design, craft and daily creativity

2020 journal

7 August 2020

Nepal Himalaya Pavillion

It was a hot and sunny day and we decided to visit the Nepal Himalaya Pavillion  Wiesent,  Bavaria. Many friends have mentioned this place to me and it finally came round to a good time to visit. I didn't really know what to expect, but on arrival it quickly became clear that many people know about this great place! It is not a yet-to-be-discovered quiet place - the car park was full and there was a long line to purchase tickets, exactly on the opening time! It was ok, we were all outside, distanced from each other and in the shade of beautiful old trees. We passed under an ornate wooden gate and soon entered the gardens. The stroll through the landscaped ponds, flower beds, raked gravel and rolling lawns was very relaxing and therapeutic. Statues and carvings made of wood, metal and stone are dotted amoungst the scenery and add lovely points of interest. As I hadn’t read about the pavillion before we arrived, it was a great surprise to see it’s coloured flags and beautiful white domed roof. The water that forms a large feature of the building was tranquil and calming. All in all, the afternoon was a really pleasant surprise. Certainly something I would love to repeat in different seasons and with friends or family when they can visit. The pictures below describe it better than my words can. The deep blue sky definitely added to my happy feeling on the day.


24 July 2020

Dip pen and calligraphy inks

I am terrible (or very good!) when it comes to collecting more and more craft and art goodies. Recently I picked up a calligraphy pen and five different thickness nibs. Since school and the blue ink fountain pen, I have not used ink pens like these. But I know I adore the metallic inks especially… I used lots of these with brushes, when at college. Now is a great time to teach myself another technique. Mixing the calligraphy dip pen, inks and other pens and paints I have is good fun. Even if I’m not following the traditional rules of the art. That’s what creativity is all about, right? As ever, inspiration comes from things around me, friends, situations, colour palettes I see in other pieces plus quote ideas from pinterest… it makes me happy to create and share as a postcard, with friends all round the world.


10 July 2020

Appreciating the small things

In these times of constant change, worry and adaptation, noticing and appreciating the small things is becoming even more important to me. Travel, meeting friends and family and relaxing over a meal out are not happening as we are accustomed to… it is tough. But it is important to make sensible decisions, keep ourselves, our loved ones, and the community we live in well. While we all wait for better times, seeing beauty in what is close by can help the days seem more positive. One such simple thing that I have just reaquianted myself with, is flower pressing. As a child I had a small flower press and remember gathering petals, flowers and leaves to add to my collection. It was always fun to wait and finally be able to open up the layers of paper held tight by the butterfly nuts and long bolts. I am yet to retrieve my childhood press or buy a new one, so this first rehearsal used a large book. Blooms from a special bouquet of flowers in shades of peach, pink and muted yellow, have sat between the pages for about three weeks and this morning emerged; super flat, delicate veins visible, rice paper thin. As always, the colours become softer and almost antique in appearance. I have arranged them on a sheet of handmade paper from a wonderful local paper mill in my home region and framed in a modern frame from . It is very special to me and I love it! Now I just need to collect more flowers to start the process again...


2 June 2020

shodo class via Skype

My shodo sensei in Kobe, Japan has always reminded me that she can take shodo (Japanese calligraphy) classes via video call. At this time, it seemed a great offer to take up. The last time I saw her was in November and we had a good catch up over coffee, with most of our chat related to creativity and the potential it holds. Last week, after setting a time that suited us both and worked with the seven hour time difference, we did it! It was so fun to see each other on the screen and despite so many video calls with friends and family recently,  this seemed different again. It was lovely to have the time to be creative and for me to do the learning. Together we worked through the Japanese kanji for rainbow (niji, にじ、虹)and she described the feeling and sweeping motion needed to finish the tail of the kanji, which represents the bow shape of a rainbow. For me, shodo is a chance to take precious quiet time, preparing the ink, the papers and breathing and thinking as you create the deep black strokes. The repetition required to produce the ‘good one’ begins to form a kind of muscle memory. After some time, I am not just copying the sample or video that sensei has prepared for me, but marking the paper with the brush in a much more sensitive way. After class I added to my black shodo with a rainbow painted with waterbased brushpens. I really like the way the colour works against the strong black and also the way that the Japanese symbol for rainbow sits alongside the colourful pictorial rainbow. I am so pleased we made the class happen, we already talk about the next one! Thank you so much Noriko.  のりこ ありがとう ございました。


4 May 2020

Out of season, but makes me happy

While scrolling through my camera roll the other day, I came across my photos from November/December 2019 and my latest trip to Japan. Along with seeing wonderful sites, eating fantastic food and shopping far too much in all the great craft shops, I spent precious time with friends that are all very special to me. One such evening was with my great friend Machiko and her two work colleagues, Yamagami san and Mayumi. I feel very lucky to now call these two ladies great friends,  too. In the time between me saying that I had booked flights to visit, and me arriving, a wonderful welcome party had been created for me. I felt very honoured. We all met at a Japanese style restaurant and settled into the comfy table that was reserved for us. Our time slot for the reservation on the table was 2 hours, but in that time we chatted, practised our English and Japanese language, laughed, ate and drank. Along with this, I was also treated to a fantastic rendition of a Mariah Carey Christmas song, by my friends. I felt touched and also very festive. Whenever I hear that song now, and especially during the run-up to Christmas just gone, it takes me back to our meal together in Japan. Before our food came to the table, we also shared craft skills. Yamagami san had prepared paper cut snowflake templates and designs. She demonstrated some of these clever cutting techniques and patiently observed as the rest of us enjoyed making our own. To this day, the instructions and colourful snowflakes sit next to me, at my desk in Germany. Memories from a fun evening with great friends. Thank you. いつも ありがとう ございました やまがみ さん、まゆみ、まちこ。🥰 じゃ また ね。きおつけて ください。


17 April 2020

Origami video calls

What would we do without the technology to video call family and friends? I have been really enjoying calls with friends and their young  children - together we have been creating all sorts of creatures and creations using  origami techniques. You can’t help but smile when you work through a  set of instructions together, and form a seahorse with a great tail, nose, fins. All from one 15cm square piece of paper!


30 March 2020

Colouring-in for you 💖

Do you need something creative, to help turn your mind off for a few moments? Colouring in between the lines has always been something that calms me. I am currently creating individual prints and pictures for friends and family but I also wanted to create something that I could share further. Keep an eye on the tab at the top of my website called for you. I will add line drawings from photos in my camera roll, that you can download, print out and colour in. Pen, pencil, paint… whatever you fancy. Let me see your finished pieces by posting them with #handmadebycaroline and tagging me @handmadebycaroline_  on Instagram. Enjoy.

colour incolour in2

11 March 2020

Easter eggs embroidery a success!

They are not fancy and were much quicker to make than my genuine temari balls, but I am very happy with the pretty colours and Easter feeling these eggs bring! See my Easter crafting project journal entry below, for the full story.


Take a look

My latest workshop...


6 March 2020

Easter crafting project

I have been rearranging a few home decoration things and at the weekend I will get out some more spring and Easter bits, including my spring/Easter door wreath and family of German wooden rabbits! Small things like this make me feel happy. I always have two baskets of my Japanese temari balls (decorative hand embroidered balls,) no matter the season. This spring, I really want to create an Easter egg shaped temari ball. This morning I popped to a local art shop and bought five polystyrene ‘eggs’ - now I am looking at my pretty coloured threads and my temari books, along with a few pinterest photos  and as soon as I have time I want to start this next exciting project! Watch this space and wish me luck! I want to make my Japanese temari sensei proud :-)


21 February 2020

Document Neupfarrplatz

On a cold Sunday morning, we visited the underground area at Neupfarrplatz, Regensburg, known as Document  It is one of many areas in the old town with great historical relevance, and in the mid-1990s was excavated and preserved to be a reminder of the past. From above ground all that is visible is a small glass paving slab and the modern metal staircase leading to the underground section. As we descended the metal stairs and stepped into the first chamber, we could already see the layers of stone and concrete that each represented a period in the past. Neupfarrplatz itself was the site of the thriving Jewish quarter in medieval times. Now stands a large Protestant-Lutheran church, built in the 16th century. Our tour guide was very sensitive in describing the difficult history of the area, including the destruction of the Jewish quarter and its inhabitants. We also learnt how Neupfarrplatz (translated into English as New Parish Place) had also been the site of Roman officers’ quarters and laterly an air raid shelter during World War 2. Having walked across this area hundreds of times, it was good to hear more about what happened here. Now when I walk across to Edeka supermarket, I always think about what I learnt.


31 January 2020

Takenaka Carpentry Tools Museum, Kobe

On my latest trip to Kobe, Japan, I discovered a museum that is new to me. Nestled in a beautiful green area very close to the busy station of Shin-Kobe  it was a great find for a relaxing Sunday afternoon. I have visited friends and other places in this area, at the foot of Mount Rokko, but I never knew about this fascinating museum. The building itself is beautiful and housed inside is a wonderful collection of carpentry tools and examples of techniques, mostly from Japan but also from Europe too.  Alongside the breaktaking building, views from the windows and permanent exhibitions, we saw the special exhibition KIGUMI  :revealing the carpentry behind the wood joint. It is amazing to see all these examples of intricate joints, created from wood. How some of them were even imagined is just incredible. The intricacy and accuracy of the final joint is wonderful - and often completely invisible! This beautiful and educational building preserves, educates and holds a great role in the history and future of Japanese carpentry.


UPDATED 19 January 2020
8 January 2020 

Happy New Year!

As I update my website and think ahead to the exciting things that are already filling the calendar… I wonder how another year has passed so quickly. We all say it, but it is so true. I had a great couple of weeks of good company, good food and laziness and now it is back to normal and time to be productive, creative and positive! 

Take a look at my workshops page to see one of the projects I am currently creating…

19 January 2020
Thank you to all who joined my kinchaku craft class last week. What a fun few hours of crafting, chatting, eating and pure creativity. Not only did I spend time with great people, but like always, was inspired by how each individual approaches the same project in a unique way. It is something I will never tire of. Danke meine Handwerkkurs Freundinnen! Bis zum nächsten Mal!

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copyright all images and content Caroline Barley (unless otherwise stated)
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