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

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

Small Creatures…..

That’s the new range. I know, I know, I’ve had at least 20 new ranges this year, Angel Mice, Cosplay Mice, the Artists etc but I think that’s what you have to do in this line of work, constantly evolve and try new things. I don’t want you lovely lot to get bored now do I?

First up are the meeces! Both made of gorgeous Harris Tweed and with individual decorations, including a bead necklace and a headdress of ribbon roses a la Frida Kahlo.

 

 

Then came the fox and the badger…

And then of course, being the owner of one of these strange beasts, I had to make a Frenchie!

You can now buy my little creations directly from this blog via Paypal, so why not treat yourself! Or if you prefer, head over to my etsy page for more information!

I’m still adding stock to the shop but you can soon find all of my available mice and brooches on the following link….. ‘Shop’

Right, I’m off to do some work on my Christmas stock…yes it’s still August but I need to get ahead of the game!

 

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…