Virtual markets

As the current pandemic continues to change the way we go about our lives, I’m beginning to wonder if we’ll need to write off this entire year when it comes to participating in indoor craft fairs and markets. I’ve already been told one of the markets I sell at over the Christmas period won’t be going ahead for 2020, so there’s a good chance the vast majority will follow suit.

On the up-side, there has been a rise in online (virtual) markets – the ones I’ve seen have been on Instagram and Facebook. Having taken part in one last month with Bluebirds Handmade Market, I’ve got the bug and signed up for another for next weekend with Handmade and Creative and have realised that they require as much pre-planning and on the day dedication as a live market. One thing is for sure, I’m now beginning to get to grips with “stories” and all that goes with it on Instagram … Facebook, sadly, is still a head scratching puzzle for me!

So, the Handmade and Creative fair, which can be accessed by using the hasthtag #handmadeindoors on Instagram, will take place on Saturday 13th and Sunday 14th June between 7 and 10pm – perfect for when you’ve settled on the sofa after a busy day with a cuppa or glass of something chilled and you’re ready to go virtual browsing and buying from a fantastic selection of UK sellers.

hand sewn mixed media brooches by Ellie's Treasures - black cats, unicorn, pegasus and black poodle brooches

I’ve been busy at the sewing table building up stock levels with a few cute mini brooches and small mixed media artworks added to the list. Commissions will be open before, during and after the market if you’d like something special made. Hope you can join us.

hand sewn mixed media small dachshund dog themed canvas with easel - dreamy days

Life in lockdown

What a lot has changed in our lives since my last blog post.  I hope you are all staying safe and keeping well and continue to do so for the foreseeable future.  I’m thrown between feelings of worry for what lies ahead to feelings of joy that I have some time to just “be”.  I am also in awe of those that continue to work so hard to keep the country going.

hand sewn embellished felt and fabric rainbow brooch with word dream by Ellie's Treasures

Having grown used to the 2 metre rule, the necessity to stay at home as much as possible and the queueing to do the weekly shop, I have to admit I’m settling in to the slower pace of life.  I’m fortunate enough to have a few weeks off from my keyworker job and have countryside, big skies (that are so blue at the moment) and nature around me to enjoy.  I’m going to endeavour to cling on to these things when life begins to return to normal.

early evening sun through the trees

With the weather being pretty amazing (what a blessing that is), I have spent a lot of my home time tidying the garden. There have been many unwanted freebies left at the side of the road so I now own a strawberry pot and pretty hellebore that would otherwise have gone to waste.  Locals have also been selling young plants, so my garden has benefitted from sweet peas, lupin, delphinium, sweet william, strawberry plants, a couple of alpines and a dicentra spectabilis with its pretty pink heart shaped flowers.

dicentra spectablis, chives and outdoor candles

The sewing is most definitely still happening – Ellie’s Treasures remains open and I’m happy to accept orders and commissions.  All individual items (except larger canvas artworks) are letterbox friendly and sent 1st class, so no need for a signature upon delivery or a parcel being left on the doorstep or at the sorting office.  If you are buying as a gift for someone special, I’m happy to tissue wrap and add a handwritten note, posting directly to your chosen recipient if you wish.  Please bear in mind that purchases may take a bit longer to arrive as it’s a bit like a Christmas rush for the posties at the moment.

three mini hand sewn unicorn brooches by Ellie's Treasures
mini brooches have been a popular gift choice since lockdown

Hedgehog lovers – do pop over to Gloucestershire based Wild Hogs Rescue Centre’s online auction on Facebook to help raise necessary funds. The centre does an amazing job of researching, rescuing and rehabilitating hedgehogs in their local area so I’m hoping this event is a great success fr them. Bidding opens on 3rd May until the 10th and there’s already a fabulous selection of items to choose from.

hand sewn hedgehog bag charm by Ellie's Treasures donated to Wild Hogs Rescue Centre Gloucestershire for their fundraising auction 2020
available through Wild Hogs Rescue Centre fundraising auction

Finally, I have been listed in a new small business directory with Pretty and Petit.  If you are a looking for something special to treat yourself or send to a loved one then do browse the directory, it is full of amazing small businesses that are continuing to work hard and remain open during this difficult time.

Take care and stay healthy.

Adorable dachshunds

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.

Initial design colours for dachshund textile artwork by Ellie's Treasures

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.

Initial design ideas by Ellie's Treasures

My next stage was to play with fabrics and trims, building a balanced piece with interest from different patterns and textures.

Embellished hound artwork by Ellie's Treasures

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.

Embellished mounted artwork by Ellie's Treasures

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.

mixed media Dachshund artwork by Ellie's Treasures

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.

Ref: youdidwhatwithyourweiner.com iheartdogs.com

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.

hand sewn hedgehog bag charm, hedgehog notebook charm, hedgehog key clip in lime green by Ellie's Treasures

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.

Ellie's Treasures