Monday, 25 May 2020

Mask making

Assorted masks in silk and cotton. Made by Jenny Stacy
I love Liberty. Masks made by Jenny Stacy

I've made about 20 masks in two sizes recently. Originally I thought I'd just make them for the family but when I put a picture on Instagram orders followed. 

I've never had any confidence in my dressmaking skills so I feel uncomfortable about charging for masks. They are well made and I'm confident they are well-liked, it's just that in this time of national crisis this is something I can do for other people especially anyone who is afraid to leave their house without the protection of a mask. So it doesn't feel right to charge for them.

I am very lucky because I have a lot of fabric. People used to give me fabric when I had the shop and although lots of it was given to fellow makers I kept what I loved.
And best of all I love Liberty tana lawns. This is a very fine cotton and I've collected any little bits of it for years. Now is a good time to use them.

The most important considerations when making masks is :
Does it fit well over your nose, mouth and chin and can you breathe through it?
The first ones I made had a double layer of cotton fabric. This was difficult to breathe through so I tried using plain silk as a lining with cotton and you can breathe through that. However I've nearly run out of silk so yesterday I made masks with a white gauze cotton lining which again is easy to breathe through.
Since taking these pictures I've also made mens' masks using fine linens in shades of grey/green and pale blue with the fine gauze cotton lining and these look good and again are easy to breathe through.

These masks wouldn't offer enough protection to anyone working in a hospital or working in a care home but I wear mine if I have to visit a supermarket and it seems possible that one day it may become compulsory to wear a mask anywhere indoors where there are lots of people gathered.

The good thing about wearing a mask is that you feel safer and that other people steer clear of you because seeing the mask  reminds them to social distance.

Tuesday, 12 May 2020

Are you ok?

The first peony has bloomed in my garden
I cleaned and tidied the dresser in my kitchen
Painting flowers in a vase
How are you?
Are you ok? Have you got enough food? Are you able to communicate with friends and family online? Is there a strict lockdown in your area? Are you working from home or outside of the home? Are you able to keep yourself busy if you are not working? Can you do some art at home?

These are questions that I cannot know the answer to as the comment box under each post is mostly unused. But if you do want to have any dialogue with me you can use my email address. If I don't hear from you I will assume you are ok!

Strange times with no obvious end to them. It's not good for our mental health not to know what is happening and what is going to happen in the future. Chatting to friends and family online and doing a bit of 'art' keeps me sane. What about you?

The peony picture reminds me that this time last year I posted another peony picture. In May 2019 I had the shop and I made things to sell in my shop. Medal brooches and colourful felt this time last year. I was also experimenting with making paper flowers and gold wax seals. 

This time last year one of my daughters kindly invited me to share a villa on a Greek island with her family. Even though it meant leaving the shop closed for a week it was a wonderful opportunity for me and a lovely break. Hot sun, beach, swimming pool and cool white villa. I can't imagine ever doing anything like that again. We can't travel abroad and airlines are rapidly going broke. Governments are keen to get the economy going again but until people feel safe they will be reluctant to leave the relative safety of being at home.

Make something. Making a face mask for example or making something for a friend or member of your family is a nice thing to do. I am half way through the canvas I mentioned in my last post. I'll get on with that now but whether or not it will end up good enough to share with you is anyone's guess !!
Take care of yourself. X

Tuesday, 5 May 2020

Drawing etc

Self portrait from a photograph taken a while ago.
Watercolour of iris seen on my walk
First page of new notebook with ideas for a new collage on canvas
Inspired by Grayson Perry I did a quick sketch of myself straight after his programme last week. The jaw is all wrong but according to him that doesn't matter! The main thing is to just draw, every day and you know what they say about practice making perfect! Or at least making me improve!

On my walk I saw some richly coloured velvety iris and couldn't resist having a go at painting ,them.

I like Grayson's attitude that it doesn't matter if it's no good it is just so satisfying to have a go. After all anything you are not happy with you can throw away or put it in a drawer and not show anybody! But the chances are you will surprise yourself !! At the moment when we are restricted it is good to challenge ourselves with something different.

I play around with drawing and paints but I've now decided to use the pile of canvasses I've ignored and try a big collage. Watch this space. And please have a go yourself. You'll be so pleased you did!

Tuesday, 28 April 2020

What are you doing in lockdown?

I've painted and decorated cotton reels to use as beads
I'm challenging myself to produce a painting a day
Inspired by Grayson's Art Club on tv I drew some faces today
I'm enjoying nature on my permitted one hour walk a day

How are you doing?

 Most people reading this live in the States. Hundreds read this but I don't know who you are or what you are going through. I'd like to know. 

Here in England I am on Day 37 of lockdown. I am alone and my kids don't live nearby. Luckily, thanks to Face Time/ WhatsApp video and Zoom we see each other on the screen daily. But I do miss face to face meetings with family and friends. Is it the same for you?

 I do not want to get ill so I keep to social distancing (at least 2 metres or over 6 feet) away from everyone I see when out for a daily walk. I am lucky that I live in an area of "Outstanding Natural Beauty" so there are nice walks nearby.
I try to walk at 1pm when most people are indoors having their lunch. Otherwise it can get uncomfortably crowded.

Do you have enough to eat? Getting food in can be difficult. I go early in the morning ie 7am to one shop for the week's shopping. When this is all over it will be nice to be able to buy wholemeal flour, risotto rice, eggs and pasta again. I find I spend more time preparing meals and baking than I used to. Do you?

I like to be creative. A friend is producing a painting a day for 100 days. I doubt I'll go on for that long but I do find painting (or drawing) therapeutic. 
I don't know if you can watch this online or on "Catch Up" but Grayson Perry has a new series called Grayson's Art Club which inspires you to do art. Highly recommend that. 

I wonder how your routine has changed because of the pandemic? I rely on Joe Wick's exercise routines on Utube to keep fit.  
Maybe you have small children and a partner at home. Maybe you are working from home and bringing up children at the same time. That must be so difficult.
We don't know how long this is going to go on for. We must try to stay positive and cheerful, for our own sakes and for our families.

I hope you are well, physically and mentally. I hope you have fun sometimes and that your family bring you joy.

My two year old grandson told me he was coming to get me to take me to his house . He sat on his plastic pedal car and zoomed towards the front door. He only lives about 200 miles away. And sorry but there's no passenger seat. I'd have to curl up in the space under his lift up driver's seat. But I love the idea sweet boy!!

Monday, 20 April 2020

Lockdown Birthday

Ready for my birthday 
Weekly shop finds...

I had a Happy Birthday despite being alone . Normally my family would visit and we would have a meal out somewhere. But my three children organised a Zoom chat at 8am when they watched me open the presents they'd sent.  I felt lucky all day. Lucky to have a roof over my head and enough food to eat and a loving family. And lucky to have lots of creative projects on the go so that I am rarely, if ever, bored. 
The children also came back on Zoom later for a family quiz they had organised. Which I lost. However treat of the week was seeing the Rolling Stones live on tv last night. Did anyone else watch ?

What changes are you experiencing since 'lockdown'?

My shopping habits have changed a lot. No longer can we just dash to pick up milk or just one ingredient for a recipe. Now we have to think through what we'll need for the week ahead and then try to find those things in just one shop. I like Tesco Express because it's near my house and they have tape on the floor so customers find it easy to 'social distance' and the staff are lovely.

 I find I am baking and making complicated dishes more often than before. And often ingredients have to be changed or left out because you can't find what you thought you needed. This can lead to some nice surprises. For example I didn't have olives but I did have dried prunes and would you believe the dish tasted even better than usual!!

I haven't been able to find flour for ages. I like wholemeal or spelt flour but all I could find this morning was plain white flour which I would never normally  buy but I want to make a cake and a cheese sauce so plain flour it will have to be.

No pasta but it's surprising how even ancient pasta at the back of the cupboard has proved absolutely fine to use. I'm also using tins of pulses I've had for years. Now nothing can be ignored!

Eggs have also been as rare as 'hens' teeth' so I was pleased to find some in my 7am shop this morning. Even though they cost 3 times as much as the ones I normally buy... Ditto with the cheese pictured. It cost £3.65 - too much normally but no choice if I wanted a strong cheddar... Small compromises really.

Another vital part of my daily routine is Joe Wicks with his utube exercises. I find if i do them first thing in the morning everything goes better in the whole day. I walk at 1pm when I reckon most people will be having their lunch so it's nice and quiet. I hope you have nice places to walk. I have never been so aware of birds' singing and all the little wildflowers and wild life before.
Keep well and keep strong. Lots of love.

Sunday, 12 April 2020

Paper Dolls

Paper doll drawn by Jenny Stacy
Doll, painted papers and clothes templates by Jenny Stacy
Twin paper dolls made for grandaughters by Jenny Stacy
You can cut clothes out of gift wrap or painted paper. Clothes templates drawn by Jenny Stacy
Happy Easter everyone!

This week's online session for my grandaughters was paper dolls. It took me a while to get the proportions right for the dolls themselves. I drew them then traced them onto thick card and the same with the clothes, not forgetting the tabs to fold back on the doll.

The easy way to make clothes is to draw round the clothes templates onto the back of gift wrap or even better, gift wrap you've glued to thin card to give them a bit more body. But I like the look of painted clothes better so I painted a few sheets of thin card and cut some of the clothes shapes out of that.

You could also glue pieces of fabric to thin card with a glue stick and draw round the clothes templates on the back of those. That would look really good using any bits of linen or printed cotton that you have.

I am very conscious at the moment that people can't get out to the shops the way they used to so any art project has to use things most people have already got lying round the house. Hopefully most people will have scissors, white paper,white card (although a cereal packet or other cardboard food box would be fine) glue, gift wrap or bits of fabric and paint.

I hope that you, dear reader, are managing to keep well and cheerful in these difficult times. If there's anything more you want to know about making paper dolls like these you can always email me on
Next week's project will be inspired by Nature. Now that walking for an hour has become a precious part of our day I think we are appreciating the sights and sounds of plants, trees and birds more than ever before.

Friday, 3 April 2020

Make an Easter flower crown - step by step

White card strip and strip with torn pictures or painted bits glued on.
Draw round your templates on white card and colour them in before cutting them out.
Glue cut outs to crown strip. Lastly add scrunched  yellow crepe paper or yellow tissue paper to flower centres.


white card, torn pictures from magazines and painted papers (optional), food box to make templates from, pencil, scissors, paints or crayons, glue and yellow crepe paper or yellow tissue paper.

I drew two flower shapes, 2 leaf shapes and a bird onto strong food box card and cut them out.  These are your templates.

Cut a strip of white card for each crown to fit round your head plus an overlap of 2-4 cms.  Mine were 4 cms depth by 54cms long.
Glue torn pictures of flowers etc to the crown to completely cover the white.
Remember you don't want these to stick out over the bottom of the crown but it is fine to have them sticking out from the top of the crown.

Then using your templates, draw round each of them as many times as you like onto white card. Do at least one of each shape. Paint or colour them in.
Cut out your shapes and glue them wherever looks good along the length of your crown strip.

Lastly add your flower centers. Draw some circles on white card to fit into the centre of your flowers, cut them out and glue them to your flowers.
Now, if you have yellow crepe or tissue cut off a strip about 16cms long by 3 -4 cms deep.  Cut a fringe all the way along the strip but only cutting half way down.   Add glue to the centre of your flower.Wrap the yellow strip round your finger and crush it in circular fashion into the centre of your flower. Repeat for all flowers that are on your crown.

Finally sellotape the ends of your crown strip so it fits your head perfectly.

Now you are all ready for Easter!

More roses

Paint crepe paper, cut out petal shapes and glue them around a bead. Two more roses (back to back) made yesterday.

Wednesday, 1 April 2020

Making flowers - and staying sane

The lower one is made by me
Not realistic but still fun to do

Daffodils from crepe paper

I'm trying not to leave the house and the challenge of making something different is keeping me happy! I'll try to make more roses today.  For the rose above I've painted crepe paper and glued cut out petals around a round bead.

My tips for staying sane and happy when you have to be indoors:
1)   I find getting dressed as soon as I wake up makes me feel positive about the day ahead. I've tried staying in a dressing gown half the morning and I found the day drifts a bit aimlessly. Being dressed, washed and ready puts you in the right frame of mind to enjoy your day.

2)  Exercise first thing. This is for my mental and physical health.  During this period of isolation I have found 10 minutes with Joe Wicks in the sitting room really beneficial. Check out utube Body Coach to find one of his sessions that looks like your level.

3) Try to shop just once a week.
 People seem to be getting creative with what is in their cupboards and fridge now that we can't just pop out for one thing. Being at home so much is a great opportunity to get creative with what we cook.
 I make a basic soup with onion, carrots and potatoes regularly. That's a base soup, you can add whatever you can spare to it. I can't do without Marigold stock powder. A heaped teaspoon of that in hot water added to soup, stews etc makes it taste great! 
Being a vegetarian I also make risottos, pasta and pasta sauces, lentil stew and ratatouille regularly too. Spice I'd find it hard to live without? CUMIN

Keep spare milk and bread in the freezer.

4) Have a routine. My very simple routine is just Exercise, Housework and Making. That works for me. What works for you?

I find housework very very boring. But yesterday I enjoyed it. I imagined the house was going to be photographed for a magazine and I was the stylist!!
I only got one room done to my satisfaction but I'll do another room today. That works for me. Would it work for you?

5) Walk somewhere you can avoid other people.  Not sure what the restrictions are like in the USA but I hope that wherever you are you are allowed to go out for a walk once a day.
 I've found quite a good time is between 1pm and 2pm. It breaks up the day and most people are having lunch at that time.  I went later yesterday and I was constantly having to detour round others. 

I hope you enjoy your day however you spend it.
Now back to that rose challenge. X

Wednesday, 25 March 2020

Art class 1

My daughter asked me to give grandaughters aged 4 and 5 an art class via Face Time. I thought about something easy that anyone can do using things found in most homes:

Salt, coins, tissue paper, flour, some watercolour paints (any childrens' paints are fine, white A4 copy paper ie ordinary paper you print on to;
pencil, glue stick, paint brush, water and optional wax crayons.

Once my daughter had put all these things into little bowls for each girl (only a very little salt and a very little flour ( half a teaspoon) is needed per child) we were ready to begin.

First you get some tissue paper (the sort you would wrap something precious in or interleave clothing with in a smart store, not toilet roll tissue) bigger than your piece of paper. Scrunch it up in your hands into a ball.  Use the glue stick to cover your paper with glue. Then open up your tissue paper ball and make it flat, then lay it onto the glued paper and smooth it down so it sticks all over.
Put it to one side to dry and get your coins.

With a new piece of paper put the coin under the paper and use wax crayon ideally but a pencil or wood crayon will do and draw back and forth over the top so that the imprint shows on your paper. My girls used their wax crayons and different coins, one at a time. We also thought about what else they could use. An old credit card worked well. 

Now let's try the salt. Paint onto a new piece of paper, lots of colour, and as you paint scatter pinches of salt over your wet paint. Scattering the salt is the most fun. (The end result isn't great, that's why there's no picture!!) 

Back to your now dry tissue covered piece of paper. Paint over it using lots of different colours. See pictures one and two above. 

Last of all the flour. Flour can gunge up your brushes so do leave this til last and wash out brushes straight away.
Drip some water into your flour from your paint brush. Don't touch the flour with your paint brush yet. Now with more water on your brush load brush with paint and mix the colour into your flour to make a paste. Use this paste (blue or red or green are best).  Let it dry. See picture 3 for an example of what it looks like.

Next Wednesday I'll do something different with them. This session lasted about an hour. Feel free to use it for your own children. 

Wednesday, 18 March 2020


On the river bank
Love these double tulips
Nature does it best. Photos by Jenny Stacy

Sad to announce that our Handmade Happiness Spring Event cannot go ahead.
I got a call from the Physic Garden to say it was closing its exhibition room until the end of April at least. 

Hopefully the Summer Event on Saturday June 27th can still go ahead.
It seems that China is just about over the crisis now therefore three months could be  the time it takes for a country to be declared safe again.

In the meantime we just have to look after each other and follow simple precautions. In a nutshell this is washing hands more frequently and for longer than usual, allowing 2 metres between yourself and others, and self isolating if you have a high temperature and/or a new persistent cough or if anyone you live with develops these symptoms.

On the plus side I find I am making and receiving more phone calls than usual. Catching up with old friends and checking everyone is ok. My children are phoning regularly expressing concern even though I am not old nor do I have any symptoms. But this crisis brings out the best in people, all caring for each other.

Sunday, 15 March 2020


Cheerful beads made and painted by Jenny Stacy for the Spring event

What strange and, sometimes, fearful times we are living through. With constantly updating news on the radio it is hard to plan how to react to this 'crisis'.

I admit I didn't take the threat of the Corona virus seriously until very recently. But the media is united in confirming that this is really happening. I don't hear a reassuring alternative view. So my old theory that this might be a smoke screen to deflect our attention from the huge problems of climate change, poverty and homelessness has been shot down.

Now I'm thinking about how we can help each other. Did you see the Italian response when they flung open their windows to join in the singing? What a great attitude!
Let's take the Italians as our role models! No panicking, no stock piling food and goods just a genuine concern for our neighbours, family and friends.

We makers have the advantage of enjoying being at home where we can be extra productive! We are happy to be confined to some extent. I'm tempted to write a list of fun things to do if isolated. For example to improve my piano playing in a more disciplined way; to get on with writing the book; to spring clean and count my blessings.

However we must take personal responsibility by not spreading the virus or exposing ourselves to unnecessary risk. Keeping a metre apart from people if possible, washing our hands more frequently than usual and catching our coughs and sneezes are good precautions. And if you are reading this and fear you have got the virus or know you have got it I send love and the hope that you'll be over it really soon. X 

Thursday, 12 March 2020

Our Spring Event

In this week's local paper

I am really pleased that the Petersfield Post newspaper has published this. Excellent publicity for the first Handmade Happiness event at the Physic Garden on Saturday March 28th.

Sunday, 8 March 2020

Empty shelves in supermarkets

No toilet rolls for sale in Waitrose yesterday afternoon
Very little pasta left either

People are stocking up in case the Corona Virus affects them and they have to stay indoors. This kind of panic buying means that if you do your weekly shop and just want one toilet roll you can't have it because someone has cleared the shelves of toilet rolls and there are none left.

I heard of one Tesco customer who ordered £500 worth of goods online and that was their second order. The first order was for £600. And people have been walking around supermarkets with trolleys full of toilet rolls and extra food. 

While I was in Waitrose I saw the shelves being re-stocked but only with packs of 16 toilet rolls. That was all they had, forcing some people to grab for those, perhaps worried about when they'd ever find the normal four packs...

Hand sanitisers and anti-bacterial wipes and liquid soaps are also being stock piled even though this is a virus, not an infection.
Where are people stock piling all these extras? And what about the millions of people who live on a budget and can't stock pile anyway?

We are living through strange times.
As someone put it,comparing deaths from Corona virus to the thousands of deaths per day from starvation that are rarely if ever mentioned in the media..."Corona virus could affect the rich. Famine doesn't" 

Just as Brexit once filled the radio air waves, now it's Corona virus. In more cynical moments, I wonder if this is partly a smoke screen to distract attention from the fact that little is being done about climate change, poverty and homelessness in this country and these, to my mind, are far more urgent priorities.
I'd like to know what you think .

Monday, 2 March 2020

Thinking and Making

I've painted some beads
I've found some old glass buttons
Violets spotted while walking
I have never before spent so long thinking about making before actually getting down to it. Is it the weather? Is it the doom and gloom news? I don't know. Maybe, to be honest, is the fact I want the next things I make to be more special and it's the fear that they won't be that holds me back. So a confidence issue. All I know is that today I want to finally produce something worth talking about and taking pictures of!!

Monday, 24 February 2020


If you didn't know this is real you could see it as bead jewellery!
Bits and bobs I've made in the past that still inspire me now.
Spring colours in these raggy headed dahlias. Good for spring inspiration

I am thinking jewellery. I want to make big statement necklaces and I haven't made any for a while. Many years ago (long before I had the shop) I made lots of jewellery for various shops and galleries but I am a bit out of practice now.
I want cheerful colours and a bit of humour in my pieces and the components made by hand from scratch. Next time I write I should have some new necklaces to show you. 
I don't know about you but I don't feel as productive when the weather is damp and overcast. I long for Spring but we will just have to think Spring as we paint and make. To make with joy!!

Thursday, 6 February 2020

Handmade Happiness Events

Spring flowers in my window. Pottery by Niloo Wickramasinghe

If you miss the Handmade Happiness shop or you wish you'd visited before it closed down here's your chance:

Meet the makers and see their lovely handmade things at the Physic Garden rooms off Petersfield High Street, GU32 3JJ on the following dates:


Spring Event:   March 28th 

Sumnmer Event:  June 27th 

Autumn Event:  September 26th

Christmas Event:  November 14th

Looking forward to seeing you there.

Trying and failing

This is a failure but by trying you learn what you are good at and what you are not good at.

Blank canvas and acrylic paints. I just thought I'd give it a go. Not at all happy with the result but in painting this I have learned that I must stick to what I am vaguely good at - flowers.
It's like writing. If you just do it you feel good. It's the fear of failure that holds us back from discovering what we are truly capable of.
When looking at the blank white canvas or the blank white paper it's hard to start in case it doesn't work out in the way we want it to. But action is the only way forward.
So just go for it. Paint your picture. Write your novel. You may well surprise yourself!!

Saturday, 25 January 2020

Colour inspiration

Rose head picked up from the pavement
Apple peel colours
Love these marbled pattern carrier bags in Carluccio's
Pattern inspiration . The grating at Crystal Palace station
This bag is one of the prettiest I've seen
Walked into a church in Southsea and was blown away by the beauty of the interior

Inspiration for creating is all around us. It's so good to get out and explore. And the bonus is more exercise! My goal is 10,000 steps a day although most days I do far less.
I am sorting out shop stuff. Two lots of tax figures this month. I hope that by the end of January all loose (shop) ends will be neatly tied up and I will be able to concentrate on actually making instead of just taking pretty pictures to inspire the making!