As I sit here with my mug of mulled wine on a chilly December day, I think back to how long ago it seems that I first found out that I would be on Kirstie’s Handmade Christmas, all the way back in August.
Like most crafty folk, Kirstie’s Handmade Christmas is the show that is watched religiously every festive season. It has always been on my dream list of things I would love to achieve (but didn’t think I would) as a crafter. I had actually applied for the show the prior year, and had been short listed for the paper craft category in 2016, but didn’t quite make the cut (thank goodness – did you see that <b>beautifully paper Dove by Zack McLaughlin?! You can check out his incredible work here: https://www.paperandwood.co.uk/ – a very well deserved winner!)
Anyway! The team were so lovely in 2016, that they advised I apply again in 2017, so on a beautiful day in the middle of July, I got my Christmas cap on and began filling in my application form. I applied for both the Christmas tree decorating challenge and the Festive Wrapping challenge – two categories I thought I could fit my paper cutting into quite nicely.
I found out a few weeks later that I had been short listed again (YAY!), and after several phone calls with the wonderful production company, Raise the Roof the first filming date was confirmed – 4 days later! The excitement was already growing, but it hadn’t quite sunk in that my dream of appearing on the show were about to come to life!
As the show is set at Christmas, I set about trying to make my little home studio as festive as possible (considering it was mid-August!), there were hundreds of fairy lights and paper baubles hung all over the place, in the end we made it work. The first part of filming took most of a day, and covered chatting about me as a designer, my inspiration and back story – only giving hints of what I might get up to on the day of competition – mainly because I hadn’t quite fine tuned what I would do on the day!
The second part of filming commenced during the first week in October, where myself and fellow Scot, Coral from Paper House (https://www.instagram.com/paper_house_wedding/) who would be competing in the Advent Calendar competition, and the other competitors were flown down to Devon to film in a mystery location. I got to meet my fellow wrapping competitors on the morning of filming (the lovely Erin from Pick Pretty Paints in Cornwall – http://www.pickprettypaints.com , Athena from Meticulous Ink – https://meticulousink.com/ and the gorgeous Kate from Posy and Petal – http://posyandpetal.co.uk/ ) and I’m delighted to say they were all amazing ladies, and we got on like a house on fire straight away!
Shortly after we met, we were chaperoned down to the kitchen and each allocated a table and asked to start unpacking our copious amounts of equipment and craft goodies we had all lugged to Devon with us. Once we were all set up we were given a brief run down on how the day would go, how long we would have, and when our time would start.
As expected, we waited for the lovely Kirstie Allsopp to come in and introduce the competition which would mark the start of our time. From that moment on, time appeared to be going twice the pace as normal, as we all worked frantically against the clock, all with ambitious ideas we didn’t know if we could fulfil within the 3 hour time frame we had been given.
Since my wrapping design was going to be based on black paper, I decided to start by wrapping the 3 boxes we had been given to us all. Next up on my list was to die cut the smallest paper cut scene silhouette, purely to save some much needed time – and some paper Holly leaves and gift tags to add on at the end, if time allowed!
We had been warned beforehand that the WiFi connection could be a little bit temperamental, which was a concern to those of us who had brought die cutters (there was a few of us, including some of the ladies in other categories) as they are internet dependent! So I really wanted to get the stress of that out the way before starting the detailed paper cutting by hand.
Thankfully, the stars aligned and the WiFi worked – hurray! So I managed to get the smallest paper cut scene silhouette cut out without any glitches.
Next up on my task was to start cutting all the tiny details out of both the small scene and the large paper scene using Swann & Morton scalpel blades, both based on Scandinavian Winters after being inspired by it’s beauty from living in Helsinki a few years ago. Cutting all the teeny details was where most of my time went. During this time Kirstie came back round; once to chat to each of us about our craft and what kind of thing we were hoping to achieve (with out giving too much away!) and then again to try each of our crafts. She was really lovely and took the time to really understand each of our projects, appreciating the time and skill put into everyone’s work. She had a little go at paper cutting one of my pine trees – and she was great!
Not long after we got to show Kirstie our crafts, time was called – 15 minutes left!
Somehow managed to get all the details cut from my paper cut scenes (it’s amazing what you can do under time pressure!) and it was time to add them to my black boxes! I used hot glue to attach the scenes around the bottom of each parcel, and tied a paper cut snowflake I had made to my middle sized parcel to keep it all part of the same theme. I then finished the scenes with red ribbon, some pine cones and added the gift tags and Holly leaves I had die cut earlier – all with around 15 seconds to spare!
Kirstie then came back in and declared that our time was up, and we were all ushered out of the room for judging to commence. The lovely gift wrapping expert, Jane Means (https://janemeans.com/) was on hand to judge the competition, and I didn’t envy her job at all! I had a chance to glance over the other ladies work and they were all looking absolutely incredible!
After a tense wait, we were called down to film our waiting shots sat on the grand staircase. I think we were all a little nervous, but we all had such a great time with each other there was no rivalry at all.
After a few minutes we were all called back into the kitchen where Kirstie and Jane were waiting with all the crew. They asked us to all stand together whilst Jane let us know what her decision was. This was the point were it occurred to me that someone would actually walk away with a prize – up until now, I had been so focused on just trying to complete on time!!
Before she announced the winner, Jane said that it had been an incredibly tough competition to judge and only one point separated the winner and runner up – how intense! You can imagine my surprise when she then announced that ‘A Scandinavian Winter’ as I had named my design, had won! I could not believe it, as anyone who has seen the show can probably see for themselves! After the initial shock came the tears (thankfully not much of that made it to the final cut!) I was so shocked!
I think one of the first things I did was thank the 3 amazing, creative ladies who stood beside me in being so lovely and for being so much fun during the day – all of their work was outstanding, so in my eyes we all walked away winners that day.
Everything after that was a bit of a blur – we filmed a last section of me talking about how it felt to win, and lots of photographs were taken from Channel 4 and Raise the Roof – the two amazing companies who made this dream happen!
It was an absolutely incredible experience, one that I will cherish forever. I’m not sure many things in my crafting career will top it, to be honest. But it was made by my fellow wrapping competitors, Kirstie and Jane – without them it would be nothing.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this little insight into my time on the show, and if you have any questions or would like to know more then please do pop a comment below!
If you missed the episode you can catch it now on: http://www.channel4.com/programmes/kirsties-handmade-christmas/on-demand/66160-009