I have always wondered how established crafters manage to juggle their crafts with their children, and vice versa.
I have been scouring several social media sites recently, on the lookout for a fellow parent crafter to interview, and I was fortunate enough to find Melissa.
Melissa Stuart lives in Aberdeen City, Scotland, and she is the owner of Humming Bird Gems. Approaching its’ third birthday, Melissa has been crafting since her teens. She was never able to find items that suited her taste, style and mood, so she decided to start making her own jewellery pieces so she could always have exactly what she wanted.
Melissa has two children – Brae, who is 4, and Lizzy, aged 3; and is a stay-at-home mummy.
Me: “What made you get in to selling your crafting?”
Melissa: “I had some friends ask where I bought one of my bracelets, and I told them that I made it myself. I would make things for family and friends, but it really wasn’t until my other half went in to college full-time that I thought about selling my work. It was a way to help make ends meet.”
Me: “So what made you choose your specific craft?”
Melissa: “Since it (jewellery) was something that I had done before, it was easy. With the crocheting, it was because I wanted to learn how to make teeny, tiny, little animals to put in to resin, and use with the jewellery making. I haven’t gotten the skill up enough to make them, but people seem to be loving the bigger, cuddly versions just as well.”
Me: “Did you try any different style of crafting before the one you do now?”
Melissa: “Yes, I’m a very creative person! I get a lot of enjoyment out of making things. I’ve done origami, I’ve tried drawing (I’m horrible at it, by the way), and I had knitted in the past, when I was a young teen, but I can’t remember any of that now.”
Me: “So tell me. What has been your favourite make, and can you tell me why?”
Melissa: “Oooh! Now that’s a hard one! I think it would be my resin make with dandelions and iridescent glitter. It really looks like it’s dancing!”
Me: “Now I’m interested in your children. What do Brae and Lizzy think of your crafting?”
Melissa: “Brae doesn’t seem to have much interest in it truthfully. Lizzy, on the other hand, is right in there. She loves watching me, and asking questions of what I am doing.”
Me: “Do they try to help you?”
Melissa: “They do. I’ll let Lizzy pick out colours or beads, and even let her string some of the beads on to wire. I would let Brae also, but unless I’m working with something he has an interest in, he normally just ignores what I’m doing.”
Me: “Do you do any other forms of crafting with Brae and Lizzy?”
Melissa: “Lots of colouring, playing with PlayDoh, those kinds of things… Crafts more suited for the younger ones.”
Me: “So how do you juggle your crafting around Brae and Lizzy? Do you have a set routine?”
Melissa: “It’s a routine base. Both of them are in nursery, so I have my morning to myself. I try to get some networking done, but I often use that time to try and get things done that I can’t do with them around me. Like resin work. Whilst they’re at home, after lunch I will network, or bead, do some image template work… Things I can often involve them in, or I can easily just drop in case one of them wants to play, or go outside. The kids come first when they’re up and at home.”
Me: “Do you think children taking part in (any type of) crafting is important?”
Melissa: “I really do. Kids are naturally curious about everything, and as the parents and adults, we really should be feeding that. Nurturing it, so when the kids become teens, and indeed adults, they will still have that with them. It can help them in life, with work, or even just play. It can help them to relax, and it’s great for bonding and keeping that bond going!”
Me: “Thank you Melissa. Let’s move on to something ‘just for fun’. You’re hosting a dinner party for a few celebrities. You can invite 3 celebs. Who would you pick, and why them?”
Melissa: “Firstly, Robert Downy Jr. because… Well, it’s RDJ! He’s funny, and hot, and down to earth, and HOT! (laughs) Second on my list would be Jennifer Lawrence. I hear she’s another down to earth celeb, and doesn’t stomp on the little people. She’s still in the newly found “shell shocked” stage. The last would be Dakota Fanning. She’s been a brilliant actress since she was very young, and one of the few child starts that didn’t go in to drink or drugs.”
Me: “Great choice there. But let’s get to the real nitty-gritty… You’re also doing the cooking for said dinner party. You’re prepping a 3-course meal, so what’s on your menu?”
Melissa: “Starts would be some kind of finger foods. Three cheese mini pizzas, or popcorn chicken… Something small that they could munch on whilst chatting. Main course would be steaks with my homemade sauce, mashed potato and veg (corn or broccoli, or both). Dessert would be lemon cake with a light lemon drizzle sauce. Maybe some custard too. Custard is yummy… I’m hungry now.”
Me: “Ha ha, ok, finally, let’s be serious just once more. What’s your top tips for anyone who wants to start their own crafting business?”
Melissa: “Firstly, come up with a name that’s catchy, then Google it. Make sure that it is not popping up with anything. The only thing that came up with mine (Humming Bird Gems) where pictures of humming birds. Make a facebook page and email address with the same name, but don’t publish the facebook page yet! Secondly, know what you’re doing. Don’t worry about what everyone else is doing, do what YOU want to do. Know what supplies you need, keep records of what you spend – you’ll need that for the tax man, make a few things, samples, starters, get some good photo’s of your things, and once you have a few photos and posts on your page, then publish it. That way it doesn’t look barren. Make sure that it’s (your craft) is something you love to do, and that even on your darkest days, you don’t give in. Every crafter out there has wanted to throw in the towel at some point in the game. The difference between the winners and the losers are those who give up. As long as you love what you are doing, keep doing it.”
You can visit Humming Bird Gems here: https://www.facebook.com/hummingbirdgems
List 5 places that you would like to visit
3. New Zealand
5. The Shetland Isles
List 10 things that make you happy
1. My husband. Of course he makes me happy… I wouldn’t have married him if he didn’t make me happy!
2. Gning. My eldest son. His sparkling eyes, handsome face and beautiful personality. He never fails to make me smile and / or laugh… He is so intelligent too. I have a feeling his intelligence is going to be his downfall when it comes to schooling; but that’s another topic.
3. Donut. My youngest son. He may only be a baby (5 weeks and 2 days old), but he can already light up a room when entering.
4. Chocolate. I’m a woman… What woman doesn’t love chocolate?
5. Camping. I mean real camping, in a tent – not caravanning, which some people say is camping (by the way, that’s called caravanning, NOT camping *rolls eyes*). I’m talking about real camping too… No electricity hook-ups, no laptops… Believe me. I used to know someone who took their laptops camping, and they had a blow-up settee and ‘port-a-loo’. There’s just something about being under canvas in the middle of nowhere. I guess it’s because it’s something that I have done since I was a baby (I was 3 months old when I first slept in a tent).
6. Scotland. It’s true that Scottish history is full of tragedy, but there is a certain romance to it too. History, the clans, the music (especially bagpipes), the scenery of the Highlands… People have said that I do have an obsession. To be honest, I can’t deny that I have.
7. Ancient Egypt. It’s the Gods, Goddesses, culture, architecture… I’m fascinated by the meanings behind the temples and tombs… I would love to be able to read hieroglyphics too.
8. Stonethwaite. For those of you who are not in the know, Stonethwaite is a tiny hamlet, in the district of Borrowdale, in the Lake District. The Lake District is a National Park in the county of Cumbria, in the north-west of England. Stonethwaite valley campsite was the first place where I crawled. The campsite is set on farmland, next to a wonderful stream, which is amazing to listen to when you’re drifting off to sleep. Follow the water upstream, and you will eventually come to a little known secret… The stream becomes surrounded with rocks, and if you are brave enough, the water is certainly deep enough to swim in. I have done it many times, although I wouldn’t recommend it unless you have an immunity to cold water.
9. Birds. I am an Ornithologist. To a certain extent. Don’t get me wrong, I’m certainly not Bill Oddie, but I do know a tad about those feathered creatures. I’ve kept birds all of my life – primarily zebra finches. I have successfully bred them, and I did actually write a “keepers guide”, several years ago.
10. Writing. Whether it’s a short story, poem, review or blog post, writing has always made me smile. The only problem I have (which long-term Insanely Normal followers will know) is that I suffer horrifically with writers block. Meh.
So there’s my 10 things. What are yours?
I think I should warn you… This video is rather long… Ha ha ❤
I am 220 miles, and a little over 3 hours, passed the border of Scotland. I’ve been driving through the beautiful Highlands, steep roads, ancient culture and rain. I drive right through the town of Fort William (the “Capital” of the Highlands, and I’m heading towards Mallaig on the A830. I’ve been on the Road to the Isles (A830) for a little over 30 minutes and I know I’m just about to see the Lochailort Inn and the Polnish Chapel a little further ahead. The trees sweep over the Munros (mountains) to the side, and a drop down to a sea loch on the other side of the road. You can see why this area has been selected to feature in so many Hollywood films. Lochailort is a small village that lies on the edge of the Loch “Ailort” (pronounced Aisle-ort), which leads out to the Atlantic Ocean. All that is here is an Inn, railway station, a small church and a 19th Century house. A ring road (A861) heads down towards Strontian on Ardnamurchan, and back round a little closer to Fort William. Apart from the absolutely stunning scenery, Lochailort has one of the area’s most notable landmarks. “Our Lady of the Braes” Roman Catholic Church, affectionately known as the Polnish Chapel. The chapel was finished in 1874, but has been abandoned since 1964 except for being used in film. The classic 1983 film Local Hero, where an American oil company sends a representative to purchase an entire village where they want to build a refinery. Things don’t go as expected, and the American ends up staying and living on the beach in a little hut! Now-a-days, you can still walk right up to the church via the cattle gate, but you cannot enter the chapel due to safety reasons. You will see that the slate from the roof has started falling to the ground. The windows are still in immaculate condition, and if you look closely, you can see the details in the writing on the glass. If you do want to take a walk from the road and venture up to the church, I do recommend parking across the road in the pull-in view area. Please be careful when crossing the road, as this is an extremely fast and busy road. Luckily, you can hear traffic coming from a mile or two in distance! The Lochailort Inn offers so much more than just a place for a break. The hotel is situated directly on the Road to the Isles, with great views, reasonable priced accommodation and great food. The inn was known to exist from the 1650’s, although there is only recorded information from the 1870’s, then rebuilt in the early 1990’s in the same manner as the original. In the 1890’s, there were several bothies (small houses) built to house the 2000 navvies who were building the West Highland Railway Line (designed and built by Sir Robert McAlpine). In 1901, construction was complete and the West Highland Railway was opened to the public to ease the travel of the 43 miles from Fort William to Mallaig. During the summer months (normally from April to September), there is a Steam Train which runs the 43 miles distance from Fort William to Mallaig. This is the famous Jacobite Steam Train. With pipers waiting at each station to “blow the tourists away” with their enchanting sounds. On the other side of the loch is Inverailort House. This started out as a farmhouse in the 1700’s, and in 1875 extended and refurbished to a shooting lodge. Further extensions took place in 1891 to bring the house to the beauty it is today. In the late 19th Century, Lady Cameron was a keen photographer. She took many photographs of the house and local area. It was unfortunate that most of the glass plates were lost or destroyed when the house was taken over by the military. During the second world war the military used the house as a base for training operations. With such a remote location, the military could move about the area freely and with little difficulty, using the surrounding mountains and waters as resistance training areas. The army moved out of the house on 20th August 1942 and it was then taken over by the Royal Navy when it became known as HMS Lochailort, and used for the training of naval cadets to be officers. The Royal Navy moved out in January 1945. Thankfully, a lot of the photographs from the late 19th Century were saved and published during this time. Today the area is as breath-taking as it has always been. Clear water, rustling trees, the inn, the chapel… I visit this area at least 3 times a year, whilst camping in a near-by village called Arisaig. Personally, if I had the money I would buy the old chapel and refurbish it into a holiday home. The views from the place are amazing, and I bet it would be so popular. The only problem is who to get in contact over it! Definitely a place to visit. Take your time – Stop and stare. How often will you get such clear air?
I think it’s about time that I introduced myself and my wonderful little family.
My name is Barbara. I work as a Civil Servant, three days a week, and I also teach martial arts and self-defence in my own Kung Fu school. I have lots of hobbies and interests. So many, in fact, that when I reel them off to someone, they normally get fed up of listening ha ha.
I enjoy martial arts, dancing, travelling, camping, swimming, scuba diving, playing the bagpipes, reading, writing, playing on the xbox, crafting (jewellery and accessory making, cross-stitching), watching TV and films, listening to music (most genres), singing (even though I’m tone deaf – my little man appreciates it though ha ha) and, unbelievably, studying! As I am not a student, I study off my own whim. I enjoy improving my knowledge on Ancient Greece, Ancient Egypt, various places and the history of Scotland, and fitness techniques to assist in my martial arts school. Some may say that I have a couple of unhealthy obsessions. Thus being of Scotland and Ancient Egypt. Quite a weird combination there, huh? Oh! I’m also an avid map reader. I can look at a map for hours… And yes, I am a woman… And yes, I can read maps! Wow!
My husbands’ name is Michael. We first met in primary school, at the age of 5 or 6. All throughout our school life, we went to the same schools. In some respects, we were even in the same classes, but we never spoke. We ran in different circles, so why would we? It wasn’t until 2005 when he messaged me on Friends Reunited, enquiring about the Kung Fu classes I held. On 31 october 2009, we married. The ceremony and dinner was an Autumn theme, and the party in the evening was Halloween themed. Everyone was in fancy dress!
Michael works as a self-employed photographer. He photographs anything from sitting portraits to full day weddings. He has a rather extensive list of hobbies too… Martial arts, photography, gaming, programming (on the PC for Android apps), travelling and camping. He also shares the unhealthy obsession of Scotland that I hold.
On 12 September, 2011, a bouncing baby boy came into our lives. William was a huge baby. He was 10lb 8oz born! My little squished face beauty. After 30 and a half hours labour, my consultant decided that it was just too dangerous to continue, and I was rushed for an emergency section. I was high as a kite due to all the gas & air I had been supping for 25 hours, and I really didn’t know what was going on. I can, however, remember as clear as a bell when the surgeon held him up over the curtain, ‘congratulations, you’ve had a toddler – he’s come out wearing his school uniform and briefcase in hand…’ I took one look, burst into tears saying, “he’s not mine… He’s Chinese…” Bless. William was huge! He was bruised, swollen, and had a touch of jaundice. Luckily, the jaundice cleared within 4 days.
My little man is 19 months old in two weeks. I can’t believe where the time has gone. Sometimes when I look at him, I still can’t believe that he’s here, and that he’s mine. But on the other hand, I can’t remember what it was like before he came along. I feel so blessed.
I would start listing his hobbies… But being the age that he is, his list is not as extensive as mine or Michaels’. Currently, William enjoys watching cbeebies (especially In the Night Garden), ‘splash splash’ time (baths), going out with his nanna and grandad, and general play. He’s starting to grow out of the snuggling phase, but it’s still wonderful when he climbs up on your knee to give you kisses and cuddles.
This was taken when William was only 3 hours old… Look at the face! You can tell that I’m as high as the sky in the background 🙂
And this photo was taken a couple of weeks ago. Oh, how the time has gone…