Tuesday, 29 May 2012

30 Days of Creativity

I have decided to take part in 30 Days of Creativity 2012. The name sums it up really! As their website says:

"30 Days of Creativity is a global social initiative encouraging people to create stuff (anything) every day for 30 days in June. 2012 is our 3rd year. We hope to make it a big one.

Your brain is like a muscle. When you exercise it, it gets stronger."

And why, you may be asking, have I decided to take part?

Well, as usual, there are several reasons. 

There's the Arty reason: I'd like to spend time developing new ideas and working with new mediums in order to expand my skills beyond my current range. 

(That sounds good, doesn't it? I think I'll use that - if anyone asks!)

Then there's plain old fun. I'll get to play with new materials and let my ideas run wild. I'll get to see what others have created.

It will be a challenge. I think it will be interesting to see if I can complete the challenge, if I can think of something new to create every day, if I can push myself beyond my comfort zone, if I can allow myself to make mistakes and if I can actually get stuff finished!

It will be good for networking: I'll get to see the work of artists and crafts-people from around the world who are all working on the same challenge. 

There's one more reason. And I'm a little bit reluctant to admit it. My other reason is this:

This enticing heap of goodies represents a proportion of my "stash" of crafting bits and pieces. Quite a small proportion I'm afraid to say. 

In this pile you have probably spotted beads, buttons and sequins,...

...fat quarters, 1in strips and selvedges,...

 ...embroidery cottons, ribbons,...

...and a box of felt scraps.

The felt scraps sum up the whole pile really. In my push towards organisation, I was encouraged by my other half to put a note in this box. The note said "If these haven't been used by the 5th May - THROW THEM AWAY".

Now obviously, as the box is on the table, I haven't managed to keep that deadline (probably shouldn't have reminded the OH of the date...) In fact the box is more full now than it was when I wrote the note - I blame the felt bears (to be honest it's usually a bear's fault, one way or another...).

So my real reason for joining 30 Days of Creativity? To justify the existence of my stash. To give meaning to all the scraps and off-cuts and bits and pieces that I have held onto on the off-chance that they will come in useful one day.

This challenge has a lot riding on it. I'll keep you posted, and let you know how I get on. I'll be adding pictures of my creations to the 30DoC Pinterest board and I'll try to blog as often as I can. You can find out more at the website or by following or #30DoC on Twitter. You might even want to join in!

Sunday, 27 May 2012

Love Food Festival at Dyrham Park

Today, we decided to take advantage of the glorious weather and visit the Love Food Festival at Dyrham Park.

Dyrham Park is a rather impressive estate near Bath, where you can look around the house, gardens and extensive deer park. 

But today the car park was the focus of attention. 

There was so much to choose from: so much to see, taste and smell. It would have been very easy to buy everything! The stalls showcased a range of locally grown/prepared produce.

In the end, we bought some Oak Smoked Chipotle chilli sauce from the friendly man from the "Upton Cheyney Chilli Company". His stall was very popular and it's not hard to see why...

We were also drawn to the smell of freshly ground coffee at the "Nature's Roast" stall - we are giving their Peru SHB a try.

The selection of plants at "Glenholme Herbs" was staggering! A huge range of both familiar and unfamiliar herbs and salads were arranged enticingly in the sunshine. They were all lush and healthy and gave off the most delightful scents. We only bought a thyme plant this time but one day, when we have a garden, I would love to try growing some of the more unusual ones.

At "Marmah's Traditional and Local Cheese" stall, we bought some Gouda flavoured with nettles and some Caerphilly with garlic and leek. Both are very yummy!

And last but by no means least, we stopped at the "SamosaCo" stall. I tried some of their scrummy aubergine chutney: we had to have some of that! We also sorted out dinner with some of their home made curries and then had enough money left for a couple of spinach and potato samosas. So that was lunch covered too. Mmmmmm samosas!

There were many more stalls to suit every taste and occasion and we really enjoyed wandering around in the sunshine. We'll be looking out for more Love Food festivals. Check out their website to see if there are any events near you.

Monday, 21 May 2012

CRAFTfest: June 2012

I have signed up to take part in the the June CRAFTfest: an online craft event with, so far, over 150 stalls! 

I'm really looking foward to it. I'm hoping it'll be a great networking opportunity and I might even manage to get to grips with the dreaded Twitter!

Here's the poster:

During the event, CRAFTfest will take over the Creative Connections site to become one giant online craft fair. You will be able to see what people have for sale, chat with the makers and more.

If you would like a stall then you need to visit this site - but hurry, all stalls must be booked by the 25th May!

Getting so excited! Just hope I can get enough stock finished to make the most of the opportunity! It would be lovely if you could make it over to the site at some point during the week!

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Meet the bears... Henry

Today, I would like to introduce you to Henry.

He, like Benny and Bella, is one of a range of "fancy dress" or "costume" bears. As you can see, Henry is dressed as a ladybird. I made him a little over 2 years ago for my first craft fair.

He is made from black upholstery velvet with black ultrasuede paw pads. He is thread jointed, has a brown embroidered nose and black glass beads for eyes. He has come out only 4.4cm (1 3/4in) tall or 5.5cm (2 7/8in) including his antennae!

His ladybird top is made from red and black felt. His "antennae" head band is made from very thin wire embellished with red felt.

He has his own little ladybird on his left arm which is made from wooden beads.

I have to say that the black upholstery velvet was a complete pain to sew. It literally took me days to finish him as I had to keep leaving him and going back later. It was like sewing a black hole! The stitches just disappeared and it was almost impossible to focus on. Taking accurate photographs of him has also been a nightmare. Suffice it to say that it may be a while before I attempt another bear in black!

So I shall continue to enjoy Henry for now and give myself a little more time to recover...

Henry is currently available for sale over on Folksy.

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Further adventures in felt...

As you will have noticed, I have been going through an experimental crafting stage. If you haven't seen my previous posts on the subject, I have been experimenting with felt for a while now (you can read about it here - Adventures in Felt and More Adventures in Felt).

Well, these experiments have led to, what I hope will become, a new range of felt bears. 

They are not far removed from the prototype (he came out surprisingly well, for a first attempt) although I have made a few minor alterations. I have tweaked the pattern slightly so that the later bears are a little fatter in the tummy and have a shorter neck.

So with pattern prepared, I just had to choose a felt colour. Easy. Well, you'd think so, wouldn't you? I have a huge felt "stash" in a wide range of colours but I couldn't decide which to go for first! I pulled out all the "bear colours" (browns, tans etc) but that didn't seem to be right. Then I found these, on a trip with my parents to the craft wholesaler, and they were perfect! 

Naturally, it became crucial to fit the bear to the buttons (rather than the other way around) and the only colour that really worked was... white.

So the first white bear was born - with blue spotty buttons for joints, a blue embroidered nose and a blue ribbon.

Then came a white bear with pink spotty buttons, a pink nose and a pink ribbon...

...then came yellow...

... and finally purple!

And inevitably - while sewing, stuffing, jointing, embroidering and finishing these bears - hundreds of ideas were floating around in my head...

...mostly about personalising the bears...

...which is very tricky when they are only about 4 inches tall...

...but I might have found a way...

I fear this could become an obsession...

I have listed this "red, white and blue" bear on Folksy today.

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