Things to Make

Join in with the BIG KNIT

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If you’re in the UK and can knit, then here’s a challenge for you!

The company ‘Innocent’ – famous for selling smoothies and drinks – is once again offering to donate 25p to the charity Age UK for every tiny little hat knitted for them, as part of the Big Knit.

The hats are only small so will be pretty quick to do, and they’re going to put each one on an Innocent drink for sale, so people will buy them whilst they’re wearing your hats! If your design is particularly fun or imaginative, it could be featured on the website.

An array of free patterns is provided here (I love the punk one with the piercings!) and a gallery of some of the best hats might give you some ideas.

Just make sure you post them to the address on the website before 31st July.

Have fun!

Favourite Websites · Handmade Seller Interviews

Handmade Seller Interview: Pods & Plunder

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This week’s interview is with a UK-based jewellery maker called Caroline, from Pods & Plunder, who produces gorgeous jewellery from copper and silver. I particularly  like that the pieces are mainly inspired by natural plants and other objects, and my favourites are the fern frond earrings (pictured above).

Now I will hand over to Caroline…..

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Tell us a bit about yourself:

I have always been interested in the Arts and have always been making things . I did a degree in Fine Art and went on to teach Art and Design. Looking at beautiful paintings, sculpture and ceramics, or being involved in any making process – for practical or decorative purposes – simply makes me happy…… mostly (when it’s going right!)

What first made you want to become an artist/craftsperson?

  Attracted to silver jewellery and constantly admiring and buying bits and pieces, I decided to learn to make something myself. I began building up books, tools and skills about 10 years ago and have thoroughly enjoyed the learning process and the world of silversmithing.

Whilst I was practising my joining and sawing skills, I used copper to experiment with and discovered I really  liked the combination of copper and silver, so I have  continued to use it with all of its colour surprises.

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How did you get started in your handmade business?

After selling some of my jewellery at work and at a couple of craft fairs, I investigated interest in local crafts shops and was pleasantly surprised with positive feedback. I continue to have my work in a shop in Cardigan.

  I decided to look at online selling too. I wasn’t at all sure, but I’ve had such good reactions from people.

I set up my Folksy shop in December 2016. It’s called Pods&Plunder because I seemed to be deriving a lot of inspiration from seed pods, and I was also incorporating bits of ‘plunder’ from the nearby beaches in West Wales; which is bits of worn sea glass.

In ten years, where would you like to be?

In ten years I would like to still be alive and have a dedicated workshop in the garden, which is warm, dry, has space for all my stuff and wall space to put up all my inspiration. At the moment I am still on the end of the kitchen table, which is ok, but isn’t that practical…although it is handy for taking a second to peel the spuds/check the oven/stir a pan; when jewellery making is higher on the agenda than dinner.

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Have any pets?

We have two lovely dogs; an old black Lab called Meg and recently we gained a smaller dog, a cross Lurcher/Bedlington terrier, called Moss. We are lucky enough to live near the Preseli mountains and have a hill behind our house called the Frenni. We walk the dogs up there just about every day or we go to the coast; with loads of gorgeous spots to choose from. This allows me space in the day to collect thoughts (or bits off the beach) and be inspired, which is essential, as I also go to work in a College of Further Education for 4 days a week.

What is your favourite part of your handmade business?

The favourite part of making my jewellery is the bit where I have had an idea, have done a scribble and have a few free hours ahead of me to see how it’s going to work in practical terms. I love the creative process with all of its difficulties, surprises and joy; and when I am pleased with something, it is even more joyous when someone else likes it.

Favourite Websites · Handmade Seller Interviews

Handmade Seller Interview: Bluebell Woodturning

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The Handmade Seller Interviews are back, yay!

And to start us off, we have an interview with a UK-based woodturner called Mel, from Bluebell Woodturning, who produces beautiful products including live edge bowls, fruit ornaments, bottle stoppers and necklaces.

Now I will hand over to Mel…..

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Tell us a bit about yourself:

I’m Mel, I’m married and I work from my home-based workshop in Dudley, West  Midlands, England, creating  turned items on my lathes… and when I’m not doing that I like to play Crown Green Bowls all summer long, go for walks and grow my own vegetables.

How did you get started in your handmade business?

Woodturning has been my hobby since 2003, and, having been asked at craft events if I had a shop, I opened up on Folksy in October 2014 and – to my surprise – sold three fruits and a bowl only hours later.  I was hooked – and humbled that complete strangers wanted to buy my stuff!

What first made you want to become an artist/craftsperson?

 I’ve always liked to work with wood and, having joined a local club (Black Country Wood Turners) in 2003, the joy of revealing what is under the bark has never left me.

 Apart from crafts, what do you like to do in your spare time?

I do all my own DIY except electrics, and I enjoy reading crime novels and quizzing as part of a local pub team.

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How long have you been creating art/crafts and how long have you been selling online?

I’ve always made things, right from a model cooker when my two daughters were young to now producing turned items and display stands for craft fair days. I’ve been on Folksy since October 2014 and opened an Etsy shop on 21st February 2017.

How many different places do you sell from?

 I sell on Folksy and Etsy, as well as at Bernies Café’ (4 Main St, Ingleton, Carnforth LA6 3EB) which sells great food and has been stocking my work since June 2016. This is working out really well, since he gets a lot of tourists being in the Yorkshire Dales.

What’s your biggest non craft-related ambition?

I would like to win a Bowls singles competition with my family watching, including our grandson Lewis who I hope will take up bowls in four or five years time – he’s only 18 months old now.

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How did you come up with your shop name?

I love Bluebells and it seems to evoke a sense of wellbeing for people and is easily remembered.

What is your favourite part of your handmade business?

Wrapping up orders – I get a real buzz sending things out, receiving feedback, and the walk to the Post Office gives me some exercise.

What are three tools in your workspace that you could not live without?

 My lathes, turning chisels and Dust Bee Gone mask because fine dust particles can give you nasal cancer.

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Any other handmade shops you’d like to recommend?

Yes, Dew Drop Crafts on Folksy – Julie is a lovely girl who gave me great support when I started.

More Tea, Vicar? on Folksy – Natalie makes lovely knit wear

JAustenJewelleryDesign on Folksy – Jacqueline makes beautiful one-off pieces.

Bored at Home? · Favourite Websites

Free Online Animation Course

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I’ve always been very interested in animation – stop motion animation in particular – but because it’s so niche, there isn’t that much information or many tutorials out there to help & inspire.

That’s why I was especially pleased to find this free animation course that provides a wealth of videos and interviews all about stop-motion animation. I thought I should share it here in case anyone else out there would also find a lot of value in it.