Country Crafts

Upcycled Vintage Shutter

by Claire, June 26th, 2013

We’ve recently moved to a new premises that we share with a few other businesses and we wanted a business card holder for our communal area. Having scoured the internet and found nothing inspiring I remembered an old French shutter that I picked up on a recent buying trip and decided to have a go at upcycling it.

The original shutter had a frame around it which meant that it was too big for the space we had available so first job was to remove that – it was pretty straightforward and just involved removing a hinge held on with a couple of rusty screws.

I love the look of old shutters just leant against a wall and used to display cards and other pretty things but we needed this to be more secure and wanted to fix it flush to the wall, so the next job was to remove all the metal work from the back of the slatted area. This was quite tricky and involved metal cutters and a hacksaw but I persevered and once they were off I fixed a thin piece of MDF to the back and hey presto. I slid some cardboard inside some of the slats to make it easier to display smaller cards as well – a stunning repurposed shutter business card holder.

I then painted another piece of MDF with blackboard paint and attached it to the frame to make a funky little blackboard.

For more ideas and inspiration about upcycling vintage shutters check out this fab blog post by Dishfunctional Designs

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91 Magazine

by Claire, April 22nd, 2013

Don’t miss the latest edition of 91 Magazine, a fab online publication for anyone who loves vintage, crafts and interiors.

Collated by a range of fantastic creative people, it features news, style tips, shopping ideas, interiors, features on craft and vintage style and proudly supports small businesses, designers and crafts people.

In this issue there’s a great article on the history of enamelware as well as a feature on bringing vintage style to your garden.

Check out the latest issue here

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Our new rusted iron range

by Daniel, November 15th, 2011

Rusted Iron Pot Stand from Mabel & RoseWe’re really excited about our new range of rusted iron plant supports and pot holders. Working together with Mick Merchant, a local traditional blacksmith, we’ve designed some lovely vintage-look iron garden accessories that are now available to buy in our online shop.

Made from sturdy, long-lasting 6mm round mild steel, we’ve weathered these plant supports and pot stands outside for a few weeks, but the great thing is they’ll only look better the more weathern-worn they become. All items in the range will also be available in a brushed steel finish with a coat of lacquer to protect them against the elements.

The rusted iron supports will provide support for your plants and shrubs throughout the growing season but will also add some elegent structure to your borders during the winter months.

We will be selling the rusted iron pot stands with a special offer on some vintage terracotta pots – filled up with winter pansies, violas or cyclamens, these pot stands are another way to bring some colour and interest to your garden or patio during the winter.

Mick Merchant, West Oxfordshire BlacksmithMick Merchant comes from a family of blacksmiths that have been working a forge in West Oxfordshire for over three generations and his skill and experience have been invaluable in helping us create this range.

Working in partnership with Mick it’s great to be able to help a local blacksmith sustain their business during what is a difficult time for traditional craftsmen.

Take a look at our rusted iron range in our online shop »

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Vintage Tools

by Daniel, May 24th, 2010 - 1 comment

When I was growing up in rural Hampshire, there was a hurdle-maker who lived at the end of the lane. Like his father, and his grandfather before him, ‘Lit’ Westbrook would work all week making traditional sheep hurdles from hazel coppiced from woods in the local estate.

I used to watch the hurdle-maker, hypnotised by his calm, steady movements and efficiently repeated actions. The tool he held most commonly was an old billhook which he used to expertly split the hazel rods before weaving them into hurdles.

This billhook looked like it had been passed down through generations of Hampshire hurdle makers – its blade was worn but still sharp, its handle polished to a smooth satin patina by decades of use.

Nowadays when I use a vintage garden tool with a similar hand-worn grip I can’t help wondering how many generations of gardeners have held this same old fork or spade. It’s easy to imagine that the tool itself has inherited some wisdom and skill from its masters over the years –  and that in turn the vintage tool passes on this knowledge and expertise to anyone using them in the garden.

Do you have a favourite vintage tool you use in the garden, or a garden implement that has been handed down through your family? We’d love to hear about them.

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Pine Cone Bird Feeders

by Claire, January 11th, 2010 - 1 comment

The snow has meant a false start to the new year for many of us and with school closed and sub-zero temperatures meaning trips outside are pretty short-lived, (in fact it takes twice as long to get ready to go out than the amount of time we actually manage to stay outside) it’s been a pretty tough week.

Despite the cabin fever, bored children and my frustration at not being able to get on with the tonnes of things I need to be doing I am trying to stay positive……the upside of the snow is that it transforms my messy winter garden into a thing of beauty (no mean feat) and it has forced me to find more creative ways of entertaining the children.

One of the things we did this weekend was to make our own bird feeders out of pine cones – they’re easy to make, the kids enjoyed it and the birds were very grateful.

If you fancy having a go then here’s what you will need….

  • Pine cones (large open ones work best but we just used ones we had to hand)
  • String
  • Vegetable shortening, lard or suet
  • Oatmeal or cornmeal
  • Bird seed

First tie the string to the pine cones, then mix 1/2 cup of vegetable shortening (or alternative) with 1/2 cup of oatmeal in bowl until blended. Spread the mixture over the cones with a butter knife or back of a spoon, then roll the pine cones in the seed until well covered.  Hang outside for the birds to enjoy.

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Deck the Halls with Natural Christmas Decorations…..

by Claire, December 8th, 2009 - 4 comments

AtworkI spent a really inspiring morning at Garden Organic in Ryton this weekend learning how to make natural Christmas decorations on one of their practical courses.

We learnt how to work with materials like willow, birch and dogwood to make wreaths, stars and other decorations. Once the basic shapes had been mastered it was time to get creative with all sorts of things you can easily find in the garden at this time of year. Fir cones, cinnamon sticks and dried oranges provided the finishing touches.

I loved the end results, which have a certain rustic charm and were really not that difficult to achieve.  As well as a great sense of satisfaction from making these myself, what I also love is that they can be easily recycled on the compost heap once the festivities are over.

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Happy Halloween

by Claire, October 31st, 2009

Pumpkins - Mabel & Rose

It seemed like an appropriate day to harvest my crop of winter squash from the veggie patch, pictured here in one of our vintage baskets with some decorative gourds and a traditional pumpkin that the kids will be hollowing out into a Jack o Lantern later.

I love the decorative gourds and they are perfect for displaying indoors, bringing a much needed splash of colour when the supply of flowers from the garden starts to dwindle.

The kids love them too – all the weird and wonderful shapes and sizes seem to capture their imagination. For older kids making a gourd birdhouse is a great way to recycle and encourage wildlife to the garden.

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