Loulou Dreaming at St Georges...AGAIN!

Yay, Loulou Dreaming now has a permanent stall on Saturday's at St Georges Market, Belfast.  If you're in the town be sure to pop in, say howdy and have a look see at the latest goodies on the table.  This week I've been playing with stitched cardboard document wallets made from my favourite card from Forget Me Not Paper Crafts (the best source of American 12x12's in Belfast, along Pottinger's Entry beside the In Shops). 



 This cute owl card is from My Minds Eye  which is one of my all time favourite 12x12 designers.  I'm also crazy in love with Cosmo Cricket Papers too.







This Turquoise paper is quite soft and flexible and vewy vewy shiny!!!!



Loulou's Letter Club!

Letter Club was Awesome on Tuesday night,  the ladies were so lovely and let me bubble at them for a couple of hours about zentangling and origami!  I even got a sweet email of appreciation the next day. 

We doodled all over the table cloth and then learned how to fold traditional Japanese letter folds which were also doodled on!




Inspiring Hellen Waddell Conference...

If you're interested to learn about amazing, strong, intelligent women from the past then this conference at Queen's University is sure to inspire you!

The Life and Writings of Helen Waddell (1889-1965)

It runs from 9.30am - 4.15pm, May 12th, Humanities Postgraduate Centre, Queens University Belfast. 

For online registration and more information click here




Vintage Journal Wedding Guest Book!

This is my latest converted vintage journal listed in my Etsy Store .  It's a custom listing and it reminded me to let people know what a fabulous guest book these vintage journals make for weddings!

This title is particularly sweet for a wedding and has put me in mind to be on the lookout for other wedding-ish titles!


There are ambient pages randomly re-bound with the fresh pages, one of them is a page from the play where Bottom is talking with Titania about munching her 'good dry oats'!  I just luuuuuurve this play.

I think I would be endeared to any character who uses 'methinks' in a sentence!



Loulou Dreams of... bags, bags and more bags!!

Loulou Dreaming has been growing!  You can now buy crafty Loulou goodness in the Loulou Dreaming Etsy Store.  There are vintage journals, pencil cases, notebooks and so much more to come, including bags and cases.

This is the latest bespoke bag I've been working on which was commissioned by my beautiful client who will remain anonymous for now as the bag is a gift so I don't want to give anything away just yet!  The brief was for a document wallet featuring pearls and/or a brooch. 

I water-proofed a soft-weave Irish linen for the wallet itself which I darted at the bottom corners to create lots of space inside.  An organza ribbon was punctuated with a hand stitched pearl and swarovski embellishment on the front.   The reverse features a personalised monogram tag and Loulou Dreaming logo.  The final touch to set it all off is a pearl and crystal zipper pull.

I'm so in love with this creation that I'm sure I'll have to offer this on the Loulou Dreaming Etsy store.







Card Observer- Check It Out!!!

Wooo Hooo, just featured my business cards!!  I just popped over to for inspiration for my next business card (lush letterpress goodness coming soon) and saw my own cards!!!!!!!!

For a HUGE dose of design inspiration I recommend card observer
There's something about business card design that is succinct and intense and yummi.  I think it has to do with it being so small and how graphic designers know they have to pack the entire essence of a company/trader/artist into that one tiny piece of card.

I have always put great emphasis on my business cards and marketing materials.  For me, as a sole trader, I've come to understand marketing in a very powerful and very REAL way.  Paying the bills every month is very real to me!  So I have a strong desire to pack a punch with every piece of material which
represents my business.   

I've spent a ridiculous number of hours sprawled on the floor at Waterstones eating all the books in the design section, but nothing has educated me on marketing more than simply starting my own business.

There is a snippet of wisdom which says... 'You can't get wet from the word water'.  When it comes to business and its elements (marketing, product design, sourcing and a gazzillion other things) there is nothing more educational than jumping right into the water.

Having said that, you don't have to jump right in the deep end like I did when starting up.  You can wade in the shallow end of the pool but at the end of the day you gotta get in the water to get wet!

I have met a few people who are studying business or graphic design and often their viewpoint is a bit text-book-ish.  When you run your own business you have a slight aversion (note sarcastic tone) to pouring half your budget (possibly a grand total of £200) into a 'kinda-sorta-maybe' advertising campaign.  That's part of what I love about running my own business, it's totally measurable and real and when you own it, you're connected to the process and that's the buzz of running the show!




Restored Vintage Journals

I'm so excited for the St Georges Market this Saturday and Sunday as I've been a busy bee all week preparing fresh stock. 

This week I have new greeting cards with more beautiful quotes and greetings.  I have some fresh hand stitched notebooks featuring soft leather covers and cool coloured pages (photo's to come).

But my most exciting project this week was converting unloved vintage books into blank journals.  I've been on a mega steep learning curve and have downloaded half the internet into my brain on the subject of book binding. 

I've tried to retain as many of the original features as possible, if I can manage it I re-bind the end-papers and I randomlly place a page here and there from the original book. 

The results are stunning!  Each book feels like a little treasure, an ambient nugget each with its own character.  I want to share them and sell them but I kind of bond with each one as I work so intimately with it and I feel like I'll be parting with friends!

So here's a sneak peek!


Each journal is clamped and sawed and then the spine is tied with string before glueing...

And the results are worth all the time and effort...




I sawed the pages in a vice to create a soft, vintagey deckle effect!






And this particular book had a double page map inside so those pages definitely had to make the leap into the new fresh format!
















Loulou Dreaming launches at St Georges Market, Belfast!

If you're in Belfast city on Saturdays or Sundays be sure to pop into St Georges Market and say hi!!!!!
Loulou Dreaming launched at St Georges last weekend and has been the most fun, enjoyable and uber exciting project.

Here's a few shots of the stall on different days...


 Here's some close ups of the plane, canary and hand-doodled signs...




Interview with Creative Entrepreneur Alice McGuinness

Over the last fortnight I've been selling my wares at the St Georges Market in belfast Northern Ireland.  I've had the pleasure of selling alongside an amazing collection of artists including the talented glass artist Alice McGuinness.
Alice makes kiln formed (fused) glass items.  Her Studio is a treasure trove of coloured glass and glass working tools/equipment. 

Here's a small taster of Alices work...




These pendants are for sale in the Shankil Tourism shop (Shankil Road, Belfast)

The windows can be seen in the Survivors of Trauma centre in North belfast

Alice is such an inspiring artist and business woman, I just HAD to interview her to find out how she has managed to raise beautiful children while at the same time also successfully grow her artistic passion into a full time career. 


*What city/town do you live in?


*What do you make?

Kiln formed [Fused} glass jewellery, vessels and art.

*Where do you work from (home, studio/workshop etc...)?

Conway Mill, Belfast

*Where do you sell and for how long have you been selling?

For the past ten years I have had my work in a number of shops.  I also have a stand [4 years] in St George’s market in Belfast on a Saturday and Sunday which is a great way of developing a customer base as well as networking with other craftspeople/artists.

*Is this your full time job?

Yes, I became self- employed 15 years ago.

*Do you have an educational background that helped you develop and get started?

I am entirely self-taught.  I initially learned the basic methods for leaded windows and tiffany [copper foil] glasssome twenty years ago and, with the purchase of a kiln in 2004, became totally immersed in learning all I can about fused glass.  Lead and copper foil techniques are pretty straight forward, you learn the basics and perfect them.  Kiln formed glass however is a whole different ball game with many different techniques that can be used and combined to make up the final piece.



*Who and what inspires your work/product?

Glass and the versatility of it, actually inspires me.  I have seen some truly beautiful work out there and it always spurs me on to develop my own style/technique. At this point I would have to say that I am the owner of quite a large glass recycling bin but the lessons learned have been invaluable.

*Has your style or craft/product changed over time?

Obviously the techniques have changed over the years and, as I learn more about the material and what I can do with it, my work evolves.

*Can you name a few of your favourite inspiring websites (blogs, artists, businesses, suppliers etc...) that you visit most often for inspiration?

The first book on fused glass I ever bought was Brad Walker’s ‘Contemporary Warm Glass’ and through that I became a member of his forum www.warmglass.comI have learned more from this forum than any of the books, other than Brad’s, that I have bought since.


Scottish artist, Amanda Simmons

is a force to be reckoned with when it comes to deep vessels.  Her cameo engraved work is beautiful and very inspirational


The glass I predominantly use for kiln work is Bullseyeglass .    This company is somewhat responsible for the resurgence in fused glass through Boyce Lundstrom and Dan Schwoerer who worked together in the early eighties to develop a range of fusible, compatible glass.  The bullseye website has a wealth of information and the gallery space features some amazing artists.


I must mention our own fused glass artist Karl’s work is quite distinctive and I would consider him the fore runner in kiln formed glass in Ireland.

*What is your grand vision of where you’d like your business to be in say 5 years and 10 years time?

I would honestly just like to be still in self-employment and, financially comfortable.



*How long did you play with the idea before officially starting to trade as the business/entity you are today?

When my second child was born I knew I wouldn’t be able to work full time and there wasn’t any help out there with childcare costs, so I thought seriously about working from home and, after getting into the stained glass sold my work on a party plan basis to friends, neighbours etc.

When I moved back to Belfast as a single parent with two young children in 95, I decided to take it more seriously and started a ‘Women into Business’ course  in January 96 and started up in business in  Dec 96.

*Did you need a lot of money to get started (you don’t have to say how much just indicate if money was an issue in how long it took to get started)?

Part of the business course I did was to submit an application for a start-up grant to Ledu.  I didn’t need an awful lot to get started as I had all the basic equipment, but I was able to buy better tools and machinery which obviously helped a lot. Also having the money there to be able to guarantee my rent payments etc for a period of 6+ months was, for me, vitally important whilst I settled in to the realities of self-employment.

*Did you seek funding from a bank or charity?


*Did you study aspects of business not specifically related to your craft (accounting, marketing, start-up courses etc...)?

I did that through the business course.

*Did you need specific tools or anything else in order to get started?

I had all the basics, but was able to upgrade.

*Were there any particular hurdles you had to get over in order to get started?

Finding reasonably priced premises was the most difficult hurdle.

*Did you stop other employment completely in order to start up or did you taper it off while starting your business or are you still holding another job (being a Mum counts as another job!!!)?

In the first three years of my self-employment I had to work part-time to help pay bills and at one point had four different jobs [including my business and caring for my children]

*What are the aspects you love about running your own creative business?

Having the space and time to focus on doing something I love.  Working to my own timetable.Making things that I like and having other people like them too [and buythem !!!!]

*What are the aspects you don’t love so much!?

When I have to do production line work to get out to shops.  There isn’t any creativity after you’ve come up with the initial idea.



*What advice would you give to others thinking of starting a creative business?

Get as much ‘honest’ feedback as you can about your work before you take the plunge.  You have to be willing and able to give 110% to your business.    Don’t presume [as I did when I first started out] that the public will be beating a path to your door, they won’t!.  You have to continually push your work and promote yourself. 



New Loulou Dreaming Business Cards

I love designing and crafting new lovelies and these are my latest inventions...












Black Tie Thank You Cards

Here is a sneak-peek at the bevelled plate range of cards to be featured in the Loulou Dreaming stall launch at the St Georges Market (Belfast) very soon!!

I've produced a selection of bevelled plates with funky, fresh, inspiring colour combinations, but this black bevel is positively classy!




Love is in the air! Signature Loulou design...

Cute little letter writing kit bursting with paper goodies. This will be on sale at the St. Georges Market Belfast very soon!

In the meanwhile this design is available as an invitation card in the Loulou Dreaming Zazzle store


Included in this kit are..

* double sided letter writing sheets
* handmade envelopes lined with green pearl paper
* Envelope address labels
* Envelope seals
* Glue stick for labels and seals
* Individually sealed cloud-shaped envelope slips scented with 'Essence of Cloud'!
* Clear pencil case with red zipper 



Loulou Dreaming is about to blossom!!!

Loulou Dreaming is now my number one creative focus!  In the next coming weeks I'll be launching my new range of non-bespoke stationery at the St. Georges Market in Belfast.  There will be a feast of kawaii stationery including note books, letter sets, cards, pencil cases, baking kits, cupcake wrappers, cake toppers, recipe boxes and sooooooooooooooooooooooooo much more.

Stay Tuned for launch dates and lots of sneak-peek blog posts!


stitchy leaf card with sewn envelope

 I can't get enough of these stitched envelopes and note cards at the minute.  It's so easy, I just score a piece of paper, fold and wizz through my trusty old sewing machine. 

This set features a leather effect paper for the envelope, finished off with two layers of paper leaves, neutral stone paper writing blocks and lime green stitching...









I found my calling!!!

I want to live in the Bella Figura letterpress studio
I'll sleep under the presses, I'll keep out of the way...
except for the 23 hours a day I'm printing lush cotton letterpress invitations.
I'll wash and clean and be the magic coffee fairy (said fairy magically produces fresh piping hot coffee at whim). 
I'll design and play and when everyone else has gone home and I'm meant to be sleeping (under the press) I'll sit in a happy bubble and swoon over the feeling of letterpress under my fingertips and the smell of jobbing ink.

Sigh (the happy dreamy kind)...










Christmas eskimo, cute as a button.

This was our first Christmas figure we tackled in cake class this term.  She's simple and quick to make and can be posed in lots of different ways to create little scenes or stories (eg, these little characters can be riding a sled or throwing snowballs etc...)




Card for Roisin's friend!

This card was stitched, die-cut, thermographed, folded, adorned with bejewelled 3D paper flowers, bonded with bright orange Saiko (exquisite rare Japanese paper) and tied with a wide satin ribbon.  The writing area inside was stitched in and distressed around the edges.

The card was presented in a teal envelope tied with a matching satin ribbon and yellow-pearl tag.













Handmade satin flower card...


I made this flower using layers of hand-cut dutchess satin.  The petals are curled over a candle flame to create just the right level of curve and crumple.  The centre was created by stitching a set of pearls in loose fashion (they were originally on a pair of earings I rescued from a charity shop). 
The flower was stitched to a hair clip and woven through strategic slits in the card.

The card was zentangled in light grey marker pens, there is a flower motif zentangled under the flower so it still looks lovely when the hairclip is removed!




Let love be your compass...

What a lovely phrase to repeat to myself throughout my day!  When I'm not sure how to interpret a situation, when I'm not sure which direction to take in this moment or that one... Let love be my compass. 
I just love that, whether it's in relation to a person or a big life choice or a simple little decision like should I catch the bus or walk home?  Just consult my heart and see where the most love is...
'Well...I LOVE walking in the wind on Autumny days, and I do love walking at dusk when all the shop lights are on and I can see the trail of brake lights snaking up the Ormeau road and... and... yes, that hits true north on my love compass so it's quite obviously the right choice, walking home it is then!

That gets me thinking too, love is really in every positive emotion, it's not just a romantic relationship with a person, it's such a varied scale of smooshy good feeling things...
It's as soft and easy as the feeling of appreciation and as whooshingly vibrant as feelings of exhilleration.  It's that sweet, sticky, heart-melty feeling of adoring a child or a sleepy kitten or a dog. And it's that clean, fresh satisfaction of tidying up your space (work, home, anywhere, tidying is a very zen exercise).

I LOVE love!




Cakey update...Fatty, Fatty Witch!

My gorgeous cake students Claire and Krystyna made these fabulous witches in cake class over the last few weeks.  These photo's show how our ugly-fugly witches came together.  Krystyna kept calling hers a 'fatty, fatty witch' over and over in her beautiful Polish accent, it made me laugh so much and since then everything in world-Loulou has been a 'fatty, fatty' something or other!

 Boot's 'N' Legs...







 Body and Arms...





Head and Hair... 







Hats, buckles, bows, stripy stockings and a little bit of make-up!