A trip down memory lane with Sue Tyson Designs

Sue Tyson is one of ARTE’s most loyal vendors. Part of the original core team formed more than 6 years ago, Sue was probably the first handcrafted jewelry designer maker on the scene. I (Jan) remember her from the days when ARTE had its first exhibitions at the Holiday Inn Crowne Plaza. Woah! It’s such a long time ago; however, sometimes a trip down memory lane is vital in helping handcrafters understand how their work has evolved in time, and also how they have, as human beings, evolved. No judgement, no criticism. Only a learning exercise.
Sue Tyson has remained true to her niche – which is using authentic Murano glass from Italy in her designs.  Her display is by far one that I enjoy stopping by every ARTE market without fail, because it depicts an artisan who has taken time not only to make beautiful jewelry, but also make the display appealing that you want to touch her jewelry and perhaps buy it!
Sue Tyson designs at one of the recent ARTE markets

Sue Tyson designs at one of the recent ARTE markets

Another of Sue Tyson Designs display at March 2012 (ARTE market). Love the cage!

Another of Sue Tyson Designs display at March 2012 (ARTE market). Love the cage!

Sue shares with us the first ARTE poster that was used at the Holiday Inn Crowne Plaza exhibitions. You can see a piece of her work on the bottom right corner of the poster.
Her first experience in displaying and setting up was at the Marina Market. “It was definitely a baptism of fire for me as the market was every Friday. It was always outdoors including during the summer months and exhaustingly hot. If there was a Shamaal or rain, that was even more fun. Backing onto the Marina, you always got wind in every direction!  You always had to drink at least 3 litres or more of liquid /water during the day. Even though I was used to Hong Kong heat & humidity, Dubai’s summer was quite a shock.”
Marina Market display all those many years ago - Sue's first exhibition in Dubai

Marina Market display all those many years ago - Sue's first exhibition in Dubai

Note the previous design of Sue Tyson's business cards. Sue now has a silver foil emblem on her business cards and gift bags.
ARTE markets then moved to Al Ghazal mall for a very short season. The dark corridors meant that most photographs taken were dull and uninspiring. Still I’m glad Sue did take some photos, as part of her design evolution kit.
At Al Ghazal Mall

At Al Ghazal Mall

Even in those days, Sue's table displays were very imaginatively put together. Note the sponges used as displays.
Early Studio Display by Sue Tyson Designs
Not only has Sue’s display changed over time; the branding of her jewelry line has also evolved. She shares with us a photo of her earliest packaging kit.
Sue Tyson Designs - packaging in the early days

Sue Tyson Designs - packaging in the early days

Sue says, “So much depends on appearance, especially in Dubai.  One’s first visual image/impression that seems to be the key to whether someone sells/buys or not.”
“My main focus, I think is always best quality that I can currently offer, affordability, durability, authenticity, honesty, and good customer service. So that covers packaging, gift bags, add-ons eg. silver polish cloths if they buy precious metal, tips on how to maintain pieces (So many ask if they can go swimming wearing Sue Tyson jewellery.  I would say that one wouldn’t go swimming in one’s  usual clothes/dress so why keep all your jewellery on?).
Early Expo days

Early Expo days

In keeping with the whole Sue Tyson Designs brand, Sue has started to incorporate the PERLAVITA! range of Italian Murano Glass beads in her existing Murano Glass designs. “These are made by Italian craftsmen following a long family led tradition since the 14th centure, I believe.  They compliment my existing Murano themed designs perfectly.”
Sue Tyson Designs as they are currently. Evolution at its best!

Sue Tyson Designs as they are currently. Evolution at its best!

So here’s a note to newbie vendors.  Be authentic. Create your brand from your heart. Start somewhere. And the path will open up, slowly but surely and beautifully.
Follow Sue Tyson Designs on facebook.

In the Mad Potters Laboratory

We recently visited Maria Pearson aka The Mad Potter in her private pottery studio.

Tucked away in the backyard of her Jumeirah Residence is The Mad Potter’s not-so-secret laboratory, equipped with her Potters Wheel, clay and an abundance of ceramic glazes.

For Maria, what began as a mindless hobby for stress relief quickly grew into a passion for clay. She has been working with clay for over 7 years now and is a regular at the ARTE Arts & Crafts Markets in Dubai.

While designing a piece, Maria always thinks about functionality… but ultimately she lets the clay tell her what it will be. She then adds some quirkiness through the colour choice of the glaze and texture finish to make each creation one of a kind.

The Mad Potter’s designs are as unique as their creator. Maria explained, “Over the years, I found my own voice and discovered that I preferred the utilitarian forms when combined with both the beauty of perfection and the element of imperfection. Living in a world of quickly reproduced identical forms, it’s the depth of character and inability to duplicate the organic imperfections that intrigue me. It is my goal to create spontaneous patterns and forms keeping that ingredient of uniqueness in every piece.”

We were especially surprised to learn the rather complicated yet fascinating glazing process behind her work. The glaze application is achieved by both brushing and dipping, and then fired in a kiln to over 2,000 degrees.

We were fascinated with her incredible selection of glazes and glaze chemicals. Much like cooking or chemistry, glazing pottery properly requires thorough knowledge of materials and technique, and Maria has spent years developing and perfecting her style. While her application of dynamic colours and glazes may seem like a reflection of her title i.e. The Mad Potter, in reality it is a laborious process involving, brushing, dipping and dripping.

To follow Maria’s personal journey, visit her website and facebook page.

She is a regular at the ARTE Markets in Times Square Center.

Let’s do the CaN CaN

Dubai, 2012: When I first heard about the CaN at ARTE, I actually thought that they were performing artists specialised in the Can-Can, a dance that originated in Paris in the early 1800s.  I was to find out that CaN is a concept by Celine (who loves chocolate) and Nora (who loves pickles) created to recognize children’s creativity in unique ways. So, parents, read on.

Celine shares, “We decided to write the book together because it was primarily our love for children’s creative ways to doing and seeing things. Children are limitless, their creativity is immense and they are always on the look for new strategies and ways of doing things. Another thing is that children are always proud of what they make, write or draw and as adults we sometimes take this for granted so this is another way for us to recognize their talent.

“When children draw the world around them, they put details in that adults may have overlooked and come up with the cutest of descriptions. It is always a joy to hear the children explaining what they drew and the reason for drawing it. This creativity also translates in language; for example, when they are taking things and putting them into a different context or when they are twisting common sayings…”

‘Bringing drawings to life’

The talented duo (Celine being the writer and Nora being the graphic designer/illustrator) print children’s illustrations on a variety of household and design items (such as cushions, scarves or bean bags)! This concept called ‘bringing drawings to life’ is one of the activities CaN has come up with.


“Mommy, I am an ostrich today!”

This book is a collection of fun quotes from children, illustrated by children’s drawings which we published last year as a hardcover and an e-book. As Celine says, “Children relate closely to the book and their characters and always debate whether that particular character was naughty or not!”

The reason that CaN switched to an ebook is that they wanted the book to be accessible outside of the UAE. “Giving the new generation an inside as to what their future libraries will look like. Amazon is selling more e-books than paper books and the trends confirms each year that passes by. We believe it is important for children to have a dual approach to reading, increasing flexibility and accessibility to the material of the book.”

Cute Cushion

Cute Cushion

“As a natural progression came the book workshops for children the idea to have them both on an e-book and paper based versions emerged. This means the children can share their work with family abroad easily. We have several formulae and have chosen to give Arte visitors a free collective e-book making opportunity. Each child writes and illustrates one or two pages of a collective book which we will then put together and send by email.”

Doing the CaN  CaN at ARTE

Doing the CaN CaN at ARTE

“Bringing Books to Life”

“We organise various book making workshops where children either collectively or individually will write and illustrate a book which will then be formated as an e-book with the possibility be ordered as a printed copy.  The e-books that will be done by the children on market days will be emailed to each participant within 10 days.

“Regarding our e-book workshops we vary the themes as we know children may come and visit several times. One of the theme is about sisters and brothers (I love my brother because … or My sister is a little monster when she…) and you definitely learn funny things about each other! Another theme we have taken for Arte in April is ” I am, I am not”, enabling children to define their identity and its opposite.

“Our published book is in English and so are the e-books we are putting together. When children don’t speak English we let them write in Arabic, French, Italian etc … We are looking at formulas to conduct workshops in Arabic too, so watch that space!”

Bean bags with the kids drawings!

Bean bags with the kids drawings!

Rugs with the children's illustrations

Rugs with the children's illustrations

Drawings by one of the super girl kids

Drawings by one of the super girl kids

“Bringing Art to Life”

Parents give us artwork done by their children over the years. We compile them and print them into a coffee table book for all to enjoy. All the creativity that was hidden in a box or a drawer can now shine and be shared by all!
What can parents expect from CaN at ARTE?

“Arte was our platform of choice because of the quality and the regularity of the markets. We have been Arte visitors for many years and love the variety of exhibitors there. As a vendor we found the organisers to be extremely supportive. They give us valuable advice that helps us develop, they are open to new ideas, they are using all the available platforms to advertise, and they are very reliable.

“We set-up a free activity for Arte visitors. Parents can come with their children and participate into a collective e-book making. Each child writes and illustrate one or two pages of a collective book which we will then put together and send by email. We want to encourage book reading, writing and art skills for children. It also gives the opportunities for the dads to sit down and have some quiet time with the children whilst the mums browse Arte Souk.

The CaN book “Mommy, i am an ostrich today” is available to buy at both Times Square (11th of May, 2012) and Festival City (4th of May, 2012) in May and authors can sign it for you too.

Visit the CaN by Celine and Nora facebook page.

Birds of a Feather

Thanks to Hollywood hipsters, such as Jessica Biel and Steven Tyler, the feather hair extension trend – often seen as colourful feathers that clip into the hair – has really taken flight and is quickly spreading worldwide.

Closer to home, 16-year-old ARTE member, Hannah, is showing fashionistas how a strand of feathers into your mane may be just what you need to get yourself prepped for a truly bohemian summer.

Safe, Beautiful and Colourful

All natural real feather extensions are the simple way to give your hair colour and life; they will not damage your hair like adding dye or highlights.  They are the perfect way to change your hair with your mood or with the seasons because they are relatively inexpensive and easy to put in; your professional stylist can ensure they are put in properly so they last.  When done properly, feather hair extensions can last for up to six months.

How to Wear It

Hannah says: Feather extensions can work with any hair length. If you have short hair, you can wear your extensions two different ways: the length of the feathers can extend past the length of your hair for a dramatic look. You can also cut the feathers to match your length & blend them into your hairstyle.

Low Maintenance

Made from natural feathers, you can treat these extensions just like your own hair. They are water-friendly and you can straighten it, curl it or blow dry it. So style them any way you like!

Hannah is a regular at our monthly ARTE market in Times Square Centre. For more info about Hannah’s Hair Feathers, email her directly.

Daring to be a Superhero – Linzi Kan

There must have been a time in your life when you dreamt of being a superhero. Catwoman, Wonderwoman, Batman, James Bond, even Tintin and his dog Snowy. And who knows, some of us had wicked fascinations to be the bad guys – the Joker or Green Goblin.

Thanks to UK born Linzi Kan, superheros and supervillains come alive in this day and age.  Through her handcrafted line named ‘Gorgeoustuff‘ you can experience all the  ‘..man’ and ‘…woman’ super-stereotypes that you have ever come across in the comics world. This ARTE vendor has a degree in graphic design and has been a colourist in the film industry before she harnessed her inner feline strength to create funky cushions incorporating old graphics of comics.

So if you wish to have Thor-like strength…

… or be feline through and through, like the superhero gal below…

… or perhaps you like the vile Joker

… or debonair 007 James Bond, ‘Gorgeoustuff‘ is your one stop comic con shop at ARTE.

Linzi also has a fascination with skulls, which she thinks is cool (I am aware that many ARTE vendors love skulls, including myself).  Skulls remind me (Jan) of the ‘Ghost that Walks’ troupe – Phantom and his wife Diana, his pet wolf Devil and his faithful horse Hero. The Phantom reportedly wore a skull shaped ring, and with his mask on, he usually looked like a skull head.

Here are some of Linzi’s skull cushions.

The scary ones …

The super scary ones …

The in-love ones …

And the extra-cute ones!

Follow Gorgeoustuff on Facebook.

Photos supplied by Gorgeoustuff, with thanks.

Add a Little Sparkle to Your Life

Meet Laila Lambert, who brought to life her passion for crystals in 2006 when she founded Sparklefairy – the UAE’s first New Age online boutique, all things fairy, angel, handmade & crystals.

Illustration of Sparklefairy made by the fabulous Pink Poodle

Her collection comprises of beautiful handmade angel & fairy jewellery for every occasion including angel callers, wish pendants, exclusive scared geometry jewellery as well as supplying a full range of crystals from giant geodes (up to 1 metre high) tumblestones, raw, clusters, wands, pendulums, very rare crystals, fossils MOLDAVITE & ORGONE. Angel/Oracle cards, unique natural incense (no synthetics) and so much more, she also does lovely ideas for wedding favours.

We especially love her Fertility Bracelet made from crystals have an innate energy to prepare the body for conception.

We asked: What crystals are in the Fertility Bracelet and why?

Laila said: I personally use Moonstone and Rose quartz. Many crystals can assist but from research these 2 crystals are most effective in my opinion. Moonstone is said to help aid in nurturing receptivity and balances emotions, moonstone also said to help welcome new life into the body. Moonstone is often called the Stone of the Goddess and symbolises acceptance and new beginnings. Moonstone may help with childbirth, conception and breast feeding. Rose quartz helps stabilize the energy inside the body. Provides one with love and self love. Rose quartz provides us with harmony and trust. The powerful combination of the rose quartz and moonstone is known to boost the woman’s fertility status. The energy from the Fertility bracelet works by balancing the energy in the body. It is calming, rids negative energy and reduces fears, also known to regulates menstrual cycle, improve blood circulation. As above.

We asked: How effective is it?

Laila said: We never say the fertility bracelet gets you pregnant, but it aids and working with energy is a lovely thing. Fertility Bracelets come from ancient traditions and still continue to be in use today, These days, a lot of women wear these types of bracelets for the very same reason that they were worn decades ago. Women will wear these gemstones because of tradition, out of belief or suggestion from family and friends, in order to improve their chances of getting pregnant.

For more info visit her facebook page or her website here: www.sparklefairy.com.

Cherry Blossoms anyone?

One of the most poignant parts of the ‘Mulan‘ story is when Mulan, the heroine of the story, meets her father under the Magnolia Trees. The conversation goes something like this, “Some (Magnolia) flowers take a long time to bloom, but once they do, they are the most beautiful of them all.” With this, Mulan was encouraged to find her life’s purpose and she became instrumental in saving the Kingdom of her time. Of course, the story is set in China and the cherry blossoms are not the same as the Mulan’s magnolia but for me both the trees’ blossoms stir similar emotions. (I would like to thank Lazar, one of the ARTE blog readers, for pointing out that ‘Mulan’ actually means magnolia. How fascinating).

So when Katarina Kovacevof MojePerle shared with me (Jan) her story of how she created the cherry blossoms pendant in polymer clay, I felt an immediate connection. Katrina says, “Cherry blossoms bloom in Japan during this time of the year.” Further research showed me that this is true for the main Japan cities such as Tokyo, Osaka and Kyoto, though in the rural areas it may start as early as January and end in May.

As April has already descended on us, what better way to begin the month with a story on Cherry Blossoms right here in Dubai. If you are wondering, no, Katrina is not from Japan, but from Serbia. It’s so nice to see how artisans can glean inspiration from other cultures and Katrina demonstrates this perfectly.

How Katrina from MojePearl makes her Cherry Blossom polymer pendant. Photo supplied by MojePearl

How Katrina from MojePearl makes her Cherry Blossom polymer pendant. Photo supplied by MojePearl

The above photo depicts the step by step process that Katrina uses to make her cherry blossoms pendant.  Whenever she makes these pendants in polymer clay, she fondly remembers her grand mother who  loved cherry blossoms. “Sadly, she passed away last year,” she says, her eyes misting up.  I’d say, what a beautiful way to create a handmade product that helps you recollect fond memories of a loved one.

So if you fancy having a ‘cherry blossoms viewing’ or a ‘cherry blossoms picnic Japanese style’, right here in Dubai, pop by Katrina’s stall at the Times Square Centre on Friday, the 13th of April 2012 (and usually every 2nd Friday of the month), as part of the ARTE exhibition. She has other ‘garden’ treasures and roses to share with you, if you fancy these more than cherry blossoms.

Garden earrings. Photos by MojePearl

Garden earrings. Photos by MojePearl

Rose pendant with silver foil. Photo by MojePearl

Rose pendant with silver foil. Photo by MojePearl

Visit MojePerle on facebook.