Workshop review: how to make paper origami lampshades (when you have very little patience)

It’s been a while since I actually crafted something with my bare hands other than a blog post or a room design, but today is the day. I booked myself in for an origami lampshade making workshop at arts centre The Barn in Banchory, Scotland, with Mel Watt from Misty Concepts. Her creations are absolutely stunning and seem to require a lot of skill and patience. I also really like that they are made of paper, which makes it a great eco-friendly alternative to your plastic shades from the high street shops.

Origami fold and testing of patience

But I have to be honest with you, when I booked I thought, yay, this will be so much fun! Right now I fear that with all those origami folds my usual lack of patience will play up and I’ll end up sitting grumpy and frustrated in the corner with a badly looking lampshade. But one can only try! This is what happened next:

Craft scotland

craft scotland

origami sweat shop

As soon as we start with the first A1 sheet (there are two in total, both 120gsm and fire proofed with an eco-friendly coating), I realise that this is not your average relaxing arty crafty class where you leasurely create something while having a chat with the other participants. This is serious business. Origami sweat shop! It requires both patience, precision and a mathematical way of thinking – three things that are not my strong points. How about that for getting out of your comfort zone! ! All eight of us get stuck in and no one says a word. Utter concentration. All you hear is the sharp creasing of the paper: horizontal, vertical, diagonal and all lines need to meet exactly. My brain hurts.

Although I am getting slightly impatient by the end of sheet one (I am one for quick results and there is a lot of repetition involved, folding, folding, more folding…), I get excited when all of a sudden the sheet starts to jump into shape and a structure begins to form as by magic. Once all the creases are in place and sharpened, it’s time to ‘crush’ or rather concertina the paper. Carefully of course.

origami lampshade

training your memory with origami

Sheet two gets done in half the time. We all know what we’re doing – kind of – and it’s amazing how much you remember. “Origami is very good for your memory actually”, Mel says. “It’s also meant to be quite relaxing.” Well, I don’t know about that second bit, Mel. Sparks are flying as the production line continues after the tea break.

We all finish around the same time. The two sheets get glued together and form a beautiful globe. Look! Glowing with pride, both me and my shade.


I’d say, get yourself onto a workshop with Mel. It’s hard work, but fun and you actually manage to create something pretty cool in one afternoon. This type of craft is also perfect for anyone who wouldn’t class themselves as particularly ‘crafty’ and is perhaps more of an engineer than an artist. It is very exact. Mel does workshops around Scotland, so if you are up here, do try and book yourself onto one of her classes. If you don’t feel crafty, live on the other side of the planet or just want to get your hands on a gorgeous ready made one, visit the web shop of Misty Concepts and order one of Mel’s (far more complicated! The folds! How is she still sane?) shades online. Knowing now how much work is involved, I can honestly say from experience, they are worth every penny.

Misty Concepts web shop

origami lampshade

Misty Concepts can also be found at Flock, contemporary Craft & Design Christmas fair at The Barn in Banchory, Saturday and Sunday 18 + 19 November 2017, 10am-5pm.

flock christmas fair banchory



HUME vintage and Nina’s Apartment do a Pop-Up!

I am having a lot of fun this week with Lorraine from Hume Vintage, doing our joint pop-up shop in Aberdeen called Vintage Haus. We have very similar taste in vintage so our stock blends well together. I brought in most of the midcentury modern furniture while Lorraine is showing off her amazing colourful collection of original designer fabrics from the 1960s by Heals, Sanderson, Marimekko, Hull Traders and more, mostly made into very usable, decorative throw cushions. Remnants look great when framed too.

Hume Vintage AberdeenHume vintage AberdeenHume vintage AberdeenHume vintage AberdeenHume vintage Aberdeen

West Germany Vases, Midwinter and Meakin coffee sets and unique studio pottery are adding to the mix, repeating the striking geometric designs and bold patterns of the textiles on display.

Hume vintage AberdeenHume vintage AberdeenHume vintage Aberdeen

Styling a pop-up shop: vintage haus

People who know me, know that I wouldn’t style a shop without introducing a giant teak sideboard, so hey, I brought two. Because it is fun playing shops again for a week! The furniture gives some welcome structure to the blank canvas of the shop space and the teak forms a good backdrop for all the vintage homeware. And you can’t beat the sleek design and stunning detail of midcentury modern furniture, can you?

Nina's Apartment interior

Swedish Troeds dining chairs

I also found a set of lovely Swedish ‘Kontiki’ dining chairs designed by Yngve Ekstrom for Troeds in the 1960s. I just love the way the wood is sculptured and how clever the frame fits together, with the back rest and back legs made into one smooth piece. (No straight forward drop seat here; unscrew the seat and the whole frame falls apart – but is also put back together, phew!).

Nina's Apartment vintageHume vintage Aberdeen

Boho glamour

Oh, and to add a bit of boho glamour and drama, you got to have an enormous peacock chair of course. Preferably surrounded by lots of greenery and house plants, but in the shop the flowers will have to do.

Nina's Apartment blog

Vernon Ward prints

We both also brought lots of framed adverts, collectable Vernon Ward prints and paintings and created two gallery walls, grouping them together based on colour and style. The little framed car pictures are original brochures from the dealer back in the 1960s!

Hume vintage Aberdeen

Hume vintage Aberdeen

Sharing a passion for design

It’s been a joy to both have a shop again, even if it was just for a week, and working with someone who shares my passion for colour, pattern and design. It was also really nice to see so many of my customers back again, who used to pop into my old shop in Inverurie on a Saturday. It’s been fun, it’s been busy and there is nothing better than seeing lots of inspired customers leaving the shop with their arms full of vintage happiness.

Final day (SALE!) is Sunday 24 September 2017, 11am-3pm. 8 Chattan Place, Aberdeen West End.

You can find HUME Vintage also on Facebook and Instagram

Hume vintage Aberdeen

Hume vintage AberdeenNina's ApartmentNina Eggens

Urban cool on Easter Sunday in Aberdeen: street art and vintage

There are a zillion things to do when  you’re looking for Easter themed activities around here. Egg hunting at every castle estate around the Shire is one of them! If you fancy something a bit different this year – or you’re just not that much into chocolate (is there such a thing?) – here’s a suggestion for an alternative itinerary for a pleasant Easter Sunday in Aberdeen. Once you have polished off plenty of hot cross buns at your Easter brunch, put on your comfy shoes and head into town.

NUART Aberdeen 

The team behind Stavanger’s street art festival NUART has come to Aberdeen this Spring and is adding some much needed colour and art to the granite city. Eleven international artists have worked hard over the past week to create their works of street art and the results look impressive. The drab looking exterior of Aberdeen’s indoor market has been improved greatly with a huge, gorgeous drawing. Numerous other grey walls, old doors and forgotten corners of the city have also been used as canvases by the artists.

Street art in progress by Martin Whatson
Street art by Alice Pasquini

The festival starts on the 12th of April and continues until Easter Sunday with lots of events including talks, film screenings and creative workshops. On Saturday there is the UK premiere of Saving Banksy at the Belmont cinema. For this Sunday however – and to keep in with the Easter spirit – I recommend the Easter Sunday Street Art Hunt: find six hidden artworks around the city centre by following the hints provided (pick up a paper sheet from Cafe 52 on the Green). You win an Easter Prize if you capture the art on camera and return to Cafe 52 to show it.

If you’ve got kids with you, you could start off early and also take part in Chalk Don’t Chalk, to create your own chalk street art pieces, with professional artists on hand to teach and guide children on their designs (at 11am on the roof garden of St Nicholas shopping centre). For the full programme of events and other info please visit


Old Togs New Tricks Vintage Fayre

Then, of course, it wouldn’t be Nina’s Apartment if there wasn’t a bit of vintage thrown into the mix. My favourite local vintage fair is back this spring at Underdog, with lots of quality traders bringing their gorgeous unique wares to this quirky little venue. Whether it is an original floaty seventies dress you want for your summer wardrobe or a sleek mid century design collectable to add to your home, there is plenty to see and buy and rummage through.

Traders include The Closet, Peapod, Vi Vinyl, Louis Little Haven, Very Vintage, RetroriginalUK, The Vintage Collection, Black Cat Vintage, Heather D, Re-Store, Quinneys Antique Jewellery & Marcia Wilkes MUA – Glitter Bar.

Vintage clothes by The Closet
Cool retro kitchenalia and glassware by Very Vintage

Being held in a nightclub with low lighting and an industrial interior gives it a great vibe and makes it stand out from any other vintage fair you’ve ever been too. Oh, and there’s a bar, perfect to finish off your Sunday with a tasty craft beer or two, which you’ll definitely deserve after all that walking. Happy Easter!

Old Togs New Tricks Fayre. Underdog, 1 Union Street, Aberdeen. Sunday 16 April, 12-5pm. Entry free


Discover art on your doorstep during NEOS open studios

I don’t know about you but I love art. I have run out of wall space a long time ago but I still can’t help myself when I see an artwork I really like and that would look amazing in my house. More than once I raided my bank account for a painting or print that really wasn’t something I could or should spend money on that day…but oops, I did it again! I have never regretted any of those purchases however, not like I regretted buying those shoes in the sale or another plastic toy for my kids that they only played with once. Art does not seem to go out of fashion. And if anything gives your home personality, it is those unique pieces of art that you love and nobody else owns.


Each year in September, now for the 14th year running, there is NEOS, or North East Open Studios, where over 200 artists across Aberdeen city and shire open their doors to the public, showing off their work and technical skills. It is amazing. Not only do you get to see a wide variety of art in all shapes and forms, you also get to speak to the artists, ask them questions and – this is what I like most – you discover places in your local area you never even knew existed. It’s like a treasure hunt, a discovery trail, an off the beaten track adventure, finding those yellow numbered signs dotted all over the North East for eight days. Oh there’s one! Keep going!


People exhibit their work in the most unusual places. An old train carriage in someone’s back garden? It’s there. Whisky distilleries, village halls, sheds and of course people’s own front rooms and workshops are transformed into temporary exhibition spaces where you are invited to see arts and craft. Informal, welcoming and you often even get a cup of tea. All for free. Try that for an average day out.

Upper Loop Studio

You don’t know anything about art you say? It’s not something that really interests you ? Nah – you’re just saying that. If you like beautiful things and getting inspired, then just give it a go. A number of artists are professionals and are doing it for a living, but most participants are people like you and me who make art in their spare time. Many of them are real talents. Flicking through the thick NEOS directory you’ll be able to select the artists you might like to visit, whose work is anything from cool abstract paintings to water colours of our local ‘mountain’ Bennachie (oh yes, loads…), wood sculptures, ceramics, photography, jewellery and contemporary printmaking. A lot of artists also give demonstrations and workshops for you to have a go yourself.


Pick up one of the directories and go visit a few places. Pile some friends in the car and make an afternoon of it. Download a trail if you fancy ‘doing an area’. You’ll be amazed how many artists you have living on your doorstep. You may even find yourself coming home with an original piece of art or commission someone to make you one. If you still tell me you didn’t enjoy any of it after all that, then – oh well. But I bet you have a blast.

NEOS starts on Saturday 10th of September and runs until the following Sunday 18th of September.

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NEOS on Twitter @NEOS_uk

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