Tuesday, 15 December 2009

'Bringing home the tree...'

The approach to Christmas is my favourite time of the year. This year, as last, it began in November with a visit to the Country Living Christmas Fair in London with a dear friend who loves the whole kit and caboodle as much as I do. A great start.

December got underway and as usual, we had an hour of family fun building a gingerbread house. I say 'we' - what I really mean is, I sit back on my hands and let them get on with it, resisting the temptation to step in and 'neaten it all up a bit'. We all sat back and admired it. Then little fingers wanted to get in there and break bits off and....eat them!! Pardon? I think not! This little house I like to think will outlast Christmas and will be the final thing to dismantle on twelfth night. First in, last out. Why? I have no idea. But I like it that way. So, as every year, they had to make do with polishing off the leftover icing and glittery sweets.

Now, when I was a child, my family had its own traditions - my mum would pop me on the back of her bike on the last day of the school term and we'd go and pick up a tree. It would get lashed to the saddle and handlebars and we would walk slowly back singing 'Bringing home the tree, bringing home the tree....'. Such a fond memory for me. Not until Christmas Eve was it brought into the house and the decorating commenced. I wish, wish, wish I followed on with that tradition. But I don't. We went out in the pick-up for our tree this weekend - drove all the way to the farm shop, hoiked it in the back and drove home again. But it was a fun afternoon, picking and choosing as the woodcutter held each one at arms length for us to walk slowly around and measure up - Father Christmas himself brought the freshly cut trees down from the field on his tractor. Who could ask for more?

Our tree, the one that had our name on it, is waiting outside, preparing for its moment of glory...

Sunday, 6 December 2009

Shopping List Saturday...on Sunday

Winter has arrived - this week saw the ground covered in frost and a strong chill in the air. At times like this, I can only think of layers, snuggly wool and ruffles - we all love pretty things!! I hope you enjoy my selection this week:

1)La Reine Maria Leszczynska bracelet cuff/ hypericumfragile

2)Midnight Clusters Scarf/ Fabulize

3)Elan-Rosa...Knitted Neckwarmer/ Scarflette - Chartreuse Green-Pink Flowers/ irregularexpressions

4)Hunter Green Ruffle Flower Handbag/ mojospastyle

Thanks for popping in - do check out the lists of fellow Etsians and supporters...please use the linklist in the sidebar. Have a good Sunday!

Friday, 27 November 2009

Merry Go Round

Each month, a group of craftswomen from around the world join together and give their reponses to the same question. This month, our question is:
What is your Purple Cow?
This question refers to Seth Godin, who maintained that the key to success is to find a way to stand out and be remarkable - to be the purple cow in a field of monochrome Holsteins.
Absolutely. I couldn't agree more! I mean, when we look at successful artists and crafters work, we can intuitively see what it is that gives them an edge...what makes them stand out. Maybe they have something to offer that no-one else provides or maybe their superb craftsmanship is evident. Whatever it is, they've got it in spades.
But what about me...? What is my purple cow? Yikes. Do I even have one? I'm not sure. Or about the success part, either. So, I cast an eye over my Etsy feedback that I've received over the past 18 months. That was helpful. Then, I asked my family. Tell me about my work, I said. Throw some words at me that sum it up. Go on, I can take it...and these are the words that my girls and the woodcutter came up with:
pretty - I like this word. It sums up all things girly and feminine. All women want to feel pretty, don't they?
bold - Good! I like to think that if you're going to wear jewellery, wear it! Let it be seen and get you noticed! It's not for everyone, but I try to put a bit of boldness into each piece I create.
colourful - colour is important - it lifts your spirits, it says so much about you. It captures your attention. I need colour in my otherwise rather monochrome life (yes, I tend to live in black!).
intricate - I just love details. It's all in the detail. Sometimes, it's just that one little extra bead that you need to add to a piece to create a certain sparkle and allure, or just one more layer of fabric to complete the story. Without it, a piece can seem almost lifeless.
Now that I re-read this back to myself, I can see that it has made me think a bit clearer about my purple cow - I'm going to name my purple cow 'complexity'. I realise that every item I create combines all of the above...a bit of this and a bit of that; old bits and new bits; layer upon layer of fabrics; multitudes of beads...I use it all. I like to think this results in the viewer being intrigued and totally drawn in by the complexities of each piece. I can hope...
I found that quite thought provoking and tough to answer. I wonder how my fellow Merry Go Rounders got on this month? Find out by clicking on the links in the sidebar...purple cows await you!

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

New Beginnings

Sometimes, a little bit of wind and rain can wash away the cobwebs and pave the way for new beginnings.
Last week saw the launch of a new blog. Curious Nature is a collaborative venture between myself and the lovely Mariana. For some time we have discussed the possiblities of working together on a photographic project of some description, and this is the result!

We are both excited about this long-term adventure. Curious Nature is a personal interpretation of our world around us - Mariana (florcita) is an Argentinian ceramicist and fibre artist living in the Netherlands who, like me, shares a passion for detail; for colours, textures and patterns. We are taking our first steps right now, but there are great things ahead...

Come and share the journey with us...

Friday, 30 October 2009

Merry Go Round

Each month, a group of craftswomen from around the world join together and give their responses to the same question...this month, our thought to ponder is:
'Failure sucks...but instructs'
Hmmmn. Not easy, this one. Prepare for honesty by the bucketload...
I can honestly say that good things really can emerge from failure. Just over two years ago, we embarked on a huge lifestyle change. We sold our house and almost everything we owned and upped sticks and moved here, to the middle of a glorious forest, to set up a luxurious tipi holiday campsite. We had spent several years talking about it, researching it, finding the perfect place for it and gaining planning permissions for it. We started work on it...but this happened and that happened, and the whole project faltered. Now that's a blow to your self-worth.
The woodcutter continued with felling and stripping the tipi poles and I worked in the evenings on fancypicnic products. We just couldn't be defeated by this. We had many black moments - moments that so often made it hard to get out of bed in the morning. But how can you let your children down? How can you sit back and let it consume you? Both of us have artistic backgrounds - he'd been a product designer since graduating - and being thrown into this peculiar abyss of 'now what?!' made us think. Think really hard.
The woodcutter hates waste...our tipi poles needed chopping to length and the thick butts removing...and these smoothly peeled offcuts felt good in our hands. They smelled good. They looked darn good!! There must be something we could do with these....
And there was. The Log Basket had arrived. It certainly isn't going to make us millionaires, and it is extremely hard work, particularly for the woodcutter - but it is truly a family business, one where we can spend more time with the children but at the same time work all night if need be. We're doing it for ourselves and we have discovered that working for yourself is tough but incredibly rewarding. It is immensely challenging, to say the least and throws us into many a conundrum - but we like a challenge! We can also see that from this our children are learning. They often get involved with various processes, from helping to offload the logs from the kiln and stack them, to popping the tealights into the candleholders and lending a helping finger when tying the raffia on the gift boxed packaging. My fancypicnic baby can develop alongside, maybe even become integrated within The Log Basket (watch this space), and I like that. One year on, I can see that we have room to grow and widen our product line. It is certainly different to cleaning tents and laundering sheets! It sucked to fail, but we realised that we could, and should, be resourceful - and with a bit of imagination and gritted teeth we could change things. A hard lesson to learn, maybe x
Please now pop in on my fellow Merry Go Rounders - their bloglinks are in the sidebar. We are all in different timezones, so please call back to read their posts. Have a great Friday!

Thursday, 15 October 2009

The shop is lucky...

...it is getting some new stock!

Today, the Elven range arrived back from Stampington in America, following publication in the Autumn edition of Belle Armoire Jewelry. Over the next day or two, these five items will be added to the shop!

Sunday, 11 October 2009

Shopping List Saturday...

...on Sunday.

My spot of window shopping may be a little late this weekend, but I hope these lovely items will tickle your fancy nonetheless. Enjoy!

1)Calm - soft wool woven bag/ memake

2)beret31/ dadaya

3)Small Arctic Fox Scarflette/ PilliPillihandmade

4)Verdigris And Rust 11.../ barefootweaver

For more Shopping List inspirations from fellow Etsy sellers and handmade supporters, do click on the links in the sidebar; if you would like to share your weekly window shopping with us, let me know!
Hope you've had a lovely weekend x

Wednesday, 7 October 2009

Autumnal Air

Autumn is most definitely upon us...falling leaves, delicious coppery tones appearing everywhere, and a distinct chill in the air. How about this enveloping, multi-functional neckwarmer to carry you through the season?
Completely reversible, with red silk one side and latte and old gold shades on the other, there are so many ways to wear it! Button it up, flip it over, wrap it around...you choose! For a closer look, click here.

Saturday, 3 October 2009

Shopping List Saturday

So...a week has slipped by...where does all the time go?
At the end of this busy day, here are some of my Etsy favourites this week - as ever, enjoy!

1)Large felt and velvet brooch/ dogdaisy92

2)Siesta cotton canvas cushion in orange and tan/ roddyandginger

3)Marley the Mini-Zaubermausi/ cynicthelamb

4)Purple Metal Flower Wall Sculpture FREE SHIPPING (US)/ merritthyde

For more Shopping List inspirations from fellow Etsians and handmade supporters, do click on the links in the sidebar; if you would like to join in with your own lists just let me know!
Happy weekend x

Saturday, 26 September 2009

Shopping List Saturday

It's Saturday, so let the shopping commence!

These are a few of my favourites from browsing Etsy this week. Enjoy!

1)349 Blushing Sparrow Avenue - House Pillow/ Olive

2)Ranunculus No. Three - 5x5 Fine Art Print/ saranorris

3)little love tree/ gypsyandtwink

4)the Atheist 4x4 print/ telltalesigns

For many more inspiring selections, do click on the Shopping List links in the sidebar for other lists from fellow Etsy sellers and handmade supporters. Have a lovely weekend...!

*Late edit...Welcome to Buttons and Lizzy, (a fellow Etsian), who has been posting her Shopping Lists for a week or two already (whilst I was taking a summer break) - it is lovely to have you join us!