Archive of previous Blogs

Below you will find our previous blogs relating to older events and happenings here in our Bookshop!

Harry Potter Book Night - 05/02/2015

In case you were not aware, on Thursday 5th February 2015 Bookshops, libraries, schools and community groups around the world took part in Harry Potter Book Night, and we are excited to have a been a part of it.  We adore Harry Potter here at Nutshell having been around when the books were first released - and yes, we queued up in the midnight madness to get our copies - so were committed to passing the same magic onto the new generation of children  It seemed fitting that Harry Potter would be the very first event we would hold at Nutshell! 

As we are small studio, we sold tickets to the event for children to come to with their parents and very quickly filled all 15 places and handed out the invite scrolls.  We were sorry to receive phonecalls after we sold out but hoped that those that missed a place at ours managed to get one in the local libraries or Chicken and Frog Bookshop as we recommended!  We chose to hold the evening between 5pm-7pm and thanks to the amazing pack sent through frm Bloomsbury we had a multitude of activities to chose from to make a truly magical evening.  But first on the agenda was to book an Owl visit!


I love owls, I really do, they are beautiful, magnificent and wise.  So when I visited the Imperial Bird of Prey Academy here at Barleylands and was introduced to a small but adorable owl called The Duke, I was extremely excited to have him as part of our evening. 

We then spent the month running upto the event using our craft skills to turn Nutshlell into our own version of the Wizarding world.  We created wands, house banners, floating candles, potions and wizarding books to display around the shop and the highlight was our dragons nest, complete with dragon and eggs!


We hired our costumes from Dress The Part at Barleylands and got a good stock of all the lovely books in their new covers done by Jonny Duddle, I have to say, the new illustrations are AWESOME!

On the night, it was wonderful to see so many excited faces!  All the kids had dressed up for the event and even some of the parents too!  They entered our wizarding world and we started the night off by talking about Harry Potter - we read about the Sorting Ceremony before holding one of our very own with our big sorting hat and very small sorting stool!  

The kids were sorted into Gryffindor and Hufflepuff and their parents - balanced precariously on the stool, were sorted into Ravenclaw and Slytherin.  Throughout the evening we threw questions about Harry Potter out into the group and correct answers one points (or sweets) for their house!  We even had a couple of Hermiones who were bouncing up and down on the edge of their seats to not only answer but give more information for bonus points.

We then had the owl visit from The Duke and his handler Megan.  He had just woken up and made cat noises at the children while they stroked him.  They all had a chance to make a good fuss of him - and he clearly seemed to enjoy it.  Event he parents got some 1 on 1 time with The Duke.  We discussed the owls in Harry Potter and how they are wild animals, and the children all asked Megan lots and lots of interesting questions about The Duke.


Once The Duke had finished his visit we swifly moved onto wands!  After a discussion about how Harry went to Ollivandors to get his wand, the children and adults all selected a wand - or rather the wand selected them, and we proceeded to lessons.

We started with the disarming spell - Expelliarmus which worked so well it took the wand right out of my hand.  We then worked on Petrificus Totalus - again, I was the unlikely victim being frozen and unable to move.  Thankfully with the children's knowledge of Harry Potter this did not last long and was ended with a shout of 'Finite Incantatum!'


They then moved on to the levitating spell - Wingardium Leviosa.  With some practice the Ravenclasw's and Slytherin's stepped up first to levitate a feather - and suceeded in making it twitch and fall sideways of the table.  However the Hufflepuffs and Gryffindors stepped up and with much  enthusiasm made the feather float straight up! (it is still in our rafters at the moment0

We then discussed Patronus' and the Children all sat down and drew what their own Patronus would look like - and named them.  We now have a display of their artwork under our storytree for visitors to admire!

We finished off with a game of Petrified Potters and a reading about from the book - the confrontation with the Troll' - before we finally handed out prizes.  We had a prize for Fancy Dress which went to young Riley who paid attention to the detail of his Harry Potter costume, even writing on his hand in red pen 'I must not tell lies' - he won a copy of 'Tales of Beedle of the Bard'.  The honorable mention went to one of the parents who had dressed up complete with wizarding robes!  Sweets were divided between the houses who won them and certificates given before we sadly finished the evening.

We had so much fun with the Harry Potter Night, and can't wait to do the same next year!

New Studio - 03/08/2014

What a BUSY week we had!  

Those of you who have been avidly following the Facebook page will know, this week Nutshell Studios moved from Studio 55 to Studio 54.  Yes, that's right...just next door to where it was.

Why the move?  I hear you ask.  Well there were a whole bunch of reasons, noise etc however the main reason is because where as before I was sharing the studio, now Nutshell Studios has a WHOLE studio to itself!  

The studio is expanding to develop with the business.  This is now going to be a studio focused on Storytelling.  There will still be the artwork/illustration and the welcoming of commissions as with the old studio, however now the studio will include a bookshop where you can purchase an array of children's books and refernce books on art.  Also we will be creating handmade books in the studio which wie can personalise to suit you.  AND when it opens, it will be open full time Tuesday to Sunday - now that makes me happy!

This will truly make Nutshell Studios your one stop shop for storytelling as this is such an important part of childhood to help develop the imagination.  You can find stories in the art, in the books and purchase the tools to make your own story.

We will also be welcoming Michelle into the studio with her own desk, bringing another illustrator into the picture.

Finally, we are looking to have storytelling sessions and workshops in the future.  Watch this space.

So now you are as suitably excited about this new venture as we are let me talk about what we got upto this week.

Initially we were faced with a studio with no flooring.  Now I am no flooring expert... in fact I have never layed flooring in my life.  However Michelle - who has been amazing help every day this week, came to the rescue.  (it should be noted that Michelle has about as much experience with flooring as I do) and with a lot of hard work and patience...not to mention aching back, knees and everything else, we seemed to have suceeded and done a prettu darn good job!

Of course it would be unfair for me not to include a photo of Michelle at this stage... this shows how we felt at the end of all those tiles being layed.  Well done Michelle.

So with the floor down we spurred onto the next day full of energy.  All the furniture was moved across to the new studio and the rest of the day was spent wandering aimlessly round IKEA for the rest of the furniture/accessories we needed.  Fuelled by a Chocolate goo cake and a hotdog we managed to fill 2 trolleys of flatpack and fun stuff.  Admittedly I was dreading carrying it up to the studio however with the assistance of my ever helpful Father and the trolley from the photographer guy at Barleylands we managed it OK.

The next two days seem to pass in a blurr of buidling flat pack Ikea...

The best day has to be a shopping trip upto I and A books, these guys were amazing.  A warehouse full of books at amazing prices for us to stock up on.  Despite the long journey it was definitaely worthwhile and has enabled us to fill our shelves with much needed stock.

Which brings us to yesterday, the last of the crazy days.  Along with a trip to Battlesbridge, we got the furniture where we wanted it and started creating the book shop section as you can see here, complete with Dr Seuss quote and our beautiful storyteller stool.

So the studio is well on its way, however there is still a lot to do before it is ready to open.  We are looking at August Bank Holiday weekend for the grand opening and will keep this updated.

The most important part of this week however was a visit from Gizmo... who of course checked the whole studio over and approves.

So BIG thank you for everyone who helped this week!  

More updates to come next weekend.






Yes, this is my lovely doggy Gizmo who paid me a visit in the studio this week!

The Armed forces weekend was a roaring success at Barleylands, they seemed to have plenty of visitors on the showground, however not many people wandering around the Craft Village.  I can only assume that the lovely visitors were paying their respects to those who serve our country, past and present.

Still. while listerning to the planes soaring overhead, I managed to have a very productive weekend, completing 4 paintings, starting on another one, creating 3 bandanas and 2 more stamp designs.  Busy busy busy!

The icing on the cake was showing a dog owner a picture I did of his 2 dogs, thankfully he liked them :)

And to top the weekend off, Simon brought Gizmo to the studio as she enjoyed staring at people until they noticed her moving with an exclamation of...'Oh she is not a stuffed toy!'  


Anyhoo, not back in the studio this coming weekend due to other work. however I will be there first weekend in July as normal.  Meanwhile, my glamorouse Mum...has insisted in sitting there for a few hours this weekend and so would love a visitor or two if you happen to be in the area.


Toodle Pip wot wot




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