Blog

Events, Inspiration, Uncategorized, Update

New Beginnings

Hello!

It’s been a while, but I’m back!

I was struggling for a long time with running my craft business in the midst of this horrific pandemic.  I have been working at the day job throughout – initially just part-time in the office, but the last couple of weeks, I am back to fulltime.  I am fortunate enough to work just a short walking distance from my house.  There are only a few of us in the office, and we have a lovely large space, so can spread out nicely.  Being in the building trade, we are already super conscious about Health and Safety, so I actually feel safer at work than I do going to the supermarket!

But, getting back to Athena Makes!!!! I am finally getting my ass in gear! I posted about this on my page recently, so apologies if you have already read this, but at the beginning of the year I was actually seriously considering closing Athena Makes down. I had completely lost my mojo, I wasn’t loving anything I was making, and I seriously struggle trying to sell items I don’t love myself! Sales were down, a lot of the emporiums I take part in were either postponed, cancelled, or the organisers of them just didn’t seem to be giving them the time it needed. I was feeling quite lost, and despondent, and honestly didn’t see a way forward.

Being made to stay home, and change our ways of life actually gave me the boost I needed to get creating again.  I was a slow process, but my embroidery mojo has returned!  It really is hard to put into words how good this made me feel. I absolutely love my jewellery making, but embroidery is what makes me feel good about myself! The therapeutic value of stabbing a needle into something cannot be valued highly enough!

I have been working on some new ranges!  I have a range of floral creatures – so far a fox, elephant, narwhal and penguin, with plans to do many more.

I started a new range of quote hoops – uplifting, meaningful, or just plain funny quotes.  But possibly my favourite new range is my vintage hoops.  I have a huge stash of vintage fabrics, trims and embellishments that I have been collecting for years.  Putting these together with modern embroidery techniques is so much fun, and I am loving the results!

I have also still been making jewellery.  I have been working on new chainmaille designs, and have been raiding my gemstone stash for some new designs with sterling silver.

I am also finally getting my Etsy shop updated – I am regularly adding links to the newly listed pieces as they are uploaded. Some of these you may have seen before, but now they will all be available in one place.  I have got a quite a backlog to get through, so if there is anything in particular you would like adding – just shout!

I have also launched a new scheme this month – RAOK boxes (Random Act Of Kindness).  At the beginning of every month I will be putting post up on my facebook page, where people can nominate themselves, or a friend to receive a box of goodies.  There will be handmade items from me (of course!), handmade goodies that I will be purchasing from other small businesses (spreading the love!) together with bits of stationery, tea, and chocolate!

I will pop the link below for this months post.

I think that’s it! If you have made your way through all that – Thank you, and well done!!!! It really does mean a lot to me when you leave a little comment, or a like on my post. And I love to answer questions!

Love and huge (socially distanced) hugs.

Zoe

Xx

RAOK Link

Inspiration, Uncategorized, Update

June 2020

Hi Everyone!

I always seem to be apologising for how long it is since I last posted!  At the beginning of the year, I had the best of intentions for at least monthly posts.  I had a list of topics to focus on each month, and had ideas for competitions, and giveaways for you all.

Then Covid-19 happened.  I honestly don’t know what to say about the last few months.  I think we have all verged between fear, anger, resignation, apathy, and empathy.  There have been times that I could have easily sat and cried, or screamed.  The one thing that I strongly believed was that the only saving grace of this pandemic was that it was bringing people back together (while socially distancing!)  It was starting to help communities care about each other again.  Neighbours were helping neighbours.  People were checking in with their families and loved ones, it was starting to feel like people were starting to re-focus on the important things in life.

Then another in a long stream of black men was killed by a member of the police force that is supposed to serve and protect them, and the world started to fracture again.  I am incredibly lucky to live in a country where this level of racism is rare.  It certainly still exists in the UK, and it is horrific that in this day and age racism exits anywhere, but the scenes in America are truly heart-breaking.

Many people will wonder why I am posting this.  I am a white woman living in the UK that could not possibly have any understanding of the pain racism causes.  But what I do have is a voice.  What I do have is a page, and a forum where I can speak out, and I should.  Everyone who has a voice, should speak out.  Long gone is the time of silence, and “minding your own business”.  This is every human beings business, and we have a duty to stand by our black communities, and unite with them to fight.

Tomorrow I will be sending out an update blog, which I hope will make people smile, and be uplifting, but for today, I just want to finish with the following quotes, which I think sum it up

“I am not black, but I stand with you”

“I understand that I cannot begin to understand, but I stand”

Events, Inspiration, Update

2019 Roundup!

Hello everyone!

It seems like an age since I have blogged, so brace yourselves for a long one!

It has been a busy few months of crafting, classes and the day job!

In November I made my annual pilgrimage to the Knitting and Stitching show at Harrogate – it was a jam packed day, full of lovely shopping, workshops, inspiration, and I even got to meet one of my idols, the fantastic Georgina Bellamy (That Embroidery Girl).

I bought lots of goodies which I will be putting to good use on some new projects that I have planned in for next year – more about that later!

More recently, I have been experimenting!  I have been making jewellery for about 20 years now, but one thing I hadn’t tried was resin.  I bought myself a little starter kit from Resin8 a while ago (Link below) and I have to admit I put it in the cupboard and forgot about it.  Browsing on Facebook recently I started seeing quite a few resin pieces, and it reminded me about the kit – so I dug it out, and gave it a go!   What can I say?????? I’m hooked!  I absolutely love working with resin!  There are just so many possibilities!  You take this boring looking product, add colour, glitter, whatever, pop it in a mould, and the next day you have an amazing, individual item! 

Needless to say, I got straight online and ordered more supplies, and I have been playing ever since!  I have tried out adding colour, adding mica powder, adding glitter, and even adding dried flowers and shells!  The initial results were………ummm, I’ll call it interesting!  After the first batch, I could easily see where I had gone wrong – too many bubble, not enough resin, or too much resin!  But I am very happy to say the next batch turned out so much better – and I have some pieces I absolutely love!  I went to a posh dinner the other night, and wore one of my new resin pendants, and I received some lovely compliments on it – which absolutely made my night!

I have plans for lots more resin goodies coming up!

So, this leads me on to future plans!  In 2020 I really want to focus on growth.  I have been ticking along quite nicely for the last few years, but in 2020 I really want to challenge myself!

I will be continuing to work on my “For the Love of Bees” range –  this includes a variety of bee makes in different forms of embroidery, beadwork, and jewellery.    I will be developing a new range of mixed media embroidery works – incorporating different elements of fabric, and embellishments to form a range of nature inspired hoops.

I will be running another Stitch-A-Long!  I ran the first of these in September, and it was so much fun!  The next one will probably be in February – watch out on my Facebook page for more details.

Thinking about jewellery makes – I will be focusing on more high end pieces, using sterling silver.  I have a charm bracelet range coming soon, which I am hoping to expand as the year goes on.  I will be working on more chainmaille makes, as these seem to be popular, and I will definitely be working on more resin!  I have two weeks away from the day job over Christmas and the New Year, so will be using this time to practice, and to start producing the first saleable items! 

I think that’s all I have to tell you for now!

I would like to take this opportunity to thank you all for your kindness and your support over 2019.  It truly means the world to me!  As a little thank you, (and to thank you for reading this far)  I would like to offer the first 5 people to either comment on here, or message me, a £5 gift voucher off any future purchase – no end date, so you can use it whenever you like!  The voucher is  valid from any purchase made directly on Facebook, Instagram, or from any online Emporium I am taking part in!

So, last but not least, I wish you all Yuletide Blessings, a Merry Christmas, and a very happy, healthy and safe New Year.

Love

Zoe xx

Course Review, Events, Inspiration, Uncategorized

Pause for Thought

Last Tuesday I attended a crafting class.  Not an unusual experience for me – my regular followers know how much I love a craft class!

This time the class was Aromatherapy in Jewellery.  The class was held at the Bead Shop in Nottingham – one of my favourite places to visit!    The class had two parts – the making of the jewellery, followed by the Aromatherapy.  The lovely Steph started off with an over view of what we would be doing, and we got started making a pendant using lava stones.  Once the pendants were complete we got to design our matching bracelets – lava stone and hematite!  The bracelets were made on elastic cord, which I have never used before, so I got to try out something new!

After the jewellery was finished, Karen from Bamboo Yoga took over the class (see below for her details) – It started off with an explanation of her background story, and how Bamboo Yoga came to be, and her passion for oils, yoga, and clean living – and her complete faith in the healing benefits of oils.

Then we got started on the oils!  Karen had bought a selection of oils which we were able to smell (divine!) and as we went along she explained the benefits and the uses of the individual oils.  It was absolutely fascinating, and the time flew by!  After a very thorough talk, where we were able to discuss individual points of concern, or particular ailments we all suffer from, we were then able to select an oil to use on our jewellery – and we got to take a small vial home with us as well!

By chance, we all chose the Lavender oil – which smells absolutely glorious!  We applied it to the jewellery, and I could immediately feel a sense of relaxation coming over me.

I could have happily stayed there chatting for hours!  The class really did fly by, and it gave me so much food for thought, which is what this post is really about!

I have been thinking for a long time about lifestyle.  In todays modern world, everything is so immediate, and fast.  People don’t take time for self care anymore, and I think it is fairly safe to say we all feel the downside of this.  Everything we drink, eat, use on our skin, use in our house – it is all packed full of chemicals.  Which cannot be good for us.  We are obsessed with social media – we spend hours and hours every day looking at the phone in our hand, instead of seeing the beauty of nature around us.  Connectivity has never been so easy, but we are so disconnected from each other and the world around us.

I have been suffering with niggly ailments for so long now.  Nothing major, but a series of annoying illnesses, periods of anxiety and stress, and an overall sense of things just “not being right”.

Sitting in the class, listening to Karen talk really made me start to think about all these things.  Changes that I need to make, things I need to do, the most important of all, to just take time for me. 

So……what does all this mean?  It means I need to take stock of my life, and decide how I want to live it.  It really is that complicated, and also that simple!  I really think it is fate that someone comes along at just the right time to prompt you to sit and consider the things that have been at the back of your mind for so long.  Watch this space as I delve into the realms of healthy living!

****************************************************************************************

Where am I?

Christmas is a coming, and I am taking part in a selection of online emporiums between now and Christmas! 

8th to 11th November      Paper Panda & Friends Emporium            https://www.facebook.com/groups/PPFEmporium/

30th November                  Enchanted Christmas                     https://www.facebook.com/events/306022997012242/

3rd & 4th December                          The Makers Emporium                  https://www.facebook.com/groups/498933563623248/

7th December                     Paper Panda & Friends Christmas Stocking Fillers                  https://www.facebook.com/groups/PPFEmporium/

Love and hugs

Zoe xx

Bamboo Yoga    https://www.bambooyoga.net/

Facebook            https://www.facebook.com/yogabamboo

Events, Inspiration, Uncategorized

For the Love of Learning

For the love of learning!

I love to learn!  Anything, and everything!  I have an inexhaustible appetite for learning new things.  From new stitches in embroidery, to new jewellery techniques, and new crafts.  But I also have what some may call “academic interests” as well.

Those of you who know me personally may already know that I left school at 15, and went straight into the workforce.  This was my choice – I hated school, but I have always loved learning.  It was only in later years that I finally realised that “school” and “learning” are not necessarily the same thing!

My “academic interests” have always been a great love for history, and for mythology.  My favourite book as a child was the Greek and Roman myths by Robert Graves (I still have several copies) I was incredibly lucky to have parents that shared my love of reading, and learning, and they always encouraged me in my interests.

When I attended my local comprehensive school, I didn’t even take history as one of my GCSE options.  This was due to the fact that their idea of history was World War 2!!!!!  An important part of history of course, but not the type of history I wanted to learn.  I wanted to know about the Ancient Egyptians, and the Aztecs, the Middle Ages, The Renaissance, and Regency times.  But these did not form any part of the National Curriculum!

After leaving school I fell into an office job, and I have worked in offices ever since.  Don’t get me wrong, I am incredibly lucky to have been in full time work my whole adult life, and I have generally always enjoyed my employment (some more than others!), but my day to day work has never addressed my deep seated need to learn, to know, to discover!

Sadly, I have never been able to afford to go back in to education (university is faaaaaar too expensive!), but what I have discovered is night classes!  Too many people turn their noses up at night classes!  With certain people you get that slightly condescending air that somehow a night class is not “a proper course”.  To these people I say Piffle!     

Around 18 years ago I discovered the WEA (Workers Education Authority) and I have never looked back!  The WEA holds night classes in most localities, and their courses cover a vast range of subjects.  Over the years I have attended classes on Greek Mythology, Egyptian History, Persian History, the History of Art, and most recently early British History, starting from around 330AD, working our way through the Anglo Saxons, Viking Invasions, up to the time of Alfred the Great!  For the last 3 or 4 years it has been more or less the same group of students, so it becomes a really lovely learning experience.  This term we are veering off history slightly, and tomorrow night we start Norse Mythology!  I cannot wait to get started learning more about Odin, Thor, Freya and Frigg to name but a few!

In the interests of keeping myself out of mischief, I have also signed up for a distance learning course.  Distance learning is another wonderful option for those who (for many reasons) struggle to get out to a physical class, or want the comfort of learning at their own pace, in their own home.

The course I have signed up for is Cryptozoology!  I looooove mythical beasts!  It caught my eye online a little while ago, and I put it to the back of my mind, but a friend recently tagged me on Facebook with a link to the course (and it was on offer!!) so I felt it was fate really!

So why am I telling you all this??????????????

Really, it was just to get the point across to everyone that it is never, ever, too late to learn.  There are so many options available nowadays, and you should not let anyone, or anything hold you back.  I want to empower everyone to accept, and to believe, that just because they don’t have a University degree, that they are capable, intelligent people.  That they can still learn what they want, when they want, and thrive while doing so.

So go forth and learn!  (and let me know how you get on!)

Hugs

Zoe

To find out more about WEA courses in your area, go to https://www.wea.org.uk/