DIY canvas: an easy, personalised Christmas stocking filler!


Most people have family photos pushed away into drawers that rarely see the light of day; here’s a great tutorial that hopefully will brighten Christmas morning for one of your nearest and dearest. All you need to do is sneak a scanned copy of that photo ….

I really love the simplicity of these DIY canvasses, and over the last year or so I’ve followed many tutorials online that are all broadly similar but I always ended up with a little niggle every time. Maybe there was too much of the image rubbed away (i.e. it was “too” distressed!), it wasn’t vibrant enough, or I had annoying bubbles left on the canvas.

I hope this tutorial solves all those issues; for me it’s proven to be the best and most effective method I’ve used.

Please do have a go yourselves; it’s not as intimidating as it might sound, and I’d love to hear about your results!

Firstly, here’s what you’ll need:

  • A laser jet printer for your image – very important – this won’t work on an inkjet copy
  • A photo-editing tool that will allow you to boost levels and/or contrast, and also to flip the image horizontally (particularly important if your image contains text of any kind
  • A blank canvas (I’ve used a 7 x 5 inch in this tutorial)
  • A sponge brush
  • Acrylic matt medium
  • An old credit card
  • A water spritzer
  • Linseed oil

Scan and print out your image slightly larger than your canvas – before you do this you may want to boost the contrast, curves or levels if your photo editing software allows (most photos fade over time, and you need some definition for this to work well).

Also – remember to flip your image 180 degrees horizontally before printing – it needs to be a ‘mirror’ image.

Pour some of the matt medium onto your blank canvas and cover with your sponge brush.

Do the same on your image (not too much as some of the toner will start to come away)

Carefully place the image face down on your canvas. Match up the edges but allow a slight amount of ‘overhang’ (if the image is slightly larger, this shouldn’t be a problem)

This is important … You will get bubbles appearing (it’s a bit liking hanging wallpaper!). The best way I’ve found to deal with them is to use an old credit card and smooth them away. I’ve tried the back of a spoon too but that just seemed to stretch the canvas; an old credit card is perfect!

Wait at least 24 hours for it to dry. I always wait 48 hours, because if it’s even slightly damp when you move onto the next step you could run into problems

(Please forgive the reverse image on the shot above … you don’t need to do that, I just print a reverse copy so I can keep track of which canvas is which!)

Now, grab your water spritzer and dampen the dried image. The key here is to dampen it enough to rub the paper off (too dry and you’ll take the image off too, too wet and …. well, it’ll be a mess!)

Rub the paper with your fingertips. I tend to vary the direction, from “round and round” to “up and down”.

Be warned: this is the time-consuming bit, and it can make your fingertips quite sore!

When you’re happy most of the paper has been rubbed away, set it aside to dry for 24 hours. There will be some rubbing off around the edges, but I think this just adds to the charm!

When you go back to it you will notice that the drying process has revealed a lot of paper still present and it will look a quite ‘milky’, but this is where the fabulous linseed oil comes in!

Take a bit of the oil on your fingertip and gently rub it into the canvas. The wonderful thing about this step is that it brings a vividness to the image (no amount of rubbing at the wet stage will ever remove every trace of the paper …)

Et voilà …  A lovely, personalised and unique Christmas gift!

I’m doing a few of these this year as I think they make perfect stocking fillers, and are just so cute!

If however, you don’t have the time or the inclination email me for information on ordering one (prices start at £25 for a 7″x5″ canvas)- there will be a 7 day turnaround – UK mainland only for orders before Christmas

Suzy Pelta’s award winning chocolate and banana cake with peanut butter frosting


Time for a sweet Friday treat!

I’m delighted to welcome Suzy Pelta as my guest blogger this week … And if you follow her excellent step by step tutorial I’m sure you’ll enjoy the end result.

“Hi, my name is Suzy Pelta, I am a keen home baker and a mummy to a 6 year old boy and twin 3 year old girls. On May 3rd 2012, I won Lorraine’s Cake Club Competition on ITV1′s ‘Lorraine’ Show with my original cake recipe of a chocolate and banana cake with peanut butter frosting! I believe in easy, fun, recipes with a bit of a twist, and in this post, I show you step by step how to make my winning cake and hopefully give you a few baking hints and tips along the way!

Chocolate & Banana cake with Peanut Butter Frosting


120g unsalted butter
100g dark chocolate
3 medium bananas
160g light brown sugar
Pinch of salt
2 large eggs
150g self raising flour plus 1 extra tablespoon (for the bananas)

For the icing you need:

150g smooth peanut butter
225g cream cheese
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
300g icing sugar (sieved)
A few drops of whole milk

Method for cake:

1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C.

2. Butter and dust with flour, a 20cm deep round or heart shaped tin.

3. Mash the bananas and coat them with one tablespoon of flour.

4. Measure your butter into your saucepan and melt over a medium heat.

5. When melted, add the chocolate and take off the heat.

6. When both have melted, add the bananas and stir until incorporated.

7. Lightly beat the eggs.

8. Add the eggs with the sugar and salt. Mix.

9. Add the flour, a third at a time. Do not over mix, stop stirring as soon as the mixture comes together.

10. Put the mixture into your tin and put into the oven for 45 to 55 minutes depending on your oven. You may need to cover the top with tin foil after 25 minutes to stop it from over browning.

11. Your cake is done when a piece of uncooked spaghetti inserted into the middle of your cake comes out clean.

Note: Your cake may crack across the top (mine did!!) This is due to the high amount of liquid in the cake. Don’t worry. the icing will make it look pretty again!

Method for icing:

Once the cake is completely cold you can ice it. You can make the icing in advance and keep it in the fridge until you need it.

1. Stirring by hand- mix the peanut butter, cream cheese, vanilla and half of the sieved icing sugar (It is important to do this by hand because the cream cheese can split and go watery if over mixed).

2. Once mixed together, add the remaining sieved icing sugar a third at a time, followed each time by a drop of whole milk.

3. Taste the icing! Add more peanut butter if you like it. (I do!)

4. Mix until the icing sticks to the spoon but could be easily spread.

5. Put a blob of icing onto your cake plate and spread with a palette knife if you have one, if not a normal knife will be fine.

6. Stick your cake on to the blob!

7. Put a dollop of icing on the top of the cake, and working outwards, use your knife to spread the icing all over. (If you find you have cake crumbs in your icing, use your knife to pick them up and scrape them off onto the side of your bowl.)

8. To copy my way of icing: starting at the centre of the cake, use the back of a teaspoon to make a spiral effect.(Don’t worry if you make a mistake, you can just start over again!)

9. Using a clean piece of dry kitchen towel, wipe off any excess icing from the cake plate.

10. Decorate with crushed flake bars.

11. Finally ….. Eat, enjoy and relax!

For more information about Suzy and for more exciting and easy recipes…visit her blog

You can also follow Suzy on Twitter here


How to tie a simple bow (video)

If you’re looking for a basic yet effective tutorial then they don’t come any simpler than this!

It seems that we can’t get enough of the simple bow … on gift packaging, card, scrapbook pages, hair accessories … You name it!

Here’s a simple step-by-step tutorial on how to tie a “stand-alone” bow, i.e. a piece of ribbon that’s not tied around anything.

I learned it from a ribbon technique book a few years ago, and I lose count of the number of these I’ve tied over the years.

Apologies to the avid crafters out there who already know how to do this … I couldn’t believe I didn’t already know how to do it when I stumbled across this technique, so I’m guessing there may be a few more like me out there!

One little tip that I forgot to mention in the clip, glue dots are perfect for securing them to card, etc.

Jubilee Bunting: A quick and easy tutorial

One thing I do like is a bit of bunting … Another thing I like is polka dots.

One thing I don’t like is my inability to get myself organised with trimmings, etc because I’m always so busy working on a project (and the client always comes first, right?)

This morning I did that thing where I started to hyperventilate realising that we are now only a few days away from Diamond Jubilee weekend here in Great Britain and I haven’t made any bunting, or my Jubilee dress (yes, I’m really going for it) or indeed my Jubilee patio chair covers (ridiculous seeing as I’ve sanded and painted my patio set specially, but Union Jack cushions look good at any time, don’t they?)

So, here is a quick and easy tutorial for those of you who are just as disorganised as me. And it’s a Union Jack with a twist; it’s a Polka Dot version!

It comes in two sizes … Small (as per the tutorial) that you can place in nooks and crannies- mine is in the back window of my car, fixed to the top so as to not interfere with my vision ;) The large is suitable for larger windows and areas.

Here’s what you will need:

  • A printer (I used my inkjet as I prefer the clarity but be warned, if you’re placing it outside and it rains it will run! Probably better to go for a laser printer in that case)
  • Firm paper or card (I used 160gsm card)
  • Ribbon
  • Double sided tape, width to suit the width of the ribbon you’re using
  • Scissors (I used straight edge but pinking shears would work well on the larger version)
  • Tweezers (not shown on the pic below … Told you I was panicking!)

After measuring the length of bunting you want, print out your mini Union Jacks (as a guide I made a length 80cms long and needed two sheets of the smaller ‘flags’)

Cut out the flags and fix a length of double-sided tape to the wrong side of the Union Jack at the top (take care here … although the top is the shortest side it’s easy to get confused when you’re faced with a table full of them!)

Measure and cut your length of ribbon:

The easiest way to assemble for me was to find the centre of the length, fix a mini Union Jack to the ribbon at that point and then work outwards on both sides from there. If you start at one end you could end up with uneven bunting (perish the thought!)

Working with the ‘flags’ face down was easier for me too.

And that’s it … The whole project took me about an hour (and that included taking photographs)

You can download the PDFs for this project at the end of this post.

Enjoy, and have a wonderful Diamond Jubilee weekend!

You can download the small bunting PDF here

You can download the large bunting PDF here