Tag Archives: craft

Where is Your Happy Place?

When life is throwing shards of ice at you, your head is ready to explode,
or you are just in a dark, bottomless pit (figuratively – otherwise you’re not going anywhere…), where do you go? Where’s your happy place?

Where is your Happy Place - Lisa Shambrook - The Last Krystallos
Last week I blogged about water – it’s my happy place. Where’s yours?

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Feet in the water © Lisa Shambrook

I am happiest when I have my feet in water, down at the beach, letting waves ebb and flow as I splash through the ocean. This is where I am in my element. It revitalises me, lifts me, and energises me. It calms me, relaxes me, and soothes my spirit. Sometimes, if I can’t get to the sea, I can sit by or dabble my feet in a river, and the rush of water will still my senses. The sound, the movement, the texture of water all affect me, and without doubt it’s where I am happiest.

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© Lisa Shambrook

Woodlands and forests have a similar effect. The magic of trees, bluebells, wild anemones, winding tracks and pathways offer me another place of happiness and retreat. Listening to the wind whisper, fae glancing through flowers, and even trickling streams take me away from the troubles outside and stresses decrease.

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High on a Mountain Top © Lisa Shambrook

My oldest daughter loves mountain tops, the rugged landscape and the freedom of the wind and the air. I, too, feel alive when I stand upon mountains and hillsides!

Where are my other happy places? How do I cope when I can’t get out and throw myself headlong into nature?

My dog and my cats are another safe zone. They have the added bonus of interacting with you too. I’d never known complete unconditional love, until I owned a dog. Her dependence on me is total and she gives me everything. Deep chocolate brown eyes and loyalty that’s unheard of in most creatures, including humans. If things are bad, she knows and she’ll sit beside me with her head on my knees.  She also gets me out, dog walking, and into nature every day! She is my happy place.

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Misty, Raven and Roxy © Lisa Shambrook

My cats, though more conditional with their love, are also there for me. Run your fingers through soft fur and listen to a cat’s purr, and you can’t fail to feel better. One reason why it’s proven that the older generation live longer and happier when they own a pet, is that they give you love and a reason to go on.

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Writing and Art © Lisa Shambrook

My other releases are writingnothing takes me away from stress and trouble than losing myself in another world, in words and places that don’t exist outside my head – and creativity. Making things, stories, or art, or craft, take me to happy places.

All these things, all these happy places can be solitary, or with my family. My family are always welcome in all my happy places – they make my happy places even better!

Where are you happy places?

Where do you go when it’s all too much?

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Chocolate © Lisa Shambrook

PS. We probably shouldn’t forget chocolate…that’s always a happy place!

Tell me about your Happy Place…

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Amaranth Alchemy: breathing new life into old pages…

When you grow up losing yourself in books you can’t help but have an affinity to the written word that will last a life time.  Amaranth Alchemy’s brand of creativity involves rescuing old, unwanted and damaged books breathing new life into their pages.

Amaranth Alchemy products...

Amaranth Alchemy products…

My daughter, Bekah, and I recently embarked on a new adventure and created Amaranth Alchemy and we’d love to introduce you to our work!

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Winnie the Pooh necklace, Dream necklace and Alice bookmark…

Both of us spent our childhoods engrossed within the adventures laid down on pages; words that took us away and threw us into other worlds, other lives and allowed us to escape and experience so much more than our own small worlds could let us! I was the proverbial bookworm, never happier than when I was curled up with a good book. I loved searching my local independent bookstore for second hand books I could spend my pocket money on. The shop owner helpfully rescued tattered copies of The Famous Five and each of The Silver Brumby books so I could immerse myself amongst my favourite things!

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The Lord of the Rings products…

My book collection grew and I was always saddened when my beloved books began to fall apart, spine glue disintegrating, pages slipping out, accidents, a book left out in the rain, pages torn, and general wearing out. I kept a lot of my books, reluctant to release them, and unable to throw them away, despite having bought a better condition copy! Over the years my old books vanished to charity, or final acceptance of the dreaded bin, sacrilegious!

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This is the average state of the books we use before rescue…

These days charity shops are overrun with books, too many to sell or recycle and many are pulped. Those that don’t make charity are often thrown away to rot in landfill.

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Marvels of Nature, Oliver Twist and Dracula bookmarks, and Winnie the Pooh wall art…

Bekah and I decided to do something about these lost and abandoned books and created a rescue service!

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Alice wall art, The Story of English Literature bookmark, Birdcage quote plaque and Winnie the Pooh necklace… (clockwise)

Our choice of name epitomises our ethic…unfading creation
Amaranth: a purple flower whose name derives from the Greek ἀμάραντος (amarantos) which means ‘unfading’ and is what books are, unfading stories, and Alchemy: a magical process of creation, turning old books into new.

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Dictionary word necklaces…

The vintage book pages we use in our craft are currently sourced from the Healthy Planet (a charity that gives away donated books preventing them going to landfill or being pulped) or from books lost within the dusty back rooms of charity shops or donated to us. Each item we make breathes new life into old pages.

We promise never to take pages from new books unless they are irrevocably damaged!

GIVEWAY: you can own Mrs Tiggy Winkle! Go to our FB page to take part!

GIVEWAY: you can own Mrs Tiggy Winkle! Go to our FB page to take part!

You can have a chance to win the necklace above! It’s our very first giveaway and all you need to do is pop over to Facebook and ‘like’ our page Amaranth Alchemy, like and comment on the Giveaway photo…very easy and Mrs Tiggy Winkle is waiting for a lovely new home…could it be yours? 

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15% Etsy voucher…

Even if you don’t win…you can have 15% off in our Etsy shop until the 15th October 2014...use the code above when you go through to pay for your purchases. Go and take a look and end up with a beautiful package delivered to your door!

Amaranth Alchemy's first packages all packed up pretty before posting...

Amaranth Alchemy’s first packages all packed up pretty before posting…

Amaranth Alchemy is a mother and daughter team who adore words and art of every kind.

Lisa is an author, photographer and an all-round artsy dreamer. Her first novel ‘Beneath the Rainbow’ is available to critical acclaim. When she’s not writing her second and third novels she can be found tinkering with other arty projects.

Bekah is an artist and designer by trade, spending time as a Make-Up Artist out on photo shoots, and designing websites, logos and all manner of arty things. She can be discovered at Masterpiece Artistry.

Lisa and Bekah have an eye for all things of natural beauty and a talent for putting creative arts together.  

Steampunk Project… Top Hat

My daughters and I are currently collecting Steampunk…for a project. Our fashion sense is pretty Steampunk to begin with, so we’re already halfway there with skirts, military jackets, corsets, jewellery etc, but one thing we didn’t have was a Top Hat.
Pinterest came up with one… Duct Tape Steampunk Top Hat by cutoutandkeep.net and I had a go using this tutorial.

This is my attempt:

Photograph by Lisa Shambrook using Streamzoo Indutrial filter.
(Please do not use without permission)
to be continued…

Book Page Keepsake Boxes and Pot

Having made several Book Page Keepsake Boxes see here for original tutorial I got a bit carried away and ‘Book Paged’ a plant pot too!  

We’ve just redecorated our lounge, choosing ‘Soft Stone’ walls with ‘Intense Truffle’, brightened up the skirting and woodwork, and bought sofa covers (believe me you don’t want to see them uncovered…), cushions, plants and knick knacks in my chosen accent colour of green…
The room is now de-cluttered and I decided to match covered shoe-boxes in the room’s colours. Hence the boxes below. I keep my sewing kit in my book page box, and family history photos in the small box covered with aged maps from my home town. The other boxes are waiting to be filled, but look so much better than stuff and papers piling up everywhere!

The plant pot seemed a natural addition to fit in with the new décor.

1. Find a pot.
2. Paint it. I used ‘Intense Truffle’ Dulux emulsion which I’d already used on our feature wall, ordinary acrylic paint will work.
3. PVA glue torn book pages (or scrapbook paper etc) to the pot then seal with Mod Podge Matt or PVA glue.
4. Once dry your pot is finished. I added a rustic touch with a bow of string around the rim. 

Gorgeous Writer’s Keepsake Box

Sometimes books fall apart 😦 or they’re just too old…what do you do with them when you can’t bear to throw them away?
Authentically authory (I know that’s not a real word…), but this wordy, page covered Keepsake or Memory box is gorgeous and made by daughter! Now I want one too!

It’s made from an old shoe box, using torn out pages from an old or damaged book and pva glue. She covered it with my matt finish Mod Podge glue and added a brass cupboard door handle at each end, using her favourite ‘Serious’ Glue from Evo Stick. If you want more info the process is on her blog:  bekahcat.blogspot and see more pictures!
I love it and it looks amazing, even better than the picture shows!
Below added 16th April:
And here is my box…
Made from a second copy of one of my favourite trilogies ‘Abhorsen’ by Garth Nix.
My daughter has some really good ideas! That, and she wouldn’t let me keep my sewing kit in an old ice-cream box if I wanted it out ‘on show’…so it has a new box…voila!

 

Chalkboard Redesign…

I’ve always wanted a lovely chalkboard for my dining room… at present I have an old cork board, which is so full no one can read anything on it! So scrolling down Pinterest I found homemade cork board and it inspired me. 
I found a chalkboard at The Range for £6 and collected my ideas…
We don’t drink tea or coffee, so the coffee tiles on the board just didn’t fit my home, but they made a great place to start scrapbooking. I wanted to attach clothes pegs so I could still keep notes and the obligatory school letters somewhere safe, and I have discovered a love for odd buttons!
This is how it turned out…
I collected family photographs, scraps, pegs and buttons… Rather than cut the pictures neatly, I tore them and chalked the rough edges. I used Gloss Mod Podge glue (you could use PVA) and covered the tiles at the top of the board then placed my photographs. When they were secure I painted over them with Mod Podge  to give a gloss finish and protection. While the glue dried I got out the hot glue gun, Yay! I glued clothes pegs where I wanted them and random buttons across the frame.
When the glue dried I was left with a lovely scrapbook effect panel on my chalkboard. The buttons make great decoration and I love the pegs! Overall I’m very happy with the final result!

So Here It Is…

Having just decorated the cake, it now feels like Christmas! It’s been the same over the last few years…my cakes used to be standard, just rough iced, but after watching Kirsty Allsopp a couple of years ago I became more adventurous!

The first year I put polar bears on my cake and I haven’t looked back since…this year I attempted penguins. Not all plain sailing…couldn’t buy black fondant icing anywhere, so had to make it with food colouring. Advice is to use gel paste colourings, but couldn’t find a black one, so it was liquid colours…and that didn’t help. You need a lot to make white fondant black, though I made it a day before and it darkened from steel-grey to black overnight. The icing became softer and stickier with each drop of black…which added to my frustration as I tried to mould penguins. It turned out to be easier to keep the icing in the fridge and only bring it out each time I moulded or added something (eyes, feet etc), was a long drawn out operation and several penguins were violently sacrificed during this process!
The iced-over pond was made by melting four glace mints in a tiny cake tin on grease-proof paper (at a low temperature for about 15 mins) then cooling in the fridge. The bubbles made as the mint heats makes the ‘ice’ you’re left with look pretty authentic! The pond sits on top of very stiff royal icing (I add as little water as I can get away with when making my royal icing, I like the peaks!) and I lightly coloured the icing below the pond with the palest blue (food colouring). Finished with a few snow-covered rocks of white fondant and the penguins surrounded by ‘snowballs’ (sugar decorations) and silver balls.
The rest of my cake is a standard rich fruit Christmas cake and traditional marzipan. My husband makes the cake with the children, I marzipan it…then make decisions about decorating it myself in secret and we all enjoy the big reveal when it’s finished!

So, yes, now it’s Christmas! We’ve decorated the tree…I love that my tree is covered with individual decorations, which I add to each year with anything unique I can find. I love homemade decorations too, the children’s school efforts…Bekah’s robin, Dan’s star and angel and Cait’s snowflake… Almost nothing is repeated, and this year I made my own Button Snowflake and Button icicle (similar to the snowflake, but buttons on one white lollipop stick, both sides, big buttons at the top and small at the bottom…)

I’ve had my face painted, cute snowflake on my cheek. Bekah is starting up a Face Painting business http://littlemasterpiecefp.blogspot.com/ and she painted faces at our local church Christmas party…some excited little tigers! See her Facebook Page for some more great pictures: http://www.facebook.com/LittleMasterpieceFacepainting

Along with the cake we’ve made our Christmas pudding, lovely recipe, which makes our main pudding and several mini ones too! Takes ten hours in the oven, but oh boy, the house smells good that day!
We’ve even been carol singing…granted, people find it strange that a large group can go carol singing and not expect payment, but being out in the dark singing carols and wandering down a street of twinkling Christmas lights is magic!
Since Caitlin moved to High School, I’ve missed the infants/junior school concerts and nativities…what’s not to love about little boys with gold cardboard crowns, tea-towel shepherds, grumpy inn-keepers who forget to open the door, reindeer with runny noses and angels with wonky halos..? I miss the innocence and enthusiasm!

So what’s left? I must finish the present wrapping (before school’s out!), Santa’s done all his! We’ve got our Santa hats, the holly and the ivy…what more?

Perhaps just the time to take a moment and remind myself of the reason for it all…

‘And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped himin swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger…’ (Luke 2:7)

Christmas Jar…

Another cheap and cheerful Christmas decoration…the Christmas Jar… It looks great placed on a shelf or as a table centre piece, and dead easy!

Gather together: a glass jar (I chose a ‘Kilner’ jar for about £2), and a variety of decorations, most of mine were from a Wilkinsons box of wreath ornaments (I just cut off the wires). I also gathered bits that had fallen off other decorations, berries, beads, leaves etc…
Fill the jar with all the bits and pieces. Twigs, cinnamon sticks, pine cones, berries, leaves, whatever you want… You can also put scented pot pourri into the pot if you want, and spear the lid with several holes so you can have a scented jar… I kept mine sealed and non-fragranced. 
Add a little bit of fake snow, or you could use glitter or sequins…

 And there you go…a pretty Christmas Jar.

Button Snowflake…

Well…not long ’til Christmas and this year I wanted to try a few crafts, so here’s the first…
Last year I saw a picture on
of a Button Snowflake Christmas Tree Decoration and I loved it, so this is mine…
You’ll need:
4 lollipop sticks…I tried to find plain, normal size sticks, but could only find coloured, so I painted mine white with acrylics…then I found some oversize craft lollipop sticks and used them for a second snowflake.
Hot Glue gun or strong craft glue.
Ribbon for hanging.
Buttons…of your choice. I found some lovely unusual buttons from my local haberdashery store, from 5p each…
Glue the sticks in a star shape and glue a loop of ribbon at the top to hang the decoration from.
Then comes the fun part…glue on buttons…
I made a larger star with the oversize sticks using blue-hue buttons for a frosty snowflake, and a smaller one using white buttons…
I love this Snowflake…and it’s so easy I’m planning to use a variation of it for an activity at the end of this month with a youth group at our church youth night! 
Go on…have a go…choose your buttons…or add sequins, glitter, whatever you want!