Thursday, 26 April 2018

Clean planet


There is a new UK Plastics Pact which lots of companies have signed up to which promises to reduce plastic wrapping by 2025.

But why wait?

It seems that any promised action is always for way into the future. But action is needed now.

 Communities are doing litter picks and everyone I know is trying to avoid buying anything wrapped in plastic at the supermarket. But it's difficult when nearly everything in the supermarket seems to be packaged in a plastic bottle or have cling film or polythene round it...

I am trying to look at the worst plastic offenders - like black plastic veg trays, plastic netting (on fruit)  and cling film with a creative eye.
Can these objects be made into something attractive? Or better still, into something both useful and beautiful!

I've got a few ideas and I'll be experimenting in the shop. As soon as possible I'll offer a free workshop in Handmade Happiness for anyone that's interested.
Meantime I'll keep jotting down ideas in my notebook and puting plastic rubbish into a big bag for creative upcycling!

Although it's way ahead there are two events I want to mention in October.

Firstly on Saturday October 6th friends and I will give free workshops in the Festival Hall, Petersfield as part of a charity event for Home Start Butser.

 Secondly on October 14th it's the annual outing from Petersfield to the Knitting and Stitching Show in London. If enough people want to go (we need at least 35) a coach will run from the Festival Hall car park. A list you can add your name to will be in Handmade Happiness or just email me.

Sunday, 22 April 2018

No more plastic!

Cushion bags made with fabric I bought in India

Fringed napkins become a cushion bag
This week's charity sale bargains, details below

I want the shop to be a plastic-free zone.

Since Handmade Happiness opened, nearly 7 years ago now, I have always made small bags and carrier bags from old magazines customers kindly give me. But the cushions are too big for my bags so I have had to buy 'bags for life' from Marks and Spencer just for the cushions.

But recently I've had the sewing machine out and I've made the three bags above especially for the cushions. Now I have no reason to buy plastic...
except that I usually wrap pottery and paintings in bubble wrap. Instead, I've been using thick paper that a customer gave me from their Amazon purchases but it's not quite as protective as bubble wrap...

I had a lovely conversation with a lady who lives next door to a sheep farm and she wondered if felt made from the fleeces would be a good wrapping material for pottery.  Soft felt sheets would be ideal. And, as these coincidences happen, another lady on Saturday asked if I would like some felt sheets she has that an organic veg supplier from Devon uses to protect fruit and veg. Yes please!

There is a new business for someone - to provide biodegradable packaging to  shops and businesses.

I am also thinking of ideas to look at non-recyclable rubbish creatively. Can we make something beautiful and useful out of rubbish that would otherwise go to landfill? More on this later. Any suggestions gratefully received at jennystacy6@gmail.com

The last picture shows the 'nearly new' things I found at Petersfield's annual Save the Children sale over this weekend:
 A handmade embroidered cotton blouse; a fine wool blue pattern scarf; a Crea outfit (we used to sell Crea at Tricot Too where I once worked. A very expensive Scandanavian label) and a cashmere scarf. The napkins in the bag above were also found at the same sale. 

Thursday, 19 April 2018

Best shop

Handmade Happiness has just been shortlisted as Best Shop

It's ironic that I've just been emailled the news that Handmade Happiness has been nominated as Best Shop. The email contained a suggestion that I reserve a table for 10 at £25 a head for the award ceremony. 

This has come when honestly, has there ever been a worst time for independent shop keepers?
People are not spending and I sympathise. I too am not spending. Ever since the uncertainty brought about by Brexit people have decided to hang on to their money. We buy food, but spending on anything else seems to have stopped.

Time and again the lovely people who come into my shop say: 'What a beautiful shop.' Or 'You always have such pretty things.' Or 'This is my favourite shop.' They still leave empty handed.

In the past I had occasional days when I took no money. That was acceptable. But it's much worse than that now. If people don't start buying soon the shop may have to close.

And yet I had a record November and December. Everyone loves the shop at Christmas. But it's 7 months until November and the rent has to be paid every month. Not to mention electricity, card machine, insurance, business cards etc.
As they say about dogs: 'A shop is for life, not just for Christmas.'

I don't want to have to beg (especially as half the people reading this are in the USA so it would be silly!) but please think about buying something when you enjoy looking round the unique experience that is Handmade Happiness. If everyone looking bought a card it would be a start and the cards in the shop are better than anywhere else don't you think?

In the meantime I'm having a long hard think about the future. But one thing is certain:  I won't be spending £250 on a table for 10 at the Best of Petersfield award ceremony!

Wednesday, 18 April 2018

Look at these!

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

New in Handmade Happiness

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

Wonderful makers

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

Saturday, 7 April 2018

Coming soon! More from Northfield Primitives

I love these animals on wheels made by the very talented Sarah of Northfield Primitives
Sarah's charming handmade dog brooches sold like hot cakes 
Just one of Northfield Primitives charming bunny brooches left in the shop now

I am excitedly looking forward to stocking more of Sarah from Northfield Primitives unique work.
 
The shop mostly stocks the work of local artists but when I saw
Sarah's things on Instagram last year I knew they were just right for Handmade Happiness. The items pictured all sold last year and there will be some different things and some of the same things in the shop shortly. Watch this space, or better still, come into the shop.

Her items are beautifully made and are the kind of pieces you just fall in love with. If you're on Instagram you can see more on @northfieldprimitives. She also has an etsy shop.

Wednesday, 4 April 2018

Just Dreaming of Amersham old town





Saw this in Amersham old town ... 



And this shop offers living accomodation and a freehold shop



The houses are all listed and centuries old
 



A perfect front door



In the museum the floor was a map Amersham old town



The cafe where we had lunch







This house is for sale!
On Monday I went to see my daughter in Tring and she drove us to Amersham old town for the day. And I fell in love with the place.

 It is picture perfect, like a period film set. Along the High Street every building is centuries old and yet perfectly preserved. I was shocked by how attractive it is.

 Set in the Chilterns there are rolling hills all around and yet, I was told that it's on the end of a tube line so only 35 minutes to Marylebone. An hour to the city and central London so it's commuter belt and, because of this prices are higher than I hoped!

My daughter and I had a delicious toasted goats cheese and red pepper sandwich followed by a Moroccan orange piece of cake at The Grocer, pictured above. I imagine going there a lot!

There was just one charity shop where I was thrilled to pick up a lapis lazuli necklace for just £1. A smart interior design shop where I mistook pieces of patterned paper for gift wrap and they were actually wallpaper - sold in metre lengths and, nearby, probably the best toy shop I've ever come across.

I imagined that a shop like Handmade Happiness would be very successful in a town like this...so I thought I'd just find out how much a house like the one above and the freehold shop with living accomodation would cost...

I am naive sometimes. I day dream a lot. But this dream dies here and now. The house is 850,000 and the freehold shop in a house is 995,000.

However, all is not lost. I am newly inspired to make the very best of my Handmade Happiness shop here in Petersfield, a town that, until very recently, I really believed was the best place to live in the country!! 







Friday, 30 March 2018

Happy Easter everyone!

The Easter themed window at Handmade Happiness
Twisted willow with knitted decorations by Sue Inglis, ceramic decorations by Kate Hackett and one of my cashmere bunnies 

New this week -  Carol Smith's  sock creatures


Handmade Happiness was open today normal hours and will be open tomorrow, Easter Saturday again from 10am to 5pm. It will not be open on Sunday or Monday.

Tuesday, 27 March 2018

New in the shop

Cups and saucers made by Justine Jenner
Gift wrapping for a customer
New card stocks from textile artist Willemien Stevens
Textile art card by Willemien Stevens

Justine Jenner has just brought in more stock and some good news. Justine has been selected to have a free stand for two days at the Country Living magazine show at Alexandra palace in late April this year. She will also be selling at Handmade Oxford and the Guildford open air craft market.

I first met Willemien Stevens at the Country Living show many years ago. Somehow year after year our stalls were near each other and I always admired what she was selling. Her cards are representations of the original textile art pictures she sold. All in painted white frames with white mounts. They looked so fresh and I always bought her cards. Back then I asked her that, if ever I was to have a shop anywhere please could I stock her cards? She said yes, probably confident that I never would have a shop...

So today in Handmade Happiness I have 26 different designs of Willemien's as quality cards selling for £2.50 each. Just what I wanted!

Friday, 23 March 2018

New! Chicken watercolours

Watercolour of chickens painted by Frans de Leij
Pretty chickens painted by Frans de Leij

Local artist Frans de Leij came in with three chicken paintings. A perfect subject matter for Petersfield where many people keep a few chickens in their back gardens. I know someone who allows his chickens the full run of his house but that's unusual...
These are framed and rather beautifully painted.

Sunday, 18 March 2018

Open in all weathers?



Saturday is normally the busiest day in the shop. The day when the most customers spend the most money. So when the snow came back on Saturday at precisely 10am as the forecast for Petersfield had predicted, my heart
sank. For snow is the shopkeepers enemy...
This second, hopefully smaller 'beast from the east' reminds me of what happened the last time the snow came. Last time I kept the shop open for normal opening hours, even though Barclays, the post office and most shops in Petersfield were closed for a day or a day and a half due to weather conditions.

When it snows people stay at home. They certainly don't browse in shops. In really bad weather I can be in the shop all day and see no-one. Meanwhile the rent, electricity for lighting and heating etc. still have to be paid. It's worse for shops that employ staff whose overheads are much higher than mine. However  this year has been exceptional with the cold still with us in what is officially 'Spring' through March.

 On Saturday my family visited the shop on my younger grandaughter's second birthday. A joyful occasion.It was snowing and bitterly cold. So rather than waiting for customers who would perhaps not appear, I took the unusual decision to close at 3pm two hours earlier than normal. I apologise to anyone who might have tried to visit Handmade Happiness between 3 and 5pm. 

Hopefully I'll see you in a warmer enviroment next week.








Thursday, 15 March 2018

New in Handmade Happiness

We have the full range of Kate Box's popular wrist warmers
A photo I took through one of Frank Higgins' teleidoscopes. Frank has just delivered five more of the smallest size teleidoscpes
I love these ballerina elephants designed and made by Sue Inglis. Four are in the shop now.
Justine Jenner is constantly adding new pieces to her impressive range of pottery for sale in Handmade Happiness

Every day I'm in the shop I feel proud to have such talented makers' work for sale. I am really lucky because their work gives the shop its welcoming atmosphere and provokes a delighted response from customers.

Tomorrow I plan to visit the evening preview of the Contemporary Textiles Fair where I may be lucky enough to find more talented makers who want to have their work in Handmade Happiness.

I've just written a piece about crafts in India in my other blog: 
seeingindiawithjenny.blogspot.co.uk
Do check it out. Today I've described block printing, rug making and jewellery making.