Thursday, 26 February 2009

Our Favourite Shop - Part 1

Welcome to the first of an irregular slot where we will feature some of our favourite places to shop. First up is the delightful "Maddie Brown" which can be found in Wells, Somerset.

Run by husband and wife team Patrick and Sam, Maddie Brown is a beautiful shop in a beautiful city, packed full of beautiful things - an eclectic mix of things you might not really need, but things that you know you really want! It stocks the great modern design houses - Cath Kidston, Emma Bridgewater, East of India (dare I add dots and spots to such exulted company?!) as well as those hidden gems that you can't find anywhere else.

The City of Wells lies in the heart of Somerset and is England's smallest cathedral city. The city is a bustling and vibrant market town, steeped in history, with a magnificent Gothic cathedral at its heart. Vicars Close is the oldest continuously inhabited street in Europe and still houses those who sing and serve in the cathedral.

Maddie Brown can be found in the Market Place. Markets have been held in Wells since Medieval times and two markets are held each week - on Saturday and on Wednesday and these days really are the best days to visit the town, amble through its streets and soak up the ambiance of market day where you can buy beautiful flowers, fine foods and hand crafted glass goods in the superb open air market.

A visit to Wells will be enjoyed and be remembered - a small city with its own identity and thriving independent retailers like Maddie Brown.

Friday, 20 February 2009

How The Designs Are Made

One of the questions we are often asked at dots and spots is how the designs are actually made. So here's how.

In the dots and spots studio (aka the igloo, aka the creative compost heap) lies a growing collection of paper, from many different sources - wrapping paper, recycled paper, home made paper, paper torn from magazines - and these provide the raw materials for the designs.

These papers are then torn or cut into the individual shapes used to make each design. No mass production here, just dedication, a good eye and a very steady hand! The individual pieces of paper are then arranged and glued onto a cardboard base to create a unique piece of collage art. For those unique and bespoke pieces of work that is the end of the line before being packaged and passed on to the lucky recipient of the artwork.

The artwork destined for the 'dots and spots' range is then taken to a local printer (St. Andrew's Press of Wells - well worth the plug for the excellent work they do for us!) who print the artwork onto to quality card to produce the greetings cards, postcards, gift tags and place labels that can be found in the shops and on our website.

To view an animation of the a card being made, where you can see the image being created, layer by layer, click on the link below:

Tuesday, 17 February 2009

Website Re-Launch!

Drum Roll! Trumpets! Fanfare!

After much typing of code, after much deliberation over colours and after many cups of coffee (and too many biscuits!) the much heralded and much promised dots and spots website has been re-launched with a whole new look and feel and, most importantly, it includes the full new Spring '09 range. Do have a peek, and do let us know what you think!

Saturday, 14 February 2009

Supplying the Demand!

The dots and spots team have been busy bagging and packing and shipping its new range of cards, post cards, gift tags and place settings to stockists across the west country and beyond.

Here are (some!) of the 15,000 (!!!) gift tags that have been punched, individually strung with red ribbon and packed into bags of 5.

dots and spots are keen to support independent retailers in these difficult times and we are proud to be associated with the quality shops that stock our products. All dots and spots products are designed, printed and packaged in Somerset, England. The multi nationals and global banks have made a bit of a mess of things recently, quality comes in smaller packages!

And after all that packing, we needed a good cup of tea!

Thursday, 12 February 2009


On Love

"Your words are my food, your breath my wine. You are everything to me" Sarah Bernhardt

"Love is composed of a single soul inhabiting two bodies" Aristotle

"What I feel for you seems less of earth and more of a cloudless heaven." Victor Hugo

"When you came, you were like red wine and honey, and the taste of you burnt my mouth with its sweetness." Amy Lowell

"In the arithmetic of love, one plus one equals everything, and two minus one equals nothing." Mignon McLaughlin

"The hours I spend with you I look upon as a sort of perfumed garden, a dim twilight, and a fountain signing to it ... you, and you alone, make me feel that I am alive ... Other men, it is said, have seen angels, but I have seen thee and thou art enough." George Moore

"There is only one happiness in life, to love and be loved." George Sand

"To love is to receive a glimpse of heaven" Karen Sunde

Cards for Valentine and all occasions

Sunday, 8 February 2009

The Story of St. Valentine

As we approach the 14th of February, it is timely to have a look at the story behind this day for lovers. Through the mists of time several stories and myths have developed around St. Valentine, with several characters being given credit as being the St. Valentine.

Perhaps the most likely candidate is a young priest named Valentine who disobeyed the Emperor Claudius in circa 270 AD. The Roman empire was built on military might and Claudius believed that married men made poor soldiers so he banned the marriage of younger citizens. Valentine, however, believed that marriage was a gift from God and that it was his duty to continue to marry young lovers. Some of those he married were as young as 12! Such a thorn in an Emperor's side did not go unnoticed and unpunished and Valentine was captured, imprisoned and sentenced to death. Before his demise, however, he fell in love with the jailer's daughter and on the eve of his execution he passed a note to her which he signed "from your Valentine" and, with these words, a whole industry was born!

It is estimated that a staggering one billion Valentines Cards will be sent on 14th February this year, making it the second largest card sending event with only more being sent at Christmas. Make sure you don't forget, and suffer a fate worse than that of the original Saint Valentine!

Wednesday, 4 February 2009

Vive La France!

dots and spots goes global!

dots and spots has taken its first steps on the road to global domination. Although it is very early days, we have entered into negotiations with a distribution agent in France with a view to selling the dots and spots range across 'La Manche.' Quality will out and it would be churlish to deny our European cousins our great products. Not sure what they'll make of the Union Jack card though, perhaps will have to design a Tricolore in the future!

(Wasn't sure what image to use to illustrate this post. Then it struck me - a boat sailing to France, laden with dots and spots goodies!)

Sunday, 1 February 2009

Swimming with the big boys!

Just back from the Spring Fair at the NEC Birmingham - feel like a small fish in a very, very big pond, but a beautiful, attractive and desirable fish nonetheless!

The amount of cards, stationary, gifts and home ware was staggering! Starting at 9 am we walked up and down and down and up aisle after aisle of beautiful things, of needful things and also, dare I say it, some pretty dreadful things! By 2 pm our legs said "enough is enough" and so, despite not having visited several of the halls, we made our way out into the snow(!) and headed for home.

Who knows, maybe one year dots and spots will be there as an exhibitor too. Also sourced a number of spotty items that would compliment the dots and spots range - our portfolio of products offered may grow over the next few months.

So, what were the underlying trends from the show that will be appearing in shops, magazines and in the homes of the most discerning customers this Spring & Summer? (as a reader of the 'dots and spots blog' you are most definitely a discerning buyer!) It had to be Union Jacks and Cupcakes - these will be the images of Summer '09.

The new website is nearing fruition - visit it in its current form before it changes forever at:

Some more of the new images will appear on the blog in the next few days, but for now I'm off to soak my feet in a bowl of warm water!