Friday, 30 September 2011

The First Step...

...To a new career.

After my post "Red Shoes" I think you could tell that I was slightly disgruntled at work.

Exciting or Scary? I can't tell the difference!

about three weeks ago I went and paid a visit to two recruitment agents. And I had it all planed down to a T.

The first one I had to take a series of tests, one for spelling... (gulp) a maths test and a data input test.

After getting a little anxious and worried I took to Twitter and you lovely people helped me to calm down, and it showed!

I ended up leaving with an average of 80%.

Then I took a lovely trip to the sea side to visit Reed and have an interview so that they could judge my character.



Hello Everyone! I just wanted to say that I am sorry.

I have be very lax when it come to my blog over the last few weeks but I hope that the next few posts will help you see the reasons why.

Over the next few days I hope to write quite a few posts updating you on my activities over the last two weeks.

Loads of love,

Running Rabbit Arts and Crafts


Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Interview with The Isle Of Tea

Who is the Isle of Tea?

Isle of Tea could be a group of ladies by the name of Betty, Kate, Ida, Plum, Luce and Dot. Or maybe it's none of them. Or even maybe just one or two. It is indeed everyone mentioned in certain senses, as sometimes don't you just feel that there are many brains and influences behind any idea? Whether it is a group of people or one person alone we see the Isle of Tea as a shared space, like a sort of community for people like us that feel that there's a lot more to tea than one might initially think. We love that we can share different people's perspectives on what it is about tea that they love, as we find it very interesting seeing and hearing the splendid tea stories, art, baking and sharing our love of tea with everyone.

When did the tea obsession start?

We have always appreciated that there is something special about tea but maybe not to the extent we do now. Ten years ago or so, we started collecting handmade pottery from various places, whether it be charity shops, antique and vintage warehouses or straight from the Potter's wheel. In fact we liked them so much so, that we wanted to get our hands stuck in the mud, so to speak and make our own. So we did.

Being crafty people since the word go, we wanted to look more into the background of tea and so began to be quite fascinated by the ceremony of tea. Reading about the different ceremonies in different parts of the world was fascinating and led to us making our very own tea set. And then went onto making a non-functional tea set asking the question of everyday objects being art and adapting the traditional hand-thrown pots. We even made a jug with four pouring spouts, to be put in the middle of the table, to be shared whilst sipping tea and chatting with friends.

It just so happened that we became increasingly more in love with tea dresses around our tea exploring phase. Their flattering shape and pretty floral designs instantly made us feel delicate and feminine. We realised that they do tend to suit most figures and the cuts of the dresses happen to be in just the right places, to make the plainest of Jane's look like the hottest of crumpets.

Not only is it great for people to express what they love about tea on the site, but we've had a fair few tea dress posts over the past months, one of which sticks out, by Kathryn Sharman. (When is a tea dress not a tea dress?)

What is your favourite tea?

We cannot say that we, (or one) has a particular favourite tea. There's such a wide variety and so many that have not even passed our lips. There are certain occasions where we feel different teas suit different times of the day and what mood we're in. Par example, it seems that your normal black tea is a good pick up anytime of the day, but particular teas go well with certain foods too. We particularly like a good cuppa black tea and a dash of milk (soya) with a good ol' veggie fry up, or egg and chips. There's just something so satisfyingly brilliant about the combination and so English.

However! We are presently having our taste buds tickled with this Rose Tea from Yogi Tea. Sweet, subtle, delicate and flavoursome!

What was the first thing that you posted in your ETSY and Folksy shops?

As far as we remember the first thing we put into our shops was one of our upcycled cake tier trays, made using found vintage crockery. It's one whole piece, carefully put together, that is remarkably strong. You can pick the whole thing up with any of the tea cup handles and nothing budges.

How did you start selling tea dresses?

We have at times sold various things on ebay but we wanted to find something that we liked and enjoyed selling. We were actually selling random bits from around IOT Towers at the beginning of the year when the thought occurred to us that it might be a good idea to sell vintage. We love vintage pieces of clothing, furniture, trinkets, shoes, bags etc etc. and thought it would be more fun to sell something that we have a passion for and adore, than selling boring trivial objects. We were also keen to sell vintage as we're tea folk that are very much into recycling. However, then the question was raised. What type of vintage should we sell? And not only that, but we wanted to learn more about vintage pieces and where they came from, how they're made, what's sought after and then really get our teeth sunk into them.

A sudden idea struck us. On a sunny morning dropping a miniature tea-pea at schoolage, we thought, how marvellous, how wonderful, how brilliant it would be to sell vintage tea dresses. We love wearing them. We love how they look. We love the designs and pretty patterns and colours. We just love them. The only problem was, finding and sourcing them all. We have to admit, that us here, little tea people from IOT (waves) are not exactly swimming around in pools full of dosh, so we had to think and source and discover (and think a little more) and finally decide to splurge our money and invest.
So we did!

It was exactly on this very morning, when thinking about tea dresses and selling them, that we thought we could expand the whole idea, (taking inspiration from our previous tea exploring). Although the words, *I love tea dresses* kept running through our minds, we began thinking that it would be even more wonderful and exciting to have a whole site all about tea, it's quirks and every little thing involved with tea. We had originally intended to be making our own pottery to sell too, but at present don't have any resources and need a few more pennies to live that dream out. So with all of our combined love of things tea related, the Isle of Tea was born. We realised, calling it I love tea dresses, didn't quite cut the mustard, then thought, obviously it needs to be called I Love Tea. Hence, Isle of Tea.

We had oringally started off selling the dresses on eBay which was all swell until for some unknown reason, whether it be that the summer had begun and people weren't as frequently on the computer, the dresses stopped selling. Which is an awful shame, because being a small little business we buy our next stock with the sales of the previous dresses. So we've not had many new dresses in for a while and in the meantime, we moved all of our stock over to our Etsy shop. Everything is currently crossed for our first sale!

How did you first start painting china?

As briefly mentioned above, we're very keen ceramicists. One day it would be our dream to be making our own pottery including tea sets and services. We also looked into using/making decals (ceramic transfers) but they also involve using a kiln. So we looked into the next best thing and that was cermic paint as it can be baked in a normal home oven.

To be honest, it's one of the things that we certainly need to catch up with. Always pleased to be recycling we thought it would be even better to paint old and found pots, so they can be appreciated, loved and used again, rather than being abandoned and discarded. So we then entered into the world of upcycling!

When did the blog start?

The blog only started on May 13
th this year after months and months of preparation, planning and lots of waking up in the night with ideas (and scrambling around for pens and paper).

Do you enjoy blogging?

We particularly like that we chose Isle of Tea to be a blog rather th
an just an informative site. This to us, means things can adapt, change and evolve moreso with each and every blog post and guest post. The most recent post is the first thing people will initially see before exploring the whole site and we love that it isn't always a post from just our perspectives, as there's a whole range of different guest posts and Tea & Bakes posts. We love hearing other people's voices about all the tea related or tea inspired things that they like to share, because isn't that a part of what tea is about? Sharing and talking and experiencing life over that good ol' cuppa.
Can anyone write a guest post?

One of the reasons why we're so keen on guest posts, is because, (as mentioned) we like to see Isle of Tea as a shared community where people can come together and share why tea is special to them and what it means to them. Another reason is that we are really interested in people and their thoughts and love being a base for people, who may not even have their own blogs, to reach out to other people all over the world and express themselves. It's not only interesting, having other people's perspectives on tea related things but the realisation that other people have this same feeling. That special “Tea” feeling. This quote we found recently from Gladstone sums it up rather nicely...

If you are cold
Tea Will Warm You
If you are too heated,
It will cool you.
If you are depressed,
It will cheer you.
If you are excited.
It will calm you”.

There's nothing quite like sharing a cuppa with someone, whether the conversation is one of joy or tears, life is a little more pleasurable having that break... having tea in our lives...

That little moment of comfort.

Surely there's only one thing left to say... I love tea.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Sunday, 18 September 2011

Interview with Kelly Swallow

How and when did you start upholstering furniture?

I’m from Ireland but now living just outside London. I’ve always made things, I started sewing as a child. I have a very distant memory of seeing a patchwork quilt made by my grandmother, so I guess that’s where the love of patchwork comes from!
I’ve always done some upholstery projects but about four years ago I realised that I was getting so many requests from people for my chairs that I had quite a waiting list so began to focus solely on chairs and sofas.

Where do you get you fabric? Is it mainly vintage?

I adore fabrics and get ridiculously excited when sourcing new fabrics for my collection. I love to mix new and vintage, and finding a piece of furniture which is the perfect match for a fabric theme is so satisfying!
I’m always on the lookout for great chairs and fabrics. I source furniture from local dealers or markets. I love fabrics from companies like Designers Guild and Zoffany mixed with vintage fabrics which I buy both locally and abroad. I source antique linen grain sacks and other linens from Hungary, Germany and France.

Can people provide their own chairs?

I’m more than happy for people to provide their own chairs. It is a real pleasure to give a new lease of life to a special family piece of furniture.

Do you design chairs based on your customers?

My bespoke pieces often include designs which reflect the client’s interests and lives. So embroidered initials, significant dates, treasured pieces of fabric so the chair can be an heirloom piece and a snapshot of their lives. They’re often special birthday presents, or surprise presents which is a real pleasure to work on !

How do you decide what fabric to use?

Sometimes the shape and personality of the chair will suggest a colour or theme for the fabrics, sometimes it works the other way around and I start with a piece of fabric which suggests a theme then I find the chair to fit that theme. In the case of bespoke chairs, I may have discussed style of chair and colour themes with the client and I then put together a collection of fabrics to fit the clients requirements.

I usually start from a couple of central colours and patterns and work out from there. The starting point can be on a colour theme, pattern theme, or a topic to fit with a clients brief or it can just depend on my mood, which is really fun!

Where are you based?

I’m based in Hertfordshire, where I have a workshop just by my house. It’s always very busy and we welcome people who are interested in seeing chairs and some of the process.

Which chair would you say was your favourite?

That’s such a difficult question! I love the process of work so much and the result is always so pleasing that my favourite is always whatever I’m working on at that particular time. Right now, I’ve got a fabulous commission nearing completion which has so many elements of the clients life threaded through the fabrics that it is very special. I’m also just starting on a chair which is a completely different range of colours which is very exciting because it’s so different from my usual work.

To get in touch with Kelly for any commissions you may have you can contact Kelly through her website.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Friday, 16 September 2011

A Photo A Day - 22

A picture that sums you up...

These are all pictures of me, my family and friends. I feel that this sums me up. My family and friends are so important to me, along with all the travelling and the fun that I have had with them. I love them all.

If you want to take part the rules can be found here.

Thursday, 15 September 2011



Look what I got at the brownie jumble sale!

A 1953 singer with all of the feet! Including a hemming foot and bonding foot!

I'm not sure if this is a trade up or a trade down from my mum's 1960's singer, but I'm so excited to have my very own sewing machine!

(My mums 1960's singer amongst its modern counter parts)

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How to Make a Draught Excluder

Last night I learnt how to make my very own Swedish inspired draught excluder at a local craft class run by Claire Mackaness from Beautiful Things (@ClaireMackaness).

As well as myself Nici (@SunnyNici) and Ann (@essexgran) also attended the class.

At sewing classes run by Claire you will have to bring your own sewing machine, and for some people this may be more appealing as you should know the ins and outs of your machine and if you don't then bring your machines manual with you and Claire will help you to figure it out!

I turned up with my Gran's 1960's Singer that could only handle one stitch, but that was all we needed for this particular class.

All of the materials and refreshments are provided for you too, so no having to run around last minute trying to find certain types of fabric!

The brilliant thing about Claire's classes is that you have to do it all yourself, from cutting your own fabric to ironing on your own bonda web.

Claire is always there to hold your hand and talk you through any sticky situations that you may get yourself into but it is up to you to sort it out.

One of the most important things that I learnt from this class is that everything if fixable, and if you have a wonky stitch it's just rustic charm!

I can defiantly say that after this class I am a heck of a lot more confident about using a sewing machine, and I am so proud of my finished product!

Thank you Claire for being such a great teacher and thanks to Nici and Ann for the lovely chit chat.

(p.s. Thanks to Claire for the pictures. )

A Photo A Day - 28

These are the next lot of brownie badges that are destined for my guiding blanket.

A Photo A Day - 27

The oven gloves my family gave me when I moved house.

A Photo A Day - 26

The flower lights that I have up in the dining room.

A Photo A Day - 25

My pink cupcake pencil case and crochet hook case :) 
If you want to take part the rules can be found here.

A Photo A Day - 24

Containing my life savings! (mainly because it got lost under my bed, hehe)

If you want to take part the rules can be found here.

A Photo A Day - 23

Pick a colour for a week...

Below is a lovely picture of my soon to be 1 year old niece! (notice the pink frame :) )

If you want to take part the rules can be found here.

Thursday, 8 September 2011

A Photo A Day - 21

The weather blue skies but drizzling

If you want to take part the rules can be found here.

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A Photo A Day - 20

Another macro shot as I don't do them very often. This is a hand made ring that I bought from the Enfield Town Show.

If you want to take part the rules can be found here.

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Tuesday, 6 September 2011

A Photo A Day - 19

Looking down...

You can't really see it properly but it's the sudden down poor we had at work today...

If you want to take part the rules can be found here.
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Monday, 5 September 2011

A Photo A Day - 18

Looking up... Sorry it's boring.

These are the ceiling tiles, lights and the air-conditioning unit at work.

I swear polystyrene ceiling tiles are meant to be banned, if not for health and safety the surely because the are ugly and make you feel depressed!

If you want to take part the rules can be found here.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Sunday, 4 September 2011

The Ingrave Market

Today I went to visit the lovely Claire Mackaness (@clairemackaness) at the Ingrave market in Brentwood (@ingravemarket).

The market is held every first Sunday of the month at the Knights Way community centre from 9:30 to 12:30.

Claire started the market in 2009 to help support the local community. This Market allows local residents to come and sell their crafts and local produce to those from the local and surrounding areas.

Claire Makes and sells her brooches, cushions, teabag pouches and headbands.

Mum and Me Jam Co. Run by Claire and her mum Christine produce all of their own homemade jam and preserves are sourced either from hedge rows and trees or local growers. They also package their products in reclaimed materials, how much greener can you get!

Kirsty Halsey (@kirstyhalsey) is the founder of The Little Black Cat jewellery hand makes every piece on her stand. Her love of jewellery making started with a childhood fascination with gem stones, and it shows with the beautiful items that she creates.

Finally I cam across Mitbits. Sue Lough who is the founder of Mitbits has a shop on Folksy and a Facebook page. Sue makes Monkeys out of Socks, Felt cupcake pincushions and glasses cases.

This a fantastic place to visit if you want to buy local and meet people from from the community that have real talent!

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A Photo A Day - 17


If you want to take part the rules can be found here.
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Saturday, 3 September 2011

A Photo A Day - 16

Macro shot...

My house warming present from the b/f.

If you want to take part the rules can be found here.

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Friday, 2 September 2011

A Photo A Day - 15

A treasured childhood possession...

Ok so I cheated!

Red Dog was my best friend and he when everywhere with me! We went around Europe together, on all of my business trips, on holiday and to brownie camps... until I cam back from Germany last year and he was nowhere to be found!!! I swear I had him in my back pack!

I was broken hearted...

So here is my tribute to Red Dog and the times we shared.

Here he is having breakfast in Las Vegas

He easily made friends!

On brownie camp he enjoyed the view

He even ate with the girls!

R.I.P Dear friend.