Friday 29 August 2014

Vogue magazine carrier bags

I find that Vogue makes the best carrier bags.
One from Vogue's inside pages recycled by Jenny Stacy
Vogue covers recycled into carrier bags in Handmade Happiness
Free Vogue carrier bag when you buy at Handmade Happiness
Years ago I saw a carrier bag made out of newspaper and that gave me the idea for making bags from magazines. I've always made these bags for Handmade Happiness customers but recently I thought I'd try just using the covers and these bags are stronger and look better. 

If only there was a way to waterproof them. Laminating would make them too thick but maybe coating the whole thing with pvc glue? Ideas welcome.

I also make small flat bags for little purchases and cards. These are made from house magazines and are far quicker to make than the carrier bags. In three years I've not had to buy any paper or plastic bags for the shop and many kind customers now bring me their old magazines instead of puting them straight into the recycling bin.

Sunday 24 August 2014

A Handmade Home

Beautiful quilt made by Pam Dew
Textile art by Sheila Barrow
Rag rug by Ruth Ellacott
I visited a very cosy house yesterday and the owners personality was evident in all the small details. It got me thinking about why I had been unable to get to grips with my own house and make it feel truly a home. And I realised that this house is the first house I am alone in. Happily alone but nonetheless for the first time there is no-one else to make a home for. It's like blitzing the house when someone is coming to stay. You want it to look its best for them. Life is all about looking after other people and it's a wrestle to accept the importance of looking after oneself.  And having a lovely home is all part of that self-acknowledgement.

So how to make a home friendlier, cosier and more comfortable? The answer for me is to create a handmade home. And if you are making things for yourself they don't have to be perfect. It's an opportunity to experiment and have fun.

 With so many homes having stripped or painted floorboards a rag rug adds warmth, colour and style. Making one seems easy with poking fabric strips through a canvas or hessian piece of fabric or crocheting strips in a circle. To be really authentic you'd have to only use fabric (clothes or curtains) that you were otherwise going to throw away or give away. Older customers remember threadbare boys trousers and father's suits being made into rugs. But now when we want particular colours we may have to buy some fabric. Car boot sales?

A patchwork quilt provides a cosy touch over the back of a sofa or imagine one as a door curtain to stop draughts. I have one as art on my wall and I'd love to have one draped over each bed, perhaps with tapestry cushions in toning colours on top. Hand-knitted cushions and knitted and crocheted throws add lots of comfort to a room. During the week a customer told me she had made a throw for an exhibition using just odd lengths of wool from her stash. It sold and she was then approached by an American who offered her £600 to make a similar one but she felt she couldn't repeat it.

What about patchwork curtains? Small strip patchwork looks really good in a small room and larger patchwork squares/rectangles for a larger room. 

Finally what about making your own artwork for your walls? Express yourself on paper, and you've literally made your mark on your home. Making it inescapably yours.

Friday 22 August 2014

Arundel art etc.

Gorgeous stained glass in an Arundel door 
Inside Andy Waite's Arundel house with his atmospheric new paintings
Love Ann Hutchin's delicate hand embroidered pictures
The Arundel Gallery Trail is on this week. The advantage of this art trail over others is that you can walk it in one day. And Arundel with its historic buildings, steep hills and beautiful interior design is a joy to walk round.

Sandra Izard, whose cards are in Handmade Happiness has her paintings in one such house. It's old as witnessed by the ceiling beams, all painted white. The walls are pale shades of grey as are the painted floorboards. A wood burning stove in the fireplace, soft squashy linen settees and oil paintings on the walls. Lovely.

Andy Waite's house is a must-see on the gallery trail. It's big and completely emptied to display his paintings. Walls, floors and furniture tie in with the colour in the paintings. Dramatic oil landscapes and upstairs small icons of angel faces very different in style. 

I also really like Sarah Mills porcelain giant teacups and saucers in the palest green
Mary Bayford's jewellery using ancient trade beads, Carol Butler's delicate hand embroidery, Carolyn Genders big crooked matt ceramic vessels and Amy Fathers paper sculptures of flowers. Oh yes, and Gilly McCadden's paintings are worth climbing up King Street for!

Petersfield Art and Craft society's annual exhibition is also on now at the Festival Hall. That's where I saw Ann Hutchin's exquisite poppy embroidery pictured above. I love Ann's work and have her cards and frequently her hand embroidered pictures in Handmade Happiness. It sells quickly as seen by the red dots on all her pieces at the exhibition yesterday.

Sunday 17 August 2014

In the window this week

A white window for Handmade Happiness this week. See details below
From the top: Pink spot bowl, white heart jug, night light, heart bowl and dog mug all by Ali Cooper.  Standing bunny with carrot £8-50; striped grey mouse £6-50, sheep decorated box £4-95 and white chick £5-95 all by Sue Inglis. 

Middle row: wheelscope kaleidoscope by Frank Higgins, small size £88; needlefelted long tailed tit £29 by Michelle Green.

Flower jug designed, thrown and decorated by Kate Hackett £18;  padded silk spec case £19-50 by Bee Mellor and beautiful wood engraving card by Rosamund Fowler £3-50.

After a busy Saturday in the shop my head is buzzing with ideas. I hope that you too are having a buzzy weekend!

Saturday 16 August 2014

Does you know someone who deserves a medal?

Medal brooches by Jenny Stacy
More medal brooches by Jenny Stacy
The first brooches I made some of which have been further decorated, see above.
Do you remember the advertisement which said 'Award Yourself the CDM'? Those initials stood for a certain bar of chocolate. 

I've always thought that there are so many unsung heroes.  Those determinedly coping with a terminal illness, mothers alone with small children, ordinary people doing extraordinary things. Nurses, carers and teachers - many of them deserve more recognition for the jobs they do.

I was thinking that when I made these medal brooches. Receiving one doesn't, I'm afraid, involve meeting the Queen, but giving one is a nice way of showing someone you appreciate what they're doing and care about them.

Wednesday 13 August 2014

Bright Beads

Necklaces and bracelets inspired by Frank Higgins' kaleidoscopes
Necklace by Jenny Stacy inspired by the Dreamscope kaleidoscope it rests on made by Frank Higgins
Looking through Frank Higgins' Dreamscope. Photo by Jenny Stacy
Noticing bright things at Ikea yesterday
Aren't these fun? At Ikea yesterday.
This kaleidoscope-inspired jewellery will go out for sale in the shop today. I'll show you more pictures of individual pieces soon.

 I remember the first time my little girls and I visited a bead shop and came home each clutching our chosen bag of beads. Sitting round the kitchen table stringing our beads together, guess who had the most fun? Years later I have many many beads to choose from including those I've painted or modelled myself. And it's still just as much fun playing, I mean working with them!

Saturday 9 August 2014

New in Handmade Happiness

Pam Dew's latest colourful quilt £160
Sue Inglis has hand-printed these gift wraps for Handmade Happiness
The gift wrap matches Sue Inglis' hand knitted animals from £5-95 each.
Love this delicate wren painting by Jill Poole, whose cards are also for sale in Handmade Happiness
August is a funny month to be working. It feels like everyone else is on holiday. Ramblers come in with their rucksacks, eager children and their parents, lots of visitors' with accents I can't identify. It makes me yearn to travel. 

So when someone phoned the shop yesterday asking if I would consider selling it as he had clients who were interested in buying it I said, half- jokingly that if the offer was in millions, yes, I would be interested. If he had phoned any other month of the year I would have said a definite 'No'.

I'm working on some jewellery. I had this idea that since everyone loves Frank Higgins' handmade kaleidoscopes I would use them as a source of inspiration. Looking through them and seeing the ever changing play of coloured glass and pattern is good inspiration for jewellery design. Towards Christmas I plan to display the kaleidoscopes and the jewellery they've inspired together. Watch this space!

If you are on holiday this month I hope you are having a wonderful time.

Sunday 3 August 2014

Making it all make sense

Ranunculli pictured in Paris last April
I like this picture, also taken in April
Same time, same place. Are these kumquats and have I spelled that right?
For me the best sorts of conversations are when we try to make life make sense by comparing our ideas with other peoples' ideas.

 How should we live our lives to make it all make sense? Everyone you talk to will have their own opinions. Is it about finding what works best through our own experiences and conversations  and/or should we be reading as much as we can of other peoples' ideas in order to improve our own understanding? Many people haven't got time in their busy lives to read much.

I'm reading two books right now,one modern and one old that are making me think a lot. The modern one is called, 'The Chimp Paradox' by Dr Steve Peters whose idea is that we have three parts to our brains - the chimp, who responds emotionally to situations and represents our basic ie. unsophisticated self; the human who uses logic and intelligence to respond and the computer which is the memory and experience resource both chimp and human use. Dr Peters argues that it is only by learning to make these three selves co-operate with each other that we can become the person we really want to be.

The other book is the sort of thing you have to read at school: Voltaire's 'Candide' . A book I would not have picked up unless someone had recommended it to me. But actually it's really interesting as it's about the travels of Candide, an innocent, good person and the people he meets who represent every sort of human weakness and evil you can imagine and of how he struggles to make sense of it all.

Just a quick reminder that Handmade Happiness will not be open on Tuesdays during the month of August.