Contributing to the We Make Collective!

If you haven’t yet heard of it, the We Make Collective is founded by the incredibly talented Fran from Fall for DIY. After hearing far too many people ‘poo-poo’ their own creativity (my words, Fran’s ethos), Fran decided to create a monthly craft kit for subscribers, with a fantastic twist.

We Make Collective

Rather than sending out materials and instructions to help you make the same thing as everyone else, the Collective give you the tools, know-how and inspiration to exercise your own creativity, and make something unique to you – so you’re free to make whatever you want!

We Make Collective calligraphy kit

If you become a subscriber, each month you’ll receive a special box full of supplies which will give you everything you need to learn a new craft, and create any number of finished pieces. Each kit focusses on a different skill – November’s was weaving, and December’s was brush lettering & calligraphy.

As well as receiving the physical materials, you’ll be granted access to a private member’s area on the website where you can read expert tutorials, and learn all the skills you need to get started.

When I first heard about these kits, I thought they were such a great idea, and the finished DIYs from the inaugural weaving kit looked fantastic (check out #wemakecollective on Instagram). As a result, I was thrilled when Fran invited me to contribute a brush lettering tutorial for the December kit.

Joy orange gift pouch

I decided to make a trio of quick and easy brush-lettered gift-wrap ideas, suitable for beginners. You can read the full tutorial here with all my hints and tips, but I wanted to share a sneak-peak with you.

Brush lettering is really therapeutic once you get the hang of it, and the end result looked a million times better than my normal hand-writing. Result! Have you tried it before?

My biggest hint if you’re a brush-letter ‘newb’ is to write on tags or stickers in the beginning while you master the skill, as then, if you make a mistake, you can simply replace the tag – easy!

The other secret is simply to practice – practice, practice, practice, and enjoy =)

The Handmade Fair 2015

You may remember back in May, I told how excited I was to get tickets to the second of Kirstie Allsopp’s Handmade Fairs, held on The Green at Hampton Court Palace in Surrey.

The Handmade Fair 2015

Whilst the weather was not as bright as last year, that didn’t stop us enjoying yet another fantastic event. I always find the craft community so friendly, and Kirstie’s crowd was no exception!

Super Theatre tent

Our first session of the day was a Grand Makes with wirework artist Lucy Elisabeth. Lucy was brilliantly bubbly to help wake us up, and showed us how to make our own heart-shaped wire photo-holders.

Using a single wire of aluminium (1.6mm) we used our thumbs to straighten out the wire before we moulded it into its new spiral-heart inspired shape. I loved how easy it was, and the fact that within a short space of time, I’d already made something that I could take home and display with pride.

Chiara Perano

Next up was the Calligraphy Sign-Writing Super theatre with Chiara Perano, the founder of Lamplighter London. I had heard of Chiara before and been keen to try out one of her calligraphy workshops in London. After seeing her talk Kirstie through the calligraphy motions, I’m now desperate to.

Lunch

Chiara explained how calligraphy should be treated less like hand-writing, and more like an art form, with each letter carefully formed by creating light upward strokes, and heavy downward strokes. If the nib feels scratchy on the paper, the key is to relax and stretch your hand so you have a softer grip.

After a quick sit-down and a bellini, we headed to our first Skill workshop in the Upcycling tent – learning how to upholster a drop-in seat cover with the Ministry of Upholstery. It was here that I was able to feel very smug indeed as I recognised Annie Sloan before she was formally introduced.

Upcycling tent

Sat in rows at our tables, we were shown how to cut the sponge to cover our wooden seat, and then how to nail the fabric to the back in order to create a crease-free front, and a neat and tidy corner pleat. The best part was being able to make a lot of noise with our banging and hammering!

After lunch, and a leisurely peruse around the Shopping Tents, we headed to our final Skill workshop of the day – flower crowns with Kitten Grayson. I must admit, I had thought we would be making crowns using fresh flowers, but actually we had a selection of wire flowers from Hobbycraft to choose from.

I think there is definitely a knack to this, and I wasn’t too quick at grasping it, but the essence of it is that you cut your flowers down (we had scissors, but you could really do with some wire cutters), and then use a thin wire to wind the stalks onto a thicker wire, to hold them in place.

Kitten showed us how it’s best to start with small flowers on the outside, and then build up to the bigger flowers in the middle. Once done, you just cut the wire headband to size and twist it together at the back of your head. Whilst some people’s crowns looked fantastic, I did feel a bit of a plum in mine!

Upcycling tent

Towards the end of the day, after we’d done all our shopping, we took some respite in the Mollie Makes tent with a cup of tea, a slice of cake, and some colouring-in pencils. Perfect!

If you like the sound of this event, but you missed this year’s show, you can also experience the magic at The Handmade Christmas Fair in Manchester Central between 20-22 November.

It promises to be just like Hampton Court, but indoors and Christmassy!