This Friday 7th June sees the return of the annual Contemporary Craft Festival held in the beautiful town of Bovey Tracey in Devon. Showcasing over 200 of the best makers and artists, the event is always worth a visit and making her CF debut this year is Cardiff-based designer Lynda Shell.
The festival attracts over 10,000 visitors coming to enjoy the busy calendar of talks and demonstrations running alongside the main attraction of the makers work. I caught up with Lynda to find out how her preparation is going and what she is looking forward to seeing.
What do you anticipate will be your festival highlights?
Getting to see lots of lovely new makers that I have not seen before….. and possibly buying myself a little something special!
How is your preparation going? How do you prepare quantity of stock for such a big event - any tips for other makers?
Stock is all made and labelled, just gathering together all the final bits, tools, shelves, tables etc for the display now. My advice would be to give yourself plenty of time to make stock and plan your stand carefully so that it's easy to put up when you get there.
What are you looking forward to the most?
Meeting new customers and a nice weekend away with my sister who is coming to help me.
Can you name your favourite three makers who you are hoping to see?
Well as I am hoping to see some new artists, I have picked three from the website that look interesting:
Felix Kary in the wood section - love the spoons
Lisa Wisdom in the metal section - Looks like an amazing technique
Heartfelt dogs in mixed media just looks fun and characterful.
Best of luck Lynda! We hope you have a great show. For more information on the Contemporary Craft Festival, please visit their website.
To find out more about Lynda Shell and see more examples of her work, visit her directory page.
Textile Designer Lynda Shell has become a regular face at Little Otter Markets showcasing her fantastic collection of bags and accessories. Lynda's journey began at the University of Wales Institute, Cardiff, in 2001 where she studied BA (Hons) Contemporary Textile Practice. She then went on to establish her own successful business, becoming a Member of the Makers Guild in Wales, whilst looking after her growing family.
Ahead of Mothers' Day on Sunday 31st March, I asked Lynda to tell us a little bit about her family and how she has found motherhood...
When did you become a Mum? Hattie was born in 1996 and is now 23, Freddie was born in 2007 now age 12 - so a big 11 year gap!
How has motherhood been for you?
I have loved being a mother, it is both the hardest and the most rewarding thing I have ever done.
Was it what you expected?
To be honest I didn’t have any preconceived expectations of motherhood I have always just gone with the flow.
What have been your biggest challenges?
I don’t think I have had one big challenge, every stage of a child’s development into adulthood and beyond brings a new challenge to face, you just deal with them as best you can and move on.
How do you find juggling family life and your own business?
Well it's not always easy but I somehow make it work. I think it's good for my children to see me work hard at something I feel passionate about, hopefully it will inspire them to do the same.
What advice would you give to a new Mum?
Trust your natural instincts to guide you, there are no hard and fast rules to being a mother, just do what feels right for you.
What do you enjoy the most about being a Mum?
The smiles, the laughs and the cuddles for sure!
To see more examples of Lynda's work, and to find out how to get in touch with her, please visit Lynda's directory page.
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.
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 much anticipated annual Abergavenny Food Festival returns this weekend, and friend of Little Otter Events, Baked by Mel will be there. Mel has been attending the festival for a few years now and will be situated in the Upper Brewery Yard next door to Hallets Cider. (Cider and cake, sounds like a good combination!)
As well as her award winning bara brith, Mel will be selling a beautiful selection of scrummy treats all baked in her kitchen in Llantwit Major. If you haven't tried her persian rocky road, brownies or gin and tonic cakes, you are in for a culinary treat!
I interrupted Mel's baking to ask her a few questions ahead of her busy weekend...
What do you enjoy about the festival?
Well it's all about food of course, and in a relatively small space you can go and try so much variety, see your fave celebs and get in on the party atmosphere too… it's just lovely. It’s a very well attended and prestigious event attracting a lot of people and food fans so there is a lovely festival vibe around the town.
Who you are looking forward to seeing?
So many people!! The Preservation Society, Samosaco, Welsh Coffee, The Parsnipship, Hangfire Smokehouse, Hallets cider, Petals of the Valley, Sytch Farm Studios, Shellys Shortbread and I am hoping to hear Allan Jenkins talk on Sunday…fingers crossed. Its really a big annual event and I love having a catch up!
How is your prep going?
I never seen so many sultanas in my life…
Good luck Mel! We hope that you have an amazing weekend.
Find out more about the festival programme and tickets on the official website.
This Saturday 14th July, I am honoured to be having a stall promoting our Christmas markets and selling work from our directory makers at a very special event - Rachel's Day.
Rachel's Day is in memory of Rachel Day who very sadly died of Sepsis last summer. Rachel was just 29 years old, and fit and healthy when she contracted the deadly infection. This Saturday's event is organised by her friends and family as they aim to raise awareness of the disease and raise vital funds.
As well as working at Llanishen Leisure Centre, Rachel used to walk dogs for Cardiff company Friends for Pets, and so when she sadly passed away, her friends thought that it would be a fitting tribute to organise a charity day, involving a dog walk here in Rhiwbina.
Last year's event was a huge success and raised over £4000. This money has paid for the ‘Sepsis 6 Pathway’ scheme at Wales’ largest hospital. It means that anyone who goes into the Heath hospital in Cardiff with a fever or signs of an infection will be checked for ‘red flag’ symptoms of sepsis.
I caught up with Catherine Clarke, one of the organisers of Rachel's Day to find out what they had planned for this year...
Catherine, what does this year's event involve?
"This year at Rachel’s Day we have various types of stalls selling food, cakes, crafts and your good old fashioned village fete stalls. These include Tombola, Raffle, Kids Tombola & a Doggy tombola especially for the dogs only! We also have a signed blues rugby shirt up for grabs with a silent bids table!
"For the children we have the kids tombola, Lob the gob (throwing a rugby ball through a hole!), a face painter, crazy golf and Vale Owls are bringing some of their beautiful birds. Rachel loves dogs but she also loves Owls!
"We have a bar that will be selling beverages and cocktails including Rachel’s Delight a cocktail named in memory of Rachel. 10% of the takings from this will go towards Rachel’s Day Sepsis Fund. We also have live music from The Big what?! Band and Al Moses."
"Friends for Pets will be giving away 200 goody bags and Georgina Flambert photography will be doing portraits of families and their dogs which you can purchase, with money to go to the charity. K8’s short bark n sides a local groomer are actually closing their shop for the day to come and spend it with us! They are offering to clips dogs nails for £5 and give all proceeds to the charity. We also have bandanas for the dogs to wear."
Do you need a dog to come along and enjoy the day?
"With so much going on you don’t need a dog to enjoy the day. It’s just as much for the people as it is for them. The walk will take place at 1pm to and around Caedelyn Park. You can join in if you want but it’s not necessary and you don’t need a dog to join in the walk. Registration will take place from 12 pm. There is no entry fee for this year though donations will be grateful received.
"With the weather the way it has been we never thought we would have to worry about it being too hot! We are taking every precaution to ensure the safety and welfare of the dogs. We have onsite canine first aiders, plenty of water, wet towels, shaded area and a much shorter route around Parc Y Pentre if needed."
What are you looking forward to the most?
"What we loved the most from last year was the sight of a sea of people and dogs walking to the park and then seeing all the dogs run around playing! It made all the hard work worth while seeing people and their best friends smiling and happy. We will look forward to that again this year for sure!"
What are you hoping to achieve from the day?
"Obviously the importance of doing this event again is to further our quest in raising awareness about Sepsis. We are passionate that the money raised is spent in Wales and the family have various ideas of how to spend it. One idea is helping to provide assistance dogs for those who have suffered life changing disabilities through Sepsis. Ultimately we never want another family to have suffered like the Day family have or another to endure what Rachel did!"
Thanks so much Catherine and well done to you and the team on all your hard work organising what promises to be a fabulous day here in Rhiwbina.
I hope that you can all come along and support it and please come and see me on my stall and say hi!
Here is some more information on Sepsis:
There are around 150,000 cases of sepsis each year in the UK, with an estimated 44,000 deaths - more than breast cancer and bowel cancer combined.
In Wales, that equates to around 8,000 cases and 2,500 deaths each year.
It is a life-threatening illness, caused by the body overreacting to an infection.
The body’s immune system goes into overdrive, setting off a series of reactions that can lead to widespread swelling and blood clotting.
Symptoms usually develop quickly and include a fever or high temperature (over 38C), chills, a fast heartbeat and fast breathing.
What should you do?
Seek medical help urgently if you develop any or one of the following:
Slurred speech or confusion
Extreme shivering or muscle pain
Passing no urine (in a day)
It feels like your going to die
Skin mottled or discoloured.
The last few months of the school year always seem to zip by and I can't quite believe how quickly the end of term has come around again. My eldest daughter is leaving her primary school to start high school in September so I know that her last week will be an emotional affair which I am not ready for!
She has been lucky enough to have two excellent teachers in her final year and as the year ends, we are looking for extra special teachers' gifts to say thanks for all the care and support that they have shown her.
If you, too, are looking for some gift inspiration, have a browse through this collection of inexpensive presents for teachers from our talented Directory makers. Links to makers contact details are given in the descriptions.
Let me know what you think in the comments below.
Ceramic brooch, £6.50 plus postage, Love & Lovelier
Sterling silver and Liberty print friendship bracelet, £15 plus postage, Lou Gray Jewellery.
Notebook, £12, Seascape Curiosities.
French macarons gift box, mixed flavours, £15.99, Majestic Macarons
Fabric pin cushion, £4.50, Stitch City
Mexican oilcloth purses, various prices, Tommelise Danish Design
Teacher notepad, £5 plus postage, oh!Susannah
Classic bara brith delivered to your door! £15.99 baked by Mel
Chunky knitted bangle in ochre, green and white. £10 plus postage. p&d designs
Ceramic triangle ear studs, £17.99 plus postage, Ruby Anne Jewellery
Ceramic dish, £10 plus postage, Love & Lovelier
Cardiff central map notebook, £7 plus postage, Stitch City
Seahorse purse, £16 plus postage, Seascape Curiosities
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.
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
The sun is forecast to put in an appearance again soon - hooray! After our recent hot spell, I optimistically packed away all our winter clothes and brought our summer stuff down from the attic. I love rediscovering all my dresses and shorts, fingers crossed that they all still fit! Sadly my daughters have grown out of most of their clothes and so we have started the annual shop for new summer clothes.
If you too are on the look out for some new designs for your children for the summer, have a look at the new range from Zac & Bella released last week. I caught up with Hayley from the brand to find out more about her new range and the inspiration behind it...
Hayley, the new range is looking amazing! What was your inspiration behind the designs?
"The collection was very much inspired by nature - with an emphasis on being kind to it! All garments are made from organic cotton which is proven to be one of the most eco-friendly fabrics you could possibly have your clothing made from.
"The prints I’ve used are fun and quirky, making them perfect for children’s clothing. The Narwhals print was one that my son Zac chose as he loves his nature programmes and Narwhals are one of his favourite sea animals."
"The inspiration behind the styles of clothing came from allowing children to play comfortably as well as having the practicality of easy fastenings and being machine washable! "
"I have continued to include the ever popular harem style leggings as well as adding a similar style in shorts with some fun slogan tees to coordinate. Dungarees and rompers also add a fun yet practical addition to the collection.
"The majority of the range is available from newborn to 12 years - perfect for matching sibling outfits! "
I'm sure you'll agree that the new Zac & Bella range is looking adorable. I love the seainspired designs and I know that Hayley is adding new pieces to the range this week so head on over to her website to find out more.
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.