Thursday, 11 April 2013

Meet Feltmaker Milana

It is always interesting to see what fellow handcrafters are up to & I am delighted to introduce to you the lovely Elsa, felt handcrafter of  MILANA who sells on Folksy

  1. What inspired you to choose your path of creating with felt?
I’ve always loved creating with wool. My grandmother taught  me to crochet when I was very young and I’ve had something on the go ever since.
I had a couple of issues with crocheting. First, was the time it took to actually stitch by stitch complete a project. Second, and more importantly was that, over the years, I ended up with many unfinished projects. I just couldn’t face the sewing bit at the end to put the blimming thing together!

A few years ago I came across a felting book in the library and that plus a couple of pointers from a friend who’d done a days workshop, was enough for me to have a go at felting. It was love at first touch! What a revelation. Not only did I hugely enjoy the very physical and tactile process of felting, I was so thrilled to discover that by the end of a session I could have a completely finished garment. And not a sewing needle in sight!.
From that moment I haven’t stopped felting. I didn’t completely stop crocheting or knitting but the gaps between these projects get bigger and bigger and the projects get smaller and smaller.
Seeing a pile of random looking wool fibres be transformed into a beautiful object or garment is a magical process. I love the way there are no patterns for felting. Once you have the basic principles of the process you’re relying on creativity and imagination. Because of the very nature of the felting process no two pieces can ever be exactly the same. I especially love the unpredictability of a project. You never exactly know how things are going to turn out. Usually they’re a pleasant and interesting surprise.

  1. Can you remember the first felt item that you made & what was it?
Oh yes! I remember clearly. I’m not great at learning to walk before I can run. So I threw myself in at the deep end and thrashed about for a bit. By the end of a long session I’d made some seamless (all in one piece) booties for my little girl. The design was based on an elf story book she loved. They had a red exterior and were grey inside. They were a bit uneven and bumpy in places and not very symmetrical but my little one loved them and so I was more than happy.

  1. What have been the most difficult hurdles in becoming a handcraft business?
Believing in yourself and that others will love your creations as much as you do are the hardest hurdles to overcome for any crafter or artist.
It can take a while to pluck up enough courage to set off on a business venture. There are always people out there that will critizise you, your work, your pricing. You can never please everyone out there. Rising above it all can be hard. Some crafters take criticism better than others but nevertheless, it can take its toll on all of us if we let it.
On top of the creative side you also need to be jack of all trades in order to make your business successful (or at least know people with varying skills that owe you lots of favours!). It’s very time consuming learning all the skills needed: website designer, photographer, copywriter, sales person, accountant, marketing officer, etc. When all the while all I really want to do is felt.
Letting go of your pieces can also be hard especially if they’re one-of-a-kind.

4. What are the best things about being a handcrafter?

The free-reign on creativity which allows for self expression. Knowing you have full control of your creative process and doing something you love and getting paid for it. Completing an item, standing back and admiring how your patience and perseverance has paid off.  That’s pretty special.

  1. If you were stuck on a desert island what would be the one tool you would choose to have & why?
Fortunately, felting doesn’t rely on any specialist tool other than the raw material and some elbow grease. Soap and bamboo blinds for example are not essential as long as you are patient and willing to pee on your wool you can felt!
If I had to choose something it would be bubble wrap. It makes the felting process quicker and physically easier by providing a smooth and slippery surface to rub the wool with, creates a barrier between layers of wool you don’t want felting together and helps create a smoother more evenly finished product.

  1. What would you give as advice for someone wanting to embark on a handcraft business?
Don’t try and do too much too soon.  Its ok to build things up slowly and try to get things right rather than rushing in and regretting it.
Online shops, bricks and mortar shops and market stalls can create different business and creative opportunities. In time, they’re all definitely worth exploring.

7. What is your most favourite design to date & why?

Tricky one as I love them all and often find it difficult to part with larger pieces. They’re like my wearable works of art.
But I especially love the classic simplicity of the vintage style stoles. They fit pretty much any frame beautifully and have been so popular it’s one of the very few designs I’ve continued to make. They’ve been worn by brides, wedding guests and party goers. I love that they’re so versatile.

  1. Is there another felt worker whose work has inspired you & if so who?
Thousands! Felting has such a long tradition in so many cultures its easy to be in awe of the original techniques and classic designs created. For example I greatly admire the resourcefulness of the Mongolians using horses to drag massive rolls of heavy wool along the steppe to create their beautiful and functional felts.

Although I don’t create felt pictures for sale purposes, I love making them. One artist whose work I greatly admire and is truly inspirational is Andrea Hunter. Her use of texture and light is absolutely sublime.

  1. What techniques do you use in your work?
My work is pretty versatile and incorporates contemporary clean lines and designs as well as organic shapes. Felt really lends itself very well to both and I like to make full use of that. In order to achieve this full range I use all techniques available from basic wet felting to nuno felting (using fabric as a matrix). Needle felting (also known as dry felting) is wonderful for adding very precise and specific detail which would otherwise be impossible using wet felting techniques exclusively.
But my favourite technique by far is 3d felting using resists. I enjoy the challenges this brings especially when designing larger pieces such as jackets.

  1. Do you have any things you do to help you when you’re creating/designing eg: play particular music, go a walk etc?
I tend to kick my family out of the house. Not always possible but I’m at my creative best when I don’t have to tend to my 6 year old’s needs!
If I’m alone I’ll have the radio on. I’m happy when I felt and that’s reflected in my constant moving and bopping to whatever tunes are playing on the airwaves.

  1. How did you decide on your shop name?
After a lot of brainstorming and coming up with variations on ‘felt’, ‘wool’ and a vast array of verbs and adjectives, I decided to revert to my Spanish roots. ‘Mi lana’ literally translates as ‘my wool’. I liked the sound of the words together and they are easy to pronounce.

  1. Do you have any plans/aspirations for the future?
Short term, I’m trying to develop a range of wedding bouquets using beautiful dinner-plate-size wet felt flowers and a range of nuno baby blankets at the moment but lack of time means slow progress.

There doesn’t seem to be enough time for felting. My one aspiration for the future is to have more time to felt more. I have so many ideas in my head and not enough time to experiment with them. Its quite frustrating at times. 

Thank you Elsa, that's been a real insight & I think many of us can sympathise with that 'so many ideas, but so little time' experience!

You can catch up with Milana at;

or contact

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Spring Blossom

In defiance of the horrid & unseasonably low temperatures that this Springtime has dealt up for us, I've arranged a showcase of Spring Blossom lovelies to get us in the mood & use mind power to create some proper Springtime flourish!
All these items are available on the lovely WowThankYou website

Add caption

Sunday, 17 February 2013

Kirstin Moore Jewellery Designer/Maker

Well I've finally got around to doing my first blog interview. So I'm delighted to introduce to you Kirstin Moore - a very talented designer/maker of silver jewellery.

1.What inspired you to choose your path of creating jewellery?

I was at art college and couldn’t make up my mind whether to focus on studying fashion design or three dimensional design. My tutor took me aside and pointed out that every design and piece of work I had make was in fact a cross between both disciplines resulting in jewellery or body adornment. It was like a huge penny dropping and since then I have never looked back!

2.Can you remember the first piece of jewellery that you owned & what was it?
       Yes, it was a small gold rabbit necklace with a gemstone for its eye that my dad gave to me, I think I was about six years old.

3.What have been the most difficult hurdles in becoming a handcraft jeweller?
  I don’t think I had many hurdles in becoming a handcraft jeweller, I took quite practical steps in learning the craft by studying jewellery design and manufacture at university and taking on a manufacturing apprentice. I think becoming an independent jeweller has been hard as you have to fund all of your tools.

4.What are the best things about being a handcraft jeweller?

think one of the best parts about being a handcraft jeweller is seeing your ideas develop into a physical piece, especially when an item has been challenging to make, there is a sense of satisfaction in the final polish! Also, I think jewellery manufacture is one of the nicer aspects to life, people generally want it to signify a special event, or as a gift to someone else or themselves. It is nice to know that you have contributed to something significant to someone else.

5.If you were stuck on a desert island what would be the one jewellers tool you would choose to have & why?
It would have to be pliers- they are a great way to manipulate metal and other materials!
6.What would you give as advice for someone wanting to embark on a handcraft jewellery business?

I would tell them to take their time deciding if it is what they want to do as it is an expensive and competitive industry, and once they have decided they do want to embark on their own jewellery business to do it wholeheartedly- and enjoy it!!

7.What is your most favourite design to date & why?

Personally I like my more concept led pieces such as my Kiss-links which are a pair of cufflinks designed to be a secret kiss given from a fiancé to her husband to wear on their wedding day. I like the fact that the idea led the design and that it gave the couple a little secret for their special day.

8.Is there another jeweller whose work has inspired you & if so who?

I love the work of Shaun Leane who worked a lot with Alexander Macqueen and I have found his work inspirational as I love the way he can create striking and strong yet at the same time delicate pieces of jewellery.
9.What techniques do you use in your work?

 It varies depending on what I am making really. Some pieces are largely forged or cast whilst recently I have been enjoying piercing metal to create silhouettes.

10.Do you have any plans/aspirations for the future?

     I have lots of plans, firstly I have lots of ideas for new pieces and ranges that I am excited to be designing and I also have some great new concept led designs in the pipeline. I also want to continue learning and developing my design and manufacture skills alike as I feel the more knowledge that you have the more exciting and varied your work can be.                    

Thank you Kirstin for sharing some insight into your world!                                                                                          

Sunday, 10 February 2013

Spring is coming - Snowdrops

Here's a little something to help you with some inspiration;

'The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes' quote by Marcel Proust.

Thursday, 31 January 2013

Shrove Tuesday Treats

Well it's not long until another Shrove Tuesday, or 'pancake day' is upon us. My kids are really excited as they love tossing those pancakes up in the air & trying to catch them before they land into the dog's mouth who has learnt over the years to position himself in just the right spot for any 'accidents'!!

Shrove Tuesday is the day before Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent. it is celebrated throughout the UK by making as many pancakes as possible & scoffing the lot! Basically it was historically a way to use up the flour & a last feast before the the fasting of Lent. For the more adventurous there's even pancake races where you try to run & toss pancakes all at the same time!

So what do we need for some good pancakes?

100g ( 4 oz) plain flour &
an egg or two

8 fl oz of Milk & a good bowl to whisk them all together in;

(I don't bother with salt as I'm about splurge a whole lot of other flavours on my pancakes!)

Then you need a frying pan & a little butter to melt in the middle;

Heat the butter in the pan to leave a film of grease & then ladle in  a large spoonful of your batter. Get the topping ready by squeezing some lemon & having a little sugar to serve!

Cook on a moderate heat until golden light brown & able to slide on the pan.  Only takes a minute or two. And a with lot of enthusiasm get ready for that daring toss! If all succeeds cook the other side for about 30 to 60 seconds until golden brown too - if you're a bit confident, try another toss or two!

If all ends in failure - find a good local pub who cooks great pancakes!


Thursday, 24 January 2013

How To Get Inspired, no.1 ..It's Icy Out There!

As a bit of a creative type I'm often asked where do I get my inspiration from? Let's be honest, even though most of us in the creative world, live with dozens of ideas most of the time, there are those moments when you seize up. So how do you get the ideas kick started once more?

I thought I'd share with you some of the things I do at times like this & whilst you read this you can also peruse some fabulously inspired items by a few favourite sellers 
(links to their shops are below the photos)

This week, I'm starting with what I do first...
So what's out your window right now? Here in the UK for most, it is a layering of snow, icicles, frost & a few bare twigs of winter trees sticking out & dangling their icicles. Generally speaking - brrrrrrr!
 It's ICY OUT THERE.....

For you it might be different, but have a look out that window again & ask yourself;

1.What colours are there?

2.What shapes dominate the view?

3.Are there curvy lines on most things or straight or jagged? Types of lines are great for ideas with wire jewellery.

4.Nature - what plants, animals & insects are there? What do they look like from a distance, perhaps silhouetted  only & what do they look like on a close up view - a piece of grey fur maybe, or the veins on a leaf?

5.Are there people there? What are they wearing? What are they doing..they might be building a snowman!

6.Are vehicles passing by? What are they like or the people in them like?

7.What's happening in the sky? Layers of colour, ominous dark stormy clouds or small fluffy ones on a background of blue?

8. Are there street lights? Are they tall or small, flickering or still, what colour light is emitting?

9.What's the weather? Is it raining with water gushing down gullies or delicate snowflakes cascading onto the window?

Ann Cawley Jewellery

10.Now look at the ground - what's it made of? Earth, grass, stones, pavements or tiny pebbles layered in snow maybe?

11.Look at your horizon...what shape is it? Maybe it's not just a straight line, but even straight lines can 

12. What's moving out there. Maybe a piece of litter blowing across the ground or a bird's feather floating down?

Now get the pencil & paper out & scribble down some of those ideas until you can develop them into that masterpiece!

Enjoy your inspiration & hope you are all keeping warm!

Friday, 11 January 2013

Dallying With Dragons

Forged from a deep love of such mystical creatures & twitchy fingers that love playing with wire, I created my first dragon Dafydd last year. He was the first necklace that I was very sad to see leave the nest, ( normally it's wonderful to sell something!) I had become rather attached to him. However, as with all dragons, he had to eventually fly. He was soon followed by his cousin Esmeralda who also now enjoys a happy life in America & I'm very pleased that her new owner lets me know how she is getting on. Dragons are very personal, the right one for each person can vary greatly.

Having forged 2 dragons, it was only a matter of time before the rest of the dragon family started appearing. So here they all are to date;


A strong forceful dragon, leading the way. His name means 'beloved.'


A beautiful loving dragon, who loves to travel. Her name is actually Spanish and dervives from 'Emerald' Although not green herself, her name is a throwback from her Mother who can trace her ancestry to the green dragons. She is Dafydd's cousin.


Blodeuwedd has a cool stunning beauty & she attracts a lot of admirers, especially as she is a bearer of a dragon vein agate, which is believed to symbolise protection, strength & harmony. She is also cousin to Esmeralda. Her name means 'flower' 


Gorawen is another cousin of Esmeralda. Her name means 'joy' and it is true to say she will bring much joy to all those around her. She is a bearer of an amethyst, believed to be a dream stone & protection stone. Amethysts are also often worn by healers.


Calandra is a gorgeous & voluptuous dragon, sister to Esmeralda. She has inherited some green from her ancestors. Her name is Greek in origin & means 'lovely' - well that says it all about Calandra, except she secretly loves singing! She also bears a chrysocolla stone, which is believed also to be a healing stone & a stone of peace, calmness & wisdom.


This very cute & chubby toddler dragon is Dafydd's nephew. He hero worships his famous uncle & has recently learnt to snort his flame out just like his Uncle Dafydd. Let's hope he keeps it under control! His name means 'royal'. Does he know something about the future that I don't?!! He bears a mooakite, Australian jasper, which is believed to be a grounding crystal & helps with self esteem.


Last, but certainly not least is little Maldwyn - an Elfin dragon. These are an ancient breed of dragons & although much smaller than their counterparts they are very brave & spiritual. His name is the Welsh version of Baldwin - 'brave friend.' He bears a small freshwater potatoe pearl, which symbolises purity & sincerity.

Those dragons that have not yet flown the nest can still be found at
See if you can find them! 
Don't be disappointed if they have all gone, in time there will be more members of the dragon families revealed. Eventually I'll hopefully be able to show you a family tree!