Wednesday, 21 August 2019

PACS Art Exhibition on now

Exquisite moths made by Ann Hutchings
Love the soft hues of this painting by Wendy Larken
Another lovely Wendy Larken piece with handmade paper and gold leaf
Meditative painting by Niloo Wickramasinge
Niloo's pots won an award
Statement furniture made by Martin Romanowicz

Petersfield's artists annual exhibition preview was packed last night. As I've mentioned before, this area  boasts a large population of artistic people and the work at the exhibition is as varied and individual as ever. I couldn't resist taking photographs of some of the pieces. And I'll visit again before it closes on Sunday to take some more photographs.

Long time readers of this blog will recognise the name Ann Hutchings. I've showed her embroidery before. She works with just one thread of silk and her work is amazing. Why isn't she famous?

Niloo Wickramasinge is another very talented lady. She makes things for the shop and is multi-talented, excelling at painting,  pottery and needlecraft. Again, in my humble opinion, she should be famous.

Wendy Larken's paintings are so special. These convey a serenity and would be lovely to have at home. Another very talented lady!

Martin Romanowicz is exhibiting his furniture for the first time at this exhibition at the Festival Hall. His work is so tactile it was all I could do to restrain myself from smoothing it and opening those drawers!! This piece is made from maple and walnut. Terence Conran would love this I think!!

I recommend visiting this exhibition if you don't live too far away. Your favourites might be very different from mine...

Sunday, 18 August 2019

Dressed peg dolls

Made by Jenny Stacy - varied clothes, not sure which I like the best!

I love playing with wool and bits of fabrics to dress the little peg dolls painted earlier this week. I'll sell some naked for people to dress themselves...

I made the clothes for the one on the right first. The knitted top (soft Alpaca yarn) took too long to make so I won't be doing many of those. I like the flowery skirt but to be honest it's a bit too long. Then I crocheted a dress for the doll on the left. Again it took a bit long to make it regularly and I prefer to see the feet. The middle one was the quickest to make and I think that's the one I'll be making more of. She's a subtle fairy as the bow to her skirt forms wings!

None of these have hanging loops as I'm imagining them propped on a shelf or even in a dolls' house. I think I'll sew in loops from now on so they can, if you want, be hung on the Christmas tree.
Talking of Christmas, I don't like seeing Christmas cards in charity shops during August. It feels too early. But when is the earliest people will be happy to see Christmas decorations and cards? This year I want to start Christmas early in the shop. Not in August but by the end of September. So look out for a slow infiltration of Christmas items in the shop from the end of September onwards.

Thursday, 15 August 2019

Peg dolls

41 peg dolls painted by me, Jenny Stacy! Now to dress them!!
Some old lace and  pretty fabrics.
Now what shall we wear?
I had all these pegs in a drawer so I thought I'd get ahead by painting and varnishing them. My dilemma is how to dress them? Should most of them be fairies (wings always a problem) or should they be women or girls with different clothes on each one?
Then I thought that some people might prefer to dress them themselves. I don't like kits but I could offer some naked dolls for people to enjoy dressing them themselves?
I dressed one for the shop window yesterday. She has a knitted top and flowery skirt with a band of lace sewn around it. The knitting bit takes longer than I would like but she does look pretty. 
I'm inspired by Queen Victoria's little dolls on Pinterest. She dressed them herself and they are very decorative in their silk dresses with lace overlays.

 I thought that with sleeves my dolls could have pipe cleaner arms as well but that makes them unsafe for little ones. Best to keep things simple. The trick is to find simple, quick ways of making that still look effective and expensive.

I'll use the pipe cleaners I've just tea dyed for my tiny fairies. I didn't have enough of those to sell last Christmas and they are very popular.
Meanwhile I've woken up with a stiff arm after knitting for too long last night. I'm trying out a hat pattern. Hats will hopefully be in the shop next month knitted by the wonderful Jenny Drant. I am such an amateur in comparison to her!! 
The reason I am making lots at the moment is because the shop is so quiet. I love it when people come in and browse and admire all the clever handmade things made by clever local people. Come in and say hello if you can. Thank you.

Sunday, 11 August 2019

This week

Bags from my painted papers
Having fun with paint
Two scarves I'm knitting
I made more painted flower hair clips as the last lot sold out.
Painting on handmade paper. It looks so different.

I like to start my day with painting on a sheet or two of paper.
Therefore I have lots of painted papers. I made the latest lot into bags for the shop. I know people appreciate recycled paper bags. Some people even save the little bags I make from magazine pages. The carrier bags I make from magazine covers are used again as storage bags or gift bags.

A bigger project I have in mind is to sew my sheets of needlefelting (one is seen under the flower hair clips) into cushions. Ideally they'd have a velvet back and hand embroidery on the front. That could be something to do in the shop next week. Lots of people are away on holiday right now so it's a quiet time for the shop. But as long as I have something to make at my work table I am happy. After all it's only three months until that busy time of the year when I always wish I'd made more during these quieter times!

Sunday, 4 August 2019

Bits and bobs

Niloo's ornamental pots and vases in Handmade Happiness
Having fun with a painting a day 
New bunting for the top of the window
Pretty mohair for making scarves
These paper lightshades from Ikea look like an art installation!

It's been a week of bits and bobs. I've cut out more bunting, started on two scarves, sewn bits on to dementia dolls (which are now called fidget dolls after my daughters objected to the name!) and I've managed to do some speedy painting before work.
 I'd like to do a lot more painting but other things get in the way. I need to do housework today (Sunday) and I'm always pleased once I've done it. ... I find it helps if there is something interesting to listen to on the radio while I'm cleaning. Cleaning is pretty much a mindless task isn't it and at least with something else to concentrate on you can work on automatic pilot!! 
I often think we are too well educated these days to do housework. But apart from necessary daily tasks Sunday is the day I can have a really good run at getting the house the way I want it.
I'm pleased with these giant light shades from Ikea. I bought them a while ago and have at last put them up.  They add interest to a high ceiling. My mother used to say never have a central light in a room. Only lamps. She would have hated these light shades...But if your house comes with central lights that's what you've got. You can add lamps and only have the central lights on occasionally can't you?

Sunday, 28 July 2019

Dementia dolls and eco-bricks

Dementia doll by Jenny Stacy
I love sweetpeas. This year the garden  is still giving me flowers after 3 weeks.

Regular readers will remember me making lots of very simple dolls with different colourful fabrics front and back, like the one above. Some sold but I still have lots left so I thought I'd turn them into dementia dolls.

With this one I sewed on pompom braid and a length of wide velvet ribbon. Then I knitted a piece with tails and loops and sewed that on too.  Now there are three areas that invite fiddling with. Four if you include the dolls' dreadlocks! And the doll is also the right size to be a 'baby' to be cuddled.

It is stuffed with toy stuffing but I am wondering if I could use soft plastic packaging instead. Up until now I have been putting this into large plastic bottles as 'eco bricks.'

My local authority East Hampshire District Council doesn't recycle food packaging which is really annoying. So for some time I have been puting all that soft plastic packaging into large empty water bottles. The problem is that lots of people are doing the same thing but there are very few places in the country that can actually use these eco-bricks.

 A local school used to take them to build an allotment but they have enough now. So where to put all these eco-bricks? The bloke I asked at the recycling centre hadn't heard of eco-bricks but he did tell me to bring them along so he could see what they looked like...

Everyone wants to do their bit to save the planet right now but sometimes it is not obvious what to do for the best.
Some people pick up litter whenever they see it.
When I visited my daughter in London this week I noticed a sign which said that people who leave their rubbish on the pavement or 'fly tippers' can be fined up to £50,000 !!! Can you imagine that actually being enforceable?

Thursday, 25 July 2019

Here Thursday not Friday

In case you are thinking of visiting Handmade Happiness please note that I will be in the shop today but not tomorrow. Tomorrow Friday 26th July I have family responsibilities. You can still look round but if you are travelling hoping to see me personally I won't be there.
Hope you are loving this heat wave!!

Saturday, 20 July 2019


Knitting with similar colours on my worktable.
So I put these in the window and the sun dried them
Peonies close up

The weather in this country (UK) is so changeable. I can hardly believe that these peonies which I left in water in the window during my days off early this week dried out from the heat and yet for the past three days we have had continuous rain.
I used to think the weather affected trade at the shop but I don't think that any more. It just takes one person to come in and the day is turned around and I love it when someone is truly happy with the choices (and purchases) she or he has made.
Whatever the weather I am happy making. The stitch on this scarf is called 'crest of the wave'. I've also made bunting this week and painted a couple of experimental pictures.
By the way I'm sorry about the black borders on these pictures. My phone does that when I try to get a close up. 
Enjoy your weekend everybody!

Monday, 15 July 2019

Virtual shop tour 1

Animal felt brooches by Karen Boller, felt, velvet and medals by Jenny Stacy and birds by Carol Smith
Ceramics by Justine Jenner
Paintings by Janice Cotton; pots by Niloo and turned bowls by Harry Butler
Interesting bark on a London tree

Justine Jenner has just re-stocked her shelves (picture two). Her work is vey popular.
The top three pictures will give you an idea of what the shop looks like. More pictures to come. 
I had to take a picture of the bark on this tree. Apparently it's a plane tree or London plane tree.

Thursday, 11 July 2019

Enjoying Flowers

Sweetpeas from my garden
Trying to paint sweetpeas
Queen of Sweden roses and hydrangeas from the garden
Love these delicate little flowers too. Seen in one of Niloo's pots.

It's sweetpea month in the garden. These are my favourite flowers and I love the abundant way that the more flowers you pick the more they seem to produce.
I tried to copy them on paper. Drawing with a pencil then painting with watercolours. I found it surprisingly hard. But I feel like trying to paint other flowers too now.
The hollyhocks are at their tallest best right now too. I've tried and failed to grow them in the garden. They seem to prefer the bit of dust next to an old wall and will self-seed there quite happily. I'll try scattering seed next to my wall later in the year.
I feel I should make bunting right now. Although it's not very creative to make bunting, with all the weddings, school fetes and village fairs going on at the moment there is a need for strings of it. And it's also nice to look at in the shop.

Friday, 5 July 2019

Making for the future

Felt necklace on sale at the Phoenix Exhibition in the Physic Garden, Petersfield £25
Felted flowers for Handmade Happiness
More felted flowers for sale in Handmade Happiness
Experimenting with paints and tissue paper
100% cashmere bunnies for little hands to hold

This week I've been making in the shop. More cashmere  bunnies that sell so well. Lots of felt flowers to buy as decorations or to wear as brooches. And I  finished off a felt necklace ready for the Phoenix Stitchers exhibition which runs from today until Sunday 10-4 daily at the Physic Garden. Plus I enjoyed gluing tissue paper leaves onto a painting to add interest.

It is worryingly quiet in the shop at the moment. This year it's as if the customer tap has been turned off. I know it's the same in all other shops. People have just stopped spending.  So shops can't survive. 

Everyone tells me that people are buying online now and certainly that's part of the picture but I think the main reason people have stopped spending is because they are worried about the future and the natural response is to hunker down and save any money you can for worse times ahead. 

I didn't vote for Brexit and of course, I have no say in who our next Prime Minister will be and these are the issues that are depressing people like me. It's that feeling of helplessness. We can't influence these things but we sure as hell are being affected by them.

 And of course, there is the mammoth issue of climate change to grapple with. I look forward to the next David Attenborough series 'Seven Worlds; One Planet'. 
He is a person everyone trusts to tell the truth about our situation.

Meanwhile I'll keep making. I'll create a stock of items for Christmas sales because in November and December I'll wish I had made more! 

Sunday, 30 June 2019

Felt workshop

Sarah Waters' sample. Making bobbles
Sarah Waters samples. Nuno felting
Sarah Waters' sample. Using a resist.
Some flower shapes I made.

On Wednesday I learned more about felt making techniques than I thought would be possible in just one day. 

 Felt expert Sarah Waters first showed us how to create bobbles like the ones above. I had been really looking forward to doing this to add texture to the flat felt that I usually make but, to be honest, I found this technique quite difficult. A lot of felt making takes time and requires patience. 

Sarah had made a beautiful tunic from nuno felting which is incorporating pieces of silk into the wool to create a draping fabric which can be used for clothes. (Small samples of nuno pictured above.) This takes time and makes this sort of item expensive. Much as I've always wanted to sell nuno felt clothes in my shop the price would be prohibitive unfortunately.

Sarah pointed out that felting painted or dyed silk into wool fibres takes time and I'm not sure I'm patient enough. Sarah also showed us some beautiful felt hats she has made.

I love the look of the black and white piece above. When you lay a resist (in this case masking tape) over areas of felt and then felt more fibres on top you can create patterns. This is fascinating and I will definitely explore this technique more in my own time. 

Sarah also showed us how to make little bowls and how to make flowers. Making flowers I found the easiest and quickest of the techniques which is why I've been making them ever since!!

If you have a chance to go on one of Sarah's felting workshops I urge you to go. Highly recommended. Her website is and Instagram page is @swtextiles

Wednesday, 26 June 2019

Shop CLOSED today!

Sarah Waters' felt pieces.

Today I am excited to be going on a felt workshop given by Sarah Waters.
I saw her give a talk to Phoenix Stitchers last week and it was so interesting.
Although I make felt in a small way I have never mastered nuno felting or experimented with textures in felt, so today is the day!
Check out to find out more.

Apologies for the shop being closed for the day. But business as usual tomorrow onwards. And I'll let you see what I make today later this week. Can't wait!!

Monday, 24 June 2019

Liberty store visit

I was lucky to find this remnant at half price. 
I like these wings in the Rockett St George area in Liberty
Gorgeous velvet cushion in Liberty
More wings This time framed
In Liberty looking up and looking down is equally rewarding.
Fabulous roses in the Liberty flower shop

Yesterday I met my daughters at Oxford Circus and after a long coffee and puting the world to rights we spent time looking round Liberty. Such a beautiful store. Not just the merchandise, some of which is pictured above but also the carved wood and ancient detailing in the architecture as you go up the staircase. Unique and representative of the best of British.

Please note Handmade Happiness will be open tomorrow, Tuesday instead of Wednesday June 26th when it will be closed.