A handmade card

Just a quick post to show you this great Christmas card I was given today. My very creative friend made it using last year’s recycled Christmas stamps to create a kind of stained glass window effect. The stamps are simply stuck down on to plain card and then it’s just a case of ruler and black marker. I think religious stamps work better if you want to recreate this look but you could certainly experiment with others. I particularly like the way that the print from the franking machines has added an extra texture and detail to the image. 


Crafting in the cafe

I’ve always been a fan of Cafe Rouge. Yes, I know it’s a big chain and it’s not that authentically French but it does a great onion soup/Croque Monsieur, it’s really family friendly and I’ve always found the interior design appealing, reassuring, even heartwarming.
On one of our recent visits I noticed that Cafe Rouge had introduced its new Christmas artwork, which is used across the seasonal menus. The design really caught my eye because it was created using the craft known as quilling.
Quilling or paper filigree is an art form that involves the use of strips of paper that are rolled, shaped, and glued together to create decorative designs. The paper is wound around a quill to create a basic coil shape, hence the name quilling. 
The artwork was created by artist Yulia Brodskaya who combines her interests in typography, paper, and highly detailed hand-made craft objects to produce her designs, which have won her international acclaim. 
The precision and detail of the work is incredible and yet the overall effect is so vibrant and fun. I also love the way it uses one of the most traditional forms of craft to present Christmas in a cool and quirky way; it’s a great example of old meets new and in that sense is also perfectly on-brand for Cafe Rouge.
If you want to find out more about quilling and even see video demonstrations of the technique, there’s more info on the website: www.caferouge.co.uk/christmas/quilling


Christmas crackers

There is such an amazing, diverse range of original design out there, Christmas need never be a boring, predictable affair again. And while there will always be certain motifs that we all hold dear such as Santa, reindeer, angels and robins, it’s great to see that there are new and unique takes on these images all the time.
I love graphic design as well as paper craft and textiles, especially when some or all of these things combine to create something really beautiful. So, particularly at this time of year, why not gift yourself or someone special something a little bit different. Here’s a few of my favourite festive designs…

Jurianne Matter

These pretty paper angels are also multi-tasking ladies – you can write a message on one to be used as a card or a place holder at the table or they can simply be used as home decorations.

Rachael Taylor
This talented Leeds based surface pattern designer and illustrator has transferred her work to gift wrap and cards, while the handmade decorations are made from her Etched Floral screen printed fabric.

This beautiful plywood bird comes in a postcard-like package which can be posted just like a Christmas card. It comes flat packed with instructions for simple assembly and I think they make great festive decorations that you’d like to leave out all year.

Jenny Arnott
This textile designer based in Somerset, creates beautiful embroidered textiles and accessories. Everything is carefully made by hand, using a combination of machine embroidery and appliqué, so each one is unique.

Al Heighton
I wish this design was available as a card/wrapping but here’s hoping it will be one day. In the meantime, I just wanted to mention this Doncaster based illustrator’s work, which spans editorial, fashion, publishing and music including Creative Review, Schuh, The Guardian, Arctic Monkeys and Boots. Limited edition screen printed posters of his original artwork are available. This recent illustration for Ripon-based Hornsey gallery conjures up lots that is good about Christmas shopping and makes me smile.


Christmas robin

Since it’s December and we’re now officially on countdown to Christmas, I had to share this cute, little handmade robin tree decoration, which my friend kindly made for me.
I’m sure there are several variations on this theme and you could easily customise the basic design to make your own unique and funky bird – maybe even a partridge if you’re feeling adventurous! However, this robin was made according to a pattern in a lovely sounding book called The Christmas Book by Sheherazade Goldsmith, with a focus on hand-made and therefore greener Christmas crafts. Well, my friend reliably informs me that my robin was made from a pair of trousers found at a jumble sale and a recycled shirt, so that’s one for the cause. I just think it looks great and will definitely be gracing my tree this year.



It’s not often you stumble across a beautiful and cool interiors shop on the school run but that’s exactly how I discovered Cimmermann. Tucked away off the beaten track on Regent Parade overlooking the Stray, this is certainly a destination store for any interior design devotees. Selling design classics by brands such as Vitra, Tom Dixon and SCP alongside vintage furniture, the shop is also the base for owners Matt and Helen Cimmermann’s interior design service.
The husband and wife team, originally from Middlesborough, took a brave step back in November 2004 when they relocated to Harrogate to launch their own business, which combines Helen’s talents as an interior designer and Matt’s passion for good design.
So why Harrogate?
“People want something a bit different to the traditional offer,” explains Matt. “A lot of our customers are Harrogate residents who have moved up from London or relocated from the city and they are pleasantly surprised to find a store like ours here. But really our customer is anyone who appreciates good design.
For example, we had an elderly lady in the shop the other day and she instantly recognised a piece of Ercol furniture which we had reupholstered. We sell a lot of Ercol day beds and Windsor chairs because they appeal to such a broad age range. The design is already there and some nice fabric can completely reinvent such a piece. We feel it’s important to stay true to the simple quality of the furniture – wacky design doesn’t always work. Often people come in and ask what the latest trends are but we suggest the classic pieces because they are good for a reason. They may be costly but they have stood the test of time.”
Cimmermann offers a full interior design service which can encompass as little as a pair of curtains or reupholstering to a whole house. You can also buy online at www.cimmermann.co.uk

Matt Cimmermann