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Why I’m not getting gifts this Christmas

A few days ago, Mr Namasi and I sent this message to our sons:

Dad and I don’t want you to buy gifts for us, please. It will be our great pleasure to have you home for Christmas and to be able to feed and spoil you for that time time. That will be enough for us. We’re not even buying each other gifts this year, choosing instead to do some nice things together.

They have enough expenses. Now that our sons have left the nest, seeing them is beyond any of the gifts their limited budgets could stretch to. One of our sons became a student this academic year, at the age of 25. The other recently had a car accident in which his little car was totalled. That’s one part of it.

Another part is the stuff. We moved twice in a year. The first time, we shed possessions as part of the normal moving process. Then we promptly became the repository of masses of furniture as first one and then the other son moved in with us temporarily, bringing all their furniture, and then moved out into furnished places, leaving their possessions behind. The second time we moved house, we downsized significantly and shed yet more stuff. We still have more than we have space for, even after a fairly successful yard sale in the summer, and an ongoing relationship with Facebook Marketplace, local ‘for sale’ sites, Freecycle and the like.

We have reached the stage in our lives when it’s hard to choose gifts for us. Particularly if you’re on a tight budget. I mean, I’d love to attend one of Emma Mitchell’s (aka Silver Pebble) workshops, but they come with a price tag beyond the reach of pretty much everyone buying gifts for me. So the fallback tends to be gimmick gifts which raise a laugh when they are opened, and add to the general merriment of the occasion. What’s lovely about these is that they show how well a person knows you. What’s less lovely is that they tend to end up in landfill once you get past the guilt of throwing away something given to you as a gift.

Yet another part is the wrapping. Around this time of year, we begin to see articles about the environmental impact of Christmas wrapping. We are reminded to do the scrunch test, to see whether wrapping paper is recyclable.

But that doesn’t really help with the packaging the gifts come in: the boxes and plastic and tissue paper and and and.

So many aspects of Christmas can be… is unseemly the word I’m looking for? The shops become a deeply stressful place to be. The foods that no-one enjoys are served up because it’s traditional. People spend money they can ill afford on gifts for people they scarcely know. Vast quantities of alcohol are consumed to alleviate the stress of the whole business. Masses of packaging is included in the next few kerbside garbage collections.

And it needn’t be like that. Why not leave out the food no-one likes, and replace it with something you do like? Make it part of your family’s unique Christmas tapestry. Support independent shops or local makers, artisans and crafters when choosing your gifts. Explore alternative ways of wrapping gifts that don’t have a massive environmental impact.

Consider intangible gifts: indoor skydiving, a spa treatment, a tank driving experience, membership of English Heritage/National Trust.

So many posts have been written on this subject, I feel as I would just be reinventing the wheel to go on. So I’ll steer you towards this post which contains several workable suggestions.

And I’ll end with this little reminder:

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Yard sale…or quarts into pint pots

 

Our recent move to the lovely Vale of the White Horse has presented a challenge on the Karyn’s [re]Kreations front: We have downsized considerably, and the two spaces that will serve as studio and workshop currenty look like cluttered storage units with no space to work. As a result, I’m getting absolutely nothing kreative done. We’ve sold/given away some items already, but the one-by-one approach is too slow. Hence the yard sale.

Surplus curtains, furniture and decor items are up for sale. Some of my less frequently used power tools are available (planer, band saw…). Several of my kreations – including toys, jewellery, bath oils/salts and ornaments – will be on offer at clearance prices. I’m having a rifle through my stashes of fabric, yarn and crafting supplies, and will be looking to whittle them down to something more manageable in the space available to me.

Regrettably, I am not yet set up to accept card payments, so it will be cash only.

How to find us: Our post code is SN7 7RP. We’re just a couple of doors down from the lovely Fox & Hounds pub, where you can enjoy lunch or a cheeky pint or two to make a real outing of it. You’ll have no trouble spotting Barney, my faithful, battered blue van parked out front.

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The whole ‘lifestyle business’ thing

This post is my gentle request for a little more respect for lifestyle businesses. Because of the inherent flexibility that goes with such a business, I’ve noticed that people seem to forget that it is still a business: commitments and deadlines must still be met, bills must still be paid, quality standards must still be achieved.

You may be unfamiliar with the term ‘lifestyle business’. Wikipedia defines it as follows:

A business set up and run by its founders primarily with the aim of sustaining a particular level of income and no more; or to provide a foundation from which to enjoy a particular lifestyle.

On the other hand, perhaps you are familiar with the term. Perhaps you even have a lifestyle business yourself. In that case, although you probably stand to learn nothing new from this post, I’d love to hear your take on things in the comments.

A lifestyle business tends to be so much an integral part of the… well, lifestyle of the business owner, that it is impossible to tell where one ends and the other begins. It is well suited to crafters, artisans, artists, smallholders and the permaculture community. And, it is as I type these words that I realise how consistent this approach is with everything I stood for in my previous career in the field of Learning and Development ( I was all about the embedded learning/performance support approach).

People with lifestyle businesses will tend to define success somewhat differently from the many publications to be found in the self-help section. I have frequently observed that many of the programmes designed to help people become ‘successful’ seem to equate success with wealth. I guess, if your goal is to amass wealth, and you manage to do that, you have succeeded. But what if your goal is to be happy? Fulfilled? Contented? If you achieve wealth, does it follow that you are successful?

Mr Namasi will attest to the fact that I am not very good at doing nothing. When we’re travelling somewhere, if he’s driving, I’m keeping up to date with my various social media feeds, completing a killer sudoku or three, or even doing some or other handcraft in the passenger seat. The same goes for train journeys. And I am incapable of watching television with idle hands. I can complete a knitting/crochet/beading/cross-stitch project during the course of a couple of movies. Most of the pieces I make in this fashion find their way onto my Facebook page, my Folksy shop, and/or this site. Some people may view these items as the by-product of otherwise dead time. As such, there can be the expectation that they should be dirt cheap.

Lilac lacy shawl

People who buy handmade items generally respect that the time and effort that go into them must be factored in, and will usually far outweigh the cost of the materials used. But not everyone appreciates this. I once fielded a query from someone who wanted to know how I could justify charging £180 for a custom made hall stand. On another occasion, a potential client wanted me to restore some vintage toolboxes for £10 each. And one lady almost lost her eyebrows in her hairline when she saw the price tag on of one of my handmade lacy shawls (£45 – see picture).

To be honest, if I were even to pay myself minimum wage for the time spent on the pieces I make, my prices would be a lot higher. Many lifestyle businesses are charging far lower prices than they ought to, and still struggling to find buyers. Particularly those who haven’t been featured on TV, and don’t have the sort of reach and clout to be able to price our work realistically.

So, I’d like to make some suggestions about dealing with friends/family members/acquaintances with lifestyle businesses:

Quid pro quo, deals and understandings

People with lifestyle businesses are often in the fortunate position to be able to barter services:

  • I’ll give you the milk from my goat, if you’ll give me back half the resultant cheese.
  • I’ll let you display your items in this part of my shop, if you’ll mind the store x hours per week.
  • If you display some of my promotional material in your B&B, I’ll give you a commission on any resultant sales.

They may or may not put these barters through the ‘books’ – that’s a different conversation. But it’s best to ensure that both parties feel that there is parity between the quid and the quo.

Favours

If you are asking for a favour, and don’t plan to pay for it, it’s important to make sure that this is clear up front.

Do consider whether it is appropriate for you to be asking this favour, though. Is the work involved something that your friend normally charges for? If not, go ahead. If so, bear in mind that the time spent working on your favour could have been spent working on a project that generated an income. Be prepared for the possibility that your friend might turn you down. If you have asked for a favour, bear in mind that you might get bumped if a paying project comes in – everyone has bills to pay. If you want to make sure that your project is as much a priority for your friend as it is for you, the bottom line is that you need to make it worth their while. You have to buy their time.

And, no matter how close your friendship is, you’ll need to bear in mind that your friend may have existing commitments, which need to be met. Even if they wanted to drop everything and leap to your aid, it would be unprofessional of them to do so, and could harm their professional reputation. Be a good friend yourself and recognise that.

Mates’ rates

Chances are your friend is already offering you ‘mates’ rates’ when quoting you for a project. If you value your friend’s work, the best way to demonstrate that is to pay for it without quibbling over the price. If you’re able to get the same work done by someone else for a better rate, you’re naturally entitled to ask them if they’re able to match that rate (you can do this even if the business doesn’t belong to a friend). They might agree. They might not. They might have good reasons for not being able to match the other price.

If someone admires some work done by your friend, by all means, recommend your friend’s services. But don’t, for goodness’ sake, tell them what you paid. Your friend might have offered you mates’ rates, and might not be keen to offer that same price to anyone else.

Bear in mind that lifestyle businesses tend not to adhere to traditional business hours. So don’t expect work done over the weekend (or while watching TV) to be offered at a lower rate.

Share the love

If you’ve bought some gorgeous thing/had some wonderful work done by a friend with a lifestyle business, give them a shoutout: Facebook, Twitter, word of mouth. If you’re mentioning them online, link to their website or Folksy shop (or whatever it is). Keep a business card or two of theirs to hand in case you encounter someone who’s looking for the sort of thing that your friend is able to supply.

Value the gifts

If your lifestyle business owning friend gives you something they have made or done as a gift, bear in mind that they put time and effort into that piece. Whether or not they custom made it for you, they would have been able to charge someone else for it, but chose to give it to you instead. Please don’t look on it as being ‘less than’.

My son moonlights as a massage therapist. He will often give me a massage as a gift for my birthday or Christmas. Because I so seldom treat myself to a massage, and almost always need one, this is the perfect gift for me. I also recognise that he could use that time slot to give a massage to a paying customer. I don’t chat to him on a mother-son level while he is working. Because he is working, and it would be disrespectful to devalue that work by not relaxing properly and responding as I would if I were a paying client.

If you’re ever in any doubt about what would be appropriate, my best advice is: ASK!

 

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The fall and rise of handmade

I have a theory. It’s just a theory, mind – I’ve not done the actual research, and it’s all still forming in my head, but here it is:

Long ago, everything was handmade. Everything. Clothes, cooking pots, food, carts, tools, lutes and lute strings…. everything. In such a time, a crafter would strive for elusive perfection – seeking to make an item as close to flawless as possible. So a cooking pot would be as close to perfectly round as the artisan could manage, with the metal showing minimal dents and flaws. A shoe would be well-fitted, with stitching as near to uniform neatness as could be achieved by the human hand. Those capable of achieving such  near-perfection would often work their mark into the goods they made, so that customers who appreciated quality would see that mark on a much admired piece and seek out the maker, to place an order of their own.

Then came mechanisation. The perfection that machines could achieve became sought after instead. Initially, these machine-made items were comparatively scarce and expensive… and therefore eminently desirable. If you admired someone else’s dinner service, you could (as long as you had the money) get an exact copy of that service yourself. Every plate would be exactly the same size, perfectly round and absolutely flawless. If your suit of clothing was machine sewn, every stitch would be of uniform length. The tension in your machine-knitted hose would be perfect and uniform. Oh, the admiring glances you could garner with your machine tooled whatever-it-was..!

But then machine made became ubiquitous. Clothes, cooking pots, food, cars, tools, guitars and guitar strings. Everything except baskets, apparently:

From The Basket Book by Lyn Silber, click the image for a link to the book.

Nowadays, the only way to be unique, is to have things that have been handmade. And those little imperfections that show that a thing is handmade – the slightest inconsistency of tension in that scarf, the hint of unevenness in the surface of a copper pot, the smallest deviations from uniformity – those have become sought after. They speak of the person who worked on the item. They speak of a connection between the raw materials, the hands of the crafter and the enjoyment of the owner. Machines don’t think of you when they churn out their endless streams of perfection. The crafter invests him/herself into each item. Selects the materials. Takes pleasure in the making. Takes delight in your appreciation. Feels gratitude for your purchase.

We are so busy, so pressed for time. We have also moved a lot of our relationships into virtual spaces. Email, Snapchat, WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn…. And even those can be somewhat manufactured, as we choose what to reveal and conceal about ourselves in those spaces. That sense of connection to people with skin on is what has become scarce now. That whole warts-and-all thing. And we want that in our possessions as well.

The Scandinavian word ‘hygge’ has been adopted to describe that sense of connection with the real, the pleasantly imperfect. Some definitions:

Though there are many ways to describe hygge, we see it simply as the Danish ritual of enjoying life’s simple pleasures. Friends. Family. Graciousness. Contentment. Good feelings. A warm glow. ~Skagen

…a concept, originating in Denmark, of creating cosy and convivial atmospheres that promote wellbeing ~Collins English Dictionary

In essence, hygge means creating a warm atmosphere and enjoying the good things in life with good people. The warm glow of candlelight is hygge. Friends and family – that’s hygge too. There’s nothing more hygge than sitting round a table, discussing the big and small things in life. ~Visit Denmark

My theory is that:

  • We value that which is hard to come by – the whole scarcity thing in economics centres around this. If perfection is impossible, we want it. If perfection is the norm, we want a kind of imperfection which seems superior to that perfection. There’s also the cost element – machine made items are cheaper (at the moment, anyway), handmade is more expensive, ergo harder to come by, ergo more desirable.
  • We admire that which is hard to attain. The elite in China used to wear their nails long as a sign that they didn’t need to do any work. Anyone who had to work with their hands was never going to be able to grow their nails like that (and as someone who has never been able to have long, painted nails without artificial assistance, I can attest to this!) Think about standards in women’s beauty. In times/cultures when/where food is scarce, it’s the voluptuous woman who is admired. In times/cultures where food is plentiful and lifestyles sedentary, fat and lazy are easy to ‘achieve’, so our beauty standards range from painfully thin to powerfully athletic.
  • We want to feel connected – in a world where so much can be achieved remotely, we yearn to connect on a human level, and the slight imperfections in handcrafted goods speak of that humanity
  • We are becoming more conscious of our impact on the planet, and reusing, repurposing, upcycling and all those good things enable us to tread more gently upon the earth, as it were.

Thoughts? Views? Ideas?

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Lessons learned about markets

I recently posted about handmade gifts, and the items I was taking to a Christmas market in a nearby church. I worked very hard in the lead up to the market, making loads of small ticket items, ranging from £2-£20. I made sure that I had enough stock to replenish as I made sales.

It turned out to be a bust.

Stallholders spent about two hours and change, setting out our wares before the market opened. A queue of customers had started forming at the doors at 12:15. A good sign!

When Father Christmas opened the doors at 1pm, with a ring of the bell and a ‘ho ho ho’, there was a minor stampede. But the horde had a common purpose. They were not interested in the handmade jewellery, or the customised, handpainted maps of the village, or the handmade items of decor. They were all interested in only one stall: bric a brac.

Perhaps you’re not familiar with the term bric a brac. Perhaps you know it as a ‘white elephant’ sale. The village church had been receiving donations for some time. Enough of them to fill the entire stage of the village hall where the market was held. Items ranged from old handbags to lampshades to knitting needles to unidentifiable tat. Proceeds from the sale of these items were clear profit.

And that was what the crowds wanted.  The rest of us scarcely got a look in. I barely made my pitch fee back. The way in which visitors descended on the stall was unnerving. There was no actual hooliganism, but there was a certain set of jaw and single-minded focus that I found unsettling. I am fairly sure that a fair few bruises were given and received among those I observed. My stall was next to bric a brac, and I was certainly elbowed out of the way. I retreated to the other end of my own stall for safety. One lady’s walking stick was kicked under the table and she was too afraid to bend down and retrieve it. I didn’t blame her!

This wall sconce
That crocheted bag

Once the first wave had subsided, and visitors were coming up for air, a few people asked me for the prices of some of my pieces. They looked horror struck when I said that this handmade wood-and-brass wall sconce was £7.00 or that  hand crocheted pineapple bag was £20.

The items at the bric a brac stall were 50p or £1 or perhaps £2 for the higher end items. By comparison, my prices were exorbitant.

I later learned that the crowds were not shopping for Christmas gifts for loved ones. Apparently they’re ‘car booters’ on the hunt for pearls for a pound or diamonds for a dollar, and they constitute the bulk of the turnout at markets in more affluent villages. To the extent that the locals tends to stay away.

To sum up:

  • I made my pitch fee back, so that’s something.
  • I still have the stock, and perhaps there are buyers out there for it.
  • I will be listing items here as soon as that part of the site has been constructed, but it is unlikely that I will make many more sales pre-Christmas.
  • I will continue to look into the market stall idea for some of my smaller ticket pieces, but any market that includes a bric a brac or white elephant stall is out. The people who shop there don’t want what I’ve got.
  • This is a learning curve, and I embrace the lessons learned and move forward from them.
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Local craft-and-coffee

A few months ago, Mr Namasi and I moved from a town with an estimated population of 50,000 (75,000, if you include the rest of the borough) to a village with a population of fewer than 900. There is no shop, no post office, and only one pub in the village.

And I love it. I’d like to see out my days here.
We have made an effort to engage with the community: attending the various functions at the local church, eating in the local pub, joining the FB group, etc. I started a chapter of nextdoor, a UK based online community site, which automatically connects members within close proximity to each other.
I also started a monthly craft-and-coffee. Although I offer 1:1 and small group sessions, for which I charge, I also wanted to have some sessions which were just about engaging and sharing.
So far, we’ve had three get-togethers. For the first one, we each brought our own projects and talked about what crafts we like to do. One of the ladies brought along a beautiful mixed media wall hanging she’d made.
So, for the next session, we explored that. Here are the two pieces I made (I should point out that I continued the work at home – I didn’t manage all that in two hours!)
Mixed media cushion cover
‘Garden’ (now framed and for sale)
Yesterday was our third session, and we made Madonna-and-child models out of reclaimed materials (and polyfilla). I had made one of these some years ago, so I was able to concentrate on guiding the rest of the group through the process. It was wonderfully messy, and the results are now drying in my studio, where they will be collected when ready to be transported.
Have a look at these photos and see if you can identify where and how each of the following items has been used:
  • piece of MDF or stiff card
  • 2l plastic bottle
  • newspaper
  • plastic shopping bags
  • dowel stick or length of bamboo
  • old cotton bed sheet
  • wire coathanger
Not looking like much, yet

 

Getting there

And here they are, drying in my studio.

 

 

 Next time, we’ll be making needle felted robins, like this one. Because I don’t have the equipment to facilitate this one myself, I have enlisted the aid of Eve Louise Newman (Eve’s Gifted Paradise).
If you’re local to the Wellingborough/Kettering area, and would like to join in, please contact me to find out more.
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Link love digest: week 9

Looking back over last week’s daily link love shares.

Julia Horberry
Julia’s Driftwood Furniture and Lighting

Julia’s Driftwood Furniture and Lighting

My passion for Driftwood was born when I discovered and fell in love with Cornwall.

Walking along the beautiful beaches provide me with, what I can only describe as ‘Treasure’. The moment that I pick up that piece of wood I know exactly what it’s going to be, the climb back up the cliff with a heavy backpack full of wood is all part of the fun.

Having an outlet for my creations is more of a relief than a job; I have so many ideas constantly filling my head.

I am self taught with only a background in creative den building, Born in East Yorkshire and moving (escaping) to Cornwall in 1994. Yorkshire made me practical and Cornwall give me the freedom to create; the two together make a good combination.

I make a wide range of furniture, lighting and home accessories from Driftwood and other recycled materials.

I’ve been doing this for 22 years (half my life), but I turned it into a business back in 2008.
All my driftwood is hand picked in Cornwall and sometimes Devon if I am brave enough to cross the Border :-).

Lesley Jane Nixon

Maid on the Moors


Maid on the Moors

After spending 12 years as a hot glass artist, making beads for artisan jewellery designers, I have been somewhat seduced by the beauty of semi precious gemstones.

I used to collect pretty stones as a child … still do … now I make pretty things with them too.

All of my jewellery is hand created using copper and sterling silver wire and beautiful gemstones.

Kate Cook
Vandalised with Love

At Vandalised with Love, we love to bring you something different. Creative Acts of Vandalisation, be it from elegant flower hair clips or sophisticated fascinators and crowns, to crazy fun hatinators, accessories and unique and interesting pieces for your home.
We can also custom re-design (‘vandalise with love’) your own shoes –  you buy the shoes or send us your old, scuffed shoes and send them to us.

Vandalised with Love

 Perfect to revamp your old but comfortable shoes and make them match your outfit.  Prices start from £35 when you send us your shoes. We will ‘vandalise’ them with love and return free of charge. All of our shoes are handcrafted to order, ensuring each piece is unique.

We also make shoe clips, clutch bags and fascinators to enhance and match your shoes. Take a look through our pages for inspiration and feel free to contact us with any questions.
We cover shoes using the French art known as decoupage. Thin layers of beautiful specialist paper, sealed and varnished with high quality materials; surfaces are therefore not entirely smooth but have a lovely unique finish.
All our treasures are one-offs and ‘vandalised with love’ just for you.

Christianna
Mes Amies Soaps

Mes Amies

I discovered my passion for making my own vegan soaps after I tried a delightful handmade bar of soap from a Wiccan store in New Orleans, Louisiana.

I am committed to using all natural, high quality ingredients, sourced from around the globe. Charity is also a very important aspect of my business vision: one bar of soap is donated to a local homeless shelter for every 10 bars purchased.

I’m happy to be sharing my passion for soapmaking with you and I hope you love my soaps just as much as I do! 

??

Turquoise kilim

Turquoise Kilim

I have been unable to fins out anything about this person, other than that he lives in Turkey. I can’t even find a name. But his beautiful kilims deserve a mention, just the same.

Emma Louise Corry
Emma Corry Designs

Emma Corry Designs

Emma Louise Corry is a textile designer and maker, who lives in Marcham, Oxfordshire, with her husband, daughter, two cats and a hamster. Emma creates beautiful pieces using carefully chosen new and upcycled fabric with attention to detail, colour and design.

Emma remembers the first time she borrowed her mother’s Elna sewing machine, she was about 8 years old. Emma spent a long time teaching herself to thread it and sew with it. Recently Emma bought the same model, as it evokes so many lovely memories. Emma has always been creative – her mother tells stories of handmade paper being made in her blender and printing wrapping paper on the kitchen floor – but Emma’s love of textiles really began when she started her two-year diploma at Worthing College for Art and Design in 1984.

After Emma’s diploma, she completed a three-year degree course in Fashion and Textiles at Leicester Polytechnic, followed by a two-year MA in Woven Textile Design at the Royal College of Art in London. Graduating in 1991 – Emma was only 20 years old! After leaving the RCA, Emma worked as a freelance textile designer for a short period, then for Monsoon, followed by a job designing window displays for a family run business. Emma started her own greetings card company, specialising in handmade cards. Now that has grown into Emma Corry Designs, which Emma runs from her studio at home, whilst also organising ‘Stitch and Sew’ clubs for primary school children and giving textile support to ‘A’ level students.

Little make

Becky Berry
Little Make

I live and work in our little home in Salisbury, England with my family.

My inspiration at the moment is coming from nature and the animal kingdom. My biggest inspiration is bears and not forgetting my two little girls who help spark my imagination.

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Link love digest: week 8

In what has proved to be a fairly hectic week, here are the makers and crafters I promoted. Almosty all this week’s crafter’s have chosen to keep a low profile, sharing little about themselves online, preferring to let their work to speak for them.

Sue Harold
La Costurera

Unique bridal couture, mothers of the bride/groom, proms and casual clothing

La Costurera

Nikki Meara
Nikelcards

Nikki has shared nothing of her personal story that I can find, but her cards are lovely, so she gets a mention.

Nikelcards

Paul Bentley
Bentley Bespoke Wooden Items

Handmade bespoke wooden items to suit the needs of the buyer.

Bentley Bespoke

Maxine Pring
Max Pring Jewellery

I have been making jewellery for several years gradually learning my trade since 2009.

Max Pring Jewellery

I am primarily self taught and started out making classic designs using beads and string developing my skills through practice and gradually progressed into metalsmithing in the past year.

I usually start with basic metal sheet in either copper or silver and then cut, sand, hammer, drill and polish my work to create unusual designs. I often draw my designs on my i-pad first then sit down with my tools to turn the sketch into a piece of jewellery.

I also love to work with unusual gemstones and try to incorporate my own metal components or wire wire wrapping, these tend to be organic with the design built up around the stones.

Most of my work is one of a kind and rarely repeated. As well as jewellery I also love to paint and create mixed media work and scrapbooks. You can find these in my other Folksy Shop Paper, Chains & Beads. 

Heather Veach
I Dream of Jane

Unique, handmade dream catchers from the Pacific Northwest.

I dream of Jane

Julie Maginn
Dewdrop Cards and Crafts

Handmade on and inspired by the beautiful Isle of Wight.

Dewdrop

Gintare Kersiene
GK Natural Creations

Pure natural handmade soaps and bath products.

GK Natural Creations
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Link love digest: week 7

Here is the summary of the makers and crafters I promoted this week. Several of them have display space in Grace and Favours in Northampton. So you have two ways to support them: visit their online spaces or pop in to the shop. 

Remember: when you buy from an independent maker, a real live person does a little happy dance.

Laura and Carly
Butter Bee Creative
Handmade cards and other small craft items in aid of the refurbishment of the chemotherapy suite at Northampton General Hospital.

Butter Bee Creative
Laura and Carly began raising money for the Chemotherapy Suite after Carly lost her Nan to cancer in August 2014. Andrea was very keen to raise money herself for the new unit and began stitching items when she was in hospital. 

Leading on from this, we’d really like to raise as much money as possible for such a great cause.

Deema
Deema Delights

Real petal confetti, accessories, decor, scented petals, wedding favours, bath bombs, cards.
Deema Delights
Deema started collecting petals for confetti in 2016 when she fell in love with the fluttery nature of Cherry Blossom in the Spring! Her business has now grown to include a co-operative of pickers and stylists who help to create vibrant petal mixes, favours, cards, gifts and accessories, all hand-made, seasonal and to order, perfect for any celebration!

Take some of the stress and decision making out of planning a wedding by letting me help with those finishing touches. Together, we can create beautiful memories that will last you a life time! What better way to start your married life together?

Beautifully Bespoke Confetti, gifts, cards and accessories taken care of just for you. Memorable, unique, colourful and fun!

Pebble Crafts

Becky
Pebblecrafts

Beautiful hand-crafted decorations and gifts. Any quotes on slate hearts for very reasonable prices gifts and favours. Bespoke orders accepted.

Emma Wootton
The Velvet Company
A collection of beautiful Room Scents in a simple yet elegant English style.

The Velvet Company

Hand poured, using the finest scents and soya wax at our location in Northamptonshire, England, we offer a indulgent and sophisticated choice of candles and room scents .  We pride ourselves in every detail with each candle and room scent, we believe that every product should arrived beautifully wrapped in its own gift box, so treat yourself or someone special to a gorgeous scent which will give your room the most beautiful scent, with the added effect of our crackle wick candles giving the soothingly crackle when lit  of a relaxing ambiance of an open fire.

In addition to our our gorgeous candles,we also offer gift boxes for those who are looking for something extra to go with their candle.

TLC

Theresa Meen
TLC (Theresa’s Lovely Crafts)
Mixed media artist.
A small selection of my art is based in Grace & Favour shop.
Also able to do commissions too.

Janette
Iddy Biddy Boutique

Iddy Biddy Boutique


I used to have a sensible job . . . then a house bunny, oh and two children came along! I needed a job I could do at home. As I had been bending wire, making and selling earrings since I was 18 (oh so many moons ago!) and I adore Jewellery, it seemed a natural progression to further develop my silversmithing skills and start my own jewellery making business.
Iddy Biddy Boutique was born!

I like to think my designs are fresh & funky, with an organic yet modern twist! I create jewellery in mostly silver and copper. I like to oxidise the metals, adding spirals and swirls where I get the chance . . . love them! More recently, I am working with gemstones in my designs . . . ooh so many lush ones to choose from!

All of my designs are original. I get my inspiration and ideas from absolutely everywhere! My head is constantly bombarded with ideas for my next creation.

After all these years, my favourite place to be is still in my workshop (kitchen!) with my tools and bunny by my feet! I absolutely love what I do and I think that is evident in every piece I make.

I sell online, at local Craft Fairs around the North Devon area and my work can also be found at the following venues:
Willows in Braunton & Barnstaple
ID Fashion in The Royal William Yard, Plymouth
Traditsia in Totnes
Dream Jewellery in Tavistock Market.

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Grace and Favours

I’ve been alluding to and hinting about this for a while, so perhaps it’s about time I explained.

My friend Julie has set up a shop in Northampton called Grace and Favours. It opens its doors to the public tomorrow: Tuesday, 7 Feb 2017. It isn’t something she expected to be doing at this point in her life, but that’s a story for another time.

Grace and Favours will sell and hire out party, wedding and event decor, gifts and accessories. A selection of independent makers and crafters of related items have been given the opportunity to sell their wares through the store.

[This is probably the appropriate point to tell you that Julie is arguably the most gracious person I know. She has done a great deal – at significant literal and metaphorical cost to herself – to improve the lot of others in the Northampton area.]

The reason that I haven’t written about anything much on this blog lately, is that I have been very busy helping Julie get the store ready. The two of us – especially Julie – have been hard at work. We:

  • Removed wall tiles relating to the previous business
  • Painted the whole store
  • Painted so many other items, I’ve lost track
  • Sourced vintage items suitable for hire, and travelled hither and yon to collect them
  • Gave abovementioned items some TLC where necessary
  • Spent large amounts of (Julie’s) money at hardware stores, craft supply stores, fabric stores, Preloved, eBay… the list goes on
  • Assembled a photo booth
  • Built an upcycled service counter
  • Strung more fairy lights than you can shake a stick at
    More fairy lights than you can shake a stick at
  • Made and installed display spaces for the various traders
  • Crafted all manner of small items to include in the stock: heart shaped trinket boxes, doggy bandannas, badges, tealight holders…
  • Fetched, carried, assembled, drilled, hammered, painted, lugged, sweated
  • Drank a lot of Diet Coke (with citrus splash in my case – Jules prefers the original)
  • Lost sleep
  • Injured ourselves (especially me) with various sharp and/or heavy things
  • Sang along to the music emanating from my phone on the dock in the corner
  • Shed tears of frustration, anguish, pain, and – fortunately – laughter

So, as you can see, it’s been a bit hectic!

In my personal capacity, I will be working in the store part time in order to help Julie get established. In my capacity as ‘Karyn’s Kreations’ I will offer 1:1 ‘krafting’ sessions and group workshops. I will also ‘kreate’ stock for the store. My alter ego, ‘your friendly upsycho’ will upcycle things to order for the business as required. In time, we will see how it all balances out.

If you’re local to the Northampton area, or find yourself in the area for any reason, pop in and say hi.