Leaning tower of books…

I feel like today’s post is a bit of an interlude (should there be a photo of a potter’s wheel here?!) but I am trying to get a grip on things at the moment, not in a bad way, but there are many things, in general, that I have been putting off and it’s time to get on with them, in order to stop me from feeling like this

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In the last few days I have booked appointments with the doctor and dentist, finally bought soil needed to get the garden seedlings started and next on the list, I want to clear the piles of all sorts that cover the surfaces of my studio so I can properly get back to work.

There are:

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books, many from my Birthday and Christmas that are waiting to be read or have been already, and need putting away;

DSC_0032(you may think these photos are staged, they are in that I cleared a bit of desk to photograph them on, but otherwise they have been sat here for weeks, just hidden under mountains of fabric and threads…and my desk really isn’t all that big!)

DSC_0037vintage jumpers and skirts, also dumped in my studio waiting for any needed repairs, or cleaning, and that probably need to be packed up for next winter now.

DSC_0039Vintage patterns waiting to be sorted through.  This is most of my stash, collected over many years and it’s in dire need of a good tidy.

I’m also going to decide, in the coming days, whether to change how I work.  Basically, I might skip summer sewing altogether and in doing so only work on autumn/winter products.  I know that in the professional world that’s how it’s done and I can see the advantages, how wonderful, come September (after the long school holidays when sewing becomes abandoned) to be ready to go, with work complete, photos taken and items already listed?

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The downside is I am generally quite influenced by the weather, I’m not sure I can be thinking of Christmas in the balmy (yes, yes, this is the UK so I might be dreaming here) summer days and from a blogging point of view I would perhaps feel I should keep things hidden until the proper season before posting about them, which would feel restrictive as it’s never as much fun writing about making in retrospect.  It would also mean there wouldn’t be new items in the shop for some time, a problem as it’s quite important for me to keep it updated.  Ho-hum, one to think on there.

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As it is, I am happier to have some more space around me now, both physically and mentally,  it makes me feel I can breathe more easily…if you ignore the air pollution warnings we currently have and resulting Sahara sand being dumped all over the place.  I was a bit amazed to see the plumes of dust rise into the air when a fat little wood-pigeon landed on the trees in our garden a moment ago, there was so much that I genuinely thought next door had lit a garden fire…most might have noticed the sand and dust on their car but ours is always so filthy I just considered that normal ;) .

Lastly, I just pledged some money on Kickstarter for the wonderful project called ‘Lightcase’.

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Which, to use the designers (Dominic Crinson and Brenna Jensen) own words, is:

“Lightcase is basically a mini photographic studio that gives you a quick, affordable and low-tech way to get clear, sharp and well lit photos. We designed it especially for creatives selling in the various online marketplaces such as Etsy, Folksy, Made it, Zibbet, Ebay… but it’s also a great tool for bloggers and for social marketing on sites like Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Tumblr and just about anywhere you need great photos of what you do.”

Fabulous idea…could do with being a bit bigger for me, but is still too good to miss.  If you fancy knowing more you can read about it here and pledge here.  Clearly I now have a vested interest in their raising enough pledges but I also thought it was a great idea generally for sharing.

Oh, in case you wondered, the little birds are typical of the random (but precious, to me) ‘junk’ that fills my world and I couldn’t resist photographing them before they were put away :)

 

Mojo?

I started writing a couple of posts recently, but quite frankly on re-reading them they sounded so whiny and glum I’ve decided to scrap them and start again.  Basically, I’m still trying to hunt down my mojo.  Lots of bad things keep happening to good people I know and I’m struggling a bit with the whole life isn’t very fair thing.  Still, for my immediate family, life is good, we have no complaints and on the sewing front, I’ve decided that part of my slump is that dreaded sense of ‘the list’ not reducing, in that I’ve got things I know I need to make but just don’t feel like it, so I sit in my studio and half heartedly stare at them, not really making progress but feeling that I can’t go and work on something more fun.

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Sod that.  Today I decided to work on things that I’m actually interested in, which means beaded spiders, sequined black silk and getting the acorns finished.  At least this way, I might miss Easter (again!…heck I managed new Flower Brooches and Lavender Birds in time for Mother’s Day, so it’s not all a disaster) but I will be waaaaaaay ahead come next autumn.

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On the subject of Mother’s Day, this arrived today and it contains…

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a little sweet gift from me, to me, because I’m worth it.  M is away so I’ll be begging the boys for a lie in past 6am, come Sunday, and I’m hoping with a little xbox bribery I might get to at least sit in bed drinking coffee and scoffing chocolates, whilst pretending I can’t hear them argue.

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I other news, I’ve had a birthday since I last blogged and in the new tradition I got frocked up for a day in London, courtesy of my generous sister; browsing shops, eating lunch in Liberty’s and then going to the Opera.  It was great.  Also, a new tradition of recent birthdays, I took a photo, as I pretty much never take photos of myself as I don’t like having my photo taken but think the once-a-year shot is a good record of me getting older time passing.  In this case I asked M to do it…..where? no not here, the sun is too bright and there’s a wheelbarrow of garden rubbish in the background?  Sorry, it’s fine?  It wont show in the photo?  Ok husband-of-mine who is a MUCH better photographer than me…..that he might well be but he’s crap at choosing backdrops.  I love this skirt, it’s from Viviene of Holloway and the shoes are Chie Mihara (of course!).

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Oh and I also took a glitzy bag by Orla Kiely that I’m in love with.  I don’t get out much, so when I do I really enjoy dressing up.  Sad, I know.

Right, I will attempt to catch up on replying to comments, reading my blog list and proper regular sewings posts again soon :)

You Win Some…

And sadly, some you lose :(DSC_0149

I buy a lot of my vintage clothing from the US and I’m lucky in that it mostly works out.  This 1950′s dress cost a pretty penny and was described as ‘excellent’ in its (vintage) condition but sadly it’s not.  I had already left positive feedback for the seller, one I’ve used many times, but when I came to give it a good iron and decided if it needs a dry clean, I noticed loads of badly mended holes, including some patched that actually rather ruin the dress.  Shame.  We’ll just have to chalk that one down to experience.

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On a happier note, whilst perusing the net for Chie Mihara shoes (I do this often, I’m afraid) I found these beauties on one of those aggregated shopping sites, one last pair left, in my size for a silly low price (for Chie Mihara shoes) and I went for it.  They came from Saks NY and were bought using the Borderfree system where all taxes are pre-paid in advance.  It was  a thoroughly pleasant shopping experience and they arrived in record time.

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Another lovely bit of shopping, these cosmetic bags using vintage tapestry bought from the Etsy shop EllaOsix.  I saw them on the fabulous blog modflowers and couldn’t resist buying a couple (one is for a gift and has been squirreled away).  How did I manage before internet shopping existed – ha ha!  I joke, but I pretty much never go clothes shopping for myself in actual shops, I have no patience for it and know what I like and tend to wait for bargains on-line. 
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What else?  Oh World Book Day.  This year we had to provide a hat with an Alice in Wonderland theme, I’ll be honest and say we cobbled this together at the weekend, really very quickly using some cheap hats bought on Amazon.  Half the kids in school were wearing top hats with card decorations.

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The addition of some Linen Cat bits was purely because they were to hand, F wanted some red roses on his and C needed a ‘doormouse’ for his teapot (which is a sneak peek of a design for next winter).   Job done.  Only ‘Tudor Day’ and school play costumes to go.
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Lastly this little lady is giving me a run for my money.  She’s been back and forth to the vets due to weight loss and sickness.  So far they can’t find what’s wrong with her and as she finds going there traumatic there is a limit to what I’ll expose her to.  I can feel her time is coming an end, she’s 16 and I’m slightly dreading her leaving, for now she just follows me around all day sitting as closely as she can.

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Since I wrote this (a couple of days ago) Smelly has perked right up!  I think it’s the sunshine, perhaps she was just suffering from SAD and needed to roll in dust baths and stalk around the garden in the long grass :)

Red Arrow Auricula Brooches…

As the title suggests, I’ve made another batch of auricula brooches, this time based on the lovely Red Arrow variety.  I’d like to show a photo of the blooms but I can’t find one that is copyright free and for some reason, when you google it the page is littered with images of open surgery, amongst the flowers, it’s putting me off my coffee so I’ve stopped hunting.  Trust me, Red Arrow looks a bit like this:

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Bright red and white with a sunny yellow spot in the middle.

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I’m trying to improve my photography and not just take temporary shots that I hope to replace later, as I never do, but my knowledge is limited and I relay on the decent camera I once ‘borrowed’ from my husband to do most of the work for me.

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I know I mentioned it a while back, but Create now allow Pro users to have three images (it used to be just one) and they are high res, I am sooooooo excited about this and am in the process of updating my site.  I had found a fix for the single image problem by adding extra ones in the text area of the product description, but the new solution is so much better and makes me feel happier to stay with Create as a hosting company as they get so many other things right, including their customer service (this is all just my opinion, clearly, I don’t get anything back for saying nice things!).  As I’ve been slowly going through all my images in iPhoto, seeing which ones really need to be re-taken, I can clearly see how much my editing has improved, which is great but there are big gaps in my knowledge so on-line tutorial or two wouldn’t go amiss.

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I wanted to get these listed before Mother’s Day, just in case anyone is interested….I’d be very happy to get a nice handmade brooch, or a lavender bag, or better still an apron!  As it is, M is away so I’ve pre-ordered myself a box of edible goodies as a treat and hope to persuade the boys to allow me to sit in bed and drink coffee.  You never know.  I suspect they will join me with laptops and endless watching of ‘Stampy’ Minecraft YouTube videos – I bet half those with young kids reading this know exactly what I’m talking about.DSC_0191

I’m considering changing how I stage my photos, I need to have a play but I’m edging towards using my Great Aunt Florence’s books or maybe some of my Gran’s sewing things (like bright wooden cotton reels) as props.  I need to present a coherent collection of images though, so more thought is needed.

The new brooches are listed here and soon to be on Folksy (when I get my act together and update my shop there).

Red Flower Lavender Birds…

Thanks for the response to yesterday’s post.  I should probably have been clearer, in that I do still intend to post process photos but I think I’ll be a bit more mindful of which ones I choose, I’d find it quite difficult to write an interesting blog if I didn’t talk about my work in full so I can’t see me stopping and I’m sorry to read (but sadly, not surprised) so many of you have also suffered from your work being copied.

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At the beginning of the year, when I pulled out my summer stock to see where the gaps were, I was a bit shocked at how few lavender birds I had left.  These used to be one of my staple designs, always a best seller but in terms of selling a slight pain as they are stuffed to order, to keep the lavender smell fresh and ideally, I prefer things to be finished and labeled ready to go.  Interestingly, the sale of these has dropped off quite a bit in the past year, I think it’s partly down to my not introducing many new colour versions so I thought I had better correct that.

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I’ve started with some ‘Pam Kitty Happy Dot’ by Holly Holderman for Lake House Dry Goods as the bright colours mix well with my summer stock.  I think I bought this with linen mice in mind and they would make cute dresses, so maybe if I have time I’ll run a few up later.

DSC_0171I’ve rather heavily processed this last image, it’s a bit grainy so would benefit from being taken again in better light, but I feel the need to get things listed, especially with Mother’s Day coming up (is it the day of the Mother, singular or the day of Mothers plural, I never can decided!).

Ah wonderful, after a very chilly start the sun has come out, time to set the tripod up and try to get some photos taken, best make hay and all that :)

Oh and they are here.

 

The Owls Are Back…!

It’s been a while since I made a batch of owl lavender bags (2011 was the last time, I believe), they were one of my first designs and I got a bit bored with making them, to be honest.

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But as tends to happen, I suddenly missed them so though I’d make some more.

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I’d planned to take lots of making photos, but they were mostly stitched in the recent damp period, otherwise known as Rainageddon and dark skies make for crappy photos.  Also, I’ve had a couple of totally blatant copying issues recently, thankfully easily sorted but still upsetting and it makes me feel nervous of how much I want to reveal about my making process here on the blog.  I’d feel sad not to show the usual photos, but I can’t help but notice people often pin them on their ‘going to make for the next craft fair’ boards and I’m not talking about the pretty final product shots, I am talking about the images of inside out rabbits etc, so they are clearly being pinned to help work out how to best copy my work and it makes me think that maybe I shouldn’t reveal so much here, as often the construction is half the battle of working out a design.  I’m getting paranoid in my old age (not that it would take that much effort to work out how to copy this owl and I’m talking about other designers openly claiming an exact copy of my work as their own on promotional sites, not people just making a version for themselves).

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Ah the stack photo, as always it makes me very happy :)

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I’ve started to take new photos of all my current stock, especially as Create have finally changed to high res images THANK GOD!! I tell you, my main gripe with their otherwise excellent web hosting service was the awful compressed image quality, for an ‘art’ based seller of any kind it’s a deal beaker really.

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You can find them here.