Monday, January 26, 2009

Research & reference,

After my years of working within the textile industry, I am very aware of the importance of research and reference as a starting point to any design project...,

missing it out,  would be like making soup without a good stock as a base.

Today has been one of those days, rooting through books, magazines and also online for ideas.  I like these kind days.

Looking for shoe reference, I came across these links, paper shoes (love the maps that have been used),  embroidered shoes (these are just beautiful), and metal shoes (these are great fun).

Mine are going to be softie shoes, (I hope...!)

Question is, am I going to have to make them in pairs or can I get away with just making one?

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

The wanderer has returned...,

Mr LK is home after a week away, he's been to Seattle, and visited Schmancy (Kristen's blog is Plush You), Fancy (I got a ring!) and Nancy, then driven to a town called Spokane for work (and burgers!).

It's good to have him home, I've missed him this trip.  Plus he did bring back a pile of goodies, craft magazines, including an actual copy of 'Stuffed'.  Oh the sniggering that has been had in this house over the fact his wife is featured in 'Stuffed'!, it's softies dear, SOFTIES!

I love, love, love this magazine, if softies and plush are your thing, go get yourself a copy, it is the most fantastic publication, ever!

Nothing to do with the fact I have not just one, not two, but three pages...!

The artists featured are very talented, the questions we were all asked to talk about were very thought provoking, and in addition, there are also some patterns and softie making instructions included for you to follow at home.  Softie fans, what more could you ask for?!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Nuts about knots,

...french knots to be precise.

tell me what your favorite embroidery stitch is?

(ps, and yes, it is a clock!)

Monday, January 12, 2009

I love...,

maps!.  Maps and globes!  We saw a pink globe the other day that Lucy has got her eye on, she is fascinated with countries like China and Japan, and so wants to visit both.  The place I would choose to visit given the opportunity is..., America.

I've never been, but would really love to go.  Mr LK is, right now, sat on a plane at Heathrow, just about to take off and fly to Seattle for a week, I'm soooooo jealous!.  This fabric is a print from my stash which I've not used much yet, so I made myself cut into it when working on some new pattern ideas for softies.  Now, after my last post about the potential problems faced by softies resembling toys, which prompted some very interesting discussion amongst the comments by the way, I have lots of ideas for soft sculpture of inanimate objects.

In the words of Rolf Harris, 'Can you guess what it is yet?',

It's not quite as I imagined in my head yet, I'm thinking it needs to go smaller, and a base of some sort so it stands properly (the magic of photography hides the fact that it is propped up!). It also has yet to have some applique and embroidery added to the front, which I may well still do, so I can try out a few ideas and techniques.

Can't do that now though, it's back to a magazine project for me!

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Bridge over troubled water...,

Thank you for all the well wishes for my squashed fingers, apart from one lumpy bruise they are all now recovered.  Today is a work day for me, and it has begun tinged with a little sadness. Over christmas, I spent some time reading up on what is going on regarding new guidelines coming into play in February covering the sale and manufacture of toys to, from and within the USA.  In a nutshell, this means that anyone who makes a toy or any other item deemed suitable for a child which they are planning on selling, will have to submit that item for expensive, rigorous product testing.  The problem is, this new act makes no differentiation between products which are mass produced by a large company, and products which are handmade by a sole trader.  

It also covers, as do current UK safety standards, that it is not enough to label an item as 'not a toy'.  If it looks like a toy, feels like a toy, could be played with as a toy, then it is a toy.

The question now is, should we, and how do we try and save handmade?

I have two points of view on this, the parent in me feels, that there indeed need to be some safety guidelines in place for any product aimed at children, but the designer in me feels that these guidelines need to bear in mind the distinct nature of handmade.
  
Here in the UK, there have been similar guidelines in place for some time.  To manufacture and sell a toy, the item technically needs to have a CE mark on it which requires product testing similar to those the CPSIA want to bring in across the pond.  The difference here seems to be that this testing is a fair bit cheaper in the UK.  But on the flip side, UK products are also required to conform with the British Toy Safety Standard (BS EN 71), online information on this standard is limited, a hard copy may need to be purchased (although, you may be lucky and find one in your local library), however, there are a number of different areas making up this standard (flammability, chemical compounds, small parts, durability), and before you know it, you can have spent up to £1,000 just getting hold of all the relevant information.  The most immediate source here is your local Trading Standards office.  

So, as of February 10th, what will the impact be?  Etsy have joined the debate as it will affect a large percentage of sellers making anything from knitted baby hats & mittens, to wooden building blocks.  Naturally, I am most concerned for the future softies, I'm sad that, many talented, inspiring crafters and designers may be backed into a corner.  The cost of product testing makes it not viable for items made and sold in small quantities, and what happens with in cases where every item made is an individual one off piece?  We can all, in theory anyway, still continue to create as normal, but sell?, probably not. 

One thing all this has done for me is to clear up what was a huge grey area regarding UK toy safety standards, the information I have read scratches the itch I knew was there, but have been, to a certain extent, avoiding.  Maybe the answer lies in finding a bridge over these troubled waters?.  I listened to this podcast yesterday and it brought the word 'diversify' very much into the forefront of my mind.  I'd be very interested in your views and current experiences on this subject as I suspect, given the size of the crafty blogospere, the effects will become global. 

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Update - Etsy have just posted some information to say that the voices of crafts people are being heard, and possible exemptions are now being discussed for handmade goods, a little light at the end of the tunnel!

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Ready, steady, go..., OUCH!

Well, it's here, 2009, and on Tuesday, it's back to normal routine for everyone.  Lucy is so disappointed to be going back to school on her 7th birthday, but it can't be helped I'm afraid, as I have work to do!  Anyway, she has a 'High School Musical' party to look forward to next Saturday.  I have to admit I very nearly wasn't so ready and raring to go.  I did something very daft yesterday, if you are squeamish at all, do not read on...!

We have been visiting family in the Lake District for a couple of days, and Luke has slept on a fold out bed.  I thought I'd be helpful and fold it away, but had my hands in totally the wrong place, and before I knew it, all my fingers were trapped in the hinges, both hands, both sides of the bed!.  Luckily, after quite a bit of shouting for help, Mr LK came to my rescue.  The damage is no where near as bad as it could have been, my fingers are a little squished, bruised and swollen, but they are ok, I can still sew, yippee! 

PS, I am rather enjoying reading this book (although, my copy seems to have a different cover).  It's full of advice from lots of successful crafters, really inspirational.