With under two weeks to go until the Festive fair at the Birmingham NEC, we are nearly there. I am still making things but nothing that needs drilling as Mr Wellydog has probably still got a weeks worth of drilling to do. So it’s been coasters and gin stirrers.
I’ve also at the last minute finally figured out how to do Santa candle holders to go with the snowman and tree ones. Talk about leaving everything to the last minute. They have been popular so I’ve been making some more as I only made a few to trial them in the shop, but they are so cute, we think they will do well at the fair.
It’s been mostly. Christmas things we have been making specifically for the fair. We still have quite a lot of stock left in the shop this year of other things for gifts, so it seemed silly to make more. We had thought it would be busier in the shop during the summer than it was, so I guess in a way, thats good as it’s meant we have more to take to the fair.
I wanted a statement piece as well for the stall, so I made another large Santa. I was quite pleased with him, I like his curly beard . I tried to put shadows behind to bring out the curls. He’s made purely of Frit. Frit is glass ground down into, course,medium, fine or powder grades. . I use fine frit. I know a lot of people do pictures in powdered frit. But it’s not something I’ve ever got on with. He’s quite large so he should stand out from a distance.
I’ve gone for a bit of a red theme, I thought that might stand out but in retrospect I think as it’s a Christmas fair, there will be a lot of red there generally. I decided to try stencilling a sign on red sack cloth. Originally I had thought of getting coffee bags, but then I saw the red and went that route instead.
We’ve managed to cobble together a old clothes rail to go above the table to hang things from, not just light catchers, but lights to. We were to mean to pay the £90 + for official lights, so ours will all be battery operated.
We have a massive list of things we need to take, including tools to build the stall when we are there. It has to be nice and secure as it needs to be up for 4 days.
We have a giveaway for some tickets to the festive fair running on Facebook and Instagram if you fancy your luck.
It would be lovely to see you all at the festive fair but we know for a lot of people it’s not possible. So if you could wish us luck I would be very grateful. Janice and Steve x
Brrrrrr it’s getting a bit chilly in the evenings now. We’ve also noticed the nights drawing in. We’ve had a lovely couple of weeks in the shop with lots of visitors. Which has cheered us up no end. August wasn’t as good as previous years, we had half expected it, but its still a bit worrying so it’s lovely to see lots of visitors in the shop again. We’ve got to a good stage with our preparations for the NEC. I have in my mind what it’s going to look like now. I just need to put that into action. I’m a bit disappointed we can’t get away from the traditional table at the front and us behind, but the small size of our stall means that it’s the most efficient way to display as much as possible, and keep ourselves out of the way and not into the aisles. We haven’t got the budget to be spectacular, but I have some ideas that hopefully will make us look better than just a table with white cloth on. Anyway I’m not going to give to much away, so we will see later if I pull it off.
My large Father Christmas picture has sold . I was hoping to take it to Birmingham as a eye catching piece. I will hopefully get time to make another, well at least a similar one. But I did make a smaller snowman which hopefully I will be able to take. I’m quite chuffed with my happy smiling chap.
We are hoping to have some tickets soon to do a giveaway soon, so watch this space.
We are stocking up on Christmas goodies nicely, but with how good it’s been in the shop the last couple of weeks, it means that some of that has disappeared. I’m not worried as I still have 7 weeks of making to get in and I know the shop will drop right off very soon. The plan is to get all of the work, that needs to be drilled made asap, so Mr WD has time to drill it all and then all the coasters, gin stirers and slumped work will wait to the end as once it’s out of the kiln it doesn’t t need anything doing to it.
My pottery has been coming on. I LOVE LOVE LOVE throwing. My wheel comes out as often as time allows. I’m still struggling with glazing so quite a bit is still going in the wonky pot box, for sale. It’s doesn’t seem to last long, which is fabulous, people seem to love the idea of a wonky pot.
I’ve also just been exploring how to add or reshape pots once they are thrown, these need to be fired and then I can see properly if they are working. I can then try some more glazing techniques. I’m hoping soon I will find a style I like, that I can concentrate more on, but I’m still in the experimental phase at the moment.
It’s also weird when we visited our local museum in liskeard recently, to discover we are actually living very close to where a local well know pottery used to be. Tremor Pottery was quite famous and I must have visited as a child, as I have some of their pieces that I bought on holiday years ago. I need to get them out of my loft and check what I have. Strange how life seems to have come full circle .
Stay warm and keep safe, especially as we are expecting storm Agnes to hit at anytime. See you maybe in the shop or at the NEC, soon
I know you won’t want to think about it yet, but unfortunately we need to be organised. We are thinking about the ‘C’ word…yes Christmas, is very much on our mind. Last year when looking for fairs I asked to be put on a few different mailing lists , obviously I was feeling ambitious as I put us on the mailing list for the festive gift fair at the NEC, and as I had asked, they contacted me. We really didn’t think we could afford to do a show that size, but it appears we can. Don’t get me wrong it is a lot of money, but we decided it was within our means and well frankly why not! So with our usually, ‘we will find a way’ attitude, we signed up. We are now the proud owners of the tiniest little stall, in the huge NEC arena, for 4 days in November! OMG!!
The next thing that came to my mind was OH EKK! So I’m trying to calm myself down and be rational! Let’s start with the positives. 1. We love Christmas! 2. We have some lovely products. 3. We are excited. 4. There is a possibility if we do it right, it will be a nice little earner. 4. The stall is very small, so it won’t take much to fill it. 5. Oh, did I say I am excited? Squeeeee!!!!!!
So on to the challenges…….I’m not going to say onto the negatives, because we will get something out of this adventure even if it’s just sore feet, backs and a lot of lessons learnt. Although the old adage is, ‘you’ve got to speculate to accumulate’, we’ve probably just about at the top end of our speculating budget. We know we have to spend some more. We need to buy lots of materials, so we have enough things to sell. We also will need accommodation in Birmingham, as I don’t think a daily commute from Cornwall is very practical 🥴 Add to that the realisation that our car probably won’t hold enough stock and fixtures and fittings , so we may have to hire a van. There is also the possibility that we may have to sleep in said van ! ……….only joking. I’m to old for that!
Talking of enough things to sell! How do we calculate how much to take? Really! how on earth do you work that one out?
Then we have to work out what will be the biggest sellers. Do we just take a limited selection of what we know is popular? or do we go all out and take everything? We then have to be very inventive, we know there will be a plethora of mass produced gifts and decorations on other stalls, so we have to think how can we stand out. We need to make our tiny little space the place people want to be. We don’t understand how fixtures and furniture get secured in this sort of venue. So my first instinct of going high , may not be that practical. It’s something we will have to research and find out what’s possible. We will be looking at what we already have that we can utilise, or bought cheaply or maybe even borrowed.
We have decided our current priority is to just make stock. I am cutting my hours in the shop, so I am able to up my production. Steve will be doing 4 days in the shop and I will do 2. At the moment we think we will stick at being closed on a Monday. That way we can at least have some time together and it will be a completely work free day ( like that’s really going to happen, 😂) but we can try.
I’m also going to ask if any of you, who have an experience of a show on this scale, if you have a tips or insights that may be useful. Or for anyone with any ideas please to share them, as at this moment, panic has set in, and I might need some help.
I can’t believe that we’ve just passed the 5 year anniversary of us moving into our current house. We moved to this part of Cornwall, especially to run the Polperro shop. We don’t live in Polperro, we did look, but there was nothing at the time that suited our needs. It was a bit of a nightmare move with so many delays. So much so, that we moved into the shop in March and couldn’t move into the house until May. So we commuted from Newlyn . It doesn’t seem that long that we did it now , but at the time it was exhausting. They do say house moves are up there with the most stressful of life’s events. We were so relieved to be in our new home. I turned out to be the best move ever. The village we live in is our own little piece of paradise.
When we came to the shop in Polperro we were very apprehensive. It was a giant leap of faith for us and a risk that perhaps we shouldn’t have taken as we were both heading towards our 60’s. Our first day in the shop was a wet and windy one. My sister came up to help out and we didn’t take a penny all day. In retrospect I’m not surprised. We had very little stock and it was such a rotten day. But I was worried it was an omen for the future. It wasn’t long before the visitors arrived, once the bad weather had past. Fortunately it was the start of a busy season.
We’ve started getting busier and so we’ve intensified the making. Mr Wellydog has been busy making pens and his new addition has been resin/acrylic pens. Which I am obsessed with and so I have pinched my own blue one. We’ve had a massive run on jewellery the last couple of weeks so I’ve been busy making both seaglass and fused glass necklaces and earrings. I was going to try and list individual ones on the website but it’s gone so mad here we’ve been unable to. It always seems such a challenge to list one off pieces on the internet, because when they sell in the shop, we have to take them off immediately . I wish there was an easy answer.
The fused glass is a constant making frenzy, but I’ve had time to do a couple of bigger pieces recently, I love using the scraps of glass left over from the usual projects to make something new and maybe a bit more abstract. The latest one, I’m not quite sure how it’s going to turn out. It’s in the kiln at the moment so fingerprint crossed I don’t have to much to do to it to make it shop ready.
The little squares of glass will ball up once heated and be used on the Christmas trees and as decoration on other pieces
As for the pottery! well I’ve been so excited. I had my very own potters wheel arrive . It’s only small and a portable one. I really don’t have space, so I’m trying to find the perfect spot for it. But I’m finding a way to get some practice in. I am pleased with how it’s coming on, obviously a long way to go and glazing has me a bit stumped at the moment. I’m mostly using underglazes, which are like the equivalent of painting with acrylics. This butter dish is my best achievement yet. I’m very chuffed, we will see if it survives the kiln .
So that’s my update , it’s a bit later than I intended, but it’s been good to be busy. Enjoy this lovely weather and hope we see you in the shop very soon
Pottery has dominated the last couple of weeks. I have been enjoying hand-building dishes and plates. My skills are slowly coming back and my confidence is growing, especially now I have completely sold out of all the the pots I’ve already made. I’m remembering to be patient and take my time to make higher quality items. I don’t think I will ever be a production potter, as I really like the decoration side, so most of what I’m doing is labour intensive and results in one off pieces . I’ve been fascinated by scgraffito for years, it’s a technique I used in leaded glass and in small way the fused glass , so taking it into pottery seems a natural step. These pieces are painted while still wet. Some of the colour is then removed around the pattern to leave just the design in the colour. I’m just about to fire them so fingers crossed they survive. I am excited to have ordered a personal stamp for my pots. I was given an Etsy voucher for my birthday so I’m having a makers stamp made. I’ve decide that I will use my own name instead of being Mrs wellydog so I have just ordered a stamp with my initials on. I’m not quite sure why , but it seems like a big step to make my art under my own name for a change.
We managed to get away on a holiday. It was an amazing trip. We booked it on a whim a year ago and gave little thought to the timing , as it seemed so far away. It probably wasn’t the best time to go just as the season stated to kick off. We had Carol in for a few days and it was relatively quiet , so probably not as bad as we initially thought .Our trip meant we visited both Florence and Barcelona , all I can say is Wow ! Wow! Wow! These are two cities I have always wanted to visit and they totally didn’t disappoint. Beautiful Florence, at every turn there were amazing sculptures and I was delighted by all the fabulous colours on Ponte Vechhico. I also spotted what we jokingly referred to as ‘Van Gogh’s chair’. It was seemingly abandoned in a Florence street. I of course had to sketch it and it’s my favourite sketch of the holiday. And then there was Barcelona and Gaudi. OMG I was blown away. We did a tour which included Park Güell , then the amazing town house Casa Milà . But the last sight was the most amazing the fabulous Sagrada Familia. It’s hard to describe it, but inside left me very emotional, the colours and light through the windows was stunning. I have put some photos in a slideshow below, should you be interested.
On the subject of sketching, I didn’t really click until talking to friend that not everyone is sure about sketching and what to take while away from home. Its great to sketch, en plein air, but sketching, certainly for me, is not just about drawing in situ. This sketch of David for instance was done, from a photo, in the bar after we had visited. Its a way for me to make my own sketch if I don’t have time at the actual place. It a way of ironing out details, removing clutter and noting important information as reference for later, especially when it’s fresh in my mind. I would rather do a painting later from the sketch, than from a photo. It gives it more of my own personal touch. So ideally it’s best to do it in the moment, but do still consider sketching later in the holiday, from your photos. As for materials, these are what I take my trusty sketch book, this lovely one was a gift. In my trusty drawstring bag, I have a couple of pencils, a rubber, pencil sharpener , two different size water brushes. One medium and one fine, and my favourite medium of the moment. Caran d’ache, neo colour II, water soluble pastels. I don’t need a palette as I use the top of the tin. So it’s easy really and fun without lugging loads of bits around. I’ve been wondering about whether to do an ‘Art of Sketching’ class or holiday. Talking to a few people, I think it may be something people would enjoy to learn. Food for thought, as I leave you on this gloriously sunny evening. Enjoy the sunshine while it’s here
…. Mrs Wellydog. Come along today and shadow me today in the shop.
The first things I have to do before ever starting to think of opening up is, get myself suitably dressed. The shop regardless of how sunny it is outside can get very chilly this time of year. So lots of layers and an an extra fleece is packed in my bag incase it turns very cold. Thermal socks are a must as my feet can get very cold and then I can’t warm up again. We like to keep the doors open, we have no heating in the shop, but even if we did, we wouldn’t have it on, we would still have the doors open as we have discovered over the years, that people don’t like to walk through a closed door. Then I get my lunch ready, and a bottle of squash. There are lots of places to eat Polperro and we do like to support the locals, but it can get expensive to do that everyday. It wouldn’t be that healthy either , with ice cream, pasties, fudge, sweets and all the other lovely goodies, so I do try not to get to tempted, to often . Today I don’t have anything to pack up from in the workshop, to bring in. The last firing I put on still needs to be checked and finished for any sharpe edges and Steve will hopefully do that during the day. He can then bring that in with him tomorrow, to start to drill. So I can get in my car and drive over the amazing moor to Polperro. We don’t live in Polperro. We like to keep our working day separate from our home, so live slightly inland, where the houses are cheaper and I’m not tempted to work all the time.
My arrival in Polperro is a smooth one today, they have finally finished the resurfacing of the road leading down into the village, so no more bangs in my little mini as I hit the potholes anymore. I don’t have to pay for parking as we buy a season ticket so I can walk from the car straight down to the shop. I know the parking costs are a controversial subject for visitors here, but it is part of living and trading in a tourist area, so we just have to accept it. I open the doors immediately as there is no point in dilly dallying around sorting things out before opening the doors. I can do all that, while people come in. We open at 11am. It’s not usually worth putting the lights on and opening up much earlier. Most visitors don’t usually rush to get out and about and who can blame them.
After popping the sign outside, filling the water bowl for our doggy friends and getting the float in the till. I pop the kettle on. I need a coffee to get me motivated and ready to go.
First job of the day is to go through the pot of goodies that Steve has drilled. Today I have a mix of dangles and bunting. I prefer to put the ribbons on the dangles first and so I cut the different coloured ribbon for all the variety of bits I have. Today that’s little robbins and larger flower sun catchers. I use a piece of folded wire to thread the ribbon through the drilled holes. It’s then tied and ready to go on display. The larger sun catchers need to be priced. We price everything as soon as it’s finished, even though it might be destined for the back store room. When you are busy and need to replace something, the last thing you want to do is fiddle around with pricing labels, so we get it all done first and then it’s no hassle, later on.
By now people are coming in to browse. Most people don’t buy straight away, they want to browse around all the shops then come back to get things later. I do warn then that it may be gone later, but mostly I think people assume, I’m saying that as a sales tactic. But genuinely , things sell and people are disappointed when they come back and we no longer have the item they want. A lot of what we sell are one offs and so it does frequently happen.
Then I move on to putting the rings onto the glass triangles, ready to make up the bunting. Today I have two sets of seagulls, three sets of blue and one of purple to make up. Once the rings go on, they will be threaded onto the twine then wrapped using card and cellophane. With all the chatting and serving customers, this has taken me through to lunch time. I do like to take a actual break, and it’s usually quiet between 1pm and 2pm.
Today is a chicken noodle soup day, which I warm in the microwave and eat while reading my book. I like a bit of science fiction, so I am re- reading, Shift by Hugh Howey.
The afternoons are always busier, so I switch to the more Mundane tasks. Today it’s stamping some paper bags with our logo and filling up the supply of tissue paper and bubble wrap. I do get a little bit concerned that our latest metal pictures are not showing up on our slat walls. So I’ve moved couple to above the dresser, so they are on a plain wall. We don’t have many plain painted walls, the slat walls can be very useful to put lots of hooks and shelves on but the dark lines across them, can actually ruin the look of things. I’m not sure they work up there, but I will wait to see the next time I come in and see what impact they have then.
It’s bitterly cold here today so I’m finishing the day off by doing some shelf cleaning. I want to move more to warm up so it’s one activity that does that. It also gets me away from sitting all day at the work table.
All the artists in the village are painting pictures for the Coronation. I painted a portrait which I framed the other day. I will leave a couple of notes for Steve for tomorrow, one of which says that I have left the folding easel and my painting of King Charles, for him to put in the window. I struggle with making the easel stay up , so he will sort that for me. So it’s just about time now to pack up, put everything away and cash up. I will tot up the total for the day and lock up the shop as I leave.
Once I get home, I need to check on the state of some ceramic tiles I’ve been making. Hopefully Steve’s has had time to check and finish the last lot of glass that’s been fired. But if not I will sort those. I know he’s got a lot on his plate at the moment. It’s near the end of the month so he will get the accounts up to date, and work out how much to pay all our suppliers and run payroll. We also need to check on the website as we know the online shop was down yesterday, so a double check to see if yesterdays fix, is still holding. Also we will check if any orders have come through. We quite often will have a chat in the evenings about work, we are trying very hard to get a better work life balance this year, but when things are on our minds it’s best to deal with them straight away.
Thanks for joining me in the shop today, hopefully see you there in person soon
Here we are in April, goodness the year is just flying by. We are back in the shop full time and things are picking up. We still worry that people are nervous of spending and there is some evidence of that, but we are generally happy with how things are starting to grow.
We have had a new maker join us this month. We now have some lovely cut metal images, the larger ones are cut outs of Polperro and the ‘Nearly there Trees’. Those of you who travel down the A30 will be familiar with the trees that welcome you as you approach Cornwall. For those living in Cornwall they are referred to as the ‘Nearly HOME trees. Always a lovely sight.
Welcoming new makers into our shop is always exciting. We are quite fussy though, so we usually only welcome one new person a year. We have a couple of self imposed rules that we like to stick to. Firstly everything has to be made in Cornwall. This was not always the case but we made a decision about 4 years ago to change to all Cornish items. We had visited Scotland and we went into a lovely little shop with crafty items , we picked up a few things to buy and were disappointed to discover that the wool was from Mexico, the tea towel was from China and a card we picked up of a highland cow, was actually produced about 5 miles away from where we lived in Cornwall. We didn’t want the people who visited us to be as disappointed as we were that our Scottish reminders were in fact not made in Scotland.
It’s also important to us that if we support a maker that we don’t invite other makers doing the same craft, to come in and compete with our existing crafters. This does limit what we can take but it also means that we are fully committed to the artisans who put their trust in us and don’t over crowd with to many of the same style of work.
Lastly, we hate when we go round tourist areas and all the shops have the same items for sale. So we ask that people don’t sell their work in other shops within 7 miles of us. So people visiting Looe and Polperro don’t keep seeing the same items in the area and everything in our shop looks unique. It’s seems to work but do you think these are good rules to have, or are we just to fussy?
Would you believe in April we’ve already run out of Christmas trees, specifically the Polperro and Cornwall ones. A load went in on Tuesday and Steve drilled them on Wednesday. I’ve just put ribbons on so we have a stock for the rest of Easter. I’ve just ordered more glass as I’m running low and the next on the list are the coasters. They take a lot of glass so I won’t be making them until my order arrives, as I don’t want to be left with no glass at all. It’s very easy, when we are busy to take our eye off the ball, and not realise we are running short of something.
Also this month I had a visit to ‘Craft for crafters’, a craft show at Westpoint Arena near Exeter. It’s an annual trip I make with my sister who lives nearby, so always good excuse to stock up with crafty bits and also have a catch up and a gossip. We did a lovely little workshop to make a wet felted bowl. I enjoyed it so much I will be making more I ….. maybe a few will sneak into the shop
It’s also been an incredible sad month for us. We had to say goodbye to our beautiful boy Fin. Our 11 year old collie. He’s was definitely one of a kind, completely mad and totally instinct driven. He was epileptic and also had the terrible Canine degenerative myelopathy. With all his problems he never was miserable or felt sorry for himself he just adapted and lived his life to the full. We miss him so very much already.
On that sad note I will wish you a happy Easter and hopefully see you in the shop soon. Janice x
This weeks been nice and busy. There has been lots to do around the shop. We still haven’t finished all the cleaning, but I’m leaving the cobweb and spider eviction to Steve.
We’ve also been unpacking and putting out lots of new stock, that has arrived from our lovely Cornish makers. So now we’ve got lots of stunning clocks, lamps, mice, badgers and moles.
I’ve also been back using my long neglected glass kiln. We had an online order the other day for bee and flower bunting and I realised I only had one set left. It was a little bit of a wake up call, to remind me I needed to get a bit of wiggle on. I’ve been getting used to a little bit of a break away from making glass. I still love it, but sometimes I do need to step back a bit and recharge my batteries a little. But I’m back on it again and fully committed . So much so I decided I would make some pictures and candle holders. Using some lovely white and blue streaky glass to make cloudy skies and dark waves. I made 8 candle holders and 4 pictures. I have added reactive French vanilla chips to the bottom. By adding a turquoise fine frit around them, the two glasses react and gives a lovely dark line around the chips, which looks just like pebbles on a Sandy beach. Steve added some lovely wood bases to the pictures and they headed into the shop today.
It doesn’t mean I’ve given up with the pottery. I’ve been working on some ideas. I bought some different types of clay.I’ve been using white throwing clay. I don’t throw, but I wanted a smooth clay. But it’s been a bit to sticky and plasticky, so I bought some clay with grog in. It’s ideal for hand building. I used it for the penguin and the whale. But I’m not sure I liked the rough texture when using it. So I bought some scandi clay and some toasted clay. Both will fire in a buff colour and I don’t know what the glazes will look like on them, as I’ve only got a limited amount of glazes. I’ve particularly enjoyed using the toasted clay. It’s easy to use straight from the bag and doesn’t need to much drying before I can build things. It’s also got grog in, it but it’s very fine, it gives it strength but without the rough texture. There are quite a few bits now waiting to dry. Including another whale as the first one wasn’t even in the shop for 2 days before it sold. I have enjoyed making a second and will have fun glazing it different than the first. The little circles are texture stamps. Once I’ve fired them, I can use them in future to put texture on the clay.
I added texture on this fish plaque that I’ve literally just finished making. I think I’m going to enjoy adding texture on things in the future as this was a lot of fun to make.
Can you spot the two holes one by the eye and one by the tail. I am hoping if this work, I can screw it to the wall. I may have a small problem though, I again forgot to measure before getting to far and it’s going to be a tight squeeze getting it into the kiln opps! I really must stop my imagination getting to carried away and forgetting the practicalities.
Well hopefully we are all now ready for the Easter rush.I hope the weather is good to us 🤞 maybe we will see you in the shop soon. Janice x
People over the years have wanted to know how we came to be in Polperro, and working for ourselves. I’m sure I told this story 100 times, but thought I would put it here for reference. There is a catch though! I’m also trying to get a bit braver in being in front of a camera. I don’t even like having my picture taken, so why I thought it would be a good idea to film myself telling our story is beyond me, to be honest it mostly about saving time. So here’s me, in my studio, telling our story.
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