For the past couple of years each time I've travelled somewhere I've thought about blogging about it. In fact, I've done more than think about it. I pack up my heavy DSLR and my iPad (one of the old, not so 'air' versions) and carry them about taking photos and making notes. But something has always stopped me blogging about it when I get home. Perhaps the novelty has worn off and once I'm back I just want to slip back into the routine. Or maybe I just don't know if anyone actually wants to read about my life other than the creative parts (because let's be honest. I'm not all rainbows and sprinkles and parties... unfortunately)
So I'm coming up to a week away in Berlin. I've heard so many amazing things about this city and with it being my first time there I've been reading so many blog posts and travel guides to make the most of our few days. I get so much out of other people's experiences that it got me thinking. To be more comfortable with posting about my holiday I need to make it useful and informative and this coincides with a DIY travel section that I've been thinking about adding for a while.
Like most people I know we book our own flights, find amazing Airbnb apartments and explore the location by bike or public transport. We get lost, we find ourselves in slightly unnerving situations and we rely on locals and our terrible language skills (I use the word skills very lightly) to get by. Sometime's it can be stressful, but it's always an adventure.
We travel to places where being a vegan is unheard of, which means we have to adapt and source local supplies so that Alex doesn't become malnourished on what is meant to be a relaxing time away. But actually instead of becoming a chore this makes the holiday better. Rather than sitting in restaurants for half our time away, we find local ingredients, cook regional recipes (adapted for the boy of course) and find the most beautiful and amazing places to enjoy them. We do also scout out any vegetarian/vegan restaurants of course. Sometimes you do just want to be wined and dined!
I'll be collecting and curating all of this info (as well as what to wear, city highlights and tons of photos) into comprehensive travel guides for each place we visit from now on and perhaps going back through collected information from previous city's. But for now let's focus on Berlin.
I met Hester at Blogtacular this year, but before we had the chance to meet in person I was an avid follower of her Youtube channel Handmade Home. I love any woman who's not afraid to pick up a power tool and Hester definitely knows her way around a drill driver! So I just knew that her new book Furniture Hacks would be full of really interesting ways to create and update beautiful pieces of furniture for your home.
I've got to say there are so many projects in this book I want to sink my teeth into. I like that there's a range of projects lengths - from something you can whip up in an afternoon to longer DIY's with serious impact. My favourite part of the book is the garden section. The moment I move somewhere with any outdoor area I'll be making a dent in those projects pronto!
But I wanted to share a different project with you today. I've been wanting to play with paint for a while now. I've (quite clearly) been very influenced by many abstract artists (such as Meredith Bullock, Britt Bass Turner and Silvia McEwan) and the idea of sloshing acrylics around a canvas was very inviting. So when the first project in the book was how to make your own canvas then it just seemed like the perfect excuse!
Hester does something very different (and very clever) with her canvas which I'm definitely going to try another time! That's if I can stop myself painting on the next one. I had such a relaxing afternoon creating this piece. I'm really looking forward to making more!
I used this gorgeous silver-grey fabric as a base. It meant I could leave some parts of the canvas unpainted and the base colour would show through. Following the instructions in the book I created the wooden frame and wrapped the fabric into place.
The I just began to paint. I didn't plan what I was going to do. I just put colours onto the canvas. When I liked how they looked together I painted more and when I didn't like them I painted over them in white. Depending on how dry the paint underneath was it either mixed with or was replaced with the white.
I kept building up layers and interesting combinations of colour, looking at my brushstrokes to figure out the ones I liked and didn't like so much. Basically it was one big experiment. And by repeating everything I liked and painting over the parts I didn't I ended up with something I love!
One thing I remember from my textile design degree is that you never know when it's finished. I guess it never is... I really want to keep working on the canvas. I might stitch into the paint to highlight certain areas and adding extra detail. But I'm going to leave that for another tutorial, another day!
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As a creative blogger it’s my job to think up new ideas and creative concepts. And while that sound fun and well, let’s face it, a bit of a breeze, it can actually be quite tricky to keep the ideas fresh and imaginative. To build up a bank of unique starting points I have to keep my mind open to all different influences and be ready for inspiration to strike at any moment (as I write this in a local coffee shop I can see a light that is calling out to be DIYed… always on it!)
Creative brainstorming has become a regular part of my workflow and I have many systems in place to make this process easier and quicker. But it wasn’t until I was asked about my brainstorming techniques that I actually recognised how I had utilised these ways of working. So when I was invited to share my thoughts on brainstorming via the Elise Gets Crafty podcast I fought back the butterflies in my chest and decided to delve deep into my creative thought processes.
I had been a reader of Elise’s blog for some years and as soon as I saw she had started a podcast I knew I had to listen along. In all the noise of 'take themselves a little too seriously' business podcasts this one stood out a mile. It was exactly what I’d been looking for! A place for exploring various different aspects of running a small business in a fun, engaging, interesting way. I was hooked. I’ve listened to every single episode (except this one… You know how you always hate the sound of your own voice? Yeah, that!) and in each one I’ve found something valuable and helpful to take away.
I wanted to create an episode with those attributes, so I wrote down everything I could think of on brainstorming and of course during the episode I couldn’t remember a single one. My on mind likes to self-sabotage apparently. Well instead I just spoke about whatever came to me in the moment but I wanted to write about the extra tips here because I think that some of them are actually useful and perhaps even good.. shock horror.
So here are my tips on finding new, creative ideas. This is focussed on practical, making but you can apply it to any creative outlet. Like I say I haven’t listened to the episode so I apologise if some of these points overlap and I start sounding like a broken record.
1. Influence is good!
It’s fine to be influenced by other people’s work. In fact I encourage it. Absorb as much as you can. Every time you see something that you like take a moment to recognise exactly what it is that you appreciate about it. Enjoy it, but don’t copy it and try not to forget it. It’s human nature that we emulate things we like, either consciously or subconsciously. It’s the reason fashion exists. Music, art, sport, video games, in fact everything comes from us wanting to do something we enjoy experiencing from others. It’s when we push the boundaries in any of these areas that the magic happens.
Don’t feel bad if you see or read something you wish you’d created. But just be aware that this has an effect on you and can impact on your creative decisions. Stay aware of them and criticise your own ideas. If you find your own products are uncomfortably close to those you admire try changing them. Make them better. Make them more personal and keep on developing from this initial piece.
To make something unique you first need an idea. As a very visual person I find my ideas through images. Be that Pinterest, Instagram, magazines or real life products. No matter how you find your ideas or how original you think it might be you can be pretty sure it has most likely been thought of before.
This takes me back to something my head teacher said when I was only about maybe seven or eight years old. It’s something that has stuck with me ever since.
You cannot imagine a new colour.
I don’t remember the context or what else he spoke about that day. I think he probably lost me from that point on because it was the first time I realised that nothing I ever did would truly be original. Some element of everything I did would always have been done before. My mind could only dream up variations of what it held already and the way to create something different was to combine, change and refine ideas instead of simply just ‘having’ them.
That’s why no idea is a bad one. Even if it’s been done hundreds of times before you can take an element of it and combine that with something different. Bring together enough of these ideas and you might just come up with a combination that hasn’t been seen before. A mixture that is unique.
3. Build on it.
You have an idea. Now how exactly can you expand it? Think about materials, shape, pattern and form. Start with a few base ideas and begin to combine them. This is the bit I like to imagine as a family tree. Marry up the ideas to create a litter of child ideas. Then marry them with another combination to create another generation of ideas. The DNA of each is different but certain attributes shine through.
Soon enough you’ll have more ideas than you can even produce and you can cherry pick the best to work on.
4. Enjoy the process.
We’ve been working towards thinking up new ideas with the goal of making something that people will enjoy and want to buy into. This is an important aspect of any business but don’t put all of your focus on the end result. Yes, you will probably need to keep this in mind but sometimes exploring ideas and creative techniques are the best part of the process. Doing something you are not 100% sure people will like is liberating. Enjoying what you do means you will do it better.
5. Don’t be scared to go rogue!
This is the one you hear on all of these lists but that’s probably because it’s the most important. Like I said in the podcast, I love trends but never feel as though you have to make a doughnut DIY because that’s what everyone else is doing. When you do something you love and you do it well, there will always be someone out there who loves it too!
I’d love to hear more about how you find your ideas and the processes you have to make them unique? Comment below and share them with us and our readers!
I've said it many times before but it won't stop me saying it again. I'm all about the sandals. For someone who lives in a less than sunny climate having 7 pairs is a little extreme, but I'll wear them come threat of rain, or shine... so that's ok right?
There is an odd occasion when sandals are just not appropriate. I mean, if it were up to me I'd have a sandal for all situations but you have to go with the tide sometimes. When you need something a little more, let's say grown up, a peep-toe bootie is your best friend. I like any heel that has a bit of junk in its trunk. Not only are they more comfortable but they might also mean the difference between ending up in a hedge or well, not ending up in a hedge. (Speaking from experience? Me? Of course not...)
I saw these Alix punched peep toe booties and figured they're a good compromise. What I couldn't compromise on was the price! But in true DIY style I figure I can make them myself. I actually prefer the ASOS shoe boot black heal and chunky buckle and all I need is a good hole punch and a shoe tree and I'm ready!
Notice how the holes are closer together along the middle of the shoe and become more spaced out towards the edge. Using a ruler or measuring tape calculate the distances between the holes baring this in mind. You can mark them off or just go straight in. Either way do your best to keep them evenly spaced to create this look.
Insert the shoe tree and push the hole cutter into the leather to cut a hole. Keep going over the whole shoe. Take your time and enjoy!