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23 April 2017

Blog Gem - Holchester

Yay, it's time to meet another awesome blogger! This month I have the great pleasure of sharing a blogger with you who I'm a big fan of. Not only is her blog an absolute joy to read but she has the most fabulous shop, sews beautiful things and always makes me smile with her photos on Instagram. So, without further ado, lets dive on into the interview!

Hello there, can you tell all of the Adventures & Tea Parties' readers a little bit about yourself?
I’m Rachel, a mum of one, and I’ve been in Bicester, near Oxford, for 5 years now. I’ve always been creative, my degrees in Art History and Art Gallery and Museum Studies led to a career in HR (total accident) but I left that behind me when I had my daughter, Thea. I started by business in November 2015, Handmade by Holchester, and alongside that I’ve now got the blog and my newest venture Holchester Designs. I also run Create! Craft Kits and a monthly local craft night, Make and Meet, with my fab friend and collaborator Emma from Em Makes and Bakes.

I’m a have-a-go-at-anything crafter, but a common theme is fabric and that’s what my blog and business have honed in on. 

Where do you blog? 
I’m very lucky that I’ve got a whole room to myself in our house where I do all my writing, sewing and most other things. It also means I’ve got somewhere to keep projects away from little hands.  It’s got 3 doors and no window of its own, which isn’t great for #wip photography but I can spread out around the house when I need to, so it’s not a problem. The thing I love the most is my inspiration wall. I put up the string and pegs as I couldn’t afford enough cork to cover it all like I wanted, and I just love how much I can change things up with it. And as I’m based at home that means I’ve got the kitchen, with the kettle and the nespresso machine on hand too. 

If you had to take only one tool to a desert island, what would you choose and why?
Sketchbook and pencil/coloured pens. I realise I’m pushing the ‘one tool’ a bit, but they would keep me happy, help me record my thoughts and all the really pretty things I’d see on the island too.  I’m presuming the island already has a kettle……?

How do you get inspired to blog? 
I’m lucky that my blog and business are intertwined, so often one can inspire the other.  Also doing something totally different, like cooking or playing with Thea, usually helps make space for a random thought to spark something else. What actually first made me want to blog is that I felt I had things I wanted to say and share, which weren’t really my husband’s thing and, even though he was very supportive and did listen, I needed an outlet.  Although, my blog now is very different from my first (new-motherhood and using creativity to get my head round it all!) but that sense of wanting to share something that I find exciting is still at the heart of it all. 

What top tips would you give to anyone starting a blog?
Just start and never think that no-one’s reading. Some posts will do better than others and it might feel like the growth is slow but it’ll be found. Also, know what you might want to get from it. With my first blog, which I only had for a short time, the act of writing helped me massively so, regardless of the readership, I was still benefitting. My intentions for Holchester.com are different now but without starting I wouldn’t have got anything from it. 
Is there a story behind the name, 'Holchester'?
Yes, it’s actually quite simple. My parents are a massive inspiration and source of encouragement and I wanted to acknowledge that. The ‘Hol’ comes from Holt, which is my mother’s Maiden name (mine is Heatherington, which was trickier to fit in) and the ‘chester’ comes from my surname, Winchester. I knew I wanted something personal and I was just playing around with sounds and when I said it I immediately liked it. It felt  unique without being unpronounceable! 

If you could go to a Blog Award dinner with any 5 people (dead or alive, real or fictional) who would you choose? 
This is such a tough one. My first nomination would have to be Em Makes and Bakes. She’s my crafty partner in crime, a fellow blogger and a really good friend so she’d have to come along for the adventure and the laughs! 

Kat Molesworth from Blogtacular would be on the list too. Not only would we make sure the music for the after-party was great, but I find her such an inspiration as a self-employed blogging businesswoman and mum.  I went to my first Blogtacular last year and I’m off again in June as I’ve found the community so supportive, helpful, motivating and incredibly knowledgeable too.  

Third on my list would be Es Devlin who’s a theatre and set designer and has worked on wonderful theatre productions, as well as big arena pop-shows (think Beyonce, Kanye and U2). I recently saw a documentary about her (Ep. 3 of Abstract on Netflix) and I am just totally in awe. Her work is so imaginative and immersive and, as well as personally being fascinated by theatre design, I think the way she has built her practice and brand could teach me a lot. 

Next is Marie Perkins, AKA Bowie Style, who runs the blog Print & Pattern. I absolutely love surface pattern design and Marie’s work and her blog are great inspiration and encouragement to someone who’s just about got their confidence together to try and get into that industry.  

And finally, I’d invite Henri Matisse and if he’d like to bring Picasso with him too that would be even better! It might seem like a left-field choice but as a student I was always drawn to his use of colour, especially his Cut-outs, I just find them so mesmerising and powerful.  I could sit in galleries, preferably in Paris, looking at them for hours and I think the stories they could share would be awesome. 

And finally, if you had to choose one song to represent 'Holchester', what would it be and why? 

I absolutely love my music and 99% of time it’s on when I’m working/making. But I’ve also got very eclectic taste so I wasn’t sure what some of my favourites might say about me.

In the end I’ve gone for, ‘I bet you look good on the dancefloor’ by the Arctic Monkeys. I’m not sure it 100% represents everything Holchester but it’s a great track with happy memories, a good beat to encourage dancing and it references the wonderful year that was 1984, the year I was born.  My favourite memory is bouncing up and down and spinning round and round in my wedding dress at our reception to it like a total loon and it’s that sense of fun, energy and carefree attitude that I like to think it stands for! And at the very least, it will give people a funny mental-image and raise a smile, even if it’s at my expense, ha! 

Thank you so much, Rachel! It's been fascinating hearing all about your creative world and your future plans too - surface pattern design, woohoo! Best of luck with it and thanks so much for being a fabulous Blog Gem interviewee!

I hope you've all enjoyed reading about Rachel's wonderful creative and blogging world and are heading over to Holchester right now to read more! And for those of you that want to discover more inspiring bloggers, you can catch up on all my Blog Gem interviews here.

21 April 2017

What's on the jukebox, Jo?

Yay, it must be nearly weekend o'clock if I'm writing this post, woohoo! It's been a fun type of busy week with my head going a good kind of crazy over ideas for designs, blog posts and product development. I actually want to burst with excitement and create all my ideas NOW! Do you ever get that feeling? It sure is a good one to have. 

As well my head exploding with ideas, I've actually been working on new designs too and I'm now waiting on some samples to arrive of one particular creation. I'm crossing fingers and toes the samples work, eek! Also this week, I was interviewed by the fabulous new shopping marketplace, Look Lane, about my business and design process. You can read the full interview here.

Talking of which, I also shared my own interview with the incredible Sarah of Geo Heaven on the Simple Stylish Makes blog  and on my own blog with Hastings artist, Erin Veness, as part of my 'Meet the local artist' series, which you can read here. AND my next Blog Gem interview goes up on Sunday, so do pop back for a read because the blogger I'm featuring sure is a goodun'!

On Instagram this week I've been exploring colour and really looking for it in my every day life. You can check out my musings about it here and here.

Outside of work I've met new people, signed up to volunteer at a local park run and possibly, just possibly agreed to train for a 100k cycle ride?! I'm not sure if the latter is a joke or not but if it means an upgrade to my current Call the Midwife style bike, then that's got to be a good thing, right?

Keeping me going through the week has been music, with these tunes standing out. Pop them on, have a listen and a dance around the kitchen because the weekend is here. Enjoy everyone!

L.O.V.E. got a hold on me by Demis Roussos
Behind the Scenes by DJ Format & Abdominal
Good Vibrations by The Beach Boys
Hot Dogs by Wild Willy Barrett's French Connection
Some weird sin by Iggy Pop
No fun by The Stooges
When You're In Love With A Beautiful Woman by Dr. Hook

20 April 2017

Five minutes with Geo Heaven

Over on the Simple Stylish Makes blog I'm sharing my interview with jewellery designer, Sarah of Geo Heaven. Pop on over here to find all about Sarah and her indie biz!

19 April 2017

Blog Feature: Look Lane

I'm delighted to say that I've been featured on the fab Look Lane blog! Head on over here if you want to find out what inspired me to start Adventures & Tea Parties, what my design process is like, which designers I'd recommend and what's on my studio playlist!

18 April 2017

Meet the local artist - Erin Veness

Yay, it's time for another 'Meet the local artist' interview and this month I have the great pleasure in sharing an incredibly talented artist with you, whose art I absolutely adore. It's beautiful. It's moving. It's poetic. It's beyond inspiring. And this interview finds out a bit about where that inspiration comes from, how it is created and more.

Erin Veness - Adventures & Tea Parties interview

Hi there, can you introduce yourself to all my lovely blog readers please?
I'm Erin, 28 (I think), Fine Art graduate, occasionally drink too much. Work in the care sector with end of life patients and those with dementia. Diagnosed with BPD. I've lived, let's put it that way.

Erin Veness

What kind of art do you do?
Currently I'm knee deep in a printmaking vibe, which I love but when I first graduated I was doing big installations, which I really want to get back into again. It's the repetitive thing, both printmaking and the way I create installations are about doing the same thing again and again, which is almost a metaphor for life but also really calming.

Erin Veness

How do you work and get inspired?
I work nights and often about 50 hours a week so my work is sporadic right now. I'll spend all my time at work plotting ideas and then when it gets to having a day off I'm so exhausted that I end up on the sofa watching programs on serial killers. I'm a big believer that inspiration takes work, that art is, at times, work. You can't sit around in a bubble waiting for inspiration, so my installation inspiration comes from living life and the printmaking inspiration comes from the printmaking itself. I'll try something out and it'll go wrong but there will be something nice in what went wrong and that becomes exciting and I work into that.

Erin Veness

What do you love about art?
The thought and philosophy. Everything feeds into everything and it's exciting. It's political, it's beautiful, it's horrific and stunning and there is something for everyone. Chuck Palahniuk wrote once that everything you do is a self portrait and I believe that massively, everything you do shows your hand, even more so in art. I'm also this bizarre crazy person that is fascinated by people and so their art becomes a window to the world and that just excites me a stupid amount.

Erin Veness

What's the art scene like in Hastings? 
Amazing. There is a brilliant sense of community, art openings are always well attended and not just for the free wine. Everyone is so supportive of each other. My best friend is an awesome illustrator, my boyfriend a graffiti-ist. There's this real diy/lowbrow/grimy feel to it that binds us all together. Hastings is going through this weird stage right now, people from far more affluent places keep moving down because it's cheap but locally we're rebelling and keeping that home grown feel. It's awesome and despite how small and limited it can be, there's no where else I'd rather be.

Erin Veness

If you had to take only one art tool to a desert island, what would you choose and why?
Can I say my hands? Because then it might force me into creating more installations with the other stuff you find on a desert island. I feel like this answer is a massive cheat though.

Erin Veness

If you could go to an Art Award evening with any 5 people (dead or alive, real or fictional), who would you choose? 
Tracey Emin, Egon Schiele, Louise Bourgeois, Grayson Perry annnnd David Shrigley.

Thank you so much, Erin. As a fan of your work, it's a real privilege hearing all about your artistic world and what the art scene is like in Hastings; sounds like it's got a great creative vibe there. And ooh, I love your choice of people for the Art Award evening. Keep up the incredible work!

If you enjoyed discovering all about Erin and her artistic world, don't forget to check out her Instagram and Twitter pages, as well as her website, which has a wonderful blog too. And if you'd like to discover more artists, check out my previous 'Meet the local artist' interviews here and if you'd like to be featured, I'd love to hear from you, so do drop me a line.

Photo credits: Erin Veness.

14 April 2017

What's on the jukebox, Jo?

Adventures & Tea Parties' studio desk

Woohoo, it's Friday and I am so ready for the weekend. Like other self-employed folks, I had to work today but I'm just about to switch my computer off, jump in my car and head to the hills where there is no phone signal, no mobile data, no nothing. In it's place there is peace, quiet, beautiful countryside, walks, home cooked food and star gazing to be had. I can't wait!

Before I do grab my bag and head out the door, I'm going to take a look at what I've done this week. I find writing it down here helps me to reflect and acknowledge on all the things I've done and the moments I've experienced in a week; a bit like a diary entry I guess.

Throughout the entire week I've been testing out a new work routine, which has gone fairly well. The idea behind it is to ensure I don't over work and instead achieve my business goals more efficiently and effectively, leaving time aside to relax and have regular exercise. It's also been structured so that I'm not fire fighting over tasks. I'm going to test it for another week and then I'll share it on here in case it's of interest to you.

Aside from this new work routine, other highlights have been a lovely wedding order that came in from a customer who had received a personalised hanky for being a bridesmaid. She loved it so much, she told me, that she decided she wanted the same for her bridal party. This totally made my day on Thursday. Hearing why people have come to my shop is a very special feeling indeed.

My blog post on 'Top ten tips for starting an online business' was published and goodness, it's been going down a storm, so I'm really glad I wrote it. You can read it here if you like. Talking of blogging, I did some blog planning too and have some wonderfully talented people lined up for interviews, so watch this space for a bit of creative inspiration.

I did 5 hours of walking around the local countryside this week and had a very special treat while on a particular walk. On saying hello to a local dog walker, we got chatting and discovered that we both like bird watching. She promptly pointed out a flock of Yellow Hammers in that very field we were stood in. I didn't get the best glimpse, so went back the next day with my Dad's binoculars and there they were, darting from field to hedge looking spectacular in their yellow plumage. After that I went back twice more to see them and on the third visit I went to show someone else and that felt really wonderful, sharing the pleasure of seeing them with a fellow bird geek.

As I like to support my fellow designer/makers and give myself a treat every now and then (Wha?! You so do that too! ;) ), today I treated myself to this GORGEOUS button pocket mirror from Joanne Hawker Design & Illustration. Isn't it just the cutest?!

Keeping me motivated and feeling positive through the week has been a regular dose of music and here are just a few of my favourites I've had on repeat. So, pop your Friday feeling hat on, turn them up and if you haven't already, get started on the weekend! Have a great one everyone!

Louisiana Hayride by The Boswell Sisters
Thank You For Sending Me An Angel by Talking Heads
Called You Queen by Haley Bonar
Cajun Woman by Fairport Convention
Radiohead by Talking Heads
It Changes by Amber Arcades


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