Thursday, 8 November 2018

New in Handmade Happiness

New knitted stockings made by Rubecula Threads. 
A needlefelted Christmas garland I made this week
Kate Box has brought in some 'loop scarves' she has made. They are extremely cosy!
Handmade gifts for men. Keyrings and lanyards made from used gun cartridges.

After mentioning here that Handmade Happiness was looking for handmade items suitable as mens' presents, I was approached by J. Boult who picks up used cartridge shells and bullets while out walking... He hammers these out and binds them in leather creating macho-looking keyrings, lanyards and cufflinks. 

Friday, 2 November 2018

A Lucky Find

100% cashmere bunnies I made yesterday.

Regular readers will know I love a bargain! Doing a 'charity run' in other words visiting all the charity shops in a town is my idea of a treat! Nearly all my possessions - clothes, crockery, decorative objects, even craft materials, have been lucky finds over the years at charity shops.

I was especially lucky to find a 100% cashmere tank top recently priced at £4.50. Carefully hand washed and dried it is Heavenly soft and just the right colour for little bunnies!
So yesterday I made these and stuffed them with lavender that my kind neighbour dries for me from her bushes each year. And the longer they are held the stronger the scent becomes.

It is tempting to make more today but paperwork beckons. Today will probably be all about doing figures and hopefully greeting and serving lots of customers who are buying for Christmas.

I notice from Instagram (jenny_handmade_happiness) how many little shops like mine are being forced to close down because people are not spending like they used to. The uncertainty of the future is making people prudent. Mostly people are only spending on food right now. However if enough people just bought the odd card from shops like mine it would help them to survive this horrible political climate for a while longer.

Wednesday, 31 October 2018

Look at all these little gifts for under £5!

£5 or under in Handmade Happiness. See details below.
Beeswax candle made by Elisabeth Eveleigh £4,50 each and painted 'friendship beads' on silk by Jenny Stacy £1 each
You know what day it is! This scary monster taking up a whole window gave me a fright!

People can gaze at the window of Handmade Happiness for ages, clearly loving everything they see but they don't come inside. Perhaps they are in a hurry but something happened recently to make me realise that maybe they fear that everything will be too expensive...

I was in the Blackmoor craft barn on what surely was the rainiest day of the year so far, looking at some stuffed toys someone had made for just 85p each to sell for her favourite charity.

'Now that is what I call a reasonable price,' the woman beside me piped up.
'Do you know there is a shop in Petersfield where it would cost you £8 to buy something like this?'
'Oh that's interesting,' I interjected,'Where is this shop?'
'It's near the vet's' she carried on recklessly.
'Oh... You must mean my shop.' I said.
She clapped her hand over her mouth and I slipped away.

But I got thinking and, apart from the fact that I'm sure that person has never been inside Handmade Happiness, I realised that many people must see it as an expensive shop. So I thought I'd collect together things for under £5 for little gifts or stocking fillers and maybe someone reading this will change their mind about HH being expensive and venture inside!

Pictured above are: lavender filled mouse £5 and cashmere bunny £4-50 by me; gift box with velvet lining decorated by Sue Inglis, £4-50; ceramic heart made and decorated by Kate Hackett £4-50 and assorted handmade ceramic buttons for £1-50 each. 
Also origami star cards (new silver and gold ones) by Sue are £1.95 and all cards are under £5 with the majority being priced at £2.50
So come on in. You'll get a warm welcome!

Friday, 26 October 2018

Christmas making

Just arrived! Beth Pegler necklaces 
Kate Hackett's robins sell out fast. I love her ceramic xmas puddings too,
Pink lavender mice by Jenny Stacy
Blue Liberty lavender mice made by me
I've made 35 Liberty mice stuffed with lavender. £5 each.

Check out these Beth Pegler necklaces. I bought one in London recently and wore it non-stop so I knew I wanted them for the shop. Beth handmakes every one and uses strong magnet clasps. I have two sizes and a choice of mustard, red, shocking pink and burgundy. £25 each. A great gift and I expect a lot of women will buy them for themselves.

Kate Hackett's ceramic robins always sell out several times over in the run up to Christmas. Right now the shop has a large stock of them. £3 each.

It's that busy time of year again with not enough hours in the day to make all I want to make for Christmas.  

This year I've decided to use all my carefully saved hoard of fabrics and trimmings and to stop hanging on to my favourite bits. After all anything I leave in the loft will only go to a charity shop or, worse, straight into a skip, when I'm gone. My three children aren't interested in making things, although each is creative in his or her own way.

So I've used some of my precious collection of Liberty bits to make these mice and selling them for a reasonable price will help the shop. 
My kind neighbour always dries the lavender from her two bushes and gives it to me and it's this 2018 lavender I've used to stuff the mice with. It smells wonderful!

Next stockings - but I've got to dye a blanket first - I used to sell lots of  my big, embroidered stockings... and I have a new idea for Christmas cards this year ...and I've promised a customer to make more tiny fairies this week. And what about the boys? I never seem to have enough in the shop for boys and men. Anyone out there making presents that a man would love? Step this way, I'd be very interested in chatting with you!

Enjoy your day and your weekend everyone and happy making if you are a maker like me!

Friday, 19 October 2018

New in Handmade Happiness

Christmas decorations knitted by Sue Inglis
Beautifully hand knitted by Sue Inglis
Christmas decorations for the tree by Sue Inglis
I think these guys are my favourites. Knitted by Sue Inglis
Inside the shop. Lots of wrist warmers by Kate Box and cushions by Carol Smith

This week Handmade Happiness has got Christmas decorations.
I know other shops have had Christmas cards and Christmas decorations for weeks now but I feel this is the right time when people won't have a fit when they see them. We can start the Christmas countdown and it makes sense to spread the inevitable cost by starting to shop now.

Sue Inglis must knit night and day to produce as many cute creatures as she does! I also stock her cards and gift boxes. All made with her sensitive eye for colour and design. And each year she introduces us to fresh, new items.

I've also just had a delivery of lots of wrist warmers and neck warmers from the talented Kate Box. Last Christmas Kate's work kept selling out so I advise customers to buy early while I have a really good selection of designs and colours to choose from. Each item is individually hand made (like everything in the shop) and it takes time to re-stock.

Yesterday I was visited by the Good Fairy! It had been a quiet day in the shop (some days are like that) and this lovely lady, who does so much to help charitable organisations on a voluntary basis, started doing her Christmas shopping and completely turned the day around for me. So thank you Good Fairy, you know who you are and I am grateful to you!

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 spent 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