Brush Embroidery – Not Just For Cakes! A Gorilla Glue Project.

DISCLAIMER: This is a sponsored post – Gorilla Glue provided the glue (and pen), but the idea is my own.

 

A few months ago I did a craft project for Gorilla Glue, where I turned plain objects into pretty ones with a crackle effect. (See HERE for that project). As I said in that post, I like decorating things to transform them into something more beautiful. Another thing I enjoy doing is cake making and decorating, although I only do them for friends and family. There is a gorgeously elegant technique which is used to decorate cakes and cookies, called brush embroidery. It involves piping a royal icing design on to the cake, and then using a small brush to gently pull the edge of the icing in to the design so it looks like delicate stitching on fabric. I wondered if it would be possible to achieve a similar result using glue. Obviously this is not intended for anything edible!!!

After a bit of experimenting I discovered that Gorilla Glue Wood Glue mixed with a bit of powder paint works best for this. I tried it with acrylic paint but it doesn’t have the correct consistency. It needs to be like whipped cream or thick yoghurt, and the only way I could achieve that was by mixing powder paint with the glue. You can use any colour powder paint you want, but I personally love the effect with white.

Brush embroidery is a wonderful way of transforming any plain surface into a thing of beauty. This is how to do it yourself.

For this project you will need:

  • Gorilla Glue Wood Glue
  • powder paint in the colour of your choice
  • some stiff-bristled thin paintbrushes for the details, and a bigger one for the main painting
  • acrylic paint in the colour of your choice (this will be the main colour of your object)
  • your object to transform (I used a plain box with a drawer, and a Kraft notebook)
  • a disposable piping bag
  • a piece of kitchen roll
  • 3 small pots – one for your acrlylic paint, one for the glue mixture, one for clean water
  • a pair of scissors
  • pearlescent craft mica powder (optional – it adds a slightly pearlescent finish to the design)

You can buy plain wooden boxes in lots of different shapes from Amazon, Hobbycraft, etc. If you want to decorate a notebook cover, it is best to buy Kraft notebooks. They have plain brown covers so perfect for jazzing up.

Paint your chosen object using the acrylic paint in the colour of your choice. If you are painting a notebook cover, do it with the cover open to prevent paint getting on to any pages.

Leave to dry completely for around 3-4 hours.

Mix together some glue with the powder paint. You don’t need much.

It needs to be the consistency of thick yoghurt, about 4 parts glue to 1 part paint. If it is too thick, just mix in a bit more glue until you get the correct consistency. If you would like a slightly pearlescent effect to your design, add a pinch of craft mica dust to the mixture too.

When you lift your brush (or whatever you use to mix it) it should leave a ribbony trail on the surface of the mixture. Spoon the mixture into the end of a disposable piping bag, then snip the tip off making a small hole at the bottom. Pipe a basic outline of your choice design on to the now dry painted object. The most common design used on cakes is of flowers, so I stuck with that for my box and notebook, but feel free to try different ones.

Dip a thin stiff brush into the clean water and dab the excess off on the piece of kitchen roll. It needs to be damp but not too wet. Place the brush on to the inside edge of the piping and stroke it towards the middle of the shape, so it thins and fades.

You must make sure you keep the outside edge complete though or the effect will be lost. Dampen your brush every few strokes, as if it is too dry it will just stick and pull too much of the line away. When you have finished the shape you piped, pipe another and repeat the process. Build up layers of petals by piping another set inside the set you have just completed. You can add leaves around them, and pipe centre lines after you have done the brush embroidery.

You can fill in spaces in between the flowers by piping small dots, 5 or 6 around a central one to represent flowers. You can place your damp brush on to the edge of the dot nearest the centre one and drag it towards the middle, making little petal shapes. You can see these on the box I decorated. I left some as dots and dragged some to make petals. If you are leaving some as just dots, the mixture will probable form little peaks as you pipe it. Just use the damp brush to gently press the peaks down.

Leave to dry.

 

As you can see it is a very effective way to make pretty designs on plain items. No matter how many times you do it, you will never get the exact result again, meaning every item will be perfectly unique.

These are perfect to give as gifts for Mother’s Day, or any other special occasion. You can literally do this on any plain object. How about trying it on a photo frame? I will be doing it on an indoor plant pot for a gift for a friend soon. The possibilities are endless!

 

 

 

 

 

 

2…4…6…Ate! Easy Shortbread Hearts, Baked with Love

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As many of you will know, my mother sadly passed away when I was still a child. It wasn’t just my mother that died that day, it was also a whole host of experiences that many people take for granted. I’d never get to tell her about my first boyfriend, or go wedding dress shopping with her, or hand a precious grandchild to her to hold for a while. Those things fill me with sadness, but strangely enough the one thing I never got chance to do but really wish I had was to bake something for her. When my son makes or bakes something for me, it fills my heart with so much joy and pride, and I wish I could have done that for her. The look of pure satisfaction and happiness on my son’s face as he watches my face light up… well that’s a look that will stay with me forever.

I always loved baking and loved making things at school in Home Economics, as it was then called. Those lessons taught me so much. How to make shortcrust pastry, how to make a Victoria sponge. The methods and quantities used always stick in my head. One thing I was taught which I remember well was shortbread. The easiest shortbread ever to remember. In those days (the 1980s) we measured ingredients in ounces not grams, and for shortbread my teacher used to write on the board “2-4-6-Ate”. Easiest ingredient quantities ever, right? It stood for 2 ounces of sugar, 4 of butter, 6 of flour, and that would make them good enough to eat. It is such a simple recipe, my 9 year old son knows it by heart too, and he makes scrumptious shortbread!

With Mother’s Day approaching I wanted to write a blog post of a recipe that would be easy enough for children to make, with supervision, to give to their Mums as a gorgeous little gift. Baked with love. A wonderful cookware and bakeware shop called The Little Cook Shop very kindly sent me a beautiful Eddingtons loose-based mini heart pan to try, and I decided this would be perfect for this recipe.

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The pan has 12 small heart-shaped cavities, and each has a removable base so you can get your bakes out so much easier. Push up from underneath and your bake just pops out. It is also non-stick for extra easiness. There is a scrumptious looking recipe on the back of the box to make strawberry and chocolate cheesecakes with this pan. I shall definitely be trying those at some point!!! This pan costs £9.99 and is well worth it at that price as the quality is fantastic. However, The Little Cook Shop have given me a code to pass on to you so you can have 10% off any order, making this pan just £8.99! I can’t recommend it highly enough. I will be using mine A LOT! It will be perfect for savoury bakes such as quiches as well as so many sweet bakes. Have a look around their website and enter the code CONFARREO10 at the checkout to redeem the discount offer. You can use it on anything you order, not just this pan.

Back to the recipe. I normally only really use unsalted butter in my baking, but I was taught that shortbread is best when made with salted butter. It also is best made with butter that is slightly softened but still cold. Too warm and it affects the texture. Too cold and it’s hard to mix in properly. This is where a fairly new butter in the shops is just perfect.

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The Softer Butter Co. has produced a delicious butter that tastes exactly as you’d expect from a quality 100% natural butter, but it has one big difference. It is, as the name suggests, softer! No need to leave this one out of the fridge for a while to soften up, it is the perfect softness straight from the fridge. If you want to try it yourself, you can find it in Morrisons and in some Tesco stores. It is perfect for this recipe as it is softer but still cold.

EASIEST SHORTBREAD EVER 2-4-6-ATE!

2 ounces of caster sugar

4 ounces of salted butter slightly softened, or the Softer Butter Co straight from the fridge

6 ounces of plain flour, sieved

a knob of butter, melted for greasing

extra caster sugar for sprinkling on after baking (optional)

  • Use a pastry brush to grease the heart cavities with melted butter.
  • Cream together the sugar and the butter, until pale and fluffy. You can do this with a wooden spoon or an electric hand whisk. Obviously the electric whisk is quicker, but children love mixing with spoons.
  • Tip the flour into the butter mixture, and use a wooden spoon to mix well until you have a fairly stiff paste/dough and everything is combined thoroughly.
  • Use your hands to gently press the mixture together and then divide into 12 equal sized balls, about the size of walnuts.
  • Place one ball into each greased heart cavity, and use your fingers to press them down until they fill the bottom of the cavities and are level. Use a fork to prick them all over, making sure you don’t go all the way through them.
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  • Place the pan with the uncooked dough into the fridge. While it is chilling, turn your oven on to 170C or 150C if using a fan oven.
  • When the oven has reached the temperature, place the pan on to the middle shelf and bake for 20-25 minutes until lightly golden. Remove from the oven and sprinkle the shortbread with caster sugar, if using. Leave in the pan for 5-10 minutes.
  • Using a clean tea towel to protect your finger from getting burnt, push up each heart shortbread from underneath, and place them on a wire rack to cool completely. They will pop up so perfectly and cleanly.
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You can keep them plain like this, and they will be delicious served with a cup of tea. They are perfectly crumbly and melt in the mouth.

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Or you can decorate them by dipping half in melted chocolate or icing, and sprinkling decorations on. I love the different ways you can present them so I decorated 4 with melted white chocolate and dried rose petals, 4 with melted ginger dark chocolate and chopped hazelnuts, and 4 with icing and sprinkles.

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Beech’s Fine Chocolates make 60g bars of various flavours of the most delicious chocolate, and I used their bars for the melted chocolate decoration on these hearts. Their chocolate tastes so luxurious and smooth. The white chocolate was so creamy and the ginger dark chocolate had a beautiful gentle warmth. Of course, you can use any chocolate, but these bars make the shortbread so indulgent. Melt the chocolate either in a microwave (being very careful not to burn it) or in a heatproof bowl placed over a pan of barely simmering water, making sure the bowl does not touch the water. Dip each heart into the chocolate and then place back on the wire rack. Sprinkle with whatever decorations you fancy.

If using icing, mix a few drops of water into 2 ounces of icing sugar, until it is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, but runny enough to dip. Dip the shortbread into the icing and return to the wire rack. Decorate with sprinkles. I used the stunning Unicorn Sprinkletti available from Scrumptious Sprinkles. The colours in this are so feminine and magical, and the shapes are so pretty.

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My son said you could decorate them to show what you think of your mother. You love her so you make them heart shaped with this beautiful pan. Then if you think she’s pretty, you decorate with sprinkles or flowers. If she’s daft and nutty, you use chopped nuts. I asked him how he would decorate mine and he said with plenty of nuts! Charming!

I hope you enjoy baking these oh so easy treats. And if your children will be making them for Mother’s Day I’m sure there’ll be some very happy mums.

Don’t forget, if you head over to The Little Cook Shop you can buy anything you want and get a 10% discount if you use the code CONFARREO10 at the checkout. You could even pick up some presents for Mother’s Day there! If you particularly want to buy this gorgeous mini heart pan click HERE to go directly to it. Happy shopping and happy baking!

(EDIT 12/09/2018: The hearts pan is no longer available in this shop so I have removed the link for it. You can however use any loose-bottomed pan with 12 cavities for this recipe).

How to Make Beautiful Coasters from Tiles and Paper Napkins

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A good friend of mine organises a Craft Fayre every Christmas and makes a lot of gorgeous items herself for it. A few years ago she started making these coasters and I was knocked out by how easy it was to get such a lovely result! She used any pretty napkins but I absolutely love designers such as Emma Bridgewater and Cath Kidston, so I decided to only use designer napkins. I became a bit addicted to making them and lots of people asked to buy them. I gave sets of 4 to people as gifts, and love going to their houses and seeing them on tables and tops of cabinets, still in use and looking like new.

They really are simple to make, and with Mother’s Day coming up soon, why not surprise your own Mother with a practical gift made with love by you? Chocolates get eaten within a few days, flowers fade and die, so how about this year making and giving a gift that will last? I’ll include photos of every step of the process so you know you’re doing it correctly, but I’m sure you’ll have no problems anyway.

To make a set of 4 coasters you will need 4 plain white tiles measuring 100mm x 100mm. You can buy a box of basic tiles from large DIY stores such as Homebase or B&Q. (I buy mine from B&Q at £5.50 for a box of 25). You will need 1 paper napkin of your choice measuring around 30cm. All the ones I ever use are 33cm square, and 3 ply (made from 3 layers of paper).

Here’s how to make them:

YOU WILL NEED

4 ceramic tiles measuring 100mm x 100mm (10cm x 10cm)

1 paper napkin (see note above)

Felt material of a co-ordinating colour to the napkin design (20cm x 20cm)

Polyurethane Gloss Varnish (I use DecoArt Duraclear Gloss Varnish from Hobbycraft)

PVA glue

Double sided sticky tape

A co-ordinating ribbon for presentation

A paintbrush (art/craft type, not house decorating sized!)

Scissors

A pot for the glue

INSTRUCTIONS

  • Mix PVA glue with an equal amount of water in a small pot. This will be used to stick the napkin on to the tile.
  • Open out your paper napkin and cut along the fold lines so you have 4 equal squares.

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  • Very carefully, peel away the top layer of paper from each square. This is the piece you need for the coaster as it has the design on it. If you stick all 3 layers on, you will get bubbles and it won’t look as pretty. Keep the other layers to use later on.

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  • Take one tile and completely cover it with the PVA mixture using the paintbrush. Make sure you cover the edges too.

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  • Take one of the top layer squares you gently saved, and position it on top of the tile so you have the best part of the design on display. Make sure there is enough around the edges to fold underneath in the next step.

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  • Scrunch some of the plain layers of napkin (the bottom layers) into a loose ball and very gently dab the napkin on to the tile. You will get creases, but that adds to the overall look so please don’t try and straighten them out. If you try and move the napkin at this point, it will rip. When the napkin is in place, carefully pick the tile up and turn it over. Brush more PVA glue on the bottom of the tile and fold the edges of the napkin on to the glue. You can either dab the edges down with the scrunched up layers, or use your paintbrush to smooth them down. I use my brush for this stage. Make sure there are no air bubbles on the sides of the coaster. If there are, very gently smooth them down with your brush.

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  • Leave on a plastic bag or similar covering to dry. When the top is dry, turn it over so the bottom completely dries too. Repeat all the above steps for the other 3 coasters.
  • When they are completely dry, coat the top and sides with the varnish. It brushes on easily, has no nasty odour, and is non-yellowing, which makes it the best for your coasters. I brush on 3 coats, allowing each to dry in between coats. You can brush on as many as you want to get the sheen you want.
  • Leave the coasters to dry overnight.

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  • Cut the felt into 4 squares, just slightly smaller than your tiles.
  • Place strips of double sided tape on the backs of the coasters.

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  • Peel the backing off the tape and position one square of felt on each. Press down firmly. And that is the coasters complete!

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  • To present them as a gift, stack the 4 coasters on top of each other and tie a ribbon around them.

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And there you have a wonderful gift to give for any occasion. My son has given his past teachers a set at the end of the school year as a thank you gift. I’ve given sets as housewarming presents and as a gift for my Mother-in-Law for Mother’s Day. I have a lovely friend who adores Emma Bridgewater designs, so I made a set for her just for being such a wonderful friend!

The felt on the back protects your surfaces from scratches from the roughness of the underside of the tiles. You can use cork sheets if you prefer but I like the way you can use matching colours of felt. The polyurethane varnish will protect the coaster from drips, and is easy to clean with a damp cloth.

I hope you enjoy making these. I’d love to hear how you get on and who you give them to! Happy Crafting!