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Recycling efforts

I know that I am not alone in my desire to recycle/upcycle etc. as much as possible. In and around the home we have become pretty nifty at finding acceptable alternatives to substitute a lot of our less eco-friendly cleaning agents and so on – one of my favourites is my spray bottle filled with vinegar to clean down my kitchen working surfaces and tiled walls. Doesn’t smell that sweet, but it certainly does the job!

So a natural progression is to try to carry this through to my crafting. I see that Swirly Thoughts has managed brilliantly to make most of her Etsy selling products very eco-friendly – a great example to follow… so here is my own most recent contribution to making the world a little greener!

A set of notebooks in varying sizes using upcycled printed carton packaging cut to use as covers. There are about 20 or more internal pages in each block and all is bound together using staples and reinforced paper (cotton backing) which has been glued on and serves to cover the staples for safety, and neaten up the edges.

The finished product looks fun and a very obvious recycled feel about it of course…

Where to put it all

disimpegno-300x135Taking a look around the various crafters’ (and not only) blogs, I see that one of the biggest problems a lot of us face is the storage. I am no different – having a small home with no built in storage such as cupboards and so on, I have had to invent ways to store our mountain of stuff. Amazing what you collect after almost 30 years of marriage – along with the stuff our daughter collects too.

So this is the solution I found for the tiny little area between our bedrooms and the bathrooms. The space must be about 140 x 150 cms…small by anyone’s calculations. Not only that, there are 4 doors (3 of which slide and disappear into the walls — thank goodness)…one on each wall of the space which meant that the only way to exploit the area was by going upwards.

As usual Ikea came to the rescue, and here you can see a combination of Stolmen free standing storage, and Applad hanging kitchen units. We chose white to visually expand the space. Admittedly I have either to get out a kitchen ladder thing or chair to go up to the top units, or else use the services of the very tall man I married to cope with these situations. But whatever, I have managed to neatly store all my bed linen up there, dividing it all between summer/winter and single/double. The hanging space is great for the coats and jackets we use most, and there is also room for a skinny shoe storage cabinet with mirror. More space up top for lots of Ikea boxes for shoes.

Well that was a gran ‘finale’ I must say!

jess2012Well if ever rain stopped play, I can say with confidence that is exactly what happened today to put a stop to our last craft market of the year. Gale force winds, lashing rain and a particularly bad bout of high water just put us out of the game! Even if there had been no wind or rain, the high water stopped us getting our little boat out to transport the stuff over to the market zone would you believe. We are moored in a small inner city canal, and at both ends there is a very low bridge. Sounds like a joke, but unfortunately – there is no laughing going on here today!

So frustrating when we have both put in so much work to prepare all sorts of stuff for the event. The one good thing that came out of the bad weather is that I made a careful inventory of all our stuff which always gets put away in a rather haphazard fashion after the markets. Just glad that daughter wasn’t around as she would surely have had something to say about how I organized everything!

ps. Mustn’t complain – the Venice Marathon was on today and those poor souls really had problems to deal with!

Craft therapy

Yesterday morning started off just fine with a business meeting here at my desk to discuss a web site for a well known local restaurant. Looks like it is going to be fun, and will probably also give me the opportunity to get out the camera for a few pics for the graphics.

Lunch was uneventful and then just as the afternoon got going…wham…a phone call from ma-in-law who sounded as if she was in a terrible state…complained about pains in her chest and left arm. Fairly obvious what immediately leapt to mind, so hubby called the ambulance and rushed over to her place. Inevitably here…rushing basically means walking/running which is often faster than waiting for public transport to go anywhere.

And the rest of the day was then taken up with phone calls to in-laws, to hubby, to hospital, from/to daughter and on and on and anxiety and silence and…finally, at about 2am hubby came in the door. A few minutes later daughter came in too as she hadn’t felt to sleep out as she was worried about me being alone and her Dad who is still recovering from his motorbike accident and can’t walk properly and her Nan…….
Oh my giddy aunt.

The best part of all this is that Nan was released after a whole wagonload of tests and exams…she was given a few pills and medication to get her up and going again, though I really would have liked her to have been kept in for overnight observation in consideration of her 85 years of age. But the health system doesn’t work that way nowadays.

So a little crafting therapy was in order and I spent those anxious hours making lots of these little envelopes recycled/upcycled out of a gorgeous glossy art magazine pages – all hand cut/assembled/glued! No fancy cutting machines here apart from my pretty scissors but I don’t think they count…

Coronavirus isolation relief

Funds were raised for the Japan disaster relief selling my little geisha bookmarks through Made4aid on Etsy. All proceeds from the sales went to Médecins sans Frontiéres / Doctors without Borders / Medici senza Frontiere who were working in Japan as part of the relief organization. It now seems appropriate to offer this little tutorial for another kind of relief.

Other blog fund raisers were:
Hannah at Bubble Bay “Life in the Bubble”
Vera’s Creations who was offering her keyrings…

Make your own geisha bookmarks by picking up the pdf instruction file below, or by purchasing them from me ready-made on my Etsy page.

Yield: One

Geisha bookmark

Geisha bookmark

A bookmark with a difference -- embellished with a small Japanese geisha 'doll'

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Active Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes
Difficulty: Easy
Estimated Cost: €3 each


  • A selection of printed paper – origami paper is best (for doll’s clothing). Don’t use paper that is too thick as you will be building up several layers for the doll…after all, this is a bookmark
  • White/off white card stock (for neck and face)
  • Black tissue or crepe paper (for hair)
  • Kraft or neutral shade cardstock – I used upcycled file dividers (for bookmark base)
  • Narrow satin ribbon (bookmark tie)
  • Tiny artificial flowers, beads or stamens (hair decoration)


  • Glue gun or glue stick
  • Scissors and cutting knife. Guillotine also useful if available
  • Pencil
  • Hole punch
  • Cutting board
  • Ruler
  • Rubber stamps and inks OR watercolours & brushes or kitchen sponge OR coloured felt tips (to decorate bookmark base)
  • Red & black felt tips or similar (facial features)


Doll pattern pieces (see IMAGE 3):

  1. Neck in white card approx.5 cms x 0,50 cms.
  2. Collar/neckband in pattern/colour approx.2 cms x 4 cms
  3. Kimono in pattern/colour 9 cms x 6 cms
  4. Belt (aka obi) in pattern/colour 6 cms x 3 cms
  5. Coat in pattern/colour 8 cms x 4 cms
  6. Hair in black approx. 5 cms x 5 cms
  7. Face oval in white card approx.1,50 cms x 2 cms.

You will notice that I suggest pattern or colour for some parts. This is all a question of taste according to the paper you have. It is quite nice to contrast the neckband with the kimono – the kimono with the belt – the kimono with the coat etc. After you have done the first one you will see what I mean.

If you are making more than one bookmark, don’t be a slave to the measurements. Cut out the first one correctly…and maybe do a template with some stiffer card – but you will see how things fit together and can snip away if there is any overlapping that you don’t like. My only suggestion would be not to alter the long side of the kimono to make it shorter. If anything, you might find it looks nicer a little longer. The same goes for the white neck…just make it shorter if you need to.

Let's start with the neck and body - use images 6 to 19 in the gallery as a guide. Don't forget to use a dab of glue at each stage to fix the parts firmly.
1.Fold neckband in half and stick at about 1cm down the neck piece, folded side towards top (Image 7)
2.Fold inwards the 2 extremes of the neckband to cross over one another (Image 8)
3.On the non-patterned side of the kimono, fold about 1 cm down across the short edge (Image 9)
4.Turn kimono over and with the patterned side facing you, fold down about half a centimetre along the short edge (Image 10)
5.Stick the neck with neckband at the centre top of the inside of the kimono piece (Image 11)
6.Fold inwards down the length of the kimono. Glue only the lower half (Image 12)
7.Fold back slightly the collar area of the kimono to partially reveal the neckband underneath (Image 12)
8.Repeat on the other side of the kimono (Image 13)
9.Fold inwards on the non-patterned side the 2 long edges of the belt so that they just meet in the centre (Image 14)
10.Stick the belt (folded edges inwards) on the front of the kimono so that the top part
just holds down the kimono collar (Image 15)
11.Glue the 2 ends of the belt to the back of the figure
12.Fold about 1 cm on the long edge of the non-patterned side of the coat (Image 16)
13.Take the coat and fold in about half a centimetre along the long edge of the patterned (right) side (Image 17)
14.Glue the coat, centre back to the wrong side of the doll figure (Image 18)
15.Here you can see more or less how your figure should be (as seen from the front) at this stage (Image 19)

Now for the head - use images 20 - 24 in the gallery as a guide. Don't forget to use a dab of glue at each stage to fix the parts firmly.
1.Fold both sides of hair inwards at a slight angle so that you form a squared off triangle, narrower at the top and wider at the bottom(Image 20)
2.Fold inwards about 1 cm on the narrower part of the triangle. Check to see that the head fits and the folded over section of hair covers approximately half of the face to act as a fringe. Use just a small spot of glue in the crease between the fringe and the back of the hair to fix the top of the head (Image 21)
3.Check to see that the neck is not too long to fit snugly under the face with just the clothing neckband on view. If it is too long, snip off a little and then glue the neck to the back of the face making sure that the hair does not get caught up with the glue(Image 21)
4.Your figure should now look similar to this image (Image 22)
5.Twist the stamen ends together leaving a flat open area at the bottom. If you are using a glue gun, you can add a blob of glue. If you are using a glue stick, it might be an idea to put a little piece of sellotape around the end to create a larger surface for the glue (Image 23)
6.Glue the stamens to the back of the hair checking that they are positiioned nicely. If you are using small flowers or beads, stick them to the front of the hair as a decoration (Image 24)
7.Please note that you have still NOT added facial features. We will do this at the very end

Last but not least, the background card - use images 25 -- 31 in the gallery below as a guide
1.Cut card to size, each approximately 20 cms x 5,50 cms(Image 25)
2.Mottle background using either rubber stamps or a kitchen sponge with almost dry paint cover in a colour similar to the background. You can of course use felt tips as a substitute. Just remember that you only want a very delicate, almost invisible effect. (Image 26)
3.Check the position of the figure and how much space remains above(Image 27)
4.Add a floral image with a rubber stamp (or hand painted/drawn) in a stronger colour in the space which remains above the figure (Image 28)
5."Distress" the edges of the card, either by rubbing lightly with a stamp pad or by flicking an almost dry sponge or by drawing the edge of a felt tip pen as described in point 2 (Image 29)
6.Punch a hole for the ribbon in the top of the card. I find it useful to remove the bottom cover of my double punch and use it the wrong way up which makes it easier to position the single hole centrally on the card (Image 30)
7.Glue the figure securely to the card base (Image 31)
8.Now you can add the ribbon and facial features to complete the bookmark (Image 32)
So there you go...hope you have fun making these!

What… only 2 and a bit jars?


I really don’t know if it was worth all the hassle, mess, heat and dirty dishes! Only two and a bit jars of peach jam! I can’t even vouch for its being good enough to eat yet either, not being an expert in the matter.

Anyway, it’s done now, and the next 24 hours will be the test. If the jars don’t explode, then I can have a taste of the stuff on my toast tomorrow morning.

Watch this space (as usual!)

ps. I’m sure I would be better off messing around in boats or roaring around on motorbikes!

Made by Hand

When you buy something from an artist, you are buying more than an object. You are buying hundreds of hours of failures and experiments. You are buying days, weeks and months of frustration and moments of pure joy. You are not only buying a thing, but a piece of heart, a part of the soul, a moment in the life of someone.

by Giacomo Cinque
'La Sartoria Antica'
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