Tuesday, 3 August 2010

The business of being creative


Have you been wondering where I'd got to? I have to say, the days have flown by in a whirl of late, I've had my sister and her boys visiting and my feet have hardly touched the ground...visiting parks, steam train rides, football and frisbee games, movie nights, shopping...apart from the rather cool and dreary weather we had a lovely few days together.

In the evenings, to sort of re-couperate from all this activity, and keep the creative side of my brain happy, I have been doing some Business Homework. Yes, that sounds very grand and very grown up and very formal. But no. Thanks to this amazing little book I found on Amazon, I am re-educating myself in an enormously fun and down to earth way, and actually LEARNING things as I go on (instead of yawning with boredom and shoving the book into the darkest corner of the bookshelf to gather dust).
It's called The Handmade Marketplace, and I can highly recommend it to any of you out there who is even remotely involved with the Etsy/Folksy/Online selling caper. There are so many simple tips and helpful chunks of advice I'm actually beside myself with excitement...I like learning about business all of a sudden, it's my new favourite thing to be doing!! Wheeeeeeeee!

So, I'm kind of plotting to be a bit more active with my little online emporiums. Once the Little Person has departed for her pre-school sessions, I know I am going to be needing something to fill my hours rather than just hoovering the carpets and staring bleakly at the walls 'til its time for her to come home. Being a home crafter/artist fits the bill perfectly, and all being well these empty mornings will soon be perfect opportunities to make and create lots of lovely stock for my sadly neglected little shops.

I have also solved a bit of a problem during my Business Study evenings too. And this is it:

What do you do when you enjoy lots of different creative pursuits, do you stick to one or do them all?

I'd welcome your thoughts on this, especially if you are like me and enjoy not just one creative pursuit, but several. For instance, my first loves are painting and crochet, I love them equally with a passion but did you know I also love printmaking and sewing things? I do, I just don't get much chance to do them and because I've always thought I had to travel in one direction so to speak making painting my priority, I put them on the backburner. So, I was delighted to find a kind of permission slip in my new book that says its ok to have variety, to create different things to sell if you so wish! Hurrah!! For some reason, the fact it was in black and white in a real book, made it believable enough for me to allow it.

So my little shops may be stocked with all sorts of different things...the excitement is driving me demented, I cannot wait to begin and Im having to write my ideas down in my art journal before they evaporate forever. It would seem, for once, I am on a roll of inspiration.

Talking of rolls...

...here's my Rainbow Ripple, all rolled up and nearly finished but for 14 rows...oh I cannot wait to complete it and snuggle up in it! I'm hoping to get it done in time for autumn, me thinks it would be a good blanket for early evenings in the garden sat by the firepit toasting marshmallows and drinking warm cider....

...but not wanting to talk about Autumn yet, it is of course just August, just look at these pretty little asters I found at my local shop the other morning!

I love their cheerful cherry red blooms in that jam jar! I do like brightening up my home with simple things like flowers and pretty pictures, which leads me to another thing to share with you all today.

For some time now, I've had several enquiries from several lovely people about a Certain Little Painting of mine and whether it will ever be a print or not. Now these lovely people have been so very patient with me, probably to the point where they were starting to wonder whether I had even listened to their request.

But I have. Of course I have, I always listen to what you have to say, it is mightily important!

And so, I'm happy to share that Daffodils & Bunting is now finally available to buy in my online gallery as a print. It comes titled and signed, presented in a nice mount and has free delivery to anybody living in the UK.

Want a peep?

There it is!

And here it is, blown up in size a bit, to give you a proper look:

And you can see it in my gallery here.

I feel very excited to be able to put new work out there for you lovely souls, and do get in touch with me if there is any other work you feel you would like to see in print, that isn't already!
I know things might be slow to appear at times, but being a Mum is my No.1 job, and that is how it should be - I am just so very grateful that I get a chance to keep bobbing along gently with my creative work, and to hear that so many of you enjoy it - I know as my Little One grows older, I will be able to reclaim more time as my own again, but for now, I think I'm happy bobbing. Yes I am. Very.

Thank you so much for stopping by, for all your kind and supportive comments - you really do keep me going some days and make it all worthwhile.

Sending you each warm sunshine, blue skies and love.

Julia x


  1. Oooh I may have to invest in that book... I started my own "business" to help me feel like I wasn't just "giving up" when my health got too bad to carry on commuting to and from work every day. But, like you, I have so many things I love and actually need to do that it becomes sorely neglected at times. I think, though, that I could never settle on just one artistic outlet, so it is great to have a variety in your shop, not just for you but also for your customers!

  2. Such a beautiful post Julia. I love the way you "chat away" like we are having coffee together. Love the painting, sure the prints will fly from your shop. Love your snuggly blanket too. The book sounds good. If ever I get round to opening a shop I will be sure to get a copy. Have a great week x

  3. Stunning work!!! I have been thinking of setting up a little etsy shop but not sure I have the confidence to get enough done. My crafty passions do change from time to time. My major passion is stitching but right now I can't put the hooky hook down. Did I mention I live in the Peak District? x

  4. Have a great time with your studies. I hope you reap loads of success from it. Your paintings are beautiful and that little dog with bird on your header is the cutest ever! Thanks for the inspiration and book info.

  5. Great blog Julia - I feel Wiso and I need to read that book too!! I am like you and enjoy lots of different creative activities - but - unlike you, I don't feel I am a master of any of them and like to combine several of them!!! I am a butterfly and don't like to stay too long with one skill. But I really enjoy everything I do and I feel at the ripe old age of 58 I am still learning!!

  6. Lovely Lovely work. Well done.

  7. Hi Julia,so glad you are feeling inspired .Your book sounds good. I think it's fine to have several different crafts on the go at one time, just wish there were more hours in the day to spend on them:0)
    Jacquie x

  8. wow your photo mosaic of all the crocheted blankets is sooooooooo yummy ... makes me want to get my hook out and havent done it for 30 years!
    Heather x

  9. Julia, another great post! My advice on the selling front is that if have a talent that can be shared, share it. You make such beautiful things and I am sure many people will want to buy them.
    Hope you have a good week.

  10. ooh that sounds like a good book. and I love love love your crochet mosiac x

  11. Lovely lovely post Julia. I am really looking forward to seeing more of your lovely creations. I do love your work.
    Now that blanket is just SCRUMMY. Mmmmm.
    Glad also to see that you enjoyed yur camping trip. Your piccies are fab,
    Love Rachael XX

  12. ooh I can't wait so see your new creations when little one starts pre-school. Isn't the extra free time exciting - my little one starts in Sept too - am excited and slightly sad all at once :-)

  13. I too enjoy a variety of creative pursuits. You have many talents Julia so don't just stick with one - do them all!!! x

  14. That book sounds very interesting - I might need a copy too. I'm the same and love to do many crafts, sewing is my passion and I enjoy crocheting but there are so many other things I like to have a go at and I always wonder should I just stick to one or does it just get too mentally messy doing lots of things with very little spare time (or space).
    I need to get organised, I'll have 2 free mornings a week when my little one starts pre-school, oh which project to start with?... x

  15. Happy happy happy. A snippet of gorgeousness. Ax

  16. Well, I love to do different things and think life would be pretty boring if I limited myself to one only. But I do have a rule, and that is I only ever do what I am in the mood to do. The days of having to finish something to a deadline are behind me now thankfully, no more having to complete an article by a certain date, or finish a batch of greetings cards for the gallery by a certain date. I make things only to please myself and to give to friends, and I write only what I feel like, when I feel like it. That way I find I get max enjoyment out of whatever it is I am doing.
    First love at present, is crochet, followed by my creative art journal, then patchwork and embroidery, then knitting. So it's crochet, crochet all the way right now, and I am loving it, having completed a throw in crocheted hexagons, which I thought would be so difficult but was incredibly easy. Now onto a throw in large granny squares, using one small skein per square of hand-dyed pure new wool which I have been collecting over the last ten months or so, since it was too expensive to buy all at once. Almost at the edging stage now, and then onto a stripey blanket as done by Attic24.
    Good luck with the prints.

  17. What a lovely, lengthy post...I do enjoy a good read.
    Mmmm... I'm one of those that 'loves' many forms of craft. I often wonder should I just stick to one (and get better at it), or is it ok to try anything and everything that takes my fancy.
    Me personally, I think it's great to try everything, you get such joy from these new exploits. Needless to say I am looking forward to checking out all of the *new* things in your shop.
    Love your new blanky...very cosy for an approaching autumn.
    Always lots to see and read.

    Jacky xox

  18. i love reading your blog if im in a rush i look at your photos and just drink in the colours and images, i always feel so inspired by your crochet! fliss xxx

  19. Hi Julia
    You know that book you were talking about well it is on my birthday list too. I know what you mean about having different things you enjoy and wandering which one you should concentrate on - sometimes you feel guilty if you neglect one for the other but it is good to have lots of interests and I think you should just go with whatever your feel like doing on that day and enjoy!

  20. Hello,

    I dont think I have commented before on your beautiful blog. But I have vistited for awhile now. I do so love all the colour in your crochet, those blankets are just gorgeous. I love that painting too, it is so cheerful and full of joy. Oh to be so talented.

    I enjoy sewing and crocheting too. I have only been learning how to crochet since at the begining of the year. But I have made a few things that I have been really pleased with.

    Good luck with all your ideas.

    MBB x

  21. I think it's fine to do "everything"! I love many different things and where I am not going to have a go at all of them I have done a few. What about Posy gets cosy - she crochets, quilts, embroiders and knits as well as other things. Some people love the one thing - and become expert, others become pretty good at different things. I couldn't not go where my current interest took me. The difficulty in craft is charging the money that reflects your time. Sometimes people only get back what the materials cost - and customers moan at that as it is expensive. A case in point is the Cath Kidston grannie. It costs about £160 and is acrylic - people have moaned that at that price it should be wool at least. My blanket took me over 6 weeks to make at about 4 hours or so a day. How much is that at minimum wage? That doesn't even take into account the materials! The commercial blankets are made overseas for a fraction of what it should actually cost and the people who make them are poor. Yet people still complain. It is that which puts me off hand making goods to sell. 6 weeks work and you may have £20 to show for it! Yes that is £20 you didn't have before but unless you are in it for the love there is a lot of exploitation going on. Even people who do know the skill and time involved still balk at prices. Sorry to put a dampener on your enterprise because I surely do wish it can work out. The other thing I notice is that commercial companies take handcrafter ideas and get them out there in the shops albeit in inferior mass-market versions. The owls, the birds and butterflies not to mention matryoshka dolls - all handcrafted and visible on the net first. The handcrafter having had all their ideas pinched then misses out. The whole thing makes me sad - in richer countries our skills are not valued and people won't pay the prices. In poorer places skills are exploited yet a poor living can be just about made which in turn keeps the prices too low. I have decided to keep the things I make for myself because of this. I hope sincerely that you and others find a way to make it work because your work is so beautiful it deserves a market. I wish you well, lots of luck and the tenacity to be the one who does make it work. (Because as you know some people do! And why not you?)

  22. oh oh oh oh OH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    You are such a sweetie, I've just hotfooted it to your shop and ordered myself THAT PRINT, I am beyond excited thank you thank you thank you!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    Lots of love to you, ohmygod I am so sososososososososooooo looking forward to having your beauuuutiful pic on my wall yipppeeeeeeeeeexxxxxx

  23. I have just come across your lovely, friendly blog! I'm in awe of your talent and interested by the idea of focusing on one form of artistic expression or diving into lots. I think in the end you have to follow where your energy is leading you - and usually pretty quickly the interest grows or fades, leaving you with what is your favoured medium/s. Don't most artists play a bit with materials outside their primary field? And sometimes one just needs fun hobby stuff rather than the main deal, no?

    I have a weeny new business selling bouquets and flowers/foliage from my garden, but am also a silversmith student and hope one day to do both. They feed creatively into eachother. If you haven't already found her, Jane at Snapdragon's Garden is really a brilliant example of a super-articulate business woman/artist, mixing a floristry and handmade textiles business. She has a lot to say on this kind of thing.

    Oops, v long first comment, sorry!x


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