Monthly Archives: August 2012

Thursday Showcase No. 7 Betsy Cat

Welcome once again to the Thursday Showcase. Today we have the very lovely Betsy Cat – someone who I should imagine in real life would be the perfect person to have a nice cup of tea and biscuit and proper chinwag with! Have a read and see if you agree…

1. Whats yer name and where d’ya come from?! Hello! I’m Vicky and i live in Exeter where I run my own business “Betsy Cat”, designing and making applique canvas artwork for children.

2. How long have you been doing what you do, and how did you get into it? It all started just before i had my daughter Betsy in December 2010 – I made a few canvases for her nursery, wanting something personal, original and inexpensive, then when she was born i spent a lot of her nap times developing my designs and sewing skills – it wasn’t a conscious decision at first to start a business, it was more a therapeutic exercise as i adjusted to the mind-blowing world of parenthood.

3. What is the hardest part of your work? Being a mum, and having been a primary school teacher, I wouldn’t describe any part of Betsy Cat as hard! However the admin side of running a business has been the most challenging as I didn’t have a clue what to do when I started – I still don’t really!?

4. And what is the most rewarding? Definitely getting feedback from happy customers, especially when they send me photos of their canvases displayed in their children’s rooms. I know ‘handmade with love’ is a bit of a cliché but my canvases really are, i treat them all as if i were making them for my own home – i think when you put time and effort into making something yourself you can’t help but do that.

5. What do you class yourself as – artist, designer/maker, crafter, creative? A bit of all of them, with a side of ‘bedraggled Mum’

6. Who from the creative world do you admire? Where to begin! Pip and Hannah from The Craft Hub are amazing – working, busy mums who founded a creative collective in Exeter a few years ago. They run the most incredible craft fairs, as well as pub nights where you can learn new crafts whilst having a natter and a glass of wine with fellow craft lovers. Pip and Hannah taught me how to crochet and i am now addicted. They have endless energy and passion for quality craft, it’s very contagious! Check them out at www.thecrafthub.co.uk

7. Where does your inspiration come from? Design wise I love to combine clean, simple silhouettes with pretty, quirky prints – i’ve never really thought about where my inspiration comes from but i think my canvases reflect my personal style in general – i love shops like Muji and Ikea for their minimalism, but also enjoy a bit of Cath Kidston frilliness.

8. Do you listen to music/watch TV whilst you are working, and if so, what? Sometimes i do – i love women with power voices that i can warble along to, current favourite is Emile Sande – but i also enjoy the peace of working quietly whilst Betsy sleeps.

9. Where do you see yourself in 5 years time? More babies, more Betsy Cat and still sane? That would be excellent.

10. What sacrifices have you made for your art?! I only work on Betsy Cat whilst Betsy is asleep, so i haven’t had to sacrifice any precious time with her. I suppose time to myself, or with my husband, although he often gets involved with my work too and is incredibly supportive. I’m so proud of Betsy Cat and love the opportunity to be creative so it doesn’t feel like a sacrifice at all.

Why not pop over to Facebook and find out more? There is a brand new website on its way too, so keep checking Facebook for details of that.

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Wedding Commission

Wedding commissions – I have a love hate thing going on with them!

I love to do them, and have done a fair few now – both lampshades and original artworks. It is such a privilege to be involved in the most important event in a couples life, and to have been chosen from thousands and thousands of other people to make that special piece. I love that I can bring a friend or relatives ideas to live, and can work on an artistic project with someone else, or in some cases several people – it is wonderful having so many different takes on that little seed of an idea, and watching it grow into something we can all be proud of.

But…… there are dangers! A commission means doing what your client asks, and they don’t always have the most straightforward requests

Can you do a dog on a lampshade?

Can you do a cat exactly like ours?

Can you fit this very long sentence on one line?

Can you do exactly the same but in graduating sizes?

All these questions strike fear into my heart. As I answer with a cheery ‘well, we can certainly give it a go, and I am sure we can come up with something’ what I a really thinking is ‘F@4&, never in a million years’.

And then there are the timescales, and finding the right paper, and ordering the ring sets/mounts/frames on time and in the right sizes.

And the sheer pressure of knowing that if you cock it up, you only have a very short amount of time to dust yourself down, pick up your scalpel, and work through the night starting from the very beginning.

But, as I have said before, a glass half full attitude (and a glass of wine) makes everything all right really, and if others have faith in me, maybe I should have a little more faith in myself and just get on with it. And do you know what, every time it seems to work, and every time (so far!) the client has been over the moon with the finished product.

The last commission I did was organised by the sister of the groom. She arranged it so that the artwork would be finished and actually in the happy couples home on their return from honeymoon. I hope they are enjoying it as much as I enjoyed making it. Note the little dog int he bottom corner who had t be part of it! Here it is….

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Thursday Showcase no.6 Drawntostich

Today is Thursday, and here on the blog it can only mean one thing – time to showcase another talented internet bod! And the lovely person of the day is Drawntostich, who I first found on Twitter (I think!). She makes the most amazing artwork using all sorts of materials and methods – really interesting stuff with plenty of pattern, texture and depth.

https://mail-attachment.googleusercontent.com/attachment/u/0/?ui=2&ik=8e13741a68&view=att&th=1394f42ab4ad7e21&attid=0.4&disp=inline&realattid=f_h66nug9a3&safe=1&zw&saduie=AG9B_P_L_3dZ_xpN26A7N4J404-d&sadet=1345656353850&sads=9SLG6opTbQctONKoykrSyliQAA4

1. Whats your name and where d’ya come from?!

My name is Louise O’Hara, my working name is DrawntoStitch. I live in a little village in the heart of Cheshire, called Davenham, where give or take the odd short stay away, I have lived all my life, in fact I was born in the old hospital in the village!

2. How long have you been doing what you do, and how did you get into it?

From a very young age I was always into messing and creating, from home made play-doh made from flour to mud painting!…When  I left school I went to the local art college, and loved it, I did a number of art courses from general art and design through to a degree, I then took time out and ended up as a PA and an Office Manager, this  office life was very alien and really not for me! So I did a PGCE in FE and then went on to do a Masters Degree in Fashion and Textiles, again I took time out to further my career as a lecturer, then my two gorgeous girls came along and earlier this year I decided enough was enough and I could not suppress my passion for creating anymore……..so I started as a free-lance artist and called my company Drawntostitch and here I am today at the age of 38!

3. What is the hardest part of your work?

The hardest part for me is juggling, not literally, but looking after my two young girls, who are 3 and 5, running a home, lecturing part time and finding enough time to get into my studio space to produce work and reflect!

4. And what is the most rewarding?

I find the most rewarding is when people like my work and want to talk about it or buy a piece or two. I love it when customers get in touch and tell me they’re over the moon with their purchase!

5. What do you class yourself as – artist, designer/maker, crafter, creative?

When I did my Degree I used to see myself as an artist but my practice seems to have taken a different path and I now consider myself a designer/maker.

6. Who from the creative world do you admire?

I admire Julie Arkell, Kirt Schwitters, Joseph Cornell, Manon Gignoux and many, many more!

7. Where does your inspiration come from?

I am inspired by my childhood holidays, the stories my children tell me and I have a huge passion for ‘wabi sabi’ and beauty in imperfection, this really underpins the style of work I produce and the marks which I make n my mixed media work.

8. Do you listen to music/watch TV whilst you are working, and if so, what?

I find it impossible to watch the tv  when in my studio but I love to listen to music (rather loud too), I have  very eclectic taste from, Adele, Nina Simone, Natalie merchant, Amy Winehouse, usually women with good strong vocals!

9. Where do you see yourself in 5 years time?

I would like to be a successful practitioner, with a presence in many galleries up and down the country and maybe a gallery of my own…. but as long as I my family are happy, I will be content.

10. What sacrifices have you made for your art?!

I can’t say that I have made any real sacrifices, there are occasions when I feel guilty for not spending enough time with my girls, but I want to make a success of my life so I can inspire them and make them proud of me.

https://mail-attachment.googleusercontent.com/attachment/u/0/?ui=2&ik=8e13741a68&view=att&th=1394f42ab4ad7e21&attid=0.3&disp=inline&realattid=f_h66nsd3p2&safe=1&zw&saduie=AG9B_P_L_3dZ_xpN26A7N4J404-d&sadet=1345656450644&sads=yNMjoLtIxJxiCwhdzqLaUITNhNo

So if you would like to find out more, why not check out Drawntostich at the following locations…

Drawntostitch on Facebook

Drawntostitch on Twitter

Drawntostitch Website

Drawntostich on Pinterest

Thats all for now folks, see you again next Thursday for the next in the series.

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Thursday Showcase No. 5 Becca Williams

I can’t quite believe we are on to number 5 already – wowzers! I hope you are going to enjoy this one. Becca Williams is a local lass, working out of Birmingham.I can’t remember where I first found her though – how embarrassing! It may have ben whilst I was looking for great craftspeople and designers  in my area on twitter, or it might have been through the Mangojuice website, a fantastic shop in Worcester that stocks both our work. Either way, not only does she make some quality stuff, she also has a great blog, well worth a look-see to watch in pictures how her work is done.

So without further ado, here are the questions…

1. Whats yer name and where d’ya come from?!
I’m Becca Williams, a Silversmith, from the Jewellery Quarter in Birmingham.

2. How long have you been doing what you do, and how did you get into it?
I’ve been creative forever but I didn’t discover metalwork until I was in sixth form. I was lucky enough to go to a college with a Jewellery Design A-Level course which I took as a way to get away from writing modern history essays. I never looked back.
One foundation year , a BA and a business course later and I’ve been self-employed/outworking for about 3 years.

3. What is the hardest part of your work?
Being commercial – I’m very aware that my work pays my rent and there’s a skill to balancing what you want to make with what’s saleable – in the past I know that I haven’t always landed on the right side of that particular line. I’m lucky that I’ve had some very skilled people to learn from over the years but taking a new collection forward to sell to the public is still scary.

4. And what is the most rewarding?
I still feel a little overwhelmed when someone falls in love with a piece on my stand and buys it there and then – it’s a very unique way of connecting with another person. It’s a wonderful feeling but most of the time it’s not quite real until they’ve walked away with their purchase. I also love working to commission – making something unique that’s tailored to an individual and knowing that they’ll treasure it is very special.

5. What do you class yourself as – artist, designer/maker, crafter, creative?
I suppose that I’m a Designer/Maker as I work right through the process, from paper drawings to final piece – though I’m comfortable to just be a Jeweller/Silversmith too.

6. Who from the creative world do you admire?
People who’ve been like mentors over the years, who are successful business people, like enameler Rachel Gogerly and silversmith Martyn Pugh, and all the people I meet at shows and exhibitions, moving forward creatively in a world that can be very dark at times.

7. Where does your inspiration come from?
I think that I do some of my best design work when I’ve stopped thinking about design! Sometimes you need to logically work through a problem like, ‘how am I going to get this spoon handle to balance properly?’ and try a lot of very technical options but sometimes you go with the design that you doodled on a napkin while you were meant to be having a tea break or the one that wakes you up just as you’re drifting off to sleep. I think it’s important to always be observing the world and drinking in what interests you – it gives your mind material to mull over so that you’re always pushing your work forward without always realising it.

8. Do you listen to music/watch TV whilst you are working, and if so, what?

I tend not to watch TV while I work – it would be far too easy to get distracted and saw off a finger! That said, I do have a radio on almost constantly in the workshop – I’m a Radio Four girl.

9. Where do you see yourself in 5 years time?

Working steadily, on my own collections and private commissions – though maybe from a slightly larger studio or with a gallery-come-workshop of my own in the Jewellery Quarter.

10. What sacrifices have you made for your art?!

Oh, a few – I’ve worked some terrible jobs to pay for metal; from cleaning tables for a manager who didn’t pay me to collecting statistics forms in the broiling sun – but what artist hasn’t?

So now that you know all about here, you will be wanting to know how to find out more. Well you can find her in the following locations…

Becca Williams on Facebook

Becca Williams on Twitter

Becca Williams Website

Becca WIlliams Blog

So that will keep you busy for a while! Right, I am off to play with the children (one has climbed up and currently sitting on my shoulders as I type – byeeeeee!

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No computer!

Well I was all set to write a post this morning about progress on my Christmas cards – but the flamin’ computer upstairs is not connecting to the internet (for two days now) and all the photos are on that computer – not a scooby how to get them over to this one – am sure it is possible with disks and those little thingers that you plug in the side of the computer – ummmm – ummmm – (very long pause) MEMORY STICKS – that’s the thing! But that would require finding the memory stick or some kind of disk, which would mean tidying the office….hmmmm……not so keen on that idea.

So am very sorry to tell you that there are no pictures to look at again :0(
So perhaps I can point you in the direction of some other fantastic blogs that you might enjoy….. here are a few that I have been enjoying recently….

Sue Bulmer

Tickled Pink

Pintester

Whilst you are enjoying those, I shall be doing the usual school holiday stuff – ten tonnes of washing, four times as much cleaning and tidying, arranging playdates, and re-arranging them when I have muddled my dates up, fretting about  not getting any work done, hoping M&S haven’t run out of school uniforms by the time I get there next week, getting ready for the next lot of packing to go on holiday, ‘gently encouraging’ my daughter to write her homework diary each day, and generally needing wine far earlier than normal.

Although….thinking about it….. I have actually done some work stuff – I have been speaking with a new company about them stocking my wares, and possibly some new ideas specially for them, which is all a bit hush hush and rather exciting. And I have finished a lovely commission for a wedding present (which I will show you when a) I can get the computer to work and b) the couple have had the gift. AND doing alot of thinking about another commission, which makes me happy!

Oh, and I guess having lots of fun with the smalls and not having to do the school run or worry about baths or bedtime, or whether there is a clean uniform for the morning, and playing with the new puppy and catching up with friends – ahhh, life is not so bad after all  – glass half full, remember!

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Thursday Showcase No. 4 Shiny Pigeon

Well hello there, and welcome to number four – so glad you are still with me – well, who wouldn’t be, all these interesting people to meet! I have a real treat for you today – a lovely young bird who is crafty in many ways and highly entertaining!

1. Whats yer name and where d’ya come from?!

Hello! My name is Bex, and I blog as Shinypigeon over at Musings from the Pigeon’s Nest. I live in the South East of England, in a teeny tiny rented nest.
2. How long have you been doing what you do, and how did you get into it?
I honestly cannot remember a time in my life when I wasn’t creating something….fabric and wool just happen to be my current medium. I have a grasshopper mind, and fabric is something I have been playing with for around 6 months.
My little online shop has been open for about 4 months now, and I am loving creating and my creations getting out there!
3. What is the hardest part of your work?
Finding the time to actually create. I work full time and I wish I could sit and make all day instead! Also not having an actual craft space really is a pain! My living room lighting SUCKS for close up work and I honestly take over my entire 3 seater sofa when I am working. I cannot wait until we buy our house next year and I can have a designated craft area!
4. And what is the most rewarding?
When people receive their items and they send me piccies of them in situ! I love hearing how happy people are with the things they buy. It gives me a warm fuzzy feeling.
5. What do you class yourself as – artist, designer/maker, crafter, creative?
I would class myself as a crafter, but I guess I also fall into the designer/maker catergory. The problem I have is sticking to one medium! 😀
6. Who from the creative world do you admire?
Anyone who can do something I can’t. There are some amazing makers out there, especially in the facebook and blogging community!
7. Where des your inspiration come from?
I make things I want to buy. I originally began making things for myself, and as more and more people asked about them I began thinking about creating them to sell.
8. Do you listen to music/watch TV whilst you are working, and if so, what?
I am epically addicted to TV series. Currently it is True Blood, but next week who knows… I am very lucky to have an endless supply of TV available! I do find that I tend to listen to the classics (Jane Eyre, Pride and Predjudice etc) in audiobook format when I am using my sewing machine, mainly because I can’t look up!
9. Where do you see yourself in 5 years time?
In 5 years time I would love to be doing this full time, stocking my own physical shelves with my own and others fabulous creations. We can dream big right?!
10. What sacrifices have you made for your art?!
My biggest sacrifice is time. Time is becoming my most valuble commodity, and I do sometimes find myself crafting more than I should.

So for more pigeon business, check out her fab vlogs, he wonderous blog, her tweets, her facebook page, and, um, well, there you have it! Somewhare in there you will find the most lovely little treasures to buy and keep for yourself (or give to a very nice friend)

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Obligatory Olympics Post

Well, I really didn’t think I would do this as I am not really a sports fan, but here goes – how amazing is the Olympics?! We have been lucky enough to get tickets to two separate games. First up was women’s basketball. We saw The Peoples Republic of Chinaaaaaaaaaa (as the compare kept saying) against Czech Republic. Pretty good match – the Chinese were quite terrifying, and the Czechs were very determined. followed by Russia v. New Zealand – very slick match.

And then on Friday we saw mens Hockey – don’t really know too much about it, but they certainly seemed a lot better than when I played at school, and even with ball boys to roll on new balls instead of everyone waiting whilst the nearest chump wanders off across the pitch to find fetch the lost ball. We saw Australia v. Argentina and Nederlands v. …..um….. (slightly embarrassed here) was it New Zealand?? Anyway, all jolly good!

The olympic park was ay-may-zing! Lots of space, fantastic natural planting scheme, marching bands, genuinely friendly and helpful staff ALL over the place, clean toilets (very important when potty training chimp number two, great timing son!) and no ques anywhere!

Now, you may be wondering why I am writing about the Olympics – well, it is because it has consumed a lot of paper cutting time and so I have no new work to show you – sorry folks .

But…. I have started work today on an exciting commission – a wedding present – so hush, hush, just incase they are reading (probably not, I think they are abroad somewhere, although I guess t’internet travels overseas!!). And also some apple themed lampshades. Hopefully I can bring you more news on these next week.

Oh, and watch out for my next Thursday post – it’s gonna be a good ‘un!

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Thursday Showcase No. 3 Soy of The North

Welcome to my second Thursday Showcase blog. I hope you will enjoy it! Have a look at this…

Have you heard of Soy of The North? No? Well you have now! Are you a candle fan, or glassware fan? Soy is what you want! I met Soy through twitter and Craft Blog UK (click on the name to have a sneaky peak at what that is all about, but don;t forget to come back and read all about Soy of The North!!) I love that Soy approaches work with a what I see as a huge amount of modesty and integrity – it is such a refreshing change (beer ad?!) from the ‘sell, sell, sell, buy, buy, buy, me, me ,me’ attitude that it is all too easy to find. And so without further ado, here are the questions…

1. Whats yer name and where d’ya come from?!
Hello. My name is Stephen and I live in the lovely countryside of Gateshead in north east England.
2. How long have you been doing what you do, and how did you get into it?
Professionally I’ve been doing my craftwork since April 2011, however I got into candle making about 6 months prior to this when I wanted to try something new. I quite enjoyed it, so it stayed in my mind when I was considering starting my own business. I can also remember making candles a few times when I was a lot younger, at a local youth club, which could have influenced me a bit too.
3. What is the hardest part of your work?
I think working alone is the hardest part. One of the costs of starting your own business is generally having no-one else around to keep you company. I tend to get around this though by taking occasional trips outside to get more supplies and equipment.

4. And what is the most rewarding?
That would be the look on someone’s face when they see something they really like when I’m selling at a craft fair. It’s really cheerful when you see someone smiling and happy. That’s basically what I, as well as probably all other crafters, do. We make things to make other people happy

5. What do you class yourself as – artist, designer/maker, crafter, creative?
That’s a tough question to answer. I do glass painting yet I wouldn’t class myself as an artist. Some of my candles are quite different and their form is well thought out, yet I don’t think these make me a designer yet. If I had to give myself a title, I think I would go for handmade entrepreneur – says what I am but sounds a bit different and unusual, which I think fits me just fine.

6. Who from the creative world do you admire?

I think anyone who makes something bold or eye-catching, or makes me stop and think about that piece, is the kind of person I would admire. That’s being said, that covers at least half of the handmade items I’ve seen. Everyone in the creative world should be admired in some way though, due to their creativity, ideas and crafting skill.

7. Where does your inspiration come from?
I have received inspiration from all over, but my two main sources are photographs and my mind. Photographs have given me a lot of ideas in the past, some of them quite unusual. The most memorable example was a glass painting design that was inspired by a photo of a bright blue poison dart frog. I tend to find that my mind wanders sometimes but that’s when some good inspirational thoughts appear that get transformed into candles and crafts. I guess that means it’s a good thing my mind isn’t completely focused.

8. Do you listen to music/watch TV whilst you are working, and if so, what?
I don’t tend to watch TV as I work as I get distracted too much and end up channel hopping instead of working. I do like listening to music while I work though. I have quite a bit of music from all sorts of genres on my computer, which my computer plays at random to me. Recently though I’ve been listening more to artists like Lana Del Rey, Florence and the Machine and Adele.

9. Where do you see yourself in 5 years time?
I’m not one for thinking far into the future. I haven’t even thought about what will happen in 2 years time yet. Hopefully I’ll still be creative and crafting.

10. What sacrifices have you made for your art?!
The biggest sacrifice has been a steady income. When working for yourself, you can never be sure how well your crafts are going to sell week by week. This is even more true when making something that is quite seasonal, like candles which are seen as an autumn/winter item.

So now I bet you are keen to find out more! What better way than by checking out the following….

Tweet Soy of The North

Facebook Soy of The North

Blog Soy of The North

Buy Soy of The North

My personal recommendation would be to check out the blog. Happy reading! And don’t forget to check in again next Thursday for the next interesting person.

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