Sunday 30 June 2013

Busy Saturday

Reminder to self - make more of these. Fairy boxes by Jenny Stacy
It was really busy in the shop yesterday. Hurray! And lots of lovely comments. 

I am a bit obsessed about womens' dresses at the moment. I want some for the shop, haven't found anyone to make them so I'm thinking can I try this myself?

Last week I saw this great dress on a customer. Thick orange linen, simple tunic style with, as she pointed out a slightly smaller band of fabric at hem level which pulled it in and avoided a tent effect. She'd bought it nearly ten years ago from Tricot Too and had worn it winter (with jersey under) and summer (with t-shirt under) ever since. I looked up the make online and it appears they ceased trading in 2007.

  So this is the challenge: To cut a pattern, never having cut a pattern before and make a dress/ dresses good enough to sell. Unless anyone else is volunteering - but I don't think so - I've dropped enough hints to makers and customers and no response so far! Maybe not orange though. Orange doesn't suit everyone ...

Saturday 29 June 2013

New from Pam Dew

Pam Dew's 'View from Chilgrove' cushion
Here is the cushion I wrote about in a previous post. Love the tree bending in the wind! It's in Handmade Happiness now.£59-00.

Yesterday I was in an 'all change' mood and got some property details from an estate agents. 
In the evening I looked on line at what's available house wise in Petersfield and now I appreciate what I've got more than I did. Perhaps if I'd counted my blessings this time yesterday I wouldn't have been in such a bad mood when I wrote the last post! Today I'm looking forward to a busy day in the shop. Enjoy your weekend!

Friday 28 June 2013


A necklace I made for Tricot Too
Sometimes I wonder if I'm strange or normal. Like if someone says they'll do something on this day, or in this week I believe them and then feel let down if it doesn't happen. Perhaps in life you just have to accept that people try their best and life sometimes gets in the way of them doing what they've said they'll do.

Anyway what I wanted to write about is makers and Handmade Happiness. I love it when makers come in to re-stock or email if I need more stock and generally stay in touch. It feels like we're part of a good team.  I don't like it when a maker leaves their things and even though they live in the same town or even regularly pass the window, never come in again. I'm not that scary. 

 Two makers that fall into the last category popped in after long absence to tell me about new things they've made which they thought the shop might like to stock. These are people that don't look at the shop or ever buy anything, even a card. So excuse me for showing less than my normal enthusiasm to sell their newly made things for them. (I seem to be saying no a lot more than I'm saying yes lately. Wish I could get out to exhibitions. But I could do more online research...)

I rang Merchant and Mills (yesterday's post) and was told to send my website link and they'd consider me as a future stockist. Minimum order £200. If I really, really wanted to be a stockist I'd do it in the future when this age of austerity has passed. But not now. This week is shop rent week.

Thursday 27 June 2013

Making jewellery

Bracelets I made to sell at the Country Living magazine show
I forgot to take pictures of the new necklaces I made in the shop yesterday so I have to use this old picture. Apologies. The new necklaces are different. I used chain with fabric and charms and they're the kind of thing I will be comfortable wearing. Pics to come.

I am excited and thrilled to have an order for paper collage bunting. I will sooo enjoy making this. It's for a graphic designer, ex-animator and all round creative person who visited Handmade Happiness for the first time yesterday. I will start it today in the shop if it's not too busy.

Pam Dew bought in a new large applique cushion yesterday. Cleverly it's of a view she sees from her bike when she cycles to Chichester from Petersfield to work. Yes, impressive isn't she? I can't imagine cycling to Chichester once, let alone on a regular basis. 

Pam had visited Merchant and Mills in Rye the day before and I wanted to hear all about it. Merchant and Mills make the most beautifully packaged habadashery items including thick card dress patterns in cardboard tubes. I first saw their stand at Country Living and I was very impressed. Anyway this morning I'm going to ring them and see if HH could possibly stock them. Wish me luck! Check them out

Wednesday 26 June 2013

Stress busting play time

Do you play? I mean do you ever sit down and amuse yourself by drawing, painting, making something or experimenting with some fun art materials you haven't tried out before? Or do you sew, knit, crochet, build with wood or throw clay?

Most people haven't time in their busy days for any sort of play. But just as children need to play I think adults need to play too. A bit of time to let go and focus on something pleasant and different.

I want to think of a way to provide a play opportunity within Handmade Happiness.
 A table and chairs somewhere with a pile of paper, paints and water, pencils, glue sticks and
magazines, a few stampers and stencils. A chance for anyone to just to take time out and play for a bit.

Don't hold back with your suggestions/ comments/ ideas/ reactions. My comment box has been a bit empty of late. 

Talking to mums of young children yesterday about how they play with their children I am left with two images. One of the mother who walks round the heath pond with her boys searching for feathers to include in art work back home and the other mum, blessed with a toddler who likes to climb up her and around her all the time she is trying to do art work with her older child.

 That reminds me of when toddlers like to cling round your leg when you are trying to do housework etc and you have this sort of human ball and chain everywhere you go. It's delightful and short lived but if you are creative and longing to do what you love to do it can be hard to make any time at all to do your own thing!

Tuesday 25 June 2013

Glittering jars

Glittered jam jar with rose from garden
I like to take pictures in this window but a neighbour's parked car is in the way this morning
 Glittered jars are something my daughter wants for her wedding. They will hold tea lights or flowers on the tables. 

To make them you need any clean jar, glitter, glue (I used Mod Podge which is stocked by Hobbycraft) paint brush and plate.

Hold the jar over the plate and brush on the glue avoiding the top of the jar and the base. Sprinkle the glitter over the wet glue still holding the jar over the plate to catch spilt glitter. When all glue is covered in glitter it's done. Leave somewhere to dry. Wash brush.

When I do more I'll use masking tape on the jar to create a neat line of glitter and not to have the glitter cover so much of the jar. Ideally these should be done on site since some glitter will get rubbed off if they are transported.

You could use silver glitter or any coloured glitter to match the occasion. My daughter wants white, pale pink and pale gold as her wedding colours so these are just right.

Monday 24 June 2013

Tricot Too inspiration

White cardigans by Lauren Vidal; blue tunic tops by ekta and ruched skirt and cut off trousers by Ultimate Mik's
 When I worked at Tricot Too I used to change the clothes on the dummies in the window, photograph them for this blog then carry them back into the window. Looking back through those photographs now I particularly like this one. These clothes look so summery and pretty. 

 When Handmade Happiness stocks handmade clothes fresh linens and cottons in soft shapes and timeless styles will be inspired by pictures like this. 

Sunday 23 June 2013

No time for making buttons today

My handmade buttons.
I am up early today to make the house ready for an important visit. The family my daughter is marrying in to is driving up from Somerset to meet me. Their son and my daughter live in London and the wedding takes place in September. 

When you think of all the times in the future we will be together - weddings, christenings (God willing), family parties etc. these are people who will hopefully become good friends of mine but right now they are strangers.

I often think of how different things are today with children travelling and choosing to live a long way from home. As my children were growing up I often wished I could chose their girl friends or boyfriends for them. And arranged marriages have a lot to recommend them! You want to protect your children from hurt. But you can't. You have to learn to let go.

Having said that I am confident Amy's chosen a good one and I am quite confident (but nervous) that I'll get on with his parents. 

Saturday 22 June 2013

Collage cards

Collage cards by Jenny Stacy

Collage card by Jenny Stacy
 I made these cards in the shop between customers. I love tearing pictures and painted papers and re-assembling them into cards. They cost £3-50. The same price as new knitted sheep cards from Sue Inglis which are brilliant. I'll show you a picture of Sue's new knitted cards soon.

Friday 21 June 2013

Nice lamps

Pictured in the shop Haus in Haslemere
 Nice lamps are hard to find. Lots of chrome based lamps out there which I don't like. I like these ceramic bases. But what I really want is wood. I can picture some beautiful wood bases made from tree roots. So when chatting to a customer the other day I was delighted when he turned out to be a builder and woodsman who reckoned he could make just the thing. Also his friend is an electrician who could do the necessary safety checks and certification.

So many conversations in the shop. You never know quite where they'll lead to. But I do hope that conversation results in Handmade Happiness being able to offer some nice handmade lamps for sale.

Thursday 20 June 2013

Selling your work to shops

Covered hangers waiting for upcycled cashmere cardigans in Handmade Happiness
 In recent days several makers have offered Handmade Happiness their work and it reminds me of when I used to show what I made to shops. The first shop I ever approached, many years ago now, was Casa Fina in Chichester. I was a bag of nerves and once I'd steeled myself to approach the man at the counter I just wanted to get it over and done with and out from that shop as soon as possible. He said no and I was crushed. 

It takes guts to show your work to shops. It can feel awful if someone turns down your work in an insensitive, rude way. You've designed and created something original. It's feels like you personally are being rejected.

So how to prepare for showing your work to a shop? I think it is a good idea to ring the shop first. The times I've shown my work to a sales assistant only to find that this person cannot make any decisions and just tells you to come back on another day when the owner/ buyer is in. If you've travelled any distance this is frustrating. And a waste of your time.

Next a bit of market research. No point in offering say, jewellery to a shop that doesn't sell jewellery. Check out the shop online first. Then have a good look round and decide whether you think your work will fit in. Most people skip the market research entirely. But with my shop owners hat on I'd say this is important.

As I got better at selling my work to shops I'd visit a new town and choose which shop to approach. If you love the shop chances are it will love you and what you make.
Don't hold back from giving the shop a compliment by the way. Saying you like the shop before offering your work is a good ice-breaker. Also I prefer to think that would be sellers are interested in the shop they sell to. So looking round the shop before talking to the person behind the counter about what you make is polite and makes a good impression.

Decide before talking to a shop about how much money you want for your work. It's very difficult to discuss prices with makers who don't know how much they want to sell for. Don't be afraid to be business like. Have a pen and notebook or better invoice book with you. And don't agree to anything you aren't happy about. You have half the power remember. And it's important that you leave the shop happy.

Lastly, listen. Your work is lovely to you and to lots of other people but the shop may turn it down for a reason. What is that reason? Does the shop have any suggestions for you using your unique skills to make other things? Listen and enjoy talking about your work.

Wednesday 19 June 2013

Cutlery jewellery by Jenny Shutler

Earrings made from cutlery pieces by Jenny Shutler
Bracelets made from interesting pieces of cutlery by Jenny Shutler
Handmade Happiness  stocks Jenny Shutler's jewellery made from vintage cutlery. It is one of the most popular gift items. On Saturday Jenny came in with some interesting and unusual earrings (see above).

Have you noticed lots of For Sale signs on houses near you? Here in Petersfield it seems to be house selling season. Following the quick sale of two houses in my road (both within a fortnight of going on the market) lots of other houses have sprouted signs. It kind of makes one feel restless. To move or not to move that is the question...

Tuesday 18 June 2013

Hair decorations

Some hair decorations on collaged card by Jenny Stacy
Close up of hair decorations by Jenny Stacy for Handmade Happiness
 Yesterday I decided not to go anywhere. I sorted out my collage boxes and decorated some hair grips (US bobby pins) to sell in the shop. To display them I cut up some old collage. Looking at them now, I could have put them on greetings cards and maybe I'll do some like that. The price is £3-50 each, for sale in Handmade Happiness today onwards.

I am grateful to Melanie - see yesterday's comment - for reminding me that people like to see things being made on this blog. So I shall describe how I made these hair decorations. (Stop reading now if you aren't interested!)

You need fabric, cotton batting (that patchwork makers use), buttons and hair grips. 

Sandwich the cotton batting (I've used two layers) between two rounds of the same fabric and hand sew in a circle about half a centimetre from the edge. Sew another piece of smaller fabric and a button with small bead on top through all layers attaching it to the hair grip. To ensure it holds for ever keep sewing round middle of top of hair grip through all layers. Display by opening hair grip and sliding on to rectangular piece of card. 

Monday 17 June 2013

This blogging thing

Peonies in the garden
 I've lost the USA. For a short and heady while I had as many readers in the States as in the UK. Then I had a three day blogging break if you remember and since then America has not come back on board in anything like the same numbers. I wonder if I've lost my spark - am I boring now? 

Am I blogging for me, for the shop, keeping in touch with friends or do I want to get some message across to as many people as possible. And if I don't know what the message is how the hell should other people?!  
I notice that the most popular posts are about felt incidentally...

I'll hang on in there and see what the statistics do over the next few days. It probably only matters if you carry advertising...

Meanwhile back in the shop I feel terrifically grateful to Sue Inglis, knitter extraordinaire, who suggested on Saturday that I put a long table in front of the under stairs area just for me to work on.

 We had been talking about collage and how I can't do it on my shop counter as it takes up too much room (ditto button making and jewellery making). I can knit and crochet at my desk and do small things on the sewing machine but it's frustrating not to have the space to be more productive while in the shop. So yesterday in East Grinstead with my mum we visited Wickes and I got a pasting table (which can fold away under the stairs when not in use) for under £10. Excellent.

Sunday 16 June 2013

Happy Fathers Day

Collar stiffeners made by Kirstie Turner. £24 a pair
 A pair of these would make a great present from children to their Dad today. Even if he doesn't wear stiffeners in his collars I imagine any Dad would be delighted to keep them in his wallet as a token of his childrens' affection for him. Kirstie Turner also makes silver rings and silver necklaces for Handmade Happiness.

I remember my Dad's assortment of boxes on his chest of drawers containing collar stiffeners, collar studs, a papier mache lidded pot with cufflinks in - he had some gold ones with his initials my grandfather had given him and big square boxes that came from the laundary with his detachable white stiff collars in. All a long time ago now.

My Dad worked in the city. He was up and on the train before we children were awake and just about home in time to read us a bedtime story. Then one night everything changed when he came home from work and announced that he had been offered a post overseas and we moved far, far away.

Saturday 15 June 2013

Nuno felt making experiment

Two layers of wool tops, chiffon scarf then two more layers of wool tops 
Washing up liquid and hot water, start rubbing layers to felt
Using the wash board to finish off 
This is why it's worth the trouble - nuno felt drapes beautifully
Nuno felt looks great used for jackets and coats but why not just use ordinary felt? 

Wanting to see the difference for myself I pulled out two layers of wool tops (looks like candy floss) on the kitchen sink metal draining board. Then laid a chiffon scarf over the top and pulled out two more layers of wool tops - each layer at right angles to the previous layer.

I squirted on washing up liquid then poured on hot water and started carefully pushing the layers into one another. As the material started to thicken into felt under my fingers I rubbed it more roughly. And kept turning it over. Because I wanted the layers to felt through the chiffon - especially round the edges I used the wash board but a wash board isn't necessary, you can just use the ridges on the draining board. When satisfied the piece was well felted I rinsed it well.

Then I ironed the felt on both sides. Again, not necessary, but I wanted quick results! (Don't let the iron touch the chiffon!
Then I saw how well the nuno felt draped over my arm compared to a normal piece of handmade felt. Many felters use silk instead of chiffon to create nuno felt. That will be experiment number two. Comparing chiffon nuno with silk nuno.

Friday 14 June 2013

Thoughts and ideas

From my garden - a few years ago. Broad beans on a glass plate.

Yesterday I made some more hangers for the shop with the vintage crepe fabric, ready for when there are lots of handmade clothes to put on them. I'm playing the waiting game at the moment - waiting for womens' dresses and cardigans to be made, handbags to be constructed and jewellery to be brought in.
Yesterday I had good discussions with a couple of new makers and look forward to seeing their work in the shop. 

On Monday I popped in to a shop I've wanted to visit for a while called 'Haus' just outside Haslemere. It has a Scandanavian look - all white and clean with linen cushions, painted furniture and cotton clothing - some by Cabbages and Roses. A smart look and a very definite style.

The difference between a shop where the owner carefully selects everything to achieve a certain look (Haus) and Handmade Happiness is that I am offering the work of 40 makers each with their own individual style. The challenge for me is bringing it all together into one cohesive look so that the shop has its own personality, comprised, as it is of the personalities of 40 people. It's a struggle I don't always succeed with. 

I am conscious as people look around of the areas of the shop I am proud of and the areas of the shop that need attention. It's not perfect, it's an on-going, evolving project which I hope is getting better month on month. I hope in a way I'll never be able to sit back and feel, it's perfect now, I can relax, no more work to be done. That would be no fun at all.
Meanwhile, when you come in to Handmade Happiness tell me what you think. A bit of constructive criticism, ideas, opinions and good discussion is welcome always.

Thursday 13 June 2013

Vintage fabrics I bought for making with

Cottons and an interesting crepe (top right) from the 1940s and 1950s
'Bark' cloth bottom right and really pretty small curtains from the 40s in the centre.
 It's funny to think that here are fabrics that our mothers and grandmothers had hanging as curtains or wore as dresses.
 I don't think I'll ever tire of roses fabrics. Surely roses fabrics (often by Sandersons) are a cottage classic that (hopefully) won't ever go out of fashion.

You'll notice that the top row is the same. I've already used some of the crepe to cover coat hangers (thanks for that idea Penny). Most fabric pieces aren't big enough for clothes (just the blue and white in the middle of picture one) but I think a combination of some of these fabrics and fabrics I have at home will make excellent handbags and the big roses in the first picture can be turned into gorgeous cushions. Promise I'll show you what these fabrics become!

Wednesday 12 June 2013

New design cards by Dave Tull

New small cards £1-20 each by Dave Tull
More small cards with envelopes. Three more designs sold before I could photograph them.
New Dave Tull note cards (seen sideways on). Six different designs in a pack plus envelopes for £3-00 
Yesterday local photographer Dave Tull delivered new design cards and note cards to Handmade Happiness. Three of the more 'styled' designs - blue painted bench among coloured flowers, old flower pots and tools on a shelf etc. sold immediately I put them on display.
I really like these. Small cards and note cards are useful when you just want to say 'thank you' or 'I'm thinking of you' without lots of space to fill. And these are really pretty.

Yesterday my friend Penny visited with a suitcase of lots of lovely old fabrics. I didn't intend to buy so many honestly I didn't. But they are rather special. Pictures coming soon!

Tuesday 11 June 2013

Weaving by Helena Greig

Ikat pattern woven by Helena Greig
Beautiful weaving by Helena Greig
One of two looms, and a spinning wheel in Helena's workshop
Silk threads
This linen smock was once a bundle of flax, spun,woven ,pieced, smocked and embroidered by Helena Greig
Yesterday I drove over to the Surrey Guild of Craftsmen shop at Milford, just outside Guildford and met talented textile artist Helena Greig whose workshop is on the premises.

Looms are big. I once saw a weaver who had given up her dining-room to her loom; and Helena has two of them. On the loom you have your warp(threads going one way) and your weft (threads going the other way.)  Can you imagine how hard it must be to do an ikat pattern where the artist dyes the threads herself as well? 

I feel fascinated by the talent of this craftsperson and I am hoping Helena will take up my invitation to have her work in Handmade Happiness.

Two other Surrey Guild members whose work I love are Frank and Janet Higgins who make glass kaleidoscopes. I haven't seen a kaleidoscope for years and these are works of art that would make amazing presents. I was looking through them and leaping up and down with excitement. I look forward to meeting Frank and Janet in Handmade Happiness soon. 

Monday 10 June 2013

More lovely Liberty

Blue/lilac Liberty fabrics I've saved
 The first thing I look for in a charity shop is anything in a Liberty fabric. Cut glass vases I'm also looking out for and plain glass storage jars; any bit of bling (diamante/ paste jewellery) but not coloured bling and old white linen table cloths. I usually come away with nothing but it's fun looking especially in a town I've not been to before.

So today I've found out that the Kaffe Fassett exhibition is closed on Mondays and I've decided that as well as boring paperwork etc and nice making I'll drive over to Hindhead where I've never been and see what I find. And I think the Surrey Guild's craft shop is over that way too. Hope they're open on Mondays...

Sunday 9 June 2013

Lovely Liberty

Old Liberty fabrics I treasure
 The tinier the print the more useful the fabric is in small pieces and the more obvious that it's a Liberty fabric. I have an idea for some Liberty fabric based on what I've been doing with painted silk in the shop this week. I bought sash cord and metal tap washers at the hardware store -  does that give you a clue? It's great to be making again!

A friend posted some pictures on her blog of the Kaffe Fassett exhibition and I realise that if I don't hurry up it will be over and I'll have missed it. So that's what I'm planning for tomorrow. A trip to London.

 Meanwhile today it's a family celebration for my mother's birthday. Presents to wrap and chocolate cake to be put carefully into the car. Did I make the cake I hear you ask? No, Mr Waitrose did. I admire people who bake but I am not one of them - yet. Baking for me belongs in that happy retirement era when the sun will always shine softly through my kitchen window to show me, sleeves rolled, kitchen table scrubbed, pummelling bread dough in a cloud of flour. Bliss.  

Saturday 8 June 2013

Painterly fabrics by Bluebell Gray

Bluebell Gray fabrics at Tara Interiors, Petersfield
I think this might be my favourite. Bluebell Gray cushions at Tara Interiors, Petersfield
 My shop neighbour, Tara Interiors stocks Bluebell Gray. Be careful - if you look at them for too long they make you want to re-do your sitting-room! That's the effect they have on me anyway.

Nice sunny morning here. My youngest and her boyfriend are here tonight so I must prepare for them. Have a nice weekend. 

Friday 7 June 2013

Blue geraniums in the front garden

Johnson's blue geranium with pink roses
A David Austin rose
Creamy white peonies
How Johnson's blue grows but you can see the colour better next to the roses.
My front garden is lovely at the moment. A mass of flowers. I have not been outside in the garden enough this year. Though the back garden looks set to produce a bumper crop of raspberries. 

I used to always ask for plants for my birthday which is how I've got my roses and peonies and luckily they need very little maintenance. For a very brief period I grew lots of veg and fruit but not now. Maybe serious gardening is something one does after retirement? It's rewarding but right now there doesn't seem enough hours in the day.

Thursday 6 June 2013

Making necklaces

Necklace made by Jenny Stacy
Necklace made by Jenny Stacy
 At last I am making necklaces again and a third one is nearly finished. I have an idea to use soft tubing in the ones after that. We'll see how it looks.

 I want to use painted and handmade beads in another range of jewellery. At last I am feeling the shop is becoming the workshop/ shop I always wanted as I am making as well as serving the customers. 

Isn't this sunshine weather delightful? Everyone is more light-hearted when the sun shines. And the garden is blooming - peonies, roses and blue Johnson's geraniums at the moment - I'm off to cut a bunch for the shop counter. Enjoy your day!
ps. Happy Birthday to my Mum today!

Wednesday 5 June 2013

Colour packs

Silk velvet dyed by Alison Crosthwaite
 I love the rich, random colours in this velvet. If I could persuade her I'd ask Alison to dye yards like this that could be cut up and sold in Handmade Happiness. It's wonderful to use in jewellery, machine embroidery, felt projects, multi media art... I could go on..

For some while I've wanted to do a mixed colour pack for makers of dyed silk, embroidery silk threads, dyed velvet, some handmade felt with perhaps a few beads and buttons. It's inspiring to look at colours and textures in a pack of loveliness. A purse or jewellery bag could be made with the contents or they could become part of a bigger art project. A nice present for a creative friend or for yourself.

Tuesday 4 June 2013

What I found at Hobbycraft

White fan decorations - excellent value at £2-49 for a pack of 5
I have made this by hand but admittedly this one looks better.  DIY tissue paper pom poms in packs of 5
Here's something I could never do by hand.  Honeycomb ball decorations.
I went to Havant and was pleased to find a Margaret Forster book in the library I haven't read. I also get all the craft books/ decor books I'm interested in and pile them up on the table to flick through and make two piles. No and yes. No books in the yes pile yesterday. I must be getting fussier in my old age.

At Hobbycraft I found some good wedding decorations. I had a good look round - at speed. Too much baking materials, card making materials and  plastic storage boxes. I guess Hobbycraft has changed with the times and gone where the demand is. Trouble is I haven't.

 I want to know that they still stock my Folk Art acrylic paints (they don't) and still have dress patterns (they don't). When you ask for these things the response is always: 'You can find them online.'  But I don't want to buy online. I want to buy things in a shop just like I always have done. The dinosaur in me is complaining again!
I mentioned a few of these points in Hobbycraft's customer survey. (Possible £100 voucher prize.) If I win (!!) I will have no trouble in spending the money on some excellent new craft books...