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

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!

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.

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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!