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30 June 2017

Final week of the #ColourMyEveryDay Instagram challenge

#ColourMyEveryDay Instagram Challenge by Adventures & Tea Parties

Wow, wow, wow! The last 9 days of the #ColourMyEveryDay Instagram challenge have been absolutely incredible and I now can't believe it's over, sob sob! Thank you so much to everyone who has taken part, shared so many beautiful photos and spread the love about the challenge far and wide. I honestly did not imagine such a reaction. It has more than exceeded my expectations, which were simply that a few people might enjoy focusing on colour every day and well, as I couldn't find a colour challenge to do, I decided to make my own. 

#ColourMyEveryDay Instagram Challenge by Adventures & Tea Parties

You know what though, I nearly bottled it when I was trying to create a graphic for it. I'm not a graphic designer and having only signed up to Photoshop 6 months prior to simple edit photos, the realisation that I quickly needed to learn how to use it for a basic graphic design felt like a huge mountain to climb and one that I wasn't equipped for. That may sound daft but for me it was like learning another language - flattening an image, what on earth does that mean? Fast forward a week full of a few "moments", calls and emails to friends, YouTube tutorials, late nights and the odd swear word and I managed to create a graphic advertising the challenge. 

Looking at the feed as I type this and seeing that there are just shy of 11k posts is breath-taking, so I'm very glad I persisted with the graphic and since that "moment" with  Photoshop, I became determined to learn more. So, this month I've been pushing myself to spend more time on Photoshop and with a bit of practice, I have managed to design my first ever enamel pin! If I hadn't started the challenge, then the pin wouldn't have happened and right now it should be winging it's way to me and I absolutely cannot wait to share it with you all because guess what? It's colour themed!

#ColourMyEveryDay Instagram Challenge by Adventures & Tea Parties

Not only has the challenge improved my own skills and knowledge but I've made so many wonderful connections with fellow colour lovers, which has to be the best thing of all. And so I've been wondering, for those of you who took part, has the challenge helped you learn a new skill too or maybe make a new Insta friend? Maybe you got to know your camera better or finally delved into the world of Boomerang or got chatting to a fellow colour fan? I'd love to hear how you found it because I'm now thinking, should I run the challenge again at some point? Come tell me what you think on my Instagram page and thank you all again so much for taking part and making it such a fun, happy and magical experience!

29 June 2017

How to use Instagram Stories

A blog post on how to use Instagram Stories by Joanna Payne from Adventures & Tea Parties. Blog post available at Simple Stylish Makes.

Having originally thought Instagram Stories was yet another platform to keep updated, I've actually learnt how to use it and it's really rather good! There are so many great hidden features and fun tricks, so I've shared them in my latest Simple Stylish Makes blog post. Head here to find out what they are, then pop over to Instagram to give them a go!

27 June 2017

Five minutes with designer/maker Baked by Lou

Lou from Baked by Lou

Meet the super fabulous Lou from Baked by Lou! Isn't this photo the best?! Lou is definitely a colour loving creative and so are her beautiful designs available in her Etsy shop, which I was over the moon to discover and even more so when she said yes to an interview to discover all about her work, hurrah! Pop over to the Simple Stylish Makes blog to read the full interview and get inspired by this fab girl boss!

24 June 2017

Blog Gem - Song of the Stitch

Yay, it's time for another Blog Gem and this month I'm super excited to share the beautiful, talented face behind Song of the Stitch. I had the great pleasure recently of spending time with this lovely lady at Blogtacular, both on the photowalk and at the conference. She is such a friendly, down-to-earth and inspiring person that I was properly welling up on saying goodbye. So, I'm very happy to be able to share this interview of the story behind her wonderful blog...

Song of the Stitch Blog Gem interview feature by Adventures & Tea Parties

Hi there, can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
Hi there, my name is Lizzy, and I’ve been running wild on the internet for the best part of the last seven years! Starting my first blog (I’ve had three over the years) lead me down a very different career path to the one I originally planned. Back in 2010 I was set on becoming a scientist, working away on my PhD, and writing a fashion blog in my spare time as a bit of a creative outlet. By the time I finished my PhD an academic career no longer seemed like the thing for me. But blogging turned out to be the perfect fit, and I quickly settled on science communication as a way to combine my various disparate skills. 

Towards the end of 2016 I was working as a journalist, covering all things to do with human genetics and health, when I found out I was pregnant. I’m now on maternity leave, with just a few weeks to go until our Little Bub makes his appearance, and I’m planning what comes next! I’ve spent the past few months of freedom reconnecting with my personal writing through my blog Song of the Stitch, and taking some time to enjoy and be inspired by the incredible online creative community.

Song of the Stitch Blog Gem interview feature by Adventures & Tea Parties
Where do you blog and what is that space like?
I tend to blog all over the house! More often than not I find myself following the passage of the sun. In the mornings our east-facing kitchen is flooded with beautiful sunlight, so I’ll set up camp at the table with my coffee and toast to make plans and scribble ideas. Towards the afternoon I’ll move to an armchair in the sitting room, and if the weather is good I can throw open the windows and enjoy the garden at the same time.

Song of the Stitch Blog Gem interview feature by Adventures & Tea Parties

If you had to take only one tool to a desert island, what would you choose and why?
Not quite a desert island, but I spent quite a bit of time working in the jungle during my PhD (studying insects, very exciting!), and the one item that was endlessly useful was the multitool that my Dad gave me one Christmas. Several different knives, a saw, and even a set of pliers. In other words, everything I would need to set up camp, make a hammock, and break into a few coconuts. 

Song of the Stitch Blog Gem interview feature by Adventures & Tea Parties

How do you get inspired to blog? 
I have to close my laptop and put my phone down. It’s very rare that inspiration will strike while I’m glued to a screen! If I’m up and about and doing something, that’s when inspiration will strike, and I just have to make sure I have a notebook on hand to capture as much of it as I can. As a result I try to build as much offline time into my schedule as I can, whether that be a quiet hour with my crochet or time to read a favourite magazine. Being outside gives my creativity a kick unlike anything else. If I need photography inspiration I need to go foraging in my beloved tangle of a garden, and nothing clears my head and focusses ideas like a long walk. 

Song of the Stitch Blog Gem interview feature by Adventures & Tea Parties

What top tips would you give to anyone starting a blog?
No website, and certainly no blog is a finished, perfect product. You will always want to tweak and adjust, make changes and fiddle with things. Do not let that stop you from hitting publish. In business your aim is to get your minimum viable product out there as soon as you can, so that you can learn from the experience and from the feedback to refine it and make it better. Your writing, your photography, your web design skills will never be as good as they could be if you just keep them to yourself. And I promise that pressing that publish button each time does get easier!

A piece of advice that I heard recently, and one that really resonated with me, was to think of your bog like a regular column in a magazine or newspaper. Which is pretty liberating when you think about it: you could write about anything, and you don’t have to be limited to what you think might please an audience. Do you think that Lucy Mangan or Jeremy Clarkson ever worried about what they ‘should’ be writing about? (Clarkson certainly didn’t!). Tell the stories from your life, tell the things that make your heart sing, and tell them with love. 

Song of the Stitch Blog Gem interview feature by Adventures & Tea Parties

Is there a story behind the name, 'Song of the Stitch'?
You know, I’m not entirely sure where the ‘Song’ part came from originally. ‘Stitch’ was easy: when I started Song of the Stitch the plan was for it to be a dressmaking blog, so I wanted to reference the craft element without being too explicit. ‘Song’ appealed to my love of sibilance and alliteration, and made the blog sound like some kind of ode to craft, a grand ballad of creativity that I found rather appealing. 

Funnily enough, when I spoke to my mum about my new blog she pointed out that there is a 19th Century poem by Thomas Hood called, ‘The Song of the Shirt’, written about a seamstress living and working in awful conditions. The poem became enormously popular and focussed public attention on the conditions of workers in general, and contributed to far greater awareness about the plight of the Victorian working classes. So completely by accident the name, Song of the Stitch, reflects the history of the female workforce and dressmaking, and the birth of the labour movement and trade unionism! All issues that warm my excessively liberal feminist heart. 

Song of the Stitch Blog Gem interview feature by Adventures & Tea Parties

If you could go to a Blog Award dinner with any 5 people (dead or alive, real or fictional) who would you choose? 
Ooh, I love these sorts of questions! I think my ideal gathering would end up looking like a kooky salon of highly creative, unusual, and inspiring women. At least I hope it would.

At the top of my list for any dinner party or gathering would be Margaret Atwood. She has been my favourite author since I read The Blind Assassin aged 17, and I’ve absorbed her novels and her wisdom and her anarchic sense of humour ever since. She has a gift for language that most of us could only dream of. For the same reason I would also include Ursula LeGuin, author of The Earthsea Quartet, which is quite possibly the most beautiful and thoughtful fantasy series ever written. 

In the real world, there are a few digital creators that I would love to include in the gathering. The first would be Kate of A Playful Day, writer, podcaster, storyteller and just lovely human being. I used to listen to her podcast on my long commutes into and out of London every day, and I find her approach to digital storytelling very compelling. Also on my list of awesome creative women would be Julia Rebaudo of StylonNylon, self-described freelance journalist turned blogger. Her photography is wonderful and I expect we could fill many hours with conversation about prime lenses! 

Finally, I’ve spent much of my professional career as a science writer, so I would have to include a few female scientists in there. Geneticist Barbara McClintock discovered a genetic phenomenon called ‘jumping genes’, which won her the Nobel Prize and completely captured my imagination as a young biology student. Astronomer Sarah Seager has discovered 715 exoplanets (planets outside our solar system) so far, some that even have Earth-like qualities. And finally I would have to invite my Mum, laser physicist, extraordinary quilter, and general polymath, because apart from anything else I think she would like to discuss feminism with Ursula LeGuin as much as I would!

Song of the Stitch Blog Gem interview feature by Adventures & Tea Parties

And finally...if you had to choose one song to represent 'Song of the Stitch', what would it be and why? 
My taste in music is fairly eclectic, but there’s nothing like a bit of classic rock to stir my soul. If I had to pick just one song it would have to be Ride On, by AC/DC. Unlike so many of their others songs this one is gentle, swinging, and slightly melancholy. When I hear this song my entire body relaxes and my mind clears. I remember to breathe, I remember not to be overwhelmed; in fact I remember to just ride on. I can’t think of anything that better represents what I’m trying to express through Song of the Stitch.

Aww, Lizzy, what a truly wonderful insight into your blogging world! I am so excited to see where you head next with your career, which sounds like it's been a wonderful journey to date. Your blogging tips are spot on; just starting is the only way to learn I think. Thanks so much for taking part in the Blog Gem series Lizzy and keep up the beautiful writing and photography!

For all of you keen to learn more about Lizzy, you can find her at the following places:


And if you'd like to read more Blog Gem interviews, click here and scroll away! Thanks for reading!

23 June 2017

What's on the jukebox, Jo?

Adventures & Tea Parties' blog

Whoop it's Friday! How has your week been my lovelies? Any highlights? I nearly melted this week as the temperature went crazy in Somerset! Plan for me this weekend is to get some product photography done and potter around locally as I don't want to get caught up in the Glastonbury traffic. Talking of which I'm definitely going to be watching as much of it as possible from the comfort of my sofa, ha-ha! Are you? I've already heard some fab stuff on the radio, which makes me wish I was there - I do this every year! Maybe after the fallow year I'll consider going again; it's been well over ten years!

Anyhow, enough rambling from me. For those of you who are new to my blog, every Friday I like to think of five happy things that happened as a way of acknowledging good things and not focusing on negative stuff. I find it's a lovely way to end the week and following my five happy things, I share some songs that I've been enjoying listening to or have heard on the radio this week. Talking of focusing on happy things, I wrote a blog post all about self care, which you can read here if it's take your fancy.

Here are my five happy things...

Happy thing #1 The ETA on my first pin design is now on the wall planner! Eeeeek, I'm SO EXCITED! 

Happy thing #2 I finished 4 new designs, which involves a company laser cutting them for me, woooo!

Happy thing #3 Had a brilliant time meeting more new creatives at the monthly Somerset Etsy Team meet up.

Happy thing #4 Went on a really lovely walk with Mum where we tried to figure out what was growing in the fields - wheat, oats or barley. We're still not sure. We also met a very friendly dog called Rosie, who excitedly ran up to us barking, chased her tail and then promptly sat down waiting to be stroked :)

Happy thing #5 My mates invited me to a posh boating do. Never been to one before, so I'm super excited!

And here are five songs...

Moptop by Sleaford Mods
Just like the weather by Nolan Chance
I Promise by Radiohead
Sea Hearts by Honeyblood
Touch Sensitive by The Fall

Have a great weekend everyone!

22 June 2017

Third week of the #ColourMyEveryDay Instagram challenge

#ColourMyEveryDay Instagram Challenge by Adventures & Tea Parties

The third week of the #ColourMyEveryDay Instagram challenge has been another spectacular one full of colour and incredible interpretations of the daily prompts. It's been wonderful looking through the feed every day, choosing four pics from that day's prompt to share with you all. Here are the ones I shared for the third week of the challenge and I can't wait to see what the final 9 days will bring.

#ColourMyEveryDay Instagram challenge created by Adventures & Tea Parties

If you haven't had a chance to join in or catch up, head to the feed here and feast your eyes on all the beautiful photos. It's also a lovely way to find some great new Instagram accounts to follow too!

Thank you to everyone who has been joining in and making it a beautiful, colourful, happy, inspiring community!

21 June 2017

A blog post on self care

The other evening when it was stifling hot, I took myself and my evening meal to a shady spot in the garden where I did nothing but sit, slowly eat and watch the dozens of swifts draw circles in the sky at great speed. I was on my own for the first time in a while, which felt good to be still and quiet with my own thoughts. I felt so completely relaxed from the noise of life and pressures of work that I found myself just wanting to stay in that spot thinking about nothing else other than how incredible swifts are for hardly ever landing and for feeding, mating and even sleeping while air born. 

how to self care by Adventures & Tea Parties

While considering what life would be like if I could multi-task like this, I started to feel fidgety. My brain was turning to the thought that I should be doing something more meaningful with this moment in the garden. I could go grab my laptop and get some work done or clear my inbox at least, maybe get my drawing pad out and sketch that design idea I had the other day or write tomorrow's to-do list and schedule some social media posts to free up more time to do other jobs tomorrow.....my relaxed bubble had well and truly burst.

Instead of doing any of those jobs and now feeling well and truly distracted by what I should by doing, I headed back inside to wash the pots and generally tidy up. That didn't make me feel great because part of me longed to back with that relaxed feeling I had only moments before, not worrying about anything and just enjoying staring at the swifts and well, being kind to myself and allowing my brain and body to relax.

a blog post on self care by Adventures & Tea Parties

This is a problem I am increasingly reading about in blogs and magazines, lack of self care as a growing phenomenon and the rise of mindfulness as a solution. Maybe it has always been there but I can't help but think that it has got worse with the rise of devices enabling us to scroll the internet for eternity, looking up that thing you meant to look for the other day and getting side-tracked and setting up an Ebay alert for some pink shoes that you just can't find anywhere else. This level of busyness and always looking at screens is simply not healthy.

But how do we stop ourselves from being like this? How do we essentially allow ourselves to relax and well, "self care"? 

Rather than just advise that we all go and lie down and concentrate on the tips of our toes and nothing else, I think it's better to look at what the causes are for not caring enough about ourselves before we can self diagnose and provide solutions. Instead of bullet pointing them, I'm sharing my go-to method: a spider diagram. 

I've written down some life pressures and therefore possible causes of why we are not caring enough for ourselves. I've included specific problems to me and also general problems that you might relate to. Seeing it like this makes it easier for a visual person, such as myself, to understand what the over-riding themes are and how best to tackle them.  


Ok, so that's quite the diagram and shows just how many pressures there are and possible reasons why we don't give ourselves enough time to self care. But we can't go on like this; that way lies disaster for our physical and mental well-being. If only we didn't have to sleep or could do so on the job but we are simply not built that way; we are not like the swifts.

So, what next? Well, we have to be kind to ourselves by finding solutions to these problems because they are in a sense unhealthy habits. I've tried to look at possible solutions, including basic and practical ones that relate to the pressures I identified above. Here's what I came up with.

Self care tips by Adventures & Tea Parties

Writing this down certainly helps me identify areas where I can better care for myself. I don't know if this method is helpful to you at all - looking at the problems, pressures and causes and then seeing how you can lessen that noise and live a healthier life - it's one approach any how.

tulips by Adventures & Tea Parties

I guess what it comes down to is the absolute basics and is not dissimilar to something I saw doing the rounds on social media platforms years ago, which resonated with me. We should care for ourselves like we would care for a child. In other words, make sure we've had enough to eat and drink, get plenty of sleep every day and put yourself to bed early, spend time outside, don't be mean to ourselves and don't put ourselves in dangerous situations (physically or mentally). We could easily expand this list to include additional simple things like making sure we're not too hot or too cold, that we have an equal balance of play, socialising and rest and that we ask if we need help or want to talk about something. I think these basics are a good way to start and then building on this to include some of the suggestions above to help deal with the additional noise and pressure of daily modern life. Oh and something I'm very keen on - look after one other. Be caring. Be a friend. Be kind. And also, stop saying "should".

16 June 2017

What's on the jukebox, Jo?

Freshly picked flowers by Adventures & Tea Parties

Yay, the weekend is nearly here! Have you had a good week? Any highlights? What are you weekend plans?

I was completely wiped out at the start of the week after the Blogtacular conference in London. It was so much fun and I will totally be blogging about it soon (and including lots of pics too) but this week was about playing catch up on shop orders, business related stuff and sleep! Anyone else find it impossible to sleep in a hotel bed? Even if I'm exhausted I find it so hard to sleep solidly. My brain stays alert to the slightest sound and I just can't acclimatise to the new surroundings. So, I had the longest sleep when I got home late Saturday night and did nothing on Sunday aside from sit on the sun lounger in the garden and make a few notes on the things I learnt from Blogtacular while it was fresh in my tired brain.

Despite it being a bit of catch up week, it's been a good one too and here are my happy highlights:

Happy thing #1 The design proof came back for my first pin, which I've been adjusting the colours on today. Early next week I should have an ETA for when I can expect to see it in the flesh, which is very exciting! Oh and I should mention or rather totally tease you about, it's a colour themed pin and that's all I'm going to say on the matter, ha-ha!

Happy thing #2 I spent a whole evening gardening and it felt so good to be doing it mid-week rather than just pottering around the garden on a Sunday.

Happy thing #3 I continued to be amazed at how many of you are taking part in the #ColourMyEveryDay Instagram challenge and sharing such fabulous, colourful photos! It's truly incredible and I'm really happy to hear from so many of you telling me how much you're enjoying it; that makes my heart go boom!

Happy thing #4 Myself and two of my besties started a daily gratitude check. Each day we check in with each other to say what we're grateful for. It's like a boost of positivity each day and keeps the three of us thinking of the good things in life. This has been particularly helpful with the current political climate and the non stop bad sh*t happening lately. 

Happy thing #5 My bloody amazing friends and creative tribe who continue to inspire, encourage and most of all make me laugh. Love them! On Saturday I'm meeting up with the Somerset Etsy Team group for our monthly meet up and I can't wait to be with my creative tribe again!

And of course, as you now know, music is always a core part of my week. I've had 6 Music on mostly, been repeating the first song below A LOT and today, I binged on Just a Minute, another favourite listen of mine while I'm working. So, if you fancy a bit of music this evening, here are 7 tracks I picked out especially for you. Pop them on and have a boogie!

Shark Smile by Big Thief
Beatmaker by Doris
Challengers by The New Pornographers
The Way You Used to Do by Queens of the Stone Age
Ye Ye by Minimatic
I Take What I Want by Sam & Dave
Get Up, Get Into It , Get Involved by James Brown

Happy Friday everyone and have a great weekend!

15 June 2017

Second week of the #ColourMyEveryDay Instagram challenge

ColourMyEveryDay Instagram challenge by Adventures & Tea Parties

Whoop, the second week of the #ColourMyEveryDay Instagram challenge has whizzed by with some absolutely spectacular photos for the prompts of Jewellery, Building, Group, Tool, Look down, Tin and Glass. I've been blown away by how much effort everyone is making and all the lovely messages you've sent me too. I'm so happy you're all enjoying it as much as I am and thank you for making the Instagram feed such a happy, colourful, inspiring place to be.

#ColourMyEveryDay Instagram challenge by Adventures & Tea Parties

In fact, you've made me so flipping happy, that I've gone and got completely over excited and just designed my first ever pin to celebrate finding and appreciating colour every day! I'm currently waiting on the design proof to come back before the *patient* wait begins for the pins to be made and shipped. I'm a big bundle of nerves and excitement over it and cannot wait to share the pin with you all!

Thanks so much for taking part everyone. I'm looking forward to another week of inspirational, beautiful photos!

Stay colourful peeps!

12 June 2017

Meet the local artist - Becka Griffin

Yay, it's time for another 'Meet the local artist' interview and this month I have the great pleasure of introducing an incredible artist and illustrator from Merseyside, Becka Griffin. Read on to find out all about her artistic world, how she works, gets inspired and most importantly, who she would invite to a fictitious Art & Illustration Award evening!

Becka Griffin Illustrator

Hi there, can you introduce yourself to all the lovely Adventures & Tea Parties blog readers please?
Hello!  My name’s Becka, I’m 37 and I am an illustrator based in Liverpool.  I’ve been running my business for about eight years, and full-time for just over three years.  I’m also very proud to be Captain of the Merseyside Etsy Team.

Becka Griffin Illustrator

What kind of art and illustration do you do?
I draw by hand, using ink, but sometimes use watercolours too.  I create illustrations that can be used mainly as prints and greetings cards, but also wedding invites, temporary tattoos and other small gift items.

My style could be described as quite playful and relatively simple.  One of my best friends describes my style as naïve, I think he says it mainly to annoy me, but I suppose it’s not such a bad word!

Becka Griffin Illustrator

How do you work and get inspired? 
I love making a piece of art which has some sort of logic behind it. For example, my alphabets have a little illustration for each letter of the alphabet, all surrounding a definite theme.

At the moment I am totally obsessed with drawing buildings and I am embarking on a series of illustrations of cities throughout the UK.  I’ve done close to thirty different towns and cities now, and I am loving drawing some of the more obscure places that might not normally get a lot of attention!  I come up with the final list based predominantly on input from social media, again a very logical approach, involving lists and tally marks!

I’m also a sucker for a good food-based pun and have a whole series of funny food-based greetings cards.

Becka Griffin Illustrator

What do you love about art and illustration? 
I absolutely love that I get to do this for a living.  Like, I actually draw stuff, whatever I want, and I can earn enough money to pay my bills.  I took a decision a few years ago to move away from client work and now most of what I do is self-directed; I am so lucky that people like it enough to buy it!

Becka Griffin Illustrator

What's the art scene like in Merseyside?  
There’s a really thriving and diverse art scene in Merseyside.  I’m based in Liverpool’s Baltic Triangle and I am lucky enough to have worked alongside loads of really talented illustrators – Lisa Robson of Lost Plots, and Roy McCarthy of Küla were in my last shared studio, and in my current studio I work just upstairs from Laura-Kate Chapman (of Laura-Kate Draws).

Illustrators aside, the Baltic Triangle is a really flourishing area, and is full of artists and designer-makers.  It’s an old industrial area, full of now-converted warehouses, housing hundreds of small startups and creative businesses.

Further afield there are creative hubs in the North Docks, and also reaching out further into the Wirral and Cheshire.  It’s a great place to be, and I am really happy here!

Becka Griffin Illustrator

If you had to take only one art tool to a desert island, what would you choose and why? 
I’m going to hope I have some paper already… and I’ll take my favourite rollerball pen, a Uniball Eye in black.

If you could go to an Art & Illustration Award evening with any 5 people (dead or alive, real or fictional), who would you choose? 
Firstly, it’d be Quentin Blake, obviously.  Then Oliver Jeffers, no huge surprises there.  I’d love Georgia O’Keefe to be there too, for old times’ sake, and I’d round the whole thing up with Axel Scheffler (the Gruffalo) and Rob Ryan.

Thank you so much, Becka! It's been a real treat hearing all about your creative world and how you work and get inspired; Merseyside sure does sound like it's thriving creatively! And I love your choice of people for the Art & Illustration Award evening (because it will be happening one day, right?); I'd definitely be pulling up a chair to your table. Keep up the amazing work Becka!

To discover more about Becka, you can find her on Facebook, Etsy and on her gorgeous website too. And if you'd like to discover more artists, check out my previous 'Meet the local artist' interviews here.

I hope you've found this an inspiring interview, thanks for reading!

7 June 2017

First week of #ColourMyEveryDay Instagram Challenge

#ColourMyEveryDay Instagram Challenge by Adventures & Tea Parties

Wowza, the first week of #ColourMyEveryDay Instagram challenge has been AWESOME!!! I honestly thought just a few of my Insta pals would join in but I've been (and still am) in shock at how many of you are taking part! As I type this the feed is currently bursting with over 4000 colourful photos, which is incredible. Looking through all the pics and seeing not only all the colourful photos but also how many of you love colour, makes me burst with happiness. The feed is now my daily positivity booster. 

If you've only just found the challenge and would like to join in, do jump aboard the colour train! Everybody and anyone can join in at any time, dip in and out of it or do the entire challenge, it's entirely up to you and we'll all be happy to see your #ColourMyEveryDay posts. You can find the prompts, including a planner and some useful hashtags, over here and don't forget to follow me to see my four favourites each day

A big massive thank you to everyone taking part and for seeking out, appreciating and sharing colour. It's truly wonderful and I can't wait to see how everyone interprets the next week's worth of prompts. 

Happy snapping!

4 June 2017

A day in the life of a potter

Yay, it's time for the next 'Day in the life' feature and this month we're finding out what the average day is like for a full time potter. This particular potter is from my own county, beautiful Somerset and she creates the most beautiful work! So, without further ado, let's find out what a potter's day is like...

Mim Archer day in the life interview by Adventures & Tea Parties

My name's Mim Archer (it's short for Miriam but nobody calls me that except my mother!) I'm 33 and I live in Cheddar, in Somerset, in a lovely little cottage on the north edge of the village. I live with my partner, two dogs and a little black cat.

I've been a potter for four years now. I took an evening class in pottery and loved it so much, I knew it had to be what I did from then on. I've always felt the urge to make things – I did up our previous house more or less myself – but I've never been sure what my 'calling' was. When I did pottery for the first time, I knew.

Mim Archer day in the life interview by Adventures & Tea Parties

We moved into our cottage two and a half years ago, and converted our large garden shed into my studio. That's where I work; I have an electric wheel, a kiln, and loads of shelving for all my items. I mostly sell online, though I do some commission work too. I also supplied a café in Bristol for a while, and I take part in the Cheddar Arts open studios trail around the village, and the odd craft fair here and there.

I'm not an early morning person, so my day starts gradually. Top of the to do list are the dogs and the cat, who want good morning cuddles and breakfast. Then it's tea – I'm passionate about darjeeling. I do my admin in the mornings, as my body isn't awake enough for the physically demanding work of throwing on the wheel! I do a lot of my advertising through Instagram, so I spend a bit of time taking photos and chatting to people who comment on my feed, or on the feeds I follow. I also go through any conversations or orders that have come through my Etsy shop, and do any parcelling up of orders.

Mim Archer day in the life interview by Adventures & Tea Parties

Monday mornings are a little different: my neighbour and friend Sara Parsons is also a ceramicist and artist, and she runs classes from her studio just down the road. I drop in for coffee and biscuits with her Monday morning ceramics class, to get some pottery chat and inspiration, and also for social time: I’ve discovered that when you work from home it’s important to build in activities with other people - especially if, like me, you get most of your motivation and energy from spending time with others!

In the late morning I head into my studio, where radio 4 keeps me company. I make functional pottery: I love the idea of creating something that someone will use on a daily basis; something that’s useful and can bring a bit of handmade joy and individuality to an everyday activity.

Mim Archer day in the life interview by Adventures & Tea Parties

There are three main bits to making my pottery: throwing things (which means making them on a potters’ wheel), turning them (which means flipping the pot over to trim and shape the bottom) and then glazing them (which means adding their colour). They need firing before they're glazed, and then firing a second time once they've been glazed.

On the days that I'm throwing a lot, I need regular breaks, just to move around. Throwing is very physical, and I need to stretch regularly. I had to see a physio for a while, because my back was seizing up. Now I'm really careful to stretch often and I go to a pilates class once a week, so my back is much happier!

Mim Archer day in the life interview by Adventures & Tea Parties

I have several types of clay that I use. My favourite at the moment is a really characterful black clay, but you'll also find a textured pale clay on my Etsy shop.

I break for lunch and to walk the dogs. I’m lucky enough to live just two minutes walk from open access AONB land, so I’ll take them up the lovely Mendip Hills, or around the top of Cheddar Gorge. When I get back, I usually do my turning (trimming and shaping the bottoms), or glazing in the afternoon. The pots have to dry slightly before I can turn them, and how long it takes depends on the weather. If it's really wet outside I'll often use a heat gun to dry the pots a little quicker.

Mim Archer day in the life interview by Adventures & Tea Parties

While my pots are drying and waiting to be turned, most days I go to the post office in the village to post my latest orders, and I often take the younger of my dogs along too for a bit of people-seeing. He’s ridiculously happy to meet people out and about and I always feel it’s nice to give my middle-aged pooch a bit of a break from the boisterousness of the one-year-old pup!

Once they're turned, my pots have to dry for several days before I can fire them, ready for glazing. I have a lot of different glazes, which create different effects. Glaze is basically made from crushed rock mixed with water, which melts in the 1260 degree firing to create a glassy surface. I keep it in big buckets and have to stir it up every time I want to use it, to make sure the minerals don’t sink to the bottom. My most recent new colour is a lovely lilac, which comes out a cheery purple-pink on my pale clay and a muted soft grey-pink on my black clay.

Mim Archer day in the life interview by Adventures & Tea Parties

I try to time the end of my working day for when my other half comes home at about 7pm. If I’ve taken any good photos that day, I’ll put one up on Instagram in the evening to help with advertising my work, and to try to keep people updated about what I’m getting up to.

I try not to work at the weekends, unless I've got an urgent order. We walk a lot at the weekends; as well as indulging in our other passions – DIY and cream teas! I've never lost the DIY bug; I'm usually doing something on the house at any given time. Over the last few weekends I've been repainting ALL of our skirting boards and doors.

Mim Archer day in the life interview by Adventures & Tea Parties

I still love making pottery. I love how relaxing it is, and the joy of creating something that will give other people pleasure. I also like being my own boss, and being able to run my day in a rhythm that suits me. I do have to take care of myself physically, to avoid strains. I also have to make a conscious effort not to be working all the time; it's easy when your work is at the bottom of your garden to never stop. I'm really disciplined about evenings and weekends.

If I could change one thing it would be to get a bit more space soon. I'd like a larger studio to give tuition, so that other people can learn how wonderful pottery is too!

Mim Archer day in the life interview by Adventures & Tea Parties

Thank you so much Mim! It's been truly wonderful hearing all about your pottery world, how you work and what you average day looks like. Keep up the beautiful work!

I hope you've all enjoyed the 'Day in the life of a potter' and are now heading off to Mim's Etsy shop to look at all her stunning creations and her Instagram feed to see more beautiful photos of her work. If you'd also like to read more 'Day in the life' features, head over here to discover what a day in the life is like for these incredible people.

Photos by Mim Archer.


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