Spiral Stone: I’m interested, inspired and influenced by natural rhythms and cycles (moon cycles, seasons, stars, planets, patterns, symbols, rituals…). This interest has influenced many aspects of my life. It has led me to become a naturopath, herbalist and gardener, it has influenced the birthing and parenting decisions I have made for my two little girls, and it has now become the inspiration for my jewellery creations.
Michelle Obama and her youngest daughter Sacha enjoyed a European Vacation in Spain recently. I thought perhaps you might like to take a virtual trip to the land of las pampas and Paso Doble, the Reino de Espana. This first item is the perfect travel tote, whether you’re roaming the streets of Barcelona, or jet-setting in Marbella, which is where the bag’s designer, Martina Masini, resides.
Crochet is definitely one of those arts that can veer into the not-hip-at-all category of the world of handmade. A toilet paper roll cover made to look like a skirt with a plastic doll on top comes to mind. This is not the case with this cool brooch by Paz of Monicacaros.
I am a collector of brooches, old and new, and this one would be a very nice addition. Monicacaros is a made-up name, but the shop has some very real treasures—including a mouse named Roberto (he is Spanish after all).
My daughter is an animal lover, and horses are at the very top of the list. She gets that from her mom. I am terribly allergic to anything with fur, but I still ride horses whenever I get the chance. Thus, anything with a horse on it always gets my attention. I found this drawing by Olga Gal especially captivating. The colors are so simple but the composition is quite beautiful.
I am certain Michelle Obama and Sasha did some shopping, with Secret Service detail in tow, of course. Maybe if they had brought something back from their trip for the conservative media, they wouldn’t have been given such a hard time for stepping foot outside of the United States. How about one of these cute, handmade, plushies by Vega Lyrae? Seems like a good gift for the childish media personalities raising a ruckus. Seriously, Spain did win the World Cup–for goodness sake, shouldn’t someone congratulate them in person?
Please welcome our newest columnist, Ellie Thouret! “Ellie is a UK-based designer of handknit and crocheted accessories. In her rare time away from the needles and hooks, she can be found scouring Etsy and Folksy for cute and quirky handmade items.” She’s going to be covering the area that is her neck of the woods: England! Leave her a comment below if you have any great suggestions for her or if you just want to welcome her :)
This is my very first post for my new column, Handmade in England. I hope you’ll all enjoy reading about the UK handmade scene. I’m looking forward to showcasing the best handmade products and crafters that we have to offer! In this post I will be profiling the Manchester Craft & Design Centre (MCAD), a fantastic studio/retail space right here in my city.
MCAD was established in 1982, originally known as Manchester Craft Village. Situated in a historic fish and poultry market, the Centre was set up to help kick-start the regeneration of the Northern Quarter, a now-trendy area filled with independent boutiques and bars. It houses 18 studios with around 35 makers/designers, a cafe and a small exhibition space.
“We aim to be the place to make, see and buy contemporary craft and design in the North West,” explains Kate Day, Director at MCAD. “MCAD offers a supportive working environment with affordable rents for city center retail/studio space. We provide a signposting service for our tenants to business development agencies such as Business Link, funding opportunities, awards, commissions and exhibiting opportunities.”
The goods on offer at MCAD vary, from jewelry to handbags, art to ceramics, and the Centre is usually buzzing on weekends. The light and spacious design welcomes visitors and the beautiful items are displayed extremely attractively. But for the artists based at MCAD, it is the business support that they really value.
“MCAD promotes the Centre and studios with ongoing marketing activity including our website, monthly e-flyers, promotional activities and partnerships with organizations such as the Great Northern Contemporary Craft Fair,” comments Kate. “We also curate a national/international exhibition program with regular events and workshops.”
Colette Hazelwood, a designer/maker of contemporary jewelry, who has been based at MCAD for over 10 years, since graduating university in 1999. “Being at MCAD has undoubtedly helped me in my business, not so much directly – but indirectly. It has allowed me to come face to face with my customer, not only is this good for me but it’s great for them to get to know me and judge whether they can trust me with their great grandmother’s diamond and platinum ring!”
Jane Dzisiewski and Stephanie Brown are part of Designers Eclectic, a collective of jewelers based at MCAD since September 2009. “Some people would say it was either brave or insane to start up a business in the middle of a recession but MCAD has enabled us to do this,” Jane explains. “MCAD provides low cost studios in the heart of Manchester’s Northern Quarter. We couldn’t have got studio/retail premises in the center of town otherwise.
Stephanie continues, “The Craft Centre is an invaluable creative platform to launch and grow a business and is a fabulous creative community to work in and be a part of. All the tenants are emailed regular updates on creative opportunities, awards and commissions from the office.
The tenants are encouraged to initiate ideas to promote their own studios and the centre. They have varied backgrounds and contribute their expertise to the Centre when and where they can.”
Suzanne Devine, handbag and accessory designer/maker, finds the mutual support among MCAD artists particularly valuable: “I have been at the Craft and Design Centre for 6 years now and it has been a big part in this learning process and a great experience having friends who are in the same situation as me – some with more experience, some now with less experience and also the advice and support that we pass around to each other.”
Demand for studio space at MCAD is growing, a reflection of the increase in crafters in the North West UK. “Courses such as Manchester Metropolitan University‘s Creative Business Development help to prepare new graduates with entrepreneurial skills, and we’ve also noticed an increase in people establishing craft / design businesses as a second career,” says Kate.
MCAD will hold a new exhibition, Threadbare, in July. The launch event takes place on Saturday July 3, all are welcome. Please visit the MCAD website to sign up for the Centre’s monthly e-flyer. For more information on MCAD, visit the Centre’s website, Facebook Page and Twitter feed.
*MCAD photo credit Ed Chadwick.
You’re in for a treat today — a guest post from my friend Casey at the Moosh in Indy blog. She’s always fabulous but especially so last month when she was in New York for Fashion Week. Read on to hear how she styled herself in handmade for this high-power event, and love her for helping spread the word that handmade is better and more beautiful and closer to the heart than mass-produced.
There was the most wonderful crocheted hat at the most unique little boutique on Pier 17 in NYC. I had it in my hand ready to purchase when a little sticker came out that read “Made in Taiwan.”
If I’ve learned anything from living part of my life on the internet it is that I don’t need to stand for “Made in Taiwan.”
In February I went to New York during fashion week for a “work thing.” I have no shame in admitting that my first thought was “WHAT AM I GOING TO WEAR?” It was at that moment I decided to go handmade for my trip.
I first gathered up all of my own etsy and farmers market purchases.
I then put the question out to my followers on twitter, “Anybody on here make stuff?” Simple as that. Even if someone didn’t make something themselves they knew somebody who made something or had purchased something from someone and were more than willing to brag about their wares.
Suddenly the internet became my own little personal boutique.
And you know what? No one else had what I had. When I was asked “Where did you find that?” I was able to answer a real person’s name and hand them a card rather than answer a big box store. I’ve met a lot of these people, I’ve had conversations with them, had things custom made or tweaked. There’s nothing quite like getting a compliment on an item when you know yours is the only one in existence.
Now I’d like to present to you the handmade items that made me feel unique in a city of chain stores, trends and a million other people. I can vouch for all of them, some I’ve known for years, others only a month, but they are all fantastic.
Accessoire. This girl is just down the road from me in Indianapolis, all of her lovely wool flowers have feminine names and she warned me that Lillith must put out and that’s why people like her so much.
Pere Custom Handbags. I was told by a New Yorker that out of towners stand out most when they bring a big handbag to evening events. She said a leeedle teeny clutch was key in not standing out like an unfashionable sore thumb. I’m addicted to jewel tones so her pinch puff clutch stole my heart immediately. The thought of carrying one of her other handbags actually gets me more excited than going out in the first place.
Necklush. I. LOVE. SCARVES. Necklushes are even cooler than the coolest scarf I own, which is why I own two. Everytime I wear one I can’t go out without at least two or three comments on it (complete with touches, I don’t even mind the touches if that says anything.) There’s a dozen different ways to wear one and all of them are awesome.
Cheryl’s Jewelry. Another local. I have admired her intricate wirework from afar for awhile but never had the occasion to wear such art around my neck. She picks the most amazing jewels for her work and the hours spent on each piece is apparent. Wish her luck as she tries to get into the local art market scene.
Studio Jewel. Ever built an outfit around a necklace and then spend the day with your hair up and your chin up showing off the necklace? That’s how I feel in my Studio Jewel necklace. It just feels good. And pretty. And what’s even better is since she’s the boss, she was able to size it down for my puny little neck.
Round House Designs. Not only did she make a custom ring based off of my blog for me, she and my husband went into cahoots for Valentine’s Day. Not to rub it in, but my Valentine’s gift kicked your Valentine’s gifts’ trash.
What’s fantastic about this? I just told you about all of the secrets in my closet but you’ll never be able to duplicate exactly what I have. Why? Handmade, that’s why.
Beautiful lampworked glass by Jill Symons
As a glass artist, I am fascinated with the play of light upon glass. The beauty of glass beads is the simple power of glass itself; the power to transmit light. My approach to glass beadmaking is as simple as slowing down and letting the glass release the color, allowing the glass to speak.
I am constantly awed by the fluidity and form the solid glass takes. I draw inspiration from the glass itself and the way in which it seems to tell me what to do next. Drawing on a background in design, a passion for photography and a love of glass — ideas spill into dreams of what could be — always posing the question then of what else is possible and is there really a limit?
I remember the first time someone referred to my beads as ‘work’. My mind instantly denied that such joy could come from something called ‘work’. I have been making glass beads since 1999.