Sunday, 19 October 2014

Handmade Monday 190

Hello and welcome to Handmade Monday.

I still feel short of time, and the weeks are flying by so fast, but I feel a bit better about it this week.

One of the biggest guzzlers of my time is hand painting personalised gifts to order.  I do enjoy all the making, but it does kind of get in the way of doing other things and it's incredibly tying making pretty much everything to order (not to mention the packing and posting being so time consuming and slightly boring!)...

... so I've made a decision that in January I'll explore other avenues.  There's no way of doing it before January, because we are of course coming up to the busiest period of the year for gifts.  But just having made that decision makes me feel better!  It's going to have to be a very careful balancing act, because the painted gifts are my main source of income.

It's quite a short post from me this week - I'm off to visit Dad in his care home now.  He's only there for another week, and once he comes home we'll have to see how everyone manages.  The thing is, he's much safer in a more secure environment because he's most definitely a wanderer.

this tandem clock image was initially created for Dad
but this one was for a wedding present

The sad thing is, he's always trying to get somewhere that doesn't exist any more - not far away physically, but the place he want to be only exists somewhere in the 1930's - which unless we can conjure up a Tardis from somewhere, is never going to happen.  But wouldn't it be lovely if we could?

How's your week been?  If you want to join in with Handmade Monday, just leave your link below and enjoy browsing the other links:

Sunday, 12 October 2014

Handmade Monday 189

Welcome to another Handmade Monday.

Maybe my blog readers have known this all along, but it's kind of crept up on me... maybe I've been in denial.  I'm realising that I really do have too much to do.  At the moment everything feels a bit overwhelming, but hopefully that feeling will subside a little in the coming weeks.

Dad going into respite care hasn't really freed up any time for me (although it has done for Mum and that's really good) especially as he had a seizure last Wednesday and we spent about 7 hours in A&E with him.  I've read up a lot on Alzheimer's but I had no idea that it can lead to seizures.  I'm glad it happened in the care home and not with Mum, as I'm sure it would have been scary for her to witness his first seizure.

I've managed to carve out a little time for art licensing work, but not as much as I'd have liked.  I'm enjoying the textured backgrounds and looking at all sorts of things with a view to scanning it to create a background!  Fabrics are great, but of course many fabrics can't be used because of copyright issues.

Quentin has been doing the shops this week.  While we were shopping, we met a gorgeous yellow labrador helping with a Guide Dogs fundraising collection.  She was so calm compared to Quentin, but at five years old I guess she should be.  Apparently she qualified and became a working guide dog, but was withdrawn after regularly stealing her owner's underwear from where they were drying on the radiators!  It's the kind of thing I can imagine Quentin doing, unfortunately (especially if he thinks nobody is looking).

What has your week been like?  To join in with Handmade Monday, just add your blog link below.

Sunday, 5 October 2014

Handmade Monday 188

Welcome to Handmade Monday.

I've been playing around with scanning fabric to incorporate into images again - this time with Christmas in mind...

Creativity has been a bit of an escape in an otherwise busy and quite stressful week - moving Dad into respite care so Mum gets a bit of time to herself was met with mixed feelings all round. Dad, however, is blissfully unaware of the situation, which is something to be thankful for.  Alzheimer's doesn't give you much to be thankful for so you need to take it when you can.

He's booked in for three weeks, which gives us all a little breathing space and hopefully gives Mum the opportunity to make friends and attend some social activities at her retirement complex.  The care team there will get a break too from constantly rounding him up and taking him home!

Quentin, meanwhile, is busy doing all the things that Guide Dog puppies do - and some things he shouldn't be doing, too.  He has layers of blankets and quilts in his bed and - yet again! - he's worked hard on de-stuffing the comfiest one (will he ever learn?).  Sadly, my sewing machine needs attention, so the re-stuffing and reinforcing that needs doing will have to wait - a less comfy bed for the next few days awaits him!

But maybe he doesn't mind at all - he looks surprisingly comfy on the hard floor at times!

Hope your week has been a good one.  Join in with Handmade Monday to share your news and makes with us.

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...