk

Being only 5ft 4in and a half (the half is very important), the IKEA step stool is my friend. The one above has been particularly well used – especially when we first got it 13 years ago. We lived in a tiny studio flat in London so storage had to be utilised in every space: it went right up to the ceiling. I’ve recently been using the steps in my art studio (another area that makes use of every single square metre of storage), so they’ve got a bit bashed up over the years and were in need of some TLC.

I came across a very sweet revamp project on This Little Street blog, who spruced up a new set of steps with paint and her peel-off wallpaper collection. I thought this idea would work with my Spoonflower fabrics and chalk paint.

Revamped Ikea Steps photography (c) ellasplace.co.uk

Revamped Ikea Steps photography (c) ellasplace.co.uk

First I had to get these steps into some kind of workable condition. Unlike the Little Street’s upcycle, which used a new set of steps, mine were old, scuffed, split and covered in printing ink and paint. I had to scrape off the paint, sand the surfaces down and treat the steps to some wood primer and a lick of white emulsion.

Revamped Ikea Steps photography (c) ellasplace.co.uk

I then painted the frame with Americana Decor® Chalky Finish paint in Legacy, keeping the step and the top white. I then used PVA glue to adhere my blue Scandi leaves material to the white areas and then sealed them in varnish – it means any spills can be wiped off. I’m really pleased with the end result and this once hardworking bit of furniture is now pride of place in our study (where, yes, we have floor-to-ceiling shelves).

Revamped Ikea Steps photography (c) ellasplace.co.uk

Revamped Ikea Steps photography (c) ellasplace.co.uk

Revamped Ikea Steps photography (c) ellasplace.co.ukRevamped Ikea Steps photography (c) ellasplace.co.uk

Revamped Ikea Steps photography (c) ellasplace.co.uk