Screenprinting is one of those things I have wanted to learn to do for ages and when I say ages I literally mean years. But you know, life gets in the way and it seems hard to justify spending the money on doing something fun and just for yourself, so you keep putting it off… But at the beginning of this year I promised myself I would finally learn and dragged my sister along for the ride too.

Our course was held at Handprinted in Bognor Regis. It’s about half an hour’s drive from me, but not a part of the coast I’m at all familiar with. The classroom and shop is on an industrial estate just outside town which doesn’t sound terribly glamorous, but it does mean they have a big workspace upstairs and a large area downstairs for all the stock they carry.

Our first task of the day was to create simple paper cut stencils to try our first printing exercise with. Being asked to come up with a design off the top of your head in front of a group of strangers is quite daunting, but they had some great printing books to browse, including this book which is full of really inspiring doodles (and there are loads more in the same range too)

I started with a bird and turquoise ink (can you tell it’s my favourite colour) repeating the pattern across the fabric and getting to grips with spreading the ink on the screen with the squeegee. Jane did a bird design too, in pink.

screenprinting4screenprinting3screenprinting5screenprinting2screenprinting1Next we moved on to photo screenprinting which uses light and heat to transfer a stencil directly on to a screen, with this process you can create more intricate designs which you draw by hand on acetate and then you can print on top of paper stenciled screenprints. I decided on an abstract design with repeated circles and Jane printed plants. screenprinting10screenprinting11screenprinting12screenprinting7screenprinting13

We nicknamed my rather Ikea-like design “Slavodd”

Afterwards we still had a little bit of time to print a couple of t-shirts which I had brought along. Printing t-shirts has been one of my main motivations for learning to screenprint and I couldn’t wait to try one particular idea out…

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The stencil took about 15 minutes to make and then about 2 minutes to print – I think I love this process already!

I left via the shop having bought a starter kit and full of ideas!

On our landing upstairs we have a little bonus space next to Alice’s bedroom which looks down on our hallway. We haven’t done much with it since we added the first floor to the house two years ago, but anticipating the start of proper homework (eek!) in September, we recently decided to turn it in to a study space for Theo.

Far from being a forgotten space, it’s actually a lovely spot with oodles of natural light coming from the hall below and via a large VELUX window in the eaves, so the perfect place to study, or as he does at the moment, practice your drawing…

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The desk is one we have had for a while which was originally in the cabin and used to be the one I sewed at. It’s a really great solid wooden bit of furniture which we picked up very cheaply because it was originally too low to be much practical use. We added bun feet to it to raise it and it’s been great ever since.

The chair was one that I picked up on impulse from Ardingly Antiques Fair a couple of years go and resprayed last week with Pinty Plus chalk paint in red velvet. It is a crazily vibrant colour, but it seems to work in this spot and with so much white to compliment it.

oak light with red accentI love the chunky oak effect and cream lamp with the red fabric cable which came from First Choice Lighting. If you are after a desk light, I think it is a real steal at only £24.99 with free delivery! They also do it with a black and white cable and a red shade.

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I hadn’t planned to hang anything on the wall behind the desk immediately, but we were lucky enough to be given some hanging strips and frames by 3M Command to try out, so I thought I’d put them into use in this spot. If you haven’t tried hanging strips yet, they are quite amazing and speedy to use.

They are made up of two sticky velcro strips, one which goes on the frame and one which goes on the wall. I usually wimp out of hanging pictures in our house and ask Jim to do it, but I did these ones myself and they literally took about a minute each to do…. and in case you are wondering, yes they are still up!

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Theo is delighted with his new workspace, but the true test will come in another four months when we try and get him to sit at it and do things!

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  • May 24, 2016 - 9:30 pm

    Donna - What a fantastic use of that space – it’s so bright and cosy! xReplyCancel

  • May 25, 2016 - 4:11 pm

    Evija - Gorgeous space! I bet Theo can’t wait to do the homework now! xReplyCancel

  • May 26, 2016 - 10:53 am

    Julia @ Rainbeaubelle - Oh I love this look, how great does that bright red look against the white? Amazing. I am moving house soon so will keep this for inspiration, I’ll need a desk space for me and the kids to work on. Great idea those command strips too! x #HomeEtcReplyCancel

  • May 26, 2016 - 2:52 pm

    Kara - Wow what an amazing space, I am very jealous. That chair colour is amazing and I love the lamp.
    I would happily do homework there xxReplyCancel

For the last couple of months I’ve been working with novasolspray.co.uk using Pinty Plus Chalk Paint spray to upcycle and makeover furniture and home decor. So far I’ve stuck to a pretty safe palette of pale turquoise and turquoise and so this month I decided to go for something radically diffferent… Red Velvet!

Red Velvet is a very vivid colour which is neither red nor pink, but a sort of strong pinky red. It is actually exactly the kind of colour my son loves, so was an easy choice for a project for him. The chair I used was one I picked up at Ardingly Antiques Fair several years ago. I think it’s one of those rare items that hadn’t been deliberately styled to look tatty, it just is tatty!

The more I looked at it the more I realised it was quite dirty and really needed an overhaul…

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After scrubbing it down with Cif I started spraying it. The first coat on top of the white was very pink… pink enough for me to panic a little bit about the colour change, but after applying the top coat it took on a deeper shade, though let’s not beat around the bush here, it is still really bright!

Keeping out of the wind round the side of the house meant that this time I used less paint than when I sprayed the wicker chair, just over one can. I finished it off with the Pinty Plus craft spary varnish which also makes the colour slightly darker.

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I am kicking myself slightly about the finished result. As I suspected this chair had so many layers of paint built up on it that it really would have benefited from being sanded down first and if I’d spent that extra time on it the finish would have been a lot better. As it is there are certain parts of the chair where you can see the uneven finish of the old paint through the Pinty Plus.

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It’s probably only me who will ever notice it, but it’s slightly annoying because if we’d had more sunny days in a row last week I would have sanded it down… so basically it’s the weather’s fault!

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Anyway, the important thing is that Theo loves his new chair and tomorrow I’ll share a little room makoever with you that will show you what the chair looks like in its new home…

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  • May 23, 2016 - 8:41 pm

    Carie @ Space for the Butterflies - That is a truly incredible colour of pink – wow indeed! I can think of a few people around here who would spray all our furniture that colour if they were allowed :)ReplyCancel

  • May 24, 2016 - 6:42 am

    Nicky - Wow! Chalk paint in a can! That’s amazing! Though I don’t think it’s hit the UK shores yet :-(ReplyCancel

    • May 24, 2016 - 7:27 am

      claremansell@mac.com - Hi Nicky, I am in the UK and the paint is sold by a UK company novasolspray.co.ukReplyCancel

      • May 26, 2016 - 11:34 am

        Nicky - Hi Clare – oh fab!! Thank you. That’s great! I don’t know what made me think you were over the pond! :-)ReplyCancel

  • May 25, 2016 - 1:45 pm

    karen - Looks fab xReplyCancel

  • May 26, 2016 - 2:54 pm

    Kara - That colour is AMAZING -I like the finish chair, I think it looks fab xxReplyCancel

At the beginning of this year Theo joined Stagecoach in Chichester as a blogging ambassador, although I didn’t realise it at the time, he was also one of the youngest pupils they’ve ever had, starting there at just 4 years and 4 months old.

The first week did not go well. Jim spent most of the lesson with Theo clinging to his legs refusing to take part in anything, or let him leave the building and after an hour and a half they both came home with Jim looking defeated and like the whole thing was the worst idea ever.

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Four months on we see a very different child every weekend. After a 4 week break over Easter, Theo was positively bouncing off the walls with excitement as he counted down the days to the start of the new term and although his Gro Clock normally keeps him bound to his bedroom till 7am, on the day that term started, he came bouncing in to our room at 6 in the morning barely able to contain his glee, telling us “It’s Saturday. It’s Stagecoach!”

Our Saturdays now revolve around his Stagecoach session… by choice it should be added! A fortnight ago when we had a party to go to in the evening, a haircut, the vets and other errands to run, the logistics of what could be achieved kept returning to Theo not missing his hour an a half in Chichester. We achieved it all in the end, but my haircut nearly got cancelled ahead of Stagecoach!

What exactly goes on in those Early Stages sessions is probably a bit of a mystery to some of the parents of kids Theo’s age. We all arrive at the start of the class, the kids put on their “jazz shoes” (a phrase that still makes me chuckle) and then all line up neatly in front of the teacher. When they are quiet and ready, they march off down the corridor to their classroom and us parents go home (or to the Tesco cafe!) before returning 90 minutes later to take the jazz shoes off and drive home.

At the beginning Theo managed some pretty generic answers in the car on the way home about what they had been doing Singing? Yes…  Dancing? A bit… But in his second term we’ve had him telling us everything in detail. We know that they aren’t doing a  production at the end of this term, but instead they’ll be doing a big Christmas show at the end of next term and he wants to invite his friends from school to come and see it, a list is being written! Last week was his teacher’s birthday, he hadn’t bought her a card, but he was going to make her one for this week instead.

Last term I also filmed the kids during their session to make a video you can see here and was in the very privileged position of being able to watch a whole process for myself. Theo’s teacher is brilliant. Strong, authoritative, but lovely and warm too. She’s been doing it for years and you can see that the children really like and respect her. The class I saw was made up of rehearsing and game playing. They are all activities that get the kids moving around, thinking and interacting with each other.

As I’ve watched Theo’s enthusiasm grow for the classes, I’ve also realised it has another benefit for him. It’s a special time at the weekend that is just about him and not about his sister. Sibling rivalry has not yet reared it’s head, but I think the time he has which is focused on getting him ready and driving him there and back, really helps with that.

In a few weeks time I’m going to be filming some of the parents and pupils higher up in Stagecoach and I’m really looking forward to sharing the video and their stories with you, so please keep an eye out for that post…

 

  • May 25, 2016 - 1:40 pm

    Karen - This looks like a brilliant idea, fantastic for children confidence. Love the photo of Theo too and glad there has been no sibling rivalry xReplyCancel

A couple of years ago I wrote a post about how to design your own blogger business card and as blogging conference season is approachin, I thought I’d revisit that post and offer a few tips for designing business cards not just for bloggers, but for anyone with a small business.

It can be very daunting starting out with two blank canvases and trying to envisage what you want your design to look like, but there are so many amazing tools available online that the process doesn’t need to be daunting.

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  • Use a template – Most big printing companies will offer a free downloadable template which you can use in Photoshop or Illustrator as a starting point for your design. Moo.com’s product templates are here and don’t worry if you decide to use a different company to print your product. Most business cards are the same size and the bleed and trim areas will be similar.
  • Use Pinterest for inspiration – One of the useful things I learned when I studied Graphic Design is that looking at other people’s work is not about stealing ideas, it’s a vital and encouraged part of the design process.  So don’t try and come up with ideas from a standing start, have a look around at what other people have done first.
  • Download typefaces for free – Use websites like dafont.com to download typefaces for free which you can use in your design software. Just make sure you check the terms of the licence. Some are free, some require donation and some are “personal use only”
  • Know what file format to save in – Most printing companies suggest a PDF file in CKMY colour mode for the best quality results
  • Don’t go for the most obvious printer – Printing is a really competitive business and if you search there are some great deals out there. I was originally quoted £45-£55 for 100 business cards and eventually paid £16.90 to get them from Banana Print and had them delivered within 48 hours. Although you can’t predict printing quality when you buy online, you can check the card weight that you are being offered. 350gsm is pretty standard for business cards.
  • Don’t print too many – I have never made it to the end of a pack of business cards, something always changes. Whether it’s my phone number,
  • Stick to standard dimensions – If you hand out a round one or a square one, you might get a good reaction, but if you have a business card holder or a purse, the damn things don’t fit in them and risk getting lost.
  • Remember less is more – If in doubt, make the card really really simple. Stick to two colours and one or two typefaces and centre everything
  • If you still can’t do it yourself – Head to Etsy or PeoplePerHour to find someone who will either sell you a template (to alter yourself) or design the who thing for you. and charge less than a printing firm. Templates cost as little as £5 and some sellers will customise and print.
  • Use Canva – If you still don’t have ideas or you find the design work too complicated, don’t forget you can use the templates on Canva to create a professional looking design. Some are free, others are paid for.

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Now a few tips for blogger cards…

  • Include your profile picture… if you want to – In our image focussed social media world your face is part of your brending so it makes sense to stick it on your card so people can cross reference as they look you up online. Or of course you can be like me and ignore that advice just because you don’t like handing out cards with your face on them.
  • Don’t spam people with social media usernames – We are all everywhere, but most of us are stronger (or just keener) on certain channels than others so rather than filling the back of your card with every social media username you have, just include the important ones. Twitter, Instagram and whatever else floats your boat Snapchat? YouTube?
  • Don’t forget QR codes – You can get one for free here
  • Remember you niche – Parent blogger? Travel blogger? Every brand needs a line that sums up what they do, make sure yours is on the card

Did you find this post useful or do you have any questions? If so let me know in the comments.

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  • May 22, 2016 - 12:14 pm

    mummyofboygirltwins - Thanks for sharing, such a cool idea and saves a lot on printing costs buying them online! I need to get some new ones made so this is perfect xxReplyCancel