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Litter picking part deux

33 bags of litter

I recently posted about a litter pick on one of the roads leading to our village. The response to that was good enough for us to take another run at it. Since the second event differed fairly significantly from the first, I thought I’d write about it, in case it should prove useful to anyone considering organising a local litter pick themselves.

Last time, the local contractor provided us with a box of grabbers, gloves enough for everyone, litter bags and hi vis waistcoats. I assumed that this would be the case for round two as well. It wasn’t.

When we arrived to collect the kit, nothing had been set aside for us. In spite of an exchange of emails confirming everything, no record had been made anywhere that we were coming. Fortunately, because we were a small group, they were able to rustle up enough grabbers for us, and we were given more than enough bags. But that was it. No gloves and no hi vis. The gloves weren’t the end of the world: most people have gardening gloves. But the lack of hi vis was a distinct worry. The road we were working has no pavements. In fact, on one side of the road, there isn’t really even a verge to speak of. Since there is also a blind bend, there was no question of sending people out there without making them as visible as possible to oncoming traffic.

I posted a few frantic messages in various social media spaces and was able to beg and borrow enough hi vis waistcoats to go round.

In March, the spring foliage was only just starting to come in, and the litter was much more visible and accessible. This time around, the foliage was much denser, making it more difficult both to see and to retrieve the litter. You would think that that would mean we collected less, wouldn’t you? Not so.

Last time, we had a team of about six people, and we collected 15 refuse bags of litter in two hours, over a distance of less than half a mile. This time, we had a team of 10, and we collected 33 bags of litter in two hours within the same sort of distance.

We found fewer unusual items on this outing, but the prize probably goes to the heavy tractor tyre, filled with sludge, which had to be dragged up out of a deep ditch. There was also a pile of about 8 black bin bags filled with builders’ rubble – dumped about 100m further along in the same ditch – which we were unable to retrieve. We’ve reported both the tyre and the builders’ rubble to the local contractor, and we hope that they will be collected soon.

Last time, the day was cool and overcast. This time, the sky was blue, the sun was shining and the mercury was cheerfully high. So hats, sun screen and a water supply were definitely needed.

The most common items retrieved were plastic bottles, drink cans, food wrappers and glass bottles.

Lessons learned, hints and tips

  1. Place your booking for the litter picking kit with your local provider. Find out if there’s a formal process you can go through to make sure that you don’t fall between the cracks.
  2. Order enough kit for everyone. Even those who tell you they have their own grabbers. They probably have one of those doohickeys designed for picking up things about the house. They really aren’t strong enough to drag a recalcitrant, half-buried soda can from the undergrowth.
  3. Make sure you know what you’re getting from the contractor. If gloves and hi vis gear aren’t included, ask around: many people have their own and may be willing to lend theirs to you. Don’t shrug off the hi vis gear. It’s absolutely vital that your team is as visible as possible – especially on country lanes with no pavements.
  4. If you’re working country lanes, it’s better to work during the months when the foliage is sparse. The litter is more visible and easier to retrieve. Also, you’re less likely to disturb the home of a small animal which might have young. In the warmer months, when the plant growth is more dense, it’s perhaps better to stick to working residential roads and public spaces.
  5. It’s best if your team works in pairs or small groups, especially if you’re working country lanes. Two people are more visible to passing traffic than one. And if one person gets hurt or stuck, it’s good to have someone on hand to help out. Also, if you find larger items (like tractor tyres or TV sets), it might take more than one person to retrieve it.
  6. Have your team tie their filled bags off and leave them by the side of the road, then collect them all up at the end. If people have to drag filled bags to a central point as they fill them, it means they have less time to actually pick up the litter. It’s also more exhausting. It follows from this that the litter pickers should carry enough spare bags with them that they don’t need to come back for more each time they fill one.
  7. Advise people to wear hats, sunglasses or protective eyewear, and sunscreen. Of course, if they choose not to, that’s their prerogative. But it doesn’t hurt to take along some sun screen for people to use, just in case. When it comes to hi vis, though, I would put my foot down if you’re working country lanes: if you’re not prepared to wear it, I’m not prepared to let you take part.
  8. Provide water – and put someone in charge of distributing it up and down the line of workers.
  9. Take along some kind of cream to treat nettle stings. I didn’t do this, and I wish I had.
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Great British Spring Clean

You’ve heard me complain about it before: over the course of the last few years, the roadside litter situation in Northamptonshire (and beyond) has significantly worsened. The plant growth along the A45 in recent months has been festooned with so much plastic that it takes my breath away. It’s particularly noticeable during the winter months, when there is no foliage to conceal it. Fly tipping is also on the increase, and in addition to the sort of litter that is thrown from the windows of passing cars, our roadsides have become dumping grounds for electrical appliances, sofas, tyres and all manner of other detritus of human existence. The ridiculous part of this is that I live within an easy drive of four drive-in recycling centres, all of which are closed two days a week, but those closures are staggered, so that there is always at least one of them open on any given day. This is one of my hot button topics.

Waiting for someone to do something, and whinging because no-one was doing anything didn’t seem to be working as an approach. So I decided that – being someone myself, as luck would have it – I would do something about it.

I live in the sweetest little village and, while the village itself is relatively clean and attractive, the roads leading to it are not. The subject of the state of the roads surrounding the village comes up fairly regularly on the community FB page. I was a little nervous, because we’re comparatively new to the village, and sometimes people can be resentful when Johnny-come-lately types start sticking their oar in. But the initial reaction was positive, so I decided to go ahead.

I contacted the local council, and learned about the nationwide Great British Spring Clean. I don’t know where the initiative was publicised, but I hadn’t known anything about it until that point. I had to get a bit of a wiggle on to schedule our local village litter pick within the time scale, but we managed it. Norse, which manages our local refuse and recycling, was very supportive and helpful. They provided me with gloves, bags, grabbers and hi-viz vests for all the volunteers. They also supplied guidelines and suggestions.

On Saturday morning, armed with grabbers, sporting our natty hi-viz vests and wearing protective gloves, we headed off to tackle one of the roads leading to and from our village. The group size vacillated between five and six people as some left and others joined, depending on their availability. As we worked, several passersby thanked us for our efforts, and asked to be included next time. The subsequent reaction on social media spaces has been positive enough to warrant a repeat.

Fly tipping

Some of the items we collected had clearly been there for some years, if the prices printed on the beer cans were anything to go by. Do you remember when beer cost 65p a can? Many cans and bottles so hidden by the plant growth, that we only became aware of them when we stepped on them and heard the tell-tale sound of plastic or metal crunching underfoot. The thing I was most concerned about was plastic wrappers and packaging – the sort of stuff that can throttle an animal. There was plenty of that.

We allocated two hours to the task, during which time we collected 15 bags of litter. We also encountered a pile of garbage that had clearly been fly tipped, and which included many items too large to fit into our bags. This pile we moved to the roadside where it could be seen and collected by the team due to pick up the bags.

Among the more unusual items we found were:

  • a pair of handcuffs, in their pouch – consensus was that they were the real deal, rather than the kinky bedroom games sort, what do you think? See picture.

    Handcuffs – real or kinky?
  • a washing up bowl – perfectly intact
  • Best Dad in the World coffee mug – also perfectly intact. Do you think Dad was demoted?
No longer the best Dad?
  • three chisels (not all in the same place)
  • a toaster
  • a television set (excuse the blurry photo)
TV set

We finished up at 12:30 and adjourned to the local WMC for a pint together. The mood was very positive, and people were keen to do it again.

I highly recommend it. If you’re hesitating for some reason – perhaps (like me) you think that someone else would be a better candidate – take a deep breath and make the call to your local council.

And yes, I get it – you pay your taxes and the local authorities are supposed to use that money to do this stuff. And perhaps the reasons it hasn’t been done are valid, and perhaps they aren’t. The fact remains that until something is done about it, you have to live with the litter. Waiting for ‘someone’ to do ‘something’ doesn’t seem to be a viable approach. And, if nothing else, this is a great way to connect with the local community.

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Lessons learned about markets

I recently posted about handmade gifts, and the items I was taking to a Christmas market in a nearby church. I worked very hard in the lead up to the market, making loads of small ticket items, ranging from £2-£20. I made sure that I had enough stock to replenish as I made sales.

It turned out to be a bust.

Stallholders spent about two hours and change, setting out our wares before the market opened. A queue of customers had started forming at the doors at 12:15. A good sign!

When Father Christmas opened the doors at 1pm, with a ring of the bell and a ‘ho ho ho’, there was a minor stampede. But the horde had a common purpose. They were not interested in the handmade jewellery, or the customised, handpainted maps of the village, or the handmade items of decor. They were all interested in only one stall: bric a brac.

Perhaps you’re not familiar with the term bric a brac. Perhaps you know it as a ‘white elephant’ sale. The village church had been receiving donations for some time. Enough of them to fill the entire stage of the village hall where the market was held. Items ranged from old handbags to lampshades to knitting needles to unidentifiable tat. Proceeds from the sale of these items were clear profit.

And that was what the crowds wanted.  The rest of us scarcely got a look in. I barely made my pitch fee back. The way in which visitors descended on the stall was unnerving. There was no actual hooliganism, but there was a certain set of jaw and single-minded focus that I found unsettling. I am fairly sure that a fair few bruises were given and received among those I observed. My stall was next to bric a brac, and I was certainly elbowed out of the way. I retreated to the other end of my own stall for safety. One lady’s walking stick was kicked under the table and she was too afraid to bend down and retrieve it. I didn’t blame her!

This wall sconce
That crocheted bag

Once the first wave had subsided, and visitors were coming up for air, a few people asked me for the prices of some of my pieces. They looked horror struck when I said that this handmade wood-and-brass wall sconce was £7.00 or that  hand crocheted pineapple bag was £20.

The items at the bric a brac stall were 50p or £1 or perhaps £2 for the higher end items. By comparison, my prices were exorbitant.

I later learned that the crowds were not shopping for Christmas gifts for loved ones. Apparently they’re ‘car booters’ on the hunt for pearls for a pound or diamonds for a dollar, and they constitute the bulk of the turnout at markets in more affluent villages. To the extent that the locals tends to stay away.

To sum up:

  • I made my pitch fee back, so that’s something.
  • I still have the stock, and perhaps there are buyers out there for it.
  • I will be listing items here as soon as that part of the site has been constructed, but it is unlikely that I will make many more sales pre-Christmas.
  • I will continue to look into the market stall idea for some of my smaller ticket pieces, but any market that includes a bric a brac or white elephant stall is out. The people who shop there don’t want what I’ve got.
  • This is a learning curve, and I embrace the lessons learned and move forward from them.
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Local craft-and-coffee

A few months ago, Mr Namasi and I moved from a town with an estimated population of 50,000 (75,000, if you include the rest of the borough) to a village with a population of fewer than 900. There is no shop, no post office, and only one pub in the village.

And I love it. I’d like to see out my days here.
We have made an effort to engage with the community: attending the various functions at the local church, eating in the local pub, joining the FB group, etc. I started a chapter of nextdoor, a UK based online community site, which automatically connects members within close proximity to each other.
I also started a monthly craft-and-coffee. Although I offer 1:1 and small group sessions, for which I charge, I also wanted to have some sessions which were just about engaging and sharing.
So far, we’ve had three get-togethers. For the first one, we each brought our own projects and talked about what crafts we like to do. One of the ladies brought along a beautiful mixed media wall hanging she’d made.
So, for the next session, we explored that. Here are the two pieces I made (I should point out that I continued the work at home – I didn’t manage all that in two hours!)
Mixed media cushion cover
‘Garden’ (now framed and for sale)
Yesterday was our third session, and we made Madonna-and-child models out of reclaimed materials (and polyfilla). I had made one of these some years ago, so I was able to concentrate on guiding the rest of the group through the process. It was wonderfully messy, and the results are now drying in my studio, where they will be collected when ready to be transported.
Have a look at these photos and see if you can identify where and how each of the following items has been used:
  • piece of MDF or stiff card
  • 2l plastic bottle
  • newspaper
  • plastic shopping bags
  • dowel stick or length of bamboo
  • old cotton bed sheet
  • wire coathanger
Not looking like much, yet

 

Getting there

And here they are, drying in my studio.

 

 

 Next time, we’ll be making needle felted robins, like this one. Because I don’t have the equipment to facilitate this one myself, I have enlisted the aid of Eve Louise Newman (Eve’s Gifted Paradise).
If you’re local to the Wellingborough/Kettering area, and would like to join in, please contact me to find out more.
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Link love digest: week 8

In what has proved to be a fairly hectic week, here are the makers and crafters I promoted. Almosty all this week’s crafter’s have chosen to keep a low profile, sharing little about themselves online, preferring to let their work to speak for them.

Sue Harold
La Costurera

Unique bridal couture, mothers of the bride/groom, proms and casual clothing

La Costurera

Nikki Meara
Nikelcards

Nikki has shared nothing of her personal story that I can find, but her cards are lovely, so she gets a mention.

Nikelcards

Paul Bentley
Bentley Bespoke Wooden Items

Handmade bespoke wooden items to suit the needs of the buyer.

Bentley Bespoke

Maxine Pring
Max Pring Jewellery

I have been making jewellery for several years gradually learning my trade since 2009.

Max Pring Jewellery

I am primarily self taught and started out making classic designs using beads and string developing my skills through practice and gradually progressed into metalsmithing in the past year.

I usually start with basic metal sheet in either copper or silver and then cut, sand, hammer, drill and polish my work to create unusual designs. I often draw my designs on my i-pad first then sit down with my tools to turn the sketch into a piece of jewellery.

I also love to work with unusual gemstones and try to incorporate my own metal components or wire wire wrapping, these tend to be organic with the design built up around the stones.

Most of my work is one of a kind and rarely repeated. As well as jewellery I also love to paint and create mixed media work and scrapbooks. You can find these in my other Folksy Shop Paper, Chains & Beads. 

Heather Veach
I Dream of Jane

Unique, handmade dream catchers from the Pacific Northwest.

I dream of Jane

Julie Maginn
Dewdrop Cards and Crafts

Handmade on and inspired by the beautiful Isle of Wight.

Dewdrop

Gintare Kersiene
GK Natural Creations

Pure natural handmade soaps and bath products.

GK Natural Creations
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Link love digest: week 7

Here is the summary of the makers and crafters I promoted this week. Several of them have display space in Grace and Favours in Northampton. So you have two ways to support them: visit their online spaces or pop in to the shop. 

Remember: when you buy from an independent maker, a real live person does a little happy dance.

Laura and Carly
Butter Bee Creative
Handmade cards and other small craft items in aid of the refurbishment of the chemotherapy suite at Northampton General Hospital.

Butter Bee Creative
Laura and Carly began raising money for the Chemotherapy Suite after Carly lost her Nan to cancer in August 2014. Andrea was very keen to raise money herself for the new unit and began stitching items when she was in hospital. 

Leading on from this, we’d really like to raise as much money as possible for such a great cause.

Deema
Deema Delights

Real petal confetti, accessories, decor, scented petals, wedding favours, bath bombs, cards.
Deema Delights
Deema started collecting petals for confetti in 2016 when she fell in love with the fluttery nature of Cherry Blossom in the Spring! Her business has now grown to include a co-operative of pickers and stylists who help to create vibrant petal mixes, favours, cards, gifts and accessories, all hand-made, seasonal and to order, perfect for any celebration!

Take some of the stress and decision making out of planning a wedding by letting me help with those finishing touches. Together, we can create beautiful memories that will last you a life time! What better way to start your married life together?

Beautifully Bespoke Confetti, gifts, cards and accessories taken care of just for you. Memorable, unique, colourful and fun!

Pebble Crafts

Becky
Pebblecrafts

Beautiful hand-crafted decorations and gifts. Any quotes on slate hearts for very reasonable prices gifts and favours. Bespoke orders accepted.

Emma Wootton
The Velvet Company
A collection of beautiful Room Scents in a simple yet elegant English style.

The Velvet Company

Hand poured, using the finest scents and soya wax at our location in Northamptonshire, England, we offer a indulgent and sophisticated choice of candles and room scents .  We pride ourselves in every detail with each candle and room scent, we believe that every product should arrived beautifully wrapped in its own gift box, so treat yourself or someone special to a gorgeous scent which will give your room the most beautiful scent, with the added effect of our crackle wick candles giving the soothingly crackle when lit  of a relaxing ambiance of an open fire.

In addition to our our gorgeous candles,we also offer gift boxes for those who are looking for something extra to go with their candle.

TLC

Theresa Meen
TLC (Theresa’s Lovely Crafts)
Mixed media artist.
A small selection of my art is based in Grace & Favour shop.
Also able to do commissions too.

Janette
Iddy Biddy Boutique

Iddy Biddy Boutique


I used to have a sensible job . . . then a house bunny, oh and two children came along! I needed a job I could do at home. As I had been bending wire, making and selling earrings since I was 18 (oh so many moons ago!) and I adore Jewellery, it seemed a natural progression to further develop my silversmithing skills and start my own jewellery making business.
Iddy Biddy Boutique was born!

I like to think my designs are fresh & funky, with an organic yet modern twist! I create jewellery in mostly silver and copper. I like to oxidise the metals, adding spirals and swirls where I get the chance . . . love them! More recently, I am working with gemstones in my designs . . . ooh so many lush ones to choose from!

All of my designs are original. I get my inspiration and ideas from absolutely everywhere! My head is constantly bombarded with ideas for my next creation.

After all these years, my favourite place to be is still in my workshop (kitchen!) with my tools and bunny by my feet! I absolutely love what I do and I think that is evident in every piece I make.

I sell online, at local Craft Fairs around the North Devon area and my work can also be found at the following venues:
Willows in Braunton & Barnstaple
ID Fashion in The Royal William Yard, Plymouth
Traditsia in Totnes
Dream Jewellery in Tavistock Market.

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Link love digest: week 5

A day late, for which I apologise, but I was occupied on site at Grace and Favours all day yesterday (more of that anon).

So let’s take a look at my link love shares from last week. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.

On a side note, a few weeks ago, one of my link love shares caught the eye of a friend, and that crafter is a now a supplier to the friend’s shop. You never know where the ripples may spread to…

??
Papercrane Studios

Papercrane Studios

I don’t actually know the name of this crafter, but I love the steampunk pieces s/he creates.

Papercrane Studios is the product of a Theatre Design degree and a whole lot of travelling. We try to combine a traditional jewelry aesthetic, with industrial sensibilities- nature and machine; old and new; salvaged goodies & found treasures from the world over. The pieces we make are unique, and will never be reproduced. They’ve already lived a past life, and now come to you ready to live a new adventure!

Roz Legge
Orchard Felts

Believing I was totally without artistic or creative talent all my life I followed a scientific career until a few years ago when I stumbled into crafting quite by accident and became hooked. Initially all and any craft would do but then I discovered felting and became addicted.

Roz Legge

I love working with wool fibres. Being able to create such a vast range of items from the humble fibre fascinates me and I am always on the look out for new ideas and techniques.

I use lots of felting techniques in my work, needle felting, wet felting, nuno felting and resist felting, to make a wide range of items. My main focus has always been my nuno felted scarves which I adore due to their super soft and lightweight nature, but I love to experiment and other items are always popping into my head and therefore my shop.

Gorgeously soft merino wool is used for my scarves, which in the case of nuno felt is felted onto a silk or cotton base, with other fibres, both natural and synthetic, being used for decorative effect. Other breeds of wool are sometimes used for other items.

I have recently given up my full time job allowing me to dedicate more time to my felting.

Jacqueline Jean
Hip and Clavicle

Jacqueline Jean

Hip and Clavicle is an expression of my adoration for nature, the heady perfume of whimsy, magic and romance that surrounds any investigation into the awe-inspiring parade of forms that millions and billions of years have worked… what better source of inspiration could an artist draw from?

A tomboy at heart, I find artmaking akin to exploring underneath rocks in the garden. There are common themes but each discovery is unique. I take the greatest pleasure in exploring new materials and revising designs. When I’m not busy designing and paper-sculpting my favorite creatures, I can be found outdoors with a camera in my hands.

A couple of themes I repeatedly find myself returning to:

•Bringing the outdoors in and the indoors out.

•Exploring the way ordinary objects and processes come together with human sense and memory in moments that transcend their everyday existence. I am drawn to capture and recreate those moments that spontaneously fill me with wide-eyed reflection and contemplation.

I find inspiration in dark woods, moss-covered bark and wild fields. I daydream constantly and long to live in a treehouse. If I were a piece of music, the instrumentation would include a piano and a harpsichord, and at least a peppering of something broken or long out of tune. 😉

Corinne Thorne
iamjewellery4u

I am a single mum to a toddler I love him and jewellery! I design and create every piece you see in my shop from scratch. Each piece is handmade in my home from silver, copper and glass. I also create Memorial jewellery.

Corinne Thorne

I make handmade one of a kind pieces of jewellery using silver, glass and sometimes copper. Created from design to the finished piece. I also fuse the glass myself so everything is unique.
I bought a piece of glass from America and loved it so much I wanted to know how it was made. I had a read, bought a small kiln, supplies and had a go. I’ve been making fused glass jewellery for a while now and the glass is amazing. Find me on Instagram corrinet1974 for some small videos. 

I started encasing ashes in glass for people a few years later and this has evolved. I wanted to learn silver jewellery making to enable me to make the memorial jewellery extra special. I did a 12 week course and after week 2 is bought basic tools and again had a go. Now I create one of a kind pieces of handmade jewellery at home. My blog Greyhairedmummy.co.uk (memorial jewellery) gives more of an insight into why I do this.

I love knowing that no one else in the world is wearing the same piece of jewellery. It’s as individual as you.

Andrei Voronin
Woodworks

I’ve not been able to learn anything about Andrei, other than that he lives in Belarus. His website is in Cyrillic, and there doesn’t seem to be an ‘about’ section. So let’s let his work speak for him, shall we?

Andrei Voronin

Sue Trevor
Sue Trevor

All my items are handmade and ready to post to you via 1st class royal mail, often arriving through your letterbox the very next day, with the exception of my overseas customers where the items take a little longer to arrive….

All come neatly packaged in tissue paper or with an organza bag. Each and every piece of my work is individually handmade then photographed before I list it for sale in my Folksy shop. Some items will be similar, but no two are the same.

Sue Trevor

I trained at Loughborough College of Art and design. My current body of work started about 12 years ago when I mastered the art of free machine embroidery. Today a lot of my work is based on the botanical world. I layer up my fabrics which are usually hand dyed Egyptian cottons and I often incorporate silk too, as it gives a wonderful sheen. Then I free machine embroider over all the layers to create quite a stiff fabric before I cut, sew, fold and manipulate the fabric into shape, often 3 dimensional, resulting in little treasure like containers.

I have had a love of badges since a very young age and I’m pleased to be able to incorporate these in my current work.

I also love making my own glass beads, known as glass lampworking, this too can be seen occasionally in my work.

Anne Honeyman
Chocolate Frog

Anne Honeyman

I’m Anne Honeyman, a full time textile artist living and working on the beautiful Isle of Skye (UK).

I revel in the visual and tactile effects unique to my medium – from sumptuous textures to delicate lacy structures. With a background in environmental science (PhD in palaeo-ecology), the natural environment is an endless source of inspiration for my work.

I specialise in machine embroidery, but also enjoy hand stitch, dyeing, crochet, and using an embellisher. My designs tend to combine precision and repetition with an element of serendipity!

Since completing City and Guilds Creative Embroidery in 2000 I’ve exhibited throughout the UK in art shows and contemporary craft galleries. I’ve also had over 40 projects published in “Classic Stitches” magazine and have work featured in “Fiberarts Design Book 7”.

Oh, and my two other favourite things are frogs and chocolate! (I didn’t even know about the Harry Potter thing when I chose this name!) 

 
Website  

Blog
Facebook

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Link love digest: week 3

This is the third week of my daily ‘link love’ posts. I have tended to major on UK based makers and crafters, simply because they are part of my local economy, and I’m very keen on supporting the local economy wherever I go. I have already shared the link to one Austrian crafter, and a few other non-UK based pages are lined up for the future.

Please take a moment to visit the Folksy shops in the links below. Especially if you’re looking for something special for someone special.

This week, my shares have looked like this.

From Peter’s Folksy shop

Peter Morrison
Solas

“I started designing in 1999. Most of my products started life as something else, a washing machine, car parts or a piece of driftwood I enjoyed taking things apart re-engineering them for an alternative use.I get a lot of my materials donated from car garages, engineering companies and family. Before starting a piece I always look at the materials natural shape, character and texture then it tells me what it wants to be and I created.”

Heather Tempest Elliott
Tempest Elliott Printshop

“I have always been creative, trying many different forms of arts and crafts. I went to university to study photography, video and media but craved making something more physical. So I have gradually been trying out printmaking and I adore it! It’s great when you find something that is your hobby but you also want to make your job!

From Heather’s Folksy shop

I was initially inspired by my trip to Sweden in the summertime, all the different landscapes, the sea and trees- it was a bit of a lightbulb moment! I am always inspired by nature and love a challenge so I pack all of my prints full of tiny details, then combining these designs with bright, bold colours to create something a little different for your walls. I now have the option of hand printed cards if you just want something a little smaller but with just the same amount of craft involved.”

Jill, Nicki and Emma 
My Auntie Made It

“We are three Aunties who love to make beautiful things with love in every stitch.

From the Three Aunties’ Folksy shop

We make quilts ( any size and to order ) cushions and pretty home accessories as well as purses to bags and everything in between.

We use all sorts of material and try to recycle pretty cottons if we can.

If you see something you like in our shop but would like a different fabric please do get in touch and we will work with you to deliver a design in a fabric and size that you will love.”

Fiona Bradshaw
Fiona Bradshaw Designs

From Fiona’s Folksy shop

“My inspiration comes from finding existing objects and combining them together in a way that gives a product thematic character. I enjoy reclaiming objects from boot fairs, then either restoring them, changing them, combining them, or all three to create a functional object that has its own character or identity. I am happy to do commissions if you have any objects or themes you would like to be incorporated into a piece of furniture.”

Linda Adkins
Leather Design and Craft

“I have been making the things I want to use out of leather for decades, for archery shops for a number of years and for the last three years, full time. Pulling together years of mixed media art and craft experience to design, make and embellish useful items. Design influences? Essentially practical, no frills but with applied designs to suit, these started off as celtic and wildlife inspired…. then a wyvern and an octopus happened and now adorns many of the hair slides, flasks and coasters. My official line has developed into ‘things I like drawing’!

From Linda’s Folksy shop

One thing that is very important to me is to source leather and fittings responsibly. Many of my hides do not conform to a batch, they are oddments, cast offs and surplus stock, often classified as ‘Industrial Waste’ (madness) and over 3/4 of the buckles are the odd ones that would otherwise land up in a skip simply because it is not worth suppliers/retailers time to sort/store small quantities.

My workshop is at the front of my cottage (in rural Hertfordshire) although I am likely to work in the kitchen, dining room or garden during the day and often settle down in front of the fire in the evening to sew, make up or decorate pieces”

 Julie

From Julie’s Folksy shop


The Posh Scarecrow

 “Working with fabric is a passion of mine and I love making cards so I have combined the two. My unique greeting cards are not just cards, they are a present and a keepsake all in one to be enjoyed for years to come. I like to think of them as an unfolding story. I create greeting cards and gifts that are memory makers and are a pleasure to give.”

Claire Barrett Smith
Claire’s Handmade Textile Art and Boho Fashions

“I have loved sewing since my mum gave me a sewing machine for Christmas when I was 13 years old (around 30 years ago!!) I now teach Art and Textiles in a secondary school. I love teaching and I adore creating unique Bohemian style garments and wall art.

From Claire’s Folksy shop

I use a mixture of new, hand dyed and reclaimed fabrics and trimmings and a range of experimental techniques and processes. Many of the trimmings I use are from Turkey, a place I visit a few times each year with a culture that inspires my colourful, decorative designs. Everything I make is unique, designed and lovingly hand made by me. I like to think of the garments I spend many months creating as ‘Wearable Art’.

If you see something you like in my shop and would like something similar but in different fabrics, colours, a different size or with a different motif, I am sure with a little discussion I could create a custom order just for you. Please do not hesitate to contact me- I love making custom orders!!!”

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Link love digest: week 2

Continuing the practice of a daily shoutout (in my most used online spaces) for a fellow crafter/maker, here is this week’s digest. You will notice that I have very little information about some of the crafters. I decided from the outset to include people on the basis of the quality of their work, regardless of how much they share about themselves in their various online spaces.

Monika Mager’s work

Monika Mager
Sand & Soda

Handmade lampwork beads and jewellery since 2007. She sells her pieces via her Facebook page. She has an Etsy shop, but it isn’t stocked at present.

Sarah Bell
Sarah Designs UK

Sarah makes beautiful pyrography pieces and shares my love of dragons. From her Etsy shop: 
I’ve always been interested in arts and crafts and making gifts for friends and family. Others became interested in me creating customised pieces for them, so I started to sell items. My husband bought me a Pyrography machine for Yule one year after I’d said I’d always wanted to try it. I loved it! I now sit most evenings when the children are sleeping, creating special items.

I love taking commissions and creating special gifts. I create my own designs and work freehand, never using templates.

Catherine May

Jewellery. From her Folksy page:

I live at home with my husband and 2 of my sons, my other son is at uni at the present,
I have always loved making and creating but never had the time, now my boys are grown up I am now able to devote more time to what I like doing, I work this in around my job in the local farm shop.  

I started a few years ago making copper enameling with a wonderful tutor who encouraged me to get my own kiln and find a space just for me, This then grew as I took a silversmith course at our local college to learn the basics. by now I was gradually spreading my self all over the house, so my husband thought it time to build a shed and move me into that. I also enjoy pyrographics (wood burning) and at present trying to work on creating drinking glasses out of bottles. (I’m still perfecting this).  

Inspiration for my designs come from history, nature and the christian religion which is very important to me

Claire Woodhead

Knitted and crocheted items. From her Folksy page:

Welcome to Hook Loop Knits. I sell hand knitted and crochet home decor and lifestyle accessories.
Explore my collection of tea cozies, egg cosies, mug cosies, hot water bottle covers, gloves scarves, hats and lots more home accessories.

My collections are inspired by nature, and my autumn fall tea cozy has a beautifully hand knitted acorn and oak leaf. My other tea cosies are embellished with crochet flowers and knitted leaves. There is a collection of tea cosies, mug cosies and egg cosies with a christmas theme. These are embellished with crochet mistletoe and berries, and another one with a nordic pine christmas tree. I also have a few items that feature owls. A brown owl tea cosy and owl mug cosy.

There are lots of different colours of hand knitted fingerless gloves and scarves to keep you warm and cosy.

If you see anything that you might like in a different colour then please feel free to contact me.

Andi Gregg
Willow and Hobbs

Vintage creations and art from reclaimed wood. From her Folksy page:

I live in rural Lincolnshire and run my furniture restoration and interiors business from my small workshop looking out over the beautiful countryside I am so lucky to be surrounded by. I am very passionate about vintage and reclaimed materials in general, loving old forgotten furniture and wood that’s been left to age. It’s items such as these that cry out to be re-loved to bring their beauty back into our lives once more.

I am very inspired by colours and patterns and love nothing more than transforming something old and worn into a beautiful new creation, one that’ll take pride of place once more in someone’s home. So stencilling, decoupage and paint effects it is to enhance the vintage elegance of the pieces I find. Making what I like to think of as heirlooms of the future!

My wall art creations are made from reclaimed wood which has been aged and as such provides a rustic quality to my work. This together with the use of decoupage and guilding, help me to create pieces which will enhance a variety of tastes and settings. Although I enjoy creating my designs, I also love to take on commissions, both for furniture pieces and for wall art, working with my customers to source and design stunning and unique pieces. Above all else I have a passion for what I do which comes across in my designs, with quality and attention to detail being fundamental.

Hannah-Mae’s work

I’m always looking for new inspiration and constantly source special vintages pieces to re-love into beautiful one off bespoke creations. Ultimately my passion comes across in what I do.

Hannah-Mae Williams
Hannah-Mae Illustration

Illustrations and cut paper art.

Jacqueline Austen
J Austen Jewellery Design

Silversmithing and jewellery items. From her Folksy page:

I enjoy designing and creating jewellery. Taking inspiration from art, history, nature and very often the stones I am working with, I create designs using traditional hand knotting and metal smithing techniques

At the moment, I particularly enjoy experimenting with different casting techniques, recreating solid silver or gold replicas of found items, such as fossils and shells found on beach walks, interesting buttons and keepsakes or even leaves and seeds found in the countryside. Casting in sand, clay and even cuttlefish bone, I love the different effects these methods create in the gold and silver during the casting process.

My designs can be simple, making the most of a gorgeous stone with minimalist lines or more elaborate with lots of detail. I enjoy a challenge and embrace taking on commissions – especially those which push boundaries and ideas.

All my gemstone and pearl necklaces are traditionally hand knotted, as I believe that even the smallest details can make a difference. Much of my metal smithed work is hall marked, in accordance with the law and bears my unique makers mark.

If you have a commission idea or repairs to be made – however small – please do contact me, as I will be happy to help and advise.

Please pay a visit to these shops to see what these wonderful crafters have to offer.

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Working with other materials

For the most part, as you may have noticed, I work with wood (or facsimiles thereof like MDF, laminates and laminated chipboard). But I also work with other materials. I have a studio at home, where I carry out handcrafts that don’t involve power tools: sewing, beading, decopodging…that kind of thing.

Tray table – before

In the typical manner of a creative person, I tend to start out with one goal in mind, and wind up in a slightly different place, as inspiration moulds the project organically. So I seldom work entirely within my comfort zone, and most projects stretch me at least a little. Oddly enough (or perhaps not), this is exactly the approach I employed when I used to design learning solutions in my previous life.

Then from time to time, I am given the opportunity to explore new territory.

I was recently commissioned to restore a metal patio set that had seen better days. A two-seater bench and a little tray table. It had great sentimental value to its owner. I knew that I could strip it and sand it back by hand, before painting it again. And I knew it would be a long, slow process.

Two seater – before

At the same time, I was also given a candelabra made of twisted iron rods. The cups for the candles had pretty much rusted away, and the client gave me carte blanche to let my imagination run riot. Once again, this would involve stripping and repainting.

First things first, though – those rusted candleholders had to come off. This sort of work gives me time to think, so it is during the purely manual parts of a project that inspiration tends to strike. It dawned on me – maybe I could have the rust sandblasted off instead.

I found a local sandblasting firm and approached them. For them it was a small project – they usually work on huge pieces, but they were keen on the idea and agreed to do the work for me. They sanded and primed all three pieces.

Screw-in eyes

In the workshop next door to the sandblasting firm, is a metalworker. He works on Rolls Royces and vintage lorries. But he was happy, too, to weld screw-in eyes onto the candelabra for me (he also made a new drip tray for our gas barbecue, but that’s another story). I think the work felt like a holiday to him.

During conversations with the sandblasting man, we discovered that we could form a mutually beneficial relationship in respect of some of the stuff he throws away. I will save him the trouble of disposing of it, and it will provide me with the basis of some interesting pieces going forward.

Once that was done, I painted all three pieces in accordance with the clients’ instructions, and reunited them with their happy owners.

Patio set – after
Candelabra turned lantern tree

The point I’m making is that it’s worth having a go. It’s worth talking to other local tradespeople and crafters. It’s worth asking. People can always say no, but often I find people enjoy the opportunity to do something different. Especially if they get to be a little creative in the process.

So you’ve never tried x thing before. Give it a shot. You might surprise yourself. And you might make some interesting new acquaintances into the bargain.