I had a lovely invitation earlier this month and a chance to meet with two ladies whose blogs I have visited for quite some time now. Knowing that our hostess had recently moved house I thought it would be good to buy her a little housewarming gift, which occasioned a great excuse to go shopping. I live very close to what is referred to in these parts, as “the pot bank” although the potteries are now in very sad decline, there are a few still standing and working. Middleport is England’s last working Victorian pottery and the home of Burleigh who still makes uniquely hand crafted products out of earthenware. The factory has a shop, which is well worth a visit if you are ever in these parts. As you step through the factory gates you step back centuries, it has been faithfully preserved and rescued from closure several years ago by the Dorling family and more recently by Prince Charles. It was good to see regeneration in the streets around the factory, many of the original Victorian terraced houses are being rescued and repaired to their former glory.
As I mentioned, I had the chance to meet with two fellow artists/designers who blog, can you guess who they may be? There are clues in the photograph below.
The card designs belong to Gretel Parker from “Middle of Nowhere” and the lovely Christmassy crochet was designed and created by Sue McLoughlin from “Mouse Notebook” I have written about Sue’s work before and have been carrying my belongings around in her “Mouse” bags for several years now.
It was a joy to sit and dine with these two friends and I believe we could have chatted away into the early hours. We were given a guided tour of Gretel’s newly acquired cottage and despite the fact that she has had scarcely enough time to unpack, the place has a great character and homeliness, lots of light and stunning views across rural Shropshire. We sat, surrounded by cats and books, drank tea, munched on cupcakes made by Sue and I had my very first lesson in needle felting. If you visit Gretel’s website you will see her gorgeous creations and it was great delight to meet some of her felted characters in person. She illustrates children’s books and often paints the toys she has created. I bought one of her original paintings some time ago and I treasure it, she occasionally has original art for sale but not surprisingly they get snapped up by eager collectors.
Before I go I must say a quick thank you to Annie from Knitsofacto
for organizing her blog giveaway, I was delighted to win one of the prizes, hooray! Also many thanks to Heather from "Inkflorishes"for the most beautiful Christmas card and envelope. You may think it strange to thank somebody for an envelope but Heather’s are hand written with the most exquisite calligraphy. If you visit her blog you will see what I mean. Thankfully Ted (my Jack Russell) was sleeping when the postman called!
Last but not least, I have several illustrations now available as framed/unframed prints from Encore Editions. They are having a pre-Christmas sale with 20% off; all you need to do is follow the link and type in the code prancer12 at the checkout.
“The Mouse Prince” illustration was originally commissioned by Royal Worcester as part of a series of "Nutcracker" designs. Shortly after their completion the factory in Stoke closed its doors and the project was never finished.