Posted in Indie Design, Travel


If there is one thing America knows how to do right, it’s a flea market. I’ve been to a couple in my time, but this time I made it to not one, not two, but THREE. My cousin Anne loves antiqueing, and we both have a ruthless policy of strategising our approach to both looking and purchasing, with me being the haggler, so we make a good team.

This trip, we made it up to Springfield for their twice-yearly outdoor extravaganza at the county fairgrounds. I think the cannibal hotdog was my favourite spot. SO many pieces of industrial furniture I could have brought home, and most of it so cheap – next time, I should book a container ship.

The other type of flea market is the City Flea, Cincinnati’s premier independent designer/maker monthly event. It’s held in Washington Park in the Over The Rhine district, which is full of cool art, shops, restaurants and stuff.  I’ve been a couple of times and I think it must have been the first one we went to that I first saw the work of James Billiter, the smiley guy pictured above.I finally got to meet him this time properly and as well as being super-talented at the artwork game, he’s super nice and also a bit of a sneak, as he and Lee cooked up between them to send me an absolutely beautiful piece of art for Christmas – look how excited I was to open it!


Can’t wait to get that framed and on the wall. Hooray for fleas.

Posted in Indie Design

Where To Shop Now

Now that it’s all over, I thought you might appreciate some tips on where to buy awesome needlework from now. Here are a few of my firm favourites.

Kate Blandford


Kate’s shop is small but perfectly formed with music-based banners and hoops, as well as these pretty ace skull brooches. I have one of those on my shelf of curiosity.

Emily Peacock


Big, bold colours and simple lines, my love for the work of, and the person, Emily Peacock knows no bounds. Emily is probably the most generous person I know in the craft world, with her time, her knowledge and her advice and you should check her work out because it, and she, is beautiful. One day I WILL finish my Kiss and Hugs.

Satsuma Street


If I am really honest, Jody’s work is basically everything I wish mine was. I never took the time to expand my range beyond typographic style works and that’s something that always rankled with me. People think of me as the slogan stitcher but in my head, I have so many more elaborate designs that may never see the light of day because I’ve never had time.

That aside, I think Satsuma Street is awesome – I have stitched up the New York design and it was super-easy but also super-effective. I’d definitely recommend her charts.

Floss + Mischief


Another of the goodest of eggs, Genevieve from Floss + Mischief is a full-on dedicated purveyor and advocate of brilliant needlework. Those feathers have been on my to-stitch list for about as long as they’ve existed.

Subversive Cross Stitch


I don’t think my gal Julie Jackson would mind me calling her the grand doyenne of the modern cross stitch world, because it’s a) true and b) she’s fucking rad as all got out. Another person who is generous of spirit, with their time and always has good chat. Her kits and books (both cross stitch and Kitty Wig related) are where it all began and are worth checking out. Now.

This isn’t an exhaustive list but it’s a good place to start.

Posted in Giving, Indie Design

Gift Guide


Image by Little Dot Creations

Y’all know already that I am a very strident supporter of buying local, independent goods all year round, but this is even more important at Christmas time. Christmas for the little guys can totally make or break your whole year. Some years, I’ve taken more cash in November and December than the rest of the year put together. It can really be a massive deal. I try to buy at least 50% of my gifts from indies (I still buy from big box retailers for things like electrical goods, clothing, etc and for people like my dad who pretty much only ever gets books anyway) and year on year, I try to improve on that.

This year, I thought I’d put together a few finds from friends of mine that you might like for inspiration if you’ve still got last-minute gifts to buy:

Custom Made


I love matt gold and turquoise together, so this Altair clutch from Custom Made caught my eye. Also, Anna, the gal behind the name, is really just a super-duper person who always makes my day brighter when we meet all-to-infrequently at craft fairs in the Big Smoke.

Hilary Grant


If you’re looking for a special gift for someone who appreciates a good woolen, then Hilary’s Scottish designed and made knitwear is a real winner. These new blanket scarves are truly divine – at £120, they’re a special purchase for someone you really want to please, but will be a lifetime staple.

Finest Imaginary


I love Kim’s work (and she’s super-funny, helpful, generous and all-round awesome, too) and her new cacti collection is just IMMENSE. They’d make equally good ornamentation for your home as they do for your body, I reckon (but they’re not real plants, just to be clear, ho ho).

La La Land


Pop Cult pencils by La La Land are the best stocking gift ever. There’s so many designs to choose from, there’s something to raise a smile from just about anyone. Sarah is a long-term Glasgow craft scene colleague of mine – another smart and funny female, knocking it out of the park when it comes to being awesome in business.

Paul Revie


This fellow has wise words to impart in a variety of mediums. I’ve long-admired his artwork and have high hopes that this year, I might own a piece come the 25th of December. Another awesome talent in Glasgow, there’s a lot of us about.

Neil Slorance


You should totally buy a piece of Neil’s art before he becomes too busy and important being a Dr Who freaking illustrator to bother with us peasants. His comics and travelogues are really both super-cute and funny, too – awesome gifts.

Emily Peacock


I can’t express to you just how amazing Emily is – both her work, and her as a person. She’s a great friend, and though I haven’t spoken to her in a while, I know that when I do, it will be like we just left off our conversation. Her work is bright, bold, colourful and cheerful, just like her. Her tapestry kits are a great gift for anyone who likes to keep their hands busy – they’re very well put together and fun to work on.

Umm, also, buy my stuff, please.

Posted in Indie Design

Things You Should Know About

A collection of things you should know about.



1 > Bolden ceramics has re-opened. I have 2 of the wee dash bowls and they are divine.



2 > The annual Bonbi Forest sample and seconds sale is on just now. I bought one of these for a mere tenner.

3 > Some people are setting up a weekly urban market in Glasgow. For once, I want to believe it could work. Fingers crossed.


4 > This exhibition is on in Glasgow and I really want to go see it.


5 > I also really fancy this series of lectures in Edinburgh.

And I got a new Dyson that’s really good. That’s it.

End transmission.

Posted in Coveted, Indie Design

Will Steal Your Kidney

Another Christmas gift that Lee gave to me is this awesome cross stitch hobo sign by Alicia Watkins.


It fits nicely into my house shelves from Dusseldorf, along with the tiny mountain Lee also gave me (told you I was spoiled). The tiny paper clay mountain is by Sweet Bestiary.

photo (1)

Oh, and I also received this. Yay! New year’s resolution of blogging more just got easier.

Posted in Indie Design

Fable & Lore

Did we all have a good Christmas? I had a lovely one, quiet at home with my family. I was given so many gifts it took me literally all day to open them – we were still opening gifts at 10pm. I was truly spoiled.

Actually, I was still opening gifts on the 27th, as one of my gifts from Lee was delayed in the post. It was worth the wait:



I’ve been on a bit of an arrow tip (ha!) recently and Lee picked this out of my etsy favourites. It’s not been off since I ripped open the envelope! I don’t usually go for gold tones but it’s pretty nice for a change. It’s made by Fable + Lore.

Back to work today though, bah.

Posted in Indie Design

Styling and Salvage


I have a bit of a thing about old tins – I collect them. Sometimes I put things in them, sometimes I don’t. When I saw this cabinet via Twitter the other day, reader, I swooned.

Made from salvaged biscuit tins by Rupert Blanchard, I suppose it’s an acquired taste, but I’d love to own it.

I really like the unfinished industrial-feel to the top. And just think of all the biscuits you’d get to eat if you made it from new tins…



Posted in Indie Design

Polly Granville

Love these. The embroidered kitchen chairs made me say out loud “I could do that,”, the indie designer’s most cringed-at phrase, ever. I could, but I won’t. I do like them a lot though. Polly Granville‘s tapestry sofa is also an eye-catcher, though I don’t think I could justify that in my house with a 40kg Labrador jumping up on it.

– via Design Hunter

Posted in Indie Design

Makeshift Society

There are many reasons why I wish I lived in San Francisco, but here’s a new one – Makeshift Society.

Makeshift Society is an organization for those who crave camaraderie to fuel their creativity. Our members are curious and creative. They make with their heads and think with their hands.

We support collaborative projects and community-building activities through a coworking space/clubhouse, innovative programming, and support for freelancers and small business owners.

That sounds marvellous. Taking a look at the classes and seminars they have planned, and the stellar cast on board, I’m contemplating booking a one-way ticket for SF. Sigh.

Image via Lonely Planet.




Posted in Indie Design

Licenced To Ill

One last comment from this post to examine:

“I think the last thing that Glasgow needs is another market. I heard about a new one today, and I immediately rolled my eyes and made a joke about teacup candles and 90s vintage clothing. Yet I knew nothing about it at all. For all I knew it was organised with military precision and was going to be the best thing ever. But my preconceptions got the better of me. And I think a lot of people automatically think the same.I hate to say this, but the first thing I thought when the council hit Glasgow with that Public Entertainment License thingy was that it might actually have a positive impact on Glasgow’s overcrowded market scene by seperating the wheat from the chaff.” Sarah.

Sarah is a stylist and indie fashion shopkeeper – you’ll find her in La La Land, in Glasgow’s Cresswell Lane (reports unconfirmed if she is quite as tolerant as Mr Ben if you try to dress up and have adventures in her changing rooms). Like Sarah, I was actually a tiny wee bit heartened to hear about Glasgow City Council’s plans to make every single event have a licence (although that was before I knew the full details). I realise I am in the minority to write anything positive about this.

The plan was to introduce a Public Entertainment Licence law, which would mean exhibitions or public shows, even if they were free to attend,  would need a licence costing from £124 to £7,500. Clearly, this is a money-making exercise by the cash-strapped council,  but a little part of me was actually intrigued to see how it would impact on the craft scene and if it would curtail the deluge of markets being put on in the city. Would the never-ending source dry up?

Well, in the end, we don’t know yet, as the Council bowed to public pressure and decided to hold a review. I was as outraged by the next man by the introduction of this once I read more but when I stopped to think about it, it could turn out to be a good thing for one small part of the city. There are numerous exceptions to the law, the Council says:

“The clarification of public entertainment regulation in Glasgow will mean that small-scale charitable and community based events will now remain unaffected by the change to the law.  Also, places such as cafes which display art work will not require a licence while pop-up shops that sell art will be similarly untouched by licensing law. Further examples of the kinds of temporary public entertainment which will be considered as non-commercial will be provided by the council in the coming weeks…”

So – charity and community events – in. Art exhibitions and pop-up shops – in. Who knows what else will make the cut? In a way, I hope they have a rethink on the whole idea. But also, a wee bit of me thinks, good. The review has not concluded yet to my knowledge. There is a petition for those against it, which you’ll find here.  Its demands seem reasonable. If it’s not going to be abolished then clearly defined is the next best thing – there are workarounds and loopholes after all. It will be interesting to see what happens next.

Posted in Indie Design

The Numbers Game


Recently, I wrote a series of blog posts about why I’ve just about had it with the craft fair scene. You can read all about it here. Here’s another comment I received that deserves exploration:

“Thank you so much for articulating the problem so well… as a ceramicist with large overheads and 20 years of experience on top of an honours degree, I have just put my prices up to something close to what they realistically should be and not what would compete in this completely muddied market.

It’s taken a long time to pluck up the courage to break free of it but why compete any more with the ‘assemblers’ market, which is as far-removed from the designer-maker end as a chippendale chair is from a flat pack table?

There’s a perfectly reasonable cross-over (most of us have a mix) but you would never find them in the same place, sales/promotion-wise. Time to widen the net and admit it isn’t working. Thank you for saying it out loud.” Ceri White.

Pricing is a funny thing. From personal experience, I’ve found that I’ve sold more when I’ve raised my prices to where they are now, than when I was underselling myself back when I was a novice at this lark.Not just a few pieces more, but, percentage-wise, in the hundreds of percent more. Why would this be?

The public, consciously or not, use price as an indicator of quality. If I am selling at cost (or below it) to a customer, they can see I don’t value my work or my effort. So why should they?

If I set a price that covers my costs and pays me for my time, then I am valuing what I do and therefore expecting others to do the same. Which they will. I am more professional and polished and have upped my game to match the price tag. And that’s why, in a nutshell, I won’t waste my time with amateur events anymore. Harsh but true.

Pricing is something that everyone struggles with. I hear indie designers talk about it all the time, and it’s always been and probably always will be, a hot potato. I could drone on about it for hours, but thankfully for me, and for you, dear reader, people far more eloquent than I have already written cracking posts about it:

Kim from Finest Imaginary wrote the Rockstar’s Guide To Product Pricing which is a great start point if you are really floundering with this thorny issue.

And if you’re moving on up to the next stage, selling your work to retailers, then Clare Yuill, from the awesome Indie Retail Academy, has a great article about pricing your work for the wholesale market.

Even if you’re all sorted, pricing-wise, they’re worth a read, you may find an angle you haven’t thought of before, or learn something new. I know I did. Now, go get your price gun, tiger.