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Monthly Archives: June 2015

  • Let the Royal Academy Summer Show Unleash Your Creativity

    Running for nearly 250 years, the Royal academy Summer Show is the most democratic art exhibition in the world. In an otherwise rarefied atmosphere of exclusive galleries and elitist auctions, the Summer Show invites submissions from the public to make up almost half of the annual exhibition. Students, hobbyists and people famous in other fields (this year Harry Hill and Una Stubbs) have their work submitted anonymously to a panel who, at breakneck speed whittle down some 12,000 hopefuls to the final selection of 400, to join the work of established, invited artists.

    The democratic nature of the event doesn’t stop there. Money raised from admission fees and from the sale of the works of art fund free places for students at the RA’s schools. We love this idea of encouraging everyone to have a go at being creative. It is there in all of us, we just sometimes need a little guidance to bring it out. To celebrate this we’ve put together some of our favourite ideas to get your creativity flowing:

    Decoupage—the art of layering paper images onto a solid surface. Lord Byron was a fan and covered screens with images of another of his passions, bare knuckle boxing. Obviously not to everyone’s taste, but finding the images you like is part of the fun. The work is finished with layers of varnish, giving a warm, aged look, and giving the finished object strength, making it ideal for transforming furniture. Some of our vintage ceramic knobs would complement this style perfectly.

    Block Printing—easily available, and one of the easiest forms of printing, either on fabric or solid surfaces. Many blocks will be Indian, with some amazing paisley patterns, or simpler, repeating batik styles. For a nice first project, how about block printing a length of wood about 15cm wide as a back board for some of our lovely new coat hooks?

    Colouring In—don’t laugh, this is becoming a popular, therapeutic pastime for adults, and it works. If anyone has helped young children with their colouring books you will know how addictive this can be. And let’s face it, painting by numbers was always accepted by adults. Colouring in allows you to be far more creative, not being restricted to a colour guide. Good quality artist’s pencils are a joy to use, so get some key colours and a specialist colouring in book (check the Guardian newspaper who often run adult colouring in pages) and if anyone laughs at you doing it, give them a go, we guarantee they’ll get hooked too!

    Back to the RA Summer Show, this year for the first time all of the exhibition is available online via the RA’s exhibition explorer https://se.royalacademy.org.uk so those that can’t make it this year can still get inspired for a summer of creativity.

  • The Dos and Don’ts of Upcycling

    Upcycling is now a well-established way of reviving much loved items around the home. From some stunning examples of clothing being completely re-worked on the Great British Sewing Bee to much simpler, yet as effective upcycling like reviving a tired chest of drawers with a set of new handles.

    As with any idea that takes off (especially one that ends up with TV series devoted to it), there can be pitfalls for the unwary upcycler, and we hope that these simple guidelines will make the whole experience enjoyable for you.

    Keep it Simple

    It is all very well seeing these amazing dressmakers on the Sewing Bee completely transforming an elderly overcoat into a stylish woman’s suit, but these talented amateurs regularly display a jaw-dropping level of skill that is beyond many experienced sewing hobbyists. So don’t worry if the thought of transforming an old pair of jeans into a baby’s romper suit fills you with dread, make some funky faded denim bunting for baby’s room instead. Just as enjoyable, and you can’t grow out of bunting! It will be far more satisfying finishing a small project than having a large one sitting, unfinished, in the corner, making you feel guilty.

    Make Sure it is Reversible or Re-usable

    Especially to start with, keep your furniture projects reversible—paint can be rubbed down and changed, decoupage likewise. Cutting bits off can’t! Better still, drawer and door knobs can be changed and moved around, as can upcycled soft furnishings. With clothes, if they go wrong, there’s always smaller projects the cut fabric can be used for.

    Do it For Yourself, Not For the Money

    As often repeated on the Antiques Roadshow, buy things that YOU like, not things you think others will, with half an eye on the re-sale value. Real upcycling is all about doing it yourself, for yourself. The added cost and labour involved will never really justify the price you could sell your finished work for. Buying ready upcycled goods is fine, but it is so much more fun and rewarding rubbing down, waxing or repainting a bargain piece of neglected furniture than buying a finished piece.

    The great joy of upcycling is that small luxury highlights will transform run of the mill items. A really stunning velvet collar for example, elevating a humble wool jacket, a set of vintage cupboard knobs updating an entire kitchen. Probably the most affordable and enjoyable makeover you could do this summer.

    Mike Howell, Wordcrafting

  • Bring the Outdoors In Decorate With Natures Colours

    If, like us, you are looking forward to the Great British Summertime, but are determined not to let our unpredictable weather get in the way, let us share with you some of our ideas, including using our knobs and accessories to bring the outdoors inside, enhancing and extending this wonderful season.

    The Chelsea Flower Show is always the first fanfare of the oncoming season, and this year provided some amazing inspiration. Dan Pearson’s Best in Show with semi wild planting of teasels, red Campion and buttercups against a magnificent backdrop of stone was a thoroughly deserved winner. Flowers of course have long been a favourite way to bring the outdoors inside, and one of our perennial favourites at Pushka Knobs is our set of six pastel ceramic flower drawer knobs, know with matching hooks. The other great way to get creative with flowers is to send us your favourite floral images—photographs, drawings or, best of all, pressed flowers, and we can create your own unique knobs, printed with your image.

    Of course, one of our favourite places to be on a glorious summer’s day is the seaside. This is also one of the most popular outside/inside motifs, but if the full driftwood, pebbles and seashells look is a bit too much we have some much subtler finishing touches. Our (currently reduced) striped mortice door knobs, are reminiscent of the smartest of deckchairs, and our pretty candy stripe cupboard knobs are a far healthier and longer lasting memento than a stick of rock!

    So if you are off to any of the great summer events—Wimbledon, Royal Ascot, Glastonbury, or one of the lesser known, but equally wonderful highlights of (Glastonbury aside) what used to be “The Season” (the Henley concerts and the Royal Academy show are both must-sees) have a great time, and let us know what inspires you. Otherwise, join the rest of us making a jug of fruit cup, grabbing a bowl of strawberries and enjoying the best bits from the comfort of our own homes.

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