Thursday 31 October 2013

Handmade Kaleidoscopes

Kaleidoscopes by Frank and Janet Higgins 
Close up of kaleidoscopes by Frank and Janet Higgins
Here are the kaleidoscopes on display in Handmade Happiness following their maker, Frank Higgins' visit on Tuesday. I urge everyone to pick them up and look through them. Not necessarily to buy one but to enjoy a bit of magic - that 'wow!' moment - that looking through them gives you. The shop is lucky to stock them. 

Hasn't it turned colder? I might have to dig out the mobile radiator in the shop today and it's Halloween...... I haven't dressed the window with witches and pumpkins. I know all the supermarkets have pulled out all the stops to persuade us to buy Halloween stuff but sorry, I don't buy it. Christmas is one thing but Halloween is an American celebration that is optional for us Brits. I don't want to be 'tricked' so I buy in 'treats' for children callers and of course I want them to have fun. But as for all that orange merchandise - who needs it?

Wednesday 30 October 2013

Chichester's ancient stones

Chichester cathedral
The cloisters
An ancient cut through
Through the arch to get to the Bishops Palace Gardens
An ancient doorway
 Chichester is an old Roman town now grown into a big city. 
See the cathedral's cloisters pictured above? A friend says she saw a man there who appeared to have no legs. It was only afterwards that she realised he looked like a Roman centurion  or soldier and in his day the ground would have been much lower...

Yesterday Frank Higgins brought in more of his marvellous handmade kaleidoscopes to Handmade Happiness. Some new styles for customers to enjoy. 

As they are quite precious I recently moved Frank's work to a glass cabinet. I soon realised that this was a mistake as sales came to a halt. The kaleidoscopes are now back in their original display position where customers can pick them up freely.

 I wonder whether anything you put behind glass in a display cabinet is unlikely to sell as well as if it is out in the open available for people to touch it. The answer, as Frank suggested is to remove the door of the glass cabinet (it's tall and thin) so there is no barrier.

Tuesday 29 October 2013

Inside the shop...

In the entrance room. Slate items made by Eve Deary.
In a corner of the entrance room old fabrics and cushions made with old fabrics.
A table of Sue Inglis' popular knitted animals.
I'll take some more photos today after I've changed the window and cleaned through. Tuesday is the day the floor gets mopped, the rest of the week it's just swept.

Yesterday I didn't go out, much as I would have loved to. I made phone calls and did paperwork and sorted wool so quite a boring day but I felt I'd achieved something at the end of it. Now that people have started to buy for Christmas I'm expecting a busy day in the shop today and I also want to make some 'statement necklaces.'

Monday 28 October 2013

Image overload

Dress by Basia Zarzycka click on photo to visit her website
Do you get image overload? When you've looked at so many pictures that your brain ceases to register them properly. Whether looking at Pinterest or going round a big show like the Knitting and Stitching show, after a while you realise that you're not giving what you're seeing your full attention. You feel a bit dazed because you've seen so much. 

When it comes to designing and making things I think the best ideas are the ones that pop into your head in the moments between sleeping and waking. Often such simple ideas that you think, Why haven't I thought of that before? Then you have to make yourself grab a pencil and paper before the idea drifts off again like vapour, never to be remembered again!

I enjoy looking at pictures like I enjoy looking at Vogue magazine. But I think looking and doing are miles and miles apart. I look to put off the doing ie the making and actually I'm realising that looking is not useful. I've seen enough for my brain to sort through anything meaningful and to sieve the occasional gold nugget to show me in those precious moments between sleeping and waking.

Sunday 27 October 2013

New! Kate Box wrist warmers

Colourful and soft woolies designed and made by Kate Box
The new wrist warmers in Handmade Happiness by Kate Box. Also pictured is Michelle Green's needlefelted bird and my fairy boxes and buttons.
These wrist warmer gloves are so soft and fluffy. I love them and I think they are ideal Christmas presents.

How are you coping with the clocks going back? It takes me at least a week to get used to it. Meanwhile it's nice to have an extra hour in the early morning to get more done than usual. Note I am writing this before 6am new time. But really it's just before 7am and quite normal!

Saturday 26 October 2013

Strange handmade beads

Beads made by Jenny Stacy
 When searching through boxes of beads this morning I came across these I made from Fimo years ago.

 I remember making jewellery for children with the Russian dolls. These ones weren't used because they aren't good enough.

 I remember making the fruit which I thought would be good for necklaces but actually they are too fat and don't sit well.

 The beads I like best are the black and white bead - imagine a necklace made with lots of those and the abstract one far right which would be good incorporated into a collage.
I keep thinking of indigo colours at the moment. The shades of faded blue jeans and new jeans. That would be good inspiration for a necklace I think.

Yesterday Kate Box came into the shop with the softest wool wrist warmers she has made. I'll try to remember to take a picture of them today. I'll have to be quick because I have a feeling these will sell fast!

Friday 25 October 2013

We're in the Petersfield Post this week

Another shockingly bad photo by me - trying to avoid the reflection of the buildings opposite and still failing to do so!
It is so nice to have my daughter Amy staying. That is why I'm running late this morning. We talk and talk and now I must rush to get everything done before work.

Pleased that the Petersfield Post used my press release and you can see Tara, my shop neighbour and I on page 19. I absolutely hate having my picture taken but this is good publicity for our shops, to let people know that we are here and hopefully they'll come by and check us out.   

Thursday 24 October 2013

Looking for presents

Gift wrapped boxes in the window of Carluccio's
It's started. Yesterday customers were looking for Christmas presents. 

I made some new style charm bracelets and battled with etsy. My online shop is called HHonline because Handmade Happiness was already taken. Later today I'll put up a link on this blog. There's a lot about it I still don't understand. Cost of postage to 'everywhere else' in the world anyone?

I'm quite pleased with the charm bracelets. They are certainly different. I'll show you a picture soon.
My daughter Amy is coming down tonight so I'm off to prepare the spare room. Enjoy your day.
Ps.   I'll add more items to it soon!

Wednesday 23 October 2013

Fairy boxes

Fairy in a matchbox by Jenny Stacy
Fairies and their boxes by Jenny Stacy £5-00 each
 Last night I struggled to put these photos on my new etsy shop page. My son says my computer keeps crashing because it's old and short on memory. I'll try again in the shop this morning. I'm offering them on a 'make to order' basis and then if they should sell in the shop or to a customer I can make more. 

I first designed and made these fairies in boxes many years ago. One Christmas I made a lot for a London boutique. This year I plan to make a lot for Handmade Happiness but they're not quick to make. It's a multi stage process involving glitter drying time and varnish drying time. The ones I start today will be bigger as I could only find Swan Vesta matches at Tesco last night and they come in a much bigger, flatter matchbox.   More decorating space and that's what I love to do!

Fairy boxes are available to buy either in the shop or by emailling or telephoning me. £2-50 p & p in the UK. Once they're on etsy these fairies are happy to travel anywhere in the world. This blog will link to etsy as soon as I sort it out. Will let you know.

Tuesday 22 October 2013

The mystery photograph

I was looking at an old brooch this morning that belongs to my mother. I noticed something round and blurry on the reverse. It turns out to be a photograph of a man under a hinged piece of glass. I wonder if these brooches - round enamel with a pearl cluster centre  on the front and a hidden photo compartment in the back, were commonplace. More importantly I wonder who the man is as I do not recognise him.

I am hoping it might be a photograph of my grandfather. Nobody knows what he looks like as we can find no photograph of him. He died when my mother was 7 from the after effects of being in the trenches in the First World War. My mother only remembers him being shut away, in bed, suffering from what I think was kidney failure. On good days he painted posters for Boots the chemist and did his doctor's book keeping in exchange for treatment (no NHS in those days.)

The man in the photograph has wavy thick light coloured hair and a nice, quite handsome face. It's such a tiny photograph. It must have been treasured once for the wearer to want to have it pinned close to her heart.

Monday 21 October 2013

Cushion by Pam Dew

'The View at Funtington' by Pam Dew
This cushion shows us a view from a bike! Pam regularly cycles to work from Petersfield to Chichester and once she gets home she records what she sees in fabrics and stitch. This is a view across fields to a farm house on a hill with flowers and fence in the foreground. The owl is maybe not something she sees regularly but everyone is allowed some artistic licence! 

Sunday 20 October 2013

Having a shop - two years on.

The colours of autumn in the garden
This week the shop celebrated it's second birthday. It was a quiet affair. No gold balloons and cupcakes. I opened in a recession and whatever the government may try telling us I think the recession is a whole lot worse now. If anyone asks me if I recommend them having a shop now I would have to be honest and say no.

I meet the most interesting people in my shop. I love the sociable side of it and I love the beautiful work I am lucky enough to sell. People tell me they love Handmade Happiness - the concept and the whole look of the shop. Many people enjoy looking round and often feel inspired to go and make something themselves when they leave. In that way HH does what it says on the tin - makes people happy!    

The problem is money - people hear about gas and electricity prices going up and everyone's talking about this coming winter being the worst winter we've maybe ever suffered and they think they had better not spend any of it. So shops like mine which sell non-essential things suffer.

I know people will come in and buy Christmas presents from my shop. And yesterday I had a delivery of the most gorgeous Christmas cards too. November and December will be brilliant. It's now -October I'm worried about. You know me I have to be honest!

Saturday 19 October 2013

Handmade Happiness - the foyer and beyond

The entrance wall - just feet from the doorway
A neater area inside the main shop room
 Handmade Happiness has an unusual layout. You go in by double door into a foyer or small room then off to the right is the main, large shop room. It's this small foyer - a small strip of a room with a large wall area immediately opposite the entrance - that I have found it hard to know what to do with. 

 When I first opened I only had display boards - for the inspiration of makers and another community noticeboard in it. Now, with a lot more things to sell I am trying to incorporate it into more of a selling area. Out of sight in the first picture is a corner containing shelves of old 'vintage' fabric pieces - 1940s to 1960s. This is a new idea. 

In the main body of the shop I had a day yesterday of re-grouping items so that, ideally, all of each makers' work is presented together - this is easier with some people's work than others. But I am happier with the way I have it now and will work more on this today. All the obviously Christmas items are in one place so visitors can, if they want to, turn a blind eye for the time being! 

Friday 18 October 2013

Love these buttons!

Handmade buttons by Jenny Stacy
It's the colours that I enjoy. I've made lots of blue/purple/white buttons lately for an order but right now it's fairy boxes that are taking my time.

I had to see the optician yesterday as I had building debris in one eye that had embedded itself. No fun! But just to share with you - she said there was also some UV damage caused by looking at the computer screen. So this will be short!! Seriously she said we must employ the '20/20 rule' which is after 20 minutes of looking at the screen you look away for 20 seconds and then blink 20 times. So I'll try to do that from now on.

Thursday 17 October 2013

Lulu in autumn

Lulu belongs to my shop neighbour Tara. She has a huge number of fans!
Red autumn leaves against my trellis fence.
 Hasn't it got colder this week? As soon as I open my shop door the dry leaves of autumn rush in. I'm forever brushing them out again. I like to have the shop door open, it's welcoming but recently I've had to close it or I'd be sweeping all the time.

Lulu is a frequent visitor from Tara Interiors next door. As soon as the sun shines she basks in any warm spot she can find. It seems that everyone passing knows Lulu and stops to give her a friendly pat. She is the most gentle dog I know and I've never heard  her growl. She does bark occasionally but only at the postman. For some reason she guards Tara's shop from the postman but will be pleased to see every other visitor. If ever you see Lulu stretched across my doorway just step over her. She won't move a muscle. She'll move for her mistress but not for me. I've grown used to having her around. A benign presence.

Wednesday 16 October 2013

Sophie Digard crochet scarves

Fine crochet scarves by Sophie Digard on the Selvedge stand at K&S
These scarves have such a different look that they are instantly recognisable when you see someone wearing one.

I am aiming for a distinctive, special look in Handmade Happiness and although it's sometimes tempting to compromise I shall try to stick to my original motivation of selling good design, well made by mostly local individuals. And if it get's a 'wow' from me the first time I see it, it's definitely in!

You might be wondering why I'm showing all these pictures taken at the Knitting and Stitching show when the blog is actually about Handmade Happiness, the shop. My theory is that the more quality items we see the more we are encouraged to try harder with what we make and what we select for ourselves. I hope that makes sense.

Meanwhile I am getting on with fairy boxes and giving the shop a spring  autumn clean. I'm having another change around and will take some shop pictures today.

Tuesday 15 October 2013

Jan Beany and Jean Littlejohn

Soft colours and texture. Love this piece.
This was chosen as the front cover of the K&S catalogue. 
Jean Littlejohn's work. 

 Here are the pictures that blew me away at the Knitting and Stitching Show. So clever.

I have a book by Jan Beany and Jean Littlejohn called A Complete Guide to Creative Embroidery which explains some of their techniques. I've had it since it was published in 1991 but now I want to read it, not just look at the pictures.
 (By the way I asked permission to take the photographs above.)

Sunday 13 October 2013

Knitting and Stitching show, London

Display on Stef Francis stand
Interesting art work on the Stef Francis stand
 Ooh the frustration of having no internet connection yesterday. Anyway after fiddling around with all the wires and plugs I've got it back today so on with the blog!

Yesterday I went to the Knitting and Stitching show at Alexandra Palace and found some good, inspiring work. I'll share more pictures tomorrow but what I loved the most was the Jan Beany and Jean Littlejohn display stand. These two mega talented individuals make multi media canvasses involving stitch, paint and fabrics - collages of complicated beauty you can only stand in front of awe- struck like I did. They teach and give talks and workshops all around the country inspiring thousands of women.

I was on a mission for Handmade Happiness to find more talented makers. And I am happy to say I found three whose work will be a welcome addition to all the lovely things HH already has.

If you've never visited the Knitting and Stitching show I tell you it's big. Two halls one with designer makers selling what they make and sit down workshops. The other filled with trade stands selling everything you need to make with plus known artists displaying and selling their work and art students and their work. Even after a full day of looking I've still not seen everything. Ideally you have to be there for two days I reckon especially if you stop and chat to stall holders like I do.
More tomorrow.
By the way apologies for saying previously that the Selvedge fair is on October 30th. Sorry it's actually on November 29th and 30th.

Saturday 12 October 2013

Christmas decorations

Christmas decorations by Jenny Stacy
Christmas decorations by Jenny Stacy
I like these decorations. Simple and colourful like a child's drawing. I made them yesterday afternoon in the shop. Looking at them this morning - and the background is a brighter red than it looks in the photographs - I can see I should have used gold ribbon for hanging - I'll swap that and put them out for sale today.

People are not recoiling in horror any more by the sight of obviously Christmas items! Time for Handmade Happiness to bedeck itself in sparkle and ornament. I love the anticipation of a perfect Christmas ...

Friday 11 October 2013

Fun with the embellisher

Experimenting with wools and a bit of silk
Reckon I can see a potential landscape here!
 When it's quiet in the shop I can play on the embellisher. It makes a hammering noise so I can't use it when anyone's looking round.

 It looks like a sewing machine only there's no thread. It has eight felting needles which bond fabrics into one another. Having wanted one for years when they were really expensive the price seemed to plummet at the time I opened the shop which is when I bought one.

 These are the pictures I would have shared yesterday. And yesterday I did lots more pieces, this time with metallic fabrics. I was wondering how to use them when a friend came in with an interesting piece of cut glove leather. Then I realised I could cut these random lumps into recognisable shapes.
But first I  have an order from London for a quantity of fairy boxes. Must start those today.

Thursday 10 October 2013

It's one of those days...

It's one of those days that blogger and picasa aren't communicating and won't let me publish pictures. Frustrating because I want to show you what I did on the embellisher yesterday with bits and pieces felted into smooth felt. Technology lets me down about once a year and we'll just have to ride it. Hopefully it will let me print those pictures tomorrow.

My friend Christine bought a crocodillo into the shop! She'd read my blog post about needing to make holes in fabric and very kindly has given me her old one. The making bug is on me just now and there aren't enough hours in the day. 

Wednesday 9 October 2013

More bird paintings by Vicki Hunt

Long tailed tit by Vicki Hunt
Goldfinch painted by Vicki Hunt
Coal tit by Vicki Hunt
I love Vicki's paintings. Her birds are beautifully observed and have just the right heft and stance to make them believable. Vicki paints with acrylics on fabric and then stitches round the bird. 
Isn't it time we turned our backs on gimmicky art - art school seems to be about finding your weird and original novelty and sticking with it - and returned to the appreciation of artists who have a natural talent for drawing and painting. I am hoping Vicki will bring more of her paintings in soon as they do see to fly out of the shop fast!

Tuesday 8 October 2013

Planning, making, sewing

Wooden buttons I painted a while back
 I forgot to take my camera to Chichester yesterday so we will have to make do with this old picture. I'd paint more on wooden buttons if I could get hold of them but I can't find them now.
The Chichester pictures would not have been exciting as most of my time was spent in the M&S cafe chatting and sketching/note taking. We looked round a few shops and charity shops but didn't buy anything. We were searching for a 'crocadillo' at least I think that's what they're called. It's a tool for making small holes with and we need to make small holes preferably with a metal circumference for our joint project.

What I am actually making at the moment is lavender filled hearts. My neighbour very kindly dried her lavender for me and gave me a big bag full. It smells delicious. I am using some old gold fabric for them and a velvet ribbon loop and old buttons. I think they look quite nice. Show you a picture soon. What are you making right now?

Reminder to self: Take camera to work today to take pictures for blog!

Monday 7 October 2013

Talking ideas with a friend

Bee Mellor's embroidery on the noticeboard at Handmade Happiness
Today I'm having a creative meeting with my friend Bee Mellor who's over from Australia. I'm excited about the prospect of making things together for Handmade Happiness

For years I've admired Bee's combination of painting and embroidery and her fantastic sense of colour.  Even though she now lives on the other side of the world (Bee and her husband used to live in Liss) we keep in regular contact via email and ever since Handmade Happiness opened I have wanted Bee's gorgeous work to sell in my shop. Bee makes cards, wall hangings and paints pictures. She also embroiders sumptuous spec cases and book covers.

 But this latest idea we're discussing is none of those things, it's something that uses both our talents and hopefully soon there'll be something to show you and to sell once we get past the talking stage and on to the making stage!!

Sunday 6 October 2013

Tara Interiors now stocks Designers Guild

Love this Designers Guild linen print
Delicate colours
Autumn colours
Strong colours feel 'now'
Tara Wake, my lovely shop neighbour, has just started stocking Designers Guild.

 Among my pinterest boards are Home and Ideal Home. These fabrics, especially the top one, would go on my Ideal Home board!
I think we'd all like to embrace more colour in our lives, especially with the prospect of winter now. I'd like my house to be all white walls with zingy colour in the rooms. A clean and cheerful look!     

Saturday 5 October 2013

New designs from Kate Box

Baby comfort blanket by Kate Box.
Kate Box comfort blanket in different colourways
Baby comfort blanket by Kate Box
Other colourways - another comfort blanket by Kate Box
These super soft squares of knitting are actually works of art posing as baby 'snugglers' or comfort blankets! When Kate Box, who lives in Petersfield, bought them in to Handmade Happiness yesterday I kept picturing them in frames...! And you could, of course, buy one and frame it!

When my children were tiny it was a disaster if their 'aaah' or comfort fabric went missing or had to be washed. It could only be replaced with something with just the right feel. These pictured are designer versions of comfort fabric for very lucky babies.

Lots of new things were delivered to HH yesterday. Come in and have a look! 

Friday 4 October 2013

An extraordinary place to stay

Blackmoor Farm's dining room
Blackmoor farm, Somerset
Knight or day you are the one for me..!
We stayed here for two nights for Amy's wedding. Blackmoor Farm which offers guests bed and breakfast, is not far from Taunton in Somerset. The farmhouse dates back to the 16th century and the decor takes your breath away. The large room shown is where we all met for breakfast - surrounded by ancient artefacts - all the trappings of historic battles. There were even small cannons on the lawn outside.

 Our rooms were actually in what looked like converted barns nearby. Complete with a massive red Aga stove and enormous kitchen and sitting room with bedrooms off we thought it would be a lovely setting for a big family Christmas. The farm's cows are very close, you can hear them through the night, but they make a gentle, soothing noise which you quickly get used to. 

There seems to be something wrong with the comment box at the moment. It hasn't worked for over a week. Please test it for me...!