Wednesday 30 December 2015

More pictures of Bath

Rushing waters of the man-made weir, part of the flood prevention scheme.
Established 1826. Like the coat of arms.

These pictures were taken at night on Christmas Eve.

Tuesday 29 December 2015

In Bath for Christmas

A fake Father Christmas is waving high above a jewellers' shop with changing light projections below. Impressive.
I love Bath. 
Even though it felt a long drive after being in the shop on Christmas Eve the thought of seeing all my lovely children, their partners and my precious grandaughter kept me alert!

We rented a house together up a very steep hill just a few minutes walk from the city centre. No one is host or hostess. Everyone mucks in together and cooks and cleans up. We play games - this year Bananagram and Articulate and go out for walks in the beautiful yellow stone city that is Bath. The Georgian buildings and Jane Austen link mean Bath is full of tourists which gives it a great inter-nation feeling. 

Did you enjoy your Christmas? I hope so.

Handmade Happiness properly re-opens on Saturday January 8th. But email me if you need to visit the shop by appointment before then or have any queries. 

Thursday 24 December 2015

Happy Christmas!

Outside Handmade Happiness at Christmas 2015
Wishing you a very happy time this Christmas and may all your dreams come true in 2016! 
Thank you for reading this blog. I'll post again after the big day! 

Tuesday 22 December 2015

Most men hate Christmas shopping

Night time sparkle.
I wish I could say to some of the men that come into my shop alone:
'Let me help you. Tell me your budget and I'll show you a range of things you can choose from.Maybe you won't think any of them are quite right. That's ok too.'
Instead they dart in, find it all too much and bolt for the door.

I get it. Lots of men loathe having to find presents for their loved ones. Let's not pretend otherwise. But I guess their wives or girlfriends have told them they'd like something from Handmade Happiness so they feel duty bound to come in. But then there's too much choice, they're short of time and they'd rather be anywhere than in a gift shop so they duck out, mission unaccomplished!

I'm here and I'd like to help you find the perfect gift. Just ask ! I will also gift wrap it for you free of charge if there's no queue at the counter.

Yesterday was the shortest day of the year. Early darkness is more than compensated by watching fairy lights. I love to sit in the dark with only the little flashing lights for company.

This year I've really appreciated battery operated lights. No more having to load down each socket with extra plugs and wires at Christmas. And a string of little lights can go anywhere you please. You could even wear a lights necklace with the battery pack in your pocket! 

Saturday 19 December 2015

Gift decorations and table decorations

Pale gold gift topper or table decoration by Brenda Tilbury.
For Christmas or a wedding. Pretty decoration by Brenda Tilbury.
Lots of sparkle on this impressive gift decoration by Brenda Tilbury
Imagine receiving a gift with this on it! Decoration by Brenda Tilbury
 Brenda Tilbury just brought in a tray of beautifully-made decorations. Handmade Happiness also stocks her wreaths and Brenda is responsible for the impressive greenery in the shop window this year. Brenda is an at-home florist and I'm wondering what her shop would be like, should she ever choose to have one!

Originally these decorations were intended to top Christmas presents.  But actually they'd also be lovely laid on Christmas tables or wedding tables. For really sumptous table decor each person could have an individual decoration on their place setting. More designs are available in the shop.

Please note Handmade Happiness is additionally open on Monday December 21st 10am to 5pm then business as usual until the afternoon of Christmas Eve when it will be open until at least 1pm.

Wednesday 16 December 2015

In Handmade Happiness now

Owl cushion on midnight blue velvet made by Tanya Williamson £48
New lino cut Christmas cards by Jacqui Watkins. £2.50 each.
Jeremy Moore's attractive mugs, also stocked in blue, £16.00 each.
Interesting jug £22.50 by Jeremy Moore
 There are so many lovely gifts, cards and decorations to choose from in Handmade Happiness right now.

Certain items are consistently popular and lots of makers are muttering about having to start making for Christmas in January next year. Today I'll be contacting some of them to please re-stock this week.

I've also just started selling Jeremy Moore's ceramics.He uses a lovely deep blue glaze (not pictured) that I particularly like. I also like the deep rustic green celadon glaze of these mugs. Ideal for a country cottage.

Also new are the necklaces I've been making. A new take on 'worry' beads that I remember so well from my childhood in the Middle East. I can still picture men sitting cross-legged with a string of large, smooth beads in their hands. Feeling each bead as an aid to prayer and meditation is also what rosary beads are traditionally used for in some religious places.

On Monday I went to Chichester and I was amazed that so many items are being offered at sale prices. Whatever happened to the January sales? I remember when sales were in January and again in July. Full stop. Now sales are all the year round...but it's a bit worrying if shops feel the need to go into sale in the run up to Christmas. I asked why at Marks and Spencer and apparently it's to attract people back into the shops now that so many people choose to do all their shopping online.

Handmade Happiness is exceptionally going to be open on Monday 21st December, next week. Otherwise business as usual, Tuesday to Saturday 10am to 5pm but closed on Christmas Day and Boxing Day.

Saturday 12 December 2015

Magazine cover appeal

Handmade Happiness bags with Jenny Stacy dolls and Karen Boller dog brooch
I like to give customers a free carrier bag made from the front and back covers of magazines. Right now I have no magazine covers to make bags from. 

I have plenty of inside pages of magazines which I make little flat bags from but I need more magazine covers. If you live in Petersfield please tear off the covers before dropping old magazines into your recycling bin and drop those covers into Handmade Happiness if you can. I'd be grateful.

At Phoenix Stitchers Christmas party, members made carrier bags and flat bags in the Handmade Happiness way. A great way to wrap up Christmas gifts this year. 

Certain magazine covers look better than others. Yes please to Country Living, Country Homes and Interiors, any foreign magazine or art magazine, World of Interiors,Tatler, Vogue, Red and similar. No thank you to colour supplements, weekly magazines and gossip magazines (the covers aren't thick enough).

It's the busiest time of the year. Don't tire yourself out. Relax when you can and try to enjoy it!  

Wednesday 9 December 2015

Carol Smith's brooches and publicity

Bird brooches £6.50 by Carol Smith. Carol's bird tree decorations are £4.50 each
Did I mention that Handmade Happiness has a bird theme this Christmas? It seems appropriate with three white trees at the shop. Two trees outside and one inside and the inside one is full of birds.

Brenda Tilbury who makes wreaths kindly re-did the window yesterday. The Christmas tree branches were dropping all their pine needles whenever anyone went near them and now Brenda has replaced them with fresh, green ones, making the shop smell like Christmas. Thank you Brenda.

I wrote an article about why I started Handmade Happiness this week and it made me feel lucky to be doing what I love. I hope that all of you reading this are doing a job that you love. Sometimes life seems to be too much about making enough money to live with not enough time to just appreciate the good things we have that have nothing to do with money.

I've not advertised the shop yet but this article, if it gets printed, will tell a lot more people that it exists. Being out of the centre of town a lot of people discover Handmade Happiness by chance. When getting their car mended at the nearby garage say,or when buying printing ink at the computer shop next door. Once people have found the shop they tend to come back and re-visit.

Both Kate Hackett, the ceramacist and Sue Inglis,who knits, came in and re-stocked yesterday. There was also a delivery of blue and green mugs and bowls from a new potter. Come in and have a look if you can, if not I'll show you pictures in the next post.

Due to a Talk Talk problem I'm not receiving emails. Please use my other email address for the time being. It's:  Thanks.

Tuesday 1 December 2015

Anthropologie, Guildford

Soft metal stars tumbling from the ceiling in Anthropologie
Similar handmade stars looped above the pay desk
Giant papier mache light shades in Anthropologie
Torn paper backdrop of mountains in the window
Houses piled up on a mountain side in the window of Anthropologie, Guildford
Metal stars suspended from ceiling to floor in Anthropologie
What I like best about Anthropologie is the way they recycle rubbish to make their installations. This soft metal may have been aluminium food containers I guess. And the giant egg light shades looked like recycled egg cartons.
Yesterday I didn't have the energy for Oxford Street so I took the train just as far as Guildford to do a bit more Christmas shopping.
Do you find that when you really look for Christmas presents you keep seeing things that actually, you yourself would like to receive?! 

A few blog posts back I talked about a Japanese book on the art of tidying having read an interesting article in a magazine. Well, sorry Santa, but when I saw the actual book 'The life-changing magic of tidying' by Marie Kondo in Anthropologie I just had to buy it. 

It's fascinating. As Marie says, no-one actually teaches you how to tidy up and this is what she sets out to do. I plan to put her words into practice. I'll let you know when and if my life changes!

Sunday 29 November 2015

Being Yourself

Needlefelted brooch by Jenny Stacy
Bits of needlefelting done recently
As you get older you stop worrying about what people think. You realise that your time is limited and if you can't be yourself now you never will be. 

So forget what is 'cool' or fashionable. Forget what your friends like or dislike and how they live their lives. Your moment is now and you need to grab it and truly be yourself. Live your life the way you really deep down need to live it.

If you come to this confidence early in life you are one of the lucky ones. Most of us have to shake off some repression and guilt caught at an early age. We play it safe because therein lies our security. But maybe in always taking a back seat we are preventing ourselves from enjoying a full life with all the risk and excitement that may mean.

Live in full colour and stop choosing neutral shades.

(I intended to write about using traditional crafts in a contemporary way. Ho hum. All the above just wanted to be written more!!) 
By the way I do love getting comments. It's easy. Click on Anonymous, click on I am not a robot and after writing your comment click on publish. Done.

Wednesday 25 November 2015

Decorating Handmade Happiness for Christmas

Handmade Happiness today with new white trees and garland across the top of the window.
Handmade Happiness tonight.
Today Brenda Tilbury installed a living garland of greenery and berries across the top of the window and silver birch branches outside and inside.  Brenda also supplied the Christmas tree branches wired to the sides of the window. She has done a great job and I'm really pleased with the shop's new look. Thanks too to Christine Burgess who brought in the two silver birch branches now wired together in the centre of the window.

The Christmas window is not quite ready yet. I still have to wrap boxes with gift wrap and place suggested gifts on them in the window from the many items stocked by Handmade Happiness. I'll do that tomorrow.

Tuesday 24 November 2015

Glitter and Sparkle

Christmas lights from a balcony in Bath
Intriguing giant mercury baubles filled with tiny lights
Nothing conveys the excitement of Christmas like glitter and sparkle. I love to see cascades of tiny silver or golden lights in department stores and shop windows lit up with hundreds of fairy lights.

On Sunday I did a Christmas fair at a local hotel to promote the shop. A friend had given me two large silver birch branches and in a heavy glass vase bedecked with two lots of fairy lights and lots of my tiny fairies and Carol's bird decorations it looked magical. Isn't it great that fairy lights of the LED kind are so portable. Battery operated so you don't have to depend on there being plug sockets and extension wires. And cheap. I got some in Sainsburys for just £3 a box, batteries included.

Just a line of glitter or a few dots can bring a card or a decoration alive. I wouldn't recommend powder glitter that you add to a coating of glue. It tends to shower off as soon as you touch it. Though it can look fabulous... I use fine glitter glue which you can write with or make patterns with if you want to. It comes in every colour but I like a nice flat gold at Christmas. Not yellow gold, I think that looks tacky, but an 'antique' gold with a touch of grey in it.

So with lots of tiny lights and artful touches of glitter glue we're all set for a magical, sparkling Christmas. What makes you feel excited about Christmas?

Friday 20 November 2015

Inside Handmade Happiness

Tiny gift boxes by Jenny Stacy
Robin garland £4.95 made by Christine Burgess
Mugs and jugs by Justine Jenner
Vessels by Niloo
Beeswax candles made by Elizabeth Eveleigh £4.50 each
At this time of year I save stamps from letters and cards. Christmas stamps are tiny works of art and it is nice to re-use them. On these matchboxes the stamps are the focal point along with painted paper etc. I imagine these used to hold money or a pair of earrings or even a couple of chocolates as a table present.

Justine Jenner's mugs and jugs, pictured, have a subtle decoration that reminds me of feathers. Niloo's spotty bowls and vases show great patience.Imagine adding all those tiny black points...

I love the smell of Elizabeth's candles. They are pure beeswax. An excellent little gift I think.

I am finding it hard to make carrier bags right now because I don't have any old magazines. Please can I ask anyone who lives in the town and reads this to drop off magazines they would otherwise put in the re-cycling bin. Or, even better, to tear off the front and back covers from old magazines and deliver those. I have plenty of inside pages to make my little bags with but no covers for the carrier bags. Thanks a lot.

Thursday 19 November 2015

Cushions, paintings and porcelain

Tanya Williamson's popular cushions in Handmade Happiness
In the window Tanya Williamson's stag cushion and goose cushion
Kate Box's soft wool cushions, zipped bags and snoods with Jenny Stacy's dolls
New painting by Christine Burgess. 'Largo' £129
Jenny Stacy's large birds in the window
Niloo's porcelain trees. £4 each.
Last night I took these pictures in Handmade Happiness. 
The shop is lucky to have some exceptionally talented craftspeople. 

I love this new painting by Christine Burgess which came in yesterday. This multi-skilled lady also brought in more of her lino cut cards and some jolly robin banners she has made.

Kate Box's so-soft knitwear is always appreciated and a popular present buy.

Tanya Williamson just came in with lots more cushions. Tanya uses best quality fabrics in her own designs. She is obviously good at drawing and her cushions are popular and at £48 each, not too expensive.

Niloo also came in with these porcelain decorations. I love the way she covers her work with spots and patterns. White porcelain and grey-washed tree decorations all £4. The shop also has more of Niloo's popular black spot vessels from £9.50 to £18.

The lashing rain and strong winds have meant fewer visitors to Handmade Happiness this week. So I've been making. New are fairy boxes, Liberty fabric tree decorations, fairy bracelets for little girls and this morning I'm hoping to make some necklaces before setting off for the shop.

It's so good to be able to use my camera again. I'll take some more pictures of new stock today so watch this space!