Monday, November 09, 2015

Peg People - A Fun Project and Easy Gift Idea

Here’s How to make a up community of helpers :
  • Click on the link below - Download the pattern below.  Print it out and  cut out the peg strips. Match the front and back strips to each other.
  • Leave plain or decorate.
  • Glue the strips to the peg with wood glue.
  •  Seal the peg by brushing on wood glue that has been thinned with water for a longer lasting option

Use your imagination – Design, draw or colour-in clothing for your peg people, or use washi tape.
Use to peg notes to your notice board, or as a peg garland on a thick string.
Hint – Glue a magnet to the back and use as a fridge magent.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Pyramid Paper Desk Set

It's a variation on the paper terrariums from last week.  Follow the instructions, cutting only 2 of the windows out. This allows easy access, while partially obscuring the contents.
I used paper from an old atlas.  It’s really good quality and a pleasure to work with.

Geometric paper desk set

These pyramids create a pleasing rhythmic  organising system.  Arrange them on your desk or line them up on a shelf.
See the full instruction and download the pattern here

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Make a Paper Terrarium or Curatorium - DIY Instructions

It’s been very pleasing to see beautiful angular terrariums in so many places lately.  The vibrant geometric shape softened by the fresh green leaves of the resident plants makes a great decor item.
A paper terrarium is an innovative variation of the original – lighter, recyclable, and easy to make at home.  It can store small potted plants, plant material in tiny (glass salt-cellar) vases and as a display case for other collections.
By the way – Do you know the origin of the terrarium? Like many other intriguing items, it was discovered by mistake.
In 1829 – a doctor Nathaniela Bagshaw (What a lovely middle name) Ward had a medical practice in London. He loved to grow plants in his back yard, but they struggled because of the pollution. Not only did he love plants, but he enjoyed insects too. One day he put a chrysalis in a bottle with some soil in order to observe it. To his surprise he noticed some plants starting to grow and thrive in the glass jar. Protected from the toxic environments, they thrived for years.
So he began to manufacture glass cases. They were named after him and known as Wardian Cases. During the Victorian era they became very ornate.
Display container names:
Terrarium – holds earth and plants,
Aquarium – holds water and water animals,
Vivarium – holds snakes.
Curatorium – The name I gave to this paper creation. A place or a 3D frame for keeping carefully curated items or collections.
(A traditional curator works with artwork, collectibles, historic items or scientific collections. The Curatorium can house  special items or sentimental collections)

Click the link below to download and print the pattern:

Pattern for the


You will Need:
An A3 sheet of paper (120gsm)
Bull dog clips to keep the pattern in place while cutting
A cutting blade (optional)
A knitting needle or bone folder

Instructions for the Curatorium Paper (Terrarium):

1. Print out the pattern and cut it out.  Join the sections of the pattern, matching the triangles
2. Place the pattern on cardboard.
3. Cut out on the outside lines, using bulldog clips to secure the pattern in place while you cut.
4. Keeping the template in place, score the fold lines. Use a blunt pointed object (knitting needle or the back of a knife.
5. With the template still in place, fold all the fold lines.
6. Remove the template. Re-fold the lines crisply.
7. Use the triangular window template to mark the window cut-outs. The template should be centred in each panel, and positioned about 2 cm up from the base line.
8. Cut out the window with a craft knife or with scissors, by gently poking the scissors into the centre of the area to be cut-out, and then proceeding along the cut lines.
9. Place wood glue on the lower tabs, and glue underneath the base.
10. At this point, insert a button and thread if you would like to hang it.
11. Glue the final side tab into place.
12. Fill with delightfully curated items

Thursday, October 01, 2015

Chat Sticks – The Art of Conversation Game

Making and connecting in community.  I love to give something handmade whenever I give a gift.  Just recently I made this game to give to a friend on her wedding day.
These chat sticks are a simple fun project to make together and use.  They are conversation ignitors – to keep on hand for loadshedding, when friends come round, to keep guests at a wedding entertained during a photos session, etc.
A back to basics game using easily found materials.  A great relationship booster and community builder

How to Create Chat Sticks
You will need:
Printed out Chat Strips
Broad wooden sucker sticks or tongue depressors.  Available from a craft shop or Amazon or at DisChem 
Cutting blade,
Large matchbox – for storing the stcks.

1. Mark the middle of the sucker sticks, and cut in half.
2. Print and cut the chat stick strips out. Fold down the middle.
3. Glue the strip onto the stick. The fold line of the strip will be directly over the cut line of the stick.
4. Cut the matchbox cover out. Empty out a matchbox and flatten the middle dividing section. Glue the cover onto the matchbox.
5. Insert the completed Chat Sticks

Pick a Stick and Tell a Story

Dowload the Patterns Here:
Chat Stick Strips
Matchbox Cover

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Chalk Painted Cut-Glass

My granny loved cut-glass.  I remember her visiting our home, and as a huge favour to my mom, she would wash the cut-glass collection that she had passed on to my mom and that now decorated the sideboard in our diningroom. I remember the sense of pride we all had as the pieces were placed back all bright and gleaming.
A few years on, I remember how uncool cut-glass became.  It was easy to find in vintage stores, because no-one wanted it any more.
But now all is forgiven.  Cut-glass has a place in a different sort of way.
I had some pieces that had mineral stains from being used as vases.  I had tried, unsuccesfully to clean them, so I thought I’d colour them instead.

The vases were coated with Annie Sloan Chalk Paint.  I diluted the paint with a little water to make it slightly more liquid.
I poured the paint in, then rolled the bottle around until the inside was evenly coated.
Here is an overview of how it was done.

Note – The paint can take a long time to dry, and you may need to re-roll the vase to keep the coating even.
Try to add as little water as possible.  Using a hairdryer can help the drying process.

Do you Know - What is Crystal Glass?

Ordinary glass has been made for thousands of years and was a product of most ancient cultures. The ancients also began using crystal in its native form of rock crystal for beads, figurines, and dishes. In attempts to imitate nature, man began making glass that was termed crystal by adding metals to change the character of the glass, and lead was found to be the most successful of these additives. Lead crystal produces a product with a ringing sound (without the tin quality of ordinary glass), it is strong and durable, and it has a curious warmth to the touch. Best of all, lead crystal has a brilliant, silvery appearance that is enhanced by cutting.

Monday, September 14, 2015

The Smallest Petrol Garage – Imfolozi

The Imfolozi Game Reserve forms part of the Hluhluwe–iMfolozi Park, (previously the Hluhluwe–Umfolozi Game Reserve) home to the Big 5 and a significant player in animal conservation.  If you are able, it is a delight to visit this, the oldest declared nature reserve in Africa.  It’s an important and significant wildlife area.
We were recently there, and I decided to photograph aspects other than the endangered rhino and his many two and four-legged wild-life companions.  There is a magical, rustic, even quirky side to the reserve too.  Mpila camp is home to the smallest petrol station I’ve seen.  The cute A-frame hut houses a petrol pump and an attendant too. When a car pulls up for petrol, the attendant leans out of the hut to fill the tank.

The Petrol Station is close to the Mpila Camp Reception and a small curio and supply shop.  We had forgotten to bring salt with, and went to buy some at the little store.  They were out of stock, but one of the assistants offered to run to his housing community and bring some of their salt back for us in bowl.  We were so appreciative!
The camp generator switches off at 10pm.  Some units have oil lamps, but it is best to come well prepared with lighting of your own.  No electricity means early to bed, and then early to rise.
I found the very early morning light compelling and magical. I captured some of the bushhveld silhouetted against our hut by the golden rising sun…

Imfolozi in the very early morning

… and I found the fiery light display on the tree trunks breathtaking

Imfolozi in the very early morning

It’s refreshing to wonder around the camp. You are quite likely to bump into some wildlife somewhere.  We had a lion rum between our neighbour’s hut and ours once.  Beware of the monkeys, who are adamant to get into your hut and eat your food if they can.  Also beware that hyenas seem to come every night to see what’s on the braai.  If you are brave enough to braai, certainly don’t leave your meat to go inside to fetch something.  Our neighbour did, and had to come up with Plan B for his supper.

Hluhluwe–iMfolozi Park,
Hluhluwe–iMfolozi Park,

Curios are sold by the local communities at the Vulamehlo Craft Market, which is situated at the Centenary Centre.  I was struck by the hours and hours of colourful talent that is housed in the cool round building.

Hluhluwe–iMfolozi Park,
Hluhluwe–iMfolozi Park

I’m not sure if the Mpila Petrol Station is the smallest one in South Africa, but it certainly must have one of the most beautiful views, and as Mpila has no fencing, other than a thin elephant wire, so I'm sure it has quite a few wild and exciting visitors too.

Monday, September 07, 2015

Crochet Tablecloth Waistcoat with Draped Front – DIY

A quick fun project with a really rewarding outcome – DIY instructions to convert a circular charity-shop-find tablecloth into a trendy draped-front waistcoat.
Crochet Tablecloth Waistcoat
Rectangular crochet tablecloths are great for reusing as throws or bed covers, but circular ones are a little more difficult to re-purpose. The design of this draped front waistcoat fits so well into the round.
This is an ideal project for a tablecloth with signs of wear and tear.  The damaged or unravelled section can be positioned in the cutout area.
Every tablecloth will be different and will need a little bit of individualised treatment.

Crochet Tablecloth Waistcoat

Lay the tablecloth on the floor and fold the edges in, so that you can start to get an idea of what your waistcoat will look like.
Crochet Tablecloth Waistcoat
Work out where you would like the shoulder seams to fall.  Mark the shoulder seam position.  Pin and then cut out above the shoulder seam.  Do not cut beyond the shoulder seam.  Open the centre fronts out and continue cutting along the back neck edge only.  Do not keep on cutting on the front pieces, as they are going to form a shawl collar.
Once the neck edge is cut, cut the shawl collar piece.
Crochet Tablecloth Waistcoat
Join the centre back pieces of the collar by handstitching together.  Oversew all seams securely, catching in any loose threads that may unravel. Make sure that the right side of the seam is uppermost on the collar, so that it looks neat.
Crochet Tablecloth Waistcoat
Securely handstitch the neck edge of the shawl collar to the neck edge of the waistcoat.
Crochet Tablecloth Waistcoat
Lay the waistcoat flat, and mark the position of the armhole slits on either side. Finish off the armhole slits by rolling a hem all round the edge as best you can, and securely handstitching in place.
All the best. Enjoy wearing your handiwork 

How to Diagram 

A comprehensive diagram on how to convert a tablecloth into a waistcoat (as well as the full instructions from this post) available to dowload as a PDF file here 

Friday, September 04, 2015

Makaranga is a Must

Our local *Studio Union group visited Makaranga this week.  It’s a hidden haven in beautiful suburbia west of Durban.
This bountiful garden is home to a vibrant hub comprising a luxury lodge, conference rooms, childrens’ play area, outdoor concerts, pampering spa and gourmet restaurant.
The lovely name – Makaranga – comes from a Zimbabwean tribe of the same name and Wild Poplar trees called “Macaranga Capensis”.  It was bestowed on the beautiful botanical garden, previously knows as Fern Valley in 2002 by Chick and Danna Flack.
Billionaire plantsman Lesley Riggal started the journey in 1976 when he bought  20 acres of property in Kloof, KZN.  Over the next 26 years he planted an amazing garden.  He slowly bought up adjoining pieces of land until it was 30 acres in size.
The Flacks have built on this base and created a quality venue with the aim of bringing restoration to body and soul with each visit.

Makaranga - Pink Lily
“The Garden specializes in camellias, rhododendrons, azaleas, magnolias, orchids and bromeliads.A large number of Orchids are grown on trees and logs with many in the ground. The garden comprises exotic & indigenous flora. The latter come into their own in the winter months with many different types of Aloe & numerous succulents serving to attract beautiful sun birds. Erythrina trees with their red flowers also bloom when the weather cools. In summer large beds of sky blue agapanthus & hydrangeas are a delight as are the many coloured day lilies. Hundreds of clivia miniata light up the forest areas in spring ranging in colour from deep orange to pale cream.”

Makaranga - Nonna Restaurant
The Restaurant is open from breakfast in the morning through to dinner in the evening. –
Our Victorian Warehouse, NONNA, spills out onto a pergola-covered deck which offers, we believe, one of the most beautiful views in the world. Guests have the option of dining inside NONNA or out on the covered all-weather deck while enjoying fresh Mediterranean cuisine and soaking up the views.
Every time I go to Makaranga, I wonder why I dont go there much more often.

Makaranga -
*Studio Union – We are a groups of home-based creatives who meet together for inspiration, input, community and collaboration.  Our group is based west of Durban, where we meet in a home once a month, and go on a relevant outing once a month too.  If you are interested in joining us please contact me or if you would like to start your own group, and would like some info on how we run ours, please contact me too.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Sari Garden Decor - Tarpaulin for Lunch Event

My passion for collecting saris is no secret.  I have a huge collection, neatly coiled into shelves in my studio.  I have used saris to make bags, to create furoshiki wrapping, to make necklaces and brooches, tablecloths, cushion covers (blue cushions above), curtains, Christmas decorations and more.  For the first time this past weekend we used a beautiful long pink bordered sari as a tarpaulin for a special Garden Party.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Forests Full of Potential

We’ve just spent a wonderful week in the Cathkin Valley with a gorgeous view of the Drakensberg Mountains.
It really did not seem like a good time to go away.  We had so much on our plates.  Yet once we were there, it was just so good to let the busy-ness of our day-today lives fade and be rejuvenated by family relationships and wonderful natural beauty.
The Drakensberg Mountains are majestic, and we had a clear view of them from our holiday spot at Champagne Lane. Everyday the mood of the mountain range changed from sunrise to sunset, on sunny days and cloudy days.