The Enduring Legacy of Margaret Thatcher on the Arts

It is interesting to note that, while she was definitely a champion of free enterprise and often repudiated government subsidies, Margaret Thatcher was not necessarily an enemy of the arts as many people might think. True, when she came to office, she cut funding to the Arts Council by almost 5%, but towards the end of her last term, the cuts had been reduced to less than 3%. While here in the UK we are facing similar dilemmas today, it is the charisma of Dame Margaret Thatcher that not only kept the arts alive in the UK, but her persona actually inspired a lot of works which ultimately contributed to the art scene in general.


Using Andrew Lloyd Webber as an Example

It might be pure coincidence that the rising popularity of Mr. Webber coincided with Thatcher’s term in office. His worldwide success gave tremendous credibility to the UK theatre scene, not only attracting thousands of visitors to London and other cities to see some of his plays, but also allowing them to be exported to other countries such as the United States. Thatcher loved using Webber as an example of entrepreneurial spirit, exactly the type of approach that she wanted artists of all kinds in the UK to embody. During the 1980s, musicals were the leading stage product, and Andrew Lloyd Webber was arguably the king of this medium. Many theatre companies began to believe that musicals were the way to survive, which one could argue was a fairly limiting view and kept other forms of artistic expression from being fully developed.

Transforming the Arts Council

It was also during the Thatcher years that the Arts Council went from being just an independent organisation to an important government entity. It has relished that role ever since and has contributed in the last few decades to important funding that has benefited artists from every medium. In a sense, it is almost counterintuitive: going from private to public? It doesn’t really sound like the Thatcher model, and yet it proved to be a very smart move. Dame Thatcher also provided a lot of inspiration for serious dramatists and humorists who produced many pieces, which, although may have been somewhat politically scandalous, ultimately always presented Thatcher as the dominant figure of her time – which, arguably, she was.

Producing Your Own Work

Naturally, you don’t have to be a playwright or a dramatist to produce great works of art. More often than not, you just need some great supplies to produce beautiful paintings or sculptures which reflect your own distinct style and point of view. You will be able to find everything you need by visiting, all at quite affordable prices and with a wide selection. No matter what medium you prefer to use, you can find everything that you need to create your artistic vision.

Image attributed to: artur 64


Tips to make the most out from Business Yard Signs

With the emergence of Internet, online branding and marketing techniques, many people think that the need of yard signs obsolete for business. According to them, a business can now build their brand and connect with the target market via websites, online forums, social websites and email. The fact is yard signs have never become outdated for business. They are still the best suited and cost-effective tool used for any outdoor advertising campaign. They help to convey lot of things to the passerby. They are visually appealing and thus make it easy for those advertisers and marketers to get the best outcome in marketing campaign.

Yard signs are the traditional way of promoting the business. With the proper accessories, you can always be sure of long term utility as they can stand unharmed in a yard for a long period of time. Besides, they can also engrave well on the minds of the general public which in turn results into a huge profit. It also provides the advertiser the benefit of customization. Indeed, yard signs meet all the requirements if the marketers have genuine ideas for the promotional work.

printing yard sign

Though yard signs are the most popular form of advertisement, still people have many concerns of using them for promoting the business. One of the biggest concerns occurs when ordering the yard signs is that it will remain unnoticeable or customers will not respond them. However, this can be solved if you create an eye-catching and compelling design. Make sure you create a design that is bold and visually appealing. In addition, the content should be relevant and leave the customer with something useful once they read your message. It should be something that encourages viewers to take immediate action. Another big concern is the damage from storms and harsh weather. However, if you have used high quality material in your yard signs, it can offer your benefits in the long run.

With this information, here are some tips on how to get the most of business yard signs:

Choose appropriate place: Place played a significant role in displaying yard signs. Setting up yard signs or billboards in the wrong place always defeats their purpose no matter if the message is delivered well. They should be located at such place where there is high car traffic. Be sure, you are helping the driver to see the billboards whether he is stuck in traffic or speeding through that area. They should also be clearly seen by the people passing by on foot.

printing yard sign images

Avoid Using Big signs with unremarkable graphics: Business signs should always be small and highly impactful. Try to use a couple of catchy words or phrases to convey your message, then paired the text with vivid colors and shades. If you want to increase the awareness of the brand, make sure you have one color relevant to your brand. For instance, McDonalds is renowned for its red and yellow palettes that is why they use these colors in their sign or adds.

Today, online stores have become the preferred choice for the people to order yard signs. Since, they have ample of signs in the website which ultimately helps to choose the one that is best suitable for the promotion campaign.

Author’s Bio: Robert lee has been in the printing yard sign industry for over 10 years, providing printing and installation services to small and large corporate sectors. His extensive knowledge and experience in the sign industry made him expert in all kinds of signs.

Business and EDU Creativity

5 Popular Hire Tools

There are many tools which can be used in a DIY project or on an ad hoc basis. When the right tool is owned, it can be used for a wide range of tasks. However, tool hire is far more convenient on account of how much it costs. When a tool is hired, it doesn’t have to be stored in a garden shed because it is returned. So, what are five of the most popular hire tools around?

Hire Tools

Cordless drill

A cordless drill can be used for a variety of DIY tasks. Screws can be taken out of a wall and fresh holes drilled. Although a screwdriver can be used for putting a screw into a wall, it can take a while to do so. When a cordless drill is used instead, it’ll only take a couple of seconds. As a cordless drill is battery operated, there is no need to keep unplugging a socket when moving from one room to another. As a result, a cordless drill can be used throughout a property and not necessarily near a socket.

Circular saw

A circular saw is used for accurately cutting wood. When a large piece of wood needs to be cut into several pieces, a hand saw is one such option but it can take ages, especially when a thick piece of wood has to be cut. By using a circular saw instead, it doesn’t take as long. In fact, wood can be cut in a couple of seconds.

Floor polisher

After a wooden floor has been laid, it can be polished. Although polish can be administered by hand, it will take a while. A floor polisher can change the appearance of a floor because it will shine. If new flooring has been laid in a property which has recently undergone significant renovation, a lot of dust could collect on it. By hiring a floor polisher, a wooden floor will look completely different.

Wallpaper stripper

Before hanging fresh wallpaper in a bedroom, the wallpaper that is currently hung will have to be stripped. Although warm water can be applied with a sponge and then scraped off, this can take time. A wallpaper stripper is an alternative to a bucket of water. After it has been turned on, a wallpaper stripper can remove the wallpaper which is no longer needed. By hiring a wallpaper stripper, the wallpaper in a large room can be removed very quickly. Therefore, it won’t be long before new wallpaper can be hung.


Although a shovel can be used for making a hole in a garden, a digger is an alternative. A lot of force is used to dig a large hole with a shovel but the opposite happens with a digger. A digger which is normally used on a building site can be used instead of a shovel. It is one of the most popular tool hire options around because when it is no longer needed, a digger can be returned to the shop that it was rented from. If a hire shop provides delivery, it could even be collected.

For Equipment hire Belfast or other parts of Northern Ireland offer a selection of equipment and tools for private hire or purchase.


Quick Guide To Using Rainbow Cake Face Paints With A Sponge

Professional face painters use striped cake paints to get easy one-stroke gradients, perfect for anything from butterfly wings to cool fire effects. Brushes are the easiest way to apply rainbow pots but artists typically work with disposable sponges for work around the eyes, especially at large events.

Using a sponge to apply a rainbow cake takes some practice. Many beginners report muddled colors the first few tries but those problems are often easy to troubleshoot. This guide will help you get started.

1. Preparing Your Materials

Use the highest quality paints you can find. Name brand rainbow cakes are well worth the investment. We always recommend 4727224_f520Diamond FX products because their cakes apply as smooth as butter, making life much easier for beginners. Of course, the sponge is just as important as the paint. You’ll want a high quality, high-density round sponge with a nice smooth texture. Try a couple different shapes and sizes to see what seems to fit your distinct style the best. We suggest cutting the sponge in half so you can have a nice straight line to work with.

2. Loading Up The Sponge

Getting the right amount of moisture is the hardest part. You will want to keep trying until you figure out the right water to paint ratio to suit your cake and sponge. It’s better to start with too little water because you can always add more, but a good gradient rainbow effect seems to require a little more moisture than general application.

After wetting your cake, draw the flat edge of your half-sponge across the surface several times using even pressure and a little bit of “wiggle” to work the water into the paint as you go. Move back and forth as cleanly as you can to prevent blending the rainbow stripes, and add a little extra pressure on the edges to scoop up those hard to reach colors.

3. Applying The Face Paint

Now that your sponge is loaded, give it quick sprits with water before applying. We suggest practicing on your arms or legs until you can get a good idea of how the sponge will react. Start with a single point and dab gently but firmly. Never try to “wipe” the sponge across the face – trying to apply with a wiping motion will produce muddy results every time. Keep dabbing the color onto the face as you slowly rotate the sponge to create the fan effect necessary for those gorgeous butterfly wings.

You can adapt this technique to fit plenty of needs. Try watching video tutorials online for ideas and actual implementation. Now that you know how to make those gradients sharp and pretty, practicing them will be more fun than ever.


The Difference in Paint Sheens

When you walk into a paint or home improvement store with the intentions of sprucing up your home with a new paint color, you are going to find that picking out the color is just the beginning. Most likely, an employee is going to ask you “What sheen do you want this color in?” If you are totally baffled by this question, this post is for you! Interior paint comes in a variety of sheens or finishes, all serving specific purposes and giving off different looks. Also, on a side note, if you are like me and have a hard time making final decisions when it comes to paint colors, I advise contacting a company in your area that offers free color consultations or visiting a paint store that has an in-house designer. Now on to paint sheens!

Matte or Flat

Matte paint, also known as flat paint, is easy to remember. It absorbs light rather than reflecting it, giving it no shine. Without shine, the walls have little to no depth, hence the term “flat”.  Since flat paint has no depth, it’s often used to hide dents or imperfections on walls. The downside to using a matte finish is it is hard to clean dirt, stains and other marks off the walls. Knowing this, we advise you to not use flat paint in high traffic areas, such as banisters and children’s rooms. Instead, use it in areas that see almost no daily contact, such as ceilings.


An eggshell finish is one step up from flat or matte. It has a slight shine to it, but not much. It is named “eggshell” because the sheen it provides is comparable to the surface of an egg. This finish is often used by people who prefer a more matte look, but still want to be able to clean off scuffs and dirt with more ease compared to a truly flat paint.


Satin paints reflect more light than they absorb, causing the final finish to be shiner. This shine is particularly popular for everyday rooms such as bedrooms, living rooms, dining rooms and hallways. It is excellent at resisting stains and mildew and is much easier to clean if dirt does accumulate on the walls. Satin paint can also withstand a certain level of moisture, making it the ideal sheen for bathrooms and kitchens.


Gloss paint provides just what it sounds like: a glossy finish! While some people dislike a glossy finish because of it’s tendency to look like plastic when used on large smooth surfaces, it has it’s time and place. Gloss is extremely durable and very easy to clean, making it a great option for places that see a lot of daily wear and tear. These places include: trim, woodwork, baseboards, banisters, etc. Since all of these areas are reasonable small, the glossy finish is subtle and chic, not overwhelming and cheap.

While everyone has their personal paint preferences, my advice is to stick to flat/matte paint on the ceilings, eggshell or satin on the main interior walls, and gloss on all the baseboards and trim. I find this combination has just the right balance of shine and provides stunning results!

This article was written by Allison Smith on behalf of Walls by Design, a Denver painting contractor who specializes in interior painting, murals and faux and decorative painting. 

Creativity Family and Personal Food

Beat Easter Holiday Boredom!

No sooner have we packed away the Christmas tree are we looking at the next major event in the calendar.  Yep that’s right Easter is just around the corner and parents up and down the country turn their immediate thoughts on how to entertain the kids during the break.  Hold no fear let us help with our 5 ways to entertain the kids this Easter; let’s not waste any more time let’s dive right in….

easter holiday boredom

Get them in the Kitchen

 Easter is all about hot cross buns and chocolate for the kids and let’s not forget Easter eggs.  Instead of letting the run amok get them in the kitchen and let them help you make a mess!  First up hard boil some eggs for them to roll down a hill. This used to always be my favorite part of Easter (well, and the chocolate) get them to decorate the eggs too so that they can identify which is theirs!

You can also have them make some chocolate crispy bars which are so simple to make and there is nothing to put in and out the oven.  Simply melt some chocolate for them in a bowl and then hand over some rice crispies and let them mix it all in, then just pop them into the fridge while they lick the bowl!

Get an arts and crafts box

Growing up I always remember my parents bringing out an arts and crafts box full of stuff for us to do in the holidays, especially when the weather is miserable, and I used to love it.  It was always packed with things like glitter, parchment paper, pencils, pens you name it they were in there.

Getting kids into crafts is really easy and keeps them interested for an afternoon.  You can even get special kits that are specially designed for younger children for things like cross stitching so that they don’t get a chance to injure themselves.

Get imaginative

Why not gather all the rugrats round and have them use their imaginations and have them write a story together.  It doesn’t always have to be something original – it could be their favourite nursery rhyme of bedtime story but get them add their own bits in.  Kids love getting creative and it is great for them to use their minds creatively.

You could also have them write a chain story with their friends.  Each child (and you, if you fancy) writes down and sentence or paragraph and then only keep the last line visible so they can connect the previous and forthcoming story.  Once everyone has written something select someone to read aloud – the end result is usually pretty funny!

Get dirty in the garden

Spring time is usually people take the opportunity to get their gardens in shape so why not get the kids involved.  Get them to pot some plants and have them attach labels with their names on so they can track their progress!  Take the opportunity to teach them about vegetables too and have them grow their own – this is an excellent learning tool too.  They can even eat them when they are ready!

Get out and play!

Growing up I always remembered when the weather started turning better; after being cooped up in the house for so long because it was so cold and miserable through winter I was like a coiled spring when the sun came out.  Take the kids down the local park or outdoors centre and let them run wild!

This not only promotes a healthy run lifestyle but it also lets them make new friends and encourages them to interact with other children – developing their social skills.  This is great for Mum and Dad too because by the time they are finished playing they are well and truly knackered and ready for some crispy treats – perfect for getting the feet up!

Creativity Home Improvement

Arts & Crafts: Painting Without Brushes

Oil painting does not necessarily require the use of brushes. Although it is often used by most oil painters, there are other ways to make amazing oil paintings without the use of brushes.

A less famous yet more traditional way of painting in oils is done with the use of palette knives. Palette knives are often interchangeably or mistakenly referred to as painting knives; there is a difference between the two however. Palette knives are used when mixing oil paints in the palette while painting knives are knives specially made for oil painting. Most artists however prefer to use palette knives in painting because it can be compared to putting icing on a cake. The first try would seem to be awkward and frustrating but it is easy to get the hang of it. Palette knives come in all shapes and sizes depending on their use. They are also made of plastic thus they are safe. They are more preferred by oil painters because they can be easily cleaned up, unlike with the usage of brushes.

Many artists also try experimenting with different techniques, mediums and tools in oil painting. One such experiment is with the use of stencils. Stencil painting allows one to p0roduce a design or pattern over and over again, thus it can be advantageous for painters who sell their artworks in bulks. This new technique however may be difficult to carry out because it combines to different fundamentals of painting. For other cases like this it is important to remember that the first consideration should always be the medium.

Finger painting with oils is rare but it does not mean that it has never been tried. The problem faced with this is that the oil paint is very hard to control thus there is a difficulty in placing the texture and determining the depth. Also, oil paints are very difficult to remove and to clean up after. Oil painting using brushes is already a messy business, what more if the fingers are used? This is also not recommended for people with sensitive skins.

A true artist experiments with his work and always tries to think and discover something new. With continuous trials one would eventually find out that a brush is not the only tool an artist could use with regard to creating a wonderful and beautiful painting. Rags, sponges and wood could also be used in oil painting as long as they are clean would not leave traces of their fibres in the oil painting.

Oil painting is not only a way of expressing ones emotions and sentiments but it is a method of expressing and developing an individual’s creativity. No rules apply as to what tools an artist should use when painting as long as the basic and fundamental rules of the medium are followed. Using different tools to deliver the oil paint also results to difference in texture and depth.

At we not only create oil paintings from photos, but we can combine photos into one beautiful work of art as well. We can create a wonderful painting from different photographs so your entire family can be included. Contact us if you want any help with converting your photo to painting today.

Creativity Entertainment Lifestyle Wedding

The Best Wedding Reception Entertainment Ideas

Wedding reception is one of the most highly anticipated parts of the celebration because they are very excited to dance and have fun while blessing the newlywed couple’s union. This is compose of couple’s first dance, a dance between the bride and her father and then the groom with his mother

As such, the wedding reception entertainment is all about music.

Live Music

Live music really helps bring a party energy to wedding receptions. You can definitely choose bands that play the certain music that you love as well as to the ones that play music from an era. It is wiser to pick a band that with a style that reflects personality and your guests; decide if you want a band to get your guests dancing or one to add relaxing background music to your special evening.


DJs are great option for wedding couple who wants to play a wide range of music in the reception. To get involved and add spice to your evening, you can ask your guest to request songs to be played to keep the party and the dancing going all night long. You must select your DJ, months before your wedding so that you can find the best and the one that will be a crowd favorite. In addition, check you lightings as a good DJ will add some lighting that will transform your reception hall into a whole new venue of partying.

Choosing Your Entertainment

Though budget is the great factor to consider when choosing your right entertainment, don’t let it be the only one. Ask each of your possible entertainers for a demo tape (or to perform an example of their act, if possible) and provide you with a list of potential songs. Only pick them if you feel that they are easy to work with and open to your suggestions. Otherwise, you may end up with an unreliable band or someone who refuses to play the songs you want to dance to.

Creating a Romantic and Sober Ambiance

Whenever you have chosen a perfect wedding reception’s theme, it is of huge advantage to include entertainment into the overall atmosphere. Like for example, if your theme is A Night in Paris, complete with tables for two and romantic candles, include a French folk band to complete the scene. Alternatively, if you’re hosting a formal, elegant reception, ask that classical or instrumental music be played to add to the sophisticated and romantic feel.

You want the best in Boston wedding band music for your big day and PhreshAct delivers. The PhreshAct Boston wedding band and DJ PhreshMix bring the party to your wedding party! Contact PhreshAct today at:

Creativity Entertainment Technology

The Secret To Taking Better Pictures Unveiled

New models of digital cameras are all over; a lot of them imply that the better your camera, the better images you’ll capture. However, that is not true. The best camera is the one you have at hand, no need to buy that latest expensive model. All cameras experience bad pictures once in a while. Factors such as blurriness, darkness, too much exposure cannot be eliminated by technology because they are dependent on the technique of the photographer. Here are a few tips to avoid these:

Blurriness is caused by four things. It may be because the camera is out of focus. If your camera has an autofocus, it still has a possibility of getting a blurred image but some portion of the image will be clear. The camera had just focused on a different object. Before clicking your device, make sure that your object is in sight of your camera.

Another cause for blurriness is movement. It may be because your subject or your camera moved when the shutter is open. This usually occurs when there is minimal lighting. The camera adjusts to dark by opening the shutter longer while focusing on the image, when your subject moves during this time the camera will capture the motion and thus result to a blurry picture. In this case, adjust the settings of your camera, particularly the shutter speed. It would also help to stabilize your grip on the camera.

The fourth common reason for the occurrence of blurred images is the depth of the field. The depth of field is an effect of your camera used when focusing the object while out-focusing the background. If the depth of field is shallow, some portions of the image will be blurry. This could be done also by changing the setting of your camera, particularly the lighting and scenery.

Underexposure produces dark photographs. The common reaction of a photographer would be to use a flash. However, not all dark photographs could be fixed by using the flash. Sometimes, the photographer needs to change the shutter speed or image speed so that minimal light would be needed to produce a photo. Cameras that can adjust lighting sometimes set the wrong scenario. These cases include inaccurate light meter, metering of wrong composition spot and wrong scenery. It will help if you set your camera to manual mode.

Overexposure is the opposite of underexposure. In this case, the subject is overly lighted. The light produced by the camera’s flash is very unflattering and may remove some of the details due to too much brightness. This may also cause red-eye in cases of people. The best way is to change the settings of the camera. The flash could be useful to remove unwanted shadows on the subject, especially during daytime when the light of the sun is intense.

The best way to avoid common errors in photography is to know the features of your camera. This will aid you to prevent common errors.

Creativity Home Improvement

How To Create A Deck That Connects To Your House

One of the great advantages that you get with deck building is that it improves the value of your property by enticing your prospective buyer or renter. Secondly, decks add more living space to your home and give you a great place to spend time with friends and family.

Learning how to build a deck with even simple the one needs specific steps no matter what the design. The following are the simple and easy ways on how to build one on your homes:

Check drainage and grading where the deck will be built and fix any problems.

  • Set the ledger against the house wall or other solid build and attach with lag screws. This must be done against a flat surface.
  • Flashing should be installed between any wood and the house.
  • Mark the foundation with string line, then mark the footing and post areas.
  • Cast concrete footings in the ground, and then attach the concrete piers on top to hold the posts. Piers can be cast in place or pre-made.
  • Let footings cure for at least a week.
  • Cut a post longer than the required length, and then set it in the post anchor on top of a pier.
  • Make sure to check the post for plumb, using a carpenter’s level. Then use a line level or water level to mark the post so it is the same height as the bottom of the joists.
  • Follow the same procedure for all other posts, marking and cutting them individually to allow for any height variations.
  • Nail or bolt any beams in place, then attach any necessary bracing. Add any rim joists at this time and check to see they’re square.
  • Decide on a decking pattern and the spacing of the deck boards. Starting at one end of the ledger, mark the location of the first joist. Continue marking along the ledger. Transfer the joist markings to a scrap piece of lumber, and then mark the beam opposite the ledger.
  • Add joist hangers, and then fasten the joists in place. Set the joists so the crown, or bowed side, faces up. Add any required blocking for stability.
  • Set posts for railings, benches, and overheads in place, and install any plumbing or wiring. Install railings that go through the deck.
  • Add stairs now or wait until the decking is finished.
  • Apply any protective finishes to the deck substructure.
  • Cut the decking boards to the correct length, then start laying them across the joists, beginning at the ledger and setting the convex side up if attractive.
  • Fasten boards to the deck with nails or screws. Add spacing between the boards, as needed.
  • Adjust the width of the final board as needed, either by setting a slightly wider board in place or cutting one so it is less wide.
  • Once the final board is set, you have to cut off any long ends.

Apply any finishes to make it more attractive and become a happy place.

Founded in 1984 Accurate Fence and Deck, Inc. has been professionally installing quality fences, decks, screen porches, pergolas and gazebos in the western suburbs of Chicago for 29 years.