A classic birthday card…

Although I usually choose to make everyone’s card as and when I need it as they are specifically tailored to them and their likes and dislikes, I do try to have some general cards tucked away in a drawer, just in case!

I usually have some flowery ones and some male ones, some thank yous and various other standard things that might just save me some time when I am very busy. This floral painting makes a gorgeous centre for many different things from birthday to thank you.

The image is from our recent CD called One Summer’s Day which features the artwork of Barbara Mock. Barbara paints some amazing indoor and outdoor scenes and I find this painting of roses so relaxing and very beautiful.

The pink flourish is one of our Signature dies – it’s called leafy flourish and cutting it out in pink goes so well with the colour of the roses, it looks great!

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Meet Ellen Jareckie – the talented artist behind House Mouse!

Ellen Jareckie at work in her studio.You’ll know their names and their wonderful designs, but what do you know about their backgrounds and sources of inspiration? Joanna has been chatting to some of the top artists whose original and stunning artwork is transformed into craft products and featured on her website.

In this blog Joanna talks to Ellen Jareckie, the talented artist behind the House Mouse designs. 

1. Ellen, where do you get your ideas from – what inspires you?

I’ve always loved mice, ever since I was a little kid. I find them fascinating because of their small size. I had a pet mouse, named Tiny, who was the inspiration behind the line of mouse characters.

2. What do you enjoy most about your career?

I enjoy many things about my career, and I feel very lucky to be able to do something fun as a career. I work at home, which is very relaxing, and I also take in Just one example of Ellen’s many lovely designs that we featue on the website.orphaned mice occasionally, so I spend the day creating the artwork as well as tending to any orphans. I really enjoy making a needy creature feel warm, safe and well fed, and I love creating new images too.

3. What do you like the least?

What I like least is doing any kind of bookkeeping, but I make myself do that, since it’s necessary to keep good records.

4. Are you a night owl or a morning person?

I’m definitely a night owl. I get up a bit later in the morning than many people do, and work until late at night. But if I’m tending to a critically ill orphan, I have to get up in the middle of the night as well as early in the morning because it’s so important to be vigilant with an orphan that arrives seriously ill or starved.

Pipsqueak, the orphaned piglet, that Ellen hand raised.5. If you could go back in time, what would you do differently?

If I could go back in time, the only thing I would do differently is start riding a motorcycle earlier in life than I did. I started riding at age 48, I think. Other than that, I would not do anything differently. And Barry and Nicole are my agents, and I would keep them, too. They are great people, and I could not do what I do without their hard work. Barry’s marketing skills over the past years were what really helped launch the designs. 

6. What is your favourite childhood memory?

My favorite childhood memory… there are lots of them, mostly very funny ones, so it’s hard to choose. I think that Pipsqueak, the orphaned piglet I hand raised, was my favorite memory. She was at a pig farm, dying of starvation (too many babies in the litter) and I asked the farmer if I could buy her. He said, “She’s going to die anyway, so I’ll sell her to you for a dollar”. Since I was only 14, that was an affordable price for me. I brought her home and bottle-fed her and she lived on our property. I love pigs! They are sweet, intelligent, and have a great sense of humor. 

Pipsqueak, my piglet, tilling the soil while Muzzy the mouse sits on her back.7. If you had to choose just one of your designs as your absolute favourite, what would it be?

It’s hard to choose a favorite design, but maybe that would be the picture of Pipsqueak, my piglet, tilling the soil in a garden while Muzzy the mouse sits on her back. This was years ago and the design was featured in the 1999 calendar!

8. Who do you think has had the most influence on you?

In the book, “Charlotte’s Web”, there are some incredibly endearing illustrations by Garth Williams. It is those illustrations that inspired me the most. There’s a picture of Fern (the girl), holding Wilbur (the piglet) in her arms. Also, a hilarious picture of Templeton, the rat, after he’s eaten too much garbage at the circus – I love that illustration, and that character

9. What was the last gift you gave someone?

The last gift I gave was to a friend of mine who just had a birthday yesterday. I gave her a box of fresh tarts from the bakery along with some hand soap that smells like freesia flowers, and other fun items.

10. Do you have any future plans you’d like to share with us?

In the near future I plan to do a little more animal rescue work, and I also plan to expand on some of the Wee Poppet, Gruffies and Happy Hopper images too. I also hope to get over to the UK to see your beautiful country, and if I do, I hope to be able to visit with some of you. To all of you who are viewing the blog, thanks for all your interest, support and enthusiasm for the designs. And thanks to Joanna Sheen, and to everyone who works with Joanna. You are all fantastic! Thank you!

Thank you Ellen! We are sure you don’t need telling, but you can find lots of House Mouse products in our craft shop on our website. We’ll be featuring more of our wonderful artists in future blogs!



Many Happy Returns!

Here’s a lovely large birthday card that would brighten anyone’s celebrations! The decoupage in the centre is made from Jayne Netley Mayhew’s Summer decoupage and shows some lovely garden robins nesting in a garden pot!

This is a real statement card and, although we may not make cards quite this big too often, it certainly shows off the decoupage! The ivy leaves embellishing the right hand side are actually silk not paper and garden twine has been used for the stem. The butterfly and sentiments are from the same sheet.

Robins hold a special fascination for me as they are so friendly, there’s one that often keeps me company in the garden. I fondly imagine he is smiling at me, but I suspect he is much more likely to be criticising my gardening while hoping that I will dig up a worm for him!

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Ever fancied making a mosaic?

I have had a long held dream of making a mosaic topped table for outside use – so I decided it was time to start learning. My hen-pal and co-writer in crime Julia and I went off on a mosaic course just recently and very interesting it was too.

The important thing for me was to learn about the basics – how do you stick the pieces of tile, what grout to use – even how do you mix the grout – all that good stuff.

We drove over to Kate Rattray’s design course which was held in Somerset and had a really interesting and all consuming type day. You know those crafting days when you think about nothing more than the design in front of you and the peaceful surroundings.

We were really lucky and it was a sunny, gorgeous day and we could have lunch outside. All day we could hear birds singing and even a regular appearance of a nearby woodpecker and a cuckoo. Kate is a very talented mosaic artist and I had great fun combing through boxes of assorted broken china, mirror, stone and other bits and pieces.

My particular favourite is a type of mosaic called Pique Assiette – which uses broken china pieces to create your masterpiece. I have this plan to make a tabletop with vintage flowery saucers and plates that I have in abundance. Once a hoarder always a hoarder!

You can see from the photos how my piece progressed and my first attempt is never going to win any prizes but it helps you get an idea of what we were working towards, I am sure I will get better with practice… OK so maybe I need lots of practice but never mind!

After the course, I treated myself to one of Kate’s pieces, all of which were ‘awesome’ to use an American phrase, but I will leave it to a later blog to tell you more about Kate, and show you a photo of what I bought!


Blue hydrangeas to make you feel better!

One of my favourite summer (and edging into autumn) flowers are blue hydrangeas. Gorgeous colours, fun to dry for winter displays and all round fabulous plants!

This card uses some toppers from our latest Barbara Mock CD which we are launching on Create and Craft on the 21st May – 8 in the morning for the first programme if you fancy an early start! Barbara is a very talented artist and the CD has so many pretty country scenes and images.

The lace backing paper is also from the CD and as you can spot in the bottom right hand corner has a matching blue hydrangea. I have a real fondness for lacy backing papers so in various designs they appear on many of our CDs because I feel they go with so many subjects and I am all for multi purpose papers!

This is quite a large card measuring about 9” x 7” but you could easily use the same combination of backing paper and just one of the toppers to make something smaller if that suits your project better.

I know if I were sent this as a get well soon card, it would make me smile and perk me up!