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Easy craft: wipe-clean nesting trays

These wipe-clean nesting trays are just the thing for carrying little treats and drinks and they are easy to make too.

All I did was get a plain set of wooden nesting trays and gave them a lick of chalk paint (Deco Art Americana Decor Chalky finish paint to be exact) in two shades of grey.

I then measured the inside of the trays and cut my laurel leaf and autumn leaves design paper to size. I covered the paper with sticky-back plastic to make it wipe-clean.

I brushed PVA glue on the inside and placed the shiny patterned paper in it to adhere to the bottom of the tray. See, an easy paper make.
I’ve been using these trays for all sorts of things and they haven’t been damaged by ring marks and spillages. They’re so handy I may make a whole load of them as gifts.

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Stash-busting How-to: Make Paper Banners

Banner display I don’t know about you but I’ve got a big stash of plain and patterned paper from previous projects and from when I’ve taken advantage of bulk offers in art shops. It seems like a waste to have them languishing in drawers and boxes so last week I took action and turned some of them into stash-busting banners to decorate our study with a simple wall display.
Banner display I had some lovely light blue card that I’d been waiting for something to do with and some left-over summer swallow and butterfly designs that I had created to decorate a friends wedding. I thought the colours all worked really well together and I had some Posca pens in a lovely slate grey that would lift the blue card and unify the whole scheme once I’d added some simple text and design.
Banner display Making these banners is a synch. It just requires a ruler, a length of doweling, a craft knife, twine, double-sided-tape and the paper(s) of your choice. I measured my doweling at various lengths and cut to size (I could easily snip mine with a craft knife but you may need something more ‘robust’).
Banner display I then trimmed my papers into rectangles making sure I had about a 2cm allowance to wrap them over the doweling and leaving room at the bottom for cutting the bottom into a ‘v’ or inverted ‘v’ or at an angle while not compromising the main design.
Banner display the blue card was cut, I could draw a bespoke illustration on it. I thought I’d keep it some with a hand-scripted ‘hello’ and some simple laurel leaf and flower motifs. Let me know if you’d like me to talk through hand scripting and drawing these leaves and flowers – they’re easy to master and you don’t have to be a great draftsman/woman, I promise .
Banner display With everything cut to size I applied lengths of double-sided-tape to the doweling and, in the case three out of the four banners, I attached the ends of my twine before rolling the edges of the rectangles over the doweling to fix.

I’m pleased that I was able to give my old stash a new lease of life and I’m delighted to be able to add another bit of quirky handmade styles to a little corner of our study.

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Finished bird of the fortnight: colour flycatcher

Flycatcher (c) Ella Johnston

Although the spotted flycatcher is quite a dull bird I couldn’t resist giving it a somewhat sun-kissed appearance for my final, finished watercolour and ink illustration. I think I was imagining this little grey silver bird perched on a headstone as sun was setting, looking around for a little tasty morsel flitting around in the fading light.

With this in mind I’m in the mood for some colour so I think I’m going to draw a more exotic bird next fortnight… Watch this space.


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Eight Rainy Day Homewares

8 rainy day homewares
It’s an August Bank Holiday Monday in Britain – and tradition has it that it’s normally a bit grey and rainy!

As someone with Celtic heritage who is married to a Cumbrian, I actually quite like a drizzly day. I’d have to: family holidays in Ireland, annual visits to the Lake District and much-loved trips to my favourite cities of Glasgow and Edinburgh are often rain-filled affairs. Also, although our part of Essex is generally quite dry, the big, Constablesque skies we have mean that when the weather isn’t so sunny you are often treated to panoramic views of stunning slate grey.

So, let’s celebrate the rain and embrace those cosy grey days with my pick of shower-themed homewares…

Eight rainy day homewares

1: If Storms Should Come… Print, £35 at Iapetus:
2: Rainy Day Blanket by Donna Wilson, £195 at
3: Cloud Felt Coaster Set, £14.50 for four at Etsy: 
4: Handmade Ceramic Soap Dish, £21.37 at Etsy:
5: Cloud Cushion $199 at Cumulus Living:
6: Mid Wedgwood No113 Paint, from £20 a litre, Myland Paints:
7: Cloud Pencil & Eraser Set, £10 at Red Candy:
8: Cloud Kids’ Rug, €135 at KSL Living: