14 Aug 2009


This weekend we are off camping at the beach. I can't wait to be out in the open with the wind blowing the salty sea air through my hair. Walking on the sand barefoot and feeling the cool water wash over my toes is something I need right now. Things have been driving me a little crazy in the last few weeks, so many projects on the go and so little energy to get any of them properly started let alone completed. So leaving all that stress in the house and going off to be somewhere away from all that will be fantastic.

One of the most important things you need when camping is a way to get warm if you get wet or the temperature drops really low and John Tunger's portable beach burner is a perfectly stylish way to ensure you have a fire to keep you warm. I adore it!

When I'm camping the thing I hate is trying to keep your soap clean and stopping it making a gooey mess of my wash bag. Suds 'N' Such obviously has similar problems and thus came up with these fantastic twist top soaps that will close up and keep your soap safe in your backpack. What's even better is she sells refills so you don't ever have to throw the plastic case away!

When you are cooking in the wilderness it's great to be able to work on a table and Simply Rustic has created this chunky, sturdy folding table which would be great to have with you when you are preparing meals for hungry surfers or hikers. It would be a great thing to stow under a bed in a campervan, ready to whip out when you need it.

Taking kids camping is a great thing to do as it can teach them so much, but before you do it's a good idea to get them ready for whats to come. Bugga Bugs's felt box filled with camping toys is a great way of helping the little ones to understand where they are going and what they will be doing. You can take it with you when you go so they have something to play with on the journey.

One thing you really should never forget when you are off camping is a knife. DJReigel pretty pocket knife is a lovely knife to own. The engraving on it just adds to how special it is, both nice to look at and tactile too. A great combination of functionality and aesthetics. Fantastic!

I hope whatever you are doing this weekend you have fantastic fun. I plan on soaking up all the wild energy the sea and beach have to offer, so that I can come home refreshed and ready to proceed with so many of these projects rattling around in my head.

Written my Lynne of the PiratePixieCrew

11 Aug 2009

Happy with hemp.

Industrial hemp is one of the fastest growing biomasses known, producing up to 25 tonnes of dry matter per hectare per year, and one of the earliest domesticated plants known. As such it is a fabulously good crop to grow for it's fibre content which can be used to make textiles, biodegradable plastics and construction. Sadly due to the fact industrial hemp (Cannabis sativa L. subsp. sativa var. sativa) is a member of the Cannabis genus, in the UK it was illegal to grow the crop, because of a ban imposed in 1971 under the Misuse of Drugs Act. Campaigners argued that although industrial hemp was a variety of the cannabis plant, it could be grown as a legitimate crop as it contained practically no tetrahydrocannabinol, the property that gives marijuana (a different strain of cannabis) its potent effect. Thankfully this ban was finally overturned in 1993 and now industrial hemp is becoming a more common crop in the UK. It is often said that industrial hemp has 25,000 natural uses, so lets have a look at how some people have used it.

Neckghetti has used a hemp/cotton mix jersey fabric to create these beautiful spaghetti string neck scarf.

Mingus has used 100% hemp fabric printed with dear to make this pretty zip purse

Hemp oil has been used by Dandy Body Care to make these nourishing soap bars.

Hand dyed and woven hemp fabric is used by Llynfi to create gorgeous clothes like this dress.

Crescent Moon Creations use of hemp yarn combined with handmade fimo clay beads creates these beautiful anklet.

Hemp has so many uses and grows fast without the use of loads of pesticides. It really is a fantastic crop that farmers should be encouraged to grow. Do a search online for all the things Hemp can be used in and I swear you will be amazed.

9 Aug 2009

Artisan of the Week, Beth of StarPixie

Morning all! Today I'd like to introduce you all to one of my favourite artisan on the planet. Beth of StarPixie has sold so many varied things in her shop, but every one is made with love, care and most of all talent. This lady seems to have unending talents. Whatever she tries she seems to master. Beth is not only a talented crafts person but she is also a very good hooper and poi spinner. Add to all that she is one of the kindest people I've ever met and you have the perfect package!

1. Could you please introduce us to who you are and what you do?
I'm a student studying Photography. When I'm not taking photographs I'm making something or other. I don't specialise in any one particular craft, instead I like to have a go at as many different things as I can! I love to work with fabric and wire the most although I'm yet to combine the two so maybe that's a future project.

2. What led you to take up your craft?
Craft has always been a part of me. My childhood was spent drawing and creating and I never really stopped. I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia 5 years ago and it has meant that I have had to fill a lot of my time with low energy hobbies that I can do in the comfort of my living room. It gave me a kick to learn new things. Because of my illness, I have not been able to maintain a conventional job so in the past few years I have started using crafting to fund my way through university.

3. Which part of your work do you most enjoy?
Learning new things! I get bored easily so I love to come up with new ideas and make new things all the time. I like to challenge myself and learning new crafts and techniques. There is something really satisfying about creating something beautiful out of simple materials.

4. Which part do you find hardest?
The business side of things! I really need to motivate myself to list things online and promote my shop. I have piles of unlisted stuff in my 'finished' box. Despite knowing that it's the most important part of selling my things, I have little drive to do it. It's the boring part of crafting!

5. Where do you hope to be in 1 year’s time?
A year away from finishing my photography degree and being a few steps closer to making a living from my creativity. I already sell some of my goods in one shop in Bristol (http://www.fireworksjewellery.com/ ), I would love to have expanded on that. I also want to have learnt silk screen printing and do more mixed media work.

6. What is the best advice you have ever been given?
Happiness is far more important than money

7. Could you name artisans sites/shops would you recommend are worth a visit?
katwise on Etsy is amazing. I adore her up-cycled clothing and continue to be inspired by her. Kreativlink makes the most amazing journals, I especially like the painted fabric ones, they are really worth checking out.
8. What is your favourite sandwich filling?
In a magical world where I'm not intolerant to wheat, dairy, sesame and yeast it would be Mozzarella, Tahiti and Marmite on granary bread mmmm

Thanks for joining in with the blog this week Beth. I truly am stunned each time you turn your hand do a new craft and your first sample attempt is better than most of the goods I see for sale. You are a most talented person! Readers if you want to keep up with Beth's latest creations you can see what she is up to on her website. I'm loving her latest creation of harem pants. They aren't on the website or in her shop yet, but I'm going to be begging her to make me a pair.

Written by Lynne of PiratePixieCrew and Hyperloop Hoops

7 Aug 2009

Photography Tutorials: Tell a Story

I was searching for a new topic for this fab audience (one that hasn’t been covered a million different ways) and at around 2 a.m. I woke up with an inspiration: why not have your photographs tell a story?

The inspiration really came from visiting my friend Layne’s workshop last week: she’s a silver artisan and is creating these lovely silver frames to hold my photographs set under glass. It occurred to me that not many people get to witness the process of hand-made creation...so why not bring them in to your studio with you?

Here’s a series I could use for my own shop:

1. Layne’s first rough sketch

2. The completed frame

3. The back of the pendant

4. The final pendant with set glass in place

While this might not work for every art form, it can still be a unique way to introduce your audience and (hopefully!) customers to your creativity. Show them the yarn with which you knit your sweaters, the clay from which you create your pottery, or whatever your raw materials are. Take a few photographs of the pieces as you work and share the process with those who will be treasuring your creations for years to come.

(If anyone decides to try this approach, please post your links in the comments below - I’d love to see the results!)

Happy photographing!

Written by Michelle of MKC Photography

6 Aug 2009

Second chances

It's been a while since I've featured lots of recycled goods on Autonomous Artisans, which is very bad of me, so today I'm going to show you some of the nicest recycled goods I've seen lately. I am going to quote something I read written by Katwise "there is so much beauty in the world that we ought to enjoy what we already have instead of blindly consuming and wasting." What a wise and talented woman...

Katwise makes many beautiful things, but of all the things she makes I love these long coats made of recycled sweaters the most. She takes multiple pre-worn sweaters, cuts them up and patchworks them with a serge machine into these gorgeous frock coats. I so want to own one. With a bit of design flare and talent old sweaters can be given a new and beautiful life.

Nutmeg Click loves to travel and collect pieces from all over the world to recycle into her own pieces. This piece combines re-purposed items from India, Turkey and Thailand and I think it is stunning. Go over to her shop to read where the fabric came from for this piece. I love that recycled goods often have a great story to go with them.

The beautiful pouch belt from Elven Forest Creations is made from reclaimed leather, so it has been softened in a previous life as some other garment. I, as a vegetarian, try very hard to never throw anything made of leather away. There is always a use it can be put to as this beautiful pocket belt shows. Even very small scraps of leather can be reused, so please never throw it away. Donate it to someone that can use it again.

Knitnats has carefully unravelled a merino wool sweater, taken the perfectly usable yarn and hand dyed it to give us this super soft beautiful yarn in shades of red and pink. Unravelling machine made garments in most cases is not possible as it comes apart in short strands, but all those lovingly hand knitted garments can be unravelled and used for new projects. So if you have a hat, scarf or sweater that your Aunt or granny knitted you that is no longer your style, you can probably unravel it and make something new.

Kaboogie is another person that takes pre-used leather and turns it into new goods for people to buy and use. This practical little purse with cherry blossom on the front is just so cute and pretty. I'm sure if you weren't told you would never guess it was made of recycled materials. Check out the shops for the baby moccasins. They are adorable!

Many people, when you say recycled goods think of things that look shabby and pre-owned, but as you can see from all these goods that is so far from the truth. Recycling all reusable materials is a must and if you yourself can't think of a way to use something or don't have the skills, don't throw the materials away, pass them onto someone that can make use of them. There are many recycling centres that are only too happy to take your old clothes, off cuts of carpets, leather, fabric etc, books, left over paints... pretty much anything. Don't send anything that can be reused to landfill. Reuse it yourself or find someone else that can recycle it.

Written by Lynne of Pirate Pixie Crew and Hyperloop Hoop

5 Aug 2009

Fantastic Flickr Friends

It's been a while since I showed you any of the items added to our flickr group, so I thought today I better stop slacking and get blogging about a few. As the sun is trying to shine outside I'm going to make this quick, so I can get on with the weeding and painting out there.

SeetheWood has knitted this fantastic daisy flower cushion. It's almost 3 ft across so a comfy place to park your behind. We have some large daisies opening up in the garden right now and I'm itching to go out and see their sunny faces.

CoolBeans717's brooches of grumpy clouds are just like the clouds I have been seeing outside my window for days and now they have finally blown away I can't wait to get my wellies on to dig the weeds out of the flower beds.

We always have a lot of birds in our garden, despite the fact we have 2 cats living with us. One of our cats is very old and can't really be bothered to chase them any more and the other is so silly, he doesn't have the skill to catch them. I'm sure they would love this bird house from ibreak4glass.

I'm in the middle of painting the frames of our newly made chicken run, as we are hoping to soon have 4 laying hen. We want to get 4 different breeds of chickens so that we can tell them apart easily, although I don't think we will find a tartan one like Hetty, from JunkyChicken.

When I go down to the end of our garden I am always finding things I don't expect and I have always hoped that when we are not around a whole heap of fairies and mini monsters play around down there. This group of monsters from Mealy Monster would be perfect!

So I'm off to sneak down to the end of the garden to see if Maureen and Jace monsters are out playing and to get on with some clearing away and chicken run painting. Have a fantastic day dear readers, whatever it is you are doing today!

3 Aug 2009

Tea anyone?

I'm a bit of tea-o-holic and drink many varieties of tea. I don't like milk in my tea and I don't take sugar, so I guess you could say I like the pure taste of the tea as the person blending it meant it to taste. Right now I'm drinking some spiced mint Moroccan blend tea. It's beautiful, light and refreshing with a warming after taste. It takes a special skill to blend fabulous flavoured tea, so I am in awe of people that do it.

This first tea blend is a green tea with flavours of pear and sunflower. LiberTEAS , the creator, says it makes a great hot drink but also is great when iced or used as flavouring for other things like ice cream.

Tea For All Reasons blended this romantic brew from rooibos, almonds, candy hearts and vanilla flavoring. What a beautiful gift for the person you love. IT would make me smile a lot if Jon gave me some of this.

Are you unsure of which tea you'd like best? Teaman has a solution for you with his variety pack that contains 40 tea bags of 8 different blends of decaf and herbal teas. You can try them out before you buy a larger amount of your favourite.

This The Om Intention tea blend is titled "Miracle Elixir Tea" and is a blend of organic Earl Grey tea is infused with alfalfa leaves, chamomile flowers, and gotu kola leaves. As a lover of Earl Grey I'm eager to try this blend.

Soft Shell Body Shop's blend of Bright Eyes herbal tea is caffeine free, making it perfect for drinking n the evening. It has a minty flavour, but it has a big mix of herbs that give subtle under current flavours to this refreshing drink.

As I said at the start I'm a big tea drinker, so I'd love to try all of the teas these shops have to offer. I think it's time to start bashing my paypal account balance by ordering a few each week. I raise a cup to all the tea blenders. I will be stopping by your shops very soon.

Written by Lynne of PiratePixieCrew and Hyperloop Hoops

2 Aug 2009

Artisan of the Week, Diane of Cymberrain

Morning all! Sunday has come around again and that means I get to show you another amazing artisans work and give them a chance to tell you a little bit about themselves and their work. Today I'm very happy to introduce you to Diane of Cymbarrain. This ladies talents are so apparent when you look at her work. Her colour sense and her obvious delight for fabrics and textures shine out. I was mainly attracted by the bright colours, but the more I looked the more the details grabbed my attention. Let me hand over to Diane so she can tell you about it all.

1. Could you please introduce us to who you are and what you do?
I am a former reweaver who had my own reweaving business in down town Seattle for over ten years. It was an extremely exhausting job. I closed my shop and moved to France two years ago when I met and fell in love with my husband who is French. I now spend my days doing what I have been wanting to do for years, my art. I am especially interested in pencil art, fiber arts and dyeing. I also dabble in glass painting, acrylics and needle felting among other things. I am particularly drawn to bright vibrant colors and things of a celestial theme.

2. What led you to take up your craft?
I have always been interested in fabrics and sewing. My mother bought me a tiny sewing machine when I was just a young girl and I spent many an hour making doll clothes on it. I have also always been interested in fine arts. My sister taught me to draw in church when I was little to keep me occupied. I went on to take graphic arts in the vocational high school in my area and then onto college for fine arts. Life caught up with me though and I put art on hold for a long time.

3. Which part of your work do you most enjoy?
I love spending my evenings stitching. Nothing better than working some wonderful thread into cloth, creating something beautiful from bits and pieces. Actually I enjoy any creating process, drawing a picture or painting one, forming a shape with felt, anything using my hands.

4. Which part do you find hardest?
Well, I used to love photography but since I started to sell online I have found it to be an unwelcome task. It's not the same as taking photos for fun that's for sure. Also the tediousness of listing items. Anything business related drags me down quickly.

5. Where do you hope to be in 1 year’s time?
Hopefully somewhere doing what I love near the one I love. I want to keep exploring new avenues of manipulating fiber and grow as an artist. I plan on expanding my dyeing and make it a major part of my business, while continuing to make my fiber pieces. One of the great things about what I do is, I can pick up and go anywhere on earth and continue it. My husband and I are both great lovers of travel and plan to see much more of this world in the future. As long as I'm with him I don't really care where we end up!

6. What is the best advice you have ever been given?
Two things I think. Chose happiness over money and always follow your heart.

7. Could you name artisans sites/shops would you recommend are worth a visit?
Oh my! I know so many talented people out there. Two of my absolute favorites are Arlee Barr and Karen Ruane.
Arlee is a wonderful fiber artist living in Canada who does the most amazing things with cloth.
Karen lives in England and embroiders the most beautiful pieces.

8. What is your favourite sandwich filling?
How can a person have just ONE favorite? Hmmm, The Blue Heron in Seattle makes these wonderful sandwiches with hot turkey, bacon and avocado that are divine. Perhaps they are my favorite...

Thank you Diane for Joining in with our blog. I love your work so much. It has inspired me to have a go at embroidery myself. The Small World, Sleeping Moon piece in your Flickr account is one of my favourite of your pieces. I love the whole feel of the sun. It is so joyful and exuberant. Although I think I more associate myself with the sleeping moon, I've been so tired lately. Dear readers, if you want to see more of Diane's beautiful work do visit her flickr account and you can keep up to date with her world on her blog.

Written by Lynne of PiratePixieCrew and Hyperloop Hoops

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