I’d love to say that I’m always creative and have ideas going round in my head all the time, but like all energies, the creative energy that generates ideas ebbs and flows as unpredictably as a river after a heavy rain. I have days, weeks, and rarely, months, where I seem to be forever creating and crafting and the ideas seem to keep on coming at me, but I also have times where my ideas and passion for creating seem to dry up and shrivel away to nothing.
In the past, staying creative was easy – university provided me with loose themed projects to work on, our own interpretation of the topic was hugely encouraged. It made thinking about topics and things to do incredibly easy, in some ways it took that ability away from me. I found it easy to come up with creative ideas when there was a topic presented to me. We had group chats about our work and the direction we wanted to go in with our projects along with feedback from our peers and lecturers. We focused on research, trial and error and then the final outcome. Having other persons input into our ideas really helped. But now I’m alone and away from group discussion, the onus is on me to continue with being creative.
After I finished university I had this itch to continue to make things but had no real idea of how to start and what to do with this energy inside me. I had very little skill in knowing how to use this energy and formulate it into solid ideas. I dealt with it in the worst way possible. I sat and did nothing, letting this feeling fester and then wither. While I did continue to take photos and create other bits and pieces here and there, it was nothing like having a project and something to really focus on.
And then the fear started to creep in. Fear that what I was doing wasn’t good enough, fear that what I was producing didn’t have a point, fear that my ideas were limiting my work and without discussing my ideas and getting feedback and opinions that my work wasn’t somehow validated. So I stopped. I stopped creating, I stopped thinking, and I felt like I had lost a part of me.
What really got me back into creating and being creative was social media, I found some Instagram accounts that I liked, I joined Facebook groups where my interests were embraced and where people shared their work with others. And I slowly started to re-gain confidence in myself and my ideas.
Now, to stay creative I read articles that are related to my interests, I read blogs about crafting and art, I follow lots of Instagram accounts that are working in a similar way to me, and I research skills I’d like to learn. There are so many craft ideas pages, tutorials and step-by-step instructions on the web that have helped me to. Lots of the big hobby stores have pages of ideas to read about too, which help.
I keep a notebook of ideas, my phone holds lots of web links, I have saved articles on my pc and I am subscribed to websites that email projects I may be interested in that I can refer to when I hit a wall which helps me to overcome an “artists block”. I have realised that I don’t always need the guidance of others to help me create and I follow my own set of rules. I no longer care whether what I create has a point, means something or whether others will like or understand it. I create for me. That’s how I stay creative.
I stumbled upon this quote a little while ago, I can’t remember what I was looking for but the quote stuck with me and I couldn’t seem to forget it.
For me, this quote seems to sum up my life and my art. The quote has a sort of Alice In Wonderland feel to it which I really love. My life has taken me on a journey that I never expected to take, even the most highly planned decisions I have made have turned out to have the most unexpected consequences and I embrace them fully, without them I wouldn’t be where I am today.
The way I create art and put together my home and my dress sense seems to work in the same way. I start out with a general idea of what I want to achieve and along the way, things happen, often other thoughts and ideas emerge and the finished thing is not how I expected it to be.
I think we all have to embrace the unexpected, try not to see things as mistakes or things we have done wrong, see them as things to learn from, things that educate us and make us the person that we are.
I started making some candles back in December to give away as gifts, it’s not something I have done for a really long time. The last time I made candles I was probably 10 or 11 and had a Get Set Candle Making Set by Waddingtons (sadly discontinued) and I really loved creating my own candles. At the time there wasn’t really much information about different waxes to use and how bad certain ones can be for the environment, our homes or our health and I’m pretty sure that the kit I had used paraffin wax. Back to today…I had a look online at what sort of waxes were available and which would be best for what I wanted to do and Soy Wax seemed to be the best so that I what I chose to create my candles with.
I’m not a candle making expert and have since learned that there are lots of techniques when it comes to candle making which I am currently researching, but if you want to make a nice candle for yourself or as a gift then I can show you my method below…
Before we begin I need to just outline a few things…. Please, only use scent that is suitable for candles, DO NOT use essential oils, while they do smell lovely and have healing properties. when burned the healing properties are pretty much zero, they can emit toxins when burned which can cause respiratory problems and they are a fire risk. DO NOT add things to your candle like glitter or dried flowers, while it may make the candle look pretty it can be a fire risk and also can clog up the wick when burning so that the flame is unstable. DO NOT use crayons or food dye to colour your candles, for one they probably won’t work, and secondly, when the crayons melt and come into contact with flame they can emit toxic fumes, and lastly, it can be a fire risk.
Once you have found a suitable container for your candle you then need to work out how much wax it holds. I found this site to be really useful. Once you know how much wax you will need you will then need to weigh the wax out. I weighed mine into the container I used to melt it down. Make sure the container you use is dry and free from any contaminants (like dust or hair).
Once you know how much wax you will need to fill your container you will then need to attach the wick to one of the wick sustainers. To do this thread your wick through the hole in the wick sustainer and pull through. Once the wick end is near the flat side of the wick sustainer use pliers and crimp the pointed bit of the wick sustainer around the wick to hold it in place. DO NOT cut the wick just yet!
Now you need to get your candle container, make sure that it is clean and dry. add a tiny bit of blue tack to the underside of the wick sustainer and then press it into the base of the candle container making sure that it is attached in the centre of the base. I used a jar and needed to use long tweezers to help get it into the correct position.
We now need to use the pencil (or other long item) and wrap the free wick around it and then balance the pencil onto the top of the candle container. This ensures that the wick will stay straight and even all the way down the candle once the wax has been poured.
Now that the candle container and wick are set up you can now melt the wax you measured out. To do this firstly fill and boil the kettle then pour the boiling water into a saucepan, add the container of wax to the saucepan of water so that the container sits in the water similar to a bain marie. I then placed the saucepan onto the hob over a low heat just to keep the water hot and help melt the wax a bit easier.
Optional Step if Using Scent and/or Dye. Once your wax has melted and is of a clear appearance and runny in consistency with no visible lumps you can remove the container from the water and then add the dye and scent of your choice. I add the dye first (follow the manufacturers instructions) and then stir until all the dye has dissolved before adding the scent (again, check the manufacturers instructions). Dont be tempted to stir too vigorously as you don’t want to introduce any air bubbles into the wax.. Once the scent has been added stir gently, again, avoiding creating air bubbles, for around 5 mins so that the scent can distribute evenly through the wax.
If you are not using scent or dye, remove the container from the water and stir the wax for around 5 mins. Stir slowly and gently so that you don’t get any air bubbles forming.
Once the wax has cooled down a bit you can now pour it into your candle container. Do this slowly and steadily being careful not to disturb the wick.
Do not move the candle once it has been poured until it has solidified, moving the candle when in its liquid state can introduce air bubbles into the wax or disturb the wick.
I chose to add a plain layer of wax to the top of my candles, I worked out how much wax I would need for the container then weighed out around 25 grams less than what was needed. Once the wax was set in the jar I then melted the extra wax and poured on top to create a 2 tone candle. Once you are happy with your candle and it has fully set you can then trim the wick with scissors.
11. As I was giving these away as gifts I added a small charm and a tag with the scent name on.
Most people go out and buy their friends and family gifts but there is something nice about making a gift for someone, and something really touching about receiving a hand-made gift from a loved one. There are lots of different gifts you can make so today’s post is a little bit of inspiration (along with links to instructions and where to buy things that you may need in order to make the gift.)
For someone who loves scented candles…
Why not make your own to give as gifts? You can get kits that are reasonably priced in most craft shops (such as this kit for £10 from Hobbycraft) If you have never made candles before then a kit is the perfect way to start, and should you want to then continue making candles you can buy all the items you need individually both on-line and in craft stores. I really like these tins that you can use as candle holders.
For the one with a sweet tooth…
How about having a go at making your own fudge or toffee? You can then present it in a cute container, tin or jar. There are lots of recipes online and heaps of handy instruction videos, but I’m a fan of this one for fudge (its super quick to make and tastes amazing!) and this one for toffee (I could eat this all to myself!). You can get really pretty tins, jars and other containers in most supermarkets now and its worth checking out the cheaper shops to see what they have as well. I really like the look of Kilner Jars or these clip lid jars from Wilkinson .
For the Fashionista
Nothing would be more fabulous than a one of a kind t-shirt. You can buy plain t-shirts fairly cheaply in most clothing outlets and supermarkets so why not buy one and customise it? You can use fabric paint from any craft shop (I love the Tulip range as they have lots of different finishes). You could create a t-shirt with the recipient’s initial on it, a tie dye top, or even add in sewn elements like pockets or a collar depending on their fashion tastes.
For the Beauty Lover
Home made bath bombs are a really lovely gift to make and receive. You can customise the scent to match the recipients favorite scents or add elements such as popping candy or petals, and make them any colour or shape you choose. There are some fab tutorials available on-line, my favorite one is this one over on youtube .
For the Jewellery Magpie
A cool necklace or bracelet to match their style or personality always goes down a treat and doesn’t need anything more than some waxed cord and some pretty beads in the recipients favorite colours. You can add items like small charms or shells, pretty ribbon or chains. I really like this store for my jewellery making supplies. The beauty of making a gift like this is that it can be as simple or intricate as you want it to be and can be created regardless of skill level.
For the Blogger
A notebook is always a welcomed gift (talking from experience) and if you know anyone who blogs then why not gift them a customised note-book? I really like Kraft books for customisation purposes and they are pretty cheap to pick up too, though you could choose any plain hard backed book. Once you have chosen the book you can let loose with your design, maybe you could personalise with the recipients blog name or a favorite hashtag? And if the blog has a theme (like recipes or food for example) you could decorate the front and back to match. The fab thing about a personalised notebook is that you can decorate with any material you want, whether it be painting something onto it, sticking things like feathers and sequins on to it or decopatching it, the possibilities and customisation possibilities are pretty much endless!
For the Student
Fabric can be bought in many different places these days and in tons of different designs so why not try your hand at making a pencil-case or zip close pouch for the student in your life? I really love fat quarter fabric bundles and experimenting with making my own zipped pouches and they are super useful, not just for pens and pencils, you could make smaller ones to gift as coin purses, larger ones for makeup or even to keep an e-reader in. I love the fat quarter bundles you can get at Hobbycraft though you can buy these at most fabric or craft shops and you can pick up zips there too. I found the Wikihow tutorial really easy to follow!
For the Photographer
As a photographer, there is nothing better than taking photos, printing the best ones and displaying them around the home. A DIY photo display using an old picture frame, some cheap string lights and some tiny pegs would be a lovely gift to receive, especially if you added prints of your favorite photographs that they had taken too. You can find old picture frames in charity shops, at boot sales and local selling pages and can customise to suit by spraying with a colour of your choice, after removing the glass and back of the frame before adding a string of fairy lights. Once the frame has been put together add the chosen photos using tiny pegs like these. If you wanted to, you could add to the back, a piece of fabric or wallpaper with a cool pattern or design on it or just leave the back open. The beauty of this gift is that new life has been given to something old, its been re-purposed and upcycled, the pegs mean that the images displayed can be switched around easily and there is the flexibility to display anything you want, from photos to lists.
For the Book Lover
Instead of gifting another book token, how about crafting a customised tote bag for the book lover in your life to carry around their books in? If you purchase a plain tote bag (like the one here) you could use some printable fabric transfer paper (which you can find in most good stationery, craft or fabric shops) to print out and iron on to the bag a quote from the recipient’s favorite book. To make the bag extra special you could use beads, buttons or sequins to enhance the quote.
For the Foodie
My Dad loves cooking and I have made him flavoured oils a few years running. You can make almost any flavour of oil that you want but I have found that things like rosemary and thyme, garlic and chilli seem to give the best flavour pay off, not only that but the oils can be used in cooking, as salad dressing, dips and many other things. The method I use is …
Cut up whatever ingredient you are using to flavour the oil, and bruise it slightly so that it starts to release the flavours.
Warm up some olive oil, you want it to warm, not bubble or boil.
Add the cut up flavorings and stir gently at intervals over about 10 mins while the oil is still warming.
Remove the oil from the heat and leave to cool.
Strain the cooled oil to remove the bits of flavoring.
Before adding to bottles, I always add fresh flavour ingredients, such as a sprig of rosemary and thyme to the bottle that will have the rosemary and thyme oil added to it (this adds a bit of visual interest and lets you know at a glance which oil is which)
Add the oil to the bottle and seal.
Add a tag or sticker with the oil used, flavoring and when it was bottled.
You could give several different flavoured oils to your recipient along with a little leaflet about what you could use the oils for.
For the Eco Friendly
How about creating a unique soap dispenser repurposed from an old bottle? You could choose an empty bottle of their favorite tipple, sauce or an old glass oil bottle. Just clean out the bottle and use a pump top (I found this but you can find lots via a google search) just make sure that it will fit the bottle you will be using! There are other ideas here, which is where I found the above image! You can give the dispenser empty, or why not fill it with a lovely scented hand wash?
For Your Partner
For a gift that shows you really care how about a 365 Jar? Write down memories, songs, reasons why you love them, fold them all up small and put into a jar. The idea is that they get to pick a new note each day to read right from the 1st Jan to the end of the year. You can get really pretty jars here though any glass jar will do so long as it has a wide mouth to it.
For Your Bestie
What would be nicer than a friendship package? You could include a small hand-made candle, a bath bomb, a CD of both of your favorite songs, a little book with photos printed out of the pair of you along with little notes about the day that they were taken. Package it all up in a pretty gift box or wicker basket along with some chocolates or treats that you know they would enjoy.
What sort of gifts will you be making? And what would you love to receive?
I don’t generally buy advent calendars as, although I love the idea of them I always find the ones on offer either expensive for what you get or disappointing. I really wanted to get one for Sam as part of his Christmas gifts but decided to make one rather than buy anything.
I decided on creating a memories advent calendar, basically a note for each day of December contained in a numbered envelope that the recipient can open on each day of advent.
I bought cards from Tiger that came in a cute box, listed some memories that I wanted to share and started to write the cards. I labelled the envelopes from 1 to 24 then shuffled the cards and inserted them into the envelopes. I then used the box to put the cards back into so I could give them to Sam.
It was really nice to spend a day reminiscing about favorite memories and writing them down, the only problem I experienced was which memories to choose!!!!
I think this would be a perfect gift for anyone that means something to you whether it be a friend, family member, brother, sister or child.
Have you made an alternative advent calendar for someone? What did you make?
I just wanted to share that aside from being on Instagram I now have a page on Facebook which I will be sharing my blog post links to along with photos of things I am doing, inspirational images and other insights into my day to day life…
I have also created a logo to use on social media so it’s easier to find me! I used an app called LogoScopic Studio which I downloaded from the AppStore! It’s a really easy to use app that I found just by chance when looking at logo creators..