a virtual Christmas shopping experience

I think it’s quite safe to say that this year’s Christmas present buying will, for the many, take place online. Although there are shops open, and a few local fairs and markets taking place, I fear a lot of us will decide it is safer to stay away and let the fingers do the shopping. Besides, it’s great to have a glass of wine (mulled perhaps?) or steaming cuppa and slice of cake by your side as you ponder over the vast array of fabulous gift ideas available from the comfort of your own home.

Push away the thoughts of the big online shops and marketplaces, this post will be highlighting three close to home online present buying opportunities, all of which will satisfy that need to find something a little different and be able to support the many small businesses too. Here we go ….

Virtual Norfolk Craft, Food and Drink Market – a group on Facebook set up by the very talented photographer and huge small business supporter, Paul Macro. At the time of blogging, this group has around 180 local sellers all regularly showcasing their beautiful wares to a huge number of followers. Joining the group is easy, just click the join button, you’ll be accepted and away you go. All the sellers I’ve come across have been friendly and professional, with links to shops or Facebook pages to navigate to in order to purchase an item or request further information.

1000 piece puzzle of Cromer beach from Paul Macro Photography.
Delicious hamper including shortbread, gin liquer and marmalade from Simon’s Table.
Fun and tactile handmade card from Covenant Craft.
Pretty beach themed mug from Zoe Crawford Art.
Made from recycled wood jumpers – thick and cosy wrist warmers from The Norfolk Farmers Wife.

@LincsConnect on Twitter is the handle for Martin of Mandarin Leisure. If you are looking to purchase gifts from online sellers in Lincolnshire, Martin has set up a hashtag hour called #LincsArtCraftHour, dedicated to Lincolnshire based artisan businesses to showcase their products. You can view the hashtag at any time, but the dedicated hour is every Monday from 12 noon until 1pm. Alongside this is the hashtag #LincsConnectChristmas, for Christmas gift ideas originating from the county.

Lincolnshire Wildlife Calendar 2021 from local photographers Dave Newman and Andrew Scott – available from Andrew Scott Photography.
Beautiful stag wall art print from Christine Dobbin Art.
Fun and festive snowflake necktie from Create England.
Elegant stoneware spoon rest from Made With Mud.
International Bomber Command Centre painted onto vintage maps from Original Art by Fiona Duncan – a donation is given to the centre for each sale.

Of THE MAKERS is a new subscription box service run by Kerry, a Norfolk based supporter of the creative community. Kerry’s vision is to support small independent businesses by offering a selection of handmade items from UK designers and makers that is beautifully packaged and delivered through the letterbox as a special one off treat or on a quarterly basis via subscription. Orders for the special Premium Gift Box of lovingly made items from eight small businesses, needs to be in by 2nd December, for delivery in time for Christmas.

Beautiful handmade items from UK based creatives, delivered directly to your home from Of THE MAKERS.

Reds, golds and mustards – the warmth of autumn.

“Autumn carries more gold in its pocket than all the other seasons.” (Jim Bishop).

a spark of colour as autumn sets in – small sunflowers

Savouring those last warm days, enjoying the crisp coolness of early mornings and evenings, the beautiful colours of nature, sightings of squirrels and robins and the lighting of an open fire all add up to why autumn is by far my favourite season.

autumn leaves – waiting for harvest with moody sky – close up of a pine cone

New items for autumn, like this squirrel brooch in mustard felt and little hanging artwork in sunflower yellow, have been inspired by the changing colours of nature. Endeavouring to be a little more adventurous with my mixed media style, I’m enjoying combining different colours and patterns of fabrics and embellishments to build a boho style piece, with a hint of vintage.

hand sewn embellished felt and fabric squirrel brooch and cat artwork hanging by Ellie's Treasures
mixed media squirrel brooch and little cat artwork hanging

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

Festive fairs and Christmas spirit

With my last Christmas market on the horizon I’m keeping my needle threaded, my charms and beads at the ready, and boosting stock levels whenever I have a spare hour!

hand sewn angel bag charm by Ellie's Treasures
hand sewn angel bag charm/key clip – “hope”

Last week’s fair at Pensthorpe was amazing! The weather actually stayed dry (in fact the sun peaked out for a short while), the line up of independent sellers was fabulous and the organisation was brilliant. I’m looking forward to my final fair of the year, and as it’ll be my third year at Deepdale, I know it will a lovely weekend with a great atmosphere.

Ellie's Treasures Norfolk craft markets and fairs
Pensthorpe Natural Park, Fakenham, Christmas Market 2019

If you are in Norfolk (or surrounding counties) and fancy a trip out to start or finish your Christmas shopping, then do consider dropping by Deepdale at Dalegate Market, you won’t be disappointed. It’s free to enter and free parking, and with vast selection of stalls, in marquees, barns, pop up sheds and the church too, plus delicious grub to enjoy, you won’t be disappointed.

Ellie’s Treasures will be inside the Brick Barn and I’ll be accepting commissions over the weekend should you be looking for something specific.

Dachshund mixed media canvas artwork

Happy Christmas shopping!

Designing a new cat brooch

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 (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 colourful selection of felts to choose from and an even bigger collection of fabric, many of which have been donated or ready to be repurposed.

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

This little cutie is now available to purchase.