Tuesday, March 24, 2015

My Popovy Sister's Silk Scarf

I am beyond thrilled that the limited edition Popovy Sister's silk scarf which features my entry to the Christmas competition has now been made and is available to purchase at their website here. It's printed on 100% natural silk and looks absolutely gorgeous wrapped around their exquisite dolls :o) It's so cool to see my work next to such incredible dolls, you have no idea how proud I am!

Monday, March 23, 2015

Plastic Fantastic

As a teenager back in the early 80's I was a bit obsessed with vintage clothing. I loved the old family photos of my tiny Granny, Alice, in all her Flapper finery and so the roaring Twenties was a firm favourite of mine. Luckily for me, vintage clothing was cheap and easy to find at village fete's and jumble sales. I even had several very good examples of Victorian Mourning outfits that I just kept in the wardrobe because I couldn't squeeze my (then) slim size 8 body into them (because I had healthy 20th century ribs and shoulders!) - I think Victorian women must have had no bones at all. This was well before the days of Ebay and Car Boot Sales of course and the genuine article was very easy to tell from the reproductions made durning 60's/70's revivals.

Somewhere along the way I picked up 2 very long Flapper style necklaces, in both cases the bead sizes graduated to a huge 2 inch central bead that weighted the whole thing down when worn. One was a kind of matt black and the other was a deep red like burgundy. I was disappointed to discover that they were plastic as I had naively hoped the black one might be Whitby Jet. Jet was valuable and collectible even back then of course, the kind from Whitby is most often a matt or satin finish and flat black, unlike the very shiny and sometimes iridescent jet from France. Think of Victorian Mourning Jewellery and you are picturing Whitby Jet.

Anyhoo, my necklaces had a slightly off putting quality. When I wore either for an hour or more they gave off a faint chemical whiff which I found quite offensive. My friend's thought I was making it up and swore they couldn't smell it, but, as I was very prone to migraine's back then, often triggered by the slightest unpleasant aroma, I gradually stopped wearing my beloved beads. Eventually, disguarded and in a tangled mass along with other costume jewellery that had fallen from favour, I donated them to a charity shop. That was perhaps the late 80's and since then I have never stopped looking for something similar in glass or perhaps even jet or amber. I later learned that the red beads had been aping Cherry Amber, a rare and beautiful fossil and very expensive, probably more so than Whitby Jet. So, I have never been lucky enough to find less whiffy replacements and pretty much gave up the search many years ago.

Ironically, recovering from a migraine this weekend I went on a trawl through Ebays "vintage" jewellery. I discovered that my old dark red plastic necklace had actually been a very fine example of what is now rather confusingly termed "Cherry Amber Bakelite"; and the off-putting aroma the beads gave off when warmed by my skin was Formaldehyde! Eeeeuw! Even more confusingly, these RARE surviving examples of early plastic costume jewellery now regularly fetch more than genuine Amber. If I had kept the originals I could have sold them on Ebay tomorrow and bought several strands of the real non-smelly fossil Amber, madness! Of course, I am kicking myself and spent ages watching auctions and 'Buy it nows' and then went on a search of Etsy and similar market places but after managing to rack up about 35 very similar looking examples, all purporting to be genuine, I have decided to steer well clear. Two factors: (1) the smell, even if I was lucky enough to find a genuine Bakelite example as good as my 20's/80's original, I would still be bugged by the whiff... and - more likely - (2) I would probably wind up paying through the nose for a resin fake whipped up in a factory in Northern China a few months ago to meet the current demand. Even back in the 80's those red Bakelite beads were thin on the ground, so how come there are suddenly so many around? Don't forget that the Flapper look had big revivals in the 60's, 70's and 80's also...where were all these fine examples then? So if you are sat here reading this an worried about those gorgeous red beads around your neck... maybe just think of them as a lovely necklace rather than an investment and all will be fine. Me, well my nostrils would rather have Amber ;o)

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Post Coconut & Vanilla Popcorn angst

Well, they say it only has 110 calories a "serving" on the big, big bag I bought. I think a serving is probably about 5 puffs of corn knowing my luck. After initially thinking "what a weird taste" I wolfed the entire contents in record time and am now suffering post gluttony angst... the diet was going so well :o(

Thursday, March 12, 2015

WIP pics new dolls

I say NEW dolls but in fact I started making a lot of these gals back in 2013, but my crazy freelance schedule wiped out 12 months and I am only now getting to the stage where they get painted, dressed and given hair... this is the first one on the way :o)

Friday, March 6, 2015

Birds & Blooms display for workshops

Here is the finished Birds & Blooms display, you can come and create your own with me at The Coach House soon :o)

Tuesday, March 3, 2015


I've been making paper/fabric flowers and little birds from paper maché and patterned paper since just before Christmas and am enjoying the experience so much that I am going to make some for sale and also teach them as a class at the Coach House shortly. Here are some WIP pics of the birds themselves... more soon :o)

Friday, February 27, 2015

State of Play

OK, my Etsy shop will remain closed until Esty reinstate the Art Doll or Doll as Adult Collectible item categories that they so recently abolished without any consultation with their sellers and no warning. Or at least give us an alternative that let's us comply with Trading Standards regulations. I have a lot of new items almost finished but simply cannot risk having someone buy them believing they are suitable for a child now that they have been recategorised as TOYS by the numpty's at Etsy. When bombarded with reminders that this breaks EU Trading Standards regulations and also US legislation, Etsy's pathetic response has been that as sellers it is our responsibility to state clearly that our items are not toys. DOH!!! It's like something out of a farce! As one disgruntled seller commented on the already 220+ page spleen venting thread, that's like a grocery store putting Whiskey in the beverage aisle among all the pops and assuming there will be no repercussions 'because it says Alcohol on it".

My confidence in Etsy staff to sort out this mess was not strengthened by a video chat with two of their Tweenie staff, a girl who seemed surprised by almost every word coming from her own mouth and a tattooed toddler in a beany hat (seriously, indoors?) who thought everything was "awesome!" It's not AWESOME, darling, it looks like a big pile of steaming cat doo-doo from where I am standing! Some hair raising reading on the recent changes Etsy have made in the last few years here and here, I used to love Etsy so much and just want it back like it used to be when it was about Handmade.

I am investigating other options and may even list the new items on this blog for sale in the next few weeks. I am holding off paying Folksy any more listing fees for the new items after I took a stroll through the chat forums and the vibe is generally not that positive, with lots of complaints from sellers about the fact that Folksy don't advertise and so traffic is quite low. A Folksy representative did take the time to explain that their revenue from sales is tiny so that it means they effectively have no adverting budget... seems a very odd business model to me.

Right now, creating my own website again with a shopping cart seems attractive but I need to do more research, watch this space... plus I will soon be showing more prototypes for the upcoming Coach House workshops and some new dolls... I refuse to be beaten :o)