Friday, 22 May 2015

Silver Ring Workshop

Last month was my baby sister's birthday (I say baby, she is now 23 years old!) and I took her out to a silver ring making workshop for her present. Held at Drink Shop Do in Kings Cross (I am obsessed with the place, I've been there about four times in the past month!) the workshop is run by Workbench London, and basically you get a wax ring blank to carve however you'd like. The girls at Workbench then take your carved blank and use it to make a mold from which your silver ring is then cast. HOW AWESOME IS THAT?!?!?! You can create a totally one of a kind piece of silver jewellery to treasure forever.

Me and Jadie both made two rings each because we are super greedy - it took us ages to decide how to carve them as we stupidly hadn't really thought about it before we got there! We were so absorbed in carving our rings that the three hours literally flew by - you wouldn't believe how long you can spend carving out one little ring. I decided to make both of mine fairly chunky, as I already own quite a few thin rings. The first ring is chunky and faceted and looks very handmade which I really love. The second has a v-shaped chevron on the front and is a lot smoother, but still has some of the marks in from where I was carving.

The finished rings arrived a few days ago, and I could not be happier at all. They are so beautifully tactile, I haven't really taken them off since I got them! If you're looking for a fun evening or craft activity I cannot recommend Workbench London enough. They are so super friendly and accommodating (even when I annoyingly had to cancel our first booking as my mum was recovering from her op), and so patient even when my sister managed to break one of the rings she was carving!

Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Springtime Flower Walks

My favourite thing about Spring is all the blossom and flowers everywhere. On my walks to and from the school to pick up Miss Phoebe I've been trying to snap photos of the nature around us so I can cling onto Spring even after it has gone!


Sorry for the photo overload! Once I start snapping I find it quite difficult to stop. This week looks set to be a busy one, with lots of market prep, and working on new products, so I doubt I will get to go outside much, but that's okay because I'm a bit of a recluse really....

Sunday, 17 May 2015

Happy Toadstool Gifts

Each time I do Renegade Craft Fair I like to give little gifts to my stallholder friends - usually these are Christmas gifts, as the fair is in November or December, but this one was a Spring fair, so I wanted to make something that felt in keeping with the season. I've been on a real toadstool kick lately (well, all my life really but, y'know!) and decided to mix it up a bit and make them in pastel colours. I settled on wooden toadstool brooches, little twine wrapped toadstools, plus I popped in a little motivational quote keyring.

I know it seems a bit smarmy to give out gifts without any real reason - I always get a bit embarrassed and feel like people either a) won't like them, or b) will think I am a bit of a loser! But honestly this handmade community means absolutely everything to me, and I want to give back to it as much as possible in as many ways as I can!

 I got the plywood toadstool blanks online - I'd been eyeing them up for a while and this seemed the perfect excuse to buy some! They are all painted by hand, which took quite a while, but was quite therapeutic. The twine wrapped toadstools are made by glueing a wooden split ball on top of a wooden thread spool (both of which I had already) then painting, and wrapping in a matching colour twine. They turned out better than I imagined - I love that they're practical as you can use the twine, and also decorative.

When I posted about the toadstool goodies on Instagram they got a lot of love from you guys, so in my next mini shop update I will have some toadstool themed goodie boxes if you want to grab some bits and bobs of your own.

Saturday, 16 May 2015

Crochet Jar Cozies

One of the new products I had at Renegade were these crochet jar cozies - I found the pattern online and adapted it slightly, and made a couple for myself to cover some boring plant pots. When I posted photos of them on Instagram though everyone loved them, and it gave me the idea to make a few to sell too. I made two sizes - one for larger jars which became sippy cups with reusable straws, and one for smaller jars which held succulents and cacti. Most of them are bears, made in pastel colours, but I also couldn't resist making a Totoro version too because TOTORO (obvs!)

I will have some of these at my upcoming fairs, plus I will be doing a small shop update in a few weeks time, which will include crochet jar cozies, vinyl decal bottles, plus some other bits and pieces! Check back here for updates, and make sure you sign up for our email newsletter (there is a link in the sidebar on the right) which will email you with the sale date nearer the time.

Friday, 15 May 2015

Paper Animal Puppets

The lovely folk over at Ohh Deer invited me to run a workshop at their stand at Pick Me Up a few weeks back. I love any excuse to get creative and meet people, so obviously I jumped at the chance! The hardest part was deciding what to do - it couldn't be anything too messy, too time consuming, too difficult (in case children wanted to join in), and didn't cost too much in materials! I wanted something that involved making something from paper, and let people customise it to fit with their own tastes. In the end I settled on making paper animal puppets - we made these at primary school and I loved the idea of taking something quite childish and making it a bit cool and grown up.

I cut out a bunch of animal templates (I chose foxes, rabbits, and birds) from thin card, and provided a bunch of colouring pencils, pens, plus coloured card and glue for people to decorate their animals with. Then it was simply a matter of piecing the puppets together using paper fasteners. Obviously the best bit was decorating examples to use at the workshop - I may have gotten a little carried away!

Renegade Round Up

Its been almost a month since Renegade, and I'm only just getting round to blogging these photos. Oops! This was the first time they've held one in the UK during Spring (they are normally just near Christmas) and I was really unsure about whether many people would come/buy stuff, but it turned out to be AWESOME! Lately I have been really questioning what direction I want to take the business - some of the craft fairs I have done recently have not been very profitable at all (even ones that I normally do super well at) and I feel as though this may be because I do so many, and because the same people tend to come to these events so have seen my stuff and aren't necessarily feeling the need to purchase.

So for Renegade I decided to trial some new products to diversify a bit. Because you get such a large space, it means I could have my 'regular' stock out but also put some new things out as well to gauge the reaction. The main things I trialled were some of my ceramic animal necklace, my new vinyl slogan bottles (which you can see in the photo above), and crocheted jar cozies. Everyone seemed to LOVE them and we sold tons - we sold so many bottles on the first day that I had to go home and make even more for the next day.

I met so many lovely people over the two days, and didn't even get a chance to go round and take photos of other stalls. I'm always overwhelmed by how many people come along to say hi and introduce themselves, and how many familiar faces I get to see. It is hands down my favourite part of doing events, and makes me so so happy! So thank you to all the lovelies that dropped by - you made my weekend.

I am still working on my new business plan - with everything that has been going on it's a long process, and one that has been really difficult as I want this business to work so much, and it's hard when aspects don't go to plan! The main things I'm going to be working on are having mini shop updates with new products that are very limited edition, therefore allowing me to try new techniques, and doing more new events around the UK to expand my reach. I'll be talking more about these changes next week, and about what has prompted me, plus a bit of advice for others that are maybe in the same situation!

Thursday, 14 May 2015

Pick Me Up 2015

 I am so behind on blogging it's embarrassing. Life has gotten on top of me lately, and so many jobs have fallen by the wayside, including blogging. And once you get out of the loop a bit, it seems to be such a slippery slope, as you see everyone else doing such great things, and there is a lot of self-pity and questioning your ability. But consider this my attempt to get back in the game! Here are some pics from this year's Pick Me Up. I was there on business (running a workshop for Ohh Deer for the day - more on that in the next few days) so only had a quick poke around, and wasn't overly impressed actually. I've been every year for the last four or five years, and this year there just didn't seem to be as much to look at....

Ha, that little cardboard guy in the last photo was probably my favourite thing I saw - now I want to make loads and drag them around with me! Did anyone else visit Pick Me Up this year? What did you think? Also thanks to everyone who sticks around and reads this blog even though I am super flakey and unpredictable.

Modern Calligraphy Workshop

You may have noticed that lately I've been going to a LOT of workshops and classes, learning new skills and techniques. One of my goals for 2015 was to try lots of new craft-based things, plus since breaking up with my boyfriend I've had more free time, and have been eager to keep myself as busy as possible to take my mind off things. A few weeks ago I attended a modern calligraphy workshop at Drink Shop Do in Kings Cross. Organised by Quill London, the class was led by Imogen Owen, who is an established calligrapher and also runs her own letterpress studio!

 Quill London provided all the materials needed to get started, and we were able to take them home too which was awesome as then you can get practising right away without worrying about ordering the correct supplies. To start off with Imogen had us doing simple excercises to get used to creating thick and thin strokes, before moving on to writing out the alphabet, following a guide they had created for us. Calligraphy is definitely one of those things that looks so so simple, but is so difficult to do really well! Imogen gave us several demonstrations of her calligraphy skills, and everyone was oohhing and ahhhing with jealousy at how good she was!

 Finally we picked a word to practise writing out, learning how to join letters together and add our own personal touches and flourishes. I wrote out the word 'sweetie' purely because I liked the way the letters looked together.

Quill London run a number of different workshops, including Beginner's Modern Calligraphy (for those who have never done any before), Level 2 Calligraphy (for once you've done a beginner's class and want to progress), and also a Brush Lettering class, which I am going to next month. It was a super informative class, but calligraphy requires a LOT of practice to get anywhere near good enough at! I've been trying to practice as much as possible, and can't wait to share some more of my work with you....