Our Colourful Sussex Wedding

I got married to my best friend in May.  It was the happiest day, which followed a wonderful year of planning, celebrating, hen parties, cake tasting and disastrous make-up trials.  It was love at first sight when we met in 2016, and we got engaged on our first anniversary, in the Pavilion Gardens, Brighton.  We managed several hours of hysterical newly engaged glee before speculating about what our ideal wedding day would involve, and both immediately agreed that an informal, rural barn setting would be our dream.  We had visions of somewhere on the South Downs in Sussex, with fairy lights, hay bales, cocktails and colour.  Lots of colour.  We both love Nepal and have been there, separately, many times between us, and have since been rather obsessed with Nepalese food in all its forms.  So, we agreed that curry, colour – oh yes, and cake – lots of cake would feature on the day.

We spent a few weeks looking at barns; there are lots of beautiful venues in Sussex, but when we saw Pangdean Old Barn, it was love at first sight (again).  It is a restored 18th Century barn on the South Downs Way, home to Nicky Currie and her family.  Nicky and her team also cater events there, and we knew the food would be amazing. They had our preferred date available and it was booked for 12th May 2018.

Having booked the date, I immediately started looking for a dress, and having never been someone who has daydreamed for hours on end about being a bride, I didn’t know where to start, except that I really, really, love to dance, so I was pretty sure it needed to be knee length so I could twirl, unimpeded, for hours on end. I had a booking at Ozone on Church Street in Brighton and tried on all the mid length, netted, vintage style tea-dresses I could find and thought I had found ‘the one’ before lunch.

After a week’s cool down, I revisited, just wondering about the possibility, just the ‘tiniest’ possibility, that I had perhaps been a little hasty in not trying on anything other than what I had been looking for.  So I gave the long dresses a try, even squeezing myself into a ‘mermaid’, a ‘trumpet’, and an enormous layered ballgown which was surprisingly weighty!  And then I really found ‘the one’.   Actually, it was two – made up of a full length gown, a reverse bolero – and I finished it off with a sparkly belt. It was lacy.  It had a train.  It was fitted. It was absolutely nothing like the dress I had in mind. I loved it!

After deciding on the dress, all of the other ideas fell into place.  We wanted to do as much as possible ourselves, adding personal touches, making things by hand, and where that wasn’t possible, we wanted to source as much as possible from local businesses.

We got our wedding stationary from Ivy Ellen; the colour scheme set the tone for the decisions we were yet to make, and somehow seemed to pick out the colour of Pangdean Barn itself. We used the same design, later, for our table plan and as labels on wild flower seeds which would be our wedding favours.

Our next step was booking a local florist. I saw Lib Adams, aka Bettie Rose flowers, on Instagram, and loved her work.  Lib immediately grasped our tentative ideas after one meeting, and after a second meeting over a coffee a few weeks before the wedding, the vision was in full bloom, so to speak.  We wanted a rustic feel and spent months collecting milk bottles and juice bottles, decorating them with ribbons for the table and barn.  We wanted a rustic, woodland feel, naming all our tables after birds and using old wood slices for the table centres. Lib created the most beautiful arrangements of sweet peas, peonies, moody blue roses, and delicate foliage that complemented the theme, colours and spring greens of the season.

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Beautiful flower crowns for the flower girls

We didn’t know what to do about cake; we just knew we like it a lot and nobody makes them better than Elina from Osetta, the cafe across the road from my shop on North Road. I love carrot, Pete loves a Victoria sponge, so we decided, why have one, when we could have several?! She baked eight cakes in the end, meaning we wouldn’t have to decide; and vegans, celiacs and those who love to pick n mix, would all be happy. Everyone commented on the cakes; they were beautiful, decorated by Lib, and utterly delicious.

We borrowed a few items from my own shop, Little Beach Boutique, such as the heart shaped LED lights, which we mounted on the hay stack with knitting needles at the back of the barn.

We added some personal touches of our own to add to the rustic theme; we used an old pallet for our table plan and we sanded and painted another pallet to make our order of service, with the names of the songs, readings and bridal party written on it in colourful inks.  We used the ceramic heart bunting that we sell in the shop to decorate the pallet with “O’Fossey”, our married name, and draped some to say “welcome” at the entrance. We organised for colourful lanterns and extra fairy lights to be rigged up across the ceiling, added photo garlands, a dressing up box and photo booth – and had some delicious cocktails in kilner jars on offer for our guests.

All that was left to prepare was the hair and make-up!  After a few disastrous (but very funny) make-up trials, I was delighted to find Natasha of Pretty Me Vintage, who understood the look I was going for.  Nicky from Coco Belle Styling, spent the morning doing all our hair – I loved having it in rollers while I opened a bottle of fizz!

My mum was to be giving me away, my sister was my maid of honour and three of my best friends and their daughters were bridesmaids and flower girls.  Seeing everybody together was incredible, unforgettable.  We met the registrar in the living room at Pangdean before going in to the barn, taking a moment before going in.  Nicky, the owner and also the caterer at Pangdean, was hands on from the moment we arrived, holding up the umbrella as we walked into the barn, before creating the most delicious wedding food I have ever had.

I was blown away by how beautiful the barn looked, and seeing my soon to be husband looking back at me from the end of the aisle took my breath away. When we got engaged, there had been musicians playing one of our favourite songs, purely by chance, in the Pavilion gardens.  We went up to them, in our excitement, to tell them that Pete had just proposed and they asked if they could play at our wedding.  Twelve months later, there they were, playing Into My Arms by Nick Cave as I walked up the aisle hand in hand with my mum.

It was the perfect day, completely unforgettable, and complete joy from start to end.

…and I managed to dance in my dress!

 

All the photos are by Ella Penn Photography 

 

Meet our Makers in Little Beach Boutique

Here in Little Beach Boutique we love handmade, we delight in being able to showcase new talent and we are proud to be able to offer our customers something different to the high street.

So, we thought we would introduce you to some of our most recent stockists whose unique range of products make an independent shop such as ours a very special shopping experience, and well worth a trip to Brighton.

Mica Peet

We discovered Mica Peet’s work via Instagram and were delighted to find out that she is based just along the coast in Southampton. Mica is a textile designer whose patterns are inspired by colour and nature.  She laser cuts geometric and animal shaped pieces and prints her bold designs onto them to produce her range of individual and striking jewellery, including brooches, earrings and necklaces.  We love her stag design brooch and her hummingbird earrings. Each piece features different parts of Mica’s print, so each item makes a unique handmade gift for someone (but they are very hard to give away!)

Mica Peet patterned Stag Brooch, Little Beach Boutique
Mica Peet patterned Hummingbird Earrings, Little Beach Boutique

A Northern Light

We met illustrator Claire (aka A Northern Light) at a trade show in January and fell in love with her first ever range of lighting.  Her beautiful illustrations are based on the natural world and feature starling murmurations, woodland scenes, and floral patterns.  From her Manchester studio, she has handmade her range of lighting from parchment paper, each featuring her detailed and intricate illustrations.  The range includes tea lights and plug-in lamps.  Our favourites are ‘A New Day’ because it reminds us of the colours of the morning and ‘Murmuration’, because it brings to mind the starlings on Brighton and Hove’s West Pier which roost there at dusk.

A New Day Lamp by A Northern Light, in Little Beach Boutique
Murmuration Lamp by A Northern Light, Little Beach Boutique

‘By Alex’

Finally, we would like to introduce ‘By Alex’ who is our most recent stockist.  We liked her work as soon as we saw her range of quirky stationary and wash bags, because her designs are based on our Great British weather and that is always interesting!  Alex’s textile patterns feature polka dots and umbrellas in crisp, fresh colours and she makes each piece by hand in her Hertfordshire studio.

 We love the fabric on these make up pouches, which are perfect for a weekend away.

Handmade Gifts By Alex in Little Beach Boutique, Brighton
Handmade Polka Dot Pouch By Alex in Little Beach Boutique, Brighton

 Watch this space for more to come about our latest designers here in Little Beach Boutique, visit our website, or even better, come to see us if you are shopping in Brighton – we are in great company among lots of independent shops and boutiques in the North Laine.

Visit to our Felt Slipper Workshop in Nepal

Last week I travelled to Nepal, a country I have been visiting since 2009.  I first went as a volunteer, and stayed to help in an orphanage just outside of Kathmandu.

On my days off, I loved browsing the local markets and admired the extensive handicraft on sale, buying lots of gifts for people back home.  My friend’s children adored the felt animal slippers I gave them.

When I opened Little Beach Boutique in 2011, I decided that the felt animal slippers I had bought as gifts would be ideal for my customers, so I returned to Kathmandu and researched local businesses who could make them for me.

I met Ramji, a local man, who designs and makes these beautiful slippers with his wife Usha and a small team of crafters in his home-based workshop in Kathmandu.  I learnt how the slippers are made; first dyed with vivid colours, washed and shaped with soap and water, then left to dry naturally in the sun.  The additional details, such as the friendly faces, bright eyes and intricate wool details are sewn on on after this.

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Handmade felt slippers hanging to dry in the sun

I started with an order for some felt tigers, sheep and quirky ‘jesters’ and our customers loved them.

I soon returned to Nepal to come up with some new designs alongside Ramji, such as our Dog Boots, pictured below:

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Handmade felt dog slippers made in Nepal

And last week, I returned to Nepal, to visit the orphanage again, view the beautiful mountains and to see Ramji and his workshop.  This is me with Ramji and his wife, Usha, below:

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We discussed lots of new ideas to add to our collection.  To date, our range of felt animal slippers at Little Beach Boutique, includes Cows, Sheep and Donkeys.  And now we also have adult sizes!

You can view our collection here:  www.littlebeachboutique.com

If you have any suggestions for designs, I’d love to hear from you.  Bye for now x

Making Fused Glass Boat Tiles – a short demo

This week at Little Beach Boutique I have been making glass Sailing Boat tiles and I thought I’d show my readers how they’re made, using this piece (pictured below) as an example.

Framed Fused Glass Boat Tile

Fused Glass Boat Tiles – Layering Glass to go into the kiln

I love seaside hues and pastel tones and think they are perfect for a bright and breezy piece like this.

I use Bullseye Glass, as their colour range is fantastic. For these boats I have chosen Turquoise and Lilac ‘Opalescent’ Glass, which is opaque, holds it’s colour well and stands out against any background.

First of all, cut out the boat shapes with a glass cutter- – it can be a bit tricky as the glass is brittle. I’ve gone for quite simplified geometric shapes but you can be as elaborate as you like!

I have used a clear piece f 3mm ‘Tekta’ as a base and I’ve cut this piece to 6 x 4 inches. Straight onto this piece, I have placed a piece of Copper leaf. It is very thin and quite fiddly, but cut it so that the edges don’t quite meet the edge of the glass.  When it is fired it goes a beautiful blue colour and produces small bubbles for a wonderful watery effect.

Now – the magic dust! Sprinkle small amounts of bicarbonate of soda carefully. I use this loads in my glass, as I love bubbles – it adds texture and tactility and continues the watery theme. Tiny pinches will produce lovely bubbles, but too much will cause the bubbles to burst, so use no more than about 2mm lumps.

Then place a second piece of clear tekta glass straight over this. It will trap air which tries to escape when the glass is heated and expands to cause bubbles. On top on that, layer the boats, as shown below.

How to Make Fused Glass Tiles
Making fused Glass Sailing Boats

Once the boats are arranged where you want them, you can add detail and texture to the glass. Here, I have  cut curves into a 2mm piece of turquoise glass, to form ‘waves’ ad then sprinkled a mixture of fine frit and powdered glass which I have mixed up with broken ‘stringers’ and dichroic glass for added sparkle. The colours I have used are Opaque White, Turquoise and Clear Dichroic frit in various forms. Just sprinkle freely on top.

You might want to add some detail to your boats – I have used an enamel pen to draw on them. You could add names or number if you like.

Then, FIRE it!! This piece has been fired to 780*C. You’ll get a lovely effect in areas where there are slightly larger amounts of bicarbonate of soda, with white frit scattered on top, like this picture….

Made from fused glass – sailing boat wave panel

Framed Boat Tile

When it has finished cooling, you can use this tile as a coaster, slump into a dish, or make a beautiful piece of glass wall art by framing it. You could also stamp it with your favourite phrase, like I have done here.

That’s it for now!  I’d love to hear about your experiences if you have tried to make something like this.  All pieces can be viewed in my shop or on my website  www.littlebeachboutique.com.

Bye for now!

Brighton Festival is in Full Swing…

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Brighton festival is in full swing this month, and the city is bursting with activity;  from dancing in the glorious Spielgeltent to browsing brilliant local art and chomping on cake in one of the Open Houses, there are street performances,  art installations and pop-up venues  every weekend in May, with the weird and wonderful (and everything in between) filling each corner of the city,  and something to do from the moment you wake until well after the sun goes down.

The highlights for me this weekend started with the Swing Ninjas playing at the Warren on Friday.   The Warren was a surprise treat – tucked behind West Street, but feeling a world away from it, the atmosphere seemed to be more like a country fair, complete with tepee , hay bails and barbecue,  than a city-centre festival venue.

The Swing Ninjas were amazing as always.  Regulars at the awesome Mesmerist, the ‘Quintessential Gentlemen of Swing’ played their set of New Orleans Swing and Parisien Jazz in front of a blissful crowd of toe-tappers and swing dancers (nobody stood still),  with a strong contingent from Brighton Lindyhoppers doing some dazzling dancing.

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 Yesterday I went on a trail of Open Houses, walking in the wind around the Beyond the Level and Fiveways exhibits.  I was so inspired by the  art and craft on show, showcasing Brighton as an incredible city for creativity.  My favourites were 8 Rosehill Terrace, showing some stunning canvasses by Tina Davies (www.tinadavies.eu), and the Dragonfly House, where I bought a beautiful vase by Alison Milner (www.spellermilnerdesign.co.uk)

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There was plenty of time to sit in the garden and eat cake before it started raining completely, but I also left lots more to see next weekend!

If you get the chance, try to squeeze in a  few open houses before the festival is over.   I’d also really recommend New England House, Glass in Fusion, David Williams and Guests, A Family of Artists and Friends for their atmosphere as well as their collection – but there are so many more!

You can also visit here for more information visit www.aoh.org.ukwww.aoh.org.uk

For further info on the Brighton Lindyhoppers, visit – http://www.brightonlindyhoppers.co.uk/

And to find out more about the Swing Ninjas, go to – www.theswingninjas.co.uk

Bye for now x

Suzanne blogs from Little Beach Boutique, a shop and workshop on Brighton Beach, specialising in handmade glass, craft and personalised gifts –   www.littlebeachboutique.com

A Hen Party Beside the Seaside

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Back in January, I was honoured and terrified in equal measures to be asked to organise my friend’s hen party in Brighton.  Brighton is fast becoming the capital city of hen parties and I was slightly dreading becoming one of the groups  that I have spent several soggy Saturdays in Little Beach Boutique slightly smirking at- groups walking past in the rain with banners, inflatable penises and learner plates flapping around in the Brighton Breeze.

 Brighton Sign low

I was spoiled for choice over what to plan for Kim – I could have taken my pick of the numerous burlesque lessons, ‘Beyonce’ boot camps, buff butlers and craft mornings to choose from – and that’s not to the exclusion of the kayaking that floated through my mind, or a morning learning to wind-surf in Hove lagoon.

But, mindfully aware of people’s budgets, and under a strict brief of no strippers or dance lessons, much to my relief, I decided to make the most of what we have to offer in our amazing city and show off what I love about this place.

So, we hired a house in the gorgeous Clifton Hill area, with plenty of space for a party on Friday night and views of the sea as soon as we walked outside.  We made cocktails, played games, danced and gossiped for the first night, then made our way to Hove the next day for a morning of pampering at Real Beauty with Allie – a new salon on First Avenue.
Allie was amazing –  we all had fabulous massages and some had their nails done- perfect for the ‘morning after’ and, as the weather let us down, we had our intended picnic of coffee and pastries in the relaxing surrounds of her salon instead.  We had a gorgeous lunch in the Bandstand Cafe – really good value and tasty snacks in what is, to me, the most beautiful building in Brighton.

Obviously we had a bracing walk on the beach  – no hen party would be complete without being ill-equipped and under-dressed for the weather – despite it being May Bank Holiday.

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We had drinks, told stories about Kim and wrote ‘wishes and words of wisdom’ in a a jar of pebbles from the beach before going to her favourite restaurant in Brighton – Oki-Nami. She loves Japanese food and it didn’t disappoint; as always, it was so friendly – and delicious.  They’ve got a contained conservatory area there which was perfect for a big group like our’s.

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And the master stroke for the evening was taking a gamble of one of Brighton’s newest clubs – The Funfair Club,  decked out in all that is nostalgic, eccentric and fabulous about Brighton.  We were able to book a booth for free entry before we arrived and had the mirrored room – a perfect size for our group to spread out and relax in, but near enough to the dance floor so we could make the most of the music, which, I might add, was a triumph!  A mixture of anything from Amy Winehouse to the Strokes, from Whitney Houston to Pulp,  I think it’s a testament to how much a danced, laughed and sang along that I have lost my voice for the last few days!

On Sunday, we had our day on the beach, as the sun came out and so did the rest of Brighton.  It was the first weekend of the Brighton Festival, and festival fever was in full force, with the seafront bursting with people eating, drinking, dancing and sunbathing.  Brighton at it’s best!

Of course, I should have known better, as while the others went home, I decided to go to the Mesmerist for some live music and dancing…no Brighton weekend would be complete without it!

As a lover of craft – the hen party wouldn’t have been complete without a few personal touches, so here are a few ideas…

  • Personalised Tea-light holders; stamped with the names of all the hens – something for everybody to take home. You could do this for photo frames or keyrings as well.

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  • A jar of pebbles of ‘Wisdom and Wishes’ for their life together, labelled with the initials of the couple – a perfect Brighton keepsake – people loved writing down their pearls of wisdom on these!

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  • I also bought a Polaroid camera – there are no re-takes with one of these! And a memory book so that we could stick them in and make an instant keepsake for Kim, with personal messages from each hen written underneath.

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  • Personalised Party Bags for each hen as they arrived, complete with pick and mix and a hen-do survival kit!

And of course-the groom’s head on a stick…why should he miss out?…

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Treatments: Real Beauty with Allie – www.facebook.com/Realbeautywithallie
Restaurant: www.okinami.com
Dancing: www.funfairclub.com
Gifts:  www.littlebeachboutique.com

Blogging from her gift shop, Little Beach Boutique, Suzanne writes about art, craft and making glass, running a small business and living by the sea.

Making images in glass using silkscreens – a little tutorial

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I’ve been asked by lots of visitors to Little Beach Boutique how I make the glass silk screen coasters that have been new to the shop this year, so I thought I would show you here, with the aid of a few photos, which I hope will help.

Using silk-screens is a great way to add a personal touch to your fused glass – you can create a silk-screens from your own drawings and have a completely unique range.  All you need is a bit of inspiration – and living by the sea gives me plenty of that.

So, for my recent range of Brighton-inspired coasters, I have made silk-screens from my favourite landmarks, first taking images of Brighton Pier, the Royal Pavilion and the West Pier and drawing them onto acetate paper.

 Making images in glass using silkscreens - a little tutorial-2

I bought some blank silk screens from a local supplier which I found online. To transfer the image onto the stretched silk, you need a dark-room to expose them, which, like most people, I don’t have.  So, my hand-drawn images were sent with the screens to a local screen-printing workshop who do it for between £12-14.  Much cheaper than building a dark room.

After a few days I had my silk-screens with the images that can be used again and again…

 Making images in glass using silkscreens - a little tutorial-3

Ready for printing,  the next step is to choose and cut the piece of glass you require, depending on what you are making, and lay it under the screen.  I usually choose 2mm enamel glass for the base.

TOP TIP – smooth down the edges and corners of each piece of glass or it will slice the silk immediately!  I have bought a grinder for this purpose – they are frequently used by stained-glass artists and can be bought via a stained-glass supplier online.  It was a bit of an outgoing to start with (£80-£100) but definitely worth it, as it saved me the pain of destroying my silk-screens every time I went near them!

So – mix the enamel powder of your choice with an oil-based medium.  It needs to be a treacle-consistency.  Spoon it over the top of your image, before pressing over the full image with a ‘squeegy’, which is tool not dissimilar to what you use for wall-papering.  This squeezes the enamel through the holes in the screen and transfers the image onto the glass below.

Repeat this process 2-3 times to ensure an even coverage, like this …

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Make sure the whole of your image has been evenly transferred with enamel, lift the screen carefully…

Et voila!

…A piece of glass with Brighton Pier on it…

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Let the enamel dry before dusting with a layer of fine crystal clear glass powder and cover with a layer of clear sheet glass.  The layer of powder prevents bubbles from surfacing, which can happen frequently when fusing two pieces of glass. I have chosen to use a 2mm piece of ‘driftwood grey’ enamel glass under a 3mm piece of clear base tekta glass.

I fire my coasters to 773*C – that seems like enough for a lovely smooth edge and soft corners, while maintaining the shape.

Open the kiln, take them out and fire up the kettle as you now have some fabulous coasters!

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So, your shopping list:

2mm opalescent glass

3mm tekta base glass

Fine Crystal Clear powder

Enamel

Oil Based mixing medium

A squeegy

A silk-screen

and some of your favourite images…

I hope this has been helpful.  You can find the whole range of glass coasters and dishes here http://littlebeachboutique.com/collections/handmade-glass

Do contact me if you would like to know more, at littlebeachboutique@googlemail.com

Enjoy!

 Suzanne x

Blogging from her gift shop, Little Beach Boutique, Suzanne writes about art, craft and making glass, running a small business and living by the sea.

Ten Lessons Learned from Self-Employment

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It’s a year ago today that I left my relatively 9-5 job to become self-employed.  As a public sector worker, I had been under a seemingly infinite redundancy notice and I decided to take the plunge into the world of self-employment.
The word ‘plunge’ seems about apt for what felt like a massive launch out of my comfort zone. For the first two months, when I said ‘self-employed’, I would use my index-fingers to illustrate apostrophes, as, perhaps, what I had really intended to convey was that I saw myself as ‘un-employed’.

My ‘self-employment’ involved making making kiln-formed glass which I would sell in my shop on the beach – Little Beach Boutique. So, this meant making a living from my own creativity and learning to run a business in the meantime.  But for the first month or so, it did nothing but rain and I would make endless pieces of glass which filled a shop that nobody came into.  I would open up when everyone else around me knew better, just to feel like I had gone ‘to work’, and any sense of inspiration or motivation, or opportunities to learn how to run a business seemed to be rapidly waning.

I hadn’t realised until April 2012 that self-employment was a very different kind of ‘work’ to any that I had known. Nobody was checking what time I rolled in, whether I took an extended lunch or accounting for what I had achieved during the day.  But instead of feeling total relief and possibility at being self-determining, I found myself with endless unfilled, unstructured hours ahead of me and it was my ‘job’ to fill them with something meaningful that would eventually generate an income. I felt totally rudderless.

Suddenly, it was me that I was responsible to, and I turned out to be a pretty harsh boss. Most days I felt like I had achieved nothing, and ideas, incentive and money all started to dry up.

It seemed I had no idea how isolating self-employment could be. I needed someone to bounce ideas off or to be able to fish for a subtle ego stroke when I felt self-critical.

So most days I would fluctuate between panic and despair at having left a fairly well-paid, albeit unpredictable, job in a profession that gave me structure, identity – and, above all, a team of people around me, to go into one that depended on self-motivation and creativity when I seemed to be losing both.

And all during a double-dip recession which meant that:

a- I couldn’t have picked a harder time to make a living from craft & retail

b – it would be hard to get back into work even if I had wanted to!

But something changed a couple of months in.  I got into a routine of sorts and started to let go of the self-doubt. Things did improve, people came into the shop – and bought glass – and I found some momentum, learned when to let go and adapted to having a working life that wasn’t built around the same structure as before.  I started to accept that self-employment is also unpredictable – some days would be really, really good, and some would be bad.

I can see that those days of what felt like wading through a fog of listlessness and uncertainty whilst trying to establish a new routine and come up with ideas were part of a process that I just needed to adapt to. The one variable that seemed to effect the business the most – the weather – was something that was totally out of my control and I surrendered to it.   I realised that being my own-worst critic wasn’t going to win me any awards and things started to shift.

So, I thought I’d write down a few lessons that I have learnt to anybody who might find/have found themselves in a similar situation – basically shrouded in self-doubt at having made the same decision!

 1 – Stay positive about what you do, even if others aren’t.  Especially if others aren’t.

2 – Find a peer group so you’re not alone.  There are so many forums and networking opportunities out there for people who work on their own, in any profession.
3 – Take the bad with the good.  One bad day doesn’t have to generate a bad week.
4 – Be a fair boss to yourself – imagine how you would talk to an employee and question whether you would treat them in the same way that you can talk to yourself.
5 –  Turn off the ten o’clock news. We are in the midst of a long and relentless recession and doesn’t the press love to focus on it? But the circumstances can generate new opportunities for people to do things their way, and in many ways, the time has never been better to start again.
6 – Walk away temporarily.  Don’t keep at something if it isn’t working.  Take a break, do something else, find a distraction then come back to it.
7 – Absorb yourself in what you love.  If your hobby has become your income – remember not to lose the joy it used to give you – look for new ways of finding it – or a new hobby!
8 – Talk. Don’t be a martyr to your own cause.  Mostly, people want you to do well, so don’t be proud and put on a brave face.  It’s amazing the ideas people can come up with when you start  to talk.
9 – Accept yourself and your way of working.  The same routine every day doesn’t suit everyone.  Some days might be really productive, but if you devour a whole box-set and a pack of macaroons in an afternoon, perhaps that is just part of your (ok, my) ‘process’!
10 – As mum would say, everything is a ‘learning curve’ and self-employment has been my steepest one yet.  But the challenge also has massive rewards and a sense of achievement can be found in many places – even if that is just ‘sticking it out’ a while longer!

Things can just take their time.
This little necklace I made pretty much summed it up…

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I’d love to hear your thoughts if you want to add to this list.  Bye for now!

Blogging from her gift shop, Little Beach Boutique, Suzanne writes about art, craft and making glass, running a small business and living by the sea.

Warm felt slippers for cold winter feet

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In 2009 I visited Nepal for the first time. I had decided to take a few months to travel and volunteer, and instantly fell in love with the place – it became home for a while, and I have gone back every year since.

During one of my visits, I met Ramji, a local business man, who makes felt slippers from his home workshop in the Kathmandu Valley.  I was just about to open Little Beach Boutique and thought the slippers he made were the cutest thing I had ever seen and would be a perfect addition to the shop.  Each pair is made with natural wool, made by hand from start to finish and dried naturally in the sun.

I soon put in an order for some slippers – sheep, tigers and mice, and on recent visits, we have been coming up with ideas together.  In January, I returned to go trekking, and we came up with some new designs – donkeys, cows, dogs and cats.

They took a while to arrive this time, as it has been a long, cold winter in Nepal and there haven’t been many warm sunny days.  But last friday, after going home from the shop early, feeling frozen by our relentless winter, they had arrived – so I put on a pair instantly! Happy feet…

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So now I don’t really mind if the cold continues for a while, as I have these to choose from…
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Blogging from her gift shop, Little Beach Boutique, Suzanne writes about art, craft and making glass, running a small business and living by the sea.

Making Waves with Glass

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I’ve always loved making things.  When I was younger, my best friend and I used to get the train to Brighton to scour flea markets for discarded necklaces and solitary earrings that we could break up and re-form, and scan each tiny wooden tray in the bead shop on Sydney Street with a basket to fill with charms, wires and findings.  We’d sell our eclectic creations to the people on our road and give the money we made to various good causes.  I’ve still got the letters from local charities thanking us for the ‘generous’ sums of up to about £7.00 which raised on their behalf!

I first tried my hand at fusing glass a few years ago after doing a weekend workshop at the Open Studios on Brighton Beach.  After renting a studio space for a few months, I bought myself a kiln and turned my spare room into a space in which I could tinker to my heart’s content.  I’d put different items in the kiln to see what happened.  I’m certainly no scientist, but I can appreciate whatever alchemy occurs when the lid is closed and the heat is turned up. When glass melts and re-forms, something entirely new happens.  Colours transform and merge, shapes soften and bubbles appear, rusty coppers turn a sheer blue.

Quite naturally, the glass I started making seemed to be a reflection of my surroundings -frothy blue waves, though, in reality they are often a lot more grey in Brighton!

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The piece above is made with two sheets of 3 mm Clear Base , 2mm Bullseye Turquoise Glass, White Opal Stringers, White Opalescent Medium Frit, Copper Leaf and Bicarbonate of Soda.

Lay 2-3 sheets of copper foil onto a sheet of clear base glass, overlapping if you want darker blue in some places.  Scatter small amounts of bicarbonate of soda on to the foil -use no more than a couple of pen-tip sizes in any one place, or the bubble could burst!  Lay the second piece of clear glass on top,  making sure the edges meet.

Cut waves & arcs into Turquoise Glass and lay on top on the clear glass in your chosen arrangement.  Then scatter generously with Frit and Stringers.  Fire to a maximum of 780*C.  Bullseye have a great firing schedule on their website http://www.bullseyeglass.com.

Enjoy!

Blogging from her gift shop, Little Beach Boutique, Suzanne writes about art, craft and making glass, running a small business and living by the sea.