Look what I made! It’s a Hobbiton miniature garden – complete with Hobbits! I made this project for my brand new gig as editor over on Crafttuts+. Please come over and say hello if you love making stuff – I’ve pulled together an awesome team of contributors including Kitiya Palaskas, Lisa Tilse from The Red Thread and Cinti from My Poppet. They’re making some really cool stuff and the tutorials are high quality with lots of beautiful photography. And we’ve got some gorgeous Christmas tutorials lined up for the festive season.
We’ve been running a series of geek-themed craft at Crafttuts+, so I thought I’d get my get my Tolkien geek on to celebrate the world premiere of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey in Wellington yesterday. I love miniature gardens and terrariums and I’ve always wanted to make a themed one, so this felt like the perfect opportunity.
In the tutorial, I take you through in step-by-step detail how to make each element for your Hobbiton miniature garden, including the teeny-tiny toadstools (hint: red nail varnish gives the most brilliant shine!). I will also show you how to plan and landscape your garden, and what plants are most suitable for your micro cosmos. Click here for my Crafttuts+ tutorial.
What do you think? Are you a Lord of the Rings fan? Do you like miniature gardens? Tell me in the comments below.
Photography by Lucas Boyd.
If you’re not already starting to feel just a wee bit festive, now’s the time to don a paper crown, blow a plastic whistle and read a bad Dad joke, because it’s time for Wee Birdy’s annual Christmas Cracker Awards!
Since 2007, every November I spend weeks scrutinizing hundreds of brightly wrapped specimens to make my final edit of the top 20 crackers. Here we go…
1. THE AWESOME DIY JEWELLERY CRACKERS
Tatty Devine Deluxe Christmas Crackers, (also pictured at top), £75 for a set of six from Tatty Devine.
Hand-crafted in England, each cracker features a different perspex shape as the decoration, and contains chains, jump rings and instructions to make the shape into an awesome necklace, along with a party hat and a joke. The collection includes jewellery-making pliers to share and jewellery boxes.
2. THE MOST BEAUTIFUL LIBERTY PRINT CRACKERS
Liberty Superior crackers, £45 for a set of six from Liberty.
Made in the UK, each Liberty print cracker contains gifts such as a compact, compass and pen.
3. THE NEON CRACKERS
Great British Crackers, £45 for a set of six from Pedlars.
Hand-crafted in Wales, each cracker contains a motto, joke, paper hat and a cool gift.
4. THE TRADITIONALLY FESTIVE CRACKERS
Red Joy Crackers, £12.95 for a set of six from Emma Bridgewater.
Each cracker contains a hat, motto and a gift such as coloured pencils, mini make up brush set, mini sewing kit, mini stapler, mini nail clippers and mini tool kit.
5. THE DESIGNER SCENT CRACKERS
Maison Martin Margiela Christmas cracker gift set, £40 for a set of six from Selfridges.
Each cracker, wrapped in limited edition Maison Martin Margiela newsprint contains a 7ml bottle of Maison Martin Margiela’s Untitled fragrance, which includes notes of galbanum, lentiscus, orange blossom and incense.
6. THE POSH BRITISH CHOCOLATES CRACKER
Conran Christmas Crackers in Gold Glitter, £65 for a pack of six from The Conran Shop.
Each cracker contains a hat, motto and a Rococo chocolate truffle box.
7. THE STATIONERY-NERD CRACKERS
Present & Correct Christmas crackers, US$18 for one cracker from Present & Correct’s Etsy shop.
Handmade by “some nice ladies in Dorset”, each cracker contains a 2013 tag book calendar, a rubber stamp, a christmas pencil & vintage eraser, two metres of airmail string, an old paper clamp & a scrabble magnet, a lucky chocolate sixpence, some confetti and labels.
8. THE EXTREMELY POSH CRACKERS
The King of Crackers, £500 for a set of six from Fortnum & Mason.
Each cracker, covered in red velvet and decorated with ribbons, tassels and a glittering crown, contains a paper hat, joke and a luxurious high quality leather gift, such as a keyring, luggage tag, purse or credit card holder.
9. THE STUNNINGLY BEAUTIFUL CRACKERS
BPL Christmas Crackers, £40 for a set of six from Ben Pentreath Ltd.
“Lovingly handmade in Dorset”, each cracker is covered in Judd St Papers and contains a hat, snap, joke and a really lovely gift, such as a wooden nail brush, wooden dice, cookie cutter, marbles, strawberry seeds or a set of pencils. You can also choose from the Pollock’s Zeotrope Strips design; Pollock’s Pantomine Characters design; or the Margaret Calkin James design.
10. THE FINE TEA CRACKERS
Famous for Tea Christmas Crackers, £100 for a set of six from Fortnum and Mason.
Each cracker contains a silver-plated F&M caddy spoon and a tin of one of Fortnum’s classic loose-leaf teas, such as Earl Grey Classic or Queen Anne Blend.
11. THE DIY CRACKERS
In this charming tutorial, craft blogger Mini Eco shows you how to make your own graphically simple crackers. The beauty of DIY crackers is that you can fill them with your own choice of present, as well as a hand-made hat, which can be rather fun.
12. THE JUBILEE CRACKERS
London Superior Crackers, £45 for a set of six from Liberty.
Made in the UK, each cracker contains gifts such as a compass, pen and screwdriver set.
13. THE BELGIAN CHOCOLATE CRACKERS
Choc on Choc Chocolate Crackers, £15.95 for a set of six from Harvey Nichols.
Each cracker includes a paper hat, joke and filled with Belgian chocolate.
14. THE ‘YOU’D BE CRACKERS TO SPEND ALMOST 600 QUID ON CRACKERS’ CRACKERS
Harrods Romanov Luxury Christmas Crackers, £599 for a set of six from Harrods.
Each individually handcrafted cracker contains handmade bespoke crown, joke and trivia booklet and superb individually-wrapped gift. Gifts include a Stag corkscrew and bottle opener, crystal-encrusted Cloisonne box, Italian-made leather card case, Crown Monde earrings, leather USB and chrome pen and silk scarf and crystal scarf pin.
15. THE MUSICAL CRACKERS
Harrods Peppermint Cracker Collection, £39.95 for a set of nine from Harrods.
Each hand-crafted cracker contains a crown, joke, trivia booklet and a different xylophone key so that they can be played together as a kind of impromptu family orchestra. The collection includes a conductor’s baton and musical scores.
16. THE PAPER PLANE CRACKERS
Flights Of Festive Fancy Crackers, £8 for a set of six from John Lewis.
Each cracker contains a hat, snap and a make your own paper aeroplane game.
17. THE DESIGNER PARTY HAT CRACKER
Philip Treacy for Asprey Christmas Cracker, $2,000 for one from Asprey.
This limited edition cracker contains a party hat designed by Philip Treacy, confetti, joke and a collector’s sterling silver thimble engraved with Philip Treacy’s signature. One of the eighty crackers contains a winning ticket for a bespoke Philip Treacy hat.
18. THE ‘SAVE THE BIRDIES’ CRACKERS
RSPB Bird crackers, £12.99 from the RSPB.
Each red and gold bird-designed cracker contains an individually-wrapped organic Fairtrade Coco chocolate bird, a bird fact, a joke and a hat.
19. THE NUTCRACKER CRACKERS
Meri Meri Nutcracker Tale Crackers, £18.50 for a set of eight, from John Lewis.
Each cracker contains a musical whistle, a hat and a joke.
20. THE MAGIC CRACKERS
Magical crackers, £9.99 for a set of eight from the RSPB.
Each cracker contains a magic track, a joke and a hat.
So there you go, my Christmas Cracker round-up for 2012. Which one is your favourite?
I know I’m not the first bird to have a bit of a lady crush on Australian design wunderkind Beci Orpin. I’ve been a long-time fan of Beci from her fashion label Princess Tina days, and in the past I’ve blogged about her beautiful bird collage (see below), as well as her sterling silver cloud-and-raindrop necklace. And let it be known that Beci was making clouds waaay before every lady and her umbrella jumped on the rainy cloud motif bandwagon!
It’s this very pioneering spirit, endless creativity and originality that allows Beci to rise above the parochial and produce the kind of work that not only features her signature kaleidoscopic use of colour, but sets new trends on the design landscape.
And now Beci can add another feather to that brilliantly-hued bow: her first book, Find & Keep , has just been released. Featuring 26 fun and fresh new craft projects, (including the DIY giant confetti wall featured on Wee Birdy last week) it’s a goldmine for inspiration as well as providing a unique insight into her creative process. It would make an excellent Christmas present.
Beci, firstly congratulations on a truly beautiful and inspirational book! You’re one clever birdy. Actually, if you were a bird, what kind of bird would you be – and why?
Thank-you so much! Hmmm… what bird would I be? That is a tough choice as I actually love birds a lot (my alternative career choice is an ornithologist!). I really like swallows a lot, so maybe just a plain old welcome swallow? That or a finch – my grandma used to breed them. I think Gouldian finches are my favourite (and they are Australian too!).
I love colour, but I know that lots of people are sometimes scared to be big and brave with it in their home. What’s your number one tip for making colour work – for beginners?
I think you can start adding smaller pops of colour through things like artwork or vases or cushions. Or even if that is too scary, just go for the brightest flowers you can find and work your way up from there.
You’re clearly an awesome collector. Can you tell us your top five shops in Melbourne for finding awesome stuff?
1. Coburg flea market.
I used to frequent Camberwell market when growing up but now i am north-side it’s a little to far to travel first thing on a Sunday morning, so Coburg flea is my new spot. I love it because it’s real trash and treasure… some weeks you find amazing things, some weeks nothing at all.
2. Scout House
When i do find myself south-side, Scout House is one of my first stops. Orlando’s selection is pretty wonderful, as is his colourful iron beds (as seen in my book!).
3. Third Drawer Down
I love all the Third Drawer Down collaborations and the other objects they stock too (ceramics are amazing there at the moment!)
4. Any local op shop
I have a few within walking distance of my house and I can’t keep away. The tiny churchy old-school type ones are my favourite.
Rugs are my new obsession and the last one I brought was from Loom. They have an insanely beautiful selection – it was SO hard to choose. Plus owner Down is so helpful, too. (See image below, via Loom.)
4. Who or what would be your dream collaborator? What would you make?
I’d love to collaborate with someone with batik or weaving expertise to make contemporary versions of traditional fabrics. I’d also like to make rugs. Oh, and working for Tsumori Chisato or a company like Hay (see image below) would be amazing.
5. Christmas is just around the corner. What does your Christmas tree look like and how do you decorate it?
Despite my best efforts of keeping things tasteful and colour co-ordinated, our Christmas tree is generally our kids’ domain. They like to throw all kinds of things on there so it ends up being a bit of a twinkling mess. It’s pretty great actually.
Click here for a Wee Birdy Melbourne map, showing Beci’s favourite shops.
Find & Keep is AU$39.95 and can be found in all nice shops and book stores right now. It would make an amazing Christmas present and you can also buy it online from Booktopia and Amazon. You can find Beci Orpin online right here.
How amazing does this giant confetti wall look? It’s just one of the superb DIY projects you’ll find in Beci Orpin‘s fabulous new book, Find & Keep. Published by the super-cool Hardie Grant peeps (also publishers of Meet Me at Mike’s books), this book is definitely a find – and a keeper. Check out the incredibly vibrant cover!
Just in time for Christmas, it’s the perfect present for anyone who’s a wee bit crafty, a wee bit colourful, and a wee bit cool. I’ll be having a chat with Melbourne-based Beci very soon, but in the meantime, here’s how to make a giant confetti wall, Beci-Orpin-stylee. Over to you, Beci!
“Confetti has become a bit of a rarity these days. The proper old-school tissue paper kind, anyway. Whenever I find a newsagent that carries it, I buy up big, and subsequently have a small cupboard full of confetti boxes. My son Ari discovered these boxes one day and had a fantastic time spreading confetti all over my studio, until I discovered him and broke up the party (and it did look like a party – a really big one at that!). In the following weeks, while I continued to find confetti in every nook and cranny of my studio, I came up with this idea. Here’s how you can make your room look like a party – a much cleaner version than Ari’s, but just as much fun.
You will need:
- lots of different coloured paper and card (scraps will do fine)
- traced or photocopied circle template (click here for the template)
- a wall!
Let’s get started.
1. Gather your paper together. Scraps of paper of different colours and textures will work very well.
2. Using the template as a guide, cut out as many circles as possible from your coloured card.
3. Once you have cut out all the circles, arrange them roughly by colour. This will help you get organised and it looks nice, too.
4. Using Blu-Tack on the back of the circles, start sticking them onto the wall. Start with one circle and try to make the other circles look like they are floating away from that point in different directions.
5. Continue until all your circles are on the wall. On corners or where the wall meets the floor, use halfcircles with the flat edge flush against the straight line. These details create an overall better effect for your confetti wall.”
This project is re-published with the kind permission of Beci Orpin and Hardie Grant. Find & Keep is AU$39.95 and can be found in all nice shops and book stores now. You can also buy it online from Booktopia and Amazon. You can find Beci Orpin online right here.
According to Instagram, my week looked like this:
- I went to the beach – again! That makes it two weekends in a row. Must be a record for me.
- I attended my first ever Kids Business Bloggers Brunch – and found some quick and easy Christmas crafts from Spotlight. (Quick and easy being key words for me.) I’m on my way to Spotlight this afternoon!
- I also met the girls from Brown Sugar at the Bloggers Brunch, who gifted me a beautiful coral striped scarf, which went fabulously with my coral Dinosaur Designs bangle and Tom Ford lipstick in Wild Ginger.
- I’m still loving Sydney’s magnificent show of jacarandas this year. Front lawns and footpaths everywhere are awash with jacaranda confetti. And the sight of backlit jacarandas in the warm glow of the late afternoon sun is one of my favourite Sydney sights. It means summer is just around the corner.
- I went to an excellent Blog Photography Workshop to brush up on my DSLR skills. Hosted by the fabulous Little Paper Trees (check out her blog now) and led by lifestyle photographer Emma Scamell, we covered an incredible amount of skills in just one wee day. The workshop was held in the studios of one of my favourite Sydney shops, Little Paper Lane, so it was a day filled with lots of laughs, creativity and neon. It’s a very neon Christmas this year at Little Paper Lane – check out the riot of colour in their window displays!
- If you’re in Sydney and you need some Christmas present inspiration, make the trip to Little Paper Lane in Mona Vale. Or check out their superb online shop. I dare you to resist pulling out your credit card! I shopped up a storm, and stocked up on Washi tapes, ribbons, an awesome extra-large alphabetical stamp set and neon gift cards. So lovely.
- I also met a very cute duckling (it had just hatched in my friend’s home incubator!)
- I found the sweetest-smelling baby pineapples from the organic grocer in Avalon.
- I stopped by The Boatshed in Palm Beach for some ice-cream. They always have the most magnificent displays of fresh fruit and flowers.
- I took out 10 minutes to watch the Melbourne Cup, and decided to make a last-minute bet. Should have stayed at home.
- I took delivery of a very sweet box filled with Chupa-Chups, and the latest candy-inspired collection of lip gloss, nail polish and eye-shadows from L’Oreal Paris.
- I met the guys from Rust-oleum at the Bloggers Brunch and discovered a brand new world of magic paint and spray paints. I’ve got to get a can of their white matte spraypaint which gives your average jam jar a beautiful white ceramic-like finish. Genius.
Phew, what a week. Did I mention that I also launched a brand new craft tutorials website, Crafttuts+? More on that very soon!
Tell me, what did you get up to? You can follow me on Instagram here. I’d love to see your Instagram pics, too!
p.s. I made 2000 ‘likes’ on Facebook! Hooray! Thanks everyone for following me. X