New! Bird of the Fortnight: Chaffinch

Bird of the fortnight. Quick sketch Chaffinch (c) Ella Johnston ellasplace.co.uk

Welcome to my new little series, bird of the fortnight. Every two weeks I’ll do three quick black and white sketches then one really detailed, worked up illustration of a bird that takes my fancy. At the start of the week I’ll show off my sketches then give you the finished, polished drawing at the end of the week with some info on the creature itself.

My first one is a favourite of mine, the colourful chaffinch. I love these little guys. Look out on Friday for my final portrait of this most charming of garden and woodland bird.

Bird of the fortnight. Quick sketch Chaffinch (c) Ella Johnston ellasplace.co.uk
Bird of the fortnight. Quick sketch Chaffinch (c) Ella Johnston ellasplace.co.uk

Hack: Pimp up a flower display

Easy carton boxes with Sizzix dies in Ella Johnston Love Heart Paper (c) ellasplace.co.uk

It’s a week until Mothering Sunday in the UK. If you’re having a little celebration or gathering with your mum (or indeed anyone – an aunt, a friend, a neighbour) it’s worth making an effort to make the get together more special. Having a lovely little flower display is an easy way to make someone smile and feel like you’ve gone the extra mile.

So this is a really easy and more importantly really cheap way to pimp up a floral display. I used few flower heads, some little shot glasses and sturdy paper featuring my love heart design. I made cute carton style boxes, popped the shot glass in (with around 2cm of water) and snuck the flower bud in to peak above the top of the paper. This method means you can display a single bloom without blowing your budget on a big bouquet.

I used a die-cutting machine (Sizzix Big Shot Machine #660200) with a carton box die (Sizzix Thinlits Die – Box, Milk Carton) to make my boxes but you can make a simple paper cover by simply scoring a paper rectangle so it wraps around the shot glass like a sleeve. So, it’s not just for Mother’s Day, I like to do this for parties and get-togethers when I want an easy decorative touch that I can theme with different paper designs and blooms.

Easy carton boxes with Sizzix dies in Ella Johnston Love Heart Paper (c) ellasplace.co.uk

Hack: An Easy Way to Embrace Pastels

Pastel Painted Candle Votives (c) ellasplace.co.uk

As part of my on-going efforts to revamp my bedroom I’ve been looking to add a sense of calm and tranquility to the space. If you saw my previous post on the pastel trend you’ll see these tones are being touted as perfect for providing as sense of calm and relaxation and are currently dominating the high street.

I wanted an easy way to embrace pastels while giving my boudoir an handmade artisan touch. I also don’t want to commit myself to one colour or style yet as I’m still undecided as to how I want the room just yet. I needed a flexible update that I could change, so I got out my paints…

Pastel Painted Candle Votives (c) ellasplace.co.uk

First I painted a small canvas with a very simple layers of light, rose and dusky pinks to create a pop of gentle colour to brighten up my side tables.

Pastel Painted Candle Votives (c) ellasplace.co.uk

I liked my quick canvas but I wanted something to tie things together. I then remembered a project I did last year for Homemaker magazine. It was really simple but incredibly effective and all it involved was a set of acrylic paints and some filled glass candle votives.

Pastel Painted Candle Votives (c) ellasplace.co.uk

My house always has scented candle glass votives – I pick them up when I’m doing my grocery shopping and, if you don’t pick a pungent fragrance (give them a sniff) and don’t mind a shorter life span, you can buy them for about £1.50. I’ve used a rough, coarse brush to apply lilac and serenity blue paint on the base of the glass as I want a tactile, painterly feel to these pieces.

Pastel Painted Candle Votives (c) ellasplace.co.uk

They look fab on my bedside cabinets and I love the way they look when they are lit after I take a bath (I love a little spa feel) and when I’m reading in the evening or when unlit as a colourful ornament during the day. They also make great gifts for people too – I’ve done a couple of these for friends as part of a ‘relaxation box’ (more on that later) and they have loved them. Pastel Painted Candle Votives (c) ellasplace.co.uk

13 quick pastel updates

Pastel Trends (c) ellasplace.co.uk
Ferns Duck Egg Bed Linen £55, Secret Linen Store

I was out shopping with Dr B last week and he remarked how many pastel shades there were on the high street. It’s funny, as someone who looks at trends all the time and who is always looking at colourways, I’m used to pastels – I forget that by the time they hit the shops, I’m looking at the next new thing.

At the start of the year Pantone launched its colours for 2016; Rose Quartz and Serenity, stating that the colours “demonstrate an inherent balance between a warmer embracing rose tone and the cooler tranquil blue, reflecting connection and wellness as well as a soothing sense of order and peace”.  As well as championing the colours themselves, the company also outlined some exquisite colour pairings that can imbue a sense of calm and relaxation.

Pastel Trends (c) ellasplace.co.uk
Christy Supreme Towel Range Pink £30, Very

It’s simple to add a sense of tranquility to your spaces with the addition of soft pastels. These cool shades can really brighten interiors as well as set a soothing mood. And you don’t have to go full-on with pastel, simple touches will do. A bed spread, a pop of pink with some fluffy towels (as seen above), a subtle bud vase or some simple lighting could be all you need to embrace this trend. Here’s a little sampler of more pastel themed buys…

Pastel Trends (c) ellasplace.co.uk
Geo Stripe Throw £65, Oliver Bonas
Pastel Trends (c) ellasplace.co.uk
Set Of Eight Colour Pop Porcelain T-light Holders £19.95, dotcomgiftshop
Pastel Trends (c) ellasplace.co.uk
Set of two Roef Chairs in Serenity Blue £180, Cuckooland
Pastel Trends (c) ellasplace.co.uk
M&S Loft Mixing Bowl in Pastel Mix (set of 3) £15, Marks & Spencer
Pastel Trends (c) ellasplace.co.uk
Blue Swirl Glass Table Lamp £60, Next
Pastel Trends (c) ellasplace.co.uk
Rose Geometric Bud Vase £12.95, MiaFleur
Pastel Trends (c) ellasplace.co.uk
Eva Five-Drawer Jewellery Box £69. Oliver Bonas
Pastel Trends (c) ellasplace.co.uk
Colours Oxygen Emulsion Paint, B&Q
Pastel Trends (c) ellasplace.co.uk
Rarkids Pink Natural, £35, Cult Furniture
Pastel Trends (c) ellasplace.co.uk
Recycled Pastel Paisley Green Trinket Box, £7.50, Karenza & Co
Pastel Trends (c) ellasplace.co.uk
Set Of 3 Pastel Retro Suitcases, £13.94. Luck and Luck
Pastel Trends (c) ellasplace.co.uk
Pastel Lustre Vases (set Of 3), £42. MiaFleur

DIY: Scandi folk pattern boxes

Scandinavian folky patterned boxes (c) ellasplace.co.uk

I don’t know about you but I have been addicted to BBC Two’s Great Interior Design Challenge, I love the whole thing; the architectural history, updating spaces, adding special touches and answering client briefs, the reveal, everything. I’ve watched the show since it started and am always inspired by the ideas that the amateur designers come up with and the advice and insights the experts outline.

This series has seen loads of creative ideas and I was particularly struck by Lucy Tiffney’s Scandinavian Folk bedroom. I love the way that illustration, painting, craft and interior design have crossed over in this project and the sweet, rustic lines and simple motifs, executed in a muted colourway. I couldn’t wait to reconnect with some folky drawing myself.

Scandinavian folky patterned boxes (c) ellasplace.co.uk

Freshly inspired, I set about studying Scandinavian patterns. Some of my favourites are pinned on my Pinterest board. What’s lovely about these designs is they are so easy to recreate and then add your own twist to. From simple stem and leaf motifs, lovely lace edges and symmetrical composition, this folky style is great for when you want to achieve an effective looking, intricate decoration without feeling you have to be hugely technical or an amazing drawer.

I had some plain cardboard heart-shaped boxes that were in need of updating. I gave them a lick of light blue paint that really suited traditional Scandinavian design. I then set about drawing my design onto tracing paper. I drew half the design then folded the paper to create a mirror image. Then I simply transferred the designs onto the painted boxes.

Scandinavian folky patterned boxes (c) ellasplace.co.uk

I finished the traced design with felt-tip pen. I chose to use black and blue pen for a strong contrasting look with the light blue but I reckon this would also look lovely in traditional red and cream.

Scandinavian folky patterned boxes (c) ellasplace.co.uk

Had my motifs been larger I would have painted them on – and I am considering doing something with a piece of furniture for a funky little upcycling project. This kind of thing would look really effective on a bedside cabinet or storage box.

Scandinavian folky patterned boxes (c) ellasplace.co.uk

I’m storing ribbons and buttons in these boxes (I have so many of both) but I’m sure you could fill these with pretty tissue paper and treats (chocolates or toiletries) for a thoughtful gift. Scandinavian folky patterned boxes (c) ellasplace.co.ukScandinavian folky patterned boxes (c) ellasplace.co.ukScandinavian folky patterned boxes (c) ellasplace.co.ukScandinavian folky patterned boxes (c) ellasplace.co.uk