Sunday, 24 June 2018

Pretty Buriton etc

Some Liberty bits I'll use this week
Driftwood balls
Water feature
Driftwood horse
Pretty thatched roof cottage in Buriton

Today I went round the Buriton Art Trail. Just a few miles from Petersfield, Buriton is a little village built around a church and a duck pond and it's full of the sort of cottages you would love to live in! 

Friday, 22 June 2018

For sale

38mm coral velvet button on  painted paper background £3.50
Soft brown 38mm velvet button on collaged background £3.50
Rich rust 38mm velvet button on painted papers background £3.50
Red wine velvet 38mm button on painted paper £3.50
Yellow-green velvet 38mm button on collage background £3.50

One of the nicest things to do is to sit down with a pile of white paper and layer paint onto it and see what results. I thought it would be fun to use some of these painted papers together with the odd torn paper from a magazine, like the background to the yellow-green button above, as background to the buttons.

These buttons are the largest I covered. See more colours and sizes by scrolling down to a recent post where I pictured lots of them.

I made these yesterday afternoon when the shop was quiet. Today I'm planning to make some textile necklaces and if they get finished I'll sew some smaller buttons onto collaged painted papers. Now the question is: Will anybody buy them?

Wednesday, 20 June 2018

Dolls and old buttons

I've made more finger dolls. Dont know if I prefer short curly hair or long pony tails...
Old red buttons found yesterday
More old buttons bought yesterday. The blue ones are made of glass.

Regular readers will know that finding an old 'finger doll' from a few years back made me want to make some more. These ones are a bit fatter than the original. I just drew round my longest finger for the pattern. Also these are new, improved because there are four different Liberty fabrics on each and because I like the back as much as the front I decided to embroider faces on both sides! 

I love to use old buttons in my makes. Whether it's to do up a necklace or bracelet or to decorate a doll or a collage, old buttons have far more visual impact than new buttons. Agree?

Monday, 18 June 2018

Liberty and Anthropology

Gorgeous art fabrics at Liberty
Kaffe Fassett fabrics at Liberty
Love this Liberty velvet covered chair
A message in push pins at Anthropologie - always so innovative! 
I bought this plate in the Anthropology sale. Love their paper bags as much as the plate!

London on a Sunday...I haven't done that for a while.

 I met one of my lovely daughters in Fenwicks and we had a good look round Liberty. If I could make clothes I would love to make her a dress from one of the 'art' fabrics pictured above. And I could have happily taken home that velvet covered chair.

Talking to my daughter always re-inspires me. So does going to nice London shops to 'get my eye in' as my mother would have called it! I rarely buy anything but just seeing good displays of desirable merchandise encourages me to try harder with my own shop!

Saturday, 16 June 2018

Making, making, making

Bunny slippers for a grandaughter from a pattern by Fiona Goble. The jumper is knitted by Patricia and in the shop.
I've been making cashmere bunnies for ages but I found the 'finger doll' when tidying and I'll make more of her
Velvet on velvet. Making lots of velvet buttons both to sell and to use in jewellery making

Since having the shop I've made lots of small things to sell at a reasonable price. This week I've been sitting at my worktable making. 

It was a nice surprise to come across the finger doll pictured above.  Years ago I made lots of these and they must have sold well because she's the only one I have left. I drew round my longest finger for the pattern. Last night I soaked a piece of calico in tea to achieve a more flesh like colour and ironed Liberty scraps for the bodies. Hopefully I'll have the sewing machine out and get some made in the shop today.

I love velvet, especially soft silk velvet and even better, silk velvet that has been hand dyed in colours that blend into one another. Years ago I was lucky enough to get my hands on a quantity of velvet expertly dyed by my friend Alison Crosthwaite. We swapped because she liked my handmade buttons - not velvet ones, the ones I used to do with patterns on them. I've tried dyeing velvet myself but wasn't happy with the results. Woman - know your limits!

Happy weekend everyone! 

Saturday, 9 June 2018

Beads to bust Brexit slump

SOLD but more are available at Handmade Happiness
Roses on the shop counter

Some makers always say their sales are 'fine'. I can only be honest. Life is hard at the moment. People aren't spending. If proof were needed that retail is in the doldrums, House of Fraser has just announced it is closing down half of its department stores. And you already know that Marks and Spencer is closing 100 of its stores.

One idea to bust the Brexit slump is to have something so cheap in the window it is irresistible. That was my idea this week. So I have painted dozens of 'friendship beads' and put them on a dyed silk tie. They can be worn as a bracelet or anklet where the silk is longer. Just £1 each. I wonder how many will sell today, Saturday? I'll let you know.

Meanwhile I have another 30 beads on the table in front of me to paint before work!

Thursday, 7 June 2018

Making bits and pieces

More painted beads by Jenny Stacy
Painted beads and a twist of silk
Playing with velet . Buttons and Suffolk puffs made by Jenny

I want to have more of my own jewellery in Handmade Happiness but, as usual, I want it to be as original as possible so I am at the trying out ideas stage.

I have painted beads for jewellery before and I have used velvet in neckpieces but it's funny how a conversation can spark a whole new train of thought...

Yesterday a lovely lady was telling me about a fascinating one year course on Oriental Art at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. She glanced at what I was doing and said,'Ah, I see you are making buttons'and in my imagination I could see a long plain velvet coat with the puffs with button on top ranged down the centre as 'buttons'. The buttons don't have to do up, they could each have a large popper under them. I'd like to wear a coat like that in the winter.

Friday, 1 June 2018

Making necklaces and the Brexit effect

Necklaces by Jenny Stacy for Handmade Happiness
I painted these to include in necklaces
It's peony time in the garden. Love them!

This week I have been making necklaces and painting beads for them and making buttons and velvet beads to be made into necklaces.

Hearing recently that Marks and Spencer were closing 100 stores was a comfort to me... the down turn in spending is wide spread. 

With the uncertainty of what lies ahead for Britain and the lack of confidence in our politicians to negotiate a good deal for us, people are holding back from spending money unnecessarily. Who knows what the future holds? 

The question is, will there be any more money around in two years time and can retailers like me, who still need to pay the same rent and bills regardless of what money is spent in the store, be able to hold out until the time we are officially 'out' of the EU?

I'm seeing many shops going under at this time. 
But I am determined to ride this out. Handmade Happiness has been around for nearly 7 years and I'm not caving in yet!!

Interestingly I spoke to someone who had a shop for 14 years and recently retired. The first 7 were Heaven she said and the other 7 were much more difficult. It seems to me that we have been in a 'recession' for a long, long time.

Wednesday, 23 May 2018

Amersham and The Chilterns

Our lunch at The Grocer

Old Amersham is probably the most attractive town I've ever visited. It's like being in a period film set. Just picture perfect. And the countryside around is the rolling green Chiltern Hills.

 This visit, my daughter and I climbed the hill at the back of the cemetry  and admired the fantastic view pictured above. It makes you feel lucky to live in England's 'green and pleasant land' and envious of the locals who live in houses like the one pictured above. 

But maybe it's enough to visit once in a while and enjoy the great food at The Grocer where we ate mozzarella and avocado salad with goat's cheese and roasted vegetable toasted sandwiches at lunchtime.  There's a good charity shop in Amersham and an excellent toy shop called Ring O Roses.

Meanwhile back at the coal face (!) ie. Handmade Happiness I am busy making unusual necklaces. Pictures to come!

Thursday, 17 May 2018

Talking about presents

Harry Butler makes pens and bowls from local woods. The ballpoint is from sycamore, the fountain pen from beech and the bowl from birch wood
Ruth Ellacott makes rag rugs and applique pictures.

Buying something other than clothes for the men in your life can be difficult. Yes, you can get them a bottle or two or fancy food but to find something different that you think he'll really appreciate is hard. 

I think most men would enjoy using the pens that Harry Butler makes. The smooth wood is a pleasure to hold and the fountain pens are unexpectedly weighty. 

I've sold several of Ruth Ellacott's arty rag rugs in the past. They're a bit special too and often trigger memories of peoples' grannies using every bit of worn out fabric that would otherwise be thrown away or used as cleaning cloths to create rag rugs during and just after the second world war. Make do and mend. Now that we're trying to cut down on the amount of rubbish we produce that old expression might come back into fashion.

Monday, 14 May 2018

Flowers for the weekend

Colourful tulips
These smell nice
Pretty  as cup cake decorations!
A smart chauffeur and his vintage car yesterday

I was lucky to spot these tulips in Waitrose as it was closing for just 65p - reduced right down from £10. Who could resist?  I don't know what the white flowers are called - stephanotis(?) but as I passed them they smelled divine! And seeing violas always makes me want to paint some on something!

There was a Victorian Day in the Square yesterday run by the Museum. This smartly dressed man was telling people about the well-maintained car behind him. 

I got some old design notebooks down from the loft - I've always recorded what I'm making and more interestingly what I intended to make but somehow didn't get round to. 

I'm visiting Dulwich today. I'll take an old notebook to read on the train.

Saturday, 12 May 2018

New Flyer and new Kate Box baby blankets

Advertising Handmade Happiness - new flyer
Kate Box has made some beautiful new baby blankets for Handmade Happiness

So pleased to receive these beautiful baby blankets made by Kate Box. They are the softest thing, not to mention the most stylish thing to wrap your baby in. And if you don't have a baby you can wrap one round your neck or shoulders as a warm scarf!

I also collected 100 flyers from the printers yesterday. These will be used to publicise the shop. It isn't in the centre of town and some people still haven't discovered it.

Those of you who know me well know that I couldn't have made that flyer myself. I can cope with blogging and instagramming but I can't design anything online.

 Amy Lague set it up and then Duleep Wickramasinghe, my friend Niloo's husband, kindly gave it his time and attention to give it the professional look it has now. Thank you so much Amy and Duleep. As my mother always used to tell me, I am lucky with my friends. So true.

Thursday, 10 May 2018

Natural knitting wool now in Handmade Happiness!

Sacks of yarn arrived in the post yesterday!
Some of it went straight in the window!

Before I opened Handmade Happiness seven years ago I wanted it to sell wool.
My dream then was to have a habadashery shop which also sold beautiful examples of things that could be made with the things it sold. The best craft I could find, made from the best materials!

However there is already a wool shop in the area at Liss so the yarn companies that supplied them could not supply me. That is the reason Petersfield has no wool shop. 

So Handmade Happiness has always just sold the wonderful things people create and no craft materials. 

But now I am re-visiting the original dream by stocking alpaca yarn, 100% wool and half wool, half cotton yarn. Everything natural and soft. It's what I use for knitting and crochet.  I'll let you know how customers react.

However the new yarn will only take up a fraction of shop space. The main focus is still the work of talented artists, most of whom live in and around  Petersfield.

Wednesday, 9 May 2018

Grayshott shops etc

New interiors shop Bells and Whistles has these cosy sheepskin slippers and pink sheepskin rug
I loved looking round these two shops
Recycling bits and pieces into necklaces and brooches
Walking at The Hangers near home.

I'd always wanted to visit Grayshott having heard good things about the shops there and yesterday I went and was not disappointed!

Bells and Whistles, top picture, is a new, pretty interiors shop. Even on the hottest day of the year I thought how cosy these Swedish sheepskin slippers would be in winter and the pink sheepskin rug would look fab in a girls' room.

Hill and Co is a spacious shop housing lovely, colourful clothes and all kinds of unusual gifts. I admire the kantha quilts, especially the ancient ones with tiny running stitch embroidery on faded colour cottons. Hill and Co also had some nice painted furniture and attractive jewellery.

When I went into Pins and Needles, a wool and fabric shop, the owner, Fiona was patiently explaining to someone over the phone how to knit...I was immediately impressed with her patience and level of customer service!!

Even more so when she came off the phone and told me that the customer needed instruction but had bought her wool and pattern online, not even from Pins and Needles! 

The last thing I need is more wool but I couldn't resist buying some colourful balls of a silk blend yarn that I'll crochet with.

I'm thinking a lot about making things out of stuff we'd normally throw away. And I realised, looking at my simple jewellery that it is all made from bits and pieces of no value to most people. It's recycling or upcycling and I must try to include more obvious rubbish in it as long as that can be done in an attractive way....

Two of my children and their families visited on Bank Holiday Monday. And on one of the hottest days of the year we went on a cool walk at The Hangers where I photographed this little waterfall. 

Then on to the Queen's Head at Sheet where the two babies could sit on the impressively clean lawn. I'd love to show you a picture, especially the one of my son and daughter, both with their babies strapped to them walking together. I feel so lucky. But I resolved at the beginning of this blog that family are off limits. The blog is about the shop, making and what I've been up to even though family and friends are, of course, the most important things in life...

Saturday, 5 May 2018

Eleanor Childs paintings

View near Cocking by Eleanor Childs
South Downs view by Eleanor Childs

Eleanor Childs has just delivered two paintings showing local views to Handmade Happiness. It is lovely to see people recognise places they walk or even views they can see from their house as happened with the last one of Eleanor's paintings sold in the shop!

Petersfield is officially in An Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and I feel very lucky to live here. I plan to walk across part of the Downs with two of my children and their families on Monday. I'm really looking forward to that.

Meanwhile it's Saturday again and the busiest day in the shop.

Thursday, 3 May 2018

In the shop now

Potter Justine Jenner's 'beakers' 
Textile artist Kerry Lucas' knitted bears aka craftykestrel
Artist Sheila Barrow's painted and stitched landscape

Handmade Happiness has so many good things to admire and to buy.

If I have any talent it is for selecting  the best art and craft I can find. Many years ago I had an agent and some of my best orders were achieved through her. I think I would be a good agent. But I am an agent just for my lovely shop.

Looking back at some of my earliest blog posts the blog was all about me and what I was making and who it was for. Now the blog is about other peoples' work and promoting the shop. So like it or not I've turned from being a maker into being an agent! I hope that over the course of this year through frequent blog posts you'll see me making more while at the same time continuing to draw your attention to other makers of good things.