Sunday, 27 July 2014

Handmade Monday 178

Welcome to another Handmade Monday!  These weeks are just flying by for me at the moment - how about you?

I've been keeping busy with creating new images for the art agency, although I am waiting to get feedback on the direction the agency thinks will be best for sales.  It's still all very new and exciting.

Most of the work I'm doing now starts off as a line drawing on plain old paper...

which I then scan and complete with colour digitally. I like how I can create a pattern to fill an area of the drawing and how I can change things so easily.

I'm enjoying the challenge of learning new digital techniques, but I think there may come a point where I feel the need to get my paints out and just get messy!  At the moment, my personalised gifts fulfil that need to a degree - but there are so many ideas buzzing around in my head and messy paint techniques are at the heart of many of them!

Speaking of getting messy, that's exactly what Guide Dog puppy Quentin did this week.  Alongside all the training, people often forget that Guide Dog puppies are just like all other puppies and they still need to play.  He had lots of fun with my daughters' two dogs this week at Carr Mill Dam.  The water is irresistible to Molly and Max...

and it didn't take Quentin long to join them!  I only have one photo of him actually in the water, and he's obscured by greenery

but he did thoroughly enjoy himself!

It was a lot of fun, but a great opportunity to practise his recall too - distractions like playing with other dogs make it harder to call him back but he did pretty well.  He does keep checking where I am when he's off lead, which I'm sure is a good sign.

That's it from me this week - it's your turn now.  Leave your link to join in with Handmade Monday and enjoy visiting the other blogs.

Sunday, 20 July 2014

Handmade Monday 177

Hello and welcome!  It's time for Handmade Monday again.

This week I've had a welcome break - my daughter has a small caravan she keeps on a quiet farm site in Aberdaron (on the north Wales coast) and I've been there for a few wonderfully relaxing days.  The weather was mostly superb and we didn't do much except walk, eat and relax.  The caravan was probably about the size of this one...but with an awning it was plenty big enough for two people and a dog!

This was the morning walk for me and guide dog puppy Quentin

which led down here (you can just make out his rear end and tail here!)

and then here - miles of empty beach to enjoy.  We were the first ones on the beach each morning and it was such an amazing way to start the day.

It was Quentin's first ever visit to a beach and he couldn't believe his luck when he was let off the lead to enjoy himself!  It was such a joy to watch him having fun.

He was wary of the waves at first, jumping away from them as they crashed on the shore

but he soon got used to them and enjoyed a paddle!  He only went for a swim once, when he was playing with another dog, and we think that may have been accidental!

There were lots of opportunities for training as well as playing for Quentin - he got to do a lot of lying down under tables when we were eating out, and even lying on the beach while we had a picnic was good practice for him.  He found himself all the shady spots...

Back home, I'm still putting together images for the art agency, who will then provide me with some advice and direction, which I am sure will be valuable.  The caravan image (above) was one of the images they liked in the sample batch I sent!

Anyway, it's over to you now for Handmade Monday...what's been going on in your world?

Sunday, 13 July 2014

Handmade Monday 176

Hello and welcome to Handmade Monday!

A celebration is in order this week...the art licensing agency I sent some images to last week is definitely interested in working with me!!  As you may be able to imagine, I'm completely thrilled about this, BUT they need a full portfolio from me so I have to get quite a lot of images together in the next few weeks - but that feels really exciting rather than a task.  I can't wait!

This week also included my birthday (I've stopped counting though!) and a lovely visit from my daughter and granddaughter who live in London.  This is a video my daughter took - it includes a two-year-old, a puppy and some bubbles.  And a lot of cute toddler giggles!  I've never uploaded a video before so I hope it works!  It's only 49 seconds and I'm sure it will make you smile!


What has your week been like?  Let us know...

Sunday, 6 July 2014

Handmade Monday 175

Hello and welcome to Handmade Monday.

It's been fairly quiet on the handmade front here this week, but I have been working on some art.  One of my long-term plans is to look into licensing my art for use on products (anything from cards to tea cosies - I really don't mind!) and I've started to put together a portfolio which I can send to agents.  I've very tentatively approached two art licensing agencies so far... (it's surprisingly scary stuff!)...

there had to be a campervan in there!

... and I've had a glimmer of a breakthrough already, in that one of the agencies has emailed back to say they really like my work and think it's saleable BUT...

and a beach hut!

... the creative director (who makes the final decision) is currently on holiday!  I can't help but feel excited - but I am trying hard not to! The creative director may just decide she doesn't like my work at all.  Secretly, my fingers are firmly crossed while I expect the worst (then I won't feel too let down).

There's been a lovely distraction in the form of the local village celebration, Croft Carnival yesterday...

my granddaughter Emily with her mum on the float for the local pre-school

The whole village community and beyond comes together for Croft carnival (this year it celebrates 40 consecutive years) and it's lovely to see and be part of (although the traffic is a nightmare).

the tractor pulling the pre-school float

The procession - with many tractors in evidence (there's a lot of farming around here) - ends on the playing fields where there's attractions, stalls and lots of fun to be had.


Guide Dog Puppy Quentin was very interested in the bagpipes and brass band!

And here's a shot of him proving how well he responds to the stay command - you can barely see him!  Sorry, I didn't get any of him watching the carnival parade!

How's your week been?  Join in with Handmade Monday and let us know...

Sunday, 29 June 2014

Handmade Monday 174

Welcome to Handmade Monday!

This week the latest Craftseller magazine arrived.  Inside are a couple of my cards, using Craftseller's free papers

and my music paper cones with heart shaped confetti - this is a quick make for their 30-minute make section

The vintage sheet music is a free download from The Graphics Fairy.

Quentin News

Guide Dog puppy Quentin is growing at an alarming rate - I realised how big he was when we went to puppy classes this week.  At five months, he is already bigger than a six-month-old pup (another labrador) who was there too.  And his paws were twice the size of the other puppy's.

Big paws and cute puppy dog eyes!

I mentioned a few weeks ago how he sat down at the start of any walk that started at our front door (as opposed to going out in the car).  I remedied that by adding in some exciting detours - the woods and a field where he can free run.  Now he doesn't sit down at the beginning of walks...but he does sit down now if we don't take the turning to the field or cross the road at the right place for the woods!!

Quentin's paw in my hand!

I'm now varying the routes as much as possible, so he realises there are different routes to the same place - but also that he realises I'm in charge and not him!  There are many more learning curves for him than I had imagined!  I'm told that pups who show initiative make better guide dogs than those who are more placid, so perhaps it's not such a bad sign, although I can't help imagining a blind person hoping to go to the corner shop for a pint of milk and Quentin taking him or her to the park for a run!

He is still jumping up when he's very excited but that is lessening and now he doesn't jump up every time there's a visitor or when he gets petted when he's out - which is a great improvement and a bit of a relief!

It's time for handing over to you for Handmade Monday now.  Enjoy meandering through the links!

Sunday, 22 June 2014

Handmade Monday 173

Hello and welcome to Handmade Monday.

This week the July issue of Sewing World dropped onto my doormat, and in its pages is my little baby shoe pincushion.  This was such a quick make - and a superb use of old baby shoes!  I first wrote about this here a while back, but it's lovely to see it in print!

I'm still waiting to hear back from HMRC about the new EU laws on digital sales.  If this is as bad as everyone thinks it is, it's going to be a disaster for everyone who has a small digital art/craft business as well as anyone who buys them.  It may be an EU law, but it will affect the whole world.  The EU expects everyone everywhere to collect VAT at different rates from each EU customer (28 countries!) and it looks like there is no minimum threshold.  This means selling even one digital stamp to an EU country will implicate you in collecting VAT.  It's not feasible to expect a micro business to do this, so the new law will inevitably cut down choice for buyers.

If you want to know more, or support the artists, join the Facebook group.

If you want more light-hearted news, here it is...

Quentin News

Guide Dog puppy Quentin is now five months old, and I've realised that training him up to now has been much easier than I expected in some respects, and much harder in some others.

If I watch it long enough, someone will throw it for me

He's mostly a very good puppy and sits obediently in the back of the car, he waits for food (even when it's in front of him and he is drooling!), his recall when he's out free running has been absolutely perfect up to now and his toileting on command when we're at home has been much easier than I expected (not as easy when we are out!).  He's got a good response to sit, wait, down, stay, stand, leave and come.  His response to the whistle when he's free running is spot on - he comes running immediately.

I'm here, where's my treat?

There have been harder things though.  One of the most difficult has been curbing his excitement - he still jumps up when he's excited and sometimes tries to grab your clothes or arms (yes, I've got holes in most of my clothes).  This is improving slowly, though, which is good news for my arms but may be too late for my clothes.

I like it here

He prefers walks in natural surroundings (don't we all?) and I think the problem we have with him sitting down at the beginning of walks is actually his little protest.  It only happens when we're walking the streets around our house (or about to!).  I think it's possibly his way of saying he'd rather go in the car because we go to more exciting places then (shops, parks, woodland, etc).  I've thrown in a few more interesting activities on local walks to try and improve this - there's a patch of grass where he's now let off the lead and there's some woods and fields we sometimes go to - although I'm careful to mix it up so he doesn't expect something exciting every time.

long cool grass on a hot day is wonderful

And that's all from me for now.  It's over to you for your Handmade Monday now...

Sunday, 15 June 2014

Handmade Monday 172

Hello and welcome to another Handmade Monday!  We've had some fabulous weather here this week (hope you have too!) but interspersed with rain... still, it wouldn't be Britain without copious amounts of the wet stuff, would it?

My personalised fish and chip cones are always a lot of fun to design.  I draw them out the traditional way on paper and use alcohol-based markers to add colour to them.  They then get scanned and emailed to the customer, who then prints and assembles them ready for their celebration.

I've been meaning for a long while to get some generic ones done too and I finally got round to a couple this week.

But all this might change soon.  I've been shocked to hear about new EU tax laws, coming into play in January 2015.  It appears that anyone selling pretty much anything digitally will need to charge VAT at each individual customer's country's rate and it also appears there is no threshold - which is the really scary bit, because my little digital art business really doesn't make enough money for me to start jumping through complicated international VAT hoops.

I'm not sure what the new laws will mean for the future of Handmade Harbour.  I don't even know if it's viable for Handmade Harbour to have a future as a digital crafts supplier.  I mean, even before we get to the laborious and time-consuming gathering of 28 different countries' taxes (with records needing to be kept for ten years!) how do I charge different people different prices?  Do I have a drop-down list on every product with every country's VAT rate calculated for people to choose from?  Could I just charge everyone one rate and would that even be legal?  Could I block sales to non-UK EU countries? And how would this work in practice? Would it still be necessary to get embroiled in VAT?

Blocking sales to other EU countries currently seems the way some digital artists will choose to go - certainly not in keeping with the idea of a common market, but possibly the only way to stay in business?  It does seem HMRC hasn't considered small or micro businesses or indie artists at all.  If you do know more, please share.

I just want to create!

What's running through my mind now is this: is it really worth continuing to sell digitally?  I have a few months to make up my mind, and explore my options.  There is a Facebook Group set up to discuss this, if anyone is affected and wants to know more.

Quentin news

Guide Dog puppy Quentin is doing really well in most areas of his training, but he still gets very excited at times - completely normal for a puppy but sometimes difficult to manage.  The worst times are when a stranger pets him while he is out.  Even if he manages to contain his excitement at the time and not jump up, a few seconds later he is jumping up and taking chunks out of me.  Not good, especially at the checkout in Sainsbury's!

So we've been doing a lot of practice with reinforcing the sit and wait commands.  He's really good at these, but needs much more practice when there are distractions around him, so we're sitting and waiting everywhere I can think of.  Out on walks, I've been sitting on benches so often, he looks expectantly at any bench now whenever we pass one!  I think I should add here that it's me who sits on the bench and Quentin sits on the floor!!

It does seem he's improving with visitors to the house.  He jumps up less and is a little calmer.  The strategy of visitors ignoring him when they first arrive seems a bit mean (and is difficult for dog lovers!) but definitely works in encouraging more acceptable behaviour.

Otherwise, he's just delightful and most of the time he really is quite calm and well-behaved for such a young pup.  He's patient in the car, stands on command for me to lift him out, and never gets over-excited having his lead on for walks.

It's been a bit of a long post this week - sorry!  It's over to you for Handmade Monday now.