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!
“I make jellyfish on the train, I make squid in the car on the way to the shops, I make mermen in cafes.”
North Lincolnshire-based Jules, of Black Fox By The Sea, makes marine magic with her crochet hook – weaving stunning sea creatures and creating fantastical beasts of myth and legend.
“I grew up knitting and crocheting,” she explained. “And made many dreadful misshapen scarves, and things made out of rectangles of knitting when I’d run out of wool or the inclination to keep knitting. I studied sculpture at Sheffield University, and when I returned to knitting and crochet and finally mastered my first pair of gloves I realised it was a media I could sculpt in too.”
A frequent visitor to The Deep conservation aquarium in Hull, Jules found herself inspired by the creatures within to pick up her hook.
She said: “I’ve always loved jellyfish and octopus, so I thought I’d try making some. After that I started making other things – centaurs, mermen, fauns, and the mermen became very popular with friends and people who saw pictures posted of them online. After I started supplying a shop in Whitby called Artemis and the Mermaid, it seemed daft not to have an Etsy.”
Her iconic pieces are her jellyfish – symbolic of a special bond she shares with her child.
“My son is 5 and has special needs and limited speech and language,” said Jules. “Jellyfish are something we both love to watch, and of all the things I make they are his favourite. He can name every part of the jellyfish (bell, lobe, arms, tentacles), and knows the name of more varieties than I can count!”
The pair enjoy spending time together watching David Attenborough documentaries on the BBC, which in turn sparks new ideas – “Sometimes, when we’re watching I’ll see a ball of wool and think ‘that would make a great…’!”
Television has also inspired other works – a love of the Terry Pratchett series Good Omens even inspired a range of merman versions of the main characters – as Jules believes: “Sometimes you just gotta do the weird and fun thing” – creating a playful form of fan art.
A loud and proud Gypsy, Jules is a fierce activitst for her community and spends a fair amount of time online promoting GRT and human rights, animal welfare, environmental , LGBT+ and mental health issues. “My mother despairs,” added Jules.
To buy Jules’ fantastical works visit her Etsy : https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/Blackfoxbythesea – orders by December 19 (UK) or December 11 to the rest of the world. Jules also supplies Artemis and the Mermaid in Whitby (https://www.facebook.com/artemis.mermaid.whitby/) and Airy Fairy in Sheffield (https://www.airyfairy.org/)
* Want more #Craftmas inspirations? Jules recommends: “The lovely Pip runs Molipola prints, a fellow self-employed mum trying to balance life and running a small business. She is a passionate supporter of independant artists and her instagram is a delight to see. She shares her successes and her failures, and makes trying to do new and scary things far less scary. You can find here work on Etsy https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/molipola and herself on IG https://www.instagram.com/molipolaprints/”