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Monthly Archives: January 2013
  • Posted on January 31, 2013

    Explore the fabled beauty

    “Seductive, to me, signifies a person, a place, or a moment that, once encountered, one never wants to leave.”

    Seductive Interiors
    Seductive Interiors

    Sera’s thoughts on the true meaning of the word seductive ring true after you have stepped into her beautiful London abode, Chocolate Towers, and experienced it for yourself.

    The approach to Sera’s gorgeous home, couldn’t feel more quintessentially ‘London’ if it tried. Identical townhouses line the streets and I even trotted across the Abbey Road zebra crossing, once graced by the Beatles, on my way.

    In a sea of similitude, Chocolate Towers stands as symbol for individuality, from the rich brown colour of the render to the Moroccan garden furniture, Sera’s maverick design style radiates from the very centre of this exquisite home.

    Stepping inside, I was instantly transported from London, to stunning exotic lands. Each room bursts with Sera’s eclectic taste, as crumbling antique furniture sits together with retro pieces from around the globe. On the walls hang huge blown-up black and white photos of Sera’s favourite rock stars alongside classical artworks and modern paintings. If seductive means never wanting to leave, then count me in, I wasn’t going anywhere!

    Seductive Interiors
    Seductive Interiors

    Peruse these stunning pictures for yourselves and prepare to be seduced!

    Seductive Interiors by Sera Hersham-Loftus is published by CICO Books and is available to order here

    Also, take a look at the other home interior books we publish.

     


    This post was posted in Book Reviews, US and was tagged with christmas, sera hersham loftus, interiors

  • Posted on January 31, 2013

    Introducing the ultimate vintage lover...

    Mid-Week Chat with Betty Bee

    This week we are chatting with the vintage crafter Betty Bee, author of Handmade Wedding Crafts, blogger, tweeter, make up artist and burlesque party organiser.  A lady of many talents, Betty shares her pearls of wisdom with us...

    1.  Tell us about yourself  and the kinds of things you like to make?

    I'm Betty Bee, Crafter, Blogger, make up artist and mama bear. I love to make beautiful things from items once deemed junk, whether thats a cakestand made from old crockery, decoupaging a tatty table or turning a battered hardback into a kindle cover.

    2.  How did your name come about and what prompted your love of all things vintage?

    Betty Bee is my pen name. My real name is Perelandra. I started going by the name Betty a few years ago when I helped organise a burlesque night locally. Using another name (my showdog name as I call it) allowed me to be slightly larger than life  and it also conjures up a real 1950's flavour which as someone who wears a lot of vintage inspired clothes is no bad thing.

    3.  If you could time travel which decade would you visit for style, fashion and craft inspiration?

    I absolutely adore the 1950's but if Doctor Who gave me one free trip in his tardis it would be the court of Marie Antoinette. Im a sucker for a wig!

    4.  What advise would you give to budding crafters, any particular tricks of the trade?

    It sounds really basic but just have a go. Crafting isn't some secret sect and you don't have to be particuarly arty to be good at it. Find a craft whose end product you are actually interested in. It's a bit pointless learning to crochet if the sight of a crocheted teapot makes you gag. Making something you will actually get pleasure from will definately give you the impetus to carry on. Also approach glue guns with care. Those suckers burn!

    5.  What techniques and tools do you use in your work?

    All the projects which feature in my book require absolutely no previous craft experience. Any bride to be can pick it up and within half an hour be making something, so I show readers how to make crystal covered shoes using a glue gun, table arrangements out of felt and cake stands with spray paint and doilies. The end results look amazing but the actual crafting is a piece of cake. For those crafters who like to learn new things I give tips on how to create ribbon roses, whirly gig button holes and there is a brooch bouquet which is quite the show stopper. 

    6.  Are there any projects from this book that you wish you’d done at your own wedding?

    Oh so many. The brooch bouquet was so beautiful and the little candles made in the shape of cupcakes would have looked gorgeous on my tables.

    7.  When did you decide to start blogging?

    I love to write and have always kept journals and when blogging first started to gain popularity a few years ago I decided to have  ago. Needless to say I'm hooked and write at least four posts a week. Strangely other people seem to find my ramblings quite entertaining and thousands of peple drop on in every week which is great.

    8.  What kinds of things do you write about on your blog?

    Crafts, make up, vintage inspired interiors and being a plus sized hottie.

    9.  What are your hopes for the future?

    I would love to write another book and for my blog to continue to grow.

    10.  What is your favourite project from your book?

    So hard to choose, they are like my children but the outdoor lampstand is fairly ingenious.

    Thank you Betty, feeling very inspired!

    You can catch Betty's blog musings on: talesfrombettybeetowers.blogspot.com

    If you would like to get crafting, Handmade Wedding Crafts is available to purchase from Our Shop.



    This post was posted in Interviews, News, US and was tagged with teapot, wedding, handmade, vintage, fashion

  • Posted on January 31, 2013

    Introducing the ultimate vintage lover...

    Mid-Week Chat with Betty Bee

    This week we are chatting with the vintage crafter Betty Bee, author of Handmade Wedding Crafts, blogger, tweeter, make up artist and burlesque party organiser.  A lady of many talents, Betty shares her pearls of wisdom with us...

    1.  Tell us about yourself  and the kinds of things you like to make?

    I'm Betty Bee, Crafter, Blogger, make up artist and mama bear. I love to make beautiful things from items once deemed junk, whether that's a cakestand made from old crockery, decoupaging a tatty table or turning a battered hardback into a kindle cover.

    2.  How did your name come about and what prompted your love of all things vintage?

    Betty Bee is my pen name. My real name is Perelandra. I started going by the name Betty a few years ago when I helped organise a burlesque night locally. Using another name (my showdog name as I call it) allowed me to be slightly larger than life  and it also conjures up a real 1950's flavour which as someone who wears a lot of vintage inspired clothes is no bad thing.

    3.  If you could time travel which decade would you visit for style, fashion and craft inspiration?

    I absolutely adore the 1950's but if Doctor Who gave me one free trip in his tardis it would be the court of Marie Antoinette. Im a sucker for a wig!

    4.  What advise would you give to budding crafters, any particular tricks of the trade?

    It sounds really basic but just have a go. Crafting isn't some secret sect and you don't have to be particuarly arty to be good at it. Find a craft whose end product you are actually interested in. It's a bit pointless learning to crochet if the sight of a crocheted teapot makes you gag. Making something you will actually get pleasure from will definately give you the impetus to carry on. Also approach glue guns with care. Those suckers burn!

    5.  What techniques and tools do you use in your work?

    All the projects which feature in my book require absolutely no previous craft experience. Any bride to be can pick it up and within half an hour be making something, so I show readers how to make crystal covered shoes using a glue gun, table arrangements out of felt and cake stands with spray paint and doilies. The end results look amazing but the actual crafting is a piece of cake. For those crafters who like to learn new things I give tips on how to create ribbon roses, whirly gig button holes and there is a brooch bouquet which is quite the show stopper. 

    6.  Are there any projects from this book that you wish you’d done at your own wedding?

    Oh so many. The brooch bouquet was so beautiful and the little candles made in the shape of cupcakes would have looked gorgeous on my tables.

    7.  When did you decide to start blogging?

    I love to write and have always kept journals and when blogging first started to gain popularity a few years ago I decided to have  ago. Needless to say I'm hooked and write at least four posts a week. Strangely other people seem to find my ramblings quite entertaining and thousands of people drop on in every week which is great.

    8.  What kinds of things do you write about on your blog?

    Crafts, make up, vintage inspired interiors and being a plus sized hottie.

    9.  What are your hopes for the future?

    I would love to write another book and for my blog to continue to grow.

    10.  What is your favourite project from your book?

    So hard to choose, they are like my children but the outdoor lampstand is fairly ingenious.


    Thank you Betty, feeling very inspired! 

    You can catch Betty's blog musings on: talesfrombettybeetowers.blogspot.com

    If you would like to get crafting, Handmade Wedding Crafts is available to purchase from the craft section.




    This post was posted in Featured, Interviews, News, UK and was tagged with teapot, wedding, handmade, vintage, fashion

  • Posted on January 24, 2013

    Tinkered Treasures: Make the Ordinary Extraordinary

    This week's guest post is by author/tinkerer Elyse Major

    My favorite crafts are the simplest ones where there is little fear of making mistakes and the instructions are brief. This is my aim for Tinkered Treasures: projects that are easy-breezy, enjoyable, and made from readily available supplies and tools.

    Supplies listed for projects include such workaday fixtures as clothespins, paper rolls, matchboxes, bottle caps, jars and more.

    Many tools are basic school supplies like white craft glue, a sharp pair of scissors, and foam brushes. Techniques like decoupage are explained and repeated from project to project.

    And uncomplicated customizations …


    make each project your own.

    I am so delighted about my first book and hope that you will enjoy it from cover to cover. I had just as much fun writing it as I did creating the projects (look for silly puns throughout).
    Happy tinkering!
    xo
    elyse
    Visit Elyse at her blog tinkeredtreasures.blogspot.com, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest also at Tinkered Treasures

    Tinkered Treasures by Elyse Major is published by CICO Books on February 14th. Other craft books from Cico available here.


    This post was posted in Featured, Featured, News, News, UK, US, What's new and was tagged with Elyse Major, tinkered treasures

  • Posted on January 21, 2013

    5 Reasons to feel a little less blue this Monday…

    Today is officially Blue Monday and apparently the blue feeling is set to last for the whole week.  After a very cold Monday morning awakening and a snowy commute to work, who could blame us?

    So, here is our Blue Monday survival guide, which promises to brighten up your Monday and your week!

    1. Stroke your pet: the ultimate comfort!

    For years psychologists have been telling of the benefits of spending some quality time with the much beloved family pet, as the repetition of stroking your pampered pooch or furry feline has been shown to have a calming effect.  If you find yourself pet-less fear not, delve into the surreal but hilarious world of Gemma Correll in A Pug’s Guide to Etiquette and we promise you’ll want to hug-a-pug!

    2.  Love your home: enjoy your surroundings.

    Sprucing up your home will make you feel proud of your surroundings and can give a great sense of satisfaction.  Try out some of the projects from Junk Genius and make your junk into unique and beautiful items to be enjoyed by all.

    3.  Get crafting: make yourself a super-cute companion.

    Crafting will make you feel productive and proactive and at the end you will have your own little keepsake.  We recommend trying out a project from Sock Puppet Madness by Marty Allen(a sneak peak of some of his projects can be found on our blog!)

     4.  Take a trip down memory lane: delight in the good old days.

    There is nothing better than taking a few minutes out of your day to indulge in the memories of yesteryear.  Learn how to style your flea market finds with Living Retro by Andrew Weaving and succumb to the joys of days gone by.

    5.  Bake a cake: savour every mouthful of your creation.Enjoy the process of putting something truly delicious together!  We recommend the sumptuous carrot cake from Guilt Free Gourmet, that will put a smile back on your face.  You can even share with friends, if you like.

    So, Blue Monday, your time is up.  We don’t feel so blue after all!


    This post was posted in Featured, News, News, UK, US and was tagged with Guilt Free Gourmet, Marty Allen, Gemma Correll

  • Posted on January 17, 2013

    Peter Linz (aka Walter from The Muppets) on Marty Allen's new book...

    'Read it, Loved it.  Marty Allen has ... simplified and elevated the art of designing... sock puppets.' Peter Linz (Walter from the Muppets)

     

    Marty Allen is a Boston-born, Brooklyn-based puppet-maker, artist, writer, musician & liker of life. He's got a very cool website at martystuff.com and he's got an equally cool book coming out on sock puppets on Valentine's Day so we thought we'd let him take over our blog for a day ...so here's Marty!

    (Above: Abraham Lincoln the sock puppet which is featured in the book)

    People often ask, "Hey Marty, what inspired you to create all of these crazy characters out of sock puppets?" And while the answers "a wild ride with some bad sushi" or "a disgruntled leprechaun with a baseball bat" are always tempting, the truth is far less entertaining, and much more organic. (Author's note: stay away from back-alley sushi stands, regardless of your need for inspiration.)

    Let's start with the facts. For the last six years I have made and sold Sock Puppet Portraits for a living. Not Sock Puppets, but their portraits—up-close photographs of sock puppets with elaborate stories and (often internet-based) lives. And what inspired that? A few things actually:

    1 Silliness
    2 A love of weird knick knacks
    3 The desire to make an odd little object that I myself might find and say, "Huh? Well that's neat!"
    4 To establish an organic path that would lead me to understand my love of character and storytelling

    In a wonderfully roundabout fashion, the Sock Puppet Portraits were born over six years ago, shortly after I finished a series of Sock Puppet-making workshops in Boston's parks. After completing these workshops, I made a bunch of puppets from the leftovers (one a day for thirty days, as a matter of fact). In related news, I've always had a love for finding strange, small picture frames. One stray night at work, I shot some stark, simple, and up-close photos of the sock puppets just for fun.  I put these puppet pictures inside the little frames, and with little ceremony the Sock Puppet Portraits were born. I occasionally gave them to friends or hung them at shows here and there. I noticed that there was something oddly appealing about them. A kind of universal reaction of "Huh, that's neat," when people encountered them.
    When I moved to New York in 2006, I thought, "Maybe people would like these and buy these if I tried to sell them..." They did. Then it was my job. Sock Puppet Portrait Salesman. The only one in the world...to the best of my knowledge.

    In their earliest (and some might argue, purest) form, the Sock Puppet Portraits were all small photographs in ornate, Victorian frames, with just my signature on the back. They've now graduated to larger pieces, framed and now on VERY fancy stretched canvases, with ever-more-complex structural notions for the puppets themselves. But the real evolution has been in the form of building their characters and the narratives that surround them.
    I've always been a natural namer: Uncle Monsterface, Mozzarella Botticelli, Claudius Von Cudgel…

    (Above: Claudius Von Cudgel)

    Names fall out of my brain like Pez from a broken (or functioning) dispenser. So I gave them names: The Jazzclops, Terrycloth Green, The Fabulous Flying Zambinis. Then I gave them individual Myspace profiles pages (I told you this was six years ago. We'd just invented the printing press, too!).

    Myspace was a unique way to expand the characters in their own words. Sadly modern social networks don't lend themselves as well to this, as they are more based on moment-to-moment expressions as opposed to profiles that can interact. Nonetheless, the first thirty or so were firmly entrenched in that old timey social network, and they had started to expand beyond it, too. Soon, one of the Series 1 Portraits, Uncle Monsterface became the mascot for the touring and related rock band.  The nine from Series 2 each got their own individual bands and at least one song in the first person. Series 2.5 came along right as Facebook broke, so these characters became the subject of a Facebook quiz-related “Appreciation Society” Group, and one of the more popular characters, Spot, received a Facebook of his own. The organic growth continued as I kept on selling my art on the streets, in fairs, and at rock shows. As I talked to people, I got to know them (both the people AND the puppets), and my love of character-building flourished. "Does the Earclops like crossword puzzles?" Yes, yes he does. "Can Uncle Monsterface fly?" No, but he is a fly dresser. Then Terrycloth Green got a Twitter (he was already in a bunch of other loud-mouthed NSFW videos on Youtube, anyways). The Fabulous Flying Zambinis

    (above: Plim Zambini, one third of the Fabulous Flying Zambinis)

    were featured in a video. Others appeared in more videos, including an outrageous cover of Madonna’s Like A Prayer. Meanwhile, I secretly began work on a permanent social network home for the Sock Puppet Portraits: MONSTERFACEBOOK.

    Amidst this wonderful chaos, my love of character had evolved into a love of story.  Or my love of story had revealed itself from behind the safe cover of my love of character. My first great experiment was the Series 3 Sock Puppet Portraits, who would become the cast of the internet soap opera, Sock Puppet Manor. I wrote the script for an ambitious nine episode series detailing the torrid lives of The Lollybottoms and The Durtlingers, two powerful pickle-canning families. We produced six of the nine episodes, and eventually aired three of them. Yours to see over at Sock Puppet Manor, many of whom are yours to build in "Sock Puppet Madness." (Small word of caution, while I like for most of my work to put be appropriate for "small children of all ages", the soap opera leans slightly more towards the PG-13 crowd).

    After that dust had cleared, I focused a bit more on the puppet-making for a year or so, and I started to think more deeply about the larger story that I was telling, or seeing grow around me. I began to truly focus on the bigger universe that I'd been jotting down notes from and building without even knowing it for so many years now. I pushed a few other lines of artwork that were tied into the bigger mythology (The Automatons and The White Book) publicly and worked privately on a few others (The Case Files of The Magician Detective, The Power Patterns and The Doodlings of The Grid), all of which helped to solidify the story. I dug into the process of telling one epic tale from The Seven Layers of Space—that of a young boy named Theodore and his quest to find his friend, save the day, and find his place in the world that he feels so separate from. The Nine newest Sock Puppet Portraits, Series 4, are the cast of this novel, all of which was funded by a successful Kickstarter in June of 2012.

    I'm also working on new music with Uncle Monsterface, a conceptual album called "RISE of the LAVA MEN", which has its own set of ties to the larger story of The Seven Layers of Space. The first three songs, The Ninja,

    (Above: Ninja)

    Scuba Diver, and Sports Robot, will also have accompanying Sock Puppet Portraits and lessons in "Sock Puppet Madness." The first single was released August of 2012, "(don't fear the) NINJA." The second single was released in September , for  S.C.U.B.A. Diver.
    I'm fascinated with this idea of creating a body of artwork that acts as artefacts from a larger tale and extends throughout a strange array of media, and I'm excited to let the already-successful Sock Puppet Portraits act as a cornerstone for that universe. And now, thanks to the good folks at Cico Books, you can build your own versions of characters from my weird brain and world. Goodness knows what that will do to the storytelling, but I can't wait to see!

    Sock Puppet Madness (published by CICO Books on 14.02.13.)

    includes 35 of the most fun, outlandish, off-the-wall and enchanting characters on the planet, and by following the simple step-by-step instructions, you'll be able to put together your own puppet in no time.

    If you would like to be notified when the book is available just add the book to your cart and follow the instructions!

    You may also like :-

    http://www.rylandpeters.com/craft-books


     

     


    This post was posted in News, News, UK, US and was tagged with Marty Allen, Valentines Day, sushi

  • Posted on January 14, 2013

    My Felted Friends, Mia Underwood's New Book!

     ‘Ever since I was a little girl, I have been passionate about making’

     Mia Underwood

     If you share Mia’s passion for making and you’re currently scouring the web for a new crafty project to keep you entertained, look no further!

    My Felted Friends is packed with miniature animal projects ranging from pandas and tigers to owls and pug puppies.  Perfect for the seasoned crafter or a beginner, these  suit animal enthusiasts and children alike.

    With a hat-wearing squirrel the rather surreal headlines this morning, why not pay homage to our furry parkland critter and make Mia’s Cheeky Squirrel (you can even put a hat on yours, if you like!)

    Check out this amazing video of Mia making her Wide-Eyed Owl project, also available in her book.

     To see a few more of Mia’s latest creations and for felt crafting ideas, visit Mia’s beautiful website and blog.

    Happy felt crafting!

    My Felted Friends is published by CICO Books and is available now!

    Loads more craft ideas also on our site.

     


    This post was posted in Featured, News, UK, US, Videos

  • Posted on January 10, 2013

    Five easy ways to win five great books!

    January.  A difficult time of year, wouldn’t you say? Well, what better way to cheer yourself up than by winning some lovely books. So we thought we would offer one of you the chance to win 5 great CICO books (you can find loads more here as well) which we feel might help to inspire you in 2013.

    Here’s the 5 books you could win…

    Shabby Chic Interiors – My Rooms, Treasures and Trinkets, an eclectic book of quirky inspiration, falls into chapters according to location, and begins with Rachel Ashwell’s breathtaking Los Angeles residence.

    Wonder Walls by Sarah Bagner, better known as ‘Supermarket Sarah’ shows you how to embrace everything you own and show it off on your walls – after all – you are your stuff! Whatever your taste, it’s about celebrating the beautiful, the eccentric, the simple.

    Faced with a house move and an excess of books, Clare Youngs decided rather than get rid of some, she would combine them with her passion for crafting to make pretty gifts and items to decorate her new home. Book Art gives books a new lease of life and creates 35 unique paper projects.

    Interior decorator SERA HERSHAM-LOFTUS and innovator of the seductive boudoir trend, shows us the best of her design style in her first book Seductive Interiors.

    Henrietta Spencer-Churchill brings the practical comfort of twenty-first century living to the elegant and timeless classical proportions of eighteenth century design in her recent tome, Georgian Style and Design.

    ,,,and all you have to do to enter is either:

    (i) Follow us on Twitter

    (ii) Like us on Facebook

    (iii) Link up with us on LinkedIn

    (iv) Enjoy our pins on Pinterest

    or

    (v) Join us on Instagram

    So if you did each of the above, you would be eligible to enter 5 times in total! Once you have done any/all of the social media suggestions listed, simply email mark.mcginlay@cicobooks.co.uk before 17h on Friday 25th January 2013.

    Best of luck!

     

     

     

     


    This post was posted in News, UK, What's new and was tagged with january, New Year, Clare Youngs, sera hersham loftus, rachel ashwell, instagram

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