The Maison Belles, Tea and Thriftfest

I start this post with some fantastic news ..

After successfully selling some little bits and bobs in gorgeous Guisborough shop Maison Belle, I’ve been asked by the wonderful owner Laura to have a more substantial presence there.

So, from 11th Oct I’ll be one of the ‘Maison Belles’ The four artists maison belleshe has asked to join her in the shop. Not only will we be retailing alongside Laura’s own stock and work, you might just find us in there holding the fort!

With me and Laura will be my best friend Geraldine of ‘Bean Creative’ (with whom you’ll often see me sharing a stall or doing a workshop ), Abi of ‘Oh Abigail‘ … another wonderful friend and painter of the most amazing handmade signs, and by no means least my friend of 30+ years since we were at Art College together, Kim from ‘Daisy Bloom‘, purveyor of the most stunning bags, scarves and jewellery.

Allowing us to sell and help in the shop allows Laura to concentrate on her new project, the prettiest little cottage literally doors away from me! Couldn’t be more excited.

TEA !   …. If you know me, you’ll know I totally love my specialist teas. I’m not talking fruit teas here (unless you mean Cherry blossom green tea), I mean real leaf teas…

My obsession with tea started as a child, and as a young adult was soon exposed to the delights of Earl Grey. I have passed this on to at least one of my children, with my son drinking Earl Grey with lemon from the age of 8, and seeking out the tea section in Harrods the last time we visited.

Running a teashop I could totally indulge in my love of tea and helped by Carly the owner of The Old Young Teahouse I filled the shelves with all manner of interesting brews… a year on from my exit from the shop and I am missing being around the stuff , so after a great conversation with Rockwood & Hoot’s Jane , I’ve decided to sell teas!

I’ll be selling under my own Ruby & Blue brand and you’ll be able to buy soon at Maision Belle as well as order here. Crack out the china teacups!


What an amazing time we had at The Festival of Thrift at Lingfield Point in Darlington .. 20,000+ people came on day 1 and more on day 2 … It was buzzing!

On top of that we got the most amazing feedback from the festival organisers for both my ‘Kitchen Cupboard Books’ class and for our stall…

The stallholders, food , entertainment and classes were all superb and Geraldine and I had an absolute ball (if a tiring one!) The photos tell the story (and you can see my Ruby van in the last one). Totally booking for next year!


A Welsh Hug & a Fab Festival


Our morning view of Fishguard

I wanted to start off this blog with the view from the window of our caravan . Completely untouched by Instagram or Photoshop, this was how we woke every morning during our week away, to the view of Fishguard harbour, perfectly framed by the curtains.

We went to Wales for the first week in August, and as our first ‘holiday’ day was my birthday, I chose to visit one of my all-time favourite places, Slova. Solva is one of the most beautiful little enclaves along the Pembrokeshire coast, and for a tiny place still boasts the most idyllic unspolt homes and some wonderful little galleries . I couldn’t help but do a watercolour of the harbour, which I gave to Liz and Pete, my gorgeous in-laws as a thankSolva by Cedric Lockwiood Morris you for spending lots of time with us and feeding us on most evenings.  While we were there, I learned a new word … cwtch. It means to cuddle in Welsh but also to protect and (oddly it may seem) it describes the cupboard under the stairs!  – Not sure Harry Potter would like the word, but I suddenly spotted it everywhere, and adopted it as my new word of choice, and managed to get Liz a gift of a cwtch heart hand embroidered and made from up-cycled Welsh blankets.


This moves me on nicely to our weekend at Galtres festival. Having told my friend and fellow maker Geraldine about the word ‘Cwtch’ she kindly made me some fused glass pieces, featuring the word as she was making fused glass for our stall. All ready with our handmade wares, our new huge Gala tent and bags of wool roving for our felting classes, Geraldine and I  set off with my teenagers, George and Sadie in our camper, Ruby.

We spent a hugely rewarding but really tiring weekend in a field in North Yorkshire. We met ‘Haley’ from Coronation Street (the lovely, and extremely cool Julie Hesmondhalgh) whose daughter bought one of Sadie’s tie died t-shirts, we danced along to The Human Leaugue, The Levellers, Morcheeba, Bellowhead and Tricky, and tried not to be driven mad by the music from the fair directly opposite us! There was fun on the dodgems, the odd fish finger and cheese sandwich from the ‘Fish FInger Heaven‘ stall and lots of fun all round with the most wonderful set of people. We’re all signed up for next year.

More workshops, festivals and markets to look forward to until Christmas so it’ s a mega-busy time . Look forward to seeing you there!

Tattoo Time, a New Job and an Old Name

Hello all…

Before I start, check out our latest workshops at Leven crafts here, which have just been announced.

I realise it’s been longer than normal between posts, but not without good reason. You’ll see that this is a longer post to make up for it though, so you still get your money’s worth.

A new job…

In May, I took up a post part-time in our nearest big town, as a Projects Officer for the main community arts company. I now have the responsibility for setting up some of the creative intervention projects which benefit many of the most vulnerable members of our society, something I’m absolutely passionate about.

The work we do involves everyone from refugees to probationers to the homeless. Looking back at previous projects it’s clear the difference the creative work makes to those involved. I’ll keep you updated with how I get on.

A tattoo …

OK, I admit it, I love tattoos, tattoo designs old and new, and all things tattooey. I helped out at a tattooists when at Art College and even did my thesis on tattoos in the fashion industry.


My work is often inspired by tattoos and I love the vibrant colours and illustrative designs, and how personal they are.

There was bound to come a time when the voice in my head telling me to get a new one would shout too loudly, so after many many months of deciding, designing, and with lots of pain, I went for it, but it was certainly worth it!
I spent a lot of time researching tattooists, talking to people who had been tattooed at my chosen venue, and deciding which tattooist’s style most suited what I wanted. I went for Miss Purple at Guisborough Tattoo Emporium, as I loved the illustrative style of a rabbit design she had done which looked like a Beatrix Potter drawing, with a real watercolour feel.

I wanted something which didn’t have a typical tattoo black outline, in particular colours and depicting two of my most loved themes. Now I have something permanent, bright, happy and completely me; tea and birds, my two favourite things.


An old name…

You may have noticed the name ‘SkyBlueRed’ on the Community Art page on this site, and wondered what it’s all about.

I set up SkyBlueRed in 2010 and worked in schools and on my own art projects from there on, with over 800 children taking part in one or more of my art events and classes. When I was a founder member of the team of a new community not for profit art studio and tearoom benefiting adults with special needs, we decided to cash in on the popularity of the name and used it for the shop.

Three years down the line I am no longer part of the project and the team that now run the shop have decided to change the name, so SkyBlueRed is back , where it belongs. You’ll see it loud and proud on our posters, and if you want to know what it means, it’s blue eyes, red hair (so, me then! ) reminds you of this site? You can see there’s a theme!








Creativity for Sunny Days.

Sunny Days ..sunny days

…bring with them the promise of festivals and markets outdoors;  we have lots of events to think about at the moment.

I’m finding it more of a challenge to fit things in these days, which I will use as a handy excuse for not having posted as often as I should.  This can be most easily explained by telling you about my new role as a projects officer at arts development company ‘Tees Valley Arts’.

I have long admired the work of the organisation, and was mentored through TVA a couple of years ago, so it’s a great coup to now be part of the team. TVA have been responsible for many of the important arts events and installations in the Tees Valley area, including the environmental programme ‘Green TV’ Here’s the website for further info:

When I’m not making, doing classes or promoting the town through Totally Locally events and markets, this is where I’m at. All this extra work is wonderful , but does squeeze time, so I just need to be really organised. I find a combination of Excel, a good old Filofax and a sturdy calendar does the trick, but you can’t beat a good old list or 12, and for those I have lots of special books I have collected over the years.

Talking of squeezing time, more about those markets and workshops at festivals coming up sooner than I can believe! During both the Galtres Festival and Festival of thrift, we’ll now be doing creative workshops. Geraldine, my wonderful fellow maker and I are busy preparing lots of new work for  the markets and workshops.

You’ll find both Geraldine and I playing about with wool roving at Galtres, and making all linocampermanner of fun felted things. At The FoT, I’ll be making books from things you can find in your kitchen cupboard. (great for me with my aforementioned book obsession) My favourite is the Yorkshire Tea book; I do love my tea, so being able to make a tea themed book has to be a bonus, plus it still has that tea-leaf aroma.

You can make your own on either of the days. Also we’ll be using pre-cut lino prints so you can make your own bags and Ts at both Volkspower and Galtres…

..Handprinted tote bags and Ts .. ready for those summer days. All we need now is the sunshine.

Details of event dates are here, hope to see you there…



Market time , cross-stitch with a message and arty wax.

What a busy week we have had…

With markets at Guisborough and on the moors and one being prepped for at Lingfield Point, as I write. There was a fantastic spirit at the market and the sun shone brightly as we chatted to visitors both from the local area and from further afield. 

Here I am with the stall I share with Geraldine of Bean Creative.

Latest Classes

batik and x stitch poster

Join us this Friday and next Monday for two really different classes, both of which you can try on either day. During our Batik session, we’ll be looking at tribal and Aborigine art as inspiration for our designs, or you can go with your own ideas!

If you want something decidedly less ‘waxy’ then have a try at contemporary cross-stitch, incorporating modern sayings and today’s icons with this traditional craft.

If you want to look for some inspiration, look no further than our favourite cross-stitcher ‘Mr x-stitch’, the male sewer you may have seen on the ‘Kirsty’ programes on the TV. mr x-stitch

Take a look at his blog and ‘stitchgasm’ spot at or click here.

Have fun with your crafting ! m 🙂


Felting, printing and crochet biscuits..

We’ve kicked off our new workshops with great fun and creativity at The Palace Hub.

We had a fabulous fun group of attendees for our first day of workshops for both the lino printing and needle felting classes, lots of tea in vintage cups, and even some delicious home-made biscuits courtesy of Geraldine’s little daughter..

Our chaps created a kalaidoscopic range of beautiful designs, some using dual printing colours while others printed over tissue papers and on a range of backgrounds such as sugar papers and old book pages.

We tried our hand at a ‘chine colle’ printing method, sandwiching glued papers between the inked lino and the base paper, to add vibrant colour to black mono-prints.

Geraldine took the helm for the second class , where we had excellent wool-based fun with needle felting. We prodded and poked in great style and made some smashing little animals, brooches and floral inspired pieces.  If you feel as though you’ve missed out , we’ll be doing it all again on Tuesday!  More info here.

Meanwhile there are lots of markets and festivals to think about.. As I have been away visiting family I needed something portable, so have been making some fun little crochet biscuits to sell.  Here you can see them by some fab little retro Pyrex cups given to me by lovely friend Abi of ‘Oh Abigail’.

crochet biscuits

The pattern for the Jammy dodger is by Matt and can be found on his ‘According To Matt’ blog the custard cream is my pattern (which I will most certainly write down and share at some point) and I’m working on a bourbon too, so we’ll see how that turns out!
If you’re round and about Guisborough on the 3rd may, you might just see my biscuity creations on the Totally Locally Market! See you then M


Thriftfest and Pot Dogs


What brilliant news we had this week that Geraldine and I have been accepted to have a stall at the Festival of Thrift at Lingfield Point in Darlington, this September.

For any of you who are in driving distance and didn’t go last year this is an unmissable weekend with loads of handmade and upcycled loveliness for sale, delicious and diverse food, and fabulous events and workshops (we loved the hula-hoop lessons). It’s a real honour and we hope to rub shoulders with the likes of Wayne Hemingway and Max McMurdo, a fab upcycler who’s appeared on both Kirsty Allsop programmes and ‘Small Spaces’, both of whom were there last year!

So, bringing myself down to earth and thinking of new recycled projects I have been looking at ceramics for inspiration, having come across some iconic Staffordshire pottery dogs whilst perusing Ebay. Looking a bit further it seems I’m by no means the first to be inspired by these lovely objects, and I found examples of updated versions by Rob Ryan (whose work I have long had a love for) and Donna Wilson…


For my own version I have used a quilting method and 2 layers of thrifted sweatshirt fabric to create some dog and cat brooches, but there’ll be lots more to come.

Don’t forget to book your workshop if you want to come, we’re planning water-colour, free stitching, crochet and pattern-making after this round too! See the Facebook page to keep updated! Book a current workshop HERE and see below for details!…

See you on the flip side!

hub workshops apr 14 photo



Tweeting along

On Monday I spent the morning optimising my use of twitter with the wonderful G who I do lots of markets and art sessions with, so all you little tweeters can follow. I’m at @rubynblue if you fancy following my exploits on there. It was run by Mark of @BestDadICanBe . He writes a funny blog about his exploits as a father and is great fun to have as a tutor. Something I always think about when I am running sessions… Who wouldn’t want to have some fun while learning?

The posters for the new courses are ready, and we’re enjoying the process of booking people in, don’t forget you can book them on Eventbrite and all the details are here.


Monday night I spent with the little gang at Totally Locally Guisborough , the shop local scheme I co-run. We have the meetings at a gorgeous rustic little pub at the edge of the town; The Anchor. What a great place, with open fires and photos of sports teams (many of whom are still in the pub, but a bit older). We’re in the final stretch of the Spring market planning and it’s really exciting, with a ‘maypole’ theme of bright colours and flowers, the market is going to be a real spectacle, so we can’t wait. Alongside this, we’re running a ‘Magic Tenner’ campaign , which highlights the positive effect it has on our community if every adult just spends an extra tenner with a local independent business.. all good stuff!


The basics of both the markets and the courses are now ready so I’m back to some making, at the moment I’m onto some cheeky embroidery tweaks, taking old embroidered images and updating them.. Take a look below.

These will soon be making their way to a market stall of shop, so I’m off to continue with them. Keep on with the craftiness all you makers.. Miki


Creativity by the seaside..

Whenever you open up a new set of workshops.. matter how successful your previous ones have been , there’s always that trepidation that no-one will turn up.. always, but especially when those workshops are in a new format and at a new venue . This is  what keeps you on your toes. So, to the new art workshops I have planned with the lovely G; we had bookings before we had even advertised , which is always a great and it’s been lovely to see the support we’ve been given so far. If you want to know more about workshops, click here.

The new venue just happens to be on the Seafront on the North East coast at Redcar, and after a recent ‘creative retreat’ by the sea, where I got to rekindle my love Redcar-content-headerof water-colour, I already have ideas to include a water-colour class for the next round of workshops, and happily have people interested in taking the workshops up… That view is too good to waste!

CREATIVE BRAIN…Untitled picture

What is a surprise is when you find out on where on the internet your work or your workshops have appeared. .. This week there was a little link to our workshops on the blog ‘Creative Brain’ .Lots of articles about creativity, with a decidedly intelligent twist..

I only discovered our link because of a Twitter post , but it’s great to see other people appreciating what you’re up to and as I have a real fascination with how the brain works , having done my thesis of ‘creative thinking in underachieving boys’ this blog was of great interest..

If you’re interested in the ways of the brain, a great book to read is ‘Frames of Mind’ by Howard Gardner, all about multiple intelligences and how we’re all intelligent, but in different ways…(one of the many reasons I love creativity, is it’s accessible by everyone) I’ll leave you with that and with my favourite quote: