The only positive thing to emerge from the 2020 lockdown was the time to reflect and create. Did you try out a new hobby, a craft skill? Was there something you wanted to learn but struggled in isolation?
Jane and I missed the social aspects of our workshops and struggled in 2020. Not for the finance side, as we only ever wanted to cover our studio rent, materials and expenses, we never planned on working a profit and being highflying business executives!
This coming year we are going back to our workshops roots, setting up our creative learning space with a range or regular group sessions around a particular creative theme. We will be running group learning sessions in creating Powertex sculptures and art. There will be papercraft sessions ranging from scrapbooking, mini-book and card making. There will be textile sessions teaching sewing, crochet, needle felting. All equipment is provided in the sessions so you can get to try our ideas and tools before you commit to buy your own. As always there is expert advice and training on hand, including guest tutors.
So if there is something you wished you could have a go and learn in 2021, make a resolution to come and visit us in February and book onto one of our creative learning sessions. Stay safe and we look forward to seeing our previous and new customers in 2021.
This is gonna be a long one so grab a cuppa and a mince pie….
I know I’ve been rather quiet for a number of weeks, probably since just before Lockdown Mark II, but I have been busy. Admittedly very little crafting has been achieved….. but….. I have decorated two of my bedrooms!
I always promised myself that when my daughter left home I would move my craft room from the smallest of the bedrooms into what was her room (she picked the biggest bedroom when we original moved in). So, after remembering how much I hate painting ceilings and walls but love wallpapering, I now have two newly decorated rooms, complete with new carpets! Meanwhile, I had to accept that I’m definitely not as young as I try to kid myself….. I was knackered when I finished! I still need to finish faffing about putting stash and art work into their final places but I am happy with the result!
So, what’s been happening with Do Creative I hear you say???? Well, Kim was planning another adventure in their motorhome to enjoy some winter sunshine in Spain but literally a couple of days before they were due to depart we went into lockdown so their plans have been put on hold.
Kim has been creating some fabulous pieces of artwork in between cooking and sorting kitchen cupboards out (Martha Stewart eat your heart out!) and then she has been busy on the technology side putting our Powertex supplies in our online shop. She is doing a sterling job!
Our wonderful customers are still supporting us and placing orders and we’ve started to have enquiries about family workshops next year which is so encouraging! Past experience has taught us that attendance at planned workshops during December is very low due to Christmas preparations and also in January, when money always seems to be a bit on the short side for all of us after our festive spending, so we’ll be planning to put together some sort of schedule from February’ish. Of course this is dependent on the government restrictions at the time…….
We love it when customers get in touch and share what they’re up to! As crafters we all appreciate how being creative has a positive impact on our mental health and often seeing others’ creations sparks our inspiration.
On that note, I would like to share a WIP (that’s Work In Progress…) that one of our customers shared with us and is happy for us to share here. It seems very fitting as I’m hearing that lots of people have been putting up their decorations slightly early this year….. Becky also promised to share a photo of her fabulous Christmas tree when it’s all finished. Cannot wait to see the finished result – it will have fabulous colour and texture I’m sure!
If anyone else would like to share their projects please feel free to post photos on our FB page.
So many of our lovely regular customers have not managed to get to our studio or workshops with the virus outbreak . Messages back and forth about wanting stock orders has been time consuming. As I have lots of available time at the moment, I am in the process of loading up the art supplies onto the website. You can then browse at your leisure at home (hopefully with a glass of something chilled). I have finally figured out how to make the web store show local collection if you want to Click and Collect your order, otherwise posting is still available.
Recently we have had a few kit orders which the buyer wanted to post elsewhere as a gift for a loved one. Just remember to let us know its a gift and we will add gift wrapping and a card with your personlised message free of charge. Its an ideal Christmas gift.
In addition, we have not been able to attend any craft fairs this year, so we have quite a stock of small stocking filler items and art works available for sale. Please pop back and have a look once they have been loaded into out Handmade Art category. Each piece is unique and will not be replicated. Support a small independent business this Christmas and shop local.
Over the last couple of weeks I’ve really struggled with technology. My network at home just wouldn’t play nicely! I got soooo frustrated not being able to print Kim’s fabulous designs to finish our album as the network just wouldn’t stay connected to the printer. Next my personal emails just wouldn’t synch with Outlook on my laptop. Then, my NOW TV box refused to play, and just to add another layer of frustration I’ve spent far too much times on support calls with my software provider for my family history application as it refused to integrate with Ancestry (which has been working fine for a number of years…..)
I then started to feel somewhat under the weather (non-COVID related, I hasten to add) and with a couple of close friends experiencing really challenging times I just felt like hibernating until 2020 was over….
So, I decided to start my week looking at those issues over which I had at least some control. Here I am, some 6 hours later and I think my network is performing better (though it will never be perfect); my NOW TV box is happily streaming; Outlook is sorted (or so it appears) and I’ve completed a back-up of my family history, ran an update, applied a patch and that too is now integrating with Ancestry! Okay, so I still have some housework to do but I definitely feel I’ve had an achieving day.
Kim is still away so I have some time to spend on our collaborative album, though not feeling creative at the moment….. that too shall pass! Especially as I have a private booking at the studio tomorrow and then it’s Ladies Night on Thursday so feeling optimistic for the rest of the week.
I know we’ve been quiet lately; but that doesn’t mean we haven’t been busy!
Kim and I have been somewhat surprised by the interest shown in the (numerous) albums we have had on display at the studio. We’ve been making various types, sizes in all different types of themed patterned papers for a number of years (quite a large number of years, if truth be told!). During this time Kim has also been designing digital papers and elements which she has then incorporated into physical projects as well as digital ones.
So, a plan was hatched; lots of calculations undertaken (by me; Kim ‘doesn’t do numbers’ – her words, not mine), prototypes developed; technological hiccups overcome; notes written up and lots and lots of designing…. And we’re almost ready to reveal the final product!
Kim is beavering away doing lots of digital designing and I’m busy cutting and sticking as you can see from the photo of my desk! I’m sure you will all have guessed what we’re up to…… but we’re not revealing all – just yet!
Just as an aside, we’ve both recently invested in a large bone folder by We R Memory Keepers (included in the photo) and it takes a lot of stress of our hands and fingers! We love them!
Well, what a week! We delivered four workshops in three days and it feels like how things were before COVID…..
We’re aware that we haven’t been able to offer children’s workshops where we had different events on the mornings and then on the afternoons as we provided last summer. The need to completely strip the studio and disinfect throughout meant that it just wasn’t achievable; especially as we would’ve needed to drastically reduce numbers we could accommodate. We will be offering some children’s workshops during the October break so if you’re interested please book early to avoid disappointment.
So this week we have guided individuals to create unique mixed media canvasses, provided some desirable residences in the form of repurposed teapots for fairy’s and also decorated journals! As the last workshop finished rather late last night I popped into the studio this morning to do a thorough tidy up and clean, as it was so warm, had the window open; and, would you believe it, there was a huge gust of wind (and I mean HUGE) that was strong enough to blow an empty wine bottle and 5 glasses off the window sill and blow over two albums sat on a unit some distance from the window! It was really bizarre! The strange thing was the only items to break were the glasses that were underneath the wine bottle… The Powertex remained intact but the glass shattered; the wine bottle was also intact! So, more sweeping and then hoovering to ensure all shards of glass were removed.
Anyway, we now have a lovely clean, disinfected studio all ready for next week! Just my apron and various towels now to be put through the washing machine…
I then visited a friend to drop off a present and card for her birthday and left my windows open as the car was rather warm…… needless to say the heavens opened and I the car seats got soaked. I originally thought there were only light splodges on the drivers’ side but by the time I reached home two minutes later my nether regions were somewhat damp….
I wonder if there will be a third mishap today, I really shouldn’t tempt fate!
The last few months have been extremely hard for most people with the international Covid restrictions. It has been especially hard for us here as all our workshops had to be cancelled and out income stopped, unfortunately, our rent didn’t stop at the same time. Of course the time out did mean we could concentrate on other aspects of the business.
We may not ever go back to ‘normal’ workshops so we dabbled with trying to create ‘virtual’ workshops online. We soon discovered lots of pitfalls in this as well as a major deficit in our skill set and out existing website and technology.
But then along came our local saviours which is why we want to offer a huge shout out and thanks to BloomInArt, The Annexe, the Wharton trust, Community Organisers, Mortal Fools Training, and not least The Arts Council England.
We were delighted to be supported with by BloomInArt and the Arts Council England Emergency funding to support and develop our own practice and work with BloomInArt to test new remote routes to engagement exploring community organising principles, community arts and social action.
This support received not only provided us with excellent digital delivery and facilitation training delivered by Mortal Fools. we also had an Introduction to Community Organising for our local community, linking with other artists and creatives in Hartlepool.
The funding grant from the Arts Council England helped us to purchase and build a more robust website where we could integrate our online training and video tuition which could be purchased via the website.
So a big thank you to Emma and Rachel from BloomInArt for organising it all.
……we’re guessing that you enjoyed Kim’s FB live earlier today!
The first ever time we’ve showcased transparent Powertex (other than on the gorgeous statue Kim did last year) and we’ve only gone and sold the last of our stock of transparent Powertex! Don’t worry we will be ordering more and will let you know once we have it back on our shelves.
Don’t forget, that if any of your creations use transparent Powertex be sure to add a coat of Powertex Easy Varnish if they are destined to live outside!
Kim will post a photo of the finished plant pot holder once it’s dry. I only hope I can keep the plant alive……
I don’t want anyone to get a shock so this post starts with a health warning…… BEWARE contents refers to Christmas (the dreaded ‘C’ word!)!!!
I tend to buy presents throughout the year when I see things that would be perfect for certain individuals and I love making Christmas cards (though I still haven’t found the missing 20 from last year….) as I do like to be prepared – especially as I don’t like shopping. Now, although I love the festive season but I don’t like it when the decorations are put up far too soon. I mean decorating your house in November just feels wrong to me! Anyway, each to their own, and I’m digressing as usual!
The reason I’m even mentioning Christmas (there’s only 150 days to go by the way) is that when we had some fellow Powertex Tutors for some creative play last week we started off the day with some papercrafting as Kim had an appointment before going on to create some fabulous canvases (which you’ve already seen). I decided to use some leftover scrapbooking papers by Maya Designs which had a distinctly vintage, festive flavour! I’ve just finished this little project and had a chuckle when I realised that the papers are from 2012! I bet I have some that are even older…… I just cannot bear to get rid of paper.
These mini albums are only 4” X 4” and have accordion pages but they can easily hold a dozen or so photos which is ideal to record a special celebration or an outing. I hope the others managed to finish their albums and would love to see the finished projects!
Don’t know about you but I don’t think there’s anything nicer than spending a miserable, damp day with fellow crafters creating some unique projects whilst nattering about everything under the sun!
Kim and I often have ‘development days’ where we look at creating pieces of art that are able to be delivered in a workshop (otherwise called ‘playing’) and we also have similar get-togethers with other Powertex Tutors. Today was just that…….
Kim had an appointment this morning so for a change I provided materials and equipment for us to make a little 4” X 4” accordion album. I’m keen to get people to actually get some of the many photos they have stored on various electronic devices printed and then put into albums. These memory albums can be shared and looked through with family and friends and actual verbal conversations entered into rather than individuals just silently sharing and liking these images in the ether!
Right, off my soapbox now!
We hadn’t been concentrating for long before the giggles set in and that just set the tone for the rest of the day! It’s lovely to share a creative space with like-minded people who don’t mind that you talk to yourself, you (very) occasionally get your words mixed up and can share embarrassing stories with.
When Kim was back from her appointment and fortified with coffee we started on our next project which was to be a canvas similar to my Asha canvas I created back in March just before lockdown. I love to see people put their own spin on an idea and then adapting a technique to create a unique piece of art.
The only times we were quiet were when we were either eating lunch (followed by some fab cakes brought in by Kim later in the afternoon) or concentrating! I swear you could actually hear the cogs turning……..
The photo shows three versions based on my original (middle, top) and I think they’re all FABULOUS – enunciated à la John Barrowman! The textures and colours really bring the canvases to life!
Thank you ladies for a brilliant day, wonderful company, some right laughs and all done whilst remaining socially distant!
I hope you’re all well and are still washing your hands regularly and have your face coverings ready for next week!
If you’re a regular reader you will realise that sometimes I (that’s me, Jane, rather than Kim) write rather long-winded posts…… and a customer recently told me that they really like the way I write as it’s like having me there with them and just having a conversation! I know I do go on, but if you get sick of reading you can always skip it! So, if you want to know what we’ve been up to, grab a cuppa and a biscuit….
You will have seen that we’ve been busy hosting family ‘bubble’ workshops which have been brilliant! It’s sooooo good to start getting back to a new normal. We’ve also been very busy, and I do mean ‘very’ busy, preparing to launch on-line workshops.
Since Kim and I started our little business I was happy to take on the financial responsibility – I do like detail – and it’s a lot easier than managing an annual budget that ran into millions like I did when I worked in the NHS! Kim’s expertise lies with the technology side of things so when we came to thoroughly investigate how to provide quality video tutorials and ensure we could supply various kits to enable customers to have all of the required materials to complete a project it became apparent that we needed not only a new website but some refreshing of existing skills and learning some new ones. Our backgrounds helped in understanding the different ways in which individuals ‘learn’ and we have carried out research into tutorials, on-line courses and Facebook lives to try to develop an approach that suits the majority of our customers and will be consistent across the numerous projects we want to offer you.
We’ve invested in a new website which Kim is building from the ground up ensuring it is secure and able to provide us with the functionality we need and is easy to navigate for our customers.
Amazingly we were given a grant from the Arts Council and BloominArt to cover some of the digital costs and to provide Kim’s training to up her skill-set in relation to our digital expansion. Doesn’t that sound posh? Anyway, the reason I’m explaining all of this is that at the beginning of lockdown when we originally were asked about providing on-line workshops we honestly didn’t think it would take so long to get off the ground nor did we envisage some of the frustrations we would come across!
Take the virtual workshops for example; trying to ensure the video tutorials are in the right orientation; not back to front; remain in focus and our actions stay in the frame are just some of the simple things to get right! My biggest challenge is keeping various body parts out of the shot! As our studio is in a shared building there are often unexpected loud noises which prevented us from using audio (unless we were happy to do numerous re-takes which isn’t ideal with Powertex) so Kim’s been doing voice-overs from home; but then you get ‘inconsiderate’ neighbours using very loud strimmers and lawnmowers at the most inconvenient times! Still, we like a challenge.
We know we’ll get better with experience but the practising is giving us loads of giggles; we’ll never be ‘film stars’ – we don’t want to be – we just want to do the best we can.
So, that’s what we’re up to; I’m sure you’ll agree we’ve not been sitting twiddling our thumbs but working hard to add a new element to our partnership.
So many people have asked for classes to be made available for those who cannot attend one of our workshops. Whether they want to give the gift of a class to a family member or friend who lives elsewhere; or whether the person is not yet comfortable with going out into the world at the moment.
Our Online classes can be purchased through the website as a video embedded tutorial, which incorporates a range of learning styles to suit everyone; including, written instructions, clear photographs and hands on video tutorials. A full list of items required for the class is included,
We are also introducing mini kits into the web shop. We already have the large Powertex starter kit but are introducing a smaller mini starter kit which will work alongside our online classes.
Each class will have a ‘Project’ kit available to buy with most of the items required to complete the project.
These are physical goods which will be mailed out to you. The online class will be a virtual experience, accessed securely via the website with your unique customer code.
We are just finishing off the editing and will let you know once they are available, with a special ‘early bird’ price offer, so keep watching.
I am sure those who have been diligently isolating at home have stayed safe . Luckily for us, we have not had the Covid imact our loved ones, we hope you had similar experiance so far.
Our Studio has been thoroughly cleaned and items replaced. All stock has been renewed and sorted. We are slowly introducing smaller limited workshops in July; mostly for distinct ‘family bubbles’ as private workshops. If your family bubble would like to book a workshop, please get in touch.
Our regular events will start up in August with the first ladies night. Unfortunately we will be restricting numbers again to those first booked on the limited places.
Hopefully you will all find the new website workshop purchasing easy to use, as this calculates the available spaces.
We have used the time to develop new workshops for you, so subscribe to the newsletter and be first to find out what is available.
Thank you all for continuing to support our little local business through this difficult time.