Thursday, January 29, 2009


I have far too much of it (don't tell my other half I am saying this, he would be far too smug for my liking) and if I am going to be building myself a new workspace to fit my little room some of it is going to have to go. In the photo above you can see lots of books (the tip of the iceberg) but this is the easy bit. We are decorating the living room and hallway this weekend in time for the arrival of 3 new bookcases to be placed in convenient areas of the house, such as the roomy landing upstairs and empty wall in the living room. So the books will have a new home.

The big metal monstrosity that is immensly practical as a plan chest of sorts is far too big for in here and much better suited for our garage, and is only half full of large sheets of paper and artwork, the rest are more, erm, books, card blanks and envelopes, canvases and frames and boxes full of I don't know what. I have shelves full of niknaks and curiosities and collectables that I intend to use 'one day'. I think after years of waiting it's time to be brutal and say bye to a lot of it. Especially when I still end up working on the dining room table as I have no table space in here. (I won't mention the crates of felt and fabric and wooden things I have hiding upstairs in the bedroom).

So it's time to grow up and decide what I need and what I don't need and make my space work for me instead of trying to work round it all the time. Flickr and blogger are full of gorgeous photos of enviable studio spaces and although I know they are tidied for the photos to have everything in it's own place instead of stacked all over the floor that I have to step over everytime I go make a cup of tea is going to make my creative process a whole lot more comfortable.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009


I know I live in the UK and this is a USA issue but belonging to an international community like Etsy you can't help but be affected but something like this, even if it's not directly. Read on....

Wednesday, 28 January 2009

Today is the CPSIA Blog-in. So far, today, 241 blogs carry an article. If you would like to join you can either copy the blog post below (taken from KITSCHY COO'S BLOG) or write you own. Make sure you add you blog to the list in the Etsy forums. HERE

Less than two weeks to go now to the crucial date of Feb 10, when the CPSIA comes into effect. This far-reaching act is starting to be noticed by more than just the sellers it affects directly, with coverage in some news programmes and the US national press. I agreed to do a CPSIA post today as part of a group of Etsy sellers that are affected by this law (thread is here). As it currently stands, the following extract of text will be posted on 165 blogs today, but the number is growing rapidly.

"As parents and concerned citizens I’m sure most of us at one time or another have been confronted with the question of lead poisoning. But have you asked yourself what your government is doing to protect your children from lead contained in toys? The answer? They're banning toys, taking books from schools and libraries, hurting low income families, killing entrepreneurial spirit and risking putting the economy in an even greater depression than we've seen in decades. I'd like to introduce you to their solution: the CPSIA.

Do you know about the CPSIA? No? Then I ask you to take a few minutes to find out about it.The CPSIA stands for Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act, a new set of laws that will come into effect on 10 February, 2009 and will impact many, many people in a negative way. Make no mistake, this is very real. View it for yourself. If Forbes, the American Library Association and numerous other media are paying attention, perhaps you should too.

How will these new laws affect you? Well, here are a few examples:

To the Parents of Young Students:

Due to the new law, expect to see the cost of school supplies sky rocket. While those paper clips weren't originally intended for your student to use, they will need to be tested now that your 11-year-old needs them for his school project. This law applies to any and all school supplies (textbooks, pencils, crayons, paper, etc.) being used by children under 12.

To the Avid Reader:

Due to the new law, all children's books will be pulled from library and school shelves, as there is no exemption for them. That’s okay though, there's always television. Our children don’t need to learn the love of reading after all.Article from the American Library Association
To the Lover of All Things Handmade:

Due to the new law, you will now be given a cotton ball and an instruction manual so you can make it yourself since that blanket you originally had your eye on for $50 will now cost you around $1,000 after it's passed testing. It won't even be the one-of-a-kind blanket you were hoping for. Items are destroyed in the testing process making one-of-a-kind items virtually impossible. So that gorgeous hand-knit hat you bought your child this past winter won’t be available next winter.

To the Environmentalist:

Due to the new law, all items in non-compliance will now be dumped into our already overflowing landfills. Imagine not just products from the small business owners, but the Big Box Stores as well. You can't sell it so you must toss it. Or be potentially sued for selling it. You can't even give them away. If you are caught, it is still a violation.

To the Second-Hand Shopper:

Due to the new law, you will now need to spend $20 for that brand new pair of jeans for your 2-year old, rather than shop at the Goodwill for second hand. Many resale shops are eliminating children's items all together to avoid future lawsuits.

To the Entrepreneur:

Due to this new law, you will be forced to adhere to strict testing of your unique products or discontinue to make and/or sell them. Small businesses will be likely to be unable to afford the cost of testing and be forced to close up shop. Due to the current economic state, you'll have to hope for the best when it comes to finding a new job in Corporate America.

To the Antique Toy Collector:

Due to the new law, you'd better start buying now because it's all going to private collection and will no longer be available to purchase. “Because the new rules apply retroactively, toys and clothes already on the shelf will have to be thrown out if they aren't certified as safe.”
To the American Economy:

Already struggling under an economy that hasn’t been this weak in decades, the American economy will be hit harder with the inevitable loss of jobs and revenues from suppliers, small businesses and consumers. The required testing is far too costly and restrictive for small businesses or individuals to undertake.

To the Worldwide Economy:

Due to this new law, many foreign manufacturers have already pulled out of the US market. You can imagine the impact of this on their businesses.

If you think this is exaggerating, here is a recent article from Forbes:

And for those of you prepared to be stupefied and boggled, The New Law:

Did you know? If this upsets or alarms you, please react.

...although this was done with the best intentions the repercussions are worrying to say the least! Scary eh?

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

If at first... don't succeed stop what you are doing after the 50th attempt, go make a cup of tea, put on some soothing music, wait for the penny to drop and try again. Who'd have thought a simple thing like taking a couple of photos of my new cards would have taken me the best part of today. My new camera decided not to cooperate so after a bit of wrestling and brain wrangling and a teensy bit of swearing I figured it out how to get the white balance right (ie nearly white instead of totally grey even though the sun is shining). The end result still isn't as good as I'd wanted but getting there!

Bloody technology.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Some days...

it just seems no matter how much I do the list of things I still have to do gets longer and longer. I'm trying to sneak in a couple of valentine designs in before it passes me by like usual and a lifetime's supply of bookbinders pva turned up this morning so I can cracking on some new books. The new fabric covers are ready and waiting!

Friday, January 23, 2009

I actually got round to updating my website and added a page for my patterns - look rather good even if I do say so myself!!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009


Er, yes of course you can paint with mummy.... it's been a while since I have shared painting time with Anya so thought I would let her have one of my smaller canvases so she could hang them up in her bedroom....

...ooh look it's a butterfly....

..oh no hang on I think you should stop maybe?....

Ok mum, can I do another one please?

Er ok then, what are you painting this time?

A lettuce!

Of course.

And what about mine I hear you ask? Well it's been repainted twice now because little miss picasso was a bit slap happy with the paint brush and insisted on helping me wipe up her mess even though I told her it would make it worse. (I might wait until she's not around to finish this one!). All good fun though. Honest :D

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

The blog is back!

I have been busy building up a number of patterns for future work and products for my Chalk Hill shop which I will be posting reguarly on the Chalk Hill blog. I've tried to fight this double identity thing for a long time now but have finally decided to go with it. I am both artist and designer and hopefully the two will cross over and feed each other rather than compete. Life is hard enough without fighting yourself lol!

Monday, January 19, 2009

Drawing up plans...

One of my goals for this year is to do some small improvements to the house. We've been here over a year now and hardly done a thing so I am desperate to make my mark on the place. The biggest change is going to be my studio. I am currently using furniture that has been acquired from other rooms in the house and it's starting to close in on me, so I've been think on how I can custom build my own workspace and storage area that fits the way I work. Its going to have to be simple, our building skills are limited to say the least but I think it's possible and very exciting!

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Oooh.... not pretty Charlie here although he is a cute ball of fluff but I am excited about the arrival of my new camera, just a cheapy little compact but seriously better than my rubbish camera phone. Lovely :D

Monday, January 12, 2009

Easy Does it...

The word for 2009 is balance. After a mad, hectic, crazy, stressful and exhausting 2008 this year is about going with the flow and enjoying my work and my home life. If I've made any resolutions this year it's to learn to say no; to not commit myself to everything that comes along and to focus on what is really important and do it well. I have clear goals and anything else is just a distraction. So there! Let's see how long it lasts. With the recession taking hold it's time to take things seriously so since Christmas I have been reorganising myself, looking at what I want to do and how I can make it happen which has meant a clear out of surplus stock and going back to basics. Feels good. I am slowly building up a library of patterns and am going to have fun turning them into different things for the shop. What are your plans for 2009? Hope it brings everything you wish for and more!