Bazaar Update

It’s been a couple of years since I last tabled at a craft fair.  I planned to get back into it last summer, but circumstances prevailed and after my dad passed away I did lose creative impetus a little.  This year, though, I’m itching to get out there and get back into the fray and have already booked into two markets, with hopefully some more a little further down the line.  I love to see what other people are making, and chat with (potential) customers in person – it’s such a different experience than selling online!

I don’t expect a high volume of sales – I know a lot of people just like to browse – but having changed focus since my last craft fair, I’m interested to see how my collage notebooks go down.  The zines & upcycled badges will still be there, too, of course!  I’m also considering branching out & making some framed collage art – something I have so far baulked at attempting on Etsy due to the extra cost and worry about potential damage when shipping bulky-but-fragile frames…

I’m looking forward to all the ‘boring’ preparation – planning different packaging, deciding on labelling etc.  There are lots of ideas bubbling around inside my head, now I just need to work on organising them into a format I can put into practice!

Are any of you out there in or near to Derbyshire (UK)?  I’d love to meet you at one of the craft fairs!  I’ll be giving away small goody bags to anybody who spends £5 or more, but if you mention this blog post, I will find a little extra something for you, too. 🙂  I have added a link to the mainpage sidebar with further details of forthcoming fairs & markets, but here’s a shortcut for you.  New dates will be added as I book them.  Hope to see you soon! 🙂  (But if you can’t make it to an event, you are always very welcome to browse the online TangleStore, instead!)

Postal Patchwork Prisms

This post is really more of a ‘show-and-tell’ for one of the notebooks I included in my last post’s mini gallery.  I was so pleased with the way it turned out that I decided it justified having a little more of a showcase:

Rainbow Postal Patchwork Pinwheel (large)
Rainbow Postal Patchwork Pinwheel (large)
Rainbow Postal Patchwork Pinwheel (mini)
Rainbow Postal Patchwork Pinwheel (mini)

The pattern began as an expansion of the pinwheel motif on the mini notebook shown right, but when expanded it takes on all new qualities.  The pinwheels combine to produce new illusions – diamond shaped colour-blocks, and an overall prismatic effect.  I realise quilters (etc) are probably quite familiar with how this process works, but it’s a lot of fun to see in action, especially when you don’t know in advance what the overall effect will be.  I love the way the colours play/bounce off each other; would be interesting to experiment with multi-tones of a single colour family, too…

Mother’s Day Postal Patchwork

Today I took a short break from Etsying in order to actually make my mum a handmade Mother’s Day card for once.   I know my overseas readers don’t need to think about this just yet, but over here in the UK, Mothering Sunday is this weekend, so I was cutting it a bit fine!

PP Mum

The pattern is mostly abstract, but if you look at it the right way, it does actually spell out MUM (in quite angular, blocky letters!) – follow the pink/purple from left to right…can you see it?  Not incredibly obvious, I concede, but my mum will like the colour combination, regardless! 😉  I added an insert of cream coloured lokta paper inside, to give it a touch more ‘finish’.  Now all I need to do is get it into the hands of the lovely Royal Mail (before they put their prices up, on Monday!).

Give or take a bout of flu, I feel like I’ve been on the production line for the last few weeks non-stop – same old story: too many ideas, too little time!   See mini gallery below for a sampling of new collaged notebooks (in varying sizes), some very prismatic rainbow postal patchwork, and a glimmer of Springtime in the end-of-winter weather led me back to the Secret Garden, with new zines, DIY seed packets & more.  JaguarSnail's WolfNot to mention some gorgeous wolfish notebooks from Britta’s latest hand-carved stamp.

Hop on over to the TangleStore & take advantage of a 15% discount using coupon code MADMARCH at Etsy checkout – only valid for a few more days! (coupon expires March 31st)

A Gift for my Fairy Godmother

I hadn’t planned on any further Postal Patchwork experiments just yet, Postal Patchwork greensbut I had a reason to sneak this one in between some other projects.  I’m about to disappear off to Ireland for a few days to visit my aunt, who is also my godmother (I call her my Fairy Godmother, although I’m not sure how much she appreciates that…) and wanted to take a small gift with me.  So I chose greens for the Emerald Isle (and also because I’m pretty sure she is fond of greens) and pieced together this little notebook for her.

This notebook is obviously not for sale; however, this particular patchwork design used halves of 18 different stamps (which means I have 18 matching halves remaining) and thus its inverse twin will probably become available not long after my return.  I’m also seeing that almost-tree shape as a potential future Christmas card design (perhaps contrasted against a splash of red)…

Another crafternoon…

December frequently escapes me somewhat, with birthdays, increased busy-ness at work, and the forthcoming seasonal festivities, all piling on top of my days which already feel very full.  But earlier this week I did manage to make time for another get-together with the lovely Britta of JaguarSnail.  We had some fun playing with my new envelope punchboard – we struggled to follow the instructions, bluffed our way through to success by trial & error, then found that the instructions did make sense, after all… 😉  I really love the results & there will definitely be new TangleMail-designed envelopes  coming soon (probably not until the new year).

Britta brought with her a brand new zine, the seeds of which were sown on our last crafternoon a few weeks ago.  On that day she made a miniature mock-up of the concept, and I have to say she’s done an awesome job of following it through.  If you have ever aspired to invent a new life form, this is the mini-zine for you!

Mythical JaguarSnailEach page features an ordinary creature – man, lion, eagle, cobra, goat and carp (some interesting choices!) – and each page is split into 3 segments so that you can mix & match your own mythical beast!  There is even a section at the back of the zine where you can log and name your favourite hybrid creations.  The drawings are really cleverly done, with lots of character, and perfectly aligned so that any combination (of the many possible!) slots together smoothly – yet another example of Britta’s talent!  There are only currently 5 copies available of this labour-intensive, slightly-larger-than-average mini-zine, so don’t miss out!

first class notebooksBritta was also inspired by the sea of stamps that were overflowing in a corner of my craft room, and followed up on her previous stampy works by customising a couple of stray notebooks I had lying around.  One of these was snapped up overnight (the other is still available, at time of writing), inspiring me in turn to follow her example – see pic to the right for even more First Class Notebooks, this time stampified by me.  These are all one-of-a-kind creations, so if one of them catches your eye, be quick!

There’s something about that repeated motif – the same but different every time, thanks to the unique combinations of postmarks – and the patchwork effect of the randomly combined colours that never fails to fascinate me…

Britta and I generally have no problem thinking of new creative ideas, but our ‘crafternoons’ are definitely motivational for both of us to actually get down to putting the ideas into practice.  When I say that a sea of stamps was overflowing in my room, I’m actually being literal rather than gratuitously poetic – but now we have actually made a real start on crafting them, I feel far less like I am about to drown in them…!

Here’s to crafty afternoons!

Diversion – organising my ideas

A couple of years ago, I realised that it would be necessary to keep a notebook about my person at all times, in order to jot down ideas when they come to me.  Being me, of course it is always on the days I have failed to throw a notebook in my bag that I need to make notes.  But that’s okay, because there are always scraps of paper to hand, and often whole sheets (which I can then fold down to mini-zine format).  Excellent.

I’ve never been a sketchbook person, because I don’t consider myself an artist, but of late, I’ve realised that sketching quick diagrams to accompany words is actually quite handy; and it really doesn’t matter if the sketches are not those of a talented fine artist.  If they convey the point I’m trying to put across, that’s good enough.  So now the multitudinous notebooks of my life have been joined by a smaller host of pocket sketchbooks (okay, notebooks with blank pages).

As I work at my laptop every morning, I always have my to-do list notebook by my side – which in addition to my long lists frequently finds itself home to numerous scribbled asides and diagrams because it is handier than either notebook, or sketchbook (which I could obviously go and fetch but simply don’t).

You can see from this haphazard summary that I am less than organised  when it comes to organising my ideas.  When it comes to getting a particular idea off the ground, I can always visualise in which notebook or on which scrap of paper I made my notes, but then I have to waste time remembering where I have currently stowed those particular pieces of paper, waste further time digging it/them out, then work surrounded by open notebook/s and/or scraps of paper, while I collate my notes for that particular idea.

So it occurred to me that what I need is a larger sketchbook (scrapbook?) in which I can pull together all the scrappy notes into something slightly more coherent.  Somewhere that I can literally cut and paste torn out pages from smaller notebooks or loose scraps or pictures I’ve found in a magazine.  Then add some extra notes, of course.

Okay, that makes sense: a larger sketchbook.  Not something I would carry around with me, I’m clear on that; because I’m lazy, and a pocket notebook is the largest extra weight I’m willing to carry on a regular basis.  It would be unwieldy, too, and not very practical to whip out for notes-on-the-go.  But how would pasting all my notes into one larger sketchbook work?  Because my ideas rarely come in a coherent flow, and are frequently jumbled up with ideas for different projects from day to day (or hour to hour).  If I pasted them all into one large sketchbook as the ideas came, it would be equally difficult to collate related thoughts when the time came – flipping backwards and forwards through the pages to find the relevant bits.  So, a series of sketchbooks, one for each different idea?  This could get complicated.  And expensive.

My next thought was a ring binder.  Just hole-punch the pages, add in plastic pockets to hold cuttings etc, and easily switch around the pages to re-organise thoughts, and keep notes for individual ideas together.  Problem is, I just don’t like ring binders.  Those rings always get in the way.  And everything looks scrappy very quickly unless you keep everything in those plastic pockets; but then everything is visible but inaccessible.  Hmm.

Bingo!  Well, maybe.  How about an index card system?  I’d only ever seen standard 3″ x 5″ index cards before, but I just noticed that my local office supply shop sells 8″ x 5″ index cards (and holder boxes) that would be perfect for organising ideas.  Cards are sturdier than paper, so would be less inclined to get scrappy (so quickly) and are easily shuffled back and forth, organised and re-organised according to whatever whim I am currently working on.  I’m liking this idea.  Hey, I’m liking this idea even better:

  • a shoebox
  • plus cut-up cereal box index cards
  • plus all those blank postcards I have in my stash that I have never found a use for as file cards (write/paste on the blank side, obviously)
  • equals cool handmade index card system!

Or, I could go the whole hog and just use an actual filing cabinet with a separate file for each idea.  Wow.  That sounds a bit scarily organised.  I think the shoebox is a bit more me…

Of course, realistically (because like I said above, I really am lazy), I would still never get around to actually filing my ideas until the point at which I wanted to turn the idea into something.  But I would have spent some happy hours preparing the filing system.  And I would have a better way of keeping the ideas organised while I was working on them.

And of course, the only reason I am thinking about this now is because I have forbidden myself from new projects until after the house-move so I am obviously twitchy to be doing something creative rather than practical.  Must distract self from distraction…

(Will update on Friends & Faux project soon – please accept my apologies for continued delay, I’ll get there shortly, I promise!)

Projects in progress…

Firstly, I’ve had quite a few updates on the Friends & Faux project over the last week or so, which I have thus far failed to update here on the blog.  Bear with me, I will be caught up soon! In the meantime, I just wanted to share a couple of projects I’ve recently been playing with…

A couple of weeks ago, I helped out a new friend (illustrator & comic artist Sally Jane Thompson) with a comic & bookmaking event.  The event was held as part of a local ‘celebration of drawing’ called the Big Draw, which sees events held across the city, with the aim to get as many people drawing as possible.
(If you have access to A4 paper, there’s a short booklet you can print to celebrate the celebration!)

Now, I am really not much of an artist, but in the spirit of the day, I decided to doodle some doodles, while I was helping out the kids – just to show that you really don’t need to be able to draw to actually draw something.  If you see what I mean!  I had pre-printed some mini-zine templates (which I have just added to the mini-zine freebie page – enjoy!) because I thought some people may find a completely blank page slightly daunting.  I personally definitely found it easier to start drawing when I had a manageable-sized space before me!  This is what I doodled on the day:

I started with the ‘flowers’ in the lower left corner, then worked my way around anti-clockwise.  I stumbled upon zentangling about a year ago, but despite being quite enthused about it at the time, I never really got into it.  I really enjoyed my afternoon of doodling, though, and am definitely going to finish off what I began.  This morning, I discovered a nice blog, the Open Seed, which has inspired me to try my hand at a couple of new patterns, and reminded me that I really need to get going with completing the above!

The other current work in progress I wanted to mention began in a supermarket.  No, really, it did!  I fell in love with a multipack of Dorset Cereals muesli boxes, and had to have them, despite not having a clue what to use them for, at the time.  I banned Corey from opening them, so that he didn’t ruin the boxes in the meantime, of course  (I’ve since emptied the mini packets out into a single ‘lucky dip’ muesli mix).  It was soon quite self-evident that what these boxes really wanted to be was notebooks, so after a quick glance through my craft library for ideas, I was ready to play:


I chose Japanese stab stitch for the binding, then proceeded to execute a very non-thorough job of researching!  As a result of my lack of planning: you can see that the stitching is very unevenly spaced, because I didn’t stop to think about measuring etc; I couldn’t have as many pages inside as I wanted, because I only had a pushpin to hand rather than a bookbinder’s awl; and I also didn’t leave a wide enough margin on the lined pages I printed off for the inside.  But overall, I’m really pleased with how it turned out, and I definitely plan to make some more – after a little spot of fine-tuning!  Lucky I like learning by trial and error (and lucky I like alliteration). 😉

Other things I like about this project: I like the ‘hemp leaf’ stitch pattern, which I thought complemented the leaf design of the cereal packet nicely; and I like the little pocket that I made on the inside front cover, by folding in some of the box flaps (I cut most of the flaps off).  I also love that there is a recipe for making lemonade on the back cover, although I can’t take any credit for that! 😉  Once I’ve played around with the idea a little more, I’ll probably write a tutorial; but if you want to experiment in the meantime, this is a good place to get started.