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

Monday, 31 October 2011

Happy Halloween - now whats next?

Today is Halloween but I suspect that we managed to miss most of the 'trick or treaters' who may have ventured out in slightly damp, drizzly weather on Saturday and Sunday evening when we were travelling back from shows.   I have, however, got my pumpkin bag stocked with sweeties by the door just incase (I'm sure we'll find a good use for any left overs....!)   We are fortunate where we live that there are very few kids who come a-knocking and those who do are lovely and usually have gone to great efforts with their scary costumes.

Happy Halloween...
Decorations available online here
So, another month gone (who stole October???) and Christmas is looming very large on the horizon.   I heard today that October is officially the warmest on record and I couldn't quite believe it on Saturday on my outdoor market stall as I stood with rolled up sleeves and sunglasses that the clocks were due to go back that evening and welcome in the start of dark nights, winter woollies and Christmas decorations.

The extra hour in bed was very welcome yesterday with an early start required to get to our fair however with two cats who don't have alarm clocks and British Summer Time settings, actually sleeping for another hour wasn't really an option.   And today, my inner clock still wasn't working properly and I woke at 5am and could not get back to sleep again.

So here I am, up and about for ages - confusing the cats even more - but hopefully I will get a good run on my orders gathered over the weekend both at shows and online.

One of the many new decorations I have in my shop for Christmas this year is this Extra Large Christmas Tree 

A real statement piece, it is 14.5 inches at its widest point and 21.5 inches tall and I very much anticipate that our front door will be graced by one this Christmas (if I actually have time to make myself one!)   So far, they have proved very popular and I plan to add some other larger designs in coming seasons/years.   The main reason I don't have more on display is simply due to space - they are too big to transport in our standard boxes and our little car simply won't accommodate larger boxes!

So with many orders to complete and lots of stock to make before my big Christmas shows which start on Saturday at Fort Purbrook, Portsmouth I am hoping to get a good head start due to my day starting earlier than normal (hmm, lets see how that works out!)

Today is also Handmade Monday so make sure you head on over to see what lots of other lovely crafters have been up to this week...

Monday, 10 October 2011

Great Weekend

Wow how lucky were we this past weekend!  The Autumn Countryside show at the Weald & Downland Open Air Museum in Singleton, near Chichester was fantastic.   Alongside displays by birds of prey, gundogs and plenty of stalls offering everything from clothing to the best stained glass window clings (tee hee) many exhibitors were demonstrating the countryside crafts which are at risk of dying out and it was great to see youngsters really enjoying making their own woven wicker toys - what a wonderful way to keep these crafts alive and hopefully encourage a whole new generation to take an interest.

Birds of Prey - the peelable variety!
Whats more, we were blessed with warm weather, lots of beautiful sunshine on Sunday and lots of visitors (many with a myriad of absolutely gorgeous doggies to say hello to!)   The only fly in the ointment was the blustery winds which hit the back of our gazebo like a freight train every now and again just to keep us on our toes but fortunately didn't cause any problems.

This was our last outdoor show of the year - well apart from the numerous visits to Bromley Market between now and Christmas (which fortunately have the stalls provided) and October is always a risky month as far as weather is concerned but for once the Weather Gods were on our side!

Our Christmas decorations are now fully integrated into our stall and whilst the hotter weather doesn't exactly bring forth thoughts of snowmen and winter wonderlands, it really isn't that long away and my Christmas fairs start in earnest in a couple of weeks at Lancing College.  

Lancing College - come and see us on 22nd & 23rd October
Next weekend is going to be filled with stock building ahead of some big shows before the end of the year and I am sure Santa, holly, candles, snowmen and various animals will feature heavily.

I am hoping to also have some new designs for Christmas 2011 so pop along next week to see how this is going...

Of course it is Monday so head on over to Handmade Monday to see what everyone else has been up to.

Friday, 7 October 2011

Batton Down The Hatches!

Its here - the last outdoor show of our increasingly long season is upon us this weekend.   We will be at the Autumn Countryside Show at the Weald & Downland Open Air Museum in Singleton, near Chichester on both Saturday and Sunday.  We always look forward to this show - firstly because it is a great venue and always seems to be well attended and secondly because it is the last time this year that we have to build our gazebo and tables before starting to set up our display (which takes us forever!)

The one thing which won't surprise you is that I have been on major 'weather watch' over the past week.   The winds are increasing and the rain is looming ominously on the horizon (really not a good combination for an outdoor show!) so I am expecting some fun and games this weekend.  But, unless something major happens, we will be open for business!

Open for business - whatever the weather!
I can't believe how quickly this year is flying by - this show marks the end of the summer season and the beginning of the busy run up to Christmas!   Then we start it all over again!!

Gluttens for punishment - maybe.... but I wouldn't change it for the world!

If you are in the area, do come along to the Autumn Countryside Show and say hello and maybe pick up some Christmas gifts and decorations at the same time.   If you can't make it to the show, my online shop is always open for business.

Sunday, 2 October 2011

Time Traveller?

I love Doctor Who - from childhood memories of hiding behind cushions (if I can't see the monsters then they can't see me) in the Tom Baker/Jon Pertwee era and, now I am a little older and braver, chuckling at the 'grown ups jokes' in the newer Christopher Ecclestone/David Tennant/Matt Smith era this show is a great 'lose yourself for an hour' time in front of the TV on a Saturday evening (or whenever I get to watch it on SKY+).   I have never been one of these people who think that time travel may become a reality (if it does, I am definitely using it to get some help working out what fairs are worth getting out of bed for and what to make each week to satisfy the visitors at each one - and maybe a quick peek at the lottery numbers for the following week!) but recently I am starting to think that maybe I actually have travelled back in time.  Not by much, just a few months - here we are in October but a look out the window and stroll outside and you would be more than a little forgiven for thinking it was perhaps July or August.   Bright sunshine, cloudless blue skies and pavement-melting temperatures!  So, time travel may be a possibility... (Ha - bet you wondered where that was heading didn't ya!)

Riverside in July October!
There are many positives surrounding unexpected good weather - smiling happy people, fresh air, no need for artificially heated rooms and generally feeling much healthier.   However, there are some potential pitfalls - and having booked a fair yesterday taking place in a dimly lit church, the potential for a very quiet day was more than a little concerning - after all, who was going to leave this beautiful weather outside and go indoors to a small fair in a dark church?  I resigned myself to the fact that it wasn't going to be a very good day but at least I would have a stunning stained glass window to look at...

How wrong I was!   Whilst the show was never exactly packed out, the visitors came and seemed to be ready to buy their Christmas decorations and early Christmas presents and we ended up having a great day.   Whats more, with a 3.30pm finish, we also arrived home with the whole evening ahead of us - a complete luxury!

Thursday was another luxury - our tenth wedding anniversary - so a day off was planned and we decided to head down to the coast on the train.   We started out by going to Arundel for lunch - somewhere we have driven past many times on the way to fairs but never been able to stop.  A riverside cafe was the setting and a quick walk around before heading back for our next train, this time to Portsmouth Harbour and a trip up to the top of the Spinaker Tower where the most amazing views awaited us from the viewing area 100ft in the air.   The lift takes less than a minute but you actually don't feel like you are moving at all.   The photo on the right was taken from Gosport Harbour opposite and shows the amazing structure and cloudless blue sky!   

Spinaker Tower - Portsmouth
We had already decided that we wanted to have our evening meal at a lovely restaurant in Brighton (we went there last year for our anniversary!) so with a little time to kill before our train from Portsmouth to Brighton, a quick trip on the ferry over to Gosport added an extra bit of fun for the day and gave us these amazing views of Portsmouth Harbour opposite.   With this beautiful weather, we couldn't have had a better day out anywhere in the world!

Despite not remembering the name of the restaurant in Brighton (!!) we vaguely remembered that it was close to the theatres so headed in the general direction - after a quick visit to the obligatory amusement arcade, of course!

Finally, we found the restaurant - it is called 'Cote Brasserie' if you are interested (and I can come back to this post when we can't remember next year!!) and it serves the most amazing food at very reasonable prices.  Well worth a visit if you are in the area.

It was a long but really enjoyable day and made even more special by the fact that these days off are pretty few and far between at the moment so it is an absolute joy for us both to spend the day together just relaxing and enjoying ourselves.  And to cap it all, we were treated to the most beautiful sunset too (believe me the photo doesn't do it any justice at all!).

Sunset over Brighton beach
So, Christmas selling has very much started and with some really big shows coming up, I am trying to build up a good stock of both new and very popular designs.  One of the newbies for this year is this quirky Santa and Rudolf design which I hope will become a new bestseller!

New for Ali's Craft Studio 2011 - Santa and Rudolf - a new bestseller??
One thing I have noticed  in the years I have been selling is the dilemma of a customer buying a design as a present and struggling to decide upon the right design/colour to suit someone elses taste.  So, on went the  thinking cap and I am now selling Gift Vouchers   They can be spent online, at craft fairs or used for mail order sales so the location of the recipient is not an issue.  They are available in any denomination of £5.00 increments and are valid for 12 months after purchase.   Gift Vouchers are available now from our stall at fairs or online here

I have some really busy weeks ahead but have managed to factor in a weekend without fairs to try to do some additional stock building which hopefully will cut down on the number of customer orders required to complete in the lead up to the Christmas break.  Of course, personalised and bespoke orders will still be plentiful but I might be able to stay one step ahead on the regular stuff (wishful thinking??)

Christmas orders have already started coming in and I am able to take orders up until the beginning of December however, after the terrible winter weather and postal problems last year, I really recommend any orders should be placed as early as possible to avoid disappointment.

So, whilst I will try to blog regularly, please forgive me if I appear a little neglectful - I promise it isn't personal!   In the meantime, head on over to Handmade Monday to see what everyone else is up to this week - I bet it isn't just me who is already on the Christmas treadmill!