Learning to dance in the rain

Catching up with my blog post for another Folksy Friday Film. ‘Rainbows and Unicorns’ involves a gorgeous selection of lovely makes from talented Folksy sellers. You can watch it here:

One of the makers in the film created something especially designed for the animation, this beautiful unicorn was created by Abbey Wright of Seen and Known – here we find out a little bit more about Abbey and her small handmade business:

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Hi, my name is Abbey! I’m the creator of Seen and Known. I live in Carlisle, in the beautiful county of Cumbria. For my business I make little keepsake soft sculpture animals. I love creating animals that have character, making each one with their own personality. I enjoy watching a flat design evolve into something that can stand on its own two or four feet! I started working with textiles 6 years ago during my A Levels and I started my business Seen and Known 3 years ago.

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How long do your makes take to create?

 Depending on the animal and the size, it can take a day or two. Getting everything just right with all the details and of course taking tea and cake breaks!

Your inspiration / how do you come up with your designs?

I’m inspired by other peoples work. Looking at what they’re making, their skills and being in awe of them. And obviously animals.

The designs I draw are straightforward, nothing too technical. The fun is in the face and accessories.

What is your personal favourite design or item to make?

It’s hard to pick one but I always enjoy the sheep and how they turn out. I also really like a panda I made a while back wearing a hat.

What’s your most popular item?

The sheep are popular I think. And the two lions I made found homes quite quickly.

Best feedback from a customer?

A customer bought a sheep for a gift and asked for a birthday card to go with it which I painted and hand lettered. I remember she was “delighted” with both the wooly sheep and card. That was a very nice commission to make.

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What does mean to you when someone buys one of your handmade items?

I’m always thrilled and surprised! For someone who doesn’t know me but trusts me and what I create is such a lovely feeling. For a person to want what I make is encouraging. I always hope that my little animals bring joy to whoever gives them a home.

Fun fact(s)? 

If I could wear slippers all the time, I would!

Making a unicorn for this film was a new, unique and magical experience.

What’s next? 

Next, I just hope I can carry on creating these little creatures and continue to grow Seen and Known. You can always find me on Instagram, Facebook and Folksy!

A very special thanks to Yas Bowley who animated the most beautiful leaping unicorn, turning Abbey’s textile creation into a magical animation, it is perfect and Abbey was thrilled to see her unicorn brought to life.

Also again a huge thank you to my lovely hubbie, Steven Warren who created some original ukulele especially for the film *I’m a lucky lady*.

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Now we meet Shelly Honey from by Shelly Lee maker of the magic jug that turns dancing flowers into unicorns!

Hello I’m Shelly Honey I have a little pottery business called by shelly lee, I live in a little village on the edge of Dartmoor in Devon, my business started as my full time job 8 years ago, I used to dabble in all sorts of crafts until I started pottery which took off and I haven’t looked back since, I used to work as a part time chef before hand and gave that up to do pottery full time, I love what I do and wouldn’t want to change it for the world, I have a little garden workshop that I share with Daddy Rabbit, he’s one of my two bunny’s, he’s a super fluffy lion head and is 8 years old this year, he’s a proper grumpy old man but we love him hugely.

How long do your makes take to create?

I make a huge variety of pottery, I only use porcelain, I chose porcelain as I love its creamy white colour and the way the colour glazes look on its body. Each item I make is made from hand, no wheels or slip moulds, each item is made using the slab building method, I am a very quick worker, once I get in the zone I can easily make up to 50 jugs in a day, plaques can take slightly longer as each letter is stamped by hand. I’m much more productive when making, but glazing takes double the time if not more.

Your inspiration / how do you come up with your designs?

Sketch, sketch, sketch. I have books of random drawings which very rarely resemble a finished product. I also like to be hands on, sometimes just playing until I come up with something new.

What is your personal favourite design or item to make?

That’s a difficult one, I think If I had to pick just one it would be the button jugs, even after making hundreds I still love them and still have the same joy in opening the kiln to them as I did when I first started to make them.

What is your most popular item?

Equally button jugs and HaPea keyring, these are the biggest sellers with the shops who supply my items.

Best feedback from a customer?

The best one off the top of my head wasn’t something someone wrote to me but it was the face of someone when I delivered them their item, seeing the pure joy on that persons face made me realise I was doing something right 

What does it mean to you when someone buys one of your handmade items?

Pure happiness, every time I get a sale or order I feel the same bubbling joy inside, I feel so blessed that someone has chosen to buy an item I’ve made with my own two hands, even after all these years I still can’t quite believe I’ve got my own little business and it’s all down to each and every wonderful customer, for that I’ll be forever grateful. 

Fun fact(s)?

Few facts about me, I am double jointed and my arms bend back at the elbow. 

I have an addiction to dungarees, it’s all I ever wear.

I have two rabbits, ones called daddy rabbit who’s old, grumpy and rules over the garden, the other is called Nelly who’s lives in the house (garden by day) she very loving and I’m pretty sure she thinks she’s half goat as she’s recently taking a liking to climbing walls and fences.

You can find Shelly online, her gorgeous wares are available to buy from her Folksy Shop or on Facebook.

A massive thank you to all of the other Folksy makers who contributed to the animation, it has been a total pleasure working with you all and I hope to interview more of you for this blog in the future. All of the additional gorgeous makes that are included in the film are listed below and shop links included, please do pay them a visit and say hello on their social media accounts to see more of their wonderful designs:

Felt Me Up Designs – Felted Penguin

Shirley Rainbow – Dancing handmade flower designed especially for this project

A Touch of Wimsey Co – Weather symbols – taken from her beautiful cot mobile design

Fancy Knittles – Crochet love heart flowers in pots

Just to Say… – Crochet Doughnut

Cardology Ltd – Pop up Rainbow Card

downloadBy shopping small, buying from self employed artists, designers, and makers, as well as independent retailers and shopping on Folksy: you’re supporting British artisans, directly putting money in their pockets – supporting David not Goliath. To find out more about supporting Indie Retailers and British artisans visit: Just a Card to see how you can join the campaign.

 

A zombie sloth in the rain forest

Have you seen the latest ‘Folksy Friday Fun’ animation creation about a Zombie Sloth decorating his pad in the rain forest? The short animation was inspired by the beautiful work created by two talented sisters, Fiona Thomson of FionaT on Folksy and Sal Thomson of Little Black Heart. Fiona creates the most cool freehand embroidered zombie makes, and Sal creates the most intricate zombie art pieces, often miniatures and on pebbles. Their work inspired the latest animation film which if you haven’t seen already, you can watch here…

ZOMBIE SLOTH FILM

I personally had a very difficult week last week, losing my beautiful Cav, Oscar, which I do plan to write about in another blog post. What was amazing was how much working with the lovely makers involved with this film has helped to lift me up and keep me going during a difficult time. It was a total pleasure and privilege to get to know these talented makers and work with their gorgeous products, please do go and have a look at their shops and support their handmade businesses if you can.

Zombie sloth hanging out int he rain forest - by Fiona T
Zombie sloth hanging out int he rain forest – by Fiona T

While working on the animation the one man band music team a.k.a, my husband – Steve Warren, came across some fab music online,  ‘The Sloth song’ by AndyBlarg’s Music on YouTube. This led me to contact Andy directly and see if he would be willing to work in collaboration and contribute his original lyrics and arrange them to Steve’s ukulele. He kindly obliged, and as you will hear the results are totally awesome!!! I’m so grateful for Andy’s involvement as the song sounds fabulous and I can’t believe how easily and quickly we managed to pull everything together. It’s amazing and it still blows my mind when I hear it! I plan to put it on my music playlist so I can hum along while I work. Please head on over and give Andy’s YouTube channel some support.

A little bit more about Andy, the man behind the genius that is ‘the Sloth song’.

I am Andy Black (but my online username is andyblarg), I’m a single a 28 year old nearly graduated college student at BYU Idaho currently at home for the summer volunteering at the Sacramento Zoo for intern credit. I want to be a zookeeper for Disney World. I love writing parody songs for YouTube as a hobby that I hope goes somewhere, but also like playing Nintendo games, being around animals, and dancing.

I created the Sloth Song because I was volunteering at an aquarium/zoo that was going to announce Sloths being added to the park and thought “I should make a song about sloths since people love them”. I wrote the song using a free tune from the YouTube Audio Library and adding lyrics talking about facts about sloths in a funny and witty way. I also make other songs based on random inspiration that hits me when listening to a song or thinking of a good subject to write about.

Zombie Sloth by FionaT
Tooled up Zombie Sloth by FionaT

Now let me introduce you to the fabulous and charismatic Fiona T, maker of non other than Zombie Sloth:

Hello! I’m Fiona, an obsessive maker of things – from miniature embroideries, to fireside knittings, to too-big renovation projects. I live in a teeny mill workers cottage in Belper, Derbyshire, with Husband and our crazy collie Cassie. My sister (Little Black Heart) & I have always been creative and have enjoyed drawing & making since childhood, but she’s clearly the best at drawing.
She can immediately put on paper what gets stuck somewhere between my brain and fingers. I’d been tinkering with free motion embroidery at university, but afterwards, i didn’t want to sew my own drawings anymore – I wanted to sew hers! I started making fabric doodles with her sketches, and these eventually evolved into her beautiful illustrations and my textural “colouring-in” raw edge applique.

Things escalated.

Nine years ago, when we opened our shops on Folksy, I don’t think either of us imagined there’d be a market for our quirky zombie wares!

How long do your makes take to create?

Free machine embroidery can be a pretty labour intensive process, the trick to getting a nice line & machine tension is to go slowly… which is slow.It depends on the finished item – at least a couple of hours for something straight forward… but I can’t help adding more intricate & ever tinier details.

On larger pieces, the cutting and layering of fabrics can take hours, but the embroidering will be disappointingly short in comparison (I really love the embroidery bit. Like, REALLY), and there’s still process of making the finished item, whether that’s bookmarks, covers, pencil cases (I hate zips the same amount that I love embroidering).

Your inspiration / how do you come up with your designs?

Well it’s mostly zombies. Obviously. But I basically pinch Sal’s drawings when I’m visiting, and then tweak or simplify her drawings into designs for sewing.

I love colour & texture so that’s where our work diverges a bit – she’s less is more, I’m more & more & brighter & bolder is more.

What is your personal favourite design or item to make?

The sloths are always a favourite – I love their expressions, and how they can change depending on a slight snipping or stitching variation.

I also love sewing Sal’s birds – if i’m in “the zone” and my hands aren’t wobbling all over the place, getting their elegant swooshing curved just right freehand is extreeeemely satisfying!

fanciest zombie
Fanciest Zombie by Fiona T

What is your most popular item?

Probably the zombie girls – there’s so much scope for playing dress-up with their gorgeous hair and outfits, and luckily there’s always a potential customer going “this is SO me!”

Best feedback from a customer?

The best feedback for me is that people come back again & again. I have some customers who’ve been buying from me for years so I know their addresses off by heart. Seeing a familiar postcode in a sales notification is my best feedback 🙂

What does it mean to you when someone buys one of your handmade items?

I love buying handmade, so I know how it feels to receive something really special and completely unique, to have chatted to the maker or have seen the process happening. When someone buys from me, I hope they’re getting some of the same good feels that I get buying from other makers.

A *SQUEEEEEEE* can really make your week when you’re having a rubbish day or doing admin.

Relating back to question about feedback, people have taken the time to send me actual handwritten thank you cards in the mail – I can’t even articulate how much that means to me – that relationship between maker, item & buyer, you don’t get that at supermarkets 🙂

*tenuous* Fun fact 😉

This is one of my favourites – a secret commission that I couldn’t possibly say no to -the best friend of a customer contacted me about making a surprise birthday pressie… we agreed the birthday girl would love a sentimental “home sweet home” style embroidery.

Purple Sloth Zombie by Fiona T
Purple Sloth Zombie by Fiona T

 

It has been a total pleasure working with Fiona who adapted her Zombie Sloth design with wiring especially for the film and and all hail the awesomeness of her gorgeous toucan that she designed for us, which is now available in her shop. Thanks Fiona for your support and kind words this week. Don’t forget to pop in and take a look at Fiona T’s shop to buy her gorgeous handmade work.

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And now we meet the other half of the talented duo, Fiona’s talented sister, Sal from Little Black Heart:

I’m Sal, a.k.a. Little Black Heart. I live in Lincolnshire, and spend most of my days happily scribbling, drawing and painting. I absolutely love what i do, and (mostly) find it very therapeutic. I love to be busy and am always making something! I started my business about 10 years ago – making greetings cards at first, but it soon evolved into making the original artworks that I now love to create.

How long do your makes take to create?

I work tiny, and some of my illustrations are only 2 inches ‘big’, so  they can be relatively quick to make, just a few hours. When I work on larger pieces, they can take a couple of days. Sometimes I go crazy and work on whopping great A4 sized pieces – I once spent nearly a year working (on and off) on a swirly floral skull!

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Blue Tit & Flowers by Little Black Heart

Your inspiration / how do you come up with your designs?

It’s a bit of a cliche, but I’m constantly inspired by nature and the changing of the seasons – my desk overlooks my back garden, which is full of birds, and I love to sit and watch them. (I’m a total bird nerd.) So I’m forever staring out of the window, enjoying whatever is going on out there. Oh, also zombies. I love anything zombie based. I haven’t spotted any in my garden yet, but you never know when the apocalypse is coming 🙂

What is your personal favourite design or item to make?

I really enjoy working on my flowery zombie ladies. I can get lost for hours in the tangled linework of their straggly hair, and I really enjoy adding all of the little details, floaty dresses, and delicate grottiness.

Sloth by Little Black Heart
Sloth by Little Black Heart

What is your most popular item?

Anything sloth-based seems to go down well. Probably because we can all identify 😉

Best feedback from a customer?

I can’t pick any one piece of feedback, I am so lucky to have such amazing customers. They’re all thoroughly lovely and it’s always great to hear from them – I love to hear where my artworks end up, or how happy they made someone.

Sometimes the comments are so kind, it really helps me to keep going (when i’m wading through a bit of self doubt and lack of confidence!)

What does it mean to you when someone buys one of your handmade items?

It really does mean the world to me, knowing that something I’ve made
has made people smile, cheered them up, meant something special, or just
gave them a laugh.

I still can’t believe people enjoy my little scribbles enough to hang them on their walls (or have them tattooed) but I’m super chuffed my work is enjoyed – it makes me happy to know it makes others happy.

Fun fact?

I split my time between drawing pictures, and renovating our house and
garden. It’s been an ongoing work in progress for more years than I like
to admit, and I dream of the day it is finally all finished – so that I
can concentrate on drawing all the time, without any distractions!

What’s next?

I’m a bit of a hermit so I don’t go out and do scary things like meeting people at craft fairs! I mostly just hang out on line, where I sell all of my work through my Folksy shop.

You can find it here:
https://folksy.com/shops/littleblackheart

….and I’m also on Facebook:
https://www.facebook.com/littleblackheart.co.uk/

and Instagram:
https://www.instagram.com/little.black.heart/

'Little Red' by Daisylions and 'Monstera Leaf print' by Lydia Meiying
‘Little Red’ by Daisylions and ‘Monstera Leaf print’ by Lydia Meiying

Thanks so much for Sal’s fabulous contribution to the film, those tiny winy pieces of art with their intricate beautiful details just blow my mind. My hand eye coordination might be closer to a zombie sloth, so I only have total admiration and adoration of those skills.

You might have noticed the film also features a cute little textile and wire handmade chicken called ‘Little Red’ made by Sharon Greaves at Daisylions, and a gorgeous Monstera leaf backdrop  by Lydia Meiying Designs. Thank you so much to everyone who contributed to the film, please share like and comment to help get these beautiful products seen and support British handmade designers and makers!

All of the items in the video are available to buy at Folksy.com.

My next animation will be released on the 17th May by Folksy and features unicorns and rainbows… and a penguin. Random but true!