01 September 2014

Painted board photography backdrops

Welcome to a week of posts on emuse about photography backgrounds!

When I decorated my craft room earlier this year, one of the things I really wanted was an area where I could take photos of craft projects. I worked out somewhere in the room I could use for this, but I found that I kept having to put up a large sheet of white paper to form a base and background for the photos.

So when I saw this tutorial for creating wooden backdrops, I had to give making my own a try. But first I needed some pieces of wood. Luckily I dropped in at Remake Scotland’s scrapstore in Crieff, and I was able to get a couple of pieces for next to nothing. Its a fantastic organisation that encourages businesses to donate their waste products rather than sending them to landfill, and gives workshops so that people can make use of these in creative ways. It was founded by a school friend of mine, Fiona, and it was great to see her and get the guided tour!
For the first board, I painted it a teal colour (with leftover paint from doing my shed door!), then later added some white and dark blue streaks. On the other side I used green paint, but added some white while the green was still wet. This gave a smoother effect than adding it after the base colour had dried.
I painted one side of the second board roughly with pink and white paints, and the other side with blackboard paint. I like the idea that I will be able to write on this, with arrows pointing to items.
The boards are really useful, and I’m finding that they are really improving my photos.

Come back tomorrow to find out about another item I’ve made that will be useful for photography backgrounds!

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31 August 2014

This month on emuse

The month started off with a couple of projects using nail polish:
Marbled stickers
Flower comb

and continued with a whole lot of other craft projects:
Carnival earrings
Lace bowls
Rustic hanging heart
Yellow dyed cushions
Pink geisha
Tiny macrame plantholder
Stamp carving ideas
Mum's makeover of my vintage dress

There was a weekend of origami paper inspired projects:
Make your own origami paper
Origami paper inspired watch

A week of food and drink:
Cheese making
Strawberry lassi
Mini trifles
My recipe book
Marzipan cherries

And a week about jewellery storage and display:
Thrifted and vintage jewellery storage
Brooch cushion
Hanging storage
Brooch frame
Mini house

Wow! It's been a busy month!

30 August 2014

This month I have been mostly...

Listening to:

This new album, From Scotland with Love, by King Creosote has been the soundtrack to my summer! It was released to coincide with the Commonwealth Games, as the soundtrack to a wonderful film made up of archive footage of Scotland. Although Kenny Anderson (King Creosote) is from this part of Scotland, I'd never actually listened to any of his music before this - and now I can't stop! It's got a wonderfully nostalgic feel to it, and has just the right mixture of melancholy and up-beat-ness.

I was on holiday from work for three weeks at the start of the month, and, since I didn't go away on holiday, I had lots of time to get on with DIY and craft projects, and had some day trips around and about.

29 August 2014

Mini house

Continuing my week about jewellery storage and display, here's how to decorate a mini house with patterned papers. I often find these little houses for sale in £1 shops and charity shops, and if you can't find one you may be able to find a thimble house instead, which would also work for small pieces of jewellery like earrings and rings.
1. First decide whether to paint your house. I painted one white and left one plain.

2. Take a piece of patterned paper and lay it over one of the openings. Run your finger round it to mark the edge, and trim it to fit. Test if it fits, and trim a bit more if necessary. Do this for each opening, with different patterned papers in colours and patterns that work well together.
3. Use mod podge to stick the papers in the openings, and give them a coat of mod podge on top.

4. Finished! Now add your jewellery or some tiny ornaments.


I use one of these for keeping tiny ornaments in

This is a little square box I found, that works well for flat storage

I just painted this dark wood thimble holder with duck-egg blue paint, and added a button

28 August 2014

How to make a brooch frame

Continuing my jewellery display and storage week, here's an idea for both storing and displaying your brooches.

This idea is actually my mum's, and she made one for all the polymer clay brooches I made back in the 1980s. It was displayed just inside our front door, so it was easy to choose a brooch to wear when going out the door! A few years ago she made a couple more - one to display her collection of vintage jewellery by a Scottish company called Ceard, and one for me.

I decided that mine was due for a little makeover with new fabric, so now I can show you how to make one of your own.

This is what mine looked like before, with black fabric and a pine frame. It looked good, but I wanted a little change.

1. Discard the glass from your frame, but keep the frame and backing. I stained the frame with a couple of coats of brushing wax, to make it similar to some of the other wood in my hall.

 2. Cut something to use as a backing, the same size as the backing of the frame. My mum had used thin plastic, but you could use mountboard or cardboard - check it will be thin enough before sewing it all up, though!

3. Add a layer of wadding (you can glue this in place on the backing to stop it slipping).

4. Cut a piece of fabric that will cover the wadding and fold round the back of the backing.

5. Sew it in place with long stitches, making sure the fabric is taut. It doesn't need to be neat!

6. Put the frame back together, and have fun decorating it with all your brooches!
I think the new colours of the frame go well in my hall -  the grey is a more subtle colour than the black and looks better against the cream walls, and the wood of the frame matches the other wood perfectly.

27 August 2014

Hanging storage for jewellery

Today I'm going to show you some ideas for storing and displaying necklaces or bracelets, using inexpensive or thrifted items.
This tree was a cheap find at Ikea, and, although I use it mainly for display in my living room (it started off being used as a Christmas tree, and then I found other seasonal items to display on it through the year), it's also useful as a jewellery tree - in fact now I wish I'd got a white one as well!

Here's another Ikea item which was made as a Christmas ornament hanger, but is useful for hanging jewellery from. I found this in a charity shop, and am planning to give it a coat of spray paint. It's actually really large, so I will maybe use it for craft fairs rather than everyday jewellery storage, but here I'm showing what it looks like with some of my handmade jewellery.


A mug tree is something that you can pick up at pretty much any car boot sale or charity shop, and it's a great way of showing off your necklaces or bracelets. I like the simple design of this one.

I've picked up quite a few knob racks at car boot sales. These are my main way of displaying my necklaces, and I also use them for hanging up outfits for the next day. I've got about six of them around my bedroom! Hooks can also be used in a similar way to knob racks.
And finally, I just came up with this idea which I think is my favourite! I used a large Dala horse, which I got cheaply at Ikea because it was a discontinued item, and draped necklaces around it! If you don't have a Dala horse, you could use any large ornament or small sculpture in the same way, for example it would work with something like my pink geisha.

I hope you've enjoyed seeing some ways of storing jewellery that are decorative as well as practical.

26 August 2014

Brooch cushion

This is jewellery storage and display week here on emuse, and today I'm showing you how to create a brooch cushion. It's a great way of showing off your brooches, pins, or badges.

1. Measure two squares of material, I made mine about 6 inches in size.
2. Place the right sides together and sew around three and a half sides.
3. Turn the right way out, and stuff with filling.
4. Fold the fabric in neatly at the opening, and sew closed, making sure to use a thread that matches the fabric.
You can make these in any size or colour you like, and it's fun to have the two sides different fabrics so you can turn it over for a different look. I like to keep one of mine in my bedroom with a mixture of brooches with sentimental meaning to me and some recent finds, and I'm planning to have the one I've just made near the door so I can quickly grab a brooch as I'm going out if I feel I need one!

25 August 2014

Thrifted and vintage jewellery storage

Hello and welcome to a week of posts about how to store and display your jewellery in interesting and beautiful ways! Today I'm starting off by showing how I use some of my thrifted and vintage items for jewellery storage.

Vintage and thrifted items are a really pretty and inexpensive way of storing your jewellery. You can use all sorts of items, including vintage jewellery boxes, vintage tins, cups and saucers, small dishes, glasses, and much more. Here are some of the things I use:
Thrifted and vintage cups and small dishes are a pretty way to store all kinds of jewellery

This little donkey dish, designed by Walter Bosse, 
was a recent lucky find at one of my local charity shops

This vintage jewellery box was also found in a charity shop.
I keep a lot of old sentimental items in it.

A cranberry glass cup from an antiques fair is a lovely way of storing some rings and brooches

This vintage tin belonged to one of my grans.
I use it for costume jewellery I don't wear at the moment but don't want to throw out.

Keep coming back for the rest of the week to see some tutorials for making items to store and display your jewellery!

24 August 2014

I love... retro!

As a child of the 1970s, I really love anything with a retro design, and this is just a random selection of photos I found on my computer with a retro theme - I'm sure this is a theme I will revisit in future with even more photos! Above is a cookbook I found in a charity shop, in fact I saw it in the window of a closed charity shop and had to go back another day when the shop was open! It reminds me of the packaging of the Pippa dolls that I collected.
This is a detail of an old poster at work, showing the formation of oil. I loved this particular shape, and would like to try making a piece of jewellery inspired by it.

 I couldn't resist taking a photo of this poster in Ikea, it's got such a retro feel to it!

This teapot was a recent find in a charity shop, and the yellow is just what I wanted to fit in with my kitchen makeover.

These are some books I rescued from being thrown out at work! The Book of Experiments was one I loved borrowing from the library as a child, so I was really pleased to find it, and the other one has photos of 60s architecture that reminds me of the school I attended and the one I work at.

These are two of my favourite childhood books, which I recently tracked down and bought online.

I really love my Viewmaster, which I found for a ridiculously cheap price at a charity sale, along with lots of the reels, including this one with some great old photos of Edinburgh.

This box was a find at an antiques fair, and the picture shows Seefeld which was a lovely village I visited in Austria.

I love the covers of these old sound effects LPs we have at work.


If you'd like to try a retro-inspired project, how about this 1970s felt pincushion.