Sunday, 28 October 2012

Poppy Appeal 2012

I make and sell poppy products throughout the year and make a donation to The Royal British Legion Poppy Appeal from each sale.  This year things are a little different in that I have now branched out into wholesale and will be supplying some very reputable establishments in the process!  The order I am currently most chuffed about is National Army Museum who will be stocking my Remembrance Poppy Corsage in their gift shop from this week, right next to the RBL enamel lapel pin!

My step up to wholesale has necessitated a review of my retail prices and in the case of the poppy range this means an increase in the donation I make too.  I will now donate £1.50 from the sale of the Remembrance Poppy Corsage, £1 from each Tiny Poppy Pin, 75p from the single hair clips as well as donations from limited edition products such as my covered button jewellery range.
The Royal British Legion works to provide support to serving members of the armed forces, veterans of all ages and their families.  The wearing of a poppy is a very personal statement with the symbol meaning different things to many different people. There are now so many fantastic designers now making contemporary, fashionable poppies to suit all tastes that we have the opportunity to make our statement more personal than ever.
As always you can follow our fundraising progress from my 2012 poppy collection by keeping an eye on our Facebook page and Twitter feed.  In 2011 we raised £180 for the appeal - I hope this year will be even better!

Paula x

Saturday, 25 August 2012

Button It!

Covered Button Jewellery, originally uploaded by Wychbury.
I've been trying to find a way to make jewellery pieces that have a similar feel to my wearable pincushions for a while. Some of my favourite fabrics have tiny elements that are just the most gorgeous designs all on their own. I always thought it would be great to isolate them and translate them into something wearable.

So far this is the kind of thing that I have been coming up with - covered buttons on things! I am not a jeweller really but my first proper job was as a jewellery solderer and assembler in a West Midlands factory. However I have always prefered fabric to metal as a medium, metal sometimes doesn't behave and once it's knackered that's it!
By setting textiles into jewellery, someone else has usually already done the metal bit for me and the most I will be required to do is open and close jump rings and persuade my fabric elements to stick - these things are within my skill set!

Design-wise, I've chosen covered buttons mainly for mathematical reasons in that I can get settings to fit buttons and also so I can use the tiniest scraps of fabric and not waste a thing! I also love the irresistable neatnes that ensues once you have managed to get the design where you want it and stretched the fabric over the shell.

The other materials in the pieces are on brand with MOP buttons, bronze metal and Morris fabrics. The construction is simple and easy to wear. The backs of every piece are metal to keep skin contact with the fabric to a minimum, reducing wear and tear. (no bracelets as they would pick up dirt!)

Finally, display and point of sale? Wychbury jewellery busts I made (from the backs of two photo frames, stamped and Danish oiled) will hopefully show the mix and match potential of the pieces and rectangular favour boxes to match the pincushion products for sales.

Items available will be mainly made of one large and two small coordinating buttons either as earrings and pendant set or as a 'trio' necklace. There will also be separates available and hair clips of course, can't leave those out.

Covered buttons on things - available soon!

Paula x

Saturday, 11 August 2012

Tea and Crockery

Over the past couple of years, motifs of cups and saucers, teapots and cakes have dominated the gift and home wares market and even seeped into high street fashion.  The Queen’s Jubilee, The Royal Wedding, The Olympics etc have lead to an unprecedented fascination with ‘Britware’ and the humble cup of tea has never been more en vogue. 
I live in Yorkshire and I drink a lot of tea.  I drink 6-10 mugs a day and can easily drain a pot solo in a hour.  I like regular tea and at a pinch, Earl Grey but say a big NO to herbal tea.  I see my dislike of herbal infusions very much like I see my atheism – as my loss.  I want to believe, I really do; what sounds nicer than raspberry and elderflower or lemongrass and ginger?  All these combinations sound delicious and tempting but alas I am faithless and they all taste like hot dregs to me!  

No, it has to be the original and genuine article for me, but should Camellia sinensis be considered an inferior brew just because we have a tendency to dump milk in it and swill it down by the gallon over here?  Just because we dry the stuff out and wrap it in paper fibre, should our Yorkshire Tea be treated with any less reverence than its fresh, green version or fancy herbal blends? 
OK, we don’t have a tea ceremony as such here in the UK but look around.  Vintage tea rooms, salvaged, mismatched china, ladies serving in handmade aprons, scones, bunting, doilies, the WI, vintage dresses with neatly pinned hairstyles and in the middle of it all – tea!  We want a ceremony, we crave it – choosing the appropriate vessels, tray dressings, optional cakes, the sugar goes in a bowl, the milk goes in a jug and if it doesn’t all match it should at least compliment to create a work of art to impress an afternoon guest.  Those of us in the middle of our lives and beyond were brought up with at least one relative that observed these rites of tea and we salute them, for they kept the cup, saucer and sugar tongs alive long enough for this fashion fuelled resurgence.

My grandmother’s legacy and a local car boot sale keep me in crockery.  My Paternal Grandmother’s taste was for the fashionable blue and white favoured by suave Victorians like Dante Gabriel Rosetti. She loved her willow patterns and displayed them on a round top cabinet now in my proud possession.  My own taste is more modernist, like my maternal grandmother’s whose kitchen was filled with what we now like to call ‘Retro’ – pyrex and bold patterns from the 1950s and 60s.  Meakin pieces and similar in Blue and Green are my weakness, the more mismatched the better!  There is something comforting about a real retro cup, it’s unaffected and takes you right back to an easier time when tea was just tea.

At Wychbury, Lesley has been making tea themed items for a while.  Her earrings are inspired by the medieval herb garden and her gorgeous herbal tea bracelets and ‘Love Tea’ necklaces are very popular gifts for our customers’ tea obsessed loved ones!  

I love to place these pieces with vintage china on our stall at craft fairs and the theme has become an intrinsic part of our display.  From time to time I add in any complimentary pieces from my own range that may have a suitable look and recently found a ‘Willow Pattern’ fabric from Fabric Freedom and took it one step further with a set of three tea themed pincushion brooches.   A doll’s house tea set, a willow pattern plate for viola hair clips and a blue and white pot of herbs complete the display.
So however you like it to drink it, whatever your taste in crockery and regardless of your feelings about its new prominence as a fashion icon...Keep Calm and Drink Tea.
Paula x

Sunday, 17 June 2012

Wychbury Wunderkammers & Shop Display Ideas

I have a few small cupboards lying around that I thought would be perfect for 'Del Boy' style Wychbury showcases. I love the idea of turning up somewhere and opening the cupboards and selling Wychbury Victorian street style out of a box! Realistically I've converted them for some of our Wychbury stockists.
It has been proven to us time and time again that our work sells much better when grouped together rather than randomly scattered in amongst other people's work. (fondly known by Paula & I as Carrots Handbags Cheese)

This is a nice way of preventing that happening I think! (Also fits nicely in with practicing what I preach in my job. Reuse! Recycle!)
We first tried to prevent this happening when exhibiting at Created In Birmingham quite a few years ago with a pin board & then at We Are Birmingham using a wooden display shelf that my Dad had made.

    Pin Board 2010

Shelf Display 2010

Anyhoo, the first new Wychbury Wunderkammer is an Antique wooden cupboard bought from a junk shop in St Just Cornwall for a tenner quite a few years ago, now newly lined with navy felt. The second a wooden box, maybe a tool or art box rescued from a skip! Also given the felt treatment. I think the second box could do with a coat of paint, but I'm quite pleased with how they look. My favourite Wychbury display however is my antique hymn board, but I don't think I could part with that no matter how good it would look in a shop! L xxx

Antique Wooden Box 2012

Wooden Art/Tool Box 2012

Hymn Board 2010

Wychbury shop display, originally uploaded by Wychbury.

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Saltaire Arts Trail, Ten Day Countdown...FIVE

This post is subtitled 'Poppies and PDQ' and is slightly retrospective as I am about 12 hours behind schedule at the moment!

So the practical work I was doing yesterday speaks for itself - it's poppies, lots of them! Like their naturally occurring version, these can be an effective sedative and are soothing to make while my mind is crowded with other things.

As you can imagine, in these last few days everything gets a little taut and the ongoing saga of the SAT PDQ machine has nearly driven the chairman of Saltaire Inspired to opiates himself! We are hoping so hard to have the card machine for the weekend but it has gone wrong and wrong again. It's something we had in mind right from post-event last May and honestly never thought it would be so difficult an achievement. The banks seem to consider an event like ours high risk and range from apprehensive to downright in incredulous at the thought of taking the gig!

As an organisation, implementing a procedure for a payment method we have never used before, with volunteers, multiple venues and mobile phones has presented pitfalls galore and taken a great deal of planning to overcome. This planning has been expertly done by people with infinitely more mental capacity than myself. I actually feel rather dizzy at the sight of the process maps and bewildered when yet another worst case scenario presents itself. During the meeting last night I actually requested this mug for my tea as I first read it as *Queen of f*****g everything....UP!*. Suffice to say, if the PDQ machine has not arrived in time for the weekend then much more bad language will ensue!

Pass the Laudenum would you darling? I'm getting one of my heads!

Paula x

Etched Glass by [vinegar & brown paper].  Exhibiting at 6 Harold Place and Saltaire Visitor Information Centre - bottles for soothing elixirs of all kinds.

Monday, 30 April 2012

Saltaire Arts Trail, Ten Day Countdown...SIX

I did prepare this post last night but didn't get round to publishing it so there will be another later on for day five in the countdown.

Day six has been all about point of sale and display and the main thing that I did was to make this rather self-explanatory ring display from an old cutlery tray. I will still have some boxed rings out to show the packaging but I'm hoping that this will make the pincushion rings more accessible on the table and encourage sales.

Oh, and I also got some moo cards done! There will be more packaging stuff going on towards the end of the week when I really start panicking!

Paula. x

Saturday, 28 April 2012

Saltaire Arts Trail Ten Day Countdown, SEVEN.....

ONE WEEK to go, which means it's Saturday. This also means that I am doing lots of other things like trying version #17 of the keeping-cats-off-the-veg-patch design quest as well as shopping, cooking, eating and other stuff with the family. Since I am multi-tasking I am on the little table in the living room and it looks like this!

I know it doesn't look much like it makes sense (apart from the wine) but it really does! The candle is for singeing the edges of cut petals to stop them fraying, the brooch backs just arrived in the post today and I pinched the packing material for a parcel and haven't yet put them away, the business cards came back from a closing stockist and everything else? Well it's work in progress and is very technical! I admit I lit the candle for the photo as I am currently drinking wine, watching a movie and cuddling my kids on the sofa whilst being very full of food, but hey - it's Saturday and there is still a whole week to go! lalalaaaa ♪♫

Paula x  

Friday, 27 April 2012

Saltaire Arts Trail Ten Day Countdown, EIGHT.....

So this biblical rain we are having has kept me stuck in the house for three days feeling more and more cooped up with each passing second. I got to the point that the sight of another pansy or viola is likely to push me over the edge of reason!

I don't drive so when Iain got home from work today, the fact that I was clamouring to get out must have been fairly obvious as I got whisked straight off to the garden centre. Normally I would relish the chance as I LOVE the garden centre as much as the next 40-something but today I wasn't sure, I've been looking at flowers for three days after all. But my pansies obviously look nothing like the real thing so I might become inspired, who knows AND we need something to keep the cat of the raised veg beds anyway - OK, I'll go.

In the queue to pay, at the till, I see this big trolley full of very leggy pansies and remarked that some of them looked a bit like the ones I've been making today. I don't know if the cashier sensed that my sulky mood needed lifting but she said 'Oh those are free, take a tray if you like'.

Anyway LOOK, pansies really do come in these colours - who knew!? It was a worthwhile visit in the end and I'm wondering if a vintage-ified picture of these in a Victoriana frame might just set off my display a treat for the Makers' Fair.

Paula x

Thursday, 26 April 2012

Saltaire Arts Trail Ten Day Countdown, NINE....

Today I am embroidering and beading the little violas I cut and assembled yesterday. There are a lot of them and I have some poppies to get on with later so am sewing quite hard! I am getting through a good few needles and the callous on my middle finger is getting quite tough too! I'm feeling productive though.

As far as the organisation is going, I have a sense today that everything is pretty much nailed down. The Makers' Fair inbox has gone reassuringly quiet and everyone is hard at work preparing their stock, display and retail stuff for the event.
Paula x

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Letterpress Cabinet

Lovely find on holiday in Cornwall - spending way too much time filling it and colour co-ordinating instead of making jewellery for the Saltaire Arts Trail! L. xxx

Saltaire Arts Trail Ten Day Countdown, TEN.....

I am once again coordinating the Makers' Fair Strand of the Saltaire Arts Trail for May 2012 as well as exhibiting with Wychbury. This will be our ten day countdown diary sharing our preparations for the event. I will try and write at least one semi-substantial post a day with additional mini blogs thrown in when something relevant is occuring!

This is the state of affairs with ten days to go.

We have been getting involved with lots of new projects and outlets during the last twelve months and this has resulted in the streamlining of lots of my working methods. I have pared down my side of the range to the key items that I find the most joyful and productive to make. I have mainly focussed on my floral pieces and wearable pincushions and this is making preparing for the Makers' Fair so much less of a frenzy. I am already in a steady routine of making as well as being about as at home at this event as it's possible to be!

So today I am making some little violas for hair accessories in some really delicate spring shades.

Paula x

Monday, 16 April 2012

Love Letters Pincushion Ring

Love Letters Pincushion Ring, originally uploaded by Wychbury.
I've been reading some of the feedback from some of our customers after purchasing our pincushion rings. Several lovely people have said how suprised they were to receive the selection of pins with their pincushion. All our pincushion rings and brooches come with pins that I hope compliment each design and make it more of a gift. Some of them are floristry pins or just shop bought head pins but I do like to include at least a couple that I have made myself just to blur the line between a wearable piece and a utilarian object.

This reworked version of the Love Letters Pincushion Ring is something I've had in mind for ages and is a real indulgence! I've overstamped the original handwriting print with more black ink and included a love token flower, a quill and a W 'wax seal' amongst the pins. The seal is made from some of the trimmed down bottle caps from a well know soft drinks company, melted with a little W stamp pressed into it.

Paula x

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Poppies and Daffodils.

Poppies and Daffodils., originally uploaded by Wychbury.
Poppies and Daffodils.
A gorgeous day and the last performance of Edith's Wartime Scrapbook this morning was a great success (see yesterday's post).  I'm still fairly jubilant about the £180....I'll say that again £180 donated to the Poppy Appeal yesterday so I thought I'd get on with some more.  I will be exhibiting my work for eight weeks in the Saltaire Visitor's Information Centre in the run up to Saltaire Arts Trail 2012 and I would really like to include some poppies in the range.   Since I am obviously on a roll, I will save the info about the exhibition and the other artists included for another post.

Paula x

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Poppies 2011

We don't talk about poppies and the Poppy Appeal in March.  We are nowhere near November, poppies aren't even out at the moment and everyone is all off the crimson and on to pastels when it comes to florals.  However, my son is currently in the choir for his year group's production of WW2 musical 'Edith's Wartime Scrapbook' AND it is nearly the end of the tax year so now seems to be as good a time as any to close the 2011 total for our donations to the Royal British Legion Poppy Appeal.  

As you may know, I make a range of velvet Poppy accessories that we sell through all of our usual outlets but from the sale of each item we make a donation to the RBL which is the equivalent of about 10% of the retail price.  Details of the donation amount are printed on the back of each item's card and we update our total on our facebook page throughout the year.

So without further ado, it gives me great pleasure to announce the total money collected and donated to the 2011 appeal iiiiis......
Thank you so much to all our customers, we hope that you will continue to support the RBL in 2012

Paula x

Thursday, 15 March 2012

Pin It.

A while ago, a customer sent me an enquiry about the possibility of me adapting one of my pincushion ring designs into a brooch. I had no plans to do so at the time and wasn't really sure how to convert the design, I thought the weight would make a brooch version loll forward on the clothing and be useless so I put the idea on the back burner. However, the idea of making a whole range of wearable sewng accessories was something that had now been put in my head so I put the brooch idea to some fellow stitchers to see what they thought. We all concurred that our cardigans, other clothing and furniture were full of pins and needles anyway so why not do it in a way that looked good?
You can always rely on Etsy's supply shop owners to make the best possible use of componants and it wasn't long before a search for '30mm base' yielded a brooch version of the ring from one of my favourite suppliers. So I have gone ahead and made something that I think works, it's a little shallower, the button is set a little more visably towards the front of the piece and you can wear it any way up!

I also have some plans to try a pendant version to wear on a chain and a larger brooch in a more ornate setting using the caps from milk cartons as a base.

In the words of Pinterest where Wychbury now has a page by the way,
Happy Pinning!

Paula x

Friday, 24 February 2012

Pink and Blue

Little Viola Clips, originally uploaded by Wychbury.
I've made some new colours in Little Viola Clips that will be available in our shops shortly. In the meantime, if you love Flickr, have a look at this group! It's devoted to photos featuring the Flickr brand colours of bright pink and blue, I have submitted this photo and the one of my crochet blanket and there are a few of my other pics in the pool too. My daughter's birthday parties seem to be always themed around this combination too! 

Paula x

Sunday, 19 February 2012


In February of 2010, Lesley and I did an interview for the UK handmade blog and the final question we were both asked was 'If you had time to learn a new skill, what would it be?'. Lesley answered 'Tatting' and my answer was : 'crocheting – using vintage thread of course. Also bookkeeping, I need all the help I can get with that one!'

The brain splinter I had the whole time was to be able to make vintage looking five petalled flowers in faded old threads to include in Medieval/Victorian workbox inspired accessories. I think I'd got the idea from these lace samples I'd bought at a vintage fair.

Well this Christmas I'd asked for 'The Happy Hooker' book and I bought a set of hooks from ebay but still to no avail, I just couldn't wrap my yarn around it! Once again the crochet got shelved and I resigned myself to a skill unmastered. Until my lovely friend Sharon stepped in. Almost immedietely on our arrival for tea at her house, she put a hook, some sparkly yarn and a glass of white in my hand and informed me quite bluntly that I was not leaving until I had made a granny square. She knew all along that she could teach me but I was a little resistant, I'd tried and tried after all and my loops were still tight and my yarn was still split. But with a quiet, smiling certainty Sharon insisted that if I followed her instructions I could do it - anyone can.

She firmly corrected me when I screwed it up, when I got it right she encouraged me in a 'Of course that's right - it's that simple' kind of a way and one glass later I had a 3" piece of very wobbly double crochet in sparkly teal wool. OK then, moving on - straight headlong into the granny square, guess what - it's easy! My friend's approach is that she is 'sharing' rather than teaching, she has discovered something joyful and firmly insists to the most unsuspecting people that they share in the joy. The yarn and hook is presented as both a gift and as a  binding contract between giver and receiver and you feel unable to fail. And she is right, we DO need crochet like we need those new boots or NY vanilla cheesecake, we will forgo sleep for it and work on a blanket in public unashamed.

As you can see I have now completed my first project with the balls of James C Brett Twinkle as bequeathed by my tutor, mentor and possibly my religious leader! My knee rug is 120cm square and used up more or less every scrap of Twinkle Yarn I had. I have since met some amazing crochetists and discovered some wonderful online resources. I'm never going to be in their league I don't think, I will always be a fabric and thread kind of a girl at heart, but what about my vintage flowers? Well using this wonderful tutorial from Applehead, they too are becoming a reality! I am definitely needing some even smaller hooks than the 2mm one I have used so far and I may also need a magnifier if I'm honest, but my first attempts are encouraging and I am looking forward to combining them with some old pearl beads and bronze findings to combine my new skill with some Wychbury style!

Happy Hooking!
Paula x

Many thanks to Sharon Lambert, Chrissie Freeth at The Yorkshire Craft Co. , Christine Harvey of Rose Cottage Crafts, and the Attic 24 blog which is amazing!

Sunday, 12 February 2012

Is it Spring yet?

It's nearly still light at tea time, my table is covered in spring flowers...still feels like Winter though! I'm making hair clips like the clappers this week while I wait for supplies to come in for other stuff, it's nice to be working with the flowers again but blimey it's still freezation! 
Paula x

Thursday, 9 February 2012

New Design Pincushion Rings

I've made a series of these rings with single image designs of animals and birds. They are taken from a gorgeous linen mix fabric from Japan by Etsuko Furuya - the design is called 'Ornament'. Each image is surrounded by a wreath of stylised flowers and fits perfectly to the size of my ring designs. So far I have made hares and gulls but ponies and squirrels will also be available soon! Sadly there is a fair bit of fabric waste of the blank ground between the design elements so I will need to find a way of using them up in other designs.
The fabric itself is a more open weave to the patchwork cotton I normally use so there is a gorgeous tactile quality to the sticking in of the pins. The cushions are packed tight with quilting wadding so have a really happy level of resist to the pin points.

I've also had loads of fun creating new ornamental pins for the rings. As usual I am hooked on the idea of the mini hatpin and was delighted to discover those lovely aluminium roses and filigree beads in a perfect 6mm size.

A customer has recently requested a brooch version of the pincushion rings and I am delighted to reveal that this will soon be a reality - several designs of brooches and pendants will soon be available.

Happy pinning!
Paula x