One cat short of crazy!

So, the biggest project I’ve ever designed is now complete! Yippee!!!

Without the help of friends, this ambitious creation would not have been possible, I therefore thank both Adrian & Jack for their hard work in clearing the old, measuring, building and assembling the new Summerhouse and the Catio enclosure. You’re amazing!

Once Team Kilburn left, the next stage was to provide our kitties with an adventure experience that would keep them entertained and provide them with cosy hide-outs when they wanted to snooze and of course, have plenty of stimulation for exercise. So, another few sketches later, my husband and I salvaged as much off-cut wood as possible and got to work. Creating brackets, shelving and a very big hide-out box was hard work but it paid off.

The cats were curious and explored every single addition to their space. I used off-cuts of artificial grass to line shelving for relaxing and stretching and decorated with broken stemmed artificial flowers. Scattered artificial leaves and made toys with driftwood lengths, wrapping with string and hanging artificial leaves and bells from old collars.

The Summerhouse became the Zen Den. A space for peace and time-out both for all of the family to enjoy (mostly me and the cats!) Firstly, painted white and then filled with bursts of bright pinks, yellows and oranges.

The bench was made using 3 tables, secured together and legs wrapped in yellow rope to provide scratch posts and hanging toys for the cats to enjoy.

My relaxing chair has now been upcycled twice. It started out as cream & canvas and was originally painted with a shade of blue bathroom & kitchen paint. This gave the chair an easy-wipe surface and a faux leather look. For this upcycle I used remnants of a lemon colour kitchen paint.

Soft furnishing were bargain purchases of cushions and covers. The covers for the bench were sewn together with the zippers facing to the rear side of the bench. The covers individually became bench length and can be removed from cushions and washed as one piece. This of course is important! A door trimming was handmade using crochet and wool remnants, which looks very pretty. And, big rounds were also made for the cats to get cosy and sleep on.

A donated bookcase was painted was upcycled using mini paint sample pots and an old table was used for a little hide-out and space for candles, cups etc.

This project has made a massive difference to all of the family. I know my cats are safe, they are loved and entertained. We all have a quiet space to read or enjoy time alone. I’ve even enjoyed breakfast & lunch on the decking area on warm days too! It’s wonderful! It’s fantastic! It’s simply purrrrrfect!!!


For the love of cats!

So, I’ve finally become the crazy cat lady I was meant to be! Owning a cat or 6 😲 has sparked me to design a CAT-IO so our furry besties can enjoy their very own adventure space without the risk of injury and getting into fights with the cats in our neighbourhood. (There’s a lot!)

A few weeks ago, our 4 little ones got attacked in our garden causing lots of distress and a large vet bill. Their Mummy and Big Brother tried so hard to guard them while their fur stood on end and ushered the predictors out. Our smallest kitty called Boo-Bear got trapped behind my little wooden shop and Sully (Big Bruv) and Sky (Mummy) tried desperately to guide her out but in the end, we had to remove all of my stock and physically lift the Summerhouse to set her free. Belle, Beau, Duchess and Boo-bear were terrified and are still on edge when the back door is opened.

So, I set myself the challenge to create a magnificent space for us all to enjoy. Pinterest had some amazing ideas and inspired me a lot! I have a board called Cats, take a look if you’re on Pinterest. You might see some ideas for yourself.

With some help from some very special friends who are hands-on when it comes to DIY, my design will come to life. The most important part of this design is that we use as much of the old wood and materials to save money and more importantly; Stop it going to landfill. We will also be using insulation made from recycled white plastic milk bottles, numerous materials to create scratching posts, exploration and resting places.

Here’s some images of the garden as it is now. I warn you, it’s a real mess but within a few weeks hopefully it will be finished in time for us to enjoy the rest of the Summer sunshine 😻😻😻😻😻😻

Off the Shelf?!

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas … every where you go!

Recycled ribbon collection

I love a good browse in dressed-up shops and their new decoration designs. I also say ‘ooo’ and ‘aww’ whilst picking up cute tree decorations. But, these last few years I’ve noticed that I don’t quite feel the excitement as I used to. I now leave the shops feeling deflated. Why? Because trying to earn a living from the gift of creativity, I simply cannot compete with the pricing structure of conveyor belt stock.

I spend hours carefully creating the most unique craft items. Every item made has recycled materials which I’ve often had to source from bags of donatations. This takes up most of my time and can be daunting, especially when time is precious and I only have my own pair of hands to organise and make.

I then spend a chunk of time preparing a handful of items, if I’m lucky enough to have enough materials to do a repeat design. Yes, I do buy new papers, fabrics and supplies like glue, tapes and blank cards but these are the canvas to my business. Without them I wouldn’t be able to do what I enjoy. I’m a womble who loves to collect beautiful things, even if they are broken or in need of repair.

Broken Christmas decorations

With time restraints of home, family and business, I’m lucky if I can make 3 cards a day, let alone the 25+ required for each outlet or event.

There are easier ways to earn money I’m certain; however, if you’re a creative like me, you know what I’m about to say. It’s what I do. It’s my life. Its my soul.

I’m comforted and contented that I bring old, unwanted things to my studio and uplift their worth into something that will hopefully be cherished again for another lifetime.

Christmas time in the studio

And more importantly, I’ve done my bit by helping to prevent them going to landfill.

So, my message is this … When you pick up those cute decorations, cards and gifts whilst doing your Christmas shopping – think about whether or not you’d like an item you’ll fall out of love with day after day, year after year or whether you’d prefer that special something that will last your lifetime. A precious something that sparkles your heart every time you see it.

Buy handmade. Support small business.

Where is your Paradise?

With the chaos of life, I often sit down and wonder what if we could find the pause button of life and transport ourselves to our very own special paradise.

Mixed media collage art by Fina

This piece of mixed media collage art is my interpretation of what I believe my paradise to be. It depicts a sanctuary of calm and peace. Of course, in a warm, sunny place – filled with all the beauty that Mother Earth created herself.

Paradise sold during North Somerset Arts Week 2017. This event gave me the opportunity to showcase my mixed media collage art a new collection inspired by my travels to Western Australia and numerous artisan pieces.

Paradise now has pride of place in a new home. A gift for a very special Birthday and I’m sure she will aid in the transportation to Paradise whenever there is a need to escape this crazy life we live. ☺

Can you paint me a picture?

After exploring paints and various surfaces, the day finally came when a friend asked me the big question…. “Can you paint me a picture?” His name was St. John Greene. I met Singe not long after I started dating my husband Richard, in 2009,  I was very sad to hear that Singe had lost his wife to breast cancer, leaving him and his 2 boys to create a future together without her. As I got to know him and his brave boys they became close friends and we often shared family time together. Singe, Reef, Finn and I loved roller-skating and we all enjoyed skating along the seafront followed by seaside chips and fun on the park with our boys Xavier and Reuben, and older children Freya and Myron.

Singe had admired my art and passion for captivating memories, transporting them onto canvas and admiring these memories forever.  After reading his book ‘Mum’s List’ prior to publication, I had already stepped into their experience of grief, including special memories, hopes and dreams. So, when he commissioned a piece of work I was very nervous at the start. He provided many photographs of him and Kate, the boys, their special places, a list of  things Kate loved and of course what they’d planned to do.

Once I had absorbed all of the emotions I began the sketch and using acrylic paints I began an art journey I never thought possible. It was quite a big canvas with lots of detail to include.  I merged experiences of their lives and created a collage of all the special times they had shared, including Kate’s favourite butterfly, the place they got engaged, their passion for diving and a future dream to see the Northern Lights.

Kate had expressed her love for Singe using the phrase ‘acres and acres’, A phrase that became a deep memory of the life they had shared together. It seemed perfect to me to name the canvas ‘Acres and Acres’.  Singe and the boys loved it. Mum’s List went straight to number one in the book charts and has now become a very successful Film.  Singe now has a lovely lady in his life. Both families are enjoying life to the full, enjoying many adventures.

Acres and Acres
Acres and Acres Commission created using Acrylics.

Creative Soul

Creativity is certainly a gift. I was born with it! From a very young age, I can remember always making something. I can remember watching Why Don’t You, Tony Hart and Blue Peter religiously. Then I would get to work on making something that inspired me enough to raid my Mum’s kitchen cupboards, searching for empty Persil and Cornflake boxes, pop bottles and empty jars! I can remember making a little washing machine out of a Persil box once and I pretended to wash my Sindy doll clothes in it – playing with it for days on end. Inspired by Beatrix Potter and Enid Blyton, I used to write stories and drawer illustrations to accompany the pages. I loved reading stories and writing poetry too.

During my teens, I studied mostly computing skills and Typewriting; One Christmas, my parents bought me my very first electric typewriter. I was amazed at how soft the keys were, learning to type on an old fashioned typewriter at school was probably a big contribution to my achy finger joints now! Lol! So, using this typewriter improved my words per minute but also gave me a chance to create pictures with letters. It sounds crazy I know but I used to tear out pictures from my colouring books an colour in (only red and black ink) using words or letters.

Stencilling became popular in the early 90’s,  not long after I left school so I had to have a go and transformed a number cupboard doors and walls in my very first flat. I look back at that now and think, OMG, what was I thinking! But at the time it looked great. Everybody loved my ability to turn something old into something new again.

Papillon Rouge - Nature Infusion Collection by Fina
Papillon Rouge from the Nature Infusion Collection was created using ceramics, fabrics, wire, beads, paper, embroidery and recycled materials.

I then ventured into my dream job working for Clinique.  I had been practicing make up techniques since the early 80’s, following step-by-step pictures in Jackie magazine and had a skin-care regime from the age of 9;  I definitely never thought at the time that I wasn’t worthy of such a job! But do you know what? … any dream is possible when you plan the journey, start the journey and just keep walking towards it. It certainly provided the confidence boost I need and I really enjoyed my time working with people who really needed that very same boost. Helping them to achieve beauty from the inside, transformed how they felt about themselves on the outside and then when I applied their make-up, they looked good and felt amazing! During my time as a make-up artist I met some very lovely people, including a really lovely lady, called Gina. She was having a really ‘down’ day. We started to chat and I sat her down. Listened to her and then started to reach into her soul. She became a regular client and every visit brought positivity and confidence. She is now one of my best friends and despite some miles between, we see each other a few times a year and keep in touch regularly. We still talk about make-up but mostly she has walked alongside my creative journey, encouraged me all the way.

I have always wanted to encourage people to find their inner self and discover something different from their everyday life. I found my inner self through illness and then used my creativity to strengthen my abilities. I am very proud and content  with my creative journey so far. I am certain that my purpose is to create and inspire. I am sharing my skills and techniques, enabling those who are hoping to improve theirs. Hopefully, my workshops and sessions I have completed so far have brought lots of inspiration and provided that feeling ‘I have to try that!’.

Everybody has a creative soul, you just have to reach inside and look for it.

Welcome to Fina’s world!

Hiya everyone!

So, here we go, my very first blog… well, on this fresh new website/blog anyway! My last one got hacked and I lost all my content which was a blessing really, as it has given me the chance to re-focus and re-direct my aim for my creative arrow. Just in case you’ve not yet read my intro pages, I am a Mum to 4 children, a teenage daughter & son and twin boys who started school in September 2015; a Wife to an amazing man (and Daddy/Step-Dad); and as well as being head of Hectic-Mania Head Quarters (also known as our family home), I am the brains behind Creations by Fina.  We live in Weston-super-Mare with our lovely zoo! (not a real z00 … a dog, cat, fish and 2 gerbils).

I have lived in the South West for 16 years and in Weston for the last 12. It is here where my Art Journey began. This was the very first piece that sold in a working gallery owned by the late John Fiddes. An artist who I met through chance, thanks to a very cheap, worn out paint brush! John was more than happy to offer space in his gallery to showcase my works – there was only one slight problem – I hadn’t got any works at all! I had only images of gifts that I had made for friends and family. He suggested I put brush to canvas and start a collection of around 50 pieces! I was a little horrified at the time, as I hadn’t really got the experience for the Art World … where does one begin?  I literally started at the beginning which was a very good place to start (cue for a song!). Not really having much confidence as I’d only picked up the brushes occasionally  and sketched a little, I chose an ‘abstract’ theme. This is when The Sunshine Collection was created. I then moved onto The Seaside Collection. This was John’s favourite. I still add to this collection now. Naturally inspired by our home town and the South West coastline, especially North Devon where we holiday a lot – I enjoyed painting seaside scenes … a lot.

Both collections were exhibited at The Art House, in John’s quaint gallery in a small side street in Weston town. This piece, Bon Voyage, was the first piece I sold. John went on to sell 12 pieces of my work in just a year!

Unfortunately, in December 2010, John tragically passed away. He was such an amazing artist who spent a lot of his time sharing techniques and answering my questions about brushes, paints and much more. With thanks to his family, I was given an easel that belonged to him and still use it today. So, I suppose the first question of who discovered  Fina’s art, was John Fiddes. A jolly, little man who’s psychedelic styles inspired me, nurtured me and most importantly … believed in me.

Bon Voyage – created using acrylics on canvas.