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Oops!

January has been a bit of a walking through treacle month so far. But then it is for many people. The post-Christmas slump when the family has departed and the house de-Christmassed, the overly long wait for payday, the winter blahs (even though we’ve turned the corner and the days are getting longer)…all that stuff.

In addition to the usual suspects, January has been a month during which

  • I have been battling the black dog.
  • I have attended the funeral of a man who died far too young (he was 30!).
  • I have grown to despair of the sort of conversations that take place on Twitter. During my years in the field of L&D, Twitter was one of the most important tools in my toolkit. Since I no longer have those conversations to take part in, the balance has changed, and there is just so much vitriol. I have begun the process of extricating myself from that space.
  • Someone I thought I knew has metamorphosed into someone I barely recognise, and it is causing pain to two people I care about.
  • I have been entertaining grave doubts about the future of Karyn’s [re]Kreations.

This combination of factors already had me a bit of a low ebb, so I wasn’t in the greatest of places when the tree surgeon hired by our landlady had an accident and fell through the roof of my workshop. There are so many aspects to this event.

  1. The tree surgeon dude’s wellbeing. When he came to the house to let us know what had happened, the first question Mr Namasi asked him was whether he was okay. He said he was fine. Mr Namasi thought he’d probably feel less fine the next morning. (spoiler: he’s back today, and he is indeed fine – he said he’s had worse falls in the line of his work))
  2. The roof is asbestos. Apparently the risk sets in when it breaks and the fibres are released. Well, it was broken. The broken bits have now been removed. But I don’t know what the associated risks are of fibres on the contents of the workshop (see below).
  3. The structural damage. The hole in the roof is huge. Unfortunately, because it’s asbestos, a specialist replacement is probably on the cards. Because we don’t own the property, this is of course, the landlady’s problem, but she’s a lovely lady and it’s not a nice problem for her to have. And, now that I think about it, I guess there will come a time when there is asbestos-related work going on, on the property. I’m not sure how that will affect us.
  4. The damage to my stock. The part of the workshop that was damaged is where I keep my pending and completed projects. Some pieces of roofing have done damage to the pieces, and lot of dirt and debris has landed all over the place. I have yet to do a proper audit of the true extent of the damage.
  5. The impact on my already wobbly mental health.

On my Karyn’s [re]Kreations Facebook page, I shared a post about the damage to the workshop, focusing on the potential impact on Karyn’s [re]Kreations. Because that’s what the page is about. I reshared it on my personal Facebook page, and on Instagram.

This was when I discovered that I might not always present myself in the best light. A few people urged me to be grateful that the tree surgeon hadn’t been hurt, and reminded me that that was the most important consideration. I was utterly taken aback. Of course it is. And of course I know it. And of course, if the man had been hurt in any way, I’d have made a completely different sort of post. Of course. Well duh. Obvs. All those things.

But apparently it isn’t ‘well duh’. Apparently people didn’t automatically infer from my post that the structural damage to the roof and the damage to my stock was the worst of it. Apparently it isn’t immediately clear to people – even those who know me personally – that I value people more than things. That sat in my belly like a rock. And it reminded me of something.

Years ago, when I was submitting papers towards my Master’s degree, my course supervisor would repeatedly ask why I hadn’t elaborated on this or that point. I would explain that I had only 3000 words, and didn’t want to waste them stating the obvious. She would reply that ‘the obvious’ wasn’t necessarily obvious to the person reading the paper. I still contend that anyone to whom that particular obvious wasn’t obvious had no business marking Master’s degree level papers on the subject, but that’s a tangent we don’t have time for here.

It does seem, however, that I fell back into the same damned trap of assuming.

I clearly need to rethink how I present myself. I need to find a way to make it clear that I care about people. About the planet. About the environment. About animals. That I’m not just about stuff. Belongings. Possessions. Property. Things.

The problem is that I thought I was already doing that. This is a helluva concept to be tackling in a state of blah-ness. I might have to come back to it when my inner Tigger moves back into the front room and my inner Eeyore has dozed off again.

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Moving into new spaces

I’m very excited to say that Karyn’s [re]Kreations are to be found in some new spaces.

Currently on display at Woodley Wool

A few of my furniture pieces are currently to be found at Woodley Wool where, until they are sold, they serve as display space for the lovely yarns and haberdashery stock for sale. Jo, who owns the store, has also taken on a few of my knitted and crocheted items to include in her stock.

So, if you’re in the Berkshire area, please swing by the store, say hello to Jo and have a browse through the treasures on offer. Jo will also be offering crafting workshops in a rather wonderful space at the back of her shop. Who knows? Maybe one day I’ll get to run one or two of them! I have a friend who lives in that area, and spending time there is always a treat.

 

Soon to be seen at Click Antiques & Vintage

And then, a little closer to home for me, from the beginning of May, I will have a space at Click Antiques & Vintage, where some of my restorations will be found. I will aim to include a fair range of pieces, but the primary focus will be on vintage restorations, in keeping with the ethos Nick and Claire are looking to emphasise.

If you’re within reach of the Northampton area, and have never been to Click before, do consider popping in. It’s a total treasure trove – an eclectic mix of vinyl records, vintage glassware and crockery, tools from a bygone era, furniture, photographic equipment… a real something-for-everyone space, with a cup of tea or coffee on offer for those who finish browsing before the rest of their party.

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Moving to new ‘premises’

I have migrated my blog posts over to this site. It’s still very much under construction, but the idea is that it will eventually become something of a catch all: a space where my pieces can be purchased directly, as well as a contact point for commission work and enquiries, and the place where the narrative can be found.

With regard to more physical premises, I am exploring some leads for brick and mortar spaces that might be interested in stocking my finished pieces.

I am also looking into markets and fayres. This research is still very much in the early stages. I did take a long shot on a local Christmas market, where I displayed some of my smaller ticket items. That experience taught me unequivocally that any market which includes a bric a brac stall is not a suitable place for handmade pieces. I might post more about that at a later date. For now, if you happen to know of a market where there is likely to be an appetite for the sort of things I produce, please let me know.

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Ask the audience

The title of this post is drawn from a popular TV quiz programme in which contestants have the option to ask the studio audience how they would answer the current question. Contestants then have the right to go with the flow, or ignore popular opinion and choose a different answer. A lot money rides on getting it right.

==oOo==

It is said (in a widely contested quote) that if Henry Ford had canvassed people on whether he should build a motor car, they would have said they needed a faster horse.

It seems to me that large corporations spend a lot of money finding out what customers want, and then an even larger sum of money convincing them that they desperately need a product that the corporation produces.

So how much is about listening to your market, and how much is about leading it? If you only listen, you’ll produce things that people are already somewhat familiar with. If you allow your creativity free rein and produce something completely innovative and different, you might never persuade people to buy it.

Now I’m not a corporation. I’m just me. As a result, I’m even more directly dependent on people liking the stuff I make enough to buy it. And I don’t have a massive budget to spend on market research. I am restricted to straw polls, and reactions to the products I have already made. I am also under some pressure to produce something different and/or original, because I can’t compete on price with the mass produced output of the larger corporations.

It’s a fine line: it has to be desirable and different, but still mainstream enough to attract a buyer.

Flowering chive

I recently completed a cross stitch of a flowering chive. I had bought the kit from a charity shop (I have a weakness for botanical art). It was far more complex than any of the other cross stitches I have done recently (see below), so it took quite a while to complete. Then came the challenging question: what to do with it?

People don’t tend to buy framed tapestries/cross stitch panels any more. I know this, because I have bought several discarded ones from charity shops, with a view to upcycling them. They are currently quite popular upcycled as cushions, bags, clothing, seat covers, etc.

So I posted a picture of the completed panel on my Facebook page and asked my followers what they would like to see done with it. There were some creative suggestions that I would really have liked to try, but I had to be conscious of what would find a buyer.

The most popular suggestion was a cushion cover. So I decided to go with that, but I avoided the obvious approach and went with something asymmetrical with just a touch of the bohemian about it.

Completed cushion cover

Of course, now comes the real litmus test. Will it find a buyer? Did I make the right decision in listening to the audience?

I have bought several miniature cross stitch kits, as well as already completed tapestries and cross stitches, as I mentioned, and I’m having fun turning them into useful items. I haven’t yet gone with an item of clothing, but I think that might be next on the agenda.

Jute carrier bag

Cotton book bag

Tea cosy (commissioned item)

Craft bag

I’d be interested to hear from other independent makers, artisans and crafters how they manage the balancing act. Have you found the magic silver bullet?

Note: at the time of writing, some of the items pictured in this post are still for sale. Please contact the author with any enquiries.