Some photography: Scandinavia

Lately I’ve been getting back into what once was my one and only passion; photography.

Photography and me, we’re a strange pair. It’s somewhat of a love-hate relationship we have. There are times when I want to crash my computer screen, because my film did not turn out the way I thought it would at all. And there are times when I feel adventurous and courageous enough to pick up the heavy thing, get back in the saddle and try to aim a bit closer to what I want the result to look like. A bit closer than last time.

As I said, lately I’m in one of my ‘up’phases , thanks to the newly found inspiration induced by Kandice Breinholt. Kandice is an amazing wedding photographer who lives in Utah, in the US. The path of my eyes and her photographs first crossed during one of my hour long ‘obsessively-scouring-the-web’ sessions, in search for a photographer for our wedding. I was instantly blown away by the tender and unapologetically raw quality of her images. Kandice photographs couples in an intimate setting, preferably outdoors in forests or mountainous habitats. She uses a lot of toned down whites in her images, which give her photos a triste, melancholic quality. This in combination with mother nature’s textures, leaf filtered sunlight and a stunning couple impeccably dressed for the most important day of their lives equals…. pure bliss!

As a tribute to Kandice I decided to scrape the courage from the soles of an old pair of shoes I hadn’t worn in a while and opened a photo folder on my computer. I finally got to have a proper look at the images I took during our 2015 trip to Scandinavia. On Instagram I discovered a few clues as to the type of presets Kandice might use to get that beautifully sombre colour palette. Inspired by Kandice’s style, here are the images I feel comfortable enough to share on my little corner of the internet.

 

Sweden

Sweden

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Sweden 2

Sweden 3

Sweden 3

Smogge

Smogge

Brunne

Brunne

Denmark

Denmark

Sweden 4

Sweden 4

Smogge 2

Smogge 2

Bedroom final result

The other day, I realised I hadn’t yet shared the final result of what our tiny bedroom looks like now. It’s been such a hectic time with the CELTA course, studying, keeping up with things, STILL diy-ing in the house and obviously the whole wedding planning shenanigans.

 

So here we go, a visual impression of our bedroom. Keywords: white, grey, scandi, airy, light, geometrical shapes and of course lots of handmade wooden accessories!

 

dark wood bed

this is what the bed originally looked like. Dark wood wasn’t an option for this tiny room. I primed it, painted it off white and I used wall paper on the headboard.

bedroom before

bedroom make over before. A lohot of wall filling and sanding was required.

bedroom wall during

Bedroom wall colour testing. Eventually we went for a very light, matte, powdery grey.

wall paper horrendous

This wall was a complete pain in the ass. I kept filling, sanding, plastering, again and again. In the end I chose to wallpaper the wall and it was the best decision I made for this room by far. Honestly, the wall was still crumbling down as I was smothering it with glue, but you can’t even tell now.

 









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DIY dye my IKEA sofa cover; here’s how I did it without a bath tub!

kivik-three-seat-sofa-bed__0108217_PE257918_S4As you will all know by now (since I won’t shut up about it!), we recently moved house. From a very spacious modern 4 bedroom flat we moved to a cute but oh so small one bedroom terrace house. A house with a front garden, a back garden and lots of character. Did I mention the house dates from 1911?  Bizarre to even really imagine what the world must have looked like at the time for those workmen who constructed this house all those years ago. The wars this house has lived through, all those to whom it provided a roof, the change in cars it has watched passing by through the years…I’m drifting off subject though.

I want to tell you about something very specific today; how I managed to completely customise a second hand IKEA sofa without spending a fortune;

by dyeing its cover!

When news of our impending move to a one bedroom house hit us, both James and me were completely on the same page about one thing: space should NOT be a reason NOT to have guests over. Lots of guests. Big guests. Small guests. Foreign guests, national guests, hell, even guests from outer space should they wish to have a sleep-over. Besides making guest sleeping arrangements a priority, we were also picky about the type of bed we would get. We didn’t want to resort to shopping channel inflatable beds or flimsy mattresses, we wanted a proper decent double guest bed with a mattress supported by bed slats. Without the space for a guest bed  it would have to be a good quality sofa bed. And so  the hunt for the perfect sofa bed commenced…

My research lead me to a specific IKEA sofa bed that had excellent reviews; considered to be the holy grail amongst sofa beds by some: I present to you… the IKEA KIVIK sofa bed.

 

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The arm rests double as extra storage for duvets and pillows, the cover comes off to wash. (being able to wash the sofa cover is such a plus, since we’re often covered in diy dust and we’ve got bunny Parker hopping on and off the sofa)

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The KIVIK sofa bed is supposed to be as comfortable to sleep in as a normal bed without diminishing its sofa-esque functions and vice versa. You don’t want the sofa cushions to slide away from underneath your bum every time you sit down just because of the sofa bed’s design. Sliding bum cushions during Netflix marathons… no thank you. So the KIVIK it was then. Only one problem: IKEA  stopped producing KIVIK sofa beds in 2015.

Excuse me, say what?

Yes. Our “space-saving- allowing-our-multinational-family-and-friends-to-comfortably-stay-over-in-our-tiny-house-solution” was DISCONTINUED.

Thank god for second hand shopping! I scoured Marktplaats (that’s the dutch version of gumtree / Craigs list)  and only a few days in I happened upon a snow white version not too far a drive from our house. After some messaging forth and back we agreed on a price and upon arrival we were pleasantly surprised by its mint condition. The lady who owned it had only used it as an extra sofa in her guest room, plus she was super clean and didn’t own any pets. She threw in a free extra hocker, which turned our supersofa into an even super-er corner sofa. Success!!!

 

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supersofa all safely wrapped up amidst the chaos

Supersofa as we lovingly called her, was our first big purchase for the new house. Because of bad timing and the fact she was incredibly heavy to lift, supersofa ended up spending the next four weeks in the middle of our new living room. Wrapped in layers of plastic and placed on little castors she patiently stood there and witnessed all our weeks of demolishing, cleaning, wall plastering sessions, our painting sessions, and our laying the floors.


Eventually she was ready to be unwrapped. As we gently moved her over our newly layed floor and placed her against our freshly painted wall James and me both squintingly looked at each other and said; god, that sofa’s white! ‘Do you remember it being so white?’ ‘I don’t remember it being so white’. ‘That’s colour will not stay white in our household! Not even for a day!’.

And so we faced challenge # 10632 of the ‘new-small-house-project’:

how to change our sofa from eye blinding white to a more appropriate grey/ blue. We thought grey was a safe choice, not too dark because of the small house and not too light because of the stain proneness.

Since the KIVIK sofa bed was discontinued, I couldn’t count on IKEA to buy a new sofa cover. I looked into online companies who offer slipcovers for IKEA sofa’s in any fabric but I was so disappointed with their prices. I think it’s ridiculous how much some companies charge for a standard slipcover, I mean, it’s not even a custom design, they have the standard sizes on file so how much time could it really cost to make a cover if you have the proper machinery? We decided we needed to hold off buying a new cover until we had saved enough and so I started looking into a temporary solution:

dyeing the sofa cover.

I started researching methods of dyeing a big fabric item such as a sofa cover and came across this incredibly useful blogpost, written by Lizzie. I heard about washing machine dyes before, I think I’d even given that method a go sometime when I was in high school. I remembered it to be a bit of a pain in the ass to get any type of material dyed evenly, even when trying to dye small items of clothing. That’s why I was so thrilled to read about Lizzie’s excellent results with bath tub reactive dye. I was so excited to try this myself. I looked up the dye company Lizzie recommended and E-mailed them for some advice. I weighed all my fabric, converted the kilograms into lbs and ordered the dye. I have to say I was completely blown away by their delivery time. I received the parcel TWO DAYS after I ordered it. All the way from America to the Netherlands in two days and that was the normal delivery method. So far so good.

But the next challenge awaited.

Challenge # 10033 We don’t have a bath. You need a bath in order to dye a big piece of fabric in one go.

I don’t know anyone in my town well enough yet to ask them if I could borrow their bath for a night. And their bath wouldn’t be the only thing I’d need: the sofa cover would have to dry somewhere too.

I did however still have a ridiculously spacious and empty flat to my use for another few days… A big flat with a big shower room. Braincells gurgling and humming…. here’s what I came up with.

kiddie pool inflatable

Yep! I bought a kiddie pool! And no, I wasn’t gonna inflate the thing by mouth so I bought one of those electrical pumps with it too. I have to admit I somewhat misjudged the size of the pool and so in the end I had to fold the ‘bath’ in half as it didn’t actually fit in my bathroom:-) Achherm..

had to fold it in half

The dye preparation. What I needed according to the Dharma trading website:

Fiber Reactive DyeSoda Ash, Non-Iodized Salt, Urea (optional), Calsolene Oil (optional), Synthrapol or Dharma Professional Textile Detergent (PTD)Milsoft (optional), a bucket large enough for your item to move around in or a top loading washing machine.

Any of the ingredients that were listed as optional, I did not get. I didn’t know where to get them locally and getting them sent from abroad wasn’t really an option, given the weight of my fabric.  One of the most difficult things of it all I found to be the maths part. I’m not very good with numbers as it is, having never heard about American quantities before sure added to my incompetence. I never knew there were different types of pounds and a gallon to me sounded like a character straight out of a Tolkien book. I know that sounds ridiculous but that’s how bad I am with numbers. However… I managed to get there in the end.

I needed a lo-hot more salt than I expected (did the salt calculations very last minute) and therefore had to run to the supermarket to get some just before closing time. The only suitable non-iodised salt I could find in my supermarket was the salt that you’re supposed to put in dish washers. I knew you couldn’t just use normal table salt , it has  something to do with the water PH value. Dishwasher salt would surely do for that exact reason I figured, the only problem was: the dishwasher salt came in very coarse crystals. I tried several ways but didn’t manage to dissolve the salt, I tried to help the dissolving process by adding boiling water, grinding it with metal spoons, both methods  failed. In the end I just used the salt crystals in their full coarse glory. Besides hanging out on the bottom of the pool and tickling my feet the rocks didn’t interfere with the outcome of the dyeing process.

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Challenge # 15242637289: Soda ash, anyone?

I read about soda ash in Lizzie’s tutorial and the manual that came with the dye mentioned it too. I couldn’t find a Dutch supplier of the stuff and since I didn’t want to pay a fortune for having it delivered from abroad I needed to find a solution. This youtube video was the answer to my soda ash prayers.  Basically, there is a way to make your own soda ash in the oven. All you need is baking soda, which is affordable and widely available. It saved me a ton of money and effort; baking soda is so cheap and turning the oven on is hardly rocket science.

One tip: when you try to turn baking soda into soda ash in the oven and you’re not sure how long to put it in for: take the baking tray out and hold it up to the light. When your baking soda starts to lose its shimmer and has turned completely matte (stir it once in a while) then you’re good to go.

The instructions that came with the Dharma reactive dye were pretty straight forward. To dissolve the dye it said: Paste up the Fiber Reactive Dye with some warm water, smashing it with a spoon, like making gravy. Next, add about a cup of warm water (more if you are dissolving lots of dye, like with black) to the dye paste to make a well dissolved slurry. Finally, add to the tub or bucket and stir to mix evenly.IMG_7528

So that’s what I did. Also: don’t forget to wash your fabric before you start the dyeing process. Make sure it’s still wet. Apparently even greasy fingerprints can make for blotchy stains after the dyeing process.

Time to add the paste to my folded in half inflatable pool with carefully measured water…

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With the help of two broomsticks and my muscles I sent the next hour stirring, swishing, swooshing and moving around. I read about the fabric having to be in motion at all times to get an even result.
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After a while the fabric (and my feet and hands) started to change colour…

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Then I used the shower to rinse everything.rinse IMG_7601

Yes, I used a shopping trolley to help me get the job done. The fabric was so heavy and there was so much of it, I thought it would be a good solution. I know you’re not supposed to take supermarket trolleys home but I did give the trolley a free wash in return which cleared my conscience.IMG_7600 IMG_7603After a night’s dry in a bathroom with the radiators on full blast, this was the result…

dye fabric sofa cover

A nice hue of grey/blueish but still a bit too wet

In the meantime, our stripped down little sofa was waiting patiently at our new house.
IMG_7606 IMG_7607And now for THE BIG REVEAL… drumroll please…  some close-ups:

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some blotchiness around where I folded it to dry but nothing too bad. I have to say I quite like the 90’s faded jeans look.

 

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And an overview.
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My conclusion:

-if you don’t have the money but you do have the time, elbow grease and perseverance, I can definitely RECOMMEND dying your sofa cover. Especially if, like us, you have a bright white version, since that will be the easiest version to dye and get the desired results.

-you need space to do this. A lot of space. Not only because you’ll want to dye all of your fabric at once to avoid colour differences, you will also need space to dry the cover afterwards. In hindsight I think I underestimated the size of this project, I was lucky to have such a massive space to use.

-Buy enough salt. So you don’t have to run to the supermarket to get dishwasher salts. They could have really messed up the dyeing process.

-Do your maths. Gallons, pounds, you don’t want to get them wrong.

-If you own an oven, make your own soda ash. It saves so much money and it’s too easy not to do.

-You don’t necessarily need Urea or Calsolene oil. My sofa is proof.

-Ask a friend for help, it’s a pretty tiring process to keep the fabric in the water stirred at all times, it was a relief being able to take turns at stirring. And the whole process being more fun when you’re together is an added bonus.

I am thrilled with the results. I’d love to hear about other people’s sofa dyeing attempts, please leave your comments below!

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Photo booth for wedding / party/ event

I recently did a photo shoot for a photo booth company (I know, that sounds weird, right!?)

These two guys in my city run an awesome photo booth company for parties and weddings. For any of you not familiar with the concept, photo booths have become quite the rage in Europe over the last 5 years. They’re a machines / set-ups or even just columns you can hire to entertain your party guests with a selfie experience taken to the max. Some photo booth suppliers provide a proper old fashioned 90’s style photo booth including an awkwardly crowded space behind a closed curtain and polaroid style slowly developing photostrips popping out the side of the machine. Other companies just rent out a camera and a backdrop and present your party snaps in an online album.

 

This company of the two guys I mentioned earlier provides their customers with the best of both worlds; enough space to pose and goof because there’s no enclosed space but with real (and unlimited!!!) photo strips. A pretty cool concept I think. I wouldn’t want to spend money to hire a photo booth and not have something tangible to offer to my guests.

 

What does this machine look like you ask? Well, the reason I ended up photographing its the answer to just that question. Their current loyal, yet somewhat unfortunate looking photo machine was in desperate need of a sibling with better looks. James was commissioned to produce this photo booth 2.0. It had to pretty much have similar measurements as the old model, as inside the machine there was all sorts of electrical equipment. The style and execution however was in desperate need of scandi infusion, a serious dose of manly plywood and some state of the art laserburn technology.

I took these photos for James’ portfolio and I thought it’d be cool to share the result with you guys. Here are the photos, enjoy!photo booth wedding

heavy photo booth wedding studio

pretty heavy to manoeuvre in our tiny make shift studio!

logo cnc laser photo booth wedding

logo made by laser cnc

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detail laser cnc photo booth wedding

Such amazing details; a combination of the wood, the colour of the burn and the graphics.

ffbserie3 ffb3 ffb6 ffb10 And here are some shots set in the amazing former Honig factory outdoor space. SUCH a cool space for photoshoots, the light is different every time which makes it annoying but keeps it interesting.ffb15 ffb17
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Old belt turns into new shelf feature

Happy new year everyone!

I don’t know about you, but the start of a new year always awakens  my urge to slim down my belongings. Some people start the year full of good intentions to quit smoking or they go on a diet or cleanse; I want to start tidying the house. So the first three days of 2017 I spent getting rid of quite some clutter and clothes I haven’t worn in years but are still taking up space. Especially now that we moved to such a small house, I get more and more Marikondo-esque fits where I just want to throw out everything.

I am very bad at just throwing out things knowing they can be re-used in some way. I always donate my clothes to friends and charity shops and whenever I can, I repurpose materials.

Lately I have been getting more and more into succulents (as has the rest of the world in 2016 according to my Instagram!)and I’ve been trying to propagate some of them. Since we don’t have a lot of space to put these various nursery projects of mine and James doesn’t like me cluttering up the few window sills we do have, I needed a space saving solution. I’ve seen these beautiful retro scandi hanging shelves come by on pinterest, Etsy and instagram. Some of them made with metal, ribbon or old belts. The first bin bag for charity I managed to fill up happened to have a few belts in it and so I decided to give it a try today.

The pictures are of a somewhat poor quality, sorry about that. I didn’t start the project until late in the day and so the daylight was gone.

shelf scandinavian succulent

STEP 1: find your shelf.

This project is dead simple, especially if you already happen to have a bit of wood lying around to use as the actual shelf. We always have bits of wood everywhere in the house, so I didn’t have to go out and buy or cut any. I used a 18 mm plywood for my shelf.
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STEP 2: Cut your belt to size.

The belt I chose was pretty wide and so I decided I would cut it into two elegant slim halves. I started cutting my belt with scissors and I should have known that was a bad idea. See, the thing is, I am a horrible cutter. This is what my half of the belt looked like after I attacked it with my scissor skills.

img_9649I then decided to use a knife. Much better plan. Decide on your own cutting device, scissors are probably the fastest and easiest way. By the way, I didn’t measure anything as I just laid the two pieces on top of each other to make sure they were exactly the same length.
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STEP 3: drill holes in the belt pieces.

If you’re really lazy like I am, just fold your two pieces of belt together and lay all four layers on top of each other so you only have to drill once. I suppose you could also pierce the belt with a pick of some sort but since you need a drill to make a hole in the wall to hang the thing anyway, drilling is the fastest and most accurate way.
drill hole leather belt scandi

STEP 4: Find a screw and little washer.

The washer (little flat ring) is optional, but I just think it looks nicer. Remember, the nicest type of screw to use is a mushroom head screw, like the ones I used for my photograph on forex project. Mushroom head screws stay on top of the surface, so they don’t wiggle themselves into the material.

washer and screw

 

 

 

washer screw belt leather

I think it just looks so much slicker with that washer

STEP 5: find a wall plug, measure with level,drill holes in wall, hammer wall plug in.

STEP 6: Screw both belt loops into the wall

belt hanging wall leather washer loop

STEP 7: place your shelf in the hanging loops and.. voila!

Shelf’s your uncle! (for you non native Brit readers: it’s a British word joke)

 

shelf scandinavian wall wood

shelf hanging leather belt succulent planter shelf succulent scandinavian planter shelf leather leather hanging shelf