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Thursday, 29 December 2011

New Year = Fresh Start

I am extremely excited to see the back of 2011-my year has been a positive but stressful one, full of highs and lows, more lows if I am completely honest. I had to put my career plans on hold and take care of myself, which was a difficult decision to make. The last 3 months have been extremely positive, I have picked up where I have left off and I am really pushing for Doll Doll Dolly! The new year is an opportunity to concentrate on planning a business and actually set the ball rolling- hallelujah!

I have a visions of what my business will be as a finished product, but the challenge is getting started. Planning a business is an extremely stressful, tiring experience and I am not sure how my health is going to cope. I will have to take things nice and slow, plan and manage myself carefully, so I can achieve my goals. I really don't have a clue where to start. I have downloaded some craft business books for some guidance, however they don't tell you where to start. The start is your idea, a detailed brainstorm of what you want to achieve. My next move is to do my market research, who is my competition? Will my idea have a chance of succeeding in the current market? Do I need to adjust my ideas to have more chance of success? So many questions need answering before my next move- finance!

I am moving to a new town in the new year, with my boyfriend Dan. I am thinking about moving my business with me, which means I will need to adjust my plans even more! I was thinking of basing my business in Brighton, but this will pose a problem with travelling and other conflicting businesses. This move is pretty unexpected and exciting, it's a fresh start in a new place and fingers crossed a career. My health is a major factor in all my plans. I can't jeopardise all the work I have done to get to this point, it's scary because I have know idea how next year will pan out. I know I have great people behind me, my boyfriend and my family. I know whatever happens I will have support from them and my Doll Doll Dolly motivation behind me.

Goodbye 2011! I hope 2012 will be a good year for you all! Happy crafting! 

Monday, 19 December 2011

Ohw I wish it could be Craftmas everyday!

What a busy few weeks, like everyone else I have been driving myself crazy with Christmas shopping. The Christmas period has become a stressful and annoying part of our lives, town is busy, people become crazy demon shoppers and the Internet sends you damaged goods. I have had to deal with all three of those and I am  glad  I have finished my shopping. I am looking forward to sitting on my bum for two weeks and having a nice stress free holiday with my boyfriend. I have been preparing for the next few weeks by visiting my favourite craft shop to stock up on materials to see me through to New Year. If I was stuck without a needle and thread I would be lost! On the edge! Help! Luckily, I don't need saving this year because I am prepared for all my crafting needs over the Christmas holidays.

The new love in my life is cross stitch- I am addicted! I sit in front of films, eat steak and do cross cross stitch in the corner of the sofa. I love it! I don't have to sit at my desk to craft which is a real bonus and it has really become a huge help relaxing. I find it hard to sit down and not do anything, I always like to have something to do. I was working on tense projects when I should have been relaxing and winding down. Cross stitch is perfect because it doesn't take much concentration if you're doing a simple pattern. I am working on a horror inspired project, ' Beware Of Zombies', it has a Gothic frame surrounding it and its going to go on the wall in my new home in February. I am lucky that I had a couple of friends to help me along, I thought it was going to be complicated with all these crazy symbols and threads, but it is really very simple and most importantly it's fun!

This week I am finishing off a few projects before Christmas begins. Today I made a fake leather studded bag to replace my old tatty one. I love studs and leather, most of my accessories are covered in studs. I like the metal/biker look and I wanted to make something that reflected my personality. I am so pleased with how it turned out because I didn't use a pattern to guide me. I had a rough idea from something I saw in a quilting book, however the bag is nothing like it and I was a little lost. I decided I wanted to line the bag and attached snap fasteners, which I had not done in a really long time. I didn't want to give up, I made up a pattern and I was off on a bag making adventure!  I think I will sketch out the pattern and upload it as a tutorial- it's so simple!

I am still working on my business ideas. I spoke to a few friends at the weekend who gave me some great advice and sparked a few ideas. I will be writing a serious business plan in the New Year. I have given myself until April to come up with a final copy to take to the Prince's Trust. I hope to finish it before, but you need to be realistic about getting things done. I can't rush something so important. I have a clearer idea of what I want to achieve now, I just hope everyone else will get behind my vision and support my ideas. This year has been a real struggle to keep going however, the New Year is a chance at a fresh start for all of us, to change what we hate and get on a better path for the future. I don't believe in 'New Year Resolutions'. It's a fact that people don't stick with it and give up by February. If you want to make a change then do it now! I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas and a happy and positive New Year.

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Wednesday, 7 December 2011

My Etsy Shop!

I have finally found the time to upload new items to my Etsy shop just in time for Christmas! If you would like something in time for Christmas, please be aware that the Christmas post deadlines are looming. I have picked four items to show you, but please take a look at my shop for lots of new exciting items! 

This handmade Nautical style fascinator is bang on trend! Nautical style fashion has really become popular in the last few years, but remains individual and stylish. The corsage is made from red and black satin and netting. The Corsage is adorned with a cute anchor button which is attached to a larger black button. This Chic fascinator would look great in any colour hair to add a touch of fun to any outfit. The corsage measures around 5 inches including the netting. The corsage fixes to the hair with a barrette clip, which is sewn to the corsage, felt is fixed to the back for extra security and comfort. 

Handmade Scream! Don't open the door! Scream horror mask cushion! The cushion is handmade from pleather (fake leather) and is stuffed with soft stuffing. The cushion is an interpretation of the mask in the film.The cushion measures around 0.50 x 0.25 mLove horror? Then check out my other horror inspired goodies... Remember the rules!

Two handmade mini corsage hair slides. The corsage is made up from cream, blue and red satin with a sugar skull button and pearl eyes. These cute hair slides would look great in any hair style and would add a little individuality.The mini corsage measures around 1 inch and the hair slide itself measures 2 inches.

Love horror? Are you a Jason fan? Scare your friends and family with the Jason mask Cushion! The cushion is made from pleather (fake leather) and is stuffed with soft stuffing. The cushion is an interpretation of the mask in the film. This item can be made to order with or without studs (please see other mask in the DDD shop). This item is made to order and will take a day or so to make. 

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

I Heart Etsy

My favourite things on Etsy this week

"Brighton Crock is a collection of hand drawn illustrations on plates and other crockery. Each item is unique. The illustrations are inspired by living in Brighton and my love of all things odd and pretty; horror films and home furnishings are my passions! Making something plain and simply functional, like a plate or cup, in to something nice to look at is what BrightonCrock is all about." 

I absolutely love Brighton Crock! I am moving in February and I have already mentioned that I would love a 'Night of the Living Dead' Teapot! 

 I love this Birch screen printed wool  log cushions by MyImaginaryBoyfriend. Each log is screen printed and hand sewn to make these unique felt log cushions. 

"My imaginary boyfriend is the brain child of Erika Kern who got tired of waiting around for a boy to buy her the gifts she really wanted, so she started making them for herself. In 2005 she started selling her wares at various craft fairs. Her site myimaginaryboyfriend.com launched in 2006."

I love this shop! It is full of gorgeous screen prints which are developed using the sun! Browse the shop and be blown away by Kathryn DiLego.

"I make loosey-goosey, lanky-clanky, limber-limbed lovely line drawings... and sometimes turn them into bold, confident, cartoon-colored, off-kilter, handpulled screen prints in my belovedly loopy city of Los Angeles. Like a form of productive dreaming, my obsessive yet relaxed drawings are both exploration and relief - how I deconstruct and reconstruct the constant visual input of waking life. My brain gets de-fragged, and makes art in the process!"

These beautiful vintage inspired lace coasters come in a set of two. 

"These coasters, are made of white clay, textured with beautiful lace vintage crochet with floral motifs. after the firing of clay to 1040 degrees, I applied the glass with a brush, in tones of dusty pink and they returned to burn at 1100 degrees. Finally I lined them behind, with a sheet of cork, in order to they become slippery and not scratching the surfaces of furniture."

Monday, 5 December 2011

Craft With Confidence

I have always had some trouble selling my bits and bobs online and on stalls because I worry that something might go wrong. I have spoken before about my lack of confidence, which can hold me back at times, but recently I have really pushed myself to tackle this problem and just go for it. I think anyone selling handmade has had these woes at some point, surely they must ask themselves, "Is it good enough?" "Will anyone want this?".

I decided a little while ago to have a list of rules, a bit like a guideline to selling my work, so that I wouldn't have the worries and concerns hanging over me. I should really give it a name like 'The Crafting Survival Guide' or 'Sew and Sell With Confidence'. To some people this might sound bonkers, but we are living in an age of low self-esteem, due to the media feeding us images of perfection and constant squashing of small businesses.

First things first, after making something that I intend to sell, I ask my self three questions. "Are you proud of it?". "Is it well made?". "Will people like it?". The first two are more important than the third, the third is really about if it will be popular. I feel if you're going to sell something it has to be well made, the people who buy something from you will expect quality and this is vital if you want to secure more sales. You should be proud of what you make! Every completed project should be an achievement and you should be proud of yourself, if you don't then ask yourself, "Why don't I like it?", "What could I do differently next time?", "Am I being silly and putting unnecessary pressure on myself?". There is nothing wrong with having high standards, in fact it pushes you, but if people around you are beaming with pride at your achievements you should listen to them!

The next thing I think about is, "Who will buy them?", "What should I call it?", "How much should I sell it for?". I always under price my work, unfortunately I was born with an over sensitive conscience and I dislike being greedy. I have always wanted to provide great crafts at affordable prices. We are in a recession! People can't afford to buy things at obscene prices! Ask yourself- "Would you buy that in a shop or a stall at that price?", "Is it worth the money?". The people browsing your shop or stall will more than likely have a tight budget, they wont buy something if it is over priced.

I recently took part in Frighten Brighton, where I had a stall, I sold the most I have ever sold at an event. I didn't really know how to react, I was happy of course, but also shocked that people really liked my work. I worked really hard making all my little treats, why shouldn't I be proud of myself, well for the first time I was and it felt great! I think having achievable standards and working hard will be the way forward for me. I think buy asking yourself fair questions and planning your work through helps enormously. Don't put pressure on yourself and look at your work and be proud of yourself because you made it!

Saturday, 3 December 2011

Frighten Brighton!

Today I took part in Frighten Brighton, an event dedicated to horror and its fans. I had a stall where I sold my creepy treats and my little pretty wares. I had a lovely time talking to all the awesome people that were involved and those that came to the event. It's so nice meeting people with similar interests and tastes as you.

 I have combined two of my favourite things in my work recently, horror and craft in the form of cushions, cards and decorations, which seemed to go down pretty well. I have been reassured that I am moving in the right direction with my work, which is fantastic because I enjoy making my bits and bobs. 

If you missed it this time around don't fret, Frighten Brighton will be back in the new year bigger and better than before!


Thursday, 1 December 2011

The future's bright! The future's scary!

This week I have been stressed trying to get everything sorted, but also I have been thinking about the future and come to some tough decisions. I have printed a business pack to work through via the Princes Trust website; I have been reading through it and I feel daunted by the prospect of owning my own business in the future. The negative feelings didn't last long, I had some great news this week that will change my life for the better.

I have been working really hard this week preparing for my stall at Frighten Brighton, the horror event I have been advertising through the powers of the Internet. I have taken into consideration that it is December and I have made some spooky yet festive decorations for my stall. I don't know how a Jason mask is festive, but for me horror is part of my life all year round. I have been making hair slides and brooches which is something I make on a regular basis, but I have made cushions and prints to sell along side my crafty treats. 

My little spooky treats

Monday, 28 November 2011


Frighten Brighton Limited Edition Prints!

 I've been working really hard making lots of horror inspired goodies ready for my stall at Frighten Brighton. Today I printed a limited edition Frankenstein monster print, 3 in green and another 3 in black. I have done these especially for the event and will only be selling these there, but if you would like one then I can print them to order. 

Friday, 25 November 2011

Keeping A Creative Journal

Keeping some kind of journal is an essential part of being a creative person. It allows you to document and store everything you stumble across that has sparked your imagination for the future. I have filled many sketchbooks and altered books over the years and I still go back to them for inspiration. I keep journals for both art and textiles, both are different creatures for me and I like to be organised. Textiles is all about texture, pattern, materials and you explore everything you see using fabrics and techniques. My fine art books are full of drawings, mini paintings, media and tracings and I notate everything to help development.

Altered books has become a bit of a phenomena and there are groups all around the world. What you do is find anything bound like a book and alter them creatively, bringing them alive and making them exciting! I made my own altered book in college using an A-Z map book of London. I went around the city taking photographs doing sketches and explored artist who were inspired by cities and created a book. I think it was one of the most exciting things I have ever done! I loved scribbling in my book and collecting information. It is something I come back to on a regular basis, unfortunately a lot of my work was ruined by storing them in the wrong place at the wrong time. My A-Z hangs on my bookcase reminding me to explore new things and be creative!

I've not shared my art on blogger, I want to create a different space for that. I love to draw. I think if I didn't draw life would have no meaning. I share life's frustrations through my work, my pain and anger at the cards that are sometimes dealt to me and the people I care about. I have a private sketchbook which is just for me, which has been neglected this year because I've had no need for it.

Sketchbooks and journals will always be the best part of an artists work because you can see how they develop ideas and how they get inspired. I might have a photograph or a sketch that I want to use as a part of a drawing, I would take that image and develop it over time. I will never just use the image like it is.

My friend Fran wrote a great post addressing the subject of inspiration or imitation. I think there is a line that every artists fears, but by using a journal you can develop your ideas and make them your own. I tend to stay away from any websites or magazines that may influence my work, its not easy when we live in a world that is surrounded by imagery! I think if you completely rip something off then obviously, they have stolen your design and imitated the original. I get inspired all the time by what people wear, artists I love and films I watch, but it would be difficult not to let that seep into my work.

Getting back to my original point, keep a creative journal because it will help your work enormously! I think you will be surprised how much your work will change, or even improve by doing so. I will always alter books, sketch, doodle on note pads, scribble on photographs, collect leaflets and it all ends up in my journal at some point for future projects.

Thursday, 24 November 2011

New work!

I have been working really hard for my Frighten Brighton stall making cushions, corsages and printing Christmas cards. I have never been so busy and I am absolutely loving every minute of it. I am feeling it of course, but I am working through the headaches and the pain because I get so much out of it. I thought I would share some photos of what I have been working on.

This week I made the Jason mask and I have been looking for other iconic horror villains to make into scary cushions. I watched Scream 4 on Saturday night and I was surprised that I forgot how iconic the mask has become! Monday morning I sketched the mask and made a stencil for my cushion. I had a few problems with the tension on my mashine, pleather is a real pain to sew at times. I finally got it semi right and I finished the cushion today. I am pretty happy with it and it looks a little spooky sitting on the bed. 

I ordered some buttons from a random seller in Asia and after waiting for what seemed an eternity they arrived this week. I was really happy with the quality and I was instantly inspired to make corsages! I make a lot of fabric corsages for fascinators, but I decided to make brooches with a corsage frame I sat on my bed with my sewing kit and put on Swiss Family Robinson! What a great way to spend an afternoon! Sewing, films, tea and relaxation. I love how they turned out and I am excited to sell them. 

Hair Slides!
My favourite! I love making hair slides! Little gems in a girls hair, effortlessly stylish and lots of fun. I have a few of the skull buttons in my sewing kit, but I have never never used them for hair slides. I decided to add two little beads as eyes for a bit of fun. I am going to make them in a variety of colours


I have become hungry for more and I have decided that I am going to try and start my own business. I feel slightly surprised at myself for even considering it! I have been reading material online, what I need to research, business plans and the problems finding money. It's a lot of work! It will take time and a great deal of effort, but I think it will be worth it! 

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Limited Edition Christmas cards!

I have printed a limited number of Christmas cards for Frighten Brighton, 'Zombies Ate Santa' is one of the designs available in this limited collection. I am thinking of making them available to order in bundles. If you would like to order some cards to send to your friends over Christmas contact me asap. 

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

The Jason Mask Cushion!

It has been a crazy week. I found time to finish my Jason cushion in time for Frighten Brighton! The pleather cushion will be available at the film fest, but I can make them to order! If you would like one ready for Christmas email me asap! 

Sunday, 20 November 2011

Starting My Own Business

I have been giving this some thought since I wrote what's Doll Doll Dolly all about and I have somehow convinced myself to further explore starting my own business. I have a dream of having a creative space for people to sell their craft, obtain craft supplies and take part in workshops. 

I have made my situation pretty public in the article I mentioned above, I have an illness which may make things difficult for me, but I really think this is my only option for the future. I have always been so defeatist over my future, thinking it was uncertain and sometimes impossible. I have realised that my negative thoughts have been the thing holding me back, feeling lazy and at times low.

I need to get some of my thoughts and questions answered:

  • How easy is it to start up a business?
  • How can I make my dreams a reality?
  • Is my idea a good idea?
  • How long is the process? 
  • How much will it cost? Can I get a loan? Grant? 

I think my best chance is contacting the Princes Trust for advice and creating a business plan, as I am not that business minded. I would also love to speak to anyone who has started their own business. I would like to know:
  • If it was successful and what made it successful
  • How difficult it was
  • If it was worth it
  • The challenges of owning your own business 

What I really want to do is weigh up the pros and cons of running a business, to see if it is really something I could cope with and would want to do. I have some really great ideas and I think it would be a real shame if my hometown couldn't benefit from them. Please contact me if you have any advice for me in my business adventures! 

Saturday, 19 November 2011

Feel The Craft Luke... Craft Vader

I love Star Wars and I know I am not alone! I thought I would share these craft gems on my blog ready for for the Christmas season. I mean you can't go wrong with a SW gift! 

Yoda Hat for 12-24 months via NYrika on Etsy

Star Wars Comic Buttons! Via goblinhut on Etsy

Sand People Star Wars knitted hat available in all sizes Via BeeBeeKins on Etsy

Friday, 18 November 2011

Etsy Shop

My Etsy shop will have lots of new goodies up by the end of next week; cushions, bags, wall/door hangers and lots more! I currently have fascinators, hair slides and headbands for sale which are all hand sewn by me! Keep an eye out for a handmade Christmas gift for a loved one at the  Doll Doll Dolly shop. I try to get all items out as quickly as possible which are sent in bubble wrap sleeves or wrapped parcels. Doll Doll Dolly will also have a stall at an upcoming event in Brighton, all details can be find at http://frightenbrighton.wordpress.com/.  I hope you all succeed in your Handmade Christmas this year! 

Thursday, 17 November 2011

What's Doll Doll Dolly All About...

I thought I would explain what 'Doll Doll Dolly' means to me. A few years ago I decided I would start making things, but I didn't really have the confidence to show my work and it has taken a long time to get to this point. Ever since I was little I have been creative. I studied Textiles, Fine Art, Photography and Music at college and gained great skills for my creative future. I suffer with a confidence problem- I find it hard to put my work out there in due to fear of failure or people will think my work is rubbish. I was really motivated to work at the beginning of the year, but I had a really bad patch and put everything on hold. At last things have been picking up and I am a lot more confident in my abilities because of my boyfriend Dan, who constantly pushes me to keep working.

I have M.E, a condition which effects your energy levels and it can make life pretty tough. I have been unsuccessful in employment as I can't keep up and I slowly get run down. I really struggle with my concentration, so much so my favourite tool is my seam ripper. Life can be difficult at times, however one thing that keeps me going is my work and my determination to be 'someone'. I have noticed my health has improved over the last year and I can maintain a really fulfilling routine. 

I want to to make my dreams become a reality and I plan on making Doll Doll Dolly a success. I hope to get on the craft fair circuit, sell more on my online shop, and eventually open a shop with workshops and provide a platform for craft enthusiasts. This is a long road and it may not happen, but I want to make the first two a reality. So, here I go on my creative journey and I am putting it all on Blogger for you all to read.

Tuesday, 15 November 2011


Creativity is not something that just comes out of thin air, it is born when you're inspired by something you see, hear, touch or even taste. Artists and designers have always struggled with inspiration and go to great lengths to find it. I think we could all do with remembering what inspires us in these difficult times, so I have written a list and I hope this helps in your own quest for inspiration.

I love Heavy Metal ! In fact I think I would die without it. I love that feeling when you hear one of your favorite songs. The hairs stand up on the back of your neck and then the world disappears around you. During my metal moments the world looking at me will see a total geek headbanging out of time! I am a big Thrash fan and this provides me with lots of inspiration. Think of the 80s, Long hair, Ripped jeans, leather jackets, weird artwork and band shirts! Yes! I go to festivals every year and take lots of photos for the vault. Metal inspires the passion inside me and keeps me drawing or sewing when the tank is low.

Pretty In Pink (1986)

I have a teeny obsession with Andie Walsh (Molly Ringwald) In Pretty In Pink, her attitude, issues and style in this film is just awesome. I love how she loves clothes and customises them so she can stand out from the crowd. They beat her down but she keeps her head up and carries on. I had a bad time at school because I was the crazy arty one that confused everyone. When I first saw Pretty In Pink I felt like I was watching myself and I was oddly comforted by it. I love this film and it will always inspire me to be myself and be creative!

Horror *screams*
I have been into horror movies since I was a kid and I find it hard to get scared these days. I will admit to having a nice little horror collection and on those days I can't draw, I stick on one of my old favorites and then ideas just come to me. I guess this could sound a little 'scary' but it isn't about what's happening in the story, it's about the art of how they made something come alive! The Return of the Living Dead is a great example of that or any film by Fulci. The masters of horror cared about the 'art' of gore! That is what inspires me.

I have only written about three inspirational things. My list is pretty long but the three above are the most important. The only thing I didn't write about is 'Love'. I think love inspires everyone on the planet and I know I have found it. I hope you feel a little inspired! I would love to know what inspires you, so feel free to leave your list in the comment box below.

Skull Pillow

After making the heart pillow, I was thinking about how I could develop my ideas further and so I came up with this skull idea. This afternoon I sat down and made this Mexican inspired skull. I am really please with the outcome and I plan on making miniatures in different colours.  

Pleather Collection

Last night I made this 'Love' cushion (above), it was a real labor of love but, I loved making it and I am really happy with how it turned out. I made the Metal heart earlier in the day and I was inspired to make something bigger and better. I plan on developing my pleather project, getting inspiration from horror films, cartoons and tattoo art.

Monday, 14 November 2011

My Metal Door Hanger..Thing..

I went into town yesterday to buy some new fabric for my little pin cushions but, I ended up leaving with pleather in three different colours! I often go into craft shops, get crazy ideas and end up leaving without the thing I went in for! I saw the pleather and I immediately got a flash of heavy metal. I wanted to take my pin cushion idea further and develop it into other designs. So, today I made a 'heart' shaped door hanger which reads 'metal'. I love heavy metal and craft but, I can never find anything that mixes the two and this leaves my room bare. I have recently taken up making things for my room, that reflect my personality and maybe for others with similar taste to mine.

 I began by cutting out my shapes and getting myself organised. I like to have everything out in front of me ready to go! I glued the letters on to the white banner to keep then still, I then stitched the edge of the letters to keep them in place and for decoration. I have a little obsession with studs (ok, huge obsession!) I cant help myself. I was always told in my textile classes that you want to add texture. I always try and add a little in every project but, it's not always easy in every single project. I added a ripped detail on the heart and studs for a little extra fun. I pretty much just sewed the entire thing together, added a fancy loop and sewed two buttons on for decoration.