Welcome from Crafty Chicita

A big welcome to old friends and new. Follow my crafting adventures as I take you on a journey through the daily life of a creative crafter. Experience the successes and disappointments that are all part of my working day, but most of all, enjoy the ride.

Monday, 29 March 2010

Sea Glass Stir

I used to collect little pieces of smoothed glass on the beach during childhood holidays to South Wales, thinking that they were pretty pebbles but my geologist brother assured me that they had not been polished by mermaids but by the action of the waves rolling them on the sea floor.

Who would have thought that decades later I would once again be collecting this beautiful material and creating pretty summer rings? Sea glass has a fabulous matt texture with a slight grain to it and is hardly recognisable as glass at all. Apparently, the darker the colour the older the piece and if you find any deep brown sea glass it could well date back to the 17th century.

As you can see, I enhance their beauty with a little wire wrapping here and there to create unique rings that look fab and groovy with those summer pastel shades that we will soon be wearing during that tropical heatwave that I predict is definitely going to arrive in the next month or two. A girl can hope!

You can see more photos and details of these rings on my Folksy and Zibbet shops.

Sunday, 28 March 2010

...And Possibly The Event Of TheYear

Following the disaster that was Thursday afternoon, I was looking forward to yesterday's big local event as I'd attended the first Big Green Festival in Chorlton Manchester last year and it had attracted over 4,000 on the day. Organised by Trafford Council as a green event to promote all things environmentally friendly such as wind power, bicycles, recycling, beekeeping and other funky things, this was possibly the event of the year. From an hour before it opened this outdoor festival, held in the grounds of a church was buzzing with people, and until I left at 5pm it continued to fill with wonderfully colourful alternative types, eager to enjoy the spring sunshine, handmade crafts, vegan cakes and curries and of course the real ale tent. The beer tent is a real crowd puller so I asked to be placed next to this location, and true to form the organisers put me next to the groovy guy with rave music and the kegs of ale.

It was fabulous to meet such an 'up for it' crowd of friendly people. Discussions around my table included the problems with eating just one square of chocolate, how to sheer a sheep and how to get rid of fleas. All jolly good fun and no conversations that were craft related at all. It was fantastic to see groovy grannies in their 70s and 80s with magenta, scarlet or purple hair, wild hippy skirts and hair wraps looking the way I want to as I grow old disgracefully. I feel a bright red hair dye coming on!

Cold though it was, the sun did make an appearance from time to time, but I was so cold that I joined the hour long salsa class just to thaw out, knowing full well that I would be suffering with aches and pains today. Flattered by the dance teacher's comments on my 'hip action' I am now enrolled once again in a salsa class, which is not wise for someone whose vertebra is still knitting together. So look out world, here comes Chicita again, shaking it in your face as I get to grips with those sweaty palms and dominant males without a sense of rhythm. Bailla chicos! Now you know where I got my name from. I reached a stage with salsa where I could be chucked forcefully over a man's shoulders and land gracefully on my feet, but I think the Cuban Wheel may be a safer bet for now. Watch this space for my report on the dance class.

Friday, 26 March 2010

Possibly The Worst Market Experience Ever

OK so you've probably gathered from the title of this article that I'm not a happy bunny. Let me share with you my experience of the worst market I have had the misfortune to attend as a seller. I use the term 'seller' loosely as nothing was sold by me.

I was led to believe by the organiser that this particular Easter market would have a good footfall if their Christmas event was anything to go by. The price for a table appeared to be reasonable but I needed Public Liability Insurance which I did not have but would require for future events this year, and so I found a very reasonable rate of £30 per year with AIR. As this event from hell began at 3.30 and didn't end until mid evening, I had to prepare some nourishing and warming food for myself and my child to consume at the event. I also had to rush to pick up my child from school, feed and water her before dashing to the event only to find that it consisted of 11 tables, all crammed together with no spaces in between, under a drab looking piece of tarpaulin on a stretch of waste land close to a derilect cinema and a handful of shops. As both tables on either side of me were already set up, these sellers had selflessly taken it upon themselves to spread their wares over part of my table and were in no hurry to move them away on my arrival. Now I'm a great believer in listening to my gut reactions and instinct told me to get the hell out of Dodge and do it fast, but my practical side told me that having forked out a shed load of hard earned money I should at least give it a chance. Things might not be as bad as they looked, I told myself optimistically. Having set up my table with my handmade jewellery I cast an eye around the other tables, counting 4 other jewellery stalls - 5 out of 11 tables all selling the same products. As I commented politely about this to the organiser she glibbly explained that each table contained a very different type of jewellery. Surely this woman could have found herself a more varied selection of sellers. Home grown produce, other handmade crafts? Even bought in handbags from China would not have gone amiss here!

Have I mentioned the fairy cakes? So, who was I next to but the fairy cake table and those few people who passed through the grubby tarpaulin area seemed eager to fill their children with little cakes at £1.40 a pop, so much so that they and their offspring formed a dense queue in front of my table for 45 minutes, most of them leaning on my goods and dropping cake crumbs on my items. After a long, tedious hour I was ready to wrap the magician's poodle shaped balloons around his over-jolly ears, and as he approached me with an insane expression of gleeful fake jolliness on his otherwise miserable face, a pack of playing cards stretched out towards me, I decided that for his own good it was best for me to venture home before I did anything that may make headline news in the local paper, the rush hour traffic looming large on the busy road nearby. Needless to say, as soon as I return home I emailed the organiser to express my doubts as to the safety aspect of cramming tables together, my inability to even get behind my table unless I was prepared to pole vault over or limbo under the stall with a broken vertebra and politely demanded a refund.

Lessons are to be learnt here from my mistake. Always ask the organiser of an event how many makers of a similar product will also be attending, check how big or small the event will be, and if in doubt don't hand over your money. I'm sticking to the tried and tested events that were a success in 2009 from now on. What else could possibly go wrong!

I have a stall at the Big Green Festival at St. Clements Church, Edge Lane, Chorlton tomorrow and this has a footfall of over 4,000 people, and they've put me next to the beer tent! This has to be the prime spot so it's not all bad. If you are in the area come along for a family outing and enjoy the bands, craft workshops, food stalls and real ale.

Friday, 19 March 2010

Folksy superstar featured on BBC 2.

You may be asking yourself why there's a picture of Monty Don (aka Mr Wonderful in my books)in my blog. In case you missed last Friday's BBC 2 programme Mastercrafts presented by Monty, you may not know about Folksy's very own lovely Momtaz Begum Hossain. Momtaz was one of three students to appear in the programme, spending many weeks learning the traditional art of weaving and her journey was not an easy one.

I scooped an exclusive interview with Momtaz just after the show went live, for Indiesmiles. She gave me a fascinating insight into the effort and exhaustion, long hours and expectations involved. If you ever thought you might like to appear on TV this article may well change your mind!

Wednesday, 17 March 2010

Name That Shop

Following the success and interest of my previous article The Name Game, on Indiesmiles, the sequel The Name Game - Part II has just arrived on their site. I had such a good response from Folksy folk eager to be included in both articles that I could keep this up for quite a while. If you've been wondering why such Folksy shops as Glamorous Glue, Buddhist Musician, Ginger Nut Knits, Jewelbox and Toggle are so named, be prepared for an entertaining read.

Some more blogging news from me. I've been featured in Ambient Girl's blog on Indie Junction - so there's your reading matter sorted for the day!

Just to add a little colour to my page I've included a picture of my newest listing on Zibbet - the striking Midnight Clouds Ceramic Brooch.

Sunday, 14 March 2010

Lightning Strikes

I don't often write about new listings in my Folksy shop, but this brooch needs to be shouted about. I have found a niche market at last with my ceramic jewellery pieces and have even had a few wholesale enquiries from across the pond. I don't mean the pond in my garden that is currently looking like a bubbling geyser due to those love happy frogs having their annual bonk fest! No. I mean the big wide pond to the west of the UK that stretches all the way to Americky.

The glaze always does its own incredible thing when it is fired and this piece was no exception. I used a satin metallic pewter glaze, then flicked some flecks of white over the top. The white glaze blended in parts and stood out and raised in others. The over all effect is of a moody night time electric storm and I love it, and it cried out to be named Lightning Strikes.

Friday, 12 March 2010

Last Minute Panic and New Indiesmiles Article

OK. First things first. I have a new article in Indiesmiles.com today and I think you'll find it useful, especially if you have trouble getting organised, staying away from the kitchen and the chocolate, and staying motivated. Self discipline is something we have to learn when working alone in a studio or at home, so check it out. This month's winning Indiesmiles columnist is the one whose column receives the most views so please go and take a look and feel free to leave comments.

If you've been following my blog recently you'll be aware of the impending Mothers Day Craft Market (yikes, it's tomorrow and still so much to do). I set today aside in order to bake some cakes and flapjacks for the event as well as dealing with any last minute panic requests from crafters, but there's always something that happens that you just don't plan for. I found three huge pin tacks stuck into one of my car tyres and a slow puncture so it was just as well that I'm not a last minute merchant and had a spare half hour to dash down to Kwik Fit to get it sorted.

This evening I'll be dashing down to the venue to clear a space, set up tables and generally rush around like a headless chicken! Next week I'll show you photos of the event and let you know how it all went.

Monday, 8 March 2010

Mothers Day Craft Market

My life this week is expected to be pretty hectic, due to the big Mothers Day Craft Market that I've organised for locally based charity, Dignity Worldwide which aims to facilitate change and alleviate poverty in rural Zambia.

This craft market is the 4th that I've arranged and each time I send out the application forms I get a bigger response. I'm still receiving application forms with only a few days to go. The event will include 40 crafters, some of the most talented local people offering wonderful gifts, to include jewellery, ceramics, cards, bags, textiles, paintings and photography, bath and body products, toys and a whole heap of other amazing stuff. There will also be plenty of homemade cakes and refreshments available from our cafe area. The event is being held in Ivy Church with its stunningly beautiful Art Nouveau stained glass windows, as well as the adjoining hall (see address details below).

We always get a great footfall through these events and, weather permitting, we are expecting a great crowd to arrive on the day. If you are looking for a handmade, unusual or unique gift for your mum or just a little treat for yourself, come along and have a rummage, and don't forget to say 'hi' to me. I'll be the one with the table nearest to the cakes. Hey, I did organise the floor plans myself and thought it may be a good idea to be close to the kitchen to keep an eye on my daughter who is manning the food area herself. Really, that's the reason and absolutely nothing to do with the abundance of chocolate butter icing that will be going on!

Ivy Church,97 Barlow Moor Road, Didsbury, South Manchester, M20 2GP

Friday, 5 March 2010

Wow Thank You

Just look at how excited Zebra and Dolphin are at my news. Today sees the launch of a new online handmade crafts and gifts website, just in time for Mothers Day which is looming over the horizon and only days away. It goes by the name of Wow Thank You and those of us who have shops there are hoping to say just that to our customers as they come to visit in droves. The two women behind the site describe it as "an online store that showcases and promotes fantastic UK-based handmade crafts". It has a fun look to it, with tutorials and competitions on its Home page and is easy to navigate. Be one of the first to check out Gimme That Thing's shop and let me know what you think.The Burnt Sugar Earrings and Knot Knit Necklace shown below are available at WowThankyou

Another 'wow thank you' goes out to Harriet at the Children's Jewellery Company, who wrote a lovely article about me in her blog this morning. You can find it at www.thechildrensjewellerycompany.blogspot.com.

Can't sit here chatting to you guys all morning. The sun is out and I need to go and buy a repousse hammer for my newly discovered jewellery technique ...no, I'm not telling you what it is. You'll just have to be patient!

Tuesday, 2 March 2010

Lost in Cyberspace

It was like losing a limb, or a loved one, or being stuck in Groundhog Day. I lost internet connection for nearly two weeks and it was a living hell. My day job as a writer means that I research online and submit my articles online too. I have an online shop on Folksy and Zibbet and this coming Friday a few of us Folksy folk are branching out with new shops on a snazzy online crafts shop called Wow Thank You. So without broadband my life came to a total standstill and it was only then that I realised how reliant I am on this beast, as well as how addicted I had become to the craft forums and social network sites. I have actually had nightmares and woken myself up screaming on two occasions. Now it is all resolved and I am back in action, and control, and can get on with dealing with all those every day issues that crop up.

I am busy organising the fourth craft fair for a local charity, and this too requires internet access, but somehow I have managed to deal with crafters' enquiries, sending out application forms and organising the food, tables, volunteers to help man (or woman) the kitchen on the big day. More about the Mothers Day Craft Market in my next blog.

The upside to all this is that I have had plenty of spare time to make some funky jewellery using new techniques such as wire wrapping, and I sure as hell haven't spent any money feeding my bead addiction. So for every negative there is definitely a positive, even if it is hard to find!