Monday, 15 October 2018

The Knitting and Stitching Show 2018

Colour! Sari silk ribbon bought from Stef Francis' stall
Japanese silk fabric squares - from the stall pictured below

Apologies for not writing down who made these stitched wall hangings.
Love these examples of nuno felting seen at the Art Felt stand
Jenny Drant has knitted this fantastic scarf for Handmade Happiness

What a week it's been! At lunchtime on Thursday I caught the train to Alexandra Palace to spend a blissful couple of hours wandering the halls of all things textile. If you haven't been to this annual show make a point of going next year. For anyone interested in knitting or sewing or textile art it is a total joy!

This year I was intrigued by the Japanese stall pictured above. The silk squares I bought which are richly textured I am already using in my medals for women.
Traditionally this material was used in the sash belts on kimonos and it, along with the Japanese gifts on this stall, make you think of nimble fingers and Japanese grace and delicacy. And the ladies gave out a free origami crane with every purchase.

Although I make 'wet' felt and needlefelt I have never tried nuno felting and I love the way this melding of wool and fabric pieces makes a drapeable, art fabric for clothes. The picture above makes me want to try nuno felting...

I fell for the colours of this sari silk ribbon and hopefully it will look lovely in some textile jewellery I plan to use it for.

At the Knitting and Stitching Show you can browse the work of established textile artists and art students specialising in textiles. Big wall hangings and installations that must take months to make. The clever scarf pictured above took months to make and I am so grateful that expert knitter Jenny Drant is allowing me to sell it ...

Yesterday, Sunday, I took a stall at Blackmoor Apple Day. Well it rained didn't it? It deluged down for most of the day. I had worked hard to produce a stall packed with my own makes. People kept telling me how crowded it usually was and how well they had done in previous years but no-one could control the weather and most sensible people stayed at home!

 At least now I have lots more stock for Handmade Happiness! And from Wednesday onwards Handmade Happiness gets into Christmas mode with new decorations from Sue Inglis and new decorations from me. Hope to see you there during the Christmas run up and if you do visit the shop please say hello. The Stats button tells me that lots of people regularly read this blog but it would be great to know who you are!!

Monday, 8 October 2018

Making cards

I combined collage and a handmade velvet button in these cards
Sue Inglis bought in lots of her popular origami star cards on Saturday
Painted papersform the background to more 'On Button' cards 
Autumn is here.

I stopped making cards because they take so long to make individually. It makes much more economic sense to use my time to make jewellery. However I had a pile of velvet buttons and no good way of displaying them and so the 'One Button' card was born. I will have 12 greetings cards, all individually made, to sell in the shop this week each with its own tactile silk velvet button.

Sue Inglis makes good cards for Handmade Happiness. These star cards at just £1.95 are especially popular and I'd completely sold out before she bought in lots more on Friday. With no message they are suitable for any occasion.
I thought I'd have a go at making one of those stars, following a You Tube video. I couldn't master the final bit and eventually gave up. I'll leave making origami stars to the expert!

This week the temperature has dived and there's a nip in the air. Fallen leaves blow into the shop through the open doors and sweeping them out again takes me from my making table. But I'm making a lot at the moment, spurred on by the fact I'm doing a fair this Sunday and just selling my own designs. Blackmoor Apple Day this Sunday October 14th. Entrance is free. 

Sunday, 30 September 2018

This week

I decided to add  crochet pockets to some of my new dolls.
I love working with dyed silk velvets. This necklace will look great against a black top or dress
I have been wondering which I would choose jewellery or dolls if I was only allowed to focus on one thing. I seem to find it impossible to choose. I like trying out different ideas - the only common denominator is that it usually involves textiles, but that covers a very broad field.

The Knitting and Stitching Show at Alexandra Palace next week - October 11th to 14th features knitted, woven and stitched textiles and has lots of examples of innovative pieces made by young arts graduates as well as famous names. I love to visit and just to give you prior warning I've decided to close the shop for the afternoon on Thursday October 11th so I can go up and have a look around.

Friday, 28 September 2018

Making for Handmade Happiness

Suddenly Kate Box's wrist warmers sold out so she's just brought in more
Jenny Stacy (me) made 15 more dolls
Justine Jenner has brought in more of her popular mugs and jugs
A necklace celebrating the sunshine this week.
Cashmere bunnies sold out so I'm making more right now

This week people have started looking round for Christmas presents!
I know it's early and I have no Christmas stock out and won't have until mid-October. I deplore shops trying to sell Christmas cards in August and I hate seeing the Christmassy tins of biscuits and sweets that are in the shops right now. 

However I can see the sense in trying to spread the cost of Christmas by starting to look for presents now. And when buying one-off handmade items, if customers don't buy it when they see it chances are it won't be there when they come back to actually buy it!

An example of this is Kate Box's wonderful knitted wrist warmers. Last Christmas there was such a strong demand for them that Handmade Happiness kept selling out, disappointing customers who had seen them earlier. Right now there are plenty to choose from but if demand is as strong as last year there may not be such a lot to choose from nearer Christmas.

I am in making mode and, having agreed to have a stall at Blackmoor in October this year selling just my own things, the pressure is on to produce as much as I can.

Saturday, 22 September 2018

Happy 10th Birthday Blog!!

Ten years ago on September 22nd 2008 I started writing this blog. I wrote about my dream of having a shop. I also wrote in detail about making thousands of pounds worth of stock for the Country Living Magazine show in London which, in those days, I did regularly. I wrote about making for shops and tried to give some insight into the struggles of being a designer/maker.
I now write about the struggles and rewards of running that long-dreamed for shop.  I still make but not as much as I used to. My three children all now have children of their own and I love being a Granny. 
My readers are mostly in the USA which I am thrilled about but UK readers are a close second and occasionally, for no apparent reason I get a burst of interest from Russia!
I feel another change is coming. I want to re-vamp this blog but more about change next time.
Thank you to any reader who has followed this blog from the very tentative start ten years ago. You deserve a medal!

Tuesday, 18 September 2018

New this week

Love this sparkly jewellery made by Annier Sherburne
More Annie Sherburne jewellery available in the shop this week
This week I'm painting faces and cutting out fabric for new dolls designed and made by Jenny Stacy

I'm pleased to have new jewellery by Annie Sherburne in the shop now just as people are starting to buy Christmas presents when they see special things.

I love making dolls, painting the faces, selecting the fabric. These latest ones will be an enlarged version of the little finger dolls in the picture above. They won't have embroidered hair and I have agonised over what hair they will have, if any. At first I thought rabbit ears but that didn't look right, then I wondered about a knitted or crocheted hat but soon rejected that idea. I have now decided they will have dreads or thick wool hair like my former dolls had.

I also plan to make two other styles of doll and we've sold out of the cashmere rabbits I make so more of those. At the same time I am looking forward to getting into some serious jewellery making.

With so many small shops being forced to close down and even big department stores teetering on the brink you must be wondering how Handmade Happiness can keep going.  I am lucky in that the shop has many loyal, regular customers that come in whenever they need a card and a present and many more people who say they will come back to do their Christmas shopping at HH. And they will.

Saturday, 8 September 2018

Shop Closed Today Saturday September 8th

I've cut out and painted leaves for Autumn garlands
More carrier bags from wallpaper sample books
I love this zinnia in my garden!
Pure beeswax candles made by Elizabeth Eveleigh for the shop
I hate to close the shop on a Saturday but just this once my daughter needs me for babysitting. No more days off before Christmas I promise! 

Sunday, 2 September 2018

What I’ve been doing and not doing recently

A 'princess' necklace for 4 year old grandaughter
Necklaces on elastic so 2 year old grandaughter has something she can wear too!
Also knitting a pretty scarf
Bits and bobs I've made that I'll be making more of...
Fabric scraps from the Eternal Maker, Chichester
Love this quilted fabric for littlies but it had sold out...

Long, long ago I made jewellery for shops. All sorts of jewellery. Conventional pearl and semi-precious stone jewellery; jewellery entirely from beads I'd made myself; jewellery from wooden beads I'd painted; jewellery from a mixture of beads I'd made from cloth, wood or clay...

I didn't photograph all this jewellery which seems a bit of an oversight now...

Since having the shop I've got out of the habit of making jewellery but for the past few weeks I've felt the need to get back into the habit, especially because I'd like to have a good stock of all kinds of jewellery built up in time for Christmas shoppers. I've sorted out my beads and I've experimented with papier mache for a different sort of bead but I've lost my motivation. Has anyone seen it? 

 I've got to tell you about a shop that a friend and I have visited twice in a week! It's The Eternal Maker in Chichester's Terminus Road. This is a shop that stocks unusual fabrics from around the world. Unusual in the sense that, as far as I know, no other shop stocks such a diverse selection. It also has wool and a cafe which serves homemade cakes including excellent cheese scones.


Tuesday, 28 August 2018

Brilliant local artists

Ann Hutchings hand embroidered view of the South Downs
Helen Thair's stunning portrait of a fox cub
Wendy Denham sea scape
Niloo Wickramasinge's Grasses

These are a few of my favourite pieces at this year's PACS exhibition.

See more of Helen Thair's work on instagram @helenthairart and find out more about Wendy Denham through her website

Sunday, 26 August 2018

Arundel Gallery Trail - on today and tomorrow

Catalogue cover art by Deborah Richards
Visit Andy Waite's venue - 54 Tarrant Street
Looking Out Over England by artist Karin Moorhouse,venue 8
Fowey sketch by Deborah Richards, venue 7 above the library

On Wednesday I spent a magical few hours on the Arundel Gallery Trail. If you can get there today or tomorrow I urge you to do so. It runs from 12pm to 5.30 but some of the venues don't open until 2pm.

The great thing about the trail is that you can walk to all venues around the town (and see some beautiful houses and good art in the process.) The difficult thing about the trail is finding somewhere to park the car.

On weekdays venues are only open from 2pm to 5.30pm so if you want to visit all 61 venues you'd have to literally sprint round. Better to do it in chunks over two or more days. I started at the library and enjoyed the energetic art of Deborah Richards who does oil on paper monotypes and mixed media paintings.

Nearby in School Lane is Karin Moorhouse at Venue 8. This talented and versatile artist offers a house full of pictures you'd love to own. At the same venue a familiar face if you ever watched The Great Pottery Thrown Down is Jim Ranson showing his ceramics.

Round the corner in Tarrant Street is venue 24 - a treat of a house showing beautiful oil paintings by Andy Waite.
Decades ago this artist was famed for his pictures of fruit, done in his own inimitable style. Now landscapes and cloudscapes, some of which have an almost spiritual quality.

I hope this gives you a taste of the Arundel Gallery Trail and, if you can't visit this year perhaps you'll be able to visit next year. Highly recommended.

It's all happening this week- the Hampshire Art Trail is on and so is the Petersfield Art show at the Festival Hall in Petersfield. The PACS show ends tomorrow but is on all day today. So many interesting paintings and pieces of craft , again it is difficult to see everything in just one visit so I'm going again today. I'll try and take some pictures to share with you. 

Saturday, 18 August 2018

Art scarves in the shop by Gemma Bedford

These large, soft scarves show paintings by local artist Gemma Bedford. Gemma came into the shop yesterday and immediately the first scarf shown above sold to a customer.

I think these scarves make great presents.

Thursday, 16 August 2018


I made a dozen of these colourful tree decorations
Found - one of my old painted badges. I used to make these for Country Living shows
Justine Jenner's gorgeous pots - the Handmade Happiness shop has the best craftspeoples' work
My family went to Whipsnade Zoo on Sunday and saw this beautiful bear!

This week I realised how very special the Handmade Happiness shop is. The handmade items are the very best you will see anywhere in the country. I am proud to work in this shop and I hope it can survive the chilly wind that is blowing through retail shops at the moment. 

In order to promote the shop to people that might not otherwise know about it I've agreed to do two craft fairs in October. One is Blackmoor, a nearby apple farm which has an annual village day. I used to do this fair pre-shop and this year I'll hand out lots of shop business cards but will only actually sell things made by me. The other is a local charity event. 

On Sunday my family all met up at Whipsnade Zoo and had a wonderful time watching tigers and giraffes and bears. The most magical of times was in the Butterfly house when the butterflies chose to fly onto little grandaughters' hands and stay there!

Saturday, 11 August 2018

In the zero plastic shop today

Carol Smith has made a round cushion like her Picasso-esque purses.
Bird mugs and jugs by Kate Hackett  have just flown in
Pretty babies knitwear knitted by Jenny Drant and Patricia

People I meet are really concerned about plastic. They want to change their life-style so they don't have to buy any more plastic. Yet in the supermarket everything is still packaged in non-recyclable plastic. It seems impossible to avoid. And now we are all aware of how it drifts on our oceans, clogs up our waterways and piles up on our beaches or pavements making beautiful nature ugly.  

This week I heard of one woman who is doing something about it. She has started a business  called Keep Old Containers. She re-fills peoples' empty plastic bottles with  shampoo, moisturiser,washing up liquid etc and a re-fill is cheaper than buying another plastic bottle from the supermarket. She's based in Surrey and has regular pop-up shops promoting the zero waste lifestyle.
@keepoldcontainers on Instagram.

This year the shop has become a zero plastic zone. I miss bubble wrap especially for wrapping mugs, bowls and jugs but I'm using thick paper kindly given to me and customers seem to be happy about it. And I've always made my own bags and carrier bags from magazines that again people are thoughtful enough to give to me rather than put into the recycling bin...

I'd like to offer a good alternative to plastic toys. If anyone can suggest a wooden toy maker it would be lovely to stock good wood toys, especially in the run up to Christmas...

Meanwhile I'm pleased to say the shop has had lots of re-stocks this week. Potters Justine Jenner, Kate Hackett and Samantha Robertson have all re-stocked their displays and Carol Smith has brought in more of her quirky purses and a cushion in the same style. She is going to make more cushions and larger, make up bags.  Carol also added more of her popular monoprint trees cards.

I've been making more tree decorations and boxes and I plan to make needlefelted bags in the same colourful style as the tree decorations. 
By the way, if you want to see more pictures like the ones above why not follow me on Instagram. Check out @jenny_handmade_happiness