Launch of The Paper Artist Collective

I’m thrilled to let you know I’m now part of The Paper Artist Collective; an international group of hugely talented artists all working with the medium of paper.

Proud member of The Paper Artist Collective.The Collective is made up of some 50 members from 22 countries and, since our formation in early 2015, we have been working together to share opportunities and information.

My artist's page on the PAC websiteAs a member of the Collective, I’m excited to be involved with such a diverse and interesting group of people. I consider it a real honour to have been invited to be part of this internationally renowned group of artists. We have a number of events and exhibitions planned, so I will keep you posted on those over the months ahead. Please feel free to visit the website, follow our Instagram or find us on Facebook or Twitter to learn more about the many individual artists involved, and our future plans, which include a pop-up shop in Oslo and an exhibition in Geneva.

In the meantime, I am busy with commissions, Christmas planning and organising more workshops (despite it being the Summer holidays and me saying I would take less on!), as well as filling my lovely new Etsy shop with goodies. So yes, I’m certainly very busy just now! My order books are filling up for Christmas, with limited slots now available from mid-October onwards, so if you’d like a bespoke piece like a family tree, quote papoodle or filled letters papercut, please contact me.

Till next time,

Melissa

Busy in the kitchen!

Kale... From my veg patch to my green juice!

#TeamKale… From my veg patch to my green juice!

My love of being creative extends to the kitchen, so trying new recipes and food ideas is one of my favourite things… I even love to grow my own food.

Those of you who follow my Instagram feed will know I’m a huge fan of juicing and healthy eating, but that I also have a seriously sweet tooth.

So imagine my delight – thanks to the big surge in popularity of whole foods and clean eating – when I discovered a simple recipe for homemade chocolate hazelnut spread, and when I found out about the marvel that is ‘nice cream’.

Homemade pancakes... One of my favourite naughty treats just got a smidgen healthier thanks to homemade chocolate spread.

Homemade pancakes… One of my favourite naughty treats just got a smidgen healthier thanks to homemade chocolate spread.

Nutella is a go-to for me; whether I’m spreading it on homemade pancakes (here are some I made earlier!), dipping my pretzels in it, or just eating it straight from the jar. On a spoon.

But the ingredients list isn’t all that appetising, with palm oil high on the list. Since my large jar was down to its last dregs, I decided to attempt to make my own. Right after I finished eating those pancakes! Homemade hazelnut chocolate spread is actually really simple to make, with just a few ingredients. Here’s how I made mine, with my recipe slightly adapted from this one which I found in the Guardian.

You’ll need…
200g whole hazelnuts
One teaspoon of cacao powder (if you don’t have this, you can use regular cocoa powder, like you’d use in baking)
Four teaspoons of caster sugar (you can leave this out if you prefer)
Two teaspoons of groundnut oil
One teaspoon of vanilla essence

Roasted hazelnuts, before removing the skinsFirst, spread the hazelnuts out on a baking tray and pop in the oven at 180ºC for about ten minutes, maybe fifteen. Once the outside skin of the nuts has gone dark brown, wrap the hazelnuts in a clean tea towel and massage the tea towel ‘bag’ vigorously against your worktop. Give the bag a good rub back and forth to loosen the skins of the hot nuts (so many opportunities for sniggering here, sorry) – it’ll take some doing but you’ll be left with a pile of clean hazelnuts (you can pick any stubborn skins off by hand, or pop them back in the oven to roast a little longer).
Once you’ve got skinless nuts(!), pop them in the food processor with a teaspoon of the oil and whizz for a few minutes till the mixture takes on a buttery consistency. You can then add the rest of the ingredients including the remaining teaspoon of oil, along with a pinch of salt. Whizz all of this up for a few more minutes in order to get chocolate hazelnut spread. Once done, pop it into a clean jam jar and store it in the fridge, where it’ll keep for a month. If you can actually keep it that long!

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Mine has a lovely roasted nutty taste (I left a few stubborn skins on the nuts) and a rich chocolatey flavour (I used a posh block of pure cacao which is meant to be for hot chocolate, but I grated it and it worked fine!). My spread was also quite crunchy (I could’ve blended it for longer) which is really tasty, especially with the little crumbles of salt I can taste in it. It might not look as smooth or as dark as the original recipe, but… Mmmmmm… Pass me a spoon!

Next up was tea (roast chicken, blanched kale and summer potatoes, in case you’re wondering!), then – more importantly – pudding!!

If you’ve never heard of nice cream, you’re missing a treat. It’s dairy free and divine. What’s more, it’s been taking over my Instagram feed for months. Just look at these beautiful examples…

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So how do you make it? Next time you have overripe bananas (a rarity in this house), simply slice them up and put them in the freezer. Then when you want a refreshing, cooling dessert, just grab those frozen banana bits and whizz them up! It’s as simple as that. With frozen bananas as the base, you can then any other frozen fruit into the food processor at the same time (we used strawberries tonight) or even cocoa powder or matcha. It’s a great reason to raid the reduced-price fruit in the supermarket – just bring it home and pop it in the freezer. After a couple of minutes of blending, you’re left with a delicious, creamy nice cream!

Strawberry and banana 'nice cream'

Strawberry and banana ‘nice cream’

It’s definitely something I’ll be making again… She wolfed it down in minutes!!

Strawberry and banana 'nice cream'... Didn't last long!

Strawberry and banana ‘nice cream’… Didn’t last long!

Well that’s enough of my foodie chatter for now… I just had to share the homemade choc spread and more importantly the nice cream with you! Definitely worth a try this summer. Why not give them a go?

All images and words © Melissa Holmes :: holmesmadepapercuts, unless stated/otherwise credited. Please do not use, alter, copy or redistribute without my prior consent.

Holmesmadepapercuts is on Etsy!

After almost four years of creating my hand-drawn, hand-cut papercuts and lovely printed products, I’m thrilled to let you know I’ve now created a shop on Etsy.

You can visit it here.Holmesmadepapercuts - now on Etsy!

Etsy is one of the world’s best known marketplaces, and it brings together creative entrepreneurs like me with lovely shoppers like you. Since being founded in 2005, Etsy has grown to have 1.4 million active sellers (I’m a little fish in a huge ocean of talent!) and a huge 20.8 million active buyers. It’s a safe and secure method of shopping online, and I’m pleased as punch to be part of it.

For now, I’m maintaining my website at www.holmesmadepapercuts.com while I shift everything over to Etsy and decide whether to do away with my old site and stick with just Etsy, or if to maintain both sites at the same time. Bear with!!

Right now you can order a small selection of fine art prints, a bunch of beautiful originals and my fabulous printed mugs, notebooks and greetings cards. You’ll also find my Beginner’s Papercutting Sets and a new addition – papercutting templates, for those of you who’re keen to try your crafty hand at my designs (instant download templates will be available soon, all templates are for personal use only).

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Of course, much of my time is still taken up with wonderful bespoke commissions, which are an absolute privilege to cut, and I’ll soon be adding slots for these to my Etsy shop once my order books are a little quieter. In the meantime, you can always email me to reserve your own commission slot via hello (at) holmesmadepapercuts (dot) com

I’ve also joined my local Etsy Team, so expect to hear news in the future about local events I’m taking part in alongside fellow Leeds-area Etsians.

I hope you like the new shop and find buying from it a pleasure! I’d love to hear your thoughts, so if you have any comments or suggestions (be kind, I’m completely new to Etsy!), I’d love to hear them.

That’s all for now,

Melissa

All images and words © Melissa Holmes :: holmesmadepapercuts, unless stated/otherwise credited. Please do not use, alter, copy or redistribute without my prior consent.

York Makers Spring Fair and papercutting workshop

york makers posterIn early May I took part in a fantastic event with York Makers, a collective of craftspeople, artists and designer-makers based in York. I had a stall upstairs in the lovely Clements Hall, selling my originals, prints, cards, notebooks and mugs, plus I hosted my very first Beginner’s Papercutting Workshop at the event.

The day was a huge success, with more than 400 people through the doors (it’s not really central, so that’s a great number!). There were lots of beautiful stalls downstairs in the main rooms (which I was unfortunately too busy to look at!).

Manning my stall – a rare quiet moment!

Manning my stall – a rare quiet moment!

My stall was really popular – people always love the chance to look at my detailed work up close – with a very busy “till” (i.e. tupperware box containing my float!) plus lots of enquiries about commissions too.

The pre-booked workshop was a hit. The attendees (who came from as far away as Doncaster, Lancashire and Derby!) really enjoyed themselves and went home with completed papercuts (some used my Holmes-made-designed templates while others drew their own) as well as Beginner’s Papercutting Sets. Oh, and full tummies from the delicious homemade cake on offer!!

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I’m currently in talks with a couple of local venues about hosting papercutting workshops with them in future, so please keep your eye on my online shop and Facebook page for more information. I’m also planning a number of other craft fairs and events for the rest of 2015. If you’d like to be notified of a future workshop or event, please sign up to my mailing list by clicking here.

I just love this photo of Steph as she pulled her finished papercut away from the paper!

I just love this photo of Steph as she pulled her finished papercut away from the paper!

All images and words © Melissa Holmes :: holmesmadepapercuts, unless stated/otherwise credited. Please do not use, alter, copy or redistribute without my prior consent.

Spring update

spring pic

March already! Yikes. Life continues at a hectic pace here at HM HQ. New designs, more commissions and new products seem to be appearing left, right and centre! To match the blooming daffs and blossoming crocuses, I am going through a wonderful period of creativity and productivity – it’s fab! Alongside that, my little girl is really flourishing and showing me more and more of her creative side everyday, which is just wonderful! At four and a half, she’s quite the little artist, and I’m proud that she sees that as a viable job option for her future! I must share some with you, being a super-proud mum and all…

She has been helping with some order packing too… Sticking on stickers and my return address labels. Well, I have been kinda busy!

It's a good job I get on with the folks at my village Post Office!

So, what’s new? Well, I recently had my first small exhibition through in beautiful Harrogate at the stunning RHS Gardens, Harlow Carr. “Let’s Get Creative” saw a host of designers and makers come together to showcase their work and also do demonstrations of their craft, in a bid to encourage others to take up new crafts for the new year.

Papercutting demonstration by Melissa Holmes at RHS Gardens Harlow Carr, February 2015.

In preparation for the event, I was asked to put together Beginner’s Papercutting Sets. These feature everything you need to get started with the wonderful hobby of papercutting, including a couple of Holmes-made templates, spare papers, the same tools and materials I use, and of course a hints and tips sheet which condenses more than three years of my self-taught knowledge and experience! Feedback on the kits has been great so far; you can get yours here!

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I’m absolutely thrilled to say that my work will be exhibited and for sale again at RHS Gardens Harlow Carr from March 17th until April 12th 2015, with a selection of originals, prints, cards and other products available.

Which leads me nicely on to those ‘other products’. 2015 is very much a year of new things for me here at Holmes-made, and I’m delighted to share with you these new products, which first went on sale in January and have been really popular. I have introduced a range of notebooks featuring some of my favourite designs, including my very popular ‘Creative Minds’ piece, which is a new original completed in January. These notebooks are perfect for doodles, daydreams, and dull stuff like shopping lists. I’ve also had two sizes of mugs printed with my ever-popular rainbow hearts design… Just to give you that extra boost with your morning cuppa!

Just some of the new items available from Holmes-made

And finally, I’ve also been working on more beautiful fabricy pieces, including extending my flora and fauna range with three new originals featuring British birds (pictured below are my robin and blue tit prints). I’m still working on this range, with more flowers and creatures to come, all featuring gorgeous fabric infills which, much like my tiny colour infills have in the past, are becoming something of a trademark to my work!

I think that pretty much covers it… For now! More mug and notebook designs are on their way, along with more new original pieces that I’m so excited to complete.

I hope you like what you see. Thanks as always for your support of my business!

Melissa x

PS – I’m very excited to be hosting my first ever papercutting WORKSHOP in early May! Further details of this will be announced in early April… Please keep your eyes on my social media for more info.

My papercut designs on your phone case!

I’m absolutely delighted to introduce an entirely new product to the Holmes-made range.

I was approached by SwagMyCase; a young British company which prints images on to high quality device cases, about having my work included alongside a number of other brilliant artists featured on the site. Of course I jumped at the opportunity (and was quick to order a case for my own phone too!). We actually launched my range just before Christmas and so far the feedback has been really positive.

My own phone cover with my own designs from http://swagmycase.com/collections/holmesmadepapercuts

You can buy some of my most popular designs through the SwagMyCase site, with more designs being offered in future. I wouldn’t put my designs on just anything, and I’m proud to say hand on heart that these are beautiful quality with a really good finish. I myself have the tough case (which has a silicon lining) in my rainbow heart design for my iPhone 5C and it makes me smile every time I see it!

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The cases are made using a patent printing process which infuses the image right around the case, wrapping your device with a glossy image that doesn’t fade over time. What’s more, postage is free for UK orders. SwagMyCase offers slimline and thicker ‘tough’ cases for more than thirty devices, including iPhone, iPad, Samsung, Sony, LG, Blackberry and Google products. More are being added all the time, so do check back on the site soon in case you don’t see your phone or tablet on the list.

I hope you like them as much as I do!!

Breathless with gratitude.

As I approach my fourth year of papercutting, I look back over the wild ride of the past three years since I first picked up a scalpel and “had a go”.

Gosh, it’s been a while since my last post, and a lot has been going on!! But as we approach Christmas and I take a quick breather from the commissions I’m working on which will be gifted on the 25th, I want to take a brief look back over this year.

From having the privilege of completing lots of beautiful personalised commissions to creating a number of new print designs, to launching my own website and online shop and taking part in the Small Business Saturday national bus tour, 2014 has really been a busy year for me!!

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Me with a local councillor and local small business owners in York City Centre as part of Small Business Saturday celebrations. Image courtesy of York City Council. https://www.flickr.com/photos/yorkcouncil/15795905416/in/set-72157649344248052/

In a few days’ time it’ll be exactly three years since I first picked up a scalpel to create a papercut. It was something that would change my life completely. I could never have imagined that within a few of months of starting I would have enough work to keep me going for three years!! The enquiries have continued, the gratitude-filled feedback from my customers just gets more and more heartwarming, and I’m forging links with clients and other businesses which are so supportive and beneficial to both me and my little company… And to others I hope!!

MAKE TODAY MARVELLOUS

A key element of what I do is about spreading joy. It’s one of my main reasons for doing what I do. Whether it’s a personalised family tree cut, a colourful print with a motivational quote or a charitable action (such as contributing a raffle prize to a DEC appeal fundraiser, or helping to raise £750 for Cancer Research UK), I want to use my skill and my reach to help create change. From my clients’ wonderful feedback, I know I am doing that. And it means so much – *so much* – that I am able to do that. I’ve made people I’ve never even met cry with the happy memories that feature in their bespoke commissions. I’ve helped others celebrate birthdays, marriages, civil partnerships, christenings, anniversaries and retirements through my work. My work has been used by my clients to mark a turning point in their lives, a new start, a chance to “Make Today Marvellous” and begin every day with a fresh start and a positive mindset as they glance at my work on their walls.

Do you know how amazing that feels? Can you possibly comprehend the feeling I get when a valued customer (who really doesn’t know me from Adam) opens their heart to me, spills out their soul and explains their motivation for buying an original, ordering a print or commissioning a piece? And so many of them do it – it’s something I could never have anticipated when I first started out three years ago.

And I am so grateful for it. So grateful.

You really are.

NOT ALL PLAIN SAILING

It sounds like 2014 has been a great year for me, and it has in so many respects. But, after a rocky start, I had a breakdown in March and hit rock bottom with my depression. Bad things were going on, work fell to the wayside and life felt incredibly tough. I didn’t open up about it on my blog, on my Facebook page or anywhere really. A tight-knit circle of online friends became my life raft; people to cling to when I felt I was drowning in my emotions, unable to function on the most basic of levels and really struggling to maintain the facade of the happy, joy-making artist. Simply getting by as a mummy, making it to preschool drop-offs or doing the weekly shop, was like dragging myself through wet cement.

This was my third or fourth bout of severe depression. It wasn’t until I posted a pic on my Instagram (a crumpled up tissue with a caption about anxiety and how it had such a control over my life) that I realised I was ok to talk about it. That by opening up a little, I was helping heal myself and also – amazingly – helping others. The tragic loss of Robin Williams saw many more people open up. I began to see a counsellor, I went to group sessions to discuss self-esteem and valuing yourself… Two proper breaks away, with sunshine, beaches and facing my fears and anxieties head on (I can’t tell you the terror I felt at the most basic everyday activities) have helped a lot. The support of friends and loved ones has helped a lot. Opening up about it (a little) to my social media followers helped a lot.

Feeling the love (and the fun!) with some of my online support network in real life in November 2014; an activity that I couldn't have even contemplated earlier in the year. Pictured with fellow small business owners and party types SoFire Creations, Emma Boyes Papercutting Artist, Sarah Travis Artist and Illustrator, Dolly Dearlove and halfpinthome

Feeling the love (and the fun!) with some of my online support network in real life in November 2014; an activity that I couldn’t have even contemplated earlier in the year. Pictured with fellow small business owners and arty types SoFire Creations, Emma Boyes Papercutting Artist, Sarah Travis Artist and Illustrator, Dolly Dearlove and halfpinthome

But mostly, it was down to me. I have had some serious revelations this year about my almost-lifelong struggle with depression and anxiety, and I am so proud of myself for turning it around. It’s taken a huge shift in thinking, in behaviour and in me, but I’m starting to find myself again, feel comfortable in my own skin and – quite simply – to love myself again. Cripes… Don’t I sound mega-cheesy?? But it’s how I feel.

PICK A PART THAT LOOKS GOOD

All of that is for another blog post really, but I wanted to share a little of it with you because it’s true we all have our struggles, our battles and our demons; and in this highly edited, Instagram-filtered, rose-tinted online life, it can be very easy to take things at face value and think everyone has it better than you; that everyone else’s life is more fun-filled, vibrant, picture-perfect and just ruddy perfect than your own. It’s not.

A real-life moment of pure joy; walking the dog with my daughter in Summer... No filters required.

A real-life moment of pure joy; walking the dog with my daughter in Summer… No filters required.

And it’s this that inspires me. Creating my art (although it can cause me a lot of headaches at times) makes other people happy, and it makes me happy too. I want to live my life authentically, to be true to myself and to create a life I love and that my family loves. These are my goals. I am so privileged to do what I do, and I certainly don’t take it for granted.

FULL STEAM AHEAD

2015 will be an exciting year for me. I’m already setting goals and making plans – something I’ve never really done before (being an expert at bumbling along!!). I have some interesting events coming up which will require a lot of work but could lead to great things, I’m going to be introducing new products and spreading my wings a little, and I’m going to focus more on taking care of myself and my family, as well as keeping my wonderful clients happy.

And although I guess I’ll always live with depression and anxiety, I’m now better equipped with the tools to cope with the bad patches and knockbacks. As a thank you for your support this year, I’m running a little giveaway over on my Facebook page, and will continue to run offers and reward customer loyalty with discount codes in 2015.

Here’s to a wonderful Christmas and New Year for all of my friends, family, customers and supporters. Let’s make 2015 marvellous.

Make Today Marvellous

Inspired by this post?? Want to share your own goals for 2015, or your own milestones of 2014? Feel free to leave a comment!!

Don’t forget I have commission slots available from May 2015 onwards, so if you’d like to commission a special piece, please drop me a line.