Monday, 30 April 2012

A Craft Fair Weekend

Well I survived my second craft fair, although the weather did not help one little bit! It poured down with rain on Saturday, and as a result I am fairly sure that lots of people stayed at home where they could keep dry! I would have if I hadn't been at the craft fair already...

Anyway, it was another great experience, and I have to say craft fairs do not fill me with the dread they used to - I was so worried before my first one whereas this time round I was much more blasé. By the end of the year I'll be a dab hand at this!

As always there were some lovely other stalls to have a peek at - I really like all of Emma's work - her business is called Knickerbocker Glories and she makes cushions, brooches, bags and purses from vintage and recycled materials. I bought one of her purses the last time I met her but here's a quick peek at some of her cushions:

Click on the picture to go to the Knickerbocker Glory website
I also loved the smell of All Natural Soap's products. They use natural ingredients to produce beautifully scented and presented soaps in different shapes and sizes. What really impressed me about them was the look and how they have the original flower or scent in the middle. How gorgeous are these? 

Clickety-click on the pic to see more...
I did however, spend much of my day up on my own stall, and, despite the weather, did get to meet some new people, talk about my mosaics and sell a few bits. My most popular items seem to be my mosaic coasters but I got a lot of comments and questions about my pendants too, which always makes me happy as I get to talk about something I love doing! Thought I'd share a few photos here too. If you would like to see more photos of the day, please go over to A Glamourous Affair's facebook page to see them. 

Mosaic coasters seem to be my best seller. They are £6.50 each.

I really like my mosaic pendant 'tree' display. This heart-shaped pendant
got lots of comments. 

My bunting has a name on it now! Me at my stall... trying to be photogenic but not succeeding!
So there you have it - another craft fair survival story. I'm wondering when I should do the next one, but for now... I have beach bags to get making! 

Saturday, 28 April 2012

A Glamourous (Craft) Fair

Sorry I've been more than usually silent this week. I genuinely haven't been looking at my laptop, let alone responding to e-mails etc. Why? Because I've been manically busy! Today (Saturday 28th) is a milestone - in about 2 hours I will be in Islington's Library Bar setting up for A Glamourous Affair - my second ever craft fair. I'm a lot more calm and collected about this one - probably because it's in my own area and I don't have to trek across London to get there, but also because I still have lots of necklaces etc from the previous craft fair. In fact, I haven't actually made anything new for this one. Instead I have been working on making my stall look better. It didn't help that I got confirmation 2 days ago that I would be having a round table. A ROUND table? But my stall is set up for a rectangular one! Oh well, I'm just going to have to adapt.... What I have now got is bunting with Creating Trouble written on it, a mirror and some jewellery boxes. I had run out just before the last fair and hadn't realised until it was too late to order.

So why have I been so busy? Well, first of all, I am back at work with all the stresses that involves (getting up early etc!), secondly my social life seems to have gone into overdrive the last few weeks (in a good way: I've been very cultural and artistic!) and thirdly I have 2 commissions on the go, of which one of them is for 10 homemade bags. So I have been spending most of my time trying to get those done! I still have another week...

Anyway, off to do some last minute bits and get my gear ready. If you are around in Islington, please come along to the Library Bar from 12 - 5 and see what there is in store!

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

A Week of Commissions

The title of this post says it all... I'm having a fabulously crafty week this week with 2 separate commissions for totally different things. It's a good thing I'm not back at work for another week as otherwise I would not be able to keep up!

A few weeks ago my flatmate's sister came over for dinner. We have a number of mosaic table mats and coasters lying around the flat (well I do make them for fun as well as for sale...) and, having seen the mosaic coasters but the size of the table-mats, she asked if I could make her a table-mat with a rainbow theme. So I spent most of yesterday working on making a table mat with a rainbow design on it. None of this is stuck yet as I still need to cut some of the pieces a bit more and I wanted to check before I actually stuck anything down. What do you think?

The other commission I have is quite exciting - my first bulk order! I had my first 'business' meeting yesterday. I went for coffee armed with a sketch book, my laptop and some ideas. I've been commissioned to make a set of beach tote bags for a hen party. As the hen party is going down to the Devon seaside for a weekend, the idea is that the bags are personal to the weekend so we played around with sailing boats and beach huts and eventually decided that beach huts were the better design. I have spent all of this morning cutting lino and material and here is a sneak preview of the designs.

How exciting is this week going to be? I am working away like a little busy bee which is fabulous. I'm really excited about these commissions and hoping that the respective recipients love them. A short post from me today  - I'm off to go and start printing some designs!

Saturday, 14 April 2012

A short trip to Scotland

I've been away for a few days - I finally achieved one of my goals and went to Scotland. I've never been and have spent a fair amount of time wondering why not. Anyway, I booked flights to Edinburgh at the end of January and then promptly forgot about planning anything else. It resulted in a slight panic when I realised I had no idea what I was doing so I booked some nights in a hostel in Edinburgh and 2 nights in a hostel in Stirling and then left the rest up to chance...

I totally lucked out in Edinburgh. Not only is it an absolutely gorgeous city, but I met people in the first few minutes of my arrival who I then spent the rest of my time in Edinburgh with. We went on a walking tour of the city, up and down the Royal Mile, down to the Scottish Parliament and Holyrood House, out on the town for drinks and giggles and walked up to Arthur's Seat as well. I had such a fabulous time in Edinburgh I didn't want to leave it...

Walking in Greyfriar's Cemetary

Edinburgh Castle

View from halfway up to Arthur's Seat. 

However, my other motive for going to Scotland was, ultimately, to see a loch and some mountains. So I said goodbye to the wonders of the city on Monday morning and took myself off to Stirling. Yes, Stirling. That renowned place of lochs and mountains. OK, I clearly hadn't done my research - I got to Stirling in the pouring rain only to discover that a) my hostel was more family based than single traveller based so I was unlikely to meet any new friends and b) Loch Lomond, which I was planning on visiting from Stirling, is actually nowhere near there. In fact, I'd need to travel for a few hours to have some hope of seeing it. Oh well. I decided to go and see Stirling Castle and the William Wallace memorial instead. As well as getting incredibly wet, I also saw some really breathtaking views of the countryside and had a great walk (one of those ones where you know you'll ache in a good way the next day). I got back to the hostel about 5 hours later and, after going to what could possibly be the worst bar in the world, managed to hook up with the guys who ran the hostel who took me to a much better place where there was some live music and a great atmosphere. I ended up having a really great time.

Walking towards the William Wallace Memorial (that's the tower you can see) 

View from Stirling Castle

Looking down from the William Wallace memorial

On Tuesday I got up at the crack of dawn to get a train to Glasgow, followed by a train to Balloch, followed by a bus to Balmaha on the shores of Loch Lomond. It took me over 2 hours but I was definitely rewarded - snow-capped mountains around a beautiful loch! Yup, definitely the reason I came to Scotland. It was stunning. It was also raining, so on the advice of the friendly people in the visitor centre I scrapped my plan of climbing the hill (mainly because of return bus times) and got a ferry over to Inchcailloch, an island near the shore. For some reason, every time I got somewhere interesting in Scotland it always stopped raining - Arthur's Seat, William Wallace Memorial and Inchcailloch. Thank goodness it didn't rain while I was on the island as there were no houses or shelters, just loads of trees and some interesting walks. I went up to the summit and looked over the loch, saw some deer (too slow to get a photo though) and plenty of birds and worried about whether my ferry man would actually come and pick me up as promised. He did, thank goodness and I got back to Balmaha alright, where I promptly went and got a cup of tea and possibly the world's largest scone ever seen. Mmmmmm. I got back to Stirling at about 6 having had to repeat the whole journey in reverse. But it was definitely worth it - I absolutely loved the loch and the island.

About to get on a ferry to Inchcailloch

From Inchcailloch island. You can just see some snow-capped mountains in this.

Sadly, all good things come to an end and by Wednesday I had to return to Edinburgh to get my flight home. I left my case at the station so I could wander around all day but other than a short trip up to the castle and a search for a post office, I spent more of my time on the last day in Edinburgh sat in the sunshine or in cutesy little boutiques trying on summer dresses. There are some seriously cute dresses in Edinburgh... I finally had to leave though so made my way back to the airport. Just in time as it happens as there was then a huge rainstorm and I was really glad not to be out in it!

Anyway, I've had an amazing few days, met some lovely people, seen some stunning sights and had an all-round excellent time. I will definitely be returning to Scotland - I just can't work out why it's taken me so long to get there in the first place!

Loch Lomond and Mountains

p.s. sorry... I'm a bit addicted to instagram at present and haven't managed to get photos off my 'big' camera yet...!

Friday, 13 April 2012

That Friday Feeling... Scotland

I've just got back from an amazing trip to Scotland (watch this space tomorrow for a post about it) and thought it was only fitting to have a Scottish theme today. I have to say, I absolutely loved Scotland - it is much more beautiful than any of the photos / pictures / postcards you see of it make out. I spent a fair amount of time walking around with my mouth hanging open in awe. Anyway, here are some lovely pieces that are either Scottish or Scottish-inspired that I came across on Etsy this week.

I love RainbowsontheBeach's Scottish seaglass necklaces - I have one of my own! 

A cute tartan tote bag by stufforama

 I really like this gorgeous cup by JuliaSmithCeramics. It reminds me a little of Manx ceramics too.

What little snippets of information can I find for you today?

  • Not only is Edinburgh the capital city of Scotland, it was also the first city in the world to have it's own Fire Brigade.
  • The official animal of Scotland is the unicorn. I love that!
  • Scotland is more than just the mainland - there are about 790 islands as well although only about 130 of them are inhabited.
  • The highest point in Scotland is Ben Nevis at 1,343m and the lowest is the Bed of Loch Morar at 300m below sea level. 
  • Modern inventions owe a lot to the Scots - it's the place where television, penicillin, tyres, video cassettes and golf were all invented.
  • Scotland was not always on the same continent - there are two very distinct areas of Scotland: the Highlands and the Lowlands which were originally on different tectonic plates. Several million years ago 2 continental plates met and eventually fused together forming the Highland Boundary Fault and much of the scenery we now associate with Scotland.
  • The Loch Ness Monster is obviously a well-known international celebrity, although the legend is relatively new (dating from 1933 or thereabouts). I went to Loch Lomond in the hope of meeting one of Nessie's cousins but sadly only saw deer, no monsters. Oh well. Here's a song from one of my favourite TV cartoons when I was little... There isn't just one Loch Ness monster, the Family Ness have all sorts of characters and I used to love them all: 

Friday, 6 April 2012

That Friday Feeling... Easter

It probably hasn't escaped your notice that today is Good Friday and this weekend is Easter weekend. I'm off to Scotland in a few hours which I am very excited about, but before I go I thought I'd better do today's Friday Feeling post. And because it's Easter, what could be more appropriate than... bunnies? You know, those cutesy little bundles of fluff? Oh... wait... this week my finds are not 'cutesy' but they are stunning and eye-catching and I love them! What do you think?

I love this fabulous glass leveret by flyingcheesetoastie

And how stunning is this rabbit masquerade mask by gringrimaceandsqueak?

A few random facts I came across in my search today...

  • Rabbits have large eyes but a blind spot right in front of their face, but they can see behind themselves without turning their heads. 
  • Rabbits can run about 35mph and jump about 36 inches.
  • Rabbits don't like being picked up, can't vomit and the wrong food can kill them.
  • They need to exercise about 4 hours a day or osteoporosis can set in.
  • The Easter Bunny has its origins in the ancient pagan festival of the goddess Eostre. Her symbols were the hare and the egg because both symbolised new life, and of course hares (and rabbits) are very prolific in their production of offspring. Much of Early Christianity's success was due to the fact that they amalgamated local festivals into Church festivals, using the same dates, symbols etc but changing the focus to a Christian event. Over time the pagan gods and goddesses were replaced by Christian worship but certainly in the case of Easter, the name of the festival and the symbols remained. 
  • The Osterhase (Easter Hare) was first written about in the 1500s and was already by then a tradition whereby the hare brought eggs and hid them. The tradition was taken over to America by early German and Dutch settlers. 
  • The Easter Hare eventually became the Easter Rabbit because most people talk about both generically as rabbits, even when they are hares (think: Jack Rabbit) and over time the rabbit was turned into a cute little fluffy bunny who brings children eggs.
  • As a child, one of my favourite books was 'The Velveteen Rabbit' by Margery Williams. It's a beautiful story about how one boy's toy rabbit comes to life because he loves it so much. I spent a fair amount of time as a child trying to make my toys come to life too... If you haven't read it, here's Meryl Streep reading it for you: 

Monday, 2 April 2012

How to...Make Bunting

I haven't done a How To post for ... nearly a year maybe? It's one of the things that fell behind and didn't get picked up again. Partly because I was busy, partly because I had a great idea for a how to and it didn't ever get made, partly because... oh I don't know these are all excuses!

But anyway, enough of that. On to this month's tutorial: How to make bunting. I used this at my craft fair last week (and sadly only managed to get the one photo so sorry for repeating a picture so soon!) and I got a few comments on how good it looked. I have grand plans to add lettering to my bunting at some point in the near future but here is a basic tutorial for you to get started on!

I couldn't find two of my triangles so they have been left off - but now I've found them, they're being added! 

You will need:
fabric scissors
some card for a template
matching thread
preferably a sewing machine (or it'll take a while!)

What to do:

1) Cut a triangle out of card as a template - it needs to be the size that you want your bunting triangles to be.

2) Spread out your material and draw around the triangle on the wrong side of the material. Leave plenty of room around it for seam allowances and draw more triangles. You will need 2 triangles for each bunting triangle so 18 is probably a good number (will make 9 triangles which should be enough).

3) Cut around the triangles leaving plenty of room for seam allowance. Once you have cut out the triangles, cut the corners off close to the point of the corners

4) Place 2 triangles together - right sides facing in. Pin them together along the two longer sides leaving the top edge open. My top tip is: if you pin at 90 degrees to the line, then you can sew straight over the pins with your sewing machine. I usually get a bit scared just before sewing over so I take the pin out just as I come up to it.

5) Sew along the two edges that you have pinned. Snip off the excess material in the seams and tie the ends.

6) Turn the triangles the right way around. Use a pencil/ the end of a paintbrush to push the end corner out as far as you can so that it makes a point.

7) Iron your triangles so that the seams are exactly at the edges. Make sure you iron both sides though.

8) So far so good - that wasn't hard, was it? Now for the slightly more tricky bit (but still pretty easy!)
Cut a long strip of material (the length you want your bunting to be) about 8 - 9 cm wide. For my bunting I recycled an old sheet so I just used the length of the sheet for mine.

9) Fold and iron the edges of the material into the middle so that the width is now half of what it was.

10) Fold the material in half and iron again so that now you have the actual width of your bunting line and you have some easily ironed lines that you can sew down.

11) Find the half-way point in your long strip and stick a pin in it to mark where you are. Now take one of your bunting triangles and slip the open edge of your triangle between the two halves of your bunting strip. Line up your halfway mark pin with the end corner of your triangle and then pin the triangle in place.

12) Decide how much space you want between your bunting triangles and pin the next triangle into your strip. Measure the distance between the two triangles as you will need to have all your triangles evenly spaced. On the other side of your middle triangle, measure the distance and pin the next triangle in place. Continue until you have all 9 triangles pinned: one in the middle and four on each side.

13) Fold the ends of your strip in so that you have no raw edges and pin them.

14) Starting at one end of your bunting strip, sew along the edge from one end to the other. Make sure you are fairly close to the open edge as you don't want open edges.

15) Tie up the ends, snip close to the tie so that it's nearly invisible and ... wow that was quick!


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