Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Happy Halloween!

I've been a busy bee lately starting my Christmas orders, but let's not forget there's another celebration coming up that, arguably, is just as much fun but without all the present pressure!

Should you want a little something to mark the ghoulish occasion, be it gifts or decorations, you can rely on makers of handmade crafts to come up with the goods. To prove that the devil gets all the best goodies (as well as music), here's a small selection of my favourite handmade Halloween items. Some eye candy to go along with the sugar candy, if you will. Click on the links below the pics to go straight to the product.


Handmade Monster Costume
 This monster costume from GuuGuuGa makes me *snork* with laughter. If I had a child it would be in fancy dress ALL THE TIME. Whether it liked it or not.

Skeleton Hands Halloween Headband

Janine Basil makes the most incredible hair accessories. This would be brilliant for a halloween party - or even a halloween wedding. In fact, please, someone wear this at their wedding. And send me pictorial evidence. Kthxbai.

Jack O'Lantern Cat Collar

Mustn't forget the furbabies at Halloween! I love the little pumpkin charm on this cat collar from Mogs Togs. They've got candy corn, spiderwebs and skull and crossbones versions too. If only Doug would stop losing his collars....

'Trick or Treat' Handmade Spiced Soap

Yup, you can even get spooky soap! This 'Trick or Treat' soap from Oakwood Soaperie looks as good as it smells, with layers of black mica swirled throughout for a spine-chillingly luxurious bathtime.

Hollow Pumpkin Earrings

How on earth Sulwen Arts manages to hand-carve these teeny polymer clay pumpkins so that they are hollow like real jack o'lanterns is utterly beyond me. Eagle-eyed Tim Burton fans will also spot earrings shaped like the Boogeyman's dice in her Folksy shop.

I'll leave you with a word from our sponsor, Angry Lemur. Don't have nightmares, now.

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

In which I sell Things in the Real World

I've been making stuff out of fabric with skulls on and selling them to people under the guise of Lemur Lady for nearly two years now, but so far I have been able to hide behind the cosy virtual padded walls of the Interwebs. Aside from the odd cash sale to long-suffering friends ("I see you have a new phone. You know what you need for that? A phone cover with frogs on. Go on, buy one and I'll go away"), everything I've made has been photographed, Paypalled and posted.

I like running an internet craft business. It's warm and dry and apart from visits to the post office I can mostly do it in my pyjamas. I also have a lovely support network of other crafters, especially on my Facebook page. Whilst I wouldn't know them from Adam should I bump into them in the street (unless they too were in the post office queue in their pyjamas, which would be a dead giveaway), Facebook regulars such as LizzieMade, FionaT and OddSox make the virtual world seem like one big crafty community as homeworkers everywhere wait with bated breath for the 5 o'clock Friday wine bell to be rung by Little Black Heart.

So it was more in the aid of facing a fear than anything else that made me sign up to do my first actual, Real Life (TM) craft fair stall last weekend.

I live in West Norwood, a suburb of South London that has in recent years become home to the West Norwood Feast - a 'people powered market' that takes over the area on the first Sunday of every month. There are food stalls, craft stalls, performance areas, and a general feeling of villageyness (yes, that is a word. now.), in this unassuming high street. Since I live literally walking distance from the Artisans Hub (posh words for 'craft stall bit'), I thought it was time to stop spectating and get involved.

The month or so running up to the Feast saw me in a flurry of activity, desperately trying to get enough items made to have a respectable-looking stall. Finally, after burning the candle at both ends for so long that I gave up and chucked it on the fire, I was ready.

The night before I set out all my wares on a practice table at home. Eschewing the idea of a boring white tablecloth, I found this smashing spotty affair in IKEA. An eleventh-hour panic about how to display jewellery was quelled by the ever-resourceful Significant Otter, who invented the mushroomy-looking thing on the right of the table. It's a lampshade, stuck on top of an old gin bottle. And it spins! Honestly, that man could give MacGyver a run for his money. I'd worry, if his freaky talents weren't so useful.

The actual table was much bigger. I will remember this next time....

I was ready. I had stock, I had stuff to put stock in and on, I knew where I was going and when I had to get there.

Unfortunately, I also had a birthday dinner to go to that evening. The phrase "I'll just have a couple of glasses of wine, I've got a busy day tomorrow" was heard to escape my lips early on, but was quickly forgotten.

I learned the hard way, so you don't have to, that craft fairs are probably best attempted without a hangover.


I'm pretty sure the TARDIS parking space brought me luck.
After I'd got set up and had a restorative cup of tea, the world seemed a better place. I felt much like a small child playing at post offices among all the grown ups, most of whom were seasoned veterans, but my first sale settled my fears and I was able to get into my stride and really enjoy the day.

Against my expectations, I really enjoyed myself. I was convinced that people would think my stuff overpriced, underwhelming, badly made - all those things that the sensible me knows aren't true but that still rear their heads. But it soon became clear that my stall - and my items - were making people smile and, importantly, part with their cash. 

Would I do it again? Definitely, although with a full-time job as well I would never be able to maintain stock levels high enough to do fairs every week, or even every month. But it was a great confidence-booster to show off my work in the real world.

Having said that, I'm glad to be getting back to my custom orders and my online shop. Perhaps when I am a rich lady of leisure I'll be able to do both, but for now, I'm off back to Facebook to find out what everyone's been up to without me.