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!

Birds, birds, birds…

How are we in the middle of January already? We had snow for about three days last week but the same came out on Sunday and it was gone in a flash. Apparently we are heading for temperatures of 8 or 9 this week, with some sunshine so I’m planning to steam clean the patio and sort out my potting shed ready for planting some seeds. That’s going to involve putting the window and the door back on my greenhouse after those high winds last week though! 😀

Painting wise has involved me experimenting with feathers and fur! I’ve tried to incorporate some of the techniques I’ve learned with Anna Mason’s tutorials, they have proved to be invaluable and I will continue to recommend her online school to anyone who is interested in trying watercolours.

Flamingos are a favourite of mine, I’ve made quite a few in the last couple of years so it was only natural that I’d attempt one. I’m really happy with the feather work, not sure if the images are good enough to show the detail but there are LOTS of tiny brush strokes. I think the beak could do with a bit of work but I’ll go back to that at some point.

 

Someone suggested a puffin because of the beak, we all love puffins, they are real characters.

 

I’m having a few problems capturing the silveryness of the fish but I’m thinking of adding a bit of silver ink to it, that’s cheating isn’t it? I’m giving each layer of work, time to dry and also giving myself time away from the paintings so that I can go back to them with a fresh eye.

The other painting I’ve been working on, is a present for my husband. He’s not on Facebook so he won’t see the photo. It’s my attempt at painting one of our first dogs, Archie. Archie was this gorgeous little Jack Russell who we lost in the spring of 2001, 16 years ago but he is still a big memory for us. This is a very difficult painting for me as it’s one thing to paint a bird or flower from photos because it’s impersonal and easy to be happy with the result. As I work on this one, I’m finding so many errors and issues because I knew that little dog so, so well, it’s harder to capture his essence and personality. I know it’s at the early stages so I’m not giving myself too hard a time but even so it’s quite difficult.

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So far, I’m happy with the left eye! LOL

Anyway, that’s what I’ve been doing this week…..

A New Journey

Another post so soon??? Send in the doctors, there’s obviously something wrong!!

One of my Christmas presents was a gorgeous set of watercolours from the husband and the problem with getting really good quality materials, is that feeling that you should try to do the very best. I’ve signed myself up for a few months of lessons with the Anna Mason Online School – I’ve been a fan of her work for a long time and had been umming and ahhing over whether to take a few of her lessons.

Watercolours have always been a problem for me, I crave the intensity of acrylics and oils and constantly tried to recreate that with watercolours. Not only that but I never have the patience to persevere with painting, so my work has been quick, slapdash and haphazard, I called it ‘quick art’ and it became a family injoke.

Here’s my first three attempts at the tutorials from Anna Mason.

I’m absolutely gobsmacked that I have done as well as I have, usually I get bored and rush to finish but I didn’t feel the need to do that. I can thoroughly recommend Anna’s tutorials, they are really clear and informative. They are in order from beginner to intermediate but you can do whichever one you want. Although I do recommend that you start with the beginner tutorials as it will work on some of the basics.

That said, I’ve now rushed on to the hummingbird lesson. I told you, I have patience problems!

It’s been difficult for me to do as many birds this past nine months, the back and neck problems made it quite uncomfortable to sit bent over my sewing but now my Occipital Neuralgia has returned, so I’m having to really work on my posture otherwise the headaches are really debilitating. I’m painting, using a drawing board which has helped so much, in just a few days. Finding new ways to create is very important now.

I hope you don’t get too bored with my painting. I’ll be making a start on some of my own work in the coming weeks, I really fancy a flamingo…what do you think?

Now, to put the Christmas deccies away finally!!