Tag Archives: Designer’s Marketplace

Tumbleweed and Too Much Coffee

A blustery Autumnal day on Witchmountain and I find myself in my usual position, mug in hand, stove ablaze, deep in thought. Today I have good intentions to turn over a new leaf regarding butter, caffeine, exercise and positive thinking. Ok, so the mug is full of coffee and I only walked a hundred yards down the road before I realised I’d forgotten the egg money and had to turn back, but I will go later ( honestly) and on the positive side no butter has been consumed!

The garden still has some delicate late colour to cheer me up as I wonder how the “lawn” became a jungle and why the strawberries have decided to flower again just as the first real frosts meant I needed to de-ice the car on Saturday morning…
Saturday morning was the day of Designer’s Marketplace in Newcastle, and also a day of glorious sunshine , the most perfect an October day can get. We managed to get to the Holy Biscuit in plenty of time to set up and the drive only slightly terrified me ( multi- lane roundabouts are a shock after the moors where you only have to avoid aggressive 4×4 drivers,over excited sheep and panic stricken pheasants) .

Now I’m torn between bigging the whole thing up or telling it as it is because I think its more useful and honest? I mean, I think it is easy to be mislead by what you see on the internet, we are all  trying to sell ourselves as best we can and while I do write this blog in order to promote what I do and hopefully get work from it, I also write because I want to be open about the pitfalls, struggles, highs and lows of trying to make a living out of creativity. So, the truth is … it was deadly quiet and if I’d been a politician I’d have lost my deposit, even my “Bargain Box” in aid of Shelterbox  wasn’t going to save the day.Was it the weather, the entrance fee, the location? At least everyone was quiet , not just me, but that makes it even harder to judge myself objectively.On the plus side it was fantastic to meet the other stall holders, talk shop and eat cake. I was particularly impressed with Vicky Trainor’s work; she was one of my tutors at college and her vintage inspired cards and beautiful wedding favours must take her hours to put together, prompting me to question yet again how handmade work is valued and priced…

Have a look at this stunning set of wedding photos from Vicky’s blog. They look like stills from a film and I think I may have to make more of an effort with my personal grooming!!

Here are some of my newest offerings; a small wooden box with canvass lid and some new wallet designs derived from it. I’ll be listing them on Etsy and Folksy later and I’m thinking of making up some as sewing kits too. What do you think?

Now, I really must put this computer down as its burning my knees,I’ve already dropped butternut squash pate on it and I must try to run about a bit before darkness falls.




“…You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.”

The record breaking Indian Summer of last week has given way to some sensible October weather and I’m back in my element;in a kitchen fuggy with bread smells, while the wind tries to knock over the last sunflowers and the stove hungrily burns its way through £100 worth of logs.Sitting in the garden late on Saturday night, with red wine and candles, it felt like Summer should have felt, like you always imagine it will, when you buy the citronella candles and set out the garden furniture in May.

So, October. The end of this month will be time to fill in the self employed tax return and say goodbye to the Walled Garden. I can honestly say its the nicest place I’ve ever worked, lovely people, beautiful surroundings and delicious food.Over the summer ,recipes sold in aid of Medecins Sans Frontieres have raised over £300 and there is a final fundraising event at the beginning of November ( details to follow).

So, I’ve spent ages today and yesterday making books on Blurb and wishing my broadband was faster. I wanted to make a book of this blog but it was going to be 2050 by the time the pictures uploaded and would have so many pages that I would never be able to afford to get it printed. Looks like I might have to be more selective. In the end I ordered a simple notebook which has lots of photographs as well as blank pages to write or draw in. Let me know what you think….

As well as dreaming of writing and illustrating a best seller I’m busily making things for Designer’s Marketplace and feeling hugely jealous but very,very excited for its founder, and my college tutor, Helen Stevens who has just had her new range of wallpapers bought by Liberty’s ! This must be every designer’s dream and in Helen’s case richly deserved;I think I’ve said it before but it is so good to see a college tutor who is actually practicing what they preach and being truly inspirational.

Meanwhile, these are some painted wooden boxes, looking for new homes in Newcastle next Saturday and I’m just about to start stitching a little pair of red shoes with some wool I dyed last week. Time to top up the coffee and switch off the Mac, which reminds me to say, Thank you Steve Jobs for making life on Witchmountain a little less isolating and for keeping my knees warm with this wonderful machine; RIP.

Reading : ” 1Q84: Books 1and 2″  Haruki Murakami ~ well I will be when it arrives, I’ve pre-ordered it and I can’t wait. Its been a long wait so far as I never did get around to learning Japanese and Its only just been published here.

I finished “One Day” David Nicholls , and felt very depressed and not very impressed, although it did make me cry.

“Love in a Cold Climate”

I’m feeling a bit giddy with excitement.Being snowed in is something that actually makes me feel safe and energized. Despite being a very sociable person the isolation and solitude make me feel so contented; introspective yes, the smell of snow reminds me of how sad I felt last winter, but thats ok.I’ve never seen snow like this in the ten years I’ve lived on Witchmountain…so still and silent, with icicles framing the window ( look at the lace patterns in the snow!) and great caps of white on every fence post and branch. The heating boiler has broken but the stove is keeping the kitchen toasty.

Yesterday Lindsey and I managed to get to Middlesbrough for the Designer’s Marketplace, THANKS to David and his 4×4. There was some beautiful stuff for sale including Helen Steven‘s new ceramics and Claire Baker’s textiles and accessories.I sold a small painting with huge emotional significance but that’s probably a good thing. Unfortunately we all had to pack up early due to crazy snow, before I could do all my shopping.

So today I have been slowly listing things on Etsy and hoping that the virtual world will save me, since It looks like I won’t be going to work in the near future and therefore will not be getting paid…

I have created a special discount code for readers of Witchmountain which will give you a 20% discount in my Etsy shop. Its a nice idea the team at Etsy have recently come up with. Anyway the code is “WITCHMOUNTAIN1 ” prices are all in GB pounds now, I changed it only because it made book keeping easier for me. I hope it doesn’t deter US customers?

I’m thinking I ought to spend a little time with my sketchbook this afternoon as I only have a few weeks left before it needs to be posted back to the Brooklyn Art Library.Tempting to try and make some mince pies as delicious as the ones Lindsey’s mum made yesterday, hmmm, lots of Brandy I think!

Meanwhile I will leave you with this picture of a beautiful little girl called Martha with her new Witchmountain slippers, isn’t she gorgeous! ( Her mum kindly sent me more pictures later which I have used in my shop, THANK YOU! A supermodel at the age of 3months!)

(Reading: “Birdsong” Sebastian Faulks. Listening To: the silence where the hum of the heating boiler ought to be)

Looking Back,Moving Forward

Goodbye crispy autumn leaves,Hello winter! Tonight I was meant to be going out on a hot date but plans were foiled by the snow which is still falling quite heavily as I write. It always seems too early but really it pretty much always snows this week or the first week in December ( I just looked at posts from the past two Novembers and have lost my train of thought in remembering and comparing)

One similarity with last year is that I am busy trying to make as much stuff as possible  for a market on Sunday. The event in the village last Friday was so successful that I have almost no kids t-shirts left and not enough time to re-stock. Instead I’ve been making more purses and brooches as well as some metal collage badges with some hand stitching which I’ve really enjoyed making; I’ve even bought another adapter for my badge press so I can make different sizes.

So, perhaps its a good thing that I am trapped in my kitchen with only the radio and the stove for company; I need to sew all night in the hope of making my fortune on Sunday at the Designer’s Market! Slight panic though… my hot date was also meant  to be bringing the shopping ,so coffee is on short rations just in case I can’t get any tomorrow!!

Lindsey Murray will be sharing a table with me and I must say I’m getting really excited about it; even if I don’t make a million I can’t wait to see everyone. I bet I spend more than I make!! I only hope the weather doesn’t cause problems .

Right, I really must get on with something.Oh, but before I go, here is a link to a website I read about in the Guardian at the weekend. YouThoughtWeWouldntNotice is a site dedicated to naming and shaming companies and individuals that have stolen others’ design and artwork.Its really very worrying to read some of the stories (designs stolen from Etsy shops and then mass produced on the cheap), especially after the Claire’s Accessories story I told you about, and almost puts me off publishing any images of my work on the net.

Goodbye for now. x

The Lark in the Morning

A bright and frosty morning here on Witchmountain.Jack Frost had left swirly fern patterns on the glass and the lawn was crunchy as my morning toast. Sometimes I get a burst of energy which takes me by surprize; normally sleepy as a sloth, I have been up since 7 this morning, making tiny boots and brooches. It must be the weather …I wish I could always feel this awake in the mornings , a lark instead of an owl.

These little bird brooches are one of my favorite designs at the moment.I’ve used the same design in some of my cards and notebooks and hope to make a laser cut version at some point. I’m slowly building up stock for the Designer’s Market on the 28th and a “Ladies Night”  in the village this Friday evening.

It was lovely to be featured as a guest blogger on Designers Marketplace last week and I’m really looking forward to the event; hoping to get some more Christmas shopping done ( So far, apart from books I am managing to stick to my pledge to only buy handmade so tough luck if you wanted an iPhone or a Nintendo thing kids!)

Finally I’m glad to say that the play, The Good Hope went well.It was pretty much a sell out and we even had a visit from the Mayor of Whitby and a representative of the RNLI. Jane Thorniley-Walker’s original drawing for the backdrop and poster was auctioned in aid of the Whitby Lifeboat which made  the nerves and weeks of rehearsals seem really worth while.

…Oh and Congratulations to all this years CCAD Textiles and Surface Design graduates who had their cap and gown ceremony yesterday.Well Done  X

Feeling the Chill

The first flurries of snow fell yesterday and I was remembering the Moomin Snow Lanterns that I built on this wood block last winter.Whenever it happens the first proper snow fall will be a surprise and a delight…at first anyway.Today however, it is bright and fresh;golden leaves from the Big Oak tree snowing past the window,sunlight highlighting the bits of the kitchen that need cleaning!

I’m proud of myself today because I didn’t sleep late and not only that but I tackled the HUGE pile of unopened letters, bills, junk mail and application forms that have been threatening to engulf  every work surface in the room. I’ve just had to shell out for a new printer as well so my next job is trying to install it on this poor old Mac (who is already begging for mercy and a peaceful retirement) and then print out all the bits and pieces that need to go in my files ( invoices, Etsy sales etc)

Here is a small selection of things ready for Designer’s Marketplace on the 28th of this month, including two new pairs of tiny boots and some lavender filled brooches.There is also going to be a bi-monthly market in Newcastle starting in December in conjunction with the Biscuit Factory and its offshoot the Holy Biscuit.

Right, before I start on some more sewing and things I’m going to treat myself to another coffee, some silence and a bit of reading. Mr Wainwright and his meticulous little drawings will  have to help me escape for the moment ,as since my last post, the Behemoth van has met an untimely death ,weekends in the Lakes will not be so easy for a while.

(Reading: “Fellwanderer” A Wainwright. Listening to: a bit of silence )

Catching Up

Hello! Yes I’m still here, although it seems like ages since I last wrote a blog post, sorry. There is so much to tell you; I’ve been pretty busy, although maybe not very productive! Last week I took a small selection of my work to an event in Darlington where a friend had kindly offered to give me a corner of her stall (very kindly as these events are not cheap , even if you did get a lovely packed lunch delivered to your table!) Anyway, Jayne’s sales skills are amazing and she managed to sell quite a few of my brooches and purses while I embroidered a t-shirt, demurely, in the background!

It was interesting to visit what was essentially quite a “high end” gift fair and listen to the other stall holders comparing sales with previous years. Finding the right market, literally, is so difficult. It was lovely to see another friend from CCAD with her bright and cheerful stall, Lizzie & Peach selling kids accessories such as pencil and notebook cases, brooches and patchwork apples ( end of term “apple for teacher” gifts!). Both Jayne and Debbie have a business sense that I envy and almost makes me wish I’d done Business Studies instead of Textiles…

Last week I also had the good news that the Zillah Bell Gallery has agreed to show my work; so if you want to buy the original drawing of the Witchmountain Bear (as seen at the top of this page) get yourself to the Winter Exhibition which opens on November 27th. Meanwhile, as I sit waiting for the big break that will justify my years at college and the permanent clutter of my studio( kitchen table) I am sewing t-shirts for the Designer’s Marketplace, learning my lines for “The Good Hope” and day dreaming about autumn days in the mountains.

Jane Thorniley-Walker is busy painting scenery as well as having done this lovely drawing for the poster.She is an inspiration, her tireless energy when it comes to her artwork puts me to shame…enough computer stuff, its time to “make”!