Thursday, 15 January 2015

The Therapy of Craft


For a couple of years now I have been saying that my crafting is my therapy, it relaxes me and gives something for my hands to do and it also gives me something to focus my mind on.  Some of you may even be aware I use my crafting to help me with my depression and there are many crafters out there who also design and make their own products to help battle their own illnesses whether physical or psychological.

Lace and button pendant from Max, Ollie and ME

One such inspirational crafter is Kirri Raper who is a textile artist and has a lovely business called Max, Ollie and ME. Kirri has suffered from ME since the age of 11 and this chronic and debilitating illness left her in bed or in hospital for much of her teenage years.  

"...I suffered from this illness for over 15 years and it truly gripped my life. I still suffer from the illness, but I have it much more under control and that’s the way I want to keep it. I now am not bitter for what I have suffered, for if I hadn't been ill I would never have found my passion for sewing. I would have taken the more normal academic route at school, and who knows what I would be doing now, But I'm sure it wouldn't be half as fun!...."
Lavender wheat bags
Max, Ollie and ME has evolved from a hobby to improve her health, to a home grown business that will hopefully create a full time dream job of sewing in her studio.  Kirri's lovingly made ranges include textile and ceramic jewellery, greetings cards and home textiles such as her popular lavender wheat bags and aprons.

Kirri finds inspiration for her work all around her from vintage lace finds at a fair to birds singing outside her studio window.  Memories and reminiscence also have a large inspirational presence in her work.

She admits that textiles have spread to every part of her life and is often found surrounded by buttons and holding a needle and thread! Her textile free motion embroidered brooches are a particular favourite to make. 

"...I enjoy using the sewing machine as a drawing tool, to recreate the images from my personal sketchbook pages...."

Mr Moon, Kirri's furry assistant
The name Max, Ollie and ME is a very personal name, the ME part comes from Kirri's illness, with Max, a little black and white rabbit, being one of her much loved pets and Ollie coming from her grandmother's maiden name Oliver.  

"...Both my Nan and my Great nan who we fondly named Big nan inspired me to sew. They both passed down there passion for sewing and thrift at me and I treasure both their button tins with so much love...." 

Kirri sells her work online through various outlets including shops on Etsy and Folksy.  She also loves going to vintage and handmade fairs in the North East of England where she gets the chance to meet the customers who buy her work.  Social networking is also used to great advantage through selling on her Facebook page.   

"...I love that this little world that began in my little sewing room has now opened up into a big wide world where I have met so many other artists who share the same passion..."

At the moment however Kirri is working hard at her dream to earn enough not to work at a day job and is also planning her wedding later this year to her gorgeous Mr L who serves in the Forces.  She loves everything about her craft, however she would love to learn crochet as she is awe of ladies she sees crocheting away especially when they're not even watching what they're doing! 

Max, Ollie and ME have lots of lovely products to purchase at the shops linked below, and pop along to her Facebook page to keep up to date with her latest products, news and offers!

Saturday, 1 March 2014

A West End Treasure Trove


I mentioned in the previous blog I was going to interview various crafty and arty types, well I have a fabulous gallery which sells lovely art and crafty goodies from Scottish crafters and artists.

Janet and John is located in the De’Courcy’s Arcade on Cresswell Lane in the West End of Glasgow and is a treasure trove of Scottish art and crafts.  The lovely husband and wife team, Janet and John Turner, opened just last August and they have already established themselves as the place to go for unique cards, gifts and homeware with everything from the pretty to the geeky.

Janet has her own business, Baljaffray Handknits, and uses locally sourced wool including New Lanark wool and Strathearn fleece and fibre to knit hats, headbands, scarves and gloves, cushions, tea cosies, hot water bottle covers etc.  She sells her makes through Janet & John, The Magpie's Eye Gallery (Govan), The Loch an Eilein Gallery (on the Rothiemurchus estate near Aviemore), the New Lanark Gift Shop and also at craft fairs.  

Baljaffray Handknits
Janet’s inspiration comes from the croftswomen of Skye where she spent the summer in 2009.  She was visiting the island with her family after a difficult few months during which her mum had passed away from cancer.  During her stay in the Highlands they visited a number of local village halls where the local croftswomen were selling arts and crafts to tourists to supplement their income.   As she couldn’t face going back into teaching again at that time, Janet was contemplating a change of career and was drawn to their knitting, something she had done a lot of when she was younger.  A few weeks later Baljaffray Handknits was born.

Circumstances played a big part in deciding to open Janet and John.  As many crafters will know, craft fairs can be difficult places to make a profit, especially by the time you pay for the table and travel costs.   John found himself out of work for the second time at the beginning of 2013, so therefore making a profit through Janet’s  Baljaffray Handknits became a priority. 

“I had been doing very well at The Loch an Eilein Gallery but, despite attending far more fairs now John had more time, they didn’t bring in any profit.  We decided that selling more through shops and galleries was the way forward.”

Janet then approached several businesses in the West End of Glasgow and met with almost universal rejection.  “I began to realise that there was a gap in the market for arts and hand crafted goods and began to think about opening a shop myself.  I had also met many artists and crafters in a similar position to myself.  I researched further without saying anything to John, worried that he would say “No” straight away.  I was nervous, though, so part of me hoped he would.  When I finally plucked up the courage last June, he actually said “Yes” without hesitation.” 

Ginger Pidgin's 'A Wee Hug'
Janet and John chose the prime West End location partly because rents were so reasonable there but also because Eli Handmade in the arcade was closing and they actually bought most of her shop fittings for Janet and John.  The gallery is tucked away upstairs in the De’Courcy’s Arcade on Cresswell Lane just off Byres Road with a lovely tea room next door. It features many crafters and artists handpicked by Janet and John including Ginger Pidgin, Libby Walker, Hannah Longmuir and myself.  Initially they went round local craft fairs and selected people they knew and then once they opened they were approached by other people (and still are) They sought out a few items ie soap and candles but now they have strict rules they go by when selecting new artists and crafters.

“There are a series of questions we ask ourselves.  The first is ‘Have we currently got room for
Libby Walker's 'Kelvinbridge'
more?’ the answer to which is usually ‘No’.  On the occasion it’s ‘Yes’ or ‘Maybe in a month or so’, we ask ourselves if what is being offered is sufficiently different to what is in the shop at present.  We plan to work in 6 month phases, reviewing our stock and contributors in January and July.  We are learning as we go along, what sells and what doesn’t.”

In Janet’s spare time she still enjoys knitting especially hats, and also designing patterns which she tries to publish online on her blog, although she doesn’t have as much time as she would like for it at the moment. She would also like to learn crochet and has done tapestry in the past aswell.  Her focus however is Janet and John, watching the reactions of customers who feel they’ve found a treasure trove and maintaining their online presence on their website and Facebook.

One day Janet hopes they will have premises large enough to not have to turn so many artists and crafters away and possibly sell online.  Keep your eye on them and you never know, one day there may be another branch....

Janet's three recommendations......

I’m going to recommend 3 related businesses in Glasgow:

The Yarn Cake, 148 Queen Margaret Drive, G20 8NY

Brilliant for knitting, crochet and spinning supplies and help.  They run an evening drop in clinic and knitting group.  It also has a wonderful cafe.

The Magpie’s Eye Gallery,  795 Govan Road, G51 3EW.

Great place to start exhibiting for crafters.   Low commission rate, and that goes to the Starter Packs Glasgow charity.  

The Cup & Saucer Vintage Tearoom, upstairs in De Courcy’s Arcade,  Cresswell Lane, G12 8AA

Situated next door to Janet & John, we highly recommend their soup and cakes!

Janet and John are open Tuesday to Saturday 10am to 5.30pm and Sunday 12pm to 5pm.  They are also available on Facebook 

Monday, 10 February 2014

A little bit about me

Helloo! I must admit, facing a new blank page is quite daunting to start with, I used to enjoy writing years ago at university so here goes!

I’ve decided to take the leap and start my own blog, I love talking to people and I love crafting so this is a perfect way to combine the two. 

So a little bit about me…. 

I started Handmade Moments last year as a natural progression from making cards and gifts for family and friends.  I started doing craft and vintage fairs not long after this and I love doing them as I get to see customers appreciating the lovely things that started off in my head! It's also good to get the feedback from them aswell. The craft community is such a lovely place to be and I have made so many friends that it becomes a social event aswell!


A wee needle felted Highland Coo

I always carry a notebook with me as ideas come to me at the most inopportune moments, once I have one idea then another couple usually stem from that one and I have been known to run back and forward to my craft space while making dinner!

I love sitting down to develop the ideas, they don't always work out but when something does, it's an amazing feeling, especially when someone either comments on it or buys it.  

Not quite as tidy now!

I believe in the handmade and the handcrafted and all the love and quality that goes into making a piece from scratch. I believe in having products that are unique and a little different.

I design and make all our products using resources around me. I use and upcycle vintage books and buttons, and a few of them are older than me! I also upcycle wee scraps of fabric and ribbon I have accumulated over the years as well as fabrics I find at vintage and craft fairs around Glasgow. Other materials are sourced from mainly Scottish independent companies, but always from UK companies. 

I will aim to write at least twice a month and this blog will feature hints and tips, crafter and artist interviews, top five features, recommendations and opinions as well as some random lovely chattiness from me.

In the meantime come and say hello on my Facebook page and have a nosy at my collections on Pinterest. If you feel like shopping then visit my shop at Etsy.

Lisa xx