Thursday, 25 August 2016

Judging, flooding and Christmas plans

The work of Louise Brownlow and a Samantha Robertson cup
This Christmas I want the shop to become a glittering, magical den and I immediately thought of Louise Brownlow's lovely decorative stitchery. I bought the pictured items many years ago and Louise is currently making dragonflies and butterflies and little fairies similar to the one pictured. Look out for them in Handmade Happiness in the run up to Christmas!

On Saturday I could not believe my eyes. My shop was flooded. The water had gushed down from the flat above, leaving an inch of water on my floor below. Luckily very few items of makers' work were affected. It could have been much worse. But it's an experience I wouldn't want to go through again!

Something I wouldn't mind doing again was being a judge for the PACS (Petersfield artists) exhibition. The exhibition opens today and yesterday saw me minutely examining the submitted craftwork to decide who got the award and who got Highly Commended. 

I chose a giant concertina book which showed a long drawing of all the historic houses on one side of the town's Sheep Street. Beautifully drawn and an ambitious undertaking. A pair of shoes, made from scratch, complete with kitten heels and looking very wearable got a Highly Commended from me as did a well-made handbag showing a woven panel and robust leather handles.

I recommend a visit to this exhibition in the Festival Hall. There is no selection process and there is an interesting (and vast) array of craft work and paintings. The entrance is at the back of the building and admission is free. 

Thursday, 18 August 2016

At the mercy of machines

Beautiful cushions made by Tanya Williamson and sold by Handmade Happiness

 I'm writing this on my Samsung notepad as my ancient home computer has died on me. There is so much technology to choose from I get confused (and a bit bored) with thinking about what is best to replace it with.

I'd like something that takes excellent photos, suitable for publishing in magazines, is portable and that has a decent sized keyboard for my fat fingers.

I have a phone that is not a smart phone so I can't watch videos on it or do 'Face Time' with my lovely grandchildren. So the new machine would have to be capable of that. Am I talking about a smart phone or a lap top and is there one machine that does all this? I very much look forward to your advice. (This is not something I wish to research online - too boring!) 

I like to write and I've just written an article about Tanya Williamson whose cushions are pictured. She uses a Bernina sewing machine to colour in her drawings with thread. A machine that helps her do just what she wants to do. Everyone loves her work and her cushions make great gifts. 



Friday, 12 August 2016

Thoughts and colours

My hydrangeas are going over from bright pink to this more attractive bronzed pink
I  bought the painting behind from a charity shop for £10 this week
Mini craze for making Suffolk puffs/ yo yos this week. Simple necklace to wear with summer dresses.
I love the soft colours of these hydrangeas from the garden. And I enjoy selecting fabrics to make these simple necklaces with. Colour and design are so important in making something worthwhile.

How often have you seen something really well made and thought 'shame about the colours that don't look good together' or 'shame the fabric is synthetic or a harsh colour'... It's like puting a beautiful painting in the wrong frame. An awful lot of effort spoiled by the desire to economise... and turning something saleable into something unsaleable.

I notice colour when in those large, cheap clothing shops. The colours they use aren't flattering to women or children. Yes it's cheap but for the same price you can find something of good quality in a charity shop that will last as long and look good too. I'm talking about those harsh, cold colours of bright turquoise, blacky reds and fuschias, electric blues, strong bright yellows. Most people don't suit those colours so why are they chosen?

When selecting handmade items for Handmade Happiness I sometimes see items simply made for the purpose of making money for the maker. Of course this is one of the aims we have in selling our work but it is just as important to make what you love or what you would want to buy for your loved ones. To make with the heart as well as the head. When someone loves what they are making that shines through in the finished product, making it really special.

Sunday, 7 August 2016

More paintings arrive

Too much reflection but if you look closely you can see a giant heart wreath in the window of HH.-----------
Lemons by Christine Burgess £28
Tomatoes by Christine Burgess £28
Pear by Christine Burgess £28
Seascape by Christine Burgess £129
 Christine Burgess popped into Handmade Happiness yesterday (Saturday) with her most recent paintings. The fruit is on small canvasses and the seascape is much, much bigger.


Friday, 5 August 2016

New in the shop

Beautifully handmade dolls' clothes by Lindy Groom
Hanging from a line in Handmade Happiness. Lindy Groom's dolls' clothes
Pants, pyjamas, tops and dresses made by Lindy Groom
Solid oak lampbase by Peter Green £70 with Penny Seume shade £45
Oak lamp base £70 by Peter Green with Penny Seume lampshade £45. Penny's cushions in background. Hand painted plate by Roxana Giles.
Yesterday Lindy Groom came in with these beautifully made, fully washable dolls' clothes. She plans to give any money from them to charity. Three of the teddy bears Lindy makes are also for sale in the shop.

Peter Green has carved out oak timbers and logs to make these lamp bases which are also new to Handmade Happiness. All electrician approved, they look good with Penny Seume's collage linen lamp shades.

I want to give you, my blog readers a chance to buy things you see pictured here.So last night I had my first tutorial with a company that specialises in helping shops to get their products online. 

 Most of you live nowhere near Petersfield and it is impossible for you to visit. For example right now many reading this live in Russia, some of you live in America, others in Germany and some in Britain. It's fascinating for me to see who is reading the blog and a big 'Welcome' from me. I'll let you know as soon as the online shop goes 'live'.

Tuesday, 2 August 2016

Wedding thoughts

My lovely daughter got married on Saturday. She looked beautiful, the flowers were much complimented and the weather couldn't have been better!
Promise I'll post more photos as soon as I have them but in the meantime Handmade Happiness is getting a wedding themed window this week and right now, I just want to thank all those wonderful friends who helped me.

Brenda Tilbury taught me how to make buttonholes and how to spiral stems in wedding bouquets. She made a giant heart wreath for the reception and provided flowers and leaves from her garden/ allotment and let me use all her floristry wires and tapes.Thank you Brenda.
Anna allowed me to pick what I wanted from her garden. Thank you Anna. And Carol brought in flowers and leaves, even a plant in a pot from her garden. Thank you Carol.
Anne Bennett walked into the countryside with me and together we gathered from the hedgerows for that country wedding look. Thank you Anne.

Finally, my friend Tara could have been mistaken for a florist as she deftly assembled flowers and foliage into bunches. Anyone who saw the shop on Thursday might have thought it was a florists with so many buckets of flowers and leaves on the floor. Tara also provided all the tall sage and rosemary branches which contributed to the lovely smell at the wedding reception.

I'm off to the shop now to install that wedding-themed window! Hope to see you there.

Pretty shop windows in Midhurst

Pretty window at The Country Brocante Store
I think this fabric is by Louise Loves...
Nice cushions at The Country Brocante Store 
 I discovered this shop when doing one of my charity (shop) runs on my Monday day off. The windows look so pretty, shame it closes on the same days that Handmade Happiness is closed so I couldn't go in...

Louise Loves used to have a regular stand at the Country Living (magazine) show and I remember it well. 
If you want to visit the Country Brocante Store it's next to The Spread Eagle in Midhurst and if you park at The Grange it's an easy walk from there.

Monday, 25 July 2016

It's Flower week!

Small flowers from the garden
...and big flowers from Lidl and foliage from a customer's garden
Aren't the roses and alstromeria lovely?
It's Monday night and the countdown to my daughter's wedding is on!

I'm doing the flowers. I've ordered some big, blousy roses for the bouquets and buttonholes. These flowers are the start of what I need to fill 80 jam jars on the tables. I'm aiming at a mix of flowers and leaves that looks informal and pretty.

Tomorrow a friend and I will gather leaves from the hedgerows and on Wednesday a truly generous shop customer is allowing me to pick what I want from her garden. Other friends are contributing from their gardens and I'll start making up jars of flowers and leaves on Wednesday. 

I want everything to look it's best for the wedding and all last week I've been testing to see how long things last in water. I'm glad it's not as hot right now because very hot weather definitely shortens the life of cut flowers... 

Wednesday, 20 July 2016

New! Animal cushions by Tanya Williamson

Terrier by Tanya Williamson £48
Two bee cushions by Tanya Williamson £28 each
Young goat cushion by Tanya Williamson £48
Bulldog cushion by Tanya Williamson £48
Indian runner duck by Tanya Williamson £48
Jack Russell dog by Tanya Williamson £38
Tanya Williamson makes these great applique cushions and today she brought in eight new ones. I can't show you her new blue tit design as it literally flew out of Handmade Happiness soon after being delivered. However Tanya has promised to make some more.

These cushions make great gifts for animal lovers. I'm curious to find out more about this talented artist and so I am planning to interview Tanya for a future issue of Life in Petersfield magazine.

Do you love this hot weather? They say it's going to be a bit cooler after today and I won't mind if it is. No-one wants to browse in shops when it's this hot...

Sunday, 17 July 2016

Look at this!

Brenda Tilbury made this perfect card!
Close up of perfect card made by Brenda Tilbury
Pale pink tissue paper birds I've been making for Sophie's wedding
Close up of one of the wedding birds
Pretty lace bunting also made by Brenda Tilbury pictured against Pam Dew's beautiful quilt
I just had to share with you an example of Brenda Tilbury's latest cards. It reminds me of ancient illuminated manuscripts with gold and the rich, intense colour.
Meanwhile Sophie's wedding is looming and Brenda has kindly shown me how to make buttonholes for the men and bouquets for the bride and bridesmaids.

 My worry now is that the flowers on the tables - from mine and friends' gardens will look their absolute perfect best on the day after a long journey in the car. 

Over the two wedding days the shop will be closed but my lovely neighbour, Tara will help anyone who wants to look round or buy anything during that time.

Sunday, 10 July 2016

Thoughts in the garden

Love these double pale pink poppies, still coming up each year from seed brought from my last garden, 10 years ago.
A David Austin rose called Queen of Sweden 
A new delphinium I am trying to protect 
 Sophie's wedding is this month and I realise that even if my garden was bursting at the seams with flowers it still could not provide enough to fill 80 jam jars, make 10 buttonholes and bouquets for bride and bridesmaids. I have to buy some of the flowers and find greenery and the occasional wild flower in the local hedgerows. It's fun as well as challenging!

Last night, armed with my torch and thickest rubber gardening gloves I looked for slugs. Shop customers tell me they cut them in half but I couldn't do that. Dozens of them had congregated on one poor daisy plant, and I put them all into my lidded pot. I found the odd slug on other plants but luckily the delphiniums were slug free (so far). I put wool pellets around my prized plants because slugs don't like to slither over wool apparently but it doesn't kill them. That seemed a humane deterrent. However puting them in a pot with the lid on wasn't humane and if slugs had any sort of a brain they might have preferred the quicker fate of being cut across the middle...

Today I was watching the birds in the garden taking food from a neighbour's bird tray and flying down to eat it in peace in my garden. I notice that lots of shops sell 'fat balls' to feed the birds all the way through the year.

 I remember when feeding the birds was something you did in cold winters to get the birds through when natural food was in short supply. But natural food is plentiful right now. Slugs and snails are ideal food for larger birds like thrushes and blackbirds and the soil is full of worms and insects. Perhaps we have so many slugs in the garden right now partly because birds have got used to having most of their food laid out on bird tables for them and it seems like too much effort to search soil and plants for more 'natural' food...

Tuesday, 5 July 2016

Handmade Happiness makers featured in magazine

Justine Jenner is featured in the new issue of Life in Petersfield
The first feature about Handmade Happiness appeared earlier in the year.
 This week the third Handmade Happiness article is in the Life in Petersfield magazine. Previously there was a feature on Kate Box who makes the wonderful, soft knitwear and also a feature about why I started the shop and support local makers.
Over the coming months I hope to write more features on makers whose work is sold in Handmade Happiness. They are an interesting and very talented bunch!

In response to the people who have asked for workshops, this Friday morning from 10.30 to 11.30 there will be a free workshop on making and painting paper birds. It's easy, it's fun and it's sociable.  

Friday, 1 July 2016

Time to Play

A box for a medal
A medal for the box made by Jenny Stacy
A felted crochet button, bit of ribbon, a flower button I like, in a medal by Jenny Stacy
Bits of bling created this medal by Jenny Stacy
Do you find time to play in your busy life?

One of the most blissful things I can think of is to sit at a table and 'play' with the bits I've hoarded over the years and a needle and thread, paints, scissors, sellotape, paper,glue and bits of fabric. Even more fun to 'play' with a friend or friends who enjoy experimenting with puting things together as much as you do. 

It's interesting how suddenly there are all these colouring books in the shops, encouraging people to switch off and 'play'. Who would have imagined that colouring books for adults would be so popular?

Visitors to Handmade Happiness often express their frustration that there is no time in their lives to create things. With children to look after and jobs to go to, any time for themselves feels like self indulgence. I know, I've been there, but we all feel better for a bit of 'me' time, even if it's only fifteen minutes. Just enough time to splodge some paint on to paper, draw a quick sketch,or make a collage with pictures from a favourite magazine, all of which can be done with children once they get past the stage of puting everything in their mouths.

One of my earliest memories is of 'sorting' my granny's button box. I really enjoyed that. My mum used to let her grandchildren do 'mixing' with wooden spoons and big bowls and the contents of her kitchen cupboards. They loved that. So what sort of Granny will my generation be? I hope we'll be successful at inspiring children to enjoy activities that don't involve looking at a screen...
jigsaw puzzles, card games, but above all, playing with bits and pieces and making things from them...!

Friday, 24 June 2016

New! Nature artist cards by Louise Money

Hare and cowslip cards by Louise Money. £2 each
Large card £2.50. Bullfinch and coaltit cards £2. All painted by Louise Money
Blue butterfly; sparrows, bluetit and Canada geese cards all painted by Louise Money.
When Louise Money emailled me pictures of her cards I knew they were just right for Handmade Happiness customers.

Living in the countryside, as we do here, everyone easily identifies with these birds that we see in the garden and in the hedgerows. Louise has painted them with a sensitivity and talent that I haven't come across before and I am delighted to offer 13 of her designs in the shop.

There are also notebooks for sale with the British Bird design pictured above on the cover. All cards and envelopes are made from recycled paper and would suit any occasion.

Handmade Happiness has a large selection of artist cards to choose from, most of them exclusive to the shop. If you want quality and something different you know where to look!