Saturday, August 12, 2017

How to start a creative business

This week, Fig&Me published a blog post about starting your own doll making business.  The same principles apply to any craft business.  The article is in complete agreement with what I always tell people, and it's written in Fabiola's typical gentle and encouraging style.

If you are thinking about starting a creative business, do yourself a favour, go read!

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

The dog's breakfast

Sometimes the things I make look like a dog's breakfast.

 Um, it is a dog's breakfast.  Several of them.

Attila is not impressed.

I cater for cats too.

Making miniature Whiskas has been a challenge.  The scale is not quite right, but I'm at my limit of patience with very tiny things.

It's that time of year again.  We are preparing for the annual Miniature Festival.  This is the 25th annual show and I've been to every one.  Where has the last quarter century gone??? Note the new venue.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Lena's Wicker Furniture

If there's one thing that gets me excited, it's discovering an unusual craft.

I was recently introduced to Lena, a Lithuanian dollhouse furniture and accessory maker who does wickerwork.

What makes her work exeptional, is that she recycles paper into the straws that are used to weave her beautiful pieces.

Like me, she has animal helpers in her studio.

Lena's work is available in scales suitable for various sizes of doll and dollhouse.  Visit her Etsy Shop and her Facebook Page if you would like to find out more about her work.

Friday, August 4, 2017

Winter is winter

We always say that there's no real winter in Pretoria.  Night temperatures might fall a few degrees below zero, but usually the days are sunny and warm enough to be in shirtsleeves.  Our gardens have a lot of evergreen plants so we don't really notice winter too much.  I grump about the dry and dusty conditions, and August is especially bad because of wind.  But spring is only a few weeks away now!

Today I tidied up files on  my computer, and found summer pictures of the garden.  Comparing it to the dreary view through my window, winter is winter!

Winter is winter, even if it doesn't snow.
  Picking grapes in February. 

 And of course, the dogs will tell you that it's much too cold to sleep outside!

Tuesday, August 1, 2017


It's the last week of Goal Setting with Julia.  I have learned a tremendous amount, and my business is benefitting beyond my expectations.
Today's lesson feels as though it is meant for me personally. 
I'm struggling with a commitment I made a number of months ago.  Physically, circumstances have changed.  I can live with that.  But emotionally there's been a shift that leaves me wishing I could just walk away.
I've been swinging like a pendulum between chuck it in or see it through.
After today, the choice is clear.
Only one carries the possibility of success.

Note to self:  Never make a decision when you are angry, and never make a promise when you are happy.

Monday, July 31, 2017

Small Joy

Little things make all the difference.  Three of the studio's sewing machines went for service.  They are back.  How lovely that every part is cleaned, oiled and working just so!

For many years I did only hand sewing on my teddy bears.  Mostly, I still do.  In time I have started making more little clothes and accessories.  For this a simple sewing machine that can work slow, tiny, straight stitches is invaluable.
My favourite machine is still the Singer 1928 hand operated model.  The black sewing machine in front.
All the sewing machines are older than me, and came to me after numerous owners and working very hard.    How I would love to hear the stories they could tell!

Jannie at JVN Sewing Machine Service patiently and meticulously looks after my machines.  He specializes in industrial and computerized embroidery machines, but he is a fount of wisdom when it comes to vintage machines, and shares my enthusiasm for them.  His workshop is in Lyttelton, Pretoria, and you can contact him at 012 664 3162 if your machine needs a service.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

happiness@nr4: Sew a Softie Tutorial: The Kids are in charge!

Hello Everyone
Please visit Liezel's blog to see what she and her girls are designing for Sew-A-Softie.

happiness@nr4: Sew a Softie Tutorial: The Kids are in charge!: Hi Everyone! How exciting it is to write this post on behalf of my girls. When I told them that I would like to challenge them to be respo...

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Random Favourite Things

Random favourite things in my studio.  The felt frog I made from a pattern by Cynthia Treen, The leaf plate and lily flower are available at Ceramix, crochet succulent plants made by Dawn at LiveCreatively365.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

I've been cursing lately when trying to do crafts or work at my computer.  Thought it was time for new glasses, but when I went to the optometrist, I discovered that it's much worse.  I'm developing a lazy eye.  Miniatures are indeed hazardous to one's health.  Apparently the muscles in my right eye are straining when focusing at close range, and have decided to give up.  So it's not that I can't see, it's just that as soon as I concentrate my focus on one area for a few minutes, I lose binocular vision because my right eye wanders off to look at something else.  It can be fixed with therapy, let's hope.  I received my colourful Brock String and new glasses on Monday.  With diligent exercise and not working on miniatures for more than a few minutes at a time, I should see (literally!) an improvement in about eight weeks. 

Monday, June 19, 2017

A Hobby Makes You Happy

I dragged my feet all the way to the computer.

You know. When you were little and shy, grownups came visiting and your parents dictated that you display good manners by coming out of hiding to greet them.  That kind of feeling.

I'm learning about goal setting, a la Julia Bickerstaff at The Business Bakery.   Set a goal, decide paths, do micro actions.  Ready, get set, go!  You have 100 days to the finish line.  One of the paths to my chosen goal is blog writing.  When I mapped out micro actions, blogging fell on day 50.    I've abandoned the habit of writing regularly, and coming back to it feels awkward.  Today is day 50, so here I am, hearing that little Julia voice calling to me.

My life has had some not-so-recent upheavals.  It happens to everyone, but for some reason it hit me hard and it's taking me the longest time to get back on my feet.  I used to be very sure of who I am and where I was going.  Often now I feel like Mary, Mary, quite contrary.  I only know what I don't want, then I change my mind.  I'm going through a period of intense self-doubt and I'm convinced no one is the least bit interested in me and my small life.  Drama queen.

What would a person like that blog about?  I used to blog about my work as a teddy bear maker, but that doesn't define me any longer.  I'm a dabbler without a specialty.  My life is mundane and much of what I start goes unfinished or ends up in the dustbin.

One of my daily pleasures is reading the blogs of other artists.   I've been following many of them for so long that they feel like friends.  While reading, and agonizing about my own lack of writing inspiration, I realized something.  They all write about the process of their work - failed, uncomplete, or masterpieces.  They also write about how they experience life, often hilariously, whether it's a bout of stomach flu, home renovations, or random phenomenon.  Artists don't only produce a body of work, they represent humanity in their creations and the way they preceive the world.  Knowing an artist's thoughts can help to develop a better understanding of their work, which means that their art is easier to relate to, which makes it popular.  In these days of blogging, how privileged we are to get glimpses into artists' daily lives, and what a powerful tool blogging is in the hands of artists.

I'm not going to call myself Artist .  I'm a dabbler in search of a specialty.  I choose to be a Hobbyist.  Borrowing from the wicked Jane Laverick, if you take hobby, put a stick on the O and turn the Bs upside down, it will make you happy.  I'm doing what I do, because it makes me happy.

Or am I a Happyist?

I came out of hiding and wrote a blog post.  I survived it.

Monday, May 8, 2017

To Sew, or Not To Sew

We don't always realize where the seeds we sow (sew?) take root.  Today I received a link to a wonderful post by Charlize Stone, a long time teddy bear maker at Tin Soldiers.  She just started an Etsy shop, started teaching, and is in turn spreading the love for teddy bear Making.
You can read about her love for sewing HERE.