|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!
Wednesday, 23 May 2018
Thursday, 17 May 2018
|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
|These smell nice|
|Pretty as cup cake decorations!|
Saturday, 12 May 2018
|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
|Sacks of yarn arrived in the post yesterday!|
Wednesday, 9 May 2018
|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
|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
|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.
Monday, 30 April 2018
|Eloise Biddlecombe's hand embroidery|
|Anita Bell's stitching on papers|
|Jane Fox teaches drawing |
Yesterday I found Eloise Biddlecombe, Anita Bell and Jane Fox on the Emsworth Arts Trail.
If you live near Emsworth the trail runs over next weekend as well May 5,6 and 7.emsworthartstrail.org.uk
Eloise eloisebiddlecombe.co.uk does bold, colourful hand stitching. With a degree in illustration her subjects are fruit and she can also be commissioned to do a very likelike stitch representation of peoples' dogs. Her stand in the Emsworth Community Centre stood out for its cheerful larger-than-life portraits of fruit. Just the thing for a very cold day.
Anita Bell who dyes papers and then stitches into them can be found just off the High Street. Again, colour is her thing and visitors were drawn to her large, colourful framed works of art. anitabellpaperworks.com
I had an interesting conversation with Jane Fox who teaches drawing courses at the Emsworth Community Centre twice a week. Visitors were invited to make marks with sticks and homemade brushes, dipping into coffee and inks. Some people drew actual still life style pictures but most enjoyed just playing with different mark-making tools. Check out mymanyhats.co.uk
Sunday, 29 April 2018
|Pure beeswax candles made by Elizabeth Eveleigh. Birthday cakes, hives and my favourite bears!|
|Sue Inglis designs and makes these guiinea pigs and mice in their party hats! Great b'day present!|
|Glen Welstead made this colourful rag rug. |
Every time someone visits Handmade Happiness for the first time I appreciate all the unusual, beautiful gifts it offers to customers. It really is a special place with a unique selection of gifts that everyone seems to appreciate.
I've been looking back over nearly 10 years of blog writing. I used to make all the time and now I squeeze in making with the paperwork and chatting involved in managing a shop. I want to make more things and perhaps adapt some of my older designs for the shop now. And with so much buying online now I need to sell online as well as in the shop...
By the way the rag rug sold a while ago. I just wanted to share it as another example of great craftmanship!
Saturday, 28 April 2018
|Blue tit by Tanya Williamson, one of several of her new framed pictures in the shop|
|New cushions made by Tanya Williamson with bowls by Justine Jenner and pots by Niloo|
|A perfect camellia from the garden|
This week Tanya Williamson has brought in lots of new cushions and new framed pictures. Kate Box has just added to her popular wrist warmers and neckwarmers and I've made some more jewellery. The shop is well stocked for a busy Saturday.
I just read the first posts I wrote on this blog. I started writing it when frantically busy preparing for the Country Living magazine show in Islington. I used to do that show every year and I thought it would be fun to write about the lead up. First post September 22nd 2008.
By October 2008 I was writing about the dream to own my own shop. Back then I didn't seriously think that owning a shop was possible. I lived in Chichester then and shop rents were impossibly expensive. I couldn't have owned a shop in Chichester but I do own a shop in Petersfield.
I wonder if consistently writing a blog for nearly 10 years is some sort of a record? This blog has had it's ups and downs. When it started all the readers were British. Now over half are American and often there's as many French readers as British ones. The comment option has never been used and that's ok. I can see from the stats that plenty of you are still looking at it. So thank you.
Thursday, 26 April 2018
Sunday, 22 April 2018
|Cushion bags made with fabric I bought in India|
|Fringed napkins become a cushion bag|
Thursday, 19 April 2018
Wednesday, 18 April 2018
|Penny Seume's tea towels showing sketches of London|
|Right side and reverse of the shop's business cards showing my dolls|
|Examples of pretty ceramic buttons by Stockwell ceramics|
Does everyone have a dishwasher these days? I certainly don't. How much more of a pleasure would drying up be if your tea towel is a work of art? Penny Seume prints her artwork onto fabric (see scarves in a post below) and one of these tea towels, seen in the shop would make an excellent present. And if you do have a dishwasher you could just frame the tea towel!!
To get 400 business cards printed quickly I got a re-print and forgot that my opening times are different at this time of year. Since Christmas I've not been opening on a Tuesday. Sorry about that. Once it gets busy again I'll open on Tuesdays too.
When sorting through some boxes I came across a stash of these gorgeous buttons. I had put them aside for a project where I was going to seal a cellophane bag of pretty fabrics with one of them but some ideas never see the light of day, so these buttons and many similar are now for sale. £1.50 each.
Welcome back sunshine. Today promises to be a good one!
Sunday, 15 April 2018
|Elephant designed and made by Kerry Lucas|
|Bear designed and made by Kerry Lucas|
|Panda designed and made by Kerry Lucas|
On Saturday Kerry Lucas aka Crafty Kestrel came into Handmade Happiness with her knitted and felted creatures and I fell in love with them. So you can now buy these three cute little chaps in the shop.
Kerry has also had a book published of her knitting patterns which is available on Amazon. Find out more on Facebook or on etsy: CraftyKestrelUK
Monday, 9 April 2018
|Penny Seume's artwork on her silk scarves|
|Bee Mellor's gorgeous birds|
|Carol Smith's lined purses|
|Justine Jenner's brilliant pots|
|Frank Higgins' clever handmade kaleidoscopes|
|Samantha Robertson's decorated ceramics|
|Niloo's sculpted pots|
|Sheila Barrow's brilliant embroideries|
|Kate Box's popular wrist warmers and neckwarmers|
This week I've been choosing pictures for a flyer to advertise Handmade Happiness. I'm reminded of how many brilliant makers allow their work to be sold in Handmade Happiness and I am really grateful to them.
These pictures only represent a fraction of the items for sale in Handmade Happiness. And only a fraction of the wonderful makers who have their things in the shop. More pictures soon.
Last week brought news of yet another gift shop closing down in my town. This year has been very hard with three lots of snow and constant rain, both of which stop people browsing in the shops.
But after nearly 7 years in Handmade Happiness I know that things will get better and I was tremendously encouraged to recently learn I have been short listed for Best Retail Shop in Petersfield. Thanks a million to everyone who voted for Handmade Happiness.
By the way if any maker reading this would prefer not to have a picture of their work with their name on included in the new flyer let me know.
On a completely different subject, I have just written the very last post about my trip to India in January. Do take a look. It's Seeing India with Jenny