This Yule I made a special effort to buy handmade gifts for everyone and was incredibly lucky to get a beautiful selection on handmade treats in return. (And apparently, and a bit embarrassingly, quite a few presents from me, er, to me.) This is my Twelfth Day of Christmas Presents List with some of the really rather wonderful and astonishingly beautiful treats made by other people that found a home under my tree.
1. A pair of Kittie Cushions by Nicola Rowlands
I've been coveting Nicola's work for a while now, and these pillows were right at the top of my Christmas list. I'm a very lucky lucky girl, because my husband took the plentiful hints, favourites and lists, and there they were ready and waiting for me to unwrap on Christmas Eve. This is Nicola's shop and website – she's an amazing illustrator and maker, just look.
2. Monty the Badger...
Well, strictly speaking he wasn't given to me, I'm just babysitting him for a protective two-year-old.
3. And Monty's story "Monty and the Travelling Show"
Monty is handmade from wool by the amazingly talented Emma van Diggele. He lives at the Travelling Show, but he worries that his big round nose is getting in the way of his dream to perform. So Monty transforms himself using the magician's wand, first adding an elephant's trunk, then a lion's mane and a monkey's tail, before discovering that he had everything he needed to be a star to start with.
Monty was a present for my littlest one from my sister, who used to teach Emma at LCC. There are so many parallels with my work, and I love Emma's way of thinking, drawing and dreaming. I've been planning to write down all the stories from the Butterscotch & Beesting Circus for a while now, but have moments when I feel a bit daunted about letting them out from my head and on to paper. Emma's work, though, makes me want to start scribbling and writing straight away – I think she's very inspiring indeed. This is Emma's shop and website where you too can buy your own Monty and share his story.
4. A wonderful journal by Soyalegato
Although officially I did buy this as as a present for someone else, it came into my safe-keeping when I very unfortunately spilled some tea on it and therefore was unable to give away after all. Can you spot the terrible stain? (Bottom right-hand corner.) Such a shame.
I'm utterly enchanted by her pen and ink illustrations and the characters she creates. But I also love her use of bright colour and bold patterns too. All in all, I'm a big fan.
Soyalegato is based in Marseille in the south of France, but my journals arrived in lightening-speed time. You can buy her work through her Etsy shop.
5. I totally love Elodie G, who's based in Sheffield (like me) and looks just like she does in her pictures. I already own quite a few prints and try to make sure I always buy something of hers whenever she's got a stall at a market or fair. So I couldn't resist buying myself her diary as a little extra present when we were both at the Reetsweet Christmas fair in the Millennium Gallery.
(I have bought present for other people... ones that I have actually given them too, I promise).
Elodie's diary's full of observations that made me laugh out loud. Especially her twins' obsession with poo (which I can totally sympathise with) and her rebellious toe secretly poking out from a hole in her tights while walking down the school corridors. This is her Folksy Shop and her Blog.
6. I'm so over the moon with this present! And from my lovely parents-in-law too! (Yes, yes, they may also have received the hints, lists and favourites...) How cool is this necklace though? It's by Nylon Sky and it's super big and bold, and I've been wearing it all Christmas. This jewellery is seriously good. This is the Nylon Sky Shop and there's one on Etsy too... just here.
7. I may also have bought myself this Red Riding Hood necklace on an autumnal day out at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park, and squirreled it away for Christmas. I really should stick to walking round the grounds and avoid the temptations of the YSP Shop. Anyhow, what's done is done, and now I do have an ever-so cool necklace. It's by N2 and this is their shop and blog.
I first met Fanja at a Mid-Century Modern Fair at Dulwich College a couple of years ago. She's ever-so, ever-so talented, and Pia's room is adorned with her prints. There's a quietness about her characters and designs, and a sense of the magical that reminds me of my childhood. One of my favourite memories is letting my pet mice run around the dolls' house and tucking them up into the tiny beds. Her photographs remind me of that. You can read more on her website and you can buy Fanja's work from her Le Train Fantome Shop, but you'll have to be quick as it gets snapped up as soon as it appears!
9. Just to prove that I really haven't just bought myself lots of presents, here are two I got for other people. These owl soaps are super cool. They smell of ginger, apple and fig, and are made by Laura Frame in Glasgow. I bought a few things from her Alicorn Shop on Folksy in December, and they arrived so beautifully packaged, it felt like Christmas had come early. I haven't given them to their recipients yet though, so shhhhh, don't tell them.
I love Kay's work and her perfect, deceptively simple illustrations and cleverly restricted palette, and the strong element of fun which runs through all her prints. Kay studied at the RCA (which means she's very, very good) and her label is called Ketchup on Everything. This is her Ketchup on Everything Shop. I bought these goodies from her when she had a stall right behind mine at the Christmas Designers / Makers market in Spitalfields.
There aren't any photos of the boy, because although he was a perfect big brother and let his tiny but very bossy littlest sister paint his face as a reindeer (while being ordered to keep his "eyes closed" and "look up"), he drew the line at being photographed with zigzags of blue, purple and pink covering his face and oversized splashes of red around his nose.
12. Finally, here's a mini present specially made for you. It's a let's-still-be-festive-until-tomorrow spot the difference. For an extra point, can you guess which is the real Nisse?