Friday, 6 January 2017

New Artist and Makers Opportunities at Happy Planet

After a busy start to business at our new home and time to reflect and plan for the future, we are now ready to invite more artists and makers to feature their work in our gallery to be seen and sold. If you would like more information please drop me an email to and tell me a little about what you make. We are especially interested in glass, wood, candles and hand printed items. ....... but don't let that put you off if you don't make those, we like different and quirky too.

Wednesday, 21 December 2016

Wishing You All Happy & Peaceful Christmas

It's always good to take a look back over a year and see what has been accomplished. Happily Happy Planet now has a home, our lovely studio gallery on Ilfracombe Gardens in Whitley Bay. It has taken time and patience but finding the right space often does, having been there for ten weeks I now feel we are now settling into the local community and building links with other businesses and oraginsations. Our workshops have been very well attended both in the studio itself as well as at St Mary's church hall, where we can indulge our creativity with plenty of space and not worry too much about the mess.......... well so long as I clean it up. Our community notice board is beginning to be populated with local events and we will encourage that further. 
I will be looking to increase the number of artists and makers in the New Year, so if you know anyone who makes beautiful things please get them to get in touch.
In the meantime all that remains is for me to thank you all for your custom, reviews, comments and company. I wish you all a very happy and peaceful Christmas  and a happy and healthy New Year.

Tuesday, 13 December 2016

The Twelve Days of Christmas have begun ........ shopping locally this year?

Here we are on the 13th December and in 12 days time Christmas day arrives. My preparations began back in March, as making lots of handmade items takes time, with the last batch, some paper mache marbled decorations now safely on display in the shop this morning.
Our final workshop of 2016 took place last night and whilst they have been great fun and brought lots of new people to try something my hands will be very grateful for a Christmas rest now. If you are feeling a little tired yourself you are welcome to come and browse in our gallery in Whitley Bay. We are surrounded by free parking, we have relaxing festive music, a comfy chair or two and we'll even pop the kettle on if you have time for a cuppa. Shopping locally with us has it's advantages.

Monday, 28 November 2016

Small Business Saturday ........ Small is Beautiful at Happy Planet Studio & Gallery

Thanks to everyone who taken part in our Autumn workshops so far. I have thoroughly enjoyed helping you to do something creative, I hope you will return to try something different in the future, as I have been learning some new techniques and skills in preparation.

Small Business Saturday UK is a grassroots, non-commercial campaign, which highlights small business success and encourages consumers to ‘shop local’ and support small businesses in their communities.
The day itself takes place on the first Saturday in December each year, but the campaign aims to have a lasting impact on small businesses. In 2016 Small Business Saturday will take place on Saturday, December 3rd.So, as we approach that day I thought I'd take the opportunity to say what I think some of the benefits of supporting small businesses like mine are.

First and foremost I care, I care about how I create and what I create. Any felted item I make for you is created with British wool and in doing so I support four small businesses run by farmers wives, so that fairy or mobile purchase you made actually supports five small British businesses. If you choose a felted soap then you can add 'Suma' an ethical co-operative based in Leeds who make my hand made soaps, guaranteed cruelty free. If you choose a felt picture then you are also supporting Mark Spencer, my picture framer of some years, who trades in Byker and Tynemouth Station ........pardon the pun, but are you getting the picture here, supporting one small business is often helping many, like ripples in a pond as we support each other.

I could buy cheaper Australian wool, but if I did that I'd be condoning very cruel treatment for the sheep, as well as the impact on the ozone layer of the transport required. Neither of these are options for me, as Happy Planet is so called because I don't believe that harm should be caused to people or the planet in the name of profit. Consequently when you shop with us you are shopping ethically, as the artists who sell through Happy Planet all share the same core ethic.

I am passionate about what I make and take great care that every piece is as 'right' for you the customer, as it is for me the maker. When you buy something I make, you are buying a little part of me, which could be my imagination/skill/originality. I get quite attached to some of the things I create and often don't bring them straight into the Gallery, I need time to let them go, this is especially true of the items that take more time or require me to learn a new skill. With all that in mind the majority of what I produce is unique and my philosophy on selling is very simple, if you love it you will buy it, if you don't you won't. I don't believe in the 'hard sell' it makes me walk away, so I know the best thing to do is to let you make your own choices and decisions, but I am there if you'd like any information on how anything is made or if you would like something made especially for you.

Some people will say that handmade gifts are expensive, I will say that some non-handmade gifts are expensive. I understand that cost can't be completely excluded, as 'Brexit' and 'Austerity' take their toll, we could have a fine debate on the economics of those decisions, but we won't. All I will say is that we try our best to cater for all pockets at Happy Planet, so you can currently find twenty three hand made products priced at under £5 in the gallery.

The most rewarding part of running Happy Planet is teaching and sharing my knowledge, it's part of the reason Happy Planet exists, to encourage others to embrace the creative arts in the widest application to aid their own well being, whether that be via a poetry group to share some company, enjoy favourite poems or write, or to make a Christmas bauble and realise they have skill is immaterial. What has been created at Happy Planet is a safe and accessible range of opportunities for people to come together and embrace their own creative journey.
If you haven't yet visited we'd love to meet you and show you what makes us special, come on Small Business Saturday and we will put the kettle on and give you a free cuppa while you browse my lovely shop or maybe ask about our workshops or groups, a warm welcome awaits everyone who visits.

Friday, 18 November 2016

'Sealights' My Barnacle Inspired Tealight Holders

One of the things I love about having my studio in the gallery is that anyone that comes in can see how things are made and often watch the process of the day.

 This week I have been busy finishing my 'sealight' tealight holders, which has involved applying metal leaf to paper clay vessels I had made previously. The vessels are based on barnacles, I like the patterns on rocks that they produce and a friend of mine wrote me a poem about them which I think sowed the seed for the idea.

I liked the finished vessels in white, as with two coats of gesso, they look like porcelain and have a distinctly organic shape, with each one being unique, as they are moulded by hand. I wondered about adding colour to see if it changed their character. I knew I had a couple of sheets of silver leaf 'somewhere' and eventually found it. The addition of the silver completely transformed the vessels, they glow, as if connected to the earth's energy. If silver had that effect I knew copper and gold would be give a greater reaction, they really are stunning

Applying the leaf is a delicate job, which requires concentration and definitely no sneezing, but it is deeply satisfying to polish a completed vessel, with customers enjoying the process as much as me.

The 'Sealights' are available with an inner lining or an outer edge finish and can be to ordered either in person at the gallery, where they are on display, or through our online Etsy store here and here

I already have other ideas which have sprung from this, but they can wait until after Christmas, when time is less pressing.

Friday, 11 November 2016

Christmas has arrived at Happy Planet ........Bedlam has passed

 Finally, after a week of early starts and late finishes the Christmas preparations at the Gallery are complete. A big thank you to Geoff and Frances who helped with the jobs that require more than two hands.

The decorations were just one part of the task, the larger part being putting the stock in place. Now that might seem simple to the uninitiated, but when you start making stock in May by the time November arrives remembering where it's been 'safely put' can be a whole new task in itself :)

However all stock has now been recovered and is harmoniously set out for the pleasure of our visitors. There is rather a lot to peruse, with a wide range of items made by local artists as well as a carefully curated selection of Fair Trade products, the latter of which have human as well as environmental benefit. We have over twenty hand made products that are priced under £5 so hope we can offer something to everyone no matter what their style or budget.

We now have a new artist adding their work to our gallery, I'd like to welcome Lindsey Grieves of 'Light Source Art' who makes quirky fun ceramics to brighten up your day or mark a special occasion.......but don't take my word for it, pop in and have a look around .......if you'd like a cuppa while you browse just ask.

If you haven't already signed up for our email newsletter then can we suggest you do, as you will miss out on exclusive offers we will be sending in December, especially for'Small Business Saturday' on Dec 3rd

Thursday, 3 November 2016

Creatively Supporting Tyneside Samaritans - Our Chosen Charity

If like me the thought of running for charity for 13 miles leaves you in a cold sweat then there are alternatives..... phew! Happy Planet has chosen to support 'The Samaritans' as it's chosen charity for a year, as it is a service that is available to everyone regardless of their problems, you don't need to be suicidal to contact them, you may just need to hear another human voice when nobody else is around, the reason is unimportant, as each person who contacts is given the same safe, non-judgemental support.

Having chosen the charity I then had to work out how we might support them and bring elements of what we do together with what they do. My choice was to have some 'charity makes' in the gallery throughout the year, which would be on sale for donations to the Samaritans.

Our first such make are little sail boats, made from paper mache and driftwood, symbolic of life and the journey on a sea that can be rough and difficult at times. Our little boats are bright and buoyant and will sit happily on a shelf or sill to brighten your day, you just pay what you wish anonymously and all proceeds got to Tyneside Samaritans.

Caroline Warburton the area director visited the gallery today and was delighted at our offer of support and we look forward to further creative collaboration in the future. We spoke briefly of the ever increasing demands on the Samaritans locally, with the Tyneside branch expecting to respond to 52,000 calls, texts and emails for help this year, with around 130 Samaritan volunteers taking on that work 24 hours every day of the as the tin says, help us to help others, if you can.