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Category Archives: craft

We have mooooved!

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We have mooooved!

*sniff*

2015SEP13_Reddskin-4280

All packed.

 

But don’t worry! It’ll all be ok! You can STILL keep in touch with news, updates, sewing classes and special offers over at Reddskin. 

It’s been a blast! Don’t go changing.

Peace

x

Sydenham Visual Arts Trail 2015

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Sydenham Visual Artists Trail runs as part of Sydenham Arts Festival – a two week celebration of the Arts in and around Londons fabulous SE26 that runs every July. This year there are over 150 Artists taking part in Open houses across the Sydenham, Penge, Forest Hill and Honor Oak Park area. I’m only one of them!
You can meander through Sydenham using our handy Map of Artists available in shops around Sydenham but especially at our wonderful Kirkdale Bookshop.
The Visual Artists Trail runs this weekend 11am – 5pm on Saturday 4th July and Sunday 5th July and the following weekend 11th and 12th July where I will join forces with Twisted Vintage Jewellery. We promise to create a relaxed and friendly atmosphere for you to browse, chat or purchase at your leisure with a refreshing glass of Pimms should you desire. What a lovely way to spend your weekend!

Quilt of Wonder will be on display at The Calabash of Culture from Sunday 5th July 2015 as part of 'Art' on the High Street

Quilt of Wonder will be on display at The Calabash of Culture from Sunday 5th July 2015 as part of ‘Art’ on the High Street

All information including venue details available here.

Did I mention Pimms?

Come. x

My Quilt of Wonder

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My Quilt of Wonder

I remember sitting in my local Craft Emporium, Stag and Bow, during one of their legendary Friday Evening Socials having forgotten my sewing project (but remembered the wine…go figure). I was watching Big Daddy Cyrus juggle feeding their baby daughter Bertie whilst simultaneously hand sewing teensy hexagon shaped pieces of fabric around card. It looked fascinating (the sewing not the feeding…) I wanted to have a go. So Cyrus instructed me in the basics, whilst Bertie covered herself in hummus. Then he left me to it. I purchased a pack of small Quilting templates the next day and began in earnest. This was April 2014.

and so it begins...that teacup doesn't contain tea #drunquilting

and so it begins…not exactly tea #drunquilting

I cleaned out an empty icecream tub – an excuse to buy some more – and filled it with fabric, templates, scissors, thread and a needle. Sewing Warrior ready, I took my Crafty Quilting container almost everywhere. I quilted on the Tube and on the Overground. I quilted in cafes, in parks and on the beach. I quilted whilst watching House of Cards, Breaking Bad, Masterchef (two series) and The Great British Sewing Bee to name a few. I quilted in Banbury, Nottingham, Helsinki and Barbados.

hand quilt

pretty colours

My growing quilt never failed to spark a conversation. Others became fascinated by the colours, patterns and skill. They marveled at the tiny hand stitches and my patience. Complete strangers wanted to know what I was making. Many shared treasured memories of family or loved ones who had quilted or other types of sewing. Some said they wanted to go home and finish (or start) a crafting project. I loved those journeys.

ironing on the back...getting there!

ironing on the back…getting there!

I quilted from heavily stressful times into hopeful ones. My quilt allowed me to move slowly but steadily through uncertainty and ill health to strength and encouragement. It grew and it spread and gathered momentum just as I was forced to make some major decisions about my own life.

Hand-stitched padding

Hand-stitched padding

Every scrap of cotton reminds me of something I made, or a memory of the person I created an item for, or where I was when I bought it. The abundant variety and stunning colours never fail to lift my spirits. Each piece has significance, however small.

Pinning custom made bias-binding to the edges

Pinning custom made bias-binding to the edges

I often wonder why I chose, for my first EVER quilting project, to attempt something so vast and potentially so daunting. Why didn’t I just make a very simple cushion cover…or a placemat? It didn’t actually occur to me. I just thought ‘patchwork’ and then ‘quilt’. That was that really. I focused on the process, not the end product. I really loved watching my quilt grow, create its own space, until it almost developed a personality of its own.

It fits!

It fits!

It’s now May 2015 and my Quilt of Wonder is complete. It took fifty-six weeks. Had I know this when I started I would probably never have done it. Over a year to sew something together? Bonkers! But I’m SO glad that I started. Not only has it been my therapy, its an absolute, all-encompassing beauty. And I made it. ME. *grins*

The quilt journey ends as mine is just beginning.

The quilt journey ends as mine is just beginning.

It’s amazing what a difference a year can make. I do miss my quilting project. I have plans to start another one…eventually. Maybe this one won’t take as long. Maybe it will take longer. In the grand scheme of things does it matter? Have you got a project that took an age to complete? Maybe you have one you want to finish? What’s stopping you? Start something. Go on. You might surprise yourself.

Credit: Cushion and lamp (just seen) by Arhinarmah

NTU Fashion Knitwear Catwalk Show 20.05.15

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NTU Fashion Knitwear Catwalk Show 20.05.15

Last Wednesday I was privileged enough to attend Nottingham Trent University Fashion Knitwear Final Degree Show where my eldest diva, Kareem, has been studying.

It’s been a looooong haul and a steep learning curve for my woman-child , for many different reasons. A false start on a course that wasn’t right for her meant that graduation year arrived eons after most of her peers. A testing time that we all remember. However it was when she discovered and switched to a Fashion Knitwear BA that her clear passion and talent for design and making in this field truly emerged.

Self doubt chucked a few stumbling blocks in her way but the daughter I witnessed on Wednesday evening had grown into a focused and determined Designer. Yes of COURSE I cried. BLUBBED.

I am deeply, immensely, proud of you, Kareem.

Styling and sorting designs

Styling and sorting designs

I was lucky enough to see both Catwalk shows and, by some quirk of fashionable fate, ended up on front row seats for the second one. *high fives The Universe*.

Below is a selection of images I managed to capture. I have yet to work out what all the knobs and buttons do on my new Canon so the photos may not be amazing …but they give you a flavour of the immense talent of the Fashion Knitwear student Class of 2015*.

You saw them here first!

Kareem Short created contemporary jewellery by knitting cashmere and merino wool using a distinct and complementary colour palette with gold silk accents. These were then draped, twisted and knotted to make individual and strikingly designed pieces of art. Metal rods and fastenings enabled sections to become interchangeable. Stunning.

3 of 4 Contemporary jewellery designs showcased by Kareem Short. BOOM!

3 of 4 Contemporary jewellery designs showcased by Kareem Short. BOOM!

Well done ALL who were involved behind the scenes and in the spotlight and GOOD LUCK to all Final Year Graduates! I, for one will be looking out for you!

*Unfortunately I didn’t get a piece from every NTU Fashion Knitwear student that night. My sincere apologies to those I missed.

Can Craft improve health and well-being?

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Can Craft improve health and well-being?

*blinks in the sunlight*

Well HELLO there! It HAS been a while!

I’d really like to report back  that I’ve been super busy making and selling and being uber-productive. But the truth is that I’ve been stepping down, having a ponder, making things for me and learning to simply ‘be’.

More on that later.

Fair warning as Mental Health Awareness Week draws to a close this post WILL actually touch on mental health. Mine. So if that makes you a little uncomfortable then now’s the time to go and make a cuppa.

Still here? Oh. Good!

A few months ago a respected friend, Momtaz aka @TheCraftcafe , asked me to guest on her, then new, weekly show on One Harmony Radio who are a community internet radio station based in Brockley, SE London. At the time I was in, shall we say, a ‘difficult place’. I had been off work for months and the doctors had been chucking scary words like ‘Anxiety’ and ‘Depression’ in my direction. Frankly I was in a bit of a state about it all. Talking sense? To an actual person? Over the airwaves? Not uppermost in my thoughts.

But I had HOPE (wonderful stuff. I highly recommend). So we made a flexible plan and, several weeks later, I found myself sitting in front of a microphone at an unheard of hour on a Saturday morning.

Momtaz introduced me as her ‘Best Dressed guest ever!’ thereby cleverly ensuring that I would be putty in her hands for the duration of her show. Good one, Momtaz. Although it was nerve-racking, (watching Momtaz in action was like an masterclass in Radio to me. So effortless!), the topic is so close to my heart that I found it easy to chat and open up. The hardest part was shutting up when the little coloured lights were on/off/whatever they do. Flash?

Me being all 'best dressed' 'n' sh*t

Me being all ‘best dressed’ ‘n’ sh*t

I learned to sew in my teens thanks to the patience and expertise of my mum. Newly single and working to a tight budget she would turn her creative hand to most things out of necessity. I liked it. Loved it, in fact. Now my mum ‘persuades’ me to sew everything for her. Fair enough.

Throughout my life the Arts, in a variety of forms, have always been my place of solace. My natural home. I became a kick-ass (not literally. Illegal apparently) dance teacher and always marveled at my students ability to create and express themselves regardless of ability, age or gender. When, after a pesky injury,  I began to focus more on my sewing skillset it never occurred to me that the same wouldn’t apply. People are often surprised that I taught boys to sew. ‘SACRE BLEU!!’ they exclaim. (French-speaking of course….with a flair for melodrama). Craft knows no gender. Fact. It’s SO much more than the activity. It’s that feeling of pride, of making something from practically nothing. Learning a new skill or perfecting a new one. That feeling of worth and achievement. It can’t be beaten! One of my ABSOLUTE FAVOURITE things is to show others how and then watch them run away with it. (not literally because that’s dangerous) To those of you who say ‘Oh I’m no good at *insert suitably creative activity here*” I say ‘Pah’! And ‘Try!’. And other (clean) one syllable expressions.

The advice for the millions (yep. Worth keeping in mind next time you feel like you’re on your own) of people out there experiencing Anxiety or Depression is well documented. And a great deal of it involves getting out and ‘doing’ things. In the spirit of ‘doing’ you can’t go far wrong with trying a new skill. Can you see where I’m going here? My experience has always been that when the going got tough (seriously resisting the urge to embed THAT Billy Ocean tune into this post) if I could get to my sewing machine, or pick up a crochet hook or teach myself to knit half a sock *glances feebly at half knitted sock* then I’d be moving in the right direction. UP (in case you hadn’t figured it out).

IMG_20150319_241959795

It might work for you.

Back to Radioland. So Momtaz and I chatted and I made a bit of sense (allegedly) and we how we laughed and Momtaz played some FAB-ulous music (what happened to PM Dawn? Anyone?) and before we knew it the show was over! *sniff*

At time of writing I am still a Work in Progress. But aren’t we all? I’ve made some positive and life-shifting changes (to put it mildly). But I know I won’t be giving up sewing (or teaching others to sew) anytime soon.

Of course now I also want to be a DJ….

It’s not you, it’s me.

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I can’t put it off any longer. It’s happening. It’s HERE!

Tomorrow, 1st June 2014 7am my BRAND NEW SHINY WEBSITE will be born.

I guess it has felt a little bit like giving birth to a precious bundle (metaphysical pain, less fluids). I finally get to show the world – you actually – what I do and what I CAN do. There are handbags, clothes, accessories, home type items (wares?), workshops, classes, parties and events –  all in one delectably BEAUTIFUL PLACE! I’m so excited I can barely keep still! Bear with me whilst I find my feet (they must be around somewhere *chuckles at hideously awful joke*).

Thank you for indulging me thus far – I do hope you’ll stay along for this next chapter.

I’ll also be running a competition soon to celebrate all this lovely new-ness so stay tuned!

So have a look, get up early if the mood so takes you, browse, bookmark, read, peruse and SHARE! Please do feedback and let me know what you think.

Reddskin

Me!

Reddskinbags you have been SO good to me *sniff* We’ve had some tremendous times *gulp*. But it’s time we parted company.

It’s not you, it’s ME!

www.reddskin.co.uk

K x

 

Can’t stop, won’t stop!

Oh Hai Pretty purple cloche with your tie-dye lining!

Oh Hai Pretty purple cloche with your tie-dye lining!

It’s no secret that I love to create. I just can’t help it. I am currently making yet another hat with the fabulous Katty Janneh at her millinery workshop. My latest creation is a purple cloche of perfection that I’ve worn almost constantly since it came off the block. There is now a luscious leopard print sun hat in progress. It’s an addiction for which  I hope there is no cure.

At 17 I hastily dropped A Level Design and Technology after a particularly off-putting brief that involved designing a plug. Just, NO. Up until the day of reckoning I had completed some lovely projects. My absolute favourite was a resin and brass brooch in the shape of a womans pout (it was the late 70’s…shush). Yet as far as I was concerned my foray into jewellery making stopped there.

Fast forward several decades.

I have been admiring Victoria’s exquisite creations from afar and love the quirky take she has on her silver jewellery designs. When the chance to attend her new workshop in silver smithing arose I jumped at it.

I was going to make the necklace for myself. Again. But as every hat I’ve ever made has ended up on my own head I decided to make these tags as a gift for mama. *polishes halo*

Instruments of torture or tools of the trade? You decide.

Instruments of torture or tools of the trade? You decide.

So one windy weekend we descended upon a quiet unsuspecting part of South West London. After a welcome cuppa (perfect) Victoria took us gently through our paces. We learnt to use a Band Saw without breaking a blade (oh yeah), work a bow drill (harder than it looks but so soothing once you ‘get’ it) and sand pieces of silver so that they glowed with pleasure.

Heart of Copper. Work in progress.

Heart of Copper. Work in progress.

We practised on bits of copper then moved swiftly (for us novices) on to the real thing. We frowned and concentrated and giggled and chatted whilst we worked (there may have been whistling) Victoria did an amaaaazing demonstration making one of her signature love heart necklaces that made it look so easy!

Polished to within an inch of their lives

Polished to within an inch of their lives

We drank more tea and then we ate Victorias delicious homemade cake. Lots of it. Seemed a shame not to really.

My tags stayed behind so that they could be machine-polished properly into their final shiny glory. When they arrived in the post a few days later I literally gasped with delight! Not only is it a beautiful necklace but I made it – with lots of help but even so – I MADE IT!

Yep.

Shiny Happy Necklace!

Shiny Happy Necklace!

So I’m hooked on creating. Again. That sense of achievement cannot be easily beaten.

If you want to book one of Victorias silver smithing workshops contact her here.

And/or if you want to try your hand at making hats with Katty Janneh try  here.

What about YOU? What do you love creating? Is there something new that you’d like to try your hand at this year?

Do tell… *pats sofa*

JACK MONROE

COOKING ON A BOOTSTRAP & MORE

Patterns

Twenty something taking control of her mental health. Anxiety & depression sufferer. Learning as I go.

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forget what you think you know about jazz

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Story telling, bad dancing, much eating.

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