Twelve ways of #Craftmas: Bound in Memory

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!

One of the biggest joys of my working life is the relationship I build with my customers, often over the course of many years.”

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Artisan book maker Susan Green is in the business of binding memory to something beautiful, largely in the leaves of the books she binds.

Scrapbooks for newly weds, sketch books for artists and guest books and memory books all mean her works become part of the fabric of people’s lives, much to her satisfaction

She adds: “It’ pretty incredible to make a useful and beautiful product that wouldn’t exist without the work of my hands.” 

Working from her studio in Dorset, alongside her studio dog, The Littlest Greyhound, Susan now sells her work worldwide, having started her craft and business in an unusual way.

I began bookbinding in 2008 after a chance encounter with a library book,” Susan explained. “I hadn’t had any art, craft or design training, but I started making and a year later went into business. So I’m a self-taught bookbinder who now teaches others to make books too!”

Despite coming to the medium by chance, Susan is the consummate artisan, drawing inspiration from a creative hero whilst keeping an eye on the ever-changing world of design.

William Morris is a huge inspiration to me,” said Susan. “His work ethic (he was self-taught in many respects), his love of writing, travel and art – as well as designing and making – and his colour palettes, too. Also, I follow a lot of different creatives on Instagram to refresh my eyes, and am endlessly inspired by their colour palettes, whether they work in interiors, textiles or illustration. My studio is full of materials, work in progress and has a pin board with inspiration and a plan for the year.”

Susan works on bespoke projects throughout the year, but also has a wide range of ready to ship items – including her new collection of Marbled Notebooks with labels – presented as gift sets with the stationery lover-who-already-has-everything in mind.

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Marbled Notebooks

Having reached a level of excellence which has seen her become an associate member of Designer Book Binders and a member of the Heritage Crafts Association, Susan also exhibits her work and offers bookbinding courses to help sustain her craft into the future. She also works hard to ensure her products reach high environmental and ethical standards, seeking to incorporate sustainable, natural materials in her designs.

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Susan Green

Buy Susan’s work at www.boundbyhand.co.uk – Christmas postal deadline is December 22 for the UK.

  • Want more #Craftmas inspirations? Susan recommends:

I recently saw Green Spiral Willow’s work at Walford Mill Crafts in Wimborne, Dorset and was totally blown away by the way the maker combines found driftwood with willow basketry to create sculptural pieces and useful objects.”

Twelve ways of #Craftmas: The Screw It Moment

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 may sound cheesy but I love everything I make.”

Jules, of Hook Frog, has a real passion for her yarn creations, in what ever form they emerge. A newcomer to selling her craft wares, she has already proved herself prolific in the number and range of items she produces.


“From pot holders to face scrubbies, hoodies, caridgans, hats, cloves, scarves, bunnies, blankets, cartoon characters & slippers,” she adds. “I honestly enjoy designing and freehanding stuff – I designed & made a blanket of Claptrap (a character from Borderlands), a Tetris pillow & I am mid making a cartoon character for my sister in law for Christmas.”


A background in computing and technology has proved the ideal starting point for this crafter – the mathematics and calculation inherent in crocheting mean her brain is ideally suited to working from patterns and working freehand. However Jules never imagined that she would find joy in craft – preferring gaming and gadgets for a long time.


She explained: “A couple of years ago I hit a ‘screw it’ moment in my life and ended up with three awesome tattoos and the last year or so decided to shave my head (again) and also wear dreads. I started making my own dreads. Then at the end of 2018 a work colleague was giving away some yarn & I thought it would be great for making some dreads. Unfortunately – or fortunately – she also gave me some fibre fill.

So I start to look at some dreadlock making videos on YouTube and in the list was a crochet video and, well, that’s when it happened. I was literally hooked – pun intended. I have a bag full of wonky rectangles that I made those first few weeks and now I have a sofa of animals, cushions and a stack of scarves, hats and all sorts.”


Jules has drawn inspiration from gaming, from the internet and taking on board ideas from various fandoms popular with people she knows. Seeing the pieces Jules produced, friends and colleagues started making requests for custom items – particularly children’s toys – and Hook Frog was born. Now she is striking out into sales and hopes that she can produce so much more, with plans to establish her own website in the coming months.

To buy from Jules contact her via Instagram – @hookfrogdblcrochet and Twitter – @hookfrog.

  • Want more #Craftmas inspirations? Jules recommends: Niknaks Hereford – hand painted glasses (on Facebook as Niknaks Hereford); Happy Berry Crochet – I made my first Amigurami patterns with her and her tutorials are fab (happyberry.co.uk)

Twelve Ways of #Craftmas: The Colour of Stories

 

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 read an awful lot, and sometimes when I’m picturing a scene I start to think about how different features could be represented in colour.”

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“Juno”

Art began as therapy to Suzanne, of Pop Paints, as she faced battles with the education system to ensure that the special educational needs of her child were met, but flourished into a business. The qualified lecturer had always been crafty from childhood but a need for a distraction revived her creative side.

I had what I called my ‘making things box’,” Suzanne said. “Which was a shoebox that I put scraps of interesting paper, toilet roll tubes and stickers in for creating my masterpieces. My fondest memories are of sitting around the kitchen table with my Nan and Mum to make Christmas cards. We’d all be covered in glitter, and my Nan would teach me how to make papercuts or create 3D effects or lay out the most beautiful lettering.”

The comfort from this memory of making went on to play an important role in her life.

She said: “Life with a child with special needs can be chaotic and when I was trying to work, attend school meetings and keep up with planning and marking, my mental health really suffered. Fluid art was initially a therapeutic tool for me because it allows me to switch off and focus solely on colour and movement; then the more I was creating, the more I was being told I should sell my work. It was a daunting prospect but I’m really glad that I had supportive people around me when I took that step.”  

Suzanne finds inspiration from all around her and sees her experimenting with odd items around the house to create different effects – whether it be toys, packaging or even kitchen utensils. “Sometimes it works,” she said. “But sometimes it creates total disasters.”

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Suzanne, of Pop Paints

Initially starting her creative business on the kitchen table, Suzanne now works in a quiet corner of the house – safe from the disturbances of family life.

Suzanne’s works are magical, dreamlike paintings, often echoing the images of deep space more familiar to astronomers. She said: “I tend to love my brightest, most colourful paintings but I get most positive feedback for my beach scenes and dark space pieces. I find it hard to choose a favourite but I do love a piece called Juno, which is named after the Queen of the gods in Roman mythology and is in my Night Sky series.” 

Suzanne’s pieces are available to buy through her Facebook page, Pop Paints.

* Want more #Craftmas inspirations? Suzanne recommends: Rinske Douna, a Swedish artist whose work inspires and astounds. She can be found at www.rinskedouna.com

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.”

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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.

 

Twelve ways of #Craftmas: The Fabric of Times Past

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 have always loved fabric – I can often be found stroking cushions,clothes and bedding in shops.”

 

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Lampshade, pillows and quilt in vintage fabric, by Quilterdown

Nicki, of Quilterdown, is all about the material things, but not in the corporate way. Her one-woman-and-a-cat business uses vintage, recycled and upcycled fabrics to create new and unique quilts, cushions and lampshades. Her work owes a debt to the past – and not just in the retro materials she creates from.

As a child, I was surrounded by fabrics,” she explained. “I have been sewing as long as I can remember. My mother used to make all my clothes and I learned at her knee. As a new wife I made curtains, cushions and such for my first home and I have always made clothes.”

Nicki first started stitching quilts after a visit to a vintage fair around ten years ago.

She said: “I walked into the room and was suddenly surrounded by the most amazing vintage fabrics. I was gobsmacked and inspired. From that point, I knew vintage fabrics were my future.”

Starting out with a quilt as a birth-gift for her god-daughter her quilting enterprise began to grow and the hobby flourished into art which in turn grew into her own business, Quilterdown.

Drawing inspiration from the world around her – whether it be the customer, tiles on a floor, Pinterest or the fabric itself – Nicki works alone in her South East London shed, an oasis of calm amongst the birds and trees of her garden.

Quilting makes me happy,” said Nicki. “Working out a design,putting it together and seeing it work gives me pleasure!! Even a really simple design is wonderful to put together. I make a lot of baby quilts and receive a lot of pictures from parents – it’s so wonderful to see a beautiful baby lying on one of my quilts!”

She added: “Quilting will always be my world. I love the maths involved, despite never always being rubbish at maths, the cutting, the design, the fabric choices! I love working with a customer to make something utterly unique.”

Nicki’s work is available on Folksy. Follow her on Instagram and Facebook.  

 

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Nicki, the creative force behind Quilterdown
  • Want more #Craftmas inspirations? Nicki recommends: The House of Upcycling (@thehouseofup) on Instagram; RevampedbySara – @revampedbysara (Insta & Facebook); @TheBlueberryPatch (Insta & FB); HandmadeandVintage – @handmadeandvintage (Insta & FB); @whenidecorate and @wittydawnuk

#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! 

Why do I have this? (Reviews of things I already own)

“To put your things in order means to put your past in order too.”

~Marie Kondo

 

I’m heavy. Weighed down. I’m surrounded by things that I don’t know what to do with and deepest consideration is being given to storage solutions.

 

I’ve written before about the melancholia of stuff. But I’ve failed to transfer thought processes into action, again. The struggle seems silly, this is the result of my choices and sheer fortune of having the means to accumulate such an amount of things. The weight of it, however, is crushing me now. I’m looking at it all and I don’t know where to start.

 

I’m not alone though – the need to shake off stuff is now the thing. Clearing out is the new hoarding – ironically with ranges of books and yet more stuff pushed out into the market place to address it. I’ve seen Marie Kondo, she seems lovely and of light, but I’m without the energy to put things in their place all at once. There is so much I don’t understand about the things I hold on to that to sort it all would be too exhausting to do it all together.

 

I need to think about how to approach this – the books, which as a collective I love, are far too abundant and I’m looking at some of the titles with confusion. Why do I have this? A question which runs through my mind on far too many occasions. I have books, it seems, for the mere fact of existence and perhaps without having ever been read or appreciated for their content. I hold onto them, regardless of attachment. How can one be attached to a volume you’ve hardly opened, never mind read.

 

Reviews are needed and they’re coming.