Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Stitched Leaves.

I do some work part time as a childminding assistant for a pretty large setting. This gives me lots of opportunity to devise and try out lots of creative, textile-based activities with a fantastic group of children aged between two and eight. I'm always suprised how well young children respond to being introduced to new skills that we would normally try to put them off for as long as possible due to sharp, hot or mechanical elements! Last week I was amazed at the skill shown by a little girl who isn't two for another month as she used a huge needle to thread beads, accurately and rapidly until she had a six inch long 'necklace'.

This week we have started our autumn projects and I thought it would be a good time to introduce the children to using a sewing machine. We used appropriately patterned fabrics and the children chose their threads and stitches from the sewing machine's menu and created these fantastic leaves for our display.

Paula x

Monday, 11 October 2010

Wychbury Poppy Campaign 2010

We are one month away from Remembrance Sunday and you might remember my blog post of last year explaining my reasons for getting involved with the Royal British Legion's Poppy Appeal and making a donation from the sale of my poppy corsages.
This year, my local area has seen the funerals of several young men killed in action abroad. My husband is a registrar at our local cemetery and helped to teach several 18 and 19 year old soldiers how to correctly and honourably carry the coffin of their friend into the chapel. In my last post I drew attention to the soldiers of the last century who weren't given a choice as to whether or not to fight, but through their sacrifice earned a choice for the generations that followed. I can't help but wonder how capable some of these young men are of making the right choice when they join the armed forces, I wonder where they find the drive to leave their families and friends, babies and young wives - then I wonder even more what would happen if they didn't.

Last year we raised £70 for the Poppy Appeal and have already raised £10 for the 2010 campaign from sales from our stall. This year I have repackaged the range and added some new items too, hopefully they will sell just as well and we can raise even more money. The items, prices and donation amounts are:

Classic Poppy Corsage - £9.00 (donation of £1.00 for each one sold)
Tiny Poppy Pin - £5.75 (donation of £0.70)
Pair of Hairclips - £8.50 (donation of £1.00)
Single Hair Clip - £4.50 (donation of £0.50)
Limited edition Fascinator Band - £16.00 (donation of £2.00).

I can also make custom poppy items such as chokers, bridal hair accessory sets etc and will donate 10% of the sale price of all custom items.
The Poppies are also available in our Etsy shop priced in US dollar$ and will soon be available on Wychbury's website. I will continue to recommend fabulous Folksy though, for it's ease in ordering multiple items.

If you bought a Wychbury Poppy last year and plan to wear it again (which we would strongly encourage in the name of sustainability!), please, please still donate some change to a Legion Poppy seller.

Paula x

Thursday, 7 October 2010

Indigo, Elderberry and Madder.

A quick post today, in celebration of the wonderful birthday present I received last week. My good friend Claire knows me very well and sent me these beautiful bundles of fabric scraps dyed using natural plant dyes. You can read about Claire's work with natural dyes on her personal blog Clarabella and her project of sustainable creative activities the 'Out There' project.
When I finally manage to spoil the lovely bundles and unroll the scraps I will post about what I use them for - although I doubt anything I make from them will be for sale on Wychbury as I am far too selfish!

Thanks again lovely Claire

Paula x

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

I Can Type!

Well ok, I can't - not on a typewriter anyway. I recently freecycled for a typewriter and got a fantastic 1980s gem. I stab the keys with my index fingers, then when I realise haven't pounded them hard enough I backspace and stab again! I over-type with xxxx when I make a mistake or simply slam the correct key over the top of the typo without a care. There is something very beautiful about having all your mistakes on show, etched indelibly into the paper like tattoos. The uneven, unpredictable quality of the lettering is unique to the typewriter and the typist and personalises the writing almost as surely as handwriting.

Recently I have been thinking that the medieval style of a lot of our packaging wasn't really working with some of the work I've been producing recently. I've been working with vintage fabric and buttons and have been deliberately choosing materials for the story they can tell, marks, holes, wear and tear, a manufacturer's mark on a discarded selvedge and I felt the packaging needed be a better continuation of the idea.

I love to use rubber stamps, especially lettering, our usual cards show the font from our Wychbury logo, it's called Scythe. It's flowing, inky and renaissance and the stamped version takes on a woodcut feel. It's such a strong look that even when I added 'England' in what would seem to be a completely incompatible 1950s font from the John Bull set, it still keeps the 'I should be sold from a basket of straw' vibe. It's perfect for Tudor clips and herb garden earrings but wasn't hitting the spot for my button pieces.

So, I've come up with new cards that use a combination of letters from my John Bull printing outfit, typed text and a button graphic from my own linocut. I've stitched through the stamped buttons with thread to finish them off. The results are still unpredictable, the typewriter is temperamental and the rubber letters of the stamp are old and cracked but inked on to clean, cut card seems to work perfectly with my new pieces.
I have no clue about fonts, I'm deciding what's aesthetically pleasing through what equipment I have available, trying it out and screwing up my eyes to see if the look works. If I'm honest I wouldn't know an era-appropriate typeface if I was served one in an envelope with a portcullis on it and I really don't know why I choose the lettering I do (she says, changing body of blog into verdana as usual!). So I am very excited about the imminent new book by Simon Garfield, 'Just My Type'. You can read the introduction to the book on Simon's website and my picture of the John Bull set is going to be in it - Wychbury stamp and all!

I think my fascination with lettering will accelerate when this book is released but in the meantime I've started wearing it! This BACK SPACE typewriter key ring is from Zincwhite and it's temporarily adorning my wedding finger, make of that what you will!

Paula x

Sunday, 15 August 2010

Home from Home.

As my erratic blogging habit demonstrates, it’s been a couple of years of upheaval for me at home and at work. This time last year I had been working hard for some time on achieving some harmony at home and it wasn’t going well at all. P enc nwc caravan park in Newquay, West Wales came up as a last minute on ebay and turned out to be a full seven days of exhaling all the stresses of the preceding months. I spent my days watching my children play in the sea, pushing my toes into the sand, reading and breathing – just breathing.

Now we are back. After another year of stress and in uncertain circumstances, it made sense to revisit the place that had eased our nerves so completely last summer, same place, different caravan – oh so very different!

I imagine most creative people are a little jarred by the aesthetic of static caravans; the lightweight, laminated, mass-produced home from home in shades of beige can make one feel a little like living in a dolls’ house. To take the factory-fitted edge off, the caravan of last year was filled with personal touches and things that had been left by the goodwill of previous tenants, it felt warm and welcoming. Even in my stressed state, the echoes of the happy holidays of those who came before us ensured that the sun would come out no matter what. The discovery of half-full pots of herbs and spices in the cupboards, butter in the fridge, some clean but well worn tea towels, fudge and wine left by the owner and leaflets with handwritten notes recommending interesting places to visit. My feet went up straight away as I sank into the sofa with a cup of coffee.

Now to P encnw c caravan 2010! This ‘Willerby Aspen’ showpiece immediately put me on edge. The lovely lady owner showed us proudly around the immaculate results of her carefully harvested nest-egg; A worryingly pristine palace of pre-ordered veneer and fablon, a faux walnut ceiling fan and precariously placed ornaments that hissed ‘smashhh meeee’ at my children. Bed linen a five star hotel would have been proud of, a HUGE top of the range flatscreen TV with not a fingerprint to be seen and a sign that stated ‘No smoking and PLEASE No felt tip pens’. Worst of all, having arrived empty handed after last years’ stocked cupboards we were a little irked to find not even a bar of soap on the sink. A search has revealed some sparse cleaning products, some very slim toilet rolls, some elderly teabags and some coffee flecked sugar.

So, immedietely after the very proud lady left, I set about setting up my temporary Wychbury workstation for my cosy evenings in after the children go to bed. I’ve brought a set of the drawers I customised a while ago and filled them with the stock that is in our online shops, postage supplies and some work to finish. I’ve brought my sewing machine, my glue gun, my fabulous new camera and a wireless dongle. I will be dropping thread on the floor, beads down the sofa and sticking my pins in the arm of the chair, soon have this place feeling like home!

To finish, after I’d set up and gone to unpack my clothes I found this beautifully comforting sewing tin in the wardrobe that was so juxtaposed with the rest of the van I can only assume someone has left it; I will leave it behind just the same to bring reassurance to anyone else having a knee-jerk over leatherette covered nests of tables with matching coasters! I also found the local shop filled with teeny old packs of buttons, threads and sewing kits (as well as a birthday card with Daley Thompson on it to indicate their potential age!).

Despite my new holiday accommodation being a little ill-fitting, I am really happy to be back in Ceredigion and hope to find still more peace in the land of bottle-nose dolphins and red kites.

Wychbury in Welsh Wales. Paula x
* PS After a small pang of guilt at writing this piece, the author would like to stress that the caravan she is staying in really is lovely as is its owner! :) This post is really about feeling out of place, I have nothing against caravans and stay in them often. I flipped out slightly because my family and I know we are way too scruffy and clumsy to be let loose in something so contrived and posh and have already spilled a drink and pulled down a blind! I PROMISE I will leave the van exactly as I found it and will not be sticking pins in the sofa or using any felt tip pens! px

Sunday, 1 August 2010


I have been playing Alice in Wonderland on my daughter’s pink ds after she’s gone to bed. It might allegedly be aimed at seven year olds but I have become strangely addicted to the game to the point of dreaming about it and I think I have hit on the reason why. The main objectives of the game are facilitated by the player having to collect the jigsaw pieces to reassemble Underland which is falling apart.

I haven’t blogged for a while and I have re-written paragraphs several times trying to find a comfortable way to describe how my personal circumstances have led my whole world to end up in pieces. As it turns out I don’t seem to be cut out to wear my heart on my blog and I’ve deleted every one I’ve written – hence my hiding behind all the Alice metaphors!

There’s no huge drama as such, well not compared to many people, but somehow I feel as though I’ve got someone else’s life on at the moment. A series of circumstantial and emotional upheavals have left me totally upside down. A friend described the feeling that she is only too familiar with as looking down on your life and seeing a bird’s eye view of a completely unfamiliar landscape. I knew exactly what she meant, all the elements are there but they aren’t quite fitting together anymore.

I’ve tried a few times now to start putting the pieces back together but each time I have been a little premature I think! Much as I would love to get dropped straight back on to the right jigsaw piece I am old enough to realise that I have to follow the right path and open all the right doors to get there. There are lots of stray jigsaw pieces in my world and it will take time to put them all back.

So here I am, at the first jigsaw piece. Wychbury is a definite corner, a starting point and the piece that keeps the rest of the jigsaw from falling away like wet cake! I have forgotten this recently, forgotten the sense of self I get from designing and making, the pride I get from selling and the support I get from the community associated with my chosen career.

Lately, through some messed up psychology that only a professional would understand, I have felt undeserving of the right to immerse myself in something that evokes all these positive emotions. What used to feel like a responsibility, a calling even, felt like an indulgence. How can I sit and sew when everything is in such a mess? I convinced myself that I didn’t have the time or the energy for something as selfish as trying to run my own business and that a more suitable pursuit would be the excessive consumption of wine and cheesecake. This is all very well and yummy but this ‘eat me/drink me’ attitude has left my motivation feeling very small indeed!

Months have gone by in a jumble and it is time for order again…I feel a jigsaw habit forming!
Paula x

Monday, 15 March 2010

Pack it up again - Tiara Box Consumer Testing!

Ok, so the tiara box dilemma may have been solved! The prototype of my new handmade boxes has been sent to the first buyer of one of my Rose of York fascinators via Folksy today.

I have decided to use the same card from the Kanban factory shop that I use for our backing cards treated the same with the tea and the ironing etc. I've made a template for a custom sized box with a lid featuring the Wychbury stamp. I am looking for feedback from our customers on how the boxes stand up to mailing and their general aesthetic appeal so until the end of April they will be offered FREE with all the fascinator bands sold through any of our online shops. If the feedback is good and the design is finalised then they will be available as a seperate listing, a snip at £1.50 each including all the froo froo leaves etc.

If you buy a fascinator will be invited to leave your feedback either as a comment on here or in the feedback field of the purchase itself. Please be honest, I can take it!

Paula x

Monday, 1 March 2010

Pack it up

As you know we like things au naturel here at Wychbury and generally use lovely muslin bags from Celestial Gifts on Etsy with our Wychbury stamp on them. However, in these dark times of unpredictable sales and fluctuating exchange rates we have been a bit, well *short* recently! This has led to me making do and mending with whatever white fabric I can find and dunking it in tea! There is something satisfying about making the packaging part of the creation. It's also nice to take stuff that would normally be binned and make use of it.

Our backing cards are made from misprinted and rejected card from Kanban in Shipley where their factory shop lets you fill up a box with whatever you like - my kids absolutely love it! We use used teabags to stain them and a combination of new and vintage rubber stamps to embellish them.

Ok, so I have a dilemma. I am now making a range of fascinator/headbands featuring my flower corsages, including a new range for bridalwear. My dilemma is that the only thing I can find to package them in is acetate boxes - which just isn't going to work with my aesthetic at all I'm afraid!

I've had a couple of ideas so far, one was to make a drawstring bag like the ones we use already but in a rounded shape with a stiffened and padded gusset to protect the fascinator - I've not tried that one yet. I have had a go at making origami boxes out of stiffened fabric. They are absolutely gorgeous but aren't really stiff enough for shipping and use a large amount of fabric - obviously putting paid to any thriftiness whatsoever. However, I'm thinking that they may work as a small jewellery box and be a perfect use for small scraps of fabric and recycled paper. There are loads of tutorial videos online on how to make them from paper and I just followed the same principle but with fabric that already has a layer of fusible backing on it - dyed in tea of course! Waaaaay too faffy to be practical but I think I'll just keep buttons in them for now!

I've just added an 'Our Packaging' set to our Flickr page for our packaging creations which I will hopefully be adding a design for fascinators to very soon. In the meantime, check out the 'Etsy Packaging' Flickr group for lots of gorgeous Etsy sellers packing their work up just right and PLEASE send me any ideas for packaging for my fascinators :)
Paula x

Thursday, 18 February 2010

Sunshine Award!

The Sunshine Award is awarded to bloggers whose positivity and creativity inspires others in the blog world. The rules are:Put the logo on your blog.Pass the award to 12 bloggers.Link the nominees within your post.Let them know thay have recieved the award by commenting on their blog. Share the love and link to the person from whom your recieved the award.

Before I accept this I should point out that we also received one in January from Leigh Shepherd, a fact that I was reminded of when I just went to nominate HER for one! I am sorry for my rubbishness Leigh and THANK YOU very much for the award.

This one is from the very lovely UK tatter, Tatiana Rosa so thank you very much for this Heather. We heart your jewellery the MOST :).

I am aware that this is a fairly finite system as a lot of the people I would like to nominate for awards have already received them and twelve blogs is quite a lot to choose more than once! (Which is Leigh and Heather aren't incuded!) I am doing two nominations in one go and participation is not compulsory - just sharing the lurve! Here we go :

UK Handmade - Ok, they no doubt have lots and lots of nominations but UK handmade rocks and features Wychbury so I simply must!!
Gracie's Garden Bazaar, beautifully presented, ethereal blog - regularly updated and, well - just gorgeous!
Swirly Thoughts, by Lynsey the fabulous author of Cuteable. Swirly thoughts is her personal blog including her wonderful chickens!
우리Uri-Craft Collections, Three Malaysian cousins whose current range of hair accessories are so beautiful that their photos alone make this blog captivating.
Incy Wincy Stitches - Just so good! Tutorials, patterns and generous, unconditional sharing of the fabulous textile work of Sam Gillespie.

Wild Woman Jewellery, for having the subtitle 'For the Whimsically Audacious', a totally addictive soundtrack and featuring lots of lovely, lovely things!
Le Fresne's Castle with Rowan DeVoe, Art, photography, red hair and black cats! LOVE Rowan's photographs so much :)
Smitonius and Sonata, Mum and Daughter based in the UK and Holland, making jewellery and miniature quilts. LOVE this blog, so many fabulous things in it!
It Is What It Is by Lynn Whelan, wonderfully chatty insights into her life and her lovely, bright work.
What Does Your Heart Desire? - The Heart Gallery of Hebden Bridge. Approaching its first birthday, the Heart Gallery's blog is full of lots of things that I love about
Yorkshire and the talent therein!
Kayla Coo, Goddam, this is beautiful stuff! LOVE Michela's work.
Big Blue Bed, Dorset buttons, family and a really lovely blog!

Paula x

Sunday, 14 February 2010

Happy Valentine's Day!

Ok, so I failed completely to create any new products for Vally's Day! However I will point you in the direction of Lesley's Poison Heart Locket Ring from our Folksy shop.

Sticking with Folksy for a minute, here are the top picks from my lovely Folksy friends that popped into my head straight away when I started typing this! Leigh Shepherd, Rowan Grant and Tracy Connell are all West Yorkshire ladies and all just happen to have heart themed items in their shops right now!

Leigh's brooch is 'A truly removable tattoo'! A print of her original painting of a rockabilly style tattoo on a gold background made onto a vintage draughts piece, also available in 'Life' and 'True Love' version.

Tracy also has earrings and bracelets available in this gorgeous lampwork heart design in her shop, there's a pretty clear version too but who can't love a purple heart?

Rowan has a few more of these fab vintage comic designs featuring kissing couples in her shop but this was the one that stood out for my Valentine's feature. Possibly because the description says 'What kind of girl am I?....I don't even know his name...and I don't care...I just want his kisses!' That in itself makes it irresistable in my opinion!

See? We are talented up here in the North and not at all Grim! However, some grimness exists in my neighbour's garden right now which I won't go into for fear of spoiling your lunch. In order to sweeten the pill of having to live next door to such horrors I went a bit overboard on our Valentine's breakfast this morning - yup, I made heart shaped blueberry pancakes and am not at all ashamed to admit it!! I used up the blueberries and blackberries in Nigella's American Breakfast Pancakes and just had to turn up the faff factor by a bit of heart shaped pouring!
Have a really great day and happy Chinese New Year too :)

Paula xxx

Saturday, 13 February 2010

Getting Caught up.... things that I hadn't expected this week. I fear this will be another fragmented post containing all the things that went 'Blog that' and I never got around to it! NTS: Do homework as you get it!

First off the Hidden Eloise shocker! I won't go about it as I am fairly sure that thanks to Neil Gaiman and his Tweeting prowess the whole world now knows! Suffice to say though, Eloise rules the most and has conducted herself with the same poise and grace she displays in her beautiful work throughout this whole *unpleasantness*. I hope that the designer in question recovers from the fallout from what was a disastrous error of judgement on her part and that Eloise's sales go through the roof! Good luck to both :)

For those who have been working hard rather than spending the last few days on blogs and Twitter, you can catch up on Eloise's blog here (also in most national newspapers!).

Next up - UK Handmade! Fabulous magazine and blog that I though we had joined yonks ago but actually hadn't (Shop UK Handmade instead - pay attention Paula!) Karen Jinks has asked us to do an interview for a feature on the blog that will be posted soon. A lot has changed for Lesley and I over the last couple of years and it was really interesting for us to think about the questions we were asked about how we started, how we currently work and how we would like to progress in the future.

This had got me thinking about how many different 'hats' I wear in the course of an average day. Although, I flit fairly easily between the various roles in my life I rarely spend more than a couple of hours doing any one thing before I am off the the next.
Although I am acutely aware of the importance of promotion and networking, most will have fallen foul of the hidden tangents that the evil temptress 'internet' can't wait to take you off on! It's becoming fairly evident that designing/making is the area that is suffering most from this - especially when I am so easily distracted by unexpected things! I am hoping to find a few more shops in Yorkshire to stock our items over the next few weeks and have realised how much stock I will need to produce to make this happen - if anyone has a solution to this I would LOVE to hear from them!

Given the problems of time management we wahm's face every day it's easy to forget to treat ourselves! Oooh that reminds me...WE'RE in THE STORQUE! (Hahaha, yup - seamless!).

Etsy's new UK blogger Amity Roach of All Those 3hrees on Etsy has included my Purple and Crismson Pansy Corsage in her article, UK Etsy Finds : Self Appreciation on Valentine's Day. Amity is an amazing jewellery designer and if anyone wanted to treat me to her Silver Stitch Texture Ring for Vally's day than that would be lovely! Thanks so much to AMity for the inclusion.
Right, I absolutely must go and sew now.....Oh no, Twitter is rallying to Eloise's side once more - looks like things are taking a turn! Ooh look at those I want a coffee? Damn!!!
Paula x

Thursday, 4 February 2010

Colour Me Guilty!

My post today is by way of apology to Fleas of Roots Deity Poems. Fleas has been our myspace friend for an age and a tireless supporter of our work. He has been making picture videos to go with his music and uploading them to myspace, youtube and Wordpress. Back in December he asked if he could make a vid featuring one of my textile art cards featuring the Three Hares symbol - of course I agreed and promised to link to the vid and Fleas' sites...................I forgot *cringe*!! So I am doing it right now!!

Thank you so much Fleas and sorry again for my slackness!
Paula x

Tuesday, 2 February 2010

Catching Up.

Just a few bits today, I've been ill on and off for a fortnight and am desperately trying to catch up with work now that I have FINALLY filed my tax return just in time!

This evening I am taking a condensed version of our stall to a Ladies Pamper Night at one of our local primary schools - Myrtle Park in Bingley. I have done one of these at my children's school before and love the opportunity to get a bit dressed up and treat it as a proper evening out. I really hope that the mums there that haven't seen me or our work before like what they see. It's always mixture of excitement and trepidation when selling right on your doorstep. I mean I will most likely see some of my customers again! I want the right word inserted in the sentence 'Oh, look Agnes, there's that red-haired woman who sells those ***** accessories' if I am ever spotted on the zebra crossing!

Next on my scrappy agenda today is to say a huge THANK YOU to Cassandra of Gracie's Garden Bazaar for her wonderful feature on us this week. The image is a screen cap from her page and as someone who would occasionally sign off letters as 'Rapunzel Badlash' I am so so chuffed with this feature on my hair accessories. The blog itself is gorgeously and romantically written and I strongly suggest that the wistful and fey amongst you click 'follow' forthwith :) Her Folksy shop is equally lovely!

Finally (before I leg it upstairs to the studio to try and do a week's work in five hours!) we are listed on this fab new blog Folksy Weddings. It's a great resource for handmade weddings in general and a brilliant showcase for Folksy. The success of my Poppy Corsages in November shows the potential of Folksy and the more promotion it gets the better. Especially since we don't have Martha Stewart to sing its praises here in the UK!
Paula x
PS The selling event ended up with me tottering up and down a makeshift catwalk in mismatched high heeled boots! Since I am already 5'9" tall I think it is safe to say that most of the ladies there will remember me now!! I also had to stand up and tell everyone all about Wychbury - OMG! Luckily the response to our work was overwhelmingly positive so it's all good :)

Wednesday, 13 January 2010

Happy New Year Everyone!

Well we have been away for what seems like absolutely ages! November was packed with craft fairs and Christmas events and both of us did extra work in other areas over the Christmas period. I am going to be working, believe it or not, in a childminding setting with a view to getting some experience in doing various craft activities and workshops with children as well as getting some fantastic opportunities doing display work. It's loads of fun and I think it will dove-tail in with my current Wychbury work really well.

For the new year I have some new designs coming through including these fascinator bands that I showcased during our Christmas events. My pansies were inspired first off by the hand tinted, fade velvet flowers you see on antique Victorian millinery - there is a great collection of hats in Cliffe Castle Museum in Keighley that I gaze at for ages at a time! Really, these pieces are another way of getting my pansies onto the head and echoing the theme in a more up to date, wearable way.

I like the idea of a cluster of the flowers as it gives me a chance to mix colours for more impact. The design is also very versatile in terms of colour and the number of flowers I use - I am going to be offering custom pieces for bridal and formal wear as well as being ace to wear every day. I am personally delighted about the fascinator's move to mainstream fashion and long may it be so!!

Paula x