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Make a personalised clock in 20 minutes

Flamingo2_20cm

Yes you can make a clock in 20 minutes, personalised to suit your home.
80sI used a kit from Dannells and teamed it with my flamingo print paper and a fabulous design (Leah Duncan’s Brooklyn Bridge Flare) from Art Gallery Fabrics.

Because the kits have all the bits you simply cut the fabric or paper to fit the sticky backed template, fix it to the hoop and attached the clock mechanism – easy.
Flamingo deat3_20cmFlamingo_20cm80sdeat

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Moodboard Monday: Green and white

Ellas Place Moodboard Monday

As an artist, illustrator and journalist, observation, research and image gathering are key to the success of my work. So from now on I’m letting you in on my working practice every week with my Monday Moodboards.

I’m always taking pictures of things that catch my eye and (much to Dr B’s chagrin) spend at least a couple of hours a day on Pinterest (probably not very healthy I know) collecting all kinds of images that reflect trends and serve as inspiration for my home and my drawings. Making them into a moodboard distills my thoughts and allows me to think about the vibe I want to create with my own endeavours.

I’ve recently become fascinated by green and white. It is so representative of this time of year. During the past three weeks I’ve been greeted with this glorious colour combination on my daily morning woodland and riverside walks. Lush grass, delicate hawthorn flower and cow parsley abound the environment creating delightful glades and giving everything a soft, elegant appearance. Beautiful.

This simple palette has so much potential in terms of design and it’s versatile too; a simple flower arrangement, artful grouping of fern and minty coloured objet, delicate planting or full-on statement floor and wall tiles, there are so many ways to incorporate this look into your home.  Used wisely it can look stylish in a laid back, understated way. And even if you’re not actually using natural elements or motifs it suggests a natural, organic feel. The clean, fresh scheme and simplicity reflected in my mood board has also given me food for thought when it comes to my illustrations – sometimes maybe less is more?

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DIY: Update a wooden box

Customised pencil box Posca Pens ellasplace.co.uk

I’ve had this little wooden box for years. It was plain and unloved for ages. I kept pencils in it and every time I retrieved them I thought “I should really do something with this” and then I’d leave it.

Customised pencil box Posca Pens ellasplace.co.uk

Then a couple of weeks ago I was asked if I wanted to do some projects with Uni-ball the makers of Posca pens. Before I started on the projects I thought it best to re-familiarise myself with them and have a little practice. The pens work on a range of surfaces, so after I used them on a set of notebooks I thought I’d give them a try by drawing on that plain old wooden box.
Customised pencil box Posca Pens ellasplace.co.uk

First I painted the box to give it an even white background. Then I used my wood anemone sketch as a basis for my hand-drawn box design. I wanted to make it look quite retro so influenced by sixties and seventies floral patterns I gave the flowers a bright blue colour.

Customised pencil box Posca Pens ellasplace.co.uk

What I like about these pens is that you can layer them without them bleeding and apply lighter shades over darker ones which means I could add depth to the flowers with lovely yellow centres and white pollen.You can set the design by simply spraying some varnish over it.
Customised pencil box Posca Pens ellasplace.co.uk
Customised pencil box Posca Pens ellasplace.co.uk

You can set the design on the box by

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9 Memphis-style home buys

Memphis Style Buys ellasplace.co.uk

As I mentioned in an earlier post the Memphis Movement has a very big influence on interiors and design at the moment and only looks set to be more prevalent in home shops over the coming months. The style is already emerging in a number of buys, from fridge magnets, trinket boxes and party plates to beanbags, cushions, lights and cot protectors –have a look at my selection of favourite Memphis style ideas that can add a playful on-trend update to your home.

Memphis style buys ellasplace.co.uk
From Sweet Party Day
Memphis style buys ellasplace.co.uk
From Oliver Bonas
Memphis style buys ellasplace.co.uk
From DaWanda
Memphis style buys ellasplace.co.uk
From Cuckooland
Memphis style buys ellasplace.co.uk
From Oliver Bonas
Memphis style buys ellasplace.co.uk
From George Home
Memphis style buys ellasplace.co.uk
From Made.com
Memphis style buys ellasplace.co.uk
From Cuckooland
Memphis style buys ellasplace.co.uk
From Oliver Bonas

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How I added a ‘Memphis lite’ element to my home

Memphis style tealights (c) ellasplace.co.uk

Last summer I went to the Pick Me Up show at Somerset House. Every year the show features a fresh line-up of artists and designers who are considered to reflect the best of new illustration, graphic design and related disciplines. It’s a great event for picking up on trends.

Almost every item in the 2015 show was influenced by the Memphis Group, an Italian design and architecture collective founded in Milan by Ettore Sottsass in 1981 that designed Postmodern furniture, fabrics, ceramics, glass and metal objects from 1981 to 1987. Since the show I can’t seem to pick up a magazine or visit an interiors site without reading a reference to this group. This style is big in 2016, so if you’re new to Memphis style take a look at my Pinterest board to familiarise yourself with it.

I must confess that it’s taken me a little while to embrace this particular look – I was a child in the 1980s so anything from that era has to work extra hard to win my favour. However the Memphis look is fresh, playful, fun and actually very easy to incorporate into interiors and crafts projects. It also, even 30 plus years on, looks surprisingly contemporary. You can go all out with it or incorporate little elements of this style to give your home or craft creations a quirky, on-trend edge.

So starting softly, I took Ettore Sottsas’ iconic Letraset design, as seen below, as an inspiration for a quick interiors update.

‘Letraset’ textile design by Ettore Sottsas

It’s a wonderfully simple, effective design that works well as a standalone pattern but can look fab  layered over different shades. It’s also great at different sizes.

Memphis style tealights (c) ellasplace.co.uk

I used this Letraset pattern as a ‘Memphis lite’ starting point to update some funky tea-light holders as a gift for my lounge. I got these little shot glasses from a charity shop and they are perfect lanterns for my tea-lights. However, left plain, I felt they were rather stark.

Memphis style tealights (c) ellasplace.co.uk
I used black permanent marker (the Memphis Group use a lot of black) to very loosely apply a similar pattern over the glasses. I wanted to play with the scale of the motifs to make the lanterns more varied and create interest when they were arranged together. I literally did this while I was watching telly one evening, and I’m pleased that this easy make made me think more about the Memphis Group’s work and has spurred me on to check it out further.

Memphis style tealights (c) ellasplace.co.uk

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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

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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

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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

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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

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10 Pineapple Picks!

10 Pineapple picks ellasplace.co.uk

At the end of last year I went to lots of Spring/Summer 2016 press shows. From high-end interior brands to high street favourites, all the retailers featured one key motif – the pineapple.

Inspired by this, I did a drawing/illustration of one of my own little fruit, which is now available as a print from my Etsy store .

Ella Johnston Pineapple print, £12. Etsy. ellasplace.co.uk
Ella Johnston Pineapple print, £12. Etsy.

Ella Johnston Pineapple print, £12. Etsy. ellasplace.co.uk
Ella Johnston Pineapple print, £12. Etsy.

I’ve also rounded up 10 of my favourite pineapple products in the shops right now. It’s amazing how one motif can be adapted to suit such an eclectic range of styles… As a little postscript, this is as near as a pineapple as I can get to as I’m allergic to them; one bite and I swell up like a sea sponge!

Glass vase, £20 BHS, Pineapple Trend ellasplace.co.uk
Glass vase, £20 BHS
Pineapple apron, £24.95. Thornback and Peel. Pineapple trend ellasplace.co.uk
Pineapple apron, £24.95. Thornback and Peel
Prints Eisenherz Pineapple print, £7. DaWanda. Pineapple trend ellasplace.co.uk
Prints Eisenherz Pineapple print, £7. DaWanda
Pols Potten Pineapple Jar, £45 Amara, Pineapple Trend ellasplace.co.uk
Pols Potten Pineapple Jar, £45 Amara
Decorative Pineapple, £89.95, Mia Fleur. Pineapple trend ellasplace.co.uk
Decorative Pineapple, £89.95, Mia Fleur
Steel Grey Pineapple Bedlinen, £50, Secret Linen Store, Pineapple Trend ellasplace.co.uk
Steel Grey Pineapple Bedlinen, £50, Secret Linen Store
Zeus Lamp £80 House of Fraser Pineapple Trend ellasplace.co.uk
Zeus Lamp £80 House of Fraser
Temerity Jones Pineapple trinket dish SS15, £5, Lisa Angel. Pineapple trend ellasplace.co.uk
Temerity Jones Pineapple trinket dish SS15, £5, Lisa Angel.
Copper Pineapple Ice Bucket, £40 Oliver Bonas. Pineapple Trend ellasplace.co.uk
Copper Pineapple Ice Bucket, £40 Oliver Bonas
Pineapple Fruit Platter, £12.75. The Contemporary Home. Pineapple Trend ellasplace.co.uk
Pineapple Fruit Platter, £12.75. The Contemporary Home