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Tuesday, March 1, 2011

How to… Do craft (even if you’re a needle novice)

When I was small, my grandma tried to teach me to crochet. The memory of the ensuing “can't-do-it!” tantrum remains embarrassingly vivid. If, like me, the idea of making your own appeals, but the sight of needles – or ‘Kirsty’s Home Made Home’ – make you sweat, read on…

Get booked Make Eames-y shelves via ReadyMade (Thames & Hudson) or speed reupholster a dull office chair chair in a flash with Design*Sponge – if you can grapple with basic ikea assembly, you can do this.

Cheat Well – a little bit. Clothkits fully-prepped tapestry or Rob Ryan cushions are peasy. Similarly, try Wool and the Gang, or Backstich.

Join the press gang Try a screen-printing class at The Papered Parlour (London) or Artison (Yorkshire) – and take home your own art.

Twinkle, twinkle little tealight My friend Holly’s candles really sparkle – thanks to a super simple craft trick. De-label empty food cans and pierce holes in the aluminum with a metal kebab skewer (or a thin bit on your drill – generally the gold coloured ones if, like me, you always forget which ones work on metal). Put a tealight inside. Repeat. If you're drilling not skewering, you'll love this great drillbit guide. Geek, moi?

Shoot ’em up Make friends with a staple-gun: fabulous fabric (LOVE love Seamstar) stretched over a canvas (Amazon is cheap) will look lovely.

Sprayed in full Picture framing can be so pricey. Often I'll find horrible artworks or horrible frames – or both – in charity shops. This isn't for every interior, but can look fantastic on one deliberate wall: replace the art with things you like, and spray the all the frames with the same colour aerosol paint (it avoids brush marks). Try Rustoleum.

Listen and learn If you're brave enough to grapple with more complex crafts (for me, that includes anything that involves a sewing machine or any kinds of needles) there are some inspiring classes all over the country. In Scotland Lovely Pigeon does sporadic but great looking lessons and in Sussex, West Dean offers residential courses in various homes-y crafts.

On a plate Stylish chef, Arno Maasdorp, does clever things on – and with – plates: take a charity shop patterned platter, lay an alphabet letter on top (steady hand? Alphabet Patterns), using aerosol paint, spray it. Matt black is striking. Now hang it.

Sit on it Revamp an old wooden chair with a collage. Pick a theme – torn up newspapers, maps, ornithology books… and, using PVA glue, cover the chair with them artfully, then varnish over and over for durability.

This is an extended version of my weekly column, The Insider, in the Independent on Sunday

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