Tuesday, March 30

spring has finally sprung! (or has it?)

well, we hadn't had frost for just over a week and we'd not had to scrape the car windscreen for a while, so i thought i could confidently say that spring had arrived - yippppeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee :)

we even had blue sky, fluffy white clouds (simpson's clouds as m calls them) and sunshine at the weekend, the birds were singing their little hearts out and everything is wakening up again in the garden - must get out to do some weeding soon!

except, now it's snowing?!

anyway, to celebrate the much anticipated arrival of spring, here are some spring items from a selection of lovely folksy folk ...

colour me spring by tamsyn g

chrysanthemum ring by josephines

little bird with a bell by daisies are our silver

spring zest soap bar from sleepy valley

spring daffodils by ahhh…fleurs de perles

the spring hare by old wives tale

spring chicken mini card by fosscards

Monday, March 29

meet a maker monday

being the inquisitive little feltmaker that i am, i thought it might be interesting to hear about other maker's stories. so a little while ago i asked if anyone would be interested in being interviewed for my blog. i was hoping to make it a monthly feature but have been so overwhelmed by responses that it is now a weekly feature!

so, grab a cuppa, put your feet up and lets meet zoe from jewelbox ...

Please introduce yourself …
Hi, without sounding too much like a dating ad: I am Zoe. I am 34 years old, and live in not so sunny Derbyshire. I work full time in an office, and jewellery making is my hobby/love/relaxation therapy.

How would you describe your work / style?Eclectic. I don’t think I have a particular style, as I like so many. Sometimes I love to wear really delicate pieces, and others I go for a really chunky style. My problem is I love jewellery so much!

Who, or what, inspires you?
I get inspiration from all over, through magazines and books, but mainly from the beads themselves. There is nothing I love more than sitting with my bead tray and just playing around until I find something I like.

Do you sell your work? If so, what helped you decide to start selling your work?
I have set up a shop on Folksy. I haven’t made any sales as yet, but fingers crossed. I decided to start selling after friends and family who I make jewellery for persuaded me that I should give it a go.

Where can I buy your work?
jewelbox folksy shop or you can contact me through my blog (.the jewel box blogspot), if there is a particular item/style you are looking for.

How did you learn to make jewellery?
I haven’t had any official training. I am self taught through trial and error (many errors!) and from books and magazines.

Is there any other craft skill you would like to learn?
I would love to learn how to sew. I am absolutely lousy at it, but would love to be able to make my own clothes and bags.
Anything exciting planned for 2010 you’d like to share?
I am planning on trying out some new necklace designs, and also trying new items like beaded bookmarks and handbag charms.

Have you had any work featured in magazines/books/galleries?
Not as yet, but hoping!

Has your work won any prizes/competitions?
No, I am never confident enough to enter!

If I wasn’t doing this, I’d be …
In the loony bin! I work full time in a busy office, and making jewellery is what I do to take my mind off a hectic, stressful day at work. I would love to get to a position where I could give up my office job, and make jewellery full time.

I couldn’t do this if it wasn’t for …
My mum. She encourages me, wears my stuff, brags to her friends etc. etc.

Any funny stories you’d like to share?
I like to sit at night with my beading tray in front of the telly, and have all my beads in trays and boxes on the floor surrounding me. I have a miniature daschund, Rose, who thinks that anything on the floor is hers to play with. So on regular occasions I look down to find her with her nose in the trays, or she has been known to roll over the top of them, then thinks she is really clever!!

Describe your perfect day...
Spending the morning sitting in the conservatory, or garden when it is warm, with a good book and a cup of tea, then in the afternoon doing a bit of beading. With copious amounts of tea thrown in.

What’s your proudest moment?
Watching my sister collecting her degree which she gained from Open University whilst raising two small children.

What do you do to relax?
Read & bead.

Marmite … love it or hate it?
Hate, loath and despise, but love peanut butter.

What animal would you be, and why?
A pampered dog, they have such a great life.

What’s your weakness?
Sausage rolls, buying books and beads.

How do you keep motivated?
I love making jewellery, so have no problems with motivation.

What do you wish you’d known when you first started out?
How addictive it can be.

What advice would you give to someone just starting out?
Start small and build up. Get the best tools you can afford, as they do make a difference. And don’t buy really cheap beads. They tend to break easily, and you can tell the quality.

thanks for chatting with us zoe, fingers crossed for lots of future sales on folksy, your jewellery is lovely :)

Wednesday, March 24

possibly my longest ever post!

after looking forward to it for so long, stanza finally arrived! in case you’re not familiar with it, stanza is scotland’s poetry festival and is held in st andrew’s every march. this is the third year that we’ve enjoyed the festival and huge thanks need to go to everyone who is involved as this year really was the best yet. the theme for this year was myth and legend so, as i’m quite obsessed with myths, was really looking forward to enjoying what was on offer.

60 poets took part, coming from canada, usa, germany, italy, spain, cuba, croatia, australia, ireland and from all over scotland and the uk. they were joined by other writers, artists, musicians, actors, comedians and film makers to offer a really diverse range of events including: intimate round table readings; ‘inspire’ sessions; showcases of up and coming poets; poetry breakfasts, poetry theatre, slam night; open mic nights; stanza lecture; readings; poets past & present events; exhibitions; workshops; poetry masterclass; collaborations with musicians; poetry film; children's events; various public participation events – how on earth did they pack it all into five days?!

we were also really spoiled this year as we’d booked accommodation rather than travelling back and forward every day and it was such a treat to be able to spend so much more time in st andrews and meant we could really relax and enjoy ourselves. i didn’t even think i was that stressed but felt very refreshed and relaxed after a few days away, despite the busy schedule we gave ourselves!

we started on thursday with a lecture from matthew sweeney on georg trakl and colin will on gregory corso. i’m ashamed to admit I hadn’t heard of either of these two poets (austrian expressionism and american beat respectively) so it was really interesting to hear a little about their lives and listen to their poetry as well as how the two poets reading related to them.

next for me was grevel lindop's lecture on ‘myth, magic and the future of poetry’ – what can i say? i was totally blown away! grevel was interesting, thought provoking and entertaining, just wish it could have lasted longer. m was one of the lucky twelve to have a round table reading with seamus heaney,who he spoke highly of afterwards.

thursday night saw us head to the open mic night which was a bit of a disappointment this year i’m afraid to say. given the venue, i know you can’t expect total hush from the entire bar area but to have folk standing near the performance area chatting away (loudly) while poets are performing is down-right ignorant. even a few fierce glares from me didn’t do the trick and m dragged me away before i resorted to ranting in their direction!

after a breakfast on friday morning which would have shamed any top class hotel, with groaning tummies we headed off to the younger poet’s showcase where we heard: monika rinck who read in german and was then translated by alistair noon; sam riviere; swithun cooper; catriona lexy campbell who read firstly in gaelic and then read the english language version and andreas unterweger who also read in german and then read his translated version. it was wonderful to hear such a diverse range of poetry from the younger folk and also to hear poetry in german and gaelic, even though we don’t speak much german and even less gaelic it’s lovely to be able to focus on the sounds of the words, letting the sounds wash over you, rather than the meaning initially.

that evening we optimistically headed back to the open mic night but didn’t even stay ten minutes after not being able to hear a word from the mc or the first poet!

saturday morning saw us getting up early for ‘poetry breakfast: myth and legend’, which was a discussion panel of stephen halliwell (who read a short extract of the iliad in ancient greek – bless you dear learned scholar!); moniza alvi; rebecca seiferle and tiffany atkinson who were discussing the attraction and challenge of ancient myths and legends and how poetry and mythology interact. this was probably my least favourite event (sorry guys) but still provoked an interesting debate for us as we headed back to perth for m to give his reading at the writer’s day, a sort of mini launch for his new book!

we then dashed back in time to catch the last half hour of the poet’s market which is always a good chance to catch up with folk you’ve not had time to chat with and also a good excuse to spend, spend, spend on delightful new poetry pamphlets, this year it was also another opportunity for m to have heaps of praise lavished upon him for his lovely new book (did i mention that already?!).

after a quick detour to the delightful patisserie we discovered (hand made cakes in boxes, with ribbon - why do so few bakers do this any more?) we just made it to the five o’clock verses event where we heard karen solie and emma jones. i have flicked through both of their latest books but hearing them read really helped to breathe new life into their work for me.

despite being almost totally exhausted we managed to get out in time to see ‘poetry centre stage’ which was a fantastic evening event with john akpata and then linton kwesi johnson. i really loved john’s performance (even if i disagreed with some of his arguments/points), in fact when he first came on to the stage i got goose-bumps and couldn’t stop grinning – i had never seen poetry performed this way – a combination of heartfelt message, song, dance, rythym, my dear man you are a genius! linton kwesi johnson’s performance was fantastic also but in a totally different way. m had seen him perform many years ago and was glad to see he’d lost none of his presence. i found it a really sobering, thought provoking reading, hearing commentary and poetry surrounding some of the horrific racial attacks he had witnessed in london. speaking about it afterwards i said to m that some part of me really wanted to disbelieve what he was saying, certainly no disrespect intended to lkj because i know these are real events that did happen and sadly continue to do so around the world, but because i don’t want to believe i live in a world where people can behave in such a horrific way to their fellow man.

on sunday we went to the first of our ‘border crossings’ events where we heard poetry from will stone who we had heard read his translation of georg trakl at an earlier event, but this time had the chance to read his own poetry. and also victor rodriquez nunez who was just wonderful – although he spoke perfect english, he read his work in spanish and then a lovely lady from his publishers read the translated version. again, it was a delight to let the spanish words just wash over you but hearing his poetry in translation let you understand the beauty of his words, he seemed a genuinely lovely bloke.

grabbing a quick bite on the run we just made it in time for our second ‘border crossings’ and our last event of the festival.

lewis mackinnon read his poetry first in the gaelic he had written it and then in his quirkily lovely canadian accent read us the translation. he was great to listen to and told a story of how his latest book had three ‘swear’ words in it, when his book came out his dad asked his aunt what she thought of the book and her only comment was that ‘she didn’t much care for the salty language’!

mario susko followed with what was a great way to round off this year’s festival for us. he is a genuinely funny man and very talented poet with a great skill of expression.

then we rounded off our weekend with a trip to hear andy jackson read for the dundee launch of his new book the assassination museum.

now my head is a buzz of poetic, mythic inspiration!

would you like to make a pennant for a 2012 olympic athlete?

12,000 pennants (a3 size / 12" x 16") are required for this national olympic textile project which is being organised by quilts4london, a non-profit making project.

pennants can be any shape and any design, they will be 'strung' together for some amazing exhibitions in the time leading up to the 2012 games.

all regions of the british isles are invited to get involved! quilters, felt makers, embroiderers, cross stitchers, in fact anyone who sews now has an opportunity to express their support, through the medium of fabric, fibre and stitch, to become part of the whole olympic event in london 2012.

pennants can be as simple or elaborate as you want, made by anyone regardless of their level of ability or age (children welcome) and using any textile media. the aim is to present a pennant to each olympic athlete, a personal gift from you to them.

on the website you’ll find 'how to make one' guidelines as well as youtube demonstrations on how to make a pennant.

the project's supporters include:
lynne edwards, gail lawther, the batik guild, the cross stitch guild, the international felt makers association, coats crafts, the quilter's guild of the british isles and uk hand knitting.

also, the scottish co-ordinator has asked for a little extra help promoting the project in scotland. she is based in the southern part of scotland so any help covering other parts of scotland would be welcomed.

further details can be found on the website: www.quilts4london.org.uk/

Monday, March 22

meet a maker monday

being the inquisitive little feltmaker that i am, i thought it might be interesting to hear about other maker's stories. so a little while ago i asked if anyone would be interested in being interviewed for my blog. i was hoping to make it a monthly feature but have been so overwhelmed by responses that it is now a weekly feature!

so, grab a cuppa, put your feet up and lets meet helen from glamorous glue ...

How would you describe your work / style? Individual, I like to think I have many different styles as I love to make jewellery that is easy to wear and which suits lots of different people. My work could be described as quirky, classic and bohemian, I would even call some of my hand painted and batik earrings art for the ears! But I like to think of my style as individual because each piece suits the individual that is attracted to it.

Who, or what, inspires you?
I am greatly inspired by music, it helps me to create! My love of music very often creeps into my music, that cheeky David Bowie managed to inspire his own collection with The Glam Rock Collection. I love bright colours so I also look to the 80's for inspiration…even if I am a little too young to actually remember it!

Do you sell your work? If so, what helped you decide to start selling your work?
Many of my friends would comment on jewellery that I had made and worn and started to request that I make them pieces. I then joined Folksy looking for somewhere to sell my jewellery online that wasn't toooo technical as I am slightly allergic to computers at times!!! As my confidence grew I then decided to do a few craft fairs and jewellery parties in the run up to Christmas 2009 and have been really pleased with how well they have all gone down.

Where can I buy your work?
In my folksy shop: GlamorousGlue's folksy shop

Do you have a website or blog address?
Due to my slight phobia of computers (is it just me that thinks my computer can be heard laughing at me every time something goes wrong). I don't have my own website, but I have started to attempt a blog! glamorousglue's blog

How did you learn your craft? How long have you been creating?
My jewellery techniques have all been self taught. I have been creating for about a year now and first began to experiment with jewellery making when I had an accident and broke my ankle. What started off as a hobby to relieve boredom has turned into something that I love and now couldn't imagine not doing.

Is there any other craft skill you would like to learn?
There is so much that i would like to learn, in particular i would love to experiment with resin and glass.

Anything exciting planned for 2010 you’d like to share?
As of 2010 I'm aiming to start approaching shops and galleries with my work in the hope of getting my jewellery stocked.

Still pottering around in my day job, I'd just be very bored with no crafting to keep me busy in the evenings!

I couldn’t do this if it wasn’t for …
My mum (big awwww) she's my biggest supporter and helped me when I was but an eccentric young lass with a broken ankle, making jewellery in my room with glue and glitter stuck all over my hands!

Any funny stories you’d like to share?
I have an unusual talent for clearing the local haberdashery of shop assistants. It must be that I am 'known' as the lady that always buys hundreds of googly eyes that they have to count by hand.

Describe your perfect day...
Ok so I wake up, not suddenly with an alarm clock jolting me awake or with a big fat ginger cat sitting on my head, but naturally. And of course because it's a perfect day my hair looks great and it's not going to be one of those 'I have nothing to wear' days! I get together and spend the day with all my old university friends I don't see very often. And when I get home in the evening…wow the jewellery in my folksy shop has been selling like hot cakes, having done no self promotion. I curl up for the night watching a good film on the telly with a hot chocolate. Wow, this perfect day seems to have turned into a dream day, all that was missing was Sean Bean turning up to declare his love!

Describe your proudest moment...
The first time I looked at my stall all set up at my first craft fair, seeing all my jewellery together and having people admire and buy it at a fair for the first time, it really showed me what I had achieved.

What do you do to relax?
Listen to music, often combined with crazy bedroom dancing (honestly it helps). Going for a walk is also a great way to clear my head when I've got far too much buzzing around in it.

Marmite … love it or hate it?
Love it! A liking I seem to have passed on to my cat...he goes crazy when I have marmite on toast for breakfast!

What animal would you be, and why?
Most definitely a cat, as like cats I do like my sleep! And if my cat is anything to go by it also means I can still enjoy marmite!

What’s your weakness?
Craft related answer: buying yet more beads when I have lots I should be using up!
Non craft related answer: Mr Kipling angel slice with a cup of tea

Actually I think the non craft related answer could come under craft related as I have discovered crafting often leads to great consumption of tea and cake!

How do you keep motivated?
Lots of tea and the occasional walk to clear the head!

What do you wish you’d known when you first started out?
A little bit more about the wonderfully vast world of self promotion, Twitter, Blogs, Facebook, the list is endless....actually I still wish I knew a bit more about these things!

What advice would you give to someone just starting out?
Don't rush, I find it's best to give yourself time when you’re first starting out to develop your own style. It also really helps me to write things down, whether it's a fleeting idea in the middle of the night or a set of goals to achieve in the next year.

What question did you hope to be asked but didn’t?
Any weird phobias?

What would your answer have been?
Prawns! There's just something about the way they look that makes me think they are going to come alive in my mouth. I never had much luck explaining this theory to people though!

thanks for taking the time to chat helen. loved hearing that your cat now loves marmite - our two used to love marmite too! every time i made marmite toast, i had to make extra to share with them :)

Tuesday, March 16

new feltmaking kits from fatcat felt

even if i do say so myself, i think these new feltmaking kits have turned out really well! m even commented that they looked very professional :) although you may not be able to tell that from the photos - i found it quite hard to photograph the kits in the polythene bags, especially as we were lucky enough to have some spring sunshine (coupled with gusty wind which is not a good combination for photography - one minute ... sunny, next ... cloudy, oh and then everything is now going to blow all over the place too!).

the idea for these came from being asked to give a beginner's workshop for the international women's day celebrations. i was hoping that folk would enjoy the workshop and want to do more feltmaking - and they did!

i really enjoyed putting the kits together, they contain: comprehensive instructions (possibly too comprehensive but then i didn't want folk to get stuck with any element of the process); a bamboo mat; bubble wrap; netting; soap flakes and 100g of merino roving.

if you would like to buy a kit to try feltmaking for yourself, or to give as a special gift, they are £9.50 plus postage and are available from fatcat's folksy shop, they're available in seven different colour combinations but if you would prefer a kit made up with your favourite colours, please let me know.

craft festival scotland

very exciting news from the craft scotland website!!!

"The first national festival celebrating Scottish craft is preparing to launch next month with a series of trailblazer events which will set the ambitious tone for the festival itself which opens in May.

craftscotland is delighted to have been awarded the marketing and pr contract for the festival. We will be working with Craft Festival Scotland's team to challenge the perceptions of craft currently held and to champion the diversity of Scottish craft intternationally.

Craft Festival Scotland is the result of a five year research project, Past, Present & Future Craft Practice (PPFCP), based at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art & Design at University of Dundee. The project explores new directions, practices and perspectives in contemporary craft with an ultimate goal of defining a new relevance for craft in the 21st century. Dundee is renowned within the academic sector as the leading city in Scotland for craft research. The festival will now showcase the outcomes of this research to the world at large with a programme of creative and informative events to be held across the country.

The Future Craft exhibition (26 March – 24 April 2010) opens in the Matthew Gallery at the Matthew Building at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art & Design and showcases contemporary and innovative craft by practitioners who took part in Past, Present & Future Craft Practice research. Each practitioner takes a creative journey as they explore craft as a process, product, experience and service. The exhibition includes new work by silversmith Drummond Masterton, interactive jeweller Hazel White, weaver Tim Parry-Williams, product artist Geoffrey Mann.

The second trailblazer takes place in London at the Victoria and Albert Museum. Quilts 1700 - 2010 explores over 300 years of British quilting history. Over 70 beautifully crafted quilts, mostly from the V & A's collections, will be on show. Bed-hangings from the 18th century will be displayed alongside creative reinventions of the quilt by contemporary artists including Tracey Emin. As part of the PPFCP research project, a quilt by Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art & Design third year textile student Kirsty Fenton, will be shown in the exhibition.

The full programme of events will be available shortly. If you are organising an event, or know of something happening in your area, and would like to be included in Craft Festival Scotland's extensive programme please send the details to laura@craftscotland.org."

Monday, March 15

meet a maker monday

being the inquisitive little feltmaker that i am, i thought it might be interesting to hear about other maker's stories. so a little while ago i asked if anyone would be interested in being interviewed for my blog. i was hoping to make it a monthly feature but have been so overwhelmed by responses that it is now a weekly feature!

so, grab a cuppa, put your feet up and lets meet kerry of pennydog ...

Please introduce yourself...
I'm Kerry, 24 and living in Leicestershire with my partner of 7 years Alex
and our 2 greyhounds, Penny and Fletcher.

How would you describe your work / style?
Contemporary but feminine and not too brash for saying I work with plastic! Suitable for all ages.

Who, or what, inspires you?
Everything! Usually I see something (in a fashion not too far removed from the Magpie)and think, "Will this work inside resin?"

Do you sell your work? If so, what helped you decide to start selling your

Yes, I started selling before I started making though! It's a strange story but I started out on Etsy selling my photography work, which then evolved not too long after into another shop once I'd got the hang of the basics of resin. I saw lots of others were doing it, so thought I'd give it a go, I've always had a bit of an entrepreneurial vein since I started up wheeling and dealing on eBay at 13 years old!

Where can I buy your work?
pennydog is the main site, but I am also on
Folksy (pennydog's folksy shop) and Etsy (pennydogaccessories) as well as a few other places.

Do you have a blog address?
Yep! pennydog's wordpress blog

How did you learn your craft? How long have you been creating?
I've only been using resin for 2 years and started out wanting to make photo jewellery as a little extra when on photography assignments to squeeze a bit more cash out of my customers! I'm completely self taught, and it was back when resin was only used for modelling really (and high end costume jewellery) in this country, so I learned through looking at forums and sites dedicated to the other applications of resin and also places like Craftster.org in the States.

Is there any other craft skill you would like to learn?
I'd like to master acrylic and use the two materials together and also silversmithing, though realistically I know I haven't got time.

Anything exciting planned for 2010 you'd like to share?
YES! I just landed the job of editor of the relaunch of Popular Crafts magazine and am giddy as anything about it! I'm also working on a large chess set for a personal project and will be exhibiting at the 4 day Patchings Art Festival in June,

Have you had any work featured in magazines/books/galleries?
Yes I have my own book which I wrote and released in 2009, and have written for Crafts Beautiful, beads and Beyond, Make Jewellery and Bead magazine so far, with my knitting needles featured in several knitting titles.

If I wasn't doing this, I'd be...

I couldn't do this if it wasn't for...
My resourceful partner Alex. He sorts out my problems when things go wrong and isn't afraid to give criticism, which means when I get praise I know I'm really onto something!

Marmite...love it or hate it?

What's your weakness?

What advice would you give to someone just starting out?
Remember you only have one pair of lungs and wear a vapour mask. I think I've seriously damaged myself and wouldn't want anyone else suffering for their art!

thanks for taking the time to chat kerry, your new job sounds fantastic - please pop back to let us know when the first issue will be available!

Thursday, March 11

hat competition anyone?

i've just found about this competition but unfortunately i'm not going to have time to make anything by the deadline, so just in case anyone else is interested ...

to honour hatworks celebrating its 10th anniversary the museum is inviting folk to take part in a miniature hat competition. the theme is to capture the essence of a marketplace such as stockport, home of the museum.

hatworks is the uk's only museum dedicated solely to the hatting industry, hats and headwear.

entries need to be submitted by 5pm on tuesday 23rd march and full details can be found on the hat works website.

good luck to everyone who is entering!

i got the job!

so, i have gone from impatiently waiting to hear back ... to being very excited when i heard i got the job ... to now being terrified i won't be good enough!

my new part-time voluntary role is assistant public affairs officer for a wildlife charity and is really such a fantastic opportunity that once i get over my nerves, i'm sure i will be able to relax and enjoy it. actually, the more i think about it, the more i can't wait to get started!

Wednesday, March 10

fatcat felt has been featured!

vic kindly offered to interview me recently for her lovely careford creations blog.

and you can read the article here:

fatcat felt interview at careford creations

thanks vic, great questions and a lovely feature :)

Monday, March 8

meet a maker monday

being the inquisitive little feltmaker that i am, i thought it might be interesting to hear about other maker's stories. so a little while ago i asked if anyone would be interested in being interviewed for my blog. i was hoping to make it a monthly feature but have been so overwhelmed by responses that it is now a weekly feature!

so, grab a cuppa, put your feet up and lets meet claire of black cat's whiskers ...

Please introduce yourself …
Hi I’m Claire, I live in Horley near Gatwick with my hubby and 4 cats. My proper grown up boring job is being a civil servant in London during the week but at the weekend I like to play at designing jewellery, it’s a world apart from my desk job and far more exciting. I can let my imagination run wild and immerse myself in the vast amount of pretty coloured beads I have taking over our lounge. Heaven.

How would you describe your work / style?
I describe myself as a designer of unique, fun and affordable jewellery. I think my work is a reflection of me - a bit crazy sometimes but able to be grown up too (occasionally). I like to think I have a little something for everyone in my shop - little button hairslides for children, cufflinks for men and then bracelets and necklaces for all ages featuring the fun clay liquorice allsorts or dolly mixtures or more grown up glass beads and gemstones.

How did you learn your craft? How long have you been creating?
I am completely self taught. It all started back in October 2008 (or thereabouts) I saw a lovely beaded watch in a little jewellery shop near where I live. I remember turning to my husband and saying ‘I could make that’ I went home and bought some bits and pieces from ebay and when they came I just started trying to piece it all together. It was trial and error for a time but I kept practicing and I picked up different skills as I went along. I’m still learning new things but I'm much more confident at just 'having a go' now than I was in the beginning.

Do you sell your work? If so, what helped you decide to start selling your

I sell my work at craft fairs and in my folksy shop. When I first started out I bought a few pieces into work for their opinions and to my amazement actual people wanted to buy things ... you know, human living and breathing people! It was a really weird feeling at first. Then my mum told me about a local craft fair so I took the plunge, did it and loved it and haven’t looked back since.

Where can I buy your work?
I have my folksy shop: blackcatswhiskers

Do you have a blog we can visit?
claire's blackcatswhiskers blog

Is there any other craft skill you would like to learn?
I would absolutely love to be able to paint or to work with silver but I’m just not that gifted. I can only work with what I’ve been given and unfortunately I wasn’t that blessed. I did some sewing with my mum the other month, the lines were quite wonky but I was really chuffed having never used a sewing machine before. I think my mum was scared throughout in case I accidentally sewed my fingers to the fabric :-)

Anything exciting planned for 2010 you’d like to share?
My hubby and I will be starting IVF sometime very soon so this is going to hopefully be a life changing year for us (fingers & toes crossed!).

If I wasn’t doing this, I’d be …
Planning another house redecoration or redesigning the garden.. I just love planning and doing things, I just can't sit still. Designing jewellery keeps me out of mischief (and in the good books with the hubby who hates digging holes or doing DIY) it helps keep my brain busy and me sitting in one place for more than an hour sometimes :-)

I couldn’t do this if it wasn’t for …
My hubby who makes dinner often so I can carry on making jewellery, who makes me oodles of tea at the weekend to keep me going and on the cold winter nights has lit the open fire to keep us toasty while I sit surrounded by my beads working.

Describe your perfect day.
One of my most perfect days would have to be when hubby and I went to the Maldives for our honeymoon, we spent the day on a boat where we were lucky enough to be surrounded by dolphins. We did some snorkelling and sunbathing then we came back and went to the spa for a massage, had a really lovely romantic meal and then sat in the tea house at the end of the jetty until really late.

Describe your proudest moment.
I always feel proud when someone buys something from my shop or I get a compliment but I think my proudest moment was when I was asked if I would supply jewellery for a little gift shop. I am still pleased as punch about it and am working hard making the stock for when the shop opens on 1 March.

What do you do to relax?
Relax, what’s that? On the rare occasion when I've done everything I want or need to do and I get some time to myself I love my garden. It’s a real cottage garden inspired by my mum and dad’s garden when I was growing up, it is rammed full of scented flowers, especially lavender and roses. I just love laying in the sun by the big lavender bush with a huge glass of wine not very far from my fingertips.

Marmite … love it or hate it?
Mmmmm.. Marmite. I love it on toast.

What animal would you be, and why?
It would have to be a cat, looking at my 4 its not hard work, just eating and sleeping can’t be a bad life and they never worry ‘if their bum looks big’..

How do you keep motivated?
I will stay motivated as long as people like what I’m doing. Every time I get a sale or a compliment its a HUGE boost and is what motivates me to devote almost every spare minute making and making and making some more.

What advice would you give to someone just starting out?
I can hardly claim to be a veteran but if I had to give advice it would be to learn and evolve as you go along. The jewellery I’m selling now is so different from what I was making when I first started. I’ve learnt what sells and that has influenced what I’m now concentrating my time on. The other big thing is to promote, promote and promote some more. It is such an important part of making your business a success but can be really hard work.

thanks for taking the time to chat claire, i really love your lego cufflinks! fingers and toes crossed for you here too :)

Tuesday, March 2

fatcat felt is giving a workshop!

and i'm very excited about it :)

i'll be giving an introduction to felt making workshop between 1pm and 2.30pm as part of the international women's day celebrations in perth.

international women's day is celebrated on 8th march this year and the perth voluntary group, be yourself, has organised a day of celebrations for saturday 6th, to be held at perth grammar school (gowans terrace, muirton, perth, ph1 5az).

there is a wide range of activities and workshops to choose from in the morning and afternoon, there will be stalls, children's activities, a creche and a fundraising raffle.

workshops are wide ranging, including: gift wrapping; scottish dancing; computers; creative writing; encaustic; food and mood; jewellery; nutritional medicine; scrap booking; yoga; art; digital photography; introduction to felting; 'hearts and tarts'; holiday spanish; modern jive; singing; tai chi; weaving; world of women; crystal foundation; shiatsu; aromatherapy; reiki; indian head massage; poetry scrolls; simple massage; goal setting and achieving.

so, looks like there really is something for everyone!

international women's day connects women across the world as a day of celebration and recognition of women's achievements and struggles. it has been celebrated across the world for decades, and is a national holiday in 14 countries.

be yourself hopes that women from different cultures, backgrounds and of different ages will join in the celebration.

for more information, or to book a workshop, please email perthbeyourself 'at' hotmail 'dot' com or call 01738 860430.

i look forward to seeing you there!

Monday, March 1

meet a maker monday

being the inquisitive little feltmaker that i am, i thought it might be interesting to hear about other maker's stories. so a little while ago i asked if anyone would be interested in being interviewed for my blog. i was hoping to make it a monthly feature but have been so overwhelmed by responses that it is now a weekly feature!

so, grab a cuppa, put your feet up and lets meet karen of blondedesign ...

How would you describe your work / style?
I don't have one style, I don't stick to one thing - too many ideas to try out! If I am making something something else pops into my head and I end up half doing a lot of things!

Who, or what, inspires you?
Other artists / crafters are a big inspiration, I'm liking Scandinavian style a lot at the moment, New England, POP art, Country & Coastal, shall I carry on ......... ?

Do you sell your work? If so, what helped you decide to start selling your work?
I do sell, I am on Folksy, Etsy, hunkydoryhome and soon in Lilywhites shop in West Sussex! This time last year was terrible in the sales front, but I have learnt to adapt to what people want and this year is really promising.

I started selling, after making a few bits for friends and due to my sewing room becoming over run and wanting to make more.

Where can I buy your work?
blonde design folksy shop: for you, house & home - aprons, upclyed tea cosies, upcycled purses etc
baby blonde design folksy shop: for kids and big kids alike!
blondes backyard folksy shop: supplies, buttons, pincushions, bias binding all handmade
BABYBLONDEDESIGN: as above but in $
BLONDEDESIGNS: as above but in $
BLONDESBACKYARD: just setting up....in $

Do you have a blog we can visit?
blonde design blog

How did you learn your craft? How long have you been creating?
I learnt many years ago, my father was a tailor to the regiments, and I would spend hours on a Saturday running around giant rolls of fabrics (not your shop size ones) in the basement of this huge building. Tartans for the Kilts and Bandsmen, Tweeds, Army Twills...

I then was allowed to pick my own fabrics (they were mainly for skirting / suiting) where at first my dad would make up the patterns and cut them out, and let me loose on the industrial overlockers and buttonhole makers. I even made my own school skirts, (Ha! See funny comment below).

I got my first and only sewing machine for Christmas when I was about 13 (I still use this one now........Oh my that makes the machine 25 years old! OMG)

Is there any other craft skill you would like to learn?
I would love to knit and crochet!! My mum gave up in despair when I was a child as I am left handed, she even tried to show me mirror fashion, I just couldn't get it!

Anything exciting planned for 2010 you’d like to share?
- First to set up own website, along side Folksy & Etsy.
- Do craft fairs & markets! Last year being made redundant and my father passing away didn't leave me much room to breathe, or to feel I had anything to give to anybody.
- Also working on extending the family to more than us two.......the clock is ticking away!!
- Get back to making some clothes.

Have you had any work featured in magazines/books/galleries or won any prizes/competitions?
Alas no, unless UK Handmade on line counts! But then I am not very good at entering competitions, I think this is something to strive for in 2010

I made my own gallery night selling my oil paintings in a bar, all my parents friends came got drunk and bought paintings, I came out £800 better off (those were the days!)

If I wasn’t doing this, I’d be …
Well I work full time in the construction industry (I know the two don't go together!!).

I also paint large scale oil paintings, modern flowers, which really don't sell on the web, but I get commissions from friends of friends still.

Would love to have studied fashion design, but I was talked out of it. My dad thought I would end up sitting in a sweat shop earning nothing. It comes quite natural to be able to make a pattern so this is going to be another goal for 2010, to start making more clothes.

Any funny stories you’d like to share?
I'm not really that good at telling stories but when I was about 15 years old - I did make a friend of the family a no expense spared on the fabric, very tight black fully sequined sweetheart mini dress with a zip up the back, with shoulder pads and long sleeves - can you picture it yet......anyway every time she tried it on, I had to take it in, as it wasn't tight enough for her. Trust me it was tight, and she was the equivalent to a size 4-6. Finally the night came for the hot date the Christmas do, and no the seams did not rip, she fainted due to the pressure and not being able to breath......

Describe your perfect day.
Mmmmm that could involve waking up (in Paris), a luxury hotel, a spa, manicure, pedicure (I have forgotten what these are!), a deep bubble bath with champagne (in the hotel room), being escorted by hubby to a fine dinner with fine wines, or the local buzzing bistro, and back to the hotel. Not forgetting if I could throw a bit of shopping in, no expense spared.

If not, I will settle for series 3 of Lost, a bottle of red wine and a very large bar of chocolate.

Describe your proudest moment.
Getting married.

What do you do to relax?
Sew, read, or veg out! Need to get back to the Gym...

Marmite … love it or hate it?
Love it, although peanut butter and jam is better......

What animal would you be, and why?
Hard … I think a bird so I can fly.

What’s your weakness?
Chocolate and fabrics, esp the ones out around now, its like being in a sweetie shop! Only better!

How do you keep motivated?
I find the best way is to have goals, for example book a craft fair, I then realise that I need to make to have items to have on display!

Also getting feedback, encouragement always is a winner, a little bit of praise goes a long way in the blogging world.

What do you wish you’d known when you first started out?
That making a £5 item can take as long as a £25 item!

What advice would you give to someone just starting out?
What you like isn't always what the public want to buy, take your ideas, investigate what does sell for other sellers and adapt a bit.

What question did you hope to be asked but weren’t?
Why the name blondedesign?

What would your answer have been?
Well it started off as blondedesigns, changed to blondedesign as my twin brother purchased the wrong webaddress - www.blondedesign.co.uk

Blonde because I am blonde. And it was something I gave a name to around 15 years ago even before I started selling on Etsy & Foksy. I also feel I am evolving, I love the Scandinavian style and want to see more of this in my work, photos etc, and the name kind of goes.

thanks for taking the time to chat karen :) love the story of your poor friend - your sewing must be very robust if the seams held while your friend fainted!