Meet our Makers in Little Beach Boutique

Here in Little Beach Boutique we love handmade, we delight in being able to showcase new talent and we are proud to be able to offer our customers something different to the high street.

So, we thought we would introduce you to some of our most recent stockists whose unique range of products make an independent shop such as ours a very special shopping experience, and well worth a trip to Brighton.

Mica Peet

We discovered Mica Peet’s work via Instagram and were delighted to find out that she is based just along the coast in Southampton. Mica is a textile designer whose patterns are inspired by colour and nature.  She laser cuts geometric and animal shaped pieces and prints her bold designs onto them to produce her range of individual and striking jewellery, including brooches, earrings and necklaces.  We love her stag design brooch and her hummingbird earrings. Each piece features different parts of Mica’s print, so each item makes a unique handmade gift for someone (but they are very hard to give away!)

Mica Peet patterned Stag Brooch, Little Beach Boutique
Mica Peet patterned Hummingbird Earrings, Little Beach Boutique

A Northern Light

We met illustrator Claire (aka A Northern Light) at a trade show in January and fell in love with her first ever range of lighting.  Her beautiful illustrations are based on the natural world and feature starling murmurations, woodland scenes, and floral patterns.  From her Manchester studio, she has handmade her range of lighting from parchment paper, each featuring her detailed and intricate illustrations.  The range includes tea lights and plug-in lamps.  Our favourites are ‘A New Day’ because it reminds us of the colours of the morning and ‘Murmuration’, because it brings to mind the starlings on Brighton and Hove’s West Pier which roost there at dusk.

A New Day Lamp by A Northern Light, in Little Beach Boutique
Murmuration Lamp by A Northern Light, Little Beach Boutique

‘By Alex’

Finally, we would like to introduce ‘By Alex’ who is our most recent stockist.  We liked her work as soon as we saw her range of quirky stationary and wash bags, because her designs are based on our Great British weather and that is always interesting!  Alex’s textile patterns feature polka dots and umbrellas in crisp, fresh colours and she makes each piece by hand in her Hertfordshire studio.

 We love the fabric on these make up pouches, which are perfect for a weekend away.

Handmade Gifts By Alex in Little Beach Boutique, Brighton
Handmade Polka Dot Pouch By Alex in Little Beach Boutique, Brighton

 Watch this space for more to come about our latest designers here in Little Beach Boutique, visit our website, or even better, come to see us if you are shopping in Brighton – we are in great company among lots of independent shops and boutiques in the North Laine.

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Planning a shopping trip to Brighton? Here’s my Top Ten Independent Gift Shops and Cafes for a memorable visit…

Is it too early to mention Christmas?! Well, even if it is, Brighton is always a fabulous place to go shopping.  It is peppered with a plethora of beautiful, quirky, imaginative, practical and inspiring independent shops, cafés and boutiques, and particularly in the North Laine, we’re spoilt for choice, so I thought I’d offer some inside tips to help you have a fantastic day, starting with a strong coffee of course…

 

1. Cafe Coho, 53 Ship Street

Conveniently located on Ship Street  in the Lanes, this is the perfect place to kick off a day’s shopping. It’s outside seating gets mid morning sunshine and they offer blankets if it’s a chilly one.  I love the stripped-back brick interior, they make amazing coffee and their croissants are delicious. There is also a Cafe Coho near Brighton Station if you’re getting the train.

Cafe coho on Shop Street, Brighton. Photo from lovely brighton.blogspot
Cafe coho on Shop Street, Brighton. Photo from lovely brighton.blogspot

2. Edited, 3 Gardner Street

You’ll probably have been drawn in by their vibrant window display anyway, but Edited is a must-see! They have a varied and eclectic selection of homeware and soft furnishings including colourful candles, throws with vibrant geometric designs, and train ticket cushion covers over three floors of this beautifully merchandised shop. The staff are always friendly and enthusiastic too!

Edited in Brighton, Photo from Flickr
Edited in Brighton, Photo from Flickr

3. Present in the Laine, 34 Gardner Street

One of the North Laine’s newer additions, Present in the Laine has a focus on bright colours and hand-picked gifts. Stylish accessories, baby gifts, homeware and handbags are on offer in this vibrant new shop.

Present in the Laine on Gardner Street.  Photo by www.writeontrend.com
Present in the Laine on Gardner Street. Photo by http://www.writeontrend.com

4. Posh Totty Designs,  31 Sydney Street

A Brighton success story established by Alice Rivers Cripps a decade ago, her original shop in Bond Street Cottages is well worth a visit, but Posh Totty Designs have just opened their flagship store on Sydney Street in the North Laine, where they make and sell their own distinctive brand of beautiful personalised jewellery.  They specialise in stunning keepsakes, hand stamped and made to order with your personal message, favourite quote or child’s names in a range of stylish, contemporary and classic designs.

Posh Totty Designs on Sydney Street, Brighton
Posh Totty Designs on Sydney Street, Brighton

5. Temptation, 56 Gardner Street, Brighton

Need a coffee break?  This is a stylish and cosy cafe (with a license, if you fancy something stronger) with a delectable selection of lunchtime plates, salads, sandwiches and delicious home made cakes if you fancy jumping straight to the sweet stuff.

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6. Little Beach Boutique, 74 North Road

 

Well, I couldn’t recommend a visit to Brighton without a visit to my shop could I, and what better time to visit than straight after a lovely lunch?!  Opened in May 2014, Little Beach Boutique is new to the North Laine and offers a hand-picked range of handmade gifts, many of which are made in Brighton and the UK. I make all the glass pieces in my workshop here and you can pop in to see how it is done, as well as browse a unique range of accessories, keepsakes, homeware, clothing and wall art, including our best-selling “fabulous” felt animal slippers.

Handmade gifts in Little beach Boutique in the North Laine
Little Beach Boutique, beautiful handmade gifts in the North Laine Brighton

7. Utility, 28a North Road

 

Just across the road from Little Beach Boutique is Utility, stocking a fantastic range of “no-nonsense” household goods made by independent manufacturers, including tableware, glassware, stationary and storage ideas. Always playing excellent music, this is a must for your trip to Brighton.

Utility, North Road Brighton.  Photo from www.utilitygreatbritain.co.uk
Utility, North Road Brighton. Photo from http://www.utilitygreatbritain.co.uk

8. Snoopers Paradise, 7 Kensington Gardens

 

No shopping trip to Brighton is complete without a good rummage around Snoopers Paradise.  Purveyors of all things vintage, as well as an art space, workshop and boutique market, it is a haven for a curious shopper!

Vintage clothing in  Snoopers Paradise, Brighton
Vintage clothing in Snoopers Paradise, Brighton

9. Pretty Eccentric, 10 Bond Street

 

Incredibly glamorous vintage inspired dresses and accessories designed by owner Michelle Scott, your Christmas party outfit is sorted for the year! Influenced by the styles of the 1920s to 1950s, they have a stunning range of dresses and separates, as well as jewellery to add sparkle and fascinators to make a statement.

Pretty Eccentric, Bond Street, Brighton
Pretty Eccentric, Bond Street, Brighton

10. 64 Degrees, 53 Meeting House Lane

 

Round the day off with some amazing food! My favourite place to eat in Brighton, tucked away in the South Lanes, it feels like you have been let into a secret at sixty four degrees. Compact in size, with a focus on incredible food, impeccable service and the theatre of the dining experience, you can choose to sit at the bar and watch the magic unfurl. It’s not to be missed!

Sixty four degrees,  Meeting House Lane
Sixty four degrees, Meeting House Lane

So, there it is, my top ten pick of Brighton’s independent shops and cafés.  I hope you have enough time to get around them all.  If not, come back another time! Check them out online before your visit: http://www.littlebeachboutique.com http://www.cafecoho.co.uk http://www.edited.co.uk http://www.poshtottdesigns.com http://www.utilitygreatbritain.co.uk http://www.64degrees.co.uk http://www.brightontemptation.com http://www.snoopersattic.co.uk http://www.prettyeccentric.co.uk http://www.presentinthelaine,com Bye for now Suzanne x

Our first few months in Brighton’s North Laine

Well, the months have flown by and the biting frost this morning reminded me that summer has well and truly passed! After three years on the seafront, I decided to move Little Beach Boutique to a larger space, where I could make my fused glass on site, and we would be able to stock a larger selection of work by local and UK-based designers and makers.  After a good look around, I found a (potentially beautiful) new space on North Road, Brighton.  But it needed a LOT of work…

Our new shop before the work
Little Beach Boutique when we first moved into our new space in the North Laine

Several coats of paint later, it looked like a different space entirely! With lots of help from “Handyman Sam”, I put in a new floor and some beautiful tables and shelves made from reclaimed floorboards and pallets. I added a bird decal which I found on Etsy (essential!) and some vintage display units from local Brighton flea markets.

The shop after a week's work, new floor, walls and tables
The shop after a week’s work, new floor, walls and tables

The final stage was easy- filling the space with beautiful handmade finds!  Of course, the felt animal slippers (which were everyone’s favourite quirky find on the seafront) came with me, as did my “Brighton Illustrated” and sea-inspired glass.  I was really excited to be stocking stunning ceramics by Amy Cooper and Lubilou, as well as jewellery by Brighton-based Hoity Toity alongside textiles by Rebecca Bourne and Charlotte Macey…

Adding the final touches to the display, handmade gifts, stationary, accessories and glass, (which I make in the workshop here)
Adding the final touches to the display, handmade gifts, stationary, accessories and glass, (which I make in the workshop here)

And the new shop was complete!  I have created a workshop in the back with three kilns and stacks of colourful glass ready to be made and fired into unique pieces. I just love having a warm, creative space on the (inevitable) cold and rainy days.  I am also going to be running craft workshops downstairs, which has turned from a dark dingy basement in to a colourful room ready for crafting!

Are you a crafty hen or do you have an idea for a workshop?  I'd love to hear from you. Watch this space for glass making workshops in 2015!
Are you a crafty hen or do you have an idea for a workshop? I’d love to hear from you. Watch this space for glass making workshops in 2015!

Little Beach Boutique has been open in the North Laine for a few months now, and although it was a leap of faith moving to a larger space,  it was the right move and I have loved meeting enthusiastic new customers and well-wishes, as well as local artists and designers who have started to sell their creations here. And I am delighted to say that many of our seafront customers have followed us up here, which is a wonderful endorsement of what we do! THANK you!

See how our Felt Animal Slippers are Made!

When I was in Nepal last week, I made a short video of our Felt Slippers being made during my visit to the workshop.  Lots of people have asked to see it, so here it is!

Video of felt animal slippers being made by hand

As you can see, each process is done individually by hand, first washing and working the coloured wool with soap and water and shaping it over wooden shoe sizers.  The excess pieces are cuts off before being left to dry in the sunshine.

Our designs are developed collaboratively with workshop owner, Ramji Adhikari, and myself.  You can view the full range of children and adult slippers in our online shop, here:  Little Beach Boutique

 

Felt Animal SLippers
Felt Cow Slippers, part of our gorgeous collection of felt for adult and children at Little Beach Boutique

 

Visit to our Felt Slipper Workshop in Nepal

Last week I travelled to Nepal, a country I have been visiting since 2009.  I first went as a volunteer, and stayed to help in an orphanage just outside of Kathmandu.

On my days off, I loved browsing the local markets and admired the extensive handicraft on sale, buying lots of gifts for people back home.  My friend’s children adored the felt animal slippers I gave them.

When I opened Little Beach Boutique in 2011, I decided that the felt animal slippers I had bought as gifts would be ideal for my customers, so I returned to Kathmandu and researched local businesses who could make them for me.

I met Ramji, a local man, who designs and makes these beautiful slippers with his wife Usha and a small team of crafters in his home-based workshop in Kathmandu.  I learnt how the slippers are made; first dyed with vivid colours, washed and shaped with soap and water, then left to dry naturally in the sun.  The additional details, such as the friendly faces, bright eyes and intricate wool details are sewn on on after this.

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Handmade felt slippers hanging to dry in the sun

I started with an order for some felt tigers, sheep and quirky ‘jesters’ and our customers loved them.

I soon returned to Nepal to come up with some new designs alongside Ramji, such as our Dog Boots, pictured below:

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Handmade felt dog slippers made in Nepal

And last week, I returned to Nepal, to visit the orphanage again, view the beautiful mountains and to see Ramji and his workshop.  This is me with Ramji and his wife, Usha, below:

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We discussed lots of new ideas to add to our collection.  To date, our range of felt animal slippers at Little Beach Boutique, includes Cows, Sheep and Donkeys.  And now we also have adult sizes!

You can view our collection here:  www.littlebeachboutique.com

If you have any suggestions for designs, I’d love to hear from you.  Bye for now x

Autumn creations in Little Beach Boutique

It is a beautiful, still, Autumn day on Brighton Seafront and the sea has settled into a gentle, continuous swell after the recent storms.  The clocks have gone back and the evenings are longer; it definitely feels as if winter is just around the corner.  For me it is a time to ‘cocoon’, reflect, restore and use the longer evenings to be creative and come up with new ideas.

I recently bought a new kiln for Little Beach Boutique, so that I could remain open and make glass pieces even when the seafront is quiet and visitors to the shop are few and far between.  I started making circular brooches, inspired by the season – a leafless winter tree casts a dramatic silhouette and a tawny owl on a branch reminds me of the sights and sounds of a woodland walk at this time of year.  Cutting circles into glass is a bit of a challenge, due to it’s brittle nature, so each piece is made of 2 pieces of 3mm glass layered and fused together to form a smooth pebble-like finish.   They are fired a second time to fuse the image to the glass and I have attached a badge finding on the back to complete it.

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I have also been experimenting with making layered glass pendants and creating landscapes and seascapes in glass.  I never throw away my glass offcuts – there is always a use for those small pieces – and making fused glass jewellery is the perfect use for them.

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This piece is a seascape, made from layering small pieces of glass to a thickness of about 6mm.  It is made of small ‘frit’ (ground glass), to create a sand effect and strips of white, blue, coloured and ‘dichroic’ glass, which creates a shimmer.  It was full fused, and after cooling, I filed it down to round off any bumps or irregularities in the shape.  I then layered on the flying birds decal before kiln-firing a second time.  I was pleased with the result; it certainly draws the eye when worn.

I was inspired by these first few pieces so I am going to make all sorts of winter scenes with glass.  They make perfect handmade gifts and stocking fillers as well,  so I suspect each of my friends will be receiving one!

I absolutely love making glass and will never tire of the thrill of opening the kiln and seeing what kind of alchemy has occurred.  If you would ever like to have a lesson in glass fusing, or see how it’s done, do contact me or pop into Little Beach Boutique – http://www.littlebeachboutique.com.

Bye for now

Suzanne x

The sun has got it’s hat on

Hip hip hip hooray!  So I thought it was a good time to take a photo of Little Beach Boutique in the sunshine (and show off our new sign).  You can also see some of our gorgeous wedding gifts, such as our Mr & Mrs Garland and our handmade personalised children’s room signs, made in Brighton.

lbbsunshine

And this is Dylan the dog sun bathing. He comes down to the shop with me every day and loves to greet each customer.  He also likes chasing the seagulls when there’s a discarded bag of fish and chips on the beach.

dylanlbbsunshine

Let’s hope the sun lasts this time!

Suzanne x

Suzanne blogs from her shop and workspace, Little Beach Boutique, in the Artist’s Quarter on Brighton Seafront.  You can see more of her handmade gifts from Brighton and beyond here:

http://www.littlebeachboutique.com

A Great British Beach Break

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Despite it being June, the weather has become a fuzzy fog for the last few days, but that didn’t dampen my enjoyment of a Great British seaside break in Camber Sands with my sister and my dog this week.  We got a dog friendly two night deal at a beautifully transformed former motel called the Gallivant, situated within a stone’s throw of beautiful sandbanks which lead down to a 5 mile stretch of sandy coastline.

recetion

I just love what the owners have done to transform the former motel into a beautiful boutique hotel perfectly in tune with it’s seaside location. I felt instantly inspired by the beautiful wall-art and sculpture made from glass and driftwood –  I had to take some pictures for my blog!  Reclaimed wood, re-used metal and glass have been used alongside pebbles from the beach to create a really striking, contemporary feel throughout the reception and restaurant.

fish sculpture

The seaside theme continued into the rooms, which were decorated with some beautiful coastal touches – perfect decor ideas for a room by the sea, such as this coffee table made from re-claimed wood, which has been roughly whitewashed to create a distressed effect, and seashells and fishing rope from the beach have been capped with glass.

coffee table

It was the perfect base for a walk on the beach and a wander around the local nature preserve.  We indulged in a rudimentary spot of bird-watching before taking a short drive to Rye, a stunning little town filled with teashops, galleries, handmade gift shops, pebbled streets and wonky tudor cottages steeped in history.

rye

We left plenty of time to go wine-tasting in two local vineyards; Chapel Down in Tenterton and Biddenden in Benenden, and bought a bottle of English rose to take home.vineyard

We got back in time to enjoy some afternoon sunshine and sample something from each course in the amazing restaurant at the Gallivant.  They pride themselves on local produce – all the fish were caught freshly by a local fisherman called Russell.  I had their fish pie, which was incredible.  Luckily, there was plenty of space to share a chocolate fondue with homemade marshmellow.  Mmmm.

Well, it was a wonderful way to experience some of the best of British seaside – beautiful beaches, warm hospitality, inspiring interiors, handicraft, local food and wine….and a good run around for my dog.

collette

Useful links:

The Gallivant Hotel & Bistro – http://www.thegallivanthotel.com

Vineyards

http://www.biddendenvineyards.com

http://www.chapeldown.com

About

Suzanne blogs from her shop and workshop, Little Beach Boutique, on Brighton Beach.  You can view her handmade glass and personalised products here  – http://www.littlebeachboutique.com

Making Fused Glass Boat Tiles – a short demo

This week at Little Beach Boutique I have been making glass Sailing Boat tiles and I thought I’d show my readers how they’re made, using this piece (pictured below) as an example.

Framed Fused Glass Boat Tile

Fused Glass Boat Tiles – Layering Glass to go into the kiln

I love seaside hues and pastel tones and think they are perfect for a bright and breezy piece like this.

I use Bullseye Glass, as their colour range is fantastic. For these boats I have chosen Turquoise and Lilac ‘Opalescent’ Glass, which is opaque, holds it’s colour well and stands out against any background.

First of all, cut out the boat shapes with a glass cutter- – it can be a bit tricky as the glass is brittle. I’ve gone for quite simplified geometric shapes but you can be as elaborate as you like!

I have used a clear piece f 3mm ‘Tekta’ as a base and I’ve cut this piece to 6 x 4 inches. Straight onto this piece, I have placed a piece of Copper leaf. It is very thin and quite fiddly, but cut it so that the edges don’t quite meet the edge of the glass.  When it is fired it goes a beautiful blue colour and produces small bubbles for a wonderful watery effect.

Now – the magic dust! Sprinkle small amounts of bicarbonate of soda carefully. I use this loads in my glass, as I love bubbles – it adds texture and tactility and continues the watery theme. Tiny pinches will produce lovely bubbles, but too much will cause the bubbles to burst, so use no more than about 2mm lumps.

Then place a second piece of clear tekta glass straight over this. It will trap air which tries to escape when the glass is heated and expands to cause bubbles. On top on that, layer the boats, as shown below.

How to Make Fused Glass Tiles
Making fused Glass Sailing Boats

Once the boats are arranged where you want them, you can add detail and texture to the glass. Here, I have  cut curves into a 2mm piece of turquoise glass, to form ‘waves’ ad then sprinkled a mixture of fine frit and powdered glass which I have mixed up with broken ‘stringers’ and dichroic glass for added sparkle. The colours I have used are Opaque White, Turquoise and Clear Dichroic frit in various forms. Just sprinkle freely on top.

You might want to add some detail to your boats – I have used an enamel pen to draw on them. You could add names or number if you like.

Then, FIRE it!! This piece has been fired to 780*C. You’ll get a lovely effect in areas where there are slightly larger amounts of bicarbonate of soda, with white frit scattered on top, like this picture….

Made from fused glass – sailing boat wave panel

Framed Boat Tile

When it has finished cooling, you can use this tile as a coaster, slump into a dish, or make a beautiful piece of glass wall art by framing it. You could also stamp it with your favourite phrase, like I have done here.

That’s it for now!  I’d love to hear about your experiences if you have tried to make something like this.  All pieces can be viewed in my shop or on my website  www.littlebeachboutique.com.

Bye for now!

Brighton Festival is in Full Swing…

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Brighton festival is in full swing this month, and the city is bursting with activity;  from dancing in the glorious Spielgeltent to browsing brilliant local art and chomping on cake in one of the Open Houses, there are street performances,  art installations and pop-up venues  every weekend in May, with the weird and wonderful (and everything in between) filling each corner of the city,  and something to do from the moment you wake until well after the sun goes down.

The highlights for me this weekend started with the Swing Ninjas playing at the Warren on Friday.   The Warren was a surprise treat – tucked behind West Street, but feeling a world away from it, the atmosphere seemed to be more like a country fair, complete with tepee , hay bails and barbecue,  than a city-centre festival venue.

The Swing Ninjas were amazing as always.  Regulars at the awesome Mesmerist, the ‘Quintessential Gentlemen of Swing’ played their set of New Orleans Swing and Parisien Jazz in front of a blissful crowd of toe-tappers and swing dancers (nobody stood still),  with a strong contingent from Brighton Lindyhoppers doing some dazzling dancing.

 Jubilee11

 Yesterday I went on a trail of Open Houses, walking in the wind around the Beyond the Level and Fiveways exhibits.  I was so inspired by the  art and craft on show, showcasing Brighton as an incredible city for creativity.  My favourites were 8 Rosehill Terrace, showing some stunning canvasses by Tina Davies (www.tinadavies.eu), and the Dragonfly House, where I bought a beautiful vase by Alison Milner (www.spellermilnerdesign.co.uk)

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There was plenty of time to sit in the garden and eat cake before it started raining completely, but I also left lots more to see next weekend!

If you get the chance, try to squeeze in a  few open houses before the festival is over.   I’d also really recommend New England House, Glass in Fusion, David Williams and Guests, A Family of Artists and Friends for their atmosphere as well as their collection – but there are so many more!

You can also visit here for more information visit www.aoh.org.ukwww.aoh.org.uk

For further info on the Brighton Lindyhoppers, visit – http://www.brightonlindyhoppers.co.uk/

And to find out more about the Swing Ninjas, go to – www.theswingninjas.co.uk

Bye for now x

Suzanne blogs from Little Beach Boutique, a shop and workshop on Brighton Beach, specialising in handmade glass, craft and personalised gifts –   www.littlebeachboutique.com