The Navigatrix at the Morton Steam and Vintage Fair

Sophia Cardea, the Navigatrix

The Morton Steam and Vintage Weekend, Lincolnshire, has been running for over 7 years. It is an event that is authorised by the National Traction Engine Trust and is one of many rallies held around the UK. This was the first time that I had run a stall as The Navigatrix, so I turned to the Etsy community, mainly to the group I help lead In Here Life Is Beautiful. I was delighted to get some thorough advice, drawn from experience (thanks all!) which helped me to be very well prepared. 

The only thing I wasn’t prepared for was that the organiser had been very thoughtful and, because of the weather, made a space for me in one of the main marquees. So, home went my gazebo with hubby, daughter and -oops- my banner.  Luckily, since we live nearby my banner was restored to me at lunchtime on Saturday.

At this point, it only feels right to acknowledge all the help I had in getting there. A ‘mummy friend’, who had heard of my crafty inclination, approached me one day and told me that she used to make jewellery and had some boxes left over and would I like them? ‘Yes please,’ I replied, thinking she meant about ten or so. Just over sixty boxes came my way later that week. These were an absolute gift, helping me to transport my work and display most of the pieces in a very professional looking way. My uncle had access to a large folding table and brought the beautiful cloth and two strips of ‘pleather’ to cover it with. I used a glass sugar bowl I’d inherited for my business cards and my beautiful personal jewellery tree and matching candlestick for displaying earrings.

The plastic boxes for storing and transporting had come from home, emptied of other things and borrowed for this event. Two blue glass bottles my hubby had saved made good hat stands (I’m glad he hadn’t listened to my pleas to recycle them after all!).

The orange boards used to display the felt novelty brooches were originally slat shelves from cheap clothes storage system shelves languishing in the garage, covered by stapled-on curtains given to us by my in-laws. I hope by now I’m giving a few people hope that amazing things can be achieved on a very tight budget, as long as you are willing to accept help from others and be unafraid to ask in the first place! Even my costume, the most expensive bit, was bought in instalments, long before the event, thus spreading the cost. 

The fantastic custom-built goggles are by my brother Matt at . I had commissioned them but he surprised me by giving them as a birthday gift. {Hug} He also re-finished the mirror which used to belong to our Granny. Little personal touches meant a lot to me.
The little balloon necklace is again from Etsy, Elaina Louise Studios. The clip-on olive swarovski crystal earrings are by my Tai-Chi teacher’s partner, Tracy at Because of Annie

The Edwardian style Tea Hat fascinator I’m wearing, I made myself and will soon be available to buy at The Navigatrix, for a limited time only. Because it goes so well with my outfit….

The hairclip was the first item I made and the one that inspired my whole shop. You can now read about the origins of The Navigatrix on my new About page. Etsy continue to impress me with their innovative developments and abundant support. I’m glad to be a part of it!
My three and a half year old daughter was quite
happy to tell passers by to ‘buy Mummy’s pretty
jewellery’.Bless her ♡

“When asked if one is a Time Traveller, the only proper reply is an enigmatic ‘May be'”
~Sophia Cardea
Overall, I had a very good experience, made quite a few sales and gave out a lot of business cards. The comments I received from people there were very encouraging. One of the most often heard was that my items were different and people loved my costume. This hat had quite a few admirers itself! I would encourage any local-ish traders whose items complement steam powered vehicles and vintage cars to get in touch with Morton Steam and Vintage on Facebook or their official website.

Many thanks to all who made the weekend so enjoyable!
Photos by Matt of Arcane Armoury, Instagram images by dollydaydreams
Edwardian Tea Hat made and photographed by Sally-Ann Livingston of The Navigatrix 

The Navigatrix, Interviewed

This interview was written in response to a thread in one of the teams I’m involved in. With any luck, it will soon also appear in   a fellow team mates blog but I thought I might as well post it here for you:

1. How did your shop get its name and what was the main inspiration behind opening your shop?

I was putting together my first Steampunk outfit and made a couple of things to go with it, including a little feathery hairclip. I looked at it and had the sudden thought that people might like these enough to buy them.  At the time, my brother Matt was just putting together the first items for his Etsy shop, Arcane Armoury. I hadn’t really heard of Etsy before he and a mutual friend started talking enthusiastically about it. I asked Matt if I could put my items in his shop (not really understanding how Etsy works) and he said the immortal line ‘Why not make your own shop?’

The name came from a couple of sources. Firstly, having researched a huge selection of Steampunk outfits, the name of one from Clockwork Couture contained a name that stuck…’Navigatrix’. I looked it up on the Urban Dictionary
and loved the description, especially the bit about navigating her way spiritually and personally. I’m a practicing Reiki teacher (Japanese holistic therapy) who loves personal development books, so it seemed to fit me to a tee! I love the femininity of the name and have also been told that it’s sexy…

2. What do you create and do you have a signature product? If so how did it come to be?

I create Steampunk and neo-Victorian inspired jewellery and accessories such as fascinators, gloves, bags..there are one or two other ideas brewing, too.

My signature product, I suppose, is the Governess Choker
as that was one of my first pieces. It’s on my banner and my avatar, too.

3. Where do you find your inspiration and what makes you different from the other people that make what you make?

The guidelines for me are to create things inspired by Steampunk and neo-Victorian fashion; I never make the same thing twice (though I’ve made an exception for certain felt brooches). The reason for this is that, being a stay at home mum, beginning with limited resources, my materials have come from local charity shops and the bottom of family members’ sewing kits. I occassionally buy new findings (earring wires, brooch pins) out of necessity but aim to support local shops as much as possible. However, I am ‘upcycling’ most materials and those are limited. This is why I’m not currently offering custom items – I’ve no idea from one week to the next what I’ll have to work with!

So the materials themselves are often an inspiration. I’ll have beads and wires, ribbons, fabric and bits & bobs laid out in front of me and suddenly I’ll begin to see how certain things look good next to each other and how they can come together in a new way.

Apart from that, other inspirations have come from my background as an ex-professional modelmaker. I’m no history buff but I’ve always enjoyed science fiction and fantasy, so films have played a large part in informing my visual sense of cohesion (that feeling of ‘does it look right? Ping! Yes!’). My brother Matt is a huge inspiration as we get to have Etsy meetings and design discussions now and again. Over cups of tea, of course. I wouldn’t have a shop without him, so thanks, ‘buv’!

4. What do you enjoy most about your craft?

Having the motivation to be creative again after a long respite. Allowing myself to follow my creative urge and be inspired by my materials and others’ work. The fact that it fits fluidly into what little spare time I have is a huge bonus, too.

5. What is your best advice to newbie Etsians just opening their shops?

Do something every day; read as much as you can of the resources available on Etsy, in response to whatever aspect of your shop you are focussing on. Get involved in Teams. Keep doing what you do and list items as often as possible. Be courageous and open to learn. Listen to your intuition – does it feel good? Then go for it. If not, try a different route.

6. What are your top 3 favorite shops on Etsy and what do you like about them?

Number one is easy – my brother’s shop Arcane Armoury
because I am often in awe of what he can make!
…this isn’t easy!… I’d have to include The Engineer and the Gypsy.
I love the name, for one. The fabrics they use are wonderful (more women’s clothes, though, please!) and I’d like to taste their teas. It’s got a good feeling about it.

Another is Brute Force Studios
The LRPer in me is in kit heaven! Perhaps one day I’ll earn enough for one of their amazing creations (hubby is probably hoping I get the cog bra…hmm…)

7. Where else (other than Etsy) can you be found online?

(Here, at my Blog!)

And here:


and find me on Twitter as @Reikiblossom

I’m also on Google+ and LinkedIn.

8. Do you have any coupon codes / special sales / upcoming or current promotional events going on in your shop?

I’ve just finished one round of promotional coupon codes..but..every customer gets a special coupon towards their next purchase. I’m one of the Leaders of the  ‘In Here Life Is Beautiful’ team and we’re nearly at 100 members. When we reach that goal, there will be a special event to win donated items from other team members and I’m contributing to this. Apart from that, The Navigatrix is trading at a local Steam and Vintage weekend on the 16th and 17th of June. There may well be something to look forward to after that 😉