Into the Forest...

After a walk exploring Macclesfield forest earlier in the year, I’ve been busy creating my ‘Into the Forest’ collection. Hand illustrated prints in a palette of blues, greys and warm mustard yellow are sure to help cosy up your home for the chilly months ahead…

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Autumn Hedgerows

I don't know about you, but I'm definitely starting to feel Autumnal after a little potter in the countryside picking blackberries at the weekend, so I wanted to share some ideas on how to embrace the beautiful Autumn weeks ahead:

1. Pick blackberries and make a yummy crumble! Here's a nice recipe.

2. Treat yourself to a new candle with a lovely Autumn scent and light in the now slightly darker and nippier evenings. Candles by fellow indie maker Wilton Street Craft smell lovely!

3. Get out and about with your camera and take some photos. This always helps me embrace the seasons by taking notice of changes in nature. Look out for the leaves changing colour, squirrels collecting nuts to bury for winter, and of course lovely toadstools! Use the hashtag #AutumnLovelies across Twitter and Instagram and we can all enjoy each others seasonal snaps!

4. Collect leaves and twigs outdoors to make a wreath or display. Here's some Pinterest inspiration to get you started.

5. And lastly, why not take a look at my Hedgerow collection! I'm offering 20% off everything in this print until the end of September! 

Happy Autumn everyone! x

Chippy Telephone Seat

I've been into Mid Century furniture and antiques for quite a few years and am always on the lookout for retro bargains to add to my collection!

I had seen a few examples of Chippy Heath furniture online, so I was really excited to find a telephone seat in a local charity shop. "It's a Chippy!" I shouted, with my nose pressed up against the shop window. My boyfriend was not impressed as we had just dropped off three or four bags of old clothes and books to make space, which would now be replaced with a piece of furniture - not helping our decluttering efforts one bit, but I had to have it!

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Chippy Heath Furniture Ltd was based in High Wycombe and produced many Mid Century designs during the 1960s and 70s. Check out this 1970s magazine advert featuring a Telephone seat very similar to my own!

Here's what my Chippy looked like when I first bought him. In need of a bit of TLC, yes?

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I set to searching for information online to help me spruce him up. This great YouTube tutorial gave me some brilliant tips on restoring and repairing Mid Century furniture.

I took over my Mum's garden for the afternoon and, after a bit of wrestling, managed to remove the seat pad ready for re-covering. After that I gave the whole frame a very light sanding before wiping clean and the polishing with teak oil, which brought out the lovely grain in the wood. My favourite feature of the seat is the little pull out drawer for writing down notes and phone numbers!

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I even managed to almost completely remove a big watermark on the top surface using the ironing tip shown in the above video.

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I couldn't decide whether to re-cover the seat with my Nasturtium print fabric or Mimosa, but went for the Mimosa in the end...and here's the final result! What do you think?

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Let me know about your Mid Century bargains and what you end up doing with them; I'd love to hear about your finds!

 

My Blue Tit and Catkin mugs

I visited Heraldic Pottery in Stoke-on-Trent recently to see my brand new mugs being produced. I found watching the various processes the mugs go through in order to create the final product really inspiring, so I thought I'd share my experience with you here!

First of all, the design is split into five colours - blue, yellow, light grey, dark grey and black. Each section of the design is then transferred onto a film and exposed onto silk screens ready for printing. Here's what will end up being the yellow layer getting exposed onto the screen.

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Can you see the Blue Tit's yellow tummies starting to take shape?

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All of the sections are then printed in layers to create the full image. Here are the completed prints drying...

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The transfers are then cut into sections and dipped into a water bath, which releases the transfer from the backing paper. Here I am having a go at applying a transfer to one of the mugs - the incredibly skilled staff at Heraldic make this part look easy, but I can assure you it isn't! I soon handed back to the experts, who you can see here skilfully applying my logo to the bottom of the mugs.

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Once the transfers are applied to the mugs, they are ready for firing; this process fixes the image to the surface.

And here's the final product!

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My mugs are made from English fine bone china, hand decorated in Stoke-on-Trent, and they're available now in my Etsy shop if you'd like to take a closer look!

Wild Garlic Foccacia

On a recent walk in my favourite local area of  Didsbury on the outskirts of Manchester, we happened upon some wild garlic. I have been mad into the idea of foraging ever since picking wild blackberries and crab apples with my parents whilst holidaying as a child, and could barely contain my excitement at the bounty we had stumbled across.

If you’re not familiar with wild garlic, whilst out walking in the countryside mainly in wooden areas, you will often smell it before you see it as it fills the air with the heady scent of yes, you guess it, garlic. So here’s what is looks like if you want to look out for some yourself…

Obviously be careful what you pick, I don’t want anyone getting poorly tums off the back of this post, but to be honest it is pretty unmistakeable. Try squeezing a couple of leaves and if your fingers smell garlicky you’re onto a winner!

And then I thought, ‘what to make with it when I get home?’

I liked the idea of making some lovely rustic bread so set to and scoured the internet for a suitable recipe and came across this gem by Jamie Oliver and Genaro Contaldo – the video is well worth a watch, I love seeing these two working together. 

This recipe was sooo easy to make and VERY tasty. I now can’t believe that I had not before attempted making focaccia, but I will certainly be making it again, hope you enjoy it too!

Ingredients

500g Strong white bread flour

1 tsp Sea salt

 1 x 7g Sachet dried yeast

300ml Tepid water

Handful of wild garlic

Olive oil

Breadcrumbs made from stale bread, or I used panko breadcrumbs

Extra sea salt for sprinkling

Method

Grease a baking tin with olive oil – I used the same tin I use to make brownies which worked great.

Pour flour into a large bowl, or onto your work surface if you have a lot of space (which I don’t..) make a well in the middle.

Combine the yeast with the water until well mixed. Pour the water into your well in the middle of the flour, and begin to work in the flour with a fork in a circular motion.

Once the mixture starts to come together as a dough start kneading with floured hands. Keep kneading for 5-10 minutes until you have a smooth round ball of dough. Pop the dough into a bowl and cover with a warm damp cloth or tea towel. Leave to prove at room temperature for 1 hour.

Grab your wild garlic and tear into a pestle and mortar. I only have a tiny pestle and mortar so instead I used the end of a rolling pin in a pudding basin which worked fine. Pound the wild garlic with a drizzle of olive oil and pinch of sea salt until you have something the texture of pesto.

Sprinkle your breadcrumbs evenly across the bottom of your oiled tin (this give the bread a nice crunchy bottom!). Once proved, Lay your dough into the tin and pour your wild garlic mixture on top. Now press your fingertips all over the dough right to the bottom of your tin, rubbing and pressing the garlic mixture into your dough. This gives the focaccia its lovely texture – watch the video for the technique if you’re unsure. You can also tear and roll up a few extra leaves and push into the dough for extra flavour and texture.

Lay a warm damp cloth over your tin once again and prove for another hour. Preheat your oven to 225° c.

Once proved, bake your bread in the hot oven for 20 – 25 minutes until lightly golden on top.

When you take it out of the oven, lightly drizzle with some more olive oil and a sprinkling of sea salt. And its ready to serve. YUM!

 

 

 

Lighting the Square

This week is London Craft Week, an annual event showcasing exceptional craftsmanship at open studios and workshops, galleries and museums, shops and department stores across the city. Unfortunately I won't be able to make it down to London this week to check out this year's offerings, but I wanted to share a favourite from my visit last year - Tom Raffield’s ‘Lighting the Square’.

Tom handcrafts wooden lighting and furniture in Cornwall, a place very close to my own heart.

For this particular installation, Tom's steam-bent sculptural light forms were hung from the trees on Orange Square, highlighting and celebrating the traditional techniques used by skilled craftspeople at his woodland workshop.

Tom's work is inspired by the unspoilt landscapes and natural beauty of his surrounding area. I loved the contrast of these natural wooden forms hung against the bustling urban London streets as their backdrop.

These beautifully crafted pieces are a perfect way to bring a sculptural handcrafted piece of art into your own home, in a practical way – definitely one for my wishlist..

Spring is here!

Dare I say it, but it looks like Spring is finally here! So what better time to introduce my brand new prints to you...

My Mum found a rather sad looking Mimosa plant buried away in the bargain corner of a local nursery. She planted it in a little nook in her garden, never expecting it would flourish...but it’s now as tall as the house, flowering every year! It's one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen and inspired my first experiments with lino cutting, from which I developed this pattern.

My Mum found a rather sad looking Mimosa plant buried away in the bargain corner of a local nursery. She planted it in a little nook in her garden, never expecting it would flourish...but it’s now as tall as the house, flowering every year! It's one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen and inspired my first experiments with lino cutting, from which I developed this pattern.

I found a beautiful patch of wildflowers on my annual holiday to Cornwall. Growing in a rainbow of colours, they were attracting hundreds of bright blue butterflies and busy bees as they bobbed in the fresh sea breeze, happily looking out over the bay from Padstow to Rock.

I found a beautiful patch of wildflowers on my annual holiday to Cornwall. Growing in a rainbow of colours, they were attracting hundreds of bright blue butterflies and busy bees as they bobbed in the fresh sea breeze, happily looking out over the bay from Padstow to Rock.

While out walking in the Lake District, I was fascinated by two beauties of nature that I had never encountered before: Nuthatches, scurrying up and down tree trunks, and larch branches in blossom. A new print was unfolding before my eyes!

While out walking in the Lake District, I was fascinated by two beauties of nature that I had never encountered before: Nuthatches, scurrying up and down tree trunks, and larch branches in blossom. A new print was unfolding before my eyes!

I really loved working on these prints through the Winter months, whilst eagerly awaiting brighter days ahead :) I'm proud to say that all of my prints are designed here in my little home studio in Manchester, and everything is made in Britain which is something I'm really passionate about. Head over to my Etsy site if you would like to take a look at the full range!

Love, Natalie x

Manchester Print Fair

I was over the moon to be exhibiting at me second Manchester Print Fair last weekend. I have been visiting the fair for a few years now which has taken place in several iconic buildings around the city, and this time we came together at the beautiful Manchester Cathedral!

We had such a wonderful and busy day and the sun was even shining on us through the stunning stained glass windows of the Cathedral. I managed to squeeze in a quick wander around to check out the amazing creative talent - here are a few of my favourites...

I've been a big fan of  Ding Ding  for a while now, so it was lovely to have a quick chat at the fair. Each item is made by hand in Nottingham, starting with hand-cut collages which are then simplified into one colour prints and applied to homewares, accessories and stationery. I LOVE the clip boards (of which I have two of my own!)

I've been a big fan of Ding Ding for a while now, so it was lovely to have a quick chat at the fair. Each item is made by hand in Nottingham, starting with hand-cut collages which are then simplified into one colour prints and applied to homewares, accessories and stationery. I LOVE the clip boards (of which I have two of my own!)

My lovely stall neighbour Zuzanna is the one woman team behind the amazing  Silky Way  magazine. Each edition celebrates a different city, which I just love the idea of! The first edition out last year was all about Tokyo, and the second launched just this week is all about Cardiff where Zuzanna is currently living. The magazine is beautifully thought out and all so inspiring! Be sure to grab your copy soon :)

My lovely stall neighbour Zuzanna is the one woman team behind the amazing Silky Way magazine. Each edition celebrates a different city, which I just love the idea of! The first edition out last year was all about Tokyo, and the second launched just this week is all about Cardiff where Zuzanna is currently living. The magazine is beautifully thought out and all so inspiring! Be sure to grab your copy soon :)

Alice Smith 's stunning work was a new but very welcome discovery for me. Alice produces work in the form of books and limited edition prints. Her work includes a mixture of line drawing and collage, and occasionally employs printmaking techniques including silkscreen and letterpress printing. My favourite items on her stall were her beautiful printed seed packets - right up my street!

Alice Smith's stunning work was a new but very welcome discovery for me. Alice produces work in the form of books and limited edition prints. Her work includes a mixture of line drawing and collage, and occasionally employs printmaking techniques including silkscreen and letterpress printing. My favourite items on her stall were her beautiful printed seed packets - right up my street!

Don't worry if you missed out on the print fair this time, because the next dates have already been announced - Take a look here for more details and keep your eyes peeled for the makers to be announced.

Things to come

In truth, I was sort of dreading January…

The run up to Christmas was really busy, between juggling freelance work, running my online shop and taking part in various maker’s markets and shows at the weekends. Having left my day job earlier in 2017, this was the first time in just over 8 years that I had a completely different routine at this time of year. Don’t get me wrong, the change has done me THE WORLD of good, but I must admit that I didn’t quite know what day of the week it was most of the time in November and December!

I also think that I didn’t feel quite as festive as usual, probably due to how busy I was. I had a lovely time back home with my family over Christmas, and celebrated a very fun New Year back here in Manchester with friends, but before I knew it the dreaded January had arrived.

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The start of the year has been harder over the past few years for my family since we lost my lovely Dad back in 2013. It will be 5 years in February, but it still feels utterly surreal that he isn’t around anymore. So whilst I do have lots of happy sad feelings at this time, a few weeks of looking after each other is definitely in order.

All these feelings aside – I think I’m doing okay! I’m trying my best to embrace the start of the new year, and all the promise and new experiences that come with it. I’m enjoying cosying in with candles and snuggly blankets in the evenings, and getting wrapped up to venture outside on those rare crisp days where the sky is blue.

But January won’t be around for long and I don’t want to waste it this year! So as catkins are already appearing on the trees and spring bulbs are starting to sprout, I’ve decided to list the goals and personal achievements I hope to accomplish this year. I’ve read that if you make your goals public you are a lot more likely to stick to them…so here goes!

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Worry less 

I am a MASSIVE worrier and I’ve realised (finally, at the age of 31) that my constant day to day anxieties make things so much more blimmin’ difficult and have been holding me back in a lot of ways. So I’m going to make a conscious effort to think positively and stop believing that every decision I make is going to be the wrong one! From now on I will try to be a ‘glass half full’ sort of person.

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Get healthy

I suppose this is a pretty common goal that a lot of people have after an indulgent festive period, but I am definitely feeling (and looking!) rounder than usual of late. I’m never going to be stick thin, and I’m not particularly troubled by that fact – the truth is I just love food too much not to enjoy it! – but I do think I’d benefit from being a little healthier. I was getting pretty bored of cooking the same meals before Christmas, so as of January I’ve set up a Pinterest board where I can add all of the healthy recipes I find. I’m keeping any that are tasty and delete those I’m not as keen on. It’s going well so far, although I am having to ignore the Christmas chocolate and biscuits still left in the kitchen…

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Take more photos

I’ve always been into photography – I’m not in the slightest bit techy, but I’ve always enjoyed taking pictures and often use them as inspiration to develop my patterns from. But of late I’ve not really been picking up my camera as much as I should. It’s felt like I’ve hit a bit of a stumbling block with it; when I think about it, I think the reason might be that I follow so many amazing feeds on Instagram that I’ve become scared, thinking I’ll never be good enough so what’s the point! But when I flip that around, if I don’t practice and learn I’ll never improve.

I broke the ice and ventured outside with my camera on Saturday for the first time in months! My boyfriend and I visited the lovely Quarry Bank Mill in Cheshire and it just so happened that it was a dry day and the sun was hanging low through the trees. The pictures you see in this post are what I captured, and I’m pretty pleased with them for my first attempt for the year! You can follow my photography progress this year over on instagram.

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Be more sociable

Although excited to start working for myself last year, one thing I was slightly nervous about was working on my own. I’d always worked in an office full of people, where even if you wanted five minutes of quiet to get on with something it never quite happened. What would it be like to work somewhere quiet all the time? Would I turn into a hermit? Become a recluse? Slowly develop a hunchback and no longer answer the door?

The truth is that the AMAZING online creative community, along with loads of lovely creatives I have met at the fairs and events I’ve had a stall at throughout the year, have helped my confidence grow significantly. Being accepted by this amazing community of makers has been just lovely, so thank you so much to everybody! My aim for this year is to keep building this network of gems so we can all support each other, and hopefully with the amount I have learnt this year I can aim to help support some fellow newbies in the world of self-employment.

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Look after myself

Towards the end of last year, I realised that I don’t really look after myself as well as I should. I enjoy looking after other people and think that’s second nature to me, but when it comes to myself I’m quite the opposite. I always look at the bad points in things I’ve done instead of the positive. I’m incredibly self-critical, which while sometimes helpful usually isn’t. And I frequently forget to have ‘me’ time to reflect on, well, anything at all!

Whilst I was taking part in Tuesday evening’s #theinstachat on Twitter with @MeandOrla, I read some great advice from Mackenzie Lian:

 

“Write a list of all the things you've achieved in the last year, no matter how small. We don't give ourselves enough credit for the little things we succeed at”

 

I think this would be a really positive exercise for me. In the same way I’m planning my goals for this year, it would be great to get a feel for how I did in the last year and hopefully feel a little better about myself – maybe even give myself a little pat on the back! Or a cake? No, no, not a cake – healthy eating and all that…

Another hugely helpful nugget of advice came from Rebekah Markewich:

 

“Treat yourself how you would treat your best friend.”

 

I’ve never considered this before and it has really resonated with me. So I’ve decided that I am going to remember that phrase and give myself a good talking to (and looking after!) whenever I’m being overly hard on myself.

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Support small businesses

And finally, I want to continue to support other small businesses in as many ways as I can. Since taking the plunge to working for myself in April last year, I now completely value the difference every single bit of support makes – be it an online sale, a friendly chat at a makers fair, some positive feedback, or just a little supportive tweet when you’re feeling a little flaked. It all helps so much.

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I’ve found writing down my goals a really positive exercise and my mind is feeling so much more focused than a couple of weeks back – so if you’re feeling a little overwhelmed and not sure where to start with 2018 I’d urge you to give it a go.

So here goes 2018! I’m ready for you 😊

Chemistry Style

Inspired by my father who was a Chemist, I recently designed a collection of Chemistry-themed prints for fabric.

In this post I have collected together some of my favourite finds which would look great styled alongside my Chemistry prints in your home! I particularly love teal and green tones at the moment, along with stylish mid-century furniture and vintage labware - this little lot is right up my street. Hope you enjoy!

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1, 6 and 9. My Chemistry cushions - Natalie Laura Ellen   2. Azure Christie Vase - Magpie   3. Vintage Teal paint - Valspar   4. Vintage lab glass - SF Girl by Bay   5. Record PLayer - Crosley   7. Type 75 Desk Lamp - Anglepoise   8. Periodic Table Wall Chart - I Love Retro   10. Trend blog 'Labatory Botanica' - Temple and Webster   11. Mobile Chandelier - West Elm   12. Mid Century Cocktail Chair - Reloved Upholstery   13. Pappelina Doormat - homeArama

My 'Chunky Knit' collection

I’m a chilly one at the best of times, so as soon as the days get colder and the nights get longer I want nothing more than to get cosy with some chunky knit! The designs in my 'knit' collection playfully magnify the microscopic weaves that beautiful knitted fabrics are created from.

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Head over to my shop now to take a look at the new collection!

1. 'Knit' cushions by Natalie Laura Ellen  2. Knitted throw by Lauren Aston Designs    3. 'Knit' cushions by Natalie Laura Ellen  4. By @giosmama2626 on Instagram  5. Blanket tutorial by Country Living  6. 'Knit' cushions by Natalie Laura Ellen  7. Styling by Creating Home

Bee Friendly Homewares

I have collected a selection of my favourite bee themed homewares for you to peruse at your leisure! All of which would sit perfectly along side my bee prints in your lovely homes.

1.  Honey bee tea towel by  Noteworthy Paper Press   2.  Bees canvas poster by  Bygone Press   3.  Bamboo honeycomb magnetic key holder by  BU Products   4.  Honey bee cushion by  Natalie Laura Ellen   5.  British bees illustrated digital print by  Annie Dornan Smith   6.  Walnut honeycomb drinks coasters by  Denvers Designs   7.  Honeycomb vase by  Nectar and Bumble   8.  Bee mug by  Julia Smith Ceramics

1. Honey bee tea towel by Noteworthy Paper Press 2. Bees canvas poster by Bygone Press 3. Bamboo honeycomb magnetic key holder by BU Products 4. Honey bee cushion by Natalie Laura Ellen 5. British bees illustrated digital print by Annie Dornan Smith 6. Walnut honeycomb drinks coasters by Denvers Designs 7. Honeycomb vase by Nectar and Bumble 8. Bee mug by Julia Smith Ceramics

Hello there!

It's lovely to be back, and I am so excited to share my brand new website with you all! 

Be sure to check out my brand new range of designs and products!

And why not take advantage of my welcome offer? You can get 10% off across all items using the code 'TREATS10' at checkout. The offer is valid until Sunday 27th at 11:59pm - so don't miss out!

I really hope you enjoy having a look around! Do get in touch as I'd love to hear your thoughts :)

Love Natalie x