Year: 2020

A Mouses Tale

My Home Town. I’m lucky enough to live in Gods own county – Yorkshire. As we’ve just celebrated Yorkshire Day I thought I’d share with you some of my local history. The village we live in is Conisbrough, just off the A1 near Doncaster which was famed for its industrial heritage building famous steam engines such as Mallard.

But our little village is steeped in history too. We have a Medieval Castle mentioned in the Doomsday Book & the Novel Ivanhoe.  If you are ever in the area it’s well worth a visit & is part of English Heritage.

The view from my Kitchen window is breathtaking as I look out towards the Dearne Valley and Conisbrough Viaduct, a fantastic architectural feat of engineering and just beyond it is a quarry currently mining limestone being used to restore BIG Ben!

There was at one time a Brick Makers in the village too employing many locals as did the coal mines at nearby Cadby & Denaby Main. 

The other Famous landmark in the village is St Peters Church dating back to the 8th Century and it holds a wealth of history but what I love the most about it is this little fellow

Robert Thompson ‘Mouse Man’

Each of the pews in the church was made by this Yorkshire Man who was famed for making each one of his pieces with a carved mouse hidden somewhere uponit – hence he gained the accolade of being the Mouse Man.

So This Yorkshire Lass wants to follow in his footsteps. I am by no means a carpenter but I do want my pieces to be special for each one of my clients. To this end  I offer the option to incorporate hidden mementos. These include Thumbprints, Angelwings & feather mouldings which can  contain ashes or Locks of hair , photo & signature transfers or Decoupage items of clothing.

If you would like to own a unique, one of a kind item of furniture do get in touch and together we can make your very own Forget Me Not Piece.

What is a Keepsake?

Throughout our lives we all gather and collect things that have meaning to us. That first photograph of our newborn, a rose bought by our first love & pressed between the pages of a bible, a train ticket from a special journey. But why do we hold onto them?

This is where the seeds of my vision for Forget me Not Memory Furniture began.

When I moved out of my childhood home I recall my mum giving me a box with items from my childhood. Things that she had held onto as i was growing up. There were my vaccination certificates, my old school exercise books, my first comic and lots of other bits that she had lovingly stored but ultimately were mine. That box went with me across the sea to the Isle of Man then back again 5 years later & 3 house moves later the box is still in my loft. Those of you that have seen Mamma Mia will recall Meryl Streep singing ‘Slipping through my fingers’ Does this sound familiar?

As far back in history as ancient Roman times there is evidence of remembrance jewelry, using bones & teeth. During the Renaissance mourning rings which were paid for as part of the deceased  estate. Rings were commissioned with their names & D.O.D. Prior to the 17th Century it was known as memento-mori jewelry, a reminder of mortality rather than in memory of an individual. The peak of popularity until recently was in the Victorian Era when Queen Victoria began wearing items of Jet following the death of her Husband Albert, also lockets containing his picture & camoes of him. In the mid 17 hundreds wig makers would fashion rings, pins, bracelets etc from locks of hair. 

Image by GordonMcDowell

In the early 20th Century the industry fell out of fashion making a brief comeback in the 30s & 40s. The  rise in Cremation rates in the past 20 years has seen the popularity of jewelry incorporating ashes . Who 20 years ago would have envisaged having something made that held our loved ones ashes? Today many thousands of us do. The advancement of technology means fingerprints and even photos can be engraved onto jewelry too.

Thumbprints are a perfect way to keep tangible mementos. Today we use our thumbprints increasingly in everyday life. Opening apps, phones etc so what better way to hold onto something so unique than to use it. I have a cast of  my Dads which I was able to take whilst he was on end of life care at the local Hospice.This enabled me to have a silver charm made which I wear daily. I also had a necklace  made for my mum and my niece. It is very precious to me with this in mind I offer a thumbprint kit as part of my service (contact me for details!)

Families can have imprints of their loved ones hidden within a piece of furniture they have refinished thereby keeping them close and creating new history. The beauty of this is that you can do this both whilst you have you loved, but also before they are inturned (after which sadly this wouldn’t  be an option.) 

Many find comfort in other forms of keepsakes  such as using ashes to make beautiful jewelry, and again I offer this as an option. Encased in resin then placed  within  a wooden button, ashes can be hidden or placed as a feature in a bedside table of a lost partner or in grannies old china cabinet for example along with her favourite gin. The ashes would be dispatched in the kit  provided  with your furniture, thereby no risk of them being lost in the post. 

In my memory box I also have the last Christmas cards I received from my Mum & Dad with their signatures, newspaper clippings & tons of photos. Bet we all have those don’t we? Wouldn’t it be lovely to see those turned into new keepsakes….

 I’ve recently decoupaged a newspaper from the day my dad was born in 1942 to the legs of a footstool belonging to my Dads Great Gran. Signatures can be scanned and engraved too. The stools a mini time capsule with a lace hankie of my great Aunts, some crystal beads of my Great Grans  favourite necklace & my Mums ashes in a button. 

Decoupaging photos and fabric is also a touching way of incorporating sentiment. Much the same way as Memory Bears have become popular I aim to offer the option to have for example Mums favourite silk scarf lining a set of draws that may sit neatly in your kitchen or hallway refinished in a stylish colour to match your decor. New handles maybe added to bring it up to date but the heart of it remains Mums. I’ve even used old family photos to repurpose old drawers into wall shelves . You may not wish or have room to keep a whole item of furniture but these make a fitting tribute as well as an exclusive addition to your home and family History. Something to tell the grandchildren about. 

Sentiment and the holding onto memories is in our nature & culture. We like to think that those who came before us will be remembered by those who will come after us. So just as we keep the first teeth  of our babies or have our bridal bouquets dried and mounted in frames my aim is to raise awareness of MEMORY FURNITURE.

 We live in a throw away society  but sustainability & sentiment are a fusion in my opinion. If you Google Memory Furniture see what currently pops up-Memory foam beds! If you google Memorial Furniture outdoor benches are the result. MEMORY FURNITURE isn’t a ‘thing’, just as Memory Bears weren’t a thing 15 years ago. Watch out World. MEMORY FURNITURE is now MY THING. For more details and enquiries I can be contacted on 07876 022343.

Family Values

Family has always been very important to me, as I’m sure they are to  you. I don’t believe you’d be reading this Blog if they weren’t.  They come in all shapes and sizes, extended , dysfunctional & every variety in between. My youngest son once told me I put the fun into dysfunctional. I took it as a compliment.  

 My life has been  far from perfect, but I wouldn’t change it for the world. Coming from different backgrounds & cultures makes us who we are. I don’t intend to get all serious or political, that’s not my style, but i would like to explore our core values. I asked Siri ( as I often do) what are core values? he told me -NOUN ‘’a principle or belief that a person or organization views as being of central importance. ‘’ Once again he’s hit the nail on the head! Thanks Siri . 

I’m sure we can all recall growing up and hearing our Parents & Grandparents telling us pearls of wisdom which at the time we didn’t attach much meaning to but as we’ve gotten older & become parents ourselves we find ourselves saying the same things to our children. One I often hear myself saying is ‘’everything happens for a reason’’. This has become a bit of a mantra for me, I do believe in fate. Another couple which again I was always told & I live by are ‘’ If a job is worth doing it’s worth doing right’’ & ‘’don’t spoil the ship for a hapeth of tar’’ as a child I didn’t have a clue what that meant but looking back these were all life lessons. Morals & ethics to live my life by – MY Family’s values.

At the heart of my family going back generations have been hard working, strong women. The picture above is of my Great grandmother, Grandmother & my Great Aunt. They raised families, kept homes, worked in service, did clerical work, worked in retail & had their own business. Funny that sounds a bit like me….. 

The people who raise us & are involved in our upbringings shape our futures, set our standards & I thank my lucky stars I was raised by the best.

I have high standards that’s not to say I’ve lived a charmed life, far from it. Everything I have ever had I’ve worked hard for & I’m proud of that, I wouldn’t have it any other way. Likewise everything I do, I do to the best of my ability going back to’’ if a job is worth doing it’s worth doing well!’’ 

When I started my business I learned my trade, I researched the best brands, and I mastered my techniques. Yes, you may say, anyone can paint furniture. During lockdown I’ve cut my partners hair but that doesn’t make me a barber! Im a furniture Refinisher.  My service IS MY CORE VALUES. I know my worth, I wouldn’t spoil the ship for a hapeth of tar. I know if I’m doing a job it’s worth doing well. Another old but wise saying is ‘’ you buy cheap, you get cheap’’ Things are cheap for a reason. My customers deserve a quality service & at Found my Niche that is exactly what they get. Whether it be Forget Me Not furniture or a commission piece I source for a client they will get the quality they expect and more importantly, they deserve.

 Please contact me if I can be of service to you & the family you value.

Keep Your Loved Ones Near With Re-finished Inherited Furniture

Before lockdown started, I decided to specialise my Furniture Refinishing Business to the very Niche market of Memorial, Inherited Pieces.

I’m acutely aware, from personal experience, that this is an extremely difficult time for families. None more so than during this pandemic. This is why I feel passionately that my service can be invaluable in creating a tangible memorial to lost loved ones before the opportunity is lost to landfill.

I know relatives often have a treasured item which would make the perfect keepsake bringing comfort and creating new memories in a family member or friends home. This is where I can help. I can work with funeral directors to incorporate hidden mementoes such as thumb prints , ashes etc if so wished. Signature transfers and items of clothing can also be added creating unique Forget me Not Furniture.

I’m based in Doncaster and work throughout the region. The photo above was commissioned by a lady in Retford that had belonged to her late parents. She was going to give it to the local charity shop as she didn’t think it could work in her stylish home. She now loves it all the sentiment it holds .

If I can be of help now or in the future don’t hesitate to contact me. I can help you figure out how best to preserve your loved ones memories through their treasured pieces of furniture.

How I Found My Niche

Welcome to my first ever blog. I’m delighted that you’ve taken the time to join me and hope you enjoy reading it as much as I’ve enjoyed writing it. Never thought I’d find myself saying that I enjoyed writing, but I really do.

As a child I struggled at school. I hated being the one asking for help & not getting any, so in the end I stopped asking. I do recall at secondary school having a wonderful science teacher named Mrs Mason who had faith in my abilities as did my form tutor Mr Watson who was also my Geography teacher. I left Dearneside Comprehensive June 1979, never having been kissed behind the bike sheds like the popular girls. I had 2 C grades in Biology & Geography, but not much else. My favourite memory was that of the cherry blossom that lined the entrance ….

I fared much better when I attended Barnsley College doing subjects I’d chosen and enjoyed. Being a miner’s daughter I had a good work ethic. I worked from the day I left school, first job at almost 16 behind the bar at Ings Lane Social & Social Club in the pit village of Bolton on Dearne where I grew up. This gave me a good grounding & I have fond memories.

After a life of ups & downs, I found myself (through choice) a 46 year old single mum of 3 boys. This was the hardest but most rewarding job ever. I always had the love and support of my Mum & Dad who always believed in me & encouraged me in whatever I did.

Both my parents were quite creative- Dad with his DIY. I recall he once came feet first through my kitchen ceiling whilst working on a job in my bathroom above. Mum was  a skilled seamstress. When me and my sister were growing up she’d make us matching outfits. I had the latest Rarra Skirt in every colour imaginable. She was a good cook too.  We never had much money growing up but we were loved and well fed. 

Sadly I lost my Dad in 2014 and mum 3 years later in 2017 both to Cancer. My world was turned upside down. I didnt cope well after losing Mum & decided to leave my job in Education. I needed time to grieve. My therapy was painting. I worked on furniture for  friends & had a small shop but knew it wasn’t where my passion lay. Much of the work I did was inherited furniture & it gave such comfort to families, re-loving what once would have been sent to the skip.

At 55, I realised, THIS was what I loved to do.  So in January 2020 I decided to Niche my business & focus on  Memorial Commision Work under the brand of Forget Me Not Furniture & the rest, as they say, is history or it will be once this Virus does one!!!!