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

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:

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


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!!

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/

Monday, 6 February 2012

Customer Requests & Happy Birthday Handmade Monday

Firstly, my congratulations to Wendy at 1st Unique Gifts who, despite having a year in 2011 which was so busy it would have killed many of us off (or at the very least put us into a mild coma during the run up to Christmas!), has managed every week to host Handmade Monday which is a year old!   If you haven't seen this before, it has links to blogs of  some of the most amazingly talented crafters who talk about what they have been working on during the previous week.  You should really check it out   Wendy, you are an inspiration and a star!!

Anyway, better get on with this post...

Remember the front door I blogged about last time?  Well I now have the second lot of photos showing the final result with the addition of some small flowers to fill in some of the additional clear space:

Daytime - with blue flowers added
At night - everything still looks beautiful!
 It is so wonderful when a customer takes the time to send photos like these as not only does it show future customers some ideas (I have already sold another of these large central designs) but I really love to see my work in the place it has been purchased for.

Last weekend was my first show of the year and I am pleased to say that we had a great day - not loads of customers but those who were there had either come to see us specifically (which is wonderful) or were in a spending mood (which is equally wonderful!).  It was very cold but I am extremely grateful that it wasn't due to take place today as there is no way we would have got there - yes, the snow is back!  Not as bad as last year but bad enough that Hubby couldn't go to work (not that I suspect there would have been many people about anyway even if he did!)

After the let down of last year's feeble takings at fairs in February, I made the decision not to do any this month which gives me the opportunity to build back up the stock levels and make up some new designs.   It has been slow going so far (always difficult to get fully back up to speed after the Christmas break) but I have some exciting new things planned which I will share over the coming posts.

One of the first new things I have made is a different kind of Chinese Dragon (after the other one was so popular) - this one is slightly smaller and horizontal so would work really well across the bottom of a window or mirror and can be made in any colour(s) you require.
It isn't yet on the website - I hope to add this and a couple of other new things sometime this week - but if you are interested, it is £8.99 + postage and you can order one directly from me - drop me an e-mail or give me a call!

I have also had a request from a customer who has already bought a small red rose and thistle from me and was looking to complete the set with a daffodil and shamrock in the same size.

Well these are winging their way to her today:
I love making designs to a customer's requirements and these will also be added to my stock designs shortly.

Apologies that this post is very late - today really has just flown by and I don't feel like I have achieved anything! Although that isn't strictly true - I posted a load of customer orders this morning along with a bunch of booking forms for craft fairs - with cheques adding up to a silly amount! (shudder...) Must try to get something less painful finished this evening to take my mind off that!  My 2012 fair calendar is booking up nicely now although I still have to add in my Bromley market dates as and when I get them booked...

Have a great week - keep warm & hope that nasty snow has nearly all gone where you are (fortunately it has nearly all melted here, just the few stubborn bits clinging on for dear life here and there!)

Monday, 23 January 2012

Handmade Monday : Year of the Dragon

Happy Chinese New Year everyone.   OK, OK, I realise that the majority of us probably don't celebrate this but any excuse for a party right!?  Well, maybe not but as it is the Year of the Dragon I am wondering if my Chinese Dragon design will become a best seller this year...   They are already very popular but it will be interesting to see if sales go up
It never ceases to amaze me what designs are popular, especially with the kids - this one really seems to grab their attention possibly because the colours are so bright - I have five different colour options at the moment and have to admit my favourites are the green (above) and the red one (below)
There are other dragons for those who are feeling a little less fiery and fierce one of which is the really popular Cute Dragon (again available in different colours)  How sweet and innocent is that face?!
Anyway, enough with dragons and onto Handmade Monday (#50!  Can you believe it - where has the time gone!!)  Well, I haven't been slacking this week but I don't actually have photos yet of the new designs I have been developing (one is another dragon...)

However, I have had a great feedback from the customer who bought the large oval design for her beautiful front door - she has ordered some additional flowers to fill some of the 'gaps' top and bottom but I am sure you will agree the finished result is very effective.

Before - a beautiful front door but not much privacy
After (part 1) - Oval peelable decoration blends in well
I will let you see the finished result once the extra flowers have been added into the corners (assuming I get a new photo) but I think this works really well and adds some privacy without obscuring the view completely.

Hope you have had a good weekend - off into the studio to start creating as much new stock as possible (now I have joined Twitter it seems to be taking over my life!!)  I have my first fair of 2012 at Hempstead Valley Shopping Centre (AKA 'The Greenhouse'!!) on Sunday so need to get my head back into 'craft fair' mode!   It is always fun on that first one after a long break - hubby & I just stare at the space for ages trying to remember what goes where!!  Do come along to say hello and see my new designs if you are in the area & have a great week.

Urrggh - Just remembered, we put loads of my display stuff up in the attic over Christmas - time to climb up there and get it all down again & then have to pack everything in the car this week ready for Sunday!   Now, where does everything go????  (If you haven't seen us in person, we are famous - or infamous - amongst crafting friends for our ability to fit a copious amount of stuff into a very small car - thinking of renaming it the 'TARDIS')

Sunday, 22 January 2012

Hey! Who you calling a technophobe?

Well I have finally succumbed to the pressure to drag myself into the 21st Century and have joined the Twitter Revolution.

Already I can see that I am going to have to schedule my time carefully as it is pretty addictive and before you know it an hour has whipped by.   I am still finding my feet and working out what everything does, what all the shortcuts and initials mean and getting the hang of general etiquette for tweeting.

I feel so behind the times and when I see how many followers and tweets other people have made and how well they use this platform.  I am sure I will eventually get the hang of it but I feel like I am walking on eggshells a little not wanting to press the wrong button or offend anyone!

So, just a quick message to say that you can now follow me on Twitter @AlisCraftStudio if you are that way inclined (or click on either the image above or the 'follow' button on the right hand column of this blog).

That is another thing, when you are on Twitter, you need followers (otherwise its another place to feel like 'Billy No Mates') so I had to get my head around adding social media buttons to my blog, website and anywhere else I needed to so that people can easily follow me and tweet about my products to their followers too.   Just when you think you are ahead of the game, someone decides to throw something else into the mix!!

Have to tell you that I am still resisting Facebook - there are only so many hours in the day and there is that little thing called 'creating' to be done otherwise my mega-promoted business won't have anything to actually sell!!

What a lot of stuff I have had to learn already this year (and we are only a few weeks into January) what with my newsletter, twitter and also my newly vamped website which will be getting a few more tweaks during the craft fair-free time I have in February.  I'd love to know what you think of it so far...

I'll be back later with my Handmade Monday post (assuming I can think of something interesting to say - I'm having a bit of a brain-dead day today!)

Monday, 16 January 2012

Ali's Craft Studio

I often get asked where my studio is.   Well, it is at my home and is part of the converted extension space where the garage used to be.   The garage was, to be quite honest, a little less than useless - it was too narrow to fit the car in and ended up being a junk space!   So, a decision was made some years ago (actually before Ali's Craft Studio was born) to knock it down (before it fell down) and create a home office, downstairs toilet/shower room and additional bedroom as well as extend what was a very small kitchen.

At the time I actually worked from home for a publishing company but when I left there and started my own little business, the space was already built and it was perfect!

There have been many times when I wanted to do a post about my little studio - which I love by the way (just as well as I spend the majority of my time in there!) - but just the thought of pointing a camera and actually showing the mess in there seemed more than I would like to subject anyone to...  No really,  I like you all and there are some things you shouldn't have to see!!

Well, roll forward to the quieter period just after Christmas and a major studio revamp was called for!   So, with the help of my long suffering hubby, furniture was rearranged and bag after bag was filled with stuff for recycling and even more bags with broken/unwanted 'stuff' appeared & were left for our brilliant bin men!  

Honestly, it was unbelievable how much there was.  Remember the children's story - the Magic Porridge Pot where the pot just keeps filling and filling until it overflows and everything gets buried because they just can't stop it - the stuff just kept on coming!   I don't know where it all was hiding as the room and bin bags filled up but the space didn't seem to be getting any clearer.

Two days and many hours of sweat and cursing later (there were quite a few occasions when I wanted to give up and just shut the door, I can tell you!) Eureka!!  The revamp was finally complete....

So, from left to right as you step into the room, you have:

1. Reference Books, Paints, Colour Swatches, Printer, etc all in a neat and tidy bookshelf (Plenty of advertising signs ready for use too...)
Spot the artistic Winnie the Pooh?
2. Drying shelves, files more drying shelves...

3. The desk where all the magic happens - complete with one of my two trusty helpers and the TV in the corner which keeps me sane and the electric heater underneath which keeps me toasty in the winter!

So, whilst I haven't really been creating much that is new this week - the new studio layout makes me feel very organised and I am really glad that I didn't leave it until February which was the original plan.  It hasn't all been clearing out stuff though, a full stock check has now also been completed (see, I haven't been doing nothing!) so I am now ready to get the creative wheels spinning again.

I have had another order for a larger design - these really are proving popular...  This particular one was made to match some beautiful stained glass in an existing door and my customer has promised to send me some photos when it is in place so I will keep that for a future post...

Make sure you check out Handmade Monday to see what everyone has been up to this week.

Oh, and don't forget - the Sale is still on over at my website.  Some of the items will be discontinued after it ends so head on over and grab yourself a bargain!!

Friday, 6 January 2012

Happy New Year - Its January: Time for a Sale!

Well, I thought I should write something as we are now in 2012 so here I am ...

Firstly, can I wish you all a very Happy New Year.  Be honest now, have you all taken down your decorations like good boys and girls?   You don't want to start the year with bad luck by leaving them up for too long, do you!!   I hate this part of the festive season as I really love all the lights and sparkly stuff!  So (reluctantly) I boxed everything up yesterday and have the cuts on my hands from the Christmas tree fighting back to prove it... (OK, I admit it - I still haven't actually put them away properly back in the loft for the rest of the year but they are safely stored and ready to be put into hibernation when hubby is able to be home to help).

January is traditionally the time for sales and, not wanting to miss out on this tradition, I have a sale on my website right now!   It only lasts for three weeks and some of the designs may be discontinued to allow room for new ones so head on over to see what is on offer.    There are no 'seconds' or 'shop soiled' items, if the ones ordered aren't in stock, they will be made fresh as usual but I like to use January to go through and have a stock 'Spring Clean'.

I am also really excited to have just published my first proper Newsletter.   You can sign up for free via the website (there is even a QR code provided for you to sign-up via your iPhone or smartphone if you wish - Ooh, check me out - I'm embracing the 21st Century!!) or you can sign up here

It would be great to have you sign up and I will send my first newsletter out to you.  Don't worry, I won't be bombarding the inboxes of my members with messages - after all, you all know how infrequently I blog, add in another thing to write and.... well, you get the picture!!

Get the latest news from Ali's Craft Studio
straight into your inbox!!
I am always looking for new ideas and new directions to take the designs I create and sell - musical instruments seem to be a popular request at the moment so I am looking to develop this side as well as making some larger size everyday designs after the popularity of the Extra Large Decorated Christmas Tree (I have had some wonderful feedback on this design - don't forget to order early if you want one yourself for this year & look out for more extra large Christmas decorations a little nearer the time!!)  Stock development is always a tricky one as it is so easy to stick to the same themes as you never know what will (and won't) sell.  I wish I could make a crystal ball for handmade crafters to be able to see what people are looking to buy - I could retire on the sale of those alone!!

I received a number of orders last year for larger,  modified versions of standard designs which makes me think that it makes sense to develop this side of things.  Some were simply for larger versions of standard designs whilst some requests called for specifically adapted decorations to work in awkward or large spaces such as the customer who ordered this large sailing ship which needed to be made in a specific size and framed to fit a round porthole-style window:

Original Design

Specially Created Larger Circular Version
I really love being able to help a customer solve a decorating dilemma, especially as the solution to the problem has sometimes been eluding them for years!!   I just need to work out how I can display these at fairs - we struggle displaying enough of the smaller ones!

I would love to hear what designs you would like to see in the future in my shop - I make designs that I really like but it is so important to get feedback and ideas which can often take me in other directions.

I feel sure that 2012 is going to be a good year - not without its own challenges, but I am looking forward to getting stuck in!   

At the moment I have three fairs sorted out for the year...   No, I haven't suddenly made the decision not to attend them - I will still be booked in nearly every weekend eventually - it is just taking me a while to get my head into booking (and paying for) stalls mode and out of pass the wine and sweeties mode!!

Now, where's that bottle of Rosé??!!!