Bring on spring!

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).

Ellie's Treasures, Deepdale Christmas Market, Norfolk
Deepdale Christmas Market, Norfolk (2019) – credit to Jason for the snap shot.

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!

bespoke mixed media artwork by Ellie's Treasures
Science themed mixed media artwork commission.

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.

Hedgehog bag charm/key clip/notebook charm

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.

Textile and mixed media artwork

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.

mixed media flamingo canvas artwork by Ellie's Treasures

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.

beautiful textures in nature: rust, feather, wood
gorgeous textures: rust on burnt steel, feather and wood

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!

hand sewn mixed media picture

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.

Ellie's Treasures mixed media artwork

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.

hare themed textile art by Ellie's Treasures - believe in yourself
“believe in yourself”
Ellie's Treasures


From beginning to end

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.

hand sewn textile oriental cat pin brooch by Ellie's Treasures

Look back … look forward.

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.  

Christmas themed bag charms.
Christmas themed bag charms – the little black cat with a Santa hat was a personal favourite!

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.

A monthly list of positive steps that have been taken in your business.

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.  

Mixed media hand sewn artwork commission.
Close up detail of mixed media hand sewn artwork.

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.

Hand sewn unicorn planner journal charm in pink.
cute unicorn planner charm in pink – a new line for Ellie’s Treasures

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.

Self employment – the importance of getting out of the workroom

As much as self employment is liberating, it is also hard work!  There are so many positive aspects to starting your own business: the chance to do what you love, learn along the way, progress and reach your personal goals, but there are downsides too.  One of these, and it is often talked about, is the feeling of isolation – those get up from your desk for a catch up in the coffee room with fellow workers kind of situations are missing when you work from home.  Social media can be a fantastic way to chat with others from so many walks of life, but many of us still need face to face contact that can be absent in the world of self employment.

indieroller meet up stamford oct 2018

Last Saturday I had the opportunity of meeting a wonderful bunch of local indie business owners and found it was the perfect time out solution.

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Organised through the Facebook Group The Indie Rollercoaster by Kate of Clumsy Kate and Small Biz Straight Talk, I had the pleasure of also meeting Beci of From Little Greenwoods, Rudy of Roodles Runique and Hannah, together with her adorable son, of Apples and Pips and Budding Smiles blog.

indie 8
Colourful vinyl sticker by Rudy.

We met at Cosy Club in Stamford (Lincolnshire) and got to know each other over a delicious lunch (or in my case a cooked breakfast).  As each of us is at a different point on our business path it made for an enjoyable, interesting and informative few hours where we could pick up tips (so many tips), bounce around ideas and get inspired to continue keeping our businesses ticking along.

After lunch we headed off to The Meadows, a large green area positioned alongside the River Welland. It was a warm and sunny day so the perfect opportunity to take a few product shots surrounded by picturesque scenery.

“BEAUTIFUL” framed print by Beci, t-shirt by Kate and pin brooches by Elaine (oh, that’s me!)

It will be fabulous to get together with these ladies again in the near future and hopefully encourage the group to grow so we can begin to support each other on a regular basis.
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