Thursday, 17 January 2019

Making days

My knit bracelets with charm or button. Jenny Stacy

I sit in my little shop and make stuff. I also do my taxes - due on the last day of this month. I tidy, clean and sort. But mostly I wait for someone to come through the door.

It's January, the quietest month. The rain is soaking and the temperature has plummeted. So it's not surprising that no-one is out and about. The news is not encouraging with Marks and Spencer closing down more stores - they are gradually losing 100 of their shops ... and more small independent shops are closing locally.  Nearly everyone prefers to buy online.

Yesterday just one person came in to the shop. It is quite tempting to give it up and close down too. Only my pride and stubborn determination keeps me going. When I go (if I go) it will be with a 'bang and not a whimper' as TS Elliot says.

But seriously, think about your local shops. If you never go in there, not even for a card, they will disappear. Are you happy about that?

Sunday, 13 January 2019

Get Cosy!

Handmade Happiness window
Handmade Happiness window detail
Kate Box's cosy knitwear and Jenny Stacy's cashmere bunnies
Nice old buttons from a customer's collection
When it's cold and dark flowers are needed!

 January should be an exciting time!. New opportunities, new ideas. lots of plans for a bright, bright future. But I admit I've lost my way a bit lately. This country is depressed and confused about Brexit. People, sensibly, are choosing to hang on to their money and not spend it  because who knows what the future has in store for us? There isn't any confidence that things will be better without Europe that's for sure and that lone pioneer spirit eludes me!!

All around me shops are closing down. Tallulah Fox, next door but one is checking out and so is a High Street jeweller. We've recently lost Clarke's shoe shop, Morrisons, Petersfield Electrical and New Look. Other retaillers will close down soon. Charity shops move in to empty premises and charity shops and online shopping is what people seem to prefer.

On the plus side I have notebooks full of new ideas to make. I want to travel and find exciting new makers. And I want to do something with plastics - the non-recyclable soft kind like polythene and cling film. Some authorities re-cycle food packaging but not East Hampshire I regret to say. 

Don't you feel bad every time you put plastic into the bin? I do and instead I'm stuffing it into a plastic bottle which my daughter says can be used in building although in building what I'm not quite sure... But I think there is a prettier use for all this unwanted plastic ...I have an idea I just need to devote a few hours to experimenting now.

Meanwhile the shop is getting an early spring clean and I'm making at my worktable.  After the Christmas rush, January opening hours are back to:
 Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday 9.30am to 4.30pm  


Saturday, 29 December 2018

Beautiful Bath

Vintage textile emporium
Typical street  view. Cheese shop on left
Inside a stylish Bath shop
This massive tree dominates a town square

Early on Christmas Eve I drove to Bath to join family in a house we rented near the city centre. If you haven't been to Bath I urge you to go and if you've been before I'm sure you'll want to go again. The locally-quarried yellow stone buildings look so solid and imposing. I imagine they are unchanged since Jane Austen visited The Pump Room in Bath.

A lot of the shops were closed and I really wanted to see inside Susannah's pictured top. This shop houses handmade items from genuine antique French vintage fabrics and you can even buy packs of old fabrics for a reasonable price to make things with yourself. See more on their website cloudsandangels.com

Just opposite Susannah's was a shop with room sets straight off the pages of House and Garden. Wish I'd taken note of the name. Sorry.

So good to be with my three children, their partners and my four grandchildren. Highlights for me were playing with the little ones and once they were in bed, Articulate, Bananagrams and quizzes with the adults! 

Now I'm home again cleaning and organising home and shop and doing a bit of re-decorating before the shop re-opens on Tuesday January 8th.



Sunday, 23 December 2018

Happy Christmas everyone !

An old fairy I made hanging on this year's tree
Niloo just brought in more pots she has made. I love these.
New! Artist Gemma Bedford's wool and silk large wrap
Another gorgeous art scarf wrap by Gemma Bedford

Today Sunday Handmade Happiness is open from 10 am to 4pm.
 The shop will be closed tomorrow on Christmas Eve and will not officially re-open until Tuesday January 8th.
So today is your last chance to get that special, well-designed handmade gift you've had your eye on!!
Today I'm showing a couple of things I'd like as gifts! The silk/wool scarves from Gemma Bedford's paintings are really big and a lovely soft wrap around for cold days ahead. 
Niloo Wickramasinge has just brought in her latest pots. I love the arty look of these white vases and they are very popular with customers. Niloo, who now lives locally, lived in Japan for 5 years and is influenced by Japanese design and culture.
The fairy is a throwback. I intended to make more fairies this year but somehow got sidetracked into making different things. 
I'll post again after Christmas but from tomorrow it's family time. I wish you a very happy 'family time'. Enjoy your days off and we'll meet again in the New Year.



Thursday, 20 December 2018

Through the square window

Lots of unusual handmade things to buy in Handmade Happiness
Carol Smith brought in more of her popular  bird brooches. £6.50 each
Just in. A new wreath from Brenda Tilbury
Baby mice in walnut shell beds. I've used vintage fabrics on these.
New stitched paintings by Sheila Barrow

So near Christmas and the shop is really busy but every day new stock is dropped off. I am looking forward to doing my 'sales analysis' to see what has done really well this year...

It's all about Christmas because that is when, in common with most shops, Handmade Happiness makes most of its money. That is why it worries me to see so many shops with half price sales on right now in Christmas week. It's a sign of the hard times for retail that shops have to reduce prices at the one time of year when usually they can be guaranteed to sell at normal prices.

 If the situation is that desperate I think we'll see a lot of shops close down in the New Year. After all no-one makes any money in January. January used to be the month when sales were on. But right now it seems that sales really are on all the year round.

I'm taking a break after Christmas and the shop will re-open on January 8th.
Next year plans for Handmade Happiness include a monthly workshop and free 'art therapy' sessions. When the shop is quiet it's the ideal time for people to just sit and paint and make and lose themselves in the creative process. 

By the way. I still need magazine covers. Just tear off the front and back of any 'glossy' magazine you would otherwise drop into the recycling bin and drop them off. I will be grateful! 

Sunday, 16 December 2018

Paper not plastic and appeal for magazine covers

My carrier bags and paper bags

Help! I need more magazine covers to make my carrier bags. If you are puting old magazines into the recycling bin and live near Handmade Happiness please tear off the covers and give them to me instead!
I don't need inside pages just the covers. And I prefer thick, glossy covers from magazines like Vogue, Harpers, House and Garden, Homes and Gardens, World of Interiors and Town and Country.

I've always made little bags from inside pages of magazines and carriers from magazine covers and although it takes time, it must have saved me money...But not if I deliberately buy a magazine just to have its cover and pretty photographs!

I now feel a big pang of guilt every time I put something plastic into the rubbish and I'd like to live plastic free but I think it is next to impossible. In the shop I tried for a while to live without bubble wrap. I used to use bubble wrap for ceramics. Now I feel slightly better about using donated bubble wrap but I'd still prefer not to use it at all.... It's just occurred to me that I could use pages from magazines to wrap pots. I think I'll do that from now on!

Despite the rotten weather yesterday the shop was busy.
Apologies to anyone who visits the shop today, Sunday, expecting it to be open. Last week I looked at my opening times and realised I had no day off between now and Christmas so I crossed out Sunday December 16th. I will be open tomorrow, Monday from 9.30 to 4.30 and then every day not including Christmas Eve when the shop will be closed.

Tuesday, 11 December 2018

New Opening Hours until Christmas

Handmade Happiness, 9a Dragon Street, Petersfield, Hants. GU31 4JN
Feeling so lucky to rent this shop. It's 400 years old you know!
Note earlier opening of 9.30am,  open every day in the week before Christmas and NOT opening on Christmas Eve

There were times on Saturday when I longed for an assistant to help me with sales it was sooo busy. I ran out of my handmade paper bags and was sellotaping them together as I served people. 

To make the most of the Christmas season I am opening more often in the run up to Christmas. Just in case you can't read the tiny writing under the sign:

Earlier opening of 9.30am; Open every day including Sunday and Monday in the week before Christmas  and this year, HH will not be open on Monday Dec 24th, Christmas Eve.

After Christmas HH is having a make-over and will re-open in January, date to be decided.
Happy Christmas shopping everybody!

I often put pictures on Instagram before I put them on my blog if you want to follow it's jenny_handmade_happiness
And if you've stumbled on this blog by chance it's jennystacy.co.uk

Friday, 7 December 2018

My Cards and Brenda's Christmas wreaths

I love making cards like this. 'Christmas hug' by Jenny Stacy
Different colours but still a Christmas hug by Jenny Stacy
Giant Catherine Wheel wreath  made by Brenda Tilbury
All natural gold sprayed wreath by Brenda Tilbury 
Smaller, lightweight wreath with feathers by Brenda Tilbury

I am loving the process of making Christmas cards this year. With all the rain, the depressing Brexit news etc. hunkering down to paint, tear papers and draw has felt especially therapeutic. I made a dozen and in a minute I'll finish off a dozen more so I can hopefully take more into work today. I'm also enjoying making more mice in walnut shell cradles. The current batch I'm making at work have really old fabric bed covers ie. old eiderdown fabric.

This week Brenda has brought in more of her popular wreaths. Brenda walks in all weathers and picks up all the cones, leaves, twigs and berries she uses as she walks along. She can even twiddle a bunch of twigs into a wreath shape as she walks. Huge respect to this woman!

Yesterday I was happy to get another stock delivery from Kate Box. Her wrist warmers and neckwarmers are so popular at this time of year, both for keeping customers warm and for giving away as well-received Christmas presents.

Sunday, 2 December 2018

New in Handmade Happiness

The latest creations by Niloo Wickramasinge have a delicate appeal
I made some mice in walnut shell beds


It's December!
And suddenly fairy lights are sparkling and all those little Christmas bits and pieces are out on display! It's the seventh Christmas for Handmade Happiness and I am determined to make it the best ever!

Thursday, 29 November 2018

Rainy Days and Mondays

Charlotte Brightwell's dog portrait Christmas cards are in the shop now
Kate Box's colourful knitwear in the shop now.
Enormous Christmas tree and the Spinacker Tower at Portsmouth's Gunwharf Quays
New shop at Gunwharf Quays

It's a very wet week. That means people aren't out and about shopping. This time last year I was making the best money of the year. But this year what with the rain and b___ Brexit  not to mention internet shoppping, Handmade Happiness along with every other shop in the UK is struggling to survive.

  2018 has been the toughest year so far!
Every day visitors tell me HH is a beautiful shop. Every day people say they wish they could buy everything in the shop and every day people say they'll come back when they have more time. Oh yes and every day people say they are cutting back on Christmas spending this year. And the weather forecast says rain next week as well! Ok enough moaning! Today could turn out to be the best day of the year in HH and if I didn't always think optimistically I would have closed down long ago!!

On Monday afternoon I went to Gunwharf Quays and really enjoyed looking round the outlet stores there among the sparkly Christmas lights! Years ago when I worked at a Petersfield shop called Tricot Too it stocked a clothes brand called American Vintage. Soft cotton clothes I always admired in timeless styles. So I was pleased to see they've now opened an outlet store there.
Although, before you get too excited, the prices are quite a bit higher than prices at the nearby Marks and Spencer outlet store!!


If you want to see more of Charlotte Brightwell's brilliant artwork (she also does child and pet portrait commissions) go to studio85.uk 
Handmade Happiness has lots of her Christmas cards, each showing a different breed of dog.

Kate Box's lovely knitwear always makes well-received presents. Right now HH has a good selection so come in and have a look. 






Tuesday, 20 November 2018

These are what I bought!

Made by Diane Higgins, I fell in love with these embroidered felt baby shoes!
Diane Higgins makes felt which she then embroiders.
And the other foot! Such beautiful work by Diane Higgins

Just occasionally I am utterly blown away by someone's talent!
I call it the Wow factor.
Diane Higgins works all year to produce enough of her exquisite designs for Sparkle at Teddington. Having taught textiles all her life, she now makes felt scarves, and embroidered Christmas decorations and baby shoes for this annual sale.
I had a hard job choosing what to buy! My daughter urged me to buy a Christmas decoration but I couldn't resist these baby shoes. As Diane said I could always fill them with chocolate coins and hang them from the Christmas tree. But today I will run a gold thread through each shoe and hang them in the window at Handmade Happiness for everyone to admire and say 'Wow! What a talent!'

Monday, 19 November 2018

Seen in Teddington, London

All lit up! The Jenny Blanc shop
Christmas goodies inside Jenny Blanc's shop
Love these paper (?) animal heads in the Pop Up shop
The Collectorie window. Check out the mouse light!
Pretty decorations on the Collectorie shop tree

Yesterday I went to Teddington for the Sparkle fair at Landmark Arts. This has  an interesting selection of craft stalls and food stalls inside an atmospheric old church. 
I loved looking round and I found a few people whose work I'd like to have in the Handmade Happiness shop...
Kate Box, and her popular knitwear and Samantha Robertson with her green and cream hand thrown pots, both had stalls there, and, as you know, are already stocked by HH.
As it grew dark I couldn't resist taking some pictures of the shops along Teddington High Street. 
Tomorrow I'll show you what I bought at Sparkle! 


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. All are now for sale in the shop.

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!