Tuesday, 1 October 2019

Handmake My Christmas 2019

That’s right my lovelies - the Instagram Challenge #HandmakeMyChristmas is back! Or at least, will be, one month from today. Many, many thanks to Clare of Surf And Scout for organising this fun event for a second year. This year, we've teamed up with seven other super talented creatives to bring back the photo challenge that focuses on all sorts of different handmade items. It's the perfect way to showcase some of your work, and get started on your Christmas shopping. I know I found so many amazing artists last year, and some very lucky friends and family members were given some beautiful gifts because of this! 


AND, like last year, we will be having a fantastic Giveaway. Each of the nine artists involved will be giving away a handmade item to one overall winner. We are all very excited and hope you are too! And we’d really love you to join in. It's easier than it sounds, just follow the prompts, post a new photo each day, and don't forget to tag that day's host so we can find you! At the end of each day, hosts will pick and post their favourite. An overall winner will then be randomly selected and announced on 10th November.  





Each artist's prize will be announced on 14th October, so stay tuned to see what you could win. In the meantime, you can check out all their work on their respective art pages:


Surf And Scout

Twinkle Designs Scotland

One Little Pug 

Tiny Acorn Mighty Oak

Woolly Wonderland 

Tink And Reu 

Baked And Gilded

Love DnA



Thursday, 22 August 2019

Short Story Anthology

Hello my lovelies, I apologise that I have not written in a while. Does anyone else feel like this year has just flown by? It seems like I'm always busy, but never getting anything done. All the art shows and events I've been doing are definitely taking their toll on me, but by the end of the year, I should have a better understanding of how I need to market my work, and where!
Anyway, amidst all my mixed media and jewelry creating, earlier this year I had the opportunity to enter a short story contest held by my friends over at HCS Publishing. They are putting together an anthology of short stories based on the old trope, "It was a dark and stormy night..." to come up with some new ways to take that overused beginning. I decided to enter, as I had always enjoyed creative writing at school, though it's been well over twenty years since I attempted to write a story.
 





And, as you might have guessed, since I'm writing about it, my story was selected to be in their collection! You can't imagine how thrilled I was, and how excited I am to see my name in print. I have had two poems published, and I wrote a chapter in a motivational book a few years ago, but this is my first story, and I am so happy to have been chosen.
(Photo credit to Brian Tomayko of @bts_grayaccord)
I don't want to give out any spoilers just yet, but my story was set in a Steampunk alternate history of the Wild West, and I had a lot of fun writing it. In fact, I now have so many other ideas running through my head, that I want to expand this story and write more about my central character. If I ever have time!
So, many, many thanks to all the wonderful editors over at HCS Publishing, (You can follow their work on Facebook HERE and purchase other books from local authors HERE.) and if you are interested in reading my story, as well as the other fifteen authors selected, the book will be officially launched in January next year!

Saturday, 27 July 2019

Shoutout to Tiny Acorn Mighty Oak

Please do yourself a favour a go visit my lovely friend Louise of Tiny Acorn Might Oak.
 She is an incredible artist that works with mixed media, painted pebbles, wool and more. I especially love her motivational mixed media pieces, and recently treated myself to some of her work. 
You can check out my video below to see them, and you should definitely check out her website: tinyacornmightyoak.co.uk to see what she has available to buy right now!


Thursday, 27 June 2019

Flying Home

  Hello my lovelies, I am so excited to tell you that I will be flying home next week to spend some time with my family! It is my great aunt and godmother's 90th birthday, so I will be traveling up to Durham for a small gathering to celebrate that, but mostly spending time in Shrewsbury with my immediate family and friends. I can't wait! As usual, every day is already booked up with seeing different people, there will also be a fun hen do in there, and inbetween all that I will just be soaking up the ambiance and recharging my soul.

I thought I'd share with you a photo that I took on the plane last year when we were leaving Ireland. You can tell I'm not happy about it, haha! I'm also sharing a video that I took a few years ago, of a thunderstorm. I have always loved storms, and it was so awesome to be able to watch this one from above the clouds!

I am the only person that I know that loves to fly, but I have to have the window seat. I just love watching the ground fall away, and being able to see the whole countryside spread out below. I love seeing how different places look from above, and trying to guess where I am judging by the lights. One flight I just happened to look out at the right time, and saw New York City twinkling below, with the dark rectangle that was Central Park in the middle!

As you can tell, I'm pretty excited for this trip. I hope that you all have a good couple of weeks, and I will catch up with you when I get back!




Thursday, 20 June 2019

New Wheels and Some Ranting.

So if you've been following my Instagram, you will know that we recently bought a new car. She is a lovely Honda Pilot, and now I have the space to pack all of my art show supplies and equipment into one vehicle, which will make a huge difference. Previously, we had to either take two vehicles, or downsize the amount of stock that I bring, and run the risk of everything getting wet in the back of the truck. Add in the cost of both vehicles' gas, and sometimes tolls and parking, and I was spending far too much money just to get to an event. These are things that you have to think about when trying to sell your own work and somehow make a little money. The Pilot (her name is Trixie, short for the Aviatrix!) allows me to tote everything that I need in one vehicle, and we could potentially sleep in the back too if needed!





And, fair warning: I need to go on a little rant here, so feel free not to read any further!

As you know, this year I committed to doing a lot more fairs and events as a way to try to sell more of my work. Some of those fairs have gone very well, others I have not sold a single thing. That's the nature of things, and not what I want to rant about, however, I'm just trying to give you a background. What most people don't think about, is how expensive it is to do these shows, and how little money we actually make. When you factor in the cost of renting a space, (I've seen anything from $10 to $800 just locally, depending on the event!) as well as the gas, the parking, the toll fees, the wear and tear on your vehicles, etc, you're out a lot of money before you even set up. Then, you are dependent on the vagaries of the weather as to whether any potential customers show up or not. At outdoor events, if it is too hot, too cold, rainy, or even just has a chance of rain, people won't come out. Even indoor events are affected by the weather, as many people don't like to leave their house and drive anywhere if it's raining. Most outdoor events do not have a rain date. Some events don't even give you a refund if the event is cancelled. So, picture weeks of prepping, making new things, pricing and displaying your work, packing everything up, loading up your vehicles, traveling sometimes hundreds of miles, and then having no customers.

After all that, if people do actually show up and look at your work, there are a surprising amount of people who feel the need to haggle over your prices. This isn't a flea market or yard sale, people! This isn't a bazaar or a souk. You don't go into a brick and mortar art shop or gallery and say, "Can you do any better on the price?",  so why do some people feel like it is acceptable to say this to an artist's face? My prices are more than reasonable. I actually struggle to price things at the level that my work deserves, due to the overwhelming anxiety, lack of confidence and imposter syndrome that I, and so many other artists, suffer from. 

Recently, I had a man argue over the price of one of my mixed media pieces. I had put many, many hours of work and effort into it, over the course of several weeks, and I was selling it at $30.00. THIRTY! DOLLARS! For an original mixed media painting! The supplies alone probably cost me at least $10.00, so clearly, I am not charging enough for the work that I put into these things. Yet this man wants to haggle. I explained to him that everything I sell is handmade, that literally, my blood, sweat and tears go into my work, that I am already charging too little for this, that $30.00 is a very small amount to pay for an original painting, and that I am, quite definitely, firm on my price. He walked away, but came back again asking if I'd reconsider. By this time, he was looking at two different pieces. I told him, if he bought BOTH, I *might* consider a deal. He walked away again. Eventually, he came back, and bought the original piece. He paid cash, and when he opened his wallet, I could see hundreds of dollars stuffed in there, so I was very happy that I stayed true to my price!

At another event, I had a woman nastily say that I was advertising falsely because my prices were higher than my sign said. I do have a sign, that clearly says: "THIS BOARD ONLY, $10 and under, 3 for 2" on some of my cheaper earrings. I pointed out that that sign was for that board only. She said she wanted to spend less than $5.00. I told her that my prices start at $5.00, but that I do have some earrings that are 3 for 2. She literally stuck her hand in my face and said "I'm not interested!" Lovely. No-one forced you to come see me lady. My sign was clear. And good luck finding handmade jewelry for less than $5.00!
 
And, I shouldn't have to point this out, but I guess it's not obvious to some people: If I sell a pair of earrings for $5.00, I AM NOT MAKING $5.00!! The supplies aren't free! My time isn't free! And if I am selling at a local store or gallery, you can expect them to take anywhere from 10-50% off the top for their cut! Just because I love to create, and enjoy making things, does not mean that I should not get paid for my time. I am not getting rich off this. I do this because it is my passion, because I can't NOT create, because this is my dream, and because it makes me happy to think that my work can brighten someone's day.

I know that I am preaching to the choir for most people on this. Most people I come across are lovely, and I have gotten so much great feedback on my work. It's just that, the mean ones can really ruin your day, and make you question everything that you do. It's so easy to say that you shouldn't dwell on things, but most artists struggle with these issues. When you put your soul into your art, it can crush you to have such negative people put you down. It can be scary to put your work out there, knowing that you can't please everybody, but knowing that people will say cruel things to you, straight to your face, is terrifying. But, I am trying to focus on the good feedback and the lovely people that become repeat customers that come back again and again. You brighten my life. Remember, shop small, support your local artists, and don't be a dick!

Sunday, 16 June 2019

Short Update and Flying Proms 2019

 Hello my lovelies, I apologise that I haven't written in a while. Honestly, I have probably put too much on my plate this year, and I am struggling to fit it all in. Thankfully though, all my hard work paid off for the Steampunk Expo, and I truly believe that this year's Steampunk: Visions Of Futures Past was a huge success. We are already discussing how to make it even bigger and better next year, so I will keep you posted on that!
I decided not to do the Riverview Village Days fair on the 9th June, as I was still recovering from the previous weekend, and since the weather was supposed to be horrible, I decided that was the universe's way of telling me to take a break. I am definitely planning on being at the Vegan Market at Riverview next Sunday though, so fingers crossed the weather will be good on the 23rd.

Yesterday, we were with some good friends at the Flying Proms, and I've shared some videos below. This was our third year going, and it was a blast, as always. I really needed a day off, and this was a great way to spend it.
If you ever get the chance to go to the Flying Proms, I highly recommend it! Held at the Military Aviation Museum in Pungo, Virginia Beach, they put on a fantastic show. Local orchestras play music from old movies, and original WWI and WWII planes fly overhead. You get to sit on the lawn and have a picnic while watching the show, and they end the night with an epic firework display! 

My Grandad flew a Hawker Hurricane in WWII, and they have a Hurricane on display at the museum. It's crazy to see these planes up close. Many of them are only made from wood and canvas, and I can't imagine what it must have been like to fly in one over enemy territory. Since this month was the 75th Anniversary of D-Day, it brings home more than ever the sacrifices that those people made. We honour all those that served, and those that continue to serve today. Thank you.