Thursday, 12 December 2013

Slow la revolution!

I've been mulling for a while on this one, and contemplating how to write a blog post without it sounding like a rant, or a moan, or digging myself a hole.  And then along comes Mill Girl and says it all so elegantly and graciously, I hardly need to say anything else at all.  Thank you Mill Girl.  What you have said is important and appreciated!

Not that her "gentle rant" needs adding to at all, but let me say a couple of things from a personal perspective.

Making a living from a craft you are skilled in is both a gift and at the same time a source of anxiety.  It truly is.

Show prep.

Show prep from a few years ago.  All those little houses!!!

I love my job.  I love that I get to create "beautiful things from the fabric of life" as my tag line goes. I so love that it blesses people and that things I have made with my hands are now in people's home across the world being cherished.  That is an awesome honour.  Thank you!

The flip side is this. And this isn't easy to write, for so many reasons!

I want to make lovely things and if I can pull myself up by the shoelaces and get over the voices telling me I'm a failure and I've missed the boat, there is nothing I love more than the buzz of being in my studio with a new idea and a whole heap of fabric and trimmings!  Yay!  Heaven!

This year's Christmas Angels. 


Every day is also full of the essential bits too.  The emailing, the posting, the sourcing of materials, the tidying the studio from the last project, the researching new techniques, the ordering a new tool, the dealing with a package that got ripped up on its way to a customer, the teaching myself from scratch how to do something, the networking with other crafters, delivering to shops, worrying about how much stock to make, worrying that I'm getting it all wrong.....I'm not saying this is ANY different to what any one else does in their normal every day working life. 

In fact, that's the point.

This is my every day working life.

I trained for 6 years in total and I am still learning new skills every day.  There was a point a couple of weeks ago, where I had no idea HOW on earth I was going to make this.....

 .....but somehow, drawing on the knowledge you build up that is stored in your hands and heart as an artist, eventually, it flows out of you from somewhere and it is done.  Even if it is 1.33am on the morning it needs to be finished.

I guess what I am saying, is that I want to echo what my fellow crafter and blogger has so eloquently put.

It really does take years to build up skills and knowledge to make something beautiful.  Someone like my friend Lisa from The Fernery has spent years teaching her hands how to do what she wants them to and produce that exceptional embroidery on her pieces.  The papercut artist work I am sure you have drooled over, has been perfected through cut fingers and aching backs, getting it wrong, feeling disheartened and then pushing through till it's right. 

The Trug basket maker who presents you with that elegant sculpture of willow and chestnut.....has devised his own technique for steaming the wood, built his own steamer, sourced and cut down the trees himself and whittled and shaped them into the most beautiful shape you could imagine. (My Dad taught me most of what I know of the gentle and patient art of craft).

This rambling post is mainly to say - the words that stuck out to me in Mill Girl's gentle rant were "slow craft".  These exquisite objects we see and desire take time. Lots of it.

I am aware that I am privileged to be able to do what I do.  In a year's time, when all five of my children are finally at school....if this doesn't work; if I can;t make it work.... I will be looking to do something else.  That's the honest truth.

I am privileged, but I am going to have to earn my place here, alongside the other worthy crafts people who have forged their skills in the desperate early hours before a show, or a project that just won't come together, or in the tears because they have to start again and it was an expensive mistake.

I will have to earn my place.

And that is why I am happy to pay properly for slowly crafted beauty when I see it.

A lovely little gift that arrived yesterday from the very talented Mrs Marmalade.  Here's a lady who effortlessly blesses those around her with her joy and colour.

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Seasons of Mists.....

Hello.  It's been a while.  When I last wrote, it was during blazing hot days in the midst of Summer.  Now it seems the touch of Autumn is definitely in the air and I find myself thankful for every last minute of sunshine we are blessed with.  The back door stay open late into the evening, trying to extend those days which are steadily slipping towards twilight.


Our glorious campsite!

It's been another busy Summer, full of a wonderful holiday in Suffolk, eating outside whenever possible and LOTS of other things.

Mostly, changing the way our house works.  Since our youngest was born, we have been aware that his time sharing the little box room with his next oldest brother would come to an end at some point.  Said box room is not big enough in any direction for a full size bed, and a bunk bed would not be an option because of the two windows and covered stairwell.  We have deliberated for the last three years about what we would do when "the time came".

After much discussion, we finally came up with a plan last Autumn and it took us till July to make it happen. The time span was a good thing.  It gave us time to get used to the idea that we would be giving up our "grown up" bedroom in favour of a sofa bed in the lounge.  All five boys would share one room, our room became a playroom and the box room will become a study, especially as our eldest has started secondary school this year (gulp!  Can he really be old enough?!)

Day before secondary school treat!

Nine months of planning and a few tears (mine) over the act of taking down the shelves in my bedroom which I had kept "pretty" with all my vintage books and treasures, and we are finally installed in our bedrooms.  

We decided that the boys' new room needed to be "future proof" and feel as spacious as possible, given that there would be 5 of them in there, so planning it was a major task and Pinterest came in very handy! In the end, with much help from J's Dad, we spent a week laying out sleeping bags in lines in various rooms for the boys while we clad two sets of bunk beds and a loft bed in MDF and painted it all white.  We also shelved out under the loft bed for a new reading area.

They've been in there for several weeks now and gradually we are adding the finishing touches, like a light each and curtains to keep the light out when the little ones go to bed.  We still have phase two of the study and playroom to finish, but so far I can honestly say that it works!  Although it took a while for both J and I to come to terms with the idea of not having a room of our own, it has brought balance back to the house and it actually works a whole lot better.  There is somewhere now that any of the children can go to be quiet, or read, somewhere they can go to play, bundle or watch a DVD and eventually there will be somewhere  to study.  We have somewhere to "send" them when we need a bit of peace after dinner and actually the release of pressure this has brought about has meant that we probably spend more time enjoying each others' company than we did before.

It's always worth thinking outside the box and laying everything out on the table........tada!!!!

Oddly, the whole process and this time of year, this "Season of Mists and mellow fruitfulness" has collided to make me miss my Dad a great deal.  The whole project is one that Dad would have appreciated very much, from the creative thinking involved to the physical act of making it happen.  When I was growing up, nothing was too outlandish an idea to try in the house.  When it was clear I was going to be an artist of some sort, Dad knocked down a wall so that I could have an "en suite" studio of my own, complete with hardboard floor, which he and I "Jackson Pollocked" with left over paint one day.  Happy memory.  When my older brother, who lived in the extension for a while, decided he wanted to have his own "Hobbit Hole", Dad helped him cut a circular door in the wall.  When we enjoyed having friends over often as teenagers, Dad built a large shed in the garden, fully insulated and decorated so we could have sleepovers.

We didn't have lots of money.  We did have a mum and Dad who were brave and resourceful and gave as much of their time and energy and skills as they could muster to finding ways to "lead us in the way that we should go" and see us blossom into the people they believed we could be.  

Dad would have loved the boys' new room.  I can see his smile of pleasure as he walks into it.  I can feel his hand on my shoulder as he marvels at how fabulous a job we have done; he was always overflowing with praise.

As the days squeeze the last drops of sunshine out of the Summer, I miss him very much.  It's not the anniversaries or the birthdays or the Christmasses.  They are not the same, true.  It's the day you wake up having dreamed of him and forgotten he's not there any more.  It's the time your child brings home a painting from school he would have loved.  It's the new chair in the house he hasn't christened with his presence and the old chair that he did, that just has to go.  It's the scent of Autumn in the air and a shiny conker that reminds you of the ones he tied on shoelaces for you as a child.  It's that he would have found that little joke funny too. It's that your child looks just like him when he walks. It's that you know he would have been proud of you and your family.  It's that you feel like life is moving on.  It's that you still can't believe he's missing all of this.

And it's that.

Every day.

I hope you don't mind me sharing.  I know that these words will resonnate so clearly with some of you.  I guess I just wanted to say, I understand.  I know.  It's a kind of loneliness like no other.                        

You're not alone and the memories we all make with each other and FOR each other are what survives.  Until we see one another again.

Saturday, 13 July 2013

June Swoon

June went by in a whirl of.....

Cake making....

Wedding cupcake creating....

Commission Painting.....

Flower picking.....

Quilt sewing.....

and Stock making......


See you at the end of July. xxxx