Homes & Gardens
CREATIVE MOMENTS Projects from a block printer, illustrator and more
Many of us used our time at home to find joy in learning a new skill. To keep that spirit alive, we’ve hand-picked a talented team to guide you through some wonderful projects
SOURDOUGH ART WITH STYLIST LINDA SOFIA RING
Linda creates beautiful sourdough loaves that are more like works of art than your average bread. Being brought up in the Stockholm archipelago and working at the Bukowskis auction house developed her love for nature and art. A wide range of artists – and even children’s drawings – inspire the creations she scores into her artisan loaves.
SOURDOUGH BREAD RECIPE
550g lukewarm water
25g unrefined sea salt
300g sourdough starter – find recipes online for this
Around 800g organic flour dinkel (spelt)
1 The most important thing is that the sourdough starter is vibrant (bubbly and alive). I usually feed the starter around 5-6 hours before baking. Start by mixing water, honey, salt and the starter in a big bowl. Pour in the flour and stir, it will be a little sticky, for half a minute. Let it rest under a kitchen tea towel for half an hour.
2 Fold the dough for 10 minutes by hand or machine (an internet search will show you how to fold a sourdough). Let it rest for an hour and fold again, then let it rest for 30 minutes to an hour. Place, upside down, into a banneton (bread-proving basket) lined with flour or a tea towel. Cover with cling film and allow to ferment in the fridge for at least 12 hours – this process is very important.
3 After 12-24 hours, it’s time to decorate and bake. Preheat oven to around 250°C (it is hard to say exactly as you have to experiment with your own oven), placing a heavy casserole dish (with lid on) in it while it is preheating.
4 Remove the dough from the fridge and turn it out on to a floured surface. Now it is time to decorate – sprinkle flour on the surface and use a super-thin bread-scoring lame blade. Carefully put your loaf in the casserole dish (with lid back on) in the oven. Bake for around 30-45 minutes. Let it cool and rest on a rack before cutting.
BLOCK PRINTING WITH TEXTILE DESIGNER MOLLY MAHON
From the initial design process, through to the carving of the block, the mixing of the colour and the actual printing process, self-taught textile designer Molly Mahon has always found printing to be meditative. Molly designs and creates beautiful and original fabrics, wallpapers and functional art pieces for the home. Here, she shares how you can create your own hand-block design with a simple potato (yes, really) to use on papers, table linen or pillowcases.
YOU WILL NEED
A potato – to cut/carve your design into
Paintbrush and paint (try sample pots or children’s poster paints)
A knife, spoon or biscuit cutter to create your design 1 First cut your potato in half so that you have a nice flat surface to start cutting into. If you are working with children, make sure you do the work with the knife for them – the rest of the process is child-friendly. For this project, I have cut the potato into a perfect square and from here you can start creating geometric shapes with your biscuit cutter.
2 Start with a simple design – these are great because they look fantastic when repeated or flipped in different directions to make geometric patterns. Cutting symmetrical shapes also helps create a regular geometric pattern.
3 Load up your carved potato with your chosen paint – you’ll need to load up your potato shape with paint each time you print it. When printing with wooden blocks, I usually use blankets to pad the table but potatoes are great as they have their own springy texture that is perfect for printing with.
4 Line up where you want to start printing and go for it!
Press firmly on your potato to transfer the paint to paper.
Try printing your shape so that it touches the last print, as this will give you an amazing negative space pattern as well as your printed area. Don’t waste a scrap of potato! Use a circle created by the biscuit cutter to add a second colour to your print. And there you have it – with just two simple shapes you have created a geometric print using a potato!
5 If you would like to try printing on fabric, you will need a fabric paint that is colour-fast and can be heat-set with an iron. Dig around in your linen cupboard for those old sheets and repurpose them into napkins or a tablecloth. Old worn linen is so lovely to print on. Either way, have fun printing! →
House of Print by Molly Mahon (Pavilion, £16.99) is available from good bookshops or on Molly’s website, mollymahon.com. Molly also sells printing kits, from
£32. Follow her on Instagram @mollymahonblockprinting
Watch Molly demonstrating this project on homesandgardens.com
SEAWEED PRESSING WITH MOLESWORTH & BIRD
Friends Melanie Molesworth and Julia Bird both worked as stylists for interiors magazines in London before heading out to the country: Julia to Cornwall and Melanie to Dorset. Their mission with Molesworth & Bird is to revive the Victorian art of seaweed pressing to produce exquisite prints, accessories and stationery. Here they show how to create your own seaweed pressing ready to frame.
YOU WILL NEED
Large bowl for your foraged seaweeds
Shallow tray – large enough to fit your pressing paper in and deep enough to hold around 10cm of water Watercolour paper
Non-stick baking paper
Newspaper 1 Gather your seaweeds – only collect those that are washed up or floating free and always forage on an outgoing tide. When you are ready to press, rinse your specimens in fresh water and place in a container ready to choose the seaweed you would like to press.
2 Fill your large shallow tray to 10cm with fresh cold water, add your seaweed and then slide a sheet of watercolour paper into the water below it. Use your paintbrush to tease the seaweed into the desired design over the paper and trim off any stray untidy bits with scissors. Carefully lift out the paper with the seaweed on top, draining off the water, and place on kitchen paper before dabbing off any excess water.
3 Place your work on a cardboard sheet on the base of the press. Top this with a sheet of non-stick baking paper, followed by a few sheets of newspaper and then another cardboard sheet.
4 Repeat this layering with all your seaweed pressings. You are now ready to press. Add the wood top layer and tighten the screws. Leave the press somewhere cool and dry to do its magic! Check the pressings after a day or two and replace any damp newspapers with new dry sheets and repeat regularly until completely dry.
5 Once they are ready, you should find your pressings have stuck to the watercolour paper. If not, just fix them with a small strip or two of paper tape. If you would like to identify your specimens, we recommend Seaweeds of Britain and Ireland published by Wild Nature Press.
For more information or to buy one of Molesworth & Bird’s seaweed pressing kits, visit molesworthandbird.com. Follow on Instagram @molesworthandbird
FLOWER ARRANGING WITH FLORIST WILLOW CROSSLEY
With a background in design, Willow Crossley is a floral stylist based in west Oxfordshire. She creates wild and whimsical floral arrangements for events and supplies flowers for top brands. She is the author of four books, including her latest The Wild Journal: A Year of Nurturing Yourself Through Nature. She believes in a sustainable approach to floristry – using seasonal and locally-grown flowers where possible. Here, she shares how to put together an elegant display perfect for your summer table.
YOU WILL NEED
Galvanised chicken wire (more malleable to work with than normal chicken wire)
Container – any container that you love (I have used a French antique breakfast bowl here)
Pot tape – the thinner the gauge, the better (approx 0.4cm) Secateurs
Garden foliage and flowers – this is a mix of scented geranium, jasmine, garden roses and spray roses. Stems need to be smooth and clear of thorns, making it easy to arrange in the chicken wire 1 Scrunch the galvanised chicken wire and place in the container. Squash down (it is springy) so it sits under the rim of the container. Place a strip of pot tape over the mesh to secure in place and fill the container with water.
2 Cut stems before placing in the arrangement, as every time flowers are brought out of water they seal shut, so cut on an angle to reopen so they can drink again.
3 Start with the foliage and build the shape of the arrangement – there is no exact stem quantity.
When creating the structure, remember for a table arrangement it will be seen from all angles and should not be too high. Feed the foliage stems into the chicken wire, constantly turning the bowl and letting the leaves fall over the edge. I like the display to look finished with just foliage – it feels wild and free.
4 Once you are happy with the layer of foliage, start to add the leading ladies – the roses. I remove the leaves as I prefer the lightness of the scented geranium leaves. Add the roses to the spaces among the foliage and make sure they can be seen from different angles. →
Visit willowcrossley.com and createacademy.com for information on masterclasses and workshops.
For more of Willow’s beautiful creations, follow her on Instagram @willowcrossleycreates
PICK YOUR FLOWERS AND FOLIAGE EARLY IN THE MORNING OR LATE AT NIGHT AND KEEP IN A BUCKET OF WATER SOMEWHERE COLD THE NIGHT BEFORE YOU
BEGIN YOUR ARRANGEMENT
Watch Willow create this table arrangement on homesandgardens.com
HAND-DYED NAPKINS WITH TEXTILE STUDIO CLOTH
Cloth is a sustainable textile studio founded by Charlotte Lawson Johnston. Using cloth made from sustainable fibres, fabric is hand-dyed by the metre with dyes harnessed from bio and botanical waste so the fabric is fully compostable. Here, find out how to give napkins a new lease of life by hand-dyeing them.
YOU WILL NEED
Cotton or linen white napkins Avocado skins/pits
80cm sq scrap cloth
Three litres of hot water 1 Avocado skins and pits are a great choice of bio waste as they are full of tannins (a natural binder), so if you are using a cellulose fabric, such as cotton, hemp or linen, it does not need to be treated first. Avocados also create the most beautiful pink dye bath.
2 Begin by saving your avocado pits and skins. Wash them thoroughly to ensure that there is as little green pulp left on them as possible and store in the freezer until you have approx 150g to dye with.
3 Make your dye bundle. You will need a scrap of cloth – approx 80cm sq – with a strip torn off one edge to act as a tie. Lay the cloth flat and then place your avocado pits and skins in the middle. Pull up all four corners of the cloth and then the four sections drooping in-between (this will be obvious when you try it). Tie the bundle together at the top using the torn-off piece of cloth.
4 Place your dye bundle in a large saucepan and pour boiling water over it. Top up with at least three litres of hot water and bring to the boil. Keep the water at a steady boiling point for at least an hour – this allows sufficient time to extract the dye from the avocado pits and skins. The dye bundle keeps the avocado contained so that you end up with a clean dye bath.
5 Carefully remove the bundle from the water and discard. Under a tap, thoroughly wet your white napkin and then immerse it in the dye bath. Stir well and leave. Stir again every 10 minutes until you achieve a shade of pink you want. The longer you leave the fabric in the dye bath, the stronger your colour will be. For a pale pastel pink, keep a close eye on your napkin in the first few minutes of immersion so that you can take it out quickly.
6 When you are happy with the colour of your napkin, remove it from the dye bath and gently rinse it under cold water. Dry it flat to prevent concentrated patches of dye. NB Make sure you clean any utensils and the saucepan thoroughly before using for cooking again.
For more ideas and inspiration, visit clothcollective.co.uk. Follow on Instagram @clothcollective.co.uk
PAINT A NOTECARD WITH ARTIST SUSANNAH GARROD
Susannah Garrod is an artist and illustrator specialising in whimsical designs. While fashion and interiors strongly influence her work, she enjoyed taking inspiration from her garden during lockdown (including hatching chicks with her children). Recent collaborations include designs for Papier, Bamford and Clarins. Here, Susannah shows how to paint a simple posy for a notecard.
YOU WILL NEED
Paint – watercolour or gouache is perfect (a maximum of four colours)
Postcard-size thick paper
Pen for writing your message
Scalpel, craft knife or scissors
Envelope 1 Use your chosen paint colours watered down to create a lighter wash or tone for the flower blooms – begin by simply painting circle shapes in the middle of the card. Next, paint the foliage stems and leaves, and then add a border around the edges of the paper.
2 Once the watercolour ‘flowers’ have dried, use the same paint colours, but with less water, to create the details of the individual petals. Again, allow to dry.
3 You have now created your posy notecard and it is ready for you to write your message on the back.
4 If you want to create a pop-up version, write the recipient’s name on the front of the notecard and then cut out around the top of the flowers without cutting to the sides of the paper. Fold the card in half and you have a pop-up notecard that looks lovely on the mantelpiece or for use as a fun place-setting card.
5 You can also use this easy posy painting technique to add flair to the envelope and beyond! →
For more inspiration, follow Susannah on Instagram @susannahgarrod
Watch Susannah create this beautiful illustrated notecard and place-setting card on homesandgardens.com
AN ALTERNATIVE IDEA IS TO CUT AROUND THE TOP OF THE FLOWERS AND FOLD THE CARD IN HALF TO MAKE A ‘POP-UP’ PLACE-SETTING CARD
COOK WITH CHEF AND FOOD WRITER TOM HUNT
Tom is an award-winning chef, food writer, climate change activist and author. In response to the global food waste scandal, Tom has developed a holistic approach called Root to Fruit Eating that educates and enables everyone from home cooks to industry chefs to tackle climate change through the food they cook and eat. Foraged foods are an untapped and hyper-nutritious food source that can add a diversity to our diets. Tom’s soup makes use of nettles and dandelion – two wild ingredients that are easy to identify, but usually thought of as weeds.
NETTLE AND DANDELION SOUP
Nettle soup was one of my favourite recipes to make when I worked at River Cottage. There we learnt to pick the nettle tops and new leaves for the most delicious soup. Pick the leaves in late winter or early spring, wear gloves to avoid any stings and wash all foraged ingredients thoroughly in salted water.
Glug of extra-virgin olive oil
2 onions – about 320g – sliced
160g green leek tops (about 1 leek), washed and sliced 1 small carrot, grated
3 garlic cloves, peeled
500g potatoes, cubed
1 litre water
30g dandelion leaves
3 parsley stalks, optional
Sea salt and black pepper 1 Heat a good glug of oil in a large, heavy-based pan over a medium heat. Add the onion, leek tops and carrot and cook gently for 10 minutes, without colouring, until soft.
2 Add the garlic and fry for a few minutes, then add the potatoes and the water. Bring to the boil, reduce the heat to a simmer and cover with a lid. Simmer for 20 minutes, or until the potatoes are soft.
3 Stir in the nettles, dandelion leaves and parsley stalks at the last moment and blend immediately – either with a stick blender or in batches – until perfectly smooth.
4 Season the soup with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. If desired, top with dandelion and nettle crisps. To make, wash the leaves and drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and bake at 150ºc/gas 2 for around 20 minutes or until they dry out (varies depending on thickness).
Eating for Pleasure, People & Planet (Kyle Books, £26). For more inspiration, visit tomsfeast.com. Follow on Instagram @cheftomhunt
QUILTING WITH DESIGNER LAUREN MACDONALD
Lauren Macdonald is a designer and founder of textiles studio Working Cloth. Her practice is textile-focused and spans interaction design, installation, sculpture and two-dimensional stitched forms. Here, Lauren demonstrates hand-quilting.
YOU WILL NEED
Cotton or linen for quilt top and back, wadding, Sashiko thread, Sashiko needle for quilting,
Tailor’s chalk, thimble, pins, scissors, sewing thread, needle, quilter’s or straight-edge ruler, painter’s tape 1 Quilting is the process of stitching layers of fabric together – the quilt top, the wadding and the quilt back. First, you’ll baste the quilt, securing the different layers together – this is an important step. Begin by laying out the pressed fabric for the quilt back on a table, securing with painter’s tape. Lay wadding on top, then top. Smooth surface to ensure there are no puckers. Use straight pins to pin the edges of the quilt top to the other layers.
2 The next step is basting the quilt. This is done with large stitches, or tailor’s tacks. These are diagonal stitches 3-5 cm in length. Start in the middle of the quilt and work outwards in rows. The bigger your project, the closer the basting stitches should be together, between 15 and 25cm suits most projects.
3 Next use tailor’s chalk and quilter’s ruler to mark out lines on your quilt to follow when stitching. Thread your needle with an arm’s length of quilting thread and tie a small knot in the end. Insert your needle into the quilt top 2-3cm from where you want to start quilting and take a ‘fake stitch’ — going through the middle wadding layer of your quilt, but not the backing. Pull the needle up where you want to start stitching and tug at the knot until it pops into the wadding and is invisible on the surface of your quilt. The knot will work itself into the wadding and stay secure. Next, grip the needle with your thumb and index finger. Your thimble should be on your middle finger or ring finger. Place your other hand under the quilt to support you while you stitch. Insert your needle into the quilt, going through all of the layers, then use your thimble to gently rock your needle back to the quilt top and pick up a new stitch. Repeat the motion to pick up 2–3 even stitches on your needle and pull the thread through. This technique is called a rocking stitch.
4 Continue quilting until you get to the end of the quilting line or thread. Make another small knot and pull through the quilt top. Continue until you have quilted all marked lines. The basting stitches can be removed as you quilt, or when you have finished quilting the whole object.
For workshops and patterns, visit workingcloth.com. Follow on Instagram @working_cloth