Tag : studio
Tag : studio
I’m tired. But, it’s January – who isn’t tired in January?
The days are dark, it’s (seriously) cold, I think we are all just trying to make it through, right? Trying to stick to New Year’s resolutions, trying to be ‘good’. In fact; who thought it would be a good idea to make resolutions to in some way change your life, when it is hard going anyway with the dreary days, dark evenings and the knowledge the party season is over?! And, that’s before we even think about the mess our country’s politics is in!
For the first time in years, this year I didn’t actually make any resolutions. I’ve had a bit of a declutter, and I have a bit of a list going on of what I would like to achieve, and how I would like this year to pan out – but nothing to STOP doing, which is a refreshing change! Resolutions are good – if you have the will power and true desire to do whatever it is you are doing. But all too often, very easy to just ‘give up’ and then feel weak and berate yourself as a ‘failure’ when, actually, you are just trying to get on in life, in January of all months! Be kind to yourself.
With that in mind – one thing I think perhaps I – and most of us to be honest – should do, is exactly that as a ‘New Year’s’ resolution: to not be so hard on ourselves. Be kind.
I, in particular set myself high standards. I get these ideas of things that need to be done and have to be achieved – but I need to stop and remind myself that actually no-one else has said that has to happen. I have set the targets, I have set the goal posts – so if it doesn’t work out exactly as I imagined, then maybe I can move the goal posts and actually stop and reflect not on what HASN’T been achieved, but what HAS.
That’s quite hard for me to write – as I quite LIKE getting lots done, I LOVE being almost too busy – but actually, sometimes I do (and you if you are reading this knowing you do too!) need to stop. Watch more TV. Read a magazine. Paint my nails. Time out. And do NOT feel guilty for it either! Time on yourself is time well spent. And, referring back to the first sentence of this blog post. I’m TIRED. And that is partly my own fault!
I am also tired, because I have an all too often sleep thief toddler, who is in the ‘terrible’ twos (they aren’t that terrible ALL the time – sometimes the tantrums can be slightly amusing… although often in hindsight, not at the time while you try to placate a screaming, anger filled little person.) Who knew it needed to be THAT specific spoon, and actually it IS the end of the world if their biscuit breaks in half. I understand that to them it actually is devastating… but sometimes to take a step back and look at the bigger picture to see that while it is a challenge to resolve, this is NORMAL toddler behaviour – learning about what they want, they don’t want and that things aren’t always their own way. Obviously, you tell them it’ll be OK, but they learn that sometimes Mummy cannot just ‘fix’ the biscuit.
I am tired, because in addition to the aforementioned beautiful, challenging, amazing bundle of energy that is our little man – life is happening. The house. The dog. The (attempt at a) social life. Running a business. (Or, trying to!) And, I am growing a whole other human being.
Into the second trimester now, in fact literally approaching half way as I write (time slow down, please?!) I am feeling MUCH better. Christmas was crazy – with all our amazingly busy workshops and events, and actual Christmas to do in addition to morning (all day?) sickness and feeling like a walking zombie for 3 months wasn’t ideal – but, I got through it. Things went well. Classes were booked, people attended and from what I can see – lots of happy crafters!
There, point one of congratulating myself! Well done.
I am winding down now though, I need to start…
When I first found out I was pregnant, of course – we were delighted. But, I did: Panic. What is the business going to do?! How will it sustain over the next year, or two, or five?!
The answer to the above questions are of course, it will be OK. Just like a toddler realises they can still eat the biscuit, just in two halves – it will be OK!
I think in the background of this worry lies the buzz word(s) ‘Imposter Syndrome’. I have heard a lot about this recently and actually, I think we all do feel like this from time to time… Where you question if you are good enough, question if you are essentially a ‘fraud’! Obviously, I am not a fraud in the true sense of the matter – but there is certainly self-doubt at times.
A lot of self-doubt can come from comparison. Believing that what you see on social media is what you get. You’ve (and I’ve) got to remember it is not what you get. It isn’t always real. Or, it IS real – but it isn’t just the photos that are filtered, it is the content too! You certainly don’t see photos on The Crafty Lass Instagram of our little man having a meltdown as he lost ‘his’ leaf on a walk and demanding to sit IN a puddle. Or the days I cannot be bothered to craft – and sit and watch First Dates instead! Obviously, I and anyone else that ‘filters’ their content doesn’t LIE – they just post relevant and appropriate things. I want my feed to be full of colour, and fun and making and creating. As a business, I need to reflect positivity. Not piles of washing and grumps!
I am currently reading Cath Kidston’s ‘COMING UP ROSES – The Story of Growing a Business’ – and for anyone building a business, or a brand – or actually just loves Cath Kidston – I would highly recommend. Very inspiring! There is a quote on the back of the book that really hit a nerve with me:
“When you’re self-taught you always worry that you will be found out.”
That is IT!
I (think I) am more than qualified to be ‘The Crafty Lass’… however, I need to ensure the business grows, expands, onwards and upwards. What if I can’t do that?
After a very successful year, with so many amazing things achieved – the timing of this pregnancy actually couldn’t be better. Although I will need to stop whilst things are on a high – it will be chance to reflect, plan, decide how the business will move forwards, and in what direction.
The husband came up with a brilliant and timely appropriate analogy – that the car was now designed, built and running. And, once the baby arrives, I won’t need to de-ice the car – the engine is still ticking over. And, he is right – the business won’t die a death. People won’t forget – mainly because I won’t let them! And, the business is flexible enough to adapt to the new (likely even more sleep deprived) life we will be boldly treading in. I quit my 9-5 to allow for a flexible life, and I need to ensure I grab that opportunity with both hands and not let it go – as I am forever grateful that although where The Crafty Lass is now has come about due to lots and lots of hours and hard work – and it didn’t happen overnight – but, I am grateful that it can and does work. And, work around family.
People keep asking me about when I will be ‘stopping’. And the answer is I don’t know – and I can’t really see me fully stopping! When you run your own business, you are never truly ‘off duty’. I mean, I literally am The Crafty Lass. OF COURSE I WILL stop! I won’t be writing posts in the labour ward… although saying that, I was induced with our little man and to distract myself from the process, I was crocheting most of the time in hospital! But, seriously – I will stop when the new bundle of joy arrives for a period of time – length of such to be decided there and then, and focus on them and us and little man – they are only very little for such a short time, but I am sure the craftiness will dip in and out of life too.
I do have some big plans for maternity leave – I have already started on a book (well two actually, but one is more of a general idea with a contents page and hundreds of thoughts and images in my brain, and the other is an actual full in the writing stages) and it would be great to make that the project I really get up and running with in the early how have we made a person months. Or, to be kind to myself – if that doesn’t happen as it is more important to sleep, then that’s OK too. All in good time, as the vision and desire to achieve won’t go away.
So, that’s it – ignore the Imposter Syndrome. You ARE good enough. You CAN do whatever you set your mind to, but just do what you can. Stop to take time out for yourself. You are doing GREAT – it is January don’t forget – and we are all in this together! Stop to eat the biscuits – even if they are broken.
The Crafty Lass currently features in the BOOTS Health and Beauty magazine for January/February 2019 – in an article all about conquering our fears. What better way to start the New Year with a blog post featuring a little bit more about mine, and what resolutions and steps I took to change this…
Phobias: they are illogical, irrational, frustrating and very real.
It doesn’t matter whether you are frightened of spiders, the dark… or in my case: needles (not the crafty type, thankfully) – it is certainly a really overwhelming, all-consuming emotion that you cannot and will not do the thing you need to face. Well, sometimes you have to – but under much protest!
Admitting you have a phobia to other people, well it did for me anyway – it made me feel weak. I am quite a positive and ‘strong’ person – why would I be frightened of something?
Well… there was an ‘incident’ when I was younger that seemed to be the trigger… What an irony that a craft kit likely caused my phobia! Who knows, the mind is a funny thing sometimes. A large tapestry needle went into my thumb. It was Boxing Day, I got up early as I was so excited to play with my new crafty items from Santa! But, I didn’t quite understand that I shouldn’t be using it unsupervised, and not in the way I was using it… Much to my parents horror when they awoke to my tears! But – I was ok, it wasn’t as bad an injury as perhaps I considered at the time at a young, tender age – was that enough to cause all this stress in my adult life?
When it came to needles, I wasn’t ‘in control’ – I knew my reaction would be to pull away, to scream – in one particular incident I sadly and instinctively hit out at the nurse, as my gut reaction was to get it and her away from me. All that panic and movement ironically would be MORE dangerous and painful and stressful – than if I just let them get on with their job! Sorry Miss Nurse from my school days as a teenager…
Phobias can cause crying, breathing difficulties, panic attacks – and avoidance of the said thing… but sometimes fears need to be faced.
I decided enough was enough. Something needed to give. I didn’t need tests and jabs all the time, but what about holidays, and children? And what better way to face my fear than by helping others.
I had always wanted to ‘give blood’. I was healthy, I had no reason to ‘not’ – except the sitting there giving blood part. Involving needles.
I decided to just sign up – and go for it. If everyone else there could, why couldn’t I? And, if I could sit there for 20 minutes or so with a needle pumping blood out of my arm – surely, I could have inoculations if needed, or blood tests if required – without all the panic and crying and desperation beforehand?
I felt panicky in the build-up that week – I questioned if I was losing my mind. I questioned if I could even go through with it. But there was a big difference in donating blood to a ‘normal’ blood test or inoculation. I was in control. I didn’t HAVE to do this, and even stranger – I WANTED to do this.
And, I did it.
I unbelievably DID IT! I couldn’t believe that I, Paula Milner, had donated blood! And, as a bonus, I got free squash and chocolate biscuits too!
And, I was right – as a result, after donating several more times and from taking back more control – my phobia HAS calmed down. Yes, I don’t LOVE needles now (who does?) I certainly won’t be first in the queue for a tattoo, and sometimes it is still hard to have tests – but you can get a blood test out of me within a few minutes, with only often a few tears afterwards rather than the huge panic before… and actually, usually tears as I did it, I am proud I have just let the nurse do their job without panic! Currently pregnant with all the tests required, feeling like a human pin cushion is becoming regularly common place, so this lack of fear is becoming albeit useful and time saving!
Giving blood is something that doesn’t take long, and is such a needed and worthwhile and needed cause. You’re not allowed to donate whilst pregnant, or have visited certain countries within a certain time frame – so I have had to have a little break on donating since our honeymoon and little man – but it will be on my New Year’s resolution list for 2020!
What phobias do you have? Have you ever attempted to ‘overcome’ them? Would you like to change how you feel? Sometimes, I think you sadly can’t always change how you feel no matter how hard you try – but perhaps, hopefully there might be a way.
It has certainly been that… what an adventure it has been!
2nd October 2017 – we sold our first ever ticket for The Crafty Lass workshops at the Old Grain Store workshop studio… part of me feels like it was a lot LOT longer ago, and the other part says where has that year gone?!
The moment that someone bought that ticket, the first ticket, took a leap of faith – booked, paid, wanted to come. What a heart soar, what a joyous moment to treasure.
However – you know what? I feel like that for every. single. booking. Every. Single. One.
For every crafter that wants to come and visit, for every crafter that brings their friend, that recommends us, that leaves full of tea and biscuits and happy with their makes and creates – it makes me so so happy. Our work is done. Well, actually, as every self employed business person knows, the work is NEVER done!
We are absolutely looking forward to Christmas this year – we have a much wider range of workshops on offer and are ever so grateful to the people who have reserved their spaces. Most classes are amazingly already sold out – which for the 1st October, is some pretty organised crafters! We are actually hosting our first Christmas workshop as a private booking this coming Sunday 7th October for an old dear friend and his family… travelling all the way from Bristol!
The countdown to Christmas is ON!
I love Christmas. I am pretty sure I have said this in every single The Crafty Lass blog post – it always manages to sneak its way in somewhere to my writing…
And, with that love for the festive side of our year – what better way to count down to the big day than with a crafty ADVENTure and a craft advent calendar?
The Crafty Lass® ADVENTure has been in design stages for approximately two years – so when the opportunity came up to collaborate with such a renowned craft company as Craft Buddy – it was an opportunity not to be missed! The inspiration for the contents of the calendar have come from everything you might need to personalise your Christmas – little details to make gifts, make your home festive, your Christmas table, present wrapping, even decorate your Christmas clothes – and generally get very Christmassy! The main focus includes your ‘classic’ Christmas craft items, but also some beautiful and unusual items to make things extra special. And, one of the most magical and important qualities of the calendar is that it has zero plastic packaging inside!
We are also delighted to be able to announce that the calendar will be for sale on Hochanda!
Sky 673, Freeview 85, Freesat 817 & Online
Wednesday 31st October 12noon and 4pm
If you had asked me this time last year – would I be working on my own product designs? And, would I be going back on to Shopping TV to sell said products? I wouldn’t have thought you were mad… but I would be delighted, and I am.
With the calendar – we hope that you are inspired. We hope that it allows you some little time to get creative each day. Or, maybe you might like to combine items, and save some of them up for bigger crafty makes! Who knows, you can do whatever you like!
We look forward to seeing all the makes and creates… Where will the ADVENTure take you?
For some, this is purely just the long, grey transition from the warm and bright Summer days into our dreary, cold, drab - and of late, very snowy Winters here in the UK.
For, me - it is the 'calm before the storm'... and I actually really love this season. I've talked before on this blog about my love for 'September', as it feels like a fresh start - a new term. Autumn actually officially starts this year on Sunday 23rd September 2018 - much later than I realised! As it already feels like we are there. The leaves are changing. It is starting to feel 'fresh' in the morning. Starbucks are even on with their Pumpkin Spiced Lattes!
Living in the glorious Northamptonshire countryside, and with a little man who loves a daily little jaunt around the village - you can see it. I love watching the leaves change from lush green to vibrant palettes of reds, yellows, russets and orange. You can just feel that Summer is starting to say goodbye for another year.
We are starting to gear up and say hello for our Christmas workshops here at The Crafty Lass - with our first 'private' wreath workshop booking being on October 7th - so just around the corner...! I have even started my Christmas shopping believe it or not... #organised. Working on Christmas 'all year round' pretty much - always planning the following year workshops at any given time - you might think I am bored of all the festivity... nope - I love it. And I hope that, that 'love' and 'passion' for 'the most wonderful time of the year' really shows in our workshops!!
I really love Autumn... as it signifies we are nearly there! It is nearly Christmas. We are allowed to wear big cosy jumpers. And scarves! (I own too many scarves so the cold weather means an excuse to wear them!) We start to eat all the yummy things in life - stews, roasts, crumble, pie. Syrup sponge! Red wine! To be honest, I eat (and drink!) most of these all year round, but somehow Autumn just signifies MORE of these yummy, scrummy things.
That is also why I particularly love 'Advent'. I love the whole excitement and build up to the very 'big day' every year. When I was a child, I would LOVE opening my little advent calendar door. One more chocolate to devour, and one more door down until Christmas Day.
Advent however, is no longer JUST about chocolate. You can get beauty advent calendars. Beer. Cheese! Well, I know what sort of calendar I would want...
You may have seen on our blog, or social media particularly - but The Crafty Lass, in collaboration with Craft Buddy are very excitedly launching a CRAFT advent calendar this year! A little box of craftiness every day to be opened and enjoyed across 24 days... We can shortly reveal exactly how and when and where you will be able to get your hands one! Where will the journey take you? #TheCraftyLassADVENTure
Anyway, this wasn't really meant to go on a tangent to Christmas (but I love it, so it does generally tend to appear often!) there will be plenty of time for that later...
When I joined the WI (this isn't another tangent, this is integral to the whole point of this post!) I hoped to become more involved in the community - I hoped to meet some lovely ladies, and make some new friends. I hoped to learn a few new things... All of this so far as been achieved, and more! There has been lots of lovely food, there has been plenty of tea and cake, chats, social occasions with a warm and welcoming atmosphere. Oh, and the odd WI Life magazine front cover...(!)
This month's meeting was to try something completely new to me: Willow weaving!
I currently have a very large, and beautiful hand crafted willow wreath sat in the studio - and every year I think I MUST do something with this - it is lovely. And, how was it made?! Little did I know, we would get to make our own.
The tuition was held by the engaging and thoroughly knowledgeable Deborah Jones. She explained the hows and whys of the wood, and just how we could create a simple and beautiful wreath design before we were quickly off and giving it a go!
How quickly the wood transforms into a circular and flowing wreath is amazing! The wood bending naturally round into a circular shape - a bit like 'sewing with wood' is certainly how you could describe it. Flowing back and forth, wrapping the wood round and round and round. And the smell, was beautiful! Almost like Christmas 'pine' but more Autumnal and smokey. If that didn't make us feel ready for this beautiful season, I am not sure what would!
I have always admired 'non' Christmas wreaths. Wreaths that go with every season, a new theme and idea every month - but, I had never quite got the full inspiration and ideas (and time?) to do something about it. However, Deborah's class last night really got me thinking.
So, wreath complete, and inspired - off we went on an Autumn 'forage' today with our daily morning walk. Some beautiful fallen leaves, dried cow parsley and grasses. Berries and poppy heads. Things that actually, I wouldn't have maybe given a second glance to - but would have looked lovely all together just simply shoved in a vase! However, they had another purpose... I wanted to create an 'Autumn Wreath' using the newly acquired handmade willow base.
I tripped off to Hobbycraft too for an 'Autumnal' craft hunt (amongst lots of other ideas!) and purchased the 'pink pepperberries' in the display for the final finish - but everything else is simply either from my garden, next door neighbours garden (I did ask!) and some local hedgerows... attached with floristry gold binding wire, hessian twine and a couple of dabs of a hot glue gun for extra 'security'...
It may not last long, it may need 'refreshing' soon - but, that's ok. As, I will soon be planning one with Ivy, and Holly and 'Glitter' and much more 'Christmassy' 'traditional' wreath things... but for now, I have a daily reminder on my front door - it is certainly, and/or very nearly 'Autumn'. And, isn't that a lovely thing.
“Oooooh, it’s a crafter’s dream!”
“What you’ve achieved is astonishing! Especially to do all that alongside being sleep deprived, many people would’ve given up a long time ago, but your passion and drive has really resulted in something that you should be so so proud of.”
Yesterday was a bit of a ‘road trip’! One of my closest and dearest friends had her birthday recently – and as she is also very creative, and we mentioned AGES ago about doing something like pottery making, or decorating – my gift to her was to visit the brilliant, and iconic Emma Bridgewater factory in Stoke-on-Trent. We were booked in for both a factory tour to see the makers and creators in all their skillful glory… and then to go and decorate our very own pieces in their studio. Exciting!
It was a horrible drive up – the weather was typically Britishly grey, rainy, horrid visibility – but when we pulled up at the factory the clouds were on the turn – with blue skies and glorious sunshine just around the corner. A sign that our day was about to be on the up!
Despite the horrid journey, we did arrive quite a bit earlier than planned. But – this actually was a genius move – plenty more time to spend in the factory shop! Winning.
Although marked as ‘Seconds’ you sometimes struggled to work out exactly why it was just that – and ‘Seconds’ – the odd mark here and there that perhaps was ‘out of spec’ but nothing that didn’t stop each piece certainly being a delightful piece of exquisitely handmade piece of pottery here at the very factory in Stoke. Bargains galore – I really did have to reign in my desire and the true definition between ‘want’ and ‘need’… Beautiful mugs normally £19.95 – instead… £11.90 for two anyone?? A true sign of the high quality standards that the factory obviously strives towards.
They are very proud of the fact they are in Stoke – and, that everything is made on site – and so they should be! They are one of the largest employers in the area – around 185 people – and it is just so exciting to see such an industry still in good old Great Britain.
Although I knew they were made in Stoke, and yes perhaps hand decorated – I had no idea, that Every. Single. Piece. is TOTALLY handmade. Hand moulded, hand finished, hand checked, hand well – everything – from beginning to end – each mug, bowl, tureen is completely hand created. And, due to that – on the finishing at least, one will never be exactly the same as the next. Each very talented painter – will of course, have to keep to a certain spec, but it will always be their own. Our delightful factory tour guide ‘Julie’ explained that some people that collect Emma Bridgewater pottery – will ONLY collect certain artists pieces. What a compliment! You may be thinking – but how do they know!? Well, underneath each item, the artists leave their little ‘mark’ – usually their initials, and in the romantic eyes – it gives credence to the artist – which, of course it does – but, also it is a part of the quality control system – but either way it certainly shows it was hand created by a person, and not a machine!
Next we headed over the cafe for some well earned (ok, not really – but well desired) tea and scrumptious-moist-really-not-needed carrot cake. What a place! With (as expected!) everything served on in house wares – a now famous ‘polka-dot design’ adorned Aga in the middle, the walls covered with quirky posters and shelf upon shelf of mugs, plates… Just lovely! A fun, relaxed environment akin to the branding and designs of the Bridgewater pottery.
We didn’t actually have long, so we wolfed down our treats – and headed on over to the decorating studio.
We knew we were doing this – but it wasn’t until we were actually inside that we thought about a) what we wanted to decorate and b) what we wanted to decorate it with! Blank pieces started from as little as £6.00 and luckily there were a wide selection of stamps and paint colours – so it wasn’t long before we were inspired and raring to go!
Those girls in the factory are really so talented – they make it look ‘easy’… I had grand visions of all sorts of complicated designs – but in the end settled for some lovely and very ‘The Crafty Lass’ hearts and stars in a repeat pattern around the edges of the iconic Bridgewater mug – in green and pink too, of course.
I love those mugs – we were bought the also iconic ‘Mr & Mrs’ mugs when we got married – and although they have a special meaning of course – they are such lovely mugs to drink from. Heavy, but still actually useable. Thick and solid, but still somehow delicate. It’s crazy – but my morning cuppa of Yorkshire tea, always tastes better in that mug than any other.
Anyway – back to the decorating – we soon learnt that the paint dries very quickly, and that’s quite handy – as if you make a mistake, you can sandpaper it back off! We were fortunate that the scheduled groups after us – weren’t so large, and so with plenty of space – we managed to hang around longer than the normal allocated time. We were so absorbed in our new found love of pottery painting – we hung around in the studio for 2.5 hours…! And due to that – not only did I complete two mugs – one for myself, and one for The Husband but also a ‘Crafty Lass’ inspired matching plate with my now well used ‘Make. Create. Inspire.’ “catchphrase”! I have delightful and rose-tinted visions of my morning tea and toast with them to literally inspire me onwards in my The Crafty Lass days. The only deadline that curtailed us short of moving in and staying there all day and night and decorating pretty much everything – was that the cafe stopped serving lunch at 3.30pm… so we managed to put the paintbrushes down, pack-up, pay and get over there for some more delicious food. (A pesto, mozzarella and tomato toastie and a Ham, Cheese and Piccalilli bloomer – both with salad and plenty of homemade coleslaw incase you were wondering. Delicious!)
The final pieces need to be glazed, fired, cooled – and so they will be sent on to us in just a few weeks time. I cannot wait for the knock on the door the day that parcel arrives!!!
A final mooch around the shop to buy more items that I probably don’t need, but feel that my kitchen is greatly improved by – before back in the car, and off home. A long day – but happy, content and I actually feel like we had a therapeutic, creative and world-away from the day to day stuff – just, put simply – a truly lovely day trip out with my dear friend.
I left feeling inspired. Emma Bridgewater started the company simply because she couldn’t find the right present for her mum. Spotted a gap in the market – and et voila! They now produce 1.2 million pieces of pottery every year.
If you hadn’t already guessed by my above review – I would highly recommend a visit here to anyone. So, if you are ever Stoke way, or fancy a bit of a road trip – head on up there! Your bank balance won’t thank me for the recommendation, but your soul and kitchen certainly will.