I was lucky enough to snap up a Dachshund printed fabric off-cut from a Sophie Allport shop last year and was itching to use it in a new artwork design. Finished and mounted before Christmas, I have only just found time to photograph and list in my online shops. I did however remember to take a few in progress shots and thought I’d share these with you to give you an insight into how the picture came together.
Having chosen the light turquoise blue/green felt as the background, initial colour scheme ideas came from the dark red of the Dachshund’s collar so I started by sourcing buttons in complementary colours.
My next stage was to play with fabrics and trims, building a balanced piece with interest from different patterns and textures.
Tiny embellishments are added last to give additional interest and prettiness to the artwork before being mounted on a white canvas and finished with my logo on the reverse.
As with most of my products, I try to use as many donated and recycled fabrics and decorations as possible to save materials ending up in landfill. For this particular picture, many of the additional fabrics, dark grey paper, buttons and sequins were all repurposed.
To finish, here’s a few interesting facts about these adorable hounds:
* with their German origins, the correct pronounciation of the word “Dachshund” is “Daks-hoont”, with the word “dachs” meaning “badger” and “hund” meaning “hound” or “dog”;
* they have quite a few nicknames, the most endearing to me are “sausage dog” and “doxie”;
* in 1972 Waldie the Dachshund was the colourful mascot for the Munich Olympic Games.
Happy New Year! I hope everyone had a fabulous Christmas with time to relax and rejuvenate ready for 2020. With the weeks after my last market whizzing by in a whirlwind of commission sewing, it meant the home didn’t get the festive sparkle until the 22nd December! Waiting until then did mean I had two extra helpers in the form of my adult children who had come home from uni, so it wasn’t all so bad! I have given myself a couple of weeks off “normal” sewing to endeavour to finish my own new fabric wallet (started about 3 years ago) – I’ll pop photos on when it’s finally finished (hopefully not in another 3 years).
Both Christmas markets were very busy – thank you to all who dropped by, it was great to meet you and I hope you enjoyed the fairs as much as I did taking part. I picked up a selection of lovely commissions but thought I’d show you this special one … a bespoke science themed artwork for a customer’s daughter. I have to admit, I did dig out my son’s GCSE chemistry textbook for this one, just to make sure I was getting the element details correct!
Looking onwards to spring and my first new item for the shop is this cute hedgehog charm. With the lobster clasp clip, it’s perfect for attaching to a handbag, set of keys or spiral bound notebook. Sewn in striking lime green felt and decorated with lots of pretties, the idea of using a hedgehog charm came from another commission request – I can’t believe I hadn’t added hedgehogs to my range before this.
Hedgehogs are the cutest – we don’t often see them in our garden, but when we do, they are usually scurring away from danger – it’s amazing how fast those little legs can carry them.
Did you know hedgehogs are known as the “gardener’s friend” as they enjoy eating garden pests that could otherwise munch through a patch of prized blooms and veggies? An adult hedgehog can have around 5000-7,000 spines, which are keratin stiffened hollow hairs. These come in handy to ward off predators, rolling themselves into a ball and sticking their prickly spines out. In recent years, the baby hedgehog has been given the name “hoglet”, which is adorable! My husband was a big hedgehog fan during his uni years, calling them hedgepigs and finishing off his signature with a rough hedgie sketch.
During GCSE years (or O’level as it was in my day), one of the subjects I took was Fine Art. I always remember feeling I wasn’t very good at it but did, on my third attempt, secure a grade B having previously received two grade Ds! I seem to remember we were taught to draw or paint in a particular way and could never quite master it. I have since realised that art isn’t about conforming, there is no right or wrong, it is your own personal interpretation, your way to express what you see and how you feel.
Texture has fascinated me since junior school, my first memories are of making paper collages and weaving materials by using a hand made cardboard loom.
I have finally rekindled this love by sewing tactile and colourful artwork for Ellie’s Treasures. I have to admit, it was daunting at first and actually quite frustrating, as I knew how I wanted things to look, but didn’t have the confidence to get there. All I can say is, if this sounds like you, whatever you long to do, keep practising, keep experimenting and you’ll be surprised how quickly you progress.
After initial fabric and charm framed pictures I moved on to sewing with material scraps, ribbon, trims and embellishments to “build” my first mini canvas. It took me an absolute age!
Now I love the planning stage and really get stuck in trying this and that until I begin to see something lovely develop. Although there are many times when work is put on the back-burner for a few weeks, I know I will return to it with fresh eyes and be able to finish and be happy with the end result.
When a piece comes together, the sense of achievement is wonderful. That feeling grows even more when someone else shows an interest in your hard work by way of comments and sales – it boosts your confidence no end and pushes you to keep doing what you love.
Thought I’d give a little insight into how my items begin life and evolve to become a finished product. This journey can take several weeks, especially once I reach embellishment stage and my own quote, “an artist can’t art unless they feel artistic” rings true many times!
Although I’m not a night bird, never have been and most probably never will be, I do find my brain gets a spurt of energy around 9:30 in the evening and it starts to fill with new ideas, colour schemes and what not. It’s a little annoying to be honest as there’s no way the rest of my body can start to put these thoughts into practise as I’m physically too tired. Before hitting the sack I’ll jot down any light bulb ideas and perhaps pull out a couple of fabric squares or embellishments to remind me to pick up the inspiration the next day.
Sometimes a new product will come from something I’ve seen or heard that day, or perhaps from a client with an idea for a commission. My first port of call is either the felt colour or the fabric choice, or perhaps the combination of both. I have a cheerful selection of felts to choose from and an even bigger collection of fabric which has surprisingly stayed in it sorted divisions by colour. The vast majority of fabrics have been donated ready to be recycled into something new but I can’t help but buy a few pretty offcut squares or fat quarters to add to my collection.
Once the initial colour scheme has been decided and the charm or main feature has been picked, then it’s down to finding embellishments and having a good old play around to get a feel for how I’d like my new piece to look. This will include ribbons, lace, buttons and seed beads, perhaps with printed words too, but I’m toying with idea of including other media in my work in the near future – building up the confidence for this one.
Neatly sewing everything in its right place is the final stage, often with additional stitching or further decoration as I move things along. I love the process and how everything gradually comes together, producing a totally unique item with many hours of love and attention given to it.
Happy new year to all my readers, I hope you’ve all had a good festive season with time to recharge and look ahead to 2019.
The lead up to Christmas is often a busy one for small businesses, especially those that involve selling, and it is quite a relief to have a little downtime to collect thoughts, look back on the past year and then look forward to the new one with new ideas and optimism. For me the beginning of the year is often quiet on the selling front and I should by now be used to this and try not to get a too twitchy! There are so many things involved in running an indie business that a space of quiet like this should really be a blessing to catch up on non-sewing work, but naturally you can’t help hearing those inner voices casting small nuggets of doubt about your craft and where your path is leading.
As these thoughts can pop up at any time, I keep a month by month journal listing anything positive that happens with regard to Ellie’s Treasures. When the doubt sets in, I find it a help to look back and see that business is not stagnant, there is always something in the pipeline, always something to work on and improve and, hopefully, a lovely customer or two that comes along at the right moment with a compliment that makes you start to believe in yourself again.
The last few months have been a whirlwind of sewing, listing, restocking and selling so I thought I’d share with you a couple of lovely things that have happened since the Autumn and a few plans for the coming year.
I can now show you photos of an artwork commission I received back in September and completed in October. It was a privilege to work alongside my client and be trusted with such a personal birthday present and seeing it come together, piece by piece, was really fulfilling.
The end of November and beginning of December were busy craft market times for Ellie’s Treasures with Pensthorpe Craft Fair and Deepdale Christmas Market over two consecutive weekends. Both were extremely busy and great fun. It was a pleasure to meet so many supportive sellers, customers and visitors, it really does make the early mornings and late evenings worthwhile. I’d like to thank Lottie of Lottie’s Little Treasures (who was also selling at Deepdale with her beautifully gorgeous goodies) for taking the time out of her busy days to track me down so we could meet in person – it was a lovely surprise, thank you so much.
Plans for 2019? Well I have a few new ideas up my sleeve! I’ve just started to introduce planner charms to my range, two are now listed, one is waiting to be photographed and several are ready for sewing. The clip charms are cute and original little accessories that will brighten up any thin ring bound notebook, diary or journal – perfect for the stationery lover.
I’ve been hearing on the grapevine that nature will be featuring big this year, so I’m in the process of developing a range to include more tactile embellishments along these lines. Also, getting Ellie’s Treasures out on the road is something I’d like to do more of as I really enjoy meeting folk face to face. This does mean I need to be sewing a lot more than I already am so a big challenge there for me as time always seems to be against me. Finally, perhaps this year will be the year I start my own shop website – we’ll see … one step at a time!
Do you have exciting plans for 2019? Drop me a comment, I’d love to hear how you see the year progressing for you.