Sunday, 28 March 2010

Coming Soon

New toys!

I have been off for a while, planning and organising. Now The Boss is also self-employed, making Boutonnerie work properly is even more important. There has been a site revamp and some resorting. Still some work to do, but I'm getting there.

There is also a whole bundle of new stock coming in the next week. My Lovely Babysitter is arriving tonight to take care of Little Button for me for a couple of weeks so I shall be hard at work.

Felt packs to accompany the felt squares
New vintage buttons
A whole new section for Embroidery
and a fair few haberdashery basics.

On top of all this, I've been making. My first experiments with polymer clay didn't work that well - they looked pretty but were simply not robust enough. The second days work went better:

They all still need sanding and finishing, a task not helped by Little Button being firmly convinced they are sweeties!

When the weather warms up, I can start prepping the alder and there may even be some fruit wood toggles coming too, once I get around to doing the pruning!

So, do come by and visit - I'm having so much fun with Boutonnerie! For now, I'm off to sort the stockroom and find somewhere for the Lovely Babysitter to sleep. As she, and the button, says, life is...

Tuesday, 23 March 2010

"I could make that"

Without doubt, the single most infuriating thing to hear when working at a craft fair. That or "I made one like that and it didn't cost anywhere near that much".

Of course it doesn't cost that much to make yourself - you probably aren't counting your time or making a profit in order to grow your business/feed your kids/pay bills/etc.

But even if none of that matters to you, and you could make it yourself, would you? Would you be able to make it to the same standard as someone who does this day in, day out, who is practiced at what they do and who has skills (and possibly tools) that you don't?

Take, for example, this wonderous shop of delight: Tea Loves Cake on Etsy

I bake. I'm not a bad baker but I don't massively enjoy it and I tend to have more near-misses than genuine hits. Best summed up in that phrase 'good, plain baking'. Fruitcakes, gingerbread, the occasional muffin. Could I make cupcakes like these? Possibly. Am I going to? Highly unlikely!

Leaving aside the impressive vegan credentials, this is just beautiful. My icing never looks that smooth and as for making handmade flowers to decorate it? I've never done it, never wanted to do it and I know my skills well enough to know just how long it would take for me to get them looking that good. Being honest here, it would never actually cross my mind to do it!

For selling, particuarly online, is all about buyer's perception and seller's presentation. When I came across Tea Loves Cake I sat there, mouth open. The cakes are beautiful. We all know that they are not a useful* purchase, in fact the recommendation to "Once you receive your cupcakes remove them from their recyclable box and store them in an airtight container at room temp. until you are ready to eat them." made me laugh because I know, in this house, that they wouldn't even make it into that box!

To sell, successfully, you have to have either something people need or something you can make people think they need. Not conning or scamming, I don't mean that, but presenting in such away that anyone who sets eyes on your wares instantly thinks "GIMME"

*in the way of wellies or a loaf of bread. Of course, whimsy, beauty and frippery do fall into the 'necessities' category, unless we're all doomed to uniformity.

So next time you think "I could make that" be honest enough to ask youself if you really would. Or whether you should treat yourself to a little bit of beauty and reward someone else for their creations?

Saturday, 20 March 2010

Creative Frenzy

Well, not only has there been digging, playing with fabric, taking silly arty pics, but there has also been knitting. I had a little break a few days ago - it seems to have put the lead back in my pencil when it comes to new ideas.

I have felted one rug and knit another:

Scraps and oddments of blues, greens, purples and greys. 3 strands on 15mm needles. The main strand is a frogged Noro sweater. Heresy? Maybe, but it made me look worryingly like a boiled egg topped with an egg cosy and besides - I can no longer wear wool. It has, however, made a very pretty felted rug!

And while hunting out all my bits and bobs of colours for the rugs I found these:

A whole box of Colinette Giotto pieces. They're not full skeins, so I have the fun of combining colours (something that can keep me amused for far too long). I've used these in the past for the Ribbon Scarves but this time I've decided to go for something lighter and lacier. Something that might just work well with the new shawl pins in stock.

Wednesday, 17 March 2010

A Bagful of Promise

The Boss has been fulltime self-employed for exactly one month now and though he does frequently drive me up the wall (and get underfoot more than the dog + Little Button combined) I have to say it is the best decision he ever made. We still havne't quite worked out a perfect routine of work and childcare yet, but we are getting there. more importantly, we both feel we now have enough time to plan ahead, explore new ideas and experiment, rather than just Red Queening it and hoping for the best.

So, I went exploring. Really, the best thing about self-employment is the opportunity to wander at will through pretty websites and getting to call it 'research'.

And look what I found:



Aren't they gorgeous?

I have great plans for these. There is some work to be done before I'm ready to offer up the final pieces in Overspill and Boutonnerie but I have to say, when this bagful arrived on the doorstep, I couldn't wait to get going!

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

On the outside

There is more to life than buttons (shocking, but true!) and the other side of life is spent trying to make half an acre of brick rubble, mud and nettles actually grow something. Sometimes I win - sometimes I don't. Recently, the prizes have been going to the forces of chaos. Of course, the flood didn't help - hard to dig when under 9' of water - and the next year a very tiny Little Button didn't help much either. But this year, I'm determined to take gold!

This may be over-optimistic on my part. Certainly, it isn't looking promising! The main problem is that although we have a lovely amount of space here, the house itself was once part of the brickworks. Famous brickworks, historically important brickworks, but nevertheless, brickworks that dumped all the spoil and misfires all over the land that was one day to become my garden.

And so - where there should be earth, there is brick. What soil that is there is a deeply unpleasant mix of clay and brick chippings. And, at best guess, there is 60 tonnes of brick bits to move before I do more planting.

This patch is going to be an orchard. One day! I'm slowly digging out the bricks, pulling up the weeds and some day soon will cover the whole area with the contents of 5 compost heaps. We have saved some topsoil from other excavations and then the trees can go in. At present, they are down in the veggie plot, but it's too frosty, too damp and if they grow more than 6" they're going to shade out the neighbours greenhouse. I don't think I could live with myself if they did that!

I've already cut down the alder sprouts coming from the stump:

A lot of this will be saved for button making and toggle making. As they are quite young shoots, they have grown lovely and straight and really - there is nothing better than the colour of fresh-cut alder!