Welcome to the land of Clootielugs where squirrels, rabbits and their like rule the roost. I love to make and sew and find inspiration from many sources although nature in its many forms tends to be the thing that fires my imagination most often!

You can see and purchase many of my creations on Folksy:

Friday, 23 March 2012

If you are all sitting comfortably...

...then I'll begin...

"Once upon a time there was woman who loved rabbits, and toadstools and tall, tall birch trees. She lived in a little house at the top of a steep, steep hill at the edge of a raggedy wood. The woman often walked in the raggedy woods with her faithful, but scruffy, terrier companion and together they would imagine the tales that the tall, tall trees could tell. One day the woman had an idea...perhaps she could use the many fabrics and threads that she had gathered over the years to tell the many stories of the woods. And so 'Clootielugs' was born, and with a lot of luck and plenty of big sticks..the woman and her dog lived happily ever after.
The End."

We all love a good story...and fairy stories are often our earliest experience of narrative. My favourite childhood tales have always been the traditional ones whose roots are steeped in darkly delicious European folktales of old. These tales convey messages which are both pratical and moral, and show the consequences for those who fail to take heed!
This week, having enjoyed another seller's treasury of Red Riding Hood creations, I felt inspired to make this little fabric collectable set. Now for sale in Clootielugs @Folksy it is created from my original drawings of each little character. Each figure is futher embellished with tiny embroidery work and additional clothing where appropriate. I have also made a felt drawstring pouch in which to store this thumb sized heirloom set!

So, now Fairytale obsessed, I then asked on the Folksy forums for sellers to show me their fairy tale inspired creations, and below is the wonderful selection I was shown...

First is this Cinderella themed shadow box art in mixed media. It features, amongst many things a pumpkin, a mouse, a star, and generous lashings of glitter! Find it in the very aptly named Folksy shop, 'The Grimm Exhibition'!

Next I have chosen this fabulous print by very talented Folksy artist,Tamara. Tamara's shop, 'Ink and Stylus' is full of the most detailed, ethereal, charming and colourful prints of her original drawings. In this 'Princess and Pea' inspired picture which Tamara has entitled 'Lazy Girl and the Chili Pepper', there is a tiny hidden chili pepper for you to spot! See if you can!

The next item is a lot of fun! Folksy maker, Heidi Blakesley, has a wonderful range of familiar and not-so-familiar characters created from recycled fabrics (often wool blankets) for sale in her shop, 'FeltFace'. I have selected Goldilocks to show today because I particularly love her porridge bowl! Isn't she great! Please pop over to FeltFace so you may appreciate Heidi's entire range!

Intended for Christmas I think these little hanging hearts have a charming fairytale feel to them. They make me think of Hansel and Gretal and Snow White..what do you think?
Created from felt with decorative buttons and hung on garden twine they are stylish enough for all year round! Folksy maker, 'Welsheggdesigns' has a lovely selection of humourous sock creatures as well as several pretty hanging heart decorations. Why not pop over for a browse?

Now I know that Lewis Carol's 'Alice in Wonderland' is not a traditional European folktale but I hope you will forgive my expansion of this week's theme and allow me to include this Mad Hatter hat by Folksy designer and forum fairy-godmother, Natalie from 'NOfKantsCurios'. Natalie has crocheted this splendid top hat style titfer in red and white yarns and decorated it with colour matched buttons. Natalie confesses this hat was partially inspired by "...my Dad, who used to wear a variety of hats, which I pinched off him whenever I had opportunity" !

My next item from Folksy sellers is this clever book cover bag from 'WhimsyWooDesigns'. I love this Japanese designed fabric! It is made up of images from different tales and has a real fantasy feel to it! This one will fit a book of up to 13 cms wide by 20 cms high and by 3 - 4 cms deep; but is also available in two larger sizes - Size 2 for larger books and Size 3 for thin A4 folders and ring binders. Maker Shirley Woosey also offers custom sized book bags, so if you need one to fit something special why not send her a message?

Lastly I have another artwork inspired by 'The Princess and the Pea'. This one is a little ACEO (Art Cards, Editions and Originals) from Folksy shop 'Artmagic'! Clever artist Polli gives her work a characterful quirky style and charm that makes her art so very distinctive and instantly heartwarming! This original mini work of art has been painted in watercolour paints with additional gold pen detailing. I LOVE the super tall cat with big pink bow!

Now children...time for bed...and remember, don't stray from the path.....

Thursday, 15 March 2012

Everything Stops for Tea...

..or it least it ought to!

I LOVE TEA! There, I've said, it's out there, and there's no denying it! I'm not even that fussy; strong as you like builder's, pale and delicate Earl Grey, fragrant jasime, watery first cup, stand your spoon in it last cup, even mint, ginger, lemon or raspberry....really, I'll drink it all, happy, gratefully and come back for a second cup!
In honour of our great British tea drinking tradition I have decided to feature some fab tea related goodies that I have found for sale on Folksy this week.
Despite my love of tea I am ashamed to admit to currently having no teatime treats in my shop - shocking I know, and a situation I must rectify. Meantime, here's a gratuitous picture of a very grumpy blue-tit egg cosy instead......followed by a glorious selection of tea-ware!

Well, for a top brew the first thing I am going to need, after locating my tea-leaves/bags is a tea-pot, and this stoneware one is lush! Handthrown by Dave Green Ceramics it has a gloriously beautiful flecked celadon glaze finish! It can even go in the dishwasher, which is a great bonus, 'cause this pot is going to get a lot of use!

Next I shall require some teabags (I'm a simple girl at heart!) and the fact these ones contain lavender matters to me not a jot! Each one of these unusual lavender bags is so pretty and fun! You get three randomly selected bags for the price. The aptly named maker of these scented treats, Lucy Teacup, calls it a teabag lucky dip! Each bag is made from different scraps of vintage and new fabrics and each one is different! I think this adds to their already immense charm!

Now, I must confess to sometimes making what my husband refers to as 'gypsy' tea! Regular readers of my blog will know that for me this is a positive thing and not, as some might suppost, a chiding comment. Gypsy tea involves simply submerging a teabag in a mug of boiled water and swirling it around a lot. Very technical and I advise that you seek an adult to help with this. A drawback of this method is the problem of where to put the soggy teabag once the swirling is over. Well, Folksy seller Cecily Vessey has the very thing! A 'Big Ben' illustrated teabag tidy! This iconic clock tower tidy can not only withstand the piping hot and soggy bag but will also happily wash in your dishwasher, along with the teapot perhaps! So both gorgeous and practical...I like to think a bit like myself. What? sorry..can't hear you...

Now, a slight detour from my tea making guide. I have already admitted my non-fussy approach to tea drinking, but I have several friends who are not so....adaptable. They insist upon carrying a few bags of their favourite daytime tipple in their handbag at all times so that they need never do without. I don't know about you, but my handbag is not a place I would like to store edibles...intentionally at any rate! So, on behalf of these friends I was delighted to spy this fab idea amongst Folkys folks tea wares. Crafty folkster Claire Mackaness makes teabag holders! She has several for sale in her Folksy store, Beautiful Things, I have chosen to show this one which is made from a retro cupcake cotton and features a funky teapot button! What a great idea!

So, back to my now made pot of tea. It must be kept cosy at all costs! I have frequently drunk cold tea in my life, but usually out of desperation rather than choice and there is no doubt a nice hot cuppa is best!
I have fallen in love with this amazing tea-cosy from talented designer Mary Tanner and her luscious Folksy shop, The Linen Tree. It is absolutely stunning, so colourful, bright and beautifully made, it's my foot stamping, jumping up and down, head-banging "I want" item! Have I made myself clear?

But how will I drink this perfect cuppa? Through a straw? Don't be daft! I'm off to find a cup. I have decided that only a proper tea-cup and saucer are worthy of this special brew, and look what I have found! Perfect for Mother's Day (Mothering Sunday) this weekend but to be honest, perfect for mum any day! Sooo adorable, I bet even cold tea tastes great in this! Folksy designer Emmy Lou calls this little feathered chap one their 'marching birds' which I think is a really cute description! Please stop by Emmy's lovely shop, It was Meant to Bee, to see her other teacup creations and textile makes.

Just to make this tea drinking experience complete, I need one more thing. Is it milk? No, as I've said I'm not fussy. Sugar? Nope again. Cake? Ah, Now you're talking...can you get some for me please?

Friday, 17 February 2012

Roll-up Roll-up!

I've had a busy fortnight:... orders to make; offpsring on holiday - which, as they are now older, entails me chauffeuring them half way 'round the country to various social engagments; eldest child off to interview for university - stress!; husband off for mid-term (bloomin' teachers eh?!); host of unexpected weekend visitors - nice but exhausting!;.and very irritatingly a seller of brooch-pins that failed to honour my paid for purchase...grrr....delaying my completion of orders for several days..more gggrrrr.....
So, to bring back the fun into my life and reduce the ggrrr factor I have made my theme for this week's Folksy Friday..the circus! So, tickets please...roll-up, roll-up..and...TO THE CIRCUS....

First, we require a tent, or to give it the correct circus terminology; a big top! I found these traditional stripey big-top gift boxes in Folksy shop The Inklings of Tess. You get two of these magical little boxes in a set, they arrive flatpacked and are super-easy to put together - phew! Gorgeous!

Next some clowns. My children have always found clowns a little scary and I must admit some do seem to have a sinister edge! Not so this artist bear clown from Granny Woolly's Bears and Friends!
Entirely hand-knitted, with a yellow hat and white and yellow clown's ruff, this is definately one cute clown!

Now we need some more acts for our circus! I'm not in favour of animals being exploited for our entertainment - although my dog might cast doubt on that statement! However, I think that in this, my virtual Folksy circus, I might agree to abandon my principles. This beautiful skirt from Folksy seller Rooby made my decision very easy indeed! I adore the soft colours and the retro images! The full styling of the skirt suits the fabric perfectly! What a triumph!

When non-animal circus' first came on scene...circus companies such as Cirque du Soleil and Archaos featured instead performers who pushed the boundaries of the human body. I remember seeing trapeze acts so fantastic they seemed to fly wingless though the air! Contortionists, who appeared to have dissolved their skeletons, and strong men with power three times that of Superman! I was delighted to find Monsieur Roderic, who I believe to be one of the finest example of this breed of circus performer. He clearly defies the limits of feline capabilites and looks sooooo very handsome in the process! I am certain you will agree, this strong cat is feline fantabulous!
Folksy shop, Cirque de Chausette, is a shop whose creator clearly defies the boundaries of imagination and talent! Monsieur Roderic is available as a custom buy only but Cirque de Chausettes are ready and waiting to accept orders!

As a finale to the whole circus experience I have picked one of Folksy's champions of the circus...seller Silent Theatre. In this magical shop you will find printed artwork that combines images old and new, that include alluring snippets of lace and fabrics. Butterfly wings attached to vintage ladies, burlesque dancers rubbing shoulders with movie stars and fairies. Here too you will find a print homage to circus, with references to Pierrot, a clown who originated with the Commedia dell'arte; kitsch and colourfully painted horses; and the bright lights,glittering sequins and pure magic of the circus.

I hope you have enjoyed the show! Can you hear the applause?

Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Painted surfaces

This week I decided to dust off some prints of my original acrylic paintings and start to list them for sale in Clootielugs at Folksy.
I love painting...it's messy, it's instant, it's bright and colourful (if you want it to be - and I usually do!)...it's just good fun! When I was small, my mum insisted that I painted outside if at all possible - as even then I was so...very expressive... with paint!
I recently painted my first cloth doll - I really enjoyed that! I've decoratively painted furniture, doors and even my children in the past!
I started to think about all the different surfaces that can be painted and so in this week's blog choices I wanted to show some of the more unusual surfaces and objects that the creative folk at Folksy have painted -all in their own individual style!

My first Folksy find of the week was this attention grabbing bag by fellow Fifer Anna Mellon. Anna is the designer behind Folksy shop; Mrs Sew More. This talented artist often creates her own fabric designs using painting, printing, stamping, and quilting techniques. This fab bag I have chosen to show has been entirely hand drawn and painted! It is fully lined and even features a mobile phone pocket!Amazing!

I spotted my next choice, this wonderfuly painted silk scarf, in Folksy shop Lucy Look. I really love the fluid movement of the artwork on this..it's very free and flowing echoing the lightness of the fine silk itself. Lucy Look designer, Huskova Lucia, says "working with silk and colours is my love", and I think this is evident in her beautiful work.

I started searching for painted ceramics...and found a real gem of a shop in artist James Ward's Folksy shop, Jimbob Art. James caters to my love of furry creatures..and uses them to great humourous effect! I love that he references the plate's use as a food bearer item in all his handpainted pictures and quotes. So he has painted a scarily hungry wolf, a laid back biscuit-loving badger, and a very strident bear....but I'm going to show his adorable performing mouse...who could resist saving a few crumbs for this little rodent?

Now I must confess, before showing my next choice of item that my own nails are a disgrace!! I really don't do much to look after them, other than clean them and cut them occassionally and they are pretty much left to their own devices! Perhaps then I really ought to consider some of the brilliantly fun hand-painted nail designs to be found in Folksy's Niche Nails! These are pac-man nails...'what fun!!'..

Nails are very tiny surfaces upon which to paint..so as a contrast I looked for something much larger.
"Hurrah" I thought when I found this chair, "that's much bigger!"
Well, although considerably larger than a nail, this adorable chair is in fact only little, which is why it is called a 'tinkerbell chair'! Designer Charlotte Duffy has hand-painted 'cascading' floral blooms down the length of this cute little seat. Her colour choice is life-enhancingly vibrant and joyful! The jewel-bright flowers make this sweet little chair extra special! Charlotte has several gorgeous pieces of furniture in her magical Folksy shop, CharlotteDuffyDesigns. Please take a look!

My next find is wonderfully cheerful, and conjures up happy thoughts of summer holidays past and yet to come! I feel my mother would be putting Folksy artist Laura Lee in the garden were she to visit as Laura is a girl after my own heart it would seem! Mugs, teapots, egg-cups, jugs...Laura paints them all in her gloriously bold and beautiful artwork! This delightful butter-dish from Laura Lee Designs would make a happy addition to any breakfast table!

I've really enjoyed choosing this week's selection, and it was so interesting to see the different surfaces that Folksy makers have painted! Due to the restrictions of space and time I have, of course, not been able to include them all. I found lots of marvellous examples of painted wood for example, oh - and glass, and clay, and even stones.. but I must go now...I'm off to see what needs painting!!

Thursday, 26 January 2012

Soundtrack...what would yours be?

What would be the soundtrack to your life? I have an eclectic taste in music but I have managed to choose 6 of my favourite songs and taken them as inspiration for my Folksy Friday finds! I hope you like my choices...

First up is Van Morrison's 'Brown Eyed Girl'...I am more of a sludgy grey/green eyed girl but I still love this song! I laughed out loud when I found these hilarious cufflinks by Folksy talent Nicola Margai in her wonderful shop, Grafika Jewellery! The perfect accessory to this song!

Next, is a song by Lone Justice,'Ways to be Wicked'. This was a great band from the late 80s/90s, lead singer Maria McKee is best known for her chart hit 'Show Me Heaven' but this, in my opinion, is much better! I've found this bold and truly 'wicked' necklace, in Folksy shop 'Cherryloco Jewellery'! Designer, Lauren Ridley has created a fantastic range of fun and quirky jewellery that is not to be missed!

No songlist is complete without a Smiths song, with Johnny Marr's musical genius and Morrisey's unrivalled wit! Alarmingly they are now my daughter's favourite band - so glad she's got taste and style - must get it off her mother... I've chosen 'This Charming Man'...and lo and behold! I have indeed found this charming gentleman, Fred, in Diane Goldie's Folksy outlet, 'Crochet Bright and Beautiful'. Diane has many strings to her bow, puppeteer, painter, children's entertainer, crocheter..and her shop reflects these many talents! Why not pop in for a look around?

Anyone remember 'The Senators'? Totally unfair they never reached the giddy heights of chart success! Mind you, Mick did once get into a fight with Mike Yarwood (70s T.V impersonator - my apologies to anyone under the age of 37!) on a flight to Japan - now that's got to be a real mark of success! Ive chosen 'Ordinary Heartbreak' today - 'cause I love the video! I've chosen this gorgeous mosaic heart by Kirsty Whitrow of 'The Pixie Workshop'. Made from a broken (that's your 'break') plate and tiny pieces of glass and millefiori it is a thing of beauty and far from 'ordinary'! See what I did there? Kirsty's shop is absolutely stunning and well worth a visit, please go and see her work for yourself!

My next choice is a little more recent, 'The Ting Tings', 'That's Not My Name',...just a brilliant song and livens me up every time I hear it! I frequently need livening up! These crayons are pretty lively too - in a host of colours and letter they are made by the brilliant 'Colour Me Fun' who have a variety of fun shaped crayons perfect for little hands!

Lastly I've gone for the brilliant Dwight Yoakham, this particular song,'Bury Me', was co-written with Maria McKee from Lone Justice. Just shows what happens when two great talents collide. OK - country music is not to everyone's taste I know...but so many of my favourtie songs are sung by Dolly Parton, Johnny Cash, Steve Earl,Patsy Cline, Willie Nelson and others, I have to 'fess up - I'm a hillbilly at heart!
I spotted this intricate and beautiful print 'And So I Buried My Heart' by artist and Folksy seller, Laura-Kate Chapman several week ago and thought how stunning it is. Visit her Folksy shop 'Laura-Kate Draws' and you step into a world of anthromorphic animals, fantatical pattern and glorious colour! Many of Laura-Kate's designs are applied to mugs and she has even has a complete coffee set embellished with her wondeful illustrative style!

I hope you have enjoyed my soundtrack choices, I've had great fun choosing!

Friday, 13 January 2012


is the thief of time...
How true that is! This week I finally completed my tax return and do you know, it wasn't half as bad as I'd built it up to be, and now it's done the relief is fantastic. Why didn't I get it out of the way earlier you might ask? It's a question I'm mulling over in my mind too - perhaps fear (but of what?), perhaps laziness (but I've been a hive of creative activity this week, as well as running around after the kids, and taking the dog for a twice daily walk/run!), perhaps a trace of my old anti-authority attitude took hold? Mmmm maybe, but I'm a married law-abiding house-owning mother in her early something or others (I'm not giving more away!), so not such a rebel after all! I've no idea what held me back but I've learned my lesson - and next time I'll be on it like a hungry hyena, I'll be done and dusted by May 1st!

Here's my Folksy selection this Friday. Inspired by theifs, vagabond and rogues...hope you like my choices!

First I have chosen this wonderful framed magpie,...theiving royalty! Cut from copper and beautifully enamelled by artist Fiona Cameron this makes for a unusual and eye-catching piece of art.

My next choice is this pretty heart - proving theives can be romantic too! Made by Folksy potter David Barber, this would make the sweetest Valentine gift. David has a wonderful collection of ceramics in his shop - why not stop by and see for yourself?

Don't tell my husband but I think I'm in love with another!! I've always been a sucker for the bad boys and this next chap as got me weak at the knees! I know he's a wrong 'un but with his swarthy looks and treasure bags of charm how can a girl resist? Created by the wonderfully inventive Abi Mullett, you can find 'Barnacle Bert' along with his colourful friends in Abi's shop Smonsters! I won't tell if you don't!

This next trickster made me laugh out loud! I love his description and the wicked glint in his eye! Tiny but deadly it would seem....Made by 'The Mouse', (who has a wonderful turn of phrase - please take time to read her profile!) this little ferret is to be found in Folksy shop Moss Mountain...despite, or perhaps because of, his cunning ways he seems to have lots of friends!...

My next item is made in a fabric I am familiar with. 17th century textile designer (amongt other things) William Morris designed this glorious pattern entitled 'The Strawberry Thief'. The thief is, of course, a blackbird, helping himself a juicy crop of the little red jewels! Folksy maker, Denise Gould, has used this fabric brilliantly to create this delightful covered notebook. Her shop Dottie Doodles is full of quality textile creations, her crayon rolls are fabulous!

Last today I will feature the latest addition to my own shop, Clootielugs. I have called her 'The Poacher's Daughter' and from the contents of her coat it looks like she's a chip off the old block!

Friday, 6 January 2012

Raggle -Taggle Dreaming!

Wishing you all a very happy and healthy 2012! It's been a funny start to the year
weatherwise, so mild and sooooooo windy! Now I either want it to snow, or for spring to come early please! I like weather to either be fun or allow me to have fun in it! Still, I suppose it's out of my hands and I'll just to see what we get!

Weather aside...I've been thinking lots of creative thoughts and designing plans for 2012! My husband's family ancestrally come from a long line of travellers... many were bargiemen who worked on the network of canals in central England, and others were Welsh travellers of Romani descent. For years I have held a candle in my heart for the decorative vardos and wagons lived in by these colourful nomads and have promised myself that one day I will have one of my own! Meantime, I have been inspired by the romance of travellers; their bold and beautiful art and the mythology of the Roma people. As I said, I have many creative ideas bubbling in my head at the moment and I'm sure I will be showing some of these as the year progresses! Meanwhile, I wanted to see what others have made that is either inspired by gypsy style or linked to the Roma way of life, and here are some of what I found after a quick browse on Folksy...

First I found this gorgeous and intriguing 'Romany Belle' necklace in Folksy shop Comedaygoday. This fantastic artwork charmingly references the mythology, working and daily lives of Romani travellers. As a piece of jewellery it is a storybook in itself, a real conversation piece too..and I love it!

As soon as I found this next shop I knew it would be included in this blog post! Horses alongside an open camp fire are surely the staples of gypsy life - well, for the purpose of my romantic notions anyway!
In his Folksy shop Rustic and Outdoor Cooking, maker Handmade Matt, has combined these elements of the traveller's life perfectly to make a range of outdoor cooking accessories. I have chosen to show today this camping trivet made from horseshoes! What a brilliant idea! Why not pop along to Handmade Matt's shop to see his other wares..

As many of you will know I LOOOOOOVE fabric! It's more often than not the fabric that is the basis and inspiration of my projects! I also like to include a supplies shop in my blog now and again, as without our supplies we would be stuck with heads full of plans and no way of bringing them to life! While browsing Folksy therefore, I was delighted to discover this fabric that I think really puts the Roma in roma-ntic! Vibrant, big and bold...colourful, clashing and charismatic - and perfect for my longed-for wagon! This piece in Eljo's Haberdashery would make a gorgeous cushion cover don't you think?

Whether true or not, I like to think of traditional travellers as being in tune with nature, respecting and appreciating it's diversity and changes. Therefore, I think true Roma people would not want to cause damage or harm to nature. I found these fire cone fire lighters in the shop of Rainbow Fairy Dust. They are a set of five and each cone is made from a fir-cone, eco-friendly soya wax and an eco-wick. They come prettily presented too, in a hessian gift bag with hand-drawn gift-tag. Pefect for us gypsies who are perhaps less adept (i.e. useless!) at fire-lighting!!

Since my children keep spending all my pennies (thanks kids!), it seems unlikely I will own my gypsy vardo anytime soon - everybody say "aaahhhh". However I have found the sweetest little picture of my ideal home to keep me happily dreaming for hours! It is this delightful digital illustration by Emma Barrett and can be found in her gorgeous shop Hello. Konichiwa which is full of colourful and contemporary digital prints bursting with imagination!
I particularly love the array of objects hanging from the wagon - the deer head is a wonderful addition!

Lastly, no self respecting Romani woman would be without her earrings - and most would put Pat Butcher/Harris/Evans/Wicks/Beale to shame (R.I.P)!! Here is my favourite pair I found on Folksy today. The combination of the coin and beading, and the rustic fabric with contrasting red thread makes them the perfect Romani accessory I think! Folksy maker, Elizabeth Lenore, makes these in a few different colour combos as well as other wonderful things from objects other people might think to throw away! I love this ethos and her creations, please take a look in her shop at Folksy;Reused