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Vintage-inspired gifts

(December 03, 2014)

Vintage-inspired gifts

Cartref - framed

I love owning and creating items which are truly individual. Whether that be jewellery (I have designed jewellery for a number of years) or accessories for the home. The same applies to gifts for friends and family.

I appreciate that having mass-produced items means that their cost is typically reduced, but, with a bit of creativity and imagination, you can create something truly unique – and it's also very satisfying to do. Taking something which was mass-produced and customizing it, using one of the plethora of crafts now available, is something that really appeals to me, and results in a very personal and individual gift for someone.

There has been a real resurgence in the interest in crafts (driven by people such as Kirstie Allsop) in recent years, with programmes such as the 'Great British Sewing Bee' also proving very popular. This renewed interest in home-creating is being supported by the availability of crafting materials in places as disparate as the haberdashery department in John Lewis (an Aladdin's cave of ideas and inspiration), to the stationary sections of Poundland/Pound-world (an excellent source of foil card, foam pads and packs of felt, for instance) and wonderful stationers such as The Works, who have a huge craft range, and at excellent prices to suit all budgets.

In this article, I have shared some of my favourite craft, gift and home accessory ideas. They are offered as an example of the various things that you could do. It would be great to hear from people who have been inspired by these ideas, and have come up with something of their own.


Decorated frame and mounted artwork

I had two square box-frames which I have bought from Ikea years ago (Ribba range, Ikea). Over the years, one had become a little damaged along the frame edge, where it met the wall. I was thinking of simply throwing it away and getting a new one, but decided to hold on to it and thought I could use it as an up-cycyling project for our home.

Framed Picture inspiration

During the autumn, whilst wandering around a delightful little shop called 'The Shed' in Tenby I came across packs of vintage magazines/comics and sheet music for sale. Also in the pack were vintage matchboxes, which really caught my eye, so I ended up buying two packs.

Vintage inpsiration

Vintage inpsiration Vintage inpsiration

At this point, I had no idea what I was going to do with the packs of paper, but they were so beautiful I just had to have them!

Back home, and faced with this old damaged box frame, I remembered the vintage magazines I had bought and decided to try a craft I have not tried before, decoupage and, having a couple of bottles of PVA glue upstairs, thought I would give this a go.

I cut the vintage paper (use thin/newspaper type paper for the best effect) into manageable strips and then glued the back of them lightly with PVA glue, applying them carefully to the frame (with the glass and mount removed).

I continued to do this until the entire frame was covered and then left the frame to dry for three to four hours.

In the meantime, I mounted the four vintage matchboxes on to a black card background and, when the frame was perfectly dry, brought the frame and art piece together.


Vintage inpsiration Vintage inpsiration


In another piece, I again decorated a frame (this one was larger, but again had been bought years ago from Ikea, still currently retailing at approximately £4.00 for both the frame and mount – Ribba range) and displayed in it an old Bingo card, which had come with the vintage paper pack.

Vintage inpsiration


I am delighted with the results, as I have up-cycled items which were destined for the bin, can display some vintage pieces which remind me (of yet another) wonderful stay in Pembrokeshire, and also I have accessories which are truly unique and unusual in my home – and they did not cost a small fortune.

I've looked at similar examples on websites such as 'Not on the high street' and they retail for considerably more – no doubt reflecting the time and care expended when making such items, but as I am sure you can see, making something yourself is not too hard, and costs relatively little.

Vintage magazines, advertisements and matchboxes are available on Ebay.


Scrabble artwork – the perfect Christmas gift

I decided to make some artwork for my sister for Christmas this year. I bought some vintage paper (French) from Ebay, inspired by the decoupage project I had done previously.

I purchased a modern (white) box frame from B&M bargains (a wonderful store, full of reasonably priced items for crafters) and glued (using PVA glue) vintage advertisements on a piece of card (forming the main background of the piece).

Scrabble artwork

I let this dry for three to four hours before continuing with the project.

Once dried, I laid a vintage rhinestone necklace on top of the advertisements (securing it around the back so it did not 'travel', then added the glass and secured the fastenings at the back of the frame.

I then used vintage Scrabble letters which were fortuitously found in our attic (lots are available on Ebay) to spell out the work 'sister' on the glass, and glued the letters accordingly, to give a 3D effect.

Thereafter, I used some pieces of broken rhinestone necklaces to 'frame' the bottom corners of the piece, to give added interest and sparkle – and to enhance the 3D effect.

When I posted an image of this piece on Facebook it received a lot of likes. So it seems a popular idea – only limited by your imagination!

'Cartref' Scrabble art piece:

Following on from the previous piece made using vintage Scrabble pieces, I decided to make a piece for our living room featuring Welsh words/phrases and decided to use 'cartref', which means 'home' in Welsh.

I wanted the piece to be modern and not over complicated, so I mounted the back using charcoal grey corduroy fabric (which has been used to upholster some storage boxes in our living room), then added the glass and secured the frame at the back.

Cartref - framed

I glued the vintage Scrabble pieces on to the glass, thus giving a 3D effect to the piece.

Cartref - framed

I used a high-gloss grey frame (purchased from B&M Bargains), so the whole piece is chic and modern.

Similar frames are available from Ikea (Ribba range).

This piece cost approximately £10.00 to make (not including/allowing for your time), but looking at similar examples on the high-street they retail for considerably more – have a go!

Something simple: Mounted sheet music

Part of the pack of vintage paper I bought from 'The Shed' in Tenby, was a beautifully illustrated French music score which had caught my eye (and was the main reason I had bought that pack in particular).

I have noticed that lots of charity shops have vintage sheet music available for sale, and there are hundreds to choose from on Ebay if you cannot source them locally.

Mounted sheet music


A simple home accessory, or gift, is to take one of these music sheets and mount in a frame.

Ikea, as always, do frames and mounts at excellent value for money.

For the one I made for our living room, I chose a modern high gloss grey frame, so the modern gloss frame off-sets the vintage music sheet displayed.

Mounted sheet music

A simple and chic statement for any home, or a beautiful gift for a friend or member of your family.

Hand-decorated jewellery box

Primark is a great place to get some purse-friendly ideas for gifts, especially if you intend to personalise them.

I spotted a plain glass and wood jewellery box in there and thought that, with a little bit of customizing, it would make a great gift for my sister this Christmas.

Customised Jewellery Box Customised Jewellery Box

The (large) box currently retails at £5.00 (another smaller version is also available) - the smaller box currently retails for £3.00.

The style of the box is best described as shabby-chic. What I liked about it was that the lid is mostly glass, so that you can look down into the box – perfect if you want to decorate the inside of the box and make a feature of the items stored within it.

For this design I used a selection of pom-pom trims and velvet ribbons, so that this piece matched some other items I have designed using similar colours and themes – of course, the choice of decorations is yours.


Customised Jewellery Box Customised Jewellery Box

Another idea could be to use decoupage, strips of vintage magazines or comics would also be a lovely way to decorate these boxes.

Another nice idea would be to decorate (and then fill) the box with craft goodies for a fellow crafter. Not only beautiful to look at, but practical as well.

Hand-decorated diaries/notebooks

I love individual and quirky stationary, and always carry a notebook and diary with me, which I have personalised in some way, or have purchased from somewhere a little different. I particularly love the designs (and quality) of the range available in Paperchase, and wondered how difficult it would be to create something similar myself (in terms of both quality and individuality).

With this in mind, I came across some plain notebooks and diaries in places such as Poundland/Tiger which represent excellent value for money (from £1.00 to £2.00) and thought they would form a great starting point for my craft project.

Decorated Diaries Decorated Diaries

For the designs shown below, I have used a variety of items to decorate these notebooks.

The pom-pom trims I purchased from Ebay (they are described as medium-size and, typically, retail for £1.50 per metre). Velvet ribbons in different widths and colours: the neon colours come from Tiger - 10 metres for £1.00; the wide black velvet ribbon (50mm) from John Lewis is £3.99 for 3 metres; and the medium black velvet ribbon is from Berisfords at £9.99 (22mm) for 10 metres (see Ebay for similar). Individual pom-poms were bought from: The Works £1.50 for two packs; and £1.00 for a pack of 100 in Poundland, in which there are three/four sizes of individual pom-poms in a range of colours.

Decorated Diaries Decorated Diaries

As always, let your imagination run wild and have some fun.

Claire Meredith, December 2014

If you liked this, you'll also like:
     Handmade cards; December 2014
     Stylishly wrapped presents; December 2014
     Handmade gift tags; December 2014
     Personalised Christmas decorations; December 2013

     Accessorize your home this Christmas; December 2011
     Shades of Grey; Caregos Couture new collection; September 2011
     History of costume Jewellery; September 2010
     Statement pieces from Caregos Couture, September 2010
     Easter/Spring party gift and decoration ideas; March 2010
     Modern accessories vs retro-chic; March 2010
     New Art Gallery in Cardiff 'Off the Wall'; Septermber 2009
     Statement necklaces; September 2009
     Stylish party canapés, September 2009
     George Thomas Hospice 'Style In the City' event; May 2009
     Whitefriars Glass, March 2009

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