Claire, creator of Pillar Box Blue took home the Best Craft Blog Award at the 2018 Amara Interior Blog Awards. The judges loved the fun and engaging craft projects she shares on her blog. Claire talks to the IBA Blog about what’s next for her and her blog next year and what her favourite craft projects were this year…
Where do you find inspiration for your blog content?
If I’m looking for inspiration for my blog, days out really help. I love to visit places like London, Brighton and Cambridge. I love to go to art galleries, antique fairs, junk shops etc. Just looking at the stuff around me often sparks ideas. After a day’s window shopping in London, looking at stores like Anthropologie, Liberties, Heals and markets like Portobello Road, I often come back full of ideas for upcycling projects.
I also get lots of inspirations from visiting art galleries and exhibitions. Last year I visited the fabulous Frida Kahlo exhibition at the V&A museum, which actually inspired 2 blog posts. I made an upcycled Frida cushion and a fun Frida Christmas ornament for the tree!
Pinterest and reading other blogs online also spark ideas. I find that the more I create the more the ideas flow. So sometimes I will start working on one project but that will then spark an even better idea for another upcycle.
What’s the best blogging tip you’ve ever been told?
I have been given lots of blogging advice over the years, most of it around social media and SEO and lots of it often conflicting. The best bit of advice I’ve been given which I truly believe is that quality content is key. Blog about what you know and have a passion for. All the tips and tricks for mastering SEO and social media won’t get you very far if you don’t have quality content and aren’t authentic.
How did you feel when you won the IBA18 Best Craft Blog Award?
I couldn’t believe I won. I was there on the night with my friend Helen Hallam the textile designer. When I was announced the winner, she nudged me and said “that’s you, go up and get your award,” it just hadn’t sunk in. The rest of the night was a blur as I was just buzzing with the excitement of winning. Two months on and I’m still buzzing. It’s fabulous to be recognised by your peers for doing what you love. It is a lovely feeling being an “award winning blogger” and not just “a blogger”. Not just any award too, but Amara is a lovely brand to be associated with so it makes the award feel special.
When did your love for arts & crafts begin and what inspired this?
I’ve always loved to personalise my environment by making things with the stuff around me. As a child my room was often full of cushions, desk cadies and stuff I’d made myself with my own designs. Growing up my mother was very creative, she would make fabulous stuffed toys on the sewing machine like crocodiles and hippos in gorgeous 70’s patterned fabric. She loved trying out new arts and crafts whether it was sewing fabulous toys, creating beautiful batiks or learning the art of Chinese calligraphy.
I also think growing up in Hong Kong was very inspiring. Hong Kong in the 70’s and 80’s was a magical time to be in such a fabulous vibrant city. There was so much for the senses to take in all the colours, smells and sounds of the markets and streets.
What was your favourite craft project and why?
I don’t think I can just pick one favourite craft as I have so many favourites for so many different reasons.
One of the things I love to repurpose is old jeans and I made a fabulous pocket wall hanger out of my family’s old jeans. This wall hanger was a favourite of mine not just because of how pleased I was with how it turned out but it was one of my first blog posts to take off and be featured all over the world from Sweden, the US to Iran and even Russia. It still hangs on the wall in my sons’ room. Since this post, upcycled denim has been one of the things I’ve been renowned for.
The other thing I have a reputation for crafting with is maps. My Ikea Map lampshade hack is probably my most popular post ever and has been featured extensively online from Buzz feed to Apartment Therapy and even Huffington Post. I love the lamp, it was such a simple hack just using an IKEA lampshade and a map and it can be personalised by using maps of somewhere special to you. This lamp still hangs above my bed. I look up every morning and see the map of London inside the shade.
One of my favourite times of the year to craft is Christmas. I can’t get enough of Christmas crafting and often double my blog posts in November and December as I struggle to cram in all the Christmas crafts I want to make. Last year I made a gorgeous alternative Christmas tree out of architectural salvage. This tree was made out of interesting bits of skirting board, mouldings, ironmongery and hooks that I had rescued from skips and my local junk shop over the year. I think my most satisfying crafts is when I make something wonderful out of the stuff other people throw away. I’ve just hung the tree up in my kitchen again for this festive season, every time I look at it, it makes me smile. This is definitely my current favourite craft!