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

Saturday, 30 July 2011

I heard the words...

I have been basking in sunlight today at Bromley Market - unusually there was very little wind so it was a lovely day without any heart stopping moments.

But...  today I heard the six dreaded words....
(Brace yourselves)

"When we get back from holiday..."

Oh those words are awful for a stallholder to hear and enough to make the hardiest of souls sob quietly into their thermos.  Sadly I have a feeling that I will hear them many more times over the next few weeks!  Often the only people who aren't on holiday are the ones (like me) who simply can't afford it and unfortunately they are also less likely to spend at your stall too.   Fortunately, I did have a good day but could have really done without that reminder of what may lie ahead next month...

Oh well, tomorrow is inside in the 'greenhouse' shopping centre - prepare for major sweaty knees syndrome!!
Bromley Market - a fun and sunny day without the usual wind!
The greenhouse cometh!
Hope you have all had a great day...

Friday, 29 July 2011

I won! Yay me!!

Well this week has been full of surprises...

On Monday I received an e-mail saying that I had won a blog jewellery giveaway being held by Frances at Polly Polkadot - I was really thrilled as her jewellery is so beautiful.   I had to choose from three colour options (which was the hardest part!!) and decided upon lilac.

Today's postie brought my gift and it is even more beautiful in real life than I could have expected and the colour is gorgeous with pinkish and purplish tones (I wasn't really sure what it was going to be as 'lilac' covers a multitude of differing colours!)

So, here is my necklace and earrings set - thank you again Frances - if you get chance, please go over to her blog and see more of her wonderful work.  One of my favourite photos ever is on this post here (it makes me smile and chuckle every time I see it!!)
So, all I need now is a nice place to go out and wear my lovely new pieces....  Hmm, must drop some hints to hubby!!  

Hey, perhaps this week will end on a win too...  Now, where is that lottery ticket??

Sunday, 24 July 2011

Handmade Monday & A Weekend Off (Almost!)

Good morning everyone - another week crossed off the calendar and therefore another chance to visit Handmade Monday and see what everyone has been busying themselves with this past week.   Do make sure you go and check the links on Wendy's Blog.

As I mentioned in my last post, this weekend was a rare thing - a whole weekend without fairs.   This only happens a couple of times a year apart from the 'down' time just after Christmas and the early part of the year before the fairs season starts.

Saturday was Hubby's birthday and we decided to let the train take the strain and head up to London with family and partake in one of the fabulous burgers at the original Hard Rock Cafe (celebrating its 40th Anniversary this year).   Arriving at Charing Cross station, we walked to Covent Garden and had a stroll around the market stalls there (I was one of those annoying customers who didn't buy anything!!), enjoyed one of the famous street performers and then walked the 'short' (ha ha!) distance to the restaurant.   Amazing how places are much further than you think and I think it is safe to say that we were all very hot and very knackered by the time we finally caught glimpse of that famous logo and sign outside the restaurant looking as welcome as an oasis in the middle of a desert!
A welcome sight at the end of
one hell of a long walk!

Then came the big test - a one and a half hour wait for a table was ahead of us!  Do we wait?  We were all getting pretty hungry and desperately needed to sit down.   Fortunately a check with the nice lady on the door about the range of their 'pagers' (these are really amazing and flash and vibrate to tell you when your table is ready!) told us that the pub around the corner was within range and therefore a stool and a pint was in order to wait it out.

A party of guys arrived celebrating a birthday complete with their colourful floral lei garlands around their necks and hats (lots of fun was ahead I am sure as the day/night progressed!)  unfortunately, I never did get chance to find out why two of them arrived with a fresh crusty loaf of bread which ended up being torn in half and taken with them to their next stop...

Our pager eventually flashed and vibrated to tell us that our table was ready and we sat surrounded by the memorabilia and sounds of the wonderful musical talents of today and yesterday.  If you haven't been, it is well worth a visit - the prices are a little high but more than made up for in quantity (I couldn't finish mine!) and thanks to my letting slip that it was hubby's birthday, the whole restaurant was encouraged to join in a chorus of 'Happy Birthday' as he was given an ice cream dessert complete with a single candle to blow out and make a wish.

The one down side of this restaurant (if you can call it a downside) is that the food is so good you tend to overeat and we all suffered, I can tell you, from 'mega-fullitis' that feeling that you are about to explode at any moment.   Just the thought of food was enough to make us all cringe and we all ended up going to bed pretty early to try to sleep it off!

Ghost with Pumpkin - Available now
You will be pleased to know that this week hasn't all been about over indulgence - some crafting has been taking place too.   I have a couple of orders to complete so these have taken precedence but fortunately are almost ready to be posted out.   I have also been looking at the 'Glow in the Dark' range that I have and decided that these paints definitely lend themselves to ghosts and ghoulies ready for Halloween so have a couple of new designs in progress of ghosts, witches, bats and general spooky things with glow in the dark elements to them  (no photos of the new designs yet - sorry, but here is an existing one of a ghost and pumpkin to keep you going until I have them!)     Hopefully these will prove to be popular although the glow properties are pretty much impossible to show at a fair as you need almost complete darkness to see properly.

I have also outlined a few of my most popular Christmas designs to try to get ahead for the festive season (which if the beginning of the year is anything to go by will be upon us waaay too soon!)

Hope you have had a good week and able to enjoy some sunny weather in the next few days, especially if you now have the kids at home for the holidays.  I haven't had the whole weekend off and today was back at work trying to create lots of new stock both of new designs or existing, popular ones to build up my stock ready for some big shows coming up in the next month & hope to show you the ghosts and ghoulies in my next post...

Monday, 18 July 2011

Huh? An open letter to the Weather Gods

OK, I'm confused.  Please can we just take a moment and check our calendars.... mine says July...  now, I know that I'm not always successful and flipping the calendar over on the first day of the month but either I have been asleep for longer than I thought and we are actually now experiencing that wonderfully colourful of seasons - autumn - or something has gone terribly wrong.  Can I just check again, really - this is JULY!  The middle of summer when we should be basking in sun, wearing strappy tees and flip flops!  Not thermal socks, long sleeves, sweaters and rainproofs!!

What is going on at chez weather gods?  Have they gone away for the month (to somewhere sunny perhaps? If so, ha-bloody-ha chaps, very funny!!) and forgotten about us here in Blighty?  No really, they are having a laugh but I, for one, am not laughing! So here is an open letter to them from me....  

Dear Weather Gods

I get it, you are powerful, out of our control and telling us not to get too complacent and quit whining about being too hot and there not being enough rain when you send us lovely sunny weather.   Well I've got  the message so pleeeease can we have a bit of sun back?  Its July, not December and the time we laughingly refer to as summer.  Please, please, pretty please, give us a bit of a break.  You send sun to other people on a regular basis - have we upset you somehow?   

There are plenty of months in the year for you to send all this rain and wind and actually if you really insist on messing up our seasons then hey, I'm a reasonable person - Monday to Friday is a great time for you to knock your socks off with these extreme weather tricks but there are only two days for me to get out there and sell to the crowds at shows so that is when the sun needs to make an appearance please and the wind can have some well deserved rest.   Its a good deal - five days for you, just the two for me (or three if it is a Bank Holiday - four at Easter!)  I realise that you were having a laugh at our expense when you sent enough sunshine yesterday to dry everything off before the rain came again.   However, I am grateful that you did allow enough sun at the end of the afternoon to give most things enough of a chance to dry off before we packed away.

So, I encourage you to accept this very biased-in-your-favour-deal, it has huge benefits including the fact that everyone would love you again - and everyone wants to be loved, don't they?

In anxious anticipation

Love from
The person who came home yesterday very tired, wet, windswept and aching from having to hang on to my gazebo and dry off the table during the brief breaks in the weather only for it to rain cats and dogs again!  (Seriously, that really wasn't funny - now quit it!)

So, as the above will tell you, yesterday was an adventure and a tale of British Summertime weather!   We were down at the wonderful Weald & Downland Open Air Museum for their annual Rare Breeds show complete with cattle, sheep, ducks, chickens, bunnies and all other wonderful (and noisy!) animals for everyone to get close to and, in the case of smaller animals, even buy and take home with them.   What is normally a non-stop, crowded day was sadly affected by the worst weather we have ever had to put up with at a show.  
Strutting Chicken - perfect for all budding farmers!
When hubby and I arrived to set up at 8am, we actually got back in the car because it was raining so badly that we decided to wait until the worst had passed - and it was around that point we came to the conclusion that it is a good thing that we get on so well as we were likely to only have ourselves to talk to...  Eventually, the rain eased for a short spell and we managed to get the gazebo up and the tables in place.   The next downpour made it very clear that our normal table layout simply wouldn't work - people needed to be able to get under cover to stand and look at our display for any length of time so a quick re-jig was required which left us with very little room behind the stall to stack our boxes and have somewhere to sit and warm up with a cuppa and wait out the extremely heavy rain showers.

The show opened and....

...people came - in numbers!   

Admittedly not in numbers anywhere close to the normal footfall for this show but it was impressive considering the disgusting weather conditions.   We were very surprised and suddenly our anticipating £0 takings turned into making a profit! (Small, but a profit nonetheless and in the circumstances every £1 felt as good as £10!)    

There were some breaks in the horrendous weather just long enough to show us what we were missing before the black clouds loomed again and the heavens opened.   The ducks were happy and loving it but I think they were probably on their own!

Next weekend is a rarity - a whole weekend without fairs!   It is hubby's birthday on Saturday so a nice day off is planned to enjoy and have nice food.

I have been adding more rainbow designs to my Rainbow Collection on the Ali's Craft Studio website as I have been asked for rainbows on their own so these are my latest - simple but very effective...

Full Rainbow
Corner - Available as a single or pair
So, here are some things I learned this weekend:
  1. Animal people are a hardy lot and it seemed it would take more than some rain and windy weather to keep them away. 
  2. Keep Laughing! Otherwise you will cry!
  3. No matter how much you plan ahead, there is always some curve ball heading your way
  4. Plastic sheets to cover your tables are a godsend
  5. Gazebos are not waterproof in heavy rain you need to prepare yourself for getting very damp and cold.  No matter where you stand, a drip is heading your way
  6. Horse fence poles are brilliant for stopping your gazebo sides turning into sails
  7. A hot shower is absolute heaven after a day of bad weather
  8. There is nothing you can do to stop the weather - what will be will be!
  9. You can only get so wet - once you reach that stage there really isn't any point worrying about it (the umbrella we had was actually used to protect our display rather than us - we were the only stall were the gridwall had its own brolly!)
  10. The summer in the UK is full of fun and games - every day being hot and sunny would just be boring.   I'm happy for it to be boring for the rest of the summer now!
As you will see when you head over to Wendy's blog for today's Handmade Monday offerings, not everyone was as lucky as us yesterday - at least our gazebo stayed upright and we only got wet and windblown by the weather.

Have a great week - I'm off to repackage some stuff which got wet yesterday before sitting down and outlining a few Christmas designs (yes, I really said the 'C' word - in July - mind you it doesn't feel as odd today as when it is really hot!) as frighteningly it won't be that long before we start displaying and selling ready for the festive season.

Just before I sign off - I turned on 'Most Haunted' on TV this morning only to find they were investigating the same place as we were yesterday at our fair!    
Hey, maybe some of the hardy 'I don't care about the weather' folk we saw were really 'ghosties from another time' ....  oooh, spooky!   

Thursday, 14 July 2011

Trying a new way to blog

Technology moves so quickly - it is hard to keep up but here I am writing a blog on my mobile phone!  Hopefully all will work properly and it won't just be me who ever sees this!
Anyway this is a very short post to test it out...
Fingers crossed!

Sunday, 10 July 2011

Sugar and Spice and All Things Nice...

Well, that is what girls are supposed to like which is a dream for a crafter who is trying to get into other people's heads and make things they will want to buy, but boys can be so difficult.   Fairies, butterflies, flowers and glittery things just don't cut it!

I could make decorations til the cows come home for females of all ages (including a decoration of a cow for that matter!) but for the boys and men, the creative juices tend to dry up a little and I can more often than not be found scratching my head before deciding to make another butterfly as my brain hurts from thinking too much!   Now the more mature guys are a little easier, they actually go full circle and start to like the butterflies (I think they are just agreeing with their better halves!) and, for the more forthright, birds and dogs often seem to hit the mark but the younger generation are a bit of a nightmare.

Therefore, the pretty, glittery stuff has taken a bit of a back seat recently whilst I am on the hunt for less girly designs to work with.   The latest addition to the Ali's Craft Studio stable is a (not so) cute Gecko in either green or black & yellow - you would be amazed by how often I have been asked for Geckos recently so by popular demand, here they are...

Oh aren't they lovable!
They are now available in my online shop here and are already proving popular at the fairs.  I plan to add a snake to this sometime soon and will look for more slippery so-and-sos to join the menagerie!  Of course, boys wouldn't be boys without one (or more) of the following:

 even better to have a glow-in-the-dark version

or a pirate ship (featuring skull and crossbones flag) - starting to see a theme here!

See, sugar and spice and all things nice just isn't for the boys!!  (Well, most of them anyway - I do occasionally get boys oohing and ahhing over flowers and 'pretty' things but they are the exception rather than the rule!) 

See what everyone else has been up to and the wonderful creations they have been making over at Handmade Monday.  

Next weekend is an animal filled day of fun at the Rare Breeds show in Singleton, near Chichester so I am looking forward to that and will report back next week on what I hope to be a busy and sales-filled (rain-free) day!

Monday, 4 July 2011

Busy Weekend, Handmade Monday and Sunshine...

Well here we are again, the Monday after a busy weekend.  It really is frightening how quickly the weeks are flying by and before we know it the schools will have broken up for the long summer holiday and then it is September and Christmas!

Fortunately, the glorious weather at the moment lets us know that Christmas is still a long way away yet and this weekend was beautifully hot (almost too hot at times) and we were at a free community festival weekend in Kent where the people came out in force to enjoy the funfair, music, dancing and free entertainment on offer.   We were inside one of the craft tents and had a great weekend with lots of new and repeat customers.  It was lovely to also meet Terry from Aviya Glass who, until now, I have only 'met' virtually - she lives locally to the show and it is great to put faces to names!

No mud on offer this weekend (apart from the bits still clinging on to some of my boxes and banners!) which we are still regarding as a luxury whenever we see solid, dry ground!  Oh, and incase you are wondering, both pairs of trousers and one pair of shoes have now been 'de-mudded' - just one more pair of shoes to go!  The first pair tired me out so much with beating, scrubbing and getting generally soaked by the hose being used to try to 'waterblast' the mud into submission, I couldn't quite bear to attempt the other pair straight after.   They will be this weeks exciting job!   It was definitely more 'hammer and chisel' than brushing required...

I haven't had much time to do new designs this past week as I was preparing for the weekend and making up orders from the last couple of shows however one I have managed to make up (which sold pretty quickly at the weekend) is this beautifully colourful Tulips Frame. 

Tulips in a Frame - wonderfully colourful
(will be added to website shortly...)
This is going to be a quick post as I have a lot of stock to make this week ready for the next show at the weekend (already praying that the thunderstorms forecast for the mid-end of this week decide to give way to sunshine for Saturday!!) and I also have some website management to get on with - lots of new designs over the past couple of weeks which haven't yet made it over to the website shop, then I still have to head into town to go to the bank, the supermarket, etc...  So many things, so little time!

Make sure you head on over to Wendy's blog to see what everyone has been busying themselves with this week - it never ceases to amaze me how talented the crafters are who join in every week.

Right then, its off to work we go (are you are all singing 'Hi-Ho!' in your heads now... or is it just me?)