Introducing my new sewing studio

Earlier in the summer I had the opportunity to move from my lovely studio 27 at ACAVA Studios: Spode Works to a bigger space (2.5 times as big!) in the same Studio complex. Although it’s a scary prospect (2.5 times bigger means 2.5 times the rent!) I feel increasingly sure that I want to focus on teaching, so it makes sense to me to have a space where people can come and learn with me in my studio.

I am very gradually settling in, and I’m not done yet, I need a few more bits of storage, another table and some chairs for starters, but it is increasingly beginning to feel like home, so I thought I’d share some photos of the work in progress. First up on my wall were my selvedge mini-quilts, made for Love Patchwork and Quilting about 18 months ago. I am so glad I decided to keep these!

Mini quilts on the wall in my studio at Spode

I was also glad to get all my ATCs and mini-hoops into position on the window sills. I have two lovely large windows, but I don’t get the sun until the late afternoon, which is so much better for sewing and photography purposes! My old studio used to get uncomfortably warm on sunny days.

The window sill at Studio 5 Spode Works

This is my main sewing area. The windows are quite high, so fortunately I can’t get too distracted by what’s going on outside.

My work space at Studio 5 Spode Works

My succulents are doing well in their new home – and I am gradually acquiring vintage Spode china to put them in. This pattern is one of my favourites – Chinese Rose:

Succulent in Spode china cup and saucer

This is my favourite corner of the studio. I am on the look out for a nice comfy armchair to put next to the lamp for those times when I am sewing binding or doing a bit of English paper piecing. It’s great to have a finished quilt on the wall too!

Favourite corner of Studio 5 at ACAVA studios Spode Works

Here’s a view from the ironing board of the entire space:

Studio 5 the home of Very Berry Handmade at Spode Works

Lovely isn’t it! I’m very lucky I know. No doubt I will be sharing more photos as time goes on – I love to rearrange furniture until I have everything just right. And if you fancy a day at the studio, I am planning stitchy retreats and small class teaching in the studio – do get in touch if you might be interested.

Open-top bus celebrations…

Well, not quite… but, I am really delighted to let you all know that Very Berry Handmade was voted Best Quilt Blog in the 2017 British Craft Awards. Thanks so so much to everyone who voted for me, I was absolutely delighted to be nominated in such brilliant company in the first place, but to come out as the winner was something else entirely. Thanks so much to all of you for your support – you are all so fabulous!

Sadly, I couldn’t get to the awards ceremony, but lovely Sarah, who is the owner of my local fabric shop Hollies Haberdashery was off the CHSI Stitches Show, where the ceremony was held, and very kindly picked up the award (and a bottle of fizz – yay!) for me. Here’s my very fancy award, in pride of place down at my studio at ACAVA Studios Spode.

blogger-award-on-display-at-the-studio

And here’s me – I just will not be parted from my trophy 😉

winning-the-blogger-award

Thanks to Immediate Media, and to all of you, for this lovely bit of recognition, it means an awful lot.

Hello 2017! This is not a resolution…

A creative reading list for 2017: starting points

I’m really excited to share my creative reading list for 2017 with you. I’ve been working on this list in the quiet moments since Christmas and can’t wait to get started on it. The first thing to observe is that these kind of books seem to have MASSIVE titles..!

You can read more below about my reasons for embarking on this effort – well the reasons aside from the obvious, that I love to read, and love craft books – it’s all about pressing the reset button for me this January.

I had a thought of setting up a small closed Facebook group for people who are interested in sharing books and thoughts about reading on topics of creativity, stitching, textiles and personal development/mental health. If it’s an idea that appeals, do let me know, no worries if not!

So here are the books that appealed on my browsing round Goodreads – do you use Goodreads? It’s a fabulous app/website if you are a reader – do feel free to friend me if you are a user.

creativity-books-for-2017

 

So here’s a bit more about why..

Early last year, after the death of David Bowie, I scribbled down a few thoughts about the way he lived his life and the way that his creativity resonated with me. Here’s the list I made back then.

Learning from Bowie

When I wrote that, right at the beginning of the year, I knew I wanted to take these intentions forward with me into 2016, and in some ways I did – they certainly bubbled away under the surface throughout the year.

Back in the spring, I took the risk (see point 3!) of paying a monthly rent for a workroom of my own (I may have mentioned this a few times ;-)). This step was definitely about the practicalities of having the quiet, the space and the light that isn’t available at home, but more importantly, it was about taking myself seriously as a creative person. I also decided to stop selling Liberty lawn too, for the same reasons – I was so keen to free up more time to devote to ideas and developing my craft. I don’t regret either of those steps for a second – it has been fantastic to be surrounded by other people making fabulous work, talking about collaborations, art & craft markets, exhibitions and being excited to be part of the resurgence of our city.

But taking on the responsibility of finding my rent and whilst still paying myself a wage, with no income from the fabric selling, has been hard, and there’s been very little time for learning, being curious, exploring, moving forward. Sometimes I’ve been too busy with commission work to take part in my own swaps, which doesn’t feel right at all.

So, here we are at the start of 2017, and I am going for it again… And I’m going to start by really getting back to the roots of my creativity – what works for me, what doesn’t, different ways of working, things I want to learn, things I want to do, developing goals, being authentic, being playful and moving forward. I’m also going to work more on my research into the relationship between craft and mental health (which if you are a regular reader, you’ll know I’ve written about a bit before). I’m sharing this intention with you all because I really want to put in the work, but will no doubt suffer crises of confidence (my inner committee is already telling me this is a stupid idea…) and boredom (my honey bee mind wanting to move along to the next flower) along the way, so need to be held to virtual account!

Oh yes, and if  you have recommendations to add to my eclectic list, or if you’re interested in chatting on Facebook in a little reading group (see above) do get in touch. Here’s to my making 2017 a year of following my curious creative whims.