Twelve Ways of #Craftmas: Whit Cin Go Rang?

Black Friday Sales and Christmas marketing, #Craftmas aims to get word out about the artists, artisans and craftspeople making beautiful gifts. Why buy a mass produced piece of plastic when you can gift an exclusive and interesting piece made by a creator-maker looking to make a living.

Support #Craftmas by using it to Tweet about your favourite makers, by using the hashtag as a Christmas shopping directory or simply by retweeting!

Wan day a’d love tae make a livin oot certoons!”

If you REALLY follow cartoonist Red Raiph on Twitter you know to read the Tweets out loud.

You’ll also know Raiph is one of the joyful lights in the dark of the social media site, with Christmas being a particular highlight each year – look out for #raiphsadventcalandurand #chrismaswaeraiph  – now Tweeting.

Ah’v been makin mischief on Twitter fur aboot 7 year noo,” Raiph said. “My livetweets, #nativerty an #hawalleen, is world famous!”

I luv ma stuff acos it cheer folk up, an I just stertit tae draw an write tae gie folk a laff!”

From just wanting to give people a laugh, Raiph has developed his creativity into his cartoons, which now feature on a range of gifts, and his writing – which often has those south of Scotland scratching their heads.

A also write mad wee books in Scots an creatively spelt English, known is raiphspeak,” he added.

Born in The Gorbals, Glasgow, Raiph grew up with a love of cartoons. Christmas always saw the arrival of a new Oor Wullie or The Broons annual, which led to him realise that cartoons were something that he could aspire to doing for himself.

Certoons Huv aways been ma favrit hing,” he said. “A loved em, bit ma favrit wis Dennis the Menace, acos the wee certoon strips wurnae aw polished! Embdy cud draw like at – even me! A hink they changed the artist tae make it mair neat lookin. A preffered the auld scribbly wans.” 

Raiph’s political cartoons, offering his own wry take on the events of recent times, have thrust him to the forefront of Scottish independence campaign and even led to him becoming the star cartoonist of the SNP’s magazine.  

Of course, as with much of his work, there are golden reasons why Raiph does the things he does, in the unique way that is unmistakably his.

“A try tae draw in a way to show folk ye dinnae huv tae be perfect, jus draw.” explained Raiph. “Ye’ll mibbe improve, bit ye’ll surely huv fun! A luv tae draw the certoons, wae me, Wee Vinny, Kurt, Demi and wee Steve the dug. Tae remind folk a happier, dafter times, an a wee break fae ma political stuff.”

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So where can we get our hands on Raiph’s work?

Ye cin buy stuff fae me on Twitter or ma books is on Amazon,” said Raiph. “I also huv a wee spreadshirt shoap, Raiph’s Shoap, where ma drawins is on T-shirts, posters, bags, badges an mugs!”

  • Want more #Craftmas inspirations? Raiph recommends: “Ma amazin pal, @irmatharn, makes haun made ukuleles. She hus a wee Etsy shoap PipsUkes!”

Twelve ways of #Craftmas: Hooked on Helping

Born out of a loathing for the corporate exploitation of Black Friday Sales and Christmas marketing, #Craftmas aims to get word out about the artists, artisans and craftspeople making beautiful gifts. Why buy a mass produced piece of plastic when you can gift an exclusive and interesting piece made by a creator-maker looking to make a living.

Support #Craftmas by using it to Tweet about your favourite makers, by using the hashtag as a Christmas shopping directory or simply by retweeting!

It was coming up to Christmas and I was seeing a lot of social media posts asking for warm clothing – I couldn’t afford to donate much money but I had a stash of yarn so started to make items that I could parcel up and send off. It kind of snowballed from there.”

Kaz Molloy is an occasional vendor of crochet goods, but a full time creator of winter warmers for those in need. For her crafting has been a lifesaver for her and has turned into a series of good deeds with untold value.

Originally from Birmingham, Kaz has lived on the Isle of Bute, of the west coast of Scotland for 17 years. Over the years she has dabbled in card making, sewing, jewellery making and decoupage – but has found a love of crochet which unleashed her creativity.

Since a diagnosis of womb cancer at the end of 2009 her life has changed a lot. “I’ve been left with long term side effects of the treatment so am virtually housebound,” Kaz explained. “My crafting has been the only thing that has kept me sane – well, almost!”

Just over a year ago she found her own way into craft activism. As she started to make items such as wristwarmers for the homeless her efforts resonated with friends and Facebook followers and the balls of donated yarn started rolling in. Sitting in an armchair by her kitchen window Kaz kept making more and more and parcelled them up and posted them to homeless outreach groups across the UK.

Since I started doing this last October, she recalled. “I’ve sent out 51 parcels which included 363 pairs of wristwarmers and 73 scarves.”

Kaz1
Kaz Molloy

Kaz added: “I put the same amount of effort into my scarves as I would if I was making them to sell. Just because someone is homeless doesn’t mean they should have to make do with inferior items.  All my items are made with love and hopefully the bright colours will bring a smile to the face of the person who receives it.”

Although Kaz rarely sells her wares she will be at a Christmas Craft Fair in the Isle of Bute Discovery Centre today, November 30, between 11am and 4pm and some items are occasionally listed on her Facebook page. She also has a blog page where you can follow her activities.

Want more #Craftmas inspirations? Kaz recommends:

Felt Isle is a friend on Bute who does fab felt textile work. Rowanberrybute is another who knits lovely items. Off island there is Rowanberry Designs who makes the most amazing lampwork glass beads and Connor Viking Blacksmith.

 

#Craftmas Is Coming

I am so tired of Black Friday.

We’re not even there yet. but the emails, the Facebook promos, the Tweets, have all got me fatigued already. I don’t care. I don’t want cheaply made products for a bargain price. I want something real.

I don’t want those who brave putting their art out there for mates rates either. I want to contribute – yes I’ll have less bang for my buck – but I know I’ll end up giving something of real value. I’m buying something with meaning but I will also be supporting an economy for people.

I mulled about this weariness and hope for better on the Twitters and in talking with others the idea of #Craftmas was born and I decided to rabble rouse on Twitter to get behind people who are making amazing crafts, realising beautiful art and putting to work real skill.

I did realise after I had swung into action with my #Craftmas concept that there is the great #IndieWeek concept from @Justacard1, drumming up support for independent businesses in the week leading up to Black Friday and (although I am seperate from that) I would like to pick up the torch on the day and run from then until Christmas for pure creator-maker celebration. There is room for MORE creativity in the world, for more celebration of art, beauty and truth. 

So how to take part?

On Friday, November 29 tweet your favourite makers with the hashtag #Craftmas. View the hashtag and retweet anything you see that takes your fancy. Keep using the hashtag until Christmas!

Between Friday and Christmas I will be publishing 12 blogs called Twelve Ways of Craftmas, focussing on 12 different artists and makers and what makes them tick – read and retweet.

Most importantly BUY. There are some fabulous creative people out there – let’s give them the support where they need it most and make them the BEST alternative to corporate greed this Christmas! 

Raising hope from Astonishing Kindness

 

The bleakness of the world goes on, as it ever has, and still we are here. Waiting.

 

We can wait for change, hunkered down with supplies, padded against the actions of the outside, but it brings us no further forward. We are not creatures who wait for things to happen, we are part of the world, part of its machinery of moving parts, ever progressing, even if it be to inevitable doom.

 

Kindness is change

Kindness, astonishing or not, is an agent of change. It attaches to people, brings them closer together. It makes bonds between people, in time and to place. It makes neighbours from strangers, associates into friends. Words of gentleness speak across the barriers of language, of culture, of faith and speak to something more fundamental. The need for safety, for understanding, for community.

 

It gives us hope that people might be better, that they can choose to be so. More is possible than simply making sure we are safe, we can make others safe too.

 Sewing and sowing

I hope now, as I watch my children grow and feel the fluttering of new life within my belly, that each stitch of kindness I sew into the fabric of the world, becomes part of a colourful tapestry that I share in with millions.

 

Ready as I am for the worst, I will continue to put effort out into the world. I want to raise hope like a crop, harvesting sheaves of it to share and to re-plant.

 

Grow with me.

 

Can we share some #AstonishingKindness?

The world is so bleak.

 

I’m lucky, I can make ready and prepare. I do what I can to protect hearth and home, to keep my children fed, clothed and housed. But, with what’s ahead promises a lot of suffering for a lot of people, many of them will suffer and are suffering before we will.

 

This week alone we’ve seen ahomeless man set on fire as he slept, extinction-prone sharks turning up in dishes in UK restaurants and a foodbank plundered and frozen food deliberately spoiled by the thieves. That’s just a little sample of the legion of horrors written of in the UK press. Callousness abounds, even if we ignore the likely cliff edge that approaches on March 29, and divisions are widening each day.

 

It’s enough to make you think of turning away from the world, for running away and keeping close only those things we love, for shutting the door to anything else. Preserve what you love, the rest of it can go to the wall.

 

But this world will not heal if we only reach within ourselves, within our smallest possible groupings. We have to reach out beyond this, make our worlds large, our knowledge wide and our generosity a way of life. The world will not stay away and to ignore it is as good as to condone it.

 

I’ve always loved the words of Maya Angelou. Her writing offers comfort, direction and above all an understanding that vulnerability is at the core of humanity, that mistakes are the mother of opportunities to improve. When I came across this excerpt from a poem titled “Continue”, a piece she wrote for her “daughter” and friend Oprah Winfrey, I found a sentiment that is so very needed at this time.

 

My wish for you is that you continue. Continue to be who and how you are, to astonish a mean world with your acts of kindness. Continue to allow humor to lighten the burden of your tender heart.”

Maya Angelou

 

Astonishing a mean world with kindness is so very much needed. Again and again until it gets boring, until it becomes commonplace, until kindness is the norm.

 

So, to do my little bit, in the month of love, I’ll be using the hashtag #AstonishingKindness throughout February to do a daily blast of five tweets to bring more beauty, truth and love into the darkness.

 

Tweet 1. Highlighting foodbanks in the UK who have the highest demand in the lead up to Brexit in March and putting aside an item a day that I’ll contribute to MK Foodbank at the end of the month.

 

Tweet 2. Promoting a social enterprise which is doing real good in communities here in the UK.

 

Tweet 3. Identifying community projects in the UK who are bringing people together and making change for those in most need.

 

Tweet 4. Recommendations for brilliant and beautifuls reads – poetry, fiction, essays – anything that brings beauty, truth and love into the world.

 

Tweet 5. A story of real kindness – with a beautiful image to inspire hope for the day.

 

Of course I’ll need suggestions and contributions – most of all I’ll need your support. That’s what’s needed right now – support for each other in taking steps to draw people together, to push forward the idea that the world should be full of kindness, honesty and love, to prove that we can be better.

 

I’ll leave you with more words from Maya Angelou, words spoken as eulogy to Coretta Scott King:

 

“I pledge to you, my sister, I will never cease. I mean to say, I want to see a better world. I mean to say, I want to see some peace somewhere. I mean to say, I want to see some honesty, some fair play. I want to see kindness and justice. This is what I want to see.”

Ruby Inks – She has her own identity that she will not let you see.

Today I discovered I had lost a friend.

 

The unique, indomitable Ineke Poultney had left life behind and was no longer there as the powerhouse of friendship and joy she had been in the world, not just to me but to many.

If you didn’t know “Inky” you truly missed out. I’m sorry but, you’re simply too late. However, I would like to share with you something she shared with me – because it’s a little fragment which she left behind with me which says so much about who she was. This is not a betrayal of confidence. We had always agreed these messages would form part of a book – a book I was, simply put, too chicken to pursue right away. This is something I regret. That she would never see these words, under her name and in a book.

I hope in the future to make good our agreement, in the fullness of time.

If you read my blog post “Ruby Inks: Just Five Minutes” you’ll know I was working with Inky on a series of writing prompts, which evolved into a plan to write the aforementioned book of five minute responses to sentences which came to Inky’s mind.

The below conversation happened on Twitter messages after this agreement (Inky’s words appear in italics):

“She has her own identity that she will not let you see.”

Get writing!

(I am really looking forward to this!)

Here goes…

She has her own identity that she will not let you see. She cloaks around it the identities which have been placed, unwanted, upon her. She did not choose to be a woman, it was already given with the attendant oppressions it weighed upon her. She did not choose to be disabled, yet there she was, with legs that could not be used, in a world designed for the “norm”. She did not choose the inability to speak her inner thoughts, so was rendered stupid in a world of spoken words, capable of communicating only the most basic of thoughts and intents. All of these were identities imposed upon her, but not a single one was the one that was her. She kept that back just for her. The stories she wove in her mind meant that she was free of assumption and free of limitations. She would describe colours no-one could even imagine, surrounding characters never before created, who executed their adventures in landscapes that the world could not conceive of. But this was part of the identity she will not let you see. When her mother gave her a laptop, ostensibly to allow her to reach out into the world, she chose instead to pour out her own world into words. She did not share it with mother, nor did she take from the world around, she just wove thicker and richer the world within.

WHAT??? How on Earth did you do that??? Are you sure we have never met???

Just change the word “wheelchair” to glasses and you almost have me to a T!!!

You *ARE* going to use that in your book!!! I have decided!!! It is too amazing not to be used!!!

So tell me the back story to the sentence- or was that the FB post?

No – it isn’t the Facebook post! Here goes!

The first line I gave you is actually the first line of a song which I suspect is about me (although I have never dared to ask Kristyna if it is)!!!

Hold on while I find the link to the YouTube video of it!

Listen to the song and you will realise why I was so stunned by what you wrote!!!

The song Inky wrote of is linked here.

I Guess Dubstep Never Dies*.

I sat in the drivers seat of my car, sleeping babies in the back, awaiting the boy as he queued inside the supermarket for sundries and watched a couple walking towards the trolley park.

The woman was tall, strong and carrying weight in the legging and velour top combination that exposed her sturdy form as she carried her child close to her in her arms. A man, who I took to be her partner, shorter than the woman, shuffled steps behind her with a limp, bearing some of the burden on a stick. The child was around the same age as my two little ones in the car and was cosy in a snow suit, wrapped up against the chill of the shifting seasons which brought us to this, the first day of October. The man’s movements were less suggestive of injury than illness. The woman looked back at him and paused, smiling, a moment of genuine love and care. The child joined her with a tiny red-lipped grin and the moment was fixed – of happiness and love. None of the three wore clothes of any expense or structure, their shoes were cheap, everything was well worn and put together in the best way they could muster.

I looked at them and wondered what lay ahead for them. The future does not bode well for people with any vulnerability, particularly not in the current system. Meagre offerings for disability are being attacked and questioned in continuous waves in this political climate, relief from poverty even more so. I watch their child with sadness, wondering what sort of a life she will have in this coming world. I wonder for my own children, for my family.

You wouldn’t think, perhaps, that Deadpool 2 has much to say on this line of thought, but there is a part of the dark comedy Marvel action film that has resonated with me in this respect. If you’ve not seen it, it has a character, Cable, a time traveller who has come back from a dystopian future to kill a young boy, Russell, from the film to prevent him murdering Cable’s wife and daughter in his present. He takes with him a blood soaked teddy bear belonging to his daughter as a grim mascot. The journey has used up one of his two charges for time-hopping, the other he plans to use to return to his family once the deed is done.

In a series of events the main character, Deadpool, sacrifices himself to essentially save the soul of Russell and as he dies Cable, seeing his daughter’s bear become cleansed of blood, slides through time again, this time to insert a lead-based arcade token he has taken from Deadpool, into his body suit, to save Deadpool’s life, yet still allowing the sacrifice to be evident enough to reach the heart of Russell.

The point of this isn’t, as Deadpool crows “You did it for me…”, it’s a matter of hope, as Cable reveals his daughter’s name to be in the moment he slips the token. Cable knows Hope will be safe, but he also knows that without this premise, the premise of him being part of something bigger than himself to reshape the history of the future, the future will still be unbearable. Cable chooses to sacrifice the time with his family to try to be part of something more, to create a better world for Hope to survive in.

Hope lives in a world where people are willing to make sacrifices to make it better. That’s the truth of it all isn’t it. Hope lives when good people refuse to give in, where they work together, raising people up and standing in the way, taking the hits. We all like to think that, when the chips are down, we would be the people who would do our bit.

Well the chips are down.

There’s a lot to think about, for what needs to be done next. We all need to be part of something bigger, for my children, for the little girl in the snowsuit, for hope.

* Quote from Josh Brolin, as Cable, Deadpool 2