Monday, 8 August 2016

The Antique Shop

The Antique Shop

I've worked in Hay Antiques Market since 2009. It's an odd place, that kind of eccentric, rambling, allsorts, building that dates back to early Georgian times and somehow fits the trade nicely.
After being in the trade for some years now I should be used to the people we get through the door, but still they amaze me. Hay-On-Wye is firmly on the tourist map so we do get visitors from all over the place along with locals.

The characters that come through the door sometimes feel as though they've been lifted from some forgotten Dickensian classic, others clearly show how Britain got an Empire. That kind of strong iron core folk that will do anything for someone with good manners but heaven help the soul that queue hops in front of them. I love these people. I adore their low level mumbling strength of character and odd dirty laugh. The willingness to knock their heads back and crack a joke. Their ability to rush in and tell me if the parking attendant has been seen. A deep seated love of dogs - after all they are nicer than people - and their considered opinions on the best cake or cup of tea in town.
They are the core customer base and frankly they're brilliant.

We don't stock Nazi memorabilia. It's not written into the rules its just not done in our happy band. So imagine my surprise when a young American man came in on Saturday. Clearly on holiday in his shorts and tee-shirt he was eating an ice cream stood next to the sign that said no eating or drinking in the shop. I let that slip as he looked at me in between licks of his ice cream cone and said "do you have WW2 stuff?"
Me: "we have 1940's ephemera, clothing and artefacts, as well as some government issued World war 2 posters........what were you looking for?"
Customer: "oh I'm not interested in that,....... Nazi stuff,..... German things I want..."
Me: "no we don't stock that"
Customer: "Oh,...well what about Vichy French?"
Me - smiling sweetly : "I'm sorry I'm afraid we only have non fascist winning side items here"
He shrugged, turned on his heels and walked out.

It still surprises me that people want that kind of item, a military dealer I know told me that Nazi memorabilia is still a great seller, but really, why? Who would want that in their home? Why would anyone date a guy or girl that collected it? How would you approach it as a subject? "Hi, my names Joe Bloggs, I'm 23 years old, I'd like to meet a like minded individual, my hobbies are cycling, going out and collecting Fascist things..." That's a dating profile that would be swiped as far away as possible as soon as possible. The only way around it would be to keep it quiet like some seedy secret or develop a collection once in a committed long term relationship. 

As I said, I'll never get use to the people who come through the door, they still startle and amaze me.

Sunday, 31 July 2016

100 Days of Making

100 Days of Making

I've been a bit lapse with this whole blogging palaver. Mainly because I've been buried under a pile of beads, mountain of fabric and sorting my yarn stash. Whilst still doing everything else obviously.
But thank goodness, the new workroom is now ready to go, and I love it!

I've started making bags as well, something else to add to the creativity repertoire. Sewing oilcloth is not for the beginner, it sticks to the machine easily, and teaches the sewer a lot about patience!

So to celebrate the workroom finally being finished I thought I'd kick start my creativity with a 100 day making challenge. Every day for 100 days I hand make something that's listed in Instagram, Etsy or Facebook, maybe even occasionally Twitter. I thought if I listed them on social media it would give me a platform to prove I'd done it and completed the 100 day challenge.

So far its mainly been jewellery - but lets see where it goes!

Thursday, 4 February 2016


I'm sorry I've not written for a while. Unfortunately my German Shepherd Dog, the lovely Jack, whom I'd had since he was 5 weeks old passed away recently. He was 3 weeks away from his 12th birthday. I realise to many a dog is just a dog, but if you've ever genuinely loved a four legged friend you'd understand the love and loyalty a pet can show you, and as grief is a payment for love, the debt is often larger than expected. I knew I loved him, I didn't realise quite how encompassing that was until he was gone. I miss him terribly, so I've just not wanted to write anything.

If I can ever be half the person he thought I was, then I'd be pretty awesome, essentially, I don't know what I ever did to deserve such as amazing dog.

End of your guard watch my lovely boy.

Thursday, 14 January 2016

A Theme for the Year


From the Mouths of Babes

I was recently discussing New Years Resolutions with my niece Katie. She's 9 and what my grandmother would call "an old soul". Frankly, the kids awesome, not being biased, there's none of my DNA in her, but she's got most things pegged.

Me: So, it's the New Year K, I know some people make New Years Resolutions but I thought maybe we should have a word as a resolution, like a theme for the year, such as "kindness" or "thankfulness"......something we should work towards, what do you think?

K: Oh I've already made my resolution, I'm going to try harder in class, I don't like having rows for not concentrating, so that's my resolution.

M: So, that still works, your "theme" is concentration, now........what about your dad? What do....

And she replied before I could say anything

K: Oh that's easy Dads is SCROOGE!

As I said, she has everyone pegged.

Tuesday, 5 January 2016

Fauxidermy, Textile Taxidermy, and the inspiration behind each - Marie clare.

Fauxidermy Beasties and how I name them!

I love locking myself in the Craftorium, late at night, with re-runs of some obscure comedy on the goggle box and a big vat of coffee. Sometimes the odd alcoholic drink, and some biscuits. These late night events in the Craftorium usually result in me trying to make a piece of Fauxidermy, or textile taxidermy as it's sometimes called. With a BSc Hons in Zoology, and parents who both have PhD's in biological sciences, and for that matter a husband with zoology BSc Hons too I suppose you could say I come from a natural world background. My interest in the natural world and my love of animals manifest in the Craftorium in the creation of my beasties!

I'm afraid I anthropomorthise animals, and it's the same when I make one in the Craftorium. I give each one a certain look, a character and also a name and date of creation.

Marie Clare the Fox
Marie Clare was one such beastie. I named her after a friend I met through the antiques trade, a well known Vintage dealer, with long legs, sparkly smile and a glamorous look. When I made the model with the turn in the head, and long eyelashes she spoke of delicate femininity, but she was still a fox, she'd nip if you didn't treat her properly........much like my friend MC. You see Marie Clare is the kind of woman you want your daughter or niece to learn from, a strong woman, a character trait to be admired. Even in todays society women at times still need to fight their corner, so weak and feeble just wouldn't do.

Well, Marie Clare the fox wasn't with me long before she was snapped up by another strong woman, a lady who runs Herbs on the Hill, Frome. Kate who bought Marie Clare the Fox, is frankly equally as strong! A successful business woman, who's known for business acumen and lovely products, she was attracted to my Fauxidermy beasties because they speak to the free thinkers, the people who stand out and aren't afraid to be different. The people who don't want to be run of the mill.

As Kate walked away after purchasing, laden down with her model Fox running for the train, I couldn't help but wonder, "do strong women, attract strong women?" or in this case "do model foxes named after strong women attract strong women?" I'll be honest I haven't got a clue, but what I do know  is I hope, when needed, we can all be called strong women, who raise strong children. After all, I wont be rushing to name a model fox after anyone weak and feeble now will I?

Friday, 1 January 2016

Hello 2016 - Good bye Resolutions

Hello 2016
Good bye Resolutions
So, the last firework went bang and the clock chimed midnight as I sat in front of the open fire looking at the dog.

She looked back at me, gnawing her favourite toy and I couldn't help but think, she's got it good.
I thought because it was New Years Eve I would have a list of resolutions. A list of things that I'd like to alter about myself but looking at the dog I realised there wasn't much point.

You see the best thing about being her is that she lives in that moment. She didn't care about what was going on around her, she was in the moment, the chew toy and fire meant as far as she was concerned, life was pretty good. So why cant I be more like the dog? I'm not concerned with resolutions to alter myself because if I'm in this very moment, as long as there's a bed, a roof and some food in the cupboard, I too have it pretty good!

So here is the only resolution I'm making, and I urge you to make the same, my resolution is I have no resolutions. I'm ok as I am. I intend to achieve this by not worrying, by being more like the dog, a little more "in the moment" and a little less "what if....". I will just be, the things that I stumbled over, I'll leap over in 2016, because worry wont weigh me down.

I will make a semi resolution though, nothing cast in stone but an attempted nod towards the tradition of resolutions if you like....I resolve to try and blog regularly.

Wednesday, 30 December 2015

The Wool Problem

The Wool Problem

There comes a point in every crafters life, if you're a serious crafter, when you just have to admit you have a "problem". I always thought once I quit the 9 to 5 and decided to make my money from things I make that the need to "craft as a past time" would be over. I thought that I would suddenly have spare time, that my need to create would be my work time and so suddenly making as a past time would be over. I was so wrong, on so many levels.

Firstly, anyone who is self employed would tell you that its very difficult to separate spare time from work time. You work twice as hard as when you worked for anyone else. Your life, work and all time mingles together until your "job" is just "who you are". However, when you become a self employed crafter that precious mythical "spare time" is suddenly needed for "your own projects". Hence, the wool problem. 

These few days in between Christmas Day and New Year, where you feel festively fat and strangely full of cheese. That special time when you're not 100% sure what the day is. When you're desperately trying to eat all the food in the fridge before starting the "New Year New You - diet to end all diets" and therefore best eat all the food rather then waste it. This time, this is special and precious crafting time, when I can make my own projects guilt free, whilst simultaneously eating cake......eating ALL THE CAKE. This is when the wool problem happens.

I skip to the yarn shop with some extra special Christmas money, intent on buying wool to make something for myself. I have wool in the Craftorium, I have industrial quantities of wool in the Craftorium, after all, its for work. Nevertheless, this is new wool, wool for me! So after drooling at the selection I settle on an extra thick cable wool acrylic mix in a beautiful shade of tangerine. I don't need this wool, for the snood I intend to make myself I have plenty of beautiful wool in the Craftorium, but I buy it anyway.

I bring my purchase home, settle in front of the telly, with all the Christmas lights on, this is my time! I have a coffee in my favourite Christmas mug, I'm making for me! yay! I then realise my largest crochet hook is 7.5mm. Not big enough for this cable wool. It's too late to go back to the shop, no worries, I'll knit. Not my first choice, but its ok, I can knit the snood. I need to make for me. I soon realise my largest needles to hand are 7.5mm too. They aren't big enough for this wool, but it ok, I'll start anyway. After all this is my project time.

So here I am, knitting for myself, with wool that's too thick for the needles, the "wool problem" truly kicking in. I have less chunky wool, but I cant use that, I need the new stuff for me. I am sat on the sofa kitting with wool under such tension on the needles that its squeaking. A tells me my knitting sounds like Nicolas Cage in leather trousers, it's squeaking with every stitch, but this isn't my fault. After all as any true sufferer of "The Wool Problem" will tell you, no real crafter ever says they have too much wool, its just not words we utter.

Back to the squeaking knitting and cake x