Friday, 3 December 2010

Totally Snowed In

We are completely snowed in. My husband has tried getting the car out and managed to to get to end og the track but couldn't get up the hill then got stuck on the flat! He has tried getting to work by bus and train. The train on Wednesday nearly got to it's destination but was turned back then got stuck due to frozen points for three hours. The trains are not even running now. The buses say they are running on major routes but we are not on a major route so that's out as well! 
We are running out of supplies

Monday, 29 November 2010

Welcome to A Winter Wonderland.

Welcome to the Winter Wonderland of Fife this snowy November!
Here's our wee cottage hunkering down against the wild east wind that has been bombarding us with snow and sleet for the past two or three days.

The sun is trying it's best to break through today but those clouds look like they may have more to offer!

Our garden birds are very busy at the feeders with the blue tits coming over to the window ledges looking for insects.

Thankfully we got the Craft Fair at Cupar out of the way before the worst set in. A big thank you to Laura for organising it. 
Thank you to everyone who came along. It was really nice to meet so many lovely people! 

I have these two mounted pieces available in my Etsy Shop right now. No snowy hillsides depicted yet but I may be tempted to have a go at a felted wintry scene.

This piece below was a commission for a lovley couple I met at the St Andrews fair in September. They had bought a few pieces from my stall at Crail Arts Festival and ordered some more from me at St Andrews. They loved the felt landscapes so much that they commissioned me to make them this piece with the stream and bridge.
I have incorporated some hand dyed roving from the Orkney island of North Ronaldsay into the background hills and a little bit of free machine embroidery adds texture and movement to the water.

My next job is to make more felt landscape bookmarks as they have been very popular. I've also had a run on brooches recently so I better get some new ones made for the next Open Studio Day. That will be on 
Saturday 11th December 10-4pm
The Green Door Craft Studio
64 Commercial Road
KY15 7JS
(On the corner of the main street that runs through Ladybank and Church Street)
This will be the last chance to buy directly from me this year. All my framed pieces, brooches, cuffs, necklaces, earrings and cards will then go off to all my stockists around the country.

Oh my goodness, there's the snow back on! Better get some more fuel on the log burner and stick some extra layers of clothing on the children!

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

From Scotland to Anywhere.

Well it's been a busy time here at Aileen Clarke Crafts over the past couple of weeks.
Most of my crafting time has been taken up with an order for 100 cards. They are off to an English language bookshop in Nerja, Spain! I got the order through Facebook so anyone still not sure about the power of social networking for your business....get a Facebook Fan Page set up now!

I also had a lovely visit to Twist Fibre Craft Studio to stock up on felting supplies. It is such a beautiful shop to visit and just bursting with inspirational ideas. As well as fibres, yarns and all things knitty, they sell beautiful fat quarters, buttons and beads. 
I made this cuff just so that I could line it with this gorgeous printed quilters cotton.

I've stitched little squares of shimmer organza onto the felt for a little bit of shimmer and shine and added a  swirly vintage button from my own collection.

I just love the lining fabric.
I've used it to back this bookmark too.

Both the Cuff and the Bookmark are available from my Etsy shop now.

Coming up this weekend is a Craft Fair at Cupar Corn Exchange. I will have a wide selection of work available including some of these smaller felt Landscapes at £25. They come complete with frame and are also available Online.

The Bookmarks have been a great success with sales coming in from as far afield as Italy, Sweden and Slovenia.
I'm working on a batch this week to go to 'Room 15', a lovely little gift shop in Oban. 
With these you can send a little bit of Scotland to anywhere!

I also made a couple of purchases. 
My best friend who taught me to make felt also makes and sells her felt creations. She is into needle felting and makes fabulous cushions, 3D animals, pictures and hot water bottle covers. She is still in the process of building up her little business and I took this piece below in to the studio for the last Open Day. I then brought it home and hung it on my wall for safe keeping and now I cannot bear to part with it! It reminds me so much of looking across to 
Great Blasket Island from Coumenole beach.
Now why on earth would I be buying a felt seascape when I make them myself you might wonder. Well, every time I make something that I think I might keep, I end up selling it and my walls are bare. I also think it's good to have other peoples art around the house. I find this piece very relaxing and dreamy.

'Dream Beach' by Kirsty Tudor
Falkland Felts.

My other purchase arrived last night.......

It may seem daft but I am so delighted to have my feet back in a pair of Dr Martens! It has been a good few years since I wore my last ones.

Look What I Found!

The winter weather can do what it likes now. I am prepared!

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

A Passion for Pottery

I thought I would do a little blog post about my love of pottery and in particular the beautiful glazes used by Irish potter Louis Mulcahy.

The first time I ever went to Dingle in Co Kerry in 1995 I was following a deep desire to reach the west. It wasn't really a conscious  decision. I just had an urge to see the open sea. To be by the ocean. To be as far out on the edge of the land as possible and be able to go no further. I didn't even know at that time that the very end of the Dingle peninsula is as far west as you can go in the whole of Europe but when I rounded the corner of Slea Head in a beat up old camper van I knew I had found where I was subconsciously looking for.

The landscape, coastline and Islands took my breath away. Around every turn in the road another vista opened up and no matter how many times I've been back and followed the same route, I can still remember that first trip.

About half way round the Slea Head drive we spotted the Louis Mulcahy pottery workshop. It was open for visitors and I begged Tom who was driving to stop and let me go and have a look.


I had been doing ceramics at college and had a thing for BIG pots and this place was full of them! Massive pots in the most beautiful sea coloured glazes. I can remember wanting to hug them all....but noticing the prices of £300 and upwards I resisted.
The above is a post card that I've had for years of lots of Louis's pots on the beach at Clocher.

Every year that I've been back to Dingle I have gone round to Louis's pottery and yearned to buy something. On most occasions all I could afford were a couple of tiny hand thrown pots but imagine my delight one year when we went in the winter and there was a January sale on! Shelves were stacked high with seconds as cheap as €2 each! We had a field day and bought lots of presents for family and a few pieces for ourselves.

I love the shape of this vase below and all the different sea colours in the glaze. There is a beautiful touch of pale purple on the neck and a hint of turquoise on the shoulder.

The cups below are like tea cups with no handles but are lovely for drinking wine or mead.

Although they all match, each has a slightly different glaze pattern with the insides like glorious whirlpools of my favourite colours.

This turquoise glaze really appeals to me as well. It's like the colour of shallow sea water with sand beneath it.


So when we went to visit Louis's pottery this year imagine my delight to find that they were doing mini workshops for kids! Okay, okay, so I would have loved a shot myself but I was so excited for my daughter who got to throw her very own pot.

The potter was exceptionally kind and good with children.

It's amazing what the creative hands of a five year old can produce.

Don't ask me how we managed to get that home in one piece but we did! It's still awaiting decoration. 
I never fulfilled my dreams of becoming a potter or ceramist but I'm more than happy working with felt, fibres and textiles. 

This is the biggest piece I ever made. It is hand built, not thrown and stands about 18 inches tall. I would love to go back to making pots some day. Clay is a very expressive medium to work in and it's something I'd like my children to enjoy more of.

On a more immediate note, I have a Craft Fair this Saturday at Pitcairngreen Village Hall. I'm busy making new felt pictures for that this week and some more of my new necklaces. 
Don't forget we have another Open Studio Day on Saturday November 13th 10-4pm.
Hope to see some of you there.

Thursday, 12 August 2010

August, Ireland and Upcoming Events

Hello! I feel like I've been away on holiday for months! I suppose that's the sign of a good break.
We were actually only away for two and a half weeks spending two days each end of the holiday traveling. It's a long way to the Dingle peninsula on the west coast of Ireland but we made the most of it by stopping off in nice places and visiting friends.

While I was away my work was selling like hot cakes at Crail Arts Festival. Thank you to everyone who bought things and to everyone who has visited my site here since.
I also enjoyed a bit of street trading while I was in Dingle town. I met so many lovely people and really enjoyed my day in the sun by the marina.

Wild Beach

I have to say I'm glad to be home. We spent 15 nights wild camping in a tent next to the beach above. I love camping and I love being away out west, sleeping by the sea and swimming every day but the weather was soft as they say in Ireland which basically means it was overcast with a light drizzle a lot of the time. Thankfully we had no torrential rain and we did get nice sunny spells too but towards the end of the fortnight I felt that everything was getting damp. The wind had also got up and swimming became less appealing. When I say wild camping, I mean wild camping. No facilities of any kind. We were totally self sufficient but not alone in our madness. The little spot we go to is frequented by many campers, caravaner's and campervaner's. We even met people we'd met last year!

Ballydavid Head
Ballydavid Head.
This headland dominated our view from the tent so we just had to climb it. Wonderful views from the top with open sea to the west. Most exhilarating.

Coumenole Beach and Slea Head
Coumenole and Slea Head
One of our favourite beaches to swim at with big waves rolling in from the south west.

Roadside Montbretia

Roadside Montbretia
The wild flowers growing by the roadside in this part of Ireland are spectacular. Swathes of bright orange Montbretia grow along side dark red Fuchsia, Queen of The Meadow, Jacob's Ladder and a multitude of other beautiful plants.

Back to reality here though. My next event will be Tea on The Lawn at Springfield House near Cupar on Saturday 28th August, 11-3pm.

I was contacted via Etsy and asked if I'd like to take part.
Jen and Lisa are working very hard to make this a successful event.

I am also having a stall at Craft Fairs Scotland St Andrews Craft Fair in St Andrews Town Hall on Saturday 18th September, 10-4pm

Looking forward to meeting some of you at these events. For now I need to get on and put some of my new inspiration into new work. My computer is also on a 'go slow' so I'll upload some more photos in another post.

Thursday, 24 June 2010

Lovely June

I'd just like to say hello and welcome to any new visitors to my site.

Please feel free to leave comments if you like. You can also contact me at for any further information.
My weekly blog updates are on hold for a few weeks as I am busy preparing for
Crail Arts Festival.
The art exhibition is open daily from 21st until 31st July from 10.00 am until 5.00 pm in Crail Town Hall. I won't be there myself but a variety of my work will be on display including framed textile art pictures, handmade cards and textile jewellery.

I've been doing plenty of this this week.

Hopefully the weather will hold for a while yet and we can all enjoy this marvellous June some more.

Friday, 18 June 2010

Sea Inspired Wrist Cuff

Regular readers of my blog will know how much I love the sea and how much I enjoy playing with my embellisher machine.
This cuff is inspired by the sea, especially the waters around the Isle of Iona.

It is also inspired by my cousin Lynsey. I made her one similar last week and got it to her before she headed off for the summer. Lynsey loves to travel and these are her favourite colours. She also has an affinity for the sea.

I added the vintage pearly button to add to the sea theme and lined it with a beautiful stripy muslin in toning shades.

I have been listing lots of cuffs in my International Etsy Shop but this one is available from my UK shop at

Sunday, 9 May 2010

The Merry Month of May

"Twas in the merry month of May when balmy winds first blow.............."

And what a merry month it has been so far.
As I said in my last post, the Open Studio weekend was a great success.
Among my many visitors was Kirsten aka Quernus Crafts. Kirsten has family here in Fife and came up from down south to enjoy the North Fife Open Studios event and write about it for the UK Handmade magazine. Her piece will be in the summer issue due out in June. It's a great online magazine and you can find a link to it on my side bar.
Kirsten took some photos while she was here and has kindly sent me some to use here on the blog as I forgot my camera each of the three days!

Here I am at my little work space whizzing some felt through my embellisher machine.
Everyone was fascinated by the machine, especially as it looks just like a sewing machine but when you look closer you realise that it doesn't use thread.

I enjoyed demonstrating it's various uses to those who were interested. Above are Joan and Watty who came all the way from Midlothian to visit my studio. Joan discovered my website last month and is now inspired to take up needle felting. I was so taken aback that my little space on the internet could have such an affect on people. It really meant a lot to me that Joan and many others traveled many miles just to see me.

Here is a wee selection of my work on display.
The great thing about my studio is that it has more than one room. I can keep the main room nice and tidy with plenty of pieces on display while the work room is a shambles and has the door shut on it. There is also space in the main room to work on small projects without it becoming too untidy.
I plan to work from the studio on a more regular basis when my daughter starts school in the Autumn. At the moment I'm only there sporadically, opening to the public on occasional weekends. I think if Ladybank were a busy little tourist town I could open every day and be really busy but it's not and I don't really want it to turn into a shop as I'd never get any work done.

So, the rest of last week was taken up with house work and preparations for my friends wedding.
It was a privilege and a pleasure to make Shirley's wedding flowers. We thoroughly enjoyed the day too, swanning around a country mansion sipping champagne and seeing lots of friends we haven't seen for ages.

It has been five years since I gave up working in a flower shop but like riding a bike you never forget how to put flowers together.
My career as a florist began when I worked as a Saturday girl for my Mum when I was fourteen. My Mum ran a shop in Perth and she taught me all the basics.
When I went off to art college I got another Saturday job in a really good florist called David's. David gave me a really good training and from there I worked full time in various shops here in Scotland and in Ireland.

I had planned to become a freelance wedding florist a few years back but then I got into textiles and here I am building up my little craft business.
I still do weddings for family and friends and would consider doing flowers locally if asked. I do miss working with fresh flowers every day, but contrary to popular belief, it is hard work! Working in a flower shop is not what people imagine it to be. You are standing most of the day, lugging heavy buckets around and getting chilblains on your fingers in winter. It's murder on your back and quite often so busy that you spend much of the day answering the phone. I much prefer working for myself.

Shirley chose a bouquet of Vandella roses with eucalyptus, bear grass and china grass foliage. Each rose had a little pearl headed pin in the centre to tie in with the pearls around the neckline of her dress.
For the bridesmaid she chose a hand tied bouquet of Sarina gerbera, purple lisianthus and Vandella roses.
They both looked absolutely stunning and were delighted with their flowers. A great day was had by all.

Thursday, 22 April 2010

Inspired by The Isle of Skye

Along side the madness of trying to get stock ready for the Open Studios weekend as well as new work to send out to my stockists, I have been making a couple of things with my new yarn that I bought on Skye.

'The Peat Bog Cottage'

These little 'Peat Bog' pieces incorporate the rich golds, greens and burgundy shades.

'The Peat Bog Croft'

This cuff also includes some of the green and gold sections of the yarn.

While this daisy necklace, cuff and earrings set include the purple and blue sections.

The earrings are a new idea. I just used beads that I had in the box but I think they would really suit being teamed up with silver foiled glass beads. Might have to nip into Bead Crazy in Perth this weekend!

Monday, 19 April 2010

Meet Emma Siedle-Collins

One of the things I love about going on holiday is meeting new people. Imagine my delight when mentioning the Isle of Skye on my Blog back in March, I had a nice comment from a fellow blogger and mixed media artist living on the Island! I said we would seek out her studio when we revisited the Island earlier this month and we did!

Meet Emma Siedle-Collins in her beautiful Heaven's Ocean Studio.

Emma and her husband David run this beautiful studio by the sea at Camuscross looking out to Isle Ornsay and the mainland beyond.
It is a stunning location and a perfect backdrop for David's fabulous watercolours and Emma's driftwood mirrors and mixed media work.

Look at that view! Emma and David also run a B&B in their lovely home next to the studio and keep a gorgeous garden as well.

We really enjoyed our visit here and were made to feel incredibly welcome. Emma and I could have chatted for a week and still found more to say. We have a similar love of colour and the same desire to try new things. We both love working with lots of texture and hoard bits and pieces, gaining inspiration from our stash as well as the sea and surrounding landscape.

I just loved this corner with it's colourful wall hanging next to the natural colours of the drift wood and wicker chair.

This combination of bright colour against the natural raffia and cork floats also caught my eye.

As I said, Emma likes to try her hand at new things and has been making these gorgeous cuffs and brooches recently. Again, I really like the backdrop of natural wood for the bright colours.
The cuffs are an intricate mixture of texture and stitch, each one different from the other.

Emma makes stunning pieces of drift wood wall art as well as mixed media collages.

It's great meeting creative people online to share ideas with but even better to meet them in real life. It's hard to gauge what a person is really like online but I found Emma to be friendly, warm, good fun and unpretentious.
We swapped a few bits and pieces too and I look forward to using her painted papers in a future project.
As we love Skye so much I'm sure we will be back before long and I hope next time we visit we can stay a while longer and really explore this lovely area.
Visit Emma's blog here.
And her website here.

All contributed content © Aileen Clarke