Monday, 8 November 2010

Gorgeous Glass Vases

How many times have you bought someone flowers only to see them frantically hunting for a vase to put them in? Well next time why not treat them to a vase instead. Beautiful flowers deserve a gorgeous vase, and all of the vases I have found will look fanastic with flowers or on their own.

Nerjit Dhol creates stunning contemporary glass designs including these hanging vases, which can be used indoors and outdoors, hanging from a beam, picture rail or hook.

From her studio in Hampshire Caroline Green produces beautiful hand thrown porcelain pieces that will add a touch of style  to any room, as well as being practical. This vase is a lovely example of her work with clean lines and an understated elegance. The vase is available through Caroline's folksy shop
Caroline Green Pottery.

LoCo Glass was set up by Colin and Louise Hawkins and is based in their studio in the Cotswolds. Louise and Colin create some beautiful hand blown pieces including this gorgeous Inca range. I particularly like the steel blue. LoCo Glass are also happy to take commissions to create one off pieces. Some of their work is available through John Noott Galleries.

If you are looking for a gift with a little more history then Steptoes Dog is a great site to visit. They are vintage online boutique with a great range of homewares, jewellery, bags and designs. I found these hand painted 1930's Art Deco vases on their site, along with many other treats that I would love to buy.
Finally, if you are keen to recycle or know someone who is then these wrap covers would make the ideal gift. Designed by Emma Verner at The Cotton Potter these beautiful calico wrap covers will turn a tin can or jam jar into a lovely vase. Each one ios handmade and decorated with fabric remnants, vintage buttons, hatpins and embroidery.

Friday, 5 November 2010

Keeping Warm on Bonfire Night

As today is Bonfire Night it is the one evening of the winter when we all want to be outside to see the wonderful displays. However, with the cold weather I for one also like to make sure that I am well wrapped up to keep me cosy and warm. This made me think that particularly at Christmas a handmade hat, scarf or gloves would make a wonderful gift, particularly for someone like me who feels the cold.

In Cumbria, Kate Mawson knits these wonderful cloche hats in a variety of colours so no matter what your favourite colour there will be one to suit you. You can also buy scarves and gloves in matching colours, all made from soft felted lambswool.


On Folksy I found these gorgeous hand knitted fingerless glove arm warmers. Ideal if you want that extra cosy feeling underneath your jacket or coat. Made in a range of colours by Hand Knitted Things from an alpaca/wool blend yarn, they are just the thing for a cold winters evening.

Janie Withers specialises in creating contemporary knitted fashions and home accessories. I love this Quartz scarf. Made from Geelong and Merino lambswool two tone scarf in dark pink and graphite, it is just the thing to make you feel brighter in winter.

If you would like to support producers of organic wool then Wendy of Wendy Keith Designs has striven to produce an entirely British organic wool garment. These gloves and scarf in a lovely Bramble and Stalk stitch can be traced back to the West Country organic sheep farm.


Finally to add that finishing warmth touch there are these slouch socks from Ruth Cross. Hand knitted in supersoft Scottish lambswool, they are great for wearing under boots or wellies.

Thursday, 4 November 2010

Eco-Friendly Gifts

In the past few years the numbers of eco-friendly gifts available has rapidly increased. Many internet and high street shops have recognised the commercial potential of appealing to people’s wish to help the environment. So what are the most unusual and interesting green gifts available?
Rescued Rags are a Leeds based company who handcraft their products from repurposed and recycled materials. I love these recycled record bowls. Although not a new idea if you buy from Rescued Rags and want a specific band or album they will try and find the one that you require. Many other companies simply send out a random album.

This fantastic clock from Green and Present may look like slate but is actually made from 80 vending machine coffee cups.  Green and Present have a great range of reclaimed and recycled products both gifts and homewares from paperclips made from waste plastic to antique butchers blocks.

Whilst recycling glass has been around for a long time, glasses made from old beer bottles can be found in many shops turning old glass in to art is something I haven’t really seen before.  Amy McCarthy of AmyOrangeJuice has a small studio making stained glass windows. However, she also uses reclaimed and leftover glass to make lovely pieces such as this Snowy Winter Village scene. These would make great gifts for any home.

On the Ecocentric website I found this great new gift that will appeal to gardeners. The Grow Your Own Wine Rack kit has been developed by artist and designer Lois Walpole. You make the wine rack by tethering together 22 lengths of willow. It takes two to three years before the growing willow grafts together and it can be harvested and brought indoors, to hold up to 10 bottles.  However, there is nothing to stop you using it whilst eating outside in the summer during those years.
At Nigel’s Eco Store I found this brilliant solution to all that gift wrapping waste that is created every year.  Reusable gift wrapping is made by Evergreen Wrap.  In a range of gorgeous designs these 70cm x 70cm squares of strong 100% cotton fabric can be used as gift wrap, as a scarf or with a few knots in the right place as a reusable bag.

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Special Spoons

Whilst writing the review for Lindsay Interiors pickle spoon and cheese knife set, I was struck by what a nice gift a spoon can be, if beautiful it fulfils the criteria of being useful as well as good to look at.

Later on I was looking at the Swings and Pretty website and saw that they will soon be stocking this lovely spoon by Glover and Smith. These long handled spoons have a hook so that you can hang on the side of your favourite jam or honey jar. Swings and Pretty will have three designs to choose from a bee for honey lovers and strawberry and raspberry designs for those who prefer jame. They are made from lead free pewter and each one comes in a presentation box with an explanation of what it is for and who made it.

Damson and Slate was set up by interior stylist Hilary Lowe who wanted to promote, and source the best of Welsh crafts. On the site I found these wonderful ceramic cowl spoons, which could be used for sugar, salt, coffee or as a decorative item.

If you are looking for wooden spoons then these beautifully hand carved spoons from Steve Tomlin are ideal. Made from local greenwood the spoons are carved to traditional designs, and will age beautifully as they are used. Steve also carves baby feeding spoons, ladles and serving spoons.

For a special occassion such as a Christening then a silver spoon is a traditional gift. These handmade twisted silver spoons from Pruden and Smith are gorgeous and would be a treasured keepsake. They are available in three sizes and come in their own black presentation box.

Finally if you want to add a little colour to the kitchen then these jewelled spoons from Cox and Cox are perfect. They come presented in a gift bag with six colours in each - red, blue, green, yellow, purple and pink.

Monday, 1 November 2010

Gifts for Children's Friends

Now that my daughters are both a little older (6 and 7) they like to buy their close friends a small Christmas gift. This is lovely, but finding something that is both a reasonable price and that isn't just going to get put in a cupboard, is often a difficult task. So I was delighted when my problem was solved by @snapdragonjane onTwitter. Yesterday Jane posted that Snapdragon's applique mirrors were selling well and were maybe being bought as children's gifts. So after a look on the website my girls had fun choosing which design they were going to get for each friend. I particularly like this spacehopper one, but unfortunately neither of them choose that one.
However, it maybe mirrors are not quite what you are looking for, so I have searched for some alternatives, that will be a hit but not cost too much.

These lovely fairtrade flower keyrings from Hatti Trading are ideal as just a little something for your child to give to their friends. They come in packs of five and so are also ideal for party bags.


For the boys there is this lovely eco-friendly dynamo powered torch. Available from ECOutlet, parents will love this as it requires no batteries, simply childpower, and children always love torches. ECOutlet also has pencil cases made from recycled car tyres which may also appeal to your child's friends.

On Misi I found this lovely bracelet by Trinkerbell. Made from polymer clay and nickle free spacers Trinkerbell makes a wide range of girls bracelets in some lovely colours. Each bracelet is sent out in a pink or lilac organza bag.


Made 4 Your Books is a seller on Folksy and sells fantastic bookmarks. There are ones suitable for both boys and girls, but I particularly like this football book mark.

Hopefully there is something that I have found which is suitable for your child's friends. However, if you have any other suggestions please let me know.

Win Childs and Co A-Z Bookends

This months fantastic prize is a set of A-Z Sage Bookends from Childs and Co.

Childs and Co is a design studio in Kendal, the Lake District. Set up by award winning designer Iain Childs when asked by friends to create storage for their children’s toys. They were looking for something functional, attractive and a little different. Childs and Co now specialise in making functional solid wood furniture for the home as well as colourful and child friendly children’s furniture, wooden platters and pegboards. Childs and Co will also take commissions for one off pieces to fit with your invidual needs for your home.

The A-Z contemporary bookends come in a range of six different colours. The competition winner will receive bookends in sage. The bookends are made from high quality Finnish plywood from responsible managed forests and are painted with child-friendly paint from The Little Greene Paint Co.

To win simply contact me  at my website with your suggestion for a unique and interesting Christmas gift. The winner will be selected at random on 30th November 2010.

Links!/childsco .

Sunday, 31 October 2010

Christmas Tree Decorations

As tomorrow is the 1st November I have decided that it is time I started to seriously think about Christmas preparations. After all I know of some people who are already wrapping presents! To get me into the Christmas spirit I have started to think about decorations. Previously our Christmas tree was decorated with just red and gold. However, I think that the time has come to add more colour and handmade magic. Having looked for some decorations I have seen some wonderful ones to choose from. They also make fantastic gifts for anyone who loves to decorate their tree with beautiful things.
I love these free blown heart baubles from Bath Aqua Glass. Based in their studio in Bath the craftsmen and women make a range of glass products, each made by hand and therefore unique. Bath Aqua Glass also offers workshops and hen party glass blowing events.


Jo Heckett makes her beautiful porcelain Christmas decorations in her studio in London. My favourite is this set of four letters which can be purchased in white, pink or aqua. You can choose whichever letters you want and so they can be used for tree decorations or whatever you choose for example as initials to tie to Christmas stockings.


This beautiful mistletoe bauble is hand decorated by Katherine Pollen who makes a range of ceramic items. These elegant 3" diameter china Decorative Balls are hand painted and come with a satin ribbon ready to hang. They are also available from Heaven Sent.


On Birchcraft Designs website you will find a wonderful range of handcrafted wooden Christmas decorations from Gingerbread men to robins there is something for everyone, including bag and shoe decorations. They also have a range of punched metal decorations that would look great on any tree.

Finally from Niki Jones there are these stunning paper mache handpainted teardrop baubles. These beautiful baubles will add that splash of colour to any Christmas tree.

So that is the Christmas tree decorations sorted out now just 54 days left to do the rest.

Friday, 29 October 2010

Tea towel works of art

In Homes and Gardens this month I spotted this fantastic tea towel by Julie at Cloth Ears. It looked good enough to frame and put up on the wall, so I set out to find other great art on a tea towel.

If you are looking for an unusual wedding invitation or thank you then these are ideal. Made by Ben and Karen at The Original Wedding Tea Towel, you can choose from a selection of designs or if you are feeling artistic you can come up with your own design.

The idea came about as an eco-friendly option that could be kept by the recipent, instead of being thrown away after a week on the mantlepiece.

From Lizzie Prestt Designs comes this fabulous England-upon-Sea tea Towel. Available from To Dry For, the tea towel combines all the great things about the seaside, the pier, ice creams, beach huts and many more. To Dry For stocks a great range of tea towels from dinosaurs to cakes there is something for everyone.

In her studio in Leicestershire Teresa Cole of Teresa Green Design creates a range of fabric designs from aprons to artwork and table linen to tea towels. All the items are designed and hand printed in her studio on fabric from the UK. I love this Leggy Bird tea towel.

Finally I found Clare Nicolson who's site is full of wonderful fabric prints including this Milky teatowel, which would look great in any kitchen.

So there is no excuse for having boring check pattern tea towels in the kitchen. Buy something that would look just as good framed and on the wall.

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Children's Craft Kits for a Rainy Day

Half term is here, and although today is lovely and sunny I am always on the look out for craft activities to fill the rainy day. My girls love craft activities and the sense of achievement that they get from having made something themselves. These kits also make great birthday presents and stocking fillers. So here are my current favourites.

This lovely set of three owls comes complete with patterns, material, glue, needles, threads and instructions. Everything you need to make them. You can even turn the box into a nice little house for them. It is one of a range of kits available from Pojo and Bel.

Nanette Regan designs and makes a fabulous range of soft toys. However, she has also started making craft kits so that children, and adults, can make their own. You can choose from the Babushka Bunny, Dinosew or Kokeshi Kitten. My favourite is the blue Babushka Bunny.

It is slightly more difficult to find craft kits that appeal to boys. However, this range of puppet kits include a spaceman, robot, animals and a dinosaur. Each kit comes with everything that you need to make the puppet and it is all made from recycled cardboard, so it is eco-friendly too. The kits are available from a range of internet shops including ECOutlet and Amazon.

Emma Brown is the founder of The Giggleys  and makes a huge range of children's craft activity bags from door hangers to patchwork cushions. These can be bought in bulk and would make ideal party bag gifts or activities. I particularly like the sun and dream catcher kit.

After deciding a change of direction after her second child Gillian Harris set up Gillian Gladrag. At her fantastic online shop you can buy premade felt bags but you can also buy kits to make your own bag, bunting, bracelets, corsage and this wonderful child's felt bag.  

So buy one of these fabulous kits and there will be no more cries of 'I'm bored' on those rainy weekends and holidays, and you will have your own unique handmade achievement at the end.

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Beautiful Buttons

I have noticed on my searches through the internet for gifts that buttons are an increasing feature on many items. Whether it is jewellery, bags, cushions, purses or many other items there is a trend to adorn them with beautiful buttons. I can understand this as you only have to wander into a shop like Duttons for Buttons in York to see the wonderful array of colours, patterns and materials that buttons can be made of. So I thought I would devote todays blog to all things button.

I love this Misletoe and Wine themed bracelet, ideal for wearing with any Christmas outfit. Made by Mrs Gibson and available from her Folksy shop. Mrs Gibson creates stunning unique pieces that are inspired by her vintage finds.

These button cards by A Touch of Flow on Folksy are make a lovely alternative to a standard birthday card.  Each one is handmade and decorated with slightly different buttons to make them unique.

This fab purse by Natalie Farrell is available from Boutique Gifts. Each purse is individually designed and handmade by Natalie, making them a unique gift for someone.

These button corsages by Raspberry Fairy are made from merino and silk. All handmade in Hampshire the corsages are just part of a wonderful collection of items available on Etsy.

If you would like something that was button inspired then how about this lovely button art by Dig The Earth? It would look great in any room and would make an ideal wedding gift.

There are many more button inspired gifts out there such as keyrings, necklaces, bags, so if you have any good examples then please let me know.

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