31 Mar 2009

Tweet's from Twitterers

Today I'm featuring some lovely bird themed goods from Twitter users. Twitter is a great way to meet other artisans and I have found lots of fabulous handmade goods through using the service. You also get to chat to some amazing people. If you want to follow me on there, I'm CapnSkulduggery.

Vintage Violets Buttons creates beautiful felt brooches and Frankie the owl is one of those gorgeous creations. As you can see from this close up photo attention to detail is what makes these brooches so special.

Swirlyarts has a shop full of bird related goodies. I love her chicken door stops but I chose to share these labels with you because they are just so cute and colourful. A myriad of feathered friends.

The lovely Tizzalicious makes a range of colourful goods, from Jewellery to plushies. The Retro feel of her shop will appeal to so many people. I think any little girl would be very excited to receive this chick necklace.

Tea anyone? Vintage Town has created this birdie cosy to keep your teapot lovely and warm so that you can spend a long Sunday morning reading the paper and sipping at a cupper whilst you find out what's going on in the world and read the funnies. It will even keep your pot warm whilst you finish off the crossword too!

Artistico collage art print made me chuckle. The Owl is so patterned, he really stands out. I'm not sure with all those bright jazzy feathers he would be able to sneak up on that many mouse dinners.

If you are looking for new people to chat to about the handmade movement or just want to see lots of gorgeous handmade goods, get over to twitter and do a search for people that have tagged themselves as "handmade". You'll find lots of people to chat to and follow and you will hear all the latest updates to shops and news about what people are working on. See you there!

Written by Lynne of PiratePixieCrew and Hyperloop Hoops

30 Mar 2009

Staging a home for sale.

Jon and I live in a partially renovated turn of the last century house and for a very long time nothing has been done to the house and we have been living in it around all the half finished splendour. The time has come to get it finished so we can sell it and move on. With this in mind I have been trying to plan out exactly what we will do in each room and what the over all look of the house should be, hence my search through the handmade market for beautiful goods to fit the job.

Now this beautiful Cushion from Susie Stokoe may not fit in with the beige look, but it will add some colour to a room and I will be able to take it with me when I go and it fits perfectly with my love of colours.

Chuck E Byrd Wall Art is sadly something I won't be using to sell this house, but it may well feature in a house I build later on. I love this little Chimp! It's a great way to personalise a child's bedroom door.

Oops a Daisy's pretty toile de jouy decoupage side table is a great piece of staging a house for sale. Due to the black and white colour scheme it will fit into most rooms and add a bit of detail to an otherwise very plain coloured room.

This beautiful wooden bowl from Beach and Cabin would look great on a dining table with some brightly coloured fruit. I love the pattern of the grain of the spalted sycamore wood. It's not a wood I'm familiar with but I think I might search out more pieces made from it now.

Stover Tile and Design created this fabulous granite serving stand and it would look great in any kitchen. We have dark black granite work surfaces in our kitchen and this would add a lovely lighter touch in the middle of the expanse of black.

I'm a huge lover of bright colours and the thought of painting everything a bland white or off white is filling me with dread, but it is what other people want that's important when trying to sell a property. Oh well, I guess a vat of off white paint, metres of beige carpets and cream coloured drapes is the way forward. Goodbye 'Smoking Jacket' Red, 'Turtle cay' green, 'Peacock' blue, and 'Passionate Purple' sigh. At least I know after taking a look around that there are lots of beautiful handmade goods out there that I can use to stage my house to get a sale and those pieces can come with me when we do move and I can use them in my next multi coloured bright and bold home.

Where did I put those dust sheets and my paint brushes?

Written by Lynne of PiratePixieCrew and Hyperloop Hoops

29 Mar 2009

Artisan of the week, Karen of Tindle Bears

Yippee it's Sunday and I have waited for weeks to publish this Artisan of the Week article. Today's featured Artisan is Karen of Tindle Bears and I have so fallen in love with all her beautiful hand crafted scrummy bears. I found from Karen that it is not only gorgeous bears she makes. Check out her own website to see what other talents she has.

1. Could you please introduce us to who you are and what you do?
My name is Karen (Ren) Searls of Tindle Bears and I design and produce one-of-a-kind artist teddy bears.

2. What led you to take up your craft?
I don't really know. I do know, growing up I hated to sew. I couldn't read patterns even after my seamstress mother tried to teach me how. At about age 15 I decided to make the pattern work for me, and took an existing pattern and "tweaked" it, so that I could put it together my way. It worked, more or less and I knew with my drawing skills, I could do my own patterns. But at 15 who cares about that! I never touched another pattern until I was 24 when I started Tindle Bears.

3. Which part of your work do you most enjoy?
Stuffing and assembling is my favorite! It is at this point in the production of a teddy bear where they come to life for me. Even if I haven't attached the head yet, they still look loveable and silly.. I find my self talking to them while they are still in pieces. When they are totally stuffed and stitched closed (though not finished) I cuddle for a bit with them. I know it sounds weird, but that's me!

4. Which part do you find hardest?
Packing and shipping is the hardest! I worry if they made it ok. I worry if they were damaged in transit. I worry if the customer REALLY liked it, as I want them to be COMPLETELY satisfied. Saying goodbye isn't easy either, I love them all!

5. Where do you hope to be in 1 year’s time?
In 1 years time I am hoping to still be in my studio making bears and money LOL, instead of dividing my time between that and a 9-5 job. Between being a mom and working, I fear there wouldn't be enough time to really make my business work.

6. What is the best advice you have ever been given?
I have had lots of advice pass my way, I don't recall any particular one being more prolific than the next. I try to remember that every one I meet is having their own personal crisis, and that I shouldn't add to their suffering by acting like a jerk, no matter what my day has been like.

7. Could you name artisans sites/shops would you recommend are worth a visit?
ALL OF THEM!!!! LOL I would recommend from my own personal experience...Spoonerz, great unique personalized jewelry, I own one of the spoon endz bracelets. Phippsart has wonderful tees. Luka jewellery has an ADORABLE robins egg nest ring that I LOVE! Planetjune has really well put together and concise patterns for amigurumi that I am currently collecting. Christy DeKoning does some really breath taking watercolors!

8. What is your favourite sandwich filling?
Honey ham with mozzarella cheese; toasted with mayo, lettuce and Bob Evans Honey mustard! YUM!

Thank you for joining in with the Blog Karen. So readers as you can see the bears really are scrummy and the polymer clay sculpted piggie above is adorable. Karen is quite obviously an amazingly talented lady. You can visit her shop, website and blog to see more of her fabulous work.

Written by Lynne of PiratePixieCrew and Hyperloop Hoops

28 Mar 2009

Gorgeous goods are just a click away.

Over on the right of our blog we have some Project Wonderful ad slots that are full of fabulous shops. The people advertising in those slots sponsor this blog and help us to keep it running. To show our gratitude to those people I like to feature some of their goods on the blog every now and then. It's always easy to find things to feature too because their shops are always full to bursting point with exciting products. You can see for yourself by clicking through to their shops and taking a surf through their pages.

Lori Anderson Designs has a wide range of styles of jewellery on her website. This colourful beauty is from the Whimsical range. It contains 100 handmade lampwork beads. It's a riot of colours that would brighten even the darkest day.

Next its a shop full of embroidery with attitude. Aunti Franni's take on embroidery has a very nifty twist. Yes you can find traditional styles in her shop but the ones that made me smile most were the slightly more quirky designs, such as the Crafty Ninja. As a knitter I think I might now have to make myself a ninja outfit.

Rebbeca from Soap Deli has long been one of our sponsors. She makes beautiful soaps and is also a fellow lover of handmade goods. She and her partner are so dedicated to spreading the word about handmade goods that they started up the web networking site Made By Hand. By ME. Check out the site and Rebbeca's soaps. Both are well worth a look.

Random Scraps creates gorgeous paper and card goods for you to buy. Her handmade cards are top quality and will delight anyone lucky enough to receive them. This set of 6 are simply a great way of reminding people you are thinking of them. Send someone you miss a Hello card and let them know how much they mean to you.

Artistic Jen has many talents. These unusual black fleck coloured polymer clay beads are just one of the things she has made. She also crochets and paints. Her pretty shawls and Afghan blankets are beautiful.

So now I've shown you a small sample, why not check out the rest of these sponsors shops and don't forget to visit the other sponsors too. I thank them all for sponsoring us and for sharing their multitude of talents with us.

Written by Lynne of PiratePixieCrew and Hyperloop Hoops

27 Mar 2009

Hard times? Versatility is key!

As we are all aware, times are getting harder and we are all needing to make our money go a little bit further when we spend it. Well I have an idea to make those pennies go that extra mile when buying clothing and accessories. Buy goods that are versatile and wearable in more than one way. Things with versatile uses are so much more value for money.

As it is wedding season and wedding dresses cost so much I thought I'd start with one of Isadora's beautiful wedding dress that can be worn in so many ways that you will be able to wear more than that one special day and have it look like a totally different dress. Simple, sleek and gorgeous!

Sew is your face created this funky fun reversible hood, which allows you to wear it with more of your clothes. Swap which side you have showing and change the look. Also the long scarf tie allows you to change the look even more.

Mohop is a genius! These shoes can be worn in so many ways and the look be changed over and over just by adding a different strap/ribbon. You can perfectly match up your shoe straps to your outfit each time you wear them. Hundreds of pairs of shoes all in one fabulous design.

Barefoot Creations obviously understands small children and babies. This pretty pinafore dress is totally reversible, so if you are out and about and your child manages to get one side covered in tomato pasta sauce you can whip it off turn it inside out and slip it back on. Hey presto! Clean looking child. Magic!

Pinky Pig has given you 2 bags in one. This stylish tote is totally reversible so you can choose which side to have on the outside to suit your mood or outfit for the day. It doubles it's use. I'm guessing you could ask to have one made with day time fabric on one side and a more swanky evening out style fabric on the other. Then you would have a bag to take you through from day to an evening out on one of those busy days when you have to go to an event straight from work.

Investing in clothes and accessories that can be worn in many ways are a great way to save yourself some cash in the long run. There are lots of people out there handmaking versatile goods. Take a look around and see what you can find.

Written by Lynne of PiratePixieCrew and Hyperloop Hoops

26 Mar 2009

Changing the World one purchase at a time.

I found out about an organisation called Nest today and I wanted to share with you what it is they do and their ethos on how to change the World. Nest is a non profit making organisation of artists and artisans that want to empower and enable women, from around the World, to support themselves and their families from the proceeds made by their own sustainable entrepreneurial crafting businesses. Nest does this by providing micro-credit loans that allow women in poorer circumstances to purchase the tools and materials necessary to start up or maintain a small craft/art business of their own. The funds used to finance these micro loans comes from the sales of artists/artisans specially designed exclusive to Nest goods that are sold under the Nest brand. Once the new business is established and running the artisan pays back the loan by allowing some of their goods to be sold under the Nest brand and a percentage of the profit from that sale goes back in to the fund that can then be lent out to another person starting up.

Mexican Plate by: Maria Belen de la Cruz Torres
(Click image to find out more about the item)

So in essence the scheme is a global art and crafts group all combining together to enable each member of the group to thrive. It starts out with the more money rich members assisting the less well off members to get the means to make their art/craft, but it is perpetuated by all members sharing a small portion of the profit, from the sale of some of goods they make, back with the group which then helps fund more people to become members. I think it is genius! It is empowering people to craft and create their own way out of poverty.

African basket by: Specioza Brown
(Click image to find out more about the item)

You can read about Nest's mission statement in more detail on their website.

Recycled Green Necklaceby: Guatemalan Weaving School
(Click image to find out more about the item)

It was founded by Rebecca Kousky and you can read more about this lady on her Blog

Are you feeling inspired and want to become involved in this? Well there are lots of ways you can. If you want to go into partnership with this organisation you can find details here.

Changing the World one purchase at a time.

Written by Lynne of the PiratePixieCrew and Hyperloop Hoops

25 Mar 2009

Flickr Group Goodies.

Our Flickr Group has had lots of gorgeous goodies added in the last few weeks. If you haven't been over their lately I'd suggest you take a look. So much talent, so little blog space to show it all off. Today's pick of five are here to wet your appetite.

Highland Fairy, I confess, is one of the most creative people I have had the good fortune to meet on-line. Her talents know no bounds. This stunning painting shows off just one of her skills. I noticed in her Flickr Profile she has a new website and I will be checking that out once this article is written.

Sew Recycled created these marvellous mushroom pin cushion houses. They have such pretty little details on them and they are very useful too. I'm forever losing my pins and needles when I'm working. One of these would be a great place to keep them all.

Mossmottle makes a range of jewellery in precious metal clay (silver). This pretty ring is a good example of her work. I love the texture of the surface. She is also a painter. I'm impressed by her abstract pieces. Again it's down to the textured look of them.

Miss Gina Designs works in many mediums and when I saw this bright colourful bag in the Flickr Group pool I just knew I had to share it with you. It is made from "magic shrinking sheets", which is something I'd never heard of before. It looks great!

PJTurner created this beautiful pen from a real corn cob. Isn't it fabulous! The colour and the way the light reflects from it is just stunning. Putting a corn cob on a lathe and turning it isn't something I would ever have though possible. Brilliant!

So as you can see, the Flickr pool is full of beautiful works or art and crafts. Have a look through and find some new favourites to share with your friends.

Written by Lynne of the PiratePixieCrew and Hyperloop Hoops

24 Mar 2009

Boing! Spring Forward.

Over the weekend Jon and I have been battling with the weeds and brambles that cover the land behind our house. I can't call it a garden yet because it is now an almost blank muddy canvas. We still need to dig most of it over before we start to lay out the new garden design. After a trip to the local garden centre I've got a head full of ideas and images of herb gardens, vegetable plots and maybe a border of pretty flowers. So today I'm going to share with you some great handmade garden goodies.

Gardening shouldn't only be about the plants, it should also be about the wildlife you can encourage into your green haven. Red Yellow & Blue ink's recycled Traffic lamp bird table is perfect. Not only can you use it to feed the birds but the colours, transparency and texture will make it cast interesting shadows in the sunlight.

Garden art is one of my loves. I see no reason Art can't live in the great outdoors. Steal My Art Away has created this really lovely steal dragonfly to stand in a boarder as a focal point. The patination on the metal will change over the years which all adds to it's beauty.

Gardens should be happy, fun places to be. A place to breath in the fresh air and a place to relax. Modern June's bunting is so pretty and bright that even on a cold grey winters day it will give a splash of colour to lighten and brighten your heart and because it is made from oilcloth it will be perfectly happy in a bit of rain.

Over on MISI I found this wonderfully useful and tactile oak wood dibber and garden labels from Works in Wood. No good gardener should be without a dibber to plant out seedlings with. It's also very useful to have labels on the vegetable patch to mark out the different varieties of the plants you have put in, so you can see which thrive best in your soil.

Lastly for today we have this gorgeous recycled wind chime from Rubes Designs. Gardens need a little bit of sound in them as well as the gorgeous colours and aromas and if you are in a situation where the sound of running water isn't a possibility a wind chime is a prefect alternative. The gentle tinkling sound can be so relaxing.

So now spring is here get out there in the garden and give it a bit of tender loving care. If you don't have your own garden, all is not lost. Even the smallest window box can grow you herbs or flowers. The smallest balcony can become a vegetable plot. You can also contact your local authority and ask them about local group gardening schemes, allotments or if you know of a piece of waste land that you think could be turned into a community garden, be the person to set the ball rolling and ask the authority about it and plant the seed of change in their minds. Green spaces are so important. If you think you have absolutely nowhere to grow anything take a look at Patrick Blanc's website and think again. Grow yourself something green and beautiful.

23 Mar 2009

Branding your Handmade Business.

What is branding all about?
Branding is more than just the name you give your business. It is not only about your name and logo. It's also about customer perception of you, your goods, their packaging and the quality of service you provide. It's about the overall customer perception of the goods you sell, but also the concept you sell with them. What do you want your customers to instantly think of when they see your shop name or logo? That's what branding is all about.

Why should I worry about branding my small on-line shop?
Do you want your business to grow? If you do then branding is essential. If you want customers to return, bring their friends and spread the word about your goods you have to give them a brand concept to take away with them from your shop. They need to be able to rave about the goods, service and the attention to detail and they have to be able to associate that with a logo, name and product. This goes from the first contact they have with you/your shop to the moment they receive their goods and the after sales care they receive.

As has been said many times before, branding is in the attention to detail. Every person coming into contact with your business must go away with the same customer care whether they purchase or not. All purchasing customers must get consistent service and that service must be of the highest standard you can offer. All packaging, emails, business cards, letter heads, invoices, receipt and adverts have to tell the same story. They all have to build on the brand you are giving yourself.

Is branding really all that important?
The simple answer to that is yes. Think about some common things that people buy and think about how you choose the items you buy. Do you just look for the cheapest price when you buy a car? I'm guessing not. I'm guessing you will buy into one of the concepts that the car companies sell along side their cars. Volvo is associated with Safety. Toyota with fuel economy. Mercedes with luxury. This branding affects customers decision on what they buy.

You need to brand your goods to appeal to the people that you foresee purchasing your goods.

There is a lot of advice on-line about how to brand your small business. Take some time out to check it out and read up about the subject. It is a complex mixture or things that make up the final way people perceive your brand, so make sure you do the best you can to brand yourself well.

Check out these links as a starter, but there are hundreds of others out there.

Small Biz Mentor
Small Branding
9 Branding tips for small businesses
Branding 101
Keys to branding your small business

Look around and gather lots of tips and hints and then get to work branding your business.

Oh and for a bit of fun have a go at this Logo Game.

Written by Lynne of PiratePixieCrew and Hyperloop Hoops

22 Mar 2009

Artisan of the Week, Jo from Dolly Knits

Today I take great pleasure in introducing to you a fellow knitter and designer Jo from Dolly Knits. This is the lady that designed and created the much talked about "Bright Red Coffee Cup Cozy Sling". She also makes a whole host of other lovely knitted goodies. Her work is divine and you can see it on Etsy and Folksy. Now I'll let her tell you a bit more about herself.

1. Could you please introduce us to who you are and what you do?
Hello! I am Jo and a recent graduate in BA Hons Textile Design from Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design in London, UK. I specialized in designing knitted textiles for fashion and interiors and recently decided to start my Dolly Knits shop on Etsy and a UK shop on Folksy, selling things I like to knit for fun. My Great Gran was called Dolly so I thought I would steal her name for my knitty business.

2. What led you to take up your craft?
When I was younger my Mum had always knitted, so I think I was brainwashed at a young age to love knitting. I didn't start knitting properly until I went to University where I learnt how to use domestic knitting machines and then industrial Dubied knitting machines. Since then, I have continued hand knitting and am still teaching myself new techniques all the time.

3. Which part of your work do you most enjoy?
I love starting to knit something and not really knowing where it is going and then ending up with a final product which looks exciting and works. I also love to shop for yarn and usually end up with much more than I really need. I enjoy spending a lot of time getting involved in the crafty online community. It also fun for meeting people and getting information and tips on techniques and materials.

4. Which part do you find hardest?
The hardest part is organising time and being able to fit in all the designing, knitting, blogging and promoting that there is to do.

5. Where do you hope to be in 1 year’s time?
In one years time, I would love to have designed and made full collections of accessories and clothing for all seasons, and have a steady flow of customers through my shops, building up to being able to run Dolly Knits full time in the future.

6. What is the best advice you have ever been given?
If you go wrong, always go back and correct it immediately, if you leave it and it is not perfect, it will annoy you forever more.

7. Could you name artisans sites/shops would you recommend are worth a visit?
Joanna Rutter's Jewellery.
Hannah Fenton Steven's Jewellery.
Applique Childrens Gifts from Tobyboo.

8. What is your favourite sandwich filling?
Prawn Mayonnaise.

Thank you for answering our questions and joining in with our blog Jo. I agree whole heartedly with the best advice you were given. It does eat away at you if you know that imperfection is there, even if no one esle knows it. So lovely readers if you want to know more about Jo and keep up with whats going on in her world you can Visit her shops and read her blog where hopefully soon it will tell you thats Dolly Knits has become her full time job and that her hopes for the future have all come true. Well the sun is shining and I have a vegetable plot to dig over. Enjoy your Sunday everyone.

Written by Lynne of PiratePixieCrew and Hyperloop Hoops

21 Mar 2009

Don't throw it out! Fix it!

I followed a link today that SwirlyArts put up on Twitter and it lead me to a site I have seen before but forgotten about, so thank you Swirly for reminding me of it. The site was Wardrobe Refashion and if you have never heard about it I urge you to go and take a look. It has been set up by Nichola Prested a fellow UK crafter that relocated to Australia in 2004. The basic idea is that people pledge to refrain from buying new clothes for a period of time. It can be one month, 2 months, 6 months or for life... whatever time scale you feel able to achieve. In that pledged time, instead of running off to the shops to buy new clothes when you need them you will either have to repair, repurpose or recycle clothes and fabrics into the garments you need.

I think it is a fantastic way to encourage people to be less wasteful and to encourage people to learn new skills. The site has lots of examples of what people have made and plenty of the people share how they made/repaired the items they are showcasing. Imagine just how much waste would be eliminated if we all jumped in and pledged to do this... So who is up for joining in and making the pledge?

These people are already recycling fabrics and fibers, so if you don't feel creative enough to do it yourself, then go to the handmade sites and type in "Recycled" into the search engines and find people that will do the crafting work for you.

Kaboogie has a shop full of recycled leather shoes and boots. I couldn't resist featuring these cute red suede Mary Janes.

Knit Nats had reclaimed this yarn from a merino wool sweater and then hand died it to get these pretty shades of red and pink. Now you can make whatever you need from it.

Taking a mixture of lovingly pre used sweaters and fitting them together in new ways is one of Spicy's talents. These arm warmers are a perfect example.

Are you looking for a hat to finish off that perfect outfit? Original Sample has just the thing for you. Again this hat is made from previously loved fabric and has vintage button embelishments.

Kenspeckle created this beautiful hoody by repurposing fabric from other clothing and then hand dyed it to get the beautiful shades of colour you now see.

All these people above have one thing in common. They are making a difference. They are not allowing perfectly good fabric to go to waste by reinventing them into other wonderfully useful items. More power to their elbow! I say lets all pledge to support them and rejoice in their recycling, upcycling, repurposing talented ways!

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