Wellbeing Green Living Positive Thinking Creativity

In Creativity in Issue 01...

Feeling all fuzzy about felting! by Jo Kidd

Nature photography by Joseph Loudon

Furniture to last for generations by Matthew Biddle

Put a smile on your child's face! by Dianne Prangnell

A safe place for youngsters to play by Heather & Lucy Baker-Swinburn

Watercolours with a difference by Louise Hickman

Working with crystals and gems by Gilli Morris-Monk

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Design for Life Magazine Cover

by Tony Moody

'Flock over the Chilterns' is the title of my painting on this magazine's front cover. My work ranges from the immediacy of ink line drawings through to the dense layering of colour on colour, using both oil pastels and oil paints. I have a fascination for the chaotic and seemingly random order of nature. I examine, play and interpret its texture, patterns and rhythms and try to tease out its hidden sense of order.
My work is currently on show until the end of January 2014 at:

Home & Colonial, Berkhamsted
Grapehouse Gallery, West Wycombe Garden Centre
Elgiva Theatre, Chesham (from 3rd December 2013)

Discounted works of art for our readers
Tony is offering 10% off his artworks. Simply use the code CH10 at

Nature photography

by Joseph Loudon

People often ask me how they can best capture great photographs of wildlife and what kind of camera equipment I would recommend.

First, the technical bit. Personally I use a Nikon D7100 digital SLR camera with the following lenses:

Nikkor 18-300mm VR11 (wildlife),
Tokina 11-16mm Ultra Wide Angle (landscapes)
Tokina 100mm Macro (portraits, flowers, insects)

There's really no need to go on safari in Africa! Simply look in your garden or go to your local park and there will be wildlife of various sizes and colours. Observe the varied behaviours of animals, birds and insects.

Photo Joseph LoudonAlso, look for the detail. Some of the best images are those where the subject is looking directly at you, like the hungry grey squirrel enjoying my gift (or bribe) at the Rye in High Wycombe. Other images, for example those I've taken of swans, have involved the beautiful symmetry of an instinctive ritual.

You needn't use a tripod, but a fast shutterspeed and patience is essential in order to capture fleeting moments, like the heron fishing on a pond at Cliveden, near Taplow. It remained like a statue for ages then caught the fish in the blink of an eye!

Have a look at my websites for more ideas and images and to discover my photography related services.

Bucks Photo Gallery
E: joseph@bucksphotogallery.co.uk

For commercial photography
E: joseph@closeupphoto.co.uk

Put a smile on your child's face!

by Dianne Prangnell

Face Painting at parties is as popular as ever with children of all ages. It always provides plenty of photo opportunities, great memories and happy faces. Having a go at face painting can be fun, but not as easy as it looks!

It is essential to use good quality paints that are water based, hypo-allergenic and easily removable, such as Snazaroo and Grimas brands. Some cheaper paints can cause problems with skin staining, poor application and removal. Good quality brushes and simple initial designs will also help.

Face Painting is not recommended for children under 3 years. It's best to avoid painting children with any skin soreness or eczema, eye infections, cold sores etc – to avoid skin irritation or cross contamination.

When face painting, try using one sponge per child, change brush water regularly and keep paints clean. Paints should be easily washed off with sensitive soap and water or using sensitive/pure baby wipes.

Ace Face PaintingIf you're planning to have face painting at your child's party, the easiest and least stressful option is to hire the professionals – a reputable face painting company, leaving you free to enjoy the special day! A good company will confidently provide examples of their own work, recent client lists and testimonials. Don't be afraid to ask questions. Advice and information should be freely given, knowing that products and materials have been designed for professional use, and comply with EEC cosmetic regulations. For added peace of mind, public liability insurance should be in place. Most reputable companies are connected to national organisations such as Facepaint UK or Face-UK.

It can be difficult budgeting for a party, but remember that with face painting, as with many things in life, you get what you pay for!


Ace Face Painting: Dianne Prangnell, owner of Ace Face Painting, has worked within the children's entertainment industry for over 20 years, initially running the party business Razzamatazz Children's Entertainment. Seven years ago she specialised in face painting and now, with a team of personally trained face painters, she strives to provide quality, professionalism, reliability and most of all fun! Dianne aims to give your child a party they'll remember and talk about with their friends, for long after the event!



A safe place for youngsters to play

Heather & Lucy Baker-Swinburn

As carers of young children, it's often difficult these days to find somewhere safe and fun for our children to play outside of the home, where we can relax and enjoy the better things in life! That's why we've devised the Stay and Play, a new High Street soft play café, catering for young children and their parents and carers.

At Thé, Stay and Play, children can enjoy a bespoke soft play frame with its own baby area, or play in our outdoor courtyard. We're making a welcome move towards good quality refreshments. Adults can relax with a guilt free cup of fine coffee, Sir Hans Sloan hot chocolate or a pot of loose leaf tea. We serve a wide selection of cakes, biscuits and quiche made by a local pâtissière, and also homemade soup, jacket potatoes, sandwiches and a hot 'plat du jour'. We have gluten free options and source all our ingredients locally. For the little ones there are child friendly sandwich options, 'pick and mix' fruit and vegetable platters and our own home made, completely organic baby food.

Larger parties can call in advance and reserve a table. Our take-away service and order in advance option are for those who operate on a
tight schedule!

There is a buggy park provided and a gated entrance, so that parents can relax, secure in the knowledge that their children and possessions are safe. We offer a children's party package at competitive rates and we are making arrangements for local practitioners to come in from time to time to offer different services to our customers (both men and women will be catered for) from taster sessions of music classes to mini massages.

We're supporting local artists by offering a 'gallery' space for them to exhibit their work. If you are interested in showing your work or are a local provider of children's classes please drop us an email to enquiries@thestayandplay.co.uk.

We hope you will come and visit the cafe when it is up and running.

Times, costs & contact:

9.30am-5pm Monday-Friday,
9.30am-2.30pm Saturday,
Private parties only on Sunday.
Charges for the soft play frame:
£3 for the first child
£2 for second child
Free for babies 0 to crawling

The Stay and Play
24 High Street Chesham HP5 1EP
01494 774 300
07442 498 808


facebook: thestayandplaychesham

Working with crystals and gems

by Gilli Morris-Monk

Beneath our feet can be found one of the earth's great wonders. Over millions of years, various minerals and gases have heated and compressed to form the rocks and crystals that make up our planet. The many colours of the crystals have made them desirable for ornamentation throughout history.

The rarity and clarity of some, such as diamonds and rubies, have made them highly prized and highly priced. However, even the less valuable semi-precious gems are used in jewellery and other adornments.

Due to the different composition of each crystal, they have an individual energy of their own, which many of us use to enhance our wellbeing. Small tumblestones can be carried in a pocket or larger pieces placed in our homes or places of work. Individual crystals resonate with the chakras in our bodies and can therefore be used to aid meditation and the alignment of our energy pathways.

Whether you find joy in their beauty, or comfort in their energy, this natural miracle is available to all of us – a gift from Mother Earth.

Gilli is an Energy Practitioner at Laceys Yard (Creativity & Wellbeing)


See Creativity in Issue 02 ...

Feeling all fuzzy about felting!

By Jo Kidd

Felting with Jo KiddWool felt is one of the most amazing 'fabrics' on the planet, pre-dating woven or spun fabric. It provides warmth and insulation from cold, heat and wind, making it the ideal covering for yurts (gers) in Asia and Scandinavia.

Although naturally water repellent, wool felt will eventually absorb many times its weight in water, which only improves its insulting properties. Wool is a readily available and animal friendly material (if sourced responsibly, as we do) and is a real joy to work with. Legend has it that one of our ancient ancestors had chilly feet whilst out walking, so packed wool (found in hedgerows) into his footwear – the warmth, sweat and friction of walking on the wool all day created a felted pair of socks!

Here at Berkhamsted Arts and Crafts we use Merino sheep's wool from South Africa (Cape) as it is soft and easy to felt. The wool is pre-dyed in the most delicious, (calorie-free) colours, ready to create amazing pieces of art – both functional and decorative.

We run felt making classes and parties for children and adults throughout the year in our classroom studio here at our Berkhamsted shop. It's great fun making felt in a group, so please take a look at our website for more information and remember to book a place quickly as felt making classes are very popular!

A passion for creativity

Q What is it that BAC do?

A From a practical perspective, we are just purveyors of tools and materials which facilitate the physical realisation of your imaginings .... or to put it another way, we sell stuff to help you make things!

Q A far more interesting question is, WHY do we do what we do?

A If our main goal was just to sell stuff, there are plenty of easier and more profitable items we could be selling! If, however, you throw into the paint-pot the fact that we are all passionately creative and get a buzz from helping others realise their creativity, you will start to understand why we are still 'doing our thing' after 36 years!


Furniture to last for generations

by Matthew Biddle

The process of creating bespoke furniture starts long before the craftsman ever meets his client; after all, the raw materials have been in waiting for tens, or even hundreds, of years. A finished item has always had a history before it is brought to life again as a piece of furniture, often hundreds of hours in the making.

The design process starts with a brief – a set of guidelines which can be formal or informal, concise or conceptual, depending upon the requirements of the customer. This results in a series of hand drawings that bring form and shape to the initial ideas. The woods, accessories and finer details are then discussed. Fittings and finishings are often made specifically for the project.

All materials are sourced from the most reputable suppliers, with the longevity of the piece being the prime consideration.

Woods are hand selected from Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) approved timber.

After the shared vision is agreed, the process of building starts. Handmade models are sometimes produced if the project demands a firmer indication of the final appearance. The translation of the plans and model into the finished item are where the painstaking attention to detail, skill and experience are brought into play. Depending on the complexity of the design, this can involve experimental processes and design testing.

Matthew Biddle ChairThroughout the entire build, the client often has to contain their excitement and anticipation, so regular progress updates are given. In the grand scheme of things, it's a small time to wait! For me, the challenge is not only to design and deliver something that will stand the test of time in terms of quality and design, but also something that will be loved and cherished for just as long by the client as well as subsequent custodians.

Installation or delivery is equally important. This process is never entrusted to third parties, on the basis that pieces must be delivered in
perfect condition. What's more, it's always a joy to see the client bowled over by what they receive!

Some of my creations, such as the Beau Seat (above) have been given by customers to partners and friends as beautiful gifts. Many existing clients have become lifelong patrons of my work, understanding that the quality is paramount. I've had a handful of clients who have gradually had me work through their entire homes, in terms of both fitted and free standing furniture. The challenge in those scenarios has been to ensure that the quality, attention to detail and creativity provide the consistent theme.

A favourite piece, the Wembley Bureau incorporated materials of nearly one hundred years of age, which had also lived a previous life as part of the royal box at Wembley Stadium, so it was used to high brow living!


Matthew Biddle has been in the furniture making business for 25 years. As well as having a very loyal client base locally, he has produced furniture for clients all over the UK, around Europe and the United States, working on hundreds of diverse projects for every situation and room of the home, from bedrooms with ebony inlayed doors, kitchens with leather lined cutlery drawers or a writing desk with beautiful hand cut dovetail drawers and secret compartments. All Matthew's furniture is truly bespoke and hand crafted to the highest standards possible.


Watercolours with a difference

Louise Hickman

With a lifelong interest in art, I started experimenting with watercolours 20 years ago. Most people associate watercolours with soft, flowing landscapes and seascapes, but for me this broadened out as I discovered more about what this medium can achieve. The colours can be bright, bold and precise as well as subtle and dreamy.

I have a technical drawing training. My dad was a draughtsman and we come from a family of engineers, so there was no chance of me producing work that wasn't technically accurate. I would love to paint loosely but it seems impossible for me!

I have an extensive business background but wanted to achieve something different. So I attended art evening class for nine years with Bucks Adult Learning in Beaconsfield. I learnt about different techniques and how to tackle a huge range of different subjects. My tutor Biddy Lee was inspiring, encouraging and wonderfully honest! Check out her blog spot: biddylee.blogspot.com

WatercolourIn recent years I have found focus in painting pictures of shoes amongst many other things. The contrast of highlights and shadows makes them look 3-dimensional and realistic. I've painted everything from children's first shoes, ballet and wedding shoes to boots that I wonder how people get on, let alone wear! Then again, comfort isn't often our minds when we buy these high heeled wonders; perhaps a painting is a more comfortable way of appreciating them!

I have strong magpie tendencies and if something is shiny I tend
to want to recreate it in paint, whether it's a motorcycle helmet, a camper van or a handbag!

I get inspired by a wide spectrum of objects and I love the challenge of producing art that looks as accurate as possible, but still is loose enough to not be a photograph.

Techniques and hints

Here are some hints and tips that I have found useful. I take lots of photographs of the subject, playing with angles and shadows, working out what the emphasis should be.

As my work is accurate and will not work if any angles are wrong I use a grid to produce the initial pencil drawing.

I then begin to layer on the paint washes, sometimes using 'wet in wet' techniques to get the intensity of colour. Then I use smaller brushes to add detail and often take off the paint or lift it with water to create shine or reflections.

I use Bockingford 300g watercolour paper as this is relatively smooth and tends not to buckle with repeated washes. Sceptre Gold brushes are excellent and hold lots of paint, but have a narrow point which allows for the finer lines that make the painting look real and jump off the page! Occasionally I add glitter and diamante to create texture, sparkle and light. I find that tubes are easier than pans to create large volumes of paint to save remixing and re-matching colours.

As my work is realistic, each painting can take from 10 to 20 hours. I take plenty of photos of my paintings as I work to check for accuracy. It's good to step back and look at your work from different angles and get other people's opinions.

Soul soothing

I strongly believe that no art is wrong. If it makes you smile, reminds you of something special or encourages you to feel positive then it has served its purpose. Art allows me to relax and is a fantastic stress reliever. Go and have a go! If it goes wrong, it's just a piece of paper!

Interested? You'll find both originals and limited prints on my website (see below).

Originals from £100. Prints from £10.
I accept commissions (especially of shiny subjects like children's shoes, wedding shoes and cars) and can adapt mounts and frames to suit most requirements. Normally I meet clients for about an hour, taking lots of notes and photographs and working out what is most important to them. Depending on how complicated the painting is, the lead time is around two weeks.

+ Free photo disc if you mention Designs for LIFE

I'm currently exhibiting my work at:
Pure Interiors, Beaconsfield ~ Laceys Yard, Chesham ~ Flix Hair & Beauty, Chesham

facebook: louisehickmanartworks
Mobile: 075 8590 7300


Inspiring your life