Where now…

It’s September!!

Hello Lovelies!

I hope you have all had a fabulous summer and that however your autumn is kicking off, you have a productive and wonderful few months.

We have been flitting in and out of the UK and US since January, yes really! I can’t believe that the time has flown by quite as quickly as it has.

I was planning on writing this as a long newsletter about work that I have done or plans for the coming months but I’m firmly in some kind of creative block. I can’t even call it that really, as I have ideas whizzing about all over the place. It’s a making block. My craft room is all set up (although most of my materials and books are still in boxes waiting to be shipped over) and I have created a lovely space to work in. But it still isn’t feeling real. This time last year I had my life all mapped out I thought. My Folksy Meet the Maker interview was ‘live’ and there were plans for Mister Mouse in the very wonderful Folksy Christmas animation. I was already making grand plans for really giving my business a push. Then in November/December that all changed.

I had to put all of my making and even selling on hold for weeks or months at a time while we flew here, flew back, flew here, flew back, looked at houses, sorted residence visas, driving licences, etc. Even now I’m still in the process of applying for my work visa. It’s sunny here. I have hummingbirds and a pack of armadillos living in my garden. I can’t find the desire to sit and sew.

I’m planning to add more videos to my youtube channel but you can see a new one of my hummingbirds there right now.

But until I can get my permit sorted, then my new paypal and etsy sorted, I feel as though I really can’t be bothered.

I’m not announcing my retirement, just trying to explain why you aren’t seeing as many posts by me at the moment. I really do feel as though I don’t know where I’m going or indeed what I’m doing business wise. It’s far easier to take my coffee onto the porch and watch my hummingbirds flit from feeder to feeder before they disappear south in another month…

I’m finally coming to terms with the resentment I have felt about having to up sticks and relocate…AGAIN. However, it’s hard being so far away especially when I know how much my kids still need me.

I’m enjoying life here but missing my kids and grandchildren with such an ache that it’s a struggle at times to even get dressed. I do though. Get dressed that is. I’m counting my blessings every day and I do know how lucky I am. This isn’t a whinge just an explanation.

Fingers crossed that when I get my work permit, I will be full of enthusiasm and desire to work!

The son arrived for a holiday yesterday and very kindly brought with him my latest order from www.alicecaroline.co.uk including the Christmas range from Liberty. I have a few ideas concerning those. Some will be in the style of my Alice in Wonderland mice, calico with embellishment and others will be more like my Liberty mice. I’ll keep you updated.

christmas fabrics

 

Anyway, thank you all so much for still reading my blog, my facebook page and my instagram, I promise you I’ll be a lot more visible in the months to come x

Setting goals…

…is not something I try to do. I don’t like to be disappointed so I figure if I don’t bother to set myself goals, then when I fail, it’s not a big issue.  I’m trying really hard lately to have more confidence in my work and myself, which seems to be going quite well but there are still those odd moments when these nagging and critical voices in my head (they sound like my mother) seem very loud.  I’m really lucky to have an incredibly supportive husband, who has been my own personal cheerleader for the past 31 years. His favourite line of all when I’m being self-critical is ‘Don’t talk about my wife like that!’ Eventually that kind of support becomes louder than the nagging voices of my past but you know, those little snips and barbs are still there, chipping away at the positivity wall that he has helped me to construct.
The past two weeks have given me a bit of a boost, confidence wise. I had a two page feature article written about me and my work by the Aberdeen Evening Express with lots of photos of my mice and one of me looking terrified sat at my desk.

It’s a well written article but I realised when I read it, that my answers about my work and myself, must have given a totally different impression of the person that I am. I was so wary of sounding proud or confident that I came across as a bit of a bloody twit. I downplayed my talent, it became more about these whimsical little toy mice that I make and less about my art. I didn’t mention my birds, those fabulous embroidered creations that can often take days to make. It was more about mice wielding baseball bats and the charming little Garcia mouse that I made for one of my favourite actresses. Aww look at the little grandmother who sews teeny tiny mice out of tweed! Bless her, she has no confidence in social situations and is scared of doing a craft fair.  NO. Just NO.

So, with that in mind, here are some goals.

I’m framing that article to remind me that I am not just a grandmother who sews adorable little mice. It’s going to sit right in front of me on the wall, above the tatty looking radiator behind my desk. I should have said to that photographer, let’s have a lovely photo of me in the big comfy chair, surrounded by my books and sewing shizz looking out onto my garden. Speak up for yourself woman.

I’m going to apply for next year’s NEOS (North East Open Studios). I am. I’m going to fight the shyness and put up with the possibility of strangers walking into my house and wanting to talk about my work. This is where the doubt creeps in…what if no one shows up? What if I don’t get any visitors? What if one of them is a serial killer who wants to make a giant mouse out of my skin??????

I’m going to do a craft fair. Yes, I know. I said it. I’m not sure which one to apply for but I went along to a great one yesterday, full of absolutely lovely people selling their gorgeous stuff. They were so friendly and that kind of gave me a little bit of confidence that maybe I could be a part of that kind of community. I just have to apply I think. Once I’ve applied, that’s it, no backing out. If I give myself no way out….

I’m going to have more pride in my work. If I don’t, how can I expect anyone else to? It’s that old self help theory ‘how can you expect anyone else to love you if you don’t love yourself’. It’s true. So when someone asks me what I do, I have to put those big girl knickers on, pull ’em up good and high (not wedgie high, that’s not a good look) and speak about my work with love and pride.

I can do this.

believe

 

I can do this.

Shall we be brave together? What do you need to do? Are there any goals that you have lurking around in your heart or head but don’t feel confident enough to either vocalise or aim for? Let me know here or on my FB page and let’s push through all those sharp elbows of doubt, together.

We can do this……

Your inner voice ‘can we?’

Yes we bloody well can!

The top 5 things…

….not to say to a crafter or artist.

We’re a fragile bunch. We sit at home on our lonesomes, drawing, cutting, sewing, glueing, writing, wringing our hands. Some of us are mums, carers or have a day job that soaks up our creative time, making every stitch precious when we finally get to ‘make’. Some of us actually get to interact with other human beings on a regular basis. But all of us, to a one, struggle with having confidence in our work and what we do. You, the husband, the daughter, the mother, the sister tell us it’s great but we don’t believe you, you’re supposed to say that sort of thing. It’s only when strangers tell us these things that we sort of believe it and even then that’s a struggle for us, wondering what their game is, being kind!!

This is why, when you hear a certain phrase, that your blood runs cold and you wonder why you even bloody bother. There’s a hot mass in your stomach and your body tries to turn itself inside out. Most of the time we don’t get to hear these lines. I’m sure there are people who look at my mice on my FB page and think ‘HOW MUCH?’ but I’m lucky, Facebook hasn’t yet invented eavesdropping via post/comment. Not yet anyway.  I’ve had some comments in the past, which I respond to. How I respond, depends on my hormone balance on that given day. Catch me on a good day and I’m smiley and jolly, all the while imagining the commenter’s death at the hands of the sharks in my shark tank that I now have in my Volcano lair.

No one has caught me on a bad day. Yet. If they do, you’ll know it.

Here’s the list, in no particular order…because frankly, they’re all bloody rude!

‘I could make that’ – could you? really? You star! Go home, buy all the materials, draw the pattern, sew it up. Let’s see how long that takes you. Then bring it to me and show me.

‘My kid could make that’ – please refer to the previous comment. Off you trot and take your amazingly talented Tarquinus-Jackajohn (age 5 and 3/4) with you.

‘How much? I could get that cheaper in *insert retailer here’ – Off you jolly well go then. Then bring said item back and show it to me. It will often be mass produced, usually by children in far away countries for a pittance. That is why they are so cheap to buy. I’m not dissing major retailers by the way but anything you buy from them is going to be mass produced, it’s how they keep the prices so low.

‘I’ll get my friend to make me one’ – This one grinds my gears. It’s on a par with the people who come onto my facebook page and tag a friend who’ll then say ‘sure, I’ll have a go’. Let me tell you buttercup, that’s copying and if you want to do that, kindly bugger off. I’ve seen too many lovely people torn apart by finding out they’ve been copied. Trust me, if you are rude enough and so lacking in social etiquette to write that stuff on my page and I find out that you have copied my work, not only will I be sending a cease and desist letter but I’ll name you on my page and let my lovely followers loose on you. Think Liam Neeson from Taken, only more soft, womanly and angrier….some may even carry knitting needles and trust me, they know how to use them!

‘I’m running a charity event and would love to have one of your pieces for a draw’

NO! In my early days of crafting, I did this twice. The first time I got a lovely response from the organiser, with a thank you email afterwards. The second time, I didn’t get so much as a thank you message on facebook. That was someone doing a charity trek thing. I can only assume she fell off a damn cliff because she was obviously unable to write a simple ‘ta very much’. I’ll choose my charities thank you.

These kind of comments are why I don’t do craft fairs. I don’t think I could handle it. The extra loud whisper as they walk away or if they are extra rude, say it to your face. I also don’t want to have to bail my husband out of jail after he’s rugby tackled said offender to the floor and kept them there till they’ve apologised.

If you lovely lot have any other priceless lines of rudeness you’d like to share, I’d love to hear them. As a crafter I’m pretty sure I’ve heard most of them but you never know, one of you might have a rare gem to make us all chuckle 🙂

We are all thinking, sentient beings. Crafters and Artists are just that little bit more sensitive, please try to remember that when you are holding a piece of their precious work in your hands. Try to be kind. You don’t have to say it’s awesome. Just something like ‘you must put so much time into your work’ makes all the difference.

Amanda x

 

 

 

Number 1 tip for a relaxing holiday…

Don’t have a 6 year old to stay! It may not have been relaxing but it was so much fun and one of the best weeks I’ve had in a very long time. It helps that she’s funny, her sense of humour is hysterical. On the only tricky bedtime we had (midweek) I said ‘come on now, it’s time for bed’, the husband then said the exact same thing. There was a pause and then she said in such a quizzical voice ‘Is there an echo in here?’. I fell apart and that was the end of that.

It was a week of walks, baking and sewing. I taught her to use the sewing machine, slowly I might add and in continual fear of sending her back to her mother with two fingers sewn together. She made a mouse! We used a lot of textile glue as she stuck the ears on (I’m still not comfortable giving her a very sharp needle) and she picked all of the fabric and beads, hence why it looks like it has cataracts…

She’s the image of my daughter at that age and it brought so many memories flooding back. I was so sad to wave her off on Sunday and I’m still in a bit of a blue funk to tell you the truth but just need to push on and get busy to distract me. I’m now working on some extra products!

First up are the keyrings. I was given a huge stash of Harris Tweed including lots of small fabric swatch samples, very small but too good to waste. I’ve toyed around with mini versions of my mice, they haven’t proved so popular for some reason but that’s ok, it’s all a learning curve. I’m using one of those for this month’s giveaway over on my Facebook page. Anyway, back to the keyrings. My birds are actually a great size to fit in your hand and it struck me the other day as I was looking at one of them, what a great size it would be for a keyring. It was also really important to me that they still looked like my little birds rather than a generic bird shape. I hope I’ve managed that!

I made quite a few purple ones but that’s because I was feeling lazy and couldn’t be arsed to change the thread or the bobbin. I’ll be cutting out some different colours today though changing it up a little.

Brooches are also at the planning stage but it’s so hard to be original these days, with so many very talented designers out there already making similar things, it’s really stretching the imagination to come up with something new. But, it’s important that I do, not only for me but for my customers. Every person who buys from me is getting something unique, even if its made of the same fabric as five other items and using the same beads, I try to make something different about it. It could be the wings or the butterfly, even with these keyrings, they are all different.

As an artist it’s incredibly flattering when someone tells you that you’ve inspired them to try making similar things. I did it. I bought Ann Wood’s pattern for her little birds and it is the one thing that pushed me to making my own patterns. I give a lot of credit to her for that. I’m forever grateful that she fired up a spark in me to create. What isn’t so flattering is when someone comes to my facebook page and tags a crafty friend in one of the posts and it’s screamingly obvious what their intent is. Why they don’t just write ‘LOOK AT THIS!! You could so make this’ – it would be less obvious. This happened recently, when I looked at the tagged person’s profile, yep, she was a crafter, yep, she works in tweed, yep, she makes keyrings. Might I suggest, that if you want to tell your crafty mate to copy my ideas, you do it in a personal message because at least then I don’t have to see it and sit on my hands to prevent myself having a rant at you on my posts…..

IMG_5778

Don’t copy my work. In fact, don’t copy anyone’s work. There’s a massive difference between people who love what they do, pouring every hour into designing and making, often earning below minimum wage and those who think ‘Oh I can do that, that looks easy, that’ll make me money’.

Picasso said ‘Bad artists copy. Great artists steal’.

On that note, I’m off to rub some voltarol into my aching back and start on a brooch or two…

Taking some time…

OFF!!

I’m off on an adventure on Thursday. Off to pick up the grand-daughter and bringing her home for a week. So excited, lots planned especially cuddles and eating copious amounts of ‘minty chocolates’ as she calls Matchmakers…

It’s August already, how did that happen? Here’s a lovely new calendar page for you, with a photo of my latest mouse, inspired by Andy Warhol who was actually born on the 6th of August 1928.

Minimalist Colored Photo Calendar (1).png

and if you want to download the August Warhol  in PDF form.

Speaking of which, here he is in all his gloriousness! Yes, I painted that mini Monroe, sadly it’s not as good as the real thing LOL!

If you follow my facebook page, you’ll see me whooping it up about my ‘Garcia’ mouse. A few months ago I sent off my little Penelope Garcia mouse and low and behold on Twitter & Instagram last night, I finally saw it, on her desk!! I’m not joking. Thank you to Kirsten Vangsness for being so bloody lovely.

 

I’m sure I’ve bored you all silly enough with me whittering on about it but I’m so damn chuffed. I’ve loved this character for so long, being a complete net/computer nerd (and being a web developer in a past life) with a penchant for strange clothes/hair stuff myself, I love her LOL!

Right, time and tweed wait for no woman, things to make, things to faff with!

 

Have a great week you gorgeous people and remember #getyourbiggirlpantson!