Wednesday, 10 March 2021

Easter Craft Inspiration


After a long slog at home schooling and way way too much work these past few months I'm planning some down time crafting over the next few weeks - here is some of my inspiration...

Monday, 9 November 2020

Branding Olmstead Honey

The past year has seen many of our careers and lives change due to the worldwide corona virus pandemic - mine being one of them.  While I have been lucky enough to carry on with my teaching and some designing there has been lots of other changes.  I've been spending more and more time on the family farm and been involved a lot with my fathers Bee Keeping and Honey production.  I initially helped brand their product so they could label up their jars and sell them locally in farm shops and farmers markets here is the blog post I created in 2019 illustrating that.  

However, as I watched them hard at work over the summer I noticed there was so much more potential for their product and hard work.  I kind of gate crashed their business and tried to experiment with new products and different ways we could present the honey.

First, for anyone who doesn't know - the business is called Olmstead Honey.  Over the past year I have set them up on Instagram, facebook and we even have some really fun mini documentaries over on you tube.  Bee sure to check them out!  Here's the link to a little documentary I created interviewing them on how the business started and evolved...

The ethos behind the brand is to let the product do the talking. We wanted out branding to be minimal both in its presentation and packaging and let the product speak for itself.  We have people traveling all over to come to the farm specifically for 'our' honey so there was no need for any fussy ad campaigns or labels.  The below image very much represents us!

The fortunate thing with Olmstead Honey, unlike other hobby bee keeping businesses is that they are able to actually make a profit on their honey.  This isn't by selling at extortionate prices (in fact our product is very cheap in comparison to competitors) it by being able to sustain the business themselves.  Dad is a very skilled carpenter and engineer as well as a farmer.  These are key skills for bee keeping too!  Dad is able to make all his own hives (as I write this they currently have had 37 functioning hives this past summer season) this saves literally thousands of pounds!  he can also make all the interior frames AND he has converted an old disused granary barn into a 5* hygiene rated processing studio!

Dad inspecting one of his frames in the on site honey lab

One of the supers from the bee hives that are hand made on the farm in the carpentry shop

One of the bee hives that are hand made on the farm in the carpentry shop

Corinne and my daughter Elsie pouring fresh honey into jars in the honey lab

Dad and Corinne outside their honey lab on the farm

With dads carpentry skills and love for passing a weekend in the work shop I started to think about where they could take their 'brand'.  I knew that with the corona virus people were becoming more conscious of where and what they are purchasing and that the christmas shopping scenarios was going to be some what different this year.  

Dad busy at work in making one of our recycled wooden gift boxes

Dad busy at work in making one of our recycled wooden gift boxes

Dad busy at work in making one of our recycled wooden gift boxes

We set about making candles from the leftover beeswax and thinking of gift box ideas we could make.  Below are some of our beautiful outcomes from our joint efforts over the summer - if you are interested in these or any other products e mail me at to find out more.

All our boxes are hand branded using pyrography

All our wooden items are hand crafted using recycled or up-cycled wood

We haven't organised a licence yet but we are hoping to sell soaps and lip balms in the future too

We are so proud of what all our product is looking like

I've really enjoyed developing the Olmstead Honey brand over the summer.  I often get involved with other logo and branding projects outside of fashion.  I'm particularly passionate about helping small and new brands get themselves off the ground.  Get in contact if I can help make your dreams become a reality!

Finally, just because its so cute, here are my kids; left and right and my nephew in the middle bee keeping this past summer!

Friday, 6 November 2020

Caravan Restoration - Phase 2

To read my first blog post about the initial renovation of our little caravan click here.  In the article I talk about the my inspiration behind the renovation and have some links to other articles I researched giving some GREAT advice on things to consider and products that help when taking on a caravan restoration.

I wanted to write this article months ago but with lockdown, getting the kids settled back in school and life happening - it's taken much longer.  I really do hope that I can pick up on my blogging over the coming months as I do miss it.  You can always catch up on what's happening in my life and work over on my instagram feed which gets updated far more often!  Find me at @emily_kiddy.

I have made some little before and after pics of various different parts of the renovation as these posts over on my instagram feed seem to have been really popular - I also really enjoy other peoples transformations from before and after - it really inspires you as to what you can achieve from one of these projects.

Now, as I write this at the start of our second (some what softer) lockdown in the UK due to the Coroana Virus pandemic 2020, obvious changes have happened in life and lots of people have taken on new hobbies - such as renovating caravans!  I managed to pick up our caravan locally for £450 a few years back.  As I have searched for caravans over the summer (I'm addicted now and dream of investing in the next size up - it's all getting a bit cosy trying to sleep in a twin birth caravan - especially when my husband joins us!) I cant find a single caravan, in any condition, for less than £1000.  In fact anything semi-decent is around the £2000 mark.  But don't be alarmed - like with the pandemic this craze will hopefully pass and as will the inflated prices (fingers crossed!)  On that note our ideas of 'holidaying' have changed too.  We would normally travel abroad around 5 times a year.  We have had tons of fun just camping out in our caravan at my fathers this year and intent to holiday more locally and stress free in the future.

Now, about the actual renovation, you will see from the above image that the interior was very beige.  While a lot of the interior was in an OK condition there were a few areas of damp that needed sorting and were creating a not so nice fusty smell.  It's important to add that mould can be a real issue, not only to the caravan, but to ones health as well.  If you are thinking of buying a second hand caravan get some advice so you buy/invest wisely.  I managed to sand down our troubled areas and I sealed all the floor with resin to keep out any rising damp.  I also sealed the whole roof and all exterior joints with Tec-7 sealant which I found recommended from another blog post - it's sticky but super reliable!  On top of that I invested £130 in an all weather tough caravan cover to help it over winter.

For the seating/sleeping area I covered the original cushions with a grey throw I picked up from wilco. I may try to actually re-upholster them in the future once the kids can reliably take off their shoes before entering the caravan but for now this works fine!!!  The area looks so much fresher with the white paint job and the yellow blinds and curtains I made really make it a lot more cheerful - i'm really happy with it and the kids have complimented me on the choice too - WIN!  I purchased some bedding from H&M home as well as the yellow throw on top of the bed.  The black basket I found from Dunelm Mill, mustard towels from Tesco home.  The little books I found from the village shop in Salthouse in Norfolk with fiction based stories from the local area.

Now, the flooring; I had to pull up the original flooring - it was worn, torn and smelly!!!  However, I was so nervous about laying my own vinyl.  I had heard horror stories about it bubbling up and and not laying properly but I knew it had to be changed.  I did a LOT of research on this and found lots of videos on you tube really helpful.  I ended up choosing this small tile vinyl which makes the area feel bigger and gives a lovely simple contrast to the yellow.  It also reflects the light nicely making it brighter still.  I purchased it from the flooring superstore for just over £100.

The wallpapering (mentioned in the previous post) was quite straight forward.  However, next year I'm going to take it out of the kitchen and replace with vinyl tiles.  Boiling water and wallpaper - not a great mix and I fear it may peel here in the winter.  Take that lesson on me!

THE PAINTING - Never have I EVER had to paint sooo many layers of paint.  The painting, though thoroughly worth it, was a monster mission.  It took days and probably up to 5 layers in places.  Not to mention all the pre prepping and sanding beforehand!

Before the renovation, the bathroom was just somewhere I chucked junk!!!  It was dull, damp and unloved.  It was actually really quick to spruce it up with some vinyl wallpaper and a lick of paint (and a HUGE) deep clean.  Now we can actually use it for a 'top and tail' and to brush our teeth!  The little metal shelves I purchased on e-bay for around £12 and the wallpaper was an e bay find too.

I also purchased a new shower head to replace to tired brittle beige one and livened the space up with a tropical shower curtain!  Im' actually really happy with the space now - it makes me smile whenever I go in there!

Finally, after all the painting inside I was almost willing to just 'cope' with the 'beige' tired exterior!  However, after seeing all the fab branding and outside finishes other restorations had a achieved I finally took on the task of making over the exterior of the caravan late summer.  

Now, while researching I again was swamped about horror stories of exterior paint jobs.  I need my paint to be strong as over winter, though covered, the caravan isn't stored in a garage or barn so it will inevitably pick up some 'green' that will need to be washed off in spring.  I read that tecloid coach paint was the best to go with but required skill to complete. After researching I went with that and actually found it less daunting than I imagined.  It's important to get each panel done without stopping as it effects the flawlessness of the covering (slightly).  I spent time before hand sanding, prepping and sealing everywhere.  I went for white with a grey to the lower panel.  Unfortunately, I haven't got great pics of this as it was the end of the summer - I'll add some more next year!  Finally, working in branding I decided to name the caravan and get a vinyl sticker made up to place on it.  We all voted on name and 'The Sleepy Cowslip' won suiting the yellow interior combined with a now cheerful and cosy place to sleep on our many adventures!  

We used our caravan load this past summer - right up until the end of September.  I cant wait to get back into comping at the earliest possible next spring too.  Im also hoping to take on another project in the future - watch this space!

Happy to answer any questions you may have! x

Sunday, 24 May 2020

Caravan Restoration - Phase 1

Like everyone I’m still adapting/evolving to this new way of (isolated) life.  However, recent relaxing of lockdown regulations in the UK has meant that I can now travel to the family farm as long as we keep a distance from our actual family members (other than the ones we already live with) This has led me to finally undergo operation caravan!  Let me provide a little background…

When I first had the children and we were plodding through the ‘baby years’ I looked forward to a time that we would be able to go camping ‘hassle free’ and actually get some sleep.  (The hassle free and sleep idea may have been a dream, but it certainly is getting easier and so is camping!) 

While I enjoyed many nights under canvas as a child, never concerned about waking up drenched from a rain storm or with a tent half fallen down - I’m not so tolerant in my mid-thirties.  Much to my husband’s distress (and a touch of embarrassment) I started to toy with the idea of getting a caravan back in 2017.  I had a very low budget so finding a caravan wasn’t easy.  However, Jamie pulled through and found one on Facebook - a family were moving and needed to get rid of their caravan that day.  I snapped it up for £500! 

The caravan when we first bought it back in 2017 - the kids are so small!!

This was one of the first times we camped in the caravan on the farm during harvest (hence looking a bit rough) back in August 2017

Warming up by the campfire as it got dark - Alf was 2 here!

While I initially gave it some instant TLC and we’ve used it a couple of times a year, my dreams for out little plywood box were much bigger!  With ‘time’ now on my side (thanks to the corona virus and kids able to occupy themselves a bit more) I’m undergoing the BIG renovation! 

The past couple of weeks have been really intense with Jamie back on the boat, me trying to balance lecturing online, design work, two books in progress AND all that comes with two children at home full time.  So, I decided to take bank holiday weekend 'off' and on Thursday I switched off notifications and commenced an intense 3-day renovation project completing phase 1 of the project!!

I have been researching interior ideas on Pinterest for the past couple of years so had lots of ideas for the new interior.  You can check out my inspiration board on Pinterest here.  I also did lots of research on HOW to do a restoration – bearing in mind caravans can get damp and some decorating products may not be appropriate.  I came across a post by The Twinkle Diaries that covered their own renovation from a few years back – it’s really informative and covers everything you need to know about applying paints and wallpaper to interiors click here to read it.  You can see from the posts I was also inspired by the retro feel and colour palette.

The original orange wood interior - it wasn't in bad condition but was a little sad.

Layer 1 of undercoat paint!

I spent a 12 hour day stripping, cleaning and prepping all the surfaces.  The wooden doors are taking about 4 layers of paint to get my desired finish.  That’s 2 layers of undercoat prime and an eggshell finishing layer twice.  Day 2 I just painted, painted and painted.  I undercoated all the ceiling and then covered with a matt emulsion which has made it a lot fresher and tons brighter.  Day 3 I did even more painting, ripped out the horrid laminate floor and started to wallpaper the kitchen area with a retro geometric wallpaper.

More layers of white paint!

Initial wallpapering

It’s now the end of the bank holiday for me and I can say im absolutely shattered.  The kids loved playing free range on the farm while I did all the hard work.  They are equally shattered, covered in as many layers as mud as the caravan doors are paint and have lovely grazed knees and elbows!!!

Where I left it - definitely a lot brighter!

So what’s next…   I still have more surfaces to wallpaper which will take about another 3-5 hours.  All the doors need their final coat of eggshell too.  I’m making new blinds for the kitchen area (I re-made the curtains last week in the evenings) I just used a cheap yellow gingham I ordered from a Home Scapes fabric store – link here.  I also bought new curtain popper tape to mount the curtains from e bay.  They were really simple to re-make on my sewing machine.  I have ordered a new laminate floor which should arrive in a couple of weeks (stay tuned for images).  I also need to completely re-vamp the bathroom which I think will be another days work too.  Then we should be read to ‘glamp’!

I’m hoping to get all the renovating done in time for harvest and spend many nights sleeping in a shiny fresh caravan on freshly cut stubble fields (especially as we wont be going on any long distance holiday any time soon) - I’ll keep you updated. 

Follow me on Instagram @emily_kiddy to keep up to date more regularly with my progress.

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