Hallo Stranger

Well it seems like I've been away a long, long time...

But now I'm back!

So far this year I have been mostly working on The Book. I had this crazy plan to celebrate my 51st year by self publishing a big fat coffee table book. To write my life story from birth until my first solo show. And to go through all my old photos, artwork, sketchbooks.

Well several things have come as a BIG surprise:
   a) it's been very difficult
   b) it's been very time consuming
   c) it will be very expensive
   and d) it's been very unsettling.

I have been sitting at home, on the couch mainly, writing and rewriting. I have sorted through many, many musty boxes. I have been choosing hundreds of images from thousands. I have been working closely with a designer, but by email, so I've been tied to a computer proofing and reproofing pages, over and over. And it's been exhausting in a way I am not accustomed to. I am used to working long hours at the studio painting pictures. I already know how to do that. This year has been spent doing something I have not done before. Exciting, moving, frustrating. But exhausting. I feel tired in my brain and bones. Perhaps I over-stretched myself.

When, three weeks ago, I finally went back to the studio, I discovered I'd been overrun with mice, damp and woodworm. And bills and admin.

Looking ahead to my plans and responsibilities, I realised that the London show would require work to be ready by February for photography and such like. And I had planned to do the Open Studio at Christmas, and another pre Christmas show to launch the book that isn't even finished yet. And it's October already.

I am deciding to shelve the book, practically finished, until the new year after my London show so I have time to really think about a launch, a really good finish and to save up the pennies. I am deciding to cancel the December Open Studio, the puppet shows, and the pre-Christmas launch exhibition. I am going to focus on the show at Panter and Hall opening 28 April 2015. I've only been working on it for a week and I have a feeling it's going to be a real humdinger. I've been away from the studio for ages and I have so many ideas. I am SO RELIEVED to be back to my day job. The mice are gone, the woodworm checked and the walls replastered. I am excited about the new work. It feels like coming home.

Other news?

I've been working on a brand new card range for Art Press, as well as refreshing old ranges. You can see and buy them here at MustardShop.

I have been in talks with the Art Group about our plans going forward for posters and prints. Watch this space.

I've made a model of dear Mr Mustard and am thinking of getting a small, limited edition cast. And if it turns out well, I may well do a couple more to be launched at the Panter and Hall show.

The 2015 calendar is out!!! Frankly I had forgotten what it looked like as we planned it many moons ago. But I have just received my samples and I think it's the best yet. It's made of paper you can actually write on (thanks to your helpful feedback last year), little stories for each month and a gorgeous restful colour palate. Until yesterday I'd only seen it on screen and I must say I am absolutely delighted with it. It's there on MustardShop right now.

And for whatever reason we have a quite a lot of large signed posters available. So for the month of November, if you buy any large poster (60x80 or 50x70) Nan will send you another of your choice absolutely free. You'll need to contact her on mustardshop@aol.com or 01326 280976 with your choices. They will be sent to you PDQ while stocks last. That's BUY ONE GET ONE FREE on large posters during the month of November, saving you up to £32 each time. Sounds like a bargain.

Mr Mustard visited Cornwall last week. Unusually he left Doris dog at home in Brighton, and spent the weekend in a lovely little B&B. He stayed with Nan Mustard at the Manse and she rather conveniently had a dog he could borrow for his daily constitutional. Hearing his stories, it got me thinking. I wonder whether any of you lovely people know that Nan Mustard (who runs MustardShop) has been letting out a room as a Bed and Breakfast for the last several years? A very comfy bed and a delicious breakfast, to be exact.

The Manse is a lovely homely sort of a house. Stuffed with pictures and old things to look at. Lovely stuff handed down from Nan's mum and Grandpa Ray's brother. A fair few original Sam Toft's from ages past as well as present. And Nan runs Mustardshop from the garage.  You can read other people's experiences on TripAdvisor here.

St Keverne is smashing village. Very small. Two pubs, a restaurant, a Post Office, a general store, a village square, a little church and that's just about it. The local restaurant is called the Greenhouse and Nan puts pictures up on the wall there. Mr Mustard enjoyed the lovely Pumpkin Soufflé with wilted greens, and then Treacle Tart with clotted cream for afters. There's even meaty delights if you're so inclined. And if you take a left out of the house, passing Daffodil Cottage and the Old Rocket House, in a minute you're at Well Lane where there's a back yard full of curios to feast your eyes on. Then a tree lined path down to a babbling brook, and across the fields to the sea and a pint at the Five Pilchards at Porthallow. Or maybe take a short detour to Roskilly's at Tregellast Barton Farm, St Keverne. Stroke the Jersey cows then sample their ice cream, the fudge and the Croust House Restaurant. I only mention these things as dear Mr M doesn't drive and explores his surrounding on foot. If you have a car then St Ives is near. A Noodler's paradise. And you can get return flights from Newquay to Gatwick (50minutes) for less than a tank of petrol if you book ahead.

The added pleasure for Mustard Lovers is that Nan is there, and between cooking your breakfast and chatting about your day she can bring you a host of goodies, post free, from the MustardShop. Picture the scene. While you eat your blueberry pancakes in the Snug, you could be looking through the goodies on Nan's little iPad. Make your choices and then before you leave Nan will bring you your packages. She'll give you 20% off all purchases! But there'll be a free Mustard Goodie Bag in your room whatever the weather. £60 a night for a lovely homely stay and a chance to shop.

I will leave you now, and ask you to pencil in some dates.

  • My solo Show at Panter and Hall in London runs from 28 April to 15 May 2015. Please contact them if you'd like a catalogue nearer the time
  • The whole month of November is Buy One Get One Free on large signed posters.
  • And 20% off all merchandise (and a lovely goodie bag) when you stay at The Manse.  Contact Nan Mustard at mustardshop@aol.com or 01326 280976 to enquire.
Now, I must get on with painting and walking the dogs.  I'll say Good Day to you,

All the best from sunny Brighton!

Sam Toft

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