Paper Nostalgia

The subject of a blog post about paper sent me wondering where I would find the roots of my interest in papery matters. And I find I can lay the blame fair and square on three books. The yellow, red and blue “Grabbleton” books- which translates as “Lucky Dip”.


These books ended up with me via my Great Aunt known to all as “Iekie”. She had been a primary school teacher with what seemed like an endless supply of things to read or make that might appeal to a little child. But once she retired these books were in my home and came into their own when I’d been off school sick and was recovering. I’d pore over them and choose something to make. The supplies were usually simple and close at hand, after all, these were intended for use in schools in the first half of the 20th Century. Wool, matchboxes, scraps of fabric and most of all paper.

I dug them out a year or so ago and made an updated version of something featured there – using a simple “fortune teller” paper fold to make a picture frame. To refresh my memory I had another go at it today -shown in the image at the top of this post. this time with pages torn from an “old but not precious” atlas. I tried a version with a map section and another part using the index which makes a nice black and white frame. Last time round I used brightly coloured origami paper and a lot more washi tape – so there are endless variations. It frames these little images perfectly and would be a nice lightweight item to post. One of these days I will size the original square so that a Polaroid image would slot straight in.

I like the thread of connectedness that looking at these books gives me, letting me tap into a family story. As an aside, Iekie was also an accomplished amateur photographer ,developing and printing her own work. Cropping was done with a guillotine that I now use myself- after 80 or so years it is still going strong.


There will soon be a new range of prints, including some of the mini sizes shown here, coming to my shop – if you’d like to be tipped off about new products and behind the scenes snippets I’d invite you to subscribe to my studio newsletter.

The PaperLove Blog Hop is a celebration of all things paper! Follow the links to discover more bloggers who love paper and use it to inspire and delight. And if you want to explore a whole world of paper, and stretch your paper passion further with a host of creative projects, why not join the innovative new online course PaperLove (starts March 31). Led by book artist Rachel Hazell, PaperLove is a five week creative adventure for paper lovers. Find out more here.

Participant lista paperlovebloghop_200

Majo Bautista / Tona Bell / Louise Best / Cathy Bluteau / Jennifer Bomgardner / Giova Brusa / Lindsay Buck / Beka Buckley / Joanna Caskie / Jonathan Chapman (Mr Yen) / Halle Cisco / Sarah Clare / Cathryn Clarge / Dawn Clarkson / Rhiannon Connelly / Jenny D’Fuego / Molly Dhiman / Ian Dudley / Ayisatu Emore / Akmal Farid / Monika Forsberg / Claire Fritz-Domeney / Louise Gale / Chrissy Gaskell / Julie Hamilton / Emma Hawman / Rachel Hazell / Holly Helgeson / Claudine Hellmuth / Kim Henkel / Sarah Hoffman / Joanne Hus / Paula Joerling / Beth Kempton / Julie Kirk / Eos Koch / Katie LaClair / Kristy Lankford / Michelle Manolov / Doreen Marts / Rosie Martinez-Dekker / Tori Mears / Maria Mederios / Lise Meijer / Debbie Miller / MaryJane Mitchell / Suzy Naidoo / Grace Noel / Hannah Nunn / Camilla Olsson / Jo Packham / Rachelle Panagarry / Monette Pangan / Melanie Paul / Nicole Piar / Jen Pitta / Liz Plummer / Julie Reed / Michelle Reynolds / Lisa Rivas / Angee Robertson / Natalie Ryan / Aisling Ryan / Elisabet Sapena / Kyrrha Sevco / Jamie Sprague / Elizabeth Steele / Terri Stephens / Juniper Stokes / Mary Tanana / Maike Thoma / Linda Tieu / Gabrielle Treanor / Tammy Tutterow / Deborah Velasquez / Jordan Vinograd Kim / Cat Whipple / Brooke Witt / Katie Wood / Amelia Woodbridge


Book Review – Colour Deconstructed by Tricia Guild

Tricia Guild book

During Meet The Blogger in Amsterdam we also took a trip along the canals to the Designer’s Guild show room in Amsterdam. It was a chance to buy a copy of Tricia Guild’s latest book “Colour Deconstructed” and have it signed as well. They only had the Dutch versions available but actually language isn’t really an issue in this book – colour plays by far the biggest part.

The images include some of the ones that Tricia Guild used in her presentation and started with black and white. She said that she is normally more associated with bright colours but in her opinion black and white can make just as much of a statement.
black and white

I can see that the book is going to become one of my “go to “resources when I want to look for some fresh colour combinations. There are pictures from nature or striking colours spotted on her travels mixed in with how she has interpreted these colours in houses around the world. Definitely a book to look through on an autumn day with a nice cappucino in hand.

This mix of greens yellows and aquas is always a favourite for me.

green aqua

And behind the scenes nearly ready to launch my own range of cushions – very exciting to see them go out into the world at last. Would you like to make sure you stay in the loop about new designs and other creative snippets ? Make sure you subscribe to my studio newsletter here.

Instagram, Pinterest , and an Invitation.

After trying out Pinterest early on and being rather confused by their guidelines at the time , I’ve gone back to have another look. They have sorted out a lot of their earlier issues and people seem to have tightened up on making sure that images are correctly attributed. I did a spot check and only one image that I tried didn’t lead me back to the source.

As with Instagram, there is also rather a community building up on Pinterest and it is fun to use both for inspiration and sharing work. If you are researching a particular theme or designing a new room, for example, it really comes in handy.

One of the things I’ve recently discovered is that you can have a board that a group of people can contribute to. Inspired by that I’ve set up a “Today’s Favourite” board – and I plan to add a photo to that most days. I’ve made it a collective board , so if you would like to add a picture daily ( or when the whim strikes) just let me know and I’ll send you an invitation. I thought it would an interesting way to see daily favourites from different locations.

As most of my “day to day” images are shot with my phone and end up on Instagram I investigated whether it was possible to link between the two – and of course you can – enter With this site, once you are logged in, you see your normal Instgram feed with “Pin it” buttons alongside. Easy !

Annie Sloan Chalk Paint – Review and Thoughts


I needed to paint a few props to use in my cushion photo shoot ( wee preview above ). Fortunately I also had a few wooden pieces just “lying around” waiting for such an opportunity. I tried to find the old “Paint Magic” paints, but they are not made anymore and then discovered Annie Sloan Chalk paints.


Not wanting to take on a chair as a first project I painted up a little wooden step stool from Ikea. I painted it in two layers, blue then orange on top, sanded it down to give it a distressed look. ( I rubbed candle wax on the edges, but I’m not sure that this is necessary with this paint.) And finally I finished it with the soft wax that is part of the range. Although a small item, it did take a reasonable amount of time to do the painting and the wax requires a bit of elbow grease to get a nice sheen. This finishing stage can be done with either wax or varnish – I opted for the wax and one nice thing about using wax is that you can either only buff it to just a slight sheen or with a bit more vigour get a shinier finish. Either way the result is very nice to the touch.


There is a bit of debate about whether to sand before or after the waxing. With this one I chose to sand before the waxing – it is a bit dustier, but as I had used the candle it seemed to make sense. I took the piece outside my studio to do it, so it didn’t make too much of a mess and the layers showed through just as I wanted.

Next up the first chair. I gave it an initial coat and it dried to a lovely velvety finish with all brush marks fading away. However, then I thought I should sand it and this made it rather uneven and scratchy. I gave it another coat in the worst affected areas but this did not really resolve the issue. Finally I applied the wax and buffed it. The final result, because of the sanding and retouching is quite weathered and aged which I quite like now, but it is not the even finish I was aiming for.

So, it seems from this that if you want a flattish finish and are not doing distressing then you don’t need to sand ?

That is the way I treated the next chair. Coat of paint followed by wax. The finish is nice and pretty even but actually, I think I prefer the slightly textured look of the first chair. Oh how fickle !

Last conclusions from this round of painting is that the paint really comes into its own when used for various distressing techniques, even if it is just tone on tone. There is a darker wax that can also be used to give a different aged look , but I haven’t had a go with that yet.

Once I have finished the photo shoot with the cushions I will tackle my next project which is the low table in my studio. This dark wooden piece had its surface ruined after an accident with a vase so its time to give it a colourful new lease of life.

The website above will point you in the direction of stockists for the paint and if you are in Edinburgh you can get it at the Laurel Gallery in Stockbridge.

The Instant Lab – A new way of working ?

There was a much awaited delivery yesterday. For months – nearly a year, I have been following the progress of the Impossible team who set up a Kickstarter campaign to develop and manufacture an “Instant Lab”. The idea was to be able to take an Iphone photograph and transform it into a Polaroid style picture.

Given that I have largely replaced my Polaroid shooting with Iphonography that was too interesting to resist, so I became a backer. A nice aspect to Kickstarter is that once you back a project you receive their updates and learn more about how the project is coming along. The manufacturing hiccups and other issues along the way. The downside of course, is that sometimes extreme patience is required. The Impossible team met quite a few different production issues and each time the delivery date was put back again.

But this week we finally got our shipping notices and yesterday I had the Instant Lab in my hands for a first try out. How exciting ! Will this be something that becomes a part of my creative work flow ? Or will it sit collecting dust on the shelf ? Only time will tell. But I am keeping an open mind about the kind of projects I could use it for.


I did a few test shots yesterday. The first was using an already very manipulated image and it came out looking quite different. The second one that I show here is a more or less “straight” shot from the phone – of quite bright pink gerbera, so the film has lightened and softened it quite a bit. I think it will require a bit of playing around with settings to get the kind of results I’d like – although there is also something quite nice about the unpredictability of the method. I haven’t had a go at manipulating them yet – I have a hunch that this film is not going to be great for that, so I will need to find other techniques.

As for actually using the Instant Lab – it all worked pretty much the way the instructions said and although it is not tiny, it would not be too big to take out and about. That is the way I’d prefer to use it, as a way to be working away from the studio. So far I used the film they supplied with it, but it will also work with all previous Polaroid/Impossible films so that will be my next experiment.


If you would like to keep up to date with my experiments and other behind scenes snippets you can subscribe to my Studio Newsletter here.

Day 29 – Book Review – “Happy Home” by Charlotte Hedeman Gueniau


Day 29 ( with a little blip yesterday) but onwards and upwards. It has been an interesting experiment , this 30 days of blogging. And if nothing else it has helped me re-establish a blogging routine again.

At the moment, alongside the photography and other designing , my other focus is towards interiors projects. Tomorrow’s Friday DIY also fits into that category.

Last time I renovated a house was more than a decade ago, styles have changed ,new books have appeared on the scene. And the one I’m dipping into at the moment is “Happy Home”by Charlotte Hedeman Gueniau , founder of the the Danish homewares brand Rice, which is known for its cheerfully coloured products.


Her examples fit perfectly into the look that I am aiming for here. A largely white base with splashes of colour. She rings the changes with different rugs, cushions, or just repainting or repapering one wall. My year of living between two countries made me really aware of the small portable items that can completely change the mood of a room – and has largely been the inspiration for my current cushion project. ( They are not quite ready to launch, but hopefully it won’t be too long now).


Day 27 – Monday Inspiration

Pendant Collection
I think Mondays are a good day for a bit of inspiration and one of the things that has come out of my 30 day blogging experiment is that I like to have a little vague structure to my blogging routine. That means that if I come across something during the week I can save it up for a particular topic, rather than just blogging in a very random way.

And for me , Mondays are about getting the week off to a good start. If I have a good and productive Monday then that sets the tone for the rest of the week.

This week I have a couple of videos for you , with the writer Menna van Praag. I have to confess I had only vaguely heard of her, but her latest book was recommended by someone and so I visited her website. She has an interesting story to tell about just keeping going and not giving up. Both interviews overlap in content a little, but I found both of them worth watching. Even if you are not a writer, the message is, make things happen yourself, don’t wait to be discovered.

Here she is interviewed by Lilou Mace and here is an earlier video that she made after her first book was published.

I am also having a 24hr little sale over at my Etsy shop – get 25% off with the code SUNNY. I’m planning some new projects and making a bit of space in my studio.

Also, if you’d like to be kept informed of new work and other behind the scenes snippets you can make sure you don’t miss any news by subscribing to my Studio Newsletter.