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.

Thursday, 27 October 2016

Some of the Art & Artists at Happy Planet Studio & Gallery

Fabric being printed and the finished products go on display
Most people are familiar with what I do at Happy Planet, so as we now have other artists producing lovely works for you to browse and buy I thought I'd use this weeks blog to tell you a little about them and their work. The great thing about the gallery is that we bring you their work six days a week at the same price you would purchase from them directly, but with Happy Planet you can see several artists work all in one place and can browse at your leisure.......we quite often put the kettle on.

Finished notebooks and a copperplate etching

 Jack Whitwell & India Johnson are third year fine art students at Newcastle University and have formed their own creative brand, 'Greengage Studios'. Jack produces beautiful copper plate etchings, some of local scenes, such as 'Sycamore Gap' and 'Lizard's Point', as well as some lovely figurative fishermen. India also has etchings, but is rapidly earning a reputation for her surface design and produces hand printed fabrics and papers to produce a lovely range of small bags, cards and notebooks, all of which we stock in the gallery.

I haven't see any oil paintings from Jack or India yet, but I hear they are both exceptionally talented and hope to have one two to display in the New Year, when Jack and India may have some time to talk about their work in the Gallery.

Rachel at work
Rachel Edwards is a ceramic artist, sculptor and illustrator. Her work is fueled by the interpretation of the natural world as evoked by our ancient myths, legends and folk tales.

After studying Art and Illustration at Liverpool Polytechnic in the early 1980s I worked as a pen & ink illustrator specialising in drawings of plants and animals. Over the following years I produced a series of educational materials for, amongst others: Chester Zoo, St Mary's Lighthouse, Rising Sun Country Park, Hancock Museum, Discovery Museum, Shipley Art Gallery, Laing Art Gallery and RSPB.
During this period I also explored, through a variety of arts and crafts, our often buried although intimate relationship with nature. After completing a commission to illustrate ‘Northumberland Folk Tales’ for The History Press, I began experimenting with the flexible and very forgiving quality of ceramics to realise a more tangible expression for my beliefs and interests.
I enrolled on a short pottery course and since then have devoted my new skills to making works of art that express my feelings about the hidden, yet palpable, flow of energies through the natural world.

Playful mermaids
Green man wall plaque

Emily Jane Adams is a full time professional jewellery artist, specialising in an intricate sculpted technique based on the ancient art of millefiori glass making, although my chosen medium is Fimo
Professional Polymer Clay. Emily uses hallmarked sterling silver to finish her pieces, as quality has always been of extreme importance in her work. 

The variation and detail of Emily's work is quite stunning at close quarters
 My business has grown steadily over the years and in 2012 Vogue Magazine got in touch and asked to feature me in their back pages. I wasn't quite ready for all the attention at the time, although this certainly helped me to realise the level of my talents and encourage me to keep working to perfect my art.I sell my jewellery internationally through my Etsy shop and on my stall at festivals, Glastonbury, Eden, Womad to name a few! Time permitting I also sell at markets in the North East, Tynemouth on some Saturdays and Newcastle Quayside on occasional Sundays. 

We are constantly searching for new work to add quality and uniqueness to the Happy Planet Gallery, so drop by if you are able to see what we have to offer, or if you are further afield, why not follow us on Facebook or Twitter, as we will be starting to sell online in the New Year.

Friday, 21 October 2016

New workshops and 'Social Sundays', finding our way in the studio & gallery

Today marks the fourth week in the studio & gallery. Each day has seen progress whether it has been styling the price tags, adding artists information, arranging to stock 'The Crack' listings magazine or as in todays chores, adding the latest batch of felted mobiles and garlands ......... and yes the flying pigs are back, more colourful than ever.

By the far the biggest job of the last week has been getting our series of Christmas workshops ready, as all of the others were sold out. 'Handmade Christmas' offers two needle felting workshops, one to make your own needle felted Robin, the other to make some needle felted baubles. If you don't fancy felting we have a very creative 'Christmas All Wrapped Up' workshop with retail magician Frances, so if you'd like to give your gift wrapping a serious attack of flair and enjoy a glass of mulled wine and lots of ideas then this one could be for you. If you require something a little more cerebral and fancy a bit of creative writing, local writer Elaine Cusack has two workshops, one to indulge the travel writing, the other is based on food ...... ah now we have your attention ....... yes being some recipes along and you can start your own very special recipe book or maybe blog?

Full details of all workshops can be found here, where you will find links to book online, or of course if you are local you can drop in and book in person.

A busy first workshop who produced some lovely brooches and tree decorations.

The studio is open on Sundays and we like to have a very relaxed atmosphere, so we offer free tea and coffee between 10am and 12 noon for Social Sundays, so you can browse at your own pace or have a try at whatever is being made...... it's one of the joys of being more than a shop and having creativity and well being as one of our core ethics.

Next week I shall tell you about the artists who work with us and the lovely items they produce, but if you're in the area why not drop in and see for yourself?

Wednesday, 5 October 2016

Our Provisional Autumn Workshop List

Lots of people have been asking about our workshops so here is our provisional list, which includes felting, creative writing and art journaling. We will be adding more workshops in due course, we are just waiting for confirmation from two new venues, as the larger workshops will take place outside of the studio, but all workshops take place in Whitley Bay/Monkseaton.
You can book online through our shop, or in person at the studio and gallery, where you can also ask me any questions you may have or pic up a list.