Welcome! Before you get comfortable - I have moved! Please come over to my new place, Do What You Love

Sunday, 31 October 2010

Happy Hallowe'en!

Just look at this juicy pumpkin.  Should I carve or make soup to serve inside it?

Friday, 29 October 2010

Anyone else love New York City? Part 1: NYC people

Living the NYC artist life on a stall with Jenny (Overallbaby), Dolores (Marikit Deisgns) and Louise (Dream, Inspire, Create) at Atlantic Antic in Brooklyn - I could get used to this!

and enjoying have Anna-Marie Still come to play

Do you love NYC too?


Other posts from my recent US adventures:

Sign up for the second Great Big Stitched Postcard Swap has now closed.  Check back here in a couple of weeks to see what beautiful creations have been flying round the world!

Last chance to sign up for The Great Big Stitched Postcard Swap - sign up closes today

Come and join people from 10 countries (and more than 21 US states!) sending stitched postcard love across the world. 

Today is the last day to sign up for the second Great Big Stitched Postcard Swap.  Find out more here and send your postal address to me (bethvnicholls at googlemail dot com) before tomorrow to be part of it.

... and to be in with a chance to win in the Great Big Stitched Postcard Swap special giveaway (more details here)

For anyone who signed up but has not sent me their postal address please do this asap.  Many thanks!

Can't wait to see what loveliness you all create...

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Cape Cod in pictures

Windswept empty beaches
tumbling oceans
whirling skies

Hidden galleries,
wine in my glass,
laughter in the air

When was the last time you walked barefoot in the sand?

Friday is the last day to sign up for The Great Big Stitched Postcard Swap, and have a chance of winning handmade thank you cards (made with love by me using Jessica Swift's gorgeous new fabric) in the giveaway.  What are you waiting for?  Come and join in the fun!  Sign up here

Monday, 25 October 2010

GIVEAWAY: handmade stitched postcards using Jessica Swift's new designer fabric!

All packaged up and ready to send... to you?

In celebration of the second Great Big Stitched Postcard Swap, I am giving away ten sets of three handmade stitched thank you postcards, all made by me using fabric from Jessica Swift's new Giselle fabric line from Red Rooster fabrics (thanks for the gorgeous material Jessica!). 

To be in with a chance of winning these little original creations, you just need to sign up for the Great Big Stitched Postcard Swap here.  We already have people from nine countries on three continents signed up to send some stitched love in the mail across the world.  You have until Friday to sign up so come on, get involved! 

Ten people will receive one set each. The back of each postcard is blank so you can write your own message and send it on to thank someone who has brought some kindness into your world.

The closing date for the giveaway is Friday October 29 (midnight UK time).  Winners will be picked at random from among the people signed up for The Great Big Stitched Postcard Swap (enter here for free).


Check out my recent Do What You Love interview with Jessica Swift here


This giveaway is part of Tinnie Girl's Blogtoberfest.  Are you taking part?


Saturday, 23 October 2010

Changing education paradigms - we need more creativity!

Creativity expert Sir Ken Robinson always has something thought-provoking to say, and this excerpt from a talk at the Royal Society of Arts (RSA) is no exception.  Love the way Cognitive Media have made this talk visual too.

What do you think?  How would you change education to get more children to use all parts of their brain, and develop what they are truly good at and have a passion for, so that when it comes to working they can do what they love?


The Great Big Stitched Postcard Swap is open for sign-ups now!  It's free - join in the fun, get some stitched gorgeousness land on your doorstep, and maybe even win something in the special giveaway!  See here for more info

Thursday, 21 October 2010

Do What You Love interview: Claudine Hellmuth

Artwork courtesy of Claudine Hellmuth

So excited to bring you this interview with artist, author and illustrator extraordinaire Claudine Hellmuth. Claudine combines photos, paint, paper and pen into quirky, whimsical-retro collages that she calls Poppets®. Claudine has appeared on The Martha Stewart Show and she has developed her own signature product line with Ranger Inc (how cool is that?).  

Claudine has written 3 books and 3 DVDs about her techniques, and recently taught a techniques e-course 'At Home with Claudine Hellmuth' (which I took and loved) Originally from Orlando FL, Claudine lives in Washington DC with her husband Paul and their very spoiled pets.  Today she talks to us about Martha, commissions and her creative business life.

Artwork courtesy of Claudine Hellmuth

You have a very unique and distinctive (and gorgeous!) style. How did you develop it? Thank you!! It developed over about a year and a half. I had just finished writing my first book in late 2001 and was feeling very burnt out. I knew it was time to explore new things but I didn't know what they would be yet. I was looking through my old sketchbooks from college which included collage along with whimsical drawings and I felt like that might be a fun direction to try again. I took cheap paper and pens and crayons and just started playing around. After many months of experimenting I saw a theme that I was excited about developing and kept at it!

Having your own range of paint products (Claudine Hellmuth Studio with Ranger) must be any artist's dream. How did that come about and what was involved in making it happen?
I am very excited about my line with Ranger too! It is such a thrill to have this product line and Ranger worked with me to make sure it would be something I would really be proud of and I am. My partnership with Ranger happened very organically. I was already attending the Craft and Hobby Association conventions to promote my books. I met with Ranger and started working in their booth demoing their products. Over time the relationship grew and we thought of making my own line of products with them. I have been a painter for 21 years and have always worked with good paint so paint was very important to me. Ranger promised me that I could work with their chemist to come up with a paint I would love, that would be high quality and just right. And they delivered!

You have so many things going on - a brilliant ecourse, teaching, commissions, books etc. How do you manage your time and juggle it all?
Good question! At times it gets really busy and stressful but mostly it works out because each avenue of my work has it own "season" the custom artworks I get really busy around the holidays during that time the workshops are slower etc. so for the most part there isn't too much overlap, but there are lots of times when I have so much to do that I barely know what I should start on first!

I loved learning so many awesome new techniques from you in your ecourse At Home with Claudine Hellmuth. What is your favourite painting technique?
I have so many favorite techniques, they are all like magic tricks. I do love layering gesso and making texture with it, letting it dry and then painting over it. It adds so much depth to a background!

How do you go about creating your commissions?
I have a couple of different processes for creating commissions. When I am creating a custom artwork for a client, the client and I come up with a general idea, like a picnic or eating at a cafe or skiing and then I go from there. I work on the piece until it's at a draft stage and then I email the client with a photo of the work. at this point we can make changes or they approve the direction and then I finish it up!
When I am not creating custom artworks for clients, I use my own family photos or friends' family photos.  When I run out of those or when they aren't suitable, I "create" my own photo heads by combining 3 or 4 photo images together to "make" my own people. For example, I'll purchase vintage photos from ebay and then combine a nose from one person with eyes of another and a hair style of another person until I arrive at the look I want. This has been a lot of fun and it's very useful because then I can make sure the photo image fits with the context of the artwork. This is also great for when I do illustration work because I don't have to worry about copyright issues.

How was your experience of appearing on The Martha Stewart Show? It was wonderful being on the show. I still can't believe that it even happened!! it has been great or my business because when new clients come to my web site it's like having an endorsement from Martha. You can't beat that!   (NB: you can see Claudine on the show here)

What exciting new things do you have in the pipeline for your creative business?
Right now I am playting with a personal project using a doll house and incorporating my drawings into the dollhouse and photographing them. It's a project that's just for fun and all about what I want to do. so I am excited about it! It's reminding me of when I was little and I loved all things miniature!

Find Claudine on her website, blog or Facebook page or follow her on Twitter

See here for more interviews with inspiring people doing what they love


  The Great Big Stitched Postcard Swap is back by popular demand!  Sign up now and be part of the fun (not to mention the special giveaway...)

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Back by popular demand… The Great Big Stitched Postcard Swap!

It’s back! We had so much fun with the last Great Big Stitched Postcard Swap that we're going to do it again. Thank you to all of you who demanded a re-run!

Essentially, this is all about celebrating the deliciousness of fabric, paper, ink, paint, thread and all the other materials we love, by creating a stitched postcard, and then sending it to someone on the other side of the world – and receiving one in return. What’s not to like?

This time our theme is HOME. You can interpret this is any way you like.

It is great fun to do, and amazing to see how different people interpret the theme in different ways. Anyone can get involved, it’s free, and you don’t even need a sewing machine.

PLUS this year we have a special giveaway! Everyone who joins the swap will automatically be entered - see this post for details. You have to be in it to win it, so get signed up!

Here’s how it works:
1. Sign up by emailing your postal address and blog link (if you have one) to me at bethvnicholls at googlemail dot com.  You are very welcome to join, wherever in the world you live. Please also leave a comment below, and tell everyone you are joining in! The deadline for this is Friday October 29.

2. Add the Swap Image to your site, tell all your friends you are doing it and encourage them to sign up - the more the merrier!  (To do this, just save the top image above to your computer and upload it to your blog as a picture gadget, with a link to this page)

3. Create a lovely postcard using anything you want including a bit of sewing or hand stitching, with the theme 'HOME'. Use images, words, any kind of media. Go crazy! You have a fortnight from the sign-up deadline to do this, so by Friday November 12.

4. By this time I will have emailed you the address of someone else in the group to post your postcard too. Please post it within the following week.

5. By November 19 you should have received your handmade postcard from somewhere else in the world, bringing with it some stitched love to warm up your day

6. Take a photo of it and post it in the Great Big Stitched Postcard Swap Flickr Group, and on your blog if you have one (You can join the group here)

7. A random selection of postcards and all blog links will be featured on the special Great Big Stitched Postcard Swap page, which will be archived, and I will do a big round up of all the lovely creations here at the end of November.

8. Check out everyone else's lovely creations, pat yourself on the back for your own and feel the kinship of being part of the Great Big Stitched Postcard Swap!

Happy stitching!


Monday, 18 October 2010

My life is an open book

About The Author (me): See profile. Loves travel & adventure, people, making stuff, tea, hugs, sunshine, books, chocolate, laughing, bare feet on sand

The Setting: Each chapter is set in a different country – at over 50 chapters so far this is a long book

The Characters: Some characters in every chapter (family, friends, lovely man), others pop in and out, bringing fleeting glimpses of other worlds

The Plot: Young girl heads out in search of adventure. Meets many strange and wonderful people, falls in love, sends many postcards

The Twist: You’ll just have to keep reading to find out…

This attempt to sum up 'my life as an open book' is my response to the Hello Splendor’s blogcrawl, as it's my turn. I am receiving the honour from Danielle at Elleinad Spir and passing it on to Sam at Today’s Nest. Check them out and back-track to find more open books floating out in the ether. Or why not try it for yourself? It’s harder than it looks, especially if, like me, you limit yourself to 20 words for each answer.
PS: Advance notice that THE GREAT BIG STITCHED POSTCARD SWAP is back! It will launch tomorrow, bigger and better with more sparkly bits – watch this space…

Sunday, 17 October 2010

Anyone for crumble?

Apple and blackberry crumble, fresh from the oven, ready to be served up with vanilla ice cream... 
Sometimes there's nothing like a bit of homebaking when friends are coming to stay.

Made with apples from my parents' garden. Yum

PS: Advance notice that THE GREAT BIG STITCHED POSTCARD SWAP is back! It will launch tomorrow, bigger and better with more sparkly bits – watch this space…

Thursday, 14 October 2010

Exploring New Hampshire

One sunny day, no schedule and rumours of an art exhibition.  Perfect ingredients for exploring a new town.  This is what Lindy, Louise and I found in Portsmouth, New Hampshire (quite a different place from the Portsmouth I know in southern England!)...

Public sculptures

Paper treasures at the Gus and Ruby Letterpress paper boutique

A little cutie inspired by the work in the Enormous Tiny Art Show, drawing on the blackboard wall at the Nahcotta Gallery (which sells great gifts by the way)

A great diner with an odd name (The Friendly Toast) and pictures like this on the wall

Signs like this (and got to love that clapboard building)

And things that probably only I think are pretty because I am a tourist, like this

Coffee and cakes (obviously)

Time to chat

After what I wrote in this post it seems odd to include this photo of me, but Louise and I had just had an awesome creative business brainstorm and this picture reminds me of it (and makes me excited about what is in store in the coming weeks and months!)

I'll probably be heading back this way next year.  Any tips for other places to explore in New Hampshire?


Other posts from my recent US adventures:New York part 1 (NYC people)
New York part 2 (My kind of city)
Cape Cod
Portsmouth, NH
Squam Lake

***PS: Advance notice that THE GREAT BIG STITCHED POSTCARD SWAP IS BACK! It will launch next Tuesday 19 October, bigger and better with more sparkly bits – watch this space…

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Self-portrait bravery

Joining in Cathy's self-portrait challenge for Blogtoberfest. Not a huge fan of having my photo taken (especially by me) but this one is quite fun - took it in Cape Cod a couple of weeks back, having caught the sun out on a long bike ride

How do you feel about taking your own photo?  Do you get self-conscious?  Do you see it as a way of getting a photo you actually like? 

For more self-portrait bravery from Blogtoberfesters see here

PS advance notice that THE GREAT BIG STITCHED POSTCARD SWAP IS BACK! It will launch on Tuesday 19 October, bigger and better with more sparkly bits – watch this space…

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