subscription box

Quirky Crate – 1950s Flashback

I’ve been toying with the idea for a quite a while of ordering myself a Quirky Crate, and now I’ve finally done it! Quirky Crate is a monthly subscription box containing a selection of fun, colourful and inspiring things that have been curated around a theme, featuring an item and bio card of a female artist (https://www.quirkycrate.com/). It’s a great way of bringing yourself or a loved one some joy and brightening up the day with a splash of colour. Although this isn’t technically a craft, I feel that treating yourself in this way every so often can really help to boost your creativity and act as great inspiration for future projects.

The April box that I signed up for was themed around the 1950s. I really love this decade, particularly the fashions and interior/furniture designs. I also really love the American pop culture of this decade that you often see depicted in films like Grease.

Included in the box was:

• Milkshake cross body bag
• Rockabilly sparrow enamel pin
• Dalmatian socks
• Pearl-vintage hair clips
• Polka dot headband
• Pearl cherry necklace
• Sticker sheet

The sticker sheet is designed by this month’s artist Natalie Michelle Watson, an illustrator from Melbourne (Instagram: @nataliemichellewatson).

It was really exciting to open this box when it arrived and see all the fun stuff inside. However, as Quirky Crate is based in the US and I’m based in the UK it did take a really long time to arrive. I signed up for the box on 25th March prior to the April shipment on 15th April. The next shipment date is advertised on the website for each box so you know when you can expect it to ship. I only signed up for the one box which was $36.95 (approx £29.80). I used a discount code which took off $7.39, but then had to add on international shipping at $17.25 so my total came to $46.81 (£37.78). Obviously the post is delayed at the moment due to the Coronavirus situation, so I wasn’t expecting it to come quickly. On 1st May I received an email from Royal Mail saying that I might have to pay a customs charge due to the declared value of the contents. According to the card inside the box the total value of the box is $101. Eventually I received a card through the post to say that I had to pay a customs charge of £15.63, which I sorted online (on the terrible Royal Mail website which kept saying they couldn’t find my tracking number and that the parcel didn’t exist) and finally had my box delivered on 27th May, over two months after placing the original order!

This is obviously not the fault of Quirky Crate, it’s just the hazards of shipping overseas, particularly at the moment. It does make me question whether or not I would order another one without first checking the value at which the customs charge comes into play though. My total expenditure on this box came to £53.41, including a discount, almost double the original cost of the box. If I saw another theme that really caught my attention I might consider ordering it, with the knowledge of how much it might cost, however I’m pretty glad I didn’t sign up for the three or six month subscription if it meant I had to pay a customs charge every month!

Having said that, I think it’s a lovely, well-curated box and I will thoroughly enjoy wearing all my new accessories! If I was based in the US I would certainly think about signing up and I know I would look forward to receiving it every month.

Creative blog

What crafting means to me…

I know this is a bit of a detour for me as I usually post a review of something crafty or creative that I’ve done, but this week I just wanted to talk about craft and mental health. One of my reasons for starting this blog in the first place was my belief that crafting is good for the soul.

I was in quite a low place for the first few months of this year. I was disillusioned with my jewellery as I had done a few really bad Christmas markets, I didn’t have any inspiration for new products and in short I felt like it was going nowhere and I was wasting my time. I put it on the back burner and spent a lot of time thinking about if it was the right thing for me to do or if I should find something else. I knew in my heart that I didn’t really want to let it go, which is why in the end I went back to my jewellery making roots and started again, as discussed in my previous post about my showcase. However, before I got to that point I went back even further to my childhood and remembered all the things I liked to do back then; sewing, art, reading, baking, and anything that involved making something with my hands. I’d already begun to make my pointillism pictures inspired by a visit to a David Hockney exhibition and I’d already started writing my novel.

I decided that I wanted to bring more creativity back into my life, and that I wanted to document what I was doing in order to keep myself on track and also share my journey with others who might be feeling in need of a bit of inspiration of their own. I set up this blog and my Instagram account with no idea what I was going to post at first! I spent a long time researching crafty pastimes and came across the idea of subscription boxes, bringing a different craft to your door every month, which I loved. I also researched places to go. I wanted to make sure that I went out and about in order to experience new things. I’ve always enjoyed going to art galleries, but I also signed myself up for as many workshops as I could afford in as many different disciplines as possible!

I’ve been thoroughly enjoying myself over the last few months since starting this blog. I’ve learnt so many amazing new skills from candle making to punch needle, but I’ve also remembered lost loves such as embroidery. I now feel that I’m brimming with ideas, not just for my jewellery but also for artwork bringing a range of techniques together in a mixed media style piece.

However, the reason I’m not posting a finished piece today is because I don’t have one! Over the past two weeks I’ve had a severe cold. Not quite the flu because I haven’t been stuck in bed, but I have really pushed myself to keep going because I had deadlines to meet, like my jewellery showcase, and it has definitely been to my detriment. I should have taken time to rest because I haven’t had the energy to complete some of my other projects in time and that’s made me really upset. So whilst crafting has definitely had a positive effect on me and I feel inspired, relaxed and overall in a better frame of mind, it’s always good to know when you need to take a break and recharge. I don’t want to let something I enjoy become a burden again. I have a nice quiet week lined up and I’m going to spend my time crafting at a leisurely pace and not put any pressure on myself. I’ve nearly finished one of my subscription boxes so I’ll be back next week with a review on that! I’m hoping to catch up with myself so that I can start on some of my own projects and get some of my ideas out there!

Event

Charlie Delta Jewellery Showcase

At the weekend I hosted an open house to showcase my jewellery line, Charlie Delta Jewellery (http://www.charliedeltajewellery.com/store/c1/Featured_Products.html). I organised an afternoon at my home with my jewellery laid out on the dining table for friends and family to view. 

The table laid out with jewellery.

I have done this several times previously and have found it a great way to show my products to people who are genuinely interested in handmade jewellery. I have had many conversations with other makers about the value of selling at craft fairs. I have done quite a few fairs in the last couple of years with varying results. Some fairs I have attended have been awful with barely any people, conversely I have been to some that have had great footfall, but still not made any sales. However I have been to a few that have been successful. Unfortunately with craft fairs and selling handmade products a bit of a scattergun, trial and error approach is required to find the appropriate place to sell. The location, venue and marketing for these fairs are all important but the key is finding the right audience. I’ve found that hosting a showcase in my own home gives me the opportunity to invite people who I know are interested and encourage them to invite their own family and friends in turn to spread the word about my jewellery. 

Individual charms and on a bracelet as an example.

We had Buck’s Fizz, mince pies, nibbles and chocolate to get in the festive spirit and start thinking about shopping for Christmas gifts. I have to say I wasn’t as organised with inviting people this time around as I went on holiday a few weeks before. There were definitely fewer attendees than previous years, but there was a regular flow of people throughout the afternoon, all of whom were keen to view my products and I was really pleased with the amount of sales I made. 

My lovely Dad (centre) making sure the guests all have a drink whilst they view the jewellery!

I showed some of my older pieces, but the main focus of the day was to display my newest collection. Earlier in the year I was struggling with my jewellery making and had hit a bit of a creative wall, which was part of my motivation for starting this blog. As I began to explore my creativity via other outlets such as embroidery, drawing, crafting and baking I felt re-inspired with my jewellery and decided to go back to basics. When I began making jewellery as a hobby, polymer clay was one of the first materials I worked with, which I think led to my love for introducing colour into my work and the inclusion of resin with my silver work. I think the fact that I put no pressure on myself and just let myself play with the clay allowed me to be more creative. I started by making flat beads which I turned into bracelets. They reminded me of the sweetie bracelets we used to have when we were little! I then took the three colours in each bracelet and blended them together to create marbled beads, which I then used to make necklaces and earrings.

My new collection using the colours from the bracelet in the beads and earrings.

Some people bought things as they were, but I also received some commissions as well. I really like it when customers ask for something a little different. It’s great to hear other people’s ideas and see how the jewellery can be personalised to suit their wardrobes and their own tastes. I had a request for my moon earrings in blue instead of white and ace of diamonds in green instead of red. I also took a commission for a ring. A while ago I made a ring as a gift for my friend. One of her friends had seen it and asked me to make her one of her own, however she wanted hers to be a thumb ring and blue rather than pink. I’m really looking forward to getting started with making it.

The ring that inspired the commission.
Uncategorized

Living my best creative life!

Hi, I’m Caroline! Welcome to my blog. As this is my first ever post I’d like to tell you a little bit about myself and why I decided to start blogging.

I love to create things and my mission is to live as creatively as possible and have new creative experiences. As a child I was always into arts and crafts whether it be drawing, junk modelling or Play-Doh. As I’ve grown older I’ve always kept a creative element in my life. At university I studied film, radio and televisions studies but when I went to work I developed more creative hobbies. The most notable hobby I have is jewellery making. I started off just teaching myself some basic beading until I went to the London Jewellery School to do a few short courses and branched out into polymer clay and wire wrapping. In 2016 I decided that jewellery was something I wanted to take more seriously and signed up for their Diploma in Creative Jewellery. I chose to do the intensive course, completing the qualification in seven weeks.

Since then I have done a lot of experimentation with the techniques I’ve learnt and have launched my own range of jewellery. However, that was clearly not enough to keep my creative juices going! I also started attending a weekly ceramics class and producing my own artwork at home. In addition to this I also enjoy the occasional baking session.

Basically I love to be creative; it makes me happy!

My other great love is reading. I have always been an avid reader, devouring books as fast as possible. When I was younger I often used to have two books on the go at a time, one upstairs and one downstairs! Nowadays I just stick to one, but I still read as often as I can. For me, reading is a gateway to creativity and inspiration. Stemming from my love of books I have recently embarked on writing my own novel. It’s a long and slow process but I hope one day to have a finished story.

I decided to start blogging to share my creative adventures. I’m planning to attend workshops, events, fairs and exhibitions to broaden my knowledge and skills and further my creative education. If you are into all things creative, or are looking to introduce more creativity into your life then hopefully my blog will give you lots of ideas to get involved and live your best creative life!

I’m mainly based in London and the South East but if I find an opportunity to travel further afield in the pursuit of creativity, I will. If you have any suggestions of workshops to try, fairs to shop or galleries to visit then please let me know via the contact page. I’m always looking for new ideas!