Still Busy!

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My one-off hand made necklace.

I can’t believe that it’s been over a week since I posted anything new!  But I do have an excuse.  I started a new job on Monday and have been settling in.  My brain didn’t have room for much else for a few days…

Anyway, I now feel ready to get back to GlamUpcycling things and share my new ideas.

Last Saturday The Accountant and I picked up my van and she is such a cutie!  She doesn’t handle quite like my Mini Cooper and I must remember to slow down more at roundabouts.  I also need to stop wiping the windscreen when I am supposed to be indicating.  I’m sure that by the time I head off for a road trip I will have mastered her controls.

Now begins the fitting out which will have to be to an extremely tight budget, but that’s the kind of challenge I love – it brings out the creative in me I find.  I will be scouring the charity shops to see if there are any lightweight curtains I can use.  Then I need a few lengths of wood for the bed frame and a sheet of plywood to make the cupboard and shelf (cue The Accountant who is rather handy with a saw and drill around Tiny House).   Oh, and some shallow baskets to use as storage under the bed.

The most expensive item will be the mattress and I am not prepared to compromise on this.  My vision for the bed includes my huge sheepskin rug, vintage lace pillow cases and a softly coloured patchwork quilt.  I never use sleeping bags when I camp, even in a tent; I much prefer duvet and layers.

It may seem that I am going a little overboard with my interior design ideas but it has always been one of my pet hates that the interiors of caravans, campervans and motorhomes are nearly always drab.  Beige and grey seem to predominate, with the occasional splodge of orange or blue in shades your Grandmother wouldn’t want.  The one thing they do not say to me is “holiday”!  I think we’re brave enough heading off for a camping holiday in the UK under often grey skies and I don’t see why we should add to the sombre effect by billeting ourselves in dull, characterless quarters.  On a rainy day I plan to lie back on my bed of luxury with a good book and a cup of hot chocolate, surrounded by cheerful prints and antique lace, and who wouldn’t prefer that?

I think I could probably talk about the GlamVan for hours but that would just be selfish.

Although I haven’t spent much time creating this week, I have finished the Rupert necklaces.  These will make their debut at the Bath Artisan Market at Green Park Station on 10th March which happens to be Mothering Sunday, and it’s no accident that this batch features images of Rupert with his mother!  The more I work on this jewellery the more I like it and I’m now planning designs using other books, such as Dandy annuals, for a slightly more edgy effect.  If I didn’t like stitching so much I might concentrate solely on this, but I just can’t give up my first love.  And where would the world be without my gorgeous little hand-stitched heart brooches?

While I was making jewellery I completed the little necklace in the picture.  It’s made from a tiny sweetie tin found in a junk shop mixed with a small selection of new beads from my extensive collection and two shades of pretty organza ribbon.  I am always on the lookout for tiny tins because I think they make quirky and quite beautiful jewellery.  I love the old ones that used to contain gramophone needles and tiny razors among other things and I have great ideas for them whenever I find them…

This Saturday I am taking my six miniature vintage Essex hand cranked sewing machines to a vintage craft market in aid of Dorothy House Hospice and Cancer Research.  We will be making bunting on them and there will be the opportunity to try all kinds of other vintage-inspired craft activities too.  The cupcakes for decorating are cooling on the rack as I type.  I’m really looking forward to dedicating the day to two of my favourite things: craft and vintage!  And hopefully a lot of money will be raised for a truly good cause.

I really thought I didn’t have much to say today but it seems life is still busy and exciting having emerged from my first few days in a new job.  It looks as if everything is going to fit in quite nicely and I rather think I have much to be happy about.

Let’s Camp it Up!

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My fabulous enamel mugs posing inside my new Schiaparelli pink washing up bowl.

Are you romantic?  Well, happy Valentine’s Day if you are and happy Thursday if you are not!  Of course I’m expecting a sack-full of red padded envelopes any minute…

This week has been a very changeable one weather-wise with flurries of snow, bone chilling cold, very wet rain and now sunshine.  Really a girl does not know what to wear!

Today I find myself with a whole day in which to contemplate life, and my thoughts have immediately turned to my van which we will be collecting on Saturday.  As I have mentioned before I want it to be practical for doing markets but I also want a really kitsch and over-the-top environment in which to camp (pardon the pun).  At the moment I favour lining it with gathered fabric mounted on curtain wire at the top, middle and bottom.  It would be easy to fit and remove and would give instant glamour and comfort.  I am also planning hanging storage pockets and a small painted cupboard and shelf.  Add the mugs bought specially, the pink washing up bowl and the cute and safe candle lanterns and I think it’s coming together.  In thought at least!  There will be pictures.  Who knows, I might even inspire a few of you to create your own.  If so, I’ll see you in that field near St. Just in Penwith, Cornwall.  You know the one…  I’ll put my red kettle on ready!

Let Me Eat Cake…

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A section of my display at the Bath Artisan Market.

So what does a girl do when she finds herself alone on her birthday?  Well, she starts by having chocolates for breakfast and then she plans a day of vintage rummaging culminating in a quest for cake.  Oh, is that just me…?

I feel I deserve a lazy day anyway after standing in the freezing conditions of Bath Artisan Market from 8.30am to 4pm yesterday.  It was a slow day as it was the first market of the year and people were probably happier to stay in the warm.  The Rupert Bear earrings were the most popular item.   I met some great people and there was a lot of interest in my little Essex machines which were helping to make my stall more eye-catching.  Quite a few people took information about the workshop parties so something might come of it yet.

While I was setting up the stall at silly o’clock in the morning I turned to see The Accountant smiling at me.  He had driven up to wish me well and buy me coffee and cake.  Then he departed like a will o’ the wisp.  Such a lovely surprise – made me feel warmer!

In other news, I have paid the deposit on my van!  It will certainly be easier to load for markets than my Mini Cooper and also brings me a step closer to that camper dream.  So now I will be planning curtains and storage ideas.  I wonder whether you can get pink tyres…?

I ran out of time last week and did not get to finish the Rupert Bear necklaces I hoped to have ready for the market.  These should be completed later this week and I’ll put up a picture then.  They have a slightly Art Deco feel because of the shapes and the colours of the illustrations.  Quite pleasing I think.

Meanwhile the jam jar idea is coming to the fore and will be getting some attention over the next few days.  I think it’s a cute idea and I certainly didn’t see anything like it at the market so it’s all systems go.

Tiny House is looking more than a little dishevelled and sad today after the manic preparations for the market so I must give it some attention – but it will have to wait until tomorrow because, in case I forgot to mention, it’s my birthday today.  Cheers!

Experiments and expeditions!

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My keepsake book cover design sample.

It’s funny how having too much to do brings out the best in me.  I suppose that when there is time to spare it’s easy to say “well, I can do that tomorrow because I don’t have anything else to do”…

Yesterday I made a small patchwork cushion (from a piece of curtain and a thick cotton shirt) on one of the little Essex machines to see if it could be the basis of a workshop.  Although I did manage to complete the cushion it would be a little too tricky for a beginner, so I think I’ll have to stick to strips rather than patches of fabric.  These ‘try-out’ sessions take up valuable time but are vital to ensure people really enjoy the workshops and leave with something worthwhile and pretty.  It was also good to get one of the little machines out as I haven’t used them for a while.  I am taking them to a vintage craft day in aid of Dorothy House and Cancer Research on Saturday 23rd February so I must oil them all up and check their tension!

This morning has dawned bright and sunny, thank goodness, as I am off to my storage unit to root around.  I have a huge list of things to find so I may be some time, but if I’m not back in three days please send out a search party.  I have visions of them finding me, Scott-like, with frozen eyebrows and brittle fingers, clutching a folding chair and a small box of “GlamUpcycling” carrier bags.

On Friday I am going back to choose my van.  I can’t express how excited I am as this idea has been in my head for at least ten years but has always seemed rather out of reach.  I have such plans for its interior – all of which will be removable so I can also use it for markets and shows.  (I have just looked back over this paragraph and realised how sad my excitement will make me look to the uninitiated.  But you understand don’t you?)  I look forward to posting pictures on the gallery page over the coming months.

The “Birdie Heart” design is completed and I now have four cut out ready to be stitched.  I can’t actually make up the book covers until I’ve received the books I ordered, but as long as I do all the hand stitching the rest shouldn’t take too long.

Well, I must don the all-weather gear and head off.  Where did I put that hip flask…?

Busy, busy, busy!

One of my collection of miniature vintage Essex hand cranked sewing machines.

Today I have been working on the “Birdie Heart” design as described in my previous post.  I am very pleased with it and will definitely be using it on the keepsake book/ journal covers as planned.   I will be ready to include a picture later on this week.   I am now almost ready for the Bath Artisan Market on Sunday although I won’t have all the products I planned.  This seems to me to be OK as it’s good to have something new at each market, so I don’t want everything at once.  Hopefully I’ll continue to have fresh ideas so people will be interested in coming back to see what I’ve been up to.

The Rupert necklaces are coming on well and will feature at Sunday’s market.  I will be going to my storage unit to collect all my display stuff one day this week so I can spend some time trying out ideas to make the stall look inviting and, hopefully, irresistible.

Meanwhile I am planning a series of workshops to teach jewellery making as well as one using my collection of miniature vintage hand cranked sewing machines as pictured above.  The workshops will take place at a local shop but will also be offered on a “party” basis in clients’ own homes.  I love sharing my knowledge and enthusiasm with others and really look forward to these fun and informal sessions.

I have been very pleased with the interest shown in this blog as well as in my Facebook page.  It’s amazing what a bit of networking can do and I feel far less isolated working from home, knowing that there is a whole world full of lovely and interested people out there.  It also gives me a small platform for when I launch my website towards the end of March.  I am now trying to decide whether to spend some serious money on magazine advertising when I launch, to really get the ball rolling.  And should I sell in the UK only or worldwide?  Decisions, decisions!

As I look through this post, it strikes me how many different things a small business proprietor has to turn his/her hand to.  In a large organisation there are departments to deal with design, manufacture, marketing, packaging, selling etc. but we have to do all of this and so much more all by ourselves.  It can be daunting but it’s also very exciting and strangely empowering.  If it works!

On a completely different note, I am very excited to report that The Accountant took me to look at vans at the weekend.  He actually understands my need to convert a small van into a camper.  And he is prepared for it to be High Kitsch!  I only had to show him the two enamel mugs I have bought in readiness for our first trip and he could instantly see the style I am aiming for (I was very pleased recently to note that my local hardware store stocks small washing up bowls in red as well as bright pink).   I am going back to the van supplier on Friday to make my choice and then the adventure will begin – and it will be documented here…

It seems that there is plenty to keep me occupied and interested at the moment and that’s just the way I like it.  I am always at my best when I have slightly too much to do.

The weather has been bright but blustery for most of the day here and the rhubarb is pushing its way out of the soil at the end of the Tiny House garden, giving a real sense of wonderful things to come.  Joy to the World!

 

This grand life of little things…

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Rupert and his Chums…

I have had a great week thinking up new ideas and designing the products around them.  This could be my favourite part of the process and I probably spend too much time on it because I tend to go into a kind of dream state.  But then again, that’s when good ideas happen.

I did have one day when I felt a little restless, so I treated myself to a trip to Shaftesbury to rummage among the charity shops and the junky antiques.  I bought a gorgeous little “PAN AM” case complete with pale yellow and pink quilted and frilled lining, and a small metal folding stool which I will revamp and use in my camper (when I get one!).  The case will make a fabulous prop on my market stall and I shall enjoy the looks of envy from the vintage hunters.

Only one week and two days to my first market and I’m managing to tick off the list of things to do gradually.  The first batch of Rupert earrings is ready and I’m busily working on some fabulous necklace designs which are coming along a treat – I’m really pleased with them.  Take a look at the Gallery page to see how this jewellery is made.

I tend to work at a number of things at once, perhaps making up one item while also working on the designs for the next idea.  This week I have meddled with fabrics and threads to bring together something that has been in the back of my mind for a while.  For some reason I have become slightly obsessed with a “birdie-heart” design (as it has become known here at Tiny House) and I was keen to use it somewhere.  The first idea was to make a scented hanging decoration for the wardrobe, but that just didn’t satisfy me.  Then I decided to combine it with another idea for making removable covers for books that can be used as journals, photo albums and the like.  I am so pleased with this design and I’ll feature it next week.  For now it’s a series of rough sketches and fabric swatches pinned to a piece of A4 – I can’t wait to share the finished product.

On the way to Shaftesbury there is an antiques centre (Dairy House Antiques, Semley) and I dropped in to see what textiles they had.  I left with five beautiful, huge mother of pearl buttons and a bone crochet hook.  The buttons will probably be used in brooch designs and I don’t think I need to explain the crochet hook – it would have been rude not to buy it at £2.

The sun is shining here in my little corner of England and I know I have a bar of chocolate in a small drawer in my cupboard-of-all- things (well I did say it was a cupboard of ALL things!) so, as usual, life is grand…

It’s such a perfect day…

Pretty bunting using a curtain and two shirts. One of last week’s projects.

If I were to try and describe my perfect day it would probably look very much like last Saturday.  It was a cold but bright day and the Accountant and I drove up to the north Somerset coast for a walk along the beach.  The tide was out and the flat expanse of sand leading to a slate grey sea gave me a euphoric feeling of freedom.

Next we had a rummage through an antiques and reclamation yard before leaving the car in the National Trust car park at Dunster Castle and walking down into the village, where we enjoyed a cup of hot chocolate and mooched among the little shops.

In a tiny yard opposite the second hand bookshop there was a sign for a horologist and we went in to ask about a watch repair.  The old man explained that he was about to retire and wasn’t taking any new work but we stopped to talk to him for a while and marvelled at his fabulous tool collection.  His father was the original inventor of the automatic watch, had patented the idea in 1924 and become a millionaire.  However, he was never able to re-establish the business after the war despite ploughing all his remaining money into it and his name is now largely forgotten.  You can read the fascinating history of this great British inventor at www.harwood-watches.com.

It’s my birthday in a couple of weeks and The Accountant bought me a lovely little gold 1950s watch because it caught my eye in the window and he said it was very ‘me’ with its neatness of design and its history.  I like to think that we made a small difference to the horologist’s working day, and I always enjoy hearing people’s histories, especially if they involve any kind of creativity or tools!

A glass of real ale in a lovely country town pub finished the day off nicely and I spent the evening stitching in front of the wood burner.

Today I am having fun cutting and sanding the spare wood from my venetian blind so I can make up some funky jewellery for my market stall in February.  It’s an idea that I had tried out with plastic before but it was unsatisfactory so I’m glad to have found a new source of material.  And it’s nice to be using different tools and materials, much as I love needle, fabric and threads.

And meanwhile, in the back of my mind there boils an idea for using jam jars in a cunning and irresistible way (I hope!).  I have worried in the past about being able to sustain an upcycling business but, so far, those ideas keep coming so I think I’ll just try to relax and enjoy the journey…