Thursday 30 October 2008

The shop dream

Do you dream of owning a shop?

When I lived in Paris I got totally inspired. The idea of wowing people with the display. Offering them personal help with their selection and finally wrapping their purchases in a beautiful white box and tying gorgeous ribbons round it.

La Droguerie in rue du Jour was my paradise on earth. A large habadashery shop, it offers buttons, ribbons, wools and beads, all beautifully presented. The down side is that there is always a long queue waiting to be served. It is not self service and you have to wait for an assistant to reach down all the things you want. Often I gave up waiting.
But in a shop small enough for customers to be able to help themselves to goods. That would be ok. So that's the dream - a mini habadashery shop.

Yesterday I was shown around a shop. It's £9,000 a year. Cheap for a shop but the position is not good - down an alleyway.
Wouldn't it be good if you could rent a shop for the run up to Christmas - October to end of December every year?? That seems to be when every shop does the bulk of their selling. January? February? A waste of time.

Tuesday 28 October 2008

Makers are not business-minded

Thought I'd write about a struggle I have constantly. I want to be business like and respected for my sharp business brain. But it doesn't happen.

I think we creatives use one side of the brain to the (almost) total exclusion of the other and when we have to think about money, and getting the best deal it just doesn't happen.
I can only be friendly and nice with the shops I deal with. I would never be hard nosed and demanding. I always think I could do better and could have argued for a better deal.
But if I was that hard nosed business woman I wouldn't have produced the designs to sell in the first place.

Sunday 26 October 2008

Collages are fun to make

I did this as a design board when I was trying to keep to neutral colours in my jewellery making.
When I was a teenager I tried to cover the walls of my bedroom with collage. Now collage making gives me an excellent excuse not to throw out old magazines.
I used to make collage cards but stopped when I realised I was somctimes taking half a day over one card.
Back to jewellery making!
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Friday 24 October 2008

Christmas stockings

Yesterday I at last got started on the Christmas stockings.
I dyed white blanket red. What I want to achieve is a bright, scarlet red. But blanket always comes up this pretty, strawberries and cream red.
Usually I use Dylon in the kitchen sink but this year I tried Procion dyes and did all the dyeing in a bucket. The colour results are good, really even.
So I've cut out 9 stockings, machined five of them and started embroidering one. My stockings have a tree up the middle with little mop buttons and novelty buttons and charms as decorations with a fairy I've made on the top. I love them but they do take a long time to make. That is why I should have started on them months ago.

This year I am attempting to travel by train to the Country Living show - with all my stock, props, furniture etc. It takes a bit of planning. At Origin I noticed a jeweller had just used thick felt mats nailed to the wall to display her stuff. This is a good idea - lightweight and easy to carry - but where can I find thick felt mats?

Monday 20 October 2008

A white Christmas

Petersfield in Hampshire will be a very special place this Christmas. The plan is to have an ice rink in the town square and pretty wooden chalets around it like a German Christmas market. I just received an email from the council The chalets are £300 each but to have a 'covered stand' nearby is a more affordable £50 so I am hoping for the latter. Demand is expected to be high. There is a selection process. Wish me luck!

Saturday 18 October 2008

Painted, stitched and knitted - another doll done!

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Working round the clock

Time is running out. Just three weeks and a few days until the Christmas Country Living Show.

Normally I try to make £60 worth of stock every day. Now I am trying to make £150 of stock a day. This means working round the clock. If I'm not sleeping I'm knitting, painting, sewing or assembling. But I'm doing what I love and feel lucky.

The hairless, legless dolls I talked about are now lined up on the sofa, all pretty and ready, waiting for that little three year old I imagine grabbing one by the leg and trailing her upside down beside her.
The 100 wooden badges - Huggy Mummies and Girls are gradually being painted and varnished and glued to brooch backs.
I'm knitting a big red scarf.

Everything this year is colourful - bright jewel colours. I figure people need something to make them smile with all the doom and financial gloom in the news.
I still have masses of jewellery to make and I've not even started on the Christmas stockings. I managed to leave my dyes - for the wool - at my mum's so I can't get going on them til next week. Back to work!

Wednesday 15 October 2008

Christmas angels

I find it really hard to focus on making just one thing.
At 'Origin' last week I realised that nearly all the stands were selling just one thing. The maker has an idea and then makes it and hones it and keeps producing that one special-to-them item.
At Art school today it seems to be about coming up with your 'concept' your unique-to-you idea that you can exploit and charge the maximum price for because no-one else is making it in quite the same way. This must be very frustrating for the artist. Creative people are ideas people aren't they? They want to experiment and always be trying to create new things. To demonstrate their 'take' on the world. Not their take on just one solitary thing.
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Saturday 11 October 2008

Colourful buttons

I like making buttons. Ones like these are available at Tricot Too, Petersfield and Tricot Designs, Arundel. I will also be selling them at the Country Living Christmas Show at the Business Design Centre, Islington, London from Wednesday November 12th to Sunday November 16th stand D35.
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Wednesday 8 October 2008

Background colour

My daughter has made a chart for me to fill in. Every product I make and will make is listed neatly and everytime I complete something I have to enter it on her chart and change the total value of stock made.

Isn't it funny how writing something down immediately makes you feel organised and in control?

As I sew and paint I am also vaguely thinking about how my stand will look. To paint the walls or not to paint the walls? When I started doing the Country Living Shows seven years ago Farrow and Ball paints were favourite. Lots of people wanted a 'String' backdrop. Then the clear Laura Ashley paint colours - pale chambray (blue) or summer pudding (deep red) appealed. Then last year I left the walls white and was quite happy with that. Now I fancy some sort of graffitti look. Maybe a blackboard paint with chalked signs and prices?? maybe too dark.

The trouble with having lots of handmade items - all different colours - some jewel bright and others pale is finding a background that works with everything. Any ideas?

Monday 6 October 2008

I'm so lucky to live near here

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Doing what you love

How do you juggle doing what you love with doing what you have to do to earn enough money?

I love making things and selling what I make but to earn consistently I usually do another job as well.
I worked part time in my local library until recently when, with the Christmas rush on I needed more time to make. But in those months when I don't make enough I have to be someone else. Do you know what I mean?
The real me is artistic and dreamy and creative but no-one seeing me working efficiently in the library would realise that. To them I was a library assistant.

Before the library I worked part time in a supermarket for a year stacking shelves and sometimes on the till. I felt like a number and nobody likes to feel like a number. Some people have to feel like a number day in day out because that's their full time job. I am lucky because at least for some of the time I can be my real self - artistic and dreamy and creative. How about you?