Who’s Counting Down?

So, the countdown is on – and I’m not talking about Christmas.  The last posting day for first class mail is the 20th, and that’s what I’m counting down to!

I won’t have finished work then, of course.  There are still local orders to finish and deliver, and some orders have come in that aren’t needed until January so I’ll still have work to do.  There’s also two magazine commissions to get done for the first week in January.

But it will certainly get easier after the 20th –  it’s very full-on at the moment: everything is very focused on getting things finished/packed/off to the post office as soon as possible.

In the middle of all this madness, I’ve made a few things that are slightly different from the usual … this one is my favourite:

personalised dressing room plaque

personalised dressing room plaque

It was a special request, but I’ll try to get this one onto the website as soon as I can (which is likely to be in January!).

Last ordering date from my website for Christmas delivery is midnight tonight.  I need the cut-off point for my own sanity as much as anything else!

Meanwhile, if you’d like to browse some fabulous blogs all about handmade, pop over to Handmade Harbour!

Summer in December!

The weather’s been pretty changeable around here recently (rain, sleet, ice, frost, cloud … oh! and the sun made a brief appearance) so it’s been nice to snuggle up warm indoors with all the summery images I’m creating for Christmas orders.

campervans caravans and beach huts

campervans, caravans and beach huts

Seems I’m not the only one hankering after a little sunshine!

The multi-coloured beach huts on the plaque really worked to bring back a few warm sunny memories for me.  Although, if I remember rightly,  there may have been a little cloud and rain there too that week (but that’s a British summer for you!)

I’m popping over to Handmade Harbour to take part in Handmade Monday now.  Come with me and read some of the blogs – there’s always somehing new to discover.

Customer Service

I was contacted a while back by Sarah from Craftseller, who was writing an article about customer service and would I mind answering a few questions?  Of course, I was more than happy to help.

I didn’t expect my contribution to be so prominent – that was a nice surprise!  It’s in the supplement which comes free with Craftseller magazine, a lovely little booklet chock full of craft selling tips and well worth a read for anyone who sells crafts.

customer service

craftseller's customer service article

And if you want to double-check my customer service is still doing ok, pop over and have a read of my customer reviews over on Free Index.  Free Index is a independent UK-based website, listing businesses according to positive customer reviews and I’m really proud to be in third position for personalised gifts – that’s out of over 1,000 businesses.

It’s nice to know I must be doing something right as I bumble along in my own little way, just painting stuff for people…

It’s time for Handmade Monday and there will be lots of opportunity to see what people have been making. Pop over now and have a mooch – that’s where I’m headed!

First Birthday Plaque

This plaque is one that was ordered for a little girl’s first birthday…

1st birthday balloons plaque

1st birthday balloons plaque

it was one of those I actually remembered to photograph!  I saved it in my images file and then promptly forgot to upload to here.  I like that the balloons have room for a bit more information – in this case the birthday and date.

I must admit it does feel quite special to be able to be a little tiny part in other people’s celebrations and create a little keepsake for someone.

I’m heading over to Handmade Monday now – come and join me!

 

Personalised Messages – Hearts and Houses

Most of the year, I don’t actually sell a lot of these personalised hanging hearts (usually, they’re bought for Christmas, Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day)

a face without freckles

a face without freckles

but it’s always fun when I do!  I like that they carry messages for people that are just right for them, because of course the wording is written to order.

I was also asked this week for a plaque which was a little different – the wording and little house was as requested by the family.  I’m not religious, but I appreciate people’s faith often means a lot to them, so it was lovely to be able to help out with this one too.

as for me and my house

as for me and my house

I’m feeling the change in the weather – are you?  I know we’ve complained about a miserable summer here in the UK (well, I know I have!) but I’m noticing a definite nip in the air  at both ends of the day now that wasn’t really there before.  It’s going to mean getting the woodburner going in the studio again

woodburner

woodburner and all-important (slow) kettle

and despite the pile of felled trees and thick branches at the bottom of the garden, I’ll have to buy wood.  The chainsaw and I haven’t been on very friendly terms this summer – and I’m not keen on the idea of falling out with it further :shock: so my wood remains pretty much unchopped and probably very damp.  I suspect the chickens have a secret nest somewhere within the woodpile too as the eggs in their coop have been a bit fewer in number than usual!  Try as I might, I can’t find any secret egg stashes – it’s a bit like an Easter egg hunt, but without the chocolate.

It’s Handmade Monday time again now, though, so do join me over on Handmade Harbour – put your feet up and enjoy some very relaxed and enjoyable blog hopping.  There’s always such a lot to be inspired by.

Personalised Sewing Machine Plaque

This week I’ve made a few new plaques for customers, but this one is my favourite:

personalised sewing machine knitting craft plaque

personalised sewing machine plaque

It’s actually for a 40th birthday, and the number 40 was added to the sewing machine, hopefully not too “in-your-face”, so the plaque can still be used long after the milestone birthday!

The request was simple: a plaque which would make an ideal 40th birthday gift for a sewing and knitting enthusiast.  The name had to be on the plaque, and the number 40 has to be on there too, preferably quite subtly placed as part of the image.

It’s now available to order on the website too, with a choice of colours and personalisation.

It’s been a bit of a busy week (and next week looks like more of the same, judging by the orders coming in) so right now I’m taking a break and I’m off to do some blog hopping over at Handmade Monday on Handmade Harbour.  It’s a great way to look through a real variety of craft blogs and you never know what you might find!  It’s a bit like window shopping with friends for craft inspiration or handmade goodies (but with your feet up!) – what’s not to love?

Put the kettle on first, though, and get comfy.  We might be some time!

 

Sketches and Disorganisation

This week I’ve been thinking that I really need to be much more organised.

The rough sketches I do on little scraps of paper

sketch

preliminary sketch

really should be in sketchbooks (the image top left above the rough sketch is a reference photo, but my printer ran out of colour ink, which is why it looks black and white!).

I do have sketchbooks – in fact I usually have several on the go at any one time (including a tiny one that lives in my handbag) – but sketches for plaques I’m working on often don’t make it to a sketchbook – I just use whatever is to hand.  Impatience or disorganisation?  Probably a bit of both! :-)

I realise nobody else will have much of an idea of what this is going to be!  It’s a commission for a returning customer and I’ll show you the finished item next week.  The brief is geraniums and a watering can (although there seems to be three watering cans in the sketch, there will only be one on the plaque!).  The completed plaque will be for a holiday let, in the hope that it will help holidaymakers to remember to water the plants!

I’m thinking along the lines of better organisation in lots of other areas too, all related to creativity.  I think it might be an uphill struggle, and using sketchbooks more often might be the very easiest step of all.  I have a cupboard to sort out and alter and a hanging filing system to make, as well as a studio to re-organise.

I might be some time ;-)

For now, though, I’m heading on over to Handmade Harbour for Handmade Monday – lots of lovely and inspirational craft blogs are linking up there, as every week,  to show off projects, tutorials and gift ideas.   Join me if you can – don’t miss a chance to do some surfing on your sofa!

 

Babies…

Well hello…

hello

hello

This week has been mostly about babies

at the park

at the park

one who came to stay in my house and one who was just visiting…

just tall enough to see over

just tall enough to see over

tiny little cousins who were getting to know each other…

hello

hello

Yes, it was a lovely week and so full of cuteness, cuddles and toys strewn just about everywhere.  I struggled a little bit to keep up with customer orders, but they’re getting done.  I’m so very sorry if your order was one of the delayed ones.  I really needed to take a little bit of time off to spend some precious time with these babies (my granddaughters) and their mums (my daughters).

Normal service will be resumed shortly.

paintbrushes

paintbrushes

If you want to read about handmade crafts, pop over to Handmade Harbour for Handmade Monday, where you’ll find a lovely little community of craft bloggers all linking up so you can visit as many of them as you have time for.

Beetle Wedding Gifts

I’ve just realised I haven’t shown you the latest Beetle wedding gifts!  When it comes to personlaised wedding gifts, I’m always very aware of the date the gift will be handed over, because I am almost always asked to put the date of the wedding on the gift – and I don’t like to show something online before the recipient has seen it.

But we’re safe, now!

just married sign

just married sign

The Beetle car with the just married sign isn’t a new product (although I think this is the first one I’ve made in red).  It’s on a deep-profile canvas, as usual,  and this one was the largest of the three sizes available.  Along with its cousin the campervan canvas, these do make lovely wedding gifts for people who love the vehicles or are using them for wedding cars.

vw beetle hand painted wall canvas

VW Beetle on a wall canvas

The Beetle on a hanging plaque is brand new and, as often happens, was the result of a customer request.

beetle wedding hanging plaque

beetle wedding hanging plaque

I’m often asked to match the Beetles to real vehicles, and sometimes the wing mirrors or indicators are changed according to the customer’s request and when the vehicle was made.  I’m no expert, but am getting to know a little more about vintage Beetles!

Oh, and although the campervans aren’t new, there are always variations that make me smile!  This one was a special request for a couple who will be honeymooning in a campervan: don’t come knockin’ if the van starts rockin’

campervan plaque for newlyweds

campervan for newlyweds

Wedding gifts are available here although the page needs updating – it’s on my to-do list for this week.  In the meantime, please email me (wendy@1stuniquegifts.co.uk) if you have any questions.

I’m popping over to Handmade Harbour for more Handmade Monday blogs. There’s always lots to look at – come and join me and enjoy browsing some really inspirational blogs.

Rugby Balls, Frames and Campervans

One of the good things about being a self-employed designer/maker is that you can shut out the rain and wind and concentrate on pretty, summery things, even if they’re just in paint or fabric …

campervan and flowers on hanging plaque

campervan and flowers

But one of the not so good things is when something has worked for a while then you can’t get hold of the raw materials any more.

It seems I can’t get my plain wooden photo frames any longer and it looks like I’m unfortunately going to have to withdraw my personalised photo frames.  I’ve just a few left, but when they’ve gone – that’s it.

I qui liked this rugby frame that I did this week …

rugby photo frame

rugby photo frame

and there have been quite a few thank you teacher frames recently.  People have even started buying first day at school photo frames in readiness for September.

There’s no doubt this is very poor timing as the first day at school ones always sell well right through the summer and into September.  If you wanted one this year, I am sorry.  If you’re reading this very early in July, you may still be able to order – pop over here for more info.  I’ll put a message on that page as soon as they’re unavailable.

It’s Handmade Monday time again over at Handmade Harbour.  Come and join me in a little blog browsing.  It’s a bit like window shopping but much more interesting.

And you won’t need an umbrella.