Category Archives: making

Making Christmas Cards, 2014.

This years cards are all about place, taking the rough with the smooth, and de-cluttering.

The last one is the easiest to explain. When moved house this year, we moved a lot of stuff. And this was after throwing out a lot of stuff. It seems that The Sidster and I are both inclined to hold onto things *in case they come in handy* (he likes to think it’s just me, but dear friends, I proffer you our garage, aka man-cave, in evidence to the contrary!). So the challenge was set, could I make this year’s cards out of stuff we have already. Yep, I could. I have *that* many card blanks, fancy papers and, it turns out, six cans of spray mount.

But onto the inspiration. A sense of place. We moved house this year – from Ealing to Old Windsor. Not because I’ve fallen out of love with Ealing, or particularly love the Queen (I’m a committed republican), but because we figured to cash in our London housing market chips to finish our chalet in France (we’ve been lucky rather than wise). And it’s been an interesting journey.

By moving off the TfL network and into train territory, it has solidified the feeling of moving out of London. Despite the fact that is actually only an extra 10 mins on the train to get to Southbank from the sticks than it was on the tube from W13. Being a Londoner has been (and still is) a massive part of my identity.  Sometimes I miss it so much I could weep. I knew every step of that 8 minute (oft inebriated) walk from Northfields tube to our house.

There are upside though – we see Red Kites circling the skies over the village, we hear (and smell) the cows, and take @DenistheDog for long walks on The Long Walk at Windsor Great Park.

So there’s the taking of the rough with with smooth. The Sidster had long fallen out of love with London (if he ever had been) and he loves the village. I miss the tube (train timetables are way to stressy for me) and London’s energy, but I love the village pubs.  Moreover we both love The Alps, and we will soon (eventually) have a home there. 2014 has been quite a year for our little oddball family.

So merry Christmas everyone. I hope you enjoy the cards as much as I enjoyed making them. Its been fun to turn the world’s norms on its head – instead of sending e-cards to people I see IRL, I have many friends I’ve met online and rarely get to see IRL – so its a delight to pop something in the post.  And any ideas on what to do with the other 20 out of date maps in my “might come in useful box” gratefully received.

photo 1

Christmas tree frames


Frames mounted on maps


Mounted on cards

Mounted on cards


All ready to go...

All ready to go…


Instructional Furniture

I got quite into pimping old furniture last year, after a fashion. I used chalk paint and simple wax polish in layers to create an aged effect. And then stencilled on instructions. Having spent a load of time making them, I then decided they weren’t quite right for the chalet in France. My friend Nat has given “drink” a home. I’ve re-used “sit” as a garden chair, but “put” is looking for a home if anyone’s interested. I’ve aged it a bit more since this pic, and it’s looking nice and worn now… Email me for deets.




Making Christmas Cards.

It started out as a bit of fun a few years ago, making Christmas cards.  But its taken on a life of its own now, and its one of the few rituals of Christmas I do.  But this year its become a bit of a statement.

I get piles of unwanted direct mail each week.  And given my demographic, it seems to mostly be about floaty clothes or home furnishings.  Now don’t get me wrong, I do like nice furniture, but really.  These things irk me.  They hold out some promise of a perfect life: buy this item of white washed furniture / blanket / item of clothing and be magically happier / thinner / more successful.  Its all a pile of bollocks really isn’t it.  You’ll just be a few quid lighter, and the possessor of a new thing.

So the idea of turning this nonsense into something nice for folks I’m fond of at Christmas seemed appealing.  We don’t do Christmas presents in our house, we give each other a two-week skiing holiday and leave the country instead.  I can’t bear the advertising, the excess consumption, the drunken accidents.  But I do like taking some time out to make things, personally.  So here they are.  Philosophical statement through the medium of Christmas card, in 4 easy steps.

1.  Crappy advertising

1. Crappy advertising

Make snowflakes

2.  Make snowflakes

fold, spray, stick

3.  fold, spray, stick

leave to dry

4.  leave to dry


We made a newspaper

The-Carrier-225x300Ok, its not going to rival the circulation of the Guardian anytime soon, but still.  We made a newspaper.

The Carrier comes from a group of 42 people, all involved in interesting work with some kind of social purpose.  The inspiration came to @CassieRobinson when a friends mum said…

“…I’d love to know more about the sorts of projects my daughter and her peers are doing – but those things just don’t make it into the papers”.

If you’re more of a newspaper reader than a netizen, your news is still mediated by the press barons.  And social innovation projects aren’t yet headline grabbers for most part.

Cassie took up the mantle of co-ordinator, finding contributors, securing their financial and copy commitments, and a way of doing it online.  The 42 wrote their copy (including some of us at the *last* minute of course), Cassie collated, and a few weeks later its rolled off the press.  It looks great, and the stories are inspirational stuff.  Happy days.

Big up the for providing the web tools to make it possible.

And big up @CassieRobinson for being the amazing connector that brings together 42 stories to make a newspaper.

I just love how the internet enables offline things.  I love how those boundaries are blurring.

I wonder if this could be a model for a new type of customer magazine magazine for Housing Associations.  They’re often expensive to produce for smaller organisations – the cost of traditional printing makes smaller print-runs uneconomic.  Maybe this is a route forward?  A way for local community groups can get together to make their *own* paper.