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covid19

Felt Dala horse

felt dala horse
Many of us have become aware over the past couple of months, either through personal observation or via the media coverage, that the period of lockdown seems to have had a positive effect on our environment. Animals have been leaving their natural habitats to venture into city centres, no longer clogged up with traffic and pollution — and have provided a spectacle that very few of us have ever seen before, and are unlikely to ever see again. We have seen levels of pollution drop (though I fear only temporarily) and for those attuned to these changes, the air will have seemed sweeter and the skies much clearer.

Whether it has something to do with the current coronavirus problem and the changes mentioned above, that I can’t say, but certainly I have been feeling a need to simplify my life and remove some of the ‘sophistication’. I’ve been looking for greater contact with the ‘basics’, doing away with empty ambitions which only take me further from my roots and the people and things I love most.

Sadly, I can’t just retire to the woods and ignore all my connections with modern society — but I can concentrate more time on those creative activities which soothe my soul. Strangely enough, technology features quite importantly in these activities, because it has given me a way to connect with family and friends and to admire and be inspired by the creativity of people around the world.

So using this new world as a starting point, I will be applying myself to newly found handcrafts — and honing my skills in old favourites. Here’s hoping that there will be occasions to share them with new and old friends both virtually, and in person.

Dala horse sewing kitAvailable on Etsy

DIY emergency mask kit


Whilst my previous post giving details of the DIY mask template and tutorial download has been extremely popular, several people have shown interest in finding the materials for making the masks. It goes without saying that if you have some scraps at home to improvise your mask — old shirts for instance — that would be more than acceptable as a possible source of fabric, but on the other hand, you might prefer something a bit more interesting to cover your face with without having to purchase yards of elastic and textiles!

With that in mind, I have created kits for those of you who have no access to textile stores or haberdashers. Each kit contains material for two masks (minimum purchase), including the necessary elastic — and a copy of the template and tutorial. Easy to make either by hand or with a sewing machine. The cost shown for the listing (minimum purchase 2 pieces) also covers shipping to Europe and the USA. In the gallery below you can see all the fabrics available for the masks — all in printed cotton whilst the plain lining fabric (not shown) is naturally dyed and boiled cotton. Hover the images to see colour details or click for enlargement.

If you would prefer to purchase 2 ready-made masks, follow this link to my Etsy page. The same colour choices are available as in this dropdown list. Shipping times (free to EU and USA) will be lengthened by two days to allow for the production of your chosen masks.
Click here for Etsy >>>

Choose colours from dropdown list :
Elastic colour :

I must stress that these masks are NOT to be considered medical standard, but only for community use such as for shopping and social distancing in general.

Number of kits/masks available per fabric pattern:

  • Red & white check (3 kits)
  • Blue on blue floral (3 kits)
  • Grey with beige climber (3 kits)
  • Green paisley (2 kits)
  • Orange with random dots (1 only)
  • Light orange (3 kits)
  • Oriental fan (4 kits)
  • Navy with novelty fish (4 kits)
  • Pink Tyrol (1 only)
  • Green with white dots (2 kits)
  • Coral with black seedheads (3 kits)

Cards for Kids

cardsBeen searching high and low for these images and have found them at last tucked right at the bottom of my hard disk!

They normally surface once a year for the kids to colour in and make cards or just for the fun of scribbling. Useful for Mums too if they need a quiet moment to get on with their own cards or other seasonal activities. Anyway, you can pick them up here now as a downloadable zip file.

You can see just a few samples of the cards in the gallery below. When you print them out on an A4 sheet, some of the images are already prepared to be folded into a card, whilst others are just large images for colouring.
List of cards contained in zip file in both large and small format:
1. angel
2. candle
3. Christmas wreath
4. Santa
5. snowman
6. tree
7. comet

Bunny project number 2

Here is another idea for all those Spring & Easter elements in the download file. How about an Easter basket or wreath?
So instead of just sticking the various elements — the bunny, the flowers and the eggs — onto a piece of paper, you prepare a circle, similar to the one in my image, and add them there so the ‘basket’ can be hung on the door, or wherever else you think might be suitable.
Just download the pdf and print it off to find all the templates necessary to complete this project. The second download below includes all Bunny elements plus additional instructions for the Easter basket project as shown in the image.


Paper & clips necklace

Hardly rocket science, but quite a fun and simple upcycle/recycle project for schools — granmas with the little ones etc. A little project for #isolationartschool too.

Take a pile of paper clips and clip them together to form a long ‘chain’ necklace — you can do multi-strands if you have enough clips. Then take an old magazine or some other sort of paper (old gift wrap for instance) and cut into strips. With white glue, wrap around each paper clip to cover the open ends and block them together. When it’s all dry you can give a coat of varnish to the paper wraps if you like. Obviously if you used plain paper, the kids can do some drawing on each ‘bead’ before the final seal. A bit sticky and messy, but fun. Here I am in the process of doing a multi-strand with some turquoise coloured wrapping paper I had salvaged.

The paper strips needn’t be any longer than about an inch — depends on the size of the clips of course, but make the strips just long enough to overlap around the ‘height’ of the clips. The width will obviously be determined by the actual length of your clips leaving just enough room for the rounded extremity to be free.

Download the project details here.

Easter bunny project


Just in time, here is a sweet project for the children to do — possibly with a little help — a Spring or Easter project with eggs and bunnies and flowers. A bit of colouring, a bit of tracing, a bit of glueing to make the project just messy enough to keep everyone happy.

My own image here is just an example of the kind of effect you can get by applying the various elements. As you can probably see, i haven’t stuck the grass down completely, but just along the bottom edge so that some of the shapes can be partly hidden behind the grass tops. I believe that you will find most of what you need around the home — colours such as crayons, felt tips or pastels are all fine — and you can use food cartons for the shapes, or recycled wrapping paper if you are looking for something with a pattern for the eggs for instance.

Anyway — your imagination is the only limit, so have fun!

Make protective masks

Making masks — whilst it is not possible to make and contribute homemade masks to medical staff, it is possible to make them for your local community where masks are hard to find. In some places (areas of northern Italy for example), people are obliged to wear them outdoors, so in the face of the shortage, homemade becomes a useful source.If you want to have a go, take a look at the two mask patterns Spoonflower is offering for free, both accompanied by a clear video tutorial on how to make them. Scroll down the Spoonflower web page to find the tutorials towards the bottom, along with the mask download links.

I must reiterate that these masks are NOT medical masks and are intended for community use only.

Click for free mask tutorials

Palm Sunday 2020


A beautiful day, but a very subdued Palm Sunday for those who usually celebrate. No religious celebrations for the community and in the UK, Queen Elizabeth made a public speech from her quarantine quarters in Windsor Castle — a special occasion and something that she hasn’t done in many years.

But there seems to be a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel — at least for some of the northern regions of Italy, where new cases of coronavirus have been a few less, and the death rate not quite so high — which means that there is hope that we can soon move into the next phase and begin to ‘live’ with the virus instead of just hiding from it.

#isolationartschool — good news


Isolation continues to keep us all indoors, and that of course includes children who are home from school since all the schools (in Italy anyway) have been closed until further notice. Many teachers have organised themselves — and their students — to continue on a home learning basis in the hope that the kids will not lose out too much on this year’s curriculum. But then there are numerous children who are relying on their family to ‘entertain’ them, or assist them with school work.

One of the lovely initiatives which has evolved as a result of this crisis, is the spontaneous gathering of artists, teachers and crafts people on the social media, all of whom are offering lessons, tutorials, drawings and more for adults and children alike.

But there has also been the negative side to all this activity, and it seems even that has now — at least in part — been resolved. So where’s the problem? The lack of materials needed to participate in these activities. Many artists and makers have gone out of their way to limit the projects offered, as far as possible, to this and that which can easily be found in most homes, either through recycling or delving into the bottom of a desk somewhere. But stationery has been a problem. Some well meaning suppliers have come forward and offered ‘art packs’ to kids in some areas, but for the rest of us, they would have been almost impossible to find. The reason for this is that with the lockdown, all non-essential shops were closed, and even supermarkets selling stationery, had to make if off-bounds to customers.

So today’s good news — in Italy at least — is that supermarkets can now sell stationery and basic art supplies so that those with the wherewithall can purchase these items and get on with some of the wonderful activities being offered online!

Keep your eyes open on Instagram for the hash tag #isolationartschool and their amazing selection of offerings to keep you and your kids busy and creative during lockdown. There are others on social media, but the one I have mentioned seems to be offering the broadest collection of freebies. Check it out.

Isolation ideas

Just to put this post into context, we are in the middle of a pandemic, caused by the coronavirus, or more officially, COVID19. Without going into all the details of ‘how come’ — you will find plenty of that sort of information here, there and everywhere — I just want to say a few words about what the restrictions are doing to us socially.

First and foremost, one at a time, countries around the world are locking down with severe regulations about the movement of their population — and with the almost total block of air traffic in and out of the country. The situation at the present time is absolutely horrendous — yet again you’ll find details elsewhere covering this point — but what essentially it means for just regular folks, is that we are obliged to stay indoors at all times apart from essential outings to buy food or medicines.

This situation has inevitably had a global effect on people’s habits. With few exceptions, people are unable to work and are confined to their homes in search of something to fill their time usefully and/or creatively. There has been a surge of generosity on the part of many creatives/teachers and the like, who are offering free courses in all manner of creative activities both for kids and adults.

Geisha bookmark


But it must not be forgotten that many of these creatives are suddenly without paid work, and so a balance has to be found. For my part, I have included a number of freebies and tutorials here at Boho Shack, but have also opened up a page for inexpensive cross-stitch patterns and charts for immediate purchase and download. I will be adding more to both sections in the near future for those who might be interested.

My thoughts are with all those who find themselves stopped in the tracks of life, having to deal with something that very few of us, even in our wildest dreams (or nightmares in this case) could have imagined happening in our life time. Here in Venice the sun is shining which makes it even harder to stay indoors — but it must be done and we will do it.
As they say here ‘Andrà tutto bene’, which basically means, ‘Everything will be alright’…

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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