Friday, 30 December 2011

I've had the time of my life

Yesterday, I handed the keys to the shop back to the landlord, so the whole retirement thingy is starting to feel real now instead of a figment of my imagination. It kinda made me reflect on the amazing career that I have had, so if you want to grab a cuppa, cos this could be a mega post, I'll try and talk you through the last 18 years!!!!

So if you are sitting comfortably, I'll begin. It all started about twenty years ago, in the days when I made soft furnishings and sold them at small local craft fairs. I wanted some original fabric for my cushions and so I decided to buy a few rubber stamps to stamp my plain and boring fabric. I took myself off to Hitchin, to one of the very first dedicated stamps stores in the UK and purchased three or four stamps, a ink pad and some embossing powder along with a the only book available at that time, which was actually not much more than a brochure, published by PSX. It was definitely instant love....I was hooked. My customers at the craft fairs asked me where I got my stamps from as they were really difficult to come by locally. So that's really how it started, I purchased about three dozen stamps from a tiny UK manufacturer and they just flew out the door at the speed of light.

The next door that opened for me was the opportunity to rent a market barrow from Milton Keynes Shopping Centre. To cut a very long story short, I was selected along with one other new small business from hundreds of applicants to rent a barrow, sponsored by the local Business Link, for a trial period of three months. After seven successful years in that location, it was time to move to bigger premises and after a lot of searching, I found the perfect place in Olney, just 20 minutes away from where I live.

I took on the lease of what used to be an antique shop and I swear that when I viewed the shop, I had no idea that the walls were bright pink! There had been so many things hanging on the was pretty well camouflaged!! We had just seven days to get the shop ready before our grand opening and spent most of that time painting the walls white to try and cover the pink before opting for a calming turquoise colour! So here I am with Kelly, my daughter in the background trying to organise the stock. I can't believe how little stock I had in those days!!!!
So shop open.....the journey begins! Over the years, I have been very lucky to host some amazing demonstrations and classes by some of the industry's most talented artists. In 2003, my very first guest artist was the one and only Suze Weinbrg. Suze had literally just stepped off a plane from America when she arrived at my store to work her magic with UTEE and her melting pot. Everyone was blown away by her enthusiasm and talent.

The next guest artist was  Mr Tim Holtz....I have searched and searched for these photographs and sadly they appear to have vanished from the face of the earth but all I can say is that we were beyond lucky as Tim did not visit my little store just once.....he came the following year too and simply wowed my customers with his talent, wit and amazing products.

Not only have we had wonderful guests visit my store, I have been lucky enough to travel quite a bit too. I have been to some amazing places to attend CHA, the show has been held at quite a variety of places including Annaheim, Los Angeles, Dallas, Atlanta, Chicago and Las Vegas. Whilst on a trip to Las Vegas, I had the amazing opportunity to teach a class for my Friend Audrey Freedman at Stamp Oasis. Back in those days, I had my own line of stamps which focused on Shrink Plastic and I took these out to Las Vegas for this class which was such a lot of fun as the students had never seen my stamps before.

A couple of years ago, I also had the great pleasure of travelling to Ede in Holland to teach a class for my friend Joan. Here's a picture of her friend Lia taking a picture of me......I know, we need to grow up!!!!

I have also had the pleasure of my work being published in quite a few magazines. This was my Metal Masterclass project that was published in Craft Stamper.

The following pictures are not in any particular order, they are snaps of some of my favourite projects from the last ten years. This was one of my first polymer clay projects, using some Ten Seconds Studio tools

I was truly honoured to be invited by the guys at Ranger Industries to create a project for their Designer Challenge. I was sent a box of goodies that included all things related to the Melting Pot and a giant ticket to work on. My piece was called "A Meal Ticket" and I managed to fill my spoons with UTEE.

So now I am back to guest very, very dear friend Beverly Seymour from B Line Designs, came all the way to the UK to demo with me at Ally Pally and to teach a class or two at my store. Her gorgeous grand daughter Shelbie accompanied her on her first trip and here they are during set up at the show.
The Following year, I started to wholesale Ten Seconds Studio products here in the UK and Europe and Cheryl Darrow made a trip over to help us out on our stand at the trade show and whilst she was here, she taught quite a few classes. This is the project that I made during her class. Yes, I know it's pink, it wasn't meant to be pink, it was supposed to be burgundy!!!! I came so close to painting a wash of walnut stain over the top to knock it back a bit but everyone persuaded me to leave it pink. I love the style of the piece but I would love it even more if it were green!!!
Back to CHA, this time Mark and I helped Bob and Beverly from B Line to set up their booth, which looked amazing....just like a Victorian living room!
Are you ready for a second cuppa yet????? I know I am but I am determined to finish this post now.

Artsycrafts.....many people have asked how Artsycrafts came to be. Well, I had invited Leandra Franich from Paperartsy to teach a class at the shop. Leandra cooked up a cute little book, jam packed with lots of techniques. She asked me if I would like to teach a metal page to insert in the book.....which I did and everyone loved the fact that they had the opportunity to learn something from both of us in one go. So I suggested to Leandra that we do it again sometime and she had the genius idea of taking it up to the next level and teaching to a much larger so Artsycrafts was born. The arch below was our very first project.

Our friendship blossomed when we travelled to New Jersey together to attend Ranger U. We had the best time, laughed A LOT and learnt even more. Tim, Suze and Claudine Hellmuth were all amazing. It is hard work but so inspiring. We made some fabulous friends too, here we are with our table buddies Lori and Lisa.
More guest tutors......Suze paid a second visit and actually stayed a couple of days with me....she taught me how to shop....properly!!!!!

Artsycrafts in full swing at Newport Pagnell.

This was one of my favourite Artsycrafts projects, it was all about the paint....Fresco Finish paint.

Here we are.....double trouble!!!

Rachel Greig from Dark Room Door also came to teach at the store. What a lovely lady she is and an amazing photographer too.

Then along came Linda Elbourne.I invited Linda to teach some classes at the store to try and take the pressure off me a little. She also demoed alongside me at Ally Pally a few times. She is probably the funniest person I know so this picture kind of sums up what it's like when we are together.
Last year, I was invited by Tim Holtz to become part of his Design Team....what an honour to be selected by Tim to share my ideas using his products. The project below was chosen by Tim as his favourite project of all the ones I created for him.

Then of course we were delighted to announce that Tim had kindly agreed to join us at our Artsycrafts event earlier this year. Here we are at PaperArtsy World HQ watching the website go into complete meltdown as the bookings came flooding in.

And now the event is over, the Artsycrafts team all together with the exception of Mario, Courtney and the Marks who I think were behind cameras! L to R - Karen, Linda E. (also known as Julia or Sweet Pea), Me, Tim, Millie, Leandra, Lynne (also know as Cheryl) and Jo.

Dina Wakley came to play too. She was just delightful. An uber talented artist.....she really knows her stuff.

And the last event, but not least, Artsycarfts with Lynne Perrella as guest tutor. HOw excited was I to be able to take a class with THE Lynne Perella of Acey Duecy fame.....beyond excited and Lynne turned out to be another fantastic tutor!!!!

I love the project that I made in Lynne's class.

And finally, if you haven't fallen asleep yet, a few of my favourite projects from last year.

It has been a long journey and after all that I guess you can understand why I felt the time was right to slow down a little. I will be teaching again a bit later in the year but for now, I'll be hanging out in my fabulous new studio.

So it just remains for me to say thank you to my wonderful hubby Mark for putting up with me being stressy all these years, my family for being understanding when I wasn't always around for their birthdays, to Karen for being the best member of staff anyone could wish for. To Linda Elbourne for teaching classes and being my webmaster extraordinaire. To Leandra and Mark Franich for being Mr & Mrs guys rock! To all my wonderful guest tutors who have visited over the years and most importantly to all my fabulous customers, without you guys, I would not have had the successful business that I had.

Wishing you all a very Happy New Year. I hope that 2012 brings you everything that you wish for.
With much love and thanks, Lin x


Rainbow Lady said...

Lovely piece but you made me cry.. happy for you though some wonderful memories there. Loved the Artsy course earlier this year with the man himself... wonderful. Enjoy your free time and Happy New Year love Cynthia x

Helen said...

What an amazing read - and what an amazing career! Hope you are enjoying your first days of retirement before you get working properly in your studio!!
Hope to see you really soon so I can learn some more fabulous techniques!
Happy New Year.

Jacqui said...

Just brilliant - you've always been an inspiration ever since MK barrow and a class in your conservatory. Happy new year

Trish said...

wow, what an amazing story - I loved it! I can't wait to see what comes out of that stunning craft shed too!

Fliss said...

A fabulous story Lin and so lovely to hear about your crafting journey which is even longer than mine (16 years stamping).
I've so enjoyed the many occasions I've watched you and the girls demo.

Wishing you and yours a very Happy New Year and hoping you have a lovely restful 2012 to make some more fabulous artwork.
Fliss x

Doone said...

Hey, retail's loss is art's gain, I look forward to seeing your jewelery and all your craft projects on your blog, and I do hope one day to be taught by you again, best wishes for you and yours throughout the new year,


craftimamma said...

Thoroughly enjoyed following your journey Lin and can well understand your reasons. Still can't quite believe I won't be able to repeat my one and only visit to your lovely shop and workshop.

Enjoy your 'retirement' and spending time with the little people in your life. Happy New Year.

Lesley Xx

Hels Sheridan said...

Wow, Lin, that is one wonderful story, thank you for sharing it with us... all the very best for your retirement, the New Year and your future.... thankyou for being a continual source of inspiration and for passing on all your knowledge about Ten Seconds (and getting me addicted to the stuff lol) Lotsa love xx

Minxy said...

It's been just lovely reading your story, And an absolute please meeting and getting to know you. Even thought the shop is no more I do hope we manage to keep in touch and get to craft together one day in the future!
Wishing you a very Happy New Year xxx

Kirsten Alicia said...

What an emotional read!! I am so glad I got to attend the AC event with you, Leandra & Tim. I'm glad I didn't know then it would be my only one.
I wish you a wonderful 2012 & look forward to seeing what comes out of your new studio.

Sarah Houghton said...

Mum, I usually shy away from 'commenting' but on this occasion I felt I had to as your post has made me cry. I just wanted to say how proud I am of you and all that you have achieved over the years. Your success is so well deserved as I truely don't know anyone as hard working as you.
I am looking forward to getting to spend more time with you, and Seb said he is looking forward to more grabbing of your glasses, beads, hair etc etc
All my love Sarah x

Brenda Brown said...

I loved reading your story Lin and wish I had got to know you earlier. You have been a source of inspiration to me in the short time I have known you and creativity just oozes from you.
Good luck in all you do next . I hope you have a wonderful new year and I wish you and your family love, hope, health and peace for 2012.
luv and hugs {brenda} xoxox

Jean Straw said...

I loved reading the story of your wonderful crafty career, I too got hooked on stamps quite a while before they were readily available and I probably read the same little booklet as you.I have admired your work since I saw you demonstrating at Ally Pally many years ago and have always been inspired by the things you make. Unfortunately I was never able to visit your shop in person, but did attend a workshop that you did in my home town. I wish you a very happy retirement and hope you get to spend many creative hours in your lovely studio.Jean x

The Crafty Chick said...

So nice to see you share your story with everyone. What a fitting way to take a well deserved bow! And how glad am I to have had the fantastic fun and opportunity to work with you over recent years. I know we have been each other's support on many occasions. We have laughed, cried and every other emotion in between. Even our husbands talk as much as we do!! But this next bit of your life is the beginning of the next exciting chapter. It's the start of the next series! Your kids, your grand kids, your Mark and your parents, and Mark's Mum and of course missy Meg all will love to see more of you. You will be soooo productive in your studio - I bet u turn that lemon into a proper bead by Easter! I think I am just as excited as you about 'what Lin did Next' .... See what I did there?? Lol enjoy! Leandra Xx
soz abt that comment...almost as long as your post... Oops

lisa_crofts said...

Lin thank you for all your inspiration and good luck with the next chapter of your life.

Glennis said...

Thank you for sharing your journey with us, and best of luck for the future

Netrix said...

Lin, loved reading your journey and admiring your lovely art. I'm sure you're going to have a great time in the new w'shop and hope you enjoy a healthy and happy retirement with the family BUT can't wait to have you teach some more artsycrafts!
Lots of love
Jeanette xx

Val said...

An amazing read and some wonderful memories from an amazing time in the life of Lin Brown. Enjoy your time doing some me stuff, enjoying your family, and I know I am looking forward to seeing your future crafts.
Happy New Year.

Linda Cain said...

I didn't fall asleep, I read it right to the very end. A lovely story at that.
I have 2 wonderful pieces done by the Wonderfully Talented Lin, for which I am very thankful.
I't been a pleasure knowing you, and I wish you all the best in your newfound retirement/grandma'll love it!

Your Friend in ART,

Gabrielle said...

What an amazing read! The adventures have been magnificent though you neglected to mention the sheer hard work in between! Looking forward to seeing how the next chapter, entitled "2012 and beyond" perhaps, unfolds! Much love and see you soon x

inkypinkycraft said...

A fab story, wow what a life!!!your creativity is amazing and thanks for all the inspiration and fab goodies, good luck in the new chapter of yourlife..can't way to see what you do!!!happy new year! Hugs trace x

Daniele said...

What a lovely piece Lin, I had tears in my eyes, what an incredible journey but hopefully not the end now that you have time for yourself and family, I so hope you start teaching again as your art is inspirational.....ever thought of on line, I hope that 2012 brings you health and happiness for you and your family
hugs and best wishes

kath said...

thanks for sharing your wonderful crafting journey with us all lin...wishing you and yours a very happy 2012...hugs kath xxx

Jo said...

I did as I was told and sat down with a cup of tea. What a woman you are and an inspiration to us all. All those opportunities you took and worked with, all that enthusiasm and inspiration you shared, thankyou, thankyou,thankyou.
You didn't make me cry but Sarah's comment did!
And now a fresh, clean, no ink on it, spanking fresh piece of paper (or card or metal) to play with - joy! jo xx

Crafty mop said...

What an amazing journey you have had .....a great story wishing you and your family all the very best for the future ......put them feet up n have a cuppa have a merry new year x

Kaz said...

Wow lin, Thanks for sharing your creative journey, wishing you so much happiness with the most important peeps, look forward to seeing what you create next, have a fabulous new year xxxx

Mark said...

Ineke and I read the wonderful story of your craft life. It is really amazing! We wish you a very creative 2012 with lots of fun with your family and friends!

Artyjen said...

Thanks for the trip down memory lane. Wishing you a Happy New Year :)
xoxo Sioux

lin_anderson said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lin said...

wow Lin what a soooo deserve your retirement...thank you so much for all your inspiration your work is absolutely brilliant but more than that you are a truly very nice person...will miss you at stevenage/ally pally but hoping to see you there as a customer...hope you get to spend lots of time with your family and enjoy your fantastic new work shop
wishing you lots of happiness in the new year love Linxxx

minnie_mac said...

A lovely look back on your crafty career. Wishing you much happiness in your retirement, and a fun 2012, and hope to see you again in the future in your teaching role.


Von said...

A wonderful read and what an adventure you have had :)
May the new year be all you wish for and more
Will miss your inspiration
Luv Von xxx

Clare with paint in her hair said...

Happy New Year!

Anonymous said...

Dear Missie Linda:
What a wonderful blog post for us all to read. I know it was a kind of "closure" for you, but for us, your faithful followers, it was enchanting. All those guest tutors, all those classes, all that inspiration -- but, most of all, all those years which you gave totally to your fans! I so understand that your retirement is nigh and that "Linda Brown - The Next Chapter" is going to be family first, followers next; but I'm also positive that we won't lose sight of you and that there will be lots more fun in store for us all.
I'm so relieved that I'm not the only weepy one around . . . and for those who weren't already weepy, I think Sarah's comment would have turned on the taps. Such wonderful things she wrote about you -- and all true!!!
One last word here: a HUGE thank you for your friendship, your guidance, your faith in my capabilities, and your generosity. It has all been appreciated for many years, and will continue to be so.
See you soon (!!!!!) -- much love, Missie Sally xoxo

Gillian .... said...

Lin what an amazing journey you have had, it was lovely to read how it all started right through to the final chapter of your adventure, it brought tears to my eyes then I saw Sarah's comment and that was it! I'm so thankful to have got to know you personally, you have touched so many people's heart through your inspirational talents and your genuine love for what you do. I hope 2012 brings you much much more, enjoy the new year, hope to speak to you soon xx

Siobhan Brignull said...

awwww, wipes away a tear, can I just say THANK YOU, without your vision and drive, I might still be playing with peel offs, (ok maybe not, LOL) . . much love for 2012 the year of retirement and look forward to seeing you some time soon, though ally pally will be a sad place this april without you

Pat said...

A wonderful store for your grandchildren. Please, pretty please with sugar on it put it in bookform with some of your art work for them to treasure.

I enjoyed your story very much.

Enjoy your retirement and all the best for 2012 to you and your family.

Sally Bowman said...

this was a fascinating read: some of it I knew, and some of it I didn't! I hope you will have many, many happy hours in your studio, and will eagerly watch this space for all your future news.

Wishing you a wonderful 2012, full of things for YOU! xx

Anonymous said...

What a lovely way to end a year. Many thanks for sharing your story and for the laughs and inspiration you offer.
I'm truly blessed to have been able to join you in a very small way on this magical roller coaster ride called life!
Cherish the changes!
Much love - Anna

Neet said...

Happy New Year to you and Mark Lin - hope you have a fabulous year ahead of you with the grandees and your new studio. See you soon at the next ArtsyCrafty.
Thanks for the journey - Hugs, Neet xxx

Hilda said...

Fabulous Lin, what a synopsis!!! My friend Jenny remembers your stall at MK, where she bought her first stamps!! How wonderful to close this chapter of your life on such a high - now onwards and upwards to even better and bigger projects!! Retirement??? - nah, that just ain't you!!!!

Isabelle Norris said...

What an amazing journey!! and all those pictures remind us of your incredible talent. I still remember the metal class you taught with Leandra to the staff at the Craft Barn, how lucky were we to learn from the best. I also remember all the words of encouragement you gave me when we had a chat at the end of class, and I'll always be grateful.
So thank you for being such an inspiration, enjoy your time off, you truly deserve it!
Happy new year to you and your loved ones.
Isa (in Canada)

Sally Sharman said...

What a lovely tale you tell Lin, so inspiring. Such hard work but to do something you love for a living must be so rewarding. Thanks for all the classes Jenny and I have attended, we loved every inky fingered minute of them. I hope the next part of your journey will be just a rewarding as the last. A Happy New Year to you and yours. Luv Sally x

Steph said...

thanks for sharing your journey with us. What wonderful memories for you. Enjoy the next chapters
Happy New Year

Sandra Hall said...

An amazing journey - thanks for sharing it with us...all the best Lin, happy "retirement"! x

Dallying Debz said...

Wow Lin, what lovely memories to take with you from the shop. I shall certainly miss your little shop, but I can't wait to see what you get up to next. You just prove that anything is achievable if you put your mind to it!


Dawn said...

Wow...cannot believe you hae retired, it was lovely to read your journey. I would like to THANK YOU for all that you did, your artsy weekends opened a world for me and many others, hope you enjoy your retirement xxxx

Pensandpapter said...

Retirement...well, continue to live well and create, create, create. I am just starting to explore "altered art" and you are quite the inspiration. It's time for me to move away from straight edges and matchy-matchy. Thank you for the inspiration! Ohio, USA