Blog, book review, Book Reviews

The Mindful Maker

35 creative Fabric Projects to Focus the Mind and soothe the soul

by Clare Youngs

Published by Cico Books £12.99

With Mindfulness being so much of the current zeitgeist and crafting snapping, close behind, on its heels, this book is both brilliantly timed in its publication date and at the same time utterly engaging.

Squeezy Kitty

Having interviewed Clare for my Meet the Makers series I knew this book would be a treat to read and to use. Clare is a ‘one off’ an original, her ideas are fun, her designs good and she comes up with items you actually want to create.

Indigo woven mat

         As Clare says in her introduction

‘Mindfulness has become a bit of a buzzword in recent years. There has been much talk about slowing down, enjoying the moment, and leading a less stressful life. Let’s face it life can be pretty hectic. The day to day whirlwind of work, families, household chores, and keeping up a social life while rushing around needing to do things and be places can take a toll on our mental and physical wellbeing. At the same time, we are being bombarded by constant imagery, messages and content from our digital devices-we need time out. Taking up a craft can be one way of relieving that stress and tension.‘

Latch hook pillow

         When you make something your mind is focused, and often the action you are doing is repetitive, which is soothing –almost meditative-pushing out any negative thoughts you may have. It is all about getting the flow. This is the perfect state between concentration and action. When you are there in the zone, the everyday world drops away and any stress and worries along with it.

         Clare is a believer in making new things from old, using what you have and adapting old fabrics to counteract a throwaway society, and all her designs have a Scandinavian-inspired, modern aesthetic.

         The book includes machine sewing, punch needling, embroidery, weaving, macramé, printing and much more. Many of the projects can be carried with you when you are travelling. This is a great way to keep calm when all around you are less so.

Embroidered Shirt

There is a chapter on the Mindful home that includes a throw, a mat, bowls, a lamp and a quilt. There are thoughtful gifts and tactile gifts for children and some wonderful inventive wall art. The book is beautifully illustrated by Clare’s husband, Ian and shot by Joanna Henderson. As I was about to review this book and my daughter saw it on my desk she said she wanted it. So my advice is buy 2 copies one for you, and one for your daughter!

The Mindful Maker by Clare Youngs, published by CICO Books (£12.99)

Photography by Joanna Henderson © CICO Books

Blog, book review, Book Reviews

DIY for Dog Lovers

36 P-awsome Canine Crafts

By Kat Roberts

Published by Lark

This is a fun and practical book written by the author of Crafting for Cat Ladies. So if dogs are not your thing you can go and get her other book.

She opens the book with the introduction

         “ My dog inspires me daily with her loyalty, humour and love. Sharker greets me when I return home after work, always joyful.”

 The book opens with the usual techniques tips and materials. As this is a multi craft book there are quite a few of these. There is a mixture of items for your dog and items inspired by dogs. The first chapter called Home includes silhouette portraits of dogs, paw printed stamped gift wrap, a banner and a bone shaped Welcome mat.

The next chapter has accessories including a journal, a fido phone case, a mans best friendship braclet and a Dachshund Shopping Tote.

There are fashion items including Dalmation shoes, a canine clutch and paw print elbow patches. There are fun ideas for DIY dog themed entertaining and finally a chapter on items that you can make for your dog including a name tag, a dog coat, a dog bed, and an up-cycled dog toy.

If you love dogs, have a sense of fun and also love to craft these projects will definitely fit the bill!

Blog, book review, Book Reviews

Crafted A compendium of Crafts:

New, Old & Forgotten

By Sally Coulthard

Published by Quadrille and imprint of Hardie Grant

The craft of knitting

This book is to crafts people what a dictionary is to a writer,  a very useful tool, full of vital information. It reminds me of the 1970’s Whole earth catalogue and the 1980’s  John Seymour National Trust book ‘Forgotten Household Crafts’. This is a book for the twenty first century. It is concise and engaging and not at all ‘worthy’.

Calligraphy

People love to make things constantly and compulsively. It seems we just can’t help ourselves. As the author Sally says ‘Whether it’s early humans smashing cobbles into cutting tools or Napoleonic sailors carving miniature ships from scavenged bones, the drive to create is one of our most defining and cherished traits. But humans are also pragmatic. They like to create things with a purpose, a use.’ Throughout history, people have invented, perfected and shared these different techniques – from making paper to weaving baskets – so that today, we have a world culture that’s rich with craft in all its different forms.

Blacksmithing

This is a book that celebrates the history, breadth and skill of crafts and the people who practice them.

One idea about craft is that the intention is different from, say, art. With art, the maker usually wants to say something abstract

or meaningful with the object he or she is producing. The object’s use is secondary. With craft, it’s usually the other way round. The maker is setting out to craft something functional and useful, first and foremost, whether it’s a pot, a rug or a horseshoe.

Wheelwright

Craft skills are also predominantly manual. Crafters make things by hand. This careful handcrafting gives objects their other essential quality – uniqueness. While crafters can produce objects that look very similar – a potter can produce thousands of a single plate design – each is subtly different.

Glass blowing

DOES CRAFT MATTER? As Sally says ‘On a personal level, the process of being creative and making something by hand involves using parts of my brain that other work can’t reach. When you craft something, there’s an intimate conversation that goes on between brain, eyes, body and hands, an exchange that’s often totally instinctive and unselfconscious. You can lose hours, without noticing it; it’s like meditating without trying. When you make things by hand, there’s also dialogue between you and the materials. All your senses are brought into play. The statistics are hugely encouraging. Not only is craft cool – crafters are younger than the average population – but when it comes to gender, craft is increasingly blind. Half of all painters, illustrators, wood-crafters are men. And they also make up a third of all knitters. In the same breath, women are increasingly taking up traditionally male craft occupations, becoming blacksmiths, wood workers, bookbinders and

printers.’

According to a recent craft council report :

Craft can alleviate the symptoms of anxiety, depression, loneliness and even dementia, according to research. Craft courses have been prescribed to patients since the dawn of occupational therapy in the late 19thcentury, with basketry used to relieve anxiety and physical ailments in soldiers during the first-world war. 

Basket weaving

Research published by University College London’s MARCH mental health network – formed in 2018, with members including the Crafts Council and the Museums Association – shows that engaging with the visual arts can reduce reported anxiety, and that visiting museums can protect against dementia’s development. ‘Cultural activities encourage gentle movement, reduce social isolation, and lower inflammation and stress hormones such as cortisol,’ says the report’s author, Dr Daisy Fancourt. ‘The arts are linked with dopamine release, which encourages cognitive flexibility, and they reduce our risk of dementia.’

Lace making

         The book covers makers spaces, buying and displaying craft, and a chapter on endangered crafts.

Spinning

While lots of crafts are in rude health, there are a significant number of traditional skills that are in danger of disappearing altogether. Many of these crafts are hundreds, if not thousands, of years old, and make up the fabric of our material culture. From dry stone walls to clog making, basket weaving to coach building, lots of these time honoured crafts are at risk of dying out due to lack of apprentices coming into the trade or the effect of cheaper, mass-produced goods.’ Crafted is so on trend, and at last the government has  decided to do something about the lack of apprenticeships.  The book covers the following disciplines and all the sub divisions within them. Paper, pen and print, textiles, cloth and leather, wood willow and nature, pottery glass and stone, metal. There is a very useful section on craft organisations and a section on poisons used in crafts.

The book is beautifully illustrated by Louise Lockhart. This is certainly a book that earns its position on my book shelf.

Blog, book review, Book Reviews

Pallet Wood Projects for Outdoor Spaces

35 Contemporary Projects for Garden Furniture & Accessories

By Hester van Overbeek

Photography by James Gardiner

Stuck for something to make? Little or no money then this is the book for you. Follow the instructions within and you can make a huge variety of items for the garden. These include benches, tables, a covered store for wood, a planter and much more. There are clear instructions throughout and a useful guide to using pallet wood, which includes taking a pallet apart and cleaning it before you start.

There are guidelines on the tools you need and how to use them. As well as larger items such as a pallet sofa and planter bench, there are smaller accessories such as a garden trug, tea light and candle-holders and a very nice white washed lantern. I love the birdhouses too.

I have repurposed a couple of Pallets in my time, adding the odd shelf, wheels and coat of paint or upended to make a vertical flower wall. This book has an element of this too but goes far beyond it as it uses and recycles this free valuable resource and that is wood.

         Hester van Overbeek is a keen multi-crafter who works for many different craft magazines and has written four craft books already. She has a very successful web site that feature her books and video’s and how to projects.

A perfect book to buy now, for making all those outside projects, that will enhance your garden or yard and prove invaluable this summer.

Published by Cico books £12.99

Blog, Exhibitions, Uncategorized

Interested in high end crafts then Collect is the exhibition for you.

Last week the event known as ‘Collect’ the international art fair for modern craft and design, took place at the Saatchi Gallery in London. You may not have the money to be a collector but this exhibition is well worth a visit. It is a visual feast.

L’ile by Simone Pheulpin made from Cotton and pins

Collect grew out of the incredibly innovative, at the time, Chelsea Crafts fair. CCF was the brain child of Lady Phillipa Powell. She chose the designers/makers who were allowed to show and sell their wares to the general public.

By Inger Johanne Rasmussen represented by Galleri Format Oslo Textiles

It was not a foregone conclusion that you would get in from one year to the next and the standards were very high. Eventually the crafts council took over the show and it outgrew the Chelsea town hall venue.

Collect is still run by the Crafts Council and is much more akin to an an art fair rather than a crafts fair with designer makers being represented by galleries. All crafts are represented textiles, ceramics, jewellery, silver smithing, wood turning, glass blowing etc.

Craft of Writing by Thurle Wright represented by Jagged Art London http://www.jaggedart.com/artists/thurle-wright

The top floor ‘Collect Open’ shows some of the most innovative and exciting work. It showcases individual makers and collaborations, providing them with a platform to break free from the usual constraints of their practise, creatively experiment and present exceptional new work.

Camouflage stoneware enamel screen printed canvas by Simone Perrotte
Macrogauze Linen with steel rods byhttps://www.oxfordceramics.com/artists/34-peter-collingwood/works/ Peter Collingwood Oxford Ceramics Gallery

The other great pleasure for me was seeing the work on sale of one of my old tutors, Peter Collingwood. Although originally trained as a Doctor he changed career paths became a weaver and taught woven wall hangings at Camberwell School of Arts.

Blog, Uncategorized, Workshop

CAKE COFFEE & CRAFT Macmillan Cancer Support

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I recently hosted a  macmillan coffee morning, partly in memory of the three male friends that I lost to cancer this year, and partly because I think it is an excellent charity.

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I was also raising money, as my brother had a very aggressive form of throat cancer diagnosed in February. When I first saw him he had a tumour the size of an orange on his neck. He no longer has teeth or tonsils and the cure was grim and it takes a very brave person to endure it. However two days ago he was given the all clear. The cancer has gone. I would like to thank all the kind people who were involved in his recovery particularly Anita and all the NHS staff who worked so hard and encouraged him at his low points.

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This fund raising event, that takes place all over the UK raises shed loads of money and with all that good will and with all the latest research it looks like many cancers will soon be a thing of the past or at least easier to treat.

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This year my event was little different as it was Coffee, Cake and Craft.
I stage many craft events, the last large one being for the managers of the LEON restaurants.
LEON
Creating and making are such important activities for our sense of well-being. It can be a method of getting totally into the zone and engaging the brain in the appointed activity and excluding all the everyday worries and anxieties that keep nagging at us. Or by engaging with others doing a similar activity it can be a very joyful, friendly and comforting event.

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The craft I chose was very simple and involved pom-pom making. Pom-poms are great as they are simple and inexpensive to make and most people remember making them at school using two discs of cardboard to construct them. Pom poms can be used to make headdresses or Christmas decorations or used decoratively to embellish a bag, throw or cushion.

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What the event achieved, apart from raising funds, was to draw people together and encourage them to become involved and to engage with one another.

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Book Reviews, Uncategorized

Flowerbomb! By Hannah Read-Baldrey

25 beautiful craft projects to blow your blossoms by Hannah Read-Baldrey

9781911216728

If flowers and crafting are your passions then this is your  book, flower power for the twenty first century.

Hannah Read-Baldrey, who incidentally models her own makes throughout, is very stylish and her creations  are equally stylish.

flowerbomb866

Included  are projects for both the home and  to wear. There are 25 different makes  covering a variety of crafts. Many are easy to do and accessible with sewing, sticking, paper crafts and crotchet. There are unusual items such as a resin covered floral phone case and dried flower resin panes. Making floral bath bombs and sugar craft flowers and white rose marshmallows are also included.
I adore the fake tattoo and the many fashion projects such as the three dimensional fimo Poppies that are made to enhance a pair of plain black sunglasses.
Many of the projects are the adornment of existing garments such as The Killer Heels,  a pair of mules decorated with 3D leatherette Hellebores.

A black bomber jacket is up cycled with fabulous sequin flowers. My most favourite item in the book is The Frida Flower Crown made from velvet lined with satin. I shall be making myself one as soon as I have finished this review.Flower Bomb19016

Lovely photographs by Tiffany Mumford.

Hannah Read- Baldrey runs a successful blog called CoutureCraft.co.uk

Published by Pavillion  at £14.99

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