Back to School Gift Ideas for Teens

If you are thinking about giving a back to school gift to your child or grandchildren, why not combine it with something that will be really useful for their next academic year.  We've put together a selection of great ideas for gifts to celebrate the start of a new year and encourage your teenage children to plan ahead.  Help them get organised with their home and course work and even making their own pack lunch - a new pencil case, lunch bag or beautiful retro satchel can really inspire a little boost in productivity! (in fact, a new leather satchel this gorgeous may be a great idea for the parents too!)

Perpetual Birthday Calendars and Clipboard Organisation

Get organised with Multiple Clipboards

Having a really well organised home office regardless of the space you have available can really help to keep you stress free! We love the idea of hanging multiple clipboards on the wall and using them to organise your to do list or larger projects.  This picture from Decor8 may be a little uber minimalist but as a bit of a clutterbug it's something to aspire to!

Take away the huge pile of paperwork to be sorted and clip it on the wall ready to be tackled bit by bit - it has a psychological effect, it makes the paperwork instantly seem more manageable.   If it's a letter from school it goes on one board, if it's a bill to be paid asap onto another.  The fact it's hanging up in your office or kitchen means you are more likely to get to it than if it's left to pile up into a disorganised heap.

Perpetual Birthday Calendar 

You could also clip a perpetual birthday calendar up somewhere to remind you to shop for gifts and cards.  If it's right in front of you it's easier to notice and keep it updated than a notebook that may end up in a drawer.  It's also more personal than having your smart phone or facebook bleep at you. 

A top tip for a birthday calendar is to write down what year the person was born so you can always work out their age.

As we were searching for perpetual calendars and clipboards for our Clipboard Pinterest board, we discovered that the Dutch are famous for hanging their birthday calendars on the toilet door! 

Do you have any tips for organising your home office and keeping on top of all your 'to-dos' week to week?

Gift Guide - 1st wedding Anniversary gifts

Traditionally in the United Kingdom first wedding gifts should be made from paper.  The symbolism of wedding anniversary gifts is a wonderful tradition and we think one that should be continued.  The materials from paper through to Diamonds for a 60th anniversary all have a set heirarchy and of course paper is at the bottom, a fragile one year of marriage meriting such a delicate material to honour it.

Paper gifts can in fact be astoundingly beautiful - while many of us would delight in receiving a book or journal, we wanted to see what else we could find.  These three independent designer makers are creating the most wonderful pieces of wall art which will make perfect 1st anniversary gifts.

Paper Cut art - Ant Design Gifts

We also love this beautiful paper based jewellery from Ellymental Designs, perfect for a 1st anniversary gift.

Paper jewellery - Ellymental Designs

And don't forget, whatever you decide to buy to celebrate this special first year of marriage, ensure that it is wrapped up beautifully - We love this hand printed paper!

Hand printed tag and paper - The Sussex Soap Company

Gift Wrapping Ideas - Hole Punch Confetti!

The joy of receiving a gift can be quadrupled when it's beautifully and thoughtfully wrapped.  Adding details like ribbons and bows can allow you to use simple and inexpensive wrapping paper and yet it can make the gift look stunning!  As you know we love brown paper packaging and this confetti ribbon really caught our eye and inspired us to search out more great hole punch confetti ideas.

You can buy punches in all sorts of shapes, hearts, trees - just take a browse on google for Craft Paper Punches for inspiration - so you needn't stick with the tradition office punch.

Hole punch confetti can be made of paper that's destined for the recycling bin, so it's a jolly ethical decoration too.  If you see some brightly coloured junk mail, why not turn it into confetti for use at a later date - you could even get the kids to do all the hard work!

You could use this simple idea to create any shape or design on your wrapped gifts, just be sure to use plenty of glue!

If your mind is now buzzing with creative ideas for wrapping presents, take a look at our recent post with a selection of environmentally friendly gift wrapping ideas - beautiful gift wrap that's also made from sustainable materials.

Win £150 worth of Bespoke Handmade Jewellery!

Would you like to win a piece of Jewellery made just for you up to the value of £150?

 UK Handmade are running a fantastic competition to help raise awareness of their 'Buy handmade' campaign. 6 amazingly talented UK jewellers have offered to create the 2 winners a piece of jewellery worth up to £150.  Just look at the differing styles of craftsmanship you could choose from if you were to win!

We are really proud to be sponsoring this fantastic prize! Entry is easy - you just need an image of yourself or one of your family / friends holding (kissing / hugging / using ) something handmade.  

It could be something you have made, your kids have made or even something bought as long as it's Not Mass Produced!  The competition entries will be shortlisted and you can then vote for a winner!  Every one who votes will also be entered into a draw to win!

Brown paper packages wrapped up with string...

These are a few of my favourite things!

Mary Poppins clearly had the same gift wrapping obsession as we do here at Not Mass Produced!  If you have ever grinned from ear to ear when wrapping or receiving a brown paper parcel all wrapped up with string you will most definitely enjoy our latest Pinterest board! "Brown Paper Packages"  Sometimes keeping it simple works really well!

Here's a selection of our favourite brown paper parcel gift wrap ideas and just some gorgeous images -!

Brown Paper Packages' by Evie Marie

tied up with string
Brown paper parcels tied with string and colourful buttons - SuperDewa

"Finished orders, wrapped in vintage paper patterns and tied with string are ready to be posted, with love." from two and six

Christmas Wrapping Ideas from Home Life 

Regalos decorativos bajo el árbol
Simple little details added, butterflies, letters or mini pegs  - Facily Sencillo

Gift Guide - Quality Craft Kits

A few weeks ago we posted a guide to crafty activities to keep the kids amused over the summer holidays.  During our hunt for crafty and creative project ideas we came across lots creative people who have put together craft kits to buy.

These quality kits contain everything you need to make up a simple craft project, supplies, tools, instructions and some useful tips.

We have created a gift guide with our favourite quality craft kits - they are from small independent companies and designer-makers and will make wonderful gifts for creative freinds and family.

Needle felt kit
This kit from contains everything you need to make this amazingly cute and colourful needle felted elephant.

Knit a cottage kit

From - Knit and create your own seaside cottage

Eco Jewellery making kit from

Make a PE Shoe Bag Kit
Make a little pe kit or shoe bag for a pre-schooler or for a child starting nursery - everything is included and it's simple to sew up. Pump Bag Kit from has everything you need to start lino cutting in this lino cutting starter set.  Lino Cuts are great for printing your own greetings cards - it could save you a fortune at Christmas!

We hope you agree these kits look fantastic - have you ever bought or received a craft kit as a gift?  We'd love to hear about what you created...

Maia Flore - Sleep Elevations

Maia Flore - Sleep Elevations

When you see something breathtaking like this you just have to share it - we couldn't believe how beautifully strange Maia Flore's 'Sleep Elevation' images were.  Femine and surreal, they have an amazing dreamy quality - a very clever photographer! Take a look at more of her wonderful images here -

Say hello to textile artist Victoria Logan

felted skinny scarf

Handmade Knitted and Felted Gifts from Victoria Logan

Victoria Logan  works with natural materials, mainly lambswool. Her work is usually knitted then felted to create a dense but luxuriously soft fabric - we think her products are highly original and particularly love the cut out pieces.

The  range Victoria currently has available are scarves, cushions,bags and her new 'critters'. They will make perfect gifts for your family and friends - read this interview with Victoria to find out a little more about the maker of these wonderful knitted and felted pieces.

How did your business come about? Is it something you had always wanted to do?

In my final year of university I made scarves for my friends at their request and it helped me realize what I wanted to do with my future so after graduating in 2009 I knew I wanted to make my own products from my textile designs. However I always thought I would have to get experience in the industry before I could possibly imagine setting up on my own, but after a masters degree (a major confidence boost) and the realization that I could make my business my career I decided to just go for it, and now I'm glad I did.

Victoria Logan Not Mass Produced Artisan
Victoria Logan

Your work is highly original, where do you take inspiration from for your designs and do you do commissioned pieces?

I take inspiration from my surroundings – mainly natural landscapes. It all stems from studying abroad in 2007 for five months in Lapland, Finland. I became entranced by the beautiful landscapes, and used this inspiration in my final year design project, after graduation I translated my designs into products, mainly a scarves collection called the Talvi collection. My next collection was inspired by the Dutch city landscape as I had just moved to the Netherlands then. My Blaadje skinny scarf is part of this collection.

My most recent body of work is inspired by my own country, Scotland. I spend most of my holidays back in Scotland, and using it's beautiful natural landscapes for my new work has made me feel more at home. I'm also inspired by things in my environment, my corgi cushion is inspired by the newest addition to my family, Alvar the cardigan corgi. This cushion has led to requests for a labrador cushion and bull terrier cushion, and I hope many more doggy commissions are on the way as it's lots of fun to translate dogs in to knit.

double bed knit machine

Corgi cushion

Is the knitting and felting process complicated, what is involved? – how long does it take to produce one of you beautiful scarves for example?

All my designs are created in a computer program that I can connect to my double bed knit machine. the pattern is then translated to the machine and the knitting can begin. Most of my designs take about 1000 rows to knit, and are then felted, steamed then put together. The felting process shrinks the fabric by about a third, so there is a lot of fabric 'lost' in the process. My scarves usually take about a day to be completed, from knitting to attaching of the label. Most products are made in bulk and I create a sort of production line, knit, felt, leave to dry, steam, put together, then lastly labeling (labeling takes so much longer than you would think!)

Felted plushie Critter

Will you be producing any new ranges soon, what do you have planned for the future?

I have recently completed a new collection for 2012/13 based on the Scottish landscape. I have added new critters to my critters collection, and hope to be adding even more by the end of the year. I'm currently working on stock for new stockists and new colour combinations for my current collection, plus I'm working on opening my own online shop in the Autumn. I will be bringing out some seasonal products around Christmas, I'm working on designs for Christmas products now. For the time being I will be working on more commissioned dog cushions and counting myself lucky that I get to do something I love for a living.

Visit Victoria on - Victoria Logan Knitted Textiles

Benefits of a Bicycle

Cycle more, drive less...   be fitter, happier and wealthier :)

Source - via humblebee 

Reasons to get on yer bike! 

This is a great advert for why we should all be oiling our bike chains and donning our cycling shorts...  (ok maybe not the shorts!)

Yes, it's something that's not always possible to do, but for those of us who live in a reasonably flat part of the country, have you considered the savings you could be making by switching from petrol to pedal power, even just over the summer months? Let alone the fact it keeps you fit and is a completely environmentally friendly form of transport.  

Here are a few of our favourite bicycle pins from our latest board "I like to ride my bicycle"

Source: via Not Mass on Pinterest

We'd love to know if you are a cyclist - do you ever use your bike to get to work?

DIY Home Decoration ideas

Do you want to spruce up your home with a few interesting decorations, but would rather not spend a fortune or buy any mass produced, unoriginal pieces?  We have a little collection of home décor tutorials we have found on our travels across the net. We think you will really love these fun ideas.  Simple DIY projects to give your home decoration and you a little lift.  

A vase of needle felted balls on sticks

These look so effective and each little felt ball only takes a few minutes to make up.  The tutorial is available over on Design Sponge, written up by Kate Pruitt - you could use any colour as the 'wool roving' you need can be brought in a myriad of organically dyed colours and is very readily available die to the recent resurgence in the craft of needle felting.  Go rainbow bright if you want!

Vase in a wall frame

This project found on website 'Sunset' is brilliant - it enables you to update your décor seasonally - just a quick wonder around the garden or park and you are bound to find a pretty bloom or some fresh foliage to cheer up your room.   You will need a shadow box frame (Ikea do them from fsc wood) and also a little item called a 'pin frog' which you use to stick the stem of the bloom securely into a shallow dish of water with, we googled and they can be bought for a few pounds - alternatively you could make one from pins and a little piece of leather or something that won't dissintegrate in the water.  When it doesn't have flowers in, you could simply place another pretty little object - or even a paper flower.

Decorative Cork Ball

This is a great excuse to start amassing some wine corks! The tutorial from fabulous blogger Andi of 'All put together' is also so simple a child could make them (if they're old enough to use the hot glue gun!)  All you really need are plenty of corks, a polystyrene ball (they sell these in garden centres and craft shops) and a trusty glue gun.  Andi also recommends painting the central ball darker to hide any white bits that may show.

If they all sound great, but you don't have time to make them (or enough corks yet!), you could also head over to our home collection over at Not Mass Produced, there are some wonderful handmade decorations and home accessories to browse through.

We'll post more of these great tutorials as we find them, let us know if you have found any great home decoration tutorials, we'd love to take a look and get inspired!