Welcome to the blog for Ali's Craft Studio by Alison Lloyd. I am a crafter of peelable stained glass designs & handpainted keyrings and I look forward to sharing with you my news direct from Kent (the Garden of England)

Make sure you visit the shop at www.studiocrafts.net to purchase your own handmade decorations to bring fun and colour into every corner of your home

Wednesday, 11 June 2014

An Uber Battle… Warning, a bit of a rant coming up!

I’m sure it will not have escaped many people’s notice that today has seen a demonstration by taxi drivers in opposition to new technology which creates a taxi meter for any car to provide a taxi service by joining up with the firm Uber. You may have only heard about the London protest but it is a multi-country issue with protests in France, Spain, Germany and beyond. What seems like a ‘we don’t want any competition’ debate on the surface goes much deeper than that. Uber have been banned in Berlin & just been issued a ‘cease & desist’ orders and massive fines for having illegal unlicenced drivers in a number of US states so this ‘new kid on the block’ may not be as innocent as it may first seem.

As some of you may know, my husband is black cab driver so I have been well aware of the issues surrounding today’s protest & the pros and cons of ‘Uber’ and similar have been well documented in our home over the past few months.  I don’t always agree with the ‘its going to kill our business’ debates which inevitably crop up from time to time so I don’t automatically fall on the side of the cabbies when it comes to these discussions.  Reading the general views on social media and news sites today, it has become clear to me that many people don’t seem to realise that the issue cabbies have isn’t with Uber at all – it is actually with Transport for London (TfL) who are the department in control of issuing licences for private hire vehicles, setting fares charged by the meters in the black cabs (they’re the ones you should moan at if you think the fares are high – cabbies have no control over this at all!) and it is TfL who are not prepared to recognise that the smartphone app which estimates the fare for your Uber journey is simply a high-tech taxi meter (something that is actually against the law in London for any vehicle other than a licenced hackney carriage AKA a black cab!)

Now a High Court Judgment has been requested on the issue – is it a meter or not?  This is something that is likely to take months & a lot of money to decide when TfL could just bite the bullet & decide this themselves. Interestingly Uber themselves refer to the metre in their own user instructions so it does beggar belief that this is even in question! Seems to me like they’re scared to rock the apple cart of the new ‘big money boys’ (Uber have funding by Google & Goldman Sachs & are worth over 18 BILLION Dollars)

There do seem to be two very distinct camps – #TeamBlackCab and #TeamUber & I have tried as best I can to look at this without prejudice for either side.  There are, of course, arguments for and against both sides and I have tried to find as much information as I can to form an unbiased opinion if this is possible.  I have no issue with mini cabs or, in principle, an app which enables you to book a taxi – I am pretty sure that it won’t be too long before the days of the mini cab office is over and all bookings are made using technology – its the way things progress & I’m all for embracing change, after all we would all be lost these days without technology which not too many years ago seemed like a leap into the unknown.  However, there has to be an air of caution here - I do fear we are in danger of a return to the bad old days of booking a cab using a private hire company, this time using an ‘app’ rather than the old fashioned telephone, only to be greeted by a clapped out old motor which seems to be held together using every sticky tape known to man driven by an equally clapped out looking driver with a fag hanging out the side of his mouth! Oh the joys!

Ref-1034Black cabs fares can be higher than those of the mini cab (although not always – did you know that the minimum fare for companies like Addison Lee is now a whopping £11!!) they are, however very transparent – you can see the fare clearly throughout the journey (not always the most joyful experience seeing it clocking up before your very eyes!) and there does still seem to be the view that some still report the classic ‘Nah, I don’t go south of the river’ response (which I have to say I have never had this happen myself – and I’ve lived ‘south of the river’ for many years – maybe I’m missing out on a life experience!!)  Black cab drivers are often thought of as ‘thinking they rule the road’ and rude. However, as my hubby says, “if I’m not on a job, by all means be angry if I cut in front of you, I will be as courteous as anyone without a passenger but when someone is in the back, my focus is on getting them where they want to be which may include having to do a U-Turn or go for the gap to keep moving.”  Think of it this way, if there is a passenger in the back, they are more than likely wanting to get to their destination quickly & may well be making that point in a rather vocal manner – for the cabbie on a job, sitting in traffic waiting to be let out by other vehicles is actually earning them more money but the passengers need comes first.  Sadly, not all drivers share this view and can give the profession a bad reputation but there are plenty of people on the road who don’t drive a taxi who more than push their luck when it comes to the rules of the road.

One thing I never realised until hubby went through the unbelievable rigours of learning ‘the knowledge’ is that there are ‘zones’ in which they can (& can’t) pick up passengers on the street – it suddenly explained all those cabs without passengers in the back who sailed past me in London as I stood trying to flag them down & waving my hand like a mad woman all those years ago when I was a regular cab user. For example, hubby has a suburban licence – Bromley & Lewisham in Kent – he can take a passenger anywhere they would like to go but after dropping off he can’t put his light on to pick up another passenger until he is back within the boundary of his ‘patch’.  London drivers have more of a carte blanche and can work anywhere but sitting in a long queue of taxis in a local rank is less appealing than the much busier London streets.  But at least they can have their light on all the way back!  Oh, and incase you didn’t know, you can hail a black taxi on any street as long as their ‘For Hire’ light is on – some people didn’t seem to realise that this doesn’t just apply to central London.

So in this particular argument, I'm 100% #TeamBlackCab - what people don't seem to grasp is that unregulated taxis can be uninsured, unsafe and for me as risky as hitch-hiking - you have no idea who you are getting in this small space with! Black cab drivers are regulated to within an inch of their lives & for me, that gives me confidence as a passenger.  I read a very interesting article from a New York journalist who had some interesting views on how safe women are getting in a Uber taxi – seems there are quite a few tales that would make anyone stop & think twice about what personal information you are sharing & who you are sharing it with.  (If you want to read the article you will find it here : Are you safe in your Uber?)

It is very interesting to see the increase in negative reports in cities where Uber have been established for a while. From drivers accepting fares only to be suddenly disappear when a better one turns up then reporting the customer has cancelled their job (which then incurs a nice cancellation fee from your credit card), drivers going the wrong way & refusing to follow customer's directions or use their much reported Sat Nav as they 'know better' and of course the obligatory disappearance of the shiny new cars much advertised by Uber as they take on drivers in their own vehicles.  Oh, and it seems that customer service is an unknown quantity at Uber HQ - no contact numbers & e-mails ignored or simply posted on Facebook & openly mocked by their CEO (I kid you not!).  The list does go on and on! I definitely get the feeling that once they have got their foot in the door of a new city with their flash, super smooth service they simply rub their hands with glee and head off to a new location whilst leaving their customers to fend for themselves!

Surge Pricing - get ready for Uber high fares!
Having read & viewed a lot of information regarding Uber, I await the backlash from their 'anyone can become a driver' attitude and cleverly hidden surge pricing system which means a passenger could end up paying fares of up to 8x that of the black cab at busy times (i.e. when the weather isn't so nice or evenings!)  As you don't get an agreed fare at the start of your journey or have any way of seeing the fare during your trip, your pre-registered credit/debit card can get pretty hammered fairly quickly & you cannot cancel the transaction! (Check out the reviews on Yelp.com for some frankly staggering tales!) The reported 850% increase in user registrations that everyone seems to see as a major positive for Uber actually just means that two things are likely to happen: 1. Fares will skyrocket as everyone tries to use the service - look out for 24-hour a day surge pricing due to high demand - and 2. as available vehicles become harder to find, a mass-recruit of new drivers will be undertaken to cover the demand (in the US a booking by a festival organiser for 50 Uber taxis was covered by finding drivers on Craigslist!) I was also very interested (slightly disturbed) by the head of Uber London evading the question as to whether they pay UK taxes – they have registered in Holland which has a negligible rate of tax – there are definitely comparisons with Starbucks, Amazon and (co-incidentally a large investor in Uber?) Google with their highly-criticised tax-evasion tactics.  For a company just valued at 18.4 Billion Dollars, a tidy saving indeed for them but not so good for the UK tax payer who will inevitably end up covering the deficit.

I'm not against change and, after listening to the arguments of the black cabbies regarding this issue, I am certain that neither are they. They do not have a monopoly as seems to have been voiced – mini cabs have been around for years & working quite amicably alongside but when a law is in place and a company comes along & breaks that law, seemingly without raising a question from those who should be ensuring this does not happen, it is bound to cause a rift.  The demonstrations are not against Uber but against TfL and their refusal to make the ruling about the controversial taxi meter which seems to be the backbone of Uber’s business model - there can't be one rule for them & one for another!  I despair at the 'lower the regulations' calls - surely this is completely backwards! I think regulations for all hire companies should be RAISED to equal those of the black cabs - no more flouting the rules, no more vehicles that should be condemned, drivers who are all CRB checked & therefore creating an all round safer environment for all concerned.  Just to clear one thing up though… I don’t agree with strike action – never have, never will.  It causes disruption to the wrong people so whilst I am on the side of the cabbies, I don’t agree that striking is the way to go (although it has brought the subject to the public attention).

So, for me, when in London or its suburbs my taxi of choice will always be an iconic, highly regulated, insured and safe hackney carriage!  Oh, and just to shatter that other misconception regarding black cab drivers…. they are NOT rolling in money – they work extraordinarily hard just to cover the costs incurred meeting the regulations imposed upon them, including two MOTs a year, CRB checks, licence renewals and very high vehicle costs. I know many will just think ‘well if they don’t like it they shouldn’t do it’ but then where would we be – one of the iconic images of London would just die out.  But, some stereotypes are much nearer the truth… most do love a good old moan or gossip about whatever the latest big news story is!! Go on, next time you’re stuck in traffic – get into a good debate about the state of the economy, the weather, sports, the state of the roads or just about anything else you can think of – probably not the best idea to mention Uber unless it is a really, really long journey though - you won’t regret it!

OK… rant over – it’s safe to come back out from behind the sofa!!

Wednesday, 4 June 2014

All systems are still going strong Chez Ali’s Craft Studio

Hello… is there anyone still out there?  I know, I’ve not posted here for waaaay too long but I’m pleased to confirm that all is still going well at Ali’s Craft Studio!

A change of technology and lots of fantastic new bespoke commissions are my excuse for being so lax in communications lately! Feeble I know but hey, I’m sticking with it! Winking smile

I’m still busy at craft fairs but even these have been reduced by some of the workloads I’ve had which is a shame in some ways as I really love meeting both old & new customers at fairs & discussing ideas for new products & design – that feedback really is invaluable!

I’m definitely not through with fairs & invested in a sturdier gazebo this year (first outing next week – wish us luck putting it up under time pressure Surprised smile) and am really pleased with how well the new designs for 2014 are going down at fairs – now I just need to find the time to get them all on the website!!

I thought I’d share with you a couple of the large designs I have completed recently – both customers are really thrilled with the stained glass look they have achieved using window clings and are now planning more!

Peacock Arches

Creating a wonderful effect in two plain glass recesses which the customer backlit at night – the difference is clear between the day and night effect.  I loved creating these – another one on my list of designs to create for our home too!!

Peacocks

Waterfall

This design was created to fill a half-glazed door & was inspired by a picture the customer had seen online. A great example of working closely together to get the desired results!  The challenge on this one was definitely all that water! I wanted to separate each section but avoid the ‘patchwork’ effect. I think it works very well & added a specially created pearl paint to give a totally different result in daylight to that at night when lights are reflected on the cling.  A real labour of love this one!

cg - Extra Large Waterfall

So, as you can see, I have been keeping myself busy – I’ll try to be a better blogger from now on… no, really!!

To see these & other large clings or enquire about having a design created for your own home, please visit http://www.studiocrafts.net/largedesign.html

Now, I must dash… clings to make, designs to create…. you know how it goes!  If you have any requests for new designs, do let me know – as I said, I love feedback!!

Byeeeee!!

Monday, 28 January 2013

Small Business Showcase Award Winner!


I am thrilled to have won yet another Twitter award & posted a guest blog on their website as part of my win. As I know many of you are not Tweeters, Twitterers or whatever you like to call them, I thought I would share it here too.  Hope you enjoy it!

Showcase Winner – Ali’s Craft Studio
 


To Tweet or Not to Tweet?

To anyone who doesn’t know me or my business already… hello! I’m Ali & after a family bereavement in 2007, I changed my whole life and started my business creating beautiful hand painted window clings for people to get the look of stained glass without breaking the bank!  I have had some practice – as I have been making them for myself since the early 1990’s!! These are static clings so there is no sticky stuff on your surfaces & they are removable & repositionable.
Perfect for all ages – now your children can also get creative too with their own spaces & you won’t have hours of scraping & screaming ahead of you when pink fairies or pirate ships aren’t the design of choice any longer.  They make wonderful gifts, are fantastic for temporary decorations such as Christmas, Easter, Halloween, etc or as a more permanent  feature as once they are in place you can wash over them & just leave them up for as long as you’d like! No mess, no fuss & by buying handmade, you can have any colours you would like!
I am so thrilled to be chosen as Freddie Pig’s Showcase of the Day however, as I will explain below, this might never have happened… 
A couple of years ago, a fellow crafter whom I had never met apart from in that vast universe commonly referred to simply as ‘online’ had been telling me I should join Twitter. I had always resisted, insisting that I had no interest in knowing what everyone had eaten for breakfast that morning, what TV programme was currently ‘in vogue’ or other such gems; and I certainly did not feel that letting people in on my day-to-day movements was either interesting or essential to my wellbeing!  Having no experience to fall back on, the only things I had seen were mentions of celebrities with millions of loyal followers! I don’t mind admitting that I was also rather afraid of finding myself sitting in the corner of the Twitterverse with no followers like Billy No Mates just tweeting to myself a 140 character personal breakfast & daily habits journal! 
January & February are my ‘chill, regroup, restock & get ready for the year ahead’ months after the mayhem that is the craft fair season from Easter to Christmas so in 2012, I made a decision… I joined Twitter! 
Well, one year later and I have a wonderful group of followers, thanks to whom I have also developed a whole new business ‘arm’ – that of printed clings and keyrings for business promotion and now also for all the amazing awards seen across Twitter from famous Tweeters like Theo Paphitis & Jacqueline Gold right through to the infamous Freddie Pig! Winning any of these online awards is a great boost to small businesses, many of whom are sole traders without the funds for large scale advertising promotions. We are at risk of being very small fish in scarily large ponds! I have been amazingly fortunate to win #SBS from Theo Paphitis, Double #Purplebiz from The Purple Dog Network, #QueenOf Window Clings from Aqua Design Group, #UDBOTD from U-Do and now #FPSBS from Freddie Pig! I guess I must be doing something right! 
So sometimes things happen that make me sit up, pay attention and, in this particular instance, sit infront of a mirror and give myself a damn good telling off!! There is more to this Social Media malarkey than number of cups of tea & soap opera plotlines…. 
As you can see, brevity is not my strong suit so if ever I need an new CV, one of my skills will definitely be ‘getting messages across in 140 characters or less’  Hopefully, with the help of Twitter and wonderful people like Freddie & his piglets, I may never need a CV ever again!! 
So, please join the ‘Campaign to Keep Ali’s Craft Studio Alive’ by visiting www.studiocrafts.net & come and join me on Twitter @AlisCraftStudio I’m just about to update my cup of tea count for the day & you certainly don’t want to miss that now do you!! 

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Clinging on to a Dragon!

Well lots has been happening over here at chez Ali's Craft Studio since I last wrote! To say it has been an exciting fortnight is a huge understatement to say the least!!

Those of you familiar with Twitter may be aware of the competition run by Dragon's Den star Theo Paphitis every week to support small businesses.  Called Small Business Sunday (shortened to the hashtag #SBS) he receives 1000s of tweets between 5pm and 7.30pm every Sunday evening which, aided by his family, he wades through & chooses his favourite six to retweet to his almost 300,000 followers. Recognition of this kind is worth the world to all the small businesses out there struggling to make it through a recession which has knocked out some of the biggest names on the High Street!

#SBS Winner in Waiting BadgeIt can be a long process getting noticed in a sea of amazing tweets and some people simply give up trying! However, perseverance in key in business and this is true here too! Back in April, I even created myself a 'badge' to show my determination to keep trying!

This caught the attention of other people who were also trying to join the exclusive #SBS club and there is now a growing group of amazing people who support each other under the #SBSWIW tag including some who are already #SBS winners but are there to offer encouragement!

Anyway, over to my big news...

On Sunday 18th November, I sent my 140 character 'advert' for Ali's Craft Studio as I had done 43 times before.  I haven't missed a week since joining Twitter in January!! Theo takes a while these days to get through the increasing number of tweets so now does his retweeting on a Monday evening.  So, there I was at 8pm on Monday waiting for the six lucky 'winners' to appear! I always send congratulations to each one but this week was different...

Theo's retweet no. 2 was this:
I'D WON!!

From that point on, everything went first into slow motion then fast forward!! My Twitter timeline (showing all the people sending me messages) went into virtual meltdown and the most wonderful messages of congratulations span round like a just pulled, one arm bandit!!

My website had more visitors than any day since it started and I gained 100s of new Twitter followers too! By the next day, I had received orders for window clings from people who hadn't seen me before which was incredible!

It took a couple of days just to work through & thank everyone, but one of the first things I did was add my profile to www.theopaphitissbs.com which is a website exclusively featuring #SBS winners; and add a winner's badge to my website!

I have been creating window clings of winner's badges by request for a number of previous #SBS winners and now I could make my own!! I decided to go for a large clear version that I can read from my desk and even on rainy days, it makes me smile!

Following that the job was to get a press release together (which I did with the help of the wonderful Stacey, a fellow #SBS winner, who runs her own business Stacey's Admin Solutions) and this was sent out on Monday morning without any real expectations.

However, last Friday, this appeared in the Kent & Sussex Courier: Dragon Gives Weekly Award to Alison's craft studio

This grin hasn't left my face!!
So, perhaps you should get your orders in quick - this award winning business is going places!

You still have time to order for Christmas! Check www.studiocrafts.net for deadlines.

And before you ask... No - I'll not forget you when I get my first million!!

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Cooo-eeeee!

Ok, hands up... who's missed me??  I'll pause for a second here to count the multitude of hands...

Well, despite not blogging for what seems like a lifetime, I haven't been resting on my laurels... what is a laurel, don't even know if I have any to rest on.... hmm, must look into that one, don't want to be missing out... what? oh, sorry, I digress...

Yes I have been working flat out throughout the 'summer' and I am thankful that the absolutely awful start to the season way back in April/May didn't cause as much disruption as it may have done & certainly not compared to so many crafters who have had event after event cancelled - often at fairly last minute so no possibility of finding an alternative.

One of the things I don't think people in our situation realise is how reliant we are on good weather for our fairs. However, if the weather is too good it can be counter productive with beaches & coastal destinations winning out over fairs & other events.   There's always that fear that this may be the last sight of the sun for another year & there is that inert desire to make the most of every little drop.

This has been a very strange year. Not only because of the weird weather but also all the wonderful occasions such as the wonderful Queen's Diamond Jubilee weekend with it's extra Bank Holiday (remember that far back?) to the most incredible summer of sport courtesy of the London 2012 Olympics & Paralympics. If you follow me on Twitter (@AlisCraftStudio) you'll know how completely hooked I've been on both!! Wonderful in so many ways but a nightmare in others... so many regular fairs had to amend dates to work around these additional holidays & events that it was a little frantic trying to ensure that everything could be fitted in!

Fortunately, it seemed that as one fair moved forward a week, the event it may have clashed with decided to move theirs back a week thus avoiding that terrible situation of choosing one and having to miss one! Phew!

I'm afraid the dreaded word... dare I utter it... Christmas!! is already looming large on the horizon with sales of decorations already underway and this weekend is likely to see the first showing this year of the Extra Large Christmas Tree which proved so popular last year.  If you didn't get around to ordering one, please don't leave it too late as they do take some time to make... get your order in early & you'll have it in plenty of time to include in your fabulous Christmas display!

Extra Large Christmas Tree - Peelable Window Cling
Extra Large Christmas Tree (14.5 inches x 21.5 inches)
Infact I have been making more & more of these larger designs as bespoke requests for customers.  Any designs can be made larger to fit the space you need to display them in.

Some further examples of some large clings created can be found with a form to request information on larger designs can be found on the website.

One of the things I really love about what I do is, as I am sure I have told you before, the possibility to help with a window problem that a customer has been struggling to find a suitable solution for.  Often this can be to disguise an unwanted view or simply to finally get a design which has been running around their head but not found in existance!

Such was the case with a lovely couple who knew exactly what they wanted to see on their front door - a couple of Koi carp swimming in a pond - but couldn't find one anywhere!  After much discussion to fine tune the details, they are now the proud owners of what I have to say has been one of the designs I have loved creating the most (I may have to make one for myself very soon!)
Koi Pond


Of course, Halloween is the next seasonal event which gives a great excuse to go a little mad with your decorations & I've definitely found more people are joining in the spirit of things.  Any excuse right!!

Head over to the Halloween section of the online shop to have a look at the fun (not scary) designs available!


Another new product is to give a great, inexpensive but very effective advertising solution for businesses or clubs.  Any logo or website information can be created into a window cling to use in your car, shop, office, home, or anywhere else you want to give your business a push.  These are slightly different to my normal clings as they are printed before being converted into clings which ensures a clear reproduction of even the most fiddly logo or club badge!

A couple of examples shown inside cars:
My own company promotional clings!
Thought I should!!
Perfect size to advertise without
causing viewing obstructions
Along the same line as these are promotional keyrings! Great as limited number giveaways or promotional items & can be created from your logo and/or website information.

On a rolling pricing scale dependent upon quantity but from as little as 50p each so perfect as another string for your marketing campaigns!  Just get in touch for more information!
Hope you've all had a great summer & are gearing yourself up for what I hope will be a great run up to Christmas!

I can't promise that my blogging will be more frequent but I will try!  At least you now know that even though I'm not here, I'm still beavering away in my studio or even in a field somewhere in the south east of England!! Check out where I'll be & why not come along & say hello! http://www.studiocrafts.net/events.html



Monday, 30 April 2012

Handmade Monday & a new letter to the Weather Gods!

You know how you think something has been fully understood and we are all singing from the same hymn sheet then it all falls apart... well that seems to be what is happening now! So, I feel the time has come to readdress those weather gods! (Hold onto your hats folks!)

Dear Weather Gods

Urm, hello!! Where do I start here? Really, you're having a laugh aren't you?? Can I just point out that the phrase 'April showers' is not an instruction nor does it mean that the whole of April needs rain! I've decided that you are bored up there and decided to pick some seasons out of the hat on the first of each month and throw it into the mix... So, Summer in March might have been a nice, unexpected treat but that doesn't mean Winter in April is a good idea!!

Surely you can't think that heavy rain complete with gale force winds all weekend only to be followed by California-esque skies, glorious sunshine and gentle breeze today would be acceptable!!

So, for the THIRD time, lets run through the deal... I'll spell it out nice and simply for you...

The week has seven days - You can have five of them! Yes, FIVE!! Count them... Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday AND Friday - they're yours (I might beg Monday back a few times when there is a Bank Holiday but hey, there aren't many of those so surely you won't mind... Think of them as nice days off for you...) Right, where were we.... oh yes, Five days are yours... that leaves two - Saturday and Sunday, that's all, just 48 hours - they are mine! So that means the rain, snow, wind, hail, lightening, fog and any other grotty weather plans you might have tucked up your sleeve can quite simply get lost - have a lie in, have the weekend off and relax a little (no - relax a lot!!) Really, you don't need to work so hard - you'll hurt yourselves! Just brush away the clouds send down the sun & sign off!

Once again, I urge you to consult my list of fairs so you can plan ahead - schedule that sunshine in advance, I'm making life so easy for you but you need to do your bit too!

So, we are nearly at the end of April so lets not dwell on the fact that you basically tried to drown my birthday month - I'm not one to hold grudges but you really are testing me now.... May is coming - time to make amends and get back to normal temperatures, nice sunny days - doesn't have to be tropically hot, we can save that until the Summer months (remember them??!) and a little bit of rain during YOUR DAYS so that the flowers down get thirsty.  Everyone would be happy again!

Now, I've tried to be nice but if you don't play along, I might have to send the boys round... don't say I haven't warned you!!  Please don't make me have to write to you again unless it is to thank you for sticking to the agreement this time!!

Signed
Slightly grumpy, very waterlogged lady who doesn't want to have to get aggressive!!

See previous letters to the Weather Gods here & here
Braving the weather at The Hop Farm Country Food & Craft Show
I'm sure you won't be surprised after reading the above that my weekend show at The Hop Farm in Kent turned into a wet & windy disaster!  The weather forecasts for the weekend were not looking promising but we decided to go anyway as rain doesn't always keep people away. Sadly the wind was determined to cause problems and whilst we did manage to remain upright, there were a few gazebos which were blown over and damaged by the strong gusts which came along especially in the afternoon on Saturday.

Needless to say the visitor numbers were much lower than this great show deserved (we were actually quite impressed that anyone ventured out of their nice warm homes!) and as a result the sales were not good at all.

Due to the added threat of more persistent rain and gale force winds on Sunday, the decision was taken on Saturday afternoon that we would be unlikely to return for the second day on Sunday.  Unfortunately, a dangerous gazebo and damaged stock were simply not worth the risk.  I did find the organiser to let her know that was our plan (I would never simply not turn up!) and to her credit she did advise us that our pitch would still be available should the morning weather not be as bad as forecast.

I was very sad to hear that not all the stallholders were as understanding as to why the show wasn't very well attended! Surely blaming an organiser for the weather is bordering on the ridiculous!! She was as devastated as we were and whilst there were things that could and should have been done better (such as the location of the additional craft tents behind our stall location & adding signage to show they were there)  However, despite the horrendous conditions, the events arena in front of our location was busy all day with some wonderful displays featuring gun dogs, tractors, horses, birds of prey and an incredible side saddle horse riding team (not all at the same time, obviously!!)

So in summary, a superb event was killed by unseasonally awful weather (cast your minds back to the Royal Wedding last year & what a glorious day that was!!) but we will definitely be back & lets hope the weather gods have got their act together by then!!

Next weekend I am in Bromley Market - oh I don't even want to think about what the wind will be like then - and have a full diary of shows coming up, not all of which will be outdoors so if you missed being able to see me this last weekend, please try to come along to an upcoming event!  I look forward to seeing you all soon!

Loving the new option for your peelable decorations!
One other thing I am really excited about is that for all the people who have previously asked about whether the designs I sell can be used on walls & doors... the answer is now YES!!  I have developed a method of creating any design on a special carrier which contains an ultra-removable adhesive backing. This means that you can decorate your walls or doors, no matter what the surface is and yet still remove them again without causing damage.  There is a nominal charge to cover the special materials I have to purchase to do this but this opens up a whole range of possibilities and these can also be used on windows and mirrors as usual.  The only difference is that the back feels sticky.   I am in the process of adding the option for you to purchase any design as a wall/door sticker to my website but if you come across one without the 'conversion option' choice, please get in touch & I can add this for you (it is taking some time to manually amend all 500+ products currently listed on my website!)

I'll add some photos soon of some sample designs I have up in my studio so watch this space...  The possibilities are now endless!

And yes, it is Monday which means I'm back in the great company of all the wonderful crafters who are joining in with Handmade Monday over at 1st Unique Gifts - do go and enjoy what everyone has been getting up to this week!

Sunday, 11 March 2012

Handmade Monday & a note to teacher...

Well, its been a while but I thought I'd better show my support to Wendy's Handmade Monday as I have been very bad lately at blogging.  To catch up with some amazing crafters who have retained the ability to craft and blog at the same time, head on over to Handmade Monday (I'm hanging my head in shame as I type!)

I feel like I should be presenting a note for teacher from my Mum at this point explaining where I have been & why I haven't managed to get my homework in on time in... well... ever!  Sadly, I don't think Mum would write this as she is likely to be on the side of the teacher (after all she used to be one!) so I guess I'll just have to take the punishment and accept detention in a dark and dingy room somewhere with a very bored looking teacher who wants to get out of there as much as I do!  I can handle it - I've been a bad blogger so I will sit quietly and reflect upon what I have (or haven't) done...

However, if I see a moth in that dark, dingy room, I'm out of there like the proverbial bat out of hell!  Just thought I'd make that clear from the start... OK then... As long as we're all clear on that...

The business clings I briefly mentioned in my last post (remember that far back!!) have been getting a lot of attention and I have two more going in the post today - one is a smaller version of this one
The other is lettering for an office to display the company logo and name on the office window and will give the effect of hand painted letters on the glass.  I'll post a photo of this when I can - the customer has promised to send me a picture when it is in place so hopefully that will show the effect really well.

If you are interested in getting your own company logo or message on a cling that can be used to promote your business whilst you are out and about, please contact me at craft.studio@virgin.net including the logo you would like to use and I will get back to you with a quote.

I am, of course, also building up more stock for my fairs which really start again in earnest in a couple of weeks time.  Its always difficult to judge what your best sellers are going to be when you are at the start of a new year so I am trying to work on some new designs as well as the classic favourites like butterflies, animals and birds.  Here's a sneak peak of a couple of new designs (these aren't even on my website yet but contact me if you are interested in any of them)

Set of 3 flowers - yellow & white
and really effective in monochrome!
Rainbow worms?  Well why not?
I'm trying to create more sets of designs as many customers want more than one at a time and having sets makes it a little easier and more affordable.   This certainly proved true with the small butterfly sets I have already - the butterflies are of a size that to sell them individually would not be cost effective but as a set, I can ensure they remain affordable and still make sense from a business point of view.
Set of 7 butterflies
Set of 3 Glitter butterflies
One of the things I love so much about my work is that I can adapt to customer requirements, current fads & trends.  I don't have the problem of having to order 100s of the same item, mass manufactured & each exactly the same!

Tell me, where would this customer have been able to get a picture of her gorgeous Malamute with one ear in the shops??
Brown and White Malamute with one ear
So, just try telling me that buying handmade isn't the best thing ever!

Just as an extra note before I go, I have a Facebook page.   Now, I'm pretty good at all things computers but seriously - I just don't get it!!  I haven't a clue how to 'like' other pages, what to do when someone 'likes' mine and to be honest it is not only a miracle that it is still there and I have resisted hitting that oh so tempting 'deactivate page' link but actually that it is there at all!   I hear loads of people saying how much they love Facebook but sorry folks.  I don't get it!!

If you do get it... feel free to visit, like, post, share, comment and whatever else you are supposed to do on there - just don't expect me to be displaying all those flashy whizzgigs that some pages have - if I manage to add anything it is a cause of celebration so make the most of what is there & perhaps head over to my website or follow me on Twitter - I am pretty efficient on those!!

Hope you have a wonderful week - I'll try to be better in future at blogging!! (Hmm, didn't I say that last time!)

Thursday, 1 March 2012

New Month, New Look, New skill!

Today is the first day of March - the sun is out and a general feeling that spring is here seems to be well and truly in place.

So, how to celebrate this momentous day (OK so its not that momentous unless you happen to be Welsh in which case you are quite possibly reading this dressed as a daffodil or leek and raising a glass to St David!)  Happy Saint David's Day to you - here is a couple of handmade decorations to help you get in the mood...

Daffodils Handmade Peelable Decoration
Small Wales Flag Handmade Peelable Decoration

Sorry, I digress... Now, where was I...Oh yes, March, Spring, momentous day...   

So to celebrate this lovely weather and (hopefully) the end to the cold temperatures and risk of snow (you listening Weather Gods??!) I thought I would give my blog a bit of a pep-up with a new fresh look and the hope that it may encourage me to get on here more and write!!

I was very pleased courtesy of one of my new Twitter friends, to get the opportunity to try a new technique of making my clings.  A very talented photographer by the name of Stephen Mole wanted a cling for his car to advertise his website and contact details.  Well, you can't really do that without paying homage to one of his photos can you!!  So, after much experimenting and a certain degree of finger crossing, the following was the result (as seen in its new home and photographed by the man himself)


OK, so you as can't see much of the detail here is a pic I took before it left Kent to live in Norfolk... 

I really enjoyed creating this and hope to do more using the new method developed for this piece.  So, if you have a business you want to advertise, a child's drawing you would like recreated as a peelable design or just for a larger image with a difference, please get in touch with me at craft.studio@virgin.net

Hope you like the new look and new design style - send me your comments, I would love to know what you think!

Oh, and if you would like to see more of Stephen's wonderful photos - head on over to www.stephenmolephotos.com and of course, there are hundreds of peelable decoration designs to choose from including the Daffodils and Flag shown earlier in our Shop  Go and have a look around and if you can't find what you are looking for, just contact me & I'm sure I can create something for you!

Don't forget to come and see me at my first Bromley Market of the year this Saturday (5th March) if you are in the area - its going to be a great Spring day - perfect for a bit of shopping!!

So Spring is here and I don't mind admitting that I am starting to get a little nervous about how long before the monsters are back!  Don't know what I am talking about??  Check out my nightmare experiences here... (read at our own risk!)  My knight in shining underpants isn't being very sympathetic at the moment either.... I need to be nice to Mr Dyson and my fur warriors just incase they are called into duty soon!  Wish me luck folks....

Ahhh, the joys of Spring!

Sunday, 19 February 2012

Confessions of a bad, bad blogger... and I got awards!

I know, I've been a bad, bad blogger! I read all the wonderful blogs from good people who regularly update and post news and here my little lonely blog sits, feeling neglected! I'm sorry...

I have a confession, I've found a new friend and have been cheating on my blog family... with Twitter! I'm sorry, I didn't mean to do it but it is so addictive, I couldn't help myself! But don't worry, I still love you and once the novelty of my new love has worn off, I will find a way of us all being friends and getting along.

It is because of this obsession (there, I said it!  "Hello, my name is Ali and I'm a Twitterholic") that I have also been very slow to thank Jill of Christmas Pie Crafts and also to Kat of With U in Mind who both have been so kind and awarded me the Liebster Award which I am really thrilled about.

Thank you both so so much - as such a lax blogger I feel a little undeserving and more than a little humbled....

The rules for this award are:

1. You must link back to the person who gave it to you
Oh, OK just done that in the previous paragraph... tick, check (good start!) next...

2. Put the award on your blog 
Hey, this is a doddle! Done, tick, double check - see right hand column and above (oh, I'm on a roll now!) next...

3. Pass it on to 5 other blogs who inspire you and have less than 200 followers 
Uh-oh, you might have to talk amongst yourselves for a mo.... (Knew it was going too well!)

Here's a picture of our two cats when they were kittens and cuddled each other to sleep to make the wait a little less painful...


Awww, weren't they cute!   Sadly, this is a scene we don't see anymore although they will still give each other a brief wash every now and again....

Sorry, nearly there will be with you in a mo...

OK then, here we go:
  1. My Cosmic Blog 
    Tales all the way from Texas, USA.  Susan is very supportive of crafters and shares her tales of goats, soap making, markets, lovebirds, family and her husband's box guitar making business (but not necessarily in that order!)
  2. Ostra's Creations
    New to the blogging world and soon to turn her jewellery making into a small business, I think we can all relate to how scary it is to start out and take the first steps towards what we all hope will be successful businesses.  Lets show some support as only the craft community can!
  3. Its an Alien Life
    Great crafts on show on this super blog and completely puts me to shame on the regular blogging front!  One to learn from!
  4. Creations by Flutterby
    A lovely blog showing beautiful card creations.  Definitely deserves more followers!
  5. Made in Suisse
    A lovely blog from an amazing crafter with gorgeous cross stitch, recipes, beautiful photos of Switzerland... what more can you ask!  A great read. 
OK, OK, I know that theoretically I should be awarding to 10 blogs (two awards) but c'mon, no-one can wait that long! (Shhh, I won't tell if you don't!)

4. Leave a comment on their blogs to let them know
Away we go me-hearties! (Sorry, watching Pirates of the Caribbean whilst typing this!!)

Hope you all have a great Sunday! I'll try to be a better blogger in future....

Saturday, 11 February 2012

A Review - Zazu Jewellery Cards

This post is a little different to my normal ones.  It infact isn't about my work or company at all.   As you will know, I joined the social networking set recently and through this I saw a request from Chloe of Zazu Jewellery for a review of her cards.  One of the things I love about the crafting community is there is a real comraderie and I was more than happy to help.

I used to make cards myself and still have an interest in the latest styles so my expectations were in line with the many card stalls I come across at fairs including the multitude of crafters who seem to be selling photographic images made up into cards.  However, I was in for a surprise.  I thought I had pretty much seen every style but these are so different, I was smiling broadly just taking them out of the package!

Beautifully presented with jewel-coloured envelopes these cards are a joyful mix of photographs of jewellers beads displayed in different patterns.  The photography is exceptionally clear and the colours gorgeous.  Let me show you some examples (starting with my favourite!):



What isn't easy to see from these photos is that the present and balloons are made up of teeny tiny beads.  I haven't seen anything like these before - it is so effective and the above pictures don't do justice to the  clarity of the colours.   All the cards are left blank so ideal for any occasion as you can write in your own message and cost just £1.80 each.

But, my package didn't end with the cards.  Also enclosed were some packs of 4 notecards with envelopes.  Again, using the same style as the cards, these are great for those occasions when you just want to send a little something but don't actually need a greeting card.
I received these four different styles and I have a real soft spot for the Union Flag one but all are stunning and at just £2.50 for four, they are well within every budget.

To sum up, I would say these cards & note cards are simple but extremely effective.  I defy any recipient not to take an extra moment to stop and admire them - probably with a smile on their face!

There is a wide range of stockists:
Chloe's website http://www.zazu-jewellery.co.uk/
Studio 61 near Matlock http://www.studio61gallery.co.uk/
The Gift Gallery in York http://www.giftgalleryyork.co.uk
Amelia's Wardrobe in Guernsey http://www.ameliaswardrobe.co.uk/
Goldstraws in Warwick http://www.goldstraws.org.uk/