Friday 30 May 2014

Tanya Williamson's applique cushions

These cushions are in the Handmade Happiness window this week. 
When Tanya came into the shop I was immediately impressed with the originality and cleverness of her handmade cushions. I've not seen anything quite like this before. She uses good quality fabrics and thick feather pads. I think these will appeal to lots of HH customers.

Tuesday 27 May 2014

Specialist shops and personal service

Uncovering the past. This old sign is revealed above the chain Superdrug in the High Street
It reads: Fishmonger. Baker. Family Butcher.
This sign reminds us what a town's High Street used to be like. It had a butcher, a baker and a fishmonger. Now all those things are under one roof - Tesco. 

Petersfield does still have a butcher but it's not on the High Street. High Street's are expensive places to have a shop. Only chains and jewellers can afford to be there. Specialist shops are in back streets or side roads where rents are cheaper. But most towns are all chain stores. It's convenient to park at Waitrose (for example) and do all your shopping there including gifts and birthday cards. But spare a thought for any little specialist shops in your town. If they are to survive they need your custom.

Petersfield is lucky in that it has a lot of small independant shops. Not in the High Street but in the peripheral roads - Dragon Street and Lavant Street. Like Handmade Happiness. People are thrilled to discover this shop selling all kinds of gifts handmade by people who live in this area and cards that local artists have had printed. It's special, the standard is high and it attracts people who don't always want impersonal, artifically lit ailes of goods. They want something a bit old fashioned. Like these old shop signs. It represents old style values like specialist knowledge and personal service.

Saturday 24 May 2014

The whole package

Little cards with envelopes made by Jenny Stacy
Pretty post from Bluebellgray to Tara Wake, my shop neighbour
The other side of the Bluebellgray  envelope 
It's Chelsea Flower Show week so I have to include flowers from my garden. The jug is by Avoca.
I used to love making those tiny cards. They were featured in Country Living magazine many years ago. Now they're for sale in Handmade Happiness. £1-50 each.

Talking of cards I was impressed with Tara's post from Bluebellgray. It's so pretty and individual with a sticker to hold the reverse together. An origami envelope featuring one of the splashy designs on fabric they are well known for. It represents the whole package. Everything that company does reminds people of who they are and what they do and is memorable. They have achieved the 'whole package.' 

It can cost a bit if you want a stamp made with your company name and address, or special tissue paper printed with your own design, or gift boxes and bags with your design or logo. Post cards and business cards fitting your company image don't come cheap either.  And none of this is strictly necessary. However if everything you send out and everything you package reminds people of the quality of your company surely that is worth a small investment.

Wednesday 21 May 2014

Making for Christmas

Through the Handmade Happiness window at Christmas
Christmas 2013 at Handmade Happiness
In a shopkeeper's life the important time is Christmas. Easter can be a good selling time too, and in August visitors to the town may buy souvenirs to take home from your shop but really nothing compares to sales at Christmas. Some makers stockpile everything they make to sell at Christmas and for a moment last Christmas I was tempted by the idea of becoming a year round Christmas shop. But just as you are reluctant to think about Christmas now, in May, I know that people would not like to see the word 'Christmas' above a shop in Petersfield all through the year.

However today I am thinking about what I want Handmade Happiness to sell in the run up to Christmas. Yesterday I started making half a dozen new dolls. I want to make a lot of new jewellery and design some attractive Christmas stockings, decorations and advent calendars. I need to contact makers to discuss their Christmas ideas. Maybe this year there will be a theme or maybe we'll just try to have something to appeal to everyone.

I need to analyse what sold best last year as a guide to this year's stock and right now I need to reply to an email inviting me to do a Christmas fair. Magazines are thinking about Christmas issues right now and fair organisers are planning their biggest event of the year. I'll think about all this on my walk this early morning in the lovely May sunshine!

Sunday 18 May 2014

In the window this week

Lovely handmade gifts available in Handmade Happiness now. See details below.
Can't resist sharing these peonies blooming in my front garden right now. 
As big across as a side plate and so pretty.
It has been good having my daughter and baby bump to stay and help in the shop. Only six weeks to go now and only two weeks left for her to keep working in London. We knitted together, the pile of tiny baby clothes is gradually growing.

In the shop window this week is: 

A bike parts bracelet by Pam Dew; a flowery jug by Kate Hackett; a handmade kaleidoscope by Frank Higgins; he also made the miniature brass kaleidoscope pictured middle fourth row;

Knitted cat in striped jumper by Sue Inglis, who also made the matching card; a selection of silver rings and a wish bracelet by Kirstie Turner; and a sugar tongs bracelet by Jenny Shutler.

Wood engraving card by Rosamund Fowler; mouse mug by Ali Cooper who also made the blue spot mug below; and knitted teddy by Joyce Holland-Hill.

I was fascinated by a regular customer's report of a country show he had visited recently. He was offered a barn owl for £120. It was in an ice cream tub. Apparently the seller breeds them. 

At the same show was a sign saying: 'Make your own axe. Sleep with your axe in a shelter you've made under the stars. Then use your axe to butcher a deer.'

I checked out the website They offer survival courses which are highly praised in their reviews. I'm reassured that the deer are already dead when participants get to work on them with their handmade tools. And they do not sell barn owls.

Wednesday 14 May 2014

Three handmade dresses

Grey linen dress made by Roly Phillips. Size 16. Felt bag by Jenny Stacy
Purple linen dress made by Roly Phillips size 12. Bag by Jenny Stacy
Red cotton dress size 12-14 with embroidered panel on back made by Pam Dew
Handmade Happiness has three dresses for sale which can be worn with Seonaid Noble's cashmere cardigans which we also stock. These are comfortable, easy to wear dresses which could be layered to wear through the year.As usual my camera doesn't do them justice, the colours are more intense.

I hope you are enjoying sunshine wherever you live. For the last week I've been getting out for an early morning walk and the cool morning with bright sunshine is ideal walking weather. I always hope to see a deer or maybe a fox though I rarely do.
My daughter Amy is coming to stay for a few days today which will be lovely, so tomorrow I will have company on my walk and in the shop.

Yesterday I heard of two new shops opening which offer shelves for makers to rent. I have mixed feelings about this. I've always thought that makers shouldn't have to pay out in order to sell their things. Shops and galleries can sell them for them free of charge.

 But you could argue that makers expect to pay for craft fair stalls to sell their work so what difference is  paying a monthly rent for a shelf or two in a shop? I suppose it all depends on whether or not the items actually sell and how much that rent is.  It would be annoying to say the least to have to pay rent when nothing is actually selling. And when nothing actually sells you don't know what to make more of and what to make less of. So I think the message is: sell where you want to buy from, that place will be the right place for you and the things you create by hand.

Sunday 11 May 2014

A time of transition

Looking after a shop five days a week is a bit sedentary. All this sitting for two and a half years is not good for your spine. On Thursday I was told that the way to get rid of my sciatica is to have a week of not sitting and not bending. So I'm in the shop but I'm standing. The other bit of advice the physio gave was to get on the floor every two hours to do 10  yoga 'cobra' cycles. (This is like a half press up, sometimes referred to as a 'ladies' press up.) Now I would be mortified if a customer walked in when I was on the floor in cobra position so they've had to be dropped but I am trying not to sit.

New in the shop are two linen dresses made by Roly Phillips and a thick cotton dress and jacket made by Pam Dew. Photos coming. Also lovely new cards from Fareham illustrator Jill Poole.

Have you tried drinking green juice? This week I bought a juicer and tried green juice and it tasted good. Washing up the juicer wasn't as much fun as using it. I juiced cucumber, spinach leaves, an apple, lemon juice, a celery stick, should have put in a bit of ginger root but I didn't have any. 

A friend's husband has got the juicing bug. She reports him pulling grass, stinging nettles and thistles from the garden to add to the juicer mix. Surprisingly she says the result tastes delicious. Not tempted? No me neither!

Wednesday 7 May 2014

Chichester Art Trail - a glimpse

Geraldine St Aubyn Hubbard's handwoven scarves and clothes
Top: Lin Bundfuss' mixed media textiles and below: Mary Moon's felt
A pretty garden with pond in Chichester
First an apology that the top two pictures are taken from the brochure. I didn't feel comfortable about asking to take pictures at the various venues.

Chichester Art trail encompassing 173 artists must be one of the largest art trails. Geographically it extends from Emsworth in the west, down to Selsey in the south and across to Slindon to the east of Chichester. I wanted to get to Slindon to see my friend the artist Sandra Izard but the car was playing up so I didn't get that far. Instead I went to Nutborne to see Geraldine St Aubyn Hubbards weaving. I remember her exhibiting at Chelsea Craft Fair many years ago. And I remember the first time I saw her great big loom - taking up a whole room in her house as it does. Her work is beautiful and if she hadn't been talking in a roomful of people when I visited I would have asked if she would be interested in having some scarves in Handmade Happiness!

Just down the road I saw Malcolm Macdonald's studio. Malcolm produces functional, domestic pottery. I love his mugs and just had to buy one even though someone had just drank a cup of coffee from it and it had to be washed up first! If you are interested in ceramics this studio is a must see. (The trail continues next weekend May 10th and 11th and you can pick up a brochure from Handmade Happiness.)

On to North Mundham on the Selsey road to see textiles. Lin Bundfuss (see above) experiments with different techniques to produce mixed media textile hangings and framed pieces. Mary Moon, at the same venue produces some fine handmade felt for her wall hangings and framed pictures. Textile artists will enjoy this venue. 

With art trails it's good if you can see a clutch of artists within walking distance of each other but the Chichester art trail is laid out over such a large area this is just not possible. The Arundel art trail works well as you can walk from venue to venue around the town(that's in August). Petersfield used to have it's own art trail 'Paint' but that fizzled out eight years ago.
I'd love to look at more of the Chichester Art Trail next weekend, once the car has been to the garage, but I doubt this will be possible. But you may be able to go. Enjoy it and if you feel inclined, pass on any recommendations via the Comments box.

Saturday 3 May 2014

It's iris time

Pale irises in my front garden now
 This time of year feels like all change time. New energy and new goals.

I want to make more things for the shop (it's been all baby clothes lately!) and I want to give you readers better quality posts - more how tos for instance. So I'll blog once or twice a week instead of every other day when I have something exciting to share. 

The shop is evolving and it's already a very special place. This morning kaleidoscope maker Frank Higgins is visiting with more examples of his beautiful craft. Makers are producing new items to fill the shelves. The talent displayed is sometimes almost overwhelming.

This Monday I plan to check out the Chichester Art trail. I'll let you know who I find. Meanwhile rain or shine Handmade Happiness is open Tuesday to Saturday 10am to 5pm. Meet you there?!
ps. I wrote two posts today. Check out the bike parts jewellery post under this one!

Bike parts jewellery

Pam Dew has painstakingly cleaned and re-assembled bike chain for this necklace and bracelet
Bike chain earrings by Pam Dew. I like the tiny writing on them.
As promised here is the bike parts jewellery made by Pam Dew for Handmade Happiness that I said I'd show you. A very different present for the bike enthusiast I think you'll agree. And a good talking point for the non-cyclists amongst us.

Thursday 1 May 2014

In the window today

A selection of local makers work for sale in Handmade Happinesw
Pictured above are wrist warmers knitted by Kate Box; a spring flowers mug thrown and decorated by Kate Hackett and a pretty purse sewn by Carol Smith.

A pocket teleidoscope which changes everything you see into kaleidoscopic images by Frank Higgins, a dog brooch sewn by Karen Boller and the next three pieces and the bowl below them are the work of Ali Cooper; the blue storage jar is made by Samantha Robertson; the flattened spoon bracelet by Jenny Shutler and the stitched notebook by Sheila Barrow.

Handmade Happiness contains so much talent. When you start to think of the hours and hours of designing and making that's gone into the pieces on display it's a bit overwhelming. I'm so pleased I opened HH when I did. It's always lovely when people admire the things in the shop and the shop itself. And with the help of supporters and friends I want the shop to just get better and better.