Saturday, 26 July 2014

Shopkeeping, making and missing...

Covering a mannequin - unfinished
Flowery mannequin by Jenny Stacy, ready for a necklace in the shop... this one by Bee Mellor and Jenny Stacy £25 seen against a grey linen dress by Pam Dew size 12-14 £75
Can you guess who these are for?
The electric fan is going non-stop in the shop at the moment. It's not buying weather and the browsers that come in are mostly too hot to be able to make buying decisions. So I'm making...

 Yesterday I made long strips of needlefelt for womens' medal brooches. For the quiet heroines that stay at home and bring up the babies. For women that worry about their men away at sea or fighting in a far-off war.  And most of all for those women that shelter in a United Nations place of safety with their children and still get bombed...

I found these soft toys in an old suitcase. They used to belong to baby Juno's mother and now she can play with them. They are going for an adventure in a washing machine first!
Do you know I can't stop thinking about her? This tiny mewling baby. I want to be with her more often. I'm thinking about getting some part-time help in the shop so I can spend more time in London.  Enjoy your weekend and hopefully I'll see some of you in Handmade Happiness today. 

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Just to let you know...

                                               Buttons by Jenny Stacy. (This is a reminder to self to make more!)

...that tomorrow Wednesday July 23rd I won't be in Handmade Happiness.
The shop will be closed for the day but if you need to buy something please ask Tara next door to help you. Or better still please visit today Tuesday or any day other than tomorrow! I will be with my daughter and baby Juno tomorrow. Can't wait to see them again!

Saturday, 19 July 2014

A Shop of One's Own - nearly three years on

In October Handmade Happiness will be three years old. The shop currently sells the work of 35 designer/makers, 90% of them living near to the shop. The work is selected on the basis of originality, good design and good workmanship.

After a spare, minimalist look three years ago the shop is now full of beautiful objects. Most items are useful as well as beautiful.

This week there are two new rag rugs made by Ruth Ellacott, and six new applique cushions by Tanya Williamson (of a boxer dog, a kingfisher, two of garden birds, a butterfly and a pug dog).

I often wonder why the individuals whose work sells in Handmade Happiness aren't famous. If we lived in a true meritocracy they would be. Many makers hold down full time jobs and squeeze sewing time, pot throwing time or wood turning time into their evenings and weekends. Few people can afford to do what they love all of the time. The money is too erratic. But that doesn't detract from the great talent they possess which they must express in any time available to them.

The joy of having 'a shop of one's own' (apologies Virginia Woolf) is the people. The people that wander in for a look around and enjoy looking at all the wonderful handmade objects. The kaleidoscopes by Frank Higgins or the velvet cushion art by Penny Seume often trigger some great conversations. For me every day is a social event!

I also love changing the window and re-arranging the shop, making the carrier bags and small bags from customers' old magazines and making something nice to sell in the shop, although recently my making time is all about knitting and sewing for my new grandchild.

On the downside the shop isn't in a great position. If it was in the High Street I would get a lot more customers. However once someone has found Handmade Happiness and likes it they tend to return. And maybe the fact that it is not in the High Street gives it that slight air of mystery and secrecy that people like. It's their own discovery. 

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

New cushion and cards

Tanya Williamson's mackerel cushion. 
Ali Cooper's new square cards with porcelain heart. £4-50 each.
Card by Ali Cooper
Another card design by Ali Cooper.
Card by Ali Cooper.
Handmade Happiness is very lucky to have such talented makers. I love Tanya Williamson's fish cushion - cleverly she's used just a hint of silvery fabric in it to suggest fish scales. And I also love these cards made by Ali Cooper that she brought in on Saturday. Ali makes the popular gold and white porcelain mugs and jugs. These cards are something new and they are ideal for a wedding, christening, new baby or special birthday card.

Handmade Happiness is normally the shop that never closes. If I have to nip out Tara next door keeps an eye out for customers for me. But today I plan to close at 1.30pm so I can have a worthwhile amount of time with new baby Juno in London. Apologies if you had planned to visit this afternoon. I'll be in the shop from 10 to 2 today and then business as usual from tomorrow.

Monday, 14 July 2014

New ceramics from Kate Hackett

Hearts inspired by vintage fabrics by Kate Hackett. £3 each at Handmade Happiness
New poppy design mugs, jugs and plates by Kate Hackett
New strawberry design jugs, mugs and plates by Kate Hackett

Kate Hackett visited Handmade Happiness on Thursday with these pretty new designs. 

Kate, who regularly sells at the Country Living magazine shows in London, makes everything herself from scratch. She is a craftsman in that she expertly throws the clay to make her pots and she is an artist in that she also has the skill to painstakingly decorate them. Kate's mugs are £16 and her jugs and plates are £18.  

Tomorrow I'll show you more new stock at Handmade Happiness that came in on Saturday.

Thursday, 10 July 2014

It's a Baby Girl!

Cross-over cardigan that ties at the back.
Tiny orange cardi. Patterns by Erica Knight.
That cardi and matching bootees
Cotton hat knitted just in case baby was a girl!
 I am delighted to announce that my first grandchild - Juno Rose was born last night in London to my lovely daughter Amy and her husband Jesse.

I knitted these things before knowing whether baby would be a boy or a girl. All the patterns can be found in Erika Knight's book, ' Simple Knits for Cherished Babies.'  

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Fun bird brooches

Bird brooch £9.50 by Jenny Stacy
Legless bird brooch £9-50 by Jenny Stacy
Running bird brooch £9-50 by Jenny Stacy
Long-legged bird brooch £9-50 by Jenny Stacy
As you can see I'm not a photographer. I never change the settings on my camera so everything looks too light but the photos give you a vague idea... I first made these elastic legs years ago for chicken necklaces and bracelets that were made of painted wood. I was inspired by a childrens' jewellery brand called Sevi that made brightly coloured wood jewellery. 

It rained a few times yesterday so it was quiet in the shop and I was able to make. I did some landscape pieces, very richly coloured and knobbly. Tara, my shop neighbour can see them as the front of cushions with velvet round them. I am wondering if one of them would look ok in a box frame. Will experiment more today.

On Saturday Tanya Williamson brought in more of her applique cushions. One of them sold immediately - of an Indian runner duck so I can't show you that one. I also put in the window her badger cushion, which also sold on Saturday and her new fish cushion which is beautifully depicted and would make an ideal gift for the fisherman in the family. Photo to come.

Yesterday Paul Soden came in with more of his photographs of local wildlife that Handmade Happiness sells as cards. Now we have deer, a visiting muscovy duck and more owls. Scroll down to see more of Paul's cards.

Saturday, 5 July 2014

Knitting baby a blanket and making fun bird brooches

Knitting in strips made this easy and interesting to make.
Fun bird brooch by Jenny Stacy
I wanted to knit a baby blanket but I didn't want to have hundreds of stitches on the needle which would be boring to knit. So I thought that if I knit it in strips I would also be able to try out some of the different stitches in my book. Lace knitting, knobbly knitting and rib stitches. When I got bored of a stitch I changed to another and somehow the blanket looks quite good!

In case you want to try it I cast on just over 20 stitches per strip, to suit the stitch and I used Jacobs wool (from a sheep at the nearby village of Froxfield)  hand spun by Sue Flux that is sold in the shop.

For a bit of fun I've been making bird brooches in the shop. Six are on sale for £9-50 each and six more will hopefully be completed today. They're different styles and colours and will improve/ change radically? with practice.

Yesterday I had accupuncture for the first time. Have you ever had it? Thin needles were inserted in my feet, ankle and hands and then twiddled occasionally. The sensation was not painful or unpleasant. Only when the needle in my right hand was touched did I feel a shooting sensation like an electric shock. I look forward to seeing whether this first session has an effect. Hopefully it will lessen the pain I've been getting from sciatica since mid-March when I hurt my back in an exercise class. Anyone reading this who has sciatica has my sympathy. I'm trusting that it will disappear, never to return any day now!
Enjoy your weekend!

Thursday, 3 July 2014

Paul Soden and his amazing nature photographs

Hares boxing. Photograph by Paul Soden
The partridge family. Photograph by Paul Soden.
Pheasant close up. Photograph by Paul Soden
A barn owl photographed by Paul Soden.
 Paul Soden is a patient man and he takes a brilliant photograph! These photographs, which are sold as cards in Handmade Happiness for £2-50 each, represent hours and hours of waiting patiently for exactly the right moment to click the camera. Like an angler spending all day waiting for the right fish, Paul will wait all day, hoping for one chance of a  good photograph.

One of the many things I like about working in Handmade Happiness is the serendipity of who will come through the door next. Paul Soden had been recommended to visit and I was blown away by his photographs. I was reminded of the Sunday Times annual photographic competition, thinking that surely these photographs had won awards. But actually Paul Soden hasn't entered any competitions. Until now he has taken photographs purely for his own pleasure. He is one of the many unsung heroes that Handmade Happiness is full of. So many gifted people in this area ... so much natural beauty. Look at the photos. They were all taken locally.

Saturday, 28 June 2014

Felting Experiments

Colours and contrasts. I like this piece. Jenny Stacy
These could be landscape brooches. Maybe need embroidering. Jenny Stacy
A spaghetti mess of embroidery silks. They are actually not tangled!
Another little landscape brooch-to-be by Jenny Stacy
Half made heart brooches that need stitching and embellishing.
Big brooches awaiting brooch backs and stitching. Jenny Stacy
Bee Mellor and I continue our experimental jewellery making collaboration and this week I have made pieces of needlefelt and pieces of handmade felt (not pictured) to send to her. Interestingly her parcel to me of finished jewellery took a week from Australia to England. My parcel to her from England to Australia took two weeks to reach her.

The comments from customers on our first  batch of jewellery has taught us a lot that will be reflected in the second batch of jewellery which will be flying from Australia to England soon. Now I will make more needlefelted pieces so I can send Bee a nice big parcel of bits to work her magic on next week.

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Anthropologie, Guildford - display

Painted old French books displaying door knobs
Mirror discs glued to short sticks of wood.
Pretty hair slides in a glass jar with floral hair band
Fabric wrapped boards to display necklaces.
A close up of those door knobs on books.
Every Anthropologie shop has different displays. I've written about the London Anthropologies - in the King's Road and Regent Street before but this is the first time I've visited their Guildford shop. Penny Seume, whose cushions and lampshades are in Handmade Happiness has an area designed around her work in their new Bath store including a papier mache mantlepiece and a big arm chair covered in her velvet fabric.

It's inspiring to see such unusual displays and it must be great fun to be part of the team that thinks up what zany, off-the-wall idea to create next.  It's all about re-cycling. Using old, sometimes disposable objects in an original way. The chandeliers made of plastic drinking cups and plastic spoons come to mind and the used fruit tea bags hanging like a curtain in their Regent Street window. Giant painted murals made like waves with cut/torn cardboard boxes. Those looked wonderful and make me want to do something equally unusual in Handmade Happiness.

 It would be ideal if you could make art out of objects that would otherwise go to landfill. But perhaps rotting food and babies nappies would be beyond the imagination of even the talented Anthopologie team. Cutting and painting or re-covering plastic milk containers and tin cans would be relatively easy. In fact,  round mirrors could be glued to tin can ends to make a feature much like the wood and mirror art seen above. And the jewellery boards pictured have reminded me that a remnant of fabric could be wrapped round a cheap pin board to make a  picture and then there's  the bedheads I want to make with fabric covered foam ...

Friday, 20 June 2014

Simple linen dresses

Blue linen dress size 16 made by Pam Dew £75
Grey linen top size 14/16 £49-50 made by Pam Dew
Coral jacket £49.50 made by Pam Dew
Simple grey linen dress £75.00 made by Pam Dew size 12-14
 Pam Dew is the busiest women I know and yet she has found time to make these clothes for Handmade Happiness probably in the time most of us mere mortals would be asleep! The dresses can be worn year round. Either by themselves or with a t-shirt under in the summer or with knitwear under and over in the winter. The good linen fabric can be accessorised up for the smartest occasion but also looks cool and streamlined for every day. 

My problem now is where can customers try them on? HH is beginning to feel a bit small. I am picturing an upholstered screen in front of the understairs area...

This week Handmade Happiness is mentioned in the Petersfield Post as a favourite shop. If you are local I urge you to read Hugo Deadman's column on page 20 about his move from Hackney in London to Petersfield. It's worth the price of the paper alone.

Yesterday well wishers in the form of two lovely ladies who use beautiful fabrics in their soft furnishings business brought in a sack of off-cuts to the shop. These are so appreciated. The fabric gets used in cushions, applique, quilts, needle-felting, collage and towards Christmas for Christmas decorations. Thank you to them.

I also want to thank the customers who bring in their old magazines. Vogues get converted to the shop's carrier bags and Country Livings and other house style magazines to simple bags for small purchases. Re-cycling and saving money. Thank you.