Sunday, 4 October 2020

Making Cards

Jenny Stacy handmade painted card.
Painted and embroidered bits for card making

Jenny Stacy card design 


I'm making cards. Something different.Nowhere to sell them at the moment but perhaps next year we can start again....I've made a dozen individual cards so far.
This could be my last post. Although hundreds of you look at this blog daily nobody comments or emails so without occasional feedback it feels like a waste of my time. We all need a bit of encouragement. 

It is pouring with rain here. Again. That doesn't make me cheerful company. Too much Covid 19. A shocking number of cases is being reported. Everyone on our planet is affected. For our physical and mental health we've got to try to stay positive but some days it's harder than others.
I might delete all this later. After all the blog is called Handmade HAPPINESS and making stuff does make me happy. I wish you well and hope that art/ making/ playing music/ singing/ dancing and/or writing is making you happy too.

Tuesday, 22 September 2020

Happy 12th Birthday Blog!

Apples over my head
Love this fabric found in a charity shop this week. Good for masks.
Painted this for my son this week. Acrylics on canvas

Can you believe I have been writing this blog for 12 whole years?
I started sharing on September 22nd 2008 when I was frantically trying to make loads of stock for my stand at the Country Living magazine show in London. I had to make £60 worth of stock a day and as the date grew nearer I made £150 worth of stock a day. 

 Stands were expensive so the more stock the more profitable it became.
Anyone can click onto 2008 in the bar on the right to see what I was making then. Buttons, beads, dolls, Christmas stockings, cards. I made lots of different things then....Now, in the time of Covid, I make masks and write stories and and the blog has evolved into an appreciation of Nature with the occasional experiment with paints and paper thrown in.

Today I am planning new Christmas decoration designs out of habit. But I am confused by the woolly advice from the government and don't know where and when the next selling date might be. Somewhere outside maybe.

I wonder if there is anyone reading this who has been reading on and off for the last 12 years. If so I would love to hear from you.
In the beginning nearly all readers lived in the UK now it is mostly Americans who read this and in sufficient numbers to make continuing to write this worthwhile. Thank you and may you stay well.

Tuesday, 15 September 2020

Painting fun

This week I plan to make more masks like the one above. 

I've also been playing with paints and printing. 

Tuesday, 8 September 2020

Birthday cake and thinking about making

Strawberry cake made for my daughter and decorated by her daughters!
It tasted good.
A
A Jenny Stacy doll.  Shall I make more now?
Beautiful crab apples

Bargain of the week. 5 metres of soft cotton at £3 a metre.


 Strawberries and thick cream in a Victoria sponge made with butter.It tasted good although it looked wonky especially after the little ones in the family added the candles! Family get togethers are the best! 

Dolly is having an airing because I'm wondering whether to make more dolls. I used to make lots and their dreadlock hair was something different. My incentive to make was always making to sell. The prospect of selling made me productive. Now I'm not sure I'll have a selling opportunity in 2020 so maybe I won't make much again until next year... Also I'm finding that painting (not to sell) and regular writing give me the same creative satisfaction that making used to... 

The crab apples were table decoration at the Harrow Inn where we walked to from my house on Saturday. It is so pretty there. My children loved it. This area is one of 'Outstanding Natural Beauty' and there are nice places to walk nearby.

This week I went to meet a friend at the wonderful Rowan's Craft Shop in Cowplain. This charity shop sells every sort of fabric, button, tool and book at very reasonable prices. Recommended.  I loved this soft cotton fabric and plan to use it to make a dress and quite a few masks. Watch this space. My plan is to use an old dress to cut a pattern from and I've not tried that before!

The car chose to break down straight after visiting that shop in the tkmax car park in Waterlooville which was lucky really! It could have broken down in the road. Suddenly it slipped into reverse and stayed there. The RAC man managed to move the gear stick into Drive under the bonnet but if I turned off the engine it would not start again so I had to drive to the garage immediately and that's where it still is! 
The car is an old friend so I don't want to give up on it unless I have to!  Time to start using the train again I think.. and I haven't been on a train since March. Have you?



Thursday, 3 September 2020

Printing from a gelli plate and painting zinnias.

My latest painting of zinnias. Jenny Stacy
First attempt at painting zinnias. Jenny Stacy
Grapes and quince growing in the Physic Garden this week
A print from a gelli plate
Pleased with this print from a gelli plate. Jenny Stacy


None of the Handmade Happiness events booked for this year are to go ahead.  I was hoping that at least the Christmas sale at the Physic Garden could happen. But I just got an email saying that the room would be closed for the rest of 2020. 
The question is what to do instead. It would feel strange not to sell at Christmas at all ...

I enjoyed trying to paint zinnias this week. One of my favorite flowers. I get them at the Harrow Inn at Steep where they sell all their cottage garden flowers in aid of charity. And the flowers are often spectacular! I have also noticed that zinnia last far longer in water than other flowers do.

A friend mentioned she had a gelli plate that she hadn't yet used. So she brought it over to my house and we experimented. What fun! We used acrylic paint, rollered on and tried spraying the paint with water and making marks with an old credit card plus printing with bubble wrap. Some attempts were successful and others weren't. But I can't wait to have another go! I plan to use the printed papers in collages for card making and pictures.
I also want to try printing from a tile base. Hopefully I'll have something new to show you in the next post.



Friday, 28 August 2020

Climate change - what can I do about it?

Grow your own, Alfalfa seeds sprouted on wet kitchen roll.


Did anyone else find the extreme heat this year alarming?

Floods, melting ice and extreme temperatures are all reminders that our planet is warming up and unless we actively do something about it millions of innocent people will die. 

Sometimes we feel helpless. What can we as individuals do?
Actually quite a lot.

We need to stop using fossil fuels like oil, gas and carbon. Planes can't fly without them. So we need to stop flying and instead use public transport to get around.

 We can think about giving up our car or using it less or if we need a car, exchanging it for an electric car or, better still, a bike.

We can switch to a 'green' energy provider that uses clean and renewable energy. Or we could create our own energy with solar panels on our house.

As consumers we can support companies that act green and shun others that don't. We can put pressure on governments and companies to act greener.

We can avoid food and clothing that has flown across the world. Avoid unnecessary air miles. Look at labels.

Eat with the seasons from food grown locally. Grow your own if you can and share what you grow and encourage others to grow their own too. If we can't be self sufficient individually imagine how self-sufficient we could be if we act as a community.

I read that cattle are one of the highest emitters of CO2 or methane . In fact according to a bbc article if all the cattle in the world formed a country it would be the third highest producer of greenhouse gases after China and the USA. So stop eating meat and dairy or decide to cut down.

We can lessen our personal carbon footprint dramatically by cutting our animal protein consumption.  Eating mostly vegetarian as many people are doing now is healthy and considerably cheaper.

My daughter has taught me to avoid any food whose ingredients list palm oil ie most biscuits. Trees are cleared to make way for palm oil production so we need to cut demand for it.

Cooking from scratch and baking our own food is creatively satisfying and healthier especially when cooking for children. They don't know how many vegetables we are hiding in a pasta sauce and they love it!

It also makes sense to shop locally for clothes from charity shops. I find that once I've washed and ironed something it's mine. I don't care how many people have previously worn it!

Doing some or all of these things to stop climate change can save us money, make us healthier and more creative while at the same time saving the planet. It's a win win.

 If you want to contact me do email on jennystacy6@gmail.com 
The comment thing below doesn't work.
 I also Instagram almost daily on @jenny_handmade_happiness 

 



Tuesday, 25 August 2020

Alresford, Hampshire. Worth a visit

Inside Long Barn store on the outskirts of Alresford
Candle display in Long Barn
The Fulling Mill on the Millenium Walk
Steam train station

Map of Alresford


A friend and I went to Alresford yesterday. It was magic!
Having a shop for 8 years and being its only employee made me a bit of a hermit. I feel I'm rediscovering the place I live now.
Yesterday we parked at the Long Barn, a big store with cafe just outside the town. It reminded me of Anthropologie. Nicely styled, good quality products. A good place for gifts.

Parking in the town where there are still lots of little independent shops, you stroll down the hill past pastel painted old houses and turn left for the Millenium walk along the river. The water is crystal clear and you can see why the area is famed for its watercress, a plant that needs lots of clean water. Such a nice walk for children with little shelters in case of rain and water just asking to be paddled in. 
Further on there are lots of ducks on the water and you can buy bags of oats and seeds to feed them with.  This house (pictured above) is soo jigsaw pretty and has a fine history. It straddles the water and I wonder how it feels to live in it.

We had tea and a piece of cake at Tiffin where we felt completely safe on distanced tables. What's more, it being a Monday, £10 was knocked off the bill thanks to the government scheme to help cafes and restaurants.

Then a walk up to Alresford station where the steam trains go between Alresford and Alton. It's closed at the moment due to Covid but most children would love to go on one of their Thomas the tank engine days when the volunteer staff dress up as the Fat Controller etc.
I can't wait to go back to Alresford with my family.

Thursday, 20 August 2020

Painting flowers

Painting flowers
Busy bee
Clear river at Steep
Zinnias

Sunday, 16 August 2020

Retail therapy

Watercolour flowers I painted yesterday
Pretty fabrics in Cabbages and Roses window
For the garden
New improved masks I've made this week


A strange week. Waiting for the rains that never came. Sharing the angst of students who were disappointed with their exam grades. Hoping that voters in the States will not vote for Trump this time around. Seeing a rise in Covid cases and the panic to get back on British soil of holidaymakers in France who had to be home by 4am (what a stupid, arbitrary time???) or else be forced to quarantine themselves for a fortnight. And witnessing through the media the struggle the whole world is experiencing in a pandemic.

I guiltily retreat into playing with my paints or reading (currently The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd and Bring up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel). I feel I should be doing something practical but I don't know what. I am lucky I remind myself to have a roof over my head and enough money to buy food. But what about the desperate souls in flimsy boats that need to be given asylum but instead are turned away. They need practical help. I feel bad that this country which has so much isn't hospitable to those who want to live here. 

I am using this blog to exercise my right to Free Speech. But many aren't as lucky. The protesters the world over that try to be peaceful but are met with bullets or tear gas. When I was a teenager I thought the answer was to have a World Government to co-ordinate resources and help one another. Now, in my old(er) age I think that is not youthful idealism but something urgently needed especially now when the whole world is fighting the same illness.

This week, for the first time since March I visited Midhurst, my favourite place for charity shops. It was so nice to relax in a quiet little place with very few people about and to find some bargains for the family. A bit of normal. Although some shops are still closed I do admire the Caroline Bloomfield shop in West Street for carrying on and providing the best place to browse. Just beautiful things and a tonic for people like me to see them...

Did I mention that a kind gardener near here puts out a box of surplus produce with a sign saying Please Help Yourself? That's how I came by black beans for the first time. As he said they are easier to pick because they show up well against the green leaves. So I've bought some seeds for my garden hoping they do well although I know I've really missed the boat for planting them... Maybe with our mixed up seasons it doesn't matter any more when things are planted...

Have a good week readers.


Monday, 10 August 2020

Let’s paint

Painting flowers with watercolour
A first attempt at watercolour flowers
Spotted - a Red Admiral butterfly
Sweet peas for sale

England is not used to this heat. 35 degrees and too hot to go for walks. So today I've been painting. Just experimenting with watercolour pencils and paints. I do enjoy it but feel guilty about not getting enough exercise. Perhaps tomorrow will be cooler...

This heat is a reminder that global warming is with us now. Our governments need to act to bring down our carbon footprint to stop the planet getting hotter and hotter each year.

i hope you are managing to stay cool.

Thursday, 6 August 2020

Sights

Heron flying. Photograph taken by my daughter as we walked along the canal near her home.
Spotted in Wendover
Beautiful red apples in someone's garden

The upside of lockdown for me is discovering how much I enjoy walking. Walking alone or walking with a friend or members of my family - it's always just so nice to be outside and to be able to appreciate Nature.

I've been staying with one daughter and, as we walked we saw a heron camoflauged on the opposite bank. As we approached it flew and my daughter took this beautiful picture. I don't think I've ever seen a heron in flight before.

My other daughter and her children have been staying this week and they love Petersfield. We discovered a playground with a zip wire. We saw a box of black French beans outside someone's house with a note to Please Help Yourself. We did and they were delicious for supper that night. Plus we bought cottage garden flowers that my daughter chose from my favourite place to walk to -The Harrow Inn at Steep.

I hope you have good 'Sights' to walk to near you and that you enjoy your week.

Tuesday, 28 July 2020

Printing with leaves etc.

This bold robin perched really close to me
Beautiful, bold dahlia
Close to me bee
Leaf prints lesson

This week we printed with leaves. It's really easy and produces great results.
The trick is to find thicker leaves and paint the underside of them then press down onto any sort of paper. These were done on white copy paper. 
I got the girls to draw a tree trunk and then print leaves in three different shapes onto it. I think it worked well.
All these photos appeared on my Instagram feed @jenny_handmade_happiness
I post often on Instagram but not so often here. If you are already on Instagram please follow me. I say this because most of you reading this don't live in the UK. Most of you live in the USA.
Wishing you a good week.X

Saturday, 18 July 2020

Teaching and inspiration. Make paper beads.

Making  paper beads with family
Favourite flower and collage
Spotted a white tailed bumblebee
Making more masks with Kaffe Fassett fabrics. These are drying outside
A huge dahlia in a bunch of flowers from the Harrow Inn at Steep


Even my children who reckon I always take blurry pictures think my photography is better lately! Funny how the colours of the flowers I love are echoed in whatever I am making. See above.

This week my 'art' session with my four year old grandaughter was making paper beads. It's quick and easy as long as your child can use scissors. She used felt tips to cover a piece of A4 copy paper with colourful patterns, then we cut it into triangles and rolled them tightly round a felt tip and glued the pointed end with pva.
  I used paints (see above) and coated each bead with sealer. I also found that you can use plain white paper to quickly make beads and then paint the finished article. Much quicker. I am thinking celebration garlands with these beads or perhaps part of a Christmas decoration for the tree.
I notice now how the colours of the beads are similar to the colours of sweetpeas, 

Fingers crossed one of the Handmade Happiness events at the Physic Garden in Petersfield will be allowed. It's a wait and see time. I am hoping that at least the November 14th event will happen. Watch this space.
I am making these colourful masks to sell at the next HH event. The picture above shows the latest batch washed and drying on the line before being ironed and having the elastic attached.

I walk to the Harrow Inn near Petersfield every week for fresh flowers. The Harrow has a big garden full of colourful flowers and vegetables which are used in the pub and sold to fundraise for Macmillan Nurses and the Rosemary Foundation (hospice at home) with all proceeds going to charity. That huge dahlia called out to me yesterday. I had to have it!