Saturday 30 November 2013

Samantha Robertson's bowls and mugs

New work from Samantha Robertson at Handmade Happiness
My favourite piece - this blue washed ceramic jar by Samantha Robertson
 Samantha Robertson bought in new stock to Handmade Happiness yesterday. I like the soft colours of her designs and the fact that the insides of mugs and bowls are different colours. New designs include small 'olive' bowls, the big bowl pictured on top of the shelves above and unusual tree decorations.

Country Living magazine favourite, Ali Cooper, came in soon after with her new porcelain Christmas decorations. These are divine and I'd buy all of them if I could. Ali also delivered some new porcelain tea light holders which make lovely gifts.

This time of year brings the wrestling question of what extra hours should Handmade Happiness be open? Tomorrow (Sunday) for example there is the 'Petersfield Christmas Festival' in the town square. Because HH is a distance from the town square I don't think it would be worth manning the shop.

 However the shop will definitely be open on the Sunday before Christmas and the Monday just before Christmas. I might just look a little limp by then!! And late night Christmas shopping on Thursday nights starts next week. I'll remind you about that later. 

Thursday 28 November 2013

Sheila Barrow's little pictures

South Downs view by Sheila Barrow
Stitched into paint - the work of Sheila Barrow
Across the South Downs by Sheila Barrow
 I love these little works of art by Sheila Barrow. They are about 10 inches square and would look lovely grouped together or singly on a mantlepiece or in a group of other original paintings. Like her white painted frame pictures I showed you earlier they show views from the walk Sheila and her husband took along the South Downs Way - a distance of 100 miles from Winchester to Eastbourne. As Sheila walked she sketched.  

Customers looking in Handmade Happiness for Christmas presents see lots of things they'd love to buy for themselves. This has given me the idea of a 'Wish List'. I could have a pad of tear off sheets on the counter for anyone to fill in with what they themselves would love to receive. The wish list sheet would have all the shop details across the top so that husbands, parents or children could come in and buy something from the list their loved one has given them.

I have written this blog now daily since June 2011. That's two and a half years and I wrote it quite often before that too. Now I am tired and will write every other day from now on. That way you'll get a better quality blog! 

Wednesday 27 November 2013

Chunky necklace

I like big silver beads like the ones I've used in this chunky necklace.
 The thing on my mind at the moment is my advent calendar. I thought I'd make one for shop display and now it's nearly December and I haven't started it.  Hopefully I'll be able to focus on it today and make a good start on it in the shop.

Yesterday Kath Clay brought in some of her lovely silver jewellery. A selection of her work is now in the glass cabinet. Also a customer asked if I was getting in any more of Penny Baker's pretty 'vintage fabric scrap packs.' These are ideal for little Christmas gifts and co-incidentally Penny visited yesterday afternoon with more packs. I find it hard to resist buying these for myself!

I'm late writing this and you can blame Pinterest. Far, far too addictive!

Tuesday 26 November 2013

Frosty morning buttons

Wintery looking mother of pearl buttons
Yesterday, on my day off, I did a bit of Christmas shopping. First in Petersfield where I found some things I liked in Inside Out which is next to Waitrose car park. Smart gifts at reasonable prices I think. 

Then I drove to Waterlooville - destination tkmax.  I have a friend who always looks impeccably dressed and when I comment on what she's wearing she's often bought her outfit at tkmax. I usually flick through the rails and find nothing at all but yesterday a thick wool cardigan coat had my name on it. Really warm and at £29 not expensive.

  I also found some bits and pieces for presents for the family. The book section at tkmax is my favourite bit...I've also found great gift wrap there in the past and I was hoping to find some yesterday or, even better some printed tissue paper for wrapping.  Think I'll have to order some - do you remember the bird tissue and Liberty print tissue Handmade Happiness stocked in the past? Really nice. I'll order more of that and hopefully they'll have some nice Christmas themed tissue wrap too. 

Monday 25 November 2013

Colourful charm bracelets

Red and gold
Fun bright colours
I usually make all silver coloured charm bracelets at this time of year.  This morning I thought I'd have a change and make these, inspired by the many colours in Frank Higgins kaleidoscopes. I'll make all silver ones as well and maybe the odd all gold one too and it will be interesting to see which sell first. 

Today I'm weighing up whether to go to London or Portsmouth. I need to do some Christmas shopping as our family get together is really early this year. Portsmouth is easier but London is more exciting. Enjoy your day wherever you are!

Sunday 24 November 2013

Wouldn't want their electricity bill !

House of Fraser on Oxford Street
John Lewis, Oxford Street
 Isn't life funny sometimes. A couple of ladies came into the shop this week and told me about their business sourcing and selling on lace and linen in France. I checked out their website but frankly it was too expensive for me. Then yesterday someone else dropped off a lot of beautiful pieces of old lace for me to sell on! 

Now I don't know much about lace but I can imagine a few things that could be made with it - boudoir style cushions, Christmas fairy dresses, lingerie, pictures. I'm off to do a bit of internet research. Update: bedroom lamp shades look good in lace and linen and lace Christmas stockings.

Saturday 23 November 2013

Check it out - patchwork

Ruth Ellacott's cushion, rag rug and bag in HH
My camera throws too much light on things. Ruth's colours as actually deeper and more glowing. Her rag rugs and cushions would look equally great in a contemporary white interior and a cosy country cottage.

Handmade Happiness has its best months in November and December. Immediately after follow the two worst months, January and February and I'm planning on how to make those quiet months more worthwhile. Any suggestions gratefully received.

Friday 22 November 2013

Awash with good things...

It's dark outside, cosy inside with so much to see in Handmade Happiness
 The shop seems to be bursting with lovely gifts at the moment. There's so much to look at. Something for everyone as the old cliche goes.
It was good to have Amy's company yesterday and to benefit from her usual good sense. We put up fairy lights along the back wall and around the window so now we're twinkling with energy. I love the way you can touch a button and speed up the way the lights flash or just have them continuously bright depending on your mood!
Handmade Happiness is like Santa's workshop, full of creative energy. Christmas being so near has a galvanising effect on me and suddenly I want to make a thousand things knowing that there's no time to make a fraction of it. But I can try...!

This morning I've been sorting beads with the idea of making some unusual charm bracelets. Now I've sorted out the materials I can make on a tray in the shop today. Friday is funny, an all or nothing day. Either hectically busy with lots of people in or nothing doing, a time to make jewellery!!

Thursday 21 November 2013

New lino cut designs from Jacqui Watkins

Love these lino cut cards by Jacqui Watkins. £2-50 each.
Winter card designs by Jacqui Watkins 2-50 each
Unframed print by Jacqui Watkins £20-00
Unframed print by Jacqui Watkins £20-00
 Yesterday a big box came in the post from Jacqui Watkins. Her lino cut design cards are always popular with Handmade Happiness customers partly because they appeal to men just as much as they appeal to women. The red partridge in a pear tree design is a great stand out Christmas card!
As well as her cards Jacqui has sent some larger unframed prints and notebooks and mugs with her designs on.

Tonight the Christmas lights are switched on in the town centre. This is the signal for all the shops to unveil their sparkliest Christmas windows too. My neighbour Tara Interiors did her windows yesterday. They look great! I have three sets of fairy lights by the front door as I write which I'll put up today in HH.  I am looking forward to having my daughter Amy with me in the shop today.  

Wednesday 20 November 2013

New in Handmade Happiness

Kate Hackett's small size mugs £12 each.
Clare and Rebecca Lund's wood nativity decoration/puzzle £10 on a Kate Hackett cake stand.
 Yesterday morning the first person in the shop bought Ruth Ellacott's rag rug. I had only just collected it from her so it was on display for less than half an hour. So sorry but no picture of that!
It was good to put out Kate Hackett's popular small mugs and what do you think of these new wood decorations? I like the way you can push the pieces out slightly to achieve a 3D look. Clare and Rebecca Lund also make attractive trees in the same way which HH also stocks.

The postman brought two parcels. Juliette Orton's layered fabric star decorations which detach from Christmas cards and Natasha Rothschild's new style reindeer. Natasha makes wonderful knitted reindeer decorations that everyone loves and this year she has come up with a new look red velvet reindeer I really like.

Pam Dew visited with red patchwork tree decorations decorated with her own ceramic buttons. Pam makes marvellous quilts and applique cushions. She is also a very competant potter. It's a joy to see the work of so many artistic, creative people!!

Tuesday 19 November 2013

Christmas windows in Chichester

Between the Lines - colour
Advent calendars in Between the Lines
Smart gift boxes of luxury French products at L'Occitane
The White Company
Bit of a whirlwind day off yesterday. After a check up at the dentist I whizzed round the charity shops (should I have bought that beige Italian brand cashmere top for £5? I didn't.) I then met up with an old friend in the M&S cafe and we spent a happy two hours 'puting the world to rights'.

 Then to Ruth Ellacott's house to collect a rag rug. Ruth is an artist with a great sense of colour. I love this latest random stripe rug. It looks like moonshine on a dark sea. (You'll see what I mean when I show you a picture.) Ruth also enjoys patchwork and again it's the way she selects colour and pattern that makes her work special. I'll also have some of her patchwork pieces in the shop this week. 

Then I drove out to see ceramacist Kate Hackett to re-stock with her popular decorations and pick up some great Christmas mugs with robins, angels and snowmen on. (Pictures to come.) En route home I did another charity run in Midhurst and found a lovely pair of dark grey velvet evening trousers which will be good to wear at Christmas.

I'm looking forward to getting back in the shop today to 're-merchandise' (re-arrange the stock) and put out all the new things. I also have a very easy idea for a Christmas window display although that won't be done until nearer the weekend.

Monday 18 November 2013

Inside Liberty's Christmas store

An entrance
First view of the 4th floor - The Christmas Store
Larger decorations
Life size decorations
Themed decorations by colour and style.
There is so much panelled wood in Liberty's and in their Christmas shop they have used this to advantage by creating a vast wood cabin to house the thousands of decorations.

I'm off to Chichester today for a dentist appointment early and then to visit Kate Hackett who has made some robin mugs for Handmade Happiness and to Ruth Ellacott's to collect her latest rag rug. I also want to check out a few shops and hopefully bring home some more nice photos. Enjoy your day.

Sunday 17 November 2013

Handmade Happiness - the window now

All lit up at the end of the day yesterday
A selection of things for sale in Handmade Happiness
Some of Sue Inglis' work in the window of Handmade Happiness
 A hectic time in the shop yesterday. It is now officially ok to mention the 'C' word. The Christmas lights are up in town and customers are buying presents. I have an idea for my Christmas window but won't install it until next week. I wish you ' merry and bright'!

Saturday 16 November 2013

Chocolates from Belgium

Dumon chocolates
Chocolates from the shop Dumon
This week I had an impressive gift from my lovely shop neighbour Tara Wake (aka Tara Interiors.) Tara visited Bruges last weekend and gave me these delicious chocolates on her return. They had creamy ?ganache fillings and were simply the best I have tasted. Tara said she picked the chocolate shop with the longest queue out the door!

Sue Inglis who makes popular knitted creatures came in yesterday with new designs. They are really sweet and make ideal little Christmas presents. She knits cats, rabbits, hedgehogs, pigs, Christmas puddings, robins, polar bears in fact it would probably be quicker to tell you what she doesn't knit! Answer: dogs but after customer requests she's working on dog designs right now!!!

Friday 15 November 2013

Making flower brooches

Red poppy by Jenny Stacy
Big flower brooch by Jenny Stacy
Same flower photo taken under energy saving light bulb!
 These are the flower brooches I'm currently making. I want to do a few more using what I've learned to make better ones. These are made by using my left over bits of handmade felt and felting them into petal shapes (silk) on the embellisher then assembling them and sewing on a felt backing to give them substance.

I get up early and at around 6.30 am I tried taking photos when it was pitch dark outside and, as you can see the artificial light makes a red flower look orange. Maybe some people would prefer orange... but I was thinking of doing some in purple/pink. I would wear that and red of course.

Thursday 14 November 2013

Champagne Charlies

A giant bottle of champagne in one of Selfridge's Christmas windows
I just heard on the news that someone has paid 105 million dollars for a painting by Andy Warhol in New York. Presumably they think it's an investment that will appreciate in value over the years. But in the short term what  a lot of good that money could have done if 'invested' with the poor and homeless in New York. Or used to airlift blankets, tents and food to the stricken people of the Phillipines. (On the same news bulletin they said that because of blocked roads supplies were not reaching villages devastated by the typhoon.)

 I know I'm being simplistic but the painting in question, called 'Silver Surfer' apparently shows a body across a crashed car. But I dare say the new owner won't have it on display anyway. As it's so valuable it will probably have to be stored in a bank vault somewhere. What a strange world we live in!

By the way the US is currently the number one giver of aid in the Phillipines. I don't mean to imply that the country is not doing enough. According to the BBC it is giving 20 million dollars (UK 16 million dollars) and I'm sure those figures will rise...

Meanwhile back at the coal face (aka Handmade Happiness!) I made poppy petals yesterday. Hammering away with my embellisher. I was meshing wool into silk and this morning I've made a large piece of red felt on the draining board which I'll now cut up into poppy shapes for the silk petals to be sewn into. I also need to search for some large detailled black buttons to act as centres. If they look all right I'll show you a picture.
Enjoy your day.

Tuesday 12 November 2013

Pretty but pricey

Crackers in Liberty £45 
Pretty velvet flowers
Fat quarter fabric packs £49.95 each
Pretty decor in The Bath Shop at Liberty
My son gave me a Liberty coin for my  birthday. It is worth £50. So yesterday I had a good look round Libertys to see what I wanted to spend it on. After all, I love Liberty and with it's impressive wood panelling and galleried layout and gorgeous fabrics I imagine it's a top tourist destination.

Now you could argue, and my children frequently do, that I'm a bit of a country bumpkin. But who pays £45 for crackers? That sort of thing shocks me. In fact, are you thinking the same? Scan and print fabric on to paper, 2 to 3 toilet rolls per cracker, bit of ribbon, done. Or to be even more parsimonious, iron last years gift wrap - I can't bear to see nice paper get thrown away - and use that to make individual crackers.

I like the pretty velvet flowers, I've got quite a lot still that I bought when we lived in France. I could have spent my whole coin on a pack of fabrics (above) but I'd rather choose my own selection. Often in these packs there's one or two fabrics that you really like and the rest not so much. I'd rather have a pick and mix area where you could choose any little piece of Liberty fabric you liked and pay per piece. Lovely for quilt makers.

So I came away having spent nothing.( You can see from this post I'm revving up to be a real 'bah humbug' person this Christmas.) More London pictures tomorrow.

Monday 11 November 2013

Reindeers are back

Knitted reindeer by Natasha Rothschild £9.50; wool reindeer by Michelle Green £7-00
Reindeer in lots of colours by Natasha Rothschild.
 Reindeer have migrated back to Handmade Happiness in time for Christmas. There are lots of new items in HH but these are too good to give up. The picture above was taken two years ago and I also love the bird in the window. The bird's maker popped in to the shop on Saturday and I am hoping to have some more of her birds in December. Those birds are another item in the special category.

Really excited about going to London today. It's been a while. That reminds me. Better put the camera on charge!

Sunday 10 November 2013

Popular wrist warmers by Kate Box

Kate Box's  new wrist warmers in Handmade Happiness
 These wrist warmers are flying out of the shop. No sooner had Kate dropped three pairs off yesterday afternoon than two pairs sold. I've never known anything sell as quickly before! I love everything that Kate makes and now that she has set up a studio here in Petersfield I look forward to stocking a bigger range of her things.

In spite of the awful wet weather Handmade Happiness was really busy yesterday.  If you want to do your Christmas shopping in a less crowded shop, come during weekdays if you can.

I'm looking forward to a trip to London tomorrow. I'm planning to have a really good look round some of the big stores and to take loads of photos for this blog!
Keep warm!

Saturday 9 November 2013

Christmas gift wrap with stampers or potato

Fun wrapping paper
 Yesterday afternoon as the rain lashed down turning the road outside HH into a temporary river I was on the floor with a big sheet of plain red gift wrap, a white ink pad and various wood stampers. 
Children would love doing this.  You could use brown parcel paper and other coloured ink pads. An easy way of making your own gift wrap with a difference.

 You don't even need to have stampers and an ink pad. Paint on a side plate and a cut in half potato. To make a perfect star shape (or any shape) in the cut surface of a potato push in a metal cookie cutter then cut round the outside of it so the image is raised.

 Have kitchen roll paper on stand by to blot the wetness of the potato and to take excess paint from the potato so when you print the image it's going to make a clear outline.

Paperchase currently has a very simple tree image on brown paper which reminds me of potato printing.

Friday 8 November 2013

Needlefelted birds

Michelle Green's needlefelted birds at Handmade Happiness
 These are the birds Michelle Green makes. They are very popular and make lovely presents. I am delighted that Michelle will now be making needlefelted dogs for HH as well. (See yesterday's post.)

Now is the time for selling the things you make. Yesterday afternoon I was shown some chunky wood puzzle decorations including a nativity scene. I liked them and the next person who entered the shop bought one. I phoned the maker to ask for some more, not sure whether she'd had chance to walk home yet!

If you've got something to sell come to Handmade Happiness and show me. I am always looking for special things designed and made by individuals living locally. Right now I'd welcome handmade felt slippers, scarves, woolly hats, warm clothing... And with Christmas in mind handmade gifts and decorations. Quality materials make quality items and sorry but I don't accept things knitted from acrylic yarn or sewn with man-made fabrics. I like to keep it natural. 'Champagne taste, beer money' as my mother would say and no apologies for that!