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!

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…..

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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.

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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!

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.

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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!!!