Swell Made Co. | Simple Stationery, Gifts + Decor

Keep is simple, but significant.

How To

How To | Splatter Paint Knotted Hair Tie

DIY, How ToLesley PocklingtonComment
How To | Splatter Paint Knotted Hair Tie

How To | Splatter Paint Knotted Hair Tie

I don’t do hair. At all. Thankfully, I have friends that care and showed me how easy it is to elevate a loose ponytail in the simplest way. Add a knotted hair tie! So simple. Any handkerchief, bandana or swatch of fabric will do; but why not create your own with a bit of splattered paint? Here’s a little DIY for just that. The best part? Once you’ve got this easy technique down, you can splatter paint anything. Easter eggs (with Easter next week!), gift wrap, baskets, porcelain pieces. Anything. I’ve gone with neutrals, but you can choose any colour you like.


What you’ll need:

  • Pieces of fabric (or whatever you want to splatter paint). Recycled fabrics are ideal. You probably have lots of old fabrics kicking around.

  • Fabric paint or acrylic paint in the colour(s) of your choice.

  • Paint brushes. Choose a size based on the surface area you’re splatter painting.

What you’ll need for splatter painting. Not a whole lot. It’s simple!

What you’ll need for splatter painting. Not a whole lot. It’s simple!

How to Splatter Paint a knotted hair tie / anything

  1. Prepare your work space because things are about to get messy. Cover your workspace in layers of recyclable kraft paper. If you can go outside, I would highly recommend it. It’s easier to keep the splatters under control.

  2. Clean your pieces before painting. Fabrics should be pre-washed/dried. Other pieces should be wiped down/dried.

  3. Dilute your paint with water or an acrylic thinner. I just used water. A general ratio is about 4:1 (4 parts paint, 1 part water), but you’ll have to test out the consistency in your work area first. Too thick won’t splatter. Too thin will be drippy and transparent.

  4. Test an area of your work surface to get the consistency right and to practice your splatter technique. In my experience it’s all in the flick. Flick of your wrist if you’re working with a big brush and area. Another technique is to wear rubber gloves and flick the bristles of your brush with your thumb. This works well for smaller objects where you need to be more precise. Otherwise, go big and have fun flicking and throwing the paint. Pollack style.

  5. Go for it! Once you’re comfortable with your materials and technique, just go for it.

  6. Let dry. If your piece has multiple surfaces, let one side dry before working on the other(s).

  7. Set fabric paint with heat. Using an iron with no steam (dry heat), apply heat to your fabric. You can even give it a 20-40 minute tumble in the dryer to set it.

Go crazy with the paint! Dilute it slightly first, though.

Go crazy with the paint! Dilute it slightly first, though.

That’s it! A fun and easy DIY that you can use in so many ways. I’d love to see what you decide to splatter, and as I splatter all the things; I’ll share them with you too. Thanks for reading this simple DIY. Peace! That’s me below. Showing off my new hair style. Thanks to my pals Bethanie, Holly and Jessica for dreaming up this DIY and helping me with my hair and photography. We were inspired by a stay at The Loft at County Collective in Prince Edward County, Ontario this past March. Wink! If you need a place to getaway, it’s an incredibly sweet spot with impeccable style.

See? Anything can be splatter painted.    You can also try an Easter egg DIY with Sharpies   .

See? Anything can be splatter painted. You can also try an Easter egg DIY with Sharpies.

How To | Splatter Paint Knotted Hair Tie

How To | Splatter Paint Knotted Hair Tie


These are swell too:

April is Card & Letter Writing Month

How To, Inspiration, DIYLesley PocklingtonComment
Tell someone they’re swell in April - Card & Letter Writing Month. Card by Swell Made Co.

Tell someone they’re swell in April - Card & Letter Writing Month. Card by Swell Made Co.

April is Card & Letter Writing Month (and also my birth month — how fitting for a stationery lover). It’s April 8th, I know; but it’s never too late to send a card or letter. Did you know? The U.S. Postal Service officially designated April National Card & Letter Writing Month in 2001 “to raise awareness of the importance and historical significance of card and letter writing.”

In a world of non-stop of texts and emails, nothing says you care like taking the time to write a handwritten card or letter. You can read more about why I love writing and how it's not a lost art in this past post. Today, however; here are 5 simple things you can say in a card right now. Like, RIGHT NOW. No excuses. I've even given you a few prompts. Grab a pen and card or paper and get writing this month (or any month for that matter) to celebrate. There's always something to say that will help you connect with those you care about. Happy Card & Letter Writing Month!


5 simple Things to Say in a Card

Thank You

At this very moment, I'm sure you can think of numerous people you'd like to thank. Think of the people who support you in your day to day life. From the neighbour who collected your mail while you were away, to your barista, to a friend that gave you a thoughtful gift. When expressing gratitude be just as generous and write a handwritten note. A thank you note should recapture the moment where you were on the receiving end (the smile, maybe the hug, the warmth). Mention what you're thanking the recipient for, but keep it short and simple. Over exaggerating comes across as insincere and don't say "you shouldn't have". It's similar to taking a compliment. Just say thank you.

Congratulations or Words of Encouragement

There's always something to celebrate! Moments big and small should be congratulated with a handwritten note. New jobs, babies and homes all deserve a “HOORAY!”. Maybe your friend or family member reached a goal. If someone did something awesome, tell them. If someone needs some encouragement to get to that goal, tell them. Never underestimate the power of your words of encouragement or congratulations. It literally means the world to someone and those notes often become keepsakes to remember life’s milestones.

I Love You (or, I Like You)

When surveyed, 50% of adults in the United States said they preferred to hear "I love you" with a handwritten note. Can you blame them? I’m a hopeless romantic and apparently a lot of us are. Expressing affection can be as simple as dropping a note in your child's lunch, telling your partner or a friend how much they mean to you for no reason at all. You don't need to an occasion to tell someone you love them. The simplicity of your genuine words goes a long way. Especially if they’re spontaneous.

I'm Thinking of You

Similar to expressing affection, you don't need a reason or occasion to tell someone you're thinking of them. Texting or emailing someone is quick and passive. Take some time to slow down and let someone know you're thinking of them by recalling a sweet memory you shared together. Share a book, song, quote, recipe or even a Netflix series. Share a funny story or a great idea. Pay someone a compliment. Maybe you forgot to tell them something during a conversation. Surprise with a note when you remember. These are all simple ways to connect with someone you care about. Nothing is too silly or insignificant.

I'm Sorry

Saying sorry is never easy. Sending a handwritten note is the best way to let someone know you're sorry when something bad happens. This entire post could be dedicated to ways to express sympathy with nuance; but the most common are a death, a disaster (divorce, illness, etc.) and an apology after someone has been hurt. No matter the circumstance, the goal of the note should be to recognize and validate the source of pain, let the recipient know they are not alone, strengthen your connection and give utmost respect. If you have experienced a similar circumstance as your recipient, let it guide you in choosing the right words. If you don't have a shared experience, it's okay. Try your best and be incredibly thoughtful with your words.

Finally. Don't stress! Keep it simple, keep it casual and write in your natural voice. Take note (pun intended) of how you feel once you've taken a few minutes to handwrite a thank you, a compliment, a memory or a silly story. It all matters and I can guarantee it will produce a smile and all the feels on the other end. Happy writing, swell friends.


These are swell too:

Crystals for Beginners

Inspiration, Collaborations, How ToLesley Pocklington1 Comment
Crystals for Beginners by Swell Made Co. x Breathing Inspiration.

Crystals for Beginners by Swell Made Co. x Breathing Inspiration.

For many, fall brings a sense of routine and ritual that we happily let go of (even if just a little) during the summer months. As seasons change, I am embracing a new ritual that I have always been curious about. Crystals. I'll be honest, I have been mystified by crystals, gems and stones since childhood; but was equally confused and dubious. Until I discovered the magic of stones and their innate abilities to heal through Breathing Inspiration. I'm still navigating this simple, but complex world so I've paired up with friend and collaborator, Abby Rozen of Breathing Inspiration to break it down for us beginners. Whether you believe crystals are powerful, or not; you can't deny their beauty. And they're fun. So, come on a mystical journey with Abby and I. 

Abby Rozen is the creator behind Breathing Inspiration. Her line of meditation bracelets are made with healing crystals. Abby is an certified crystal master, potter, and psychotherapist. She worked with stones for many years, finding herself drawn to their energy. After discovering and learning about the significance behind each stone, and seeing the value that intention setting through stones brought to her life, Abby started Breathing Inspiration. You can see our collaborative bracelet here


Healing crystal bracelets by Swell Made Co. x Breathing Inspiration. With black tourmaline and howlite stones.

Healing crystal bracelets by Swell Made Co. x Breathing Inspiration. With black tourmaline and howlite stones.

How Healing Crystals Work

Similar to other forms of holistic healing, crystals manifest their energy, through subtle, but deep and long term magic. Just like other healthy habits (meditation, exercise, eating well and taking vitamins), you might not notice and instant transformation; but over time you will notice a shift. When working with crystals it's important to keep your heart and mind open, set intentions and observe what manifests within (and around) you.

Through their unique vibration, colour and talisman (the magic) each stone brings its own beautiful energy and physical appearance. Each stone holds and transmits energy differently by vibration, which is determined by symmetrical crystal latices. While, our bodies respond deeply on a metaphysical level to colours. Our chakra is activated by specific colours. 

How to Use Stones in Your Life

Bringing crystals into your daily life can be as simple as having them as decor in your home, to more complex rituals. You can where them as jewelry, sleep with them under your pillow, soak with them in your bath or carry them in your pocket. It's really up to you. Working with crystals (like other forms of self-help) is meant to support you in becoming the clearest, inspired and grounded version of yourself. Your crystals will guide you and determine what's right for you.

When choosing stones, many let their intuition and hearts guide them to those that feel right for them in that moment. Often, there will be a connection between the power held in the stones and energy one is seeking or in need of. The power of the stones, combined with your intentions will bring the right energy into your life.  

If you're just starting a collection of crystals, these are a great start and you can add new stones that you are drawn to as you continue your practice. 

Rose Quartz - The Lover

Rosy pink in colour, this crystal is all about love, love, love. One of the most nurturing crystals, it opens our hearts to compassion, forgiveness, attracts new love, heals heartbreak and most importantly, encourages self love. We could all use more love, and this heavyweight crystal strengthens love in all its forms. 

Clear Quartz - The Healer

Clear quartz can be found all over the world and, as a matter of fact, in many of the modern things you own like clocks and electronics. This crystal is a master healer and connector making it "easy" to put it to work for you. It's a tireless, flexible and and powerful guide. Plus, it works so hard it will amplify the other crystals in your collection. 

Citrine - The Optimist

If sunshine were a crystal, it would be citrine. Did you know citrine is actually amethyst that was treated at a high temperature to give it its sunny colour? Natural citrine exists, but is very rare. If you have a dream, goal or even a to-do list, this stone will help you bring them to life and follow through. Perfect for workspaces or wherever you create, citrine will help keep creative ideas flow brightly and abundantly. 

Amethyst - The Protector

One of the most revered crystals in history and today, amethyst is the protector crystal. A stone of transformation and enlightenment, it's talisman reminds us to treat our bodies well and disconnect from unhealthy attachments (and even negative or addictive patterns). It protects people and spaces, making it a perfect choice for home with its ability to promote connection and communication. 

Black Tourmaline - The Grounder

Black tourmaline is an energy heavyweight and powerful in its ability to keep you grounded. You could say it likes to keep it real. Physical reality that is. An essential part of any crystal collection, black tourmaline works to protect your personal boundaries and ward off negative energy.

We hope you beginners loved learning about crystals! Are you excited to start your collection and see where your crystals guide you? A great guide for beginners can be found by Yulia Van Doren in her book 'Crystals - The Modern Guide to Crystal Healing' and anything written by Judy Hall. 

If you're a seasoned crystal collector, what are your favourite stones. We'd love to hear about your journey. Thanks for reading!

Abby and Lesley,
Breathing Inspiration and Swell Made Co.

Essential crystals for the beginner collection. Citrine, clear quartz, amethyst and rose quartz. And don't forget black tourmaline.

Essential crystals for the beginner collection. Citrine, clear quartz, amethyst and rose quartz. And don't forget black tourmaline.


These are swell too:

5 Ways to Live a Simpler Life

Inspiration, Tips, How ToLesley Pocklington2 Comments
5 way to live a simpler life by Swell Made Co. Photo by Sarah Dorweiler.

5 way to live a simpler life by Swell Made Co. Photo by Sarah Dorweiler.

Life is complicated. It just is. But it can be less so with small, but significant changes. Living a simpler life (or minimal) is not about deprivation, it's actually the contrary. It's about being intentional and making room for the important things in life. Here are some ways you can embrace simplicity too. If you're like me, it may be a slow and steady process with the challenges of family, careers and relationships. Even an ongoing one, but once it becomes habit you'll see a huge changes in your life. Because it's the little things that have a big impact.


“Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.”
- William Morris


1 - Declutter

The first way (and one of the hardest ways) to embrace simplicity is to declutter. In all aspects of your life. Physically (stuff, stuff, stuff) and emotionally (yup, that baggage). For the last 15 years, I have been practicing minimalism in a way that works for me. It's truly different for everyone. No, I don't have stark white home. Yes, I still struggle with having "stuff" because I have a family of 4; but I am intentional and thoughtful about what comes into my home and have mastered lettings go of things that serve no purpose or bring no joy. I haven't read any best-selling books about it (although, I'm sure they're great). I just put it into practice whenever I can. Moving many times and living in efficient spaces (small) will force you to really consider what's worth having around. Take it one step at a time until it becomes second nature.

Start with one room and work toward the whole house. When buying things, ask yourself if you really need something. Think about how your choices influence your own peace of mind, but also the greater world around you (ethically and environmentally). Less is more. Quality over quantity. All of those things are true. Having less stuff makes space for gratitude and focus.

Once you practice decluttering in a physical capacity, you can apply that same mindset to your emotional space. This one is much harder for me. Letting go of old habits and relationships that are toxic to your well-being requires a lot more strength than letting go of physical things. Often because this type of clutter has been taking up space for far too long. So long, that it clouds judgement and the respect you have for yourself. It's okay. The same concept applies. If anything (including things) evokes negative emotions or makes you cringe, let that shit go. You'll thank yourself. Good vibes only, right?

2 - Get Outside + Move

Get outside! It's one of the simplest way to disconnect from the complications of life and reconnect with nature. Being in nature has been proven to provide benefits for our physical and mental health. From the physical activity involved to the clarity and focus it provides for your mind. Trees and fresh air have the power to bring a sense of comfort and calm and restore our energy in the simplest way.

Once it becomes habit, you'll crave being outside to just be. To breath and to listen to nature (and yourself). There is so much beauty in our own backyards, we just need to seize the opportunities to enjoy it. You can walk, run, meditate or do yoga. Do nothing or anything, but try it outside. Find the things that move your body and heart and stay with them. It might be a struggle at first, but pushing through to see the benefits is well worth it. 


"Simplicity makes room for the important things in life. It's up to you to determine what's truly important. Then, let the rest go."
- Lesley Pocklington


3 - Eat Well

Another simple way to be kind to yourself is to fuel your body by eating well. It doesn't have to be complicated. Some of the most delicious meals have only 5 ingredients. There are tons of cookbooks and blogs out there that tackle this fresh and simple approach. Keep it simple when it comes to nutrition and eat what truly makes you feel incredible. French fries make me feel incredible for about 5 minutes, it's true; but filling my body with nourishing food most of the time is a habit I just can't give up. 

4 - Invest in real life

This is another one that's hard for me. When I moved from a big city to a smaller one, I had a bit of an identity crisis and loads of FOMO (fear of missing out). Once I realized that simple human connections were far more important to me than visiting the next Instagram worthy restaurant (spoiler alert - the food is never as delicious as the cool wallpaper), all was well in the world. As much as I like to visit new places, I'd rather keep it simple and have an honest and real conversation with a pal over coffee or wine. It's that simple! Trust me, your heart and mind will be far more grateful for genuine experiences. 

It's so easy to get caught up in the world of social media when you view life from an unrealistic lens. Step back and see what's real and truly important to you and invest your energy there instead.


"Out of clutter find simplicity."
- Albert Einstein


5 - Slow down

Being busy all the time is overrated. We all know that, but somehow (like social media) it's easy to get caught up and pack your days full of appointments and activities. Even multitasking (which I used to be the "queen" of) has been proven to be ineffective and bad for your mental health. It's not an intentional or enjoyable way to live. So, slooow down and give yourself and your mind some space. Savour the moments and simple things that make life good.

That's why I love stationery so much. The slow, intentional act of writing a note is so rare and special these days. If you feel good about sending a note, just think about how the person on the other end feels. Just as good, I bet! 

Whatever brings you joy, you should do more of that instead. If you're feeling over committed, it's okay to simply say "no". In short, practicing simplicity is to not do anything, own anything or be around anyone that you don’t love. If it makes you feel bad (or not good) it has no place in your mind or life. Once you practice this kind of kindness towards yourself, it will flow into everything else. It's a process and a journey, but so worth it. Thanks for reading!

Swell Made Co. was created out a desire to simplify, but enhance my own life back in 2014. Since then, I have made a commitment to slowing down and making sure intentional choices flow into my business and personal life. Have you found ways to simplify your life? I'd love to hear them. Feel free to share in the comments or get in touch!


These are swell too:

How To | Style Your Shelves

How To, DecorLesley Pocklington1 Comment
How To | Style Your Shelves by Holly Young and Swell Made Co.

How To | Style Your Shelves by Holly Young and Swell Made Co.

Styling shelves can be a daunting task to get just right. I know. In my living room I have some beautiful, classic built-ins (I live in a century home); but styling them has always been a challenge. Thankfully, my friend Holly was up to the challenge! Holly Young is an Ontario based artist with a love for home décor and anything mid-century modern. Trained in fine art and interior design, Holly's home has been featured on Apartment Therapy and her work was recently featured on Little Green Notebook. We have a lot in common when it comes to home style, but Holly has a way of making it come together effortlessly. She's going to take it from here with her tips on how to style your shelves. Enjoy!


5 Tips for Styling Your Shelves by Holly Young

When Lesley asked me to share a few shelf styling tips with you I was on board. We have built-ins in our living room and they really pull the entire space together. You may require help from a friend or expert, but when you get it right you will just know. I kept ours the same for three years! That is an eternity in the world of design. If you don’t do anything too trendy, they will look great until you decide to change them again.

1 - Declutter

One of the simplest ways to freshen up your shelves is to declutter. Go through your items and edit, keeping only things that are meaningful and complementary to your style. Switching things up from room to room is an inexpensive way to get a new look without breaking the bank. I was able to see the potential from all of Lesley’s accessories and collectibles as soon as I entered her home.

2 - Group Things

Re-arranging items and grouping similar pieces together will make all the difference. The hardest part is finding the time to take everything off of the shelves and dusting it. Lesley’s aesthetic is modern and classic. Lots of neutrals mixed her favourite graphic combo of black and white. Most of the colourful accents used here are sentimental souvenirs and travel photos. A few family portraits are mixed in and add just the right amount of personality. 

Grouping items in threes is so simple and effective. I did this with Lesley's vases and other items. Varying the height of pottery, plants and photos helps your eye travel around and not focus on one element. Movement gives a sense of flow and balance. 

3 - ADD GREENERY

My favourite décor item is a plant. Thankfully, Lesley had so many beautiful pots and plants to choose from. The more variety you have in your pots and plants, the better. Variation of size, shape, colour and height of plants will add visual interest. Plus, plants are a healthy choice for your home. They help you feel at peace and they purify the air in your space. 

Style tip    - Add a variety of greenery and fun pots to your shelves.

Style tip - Add a variety of greenery and fun pots to your shelves.

4 - LOOK WELL READ

Before I started styling Lesley's shelves I asked her if she had more books. The bottom cupboards were filled with them. They just needed a place to shine. I chose a few that had a similar colour palette and took off the book jackets to reveal the typography and colours.

When you are placing your books, mix it up. Stack three on one shelf and stand a few on another. This will add height so everything is not linear. Mix it up with horizontal and vertical groupings. Use things in different ways. Instead of having the woven bowl Lesley bought in Panama stand up, I simply put it on a low shelf (on top of books) so the pattern could be seen at eye level. I also moved a little black chair and made it a book end. 

5 - GIVE IT TIME

If you have just moved into your home it may take you a few months to collect and curate items to use when styling your shelves. I am a big fan of mixing vintage finds with store bought accessories. Some of my favourite things in my home cost only a few dollars at a secondhand shop. As you are drawn to and collect items, you'll see what your true style is.

I used almost everything Lesley had in her shelves. I added more greenery, books and switched up some white pottery with darker tones so they would pop against the white back drop. They were simple, but impactful changes that complemented Lesley's style and highlighted meaningful pieces in her home. Happy styling!

Holly Young

Style tip    - Add groupings of books. Mix it up with vertical and horizontal groupings.

Style tip - Add groupings of books. Mix it up with vertical and horizontal groupings.

swell-made-co-styling-shelves-4.jpg

These are swell too: