Saturday, 7 December 2013

Directory of 'handmade-only' craft fairs

I've attended (as a seller) and visited (as a buyer) quite a lot of 'craft fairs' over the past year or two, and am increasingly frustrated by the inclusion of sellers who either buy-in products or have them made by someone else, usually a factory somewhere miles away.

Are there any 'handmade-only' craft fairs out there, where products have to be designed AND made by the person selling them? I'm only aware of a handful, but would like to promote those and any others that cherish and support genuine handmade crafts.

I'm going to add a Directory of Craft Fairs to my blog, and will be very happy to include any that sell only handmade crafts. They must be fairs that are held on a regular basis (at least annually), anywhere in the UK, and must include the condition that 'all goods are designed and handmade by the seller'.

If you know of any and would like them added, please let me know.

Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Hotham Park Country Fair 3/4 August 2013

Next weekend you'll find me under a gazebo at Hotham Park Country Fair, in Bognor Regis, where I'll be selling my textile accessories and other bits and pieces to the milling crowds! Hopefully the weather will be back to 'warm and sunny' - and not too windy - for the weekend, and I'm really looking forward to being out and about in it for a couple of days.

We'll be at stall number B37, just a couple of spaces from the main craft marquee, so I hope a few of you will be around and will come and say 'hello' to us.

The Hotham Park website gives more details of the event as well as directions and information about parking, transport etc.

Friday, 19 July 2013

Littlehampton Arts Festival & Arts Trail 20-27 July

The Littlehampton Arts Festival kicks off tomorrow with Festival in the Park, a day of music, arts and crafts in Caffyn's Field. During the week there are lots more events happening, including Shoreline Sculptures, Arts at Harbour Park, and the Arts Trail.

I'm exhibiting some framed photo prints at Shopmobility in St Martin's Lane as part of the Arts Trail, and will be at Caffyn's Field tomorrow (20 July), with a selection of art and crafts, and at Harbour Park next Friday (26 July) with my photos.

Other events include: Shoreline Sculpture (Sun, 21 July, 3pm); Long Bench 'Flashmob' (Weds, 24 July, 6pm); Arts & Crafts/Special Little Things Market (Sat, 27 July, 10-4); and the Arts Trail is on all week at various venues in the town. Pick up a leaflet for more details, or visit the LOCA facebook page.

Thursday, 18 July 2013

Serendipity and Silk Dyes

I've been busy again, this time playing with gorgeous silk dyes and scarves. I love silk, it takes these French dyes beautifully and they look even brighter after they've been steam-fixed. I did a mix of habotai and chiffon scarves - both are lovely - and used three different colourways. I usually select three colours for each batch and mix them to create shades and hues that work well together. Some of the scarves have been shibori-dyed and some space-dyed - both techniques are unpredictable, hence the serendipity in the title. The most exciting bit is unwrapping them after they've been steamed and seeing the final result - always beautiful, but not always as expected!

Here's a photo showing some of them dancing in the sunshine yesterday.

Monday, 15 July 2013

Kimono Notebook Covers

Here are my latest creations, a range of 'Kimono' notebook covers in gorgeous Japanese fabrics with a central band of ribbon representing an obi, the wide sash worn with a kimono. These were inspired by the lovely fabrics - a gift brought back recently from Japan - and my own visit there a few years ago, when I bought myself a beautiful vintage kimono and obi of my very own.

I only have enough fabric for 2 or 3 of each design, so when they've gone there'll be no more in these particular fabrics. They're available now in my Folksy shop, while stocks last!

Saturday, 22 June 2013

Worthing Open Houses 2013

My first time as an exhibiting artist in the Worthing Open Houses event started today, with a great day at Camelot House in Worthing. I'm exhibiting there with 3 other artists and couldn't ask for a better venue. We had 65 people through the door today and are hoping for many more tomorrow and over the next two weekends. Everyone seemed to enjoy the variety of work on offer - not to mention Denise's delicious home-baked cakes! - and we received some lovely comments and compliments.

I'm there again next weekend 29th/30th June, 12-5pm. Please come and say hi if you can.

Friday, 21 June 2013

Summer Solstice

Well, it's the longest day and after a pretty dull start, it's turned into a lovely sunny evening. Shame the sunrise wasn't visible but at least we should be able to see it go down. I do love the long, light days in June and the summer solstice always seems to be a bit magical and memorable. Over the years I can recall quite a few that were special, for various reasons, from getting together with friends for a celebratory drink, to holidays in the sun and travels to far-flung places.

In 2010, I arrived back from Indonesia after a wonderful holiday there. In 2008, I set off for Santiago at the start of a 4 week trip across South America, which was amazing. In 2007, I booked my flights to Australia and soon after handed in my notice at work (3 months, that was tough!).

In 2001, I was unpacking boxes in my new home in Sussex at the start of a long, slow, warm summer. Bliss! In 2000, I started a new job after a six month break, spent studying Spanish and French in Tenerife and Nice.

It seems that the solstice represents more than just the longest day - it's a time for new beginnings, chapters closing, adventures starting - it's a special day, with special memories. I shall watch the sun go down on this one with a warm glow.

Thursday, 23 May 2013

Where Am I Going To Put All This Fabric?

OK, I admit it, I'm officially addicted to buying fabric. I can't walk past a charity shop or boot sale without having a good hunt for some rare remnants or old curtains that could be upcycled into cushions or bags. The trouble is I'm collecting it faster than I'm using it, which means I'm gradually drowning under an ever-growing pile of fabric. Even worse, sometimes I can't even bring myself to use it, because it's so gorgeous I just want to keep it and look at it! There's no hope for me, I'm past help.

I've decided to be strong now and STOP BUYING IT!!! I wonder how long that will last.........

Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Is it May Already?

Wow, where is the year going? (I must be getting old as I remember this is something that all old people say every year!) But seriously, it's May already and it still feels like Spring is only just kicking into action, so it's hard to believe four months have passed by while I've been huddled up in my winter woollies and stitching away in my little sewing room.

I haven't exactly been hibernating, but I do feel that it's now time to come out of my 'burrow' and start enjoying the Spring sunshine and hopefully a bit of warmth.

I've done a few craft fairs in the past couple of months, with varying degrees of success, but am really looking forward to my next two fairs over the weekend of 11th/12th May, both of which are new to me. The first one is in Midhurst, at the Grange Leisure Centre (Saturday 11th May), and the next day I'm at Denbies Wine Estate in Dorking (Sunday 12th May). Both are a bit further afield than my usual fairs, so it'll be interesting to see how well my work is received 'up-country'.

What have I been making lately? Well, after feedback from buyers, I designed a new cross-body bag and made it up in four different versions, one of which I kept for myself (actually, it was the prototype, so that's my excuse!). Two were in lovely faux-suede fabrics, which work really well. Here are a few photos for you...

Monday, 11 March 2013

A Flurry of Craft Fairs

It's that time of year when all the craft fairs are being set up and I have to decide which ones to do, not just for the next few months but right through until December! I've already done two fairs - one at Haskins, Roundstone in February and one last Saturday at Felpham - so I'm warming up and getting into the swing of them.

The Haskins fair was over four days (a bit of a marathon) and was very quiet initially but it got better towards the end and I covered my costs with a bit to spare. The Felpham one last weekend was also quieter than expected, but again I covered my costs and had a profitable day. I also met some great new sellers and picked up news of other fairs and events to follow up.

I have two more fairs booked at Felpham in April and May, and I've just added the Assembly Rooms, Chichester to my calendar, in June, September, October and November. I'm taking part in the Worthing Open Houses event this year too, which takes place over three weekends in June/July. The Arts in the Courtyard fairs are on in June, July and August, and I've booked a space at Crafts at Lancing College for the last weekend of October. It's all getting very busy!

I've added all the above plus a few more to the events calendar on the right, so keep an eye on it and maybe I'll get to meet you at one of the events.

Monday, 4 February 2013

Wedding Bags Unveiled!

As promised here is a photo of my first two wedding bag designs - one is an elegant ivory silk and lace bridal bag, the other is a pretty little satin and lace dolly bag, perfect for brides or bridesmaids. Both are now available from my CiesseTextiles shop on Folksy and also as custom orders if you'd like them in different colours or fabrics.

I'd love to hear what you think of them.

Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Little Wedding Bags

'Tis the wedding season soon, so perfect timing for my next project - little wedding bags. I have a few designs in mind and will be putting together some samples over the next week or so. These little bags will be just right for brides or bridesmaids to keep their little essentials in and will be the perfect finishing touch for that big day. Keep watching for the grand unveiling (sorry, no pun intended!).

Sunday, 27 January 2013

New Textile Journal Covers

Towards the end of last year I made a few textile journal/notebook covers, the same size as my photo notebook covers, but using various textile pieces such as felt and vintage linen, all embellished with buttons, beads and other beautiful bits. I sold one at a craft fair a few days later and the remaining two soon afterwards on Folksy - both to the same customer! As they were so popular, I decided to make a few more. I now have six of these little beauties in my shops (on Etsy or Folksy), all very different, each one unique and perfect to give as a keepsake gift - perhaps for Valentine's Day or Mother's Day. They'd also make great gifts for a bride-to-be (use it as a wedding planner), a bridesmaid, or for a special friend. You could even treat yourself to one! The cover can be re-used on another journal, a diary or address book - it fits a standard A6 book - so it can be kept forever.

Here they all are, on sale now at just £25 - remember, there's only one of each design available, so don't delay!

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Here's to an exciting New Year!

It's been a long time since my last post (can't believe it was back in November!) but let me start by wishing you all a very happy New Year and may all your hopes and dreams move closer to reality in 2013. I hope you all enjoyed the festive season in whatever way you chose to celebrate it - mine was the traditional family way, spending time with family and friends, eating and drinking a little too much (!) and generally relaxing.

But's time to look forward, get 2013 under way and make some changes. There's a blank calendar to fill up and lots of work to get done.


It's time to shift some of the things I no longer need/want/use, so there'll be plenty of listing on Etsy and E-bay this month. I've already added lots of vintage linen & lace to my Etsy shop and that will be swiftly followed by more of the same as well as some of my vintage bags, clothes and accessories that are taking up valuable loft space.

Vintage linen & lace traycloth or mat

One of a pair of matching lace mats

 I also need to re-assess my stock of handmade bags etc on Folksy and decide what to focus on going forward. I've added up all my sales over the past 18 months and worked out which products are the best-sellers (phone cases) and which bring in the most cash (bags), so these are the things I'll be making more of and some of the not-so-successful will fall by the wayside. It's a steep learning curve and there's no easy way of knowing what will/won't be successful, so they're not wasted, they'll just be put down to experience and offered at knock-down prices at the next craft fair!

Best sellers - hand-painted silk handbags (from £25)

Best sellers - phone & gadget cases (from £10) I've been so busy with the textiles that this has taken a bit of a back seat lately, but I did sell a large canvas print of one of my photos just before Christmas, so that was an unexpected bonus. I've recently made some notebook covers by printing some of my images onto canvas and sewing it up into covers. I sold the first one at a craft fair and have made several more, which are now on sale on Folksy and through Traders in Littlehampton - they also stock some of my photo prints and canvasses.

'Seagulls' notebook cover (with A6 notebook) £15

'Cuba Collage' notebook cover (with A6 notebook) £15

So that's where I'm at now and I'll be planning the rest of the year very soon. There are already craft fairs and art fairs booked, an exhibition planned and lots of new ideas to put into action. I'm going to do a monthly blog update - with maybe a few smaller blogs in between - and will add events as and when they are confirmed. Happy 2013!