Sunday 30 November 2014

New in Handmade Happiness

Two seascapes painted by Christine Burgess. 'Dawn' left and 'Dusk' right.
Specs or phone cases made by Bee Mellor. £19.50each
Porcelain candle holders by Ali Cooper. £16.50 each
Single bed quilt made by Pam Dew.
This week Christine Burgess delivered large wooden boards, more twig hooks, lino cut printed Christmas cards and these two remarkable acrylic paintings - much bigger than they look here, inspired by Turner. I'm seriously thinking of re-decorating my house to suit the paintings. That is if no-one else beats me to it! They are really good!

More all silk specs cases from Bee Mellor. These make super gifts.

Ali Cooper came in with lots of mugs. I particularly like the ones with raised dogs and a skating bear. She likes working with porcelain clay and these night lights pictured are an example of what she achieves with it.

Pam Dew came in with her latest quilt. A riot of reds, oranges and highlights of yellows and greens. I love it as will anyone who loves Kaffe Fassett's fabrics.

Tanya Williamson has brought in more of her popular applique cushions.

The shop is bursting at the seams at the moment.  It was so busy yesterday. Come and see before someone else buys your favourite gifts.

Thursday 27 November 2014

Making Christmas cards

Glittery bauble card by Jenny Stacy
Card by Jenny Stacy. See instructions below.
Christmas card by Jenny Stacy
These cards were such fun (and quick) to make. The shape is raised with foam pads so it's a bit 3D.

Do you tear off Christmas stamps at this time of year? I have to squirrel them away and this year I've made my collection of lovely Christmas stamps an essential part of my cards.

If you want to make a card along these lines this is how it's done:
First draw your bauble shape (or a tree/piece of holly/ whatever you fancy drawing) onto card. Cut it out. This is your template.

Then go through any Christmas magazine and tear out Christmassy pictures/ colours and glue them onto a sheet of white copy paper. I use stick glue for this like Pritt stick. Lay your template on and cut round it. Keep cutting out shapes until you've used up your collage sheet.
I then used a hole punch to make the hole in the top of the design. Add a Christmas stamp, star, whatever you have and then use glitter to make the whole thing sparkle. Leave to dry.

I found an old necklace of little coloured gold discs in a charity shop. I threaded a disc through a length of ribbon to tie in to the hole on the design. Then apply sticky foam pads to the reverse of your shape and press it onto a piece of folded card. Done. 

And if you don't fancy making cards or you haven't got time these cards and more are available to buy at Handmade Happiness for £2.50 each.

Friday 21 November 2014


A selection of the stuff Jenny Stacy makes. Picture taken a few years ago.
I remember making this bunting and seeing the red pom-pom braid near to hand.
My friend Carol asked me to write about creativity. So I'm writing this off the top of my head so forgive me, its just my personal thoughts on the subject.

First of all I know we're all creative. Some people feel they haven't the time to express their creativity but it's still in them. Others may play instruments or do a painting or write down their thoughts and get the same creative satisfaction that making something gives to us makers.

Visiting Handmade Happiness often triggers visitors to go off and make something.  So exposing ourselves to inspiring artwork or a view when out for a walk, a certain photograph or even a colour of paint any of these things could make us sit down and use our creative powers to good effect. The enemy here is the practical side of our brains which tells us we'd better do the washing up first or check our bank statement or make the phone call we'd been dreading - anything to keep us away from the happy making time. I don't know why we trip ourselves up like this but I do and I dare say you do too.

Once we allow ourselves to get lost in creativity it's almost like stepping into another realm. Time seems to stand still. The focus is all on the job in hand. And once we finish making something the tremendous satisfaction and peace if what we produce is what we hoped to produce. For creativity starts as the germ of an idea in the imagination and we think about it, write about it, draw it even before finally getting down to making it. This is called the creative process and few of us are lucky enough to get paid for this vital planning stage that goes into producing anything original and worthwhile.

The creative person gets fulfilment from making something that is truly of them. From their imagination. That is why it's so hard for the maker to sell their own work. When a shop turns them down it's like a personal rejection. I am acutely conscious of this when makers show me their work. That is why I have a lot of respect for the quirky and weird, almost experimental pieces that people arrive at. Not much respect for work that is obviously a copy of something seen elsewhere.

Creativity is fed by all we see and experience around us. I think of the imagination as a big sieve. It extracts all that's relevant or exciting to us personally and anything we make is ideally a mish-mash of what we've seen but with our own unique personal spin on it.  

Saturday 15 November 2014

Selling at a country house

Handmade Happiness on a table and (not pictured) a coffee table where Christmas decorations were on a tree
Karen Boller's dog, cat and bird brooches
Handmade Happiness carrier bags with my dolls in the window
The house owner's fabulous cushion made out of one of her old jumpers.
 Yesterday a friend looked after the shop while I sold at a country house 'Christmas shopping event.' 
When I first started making things I was invited to peoples' houses for charity coffee mornings. I would sell my makes and give a percentage of takings to the charity. They generally lasted for two hours and were better for me than any craft fair. 

I soon learned there was something called the Charities List which you could apply to be on and would then be sent a list of events you could ask to have a stall at. I never actually applied as I got swallowed up into making for shops and the twice yearly Country Living magazine shows in London.

Now the shop is the selling focus and it's far easier to praise other peoples' work than to big up my own!! 
By the way I really like this cushion. Although picture knitwear isn't exactly on trend any more, doesn't it look good as a cushion? An old fairisle jumper made into a cushion would also be very saleable... 

Thursday 13 November 2014

In Handmade Happiness now

Tree decorations by Pam Dew
Collaged wood angel decorations by Jenny Stacy
Spec or phone pockets by Bee Mellor
Just a few of the unique-to-Handmade Happiness things you can buy in the shop now.

In the shop I am serving customers and making carrier bags. I would like to be making new products but just at the moment the demand for bags - those ones I make from magazine covers or Vogue pages is high. Little items or single purchases go into the little bags made of one magazine page. But when someone buys several things I like to put them into a magazine carrier bag and so I need to replace them regularly. 

I'm day dreaming that after Christmas when I have my worktable in the shop customers might like to join me in making. Firstly their own projects or something we make together but sometimes we could just make a good stock of carrier bags!

Tuesday 11 November 2014

Kate Hackett's ceramic decorations

Kate Hackett's ceramic robin, pudding and angel
Pictured are Kate's popular decorations for tree or to tie on a present. £3 each in Handmade Happiness.

Today I will take photographs of all the new handmade things I haven't shared with you yet. I am conscious that there is quite a lot that hasn't yet appeared on the blog. So bear with  me while I catch up.

My weekend is very scheduled. On Sundays I see my mother and on Mondays I see my adorable 4 month old grandaughter. 

Yesterday it was lovely that my son Tim was able to spend the day with us. We walked in the park and ate lunch at Jade, a French cafe I'd recommend to anyone. A proper day off.

Daughter Amy has to return to work in March. And I'm working out how I can juggle the shop with baby sitting. The answer may be to close for an extra day after Christmas. At present the shop opens Tuesdays to Saturdays and I'm aware that similar specialist shops are only open for four or even just three days a week.

 On the other hand I would hate to think of someone travelling to see the shop only to find it closed. That would be totally unacceptable.

 So if I do close for an extra day that day would be Tuesday and the new hours would anyway not start til after Christmas. 
For now until Christmas it's business as usual 10-5 Tuesday to Saturday.

Friday 7 November 2014

Beautiful Christmas fair venue

The enormous barn at Buriton Manor usually used for weddings
Yesterday I set up the Handmade Happiness stand in this lovely setting. The Buriton Christmas fair was in aid of the Liberty Foundation which helps people in Belize. There were dozens of stalls, many in the attached marquee. It was a long fair from 11am to 8pm with setting up from early that morning. The organisers kindly provided three meals for stall holders. 
For me it was a chance to tell the many visitors about the shop and to meet other stall holders, one of whom will have her unusual handmade items for sale in HH as from today. (Watch this space!)
Today come and see me in the shop. I'll be there. A bit more tired than usual. I plan to be making more cashmere lavender-filled bunnies. Unexpectedly they were the best selling item at yesterdays show.

Sunday 2 November 2014

Making dolls

Jenny Stacy's dolls for sale in Handmade Happiness
I love to paint the faces best. And I love the way each one is different. The centre doll has the prettiest face but it's just luck. The lady in green has a haughty, looking down her nose expression which I also love.

 It's also fun to chose scraps of fabric and ribbon for their clothes. I don't buy anything new, just use what I already have. The green and the yellow velvet ribbons for instance are ribbons I had as a child when my mother used to tie my hair back with a different ribbon every school day. I made the felt and the knitting on the right was to have been a mohair heart warmer cardi for Juno but the pattern was so complicated I abandoned it. The treasured piece of Liberty fabric, far right was given by my friend Yvonne who's given me many nice things to make with.

Traditionally we've made with what we have to hand. And it's  satisfying to find a use for a pretty scrap saved for many years. Nearly all the women I meet seem to have magpie tendencies when it comes to yarn or fabric. I didn't like to use my favourite pieces I don't know why, but now I want to use everything up. To make good use of it - that's my resolve. To turn all of my hoarded stash into nice things to sell during the next year.