Top Ten Crafts for 2017

A new year often require a challenge and perhaps a new hobby. For me this year I really want to Knit more and I desperately want to have a go and number 9 on our list.

So if your looking for a new hobby or just want to keep up with the latest trends then here is my list of what’s Hot to Craft in 2017.

1. Bullett Journals.

I write a lot of lists in my home and work lists. sometimes I have lists that merge from or into another list and sub-lists and side lists- its a lot of lists. The Bullet Journal helps you to organise all of those lists. It works as you calendar, your task list you remember to look at later list it can do anything you want. It keeps you organised and that is something I love!!

The Bullet Journal is the brain child of American designer Ryder Carroll and is a must for anyone with a stationary problem and a love of a good pen!

Here you can watch as Ryder himself explains how to use and get started with your own Bullet Journal.

Bullet journalling does not have to be so black and white though, and a quick search on Pinterest can show you some of the more colourful things you can do with your Journal.

2. Macrame

When ever I hear the word Macrame I am immediately taken back to a young age creating some knotted art on the back of my mother dinning chair. If you were born in the 70s or early 80s you may even remember seeing macrame in the shape of an owl hanging on your parents living room wall. It was everywhere then and now its back, with a more modern twist.

Macrame is a form of textile-making using knotting rather than weaving or knitting. You use a variety of knots to create a variety of pieces of work.

3. Crochet

No longer just for our grandmothers Crochet is back with a bang as the second of our revived crafts. Crochet is at its most popular right now with workshops being fully booked almost instantly. The relaxing ability to pick up you work and take it anywhere with you and create blankets, clothes, toys and much more is its main pull as a craft.

 

4. Jigsaw design

Towards the end of 2016 I started to see the Jigsaw pattern in more and more items. Most recently I have seen it in Jewellery from Designed by Brett and Leni, where they take the smallest jigsaw pieces and turn them into silver stud earrings or necklaces. You can even pick up Jigsaw die’s for use with Cricut or scancut machines which can cut card, paper, fabric and many other types of material into perfect little jigsaw pieces…. Oh the fun!!!!

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5. Lino Printing

Printing using lino has been a practice since the early 1900’s when a german company used it to print wallpaper. Now thousands of artists all over the world use this technique to create simple or very intricate designs.

Using (carefully) a lino cutter and some soft cut lino, your imagination can create some beautiful prints.

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6. Needle felting

A trend that just keeps on going! This year the enquiries for learning to undertake this incredibly therapeutic and yet slightly dangerous hobby has sky rocketed. 2016’s The Handmaid Fair at Hampton Court saw hundreds go buzzy bees being made to adorn the tree, and I think that this might just be one of Kirstie Allsopps most loved crafts.

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Its so easy to just have a go, but make sure that you stay safe.

7. Willow weaving

Another trend for 2017 that keeps popping its head up is weaving willow into baskets, or plant holders, trays or wreaths.

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The whole process of softening the willow and then twisting and knotting it into another item is great fun.

8. Yellow and Greys

 

In the last part of 2016 I saw the yellow and grey colour combinations everywhere, and it isn’t going away!!! Yippie!! From Clothing to art this amazing simple and elegant combination works in so many ways.

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9. Pyrography

The art or technique of decorating wood or leather by burning a design on the surface with a heated metallic point.

Wow! Just that one sentence makes this craft sound exciting. Pyrography dates back to the 17th Century and reached it’s peak popularity in the 19th century. It is an accessible craft to try with pens costing as little as £10 and wood you can pick up anywhere.

This is certainly my craft to try for 2017!!!

10. Super sized Crochet

Let’s make it massive in 2017!

It appears that the trend for everything bigger and better. With giant Crochet hooks available and giant balls of fabric or wool to buy why not make something in a much bigger size!!!

In fact in this months Mollie Makes magazine there is a really wonderful pattern to hand crochet a giant pear or apple!!!

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This is on my list of things to do this month!!!!!

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Interview with the creator – Mike Caulfield

Mike Caulfield started his creative business after years of working in the City as an Insurance Broker. Putting the years of suits and ties behind him the moved from London to Sydney and finally to the beautiful Cornish town of Marazion, with St Michael’s Mount as its backdrop. He ditched the suits for shorts and started his company Marazion Oak.

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Creating beautiful pieces of homeware from salvaged oak and cast iron his work has a unique and identifiable look, not surprising then that he was featured in Cornwall Today!

Here Mike talks about his journey and why he loves what he does.

Describe your typical working day

I start my work day with a ten second commute to my workshop. I tend to spend the mornings and early afternoon making the oak homewares such as bottle openers, coat hooks and racks, herb gardens, thermometers, utensil racks, tea light holders, signs and plaques, etc. Each piece is individually cut or split from solid oak timber waney edged boards, sawn to the required size, then sanded by hand and oil rubbed before a final wax finish is applied. During this process, great care is taken to ensure that as much of the wood’s natural form and imperfections are maintained and enhanced. This ensures each piece has character and is unique. Once the oak is ready the iron and steel work is added. Depending on the weather (it has to be sunny), late afternoon is when I photograph those pieces that will be sold on my. Evenings are often spent catching up on the paperwork with a nice glass of wine!

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Mike’s Home Studio

What inspires you?

I’m always looking for new pieces of oak. It is a different journey every time, to start with a raw piece and then shape it into something beautiful which hopefully someone will love is a true pleasure. I like to think that people who see my work will be browsing and suddenly find exactly the piece that they have been looking for to suit a particular place and purpose in their home or as an ideal gift for someone special.

How did you get started with art/craft

I made some coat hooks and candle holders for our new home and friends kept telling me that they were really good and I should sell them. I have always wanted to work for myself and one day I thought – why not? If I don’t give it a go, I’ll never know!

What made you start your own business 

I have always had an appreciation for wood, and enjoyed working with my hands. After many years as an insurance broker in London and Sydney, a move to Cornwall gave me the opportunity to work creatively with wood and turn what had just been a hobby into a way of making a living.

What is the biggest lesson you have learnt

Different markets attract different audiences. What might sell well at Fowey, may not necessarily sell well in Penzance or vice versa. Having a range of products to attract different customers is key to success. You need to talk to your customers to receive their feedback on what they like and how things can be improved, craft fairs and markets are ideal for that.

When did you get started?

Late 2015, just in time for Christmas.

What three things would you go back and tell yourself?

1. Nothing is easy, just keep trying.

2. Don’t try to understand why a particular item sells really well in the shop one month or at one craft fair and not at all in the shop the next month or at another craft fair. You will go mad if you spend too much time thinking about it.

3. When you are a one man band, making the items is only a small part of the process, other things such as finding suitable sales outlets, photographing and marketing items, maintaining the website, general admin and paperwork or even sourcing the best oil or wax to bring out the grain in the wood, all take up a significant amount of time.

What has been your biggest achievement in your business

Having a feature article written about me and MarazionOak in Cornwall Today magazine.

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What is your favourite thing to create?

I really enjoy making the Filigree Thermometer on Oak Board. When the oak, metal and glass are combined they create a really striking piece.

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Where do you see the future of your business going?

This year I’m on course to double my first full year’s sales, next year I hope to do the same, after that who knows may be it will be time to transfer the business to Australia’s sunny climes.

For more information on Marazion Oak head to the Facebook page or Etsy store.

 

 

Interview with the Creator – James Powell

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James Powell is the power force behind the brilliantly named Jimagination Creations. A business formed form his love of woodwork, his imagination (and his name). From the interior of VW camper vans to lazercut key rings his work is beautiful and bespoke.

Here we chat to Jim and find out about what inspires him to keep his imagination ignited.

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Describe your typical working day

My typical working day varies a lot depending upon what commissions I have on at the time. My workshop and laser studio are both at home so I admit I do often have a more leisurely start to the day, but that balances out as I work until late, usually 9pm, later if I have a show coming up or a commission with a deadline!

My workshop is organised chaos – pretty much the norm for a woodworking area! Even though I expanded it significantly at the beginning of the year, from a 10ft square space to a 30x10ft area by knocking through some walls, there still isn’t enough space. The woodworking is often noisy with the machines going and dusty, so I spend a lot of the day with ear defenders on and a dust mask, and the air filter system going, so it is usually pointless even having music on.

I enjoy being out in my workshop as it is hands on making stuff and designing stuff myself. You can’t beat the smell of wood being cut. Although I would happily live without all the sanding that needs to be done. Usually after my evening meal I leave the workshop and start in the laser studio (in the winter it is too cold out in the workshop!) which is nice as I can put on spotify on in the background and have some tunes. Most of the laser work is computer based, so it is a lot if designing in Corel Draw which I can do while another project or commission is cutting. While the laser is going I often take the time to catch up with business emails. When I finish in the laser studio I am still not finished for the day as although I may go and relax with the tv on I still have accounts to do!

What inspires you?

Cornwall inspires me. My surfboard furniture range was inspired by doing it when I was younger (and had time!) and many of my more creative woodworking jewellery boxes are animal themed or nature inspired. I like quirky pieces, so often I see something and think – how can i make that into a…? Like my bookcases in the shape of trees.

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How did you get started with art/craft?

I’ve always liked art. I did art GCSE’s at school, and my mum is an artist – a painter – so it’s always been around me growing up. I kinda stumbled into woodworking later on in life. I made a few things for fun, liked it and carried on from there really. I was never formally trained in woodworking. So being self taught was a slow process involving many mistakes along the way, but you can learn by trial and error and by just reading about the subject, or even these days by watching YouTube videos! It is actually only the past 2 years that I have had any kind of training – I studied Furniture making at Cornwall College Camborne – more to see if I was doing things the right way beforehand, turns out I was!

What made you start your own business?

I had never planned on being in the creative industry. My degree is in teaching secondary school sports. But it never really captivated me. So after working in America for seven summers in a children’s summer camp and several less than exciting winter jobs, I decided I needed something more permanent. My first full year at home after quitting America I made all my friends and family wooden presents for birthdays and special occasions, just to get their reactions. They were all so positive that it gave me the boost to try it as a business. I actually eased into running my business full time, slowly cutting back my hours in my other job over a few years. Less of a shock that way! I could also judge whether my business was working or not and so worth going for it full time that way. Now I wouldn’t want to go back to working for someone else. The freedom and happiness you get from having your own business is the best thing ever.

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What is the biggest lesson you have learnt?

I am still constantly learning things, not just in woodworking but also in business. I guess with every artist and businessman the biggest hurdle is always believing in yourself and what you can do. Artists and designer/makers especially are always so overly critical of themselves and their work – you have to learn to just go for it!

when did you get started?

I registered my business in November 2008. During a recession. So I knew if I could keep a business going then I should be fine.

What three things would you go back and tell yourself?

Have the courage to be as creative and as quirky as you can. Take the support and help when it’s offered and needed – don’t do it all on your own. Expansion and diversification is good! Do it sooner!

What has been your biggest achievement in your business?

Just running a successful business that is growing each year in strength, following and finances is an achievement in itself. But when I started out I never thought that I would have my work in national magazines (my VW campervan interior work), or even be good enough to exhibit in galleries, or do the big show events…but here I am!

What is your favourite thing to create?

I actually really like making my animal bandsaw boxes. My favourite so far has been a jewellery box in the shape of a hedgehog – spines and all. You have to pull its head out so that its body will pivot up to reveal a small hidden compartment inside it for small delicate or precious items.

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Where do you see the future of your business going?

I have big goals for my business. I very much want a bigger workshop and space, ideally with my own gallery so I can make it and sell it all one site! perfect!

If you want to find out more about Imagination Creations head to the website, or Facebook page.

Interview with the Creator – Shannon Murphy

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Shannon Murphy was holidaying in Cornwall in the summer of 2016, and she happened to be in Redruth perusing the shops when she saw a sign in the window of what was to become The Craft Collective. Shannon is based in Huddersfield and having studied Fashion and textiles, she started up Made by Shannon in her spare bedroom and brought her witty and brilliant sense of humour to cards, coasters, zip bags, make up bags, notebooks and much more.

Describe your typical working day

I work mainly from home. I will start the morning answering any emails and writing my list of jobs to do and then spend the day cutting fabric, sewing or painting.

Some evenings are spent watching my favourite programs on the sofa, while packaging greetings cards.

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What inspires you?

Everything!

How did you get started with art/craft

I have always been a creative person. When I was young my mum would buy me mounds of art and craft supplies and I would spend hours at the table sticking and gluing.

I studied fashion and textiles at collage and then did one and a half years at Manchester Metropolitan University studying fashion design. I left because it wasn’t for me, however taking this route has taught me my sewing skills and how to work out patterns.

What made you start your own business

After leaving university I wasn’t sure what I was going to do, I left without a plan.

In my student house we had a tiny room, not even big enough for a bed. So I claimed it and set up my sewing machine.

After 6 months of working in retail, I began to start sewing again and looking through all my sewing books for inspiration. After making a wide selection of products I realised I could start selling what I made and my business started.

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What is the biggest lesson you have learnt

To seek help wherever you can find it. Other people have been there and done it and the information and help can be invaluable.

when did you get started?

July 2015. My business is still a baby and I have a long way to go but I feel I have achieved some great things in that time.

What three things would you go back and tell yourself?

•Your work will constantly change, but thats ok.

•Ask people any questions, they can only say no.

•Be patient, starting a business takes time and you will never know everything.

What has been your biggest achievement in your business

I share a studio in Manchester Craft and Design Centre – Manchester, with a lovely lady called Jessica, she owns her own textile business, Fibre. She approached me after seeing my work online and asked if I would work from the shop 2 days a week and sell my products in there. Little did she know it had been a dream of mine for some time and I jumped at the chance.

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What is your favourite thing to create?

I love making cat brooches. I love to sit and create their fur colour, their faces and give them each a personality.

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Where do you see the future of your business going?

Long term I would love to have my own little gift shop and sell my products and a small selection from other small businesses.

For now, I am sure my business will change and grow in whatever direction it takes me. Hopefully some wonderful doors will open!

Find out more about Shannon

Facebook : Made By Shannon

Etsy: Made by Shannon

Instagram: Made by Shannon

Made By Shannon website

Interview with the Creator – Stephanie Croydon

Stephanie Croydon describes herself as an Interdisciplinary artist, her work combines natural textures with art and inspired designs. Based in Cornwall and having graduated from Plymouth University with a BA(hows) in Contemporary Creative Practice in 2015 Stephanie has developed her artwork and is now a thriving member of The Craft Collective in Redruth, Cornwall.

Here we meet Stephanie as she chats to us about her journey and inspirations.

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Describe your typical working day.

I’m working from home at the moment having recently left a studio space and I never start anything without a big coffee and my Spotify playlist. Depending on the day, I might listen to something fairly mellow; a bit of background music and other days I will listen to heavy metal! I’m always surrounded by paint, fabric, sketchbooks, art books, stuff I’ve collected and sometimes I’ll have my Pinterest page open where I have a few secret inspiration boards. I often sit down just to write down some ideas but I relish the time to get cracking with on with them before school run time!

What inspires you?

Working part time in St Ives for the past 3 years has given me inspiration, even though I don’t specialise in coastal paintings. I have found myself more drawn to painting abstract and looking at the work of artists, past and present. My work is mostly landscape with the quote in mind ‘to make visual how the world touches us’ (Merleau-Ponty, 1993). However I am interested in doing something different to the work I have been producing; something bright, funky, a bit tongue in cheek, a fun little side project to get my teeth into.

I enjoy having the time to visit galleries and museums; I love cabinets of curiosity which I would like to explore within my work one day.

How did you get started with art/craft?

I have childhood memories of making in primary school with cardboard boxes and plastic lids then painting the outside with powder paint, I loved the smell of it. I always painted and sketched at home which evolved in to card making for a while.

What made you start your own business?

Whilst I was studying I had some success with exhibitions and straight from graduating I won a yearlong residency at krowji Studios, Redruth. With the opportunity to take part in Open Studio events I registered self-employed and started selling from there and from Etsy.

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What is the biggest lesson you have learnt?

It’s not just making pretty pictures all day; in fact the working day can seem to have no end it! There is accounting to do (which I am really rubbish at doing and prioritising), tweaking the website and making sure the information matches with all my social media accounts, responding to emails or flagging ones to read later (which turns into a long list), looking for and responding to opportunities, visiting galleries and private views/networking which also doubles as research; keeping up to date with what’s going on in the creative industry and what people are buying, it can leave little time to actually create!

What three things would you go back and tell yourself?

Persevere, enjoy it and make the most of your time.

What has been your biggest achievement in your business?

It’s hard to pick just one but selling a piece of art through my Etsy shop to a customer in Australia and having customers coming back to purchase again are both up there. Compliments on my work always make feel I have achieved something and I will never take that for granted.

What is your favourite thing to create?

I’ve never been able to stick to just one thing; I paint small cotton reels, large canvas, stitch fabric, surface pattern design, sketch in the woods; everything is my favourite! At the moment I am enjoying painting with oils and challenging myself to go bigger.

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Where do you see the future of your business going?

It’s really hard to say as I have reached a point of change in my life and depending on what happens next will determine how much time I will have to keep being creative. Ideally I will have more exhibitions and would love to collaborate with others, I know I will always want and need a small creative space of my own and hopefully that will be a proper studio space again.

Website: http://stephaniecroydon.weebly.com/

Instagram: steph_art

Pinterest: https://uk.pinterest.com/stephcroydon/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/stephaniecroydon.art/

 

Interview with The Craft Collective owner Annelie Wood

In April 2015 Annelie Wood was living in Nottingham, working for the University and she had an inspirational idea to open a shop where you could have a cuppa tea and purchase beautifully handmade products. In June 2016 she opened that shop in Redruth, Cornwall.

The Craft Collective is an Arts and Crafts shop in the centre of Redruth, Cornwall with a difference. This collective of artists pay rent to the shop and get 100% of their sales back to them to help them grow and develop. They have access to networking and to a great workshop space above the shop!

Here is owner and curator Annie kicking off our Interview with the Creator project talking about what made her open The Craft Collective.

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How did you get started with art/craft?

One of my biggest childhood memories is making things from cardboard boxes, I would get beyond excited when Blue Peter were having a make session and the theme was dolls houses and I think my early inspiration really came from them. I would get wall paper samples and stick them to the walls, take images from the Argos Catalogue and use them as photos on the walls. I stuck and glued and stapled and coloured in and made the best barbie cardboard house. It didn’t stop there, my big sister was away learning to be a Nursery Nurse and would often use me as a guinea pig on her makes, she taught me how to make paper houses!! (I think our dad taught her) Which turned very quickly into paper villages. Creating has always been a big part of me and my life.

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What made you start your own business?

In September 2015 I left my job at the University of Nottingham to move to Cornwall with my partner. He had been offered an amazing job opportunity and we took the plunge and moved. This left me out of work and I struggled to find a new job. I created the business Make with Annie, making craft kits to sell so other people could have a go at crafting themselves and I started working craft markets around Cornwall. Here I met the best group of people I could imagine, they became my friends and have come with me onto the new venture!

About a year earlier I had been getting more and more into crafty things and I talked to my sister in law about how great it would be to open a small shop selling fantastic hand crafted products. My first thought was that it would be a tea room and people would be able to knit while drinking their tea and chat, and look at the products around them! But if I’m honest I never really thought any more about it until January 2016.

After a long visit home to our families I was feeling sad and disheartened about my career future. I had worked hard to establish my career and I didn’t know what to do without it. Selling at Craft markets was fun, but I didn’t see it as a lifetime job.

That was when my wonderful other half said open your shop! So I wrote a business plan, I looked at some shops, I found the shop, I borrowed money from my partner and I signed the lease.

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Describe your typical working day

No two days in The Craft Collective are the same. There are daily tasks to complete, like dusting and the accounts  and responding to emails. But you never know who will walk through the door of the shop or what they might need.

I love meeting our customers, chatting to them about their lives, telling them stories about the products. I drink a lot of tea and I can often be found knitting when I need a break from the computer!

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What inspires you?

Music really inspires me. I haven’t a musical bone in my body, but my other half does and I find that it just helps me work, it makes me smile and it really helps me to concentrate on a task. I love singing, I have to try very hard not to sing in front of customers!!!

I’m also massively inspired by those around me, the people I have met who are battling much tougher things that I am, they inspire me daily.

What is the biggest lesson you have learnt?

Oh goodness!

I think that I am still learning constantly, but one of the things I have learnt since starting The Craft Collective is to be open to all opportunities, don’t let being scared or nervous hold you back. Take a deep breath and head right in!

What three things would you go back and tell yourself?

Keep calm. You are more capable than you think you are. Bulk buy tea!!!!

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What has been your biggest achievement in your business?

The community that we have created already, in such a short time. The friendships that have been made through what we are doing with this business.

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What is your favourite thing to create?

Right now it’s Lino Printing everything in sight. I am too impatient though and need to think more about my designs before I commit them to ink! I also really love pottery and am still enjoying discovering my style. Apart from that I love to Crochet!

Where do you see the future of your business going?

I have hopes that the Redruth shop will continue to thrive and enable us to open a second shop in St Ives. But this is a way off in the future yet!

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The Handmade Fair

The Handmade Fair is brought to you by Kirstie Allsopp and is all about appreciating the beauty of handmade, and learning the skills to become a maker yourself. Whether your day at the Fair teaches you how to make something yourself, upcycle a piece you already own, or if you buy it from an expert, it’s here to help everyone to make their life a little more beautiful. The Shopping Villages are full to the brim with handmade products of the highest quality, brought to you by our hand-picked and incredibly talented makers, along with an enviable range of tools and materials.
The Super Theatre, Skills Workshops and Grand Makes are hosted by the UK’s most renowned experts, so you can be sure you’re learning from the best in the business.

It’s not only a fun day out, but you’ll also be able to take away a bundle of skills and knowledge that you can use to improve your own life and home.

The Handmaid Fair

2016 was my second year attending The Handmade Fair. Only this year my knowledge and insight into the craft world is certainly a lot deeper since the launch of my own business The Craft Collective.

Hosted by Kirstie Allsopp (of Channel 4’s Location Location Location fame) The Handmade Fair is a crafters dream day out. Each year my big sister buys me a ticket for my birthday! Its possibly the best present I get (don’t tell the rest of my family I said that) and together we spend the day learning new crafts and exploring the wonderful products that are for sale.

Despite the fact that we got caught in torrential rain driving down from Lincoln we still arrived on time and we wrapped ourselves up and prepared for the fun and frivolity regardless of what mother nature was going to throw at us. Fortunately all the workshops and shopping are under large marquees so despite The Handmade Fair being an outdoor event your never far from shelter.

IT’S JUST WATER, AND IT’S JUST WET!

The Handmade Fair Manager, Freya

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Workshops and Events

There are tons of workshops and talks and master classes going on at The Handmade Fair each day. Some you can just rock up to and book yourself on for free, others are prebookable as part of your Full Experience ticket or just can buy the entry only ticket and try and get onto some classes on the day from the workshops tent!

TIP: Book a full experience ticket if you even think that you might want to do workshops, the sessions get full really quickly!

From the extensive list of sessions to choose from I picked to start with Lino Printing with a wonderful lady called Zeena Shah!

Lino Printing

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Take a piece of lino, ink and an interesting looking tool, and stamp it onto anything and I am a happy little bunny.

Before this session I had never tried lino printing, which was the main reason for booking onto the workshop. Zeena showed us some basic techniques for making up our design and cutting it from the lino, she got us to think about the negative and positives of our design. I chose to cut out a little sailing boat as I live in Cornwall it felt really appropriate.

The act of slicing away at the lino to create your design is amazingly therapeutic and soon you have a piece of lino ready to be stamped onto something.

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We used ink pads to dab over the top of our lino stamps and then we placed the lino onto our tote bags and used a tiny roller to push the print down into the fabric.

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To ensure that your printing is waterproof Zeena’s tip was to iron on the reverse of the printing and that is it.

I am now a Lino Printing convert and have bought my own little stamping set to have a play at home!!!!

Christmas is going to be filled with handmade wrappings.

Artcut Butterfly Brooch

Our second workshop of the day was to create a butterfly brooch from precut wooden shapes from Artcuts.

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We used ink pads to paint around the edges of the butterfly and to stamp tiny dots all over the front using a cotton bud.

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We then sanded magical japanese paper from a tiny butterfly and stuck it on the top of the larger butterfly and decorated them with golden hearts and pearl beads before securing the brooch back!

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Paper Crafts with Cricuts

We booked onto this workshop once we arrived at The Handmade Fair as a bit of a last minute decision.

Using the Circuits machine the host had already cut out the paper templates for us (time efficiency!) and this allowed us to create a tiny organiser using stamping and sticking techniques.

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The end result was a tiny clipboard with a piece of vinyl chalk paper inside it.

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I thought that paper crafts were note really my cup of tea but I really enjoyed this workshop!

I also won their daily competition and am now the owner of a brilliant Cricut machine! This is really exciting and I am really looking forward to spending sometime learning how to use the machine.

Patrick Grant – The Great British Sewing Bee

My final exciting event of the day was the Super Theatre where Kirstie Allsopp met Patrick Grant from The Great British Sewing Bee.

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We all listened as he talked about his life and what led him to appear on The Great British Sewing Bee. 

Then we dragged our exhausted, crafted out covered in ink selves back to the car and headed home after another brilliant day at The Handmade Fair.

We have already made our plans to return next year, where we hope to be celebrating my sisters 50th Birthday!! So a quick thank you to my wonderful sister for buying the tickets, getting up at 5am, driving to London and back in a day, and in the rain! Your the best!

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The House at the Edge of the World By Julia Rochester

As far as stories about dysfunctional families go, this debut novel from Julia Rochester hits the nail on the head. But that’s not all this novel is about, themes of isolation, loss, death, the devil, mythology and incest all make an appearance, if somewhat brief.

John Venton’s drunken fall from a Devon cliff leaves his family with an embarrassing ghost. His twin children, Morwenna and Corwin, flee in separate directions to take up their adult lives. Their mother, enraged by years of unhappy marriage, embraces merry widowhood. Only their grandfather finds solace in the crumbling family house, endlessly painting their story onto a large canvas map.

His brightly coloured map, with its tiny pictures of shipwrecks, forgotten houses, saints and devils, is a work of his imagination, a collection of local myths and histo­ries. But it holds a secret. As the twins are drawn grudgingly back to the house, they discover that their father’s absence is part of the map’s mysterious pull.

The House at the Edge of the World is the compellingly told story of how family and home can be both a source of comfort and a wholly destructive force. Cutting to the undignified half-truths every family conceals, it asks the questions we all must confront: who are we responsible for and, ultimately, who do we belong to?

‘Wonderfully crisp and funny, and so full of vivid, surprising images that the reader almost doesn’t notice the moment that deep secrets begin to be revealed. I enjoyed this book so much’ Emma Healey, bestselling author of Elizabeth is Missing

Amazon review

The overall view of the novel from the group was that it was a complex yet interesting read delving deep into the dynamics of living in an isolated environment and in a small family unit. Descriptive with her prose on rural west country life Julia helps to transport you to an seemingly idyllic house in a beautiful part of the world.

Did we like all the characters? Perhaps not, but because of this they became more real, more believable in their behaviours.

Take from it what you wish, as there is much to take!

What did our readers think?

“It was a well written book with a bit of an unsatisfactory ending – they should have been more angry!”

3-stars 3/5 stars

 

“Promising as a first novel, well constructed and complex with a shifting plot. Certainly some intriguing issues covered”

3-and-half-stars 3 and a half/5 stars

 

“Really enjoyed this book. It was my recommendation for the group to read this. I would recommend a second read to fully grasp it”

4-stars 4/5 stars

The Tigers Wife by Tea Obreht

There were mixed reviews of The Tigers Wife by Tea Obreht in this months The Craft Collective Book Group. While we all admitted that there were qualities that we liked, little stories within the larger story that were magical, most agreed that this book was a difficult read.

The narration in the book comes from a granddaughter who is telling the tales of her dearly loved grandfather who passes away at the start of the novel. This narration gives us layers, where we can flit between a 90’s war torn Yugoslavia and the life and childhood of an old man.

The tales encompass folklore of the times, a Tiger who comes to town, The Deathless man who no matter what is done to him cannot die and starts his story by proving this.

It’s certainly easy to see why the book has won so much accolade as it stands out from other’s and its narrative clings to folklore and mythology.

What did our readers think?

“I really liked it, there was one big story and then within that lots of little stories. I liked the fact that a lot of the characters are nameless and I liked all the folklore and myths. It was magical!”

4 review stars 4/5 stars

 

“I liked the relationship between the grandfather and granddaughter. The smaller story of the Tiger’s wife was really interesting but I lost track of the plot a little bit. The Deathless man was interesting too and I found the 40 day death ritual gave me a lot to think about!

2 and half review stars 2.5/5 stars

 

“It was not my style of book, and I felt a little bored”

1 and half review stars 1.5/5 stars

 

Suggested further reading by one member of the book group is;

100 years of solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

 

 

 

March Craft Along – Easter Cross Stitch Cards

Welcome to the March Craft Along where this month we are going to look at cross stitch and I will be showing you how to create some lovely easter cards.

I never really got cross stitch, my Aunt and my older sister both used to love doing these large old fashioned designs that once completed they framed and hung in their houses.

Then one day I bought some tiny cross stitch kits from Hobbycraft. They were christmas themed ones and I was hooked.

Cross stitch has come a long way since the old victorian dolls houses or christmas scenes, and modern cross stitch is easy to get your hands on. It even looks brilliant as art work in your home.

stitchrovia

Easter is just around the corner and I have a couple of family members who send easter cards so this year I am sending them a handmade one back.

I picked up these patterns from Hobbycraft last year but they are good sellers and can still be found online and in store if you want to buy the kit.

Bunny PatternChick PatternDaffofil Pattern

 

Once you have picked your design we can get started.

What you will need;

Cross stitch fabric

Cross stitch needle

Hoop (you can do these small designs without one but if you do something bigger then a hoop is advisable)

Embroidery threads (you can buy a reem for around 90p from shops or markets)

Pieces of card or ready made cross stitch cards

Always start in the middle

It doesn’t matter which cross stitch pattern you buy or download they will always tell you to start in the middle and work from their. So take you piece of cross stitch fabric and fold it in four to create a centre.

The centre of your pattern will be marked, usually with a large cross in a circle.

Closeup Chick Pattern

This is the colour you will start with.

A Colour at a time

I know that each person needs to find their own way of working. But on a small piece of work like these I like to complete a colour in one go. It can mean a lot of counting squares and making sure things are in the right place, but it feels like the work is easier and more fluid this way.

Cross left or Right

When you begin you will create all the first line of your crosses in one direction before going back on yourself to complete the cross stitch. Or in Hobbycrafts words;

“Make sure you always sew the cross stitches so that the top stitch always slopes the same way…”

Closep of instructions

Attaching to your card

If you have bought some of the ready made cards to insert your cross stitch then all you need to do is secure your work in place with glue or tape.

In a card

Alternatively you could buy some A4 or A5 card and pretty scrap book paper and follow the easy steps below;

  1. Fold your card in half
  2. Cut around the cross stitch work removing any access fabric
  3. Glue the cross stitch to the front of the card
  4. Using pretty paper create a boarder for the work and glue it over the top of the cross stitch leaving a window to see the work.
  5. Allow to dry

 

Finshed products