Wednesday, 21 February 2018

Corporate Gifting on World Book Day 2018

Illustrations from various titles published by Walker Books Ltd. © 2017 Individual artists.  All rights reserved

Calling corporate companies, and large; medium; small businesses who adhere to a strong social responsibility policy. Why not consider supporting children's literacy skills by gifting a primary school or community group with a Literacy Toolkit from National Literacy Trust (pictured above)?  

Each box is filled with:

  • A range of 50 books for children and young people to inspire reading.
  • Guidance and templates to help schools engage parents and their local community.
  • Activity sheets and other information to use in classrooms and send home.
  • Access to National Literacy Trust Membership, which offers expert literacy support and resources, for a local school for one year.

Gifting a box is a simple way to make a difference to your local community and show your commitment to raising literacy levels. Buying one now will mean a primary school or community group will receive their toolkit on World Book Day as part of the nationwide celebration of reading and literacy. You could also buy the toolkit to support your own employees as parents.

Each Literacy Toolkit costs £650

For more information Visit :


Attn. Schools - if you'd like to approach local businesses to fund a pack for your school the National Literacy Trust can help with the supply of a supporting letter:

Monday, 29 January 2018

Ravensburger Puzzle 'Toy Wonderama' - A Product Review

***** Excellent Quality and Imagery

I've spent the last few nights mesmerized by Aimee Stewart's 'Toy Wonderama' with my 9 year old daughter. 500 pieces of toy nostalgia including robots, vehicles and other clockwork pieces. This brightly coloured picture gave us lots to talk about as we worked together to complete this puzzle. Ravensburger as always have produced another top quality jigsaw with pieces that lock together well to form the completed picture. Aimee Stewart packs so much detail into her pictures that it takes repeated viewings to make sure that you have seen everything, definitely an artist that I'll look out for on jigsaw in the future. My 9 year old enjoyed the jigsaw but did find it a challenge, she liked the colours on the jigsaw which helped her assemble the puzzle.

Review by Guest Reviewer Catherine F from Lancashire UK

Monday, 8 January 2018

Rug Making and Rug Recycling Ideas

Upcycling Your Rug Infographic is by The Rug Seller This Infographic details the up-cycling ideas and the reusing of rugs to make new things

The book HOOKED Carpetbags, Handbags and Totes includes 13 Great Designs by Editors of Rug Hooking Magazine Below, via my Instagram, is a page image of a Floral Duffle Bag that was once destined to be a rug made by designer and rug maker, Susan Clarke.

Saturday, 6 January 2018

Product Review - Abacus with Clock by BRIO

This is an adorable educational toy. An All-in-One Abacus and Wooden Clock Face with move-able hands - in a frame. If you are a stickler for the importance of the traditional teaching of the basics and appreciative of the brand BRIO and their refined detail in both design and manufacturing quality then this will do nicely. 

A necessity it is for infant(s) to be calm and attentive to something they can fiddle around with in a mindful sense. Being taught to count from 1 – 10 by sliding and re-positioning beads across an Abacus frame is a time served method of mathematical introduction; soon they’ll be counting themselves!

The analogue clock is designed for little fingers to turn, and a great tool to least begin to understand the concept of counting and marking time over the course of a day.

The Clock in its easy to stand and store frame will be useful for purpose when the ‘time’ comes to learn to tell the time for real, and the Abacus too will help with first homework assignments, so the item will have some longevity in its usefulness.

This item as a whole is tactile, interactive in a low-tech sense, and visually pleasing. Comes boxed and ready to go.

Review by Debra Hall

Disclosure/Disclaimer applies

This January, fellow blogger, Janice is hosting a giveaway of this item. Enter over at:

Friday, 8 December 2017

Christmas Mini Felts

Owl hanging miniature by Debra Hall

mini felt fox by Debra Hall
mini Penguin by Debra Hall

A nice little craft activity to do on a wintry evening is to make Christmas themed mini felts. The three above are my own designs and I use needle felting techniques to make, with knitted accessories added.

Artist, Sachiyo Ishii does some lovely miniature knits in many themes. The mini doll patterns are from her sewing craft book called Mini Felt Christmas

For a little look inside the book follow the link:

Friday, 1 December 2017

Product Review of Limited Edition Christmas Themed Jigsaw

It wouldn't be quite the Christmas lead up for me if I were ever denied a first-hand look at artist, Roy Trower's yearly Christmas scenes for Ravensburger's limited edition jigsaw puzzles

Here follows a review of the puzzle available for Christmas 2017 called Which One's Santa? and it is number 21 in the series overall

The Artist

For the last ten
 years of so, artist, Roy Trower has landed the gig to create beautifully illustrated Christmas scenes for Limited Edition jigsaw puzzles by Ravensburger. The artwork involves 2D skills, from sketching out the designs to hand painting them. Trower favours using a mix of medium mainly
water-colours, gouaches; and colouring pencils

The Theme 

As 70's music group, Slade said in their 'Merry Christmas Everybody' tune:
'it's the time that every Santa has a ball' ; 
and there's FOUR mighty fine Santas in this design, (perhaps not having a ball) but being kindly and social nonetheless, and they all look pretty convincing as the real McCoy!

The 'real' Santa is usually centrestage in Trower's designs, so, as you assemble this quality jigsaw of 1000 pieces, you might wonder if Santa is a gate crashing guest at the Christmas fancy dress party depicted

Other villagers have been more original with their fancy dressing. Mother Mary is there. And can you spot the bauble and the Christmas pud? There's a couple of Christmas stars running and a boy mimicking the snowman 

The scene is outdoors once again, on a snowy winters night, and there is a nod to all the traditional activities and festivities of the season

The Product and Promotion
Which One's Santa? is the 21st Anniversary Limited Edition Christmas jigsaw puzzle by Ravensburger 1000 pieces. These Christmas limited editions are a standalone separate from the other numbered limited edition series.This premium jigsaw is rectangular on completion, and measures 70 x 50 cm approx. Not suitable for children under 36 months (small pieces). From 12 years to adult. RRP £13.99

(you'll need to know readers that if you decide to click over to the
that well known online retailer using the link below and end up buying then I will gain a few pence from you doing so)

This review may also appear at 

 : Ravensburger Puzzle club

Comment although the figures are smaller on the picture than the scene from last year's edition this latest jigsaw is marginally easier to do in comparison.

Another 'glowing' scene from Trower and Ravensburger's Design Team in the UK

It's Chris-t-ma-s!!!'

Wednesday, 29 November 2017

Project 15 - Winter Trees using Pen and Watercolour

Drawing Pens by Pilot Pens and artwork by the late, Terry Harrison from his book 'Painting Watercolour Snow Scenes The Easy Way' Page 47

Art materials used for the card making project

Artist's watercolours
Pilot drawing pens 01,02,03,04,08
Watercolour paintbrush
Art Masking Fluid
Artist's Watercolours
White Card (any size) note: I use A2 with a view to cutting out the trees individually and making single sized christmas cards

Source material for reference: the book Painting Watercolour Snow Scenes The Easy Way by the late Terry Harrison (artist)  

masking fluid trees

1. The idea for this project was sparked from one of Harrison's techniques from his book about masking fluid trees. So I took his lead and I painted trees using the masking fluid on white card, the intention being, (once ink and colour wash be applied) was to remove the gum film later on to reveal the white patches and white spacing in an effort to suggest snow has settled on each tree and around it

2. whereas Harrison used watercolour for his twig work, I opted for using the fine tips of black ink from my set of drawing pens (see above and below)

3. I applied more masking fluid by stippling with it, first with an artist sponge, and then with some kitchen paper dipped in, to gain random textures round and about the trees. Harrison points out that while we think of snow as white, the light reflecting on snow and the colour of the sky and surroundings can make the shadows appear blue. Therefore I apply a wash of watercolour across the whole canvas with cobalt blue in various degrees of watery application. This made the ink bleed a little and I achieved some surprisingly beautiful effects

Winter Trees using a set of drawing pens, artist's masking fluid and cobalt blue watercolour paints
4. Drum roll please because these winter tree designs are pretty stunning! Admittedly I continued with my original plan and allowed the whole sheet to dry, then rubbed off the masking fluid from a couple of the trees to bring the snow back to white, however, the design that was left was flat and I'm sorry to say that I lost so much detail on those two. Therefore, I've left well alone now, and I've let the dried masking fluid remain on the rest. It seems a shame to cut them away from the sheet individually to mount singular trees on a handmade christmas card because I think this would make for a fabulous wrapping paper design. 

One thing I have learned that is new is how to paint snowy trees using a mix of medium.