Make with Annie has been in business since September 2015, and I have to admit that a year ago I did not think that I would be creating for a living, and living in Cornwall.
Around 18 months ago, I began to get severe and odd pains in my left foot and ankle and about a year ago I was diagnosed with Arthritis. I was only 34 at the time and it devastated me. I couldn’t enjoy the things I used to, like talking long walks with Mr H (the other half) and dancing. I loved, still love, a night out dancing. So what was I supposed to do at weekends now?
I have always enjoyed crafting, ever since I was a child making amazing Barbie houses from cardboard boxes, to learning to crochet at 20 from my mother, but now it became something more. I wanted to try every craft that I could.
That was how I found myself swapping my Friday nights out on the town with cups of tea and craft.
I have now learnt the following craft, knitting, sewing, pottery, toy making, card making, embroidery, cross stitch, and finally working with felt.
Felt is an amazing material to work with, its thicker and softer than fabric which gives you rigidity that you don’t get from fabric (without interfacing the backside off your material and making it really stiff). The first things I made with Felt were just a year ago. During a weekend visit back to my family in Lincoln for some Christmas festivities, myself, my big sister and my niece sat at my mums house and made some felt christmas decorations for our trees, and I loved it. It was so easy, quick and so pleasurable and I wanted to see what else i could make from Felt.
Then flash forward to July 2015 and I had just had an arthroscopy and some bone removed from my left ankle which left me in pain and stuck in the house for a few weeks, but it gave me the time to play once again with felt.
I had seen some really fun red riding hood brooches on Pintrest which gave me the idea for a whole disney range of little brooches. So I set about designing my own Alice in Wonderland and Snow White. There are no pictures of these because they were dreadful. They were complicated and fiddly and one thing small pieces of felt likes to do is fall apart! But all crafts men and women learn from their mistake and so I went back to my drawing board and thought about it from a different angle.
It was then that I made the first felt brooch that I have turned into a kit, the Apple. Inspired by the story of snow white, and then the tea cup from the Mad Hatters Tea Party and the Mushroom that makes Alice grow bigger and smaller. And i loved it so much i kept making them, birds, tea pots, little girls heads, animal paws (inspired by my beautiful cat Buster), superhero emblems and more.
It became a bit of an obsession, as many of my new crafts do, and I made things for family and friends and was so passionate about it, I even sold some when I got back to work. People really liked them and kept asking me to make more, but there comes a point when I get bored of making something, I think its about 4 or 5 times. So I stopped!
About a month later I had to leave my job, Mr H had gotten an amazing job offer in Cornwall and we had decided to make the move from our city living in Nottingham to the country, 300 miles away. When I knew that I wouldn’t have a job I thought that this would be the best time to start trying to do something for me. And so I turned my four favourite brooches in craft kits.
The Apple, The Mushroom, The Teacup and The Paw.
I had to learn many new skills in the creation of the kits including the use of graphics programs. Until that point all my patterns had been hand drawn and now they needed to look good and the lines needed to be clear or even straight. So I scanned my hand drawing into the computer and downloaded a free graphics package called inkscape and I looked at it and realised that I had no idea what I was doing or how to use it. But after a quick tutorial from Mr H I was on my way and created all my own patterns. It was a steep learning curve but well worth the time put into it because now the patterns look professional and much easier to use.
I ordered supplies of felt, bags, thread, needles, brooch pins, packing labels, and when each of them arrived I was practically giddy with excitement. I created booklets with photos and full step by step instructions, so that each kit would have everything it needed to ensure that whoever received the kit would have a pleasurable experience making their own felt brooch.
The kits come in a brown paper bag with labels showing what your end product will look like and what you can expect to find inside your kit. Inside the kit is kept safe with tissue paper and a sticker which thanks the purchaser for buying hand made. Once you remove the packaging you will find coloured felt, coloured thread, a brooch pin, a needle and any decorative embellishments that you might want to use, such as buttons. The kit also comes with a full 5 page instruction booklet with pictures and step by step instructions on how to make the brooches, including how to stitch it together with the recommended stitches.
Its a labour of love and now I am out and about at Craft Stalls and on Etsy and Folksy trying to see if I can entice others to love felt and love making their own things just as much as I do.
Upcoming places to see Make with Annie:
28th November 2015 – Redruth, Murdoch House, Cornwall
5th December 2015 – Camborne, The Donald Thomas Centre, Cornwall
11th, 12th December 2015, – Falmouth, The Curious Hall, Magic Art Fair, Cornwall
19th December – Camborne, The Donald Thomas Centre, Cornwall