Monday 30 April 2018

Emsworth Arts Trail

Eloise Biddlecombe's hand embroidery
Anita Bell's stitching on papers
Jane Fox teaches drawing 

Yesterday I found Eloise Biddlecombe, Anita Bell and Jane Fox on the Emsworth Arts Trail. 
If you live near Emsworth the trail runs over next weekend as well May 5,6 and

Eloise  does bold, colourful hand stitching. With a degree in illustration her subjects are fruit and she can also be commissioned to do a very likelike stitch representation of peoples' dogs. Her stand in the Emsworth Community Centre stood out for its cheerful larger-than-life portraits of fruit. Just the thing for a very cold day.

Anita Bell who dyes papers and then stitches into them can be found just off the High Street. Again, colour is her thing and visitors were drawn to her large, colourful framed works of art. 

I had an interesting conversation with Jane Fox who teaches drawing courses at the Emsworth Community Centre twice a week. Visitors were invited to make marks with sticks and homemade brushes, dipping into coffee and inks. Some people drew actual still life style pictures but most enjoyed just playing with different mark-making tools. Check out

Sunday 29 April 2018

Bear candles and partying guinea pigs!

Pure beeswax candles made by Elizabeth Eveleigh. Birthday cakes, hives and my favourite bears!
Sue Inglis designs and makes these guiinea pigs and mice in their party hats! Great b'day present!
Glen Welstead made this colourful rag rug. 

Every time someone visits Handmade Happiness for the first time I appreciate all the unusual, beautiful gifts it offers to customers. It really is a special place with a unique selection of gifts that everyone seems to appreciate.

I've been looking back over nearly 10 years of blog writing. I used to make all the time and now I squeeze in making with the paperwork and chatting involved in managing a shop. I want to make more things and perhaps adapt some of my older designs for the shop now. And with so much buying online now I need to sell online as well as in the shop...

By the way the rag rug sold a while ago. I just wanted to share it as another example of great craftmanship!

Saturday 28 April 2018

New in Handmade Happiness and this blog is nearly 10 years old!

Blue tit  by Tanya Williamson, one of several of her new framed pictures in the shop
New cushions made by Tanya Williamson  with bowls by Justine Jenner and pots by Niloo
A perfect camellia from the garden
This week Tanya Williamson has brought in lots of new cushions and new framed pictures. Kate Box has just added to her popular wrist warmers and neckwarmers and I've made some more jewellery. The shop is well stocked for a busy Saturday.

I just read the first posts I wrote on this blog. I started writing it when frantically busy preparing for the Country Living magazine show in Islington. I used to do that show every year and I thought it would be fun to write about the lead up. First post September 22nd 2008.

 By October 2008 I was writing about the dream to own my own shop. Back then I didn't seriously think that owning a shop was possible. I lived in Chichester then and shop rents were impossibly expensive. I couldn't have owned a shop in Chichester but I do own a shop in Petersfield. 

I wonder if consistently writing a blog for nearly 10 years is some sort of a record? This blog has had it's ups and downs. When it started all the readers were British. Now over half are American and often there's as many French readers as British ones. The comment option has never been used and that's ok. I can see from the stats that plenty of you are still looking at it. So thank you. 

Thursday 26 April 2018

Clean planet

There is a new UK Plastics Pact which lots of companies have signed up to which promises to reduce plastic wrapping by 2025.

But why wait?

It seems that any promised action is always for way into the future. But action is needed now.

 Communities are doing litter picks and everyone I know is trying to avoid buying anything wrapped in plastic at the supermarket. But it's difficult when nearly everything in the supermarket seems to be packaged in a plastic bottle or have cling film or polythene round it...

I am trying to look at the worst plastic offenders - like black plastic veg trays, plastic netting (on fruit)  and cling film with a creative eye.
Can these objects be made into something attractive? Or better still, into something both useful and beautiful!

I've got a few ideas and I'll be experimenting in the shop. As soon as possible I'll offer a free workshop in Handmade Happiness for anyone that's interested.
Meantime I'll keep jotting down ideas in my notebook and puting plastic rubbish into a big bag for creative upcycling!

Although it's way ahead there are two events I want to mention in October.

Firstly on Saturday October 6th friends and I will give free workshops in the Festival Hall, Petersfield as part of a charity event for Home Start Butser.

 Secondly on October 14th it's the annual outing from Petersfield to the Knitting and Stitching Show in London. If enough people want to go (we need at least 35) a coach will run from the Festival Hall car park. A list you can add your name to will be in Handmade Happiness or just email me.

Sunday 22 April 2018

No more plastic!

Cushion bags made with fabric I bought in India

Fringed napkins become a cushion bag
This week's charity sale bargains, details below

I want the shop to be a plastic-free zone.

Since Handmade Happiness opened, nearly 7 years ago now, I have always made small bags and carrier bags from old magazines customers kindly give me. But the cushions are too big for my bags so I have had to buy 'bags for life' from Marks and Spencer just for the cushions.

But recently I've had the sewing machine out and I've made the three bags above especially for the cushions. Now I have no reason to buy plastic...
except that I usually wrap pottery and paintings in bubble wrap. Instead, I've been using thick paper that a customer gave me from their Amazon purchases but it's not quite as protective as bubble wrap...

I had a lovely conversation with a lady who lives next door to a sheep farm and she wondered if felt made from the fleeces would be a good wrapping material for pottery.  Soft felt sheets would be ideal. And, as these coincidences happen, another lady on Saturday asked if I would like some felt sheets she has that an organic veg supplier from Devon uses to protect fruit and veg. Yes please!

There is a new business for someone - to provide biodegradable packaging to  shops and businesses.

I am also thinking of ideas to look at non-recyclable rubbish creatively. Can we make something beautiful and useful out of rubbish that would otherwise go to landfill? More on this later. Any suggestions gratefully received at

The last picture shows the 'nearly new' things I found at Petersfield's annual Save the Children sale over this weekend:
 A handmade embroidered cotton blouse; a fine wool blue pattern scarf; a Crea outfit (we used to sell Crea at Tricot Too where I once worked. A very expensive Scandanavian label) and a cashmere scarf. The napkins in the bag above were also found at the same sale. 

Thursday 19 April 2018

Best shop

Handmade Happiness has just been shortlisted as Best Shop

It's ironic that I've just been emailled the news that Handmade Happiness has been nominated as Best Shop. The email contained a suggestion that I reserve a table for 10 at £25 a head for the award ceremony. 

This has come when honestly, has there ever been a worst time for independent shop keepers?
People are not spending and I sympathise. I too am not spending. Ever since the uncertainty brought about by Brexit people have decided to hang on to their money. We buy food, but spending on anything else seems to have stopped.

Time and again the lovely people who come into my shop say: 'What a beautiful shop.' Or 'You always have such pretty things.' Or 'This is my favourite shop.' They still leave empty handed.

In the past I had occasional days when I took no money. That was acceptable. But it's much worse than that now. If people don't start buying soon the shop may have to close.

And yet I had a record November and December. Everyone loves the shop at Christmas. But it's 7 months until November and the rent has to be paid every month. Not to mention electricity, card machine, insurance, business cards etc.
As they say about dogs: 'A shop is for life, not just for Christmas.'

I don't want to have to beg (especially as half the people reading this are in the USA so it would be silly!) but please think about buying something when you enjoy looking round the unique experience that is Handmade Happiness. If everyone looking bought a card it would be a start and the cards in the shop are better than anywhere else don't you think?

In the meantime I'm having a long hard think about the future. But one thing is certain:  I won't be spending £250 on a table for 10 at the Best of Petersfield award ceremony!

Wednesday 18 April 2018

Look at these!

Penny Seume's tea towels showing sketches of London
Right side and reverse of the shop's business cards showing my dolls
Examples of pretty ceramic buttons by Stockwell ceramics

Does everyone have a dishwasher these days? I certainly don't. How much more of a pleasure would drying up be if your tea towel is a work of art? Penny Seume prints her artwork onto fabric (see scarves in a post below) and one of these tea towels, seen in the shop would make an excellent present. And if you do have a dishwasher you could just frame the tea towel!!

To get 400 business cards printed quickly I got a re-print and forgot that my opening times are different at this time of year. Since Christmas I've not been opening on a Tuesday. Sorry about that. Once it gets busy again I'll open on Tuesdays too.

When sorting through some boxes I came across a stash of these gorgeous buttons. I had put them aside for a project where I was going to seal a cellophane bag of pretty fabrics with one of them but some ideas never see the light of day, so these buttons and many similar are now for sale. £1.50 each.

Welcome back sunshine. Today promises to be a good one!

Sunday 15 April 2018

New in Handmade Happiness

Elephant designed and made by Kerry Lucas
Bear designed and made by Kerry Lucas
Panda designed and made by Kerry Lucas

On Saturday Kerry Lucas aka Crafty Kestrel came into Handmade Happiness with her knitted and felted creatures and I fell in love with them. So you can now buy these three cute little chaps in the shop. 

Kerry has also had a book published of her knitting patterns which is available on Amazon. Find out more on Facebook or on etsy: CraftyKestrelUK

Monday 9 April 2018

Wonderful makers

Penny Seume's artwork on her silk scarves
Bee Mellor's gorgeous birds
Carol Smith's lined purses
Justine Jenner's brilliant pots
Frank Higgins' clever handmade kaleidoscopes
Samantha Robertson's decorated ceramics
Niloo's sculpted pots
Sheila Barrow's brilliant embroideries
Kate Box's popular wrist warmers and neckwarmers

This week I've been choosing pictures for a flyer to advertise Handmade Happiness.  I'm reminded of how many brilliant makers allow their work to be sold in Handmade Happiness and I am really grateful to them.

These pictures only represent a fraction of the items for sale in Handmade Happiness. And only a fraction of the wonderful makers who have their things in the shop. More pictures soon.

Last week brought news of yet another gift shop closing down in my town. This year has been very hard with three lots of snow and constant rain, both of which stop people browsing in the shops. 

But after nearly 7 years in Handmade Happiness I know that things will get better and I was tremendously encouraged to recently learn I have been short listed for Best Retail Shop in Petersfield. Thanks a million to everyone who voted for Handmade Happiness.

By the way if any maker reading this would prefer not to have a picture of their work with their name on included in the new flyer let me know.

On a completely different subject, I have just written the very last post about my trip to India in January. Do take a look. It's Seeing India with Jenny

Saturday 7 April 2018

Coming soon! More from Northfield Primitives

I love these animals on wheels made by the very talented Sarah of Northfield Primitives
Sarah's charming handmade dog brooches sold like hot cakes 
Just one of Northfield Primitives charming bunny brooches left in the shop now

I am excitedly looking forward to stocking more of Sarah from Northfield Primitives unique work.
The shop mostly stocks the work of local artists but when I saw
Sarah's things on Instagram last year I knew they were just right for Handmade Happiness. The items pictured all sold last year and there will be some different things and some of the same things in the shop shortly. Watch this space, or better still, come into the shop.

Her items are beautifully made and are the kind of pieces you just fall in love with. If you're on Instagram you can see more on @northfieldprimitives. She also has an etsy shop.

Wednesday 4 April 2018

Just Dreaming of Amersham old town

Saw this in Amersham old town ... 

And this shop offers living accomodation and a freehold shop

The houses are all listed and centuries old

A perfect front door

In the museum the floor was a map Amersham old town

The cafe where we had lunch

This house is for sale!
On Monday I went to see my daughter in Tring and she drove us to Amersham old town for the day. And I fell in love with the place.

 It is picture perfect, like a period film set. Along the High Street every building is centuries old and yet perfectly preserved. I was shocked by how attractive it is.

 Set in the Chilterns there are rolling hills all around and yet, I was told that it's on the end of a tube line so only 35 minutes to Marylebone. An hour to the city and central London so it's commuter belt and, because of this prices are higher than I hoped!

My daughter and I had a delicious toasted goats cheese and red pepper sandwich followed by a Moroccan orange piece of cake at The Grocer, pictured above. I imagine going there a lot!

There was just one charity shop where I was thrilled to pick up a lapis lazuli necklace for just £1. A smart interior design shop where I mistook pieces of patterned paper for gift wrap and they were actually wallpaper - sold in metre lengths and, nearby, probably the best toy shop I've ever come across.

I imagined that a shop like Handmade Happiness would be very successful in a town like I thought I'd just find out how much a house like the one above and the freehold shop with living accomodation would cost...

I am naive sometimes. I day dream a lot. But this dream dies here and now. The house is 850,000 and the freehold shop in a house is 995,000.

However, all is not lost. I am newly inspired to make the very best of my Handmade Happiness shop here in Petersfield, a town that, until very recently, I really believed was the best place to live in the country!!