This Easter, I spent time down in Saundersfoot with my family and our dog Betsi. Our family life has definitely changed for the better since she joined us and it was lovely to see so many families on the beach, enjoying playing with their pooches.
Cardiff-based jewellery designer Lou Gray increased the size of her family with the addition of Marley, an almost 2 yr old Australian Labradoodle. As it is National Pet Month, I asked Lou to tell us a bit about how she has found dog ownership to be.
When did you first get Marley?
She came home to us when she was 10 weeks old from a local breeder.
How has she fitted in to family life?
Marley is definitely one of the family! She wants to be involved with everything that’s going on in the house - we include her in as many outings and trips as we can as she loves nothing more than being out and about with us all.
What are their favourite foods?
She’s super fussy, but will never turn her nose up at a bit of chicken or peanut butter stuffed toy!
What's been the biggest challenge?
Her extreme bounciness. I’m sure she has some kangaroo genes...
What is naughtiest/most embarrassing thing your pet has done? This list for Betsi is very long......
See above 🙈. I’m developing a thicker skin!!
Any advice for anyone looking to get a pet?
She’s changed my life for the better and I can’t imagine not living with a dog now. Obviously do plenty of research...and don’t underestimate the time and financial commitment.
As part of Lou's beautiful jewellery collection, Lou creates print jewellery so that you can keep your loved ones close to your heart and she tells me that she can do this from paw prints as well as human prints! So if you fancy getting a totally unique piece of jewellery that reminds you of your special furry friend, please get in touch with Lou.
Nothing makes you truly appreciate everything that your Mum has done for you than becoming a parent yourself. All the heartache, the worry, and sleepless nights...not to mention the physical drain of pregnancy and labour. Mums are amazing aren't they. I am so grateful to my Mum Anne and my Dad Alex for being such loving parents, and every day, I thank my lucky stars that I have two wonderful daughters Awen and Tirion.
I realise that, sadly, not everyone is in the same situation - some friends have tragically lost their Mums far too young or are estranged from them; others have problematic relationships with their Mothers. Some friends desperately want to become mothers but have not been able too. So I know that Mothers' Day can be a terribly difficult date in the calendar and I send lots of love to anyone feeling low at this time of year.
If you are looking for a gift for your Mum - or a female friend who deserves spoiling - and you didn't manage to shop at our recent Mothers Day special - fear not! As I have put together a list of present ideas from our talented directory makers. (Links are given underneath the photos to take you to the maker's page.)
And starting tomorrow, I will introduce you to some of our makers who happen to be Mums themselves as they share their experiences and thoughts of the crazy ride that is motherhood.
Back tomorrow and in the meantime, have a browse......
New little Mini Ziptop bag from Lynda Shell Textiles. £45. Perfect for a small spring/summer bag when you don’t want to be weighed down with a huge heavy bag! They will fit in your purse, phone keys and a few small essentials. Available in colours: natural, wine and mid blue.
Penarth - Framed Textile Illustration, 10 Inch Wooden Embroidery Hoop from Stitch City. £60.00 plus delivery.
Welsh Mother's Day Card, Sul y Mamau, Mam Arbennig - Lovely Mum - in a zesty orange design by oh! Susannah. £2.50
Mummy's Bestie matching set from Zac and Bella. From £20.
Ceramic art dish from Love & Lovelier. £14.
Electric blue and gold design on pale grey suede clutch bag from Seascape Curiosities.
Ribbon and metal disc bracelet and earrings set from p&d Designs.
Orla Keily oilcloth accessories from Tommelise Danish Design.
Sterling silver necklace featuring the word ‘love’ from Lou Gray Jewellery. The text is hand drawn, laser cut and finished with a delicate silver belcher chain necklace. The total necklace length is approximately 16". £45
Gold French macaron favours from Majestic Macarons and Cakes. Gluten free. 12 luxury treats in gold, vanilla flavour. £24 plus delivery
Beautiful handmade cushions from The Pocket Pirate. £45. Made from reclaimed upholstery fabric for an individual, hardwearing cushion cover – no two are the same! Zipped at the edge for easy removal of the internal duck down pillow.
I've been a big fan of the work of Nicky Barter of The Catkin Boutique ever since she joined us for the first ever Rhiwbina's Handmade Market way back in 2013.
Nicky designs and makes jewellery and prints from original animal illustrations. She loves to make items that are cute, quirky and that have a sense of fun. She designs and makes jewellery, totes and scarves from original illustrations, taking her inspiration from nature especially animals.
I asked Nicky how she spends Christmas and what she is looking forward to this festive season...
Nicky will be joining us at both our Christmas events this November:
Penarth's Handmade Market on Sunday 18th November at the Paget Rooms, Penarth and
Rhiwbina's Handmade Market on Sunday 25th November in the Memorial Hall, Rhiwbina.
Both events are open 11-4pm, £1.50 entry fee adults, kids free entry.
Barry based Paula of p& d designs has become a familiar face at Little Otter Events, showcasing her beautiful range of textile jewellery and accessories. I caught up with Paula to discover what is on her studio table at the moment and how her preparation for the busy Christmas season is going...
How was your summer Paula?
I had a great summer. Being my own boss means that I pretty much do the bare minimum work wise through the school holidays as I'm looking after my boys full time, which can be difficult trying to juggle things but I also appreciate how lucky that makes me. We hung out at the beach, went camping with friends and family and generally spent as much time outdoors as possible.
What were your highlights?
Probably our camping holiday in Cornwall, even despite the fact that we had poor weather! I grew up there so it will always have a special place in my heart. Also my husband & I both turned 40(eeek!) so we had quite a few celebrations with family and friends.
How did it go at the Norwegian Church? Will you be back there in October?
It went really well and we've had some very positive comments from customers. The church always attracts such a lovely diverse mix of overseas and local visitors so it's a pleasure chatting to different people when taking my turn to man the shop. Yes, I'll be back in October, the shop will be open from Monday 8th until Sunday 21st and then again from mid November right up until the 23rd December.
What are you working on at the moment/any new products?
So many things! I'm busy making stock for my Winter markets and growing my new Contrast Collection.
How is your Christmas season shaping up? What events are you doing?
I'm thrilled to be back at Penarth and Rhiwbina's Handmade Markets, along with both the Cardiff Etsy Team's event at The Tramshed and the Hereford Etsy Team's market at The Left Bank. I've also got applications for stalls out with other events and pop up shops so it's certainly going to be a busy one, but that's all good!
What are you looking forward to this Christmas?
I love seeing everyone's new products and displays at the Christmas markets but once all of the above events are over and done with, I can't wait to have fun with my boys and relax with the family, G&T firmly in hand!
Come and meet Paula at Penarth's Handmade Market on Sunday 18th November and Rhiwbina's Handmade Market on Sunday 25th November. For contact details, visit the p&d designs directory page.
The fabulous Contemporary Craft Festival at Bovey Tracey, Devon returns this weekend opening today, Friday 8th June and running until Sunday 10th.
If you have chance to go, you will not be disappointed as it is a fantastic event with over 200 makers selling their high quality handmade goods to the public. As well as stalls, there are demonstrations and workshops to get involved in. Bovey Tracey is a pretty little town to visit too, with lots of independent shops and a fantastic makers guild with exhibition space.
I asked Alys Wall AKA The Pocket Pirate, who has attended the festival previously, to choose her top six makers who are exhibiting this weekend....over to Alys...
Dovile’s fluid, elegant hand-carved pieces caught my eye immediately. Each item has wonderful movement to it. I love the fact that each piece evolves organically as she works on it, so is completely unique.
It is a real skill to make something that is both functional and beautiful - Lomas Furniture has truly mastered this.
Esther’s candid stories unfold softly through her beautiful illustrations, tugging at our own experiences. You won’t be able to resist.
Anya’s playful creatures belong to that place at the edge of our vision, where we are sure we saw our favourite toy move…
Manda’s characterful and beautifully handmade soft animals and children’s clothes are always displayed so artfully you will want to take up residence on her stand.
Look out for Andrew's ash splint basket combined with its hand-stitched leather lid - a thing of quiet, dependable beauty that you will suddenly NEED.
For more information on The Contemporary Craft Festival, visit www.craftsatboveytracey.co.uk or visit their facebook page.
Thanks Alys! Find out more about Alys, and her inspiration over on the Little Otter Events blog.
If you have been along to a Little Otter Events market in the past five years, you will have no doubt discovered the work of Whitchurch based maker Lydia Niziblian. Lydia's work is always popular at our events and it is easy to see why - she creates such beautiful unique pieces and is continuously coming up with new ranges, and learning new techniques to expand her knowledge as a maker.
She has recently added stunning jewellery made with a technique called Keum-boo. I asked Lydia to write a guestblog to explain the ancient technique and to introduce us to her new range.....over to you Lyd...
One of my favourite things about making jewellery is its therapeutic qualities. I often find myself making according to my mood. At one end there is hammering and forming heavy jewellery which can really release some tension! At the other end of the scale there are some very delicate, almost Zen like practices. My favourite of these is keum-boo. Keum-boo (pronounced kum boo) is an ancient gilding technique originating in Korea. I first started using the process a little over 5 years ago, and it’s become a firm favourite.
Keum-boo (meaning ͞attached gold͟) is the application of thin 24ct gold foil to the surface of metal; in this case silver. Sterling silver must be prepared by repeatedly heating the silver, quenching it, and soaking it in jewellers’ pickle. Pickle covers a variety of available mild acid solutions, although a mix of distilled vinegar and salt work as well! Some people like to brush it with a brass brush in soapy water between repetitions. After numerous soakings, the silver takes on a white appearance. This means a layer of fine silver has been brought to the surface. Now you can apply the gold foil using a combination of heat and pressure. I prefer the piece of jewellery to be pretty much finished; all soldering finished and settings in place.
Some folk use a hot plate; I prefer a butane torch as I find I get a little more control. Using a steel or agate burnisher, you tack and rub the foil into place. How the piece is finished can vary tremendously; I like to either brush the piece with a brass brush, or oxidise or patinate it for contrast.
You can treat yourself (or a lucky friend!) by using code LITTLEOTTER at checkout in my shop to get 25% off any of my ready-made jewellery until June 1st*
*offer excludes made to order items and gift vouchers
Our talented group of designer makers have been busy behind the scenes working on new additions to their ranges. I am always blown away with their creativeness and originality. Roll on payday!
Here's a selection of some of the amazing products released this month....links are in the descriptions.
Emerald, Oxidised Silver & Keum-Boo Square Pendant, £125.00, Lydia Niziblian Jewellery
Organic cotton bibs, Zac & Bella.
Stitched Recycled Vintage Badges, Embroidered Abstract Patterns. £1.20, Stitch City
Fingerprints/hand/footprints in sterling silver, 9ct yellow gold and 9ct rose gold, price on application, Lou Gray Jewellery
New card range, oh! Susannah
Insect prints, Seascape Curiosities
Pretty pink purse, Tommelise Danish Design
Coral pink chunky bangle, p&d designs
Diolch ceramic love spoon, Love & Lovelier
My garden is full of pink flowers at the moment, and it is a real joy to see all the cherry trees laden with pink blossom in Rhiwbina. Pink is such a happy colour and it is a shame that most people think pink is only for girls. Right up until the 1930s, boys were dressed in pink and girls in blue. Men wore red as it was considered to be a strong colour (used in uniforms), and so pink was seen as a variation of this colour for 'small men'.
Do you have any pink in your wardrobe? Let me know about your favourite item in the comments below!
Here is a pink collection from our directory makers. If you are on the look out for a gift or a card for a pink loving friend, we have it covered!
Bespoke pink dot oilcloth bag, made to order, Tommelise Danish Design
Pink tourmaline and sterling silver stacking ring set, £40, Lydia Niziblian Jewellery
Pink geo harem leggings, £12.50, Zac & Bella
Pretty pink and red fabric knot bracelet, £14.50, p&d designs
Unicorn French macarons, Majestic Macarons
Penblwydd Hapus, cute cupcake card, £2.50, oh! Susannah
March has been such a strange month hasn't it? Sunshine then snow, then rain along with biting winds. It seems that every time I get a summer dress out, the forecast changes and I put my Saltwater sandals back in the box. Let's be optimistic and ignore any reports of the return of the snow in time for Easter! Bring on the blossom please!
Here is a bright and sunny collection of gifts from our talented directory makers to remind you of sunny days, blue skys and flowers in the garden...
Flower pot cake by Lolo's Cake Away.
Braided fabric knot ring by p&d designs. £14 plus postage.
Foldover mini clutch bag by Lynda Shell Textiles.
Organic clouds romper by Zac & Bella. £23 plus postage.
Floral collection from Seascape Curiosities.
Personalised icecream notebook by oh! Susannah. £5 plus postage.
Blue and mustard leather messenger bag by Pocket Pirate. £320.
April Liddell. Founder of Little Otter Markets. Lives a crafty life. Loves going for walks with her dog Betsi, listening to music, and eating chelsea buns.