Tag Archives: Craft Fairs

Light is a place

“Dark is a way and light is a place”              Dylan Thomas

We all have ups and downs in our lives.  If you are lucky (as I seem to be) you have people in your life who counterbalance the downs  by their presence, character or complete weirdness.  All of my counterbalances have one thing in common – something to do with the world of art and craft.

RWAS Winter Fair 2014
RWAS Winter Fair 2014

The run up to Christmas is a busy time for craftspeople.  It’s when the great, buying public are likely to crank open their purses and wallets and actually part with some cash.  That may sound a bit flippant but consider this:  a recent study said that most professional artists and artisans  are content if they are making £5000 a year.  Given they are probably working at least 25 hours a week at their chosen discipline, that means they are actually earning less than £4 an hour.  And lest we forget, out of that money they are buying raw materials, dealing with marketing and insurance costs and spending extra hours on thinking up ideas and experimenting with techniques.  As one of the craftspeople who sits behind tables at Christmas Craft Fairs, let me into some of the comments which are guaranteed to dowse my seasonal spirit:

” I’ve seen them for sale at  *insert the name of a bargain shop here* for *insert some ridiculous price here* ”  . 

My silent answer to this is “No, you haven’t.  You have seen something which has been mass produced in a sweat shop where workers have no rights, no living wage and terrible working conditions.

“I could make that for you!”

My silent answer to this is “No, you couldn’t.  Not unless you got taught to sew when you were 7 by my mother and have lived my life ever since.”

”                                                     “

That is the sound of no comment at all.  It is usually accompanied by a stare.  There is no answer to it, silent or otherwise.

So, if you should go to a craft show – whether at Christmas or at any other time of year – let me assure you that most makers are in it for something other than the money (remember the less-than-£4-an-hour?).  Most of them are there because they love what they are doing and most of them want to share it with other people.  You have the chance to be the ‘up’ which counterbalances their ‘downs’ by stopping to talk, asking them about their craft and perhaps even buying something.  On the other hand, feel free to pass by the ones who are not generous, chatty or enjoying themselves but give them a smile and a cheery “Hello” to show them what they are missing!  You can find out which shows I’ll be at over on my events page.

My second counterbalance is the wonderful Textile Artist Melissa Warren.  It was a joy this morning to spend time (and money) in her lovely craft shop and gallery, Lemon Blues.  Melissa produces wonderful knitting & silk art work, runs a craft club for anyone who wants to drop in, is a role model and mentor for enterprising women anywhere but particularly in the South Wales valleys and is one of the founder members of Made in the Valleys – a collective of artists, artisans and creatives.  Made in the Valleys are about to have their Christmas exhibition at the Giles Gallery in Pontyclun.  You can see some of my work there as well as some of the best of what is being made in the South Wales valleys at the moment.  Again there are details on my events page.

Footfall - Creative Embroidery on hand made felt.
Footfall – Creative Embroidery on hand made felt.

My third and last counterbalance to the downs of life are the delightfully named yarnbombing group, Lily’s Posse.  Like most yarnbombing groups, the members of Lily’s Posse like to remain anonymous and interact with the world through an independent ‘Communications Officer’ – in this case, me.

Agents Balaclava and Chullo
Agents Balaclava and Chullo

Agents Balaclava, Burger, Chullo, Captain Beanie, Jaja, Le Bobble, Red Hat and 007 recently yarnbombed Bryngarw Country Park to celebrate autumn and Hallowe’en.

Knitted Giant Green Tick
Knitted Giant Green Tick

If you need an ‘up’ in your life, then forming a yarnbombing group will do the trick.  Finally, there’s one other way to deal with the not so good things that go on in your life and that’s to remember the happier days.  As Dylan Thomas says:

“Yet, though I cry with tumbledown tongue, Count my blessings aloud:”

Thanks for the memories, Myfanwy.

Miss Myfanwy Price
Miss Myfanwy Price

 

 

Too much of anything isn’t good

“Nid da rhy o ddim”

Let’s get the important stuff out of the way first:  Aunty Betty the chicken has made a full recovery and rejoined the rest of the flock.  I can hear your sigh of relief from here but before you get too comfortable and secure, you should know that Miss Myfanwy Price (our Jack Russell) has developed a problem in the Waterworks department.  It is like going back to her puppy hood: the familiar little crouch coupled with the guilty look – I’m talking about her now, not me – followed by a new stain on the carpet.  Is it any wonder that I’m having ‘stitcher’s block’?

Miss Myfanwy Price
Miss Myfanwy Price

Actually the reason I’ve been having ‘stitcher’s block’ is not because of a dearth of ideas but because I’ve been having too many of them.  If you’ve ready any of my previous blogs, you’ll know that I’m not brilliant at keeping journals or sketchbooks which means all the ideas jostle about in what passes for my brain.  Add to the chaos a garden which demands more attention that I can give, animals with genitourinary issues and a bit too much interest from other people in my work as an artist and you have a perfect recipe to stop someone like me from threading a needle.

mumma doll

Luckily at this time of year, the pressure builds in the form of Christmas Craft Fairs.  I wish I could say that I only do these to earn the money but I don’t.  I do them because I love being part of events like the RWAS Winter Fair.  Two new events for me are the Green Fayre and the Christmas Fairs at The Wildlife Trust’s Parc Slip Reserve.  More pressure has built because I have agreed to demonstrate crafts at these last two.  I’m going to showcase my abilities (!) at needlefelting, free form knitting and free weaving.  If you’re in the area, come along and say hello.

Needlefelted Robins
Needlefelted Robins

But it’s not enough to just say you are going to do something; showing is always better than telling so I’ve decided the time has come for me to make some things too.  This means grabbing a couple of ideas and making them come alive.  I’ve found a craft that I really want to have a go at (I’ll tell you what it is next month) but I needed to get hold of some fabric, hopefully cheaply and preferably free.  I called in on Clem, a mate of mine who runs an upholstery business.  As luck would have it, he was clearing the stock room and I staggered back up the road carrying armfuls of fabric that was heading for landfill until I arrived.  This is the first thing that I’ve made out of it – cute or what?

I was nearly landfill!
I was nearly landfill!

Now that I have fabric, a garden which has been harvested and a stock of puppy pads on the floor to mop up after an incontinent Jack Russell, there should be no obstacle to me producing some craft after too much of a summer break.

All is safely gathered in
All is safely gathered in

Hefyd, wrth gwrs, mae llawer o ddosbarthiadau Cymraeg yn dechrau yn yr Hydref.  Rydw i’n hapus i siarad Cymraeg â phobl (yn enwedig pobl sy’n dysgu’r iaith) felly pe hoffech chi ymarfer eich Cymraeg, byddai’n bleser i gwrdd â chi.  Hwyl am y tro!