6 articles Articles posted in Art

Personalising Your Stationery with Basic Invite

Anyone who knows me knows that there are a few things about which I’m passionate. Eating a keto diet, lifting weights, spending time on my blog and social media are a few (aside from Husband and the kids, obvs!) but the other thing I love is stationery. When I was a kid, I’d get my pocket money each week and the first place I’d want to go would be WH Smiths to buy pens, pencils, notepads and anything I could use to write and draw with.

As an adult, I love stationery that I’m able to have a hand in designing (I made some beautiful thank you cards for Sausage to send to people a few years back and I’ve been hooked ever since) and Basic Invite is one of my favourite sites. It has so many unique features that make making our own, personalised stationery an absolute delight.

As well as offering almost unlimited colour options on the actual design of your invites, grad announcements, thank you cards or whatever else you’re making, there’s a choice of over 40 colours for your envelopes too, allowing you to really dial-in the colour scheme you’re aiming for. Basic Invite is one of the few websites that allows customers the ability to order a printed sample of their actual invitation so they can see exactly how it will print as well as the paper quality before they ever have to place their final order.

Grad Announcements Basic Invite

However, I think my absolute favourite feature of the site is the free address collection service. In just three easy steps, you can share a link with the intended recipients of what you’re planning to send asking them to give you their full address, making the whole process of collecting everyone’s details a doddle. Anything that can make my life exponentially simpler is a complete win, in my opinion!

We’ve got a lot of important stuff coming up in the next few months; Sausage is having a surprise party for her birthday (she knows she’s having it, she just doesn’t know what the party will be!) and we’ll be needing some special custom invites, plus a few family members are graduating this year too, AND one of my best friends is having a baby so there will be a bunch of reasons for using Basic Invite and I couldn’t be happier about it. There are also a load of really gorgeous free printables on the site, perfect for a birthday party or baby shower.

Free Baby Shower printables

You can check out Basic Invite on all of their social media channels (FacebookPinterestInstagram and Twitter) and you can also follow the link above to head over to the site and see all of the wonderful design options for yourself. he whole process is really simple and fun to do, and it’s a HUGE amount cheaper than commissioning someone to design something for you. We’ll definitely be using the service a lot more in 2017 and beyond! 

The Sticker Club – Review

I’m pretty sure that if you were to perform an MRI on Sausage, you’d see that half of her internal organs were actually plastered with stickers. The kid LOVES stickers. A quick stroll around our house reveals stickers stuck to various surfaces and Sausage loves nothing more than choosing a special sticker for her Dad or I with which to adorn our possessions. Up until recently, my Cath Kidston purse had a rainbow unicorn on it and my laptop is sporting a stripy Furby! When The Sticker Club got in touch and asked if we’d like to review their weekly subscription service, I knew I couldn’t say no. The Sticker Club

Each week, 9 sheets of original stickers turn up in a striking yellow envelope, and I have to admit, even get excited about seeing what’s going to be in there each week! All of the stickers are original Sticker Club designs and the package is addressed directly to the child, so that get that lovely little thrill of getting something for themselves in the mail.

Sausage’s imagination has been stimulated wonderfully by the stickers; she’s constantly making pictures around the images, sticking them onto paper and using pens, pencils, crayons and paint to turn them into a full-on piece of art and the designs are so wonderfully quirky. I also love the fact that there’s no ‘girls stickers’ or ‘boys stickers’ – every pack includes gender neutral stickers which appeal to all kids. Sometimes there’s football and aliens, back to back with flowers and adorable fruit people, but all of the stickers are well designed and attractive to everyone.

There are various subscription options, starting at £1.99 a week and also gift options if you wanted to give The Sticker Club for a birthday or Christmas. I actually think an annual subscription would make a brilliant gift as it’s something which would last for a whole year and would keep on giving, rather than being something which ends up forgotten, at the bottom of the toy box.

I’m genuinely impressed with The Sticker Club; every package has arrived on a Monday without fail, all of the stickers are well designed and unique, and they’re perfect for stimulating little imaginations. Once our complimentary subscription period is over, Husband and I will definitely be subscribing to this for Sausage – and there’s even a sibling subscription option, too so perhaps in a few years BB will get her very own subscription too!

As for the lady herself, here’s what Sausage had to say about it all: “I think it’s exciting and they do brilliant sticker pictures. There’s nothing I’d change about it at all! The stickers are cool and I love getting things in the post. “

High praise indeed!

Sausage’s Dream Home

A little while back, the people at Principality Building Society sent us a great little bundle of craft materials and asked Sausage to use them to create a rendering of her ‘dream home’. Well, no one has an imagination quite as vivid as my biggest baby so I knew she’d be well and truly up to the challenge and I was not wrong!

She started by making a list of all the things that she wanted to include and then did a basic sketch to mark out where everything would go.

Sausage's Dream House

We did our best to include everything and some ideas evolved as they went along, but I think Sausage (with a little help from Mummy!) did an amazing job…

Sausage's Dream Home

The house, as you can see, has a giant waterslide instead of a staircase and the roof is made of glass so that Sausage can observe the sealife from the comfort of her home. She opted for a seaweed garden so that baby fish have a safe place to feed and she decided that the outside of her home should be multicoloured so that it looks like part of the coral reef.

I think you’ll agree that Sausage has done an amazing job of designing and creating her dream home and I can’t wait until she’s older and incredibly wealthy so that she can build the house and her Dad and I can visit!

Principality have created a great little video, asking kids what their dream home would look like, which you can see below:

What would your dream house look like?

Red Hot or Ginger Minger?

My friend Aly has got a bit of a thing for ginger men. I suppose you could say that I have too, given the fact that I’m married to one, but the other day she posted a link to a site called Red Hot. Red Hot is the brainchild of a guy called Thomas Knight, who’s photographed a whole bunch of good-looking red-headed males and is exhibiting them in a London gallery this year as part of a campaign which is associated with the Anti-Bullying Alliance.

red-hot1-732x1024

Most people are aware of the stigma which seems to be attached to red-headedness, and as someone who grew up with a ginger Dad and a ginger best friend during High School, it always left me entirely bemused. I could never quite add up, in my head, what could be supposedly so negative someone’s hair colour, but the fact that the Anti-Bullying Alliance are involved just shows how deeply the stigma runs. As a mother to a red-headed child, it’s quite scary, if I’m honest.

Sausage is a pretty girl with a shock of bright red curls (and her best friend at school is ginger, too. In fact there are 4 of them in her class!) and she’s constantly complimented on her beautiful hair. In fact, she’s been know to (sometimes rather obliquely!) announce it at random, to strangers, as if they might not have noticed; “I have ginger hair!”, she’ll proudly say. It’s genuinely painful to me that, one day, that pride herself and her uniqueness might be stripped away by thoughtless bullies who don’t have the imagination to come up with a better insult.

I was under the, perhaps slightly naive, impression that the whole anti-ginger thing was dead and buried. The likes of Damien Lewis, Emma Stone, Julianne Moore, Karen Gillan and Christina Hendricks have done wonders for making the world see how beautiful red hair is (even if some of them do come out of a bottle!) and it seemed to me that such narrow-minded nonsense was long-gone, but if the Red Hot guys are anything to go by, with their PR assault on the UK, then there’s still a long way to go before the insults are completely forgotten.

It was in the news this year that many sperm banks have stopped taking donations from red-headed men altogether because nobody wanted them. So, a woman is so desperate to conceive a baby that she’ll use a donor, but only if that baby has less of a chance of coming out ginger? Madness!

The thing that baffles me the most is that I completely fail to see what it is that’s wrong with red hair? Where I live (and I’m assuming in other parts of the UK, too) there’s a huge trend for girls trying to dye their hair red at the moment. It never looks as nice as natural ginger and you can see it’s fake from the stratosphere, but the intention for redness is there. Perhaps I’m biased because the two people I love most in the world are redheads, but to me it’s gorgeous. I know taste is wholly subjective, but I simply cannot see what is so objectionable about ginger hair that makes people act so appallingly to others.

So, come on people, tell me what it is that’s so bad about red hair? And if you can’t, I suggest you think twice before you make a ‘funny’ comment next time. Let’s change our stupid, pre-programmed bullshit and actually think about what we’re saying and how we’re treating a whole bunch of people. You wouldn’t comment on someone’s race/weight/sexuality in that way…would you?

Do Artists Need to be Poor to be Relevant?

Banksy

On our way to Liverpool on Friday, Husband and I were having a bit of a music sesh in the car, playing lots of CDs and going through some albums that we haven’t listened to in a while. We’re both massive fans of The Streets and one of the albums that got a play was Mike Skinner’s first, Original Pirate Material. I said to Husband that it would be on my all-time top ten albums list and he agreed, but we went on to discuss how Mike’s later projects didn’t have nearly as much of an impact as his first.

We decided it was because, when Mr. Skinner made his first album, he was young and ‘real’ – he didn’t have a lot of money, he was just an average lad making his way in the world and writing about his experiences. When you listen to his music is has a reality to it, a grittiness that makes it so unique. Our hypothesis about the subsequent albums is that as his success spiralled, he took a step away from the normality of his life and it made his writing less relevant to normal people and the audience with whom his previous work had resonated so deeply.

It reminded me of a conversation that I had with two of Husband’s cousins a couple of Christmasses ago. The conversation had got onto Banksy, the infamous yet anonymous street artist and political commentator who has taken the world by storm in the last few years. At the time, another ‘outing’ had happened where someone had claimed to the press that Banksy was not, in fact, a normal bloke from Bath who’d worked his way up in the street-art subculture, but was actually privately educated and from a wealthy background.

Both of Husband’s cousins were disgusted that he was potentially middle class and almost seemed to feel betrayed by his apparent class status. I asked them both at the time if artists needed to be poor to be subversive, especially given that a lot of Banksy’s art is so political, but they couldn’t quite come to a conclusion as to why it was unsuitable for someone of means to be commenting on politics in such an ‘urban’ way. And if Banksy was a rich boy, was his social commentary less authentic, because he lacked first-hand experience?

Don’t get me wrong, I’m by NO means advocating the middle and upper classes, I’m a working class girl from a background of union members and hard-grafters, but I do find it interesting that there seems to be a correlation between how people view certain artists and the class that those artists would most identify with. I looked back through the ages too, and it’s not just a recent phenomena – Picasso is one of the most divisive artists in history, but I’ve heard many an anecdote about him having to burn some of his early canvasses just to stay warm, during times of abject poverty when he couldn’t afford wood for his fire. Van Gogh died without a penny to his namem having never found fame during his life, only to be one of the most celebrated impressionists of modern times.

It’s not just artists either – Jimi Hendrix, Ringo Starr, Johnny Cash and Elvis Presley all came from poverty and I can’t help but wonder if their individual impacts on the music world would have been so great had they been born middle or upper class? If they’d have had the edge and drive that they needed to become superstars? Sure, there are plenty of actors, artists, comedians and musician (especially in The UK) who were afforded the privilege of money and good education,  but I find it interesting how much more respect people are given when they appear to have ‘come from nothing’, and how the relevance of their music is increased by it.

So, how about you? Would you be disappointed to find out that Banksy was from a rich family? Would it make you think less of his art, or is the message the same regardless of what he came from? Does a person’s origins give them more of a right to comment on society, and does poverty make that opinion more authentic?

Let me know, I’m really interested in your opinion!

Draw With Me – August

The lovely Sonia over at This Mummy Loves has come up with a new linky with her daughter, which involves a theme being set for our littlies, who then draw a picture to represent that theme. This month’s theme was ‘Summer’, so I got Sausage on the case, who came up with this beautiful, seasonal offering:

Sausage's SummerSausage’s Summer – Aged 5

This is a multimedia composition, using both pencils and pastels, and although chicks, lambs and rabbits usually represent spring, we had such a naff spring this year that I think all of these things became far more synonymous with summer! One thing that I adore about Sausage’s art is that everyone depicted, be they human, animal or mineral, is always smiling. I like to hope that’s because my daughter is also happy and views the world around her through happy eyes.

Anyway, that’s our effort for this month. Sonia is planning to do this every month and it’s something that I can see Sausage and I getting involved with on a regular basis. Click the button below to go over to This Mummy Loves and see the rest of the entries.

Draw With Me – This Mummy Loves