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

 

 

 

The early bird…

catches the worm apparently. I’m not overly fond of worms, the fact that they will just merrily wiggle on their way when you’ve accidentally chopped one in half, disturbs me. By the way, I’m talking about gardening, I’m not some strange serial killer with a penchant for worms…although I think my Halloween vampire mouse might like worms….

 

Anyway, the Crafter’s life is all about being early to the party. Basically if you aren’t, you miss out. Real crafts take time. I can’t knock out a hexagonal candle in 10 minutes as they seemed to suggest on ‘Craft it Yourself’ recently. Even an accomplished candle maker would struggle with that sort of nonsense. My mice and birds take time. They don’t take days like my embroidered birds but they still take time. So when the sun is beating down and you’ve got all the windows open, we ‘The Crafterarti’ as I like to call us, are working on stuff for Halloween and Christmas. I say ‘YOU’VE got all the windows open’ – I don’t mean me. I live in the North East of Scotland, we had summer once, I think it was a thursday in June. We are still firing up the heating and I’m even thinking of investing in fingerless gloves to do my crafting in!

While this isn’t a problem (the early making of stuff) it can cause problems. I’m quite chatty on my page, I share other artists’ work, pages and giveaway. I rattle on about my farting Frenchie or Jensen Ackles (he doesn’t fart, he’s like royalty). I also share photos of everything I make, either during the creative process or when I’ve added it to my etsy shop. Unfortunately, that involves you getting photos of mice made of red velvet pulling a Christmas cracker with his tail….in July.

 

I’m a late November baby. That means that I always thought the lead up to Christmas was a pain in the arse. My birthday used to get muddled up in it and worst of all, the ‘big’ present. You late year babies know what I mean. That present that doubles up for your birthday and Christmas. It sucks. If you have a child late in the year, never do that! Ever! So as I grew up, I put off the Christmas excitement till December. I’m ashamed to say at one point we weren’t putting the tree up until the week before the big day. However…..I live with a man who would leave the decorations up all year if I let him. I even wait till he’s gone back to work after his Christmas break before I take it all down. We now put our decorations up in November…..I kid you not.

I do know what it’s like when smiley happy weirdos start talking about 127 sleeps till Christmas. I have to hide all the Christmas socks from a man who tells me when it’s ‘Christmas Hump Day’ – the day when it’s closer to Christmas than it is further away…

I try to be respectful on my page and always give a warning that it’s going to be a ‘Christmas’ creation and to look away. But I still get the odd message about it being too soon or worse, someone unlikes my page. It’s a difficult balance for us who love what we do. We get so excited when we finish any piece and we just want to share it with you. Please try to remember that we don’t work to the same calendar as you gods and goddesses. Please try to be tolerant of us when we are enthusing about our latest arrival of festive fur or gaudy red velvet. We aren’t doing it to ruin Christmas for you or to make the year zoom by. When that last posting day comes around in December, we ‘The Crafterarti’ are already thinking about Valentines Day or Easter.

If you think the year goes quickly for you. Imagine what it’s like for us!

 

p.s did I mention Christmas enough? LOL

What is wrong with Crafting programmes?

This week saw the start of Craft it Yourself on Channel 4. I remember seeing the call outs for crafters to apply to feature on it and thought ‘oohh finally, a show about crafting that is actually about crafting’.

I really wanted to like this show. I was fully prepped, dinner was out of the way and my kitchen cleaned. Anyone who has ever eaten with us, know that we eat at about 7pm and sit around the table for bloody hours, talking or faffing. I love my kitchen, it was the selling point of this house and I’ve worked to make it the total centre of our home. We’ve always eaten together as a family, it’s a really important part of our day and our family life. So for us to be away from the table by 7.45pm is no mean feat.

I had a glass of wine at the ready and the long suffering husband had taken himself off to his ‘operations room’ to play guitar.

It started well enough, three friendly, smiley presenters. One, Ant Anstead has been on that car show ‘For the Love of Cars’ with Philip Glenister, which I loved by the way. However, every time Ant appeared on screen I was expecting Gene Hunt to wander on and start talking about steering wheels from the MG they were rebuilding.

Clem is lovely, very smiley but with the odd raised eyebrow that all crafters seem to develop when they are explaining what they do and how they do it.

I actually shouted at the telly when they showed those little mini ‘makes’ – especially that bloody macrame style curtain and the tie dye cushion…1973 called and want those decorating no-nos back!

The whole show had the feel of a sort of budget Changing Rooms or similar. I can’t be doing with that. Crafting isn’t just about doing up your boring kitchen (was that kitchen even real?). It was almost as though some hipster bod at the production company announced in one of those brainstorming meetings, ‘hey, you know what’s in now? Crafting! That is big, especially with all those stay at home mums trying to make a few extra quid on the side! Let’s make a craft show!’

No. Let’s not and say we did.

I’m all for sharing the love of craft. I regularly share other crafters and artists on my facebook page, twitter, instagram etc. It’s a huge community of incredibly hard working and talented people who pour their hearts and soul into their work. That’s what I wanted to see. We didn’t see enough last night of the brilliant tile artist or the blacksmith.

I don’t want to watch presenters showing us ‘craft hacks’.  Do you know what this style of Craft Hacks does? It cheapens the work of real crafters who work bloody long hours refining their crafts. When you see the finished article, you are seeing hours and hours of planning, altering and hard work. Then we get it wrong and start all over again. Maybe more than once.

This wasn’t a programme aimed at Crafters. I think this was entirely aimed at encouraging people to craft and if they can achieve that then all power to them. I’ll be sticking with it for now but I’d really like to see it have a bit of a shake up! More emphasis on the crafters, less of the refurb of rooms and please…NO MORE MACRAME OR TIE DYE!

By the way, my post last week about that awful thing ‘doubt’ went wild on Twitter, all thanks to a very lovely retweet by one of my very favourite actresses! It was lovely and gave me a real boost!

 

The big list of what’s holding you back…

It isn’t a big list. It’s one word. One bloody horrible short little word that can paralyse you.

Doubt. 

It is the enemy of every artist, crafter, maker whoever thought that they might be able to sell their work. It doesn’t matter where it comes from, it’s there. It feeds on your insecurities and niggles away at you like some irritating little gnat buzzing around your head. It’s always there and no amount of swatting at it will make it go away. Even if you do manage to kill the damn thing, there’s another one making a beeline straight for you.

I don’t have an answer. I can give you all the things I’ve tried or been told to try. Some will work but most won’t. I will tell you one thing though, how can anyone else love your work if you don’t? I think you already do love your work, otherwise you wouldn’t keep at it. You wouldn’t keep sketching or sewing or carving or painting if you didn’t love it. The trick is loving it. Loving it so much that you want others to love it too.

I make mice. Small cutesy little teeny tiny mice and the odd pig out of fabric. I used to make birds, some of which are really stunning, even if I do say so myself. The swans, the hummingbirds and the peacocks are some of my greatest pieces but my back problems put paid to that, the sitting/sewing position were just too much especially the hundreds of hours that I used to put into it.

swan-main.jpg

I am in love with my mice. My steampunk mice, my Cosplay mice, I love every damn one of them. They take hours to make and each one is better than the last. I make those tiny steampunk hats that measure about 1.5cm tall and every single time I make one, I get totally lost in it. When you buy one of my mice, you are buying my total attention focused on one thing, my love (that sounds bloody naff but it’s true) and my weird little brain and all it’s strange little thoughts.

Whenever I criticise myself or my work, my husband says ‘that’s my wife you’re talking about, quit it!’

He’s also the person who has convinced me into applying for Kirsty’s Handmade Christmas this year. Every year I watch it and think about applying but that absolute arse ‘Doubt’ sits there on my shoulder. It whispers and cajoles until finally my shoulders drop and I think ‘maybe next year’. Well, this is ‘next year’. If I don’t do it now, I’ll never bloody do it!

I shared the video appeal by Raise the Roof Productions and Kirsty, on my facebook page a couple of times as well as seeing it in a couple of the craft groups I’m a member of. On every occasion, there were incredibly talented people saying that they didn’t have the courage to do it. That’s why I wrote this post. I’m telling you that you do. You already have the courage it takes to share your beautiful and time consuming work with us on FB and in those groups, so why not just take a deep breath and apply? You might not go further than sending that email but you know what? You sent that email and that’s probably the biggest step of all for some of you, I know it was for me. The link to apply is here.

Put your big girl knickers on and do it. Or your big boy knickers for that matter!

I believe in you. Time for you to smash that buzzing gnat of doubt with your electrified tennis bat (we have one of those, it’s bloody awesome) and have some belief in yourself.

#biggirlknickers #bigboyknickers get them on!

#Monday Motivation…

is apparently the trending hashtag on Twitter. My #MondayMotivation is coffee, big dollop of cream (I’m still drinking it like that whether we low carb or not) and no sugar. So here I sit, trying to get motivated.

I haven’t written a list, the postit note to remind me fell off my mac and floated under my desk and I haven’t been motivated enough to retrieve it yet. It’s one of those days, can you tell?

Sunday was spent finishing off my newest cosplay mouse, a rather dark and mysterious black Harris Tweed mouse dressed up as Jon Snow from Game of Thrones. It all seemed easy enough until I realised that a. I didn’t have any black shearling and b. I was going to have to replicate his sword ‘Longclaw’ in polymer clay. I’ve only just mastered Negan’s bat….

Negan's bat 'Lucille'

I’m a real bodger and will try to find a substitute at all times and I ended up replacing the shearling with black feathers and they look very good even if I do say so myself.

JonSnow1

 

As for that bloody sword, three attempts later and I finally had one that didn’t fall apart or look like I’d sat on it.

jonsnow2

I really, really love making these cosplay mice. It is so much fun and incredibly satisfying when it’s finished. I was on a bit of a low after finishing the burlesque mouse. It’s very hard to appeal to all the people who like my page. While I like making my cute mice with the butterfly nets or the beekeeping hats, I also like to make things that make people laugh or just go ‘wow!’ It’s strange to think that I’m known for little cutesy mice when I have my nose pierced, a tattoo and own more Doc Marten’s than any other shoe. I love zombie movies and Stephen King. I’m a swearer too. It seems somewhat at odds with the little tweed mice. But that is a side of me too I suppose. I had a few negative messages about Stripper Mouse but that’s ok, not everything is going to be well received. I didn’t actually like her that much, not because of the subject matter but the red and black together is just so in your face. It’s funny but those kind of colour combos never seem to be as well received.

 

I am incredibly proud of her small fascinator though. It’s 1.5cm round and yet I managed to give it a little veil and some beading. However, she just looks like the Countess Dowager from Downton has become a hooker….

Oh well I guess I can put that down to experience.

Steampunk mouse today, in black and white instead of brown. I really like those mice! I am having to increase my prices for those as the amount of time that goes into them and the added materials add up.

I do have a sale album now on Etsy  and don’t forget, if you are subscribed to my newsletter, you will receive a code for 5% off all purchases over £15 and an extra special code as well!

Right, more coffee!!!