Thursday, 26 November 2020

Painting and new, improved Christmas cards

Sending love and good wishes to YOU
One of the latest cards designed and painted by Jenny Stacy
I really like this green painted background. Card by Jenny Stacy
Just playing with gold writing on one of my painted papers.

Hello. How are you doing? I hope you are not lonely and depressed during these difficult times. I hope even more that you have not suffered a loss of income and are facing big money problems. The world is going through a terrible crisis and perhaps we will only understand the true cost of the pandemic when we look back on 2020 in a few years time.

I have been dithering about, saved from insanity by frequent walks and by having my making to totally absorb me. I've made 43 cards now. I think that is enough. I want to move on to making collages now, something I used to do a while back. 

How about you? I hope you are able to get out to walk and I hope you are happy at home, perhaps using this lockdown to focus on making or painting.

 That is the silver lining for some people... being forced to spend most of the day at home is an opportunity to write that book or make that Christmas present or make the clothes they've always been meaning to make but haven't had the time. Whatever floats your boat.

Take good care of you, wherever you are and whatever you are doing.

Friday, 20 November 2020

How To 5: Make your own cards

It is so nice to receive a card through the letter box with its colourful Christmas stamp and hand written address. This year England is in lockdown so we have time to think about making our own...

The idea above is to pencil a piece of paper into two and a half inch squares (six and a half cms) and tear them out.

 I've used a rag paper by Khadi which makes a nice rough tear when you use water on a paint brush to go round your square then gently tear it out but you could use any white paper and cut it out.

Draw your holly with a pencil or fine black felt tip into the middle of each square. Paint it then add gold paint around the edge. I like Windsor and Newton's gold ink which comes in a small cube box. Leave to dry.

Now cut out some painted paper or gift wrap or even a magazine page you particularly like into four and a half by three and a half inch rectangles (or ten and a half by nine cms). Glue each piece to your card nearer the top than the bottom.

Now glue your holly painting to the middle of your background slightly nearer the top (see pics.) Done. 
You could make all the cards different by painting a different Christmas design on each like a Christmas tree, gift-wrapped Christmas present, snowman or angel. I hope you enjoy this How To.

Sunday, 15 November 2020

Make little ones too!

All sizes of decoration can be made. Stunning quilt is by Pam Dew
Red leaves against blue sky

Gold is a difficult colour to photograph I've found out!
But following the instructions in the last post you can make tissue flower pompoms in whatever size you like just keep to a roughly 2:3 ratio in your rectangles of tissue.

It's raining hard here and yet, early in the week the sun shone and I took this photograph of acer tree leaves against the bluest sky. 
Wishing you all good weather in the week ahead even though here, in the UK it doesn't look sunny again until Sunday, a week from now!

Monday, 9 November 2020

How to 4: Pom-pom Flowers

Tissue paper flower pompom. Make in any size.
Picture One. See instructions below
Picture two. Fanning out. See below.

Ingredients:     Pack of tissue paper in the colour of your choice
                       Ruler, pencil ,scissors
                       18 inch length of wire or string or ribbon
Fold tissue so you have 8 layers. Mark 10 inches by 15 inches and cut through all layers and your fold to form an 8 layer rectangle.

Fold and crease accordian folds one and a half inches wide from a short edge ie. fold once, turn over and fold again, turn over and fold again repeat. See picture one.

Bend your wire or string in half and slip over centre of tissue and twist (wire) or knot string tightly.

Now cut both the layered ends into a curve. See picture one.

Fan out the layers of tissue each side of your centre. See picture two.

Pull out the tissue carefully layer by layer until all layers form a ball hiding your centre. I pulled out one layer from each side. Repeat.
Don't worry if the tissue tears as it probably will. This doesn't affect the overall look of the pompom.

Tie a knot at the top of your two pieces of string or bend over your two pieces of wire for hanging.

Are you enjoying these How Tos? Comments and ideas welcome.

Thursday, 5 November 2020

Make Beads during lockdown. How to 3

Necklace of handmade beads designed by Jenny Stacy
Painted paper beads by Jenny Stacy. Instructions below

To make beads for a necklace like this you need:
2 drinking straws; a sheet of plain white paper - cheap copy paper is fine; paints; glue stick; scissors; ruler; pencil; fine cord or string; a button.

Cut straws into 2cms lengths.
Paint a sheet of paper with colours you love.
 Ideally seal the paint with matt varnish but this is optional unless the paint you use rubs off on your fingers in which case it could rub off on your clothes so you need to seal it.

Draw lines every 3 cms on the back of your paper lengthwise.
Cut the paper into strips.
Glue wrong side of one strip and lay a piece of straw in the middle and roll it up so the paper just overlaps. Cut paper near to 'bead'. Tuck paper ends into the ends of the straw as neatly as you can. I used a biro.
Repeat until you have around 9 beads.

I cut an old necklace bought in a charity shop to provide silver beads to put in between my handmade beads. But again this is optional. You could use small wooden beads to separate your handmade beads or any beads you think will look good that you already own.

Thread all beads with fine string or cord. Measure the cord round your neck to get the length you like then add on about 24cms to allow for fastening it.

Make a loop at one end of your necklace big enough to easily fit over your button and knot it firmly. Slide on your button to the other end of your cord through all button holes and knot on the back of the button.
Your necklace is ready to wear.

If you've enjoyed making this necklace you could make more to give as Christmas presents. Or you could make garlands of painted beads to decorate your house or your Christmas tree.

This is the third How to with another planned for two days time. I want to provide simple things to do which don't involve having to buy any materials. 
This is a task I've set myself to help keep my mind creative and give you something more cheerful than the news to think about during the UK's lockdown.

Tuesday, 3 November 2020

How To 2: Gift Bags

Easy gift bags designed by Jenny Stacy

For the second November How To you will need: 
An old magazine or piece of gift wrap, sellotape, ruler, pencil and scissors.

Your magazine page measures 29cms by 22cms. Use this measurement if you are using gift wrap or painted paper etc.

Pull a page you like from a magazine.
With wrong side up, fold one of the longer edges over by one and a half cms. On a magazine page this will be the raw, torn edge.
Now fold in each long side so they overlap by 2 cms. Press down to crease on each side and sellotape the join.
Then fold up the base of your bag ie the other short side by 2 cms and sellotape the edge, trimming it if it doesn't look neat.
Your bag is done!

With those pictured I folded over the open top and held it down with ribbon. ie. If you don't sellotope the top they can be reused.

I only used these handmade bags in my shop for customers' purchases. If they bought something big I also made handmade carrier bags but that's a different How To.

Throughout November I intend to show a different easy How To every other day.For the first one, tree decorations, see the previous post.
For lots more pictures see my Instagram posts @jenny_handmade_happiness

Sunday, 1 November 2020

How to make these decorations

Painted paper and wallpaper decorations made by Jenny Stacy

Faced with another period of lockdown I thought I'd share some easy How Tos through this blog and Instagram. 

To make decorations like these you need:

Scraps of wallpaper and/or painted card, magazine pages or coloured thin card. 

A ruler, a pencil, a pair of scissors, a fat needle and some thick thread.

Start by ruling your paper/card into strips 24cms by 2cms. You need 6 strips.

Measure in 12 cms and pierce all six pieces in the centre with your needle. Pierce each end 1.5 cms in. 

Thread your needle with a long piece of thick thread - 66cms will give you plenty. With thread double pierce the middle hole right side up of all 6 layers and pull the thread through, making a knot on the ends of the thread and another double knot at 11cms to stop the thread going through the hole and to form a loop for hanging.

Fan out your strips and working clockwise pierce each one with your needle and thread through the coloured side. Pull up your thread to form a ball shape. Snip needle off and knot thread twice at the base of your bauble allowing threads to dangle.

I'm planning another How to every other day during November. I promise they will be easy to do and can be done with adults helping children. Before lockdown bites on Thursday for UK readers make sure you have glue sticks, sellotape, thin card, ruler and pencil if you haven't already got these things.

Sunday, 4 October 2020

Making Cards

Jenny Stacy handmade painted card.
Painted and embroidered bits for card making

Jenny Stacy card design 

I'm making cards. Something different.Nowhere to sell them at the moment but perhaps next year we can start again....I've made a dozen individual cards so far.

It is pouring with rain here. Again. That doesn't make me cheerful company. Too much Covid 19. A shocking number of cases is being reported. Everyone on our planet is affected. For our physical and mental health we've got to try to stay positive but some days it's harder than others.
I might delete all this later. After all the blog is called Handmade HAPPINESS and making stuff does make me happy. I wish you well and hope that art/ making/ playing music/ singing/ dancing and/or writing is making you happy too.

Tuesday, 22 September 2020

Happy 12th Birthday Blog!

Apples over my head
Love this fabric found in a charity shop this week. Good for masks.
Painted this for my son this week. Acrylics on canvas

Can you believe I have been writing this blog for 12 whole years?
I started sharing on September 22nd 2008 when I was frantically trying to make loads of stock for my stand at the Country Living magazine show in London. I had to make £60 worth of stock a day and as the date grew nearer I made £150 worth of stock a day. 

 Stands were expensive so the more stock the more profitable it became.
Anyone can click onto 2008 in the bar on the right to see what I was making then. Buttons, beads, dolls, Christmas stockings, cards. I made lots of different things then....Now, in the time of Covid, I make masks and write stories and and the blog has evolved into an appreciation of Nature with the occasional experiment with paints and paper thrown in.

Today I am planning new Christmas decoration designs out of habit. But I am confused by the woolly advice from the government and don't know where and when the next selling date might be. Somewhere outside maybe.

I wonder if there is anyone reading this who has been reading on and off for the last 12 years. If so I would love to hear from you.
In the beginning nearly all readers lived in the UK now it is mostly Americans who read this and in sufficient numbers to make continuing to write this worthwhile. Thank you and may you stay well.

Tuesday, 15 September 2020

Painting fun

This week I plan to make more masks like the one above. 

I've also been playing with paints and printing. 

Tuesday, 8 September 2020

Birthday cake and thinking about making

Strawberry cake made for my daughter and decorated by her daughters!
It tasted good.
A Jenny Stacy doll.  Shall I make more now?
Beautiful crab apples

Bargain of the week. 5 metres of soft cotton at £3 a metre.

 Strawberries and thick cream in a Victoria sponge made with butter.It tasted good although it looked wonky especially after the little ones in the family added the candles! Family get togethers are the best! 

Dolly is having an airing because I'm wondering whether to make more dolls. I used to make lots and their dreadlock hair was something different. My incentive to make was always making to sell. The prospect of selling made me productive. Now I'm not sure I'll have a selling opportunity in 2020 so maybe I won't make much again until next year... Also I'm finding that painting (not to sell) and regular writing give me the same creative satisfaction that making used to... 

The crab apples were table decoration at the Harrow Inn where we walked to from my house on Saturday. It is so pretty there. My children loved it. This area is one of 'Outstanding Natural Beauty' and there are nice places to walk nearby.

This week I went to meet a friend at the wonderful Rowan's Craft Shop in Cowplain. This charity shop sells every sort of fabric, button, tool and book at very reasonable prices. Recommended.  I loved this soft cotton fabric and plan to use it to make a dress and quite a few masks. Watch this space. My plan is to use an old dress to cut a pattern from and I've not tried that before!

The car chose to break down straight after visiting that shop in the tkmax car park in Waterlooville which was lucky really! It could have broken down in the road. Suddenly it slipped into reverse and stayed there. The RAC man managed to move the gear stick into Drive under the bonnet but if I turned off the engine it would not start again so I had to drive to the garage immediately and that's where it still is! 
The car is an old friend so I don't want to give up on it unless I have to!  Time to start using the train again I think.. and I haven't been on a train since March. Have you?

Thursday, 3 September 2020

Printing from a gelli plate and painting zinnias.

My latest painting of zinnias. Jenny Stacy
First attempt at painting zinnias. Jenny Stacy
Grapes and quince growing in the Physic Garden this week
A print from a gelli plate
Pleased with this print from a gelli plate. Jenny Stacy

None of the Handmade Happiness events booked for this year are to go ahead.  I was hoping that at least the Christmas sale at the Physic Garden could happen. But I just got an email saying that the room would be closed for the rest of 2020. 
The question is what to do instead. It would feel strange not to sell at Christmas at all ...

I enjoyed trying to paint zinnias this week. One of my favorite flowers. I get them at the Harrow Inn at Steep where they sell all their cottage garden flowers in aid of charity. And the flowers are often spectacular! I have also noticed that zinnia last far longer in water than other flowers do.

A friend mentioned she had a gelli plate that she hadn't yet used. So she brought it over to my house and we experimented. What fun! We used acrylic paint, rollered on and tried spraying the paint with water and making marks with an old credit card plus printing with bubble wrap. Some attempts were successful and others weren't. But I can't wait to have another go! I plan to use the printed papers in collages for card making and pictures.
I also want to try printing from a tile base. Hopefully I'll have something new to show you in the next post.

Friday, 28 August 2020

Climate change - what can I do about it?

Grow your own, Alfalfa seeds sprouted on wet kitchen roll.

Did anyone else find the extreme heat this year alarming?

Floods, melting ice and extreme temperatures are all reminders that our planet is warming up and unless we actively do something about it millions of innocent people will die. 

Sometimes we feel helpless. What can we as individuals do?
Actually quite a lot.

We need to stop using fossil fuels like oil, gas and carbon. Planes can't fly without them. So we need to stop flying and instead use public transport to get around.

 We can think about giving up our car or using it less or if we need a car, exchanging it for an electric car or, better still, a bike.

We can switch to a 'green' energy provider that uses clean and renewable energy. Or we could create our own energy with solar panels on our house.

As consumers we can support companies that act green and shun others that don't. We can put pressure on governments and companies to act greener.

We can avoid food and clothing that has flown across the world. Avoid unnecessary air miles. Look at labels.

Eat with the seasons from food grown locally. Grow your own if you can and share what you grow and encourage others to grow their own too. If we can't be self sufficient individually imagine how self-sufficient we could be if we act as a community.

I read that cattle are one of the highest emitters of CO2 or methane . In fact according to a bbc article if all the cattle in the world formed a country it would be the third highest producer of greenhouse gases after China and the USA. So stop eating meat and dairy or decide to cut down.

We can lessen our personal carbon footprint dramatically by cutting our animal protein consumption.  Eating mostly vegetarian as many people are doing now is healthy and considerably cheaper.

My daughter has taught me to avoid any food whose ingredients list palm oil ie most biscuits. Trees are cleared to make way for palm oil production so we need to cut demand for it.

Cooking from scratch and baking our own food is creatively satisfying and healthier especially when cooking for children. They don't know how many vegetables we are hiding in a pasta sauce and they love it!

It also makes sense to shop locally for clothes from charity shops. I find that once I've washed and ironed something it's mine. I don't care how many people have previously worn it!

Doing some or all of these things to stop climate change can save us money, make us healthier and more creative while at the same time saving the planet. It's a win win.

 If you want to contact me do email on 
The comment thing below doesn't work.
 I also Instagram almost daily on @jenny_handmade_happiness 


Tuesday, 25 August 2020

Alresford, Hampshire. Worth a visit

Inside Long Barn store on the outskirts of Alresford
Candle display in Long Barn
The Fulling Mill on the Millenium Walk
Steam train station

Map of Alresford

A friend and I went to Alresford yesterday. It was magic!
Having a shop for 8 years and being its only employee made me a bit of a hermit. I feel I'm rediscovering the place I live now.
Yesterday we parked at the Long Barn, a big store with cafe just outside the town. It reminded me of Anthropologie. Nicely styled, good quality products. A good place for gifts.

Parking in the town where there are still lots of little independent shops, you stroll down the hill past pastel painted old houses and turn left for the Millenium walk along the river. The water is crystal clear and you can see why the area is famed for its watercress, a plant that needs lots of clean water. Such a nice walk for children with little shelters in case of rain and water just asking to be paddled in. 
Further on there are lots of ducks on the water and you can buy bags of oats and seeds to feed them with.  This house (pictured above) is soo jigsaw pretty and has a fine history. It straddles the water and I wonder how it feels to live in it.

We had tea and a piece of cake at Tiffin where we felt completely safe on distanced tables. What's more, it being a Monday, £10 was knocked off the bill thanks to the government scheme to help cafes and restaurants.

Then a walk up to Alresford station where the steam trains go between Alresford and Alton. It's closed at the moment due to Covid but most children would love to go on one of their Thomas the tank engine days when the volunteer staff dress up as the Fat Controller etc.
I can't wait to go back to Alresford with my family.

Thursday, 20 August 2020

Painting flowers

Painting flowers
Busy bee
Clear river at Steep

Sunday, 16 August 2020

Retail therapy

Watercolour flowers I painted yesterday
Pretty fabrics in Cabbages and Roses window
For the garden
New improved masks I've made this week

A strange week. Waiting for the rains that never came. Sharing the angst of students who were disappointed with their exam grades. Hoping that voters in the States will not vote for Trump this time around. Seeing a rise in Covid cases and the panic to get back on British soil of holidaymakers in France who had to be home by 4am (what a stupid, arbitrary time???) or else be forced to quarantine themselves for a fortnight. And witnessing through the media the struggle the whole world is experiencing in a pandemic.

I guiltily retreat into playing with my paints or reading (currently The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd and Bring up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel). I feel I should be doing something practical but I don't know what. I am lucky I remind myself to have a roof over my head and enough money to buy food. But what about the desperate souls in flimsy boats that need to be given asylum but instead are turned away. They need practical help. I feel bad that this country which has so much isn't hospitable to those who want to live here. 

I am using this blog to exercise my right to Free Speech. But many aren't as lucky. The protesters the world over that try to be peaceful but are met with bullets or tear gas. When I was a teenager I thought the answer was to have a World Government to co-ordinate resources and help one another. Now, in my old(er) age I think that is not youthful idealism but something urgently needed especially now when the whole world is fighting the same illness.

This week, for the first time since March I visited Midhurst, my favourite place for charity shops. It was so nice to relax in a quiet little place with very few people about and to find some bargains for the family. A bit of normal. Although some shops are still closed I do admire the Caroline Bloomfield shop in West Street for carrying on and providing the best place to browse. Just beautiful things and a tonic for people like me to see them...

Did I mention that a kind gardener near here puts out a box of surplus produce with a sign saying Please Help Yourself? That's how I came by black beans for the first time. As he said they are easier to pick because they show up well against the green leaves. So I've bought some seeds for my garden hoping they do well although I know I've really missed the boat for planting them... Maybe with our mixed up seasons it doesn't matter any more when things are planted...

Have a good week readers.