Saturday, 22 September 2018

Happy 10th Birthday Blog!!

Ten years ago on September 22nd 2008 I started writing this blog. I wrote about my dream of having a shop. I also wrote in detail about making thousands of pounds worth of stock for the Country Living Magazine show in London which, in those days, I did regularly. I wrote about making for shops and tried to give some insight into the struggles of being a designer/maker.
I now write about the struggles and rewards of running that long-dreamed for shop.  I still make but not as much as I used to. My three children all now have children of their own and I love being a Granny. 
My readers are mostly in the USA which I am thrilled about but UK readers are a close second and occasionally, for no apparent reason I get a burst of interest from Russia!
I feel another change is coming. I want to re-vamp this blog but more about change next time.
Thank you to any reader who has followed this blog from the very tentative start ten years ago. You deserve a medal!

Tuesday, 18 September 2018

New this week

Love this sparkly jewellery made by Annier Sherburne
More Annie Sherburne jewellery available in the shop this week
This week I'm painting faces and cutting out fabric for new dolls designed and made by Jenny Stacy

I'm pleased to have new jewellery by Annie Sherburne in the shop now just as people are starting to buy Christmas presents when they see special things.

I love making dolls, painting the faces, selecting the fabric. These latest ones will be an enlarged version of the little finger dolls in the picture above. They won't have embroidered hair and I have agonised over what hair they will have, if any. At first I thought rabbit ears but that didn't look right, then I wondered about a knitted or crocheted hat but soon rejected that idea. I have now decided they will have dreads or thick wool hair like my former dolls had.

I also plan to make two other styles of doll and we've sold out of the cashmere rabbits I make so more of those. At the same time I am looking forward to getting into some serious jewellery making.

With so many small shops being forced to close down and even big department stores teetering on the brink you must be wondering how Handmade Happiness can keep going.  I am lucky in that the shop has many loyal, regular customers that come in whenever they need a card and a present and many more people who say they will come back to do their Christmas shopping at HH. And they will.

Saturday, 8 September 2018

Shop Closed Today Saturday September 8th

I've cut out and painted leaves for Autumn garlands
More carrier bags from wallpaper sample books
I love this zinnia in my garden!
Pure beeswax candles made by Elizabeth Eveleigh for the shop
I hate to close the shop on a Saturday but just this once my daughter needs me for babysitting. No more days off before Christmas I promise! 

Sunday, 2 September 2018

What I’ve been doing and not doing recently

A 'princess' necklace for 4 year old grandaughter
Necklaces on elastic so 2 year old grandaughter has something she can wear too!
Also knitting a pretty scarf
Bits and bobs I've made that I'll be making more of...
Fabric scraps from the Eternal Maker, Chichester
Love this quilted fabric for littlies but it had sold out...

Long, long ago I made jewellery for shops. All sorts of jewellery. Conventional pearl and semi-precious stone jewellery; jewellery entirely from beads I'd made myself; jewellery from wooden beads I'd painted; jewellery from a mixture of beads I'd made from cloth, wood or clay...

I didn't photograph all this jewellery which seems a bit of an oversight now...

Since having the shop I've got out of the habit of making jewellery but for the past few weeks I've felt the need to get back into the habit, especially because I'd like to have a good stock of all kinds of jewellery built up in time for Christmas shoppers. I've sorted out my beads and I've experimented with papier mache for a different sort of bead but I've lost my motivation. Has anyone seen it? 

 I've got to tell you about a shop that a friend and I have visited twice in a week! It's The Eternal Maker in Chichester's Terminus Road. This is a shop that stocks unusual fabrics from around the world. Unusual in the sense that, as far as I know, no other shop stocks such a diverse selection. It also has wool and a cafe which serves homemade cakes including excellent cheese scones.


Tuesday, 28 August 2018

Brilliant local artists

Ann Hutchings hand embroidered view of the South Downs
Helen Thair's stunning portrait of a fox cub
Wendy Denham sea scape
Niloo Wickramasinge's Grasses

These are a few of my favourite pieces at this year's PACS exhibition.

See more of Helen Thair's work on instagram @helenthairart and find out more about Wendy Denham through her website

Sunday, 26 August 2018

Arundel Gallery Trail - on today and tomorrow

Catalogue cover art by Deborah Richards
Visit Andy Waite's venue - 54 Tarrant Street
Looking Out Over England by artist Karin Moorhouse,venue 8
Fowey sketch by Deborah Richards, venue 7 above the library

On Wednesday I spent a magical few hours on the Arundel Gallery Trail. If you can get there today or tomorrow I urge you to do so. It runs from 12pm to 5.30 but some of the venues don't open until 2pm.

The great thing about the trail is that you can walk to all venues around the town (and see some beautiful houses and good art in the process.) The difficult thing about the trail is finding somewhere to park the car.

On weekdays venues are only open from 2pm to 5.30pm so if you want to visit all 61 venues you'd have to literally sprint round. Better to do it in chunks over two or more days. I started at the library and enjoyed the energetic art of Deborah Richards who does oil on paper monotypes and mixed media paintings.

Nearby in School Lane is Karin Moorhouse at Venue 8. This talented and versatile artist offers a house full of pictures you'd love to own. At the same venue a familiar face if you ever watched The Great Pottery Thrown Down is Jim Ranson showing his ceramics.

Round the corner in Tarrant Street is venue 24 - a treat of a house showing beautiful oil paintings by Andy Waite.
Decades ago this artist was famed for his pictures of fruit, done in his own inimitable style. Now landscapes and cloudscapes, some of which have an almost spiritual quality.

I hope this gives you a taste of the Arundel Gallery Trail and, if you can't visit this year perhaps you'll be able to visit next year. Highly recommended.

It's all happening this week- the Hampshire Art Trail is on and so is the Petersfield Art show at the Festival Hall in Petersfield. The PACS show ends tomorrow but is on all day today. So many interesting paintings and pieces of craft , again it is difficult to see everything in just one visit so I'm going again today. I'll try and take some pictures to share with you. 

Saturday, 18 August 2018

Art scarves in the shop by Gemma Bedford

These large, soft scarves show paintings by local artist Gemma Bedford. Gemma came into the shop yesterday and immediately the first scarf shown above sold to a customer.

I think these scarves make great presents.

Thursday, 16 August 2018


I made a dozen of these colourful tree decorations
Found - one of my old painted badges. I used to make these for Country Living shows
Justine Jenner's gorgeous pots - the Handmade Happiness shop has the best craftspeoples' work
My family went to Whipsnade Zoo on Sunday and saw this beautiful bear!

This week I realised how very special the Handmade Happiness shop is. The handmade items are the very best you will see anywhere in the country. I am proud to work in this shop and I hope it can survive the chilly wind that is blowing through retail shops at the moment. 

In order to promote the shop to people that might not otherwise know about it I've agreed to do two craft fairs in October. One is Blackmoor, a nearby apple farm which has an annual village day. I used to do this fair pre-shop and this year I'll hand out lots of shop business cards but will only actually sell things made by me. The other is a local charity event. 

On Sunday my family all met up at Whipsnade Zoo and had a wonderful time watching tigers and giraffes and bears. The most magical of times was in the Butterfly house when the butterflies chose to fly onto little grandaughters' hands and stay there!

Saturday, 11 August 2018

In the zero plastic shop today

Carol Smith has made a round cushion like her Picasso-esque purses.
Bird mugs and jugs by Kate Hackett  have just flown in
Pretty babies knitwear knitted by Jenny Drant and Patricia

People I meet are really concerned about plastic. They want to change their life-style so they don't have to buy any more plastic. Yet in the supermarket everything is still packaged in non-recyclable plastic. It seems impossible to avoid. And now we are all aware of how it drifts on our oceans, clogs up our waterways and piles up on our beaches or pavements making beautiful nature ugly.  

This week I heard of one woman who is doing something about it. She has started a business  called Keep Old Containers. She re-fills peoples' empty plastic bottles with  shampoo, moisturiser,washing up liquid etc and a re-fill is cheaper than buying another plastic bottle from the supermarket. She's based in Surrey and has regular pop-up shops promoting the zero waste lifestyle.
@keepoldcontainers on Instagram.

This year the shop has become a zero plastic zone. I miss bubble wrap especially for wrapping mugs, bowls and jugs but I'm using thick paper kindly given to me and customers seem to be happy about it. And I've always made my own bags and carrier bags from magazines that again people are thoughtful enough to give to me rather than put into the recycling bin...

I'd like to offer a good alternative to plastic toys. If anyone can suggest a wooden toy maker it would be lovely to stock good wood toys, especially in the run up to Christmas...

Meanwhile I'm pleased to say the shop has had lots of re-stocks this week. Potters Justine Jenner, Kate Hackett and Samantha Robertson have all re-stocked their displays and Carol Smith has brought in more of her quirky purses and a cushion in the same style. She is going to make more cushions and larger, make up bags.  Carol also added more of her popular monoprint trees cards.

I've been making more tree decorations and boxes and I plan to make needlefelted bags in the same colourful style as the tree decorations. 
By the way, if you want to see more pictures like the ones above why not follow me on Instagram. Check out @jenny_handmade_happiness

Thursday, 9 August 2018

Samantha Robertson’s work

Mugs, bowls and coasters all made by Samantha Robertson
Samantha Robertson's work pictured in Handmade Happiness
Samantha Robertson's latest planters are selling particularly well

Yesterday Samantha Robertson of re-stocked her shop display. Samantha teaches pottery and her work is distinctively individual with a blue and green theme.

All the potters that supply the shop throw their own pots and then fire and decorate them. All the handmade items in Handmade Happiness are designed and made from scratch by the talented makers who sell there. That is what makes the shop so special.

I'll post again tomorrow as I have lots to share with you at the moment! Enjoy your day.

Saturday, 4 August 2018

Closed Today Saturday.

Exceptionally, I have to close the shop today to help family. So sorry for any inconvenience. The picture shows carrier bags I just made out of wallpaper samples. 

Monday, 30 July 2018

New in the shop

Carol Smith's Picasso-esque purses. Love these!
Neil Pafford's lathe-turned wood bowls
Teaching children to grow vegetables at the Physic Garden

I was very pleased to welcome these purses made by Carol Smith at the shop on Saturday. Carol is an multi-talented artist who draws monoprint cards for the shop and makes brooches and zipped bags using applique and machine embroidery. Famed for her middle-aged fairy brooches for Christmas and you may remember the large bottomed lady struggling to do up her bra which the shop has sold as a picture and a brooch.

These zip up, lined purses pictured above are on sale for £18.50 each.

I also like these rustic wood bowls, turned by Neil Pafford. Neil saw a man operating a primitive self-built lathe at Singleton Open Air Museum and once home, built his own version on which he made these bowls. There are five of them in the shop. Four at £15 and the biggest, which could be used for salad, at £20.

I don't usually publicise events which are nothing to do with the shop but the woman running Grow Your Own workshops for children in the summer holidays seems so nice I have a feeling children will really enjoy them. Wouldn't it be blissful if your children or grandchildren got so fired up at the thought of growing vegetables for the family that they took over part of the garden to do so! 
I remember when I was 10 and away at boarding school being given a small patch of garden and planting potatoes there. I was so proud when the potatoes I'd grown were served to the school for supper one night...

Thursday, 26 July 2018

Textile Christmas Decorations

Ideas for tree decorations made by Jenny Stacy
Another angle on those Christmas decoration ideas by Jenny Stacy

So on the hottest day of the year I made Christmas decorations in the shop.
I had a vague picture in my mind of a beaded textile decoration sprouting ribbons and possibly beads as well.

 These decorations are slightly different from one another and I now know where I'm going with this and what repeat decorations will basically look like.  Once I've made a quantity of these I'll focus on making some garlands and maybe a small version of this shape could be a bead in a necklace as well. 

I am grateful that I have a fan in the shop otherwise it would be very difficult to function. Tomorrow we are promised rain. Fingers crossed it comes and breaks this cycle of heat and humidity.

Advance warning: Family need me on Saturday August 4th. Not this Saturday, the following Saturday. After some thought I've decided the shop will be closed on that day. So on Saturday August 4th don't visit the shop because it will be closed. I'll remind you again nearer that date. 

Tuesday, 24 July 2018

Christmas Inspiration

Felted leaves with Christmas in  mind
Leaves made 3-D like brazil nuts.
Christmas colour? My inspiration this year. Picture found on Google

I hate puting a picture up without a credit but I just want to share my Christmas inspiration with you.

Thinking about the year so far with the total mess up that Brexit appears to be and the general lack of confidence in a brighter future I feel that Christmas should be a colourful, joyful celebration this year. A chance to enjoy being with family and, just for a few days, to not worry about what lies ahead.

I made the leaves in the first picture by deliberately puting together the bright colours of Holi Festival. Then I tried joining some of them together with the idea of a three tier decoration, largest to smallest adorned with beads and ribbons. I haven't added the beads and ribbons yet. I'll try that in the shop this week and show you the results in the next post.

Meanwhile I think I need a powerful fan to provide a cool breeze in the shop as it's getting hotter. 

A childhood memory is of us kids jostling round the tree in the playground where the thermometer hung. If it hit 100 degrees farenheit (37.778 degrees celsius) our parents could come and take us home. I was about 7 and we lived in the Middle East. When it was really hot my mother sat my younger brother and I in a cold bath.

Thursday, 19 July 2018

Sweet peas at Handmade Happiness

Sweet peas for sale yesterday outside the shop
I love sweet peas 
This is what the outside of Handmade Happiness looks like. The building is 400 years old!

Yesterday a friend came in carrying a box full of bunches of sweet peas from her daughter's garden. Their scent filled the shop. Sweet peas. along with delphiniums, larkspur and roses are my favourite flowers and it was a total joy to have some to sell. All but two bunches sold out immediately and I was pleased to be able to take the last two bunches home with me (first picture).

Sunday, 15 July 2018

Bits and Pieces

Made lots of carrier bags this week 
The shop is selling Drops Cotton Merino and these handmade velvet buttons
Pretty flowers in a Justine Jenner vase
Pictured above: I'm embroidering a t-shirt in quiet moments in the shop. 
Above: Kate Box's gorgeously soft baby blankets for sale in Handmade Happiness.

I made a dozen carrier bags from old Harpers Bazaar magazines this week that a lovely customer gave me. For some reason the more bags I make the more stock I sell. 

For nearly 7 years I've been making all the packaging materials for Handmade Happiness, carriers from the covers of magazines and paper bags from the inside pages. 

This year I've also stopped buying bubble wrap which up until recently I used for pottery sales and to wrap pictures. I don't want to have to buy anything plastic and again a customer has stepped in and is giving me thick packaging paper for wrapping fragile stock.

I enjoyed making the velvet buttons and have a stock of them for colder months. Now I'm embroidering a t-shirt - I want to cover the front with embroidery. I also made a necklace for the dress I wore for the Petersfield awards night on Friday. Handmade Happiness was shortlisted for Best Shop.I had decided in advance that it was unlikely that Handmade Happiness would win and I was right. It didn't win but as they say, it's the taking part that counts!

I am always so proud that the shop has so many talented makers. Kate Box, who lives in Petersfield is one of them. Pictured above - what a wonderful present for a newborn one of these soft baby blankets would be... 

By the way, if you want to see more photographs as soon as I take them, why not follow the shop on Instagram? I try to put up a picture every day. jenny_handmade_happiness