Sunday, December 29, 2013

Spectacular Shoes!

As it's between Christmas and New Year I'm taking a well earned rest and enjoying a few hours browsing the web.
Imagine my joy when I came across the amazing work of  Kwandera 

Paper and Shoes are two of my most favourite things so you can imagine shoes made from paper ..... I am in heaven !

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Christmas Gift Wrapping Tips & Ideas: Hints for wrapping a box

This week's tip was requested by a lovely lady at one of my gift wrapping demonstrations who asked ... "when I'm wrapping a box, how do I make sure the points are the same at both ends?"

Surprisingly the answer is straight forward

Firstly check that you have the same amount of wrapping paper at either end of your box (just like when a hairdresser checks your hair is the same at both sides when giving you a trim!) 

Then use enough paper to reach just over half way up the side of your box - if your paper goes more than 3/4 of the way up the side of the box trim it back a little bit

Don't forget to save your spare bits of gift wrapping for making matching gift tags (see previous tips)

Wrap the box as normal then fold the paper to make 'points' at both ends

Because you have the same amount of paper at both ends of your box  your 'points' will be equal. 

As you fold the paper run your fingers along the folds to make a sharp crease (you can use a bone folder if you have one) - this will make your gift look neat and professional. 

Finally stick double sided tape along the inside of the creased 'points' again this will give your box a really professional look as there will be no ugly tape on the outside of your box - it will all be hidden on the inside.

Drop by next week for more wrapping tips to take the stress out of your Christmas gift wrapping

Happy Wrapping !

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Christmas Gift Wrapping Tips & Ideas: Make your own gift tags project

Here is another tip for taking the stress out of your Christmas gift wrapping 

If (like me) you like to have a gift tag on your gifts that matches your gift wrap but (also like me) you always forget to buy the tags or you have more gifts than tags - then don't panic simply make your own gift tag using left over gift wrap!

The tools you will need for the project are:-
  • left over gift wrap
  • scissors
  • a roll or sheet of sticky address labels (appx 2cm x 5cm)
  • hole punch
  • curling ribbon (appx 5cm)
  • sticky tape
1. Remove one label from the roll or sheet and stick it to the reverse side of the gift wrap (this is to add strength to your tag and to give you a good surface to write your message)

2.  Neatly cut around the sticky label taking care not to cut into the label to make your gift tag.

3.  Fold the tag in half to form a "book" and punch a hole in the top left corner

4.  Thread your curling ribbon through the hole

5.  Write your message on your gift tag then attach the it to the gift with a little bit of sticky tape to give it that all important finishing flourish !

Tah dah - what could be easier ?

One extra little idea to make your label unique *** if you are using labels that will fit through your printer try printing your message onto the label before sticking it to the wrapping paper  ... awesome ! 

Drop by next week for more tips and ideas for taking the stress out of your Christmas gift wrapping

 Happy Wrapping !

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Christmas Gift Wrapping Tips & Ideas: Using Luxurious Ribbons

I love using luxurious and patterned ribbons but sometimes when I use them with gift wrapping paper which is patterned the ribbon loses its effectiveness and blends into the background which is irritating when I've invested in expensive ribbon that I want it to stand out and look stunning.

My way round this is to use plain paper to wrap the gift - this way the paper doesn't detract from the ribbon which remains the focal point of the gift wrapping and looks amazing.

It isn't necessary to invest in expensive plain gift wrapping paper - there are lots of inexpensive plain papers knocking around that can be used;  for example brown parcel paper, A4 printer paper or even the reverse side of wallpaper will do !

So go on ... use some of those fabulously luxurious ribbons and bows this Christmas and make your gifts stand out from the crowd

Happy Wrapping !

Saturday, November 2, 2013

My EXPLOSIVE family history !

Bonfire Night would seem an appropriate time to blog about my family history and where I get my passion and adoration of fireworks ... I should start by telling you that my family name is Riley .... read on ...

The following is an extract from an old Ossett Trade Magazine from the 1920s and describes Riley's Firework Factory, which was based in Flushdyke.
An Interesting Ossett Industry - Fireworks

For nearly eighty years the firm of Messrs. M. Riley & Sons, of Wakefield Road, Ossett, have been supplying successive generations of schoolboys with that most delightful of possessions, a stock of capital fireworks, and the firm to-day is reputed to be the third largest and one of the most efficient makers of fireworks in the country.

The firm was established by the grandfather of the present proprietors, Mr. Michael Riley, an Ossett man, in 1844, and he was succeeded by his son, Mr. Solomon Riley, who continued the business until his death in 1897, when Mr. Mark Ellis Riley, his brother, who was the organist and choirmaster at Ossett Parish Church, took up the principalship until his death in 1904.

The present proprietors, Mr. A. V. S. Riley and Mr. S. B. Riley, have taken up the family business with an energy and enterprise, which have brought the firm right to the forefront.

The firm has been responsible for the pyrotechnic displays in some of the best-known galas in the North of England. Messrs. M. Riley & Sons provided the fireworks displays in the Coronation festivities in the principal Northern towns, and during the peace rejoicings in 1919 the firm was equally prominent. In 1913 and 1914 the firm secured the contract for the seasonal fireworks displays at Bridlington Spa. They have a big reputation for their spectacular displays, which illustrate Niagara Falls and the Taj Mahal, and include many comical devices, which are exceedingly popular with the Northern crowds.

Messrs. Riley & Sons are well known throughout the Midlands and the North for their admirable provision for the November trade, which now includes not only the Guy Fawkes’ Festival but also the celebration of Armistice Day. It is scarcely credible, but it is nevertheless true, that they manufacture between 250 and 300 different kinds of fireworks, and their manufactures are popular wherever youth foregathers.

Their war service deserves special mention. From August 1915, to the end of the War they were fully employed by the War Office and the Admiralty, and their special knowledge of explosives was extremely useful. They filled as many as between eight and nine million grenades, made red and green square cartridges to the extent of a quarter of a million, and 100,000 parachute cartridges; they were responsible for 6,000 smoke boxes for the Admiralty, and for three thousand deck flares which were used as smoke screens, especially by merchant and passenger ships. That is a war record to be proud of. Since the Armistice the firm has gone back to the normal pyrotechnic and fireworks trade.
However, despite the optimistic words above, disaster was to ruin this Ossett business and cause it to close overnight. The 'Ossett Observer' for August 20th 1927, had the following story:
"Terrible Explosion at Ossett Fireworks Factory" "A terrible explosion resulting in three deaths occurred shortly after seven o 'clock last (Friday) evening (19th August 1927) on the premises of Messrs. Riley and Sons, firework manufacturers of Wakefield Road, Ossett.

The explosion, the cause of which cannot at present be explained, took place in the chemical shed, one of the several detached buildings where the firm's work is carried on. Four persons were working at the time, these being Messrs. Arthur Victor Sheldon Riley (the proprietor); Fred Ward and F. Bottomley (employees), all married men and residing in Springstone Avenue and Mr. Harvey Sheldrake.

Mr. Riley was alive when picked up, but died before his removal. The two others were dead when found outside the building, which was completely shattered by the explosion. Mr. Harvey Sheldrake was in an adjoining shed and escaped personal injury, though he was obviously suffering from shock. The effects of the explosion were felt in various parts of the town and windows were smashed in the Fern House Working Men's Club, in Wakefield Road, opposite Messrs. Riley's works.

Ossett Fire Brigade and Ambulance were quickly on the scene after the alarm, one length of hose being sufficient to prevent the possibility of fire. We understand that the injuries were of a terrible nature and two of the bodies (those of Ward and Bottomley) being practically dismembered. Death was obviously instantaneous in their case. Mr. Riley, whose injuries appeared to be in the lower part of the body, lived 10 or 15 minutes after the occurrence.

The explosion was so terrific that people in all parts of the town immediately rushed into the streets to inquire the cause, and when the fire 'buzzer' was heard shortly afterwards, people wended their way, as if by intuition, in the direction of Riley's factory. Within a comparatively short space of time a huge crowd had gathered on the scene, regardless of the danger of close proximity to buildings of that nature and it was with some difficulty that they could be induced to stand clear. It was fortunate that there was no outburst of flames, but as a precautionary measure, the brigade saturated the remains of the wreckage. The building was practically razed to the ground, and the contents were scattered in all directions. The force of the explosion can be imagined from the fact that two of the bodies were found outside the area of the building, whilst windows were broken in a house in Tumbling Close, some 600 yards away.

The tragedy cast a gloom over the town, all the victims being well-known and highly esteemed. The deepest sympathy is felt with the families of the deceased men in their sad bereavement. Each of the victims leaves a widow and one child.

Friday, September 20, 2013

I Love Vera - Paper Bead Workshop

Venue: I Love Vera, 9b Leeds Road, Ilkley
Date: Tuesday 8th October 2013
Time: 6pm till 9pm
Fee:  £21 per person

Join me at I Love Vera in Ilkley for this sensational hands-on workshop

Learn how to roll gorgeous paper beads and use them to design and create your own stunning pieces of unique jewellery.

Booking: booking is required as places are limited - contact me on 0779 306 1263 or via email at to secure your place.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Gift Wrapping Workshop

Would you like to learn to gift wrap like a professional?

If so then here's an opportunity not to be missed

I will be presenting a gift wrapping workshop 
in association with Rivers Meet Craft Cafe

September 15th 2013
1pm till 4pm

£20 including deliciously scrumptious Rivers Meet refreshments

Go on .... treat yourself !

To book your place ring Joanne at Rivers Meet Craft Cafe on 01977 279 729

Friday, August 2, 2013

Emley Show

I shall be keeping my fingers crossed for a lovely sunny day tomorrow 
as I am in the Craft Marquee at the Emley Show

It is a fantastic family day out so if you are in the area 
why not pop by and say Hi - it would be lovely to see you.

My new wooden hearts will be getting their first showing - I hope you like them?

Hope to see you there !

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Paper Bead Workshops

Paper Bead Making Workshops

Venue: Bead Hive, The Corn Exchange, Call Lane, Leeds, West Yorkshire

Dates: 5th July

Time: 4pm to 6pm

Fee:  £15 per person
(includes all equipment required to make beads - findings and other bead accessories can be purchased from Bead Hive on the day)

Join myself and the staff of Bead hive for this wonderful  hands-on workshop - learn how to roll various shapes of beads and use them to design and create your own gorgeous pieces of unique jewellery.

Booking: booking is required as places are limited - contact me on 0779 306 1263 or via email at to secure your place.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Gift Wrapping Workshop

Gift Wrapping Workshop
with professional gift wrapper Karen Kaye

Sunday 15th September 2013

1pm till 4pm

at Rivers Meet Craft Cafe
Leeds Road, Methley, Leeds, West Yorkshire 
(J30 off M62)

£20 including scrumptious Rivers Meet refreshments

Join me for this hands-on workshop

Learn how to perfectly wrap  variety of shapes including a wine bottle and circular object (always tricky but easy once you know the technique!) 

Plus learn how to make useful origami gift boxes

Take home all your gorgeously wrapped creations to impress your family and friends!

For further details or to book your place contact me on 0779 306 1263 or

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

How to make an Easter Egg Basket

A fab project for the kids this Easter weekend  ... Easter Egg Baskets

The tools you will need are:-

  • Paper (gift wrap or similar)
  • Scissors
  • Tape
  • Ribbon (6mm wide)
  • Paper shreds
  • Mini eggs
  • Hole punch

1. Cut a 10inch square of paper
2. Roll the paper into a cone shape and use the tape to hold the paper in place
3. Punch a hole at each side of the cone
4. Thread the ribbon through the first hole (outside to inside) and tie a double knot on the inside of the basket
5. Thread the other end of the ribbon through the other hole (outside to inside again) and tie another double knot on the inside of the basket
6. Fill the basket with the paper shreds * making a little 'nest' for the eggs.
7. Finish the basket off the lots of scrummy mini eggs - yummmmmmy 
* Paper shreds available from

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Wakefield Rhubarb Festival 2013

This weekend it is The Wakefield Rhubarb Festival  
a celebration of food, drink and all things Rhubarb !

There is an exciting programme of events not to be missed you'll find all the details at 

The exciting news from Utterly Unique HQ is that as part of the Rhubarb Festival my paper bead jewellery and accessories will be available at the Love Handmade event taking place in the fabulous Jam Gifts on Northgate in Wakefield so if you love to give great gifts and like to support independent retailers then get yourselves along to Jam, you won't be disappointed.

Enjoy the weekend and feel the love for all things Rhubarb !

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Romantic badges and gift wrapping

Now that Christmas and New Year celebrations are out of the way I've tidied away the Christmas trees and Santa Clauses to make way for romantic hearts and flowers in readiness for Valentine's Day.

I've been busy in the workshop creating lots of fabulous romantic Valentine badges especially for you to woo that special person in your life.

My badges are one-off's and available via my website at

OR if you have a special message for your Valentine I am happy to create a commission badge especially for you - please email me for details at 

All badges are £1.50 including UK postage and packaging


I am also available to wrap all your Valentine's gifts to ensure that special gift has got the all important wow factor

All gift wrapping is priced at £2.50 for a standard size item.

Larger items can be gift wrapped on request.