DIY Pom Pom aliens and animals

 I remember many happy hours as a child making pom poms. We spent what felt like HOURS weaving wool around the cardboard circle donuts so we could decorate our hair bands, bags and clothes. I probably would have covered myself in pom poms if they weren’t so arduous to make. But 20 years too late, I’ve discovered pom pom makers at Spotlight that produce fluffy pom poms in minutes!

 Thankfully, I’ve grown out of my pom pom-wearing  phase, but this is a great craft for kids as there’s so many things you can do with the pom poms once you’ve finished. You could sew them onto a headband, dress or beanie –  or make these fabulous pom pom aliens!

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 WHAT YOU”LL NEED

A pom pom maker (these are available at Spotlight, but you can also use the traditional double cardboard donut.)

Different colour wool

Eyes

Pipe cleaners for antlers

A large sewing needle

Strong glue

Coloured cardboard, pencil and scissors (if you’d like to make ears or feet)

 

First, buy your pom pom maker and follow the instructions to make the pom pom. Try to get as much wool as you can on it. 

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Maris making pom poms with the magic maker

Then, once you have a few different shapes and colours, you can start putting together your alien.

It’s easy enough to sew these together using wool and a large sewing needle, but if you aren’t confident, glue will do the trick.

Stick on some eyes, tie around some pipe cleaners for ears. If you like, you can make some feet by drawing a love heart shape on some cardboard, cutting out and sticking on.  

 

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Yule and Maris and pom pom aliens

And you’re done! Happy creating J x

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DIY Snow Globes

They’ve been around since the 1800s and have been used for every thing from commemorating the newly built Eiffel Tower, surgical lamps, advertising, to celebrate holidays, even election campaigns – and judging by the number lining the shelves of tourist traps and gift stores, it’s safe to say the humble snow globe had lasted the test of time!

But as always, I think the prettiest ones are the ones made by hand – and are so easy and cheap to make! Most of the materials you’ll be able to find already lying around your house or you can find everything you need at Spotlight stores nation wide. 

What you’ll need:

Mason Jar

Toys

Super strong glue

Water

Glitter

1. Make sure your mason jar is clean and dry.  Then, using strong glue, glue in place your animals or ornaments. You can use just about anything! Just make sure it will fit in the jar, and is no wider than the lid. If you don’t want to use toys, think things like buddahs or flowers.

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2. Wait till glue is 100% dry.

3. Pour a couple of tablespoons of glitter in the mason jar, you can also use foil confetti.

4. Fill to the very top with water – try to get as full as you can.

5. Carefully screw the lid on tight, (best to do this over a sink in case you have run off) and turn upside down. If you plan on keeping your snow globe for a while, put some glue into the lid as you screw it on.

6. Shazzah! Shake your snow globe and watch the glitter rain fall.

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Also, I haven’t tried this, but I’ve heard that some glycerine in the water (which you should be able to buy from the chemist) will stop the glitter from clumping. If you have tried this, let me know how it worked for you!

Happy creating :) 

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The benefits of kids doing craft

I’ve always loved the hours spent with my nieces and nephews, family friends, my girlfriends or even complete strangers crafting and creating.

But recently, I’ve been asked several times about WHY I do craft, and why it’s so important for children to learn it.

For me, craft and creativity has always been about escapism and expression. When I start a project, my mind is consumed with what materials would be best, what colours I’m going to use and the technicalities of how I’m going to do it. After a day of typing away at a computer, there’s nothing I love more than to come home and weave, stitch, sew, glue and paint.

Mum – who was an art teacher before she had us kids – always had us colouring, painting and sewing, and generally just encouraged to be creative. Art school projects were always much discussed and researched, and mum always pushed us to think outside the box. I truly believe the creativity that she fostered in has proved itself a gift that has served me well.

When I saw a report the other night about children learning to use an iPad from the age of 2, it got me thinking about the other consequences – sure, there are plenty of educational games on iPads and they are a fantastic distraction when you’re just trying to get the washing on, but if this is being used as a replacement for creative play, what are the consequences for things like creativity and fine motor skills?

According to Livestrong.com, there are many more benefits to getting your children to participate in arts and crafts then you might think.

Craft enables critical thinking skills, strengthens problem-solving abilities and stimulates imagination. Colouring, drawing cutting and clueing all require your child to develop fine motor co-ordination and use both their hands together, which is an important skill when it comes to learning how to tie shoes and even type.

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Maris and Yule after an afternoon of crafting

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Maris making pom poms

Another skill I hadn’t considered is patience and self-control. There isn’t too much instant gratification when it comes to craft – you have to wait until things dry, or spend some time finishing something up, and there’s a good chance things won’t turn out like you hoped. But there is no wrong or right when it comes to craft, it’s all about using creativity. 

I have so many people say to me, ‘oh, but I’m not crafty.’ But all you need to do so many crafts is a bit of time, a few materials and a good dash of creativity. Take a look around online, through books and Pinterest and you’re sure to find something that will suit your little ones.

Happy creating!

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Easter styling challenge with The Home (we won!)

Last week, I was invited to a bloggers challenge for The Home to create a Easter table setting, and I’ve got to admit, I was a little hesitant.

Craft, I can do with my eyes closed, but table dressing and styling?! I didn’t even know if I was good or not because I’d never actually tried it! I’m pretty happy if I can be bothered to put down place mats.

But there’s nothing more fun than a challenge to get the creative juices flowing, and after a brief fit of nervousness, I decided to throw myself into it and start researching ideas. I’m a bit of a history nerd, and I loved learning about the pagan origins of the holiday. The theme of rebirth – opposed to cutesy bunnies and chicks – really felt like it would lend to a sophisticated and modern table setting.

On the day, we got got organised in teams – I was paired with the fabulous Lisa Tilse from The Red Thread, a fellow craft blogger!

 Lisa was more than happy to come on board with the hare-brained scheme theme, and we got about creating with the décor hand picked by The Home senior stylist Marjorie Silva!

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Our final table design PHOTO: Dara Tippapart

When you get two crafters on a table setting challenge, get ready for some prop modification – after deciding to go for organic, rustic colours, we cut muslin into table mats, chopped the ends of some paper covered plastic eggs and threaded some flowers through, and instead of name cards, we instead used little cubes.

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Q95A9757 Lisa is a whizz at calligraphy – that’s her beautiful hand-writing on the cubes! PHOTO: Dara Tippapart

It was a great team effort, and I was pretty chuffed by the end of the challenge, even though I knew we had stiff competition from the other competitors – their table settings also looked spectacular!

I was so excited when it was announced that we had won the challenge! I had a chat to The Home CEO Alexandra Mills afterwards, and she told me it was so close, but the little touches of creativity we used was what made the difference.

Best of all, all the  décor we used was given to GIVIT, a charity which matches those in need to what you have to give.

It’s such a fantastic idea, I wanted to donate some unused beauty products to a charity last year, but had a real challenge trying to find one close by. I’m going to give them all to GIVIT who will be able to give it to a shelter in need.

A HUGE thanks to my fellow competitors Angela Anderson from The Home Style File, Chris Carroll from The Life CreativeDara TippapartKate St James from Grand Designs Australia, Michelle Ball from House RulesGalina Dixon, and Erika Raxworth.

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TIPS FOR SETTING A THEMED TABLE 

Don’t be scared of getting creative! Think outside the box and modify your table settings to suit the theme. This could be dressing up some candles or glasses with a ribbon, or cutting up old place mats to give them a raw edge.

Use unusual materials Lisa and I both gravitated to unusual materials like hessian, moss tuffs, florists wire, wooden cubes – the result was a truly unique and striking setting.

Put down everything you like, then edit, edit, edit. Lisa and I worked together and included everything we both liked. Then, we stood back and took out about a quarter of what we laid out. You don’t want it to be so busy that you can’t actually eat at the table!

A pop of colour goes a long way. Even though we used natural and organic type materials and colours, we still included pops of colour to make it lively. We restricted this to our big vase of yellow flowers, then, we carried through the colour by putting touches like single flowers on the plate.

Thank you to Dara Tippapart for the beautiful photos.

Any other tips for styling aficionados like myself? I’d love to hear about it! LIKE Darnsexysecondhand on Facebook and leave a comment. 

 

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DIY Wax Drip Easter Eggs

With barely any materials needed, this is a great activity to keep little hands busy and bring a little Easter flair into your house.

Plus, they’re so fun and easy to make – the anticipation of peeling of the wax and unveiling the dazzling design is quite addictive!

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I used dark brown chicken eggs, but you may want to track down duck eggs in Asian supermarkets if you want your colours vivid. And remember, anywhere you drip wax will resist colour!

If you are making this particular craft with young children, perhaps take over when it comes time to drip wax on the egg. Or, use the wax candle as a pencil and draw on your designs.

YOU’LL NEED

  • 3 bowls of water with a few drops of food colouring (I used blue, pink and red)
  • Half a dozen eggs (about 3 per person is a good amount)
  • Tapered wax candles
  • Matches

DIY WAX EGGS

  1. Using a pin, pierce a small hole in the bottom, and top of an egg. Use a skewer to mix up the contents of the egg and blow the contents out threw the opposite hole. .

  2. Wash your eggs thoroughly and allow to dry.

  3. Dip your egg into the first colour, leave for around 10 minutes and let the colour soak in

  4. Once completely dry, light your candle and gently drip wax over the egg. The best way to do this without risk of burning your fingers is to put it on a protected table and move the candle side to side.

  5. Dip the egg into a different colour. Leave soak for 5 minutes

  6. Gently pat dry

  7. Peel off first layer of wax. You can leave some on for various effects.

  8. Continue two or three more times, peeling off more wax with every dip

  9. Let dry in the sun, and display in a glass bowl.

I experimented with some other techniques and rubber bands also give a lovely result.  You can also try with stickers or even glue on leaves.

Happy Easter! And a big thanks to my gorgeous little helpers x

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DIY Lace Bunny Ears

You may not believe me, but to my delight lace kitty ears were a big hit with fashionistas last season, with Hollywood stars like Nicole Richie, Rihanna and Katy Perry rocking the cat-tastic accessory while sauntering down the red carpet.

But I think the idea also lends itself wonderfully for Easter – all you need is some few pipe-cleaners, lace and a headband, and a spare hour.  They can be created in almost any colour and little girls will just love them – I can’t wait to give the purple ears to my niece Ruby!   The beauty of these is that they are so easy to make – it’s a great craft to get the kids involved with. You could also experiment with different fabric or even doilies.

What you will need:

  • Ribbon Covered Headband
  • 4 x Black Chenille Sticks or pipe cleaners
  • 130mm wide lace trim
  • Fabric glue
  • Fabric scissors

Method:

  1. Take two chenille sticks and twist them together at one end.
  2. Shape the chenille sticks into the desired “bunny ear” shape leaving approximately 5cm space between the two chenille sticks at the bottom. Allow 5cm of length at the end of each chenille stick for attaching to the headband.
  3. Cut the lace trim as long as your chenille sticks.
  4. Position the lace under the pipe cleaner shape ensuring that the lace sits under the chenille sticks at all points with the bottom edge of the lace stopping 5cm above the bottom edges of the chenille sticks.
  5. Place small amount of fabric glue along one side of the chenille sticks (do not place glue along the 5cm lengths at the bottom). Lay the chenille sticks glue side down onto the right side of the lace and press down lightly.
  6. Allow the glue to dry and then roughly cut away the excess lace along the outside edge of the chenille stick to achieve the desired look. Do not cut too close to the chenille sticks
  7. Repeat steps 1 to 6 for the second ear.
  8. Position the ears onto the desired spots on the headband and wrap the 5cm chenille stick tails tightly around the headband starting from the inside and working away from the ear.
  9. With the extra lace at the bottom, trim and clue up and under, to hide the chenille stick. Secure with pegs and leave to dry ten minutes.  
  10. Make enough headbands for all your bunny friends! I had the most wonderful afternoon with my crafty friends Maris, Lilyanne and Phionna – we couldn’t resist a few selfies at the end.

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Maris and Lilyanne

These look so cute as they are, but for a more sophisticated look ala Nicole Ritchie, I cut a 20 cm length of lace, and bobby pinned it to my head, hiding the bobby pins with the headband.

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And of course I couldn’t resist making a pair for Robbie! Patient darling…

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Easy! I have to find somewhere to wear these out PRONTO!! Happy Easter everyone! More tutorials coming soon xp

Materials and instructions courtesy of Spotlight

First published on LifestyleHOME 

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DIY Candles for Earth Hour!

There’s something so atmospheric about a fragrant candle – whether your having dinner, enjoying a quiet night at home or working – it really adds a sense of atmosphere to almost any room. If you’ve ever wanted make your own there is no better time than this weekend– in time for Earth Hour!

This Saturday, March 29 at 8.30pm, millions of people are switching off their lights for Earth Hour, which in the last few years has cemented itself as the largest voluntary action for the environment.

So to inspire you to take part, I talked to candle makers Thomas Hutley and Rebecca Lockwood of Hutwoods – who are living their creative dreams by launching their own brand of environmentally conscious candles in the creative inner-city Sydney suburb of Glebe.

“Ever since I was young I’ve always loved crafts, and would happily spend hours making things with whatever I could find,” says Rebecca. “As an adult, I soon realised that my obsession with burning soy candles could potentially lead me to another craft I could try.”

After investing in a few starter kits, Rebecca realized her hobby was something she wanted to develop.

Soon, they had their own stall in Glebe Markets where their soy candles, beautifully presented in a recycled jar with a wood wick, were an overwhelming success. Now, they have many repeat customers and stock in shops in the inner west and eastern suburbs.

“Sustainability is hugely important and something we take very seriously,” says Rebecca. “We only use premium EcoSoya® Advanced Soy Wax, which is composed of non-petroleum renewable resources and derived from 100% natural soybean oil. 

“Soybean oil is toxic free, biodegradable, free from pesticides and herbicides, kosher certified and also free from any genetically modified material. We also offer our candles in a broad range of re-cycled glass jars and encourage customers to either re-fill their candle jar or enjoy for a host of different uses to minimise impact on landfill.”

So want to give it a try? The easiest way is to buy yourself a starter kit which will come with every thing you need and specific instructions for the type of wax you are using, including temperatures and setting times.. But to make sure your first experience with making candles is a successful one, Rebecca and Thomas have offered up their expert tips.

TIPS FOR MAKING YOUR OWN CANDLES

  • Give the process 100% of your attention, and make sure you give yourself enough time. The melting and pouring temperatures vary for different waxes, so be sure to check the properties of the wax you are using. Don’t rush through any of the steps as your candle will not turn out correctly
  • Do not over-fragrance your wax, although it would seem that this would make the candle scent stronger, it actually doesn’t! If you add too much oil, it won’t make the candle smell better, it will actually ruin the candle and it won’t burn properly, if at all.
  • Experiment with different wicks as this is very important to ensure the wax melts correctly. You will also need to trim the wicks to around ¼ inch after the setting stage to ensure that the flame is the correct height for the ultimate burn
  • Don’t panic if you spill your soy wax, it can be easily dissolved and cleaned up with warm soapy water
  • Make sure you leave your final candle to set for at least 36 hours before lighting. The candle needs to “cure” to give the best burn and fragrance throw
  • Practice makes perfect. There is a science to candle making and it will take a few goes to get it right. Be sure to persevere and don’t be put off if it doesn’t work out first time!
  • Take the time to learn about the different types of wax available, as they all vary in regards to melting point and use. There are lots of types available so experiment to see which one you enjoy working with the most 

Click HERE to find candle making kits!

For more information on Hutwoods candles and stockists, visit www.facebook.com/Hutwoods

For more information on Earth Hour, visit www.earthhour.org

First published on Lifestyle Home 

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What will you be making during National Craft Month?

I’m constantly surprised at how many people think you need to be artistic or creative to be a crafter.

Sure, you’re in trouble if you can’t work out how to use a pair of scissors or thread a needle, but what I love most about craft is how it fosters ‘thinking outside the square’, community and often, the most stunning results can be achieved through the most simple techniques. And now, there’s a month long celebration of craftyness to help spread the message. 

For the unacquainted, National Craft Month is an international event, founded in 1994 by the American Craft and Hobby Association. It’s now landed on our shores and is here to inspire us established crafters, and show non-crafters what they’re missing out on!

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Best of all, it’s something that can be enjoyed by all ages and can bridge generations – one of the reasons Spotlight Australia decided to bring the event Down Under.  

“National Craft Month is a brilliant way of bringing people together,” said Eva Daly, Communications Manager at Spotlight. “It’s all about having fun and discovering new projects for your home, family and friends. It’s also the perfect excuse to pull out those half-finished projects and give them a new lease on life,” added Eva.

So where do you get amongst the crafty action?

Try the in-store classes with free projects and international guests such as Scrapbooking superstars Becky Higgens and Heidi Swapp, who will be visiting major centres from next weekend! Oh, and there’s also plenty of bargains exclusive to the event, and you can win a share of $4000 worth of prizes.

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Next weekend (22nd 23rd) is yarn fest for all those knitting afiondos, or if jewelry is more your style, Bead fest is also on. 

As for me, now I’m all inspired, I’m going to have a go at making these ultra cute kitty lace ears ala Nicole Richie – watch this space in the next couple of weeks!

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For more information, visit Spotlight or get to Spotlight’s Facebook Page.

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Crafting for a cause

A couple of months ago, I was holding a craft demonstration at the Mosman City Council on how to upcycle your wardrobe as part of National Recycling Week. While I was setting up, I couldn’t help but noticed a lady who was knitting with something pretty unconventional – so naturally, I just had to strike up a conversion with her! 

She smiled and told me she was crocheting out of plastic bags – but it was the reason why that was most intriguing.

Angela Van Boxtel is an eco artist and designer who explained she makes pieces of art out of waste material, namely plastic bags and other rubbish that is polluting our oceans, to help take the message from environmental groups to a wider audience. I knew instantly I’d met a kindred soul!

Plastic bags were a huge issue, she explained.  Australian’s were using over six billion plastic bags a year – enough to form a chain long enough to go around the world 37 times. “We have to stop sending them to landfill,” she told me at the time.

She also showed me the plastic bikini she had made once on boat trip that she made for herself “as sort of a joke” during the East Coast Odyssey project, a ship that sailed from Tasmania to Sydney to educate communities about the issue of plastic pollution.

My mind started furiously ticking – by happy coincidence, I knew of a gorgeous model at my agency who is not one of Australia’s most successful plus-size models, but is an environmental scientist who is hugely passionate about environmental issues.

So I put them in touch, and now, the results are these stunning pictures of Laura Wells modelling a bikini made entirely of plastic bags!

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Laura Wells recently hiked 140 kms across Tasmania’s Tarkine rainforest with Responsible Runners, and is also aligned with Greenpeace. PHOTO: Courtesy BGM Models

“It’s absolutely stunning and I still get goose bumps when watching the photo’s, even if I’ve seen them a hundred times by now,” says Angela.

“If you can look darn sexy in a plastic shopping bag that’s a hell of a strong statement to make,” she adds. “In the end, I guess the image speaks louder than what any word could ever portray!”

In an interview after the shoot that I did for Lifestyle Channel, Angela, who publishes her work on her blog greenwithenvyideas, explained how she got the idea to start crafting with rubbish.

“I’ve always been interested in exploring ‘waste’ materials,” says Angela. “Things other people throw out, I call them precious resources.”

Starting out as a young child crocheting clothes for her dolls, Angela always had a penchant for usual materials usually destined for the bin – t-shirts, sheets, orange net, hessian bags, old wool blankets and video tape – soon, she moved on to plastic bags.

“I’ve made bowls, bags, jewellry and a pouf, and of course the bikini’s I also made large art sculptures such as floating mandala’s and even a larger then life reindeer which was constructed of crocheting 2000 plastic shopping bags.

“At current I’m working on a version of boards horst and speedo’s and swim costumes. As I love to work towards a fashion show made of a swim collection of plastic bags.

Angela’s blog documents her ideas and projects to help inspire “people to make a change.

“It’s about giving them small and simple ideas to start with.

“As often I see environmental issues are to overwhelming for most people and that is when they zone out and become apathetic and do nothing.”

“In the end I’m not the poster girl of your every day environmentalist, I’m a mum of four boys, who is just questioning things I encounter in every day life as a family and how we can become more sustainable and green.”

“All I can wish for is if I can plant some seeds of thought or inspiration in other people’s minds.”

And now, Angela’s plastic bag bikini has also recently been selected for the International Women’s Day Art Prize. It’s so wonderful to see her recognised!

Angela has really inspired me to start thinking more about ‘single use’ items of plastic – I’m working towards getting rid of things that are disposable one use out of my daily life, but also got me thinking about how we could be a little more environmentally friendly with our craft.

So, after a bit of researching, I came up with some suggestions I hope might help you out.

Make sure you go check out Angela’s fantastic blog at greenwithenvyideas.blogspot.com. And while you’re there, like Laura’s Facebook page!

My five tips on making sustainable crafts

1) Look for unconventional items

Keep a sharp eye on hard rubbish collection days. I recently salvaged a huge frame in Mosman that I turned into a chalk board. Old building materials can make great material for crafts. Some old bathroom tiles from a skip bin are going to be a mosaic project.

2) Try to use recycled materials where you can.

If you are in Sydney, drop into Recycled Garbage. They have a warehouse full to overflowing with waste material that is just waiting for someone with creativity and imagination.  I always seem to find buttons and sewing supplies in op shops too. Most capital cities and large centres should have something similar.

3) Be aware of your foot print. 

If you have plenty of material left over from a project, don’t throw them out, why not donate it? Your local council should be able to advice. If you’ve finished a painting project, don’t pour the rest down the drain. Donate it, or use it for another project. Also, if you’ve had a craft fail, perhaps consider how you salvage it for another project instead of throwing it in the bin.

4) Get the kids involved

Upcycling inspires creativity, so get the kids involved. Save old wrapping paper and ribbons and start a craft box for the kids and let their imagination run wild.

5) Get resourceful

There are many great resources online for inspiration. You only need to type in ‘recycled craft’ into Pinterest for hundreds of ideas!

Check out my full story on LIfestyle Channel! 

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In pursuit of my inner pin up – with Miss Pin Up Australia competition!

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Photography: Ali Peck

There’s so much to love about the 50s –  the cars that were built for aesthetics, not aerodynamics, the people who bought quality because they were ‘too poor to buy cheap’, the gentlemen that ‘courted’ women and the unforgettable rock n roll revolution!

But most of all, I’m enamoured with the immaculate stylings of the 40s and 50s. While I dabble in winged eyeliner, ruby red lips and victory curls, I’ve always wanted to take my pin up leanings to new levels – and now I’m going to get that chance with the Miss Pin Up Australia competition!

But what does it mean to be a modern day pin up? I know plenty about vintage fashion and the make up, but what about the ideals and values of the proud and strong women who lived through their 50s?

This competition is sure to help me find out – the nationwide search for “Australia’s perfect pin up”, is an invitation for women of all shapes, sizes & ages to celebrate vintage glamour, and emulate an era when polished elegance was prized – but most of all, it promises to build self confidence, self esteem and self respect.

And while I’m pretty excited about all of the above, I’m also can’t wait to meet the other Pin Ups – and it appears I’ve got some pretty stiff competition!

Now I just have to decide what to do with my talent…. Hmmm.

I wouldn’t have been able to enter without these fantastic pics so a huge thanks to the talented Ali Peck from Ali Peck Photography, Kim from Bowerbird Vintage for her vision and gorgeous frocks, Renee Opperman from 100’s and 1000’s Marketing , Joanna from Webbird Digital, and my gorgeous friend Phionna Tomaszewski from Beautiful Words, who worked her magic with the make up! We had such a fun day playing pin ups and shooting beautiful vintage wares!

Have a peek at the rest of the gorgeous collection of vintage dresses at www.bowerbirdvintage.com.au

Oh! And I would love you to vote for me here :) xp

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How to: Gold Leafing

It’s cheap, easy and very addictive; gold leafing is the perfect way to transform old nick knacks.

This old tin box has been a home for buttons, odds and ends and ribbons for as long as I can remember. The story goes my Grandmother bought it out on her passage from London in the 1950s, and it’s been hanging around the house ever since. It was probably a biscuit tin, but in any case, the original lacquer is long gone and the rusty finish doesn’t do the whimsical flower and cherub design any justice.

So armed with some gold imitation leaf, I’ve given this family heirloom a make over that makes it truly a treasure to keep!

The gold leaf can be a little tricky to handle, but the key is not to be too precious with your application and don’t be scared to use quite a few sheets.  Also, buy good quality glue that is specifically designed for leafing. I bought Ever Bright Gold Imitation Leaf – $40 for 100 sheets, and the X-Press it Gold Size glue for $7.50. Most craft stores should have something similar in stock.

1. First make sure it’s dry, and free of dust and dirt

2. Paint a single layer of adhesive glue over the entire item. It will be a milky colour, but will turn clear in around 5 or 10 minutes. It should be tacky, but not wet, to touch. If you put it on before it’s completely clear, it can affect your final finish.

3. There are many different ways to apply the leaf, but I found the method of using an entire sheet and carefully laying on the item, then start to work it into the item using your paintbrush.

A good tip is to use some wax paper to pick up the leaf – you’ll find once your fingers get sticky with glue it gets tricky to handle. If it’s easier, cut the gold leaf into smaller pieces.

4. Once you’ve covered your item, use another sheet to fill in the gaps. To give my tin a vintage look, I used a stiff brush to wear down the leaf in places so the rust underneath showed through.

5. Then, using a piece of wax paper, press down firmly to make sure all the leaf is secured.

6. Leave to set overnight. Once it’s completely dry, finish with some clear varnish. If you want a vintage look, give a coat of glaze.

This is a great technique to use on photo frames, Christmas decorations, candles – you can leaf just about anything!  Warning, it’s highly addictive!!

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DIY Christmas Gift Guide

Parties, over indulging, time with friends and family… there’s lots to love about Christmas. But there is one thing I get Grinch-like about – and that’s the pressure to go on a reckless buying frenzy spending money on things people don’t really want or need. 

While it’s hard to imagine NOT waking up to a haul of presents on Christmas morning, giving at Christmas comes at a massive cost to the environment – according to cleanup.org.au, Australians unwanted presents, Christmas trees, wrapping and food will amount to 40 tones of waste. 

For most of us, time is more precious than money – so with that in mind, here are a few simple ideas of what you can give your nearest and dearest to re-discoverer the joy of receiving a hand made gift from the heart! 

Experiences

Consider buying a guitar lesson, a kayaking tour or 10 salsa classes. Better still; spend your money on activity that you can enjoy together, like a lunch out or horse riding trail tour.

Or what about giving your own time and talents? A ‘gift voucher’ of a night of baby sitting or a family portrait session if you have a fancy camera is a lovely gift. 

Charity

Make your gift really count by donating to a charity on someone’s behalf, or consider buying one of CARE Australia’s online range of meaningful and life-changing gifts for impoverished communities, such as goats, chickens, clean water for a community or you can even send a girl to school. Gifts start at $10.

Cook up a storm

If you’re a foodie and a wiz in the kitchen, share your culinary gift by gifting a home made cake, pudding, cookies, or home made chocolates.

Even something as simple as a jar of healthy home made muesli can make a gift that is sure to be appreciated – and enjoyed.

Here’s a simple recipe I love from Mel at Escape Haven Retreat and Spa in Byron

Simply mix together a cup each of Chai seeds, Walnuts, Almonds, Pistachio nuts, Sesame seeds, Poppy seeds, Lecithin Granules, and shredded coconut, drizzle with maple syrup and coconut oil and bake at 160 for around 45 minutes. Present in a jar with a festive ribbon or doily!

Create

If you’re a gun on the sewing machine, consider making something simple and useful like a bag. Here, I just covered a supermarket shopping bag with fabric – its super simple and only took 20 minutes!

Kids gifts

Rather than buying something with batteries that will be forgotten after a day, inspire kids creativity with simple homemade presents that you can work on together. I made these (rather lumpy looking) shark and dolphin out of calico, stuffed them with old material and wrapped up with a set of fabric pens.

Or, if you’re crafty, whip something up like a chalkboard, a batch of bath bombs, or make up a set of materials for a project, for example a Dream Catcher.

Remember, it’s the thought that counts!

Happy Christmas :) 

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DIY Bathbombs

There’s nothing better than a long soak in the bath when pre-silly season madness starts to take its toll – and now, there’s even a better reason to get in the tub with these simple, DIY bath bombs.

They smell great, will leave your skin feeling like silk and are cheap and easy to make. And if you can save a few before you use them all yourself, DIY bath bombs make a great gift.

I’ve experimented with a few different recipes, and found this to be the one that works for me, but bath bombs also give you the opportunity to flex your creative muscle.  Think about adding fragrant herbs such as lavender, different colours, essential oils and even glitter (not too much!).

If you don’t have any dried herbs on hand, I’ve found herbal teas such as peppermint can make a good alternative. Just be careful not to overdo it – they can clog your drain. Likewise about food colouring otherwise you’ll come out a different colour then you went in!

BATH BOMBS

Time: 30 mins

Makes: 6 medium sized bath bombs

INGREDIENTS

½ cup of baking soda

¼ cup of citric acid (cooking citric acid can be bought from supermarkets, but I’d recommend getting the high quality stuff from a supplier like N-Essentials who ship national wide)

¼ cup of mineral salts (I used Himalayan bath salts from N-Essentials - you can also find them at health shops)

2 teaspoons of water

6 drops of essential oil

2 Tablespoons of vegetable or coconut oil

OPTIONAL EXTRAS

¼ cup of dried flowers such as rose petals

Glitter

Food colouring (you only need a couple of drops, use sparingly)

MATERIALS

Moulds (I found rubber cup cake moulds worked a treat, avoid anything made of tin or metal)

Paper towel

Large glass bowl

Measuring cups

METHOD

1. Place all dry ingredients into a glass bowl, and combine well. Use glass over aluminum or metal, as sometimes the citric acid can react.

2. Combine all the wet ingredients into a jar and shake well

3. Very VERY slowly add liquid ingredients to dry, a drop or two at a time. If you see foam you are pouring too fast.

4. The ingredients will still be quite dry, but resist the temptation to add any more oil or water.

5. Tightly pack mixture into mould – I’ve used flexible rubber muffin moulds

6. Leave in the mould for around half an hour, then gently transfer to some paper towel, and leave to dry for a further hour.  Take note that in humid weather, you might want to leave them for a little longer in the mould.

7. When they’re dry, pop into a clean jar and present with a ribbon, fabric or doily tied around the lid with a ribbon.

Got any tips or tricks I should know about? I’d love to hear about it! Leave a comment below or at facebook.com/darnsexysecondhandtv and Instagram.com/Penelope_quinn

First published on Lifestyle Home 

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DIY Headpieces for Melbourne Cup

No Melbourne Cup outfit is complete with spectacular head gear! You don’t need to spend a lot of money to turn heads – you can make it yourself out of your old jewelry in just a few hours.

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Whether it’s a hat, a special hair clip, or a fascinator, the right headpiece is essential for making an impact at the Spring Races.

And with Great Gatsby inspired fashion predicted to be a big trend at this year’s races, it’s the perfect opportunity to showcase the elegant headbands and decorative hair pieces of the Jazz era.

All you need is some ribbon, a needle and thread, a hair clip and some beads. While there are a kaleidoscope of beads and baubles available to buy new, this month is Buy Nothing New Month, so get inspired and dig out your old beads, mismatched earrings, strings of pearls, and diamontes and other sparkly treasures to make something truly unique!

If you don’t have a stash, op shops have a dazzling array of used jewelry.

I had a go at creating these pieces with some guidance and inspiration from Riot Art and Craft, I’m so happy with the results!

FLAPPER HEADBAND – BEADED FEATURE:

Cost of materials: $34

Time: 30 minutes

Materials:

Darice black cats eye beads 8mm
Assorted pearl pack
Assorted gemstones
Crystal black drop pendant
Black felt sheet
Black roll of braided trim
Black satin ribbon

In addition:

131563 Carnival arts and crafts mini glue gun
131780 Carnival glue sticks
137407 Teachers choice soft grip scissors
Iron
Black thread
Needle

INSTRUCTIONS

Step 1. Create beaded feature

Glue a diamond to your felt.
Work your way around the diamond, using it as your central piece. Alternate between black and pearl beads until it’s the size you would like – roughly 5cm.

Top tip

Use tweezers and hold the bead to the glue gun to apply a small amount to each bead.
Once you finish, glue a ‘dangly’ bead- such as this black crystal one in-between a couple of the beads on the edge.

Step 2. Headband

To make your headband, hold the braided trim up to your head and workout how long you would like it across the front.  Trim and lightly dip the ends in clear glue, this will prevent fraying.
Next cut two 30cm lengths of ribbon, and fold the tips of your ribbon inwards 1cm and iron.  Hand Sew the ends under each end of the trim.
Attach your beaded feature to your preferred side, and glue in place.  Tie across your forehead and in a bow at the back.

For my own piece, I followed all the steps above, but instead of creating a jewelled feature, I simply pulled apart an old necklace and sewed it on.

JEWELLED FAN HAIR CLIP

Cost of materials: $30.20

Time: 1hr – 1.5hr  + 2 hours drying time

Materials:

Diamonte gems mixed box
Assorted pearl pack
Pearlised mixed beads double pack
Cream felt
Alligator clip

In addition:

Craftline garment glue
Darice white thread
Darice beading needle
Teachers choice soft grip scissors
Tweezers
Ballpoint pen

INSTRUCTIONS:

You can take a more detailed approach, as per the template supplied, or create your own design using a mix of gemstones and beads.

Step 1. Shape

Using a ballpoint pen, draw a fan shape lightly onto your felt.

Step 2. Bedazzle

Choose a mixed pack of diamontes, and choose the shapes you would like to use.  Separate your chosen diamontes and beads so that you have a small pile of each shape to work with.

Squeeze a dollop of glue onto a piece of scrap paper.

Follow the shape of the fan with your first row of beads, then work downwards using rows of diamontes, pearls and more beads.

Using tweezers, dip the back of each bead into the glue as you go.

Leave flat to dry for 2 hours.  Check beads are firmly in place, then cut around the edge.

Step 3. Add your strands 

String two pieces of thread with corresponding beads.  Glue each end to either side of the back of the fan, making sure there’s no thread visible from the front.  Trim excess.

Step 4. Secure clip

Glue your clip to a circle of felt then stick on the back.

I’m thrilled with this! I can’t wait to wear it

For more tutorials and craft supplies, visit www.riotstores.com.au

For more information on Buy Nothing New Month, visit buynothingnew.com

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First published on Lifestyle.com.au/penelope_quinn

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The ultimate upcycling challenge

I love the convenience of my coffee machine – not only am I saving money, I no longer have to schlump to the nearest café in my ugg boots on a Sunday morning when my caffeine levels are dangerously low.

But I’ve never really given thought to those crushed little pods my machine spits out, and at first blush it’s hard to imagine they may have a second, third or fourth life as a fridge, or a soft drink can, a table lamp, or a piece of jewelry.

But for sustainable jewelry designer Katrina Freene, the transformation from garbage waste to a show-stopping centerpiece made perfect sense.

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Katrina Freene created a bouquet of Australian natives almost entirely out of aluminium pods

“Design is good looking problem solving,” says Katrina.  “Pretty things are not difficult to make, it’s the challenge of the design that I find stimulating.”

The piece, which she was inspired to give “an Australian edge,” was constructed using wire and hot glue gun (“bless the glue gun!”) while the base is a vintage Australian tin canister.

Katrina worked as a mainstream jeweler for 15 years, but became inspired to launch her own line of sustainable jewelry “after a long period of disillusionment” and “realizing how woefully bad for the environment the practices are”.

“[There is] no accountability for its impact or the working standards for millions of people in third world countries,” she explains. “It doesn’t have to be that way”

“There is so much unnecessary waste in the world today. I feel I can make my contribution by making jewellery which is both beautiful and doesn’t compromise the integrity of our environment.”

Ellie Mucke, representing Victoria, is another designer who counts herself among a growing number of craftsmen who are shunning mainstream industry in favour of sustainable practices.

It was when Ellie was studying Fashion at RMIT when she realized her passion for upcycling.

“After that moment there was no turning back.  If I wanted to be involved in the fashion industry I had to pave a new way that was more transparent and respectful than the current system.”

Soon after, she launched MuCKE, her own brand of ethical clothing made from reclaimed garments, transforming old pieces into high street fashion items in 2007.

“The work I create is as much about being inspired by an existing item or fabric as it is about wanting to facilitate discussion about how we use materials during it’s lifetime.“ she says.

As a clothes designer, Ellie primarily works with pre-loved and reclaimed fabric, but had never worked with aluminum before.

“I got spiked from all angles as I attached the individual pieces to fabric underneath! Each time I make something new I learn a lot. ”

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Ellie cut over 6000 ‘petels’ by hand to create her garment

Ellie created over 6000 petals by hand, which she individually stitched onto a base cloth of reclaimed shirts. 

“I didn’t count the hours but there were many, many long nights!”

Her hard work paid off. The result is a stunning piece of wearable art that wouldn’t look out of place on a celebrity sauntering up a red carpet. 

“Hopefully people will find it beautiful and inspiring.”

Project Upcycle ambassadors in each state are displaying their upcycled creations at Nespresso Boutiques across the country throughout the month of August. For more information, visit www.nespresso.com.au

Nespresso have established capsule recycling points in every Nespresso Boutique nationally, with a view to expand the program this year. To start recycling your used capsules, collect a recycling bag or canister from your nearest Nespresso Boutique, by calling the Nespresso Club on 1800 623 033.

First published on Lifestyle Channel 

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