Sunday, 28 September 2014

Handmade Monday 187

Hello and welcome to Handmade Monday!

While the leaves are starting to turn brown and the nights are getting darker, the days (here in Cheshire, anyway) are still remaining warm and mostly dry, although to use the word sunny would probably be stretching it a bit (although the sun has popped out from behind the clouds)!

And my work this week still has that summer feeling, even if the unseasonably warm days are starting to feel slightly autumnal.

As you can see, I've been creating for art licensing again... and that denim is still getting used (and kind of recycled)!

But I'm in a quandary about how to move forward (if at all) with my digital stamps and other other downloadables.  It's difficult to make a decision, because information about a realistic way forward within the new EU laws (coming into force in January 2015) isn't at all clear.  It's all the more frustrating because so many people are completely unaware of the new law - even Etsy tell me they haven't heard of it!  I'd be happy to move my business over there if it made it easier, but at the moment it doesn't look like it will.

Meanwhile, there's good news in that Guide Dog puppy Quentin is recovering well from his op.  He was delighted to have his lampshade-style collar removed - he couldn't stop licking the collar and wagging his tail when it came off!  Amazingly, he had completely accepted it, and didn't try to take it off even once - although he did run into a wall, splitting it - then chewed the split to the point where we needed a new one!

Today he had his first free run for about 10 days - I think that was even better than getting the collar removed!  I didn't manage to get any action shots - but I think he looks happy enough in these photos!

He couldn't understand why we were by-passing all the good running places while he was recovering!

How has your week been?  To join in with Handmade Monday, you know what to do...

Sunday, 21 September 2014

Handmade Monday 186

Welcome to Handmade Monday.

It's been another busy week and I'm wondering where all the time goes.  A lot of it is taken up with looking after somebody or another...taking Mum to the doctor, rounding up Dad from his wandering trips, taking Guide Dog puppy Quentin to the vet and granddaughter Emily to pre-school, doing Mum and Dad's get the picture.

The juggling act sometimes feels greater than it did when I had small children of my own!  But when I think like this, I remind myself how very lucky I am to be working from home - what now feels challenging might well be overwhelming or impossible if I was still in full-time employment.

It's also a bit of a privilege to have a creative outlet and be able to call it work!

I have managed to get some more images made for art licensing - that in itself feels like a massive step forward this week!  I chopped up some old jeans, washed the pieces to fray them, scanned them and then worked on incorporating the denim into images that might work for a greetings card.

I like the feel of texture you get in what is essentially a flat digital image and maybe I'll do more along these lines (although that depends on what the agency thinks too - they've not seen these ones yet).  Although I am very pleased to report I'm now featured on their front page!

Quentin had his operation on Wednesday.  He's still wearing the lampshade-style collar to protect his stitches from his teeth!  Poor boy.

He's not allowed any off-lead running yet, which at first was OK but now he's starting to appear far too full of energy - all he wants is a good run and he can't understand why he's not being allowed off his lead.  He's quite upset at being led past the grass instead of onto it!

In these pictures, he was still groggy from the anaesthetic - possibly the quietest he's ever been!  But he soon worked out how to eat his food with his big collar on!  There's not much that will keep him from his food!

What has your week been like?  Join in with Handmade Monday and we can all pop over for a look.

Sunday, 14 September 2014

Handmade Monday 185

Welcome to Handmade Monday (click the link for more information including how to join in).

This week has been a whirlwind of catching up with orders for hand painted gifts that came in while I was away.  I've had no spare time at all to do any art licensing work, but I'm hoping to remedy that this week.

this plaque's a new design for a customer 
and getting this on the website is on my to-do list

I'm also behind with plans for the Handmade Harbour shop and challenges.  I'll try to get round to that this week too, and maybe re-plan how I want the challenges to run.  At the moment once a week, as it has been in the past, is a bit too ambitious - I'm thinking of maybe running them monthly, which hopefully should be more manageable.

Quentin News
We've been back to the vet this week with Guide Dog puppy Quentin - this time with an injury.  Somehow the metal part of his lead got caught on his upper eyelid while we were out walking.  I've no idea how it happened but I could tell it was painful from all the the yelping.

He was checked out for injury to his actual eye, which is OK, and damage to his eyelid wasn't too bad.  He was prescribed eye drops to help prevent infection, but getting them in has been a matter of pot luck - as soon as he sees (or smells) the drops, he starts jumping about like a mad thing!

He's back to see the vet next week to have his "bits" chopped off - I can't help feeling sorry for him!  I'm told it sometimes calms their behaviour and sometimes makes no difference whatsoever.  I'm guessing it will be the latter in Quentin's case but a bit of calming would be great!

The other thing that it might help with is reducing scent marking.  Guide Dogs are supposed to have "clean" walks, which I'm told is one of the hardest things to get them to do before they go in for formal training.  We aren't anywhere near clean walks yet, although he seems to be beginning to realise some places are more acceptable than others.

I'm going to hand over to you now for Handmade Monday...

Sunday, 7 September 2014

Handmade Monday 184

Hello and welcome to Handmade Monday!

We are just back from our last-minute week away and very enjoyable it was too!

We stayed in a really comfortable chalet right next to the beach at Blue Anchor in Somerset - about five steps and you are on the pebbles - and just a few more to reach the sand and sea.

Bliss.  I miss it already and now feel cheated that the views out of my living room, kitchen and bedroom don't include the sea!

Sitting in the tiny back garden, with views like this you wouldn't need to go anywhere!  But if you want to, the walks along the beach can take you to some fabulous places!

Quentin adores the beach, and not just because the opportunities for a little stolen snack of crunchy crab's claws, manky dead fish or even a side salad of seaweed are far too abundant!

The space is wonderful for a puppy (or any dog) and he found it all really exciting.  He lost his rubber ring in the sea on the first day, so we had to replace it with the horseshoe toy above - he's not allowed to run after sticks or balls (both of which can be too distracting for a working guide dog if they associate them with playing) so the rubber ring is really important!  Playtime is obviously important for puppies, but for guide dog puppies, practising that recall is super important - being on the beach makes it more difficult for him (and therefore very good practice!).

On the way home yesterday we stopped off in Bristol to see the SS Great Britain.  Quentin behaved impeccably for most of the tour, especially considering he experienced lots of unusual sounds and light effects in the museum area and there were lots of steps to navigate, all very busy with other people.

But he did unfortunately disgrace himself on the upper deck of the ship.  I always wondered what a poop deck was - and now I know!!  Whoops!  Apologies to the person I saw later with the mop and bucket...

I've come back to a lot of orders for hand painted plaques and clocks, so the paintbrushes (and me!) are now working overtime!  I've also been asked by the art licensing agency for some Christmas designs, although I think the images may be aimed at Christmas 2015 rather than this year!

What has your week been like?  I've now got proper internet back (the mobile connection was dodgy) so if I get time I'd like to catch up with everyone.  To join in...

Sunday, 31 August 2014

Handmade Monday 183

Welcome to Handmade Monday.

Forgive me if this week's post is a little on the short side but we are taking a well-earned break here right now.  Very much last-minute, we only booked it a few days ago - which meant a mad scramble trying to get everything work-related and elderly-parent-related done and organised before leaving.

Quentin of course is with us, enjoying the fresh air and freedom and long morning beach walks! (If you are following Quentin's news: following on from last week, his paws aren't a real cause for concern but he's going to be monitored - his paws clipped everything they gave him to walk over, but to be fair his brain wasn't really engaged as he was overly excited at the time by all the attention!).

I'll leave you with one of my latest art licensing designs (inspired by the British seaside!) - it doubles up as a message to all you Handmade Mondayers!

As ever, please feel free to join in with Handmade Monday!

Sunday, 24 August 2014

Handmade Monday 182

Welcome to Handmade Monday!

I'm aware I've been neglecting my magazine work recently and I don't seem to have made anything for magazines for a couple of months now.  In fact, the last thing I made might have been these coin purses, which are now in this month's Sewing World...

...and I did promise to send them more ideas soon.  I suspect soon has been and gone already *hangs head in shame*

In the meantime I've been busy with images for art licensing.  I'm becoming obsessed with the process, especially the digital part.  Maybe it's the learning of new skills, maybe it's the combination of colour and pattern - or maybe it's just the fact that it's a lot of fun building up a collection of images!

In Quentin news, his paws were looked at and it was decided he was a little flat-footed; there were some technical words that apparently meant his lower legs slope a bit more forward than they should do. I was told it probably will be OK (but goes some way to explain why he trips up quite frequently) but he will be seen by Guide Dogs' own vet later this week.

It didn't stop him enjoying a good long walk at Delamere Forest today!

When you visit a forest, you don't expect views like this...

at the top of the hill you can see no less than seven counties.  It was worth the trek up - there are benches to enjoy the views and rocks telling you which counties you can see and how far away they are!

The benches were great opportunities for Quentin to practise waiting - working guide dogs spend quite a bit of their time waiting around, so this is a great skill to develop...

but it can be quite hard when you are only seven months and just want to play!

What has your week been like?  Join in with Handmade Monday and we can visit you...

Sunday, 17 August 2014

Handmade Monday 181

Welcome to Handmade Monday!

The weeks seem to tumble by in a blur at the moment - time is being eaten up by elderly parents, tiny grandchildren, Guide Dog puppy walking, elderly parents' old flat clearing, painting plaques and - when I can carve out the time! - making art using a mixture of old-fashioned pen/paper and new-fangled digital techniques...

I've started photographing some of the stuff from the flat clearance and the plan is to eBay it, with profits possibly going towards a family holiday for several generations of us.  I hope this works out (it sounds a lovely plan!).  We have no real idea if it will actually work that way, but there's loads of stuff, much of it vintage and collectable.  Mum and Dad ran a pub in the sixties and seventies and collected quite an assortment!

I thought the white deer figures on these babycham glasses were faded until I discovered these are the rarer older Babycham glasses which were designed with a white deer!

Clearing out someone else's home is really hard work and I can fully understand why some people get a house clearance company in!  But when it's your parents' home,  it's hard work interleaved with many memories, and it can be fun too - there's definitely a bit of sisterly bonding to go along with the roughly equal measures of dust, grease and memories!

My artwork for licensing has now started to be listed on the art agency website, which is an exciting step forward.  Every time their home page refreshes, a new assortment of artwork comes up on the right hand side, some of which is mine (there may be one, two or none of mine - it seems like a random selection each time).

In Quentin news, you may (or may not) remember this photo of him aged 8 weeks, looking completely adorable next to his bag of food!

There are now three photos, each one showing him growing bigger.  The last photo was taken this week - you can see how much taller he's got by the background (it's the back of a sofa in the background) as well as the food bag!

Quentin aged 4 months

Quentin aged 7 months

His paws are huge...

and it's clear he's going to be quite a big dog (he's already bigger than some adult labradors) and we think possibly his extra-big paws might be what's causing him to trip quite frequently when he's walking.  We're planning to go to Guide Dog puppy class tomorrow (Monday) when someone will have a look at him.

I do hope he grows out of this tripping up problem, because he won't be able to be a guide dog if he trips up when he's walking.  Most of the time, the trip is just a slight stumble (bad enough in a guide dog) but very occasionally he does actually fall over (definitely not a good thing in a guide dog).  It never bothers him though, just in case you were wondering!  He loves his walks.

Anyway, I think I've prattled on for long enough!  It's over to you for Handmade Monday!