Category Archives: Review

Lola Loves… A homemade ink stamp tote

This DIY tote saves lives. Okay, it doesn’t but I’m at least confident it’s environmental friendly and it definitely banishes the guilt of taking plastic bags from shop staff, which I’m guilty of doing almost daily.

Of course, it’s not like totes are new inventions. I almost have as many as I do plastic bags. I shabby tatty ones; I have gorgeous ones that are too nice to use. In fact that’s the issue, I have so many but rarely use them.

I figured a small, simple but pretty tote, which could I keep in my handbag, would be something I’d actually use… And of course, it was an excuse to do my new favourite thing – stamping!

The tote cost me £2 and the stamps were a fun, quick and easy way to jazz it up. I picked the bird stamp for under £2 and made the heart stamp as I explained here.

The stamping involves the same process I used for this geometric t-shirt… Which I like so much, I may have  to make a matching tote!


Lola Loves… A vinyl record cake stand

Hi, hello there. Erm, can you just excuse me for a minute while I…..   Eeeeeekkkkk! Shrrreeeeekkkkk!  OMG! ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ Arrrrrrggghhhh!

There. That’s better. Thanks for waiting, it’s just my love for this record cake stand became a bit too much!

Don’t you love it too?! It’s so easy to make – just assemble a few records to a standard cake stand fitting and voila! Obviously don’t go using your favourite vinyl (I was pretty happy to find S-Express in a charity shop for £1. Not so happy to have ‘I’ve got the hots for you!’ ringing my head for two days! It’s still there, manically singing away.)

I had to dismantle my other cake stand so that I could use the fitting to make this one but I’ll be eBaying for another ‘3 tier cake stand fitting’ in about seven minutes.

Now. How to show it off? I’m thinking of having an 80’s house party for my birthday next month.

*It’s 30 days until I’m 30! I get swathes of anxiety thinking about it. Celebrating the countdown, I woke up to a pre-birthday card which included tickets to the David Shrigley exhibition tomorrow (more on that in a later post, I’m sure!) It was a wonderful surprise and I’m super chuffed, although I now feel like a ticking bomb. What happen’s in 30 days? Perhaps, instead of exploding like a popped balloon, I  wither like a deflated one. I feel overwhelming urges to buy some industrial anti-wrinkle cream RIGHT NOW!

Back to the cake stand. I’m thinking I can fill a few record bowls with retro sweets and place vol-au-vents, scotch eggs and cheese and pineapple on the stand. Oh, won’t my guests be thrilled with the selection; did we really all eat this junk? At least I still like rice crispy cakes!

Have you got any tips for an 80’s party you can help me with? Do you know any typically 80s craft projects I can use for decoration? Maybe you have a food, music or cocktail suggestion? Any help is muchly appreciated!


Lola loves… A DIY geometric t-shirt

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Pinspiration day!

On Pinspiration day, I take an idea from Pinterest and use it to make a home DIY project. Today I’m making a geometric print t-shirt first posted from Etsy.

I made my version of this t-shirt using homemade stamps and ink.

Original Pin

Original Pin

My DIY version

My DIY version

What you need:
Craft foam
A ruler
A pen
Scissors/ a craft knife and mat
Glue
Bottle tops/ plastic caps
A cheap or old t-shirt
Craft ink (I used a black ink by VersaCraft, which can be used on fabric)

Using your ruler, measure and draw your shapes onto foam. Obviously, you don’t have to stick to geometric shapes, though these are quick and easy to do.

Cut your foam shapes. I used two foam shapes glued on top of one another to create a thicker stamp. Then glue the shapes onto upturned bottle lids or the plastic tops to hairspray etc. Grown-up crafters like to use proper wooden blocks but I’m child and like instant gratification so I improvised.

Once these are fully dry you’re good to start printing! But hold on…

  • Remember to protect the other side of your top from ink that could bleed through. To do this, place a plastic bin liner inside the t-shirt.
  • Make sure you’re stamping onto a hard surface as this will make for a better print.
  • Practise makes perfect! You might want to do a few trial stamps on a scrap bit of fabric.

Let your stamps dry fully and then remember to iron both the front and reverse side of the fabric to fix your ink, that way it won’t fade in the wash. Happy stamping!


Lola loves… DIY fabric jewellery

Remember this ring I blogged about a while ago? I told you I’d post about how I made it. Well, it’s been a while but here it is.

Making these fabric jewellery pieces feels a little bit like magic. You can use any image you like so long as its laser printed onto paper. The best bit is that the process can be used for all sorts of projects so you can create customised fabric either to frame or use for your next sewing project.

Because of the process involved, the fabric ends up a little like waxed fabric, which means it’s great for items that need to be wiped clean like table runners or make-up bags.

Here’s a few more I made using the same process…

What you will need:

An image laser printed onto paper (it must be laser printed, not ink or it won’t work)
A scrap of fabric
Acrylic gel medium (you can find this online, or in art supply shops)
A paint brush
Ring / brooch findings (see picture, right)
Fabric scissors
Pliers
A needle and thread
Water

Using a laser jet printer, print your chosen image onto paper. Make sure that the image is slightly smaller than the findings (see above). I chose circular findings for the ring and larger oval findings for the brooch but you will find lots to choose from at craft or jewellery stores, or online.

Paint the printed image generously with gel medium and lay it face down on a scrap of fabric. Pat down to get out any air bubbles or creases. (Make sure to wash your brush quickly or the gel medium will dry and be hard to get off.) Hang the fabric pieces up to dry for 24 hours.

Once they are fully dry, wet the paper and carefully peel it off the fabric. The best way to do this is to rub it with you fingertips but be gentle around the edges as the gel, not just the paper, may start to lift.

As you remove the paper you will see your image imprinted on the hard layer of gel.

Make sure all the paper is off. As the paper is wet it may be hard to see and you might find that once your fabric is dry there is still a little paper left. If so, repeat the process.

Once all the paper is off, hang your fabric to dry. Once dry, paint it with another layer of gel medium – this time thin – and hang to dry again.

Now that you have your bespoke fabric, it’s time to make the jewellery.

Simply stretch the fabric over the disc section of the jewellery finding making sure that the image is well centered. Trim any excess fabric and secure at the back with a few stitches. You will find that the gel has made the fabric stiff, which may create corners instead of smooth edges. Add a few stitches here to smooth these out.

Next, pop the disc onto the back piece of the finding (the ring or brooch base) and press the teeth down with pliers. Enjoy your new jewellery!


Lola loves… Sublime Stitching

Sublime Stitching: Cover

Sublime Stitching: Cover

Sublime Stitching:
Hundreds of Hip Embroideries and How-to
By jenny Hart (Chronicle Books)

Seeing as I heart Sublime Stitching so much and embroider quite a lot of their patterns, I thought it was about time I reviewed one of their books.

If you’re not familiar with Sublime Stitching, get Googling quick! The head honcho, Jenny Hart is an inspirational crafter and luckily for fans she produces a large range of iron-on embroidery designs so everyone can have a go.

When I  embroidering as a kid I was disappointed by the choice available. It was all fruit bowls and stuffy still lifes of flowers. Bore. Jenny’s motto is; ‘this ain’t your grandma’s embroidery’ and the phrase pretty much nails it. Jenny is one of the people who has modernised craft – embroidery in particular – and made it fun, accessible and meaningful to a new generation. (If that isn’t worth a Google search, what is?)

The Book:
Each sheet in this book has a number of designs (often larger or smaller versions of the same image so you can choose your size). Each sheet of images is protected by another page so the designs don’t transfer onto each other.

You simply cut out the image and iron on — but don’t take my word for it, the book has full instructions including lessons on a range of stitches such as feather, chain and satin. For the beginner, these instructions are great — they’re clear but not patronising and Jenny’s style of writing is always fun and welcoming.

The spiral binding makes it easy to use and there are useful pockets at the front and back to store the designs once you’ve cut them out  to use them. (The only annoyance is there are so many they won’t all fit).

Reading other reviews, some people were disappointed by what they thought was a lack of new designs. It’s true that Jenny has produced many similar books and if you already have one or two you’re likely to see familiar images, but in my view there is enough to keep me busy and happy for a long time.

If you do want something a bit different, try the individual kits sold on the Sublime Stitching webiste. I bought the wedding kit to embroider this ‘love blanket’ and they also do great designs by Ryan Berkley, The Black Apple and artist and skater, Michael Sieben. You can also chose from tattoo designs, robots, 50’s pin-up sirens, zombies or sugar skulls. (Argh, craft project overload!)

The designs in the book are varied but many fit into a theme: animals; flowers; children and babies; food; tea parties. My favourites however, are the tattoo style birds (which you will see a lot of on my blog) and the cocktails (how couldn’t they be!)

Here’s an example of the bird and a rose, which I sewed onto a babygrow. I’ve also sewn Jenny’s cat designs on other babygrows; the bird onto a fabric envelope and lots more designs onto an embroidered patchwork baby blanket, which I will post on soon!


Lola loves… Lace effect furniture

My crazily generous brother recently gave me a crazily large flat screen TV (ah, bro love!). It was that big I couldn’t squeeze it into the dedicated TV space. Hmm, what to do?

Is it me, or does the answer to everything seem to involve crafting?

TV unit post pimp-up

TV unit post pimp-up

I picked up this old unit for free – who can say no to a rejected orphan and a crafting project rolled into one? So, all this cost me was a few quid for grey wood paint, black spray paint and lace. Oh, how I love a bargain!

I was tempted to go bright with this piece (turquoise? Cerulean blue?) but knew it just wouldn’t work in our sitting room so I went for muted colours. I know I’ll soon be adding more colour with homemade cushions and a poufee!

Before

Before

After
After

It’s a bit dour but I do love this grey and I jazzed it up a bit with the lace effect detail, which to be honest, I can’t take credit for – I spotted the idea on A Beautiful Mess where you’ll find full instructions.

This project is time-consuming as you have to do it in stages – first sanding; then two coats of paint, plus drying time; then spray painting; plus a top coat (I’m into instant gratification so didn’t bother with that bit).  But, I love it, so it was worth it and the spray paint idea can also be used for smaller projects like decorating clothing, totes, notebooks etc.

The lace effect

The lace effect

Now I’ll just have to find some bright pretty things to put on the shelves. Oh, shame, I’ll have to do a spot of shopping!


Lola loves… Yayoi Kusama, Princess of Polka Dots

Image source: Yayoi Kusama

Image source: Yayoi Kusama

Yayoi Kusama
Tate Modern
Until June 5

£10 admission

Yayoi Kusama is also lovingly known as the Princess of Polka Dots. She has had a number of well publicised exhibitions in London in recent years when many, including myself, were introduced to her works. Yet she was still sorely under-rated after slipping from the public art world during a bout of depression in her 60s heyday.

Showing at the Victoria Miro in London earlier this year was her signature yellow polka dot pumpkins. These alien fruit really grab you. They are as surprisingly beautiful as they are strange — which was why I was pleased to see her works at the Tate Modern.

Kusama's 'Pumpkin Medium' 2008

Kusama's 'Pumpkin Medium' 2008

Sadly, the pumpkins weren’t at the Tate Modern, but there was plenty more besides.

Infinity Room is her most striking of works displayed at the Tate Modern. It’s a small curving walkway set in a room of full-length mirrors with small coloured spheres of light hanging from the ceiling.  As the name suggests, there’s seemingly an infinity of dots both above and around you. The effect is beautiful but also disarming. Because of the mirrors, the viewer is unsure where to walk or which way to turn, and the pretty lights soon become consuming and intense.

kusama's Infinity Room

kusama's Infinity Room

It’s a taste of what it must feel like to be Kusama, who has been plagued since childhood by hallucinations of these dots. In a video, also showing at the Tate Modern, she explains how she has spent her life obsessively depicting these dots, trying to consume or control them but it hasn’t worked.

Kusama was admitted to a mental illness ward in the 60s and still produces work from a ward in which she willingly lives.

The collection charts her 60 years of art making from her struggles in conformist China to her time in the New York art world when she mixed with the likes of Warhol, and briefly touches on her literary career. It includes sculpture, installations and paintings including her work with phallus-like objects.

Her works are beautiful and her story even more so. If you have the chance, I thoroughly recommend going.


Lola loves… Frittata and Spanish style bread

What you will need:
Saucepan
Frying pan
7x eggs
1x onion
3x small potatoes
Olive oil
Rock salt
Paprika
Bread roll
1x tomato
Olive oil
Rock salt

Two homegrown crafts grabbed my attention during a recent trip to Barcelona, both of which the country is famous for — Gaudi’s work and local food. If you ever get a chance to visit Barcelona I throughly recommend taking a picnic of tapas to Gaudi’s Park Guell where you can experience some of his breath-taking  architecture. Sadly, you can’t take it home as a memento — which is why I cooked myself up some Spanish omelette, or frittata (as it’s also known) and Spanish-style tomato-rubbed bread last night instead.

This dish is very simple but if done properly it tastes delicious and is a world away from your more familiar omelette. The tricks to remember (a local told me) are plenty of eggs, plenty of oil and to fold in the sides of the egg regularly.

The other key is the ingredients. I often find that other parts of Europe have much superior fruit and vegetables — everything is so much tastier and more juicy — and it really makes a difference. So, wherever you are, get the best ingredients that you can.

For the Frittata:
Heat the oven to warm your bread.
Cut your potato into thin slices and boil until cooked.
Meanwhile, slice and fry an onion until soft.
Once the potatoes are done, drain them and add them to a well-oiled frying pan. Add the onion.
Beat your eggs together and add a generous pinch of salt and pepper.
Add the eggs to the pan and cook on a low heat, folding the edges of the egg in so that sides come away from the pan and the frittata has nice round edges.
Place the bread in the oven to warm for five to 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, keep folding the edges of the frittata until the top is almost done. Keeping the frittata in the pan, place a plate of top, then flip it over so the frittata is in the plate. Slip it back into the pan to cook the other side. You may want to repeat this process a few times.
Once cooked and left to cool slightly, cut the frittata, sprinkle with paprika and drizzle with oil.

For the bread:
While your bread is warming and frittata cooking, cut a large tomato in quarters, gather your olive oil and lightly crush some rock salt in a pestle and mortar.
When the bread is ready, take it out and cut it in half. Rub each half with the tomato, letting the juice, flesh and pips soak into the bread. Use half a tomato for each side of the roll.
Cut the left over tomato and serve with the frittata and bread. Or, if serving as part of a tapas, add olives, manchego cheese, salad and pan-fried chorizo. Yum!


Lola loves… Nail art tutorials

Have you seen these newspaper nails on Pinterest? (originally posted by French website, La passion du nail art) There are so many great nail art tuts and ideas on the web, I thought I’d give a brief review of a few.

Newspaper nails
Newspaper nails are so easy to do. Paint your nails with a colour that contrasts with black so the text will show. Pinterest told me to then wipe my nails with alcohol. White wine didn’t work (tragically I had bought a whole bottle, whatever would I do with it?) My second attempt was whisky, which I can confirm, is now an approved tool for newspaper nails!

Next, press a scrap of newspaper onto the nail. (I damped the back of the paper with whisky to make sure it worked.) Slowly peel it off and repeat on all nails. Add a clear top coat to protect it.

I’m chuffed with my nails although this is a first attempt – I’m hoping the next set will be slightly less smudged.

Zig Zag talons at the Dainty Squid
Want more ideas for crafty nails? Well, while the world went nuts for Zooey Deschannel’s Tuxedo nails (okay, kudos) you may have missed The Dainty Squid‘s weekly tuts.

She has lots of ideas to try out. Strawberries, or a whole galaxy on each nail? Yes, you can have it thanks to the very cool and dainty lady.

I tried her zig-zig nails. Just cut Scotch tape with pinking shears, tape it to your pre-painted nails and paint a contrasting layer over the top! It’s a great way to finish the dregs of old nail varnish.

Next I’ll try it with three colours!

Mock Croc nails with Barry M
Here is Barry M’s  Croc Effect nail varnish, which you can pick up for £3.99 and is similar to crackle varnish.

Simply paint over your base (don’t let the base dry fully before painting but it should be dry to the touch) and then watch it crack! The effect is great for the minimal time, effort and money involved. I can’t wait to try different base colours!

Below are a few more I’ve found on Pinterest. I think the paper plane one would look great with a needle instead. Have you seen any you like? Let me know what you’ve tried lately!

P.S. If you like the bird ring in the photo above I’ll be posting on how I made that soon!

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Lola loves… Handmade ink stamps


I’ve wanted to buy stamps for a while but found they were either too pricey or too childish. It turns out they are so fun and easy to make there’s little point buying them anyway. (The exception here is Slyvita’s stamps, which are seriously amazing and really so much better than I could make so they’re worth the money).

Slyvita uses rubbers, cutting into them with a craft knife.

I used a different method: I cut a double layer of craft foam (it comes in A4, A3 and other size sheets) and stuck that to a wooden block. I recommend using embroidery scissors or a craft knife to get your detail.

I’ve used really simple shapes: a moustache and heart, but hopefully I’ll get a bit more adventurous as I try more.

I’ll use these stamps to decorate cards, notebooks and all sorts. Here I used them to jazz up a homemade paper bag. I used the stamps on masking tape as a quick and simple washi tape.

I’m hoping to move on to fabric after a little practise. Elsie at a Beautiful Mess (who deserves Dame hood for her creative genius) used fabric paint and a horse stamp to bring this plain dress alive. I think it looks fab.

I also think my stamps look cute next to my tea cup and saucer – kind of like crafty sugar lumps! I love using crockery to store my craft bits and have posted on it here.


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