RSS Feed

Category Archives: Home Decor, DIY & Tutorials

Red is bold and beautiful. Painting Tutorial.


DIY Macrame Planthanger

DIY Macrame Planthanger

I have been very busy crafting beautiful macrame plant hangers for Artesense and our local handmade craft market. My last blog post showed stunning images and ideas for decorating your home with plants.  I promised to post a tutorial on how to make your own macrame planthanger, so here it is!

I chose this particular one as it is fairly simple and is able to hold a nice size pot.

Lets start with what you need for the project:

  • You can use any type of cord or yarn such as cotton cord, rope or even string if you are making a mini macrame. You will need 8 cords, each approximately 5 metres long.  (I used less, but did not want to run out of cord!)
  • A wooden rod (dowel stick) – any size that suits you, mine is a thin one that I cut to size.
  • 6 wooden beads (optional)

First step:

Tie a length of cord from one end of your wooden rod to the other and hang it like a picture frame somewhere that is comfortable for you to work.  I work from a clothing rail, but that is because I make many macrame planthangers!  If this is just a once off project for you, then no need to go out and buy a clothing rail!


Tie all 8 cords, one at a time, in a tight row next to each other in the following way:

Tie your first cord exactly in half so that it forms a loop at the end (see image below).  Then place it over the top of the rod and pull the rest of the cord through the loop and tighten.  Do this with all 8 cords. You will now have 16 lengths of cord to work with.


Step 2:

Using your first 4 cords, tie a square knot.  Repeat until you have a length of about 8-10 centimetres of square knots.  See final image below.

To tie a square knot follow the images (or video clip further down):

  • Place cord on the left over the front of the second and third cords, almost in a C shape.  Take the fourth cord and place it over the top of the “C” cord, behind the second and third cords and then loop it through as shown.  Repeat this step to complete a full square knot.
  • Make sure you alternate with first the left cord, then starting with the right cord for the second knot, otherwise you will be making a ‘twisted’ knot.

Step 3:

Using your next 4 cords, repeat step 2, except you will start further down, exactly where the first set of square knots has ended..  Continue for 8-10 centimetres, as above.  Keep going with all 4 sets of knots (16 cords).

Step 4:

You can add 3 beads in the spaces at any stage.  I used 3 beads on one set and 3 on another, as (shown in the very last image). This is of course optional, but does make it look stunning, especially with black cord!

Step 5:

Continue in this way until you are happy with the length of your macrame.










Step 6:

You are now going to end off with the section that actually holds your pot!  Instructions are as follows:

Drop down about 10cm from where you have ended off with your square knots, and tie all 4 sinnets in a knot as shown in the image, crossing 2 cords over to tie with the first 2 cords on the left, and so on.  Drop down another 10cm approximately, and repeat the same step above.Macrame,Planthanger,TutorialMacrame,Plant,Hanger

Step 7: To finish off, drop down about 5 cm and tie all the cords together at the end with a GATHERING KNOT as demonstrated in this quick tutorial (not my own, but a great quick demonstration).

If you get stuck, have a look at our complete video clip tutorial below!

And there you go!  So easy and so beautiful!

I would love to hear from you.  Please let me know if you have tried it.  Please leave your DIY experience in the comments below!





Gorgeous ways to Decorate your Home with Plants

Gorgeous ways to Decorate your Home with Plants

Following on from my last blog post about taking care of your indoor plants, this post gives some inspiration for DIY ideas on decorating your home with beautiful plants.  A home is not a home without a little greenery, and if you choose the right ones (preferably ones that are not easily killed) then there is no limit to what you can do with them!


Home Decor Indoor Plants

If you are looking to maximise space, there are many things you can do.  Floating or corner shelves, window sills, bookshelves, or on top of cupboards, are some of the ideas you can use.  Another of my favourites (and one I have yet to do myself) is to transform a ladder into a triangular set of shelves, by simply placing flat boards between the ladder.  You can learn how to do this here. This looks stunning both indoors or outdoors and can be filled with loads of different plants in various shapes and colours of pots, for the most gorgeous effect!Home,Decor,Indoor,Plants,Ladders



Of course, you can also just hang your plants up from the ceiling!  The best way to do this is to use planthangers, like stunning beaded or macrame planthangers.  ArtEsense has macrame planthangers for sale, made by The Hand to Heart Co. But if you prefer to do-it-yourself, our next blog post will be featuring a tutorial on how to make your own simple macrame planthanger.   It really is easy to do and so satisfying to see the finished product! You can even make little mini ones for your small succulent or cacti plants and this looks too beautiful placed on a hook on your bedroom wall, for example.

My house is an old transformed farm house (still with the old fashioned street lamp posted outside my front door!), so for me, there is no option but to maximise as much space as possible with shelves and planthangers.  However, if I had a massive house with loads of wide open space and lots of light, I would not hesitate to have big plants occupying a corner of my living space. What really makes it is the pot you decide to put it in. A nice big woven basket with crosses on, for example. Or a big handmade ceramic pot in a stunning colour that goes with your colour scheme. If you prefer the little ones, then fill your lounge or bedroom window sill with lots of little pots in various shapes and styles, but stick with the same colour scheme throughout.  It is so very effective in a room that just needs a little life! I have a beautiful old kist that has been transformed with ‘Charlie Chaplain’ on the front, however he often gets hidden with stunning boxes I have collected, along with a few succulents and it really brightens up my bedroom.Home,Decor,Charlie,Chaplain,plants

Home Decor Collage Green Envy

Big or small, hanging or in a corner, plants breathe life into your home.  So whichever way you choose to decorate with them, it really doesn’t matter, as long as you choose to have them!

I would love to hear from you and how you decorate with your plants.  Please share in the comments below!


































Image credits:;;;;;;;;;;;;;;


Gift Wrapping Ideas

Gift Wrapping Ideas

Christmas is my favourite time of year!  I can’t help it.  I love everything about it.  For me it is a magical time of year!  My favourite things are fairy lights, decorating the tree, long summer beach days and beautiful afternoon thunderstorms! The best part of all is waking up on Christmas Day at the crack of dawn (in my life), to open gifts with 2 very excited little girls, before we launch right into our big traditional Christmas lunch cook up!  So delicious! And even though we live on the East Coast of Africa where it is mid-summer, hot and humid, and even though I would LOVE to experience another white Christmas, especially with my girls, I still love this crazy time of year!  I have a very small family and we all spend it together, so thankfully Christmas shopping is not too stressful for me, but I love the feeling of buying and giving a special gift!  It is that one time of year where you can spoil someone for no real reason at all, other than because it is Christmas!  And so exciting that we all get to spoil each other!  I don’t know about you, but for me the idea of spending hours (and lots of money) on gift wrapping that just lands up in the bin is just sacrilege!  On the other hand, there is nothing better than opening a beautifully wrapped gift!  It says so much and although not everyone appreciates it, I love doing it anyway!  As you probably already know, I love anything and everything handmade, so that goes for gift wrapping too!  It must be part of the creativity inside me.  The part that likes to put a little bit of heart and soul into creating something simple, but beautiful, out of nothing. So here are some of my favourite (tried and tested), simple gift wrapping ideas!  I especially wanted to focus on the simple ones as although some of them can be more time consuming, they cost so little to make, so it won’t be as heart wrenching when you see the paper crumpled up in the bin a short while later!  And hopefully your gift wrapping will be as appreciated as the thoughtful gifts inside!


Gift Wrapping with fresh flowers


Gift Wrapping with fresh flowers

My favourite is wrapping in plain white or brown paper, or even newspaper and ‘dressing’ it up with beautiful ribbons, lace, bakers twine or washi tape and then finish off with a sprig of something from the garden – either lavender, something green (we don’t have things like holly here on the East Coast), or simply a fresh little flower.


Gift Wrapping with paint as “snowflakes” and lace

Another idea is to use white tippex or white paint as “snow” on brown paper and once again make it look gorgeous with ribbons, lace or washi tape.  I love handmade gift tags – it doesn’t have to be anything elaborate – even a cut out piece of white or coloured cardboard with the person’s name handwritten in black is just as effective.


A simple handmade gift tag

Stencil names on your paper with pretty ribbon and buttons or a little key for the “key to someone’s heart”!  Use little 3D butterflies or hearts, which you can buy from your favourite stationer or craft store.


Gift Wrapping with buttons and newspaper


Gift Wrapping with 3D butterflies, paper flowers and ribbons

Newspaper bunting it also stunning with each letter of the person’s name written on!


Gift Wrapping with newspaper bunting and ribbons


Gift Wrapping with newspaper bunting and ribbons

Some lovely ideas for little children are plain white or any colour paper with a few crayons taped onto the front with washi tape.  You can write something sweet like “create me” in stencil or just handwritten.  Of course there is nothing sweeter than a piece of paper with drawings from your little one – the grandparents will especially love this and I am sure those won’t end up in the bin as easily!  Draw tiny little christmas fairy lights in black pen or ink and colour them in with highlighters or bright colours and get your little ones to handwrite their own simple message, like “merry christmas” or “I love you”.  You can finish off gifts for children with either a lollipop or even better, a little red and white candy stick!


Handmade gift wrap with hand-drawn fairy lights


Gift Wrapping with Candy, ribbon, washi tape and a little “pegged” flower gift tag


Gift Wrapping with Candy, ribbon, washi tape and a little “pegged” flower gift tag

There are SO many wonderful gift wrapping ideas out there!  Some of them are very elaborate and so so creative, but as I said before, I just wanted to stick to the simple ones, the ones you can easily do with your family at home and best of all, the ones that cost the least to make but hopefully, mean the most!

Happy gift wrapping!!! 

DIY Series – Photography Tips, editing apps


Following on from our last DIY series post, our next series on photography tips focuses on apps and lenses that can make a HUGE difference to your photograph!  First off, if you have an iPhone, the Olloclip Lens is amazing!  You will have loads of fun with this lens and can take some really creative photographs!  The Olloclip gives the effect of a fish eye, wide angle and macro lens. The latter is great for those ‘out of focus’ images and you can capture the most awesome detail! It is definitely something that you need to play around with, that way you will discover all sorts of fun and creative images and once again, you may surprise yourself! The latest Olloclip I am told, has a 15x macro lens which is great!

Unlike my previous post, the images below are not my own, but I thought they were beautiful and capture only some of the detail and effects you can achieve with the Olloclip.


Images taken with Olloclip lense (image credits unknown)

Another fantastic app is called VSCO (which stands for Visual Supply Company Photo and Video).  If you search for it on the app store you will find it under VSCO Cam.  You can edit your image with this app by creating different effects using different filter strength and can also do a little “fixing”.  Other free apps that you can find in the apple store are Postal Pix and Artifact Uprising.  These are all great for prints and printing can be done directly from your iPhone!  For those who don’t have an iPhone another fantastic editing app is Pics ArtSnapseed is great for selectively darkening or brightening selected parts of an image, among other things. The app Afterlight allows you to make your iPhone image look as though it were taken with film.


I really love these images!  image credit Kirstin Dokoza

Some of my personal favourite editing programmes are: Photo Scape (which can do many of the same things as Photoshop with regards to editing a photo) and also the free editing programmes, Picmonkey and Pixlr.  Some of the most common things that often need fixing are increasing brightness and contrast, straightening an image and of course cropping. A great app for this is Squaready as it preserves your original crop.

If you also love taking Instagram pics then you will love these apps:  pictapgo, rhonnadesignsapp, rhonnafarrer and mexturesapp are all fun and creative and add that extra bit of magic to your photo! Not all of them are free, but all are worth it if you love photography.


Instagram images with Rhonnadesignapp (image credits unknown)

I have drawn all the above info from personal experience with my iPhone and Instagram, as well as other awesome blogs (such as clickitupanotch and shrimpsaladcircus) and some of my own friends who use many of these apps for themselves!  I have given you loads to work with, so this should keep you busy for a while!  If you know of any more that I can try out I would love to hear from you!

If you enjoyed this post please share it with all your friends!  Watch this space for more on Photography Tips in our DIY series.

DIY Series: Photography Tips

DIY Series: Photography Tips

This is the first of a DIY series I would like to start. It will be ongoing as there is so much out there that you can do yourself! And because my blog and my business is all about ‘handmade things’, I would love to share with you how you can ‘make it yourself’. There is something out there for everyone, even if you never considered yourself creative. You may just surprise yourself! And even if you are not creating as a business, just making something for you, for your home or as a gift is good enough! There is something so exciting and satisfying about making something yourself, and seeing the finished product brings such pride and joy (even if you didn’t quite get it right the first time).

The first series I am going to start is called ‘Photography Tips’. In particular, taking great photos for your online shop, website or your blog. I have an online shop selling handmade products from various suppliers, so this is something that very much applies to me and my business, but even if you are not selling your creations online, (yet), I am sure you will find some of the tips I am about to share very useful! I am still learning myself, so this series is as much for me as it is for you!

I usually have to rely on the makers of my products to send me their beautiful images. However, not everybody knows how to take the perfect picture, and when you are selling something online it is your photo that needs to tell a story! You may have a wonderful product, but for some reason it does not sell, and more often than not this is as a result of not-so-great photography. This makes sense because unlike a virtual shop, your customer cannot smell, touch or feel your product and they need to know exactly how big or small it is. It also really helps to take a photo in the setting that it would be used…for example a storage box with books or hand towels rolled inside looks so much better than a plain box on a table….

To start, because not everybody that makes a beautiful product to sell has a great camera too, I am going to share with you how you can simply take product photos using your Smart Phone. (In my case, I use my iPhone).

As I said earlier though, taking a photo with your phone need not be just for your products or business. In fact, these tips will help you take beautiful, fun and inspiring pics at any time. After all, photographers are artists and just like artists they see beauty in every day life, often in the simplest things. So lets get started….

1.  First, look for good light! This is essential for a great photo. Natural lighting is by far the best and preferably no camera flash. Look for an area in your home or garden that has great indirect lighting and no direct sunlight. So, if you are taking your photo inside, then an area that has great light coming from the side but not directly onto your product.

TIP Use a big piece of white board across your light source to help create even light across your product!


Product photo with clean white background


Product photo with clean white background

2. What about your background? I personally prefer a clean, white neutral background as this allows you to play around with the scene and is not distracting from your product. Not to say that props cannot be used! Props are still a great idea, but make sure that the ones you choose fit the theme of your item and all work together. For example, if you are photographing a piece of furniture, make sure you use props that have a similar colour scheme such as a brown book next to a brownish vase with flowers.

TIP: as a background, use a large white canvas for larger items, or white printer paper for smaller items.


Product photo with clean white background


Product photo with clean white background

3. Take your photo from different angles. You can have plenty of fun with this part! I LOVE photos taken from above, so try this perspective or shoot from different angles that allow you to show depth and perspective. The important thing is to take PLENTY of photographs! This way you will have lots to choose from when you are finished.

4. Play around with the focus on your Smart Phone. Sometimes it looks great to have parts of your image out of focus. To focus on a certain part of your photo, tap the screen until you see a little square and wait for it to focus. (I do this with my iPhone). If you want the photo to be underexposed, tap on a bright part of the screen and vice versa for overexposure – tap a dark part of the screen. Remember you can tap on any part of your image to select focus, for example, if you are wanting to focus more on a part of your photo in the foreground, creating a bit of a blur in the background.

Here are a few photos I have taken with my iPhone only.  I have not edited any of them.  I have simply played with the focus on my phone, creating blur in certain parts, and focusing on certain parts of the photo, for example, the flowers.  Terry Angelos is one of my favourite Durban artists!  These Dancing Journals were custom made for a customer with 2 little dancing daughters, just like me! (and yes I have one too!) If you like Terry’s art, you may also like some of her block mounted art prints, available from ArtEsense online shop.


Terry Angelos Art Dancing Journal


Terry Angelos Art Dancing Journal


Terry Angelos Art Dancing Journal


Terry Angelos Art Dancing Journal

Terry Angelos Art Dancing Journal

Terry Angelos Art Dancing Journal


Terry Angelos Art Dancing Journal

I would like to share this video with you. It is from the blog Charm & Gumption and sums up many of the tips mentioned above.

I am going to end with this video. I really loved the way it was put together! Hope you have lots of fun trying out some of these Smart Phone ‘tricks’. The next part of my DIY Photography Tips series will focus on some really lovely editing apps, so come on over next week for more on this.

Thank you for reading. I hope this post was helpful! If you have any more tips I would love to hear from you!

Red is bold and beautiful. Furniture painting Tutorial.

Red is bold and beautiful. Furniture painting Tutorial.

It has been a while since I posted a tutorial!  I have been painting up a storm though, and have just completed painting a beautiful Oregon kist for a customer and I love the way it turned out!  I can tell that it is a really old, vintage piece as it is put together with ‘dove tails’ and the wood was old and ‘raw’, especially on the inside.  My customer asked for it to be painted in red (Emperor’s Silk), so that’s what I did and she couldn’t have chosen a more perfect colour!

Since this is a tutorial, I am going to start at the beginning… If you have read any of my previous tutorials, you will know that I simply love chalk paint!  I find it really easy to work with, especially the sanding and distressing part, and because I am a little impatient, I love the fact that I don’t need to do too much sanding and prepping!


Refurbishing an Oregon Kist

So, I started off by washing and cleaning this beautiful kist.  Since it was quite damaged and cracked in places, I fixed this up by using wood glue and clamping it until it had dried.  Since we wanted to achieve a more rustic look, I did not sand at all as I wanted the ‘imperfections’ to show through!  I simply mixed a teeny bit of water with my red chalk paint and painted all over in different directions. Usually I would use masking tape to cover the handles, locks etc., however since the handles were a funny shape, it made covering them rather difficult, so I simply painted as carefully as I could and then wiped any paint marks afterwards with a damp cloth!  Chalk paint is amazing in that way, it is so easy to clean, especially if you do it straight away!

I only needed to do one coat of paint as this is a gorgeous rustic piece of furniture and since my customer asked for it to be distressed all over, it was not necessary to paint more than one coat.

I then used a 220 grit sandpaper to sand the edges and the high points on the wood, so that only those ‘worn pieces’ would show through.  I would suggest using a sanding block for this and make sure you sand lightly in long strokes in the same direction as this way you are certain to pick up on the high points and not distress too much.


Be careful when sanding chalk paint as you will end up with lots of fine dust EVERYWHERE!  Red chalk paint seems to stain slightly and needs to be brushed off very well afterwards with a dry muslin cloth or an old paintbrush.  Once you have done this you can proceed to apply clear wax all over.  The best way to do this is to imagine you are rubbing in hand cream.  Rather apply in small amounts at a time and make sure you really work it into the wood.  This is the hardest part!  Don’t worry if your red paint looks a little pink and ‘stripey’ after distressing, this will sort itself out once you have applied the wax and will return to its lovely rich, red colour!  The wax takes a few days to ‘cure’.  You can give it a nice polish once it has settled.

After.  The final result!


Thank you for reading. If you would like to purchase any of our furniture items, have a look at what we have available in our online shop.

If you found this tutorial helpful, please share it with your friends!