Spotty Elephants

When I first started Bumbleblue, my only products were painted canvases. I was at uni at the time, and had a part time job in a gorgeous gift shop called the Bay Tree. As well as lovely bits including scented candles, jewellery and cushions, there was a corner filled with the cutest presents and toys for babies and toddlers.

On trips to gift fairs, we were always looking for new products that were a little bit different and special. The Bay Tree was on a small cobbled street away from the main street and all the shops on it were individual boutiques. On one particular trip to the Autumn Fair, we were pottering around all the gorgeous stands when we came accross some a company who made picture canvases for children’s rooms. The idea was perfect – small canvases with a colourful picture that could also be personalised with any childs name.

We both really wanted to like them, however the selection of images they had was quite small. If you had a little boy the only pictures for you (unless you particularly wanted a ballerina called Steve) were a big football or a dog. Also, everything was outlined with glitter. Now, I’m not some sort of anti-glitter, anti-pretty grinch, I do like the occasional sparkle – but this was just glitter overload!

Over a few cups of tea (naturally how all brain activity gets triggered) I started to sketch ideas for what I thought would be cute designs for children’s bedroom artwork. I worked on these for a few weeks, sketching around uni and work. With a few designs and a suplplier of canvases that didnt break the bank, I asked Abi if we could try them in the shop. Abi was a fantastic boss, and very good with the business side of things. She was really encouraging, so with my arty skills and her business mind, soon the little Bumbleblue canvas collection was a reality.

It was such a great feeling knowing that people wanted my artwork to put onto their walls. As well as at the shop, I started taking my canvases to craft fairs, where they proved to be a hit (especially with new mums and grandmas!)

It was only a matter of time before the idea really caught on and very soon after, alot of companies were springing up that offered peronalised art for children (and the excessive use of glitter still annoyed me!) At this point, to carry on being a bit different, I started to introduce the little wooden bits to my collection. My online shops today (Folksy and Misi) just have my wooden items in, and I only take these to the craft fairs I do now. Every once in a while though, I’ll get a canvas order. It’s always nice to go back to them, so when I was asked to paint this for a new baby present, it was quite enjoyable to do.

I do sometimes wonder if I should bring the canvases back and focus on them a bit more, but another part of me thinks that for the time being, I’m happy to keep experimenting with new ideas.

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Cosy in the Summerhouse

Why are men so difficult to buy for?

I think everyone asks themselves this. Just when you think you’ve got everything covered – Birthdays, Christmas, Anniversaries… along comes Fathers Day.

I always place more importance on Birthdays, but I do like to have little treats ready for other occasions, Fathers Day being one of them, and my dad is always touched by any effort made (even if it’s another pair of socks or bottle of whiskey)

Even though we are now grown up, a present from me or my sister that is hand made, is marvelled and praised as though it was an undiscovered Picasso.

Support and encouragement on tap. This has always been the case, and still now with my craft fair adventures, they’re not far away;

‘We’ll come and help you set up…..I’ve bought you a cup of tea…..Don’t worry about lunch, I’ll treat us to a cob…..This scone just fell into my bag…’

While mum is making sure I have enough food for the duration (usually only 6 hours of what is prodominantly smiling and chatting with people) My dad will be carefully studying everything on my table. He’s a joiner and is a mine of knowledge when it comes to types of wood. Luckily my products which start as little chunks of wood, have been approved and he’s happy with my choice of birch.

Dad will always let you know if he’s not happy with something, especially when it comes to wooden furniture for our house – but that’s another story including a chest of drawers that dad completely dismantled and re-built with new runners because he didn’t like how the top drawer shut.

Since the first set I made, dad has admired the hanging letter blocks, usually wanting every set he sees. They already have a set of ‘Welcome’ blocks in their dining room, but he now liked the ‘Cosy’ set too.

‘That would look nice in the Summer House’ turned into ‘I want one for the Summer House’ but with a sideways glance and some excellent lip reading on my part, a fathers day gift was discovered.

Along with some gorgeous varieties of tea from Whittards, and of course some socks from M&S, my Dad was well and truly spoilt this Fathers Day…and so it should be.