Handmade for Him!

It's a real short one this week.  I've been up to my eyes silversmithing and doing paperwork, BORING!, all week!  Although it's been manic I've loved every minute.  I'm hoping to have lots of news to share with you on Sunday!

I hope you enjoyed this weeks Handmade in Focus and Meet the Makers instalments, I'd love to know what you think of these two new features on the blog.

This Friday I bring you handmade gifts for him!  They're all made by hand in the  United Kingdom.  If you've got a man in your life who deserves a gift which was lovingly crafted by hand then check out all the items in this weeks treasury for lots of inspiration.

What have you got planned for the weekend?  I'm doing some more silversmithing, going to a German Bar, visiting a craft fair and seeing lots of friends.  Nice.

Happy Friday my lovelies.  xx


Meet the Maker - Made by Swimmer

Name: Sue and Jo Thomas
Business Name: Made by Swimmer
Location: Bournemouth, Dorset
Website: We mostly use our etsy store these days as we find it easier to connect with sellers and buyers www.etsy.com/shop/Madebyswimmer. We do also sell on our website www.madebyswimmer.com
Regular Markets: Boscombe Vintage Market – 1st Saturday of every month
Friends of Bruce Castle Park, Tottenham, London - quarterly

// Tell us a little bit about what you do.
We design and make toys, soft furnishings and accessories using recycled fabrics. We aim to make unique, high quality handmade items that will be cherished and loved for a long time. We like to think that our creations make people smile and bring back childhood memories.

// Where does your inspiration come from?
We love trawling flea markets, car boot sales and charity shops to find hidden treasures. We love to give new life back into other people’s discarded fabrics and unwanted items by creating our unique and whimsical designs. We are inspired by our own fond childhood memories and by our passion for recycling.

// When did you start your business? 
Our business evolved initially from supporting a community school art project a few years ago. This then gave us the confidence and inspiration to branch out on our own. We are still developing our business but have our own website and etsy shop.

// Where does the name come from?
The name comes from an old printing blog that we found many years ago of a swimming lady. We thought this fitting as our logo as we live by the sea and initially we made beach inspired creations. The name came from this although ironically neither us are very good swimmers!

// Did you undertake any training in your craft or are you self-taught?
We have sewn and made things since our childhood so have years of experience -  basically we are self- taught.

// What was the first thing you ever sold and how did it make you feel?
Our first market was as part of a collective. We sold lots of hand knitted wrist bands backed in vintage fabric. We were totally blown away by people actually buying things we had made!

// Do you have any advice for other crafters just starting out?
It can be a slow start but have faith in what you make. It can take time to find the right market place for your work so don’t be put off if you don’t sell much at a particular market.

// What’s your favourite thing about Dorset?
The sea and local beauty spots and there is a great creative community out there.

// What could you not live without?
The sea!

// If you could eat anything right now what would you eat?
A plate of oysters and freshly caught crab.

// And finally, do you have any exciting plans coming up for your business?  Any inside scoops you can share with us?
We can't say too much but we have some exciting collaborations coming up with new businesses – watch this space!

I really hope you enjoyed meeting the makers behind Made by Swimmer.  I'd love to get your feedback on the new Handmade in Focus and Meet the Maker features....are you enjoying them?  Is it something you'd like to see more of?  What sort of frequency would you like to see after Christmas, once a fortnight, once a month?  All feedback is good feedback!

Happy Wednesday my lovelies xx 


Handmade In Focus - Made by Swimmer

So, here we are again, ready for another Handmade In Focus!  This week we're featuring Made by Swimmer.

I love plush toys and soft furnishings and one of my favourite makers right now is Made by Swimmer.  They make the most beautiful items....I think I want pretty  much one of everything in their shop! 

My sofa is not only a place to sit, it is also home to my ever growing farm.....and one that really needs a new addition......... but which to choose......

..... Bertie the Whale?

.....the Crocodile?

........Fleur the Sleepy Fox?

.......I think it might have to be the Staffordshire Cats!


.......Too cute!!!!

I love all of these plush toys, such great shapes and the detail on them is brilliant.  And they have such great character too!  

As well as plush toys they make beautiful cushions........

I love the Prawn cushion!  Wouldn't it make a great present for a seafood lover!  They also do a cricket cushion in a fabulous shade of green!  I love the slightly abstract choice of subject matter, a really interesting addition to any living room or bedspread I'd say.

Not only are their products beautiful but they're made from recycled fabrics too!  (How can the Environment Officer in me possibly resist them!)

As well as toys and cushions they also do accessories and this little chap really caught my eye....

He's a little poodle brooch......I know someone who would just love him!  Plus they do bags, glasses cases, and much much more.

I first came across Made by swimmer at the Arts Bournemouth Vintage Market and I fell in love with their Blue Tit Cushion.....it's not on their website but I just had to show you a picture of it, it's absolutely stunning!

I really urge you to check out Made by Swimmer.  They're currently working on some Christmas items to adorn your wonderful Christmas trees!  You can find out what markets they'll be at in the Meet the Maker feature on Wednesday.  I can't wait to share the Meet the Maker feature with you guys!

For now don't forget to check them out in the following places online:

Website & Shop
Etsy Shop

And for more photos of their previous creations check out them out on Pinterest.

I really hope you enjoyed the second installment of Handmade In Focus!  I'm loving writing about all the wonderful handmade goodness going on out there!

Happy Monday my lovelies. xx



A wierd and wonderful weekend!

Enjoy the mess
(Piccie from here)

Hey there my lovelies!  How are we all doing?  Did you have a good weekend?  I've just stuffed my face with roast pheasant and all the trimmings!  Yum yum!  I love Autumn!

I've had a slightly odd weekend.  A meal out with the Boy turned into an impromptu pub crawl on Friday night.  Saturday was spent trying to clear out my studio.  It's full of vintage stock from a shop I used to have.  This might have been spurred on by a sneaky peak on Right Move and finding an interesting house!  

Saturday evening was spent watching Iron Man 3........not my choice but definitely better than Iron Man 2! 

But the highlight of my weekend was an Etsy Team meet up with the Dorset Team and having my photo taken for The RSA (Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce).......crazy hey!  I always forget to take photos from these sorts of things!

Oh and this evening I found out a Gallery wants to trial selling my jewellery!!!!!  I am having the best weekend!  he he!!!!  I'll share more details when I can!

Wow....I'm looking forward to a little sleep now!

Happy Sunday my lovelies. xx



Handmade in Dorset - Christmas Gifts for Her

Happy Friday my lovelies!  We made it to the end of the week, in one piece! How has your week been?  I've been on a 3 day Environment Management Systems Internal Auditor Course, I thought it was going to be a little dry but turns out I really enjoyed it! (must be the pinikity perfectionist in me!).

My week started with a long awaited trip to Orthopaedic Outpatients for my poorly foot.  I had x-rays and then saw the consultant.  I was expecting a diagnosis of a torn tendon or some such, I was not expecting to be told it was Suspected Friebergs Disease.......necrosis of the bone at the head of the second metatarsal!  WTF!!!!  It's only suspected at this point, I have to go back for an MRI, probably in January, to confirm diagnosis and set a treatment plan.  Has anyone ever heard of Freibergs before?  Apparently it's fairly uncommon especially in people over the age of 20.....but turns out one of my friends has it too....how strange!

So this week I'm going to share with you a little treasury I made on Etsy featuring Christmas gifts for the ladies in your life....be it Mum, Sister, Wife, Daughter, Auntie, Girlfriend or Grandma!  All of these beautiful items are handmade in Dorset!

I hope you like the treasury....I loved curating it.

Some other things which have caught my eye around the web this week are:

This weekend I'm taking it easy and resting my foot some more (under Dr's orders!) , I'm hoping to see some friends and get some silvermsithing done.  What are your plans?

Happy Friday Everyone! xx


Meet the Maker - Sarah Lovell Art

Hey there!  Welcome to the first in the Meet the Maker series.  Each week I'll be bringing you a blog all about the artist featured in Mondays Handmade in Focus series.  So here goes..........

Name: Sarah Thompson
Business Name: Sarah Lovell Art
Location: Wimborne Minster, Dorset
Website: www.sarahlovellart.co.uk
Regular Markets: The Anonymous Travelling Market which I have done 4 times, and other local markets too.

// Tell us a little bit about what you do.

I draw and paint mainly, and I love it! I then use my paintings as card designs and some of them are available as prints. I have recently produced my first colouring book, which is hopefully going to be the first of many.

I also do some sewing and have a collection of handmade sewn products on my website too, as well as a collection of bike and scooter ribbons (which are really popular as gifts for little ones to personalise their ride-ons).

// Where does your inspiration come from?

I have always loved to draw, ever since I can remember. I am inspired by my family, especially my children, by animals and sometimes by dreams I have. My work has a dream like quality to it.

// When did you start your business? 

Sarah Lovell Art has been up and running for about a year now.

// Where does the name come from?

My name! I have kept my art and business running under my maiden name. My married name is Thompson, but I still like to be Lovell too!

// Did you undertake any training in your craft or are you self-taught?

Yes, I studied art to degree level at Winchester School of Art, where I actually specialised in sculpture. Now I just do more 2D creations. 

// What was the first thing you ever sold and how did it make you feel?

Someone bought a drawing of mine whilst I was doing my art foundation course, and remember feeling so happy that someone wanted some of my art for their home! It is the same feeling now, every time someone buys a card, a print, or I get an on line order, it never fails to fill me with happiness and excitement that my art is going to be in someone else’s home.

// Do you have any advice for other crafters just starting out?
The thing that I have been told, and learnt through reading books, blogs, magazines etc is that just do what you love and love what you do, because that will show through, and if you love it, someone else will too!

// What’s your favourite thing about Dorset?

The beautiful countryside, and being close to the seaside.

// What could you not live without?

My lovely family and beautiful children, they amaze me every day!

// If you could eat anything right now what would you eat?

Lindt lindor chocolates (the red ones)!

// And finally, do you have any exciting plans coming up for your business?  Any inside scoops you can share with us?

I am planning on releasing a new colouring book in the new year to compliment the UK Wildlife Colouring book- same idea, different animals, watch this space!

Wow, what a great insight into the world of Sarah Lovell Art.  I really hope you enjoyed it.  I'd love to know what you think of this new feature.  Did you like the range of questions?  Would you like to me ask anything else of future Meet the Maker participants?  Let me know!

Happy Wednesday my lovelies. xx 


Handmade In Focus - Sarah Lovell Art

As you know I'm working to focus the blog more on Handmade items and the makers of these beautiful things.  So welcome to the First in the 'Handmade in Focus' features.  In the run up to Christmas I'm aiming to feature a different maker each Monday with a blog about their lovely creations, followed by a 'Meet the Maker' feature on the Wednesday.  After Christmas I'll be dropping this down to every fortnight or perhaps even making it a monthly feature.....we'll see how it goes.

Right, on to this weeks 'Handmade in Focus' and the wonderful offerings of Sarah Lovell Art.  Sarah makes the most beautiful prints, cards, bike ribbons, collages, and much more.

Sarah is based in Dorset and sells at a few local markets as well as having an online shop.  Her work has such a beautiful carefree feel.  It's equally perfect for a child's bedroom, a playroom, a teenagers room, or even your living room wall. 

Sarah has a great mix of prints suitable for both boys and girls, men and women alike.  Looking at some of her work takes me right back to my childhood!

Her collages are utter beautiful and would look amazing hung pride of place in a living room or dining room.  I particularly like the Peacock and Stardust mixed media collages.

I met Sarah recently at a craft fair and couldn't resist buying some of her beautiful Christmas Cards (yes, I said it, Christmas!!!!).  There are three designs, and what with having a black kitty myself I couldn't resist Polar Bear Meets Cat!

As well as prints Sarah makes some other products and I especially love these Scooter Ribbons! I'd have loved a set of these when I was little and I have to say I'm more than a little tempted to get a pair for my Pashley!

And last but not least I wanted to tell you about her beautiful colouring book.  What a fantastic gift for a little one this Christmas.  Not only is it beautifully drawn but it will teach kids about all the wonderful wildlife we have in this country.  Getting back to nature is so important and what better place to start!

You can find Sarah and her beautiful work at the following places online:
Sarah Lovell Art Website & Shop

Don't forget to check back on Wednesday for the 'Meet the Maker' feature to meet Sarah and find out what inspires her creations!

I hope you've enjoyed the first of the 'Handmade in Focus' features, I'd love to know what you think of the feature and if it's something you'd like to see more of going forward.

Happy Monday my lovelies. xx


Handmade in Dorset - Christmas Presents for the Little Ones

Hey there my lovelies.  What a gorgeous Friday it has been.  What have you lot been up to?  This week I've been working hard at my day job; training volunteers, writing reports, creating events, problem solving and so much more.  Plus, as you are aware I've been tweaking this here blog a little too.

So, is it too early to mention C*******s?  I don't think so.  Don't get me wrong, I'm not putting decorations up but I am thinking about what presents I might buy people.  I like to buy unique gifts, handmade items, or vintage pieces.  This means that I have to buy them when I see them, to be honest I actually started buying in August.

So with this in mind I thought I would  share with you a treasury I created on Etsy.  It features lots of handmade loveliness for children, all of which have been made right here in Dorset.

I'd love to know what you think.  I definitely found it easier to pick items for girls rather than boys, perhaps there is a gap in the market there for someone to fill!

Anywho, I hope you like it, I hope it helps with the Christmas shopping and I'd love to know if you buy anything from it.

What are you up to this weekend? The Boy and I are out for dinner with friends tonight, off to Desire Jewellery Show on Saturday and then on Sunday we're spending the day with his family to celebrate his Mum's Birthday....a lovely weekend I'd say.

If you're in Dorset why not check out the CAD Arts Christmas Fair at the Hobourne Holiday Park on Sunday from 10.30am-4pm.  Or perhaps the Compton Acres Christmas Fair which runs across both days (but be warned it is £3.50 admission fee! [accompanying children go free]).

Happy Friday my Lovelies. xx



Here's to Handmade

(Image from here)

Handmade......Made by someones hands!  

I love handmade!  It's beautiful, it's unique, and it's always made with love.

As I said in my earlier post I'm going to be featuring handmade on my blog.  I'm going to use this space to introduce local, national and global artisan crafters to you all.  Some I will have met in person, some only online, but all of them passionate about what they do, and what they create.

I've always had a passion for unique items.  I've always wanted things which are different from everyone else.  Handmade items provide just the uniqueness that I'm looking for.  And to top it off I know that ALL the money I'm spending with Independent artisan crafters is going back into supporting their business.  

So if you love handmade I really hope you follow this blog and look up those crafter who feature here-in.  Think about buying handmade in the run up to Christmas. Support local businesses and give a gift that you know the recipient will love.....just as much as the crafter loved making it.

If you know of, or you are, an artisan crafter and you would like to be featured just drop me a line at mardlemade@gmail.com and if I like what I see then you might just get featured right here!

Happy Wednesday my lovelies. xx

A Little Change of Direction

(Image from here)

 So it’s been a little while since I last wrote a blog post.  I could say it’s because I’ve been super busy at work, or have a crazy social life.  I could even say it’s because I’ve take time out of social media…..but to be honest, it’s none of these. I simply fell out of love with it!

I started blogging because it was fun, I enjoyed writing and sharing things with you all, but over recent months I’ve felt a weird pressure to conform, a pressure I steeped upon myself!  I felt I needed to start writing for my readers rather than for myself.  I asked myself "what were other bloggers with huge followings writing about?"  I wanted to write more like them.  It became more of a chore than something I enjoyed doing.  I felt the need to conform, which is something I vary rarely feel and it’s a feeling I hate!  So I took a break!

At first I felt bad stepping away, I worried that my followers would switch off.  I worried.  I don’t like to worry so I switched my brain off from blogging completely.  I didn’t give it another thought.   After a few weeks I realised I missed blogging but knew I needed to think about how to progress my blog in the future.  I did not want to return to the same-old-same-old…….it would not be sustainable…….it would just be a viscous cycle.

So over the past few weeks I’ve been thinking about what I would like to write about, and the answer is simple….whatever I enjoy writing about!  If you enjoy the subject matter then the writing takes on a life of its own.  It becomes effortless and ultimately enjoyable.  So from this day forth (and definitely not every day!) I will be using this blog as a place to share things that I am passionate about.  It’ll mostly feature local independent makers, crafters and artisans.  There will be more information about my own making, Mardle Made Jewellery, I’m going to try and tell you all more about my inspirations and processes.  And there will likely be some posts about food and local eateries….after all I do love a bit of coffee and cake!

So, thanks for bearing with me.  Thanks for being patient.  I really hope you enjoy the new content, and if you do please feel free to share my blog with your friends. 

Happy Wednesday everyone!
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