Paper Work

So anyone who has ever glanced at this blog knows that, next to textiles, my favourite thing is paper. Paper, paper, paper, in all it’s glorious forms!

I got chatting about paper again today with a lovely girl I just met from Hungary. Johanna is an illustrator, living and creating in Brussels. We got chatting about our love of paper and I remembered of the paper projects I want to get working on. One that I’ve been toying with for ages is making another zine! In addition to my lovely chat with Johanna, I came across the below flyer for a zine workshop for kids during the summer in Brussels. Lucky kids!!

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I. Love. Zines.

I’m actually watching a Skillshare class right now about making zines! If you use Skillshare check it out – Kate Bingaman-Burt, Making Your First Zine.

I have made only one zine to date but I loved it. I only made about 30 copies and most of these I sent to people who contributed to it. I made that zine with the same approach I use for everything – bringing community together! I asked some friends and some great artists that I met online to contribute to it, and of course, because I’m surrounded by wonderful people, they all came through for me. It didn’t take so long to pull it together, and I loved the experience of piecing it, shaping it and printing. I was very lucky to have a contribution from the queen of zines herself – Linda Tieu! Her illustrations are just gorgeous and she’s of the firm belief that anyone can draw. She produces zines to encourage us scardey cats to pick up a pen and get to it!

Bazaar Zine

In Tokyo we visited a shop that both sold zines and had free ones to take away. As you can imagine, not only were there great zines, but they were Japanese! There’s something about Japan’s creative world that makes me want to give up on European life and move there and live in an osana, slowly boiling while watching the Japanese world revolve around me.

I also found a shop in Amsterdam a couple of years ago selling all types of self-published work by contemporary artists and I picked up some wonderful pieces there. Here’s a pic of two of these. The smaller one, by an artist called Brah Yak, is one of the nicest paper paper pieces I have in my collection. I can’t find anything about the artist online but the piece is a gorgeous little story called Passport to Heaven. The shop is called Boekie Woekie and is well worth a visit if you’re ever in Amsterdam!

Zines

Continuing my paper-love story, I recently took a skillshare class on travel posters. I’ve been thinking a lot about Brussels and how awesome it is as a creative city. I wanted to create a poster to reflect that. This below is a prototype which is based on all the flyers for events that I had lying around the house. It’s not the final version but I’m going to get a high quality print of the Mannekin Pis picture and use that as the base for the final version. This is just a draft that I use as my front-page link for my Creative Brussels page here on the website.

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The other paper project I worked on recently is a series of old postcards of Antwerp, with updated captions. The idea came from an article I was reading in the new York Times on the “muslimification” of European cities. There was a photo in the article, with a misleading and factually incorrect caption, just put there to serve the purpose of their biased view. It was galling. So I played around with the idea and created this series of postcards. It’s another idea I’m going to explore some more over the summer.

Ideas, ideas! Bouncing around in there, I need to nail them down…

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Speaking of paper work – I had my first encounter today with Belgian Revenue… Ugh…

So, I have info coming very soon on the jewellery workshop update. IF you weren’t able to make the first date we offered, put a Save the Date in your diary for Sunday 21 June. More info this weekend!! Hope to see some of you very soon!

a x

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Silver Jewellery Workshop this weekend

This weekend instead of the usual Bazaar Craft Sunday we have arranged for a brilliant jewellery artist to come and give a workshop on Silver Clay Jewellery. It’s a new technique that I haven’t come across before but it seems like it will be cool! Iris will be taking care of opening up shop this weekend because I’m going to be quite late coming on Sunday.

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(Photo from The Jewellery Academy)

If you would like to take part in the workshop we still have a few places. The workshop will cost €60 and that includes a four hour workshop, a 10g piece of clay and two precious stones to put into your piece. The workhop will be in the same place as usual – the lovely Den Teirling space on Rue Maes. Send me an email for the details!

Otherwise, I have some news coming this week that I’m quite excited about! Watch this space, wheeeeeeeeeeee!

a x

 

Heroes

When I was a small kid two of my biggest heroes were Freddie Mercury and Roald Dahl. They both died almost exactly within a year of each other, when I was eight or nine, in 1990 and 1991. I remember being vaguely sad at both moments, but it was a child-like version of sadness. It was years later when I realised the loss of those wonderful cultural giants, one way too early from a now-treatable disease, and the other after a long, productive life of spinning memories for kids.

Last year Ireland lost Seamus Heaney, one of our greatest storytellers. A man who could spin a country and a culture out of words. I felt his death, not as sadness, but as the end of an era; not a bad or good thing, but just as the end of something for Irish literature. Also, if I’m honest, there are very few poets who I can read consistently and enjoy as much as I did Heaney.

Today I lost another hero. Terry Pratchett. Pratchett, the unparalleled, brilliant, absorbing… I’m running through adjectives in my head but one of the many PTerry quotes in my head is “use adjectives as if they cost you a toenail.” So I’ll stop there. I need all my toenails.

You know when you hear stories about those awful yoga classes where the teacher says “go to your happy place”. Well those classes don’t exist, yoga is actually awesome. But, that happy place, that does exist. Pratchett is my happy place. I can open any of his books at any page and immediately fall into a world where mine doesn’t exist. The only other place I can find that feeling of nothingness, of non-existence, is going to see a movie. I love Pratchett for giving me an escape. To fall is the right verb. The first few lines of his books are like that feeling you get when you’re falling asleep. Tumbling, falling, sinking into something totally absorbing.

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I really enjoyed the books when I was a teenager, but I think I only really realised Pratchett’s own magic after I saw his profile photo on the back of a book. Check it out. He created this world of comic fantasy writing and then lived this world. His appearance at ComicCons, his playful attitude to profile pics in his books, his autobiographical writing… He had fun. And the fun characterised his writing. Pratchett predicted the internet’s obsession with cats long before any generic meme generator: “In ancient times cats were worshipped as gods; they have not forgotten this.” He could also make me laugh out loud more than any other author. “Build a man a fire, and he’ll be warm for a day. Set a man on fire, and he’ll be warm for the rest of his life.”

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My favourites are his books on the Discworld witches. These witches are powerful women, some of the strongest female characters in any genre. Pick up Equal Rites, Wyrd Sisters or Witches Abroad and have a laugh, fly through an easy read and lose yourself in another world.

PTerry. The End.

Winter Woolies!

We had the most wonderful Bazaar Creative Sunday for March. One of our newest members, Marjorie, is a dab hand at knitting beautiful pieces. She very generously offered to give us a workshop on knitting and crochet and it made for a cosy, comfortable and especially relaxed Sunday.

Marjorie

Have a look at Marjorie’s beautiful handiwork. She tried her best to convince us that it’s all very easy, but a couple of hours with a crochet needle convinced me that she has some serious skillz! Maggie took to it like a duck to water though. Look at her go! maggie crochet

For those of you who come to the monthly crafty meetups, we’re running a quick poll to see what workshops you are interested in. As a part of the crafty Sundays we will host a few formal, more structured workshops with experts to demonstrate. We already have strong support for making jewellery out of silver clay, advanced knitting classes, clothes-making without patterns and cartonnage. If you come to the workshops and you’d like to see us do something unusual or new, add your comments to the poll!

Coucou Shep!

Shep in Hiding

Given my last post, you all know well that I’ve been struggling a bit with the long cold days. The weather is starting to pick up a bit but I’m still struggling to come out of this winter funk. I thought it would be a good idea to learn/try something new to get my brain running again and get the creative juice flowing. I’ve been having issues with back pain so a run was out of the question, so I looked to creative friends. Just when I was thinking about it I came across a post on Instagram by Anne Ditreyer, a.k.a. Pret a Voyager, about her new class on designing travel posters. She’s running the class through Skillshare so I had a look and I loved what I found. I had no idea Skillshare existed! It has a 3 month free trial and you should check it out.

Brussels Travel Poster

I started Anne’s class and am having a lot of fun with it. I decided to make a travel poster for Brussels. I love this city and I think it has a lot to offer, and often people just see the grey of the institutions. Above is the first draft of the poster. The cut out images are taken from all sorts of event posters and flyers. It needs to be tidied up but I think the nugget of the idea is there! “So you think you know Brussels?!”

So, I hope March is a good one for you all. I’m off to Ireland next weekend so expect lots of images of planes, green and snow photos on Instagram!

a x

Spring Fever

Spring fever, eh? I am so sick of winter already. I feel like a cranky old lady, heading home straight after work and refusing to go out again. And my back is playing up, I have to see a physio this week. Every morning leaving the house I put my nose in the air to see if I can smell spring, like a bear trying to decide whether or not to come out of hibernation. My Dad sent us pictures of his Irish garden full of snowdrops and crocus’ (what is the plural of crocus?!) My body clock is ready for the Irish spring but Belgium is a few weeks behind yet. Sigh…

Anyway, moan over!

two cushions

I worked on these beauties last week. The large geometric one is just gorgeous! I’m still in the process of setting up my shop online and will launch that really soon, so in the meantime I’m working on stock.

large geometric cushionIt looks so nice on my bed, I’m a little reluctant to put it up on the shop!

point culture

The Belgian’s band had a performance last week in a venue called Point Culture on Rue Royale. They have a fun exhibition at the moment on 90’s culture, which featured this great bank of tv screens. They were showing some really fun music videos from the 90’s. All of you 90’s babies should drop in and check out their collection of Pogs and Troll dolls!

I came across this interesting article on Generation Y babies and why they’re so unhappy with their lot, despite being one of the most privileged generations since people bothered keeping these sort of records… I think that even if we’re well-read about entitlement culture and we try to maintain a modicum of self-awareness, it can be really hard to manage your personal expectations. There is only so much room for “special ones”, even if we’re led to believe that we are all, every one of us, “special”. That’s a tough thing to wrap your head around when you grew up watching Disney movies. (Don’t get me wrong though, I’m not coming down hard on Disney, I have watched every movie repeatedly, until I could quote it the whole way through!)

I really love the last few paragraphs on advice for Generation Y – 1) Stay wildly ambitious, 2) stop thinking that you’re special and 3) ignore everyone else.Read the article and let me know what you get from it. (Ignore the comments on the end of the article though, unless you love those kind of facebook “discussions” which are about people listening to their own voices!)

Go out there and be wildly ambitious people. I’m still a little grouchy so I’m giving myself a pass on wild ambition for tonight. I’m staying in tonight and watching House on tv while I finish the cushions by hand.

a x

Updates to the site

Hi All, I hope you’re getting back into the swing of the year and aren’t frozen in this awful weather. I’ve been very slow to restart. My body and mind seemed to shut down after the first weekend in January and I can only feel myself coming around now. I decided not to fight it – last year was a long, busy year, so I allowed myself the time to recuperate. Now I can feel the cogs starting to thaw and I can see how the year ahead might take shape.

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I started the year, as I did in 2014, with a workbook from Do What You Love, to analyse where I am and what I would like to achieve this year. The New Year’s Revolution goes through your personality and how it ties in with your business ideas. I have to admit that last year I completed the workbook in January, but then I didn’t look at it again for the rest of the year. However, it was still useful because when I completed the 2015 workbook last night, I looked back at what I had intended for the year last year. I managed to surprise myself – something that hasn’t happened in a while. I had the feeling that I achieved very little last year, what with personal issues taking fore and changes to work during the year. In fact, I managed to tick off all of the proposed ideas I had penned at the start of 2014. How wonderful! It gave me a huge confidence boost last night and spurred me on to making even bigger and better plans for 2015.

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To that end, I’m in the middle of a big project at the moment. I have decided to close my shop over on Etsy and I will open one that I manage and control myself. I’m looking at Big Cartel at the moment and am working on a plan to merge a big cartel shop with my website. That is why the format of the site has changed a few times in the last few weeks. I apologise for the confusion! I’m doing my best to streamline my visuals and it’s going to involve a few weeks of trail & error. So please don’t go anywhere! I’m here, just trying on a new face!

The first Bazaar Craft Sunday of 2015 will happen this weekend on 1 February and I’m so looking forward to seeing the gang again and catching up with what everyone got up to over the break. Maybe I’ll see you there!

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My pine burr is finally gone. My heart is broken! It’s on a ship bound for the new world and my months of work with it! It’s always so hard to send off my favourite pieces!

a x

Notes on the turning of the year…

The turn of the year is, of course, a time for reflection (what on earth was I doing?! what the hell am I doing to do?!), and like many people across the world, today my thoughts are turning to 2014 and how it went for me, and my plans for 2015.

2014 was a good year. They usually are, in fact… I find as I get older life gets that bit easier. I’m not wrestling with myself so much, and am less critical of myself. Which is nice! I’m not saying there haven’t been huge challenges this year. There have. But I’m stronger, calmer, more confident and better equipped to deal with them. I hope that’s all a part of growing up and that life will continue in this vein.

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2014 was a cracking year in some ways – the year started with a weekend creative retreat and finished with Bazaar’s first Christmas market. There were ups and downs in between but lots of growth and development. I left a terrible job and found a new, better one that actually supports my creative life, not drowns it. I failed to get pregnant even with medical aid, but found a strength in my relationship which I had suspected was there but hadn’t been fully tested. I failed to sell much of anything on Etsy but learned through markets exactly who my target market are, which will help me find and sell to them in future (and my sense of design and style of my products grew in leaps and bounds this year.) I missed my Irish family desperately but with each year that passes we learn more about each other as adults and are growing up together. I also found my Belgian “family” getting stronger through the year, which helps with the homesickness.

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Here’s to 2015. Here’s to the next rollercoaster ride. I wish you all many ups in which you find your joy, and I also wish you a few downs in which you find your strength.

My blog will soon take a little break for redevelopment of my site and style but I’ll be back with a bang, I promise!

Much love.

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a x

(Thanks to Alix for this lovely photo of me!)

Christmas Madness Continues

When you sell at markets it always feels like you’re ready for the holiday season far sooner than most people. It also means we’re way behind on regular holiday things – I still have no Christmas tree!!

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I have some wonderful photos of the market this weekend, courtesy of A Mama’s Blog. Before I get stuck into those I just want to let you all know that I will be in Micro Marché this weekend with some more of these gorgeous bunnies. The box above is fresh off the machine! Get them while they’re hot!

The market this weekend was just incredible. I posted a photo of our team on Saturday night before we got stuck in. They are the best, most creative, hardworking and inspired bunch of people that you are every likely to meet! We started early on Sunday morning, setting up and as soon as we opened our doors at noon we had a steady stream of people in all day! They were kept warm with the delicious Vin Chaud from Holy Bagels!

SONY DSCThe quality of work on display was astonishing. There was a real handcrafted quality to the fair and I can only hope that any market we do in future proves to be an equal showcase of work made in Belgium. I’ll shut up now and let you enjoy Alix’ photos!

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Beautiful little peg-men by Sil in Pensilory.

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The lady Sil herself!

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Warm lighting and soft toys from Le Souk de Killy.

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A new range of Christmas illustrations from JoJackLee. Illustratrice extraordinaire Maggie is one of the organising team.

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Original pieces from E20 Bijoux.

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My very own Welcome Baby Boxes and luxury handmade cushions!

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Amy holds sway over her busy kitchen!

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And no wonder the kitchen was so busy. Mince pies – yum!

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I had an awful lot of fun showing creative hands of all ages how to make Christmas trees and snowflakes!

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Christmas decoration bows made by Iris in prep for the workshops. They’re so sweet and so easy to make!

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Busy heads bent over scissors and paper.

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The market was hard work but also so much fun. We’re already thinking about when we might be able to host another one. We’ll keep you informed!

Hope to see you this weekend at Micro Marché!

a x

Today is the day! Christmas Market 2014

Yesterday we spent the day preparing the hall for the Christmas Market and honestly, it looks amazing! So warm and cosy with a Christmas glow. We finished the photo booth, where you can take your own Christmas photos! And of course we had to sample it! This is us, the Bazaar Christmas Market team!

Market Team

Today is going to be just brilliant fun! There will be paper-craft workshops at 2pm and 4pm, homemade cakes by wonderful baker Amy and so many handcrafted goodies on sale! Below you can see the test samples, which were deeeelicious! Do come and say hi 🙂

Cake Prep

In addition to being the big market-prep day, yesterday was also the Feast of Saint Nicholas here in Belgium. In some ways it’s bigger than Christmas day, and children prepare for it weeks before. I started the day preparing my first-ever Assiette de St Nicolas for The Belgian. I think by the delighted expression and cleared plate when I got home last night, it’s safe to say it was a success!

Assiette St Nicolas

 

Hope to see some of you today!

a x