Wednesday 5 January 2011

ANNOUNCEMENT: New UK Handmade Website

We hope you had a wonderful festive season and are enjoying the lovely, shiny NEW YEAR! We are excited to announce the launch of our NEW LOOK WEBSITE.

This means UK Handmade will be saying goodbye to blogger as of today, but you can still read all our articles, interviews, recipes, business tips and the latest on fabulous handmade goodies over on the NEW WEBSITE and get automatic updates of new articles posted by adding this link for our RSS feed to your reader:

Looking forward to seeing you on the other side!!

Wednesday 17 November 2010

MEET: Sarah Louise Dix

Today we are catching up with Sarah Louise Dix, who creates stunning couture upholstery.  It was Sarah's corset chair that first caught our eye and made us want to find out more about the designer behind this opulent piece, here's what Sarah had to say.....


Tell me what inspires you…..
Having initially studied fashion design and ended up in a BBC office until recently, I love having gone back to making things by hand. Old methods and trades inspire me too. I get inspiration from fashion, clothing, fabric and texture. Also surrealism, art and the natural world.

How did you get started?
Wanting to be my own boss and not to work in an office any more. I wanted to make things again like I did as a kid. I went through the list of local evening classes and picked one I liked the sound of! Upholstery involves old wooden things and fabric, and I love both.

Whose work do you admire?
I ended up working for Vivienne Westwood’s PR company after college so she is a great influence and I admire her greatly. I also admire Salvador Dali and love Nina Saunders, which is very surreal.

What has been the favourite piece you have created to date?
The Mini Cape Footstool. I wanted to keep it but it’s for sale in Blaqua Menswear in Newburg Street W1 at the moment. It’s made from a vintage dark gold sheepskin cape I found, it’s wonderful. It is also a piece that works very well design wise.
Cape Footstool
Describe your typical day….
I walk my daughter to school with my dog (five month old Cockerpoo) and bike, which has a dog basket. Having dropped her off I cycle to my studio via the park to walk the dog. After a coffee I work through until about two thirty. I share the studio with three other upholsterers and an illustrator.

I work on my own pieces and also chairs for clients. I have recently finished a reproduction of The Corset Chair in minty green and deep pink velvet. The idea is to design a piece and put it into production if it works really well and I get good feedback from the original. I cycle back to pick up my daughter and walk the dog again. When I get home I generally do a bit of PR and marketing and catch up with emails.

Tell me more about The Pink label…..
The Pink Label was created as the label for the reproduction pieces which are a more affordable product. I try and structure the business like a fashion company as clothing is the theme for my own designs. I get loads of national and international interest from people who find the original Corset Chair lovely but too expensive so hopefully the Pink Label will offer them something more accessible.

Woolcoat Chair

What was your most memorable commission or re-upholstered piece?
A stunning armchair for Blaqua Menswear made from their own shirt fabrics and ties.

When work is done, how do you relax?
I like visiting antique clothing sales for research and I’m addicted to second-hand shops. I do Pilates once a week for a good stretch and walk the dog, it’s very relaxing to be surrounded by trees and nature. Other than that red wine and telly.

Describe yourself in three words……..
Determined, neurotic, stylish.

Sarah's work is available at
Sarah Louise Dix

Wednesday 10 November 2010

MEET: Si Easton of Wood Tattoos

Today we are catching up with the very talented Si Easton of Wood Tattoos.  It sounds intriguing, and here in this in depth interview Si tells us more about the origins of this ancient art, his passion for the craft and his book Wood Burning with Style .........

Ornate Trinket Box

Tell me more about the background of Pyrography…

Pyrography literally means “writing with fire” and dates back hundreds of years. It is also often called wood burning or poker work, the latter due to the metal pokers used in Victorian times which were heated to use as drawing tools. Modern electric pyrography machines allow more controlled results, as well as the availability of shaped metal nibs to create a wide range of marks and lines. Using pyrography to decorate a wooden surface has always reminded me of the way that we adorn our own skin using tattoos, hence the name of my crafts business, Wood Tattoos.

What inspires you?
My main passion and inspiration is the use of texture and pattern. I enjoy making items that make people want to hold or touch them. My creations have always used such embellishment or decoration, right back to my work on my degree in Three-Dimensional Design. I'm inspired by the textures and patterns that occur naturally around us, whether this is through the random arrangement of items on a shelf or through the close examination of a natural surface. Many of my designs use patterns based on microscopic studies of natural surfaces such as coral, plant cells or fingerprints. I also enjoy using both traditional and alternative symbols or patterns, such as Celtic knotwork and tribal tattoo designs.

Symbolic Plate

Describe your typical working day….
I create my pyrography in my spare time. I started wood burning as a hobby back in 2007 to give me a creative outlet when not working at my 'day job'. I joined a craft forum to get information and advice on general issues: before I knew it, I had a website displaying my work and was selling both online and at craft fairs. As a result, I don't have a structured 'working day' but I tend to use any spare crafting time updating my websites and promoting my work on-line, liaising with customers by email to develop commission designs, developing other products to sell and physically working with my pyrography equipment to create the finished articles. I've said it before and I'm sure many crafters would agree... we all need a 37-hour day to fit in what we need to do!

Autumnal Bangle

Do you have a favourite piece that you have created?
My favourite piece so far is definitely a large chessboard I made for a fellow crafter. I collaborated with a woodworker to create the board itself as a bespoke item to fit the specified requirements. It then involved nearly 30 hours of work including the planning, layout and burning of the final design which had an Oriental theme. The creation of the board was turned into a 6-page section for my pyrography book where I discussed the design process for larger pieces. The finished chessboard was a joy to look at, and I am now planning to make my own chessboard to keep myself as the process was so enjoyable!

Chess Board

How did the idea for the book come about?
The idea wasn't mine and came completely out of the blue one day! I received an email from an editor at Fox Chapel Publishing in 2008 stating that they had seen my work and liked my personal style of design. They asked if I would consider writing a book on pyrography: it's always been a personal ambition of mine so I was more than keen to get involved. After nearly two years of hard work and determination, I am extremely pleased with the finished result and hope that Wood Burning with Style will help many budding crafters learn the art of pyrography.

What are you working on just now?
I've been doing a lot of animal portraits recently which are very challenging but rewarding. It can be quite difficult to capture the personality of a pet from a photograph, but the finished result is always so well received once complete. I am also working on a range of decorative wooden bracelets, which I also featured in my book as a step-by-step project. I have also been working on a number of personalised wedding frames which are a popular item I am asked to make: the frame is decorated with the names of the happy couple, details of the big day and other designs which make the frame special to them.

Pet Portrait

Where do you see Wood Tattoos in the next 12 months?
I've got some other book ideas in the pipeline with Fox Chapel Publishing : I think I've been bitten by the writing bug! I would also like to just continue creating unique designs and gifts for customers : I feel that the current financial climate has made people more aware of how they spend their money and what they get for it. The appeal of handmade gifts is rising as people recognise that their money can buy something unique, personal and meaningful to mark an occasion such as a wedding, birthday or similar.

What is on your wish list?
My main wish is to keep making and selling items that mean something to the people that buy them. I also hope that my book inspires other people to take up this enjoyable craft and develop their own personal style of creative expression.

Describe yourself in three words…..
According to one recent book review in an American magazine, I'm “hip”, “modern” and “edgy”! I still can't resist using a tongue-in-cheek description that a friend used to describe pyrography though... “crayons for arsonists”. So perhaps the best three words to describe me would be “a crafty pyromaniac”!

To see Simon’s range of products visit:-

Wood Tattoos

Wood Tattoos Facebook Page

Wood Tattoos Flickr

Simon's book Woodburning with Style is available via his website or from Amazon

Wednesday 3 November 2010

MEET: Peter Sewell

Today we are catching with Yorkshire based jewellery designer Peter Sewell.  Peter specialises in stunning bespoke handwoven statement jewellery that is opulent and glamorous. Peter uses Japanese glass seed beads and Swarovski crystal in his unique designs.

Tell me what inspires you…..

The pantheon of amazing beadwork produced around the world is my main inspiration - opulent golds and crystals of Russian and Eastern European bead weaving, the colourful and bright designs of Native American and African bead weaving, and, of course, the beautiful crystals and gemstones reflecting the beauty of the Earth.

How did you get started?

My wife Nina was learning beadwork, and the intricacy and design grabbed my attention! The challenge of making a piece of beautiful jewellery with tiny glass beads and some thread was too much to ignore – I was hooked. Nina gave me all her stash of beads, I made my first peyote square, and the rest is history!

Whose work do you admire?

I am daily in contact with many talented bead weavers through Facebook, and it would be very difficult to pick any one whose work I admire more than others, but avant garde designers such as Laura McCabe, Betty Stephan, Gwen Fisher  and Florence Turnour always impress with every new design.

Describe your typical working day….

Two coffees, feed cats, sit on computer until bored, then music on and bead whatever design is floating around in my head.

Peter at work....

Do you have a favourite piece that you have created?

I love ‘Maryshka’ - one of the only designs I actually sketched first instead of making it up as I go along. ‘Eva’ comes close because she was made with the sole purpose of testing the new Miyuki ‘duracoat’ beads, which passed with flying colours!

Who comes up with the names for your pieces?

Me. I can usually look at the first workings of a design and ‘feel’ a name for her. Each design has her own aura or life as I am making her, any that don’t give me this feeling are normally scrapped.

Your pieces are intricate and beautiful; tell me more about the design process…

Most of my work is made up as I go. I have a basic idea of what I want to do, and the main materials – such as crystals – I want to work with, but the bits in between are generally unplanned! I have styles of work, sometimes I want to use a lot of gold, or a lot of crystal, or just a plain and classic design, I’ll match a few beads up and see where it takes me!

Tanya  Necklace by Peter Sewell

When work is done, how do you relax?

Anything funny on TV, Crosswords, pottering in the garden, and a bit of Blackwork are my normal chill outs.

Describe yourself in three words…..

Creative, Unconventional, Rock ‘n Roll.................that’s one word right?

Katya Necklace - handmade with gold plated beads

To see Peter’s range of products visit:-

Wednesday 13 October 2010

MEET: Colette Bain of Emma's Wolf

White Rabbit
Now and again, something deliciously quirky will catch your eye and make you think about what you're seeing. Such things have the power to give you a new perspective and pull you into a different universe, if you let them. Colette Bain is an artist who delights in creating such curious artworks, and we're delighted to invite you to enter the wonderful world of Emma's Wolf.

Please tell us who you are and what you do.
My name is Colette Bain and I’m an artist. I’m mainly self taught and in fact my first degree is in Philosophy, but over a period of many years I’ve been working away on developing my artistic skills whilst being employed in a variety of different jobs. Gradually, as I’ve exhibited more and begun to gain sales and commissions I’ve been able to devote more and more time to my art practise.

My 2D work is mainly centred on an exploration of the face. Although I have executed a number of portraits in oils my preferred medium is pastel. The work I do in 3D is quite different, more quirky and brightly coloured; I’m very influenced by children’s book illustrators such as Wolf Erlbruch and Kitty Crowther.

Blog Moon
I adapt existing objects such as dolls, toys, and tins, using papier-mâché, to create different characters. Moon men crop up quite often as do animals such as mice and rabbits. I use a combination of paint and collaged ephemera to decorate each object. I deliberately aim for the objects to look slightly worn and imperfect. I want them to be very obviously handmade - an antidote to the sterility of ‘perfect’ factory made items.

I trade under the name Emma’s Wolf. Emma is my daughter. She’s 9 now and has for a long time been obsessed by wolves. The first papier-mâché creation I made was a wolf for her. He isn’t a wild one; he wears a smoking jacket and has a bit of a gormless face, but she loves him.

Emma's Wolf
What inspired you to make your unique ‘found’ art objects?
I enjoyed making Emma’s wolf so much that I began making other objects for family and friends. Initially these were made purely using papier-mâché but I would quite often decorate them using ephemera that I’d picked up at our local antiques centre. We have a huge one in Lancaster, where I live, and I could (and do) spend hours in there looking for materials to use. I often came across old broken toys and tins that had some lovely features, faded patterns perhaps or worn wood wheels, but also ugly plastic parts.

I liked the idea of giving these objects a second life, retaining those bits that had drawn me to them and using these as inspiration to add or alter the object to create something completely new. I liked the fact that something factory made, with little individual care, became an artwork, something completely unique.

What is the most rewarding aspect of what you do? And the most frustrating?
The most rewarding aspect of what I do is when a piece works. It’s difficult to describe when that is other than to say that it’s when all the components such as composition and colour are right and then there’s something extra; it just comes to life. Then there’s something for people to respond to. This can be a positive response, but not always. I had a friend who, when he visited, would always turn a little creature I’d made called ‘Nowhere Man’ to the wall. He found it unnerving. I still judge that a success - a collection of paper, wood, pencils and paint, put together in a particular way, had a real effect on him.

Nowhere Man

The most frustrating is in a way the opposite, when I get a piece that just doesn’t come together. Quite often, however, I can leave something for a while and come back to it and it’ll work. Given that then, I’d have to say the most frustrating part is when I’ve got my fingers coated with paste and paper and I get an itchy nose or the phone rings.

Describe your work setting.
I work at home and generally tend to do my 3D work at the end of my kitchen and my 2D work either in my bedroom where I have an easel and there’s plenty of light, or on the dining table. All this may change, however, as my eldest son has just left home to go to university, leaving his room free.....

My kitchen workspace
How easy do you find it to work in both 2D and 3D? Do you prefer one over the other?
I find working in 3D easier than 2D as, given the nature of my work, there are more constraints and that helps direct me, I have something to work against. Plus it’s lovely and tactile. I like the process of building an object with my fingers, and with all that glue and strips of paper, I can feel like a kid again.

2D work always provides the challenge of what to draw or paint. Having said that, increasingly I’m using the playful exploratory approach I use for the 3D work in my 2D work – so I’ve started to use collage and different tools to draw with, including my fingers. I can also get much more immediate results in 2D which can be satisfying (if the results are good).

I jump from one to the other and whichever approach I’m using, that’s the one I prefer.

What is your typical day?
A typical day starts with getting my daughter to school and walking the dog. I’ve got the timing to a tee so I’m back home, starting work, just as Woman’s Hour comes on. I tend to work through to the end of school, with a quick break for lunch. Then in the evening, once my daughter is in bed, I’ll carry on.

All this can be derailed if I turn on the computer at any point in the day. I don’t seem able to just check on emails and turn it off. I’ll inevitably find myself two hours later, bug-eyed, having perused a huge variety of blogs and websites, often coming across loads of inspirational work, but not having done any myself. I’ve got to the point of recognising this particular black hole, but it doesn’t mean that I still don’t fall into it.

Tell us about your long term plans.
I’m aiming to do more 3D work as I enjoy it. It also seems to generate interest, perhaps because it’s something a little different. Because each piece is unique they can be time consuming and I’m aiming to supplement this work with 2D work, which complements it, so more illustrative. I’ve started to sell prints of some of this work and intend to create more designs and sell cards of them.

I’ve exhibited my 3D work in a couple of gallery shows and had a really positive response. An obvious next step is for me to build on this and approach other galleries to show my work.

Tender is the Night
If you could live your life all over again, what (if anything) would you do differently?
When I first considered this question my initial response was that I would have done a degree in art. But perhaps it was a good thing I didn’t. I was very lacking in confidence when I was younger and had a terrible habit of comparing myself unfavourably to everyone around me. This meant that when I did do any formal art classes I found that I was completely intimidated by the other students who seemed so assured. I think if I had done an art degree I might have struggled to have confidence in my own vision.

Having said that, the thought of three years devoted completely to exploring different artistic approaches would have been lovely.

If you had time to learn a new skill what would it be?
I’d love to do a printmaking course.

Where can we see more of your work?
I have a shop on Folksy at:
More work can be seen on my website at:

Wednesday 29 September 2010

MEET: Paul of Free Range Designs

UK Handmade is pleased to introduce Paul Bullen of family run furniture business Free Range Designs. Paul uses recycled, reclaimed and ecologically sound materials to create gorgeous unique pieces of furniture. We caught up with Paul to find out more about him and the family business.

Can you tell us a bit about yourself and how you got started?
I am a South African born artist who found his way to furniture making by accident. At school I studied art instead of woodwork and have never had any formal woodworking training. After school I took Multi-Media studies in Cape Town, but was disappointed with the narrow remit of the course (no drawing, sculpting or dancing!) and ended up becoming a graphic designer by default.

I first started making rustic furniture with my older brother Nick over 12 years ago, when we were living together in Wilderness, South Africa and continued working with him, and my younger brother Tim, when we came over to the UK 9 years ago. I think my lack of formal training has helped me to view furniture making as an art form, and not as a learned craft only open to the professionally-trained and has encouraged me to experiment and take a novel approach to designing and making.

Driftwood Bed Frame
Driftwood Four Poster Bed
What is the ethos behind your work and why did you choose the name "free range designs"?
I take my inspiration from the natural world around me and believe in using only low impact, locally-sourced and sustainable materials. I strive to show the beauty of these materials through my furniture, allowing designs to be guided by the natural shape and form of the woods I use, and hope to encourage a respect for nature and engage people with environmentally friendly products. The name Free Range Designs symbolises my way of working, which is born of a desire to create without constraints and take a fresh approach to design and construction.

Slate Coffee Table
What kind of formal education, training or experience do you have that applies to what you do?
I have a degree in Multi-Mediai Studies from South Africa and have worked alongside design professionals in the UK, but my woodworking skills have been largely self- and family-taught, with a prevailing can-do attitude.

What inspired you to start making handmade furniture?
By brother Nick...he was the first furniture maker in the family: he inspired me and my younger brother Tim, and even my dad gets involved sometimes these days.

You have done an amazing commission for the Centre of Alternative Technology (CAT) in Wales, how did that come about?
CAT had a big revamp of its visitor display circuit about 5 years ago and I begged the Displays Designer to give me the chaise longue commission. The concept was a 'retail therapy couch' which was to question the idea that spending money makes you happy. It was part of a new Waste and Recycling display at CAT, challenging people to reduce their consumption and questioning the role shopping plays in terms of our well-being. The chaise longue was the first woodworking commission I did alone, without my brothers, and it took six months to complete, working part time. It is made from 100% recycled wood from skips.

Funky Chaise Longue

What do you love most about what you do and what do you find the most frustrating?
What I love most is finishing construction of a new design that has been in my head for ages, stepping back and thinking, "wow, that works and looks good". The most frustrating part is the time it takes to get to that point.

What is your favourite piece you have ever made and why?
The chaise longue is my favourite piece - it's not often that you get the opportunity to make such an exciting commission. It did take me a long time to make, but it's definitely the most stunning piece I've made so far.

Is handmade a lifestyle choice for you and if so why?
I live on a beautiful isolated farm, halfway up a mountain, completely off-grid and run entirely on renewable energy. Handmade is a natural part of how I choose to live my life.

Baby Highchair
Can you tell us a bit about where your collections are made, can we take a sneaky peak at your workshop?
The farm where I live has a large old barn, which I have been steadily converting to a workshop with my other farm mates, two of whom are also carpenters. It is in a very inspiriting location, surrounded by forests and with beautiful views of the lush countryside. Renewable-energy powered furniture!

How do you balance your work and home life, what do you do to wind down?
Living and working so close together is great for spending time with my wife and baby, but it also means that I can find it hard to switch off. To wind down I enjoy working in the vegetable garden at the farm, but what I really love is the ocean and being on the water. I've made a couple of canoes and love paddling and fishing along our local coasts.

Do you ever experience periods of creative slump and if so what helps you through?
Having a variety of different projects on the go helps me to not get bored: if I'm feeling physically tired one day then I might stay home and do some graphic design; or if it's sunny I'll go down to the beach and collect driftwood. Mixing and matching keeps life interesting.

Love Chairs
If you could give an aspiring maker one piece of advice what would it be?
Do it. If it works, great. If it doesn't, then try it again differently, until it works.

Who or what inspires you most in your work?
My wife - she constantly wants new things! Just kidding, our bed is actually made of old pallets. I don't know what inspires me I would say I'm more driven, but by what I don't know, "the need to create".

Story telling Chair
If you had the time to learn a new skill what would it be?
Probably metal work. I think that both metal work and woodwork go hand in hand. You can't have one without the other.

For more information on Free Range Designs check out the blog:

Wednesday 22 September 2010

MEET: April of Pure Inspirations

April Collinge is the creative talent behind, award-winning, bespoke cake-making, handmade chocolate and flower arranging business Pure Inspirations. April specialises in making sumptuous cakes and chocolates for all occasions: Weddings, Anniversaries, Birthdays, Christenings & Communions and Christmas. April's mother is the talent behind Pure Inspiration's floristry work - a true family affair! UK Handmade caught up with April to find out more about her gorgeous creations and how she got into cake making

Can you tell us a bit about yourself and how you got started?
I have always loved being involved with creative projects and experimented with all sorts of media from glass painting, printing, sewing, batik to jewellery making. Once my mum finished her sugar-craft courses at Brooklands College, she took on more and more commissioned cakes and my first experience of helping her was a large wedding cake, about 7 years ago, which we had agreed to deliver to an obscure address in Wales! It was definitely an adventure.

Since then, I have also completed Wired Sugar Flower, Royal Icing and Cake Decoration courses at Brooklands and have followed in my mum's footsteps with my own cake-decorating business, Pure Inspirations. My courses proved invaluable both in teaching health and safety aspects of the job (crucial if you are selling to the public or even friends), networking with other people who have the same love of decorating and picking up inside tips.

Tell us about the awards you have won?
Salon Culinaire NEC 2007: Brooklands College like to encourage their students to take part in competitions so I entered a couple of competitions at NEC Birmingham & received a ‘class winner’ silver award for my cake entry into the sugar-paste ‘Decorated Celebration Cake’ category and a bronze for my orchid flowers which for my first competition was very exciting! I'd like to enter more if I could only find the time somewhere!

What do you love most about making cakes?
What I love about this job is playing detective, being able to tap into personal information about my client and evolving it into something elegant, simple and, depending on the requirements, fun; something to put a wide grin on my client's face or make them gasp with admiration! My task is proved more challenging when I am asked to make a cake without any personal feedback from the client. Bespoke cakes work best when there is at least a hint of the recipient's personality. For corporate requirement's it's easy to incorporate logos in a creative way (I have recently made a mortar board cake which incorporates the American School logo).

What do you find the most frustrating part of your job?
To be a cake decorator you do have to love your job as there is only a small part of the market who can charge enough for their cakes to make it majorly profitable. Anyone who makes cakes to a professional standard will know the basic edible and inedible item costs for quality products and they are not reflected when the public look at supermarket factory-made cakes. People can't help to compare a bit despite the fact that they really don't compare.

Is handmade a lifestyle choice for you and if so why?
My business is very much a home-based business and I enjoy having total control of each commission from inception to finish. Each job is as important as the next. I am a glutton for 'giving things a go' in general so the handmade touch is definitely a way of living I aspire to. I do all my own decorating and have even painted my house myself! I like to be able to stand back and say "I did that!" As I get older I'm not afraid to be openly proud!

How do you balance your work and home life, what do you do to wind down?
I like my life to be as varied as my cakes! I'm usually busy with my daytime teaching assistant job, making cakes and studying towards my psychology degree so I play hockey or spend time with my family to wind down.

What are your plans for 2011?
I'm looking forward to my next challenge in 2011: teaching wired sugar flower techniques at workshops for the public.

Wednesday 15 September 2010

MEET: Karen Redmayne of Redcurrant Glass

Rainbow Pendants
This week, we meet a talented glass artist, Karen Redmayne of Redcurrant Glass, who is based in Lancashire.

Please tell us who you are and what you do.
My name is Karen Redmayne and I've been creating since an early age. I've always loved drawing and can remember when I was about 8 or 9 years old drawing my favourite characters such as Snugglebums and My Little Ponys!

Pendle Hill
Now, I'm a glass artist producing handmade landscapes, mirrors, frames, tiles, jewellery and more. Each piece is unique and handmade by me in my Lancashire-based studio in the heart of Pendle. I use a technique known as kiln-formed glass or fused glass, which dates back as far as 3000BC. I cut and layer pieces of glass together, fire it in a kiln at about 800 degrees, then let it slowly cool and finish. The nature of glass means that every piece is unique.I love working with glass as it comes in so many vibrant colours and the outcomes are always unpredictable.

I graduated from Bretton Hall College in 1998 but couldn't get a job. So I decided to start my own business instead, with the support of the Prince's Trust.

Glass tokens

Describe your work setting.
I work in a small unit/studio which is situated within Higherford Mill, which has been converted into a centre for the creative industries. It is a fantastic studio location as it benefits from a northern light roof so I work in natural light. I have a small work area, a display area where I sell to visitors and an area were I run workshops. I have three small kilns, several workbenches and lots and lots of glass.

What is the most rewarding aspect of what you do?
As I make a wide range of products, my work is never boring. I also get asked to do a lot of commissions which helps to make my job more challenging and rewarding. I always seem to come up with new ideas, some of which work and some don't, so work is never dull. Luckily I always seem to have orders.

I find my job really rewarding creating unique pieces of glass which give others pleasure and may one day be the collectables of the future. A bonus is that I make money from it too! My husband says it's not really work as I'm getting paid to do something I enjoy!

Glass bangles
How do you get word out about your work?
I do a couple of trade shows a year, and I also sell directly at craft fairs and events. I also have a website ( where I have an on-line shop.

What are your long term goals?
Long term I'd like my own gallery or shop because, at the moment, I sell all over the country in various shops and galleries and pay out quite a lot in commission for the privilege. Having my own gallery where I could sell my work and other locally handmade products would be great.

Mini landscape hangers
What advice would you give someone trying to start their own creative business?
Starting your own creative business is probably one of the most challenging areas of business to work in. You are competing with mass-produced imported items which people can sell very cheaply. Raw material costs in the UK are high.You have to be determined, know your product, and you also have to be your own marketer, book-keeper and time-keeper. At the end of the day, people will always pay for quality and handmade; I also like to think that people prefer to support local makers. I try to source local materials and always support other local businesses where possible.

Medium bowl

For more information, visit Karen's website at or email her at Karen has a few places left in some of her glass-making courses which start at the end of September. The courses still available are: fused glass tile-making, fused glass jewellery, lampwork bead-making, and silver clay jewellery. All courses are suitable for beginners.