Monday, 28 November 2011

The Joys of Noise - a little encouragement for weary mums.

Sometimes I get to the end of a day and my ears are ringing.  Actually, that's most days in the Welch household.  I don't know about the whole Nature/nurture debate - but I do know that five boys (the plural for boys in our house is a Bundle), makes for a LOT of physicality and a LOT of noise!  Most of the time that's fine and good, but sometimes (like in the middle of a church service or school assembly) that's a bit tricky!

Nothing has stretched my patience and determination the way bringing up children has (and is!).  It's a long haul and I'm only a small part of the way in.


 Motherhood can be a very lonely thing - even when you are surrounded by friends and family.  Somehow, you can believe that no-one else knows or is interested in what you are going through.  You believe, perhaps, that you should just get on with it, because that's what everyone else has to do. I guess because it is something so commonplace it has become almost invisible.  I'm rambling with a purpose.....

Each family is different and has its different pressures.  For me, it's that we have five full of life, noisy, raucous, energetic boys and a home that reflects that!  For others it will be something different entirely.  Nothing tests your reserves, stretches your love, checks your reality, grounds your dreams, challenges your intellect, expands your creativity, tickles your funny bone, jangles your nerves and disturbs your sleep more than bringing up children.  Nothing makes you question yourself, raise your game, find that extra mile of energy, love without conditions, see beyond what others see and keep on trying like parenthood.  There is nothing commonplace about it.

Hats off to you if you've just suffered your umpteenth night in a row of no sleep.  May  your moments of rest be refreshing.
Hats off to you if you've just sacrificed something you really wanted to do, because it just didn't fit in with the kids.  May there be some moments soon, just for you.
Hats off to you if you have made yourself sick with worry and you hold on by a thread most days.  You're not alone.
Hats off to you if you have done nothing today but clean a house, cook a meal, pick up numerous toys, played farms with a 2 year old.....your time has been well invested.  May you reap what you have sown.
Hats off to you if you've just got it wrong - forgotten something ever so important (dropped a child off to a fancy dress party at the end time rather than the beginning by mistake....oh, yes), you're human and that twang of sadness when you think of it probably won't go away, but it does confirm how deeply you love your child.
Hats off to you if you are just about holding it together.  May you find the listening ear and warm hug you need.

 I know this is a bit of a strange blog post - and if you were hoping for pretty things, I apologise.  I hope every now and again, you don't mind a little wandering off the beaten track of crafting to my other passion in life - letting people know they are doing well and they are great.  So, if you've read this and you feel even a little better about your day, then it was worth the risk!

And now for a cup of tea.


Saturday, 26 November 2011


 Another show over and a really lovely atmosphere at Wisborough Green.  It's such a lovely village, especially this time of year when it's horse chestnut lined green bursts into Autumnal oranges and reds.  It was lovely to chat with people and get a bit more into the Christmas spirit - which is proving more difficult this year, with the late warm weather we've been having.  Not that I'm complaining!

When I got back from the show, there was just time for a quick bowl of beetroot soup with feta and croutons.....

and then off to the woods for a leafy walk with the boys and their cousins.  And yes, it is all boys in our family.  We currently have five sons and five nephews! It's just the two youngest in this photo - the others are all playing hide and seek!

 I did manage to stop a couple of times to admire the scenery before the relentless pace of the boys spurred me on.  This lichen was particularly lovely colours, don't you think?  Perfect inspiration for a new project of some kind....

Once again, one of the highlights of the show for me was the cake stand - this time the baking expertise of Judy and Kate from Wisborough Green, who had come fresh from icing sugar covered kitchens with their trays of delicious and quite stunningly beautiful cupcakes, tiffin and biscuits.  The whole array of goodies displayed natural baking talent and an eye for making them look as pretty as a picture.  It didn't take long for their stall to empty.  Hats off to you ladies and by the way, loved the popping candy in the tiffin - nice surprise!

My cousin, Natalie and my mum had a stall next to me today - Natalie makes blinds and curtains for a living and I am quite envious of her precision and crispness when it comes to making things from fabric.  I consoled myself with a new apron from her stand - isn't it gorgeous!  I have wanted a new one for a while - sometimes I spend most of my waking hours in an apron and my current one was looking very sad!  This one will be worthy of answering the door in and will certainly cheer me up about having to wear one for the whole day!

So, we did manage to squeeze in a very lovely Thanksgiving dinner last night too - complete with cola baked ham, courtesy of Esther, sweet potatoes, green bean casserole, cranberry and pear relish and maple and pecan carrots  all finished off with Pumpkin pie and maple cream.  Mmmmm.  (Sorry, no photos of the food - we were all too hungry!!!) Perhaps this is why I woke up so late this morning with only just enough time to pack everything into the car and get on my way, thermos mug in hand!

Tonight is definitely time for that relaxing bath and peruse of Mollie Makes I have been promising myself, before the week ahead, which I think will be full of Bag Buddy making, as I have almost sold out!

Friday, 25 November 2011


I just wanted to stop by and show you a few things I am loving and being Thankful for today, amidst the preparations for another show tomorrow.....

The wonderful world of Abney and Teal.  Thank you CBeebies!  I could while away hours watching these beautifully illustrated quirky, wonderful stories....aaaaah - just what children's TV should be.

Friends who make lovely things for my children and who I can share my love of handmade, pretty, vintage.....Thank you Jo

Noah's new P-Js - with elephant aplique
One of Noah's special friends was 3 the week before him
We had a pretty vintage tea party for her!  How cute!

A magazine that finally hits the spot for me as a maker.  Soooo looking forward to making a few of these when I get some time - Thank you Mollie Makes

and how gorgeous is this tutorial for a Christmas sleepy doll?!!!  Hmmm, do I have time to make one or two as presents....who would like one? Thank you Tone Finnager.

Finding satisfying things to make that bring new skips to my heart every time I make them - and these necklaces, just like my bags bring me that same excitement about colour and texture combinations. Oh, yes - I do love making these!

In fact, it occur ed to me that circles is a bit of a recurring theme in my work - right back to my student days and my final exhibition paintings.  These two belong to a triptych about Creation, the red being humanity, the blue being the cosmos and an absent green (it is currently on the wall of good friends) representing the organic world.  The pieces are a mixture of large gestures and small marks made with fingerprints and the holes cut into the surface of the painting are a reminder of our part in Creation and the space we have to fill with our distinct creativity. Thank you education system that encouraged creativity and valued individuality.

I loved the freedom I had during my 5 years Fine Art training to experiment and enjoy and although I don't have the space or time at the moment to create in this way, I am SO blessed to have my little garden studio, full of everything I need to make the small scale work I am able to these days.  Thank you Dad.
Anyway - must get back to the bag making! 

I'll check in again after the show tomorrow - and maybe with some pics of our Thanksgiving meal tonight.  Thank you America!

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

My Lovely Weekend

What a lovely way to spend the weekend!  It felt a lot like this was the beginning of a new chapter in the life of Redeem Creations.  Over the last ten years I have brought five children into the world - which has without doubt been the most creative challenge of my life! (And will always be!)  One of the challenges has been laying down Redeem each time a new baby was on his way - never quite getting a good enough "run" at it to do it the way I wished I could.  I've learned so much about myself and how to keep creativity alive over this time and I'm sure I will continue to do so and one of the greatest joys is sharing my passion for making things with my children.

This weekend felt like the first time I have been able to think cohesively about my collection of handmade things and how I wanted to present them.  It felt good to bring it all together!

My lovely friend, Esther and I had such fun, setting up the stall (Can't get away from that little girl feeling of playing shop, even at 37!), and chatting with customers and each other.

It was also great to meet some fellow makers - like Nerys, my new blogging friend who makes the most beautiful things from up cycled paper, buttons and maps.  Not only were Nerys's things utterly lovely - but the lady herself was funny and friendly.  I'm adding her blog to my daily reads - so you can have a peek too!  I do hope we bump into each other again sometime soon!

A Nerys creation
The weekend would not have been half as nice without our supply of tea and cakes from the ladies at "The Tea Set" cafe, set in one of the barns.   It's rare to get such a lovely cuppa at things like this, but it didn't disappoint - and the cakes....oh my goodness!  Delicious!  All served up from the beautiful pop up cafe in the yard, complete with vintage china, bunting, 1950s aprons and beaming smiles.  Just what you hope for and the finishing touch to such a lovely event.  Hannah, who is the lady behind The Tea Set has a fantastic website, well worth a look, over here.  Perfect to sit down and have a secret sigh over in your afternoon tea break. Aaaaaah....pretty things......

It was also a treat to peruse the pretty things on the Cinnamon Kids stall - a delectable mix of handmade goodies and vintage china, books, toys and trinkets.  I may have spent a few pounds here, but I'm not telling......

And - meet the lovely Becky on her stall for GirlsTravelClub - a great mix of travel accessories and gifts - so much to take in, I may have to spend a while on her website, seeing which Christmas list boxes I can tick!
some of the lovely things from girlstravelclub

OK, so it was a fab weekend - my stall looked the way I had hoped it would, people seemed to love the things I had made, I met some like minded makers, spent some quality time with a good friend, even purchased a couple (or three...or four) little things myself - which I PROMISE I will be giving away for Christmas.  Honest!  All in all - it felt like the perfect way to kick off the new chapter of Redeem Creations.  One in which I work terrifically hard, but get to do something I LOVE with a passion.  Talking of which - I ought to be out in my studio right now, making more Teeny Totes to replace the ones that have found new homes!!!

Teeny Tote "kits" ready to be sewn up
A little mention finally for my gorgeous little Noah, who turned 3 on Sunday and celebrated with a "Mike the Knight" cake, finished by mummy at about 11.30pm on Saturday night!  Phew!  He is our ray of sunshine.

P.S. Thanks to everyone who helped me get to last weekend and thanks to everyone who keeps encouraging me to go for it.  It really does keep me going at midnight, when I'm stitching up the 27th bag in a row!


Friday, 18 November 2011

First show of the year

OK, so the Christmas Market I was at today has made me feel in the mood now!  I even had my first glass of mulled wine! 

I had a lovely time setting up my stall with my wonderful friend, Esther.  She was so good to me today - picking me up really early and even packing a scrumptious lunch for us both - something I always forget to do on these kind of days and then regret later when I have a pounding headache!

So, stall set up and looking very colourful, we set out on our day of meeting and greeting - I really do love talking to everyone who comes to have a look around - perhaps that's something of my Dad in me! 

I've had a fabulous day - and with another day still to go at Grittenham, I am in my studio, working away on more necklaces to replenish my stock. 

I hope you will forgive the slightly non-fluent nature of this post!  I think I was ready for bed about 3 hours ago! 
I've had a lovely day, meeting other stall holders - like this fantastic venture by 13 year old Isaac!  He wasn't there today, but I'm looking forward to meeting this young entrepreneur tomorrow on his handmade sweetie stall, Camper Candy - how gorgeous is that!

In fact - that might just be the sugar lift I am looking for tomorrow! 

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Have a Handmade Christmas

Newly decorated handle for my little show cabinet
My first show of the year is tomorrow.  I still have lots to do and seem to have gone into a bit of a pre-show paralysis.  That's not a very helpful state to be in at the present moment, so here's hoping I find my brain again before this evening when I am labelling and pricing!  I'm including a few photos of my preparations in this post!

While I've got your attention - I might have a little go at persuading you to buy handmade or make yourself this Christmas!  I know I am biased, and have a vested interest, but hear me out!  I come from a family of Makers - a Blacksmith on my mum's side, a Trug basket maker and traditional woodsman for a dad, a textile artist mum, an illustrator and graphic designer brother and another product designer brother.  Suffice to say - in our growing up years, there was a distinct philosophy of, "why buy, when you can make?" Our Christmases were usually a feast of homemade treasures whether it be the food (often a collaborative effort of curry dishes!) or the presents themselves.  One of my most memorable presents from my Dad was my very own "tidy box".  This two tiered ply wood box, painted in green and yellow gloss paint with my name in red on the side, was filled with tin cans dipped in various shades of paint and stuffed with felt tips, pencils, brushes and other crafty bits.  I remember how thrilled I was at receiving it - because it was absolutely spot on for me.  I still use it to contain all my bead making things and it is part of my material history; one of those objects that is part of who you are and you can't imagine not being in existence!  When Cadan was four, I painted up a wooden box and tin cans for his Christmas present too.  He was equally thrilled.

Rag flower brooches and cuffs
There is something quite special about giving and receiving something handmade.  You know that love and care has gone into it.  You know that someone has invested their thoughts and time.

A little cabinet I'm using to display my stock tomorrow.
I know that there has been a revival of handmade over the last few years.  Etsy has become huge, and Folksy, the UK based site is hot on its heals.  I love it!  Handmade is special.  It links us to the skills of our past at the same time as innovating for the future.  There are so many fantastic makers out there, who have spent years building up their skills and their craftsmanship, carefully and lovingly honing their work to perfection.  I know, because my Dad was one of them.  He did everything from felling the tree, coppicing the wood, building his own steamer to render the willow pliable, shaping the baskets and finishing them to visiting show after show with his collection of trugs and demonstrating his skills.  When you bought one of his trugs, you bought a portion of his life, his time, the investment of his skills - and that is what made them so special and different to the mass produced baskets.

Can you tell I am passionate about this?!

If you buy handmade for Christmas this year, not only are you keeping craftsmanship alive (and many of our traditional crafts like trug basket making are sadly dying out), and doing something potentially ethical and green, but you are also buying something very rare these days - authenticity.  Go on, I challenge you to find just one present for someone this year that hasn't been made in a plastic factory, but just maybe has been lovingly crafted by someone's hands.

Or you might even have a go yourself!

Sunday, 13 November 2011

Just a minute!

I've just got a few moments before cooking dinner with my lovely husband to show you a couple of things....

It has been another packed weekend and in amongst the getting ready for shows, I had the pleasure of creating a special cake for a special person.  One of the loveliest people I know turned 60 on Friday and I was asked to make a cake in honour of this momentous occasion.  The cake itself is a whimsical tribute to the farm diversification that is going on over his way at the moment in the form of six huge lakes for breeding carp.  Hopefully his two grandchildren enjoyed being featured along side their grandad on the cake too!

I have also been working round the clock (almost - but it does feel that way!) on all sorts of things for shows over the next few weeks - the first of these being this weekend.  If you have a look at the side bar, you can catch up with where I am selling.  I have also included a link to my facebook page, where you can have a peek at a few of the items I have for sale.

Suffice to say, after a busy weekend, full to the brim with family and friends and one thing after the next - we are heading into another even busier week.  But, hey - that seems to be the way we do things round here and one day I will stop saying to myself, "Once I get this out the way, I'll have a rest!" 

I am properly blessed to have such a busy time of it - and I do love it really!  There's a blog post in there for another time - when I'm not so hungry, and the pasta doesn't smell so enticing!!!! 


P.S.  Sorry about the rambling nature of this post - as you can tell, I'm a little tired!