Category Archives: Other projects

Cut Out & Keep – Oxford

I was recently asked to write an article for crafting website Cut Out & Keep, on the subject of Oxford. They have very kindly allowed me to publish it on my own blog too! I hope that you enjoy reading it.

Oxford – the ‘City of Dreaming Spires’ – is steeped in history and knowledge. It has spectacular architecture, glorious open spaces, and its own unique brand of eccentricity. It is probably best known for its university, and, with so many students living here, there’s an atmosphere of new beginnings, dreams and aspirations…

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Quality Street – in costume form

I’ve recently been on the annual work Christmas do with my day-job company. As I was part of the organising committee, I suggested that it be fancy dress, and so we came up with the theme of ‘Christmassy’ – a broad theme that people could do as little or as much with as they wanted. Not one to be normal or predictable, I decided that it would be a brilliant idea to dress as those traditional Christmas treats in the iconic purple tin: Quality Streets!

Quality Streets

I didn’t particularly want to go dressed as the tin (a little unwieldy) or as one particular chocolate (couldn’t decide which one to go as). I spotted these ladies on my Google searchings, dressed for Ladies Day at Ascot with some very impressive hats. Alas, that kind of headgear works well at Ascot, but less so in a restaurant, bar or nightclub!

I’ve been collecting the plastic wrappers from Quality Streets for years, simply because they come in lovely bright colours and have good crafting potential, so I decided to find a purple dress of some description and somehow attach Quality Streets to it. I’d already worked out that using actual chocolates on my dress could a) be messy and b) result in people trying to steal my accessories all evening! So I set my dad to work carving the shapes of the different chocolates out of some crafting foam, which I then wrapped in normal kitchen foil and finished off with the relevant plastic wrapper. They looked very very real!

Having found the perfect dress on eBay, I didn’t want to ruin it by using anything permanent to attach the ‘chocolates’, like a glue gun. I loosely hand-stitched the ‘chocolates’ to the frilly bit of the dress with invisible thread.

Invisible thread Quality Streets on frilly bit of the dress Quality Streets on frilly bit of the dress Dress with Quality StreetsDress in all its glory!

Once the dress was sorted, my thoughts turned to accessories. I had quite a few fake chocolates left over so decided to make a necklace – and what better way to remove all doubt about what I was dressed as than to laser cut the Quality Street logo out of purple and white acrylic, and use it as the centrepiece for the necklace?

Quality Street necklace Quality Street necklace Quality Street necklace

Finally, I decided I needed something to jazz up my hair. I’d had good intentions of dying my hair pinky-purple but ran out of time in the end, so decided to create a sort of headpiece with a plain headband that I had in my crafting stash. I threaded assorted fake chocolates onto three lengths of fairly flexible wire, wrapping the bottom end a couple of times around the headband, and finishing the top of the wire by adding a bead and looping the wire over to stop the chocolates escaping. I’d managed to get hold of a couple of the paper ‘which chocolate is which?’ guides (I’m sure they have a proper name) that can be found inside the tins, and concertina folded them and attached them with some double sided sticky tape on either side of the wires. To help secure everything, and make the headband look a bit more attractive, I stuck more double sided tape on the outside of the headband and wrapped purple ribbon around from end to end. The headpiece was very much admired by my colleagues on the night and it was very comfortable to wear – and very light of course, with the ‘chocolates’ made out of lightweight foam.

Quality Street headpiece Quality Street headpiece Quality Street headpiece

I’d love to hear about your best Christmas do outfits too. Merry Christmas!


Not your average card

It’s my uncle’s wedding on Friday, and my mother tasked me with making a ‘congratulations’ card (she knows I like making cards and that I’m sort of reasonably creative in that respect!)….not wanting to just make any old  ordinary card, I decided to laser cut a motif for the front that was commemorative and personalised, and could also be decorative:

It’s made out of laser cut plywood, painted with gold ink (which is sparklier in real life than in the pictures) and has a little mirror tile to represent a diamond.

I’ve used a couple of small sticky pads to temporarily hold the rings to the card, and added a ribbon that the happy couple can use to hang said trinket in their house. The ribbon also riffs on the idea of ‘tying the knot’ because it’s tied in a knot in the middle of the rings.

What do you think?


Open and Closed

A colleague of mine (in my day job) is leaving the company to set up a cafe/art gallery/therapy centre/craft party venue in the Midlands. For part of her leaving present, I was asked to make an open and closed sign for the front of her shop. I know she’s a big fan of chickens (her Orpingtons are spoilt rotten!) so we decided to incorporate a chicken (or technically two) into the sign. It says ‘Open’ in large letters on one side and ‘Closed’ in slightly smaller letters on the other. It was laser cut from 3mm acrylic.

Let me know what you think!