Thursday, 16 February 2017

A new place to find my work, and a whole new digital adventure.

Happy February peeps,

I'm staying inside waiting for a courier who's bringing me a big pile of glass ware for my next batch of candles so while I'm waiting ... and in between cuppas, I thought I'd update my blog, it's been an age!

Christmas came and went in a bit of a whirlwind of fairs, orders and whizzing to and fro, but we all made it out the other side safely and more or less in one piece, thank goodness!

January was filled with wonderful orders through the website as I had a bit of a barmy sale on to clear some space and reclaim some studio shelves, mission accomplished!

In between chilly New Year beach walks and 4 days strolling the snowy hills of Hartsop...(ohh, and some orders and studio work of course ;)  I've been planning, learning and catching up with all sorts of things I'd wanted to get going, but never had a moment in the autumn, I feel I'm almost getting there, so wanted to share them with you too.

If you've followed my blog or found me on social media, you may know I also like to create Eco prints on fabric and paper and have also been learning to make cyanotype prints too, these are delicate prints using only sunlight to develop the images. I've finally got them out into the ether, and you can now buy them online, as well as from me at events and at my studio. Feel free to have a wander in my new Etsy shop, which I've called 'Ghosts of Nature' I'll be adding more one of a kind prints and originals soon. Simply click the image below to enter my shop.

I've been learning all about how I can offer digital products as part of my business too. These will be downloadable PDF files that contain ... I'm thinking...product making recipes, essential oil information sheets, planning templates and useful lists for whoever might like them, be they, customers who fancy a go at making, fellow crafters and small business owners or even Jim from the farm shop...who knows!!  I can't offer them for free, but they will all to be a very reasonable non bank breaking sum. I'll be gradually making them and adding them to my website and they will also be introduced on my facebook page, take a look at the one I've done already. 


In other news too, I'm delighted to be stocking into a new retail outlet in North Northumberland. As from Sunday, my soaps will be available from the Heatherslaw Gift Shop within Ford & Etal Estates. I can't wait to see what it's like as I've only passed by on my way to the Scottish Borders, I'll be sure to take my camera! I'm also chuffed to bits to be supplying guest soaps to a lovely new and very luxurious holiday company called 'Hang my Hat'. They have a growing selection of beautiful cottages to hire in and around the Tyne Valley (my home) on the books, so do check them out if you're heading to Northumberland, they look absolutely gorgeous, I could move in tomorrow!

Well, I think that's about it for now, Stay warm and embrace the days stretching that little bit longer into Spring.



Sunday, 23 October 2016

Christmas Soaps launch

Well a happy autumnal season to you,

Here I am, sitting in the cosy studio with a pot of tea, surrounded by box upon box and shelf upon shelf of handmade festive treats such as newly poured soy woodwick candles in festive fragrances, glinting corked bottles of bath oils, dinky little pots filled with luscious rich butters ans waxes as lip balms and perfume balms, tubs of rich creamy body butters and exfoliating sugars scrubs - "Just right for 'chicken legs'" (as the local WI exclaimed at a talk I gave earlier this year). I've been making and wrapping in a frenzy over the last couple of months, so I thought it high time I told you about them.

But first of all, I just had to give you a little peep into my morning started like this...not bad eh? I LOVE Autumn in the UK. I can't wait to break out the woolly scarf and fingerless gloves in a week or two - a winter event essential teamed with hand warmers, stout boots (pictured) and a good flask, yes sireee!!

So, without further ado, may I introduce the featured special guests, my festive soaps.....these have been challenging to make as I've employed newly learned pouring techniques, new essential oil blends and a whole streamlined method of production, meaning I can make my soap twice as fast as before!! Oh, and I recorded video's as I made them too! I always like to make things complicated for myself it seems!!

First up, 'Snow Drift soap' - Imagine rough woollen socks stuffed into warm leather boots, crisp bright mornings and tramping along a forest path strewn with fallen leaves beneath sparkling frosted pines and the earthy scent of the springy forest floor.
Beautifully yet delicately fragranced with a fresh, crisp scent with top notes of mild menthol with a hint of pine giving way to middle notes of spruce and eucalyptus and grounding cedarwood to complete the blend. 

'We Three Kings' handmade soap - Crowned in gold and bronze micas, and sprinkled with real gold dusted Frankincense resin, this truly is a festive treat. Pure, smokey and resinous Oman frankincense essential oils give a beautifully haunting and ancient scent. Each bar is enriched with pure plant oils and butters to soften and feed the skin and lashings of fresh dairy cream for added moisture. Real tussah silk adds an extra luxurious lather and silky feel on the skin.

'Winter Cabin' handmade soap is woodsy, earthy and smokey. Blended with warming Cedarwood, comforting Clary Sage, spicy Clove and meditational yet smokey Vetiver oils.
Imagine a special escape in the forests, it's dusk, a glowing fire built with seasoned pine and dried cones is roaring in the grate, the wind lifts a spray of sparks, an owl hoots from the distant branches. As the sun slips below, a frost decends and glitters on the roof, a warming hot toddy in your hands, a hug from your favourite special one ...bliss! I can't think of a better winter escape!

'Winter Spice' handmade soap is what Christmas is all about. Spiced steam curls over the lip of a sparkling goblet of amber mulled cider, the glint of candle light on the dampened eastern spices bobbing on the surface, notes of dusty cinnamon, sharp clove and rich sweet blood oranges fill the air.

Well there they are, I hope you like them. These little lovelies and oodles more are all available to buy from my website, Folksy and Etsy shops online and will be available direct from me at the studio or from my events in the big run up to the big day. Numbers are however limited and once they're gone, they're gone so be quick if you want one (or two, or a bundle!!). 

See my EVENTS page over on the website too, for a full rundown of my Christmas events in the North East, I'll have OPEN STUDIO days throughout November and December so keep an eye out for these as well, I'll announce them over on my Facebook Page each week, so be sure to 'find and follow' me over there too if you're not already. 

If you want to see how they were done, pop over to my You Tube channel for a gander, here's one to tempt you in...enjoy xx

If you're a fan of a flash sure to sign up to my NEWSLETTER too, I'll be releasing the odd special reward to subscribers as the days get darker and the nights get chillier.


I can't quite believe I've been this organised and finally feel I'm ready for the big push towards my busiest time of year. I really hope to make a few blog posts before the BIG DAY, but if I get swept up in the whirlwind that is the Christmas countdown, I wish you all the very best for a fantastic Christmas and relaxing New Year ahead. 

Until next time, TTFN
Ceri xx

Monday, 12 September 2016

Eco Printing, campfires and stars...

Hello hello my lovelies,

It's been one busy summer and now, as the season turns it's face towards Autumn, all thoughts here at OSHQ start to revolve around Christmas preparations.

The festive soaps are well underway already and I'll do a separate post about these soon, but today I'd like to tell you a little about my other product stream, my Eco Printed range of silks and original art pieces. Eco printing is a technique to create a print from plants, leaves and flowers. Each one is unique and original, the colours and patterns cannot be replicated as the print is created from the pigments inside the plant materials themselves.

Laying out gathered Meadowsweet,
Copper Beech and Blackberry leaves onto the silks.

I've been extremely lucky to have just completed an artists residency up on the Northumberland fells at a beautiful spot in the remote region of Tarset, near Bellingham. 'Wild Northumbrian' are an eco friendly site providing very comfortable, off grid, luxurious camping accommodation in traditional yurts, tipi's and a handmade shepherd's hut. It's based inside the Northumberland Dark Sky park too, so the night skies were blimmin awsome!!

The View over the Northumbrian Fells.

My husband Phil from Scapeography was also resident and working on an ancient woodland photography project during our stay. It involved a lot of pre-dawn starts and tromping in the woods, then late night finishes gazing at the glorious plethora of visible stars in one of the darkest skies in the bad way to spend your days eh? Check out his facebook page or Twitter account (@Scapeograph) for more details of his work and a peek behind the scenes at his current projects.

Our Sweet little Bothy through the Apple trees
During our stay, we had full run of the sweet handmade Polebarn Bothy, with a gorgeous log burner and fire pit to 'cook' my eco-prints over. I spent my days gathering local plant materials, attempting new dyeing techniques with plant materials I'd never used before and using off grid methods of heating so I had my work cut out.

Lichen can also be used as a dye,
I might have to try this one day too.

We were there for 4 days and I had quite a crowd at some times with lots of interest about how each print is made, what plants I've used and how each print is created, it was a learning curve for me as well as my visitors too as I don't tend to offer workshops or talks about my work (that's what comes of being a bit of a shy bird with a fear of crowds), but the wonderful feedback I received made me think I managed it quite well...PHEW!!

My kind of neighbors.

I'm delighted to say the dying and prints worked out well and I'm extra delighted with the (some surprisingly bright) results, see some of them below, what do you think?

These are both from Madder root,
such amazing colours!!

Silk bundles cooking on the stove.

Madder root in the pot, Wild Blackberry,
Copper Beech and Sycamore leaves leaving their
 ghosts on the silk.

Eucalyptus and Oak leaves give a strong
and colourful print.

This little guy kept a close eye on the activities.

Finished Scarves, cushions and mounted prints
 displayed in our Polebarn Bothy during our stay.

 As I type I'm soaking the 30+ prints I made during our stay, so I'll add more images once they are fully finished, dried and pressed. The scarves etc will be available to buy direct from my events, my studio and if I get a chance...from the website this space.

Huge thanks to the fantastic Rob and Vicky at 'Wild Northumbrian Tipi's and Yurts' for the use of their beautiful site for this project during our stay. The Yurts, Tipi's and Shepherd's huts are available to book via their website, so if you fancy a taste of off grid, luxury camping, go check them out and book a stay, you'll want to move in...we did :)))

I'd love to hear what you think about the scarves and eco printing as I love to make them, feel free to leave a comment below.

TTFN and until next time xx

Ceri x