Thursday, November 19, 2015

PRE-XMAS SALE!!!!

All the prices in my etsy shop have been reduced between now and December the 18th when I will close it for Christmas. Prices will return to normal in the New Year and many items will not be relisted when their current slot runs out.... so if there is anything you've had your eye on!

I have also posted the major "Last Posting" dates in the shop header. Every year I have to let down disappointed customers who did not realise that the items they just bought at the last minute will not arrive in time for the holidays. I don't have a sleigh and a bunch of magic reindeers at my disposal, sadly, so have to use Royal Mail instead ;o)

Come to think of it, if I DID have some magic reindeers then I'm not sure I would use them for anything so altruistic... I'd be off to the Bahamas...

Sunday, October 25, 2015

New dolls in progress

I am actually working on a new type of doll at the moment (I have become obsessed with 1920's Boudoir Dolls) but first I need to finish the Cult of Doll project. I am furiously drawing away on the illustrated "Adventures of Miss Araminta", there is still a lot to do before the January the 3rd publication date. Of course, the heroine will also be making her debut in doll form too!

I have been working on Araminta in little breaks from my freelance work since the beginning of this year. From today I am going to begin slowly leaking the Work in Progress (WIP) pictures on my blog and elsewhere and here are the first 3 images for you. She is a large doll (around 70cms) and an adaption of my old Frost Fairy pattern (here, here and here....ohhh, and here!) and is in the process of getting a huge feather bedecked hat... but you will have to wait for the Almanac to publish to see her finished in all her glory. For now though...






Thursday, September 10, 2015

New Poster, new publication date

Hiya, I am currently working hard on putting together the Cult of Doll Almanac. Just finished a new poster and we have a new publication date to put in your diaries... hope to see you all there ;o) You can see regular WIP pics and updates from the cult of Doll project on our Facebook page here


Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Stop confusing "Skinny" with "Stylish"

Let's just start off on the right foot here: I have no problem with Tall, Skinny People... some of my best friends are Tall, Skinny People (let's call them TSPs!) and even though I regularly battle with my weight these days, before I hit my mid forties I was actually alway pretty happy with my figure and wore whatever I liked and felt good, thank you very much. So this isn't about envy.

Something is really getting on my nerves the last few years though. If you are my vintage then possibly you have also noticed this trend: those "Style Setter" blogs that have popped up all over the place with photos of TSPs (and sometimes shorter Skinny Asian girls) who do not know the difference between a skinny person wearing bad clothes and a stylish person... these blogs are awash with photos of TSPs wearing a crazed hotchpotch of items they seem to have found at a jumble sale or maybe they just fell in one of those charity donation dumpsters.

Sometimes - OK,  they do look amazing. But very often the clothes themselves look horrible They are badly fitting and randomly accessorised They just look like pretty much everyone does on those days when the laundry basket is overflowing and you have to turn to that awful pair of jeans that you bought in the cheap Supermarket (they were in a bin next to a pair of extendable hedge-trimmers and a pogo stick.... you know where I mean!) have always meant to take in (or over-dye or, well... ANYTHING because while they were "too cheap not to buy" they don't actually fit well, the arse and knees keep the impression of your seated body long after you stand up and they creak loudly when you walk!) an old T shirt that you spilled emulsion on and forgot to wash before it went stiff and that baggy shirt that you found stuffed down the back of the sofa, think probably isn't even yours and smells a bit suspect (yay for Fabreeze!) all finished off with a slightly too big pair of shoes the dog has chewed. You only remember that they rub and that one heel is dodgy (that was why you put them in the bin in the first place) when you are half way round aforementioned cheap Supermarket again with a loaded trolley of more cheap items you will probably never use and a bag of vegetables destined to go off the second you unpack them onto your kitchen counter... or is it just me who has days like these?

Anyway, when I go out dressed like that I spend the whole day hoping not to bump into anyone I know - And, yes, I feel like a "Bag of S**T" - because I am average height, middle aged and kind of "billowy" round the middle. No fashion blog would feature me in my "emergency ensemble" and say "Wow, this gal's got it going on!" (OK maybe non of them would ever say that, but you know what I mean)... and yet if I were a TSP, those blogs would be falling over themselves to feature my pic in my "Abandon All Hope Scenario Outfit" because everything kind of hangs a bit better off TSP's.... but I still wouldn't be stylish no matter what they say. The problem these bloggers seem to have is that they cannot get their heads around the fact that what they are admiring/envying, is the fact that the person wearing the clothing is tall and skinny... that is the part they actually aspire to... and the insinuation is that if only we were tall and skinny too, then anything will look good on us. Not true, I would just look like a tall, skinny badly dressed woman instead of an average height, plump, badly dressed woman.

TSP's can be stylish of course. Fat people can be very stylish, old people can be incredibly stylish (probably because they have long ago given up caring what the self appointed fashion-twits think) and guess what? Even podgy, middle aged, average height people can be stylish on good days when they make the effort. Style is about what you pick out, the cut of the clothing, the colour combinations and having the confidence to wear it. Style is not a TSP wearing ANYTHING.

To prove my case here are two images I was emailed this morning from Career Girl Daily (I have never signed up to have them email me!@ and so feel justified in sharing!)

These are the new "stylish" jeans and this is how to wear them to look "Stylish".... sorry, they both just look tall and skinny but in ill fitting dumpster clothing:



Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Shop Update - BJD Hats

A new batch of hats will be listed in my etsy shop tonight at 6pm GMT/UK. 3 New Tall hats and 3 new Toppers, all in different colours of Velvet :o)


Thursday, May 21, 2015

Woodstown Whimsies May Giveaway

This lovely Prim Angel is the May Giveaway over at Woodstown Whimsies' blog. Hop on over and say hi to Daryl & Katie :o)


Sunday, April 12, 2015

Stealing Polperro

I found a lovely blog earlier,  A Mermaid's Tale. Take a hop over there and join Christine in her beautiful shop by a Cornish beach. I stole a few of her gorgeous photos of Polperro to get you in the mood :o)








Tuesday, March 31, 2015

More mermaids in shop

Well, mermaids, flying fish gals, water nymphs... ;o)



Monday, March 30, 2015

New Dolls in the shop

Yay... Etsy finally gave us our Art Doll section back and so we no longer have to list as Toys ;o) So I will be listing new work in a steady trickle over the next 2 months or so as I manage to finish and photograph a huge pile of new and delayed work from last year. I am also finishing off the written instructions to a number of patterns which I also hope to start listing soon :o)

First up are two new dolls in the shop today. They are listed at much less than my usual asking price as they were experiments while I was working out the pattern for my upcoming 'Water Nymph' workshop at The Coach House, Caerwys. They are not finished to the same high standard as my usual dolls, not painted at the back for instance, but still really cute... I hope you agree anyway ;o) There are two more ready to list but my battery went flat and then it was too dull to take more pics! Hopefully I can list them in the morning.




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

Birdies!

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)

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Etsy Sadness

This morning I moved my 2 vintage bottle Art Dolls to my new Folksy shop, to give it a try and see how things work over there. Sad that there is no category for "Adult Collector's Bears, Dolls and Miniatures" at Folksy... but then there is no longer one on Etsy either. Just have to give it a try though and have reduced the price on these 2 dolls. They had to be listed as "Art- Sculpture- People" which isn't ideal but do come up under the search for "Art Doll"... only 4 pages, and mainly seems to be lace and elastic supplies... go figure as they say!

I am so sad at the things happening at Etsy right now. I have been there for years, both as Nightshade Dolls and my first shop "Freaky Little Things". I have always loved the clean look of the site and the low fees. It was really dedicated to small home businesses, artist and crafters and felt like a community with a shared spirit a lot of the time. I hope those things resurface but sadly, of late, those things seem to be getting lost.

The first really worrying difference in attitude was when they decided to change the definition of 'Handmade' from "handmade by you" to "handmade by some poor soul in Asia on a slave wage"... how is that any different to "Mass Produced"? At least a third of all the items you see in High Street shops now qualify to be listed on Etsy and it is becoming impossible for genuine crafters to get seen in the sea of mass produced tat now masquerading as "handmade".

The biggest shame for me personally has been this weeks sudden category changes. They have caught a lot of us on the hop and I wasn't happy to find that my adult collectible "Art Dolls" had suddenly been reclassified by Etsy as "Toys" and lumped in with all the children's dolls. This puts me in a very dodgy position regarding Trading Standards, my dolls are definitely not suitable for children but thanks to Etsy, the association is being made in potential buyers minds. Most of the sellers affected (Dolls, Bears, Doll House Miniatures) are busy lobbying etsy staff and there has finally been an announcement that this category will be looked into in March. I hope they finally create a distinction between "Adult Collectibles" and "Toys" to keep those looking for child safe items well away from our listings and so we can all comply with the Law.

Bad timing, as after a year away from doll making I currently have quite a little mountain of bodies and limbs on my work desk right now and was expecting to start listing new dolls from mid March. I want to stay in love with Etsy but I guess the move to Folksy is a trial separation :o(

Thursday, February 19, 2015

"Water Nymph" prototype for doll workshops

I've finished plans for my first 1 day workshop at The Coach House, Caerwys, to be held on Saturday May the 2nd. "Water Nymphs" are meant to be fresh water mermaids (in my mind anyway) which allows for plenty of decorative opportunities involving flowers, butterflies, dragonflies, etc... I will probably produce a few more and list them in my shop between then and now.  Hope to see you there! :o)


Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Workshop prototype

Here is a sneak peak at the first prototype for the doll i will be doing at the first workshop at The Coach House. A mini Mermaid, she involves basic needle sculpting on the tail, collage, painting and drawing and simple button jointed arms. She is fun and quite quick to make. I added more hair in photoshop... I like to take photos of prototypes and live with them a day or two, helps me to see how things need tweaking. I have another 3 stuffed and ready to decorate so the design will evolve before the Workshops are held :o)



Thursday, February 5, 2015

a fork in the road

I am writing this mostly as a statement to myself that I can't go back on.

I have reduced the price on many items in my shop for February and once mad old March arrives I will be permanently de-listing any hats and all the current designs of Paper dolls/cards. I love making hats and have 4 more to finish but they simply take too much time and cost rather a lot in materials to make so will have to go. The paper dolls have been around for a while now and though popular they do not really reflect me as an artist, so they too will go.

As a child I painted, drew and produced short illustrated stories.... I can't show you them because I sold them all, and not even to doting family members! I was lucky enough to be encouraged by older painters and artists I encountered. So as a child I was selling art and was always convinced that I would be a painter when I grew up. Difficult teenage years and time at an Art College that was a very bad fit for own increasing lack of confidence ripped that certainly to tatters and I painted sporadically and rarely as an adult. I am not from a well off background and knew I needed to earn the rent from day one once college was over, so upped sticks and moved to London and hawked round a folio of work I had put together over the previous few months... nothing from college survived as I had set fire to it all! A lot of paintings have gone on the bonfire since that day.

I was lucky that back in the mid-80's most of the design groups and Ad agencies were in a small patch of the West End and within a few days I had my first freelance job (the client had to explain to me what an invoice was!). I produced a cover for the UK video release of "Murder in the Rue Morgue" starring George C Scott and I like to think that my cover design was only as awful as the movie! I have rarely stopped since then, there have been ups and downs of course and many, many part time jobs to supplement my income during the lean times. The move to working on Mac was both a huge leap forward and a big step back. Clients now have crazy expectations of what you can produce in next to no time and deadlines are always for "tomorrow's meeting" or the terrifying ASAP! It has become a lot more stressful in the last few years at a time when my own length of tooth means I am slowing down. I need my personal work to be a relaxing, enjoyable hobby almost, and if it sells great, but that won't be the first consideration.

So, my big leap of faith is that I am only going to produce dolls/art/whatever in one consistant style from now on. Because of my 'commercial' background my personal work is all over the place stylistically because I am forever having to shift gear to accommodate what the client needs. That is a very useful skill but has kind of gotten in the way of finding MY own aesthetic. I feel that during the last few months of experimenting I am close to a new change of direction. So from the end of march the only things that go in the etsy shop will reflect that new look.

The canvases I have begun dabbling with (yes PAINTING AGAIN) and my dolls are already undergoing a change. Hopefully they will be ready to face the world shortly. Even the dolls I am working on for the workshops have that same tone... I am giving up on doll hats but am going to try my hand at BJD clothing and I guess the odd hat may be included in outfits, but no longer sold alone. I want that clothing to reflect the new ideas I have too. It's just something I need to try. Wish me luck :o)

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Shop Update this evening

... at 7pm UK time (GMT)... plus, lots of items in the shop reduced throughout February :o)


Sunday, January 18, 2015

Art Doll Workshops

Still finalising the patterns and prototypes for my doll workshops but here is the kind of doll we would be working towards. She has a cloth body (great for sewing clothes and her hairstyle to) with long spindly paper clay limbs. She has a bit of antiquing and lots of crackle glaze too. This particular doll has an outfit made from some vintage scraps, vintage embroidered hankies and doilies. Workshop dolls would not have the vintage elements supplied  and the dress would be more straightforward, but if anyone wanted to bring along their own vintage scraps then we could look at ways of incorporating them. I hope these work shops will lead to everyone going away with a doll quite unique to them.... more soon (and a better photo  - it's snowing again!)


Friday, January 16, 2015

Reasons to be cheerful... 3rd place!

I am a bit giddy and very happy right now as I just found I won a 3rd place prize for my entry in the Popovy Sisters Art Competition. It's snowing outside, it's warm in here and I am so dizzy from getting so far. I have literally never won anything before in my life apart from being automatically entered into a draw for a goldfish when I bought a ticket to enter a Garden Fete that I had a stall at, I left after packing up my stall with a goldfish in a plastic bag like a kid after a fun fair!

You can see all the winners here

PS: check back over the weekend as I will be posting WIPs of the doll we will be making at the Coach House workshop.




Monday, January 12, 2015

Drawing from the past

The point of putting together the Mini Almanac for our Cult of Doll project (published here on New Years Day) was that we needed something tangible to better explain this new and unusual project to Art Doll makers who might want to join us, and also to begin building an audience for when we have finished all the dolls and publish the Main Almanac in October. I have been talking and writing so much about Miss Araminta (the project is loosely based around her Victorian Curiosity Shop and the strange stories that the objects within it's walls can tell) but she still didn't exist in either Doll or drawn form really. So I thought it was about time people got a look at her and her strange little shop...



Of course I needed to find reference and as the shop is supposedly based in Whitechapel I spent  ages trawling through old photos and got to know way more about the streets Jack The Ripper brought to notoriety than I cared to really. Oddly, the image that finally became the basis of Miss Araminta's shop is a wonderful old picture of a Victorian Fishing Tackle shop, not even in London, but hundreds of miles away in Shrewsbury! The image belongs to the Shropshire Council archives and they very kindly allowed me to use it without the usual fee as my drawing is not an exact representation. Take a look through their archive, there are many interesting photos of Shropshire businesses before the turn of the last century when Photography was still "the latest thing".

PS: I had to keep that sneaky young boy almost out of sight in the shadowy alleyway to the left, I wonder what HIS story was? ;o)




Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Reasons to be cheerful... Doll workshop!

Big news: I will be taking Art Doll workshops in a few months time! Yay! Also a big "Yay" for any local arts & crafters because Flintshire has a fab new venue, right here in my little village of Caerwys :o)

Check out the website for The Coach House, newly opened by the lovely Sarah Wilson. It is a bright and cosy space with enough room for up to 9 artists to sit around a big central table and work away, with all the amenities we could need at hand. There is plenty of parking a short walk away in the village square and information on the website about local places to stay if you are from further afield. I believe that cookies and muffins were also mentioned but my fevered imagination inserts those words into many a conversation, so will keep you posted ;o)

The Coach House is brand new but workshops and demonstrations are starting to fill up the diary really quickly and I am just ironing out the fine details of my doll projects and will get back to you all about that before the end of January. Anyone who wants to stay informed can email me at: yvehooson@gmail.com. You can also keep an eye on The Coach House website for lots of other interesting things to do...

and again YAY!!!


Monday, January 5, 2015

New Year, New Look, New Dolls!

January, often the hardest month of the year for me, it has always seemed such a long, dark, depressing month. THIS year, however, I feel wildly optimistic so far (for no apparent reason!) despite starting 2015 by battling a stomach bug. This could be just an early refusal to submit to the inevitable: will the expected rain, sleet, fog and seemingly endless darkness of sodden, stubbornly dour Late Winter North Wales yet batter me into submission? Check back with me around the 20th to see if my buoyant mood remains.

And yet this year the hills and mountains are still green. The bracken has turned brown but patches of bright heather remain. Late summer flowers, usually long gone, still bloom here and there, blossoms are bursting from the trees early in patches of unbowed glee. Last night I drove home noticing patches of frosted grass on the verges twinkling like glass glitter despite the warmish early evening air and saw a huge yellow moon rising over the hedgerows. It was quite breathtaking and as ever at such moments, I didn't have my camera. It seems I'm not alone in my refusal to wallow in depression under January's usual cloak of bone-achingly damp gloom. Nature has also decided enough is enough.

My good mood may have something to do with the fact that I have managed to disentangle myself from a number of thankless commitments and finished some projects which had dragged on well beyond the death of my enthusiasm for them. I am free to work on dolls again and for now, at least, the bills are paid and I am refusing to indulge in my worst old habit: "future worry". The future comes and is what it is, my worrying has never altered it's shape and so I am finally done with it. Freedom indeed :o)