All of our lives have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. So we asked our crafting members how they are adapting and using their enforced time at home. We received a variety of answers, some of which may surprise you!
Teddy bear designer Pauline Collison has finished some Steampunk bears, which she had started last year. In the evenings she has been doing some knitting, making a cable jumper for a teddy bear. However, in the daytime, she and her husband have extended their creative skills beyond bears, by working on their garden, including designing and building a garden shed from scratch.
As well as putting down decking in their courtyard garden and planting up pots with herbs, bedding and rockery plants, they have taken delivery of materials for another project: slate for the kitchen floor. Pauline explains: “We have decided to rip out the old kitchen units and flooring and put in a brand new kitchen. We our doing everything ourselves. Just in case you are worried, my husband was a builder and he has taught me along the way.”
Online community textile challenge
Textile artist Sheila Barrow has joined an online stitch challenge with many others, including members of the Winchester Embroiderers’ Guild. Each week there is a short video presentation given by one of these five well-known textile artists: Sue Stone, Cas Holmes, Emily Jo Gibbs, Richard Mc Vetis and Emily Tull. Each artist provides a starting point to experiment with and produce small pieces of work.
Shelia says, “I missed the first video but managed to produce this work after watching Cas Holmes’ video. The piece uses offcuts of material that I had used in cards. My hand stitching leaves a lot to be desired, but it was fun to use up all the scraps of paper and fabric.”
Video courses are a great way to learn new skills.
For anyone who would like to join in – even if you are a beginner stitcher – you can catch up with all the videos on the TextileArtist.org website. Click here to go straight to the first one with Sue Stone.
Sheila expects that more stitched work may follow, but this depends on the weather as, if it’s sunny, she will be out in the garden.
Bright colours for new leatherwork collection
Leatherwork specialist Deanna Hilton thinks artists and craftspeople can adapt well to being in isolation, as they can turn their hands to most things to keep them busy and occupied.
In February Deanna visited A & A Crack and Sons, a leather merchant based in Northampton, to choose six new bright and fashionable colours for her latest leather collection. She was looking for a medium-weight leather with flexible properties and soft enough to be sewn by machine.
“My visits are few and far between but such a joy. It’s like walking into a sweetie shop! The choice is amazing and the warehouse is huge, but Tony, the owner, is always on hand to help and advise,” says Deanna.
The Italian Softee leather colours she selected can be seen in the new pieces shown here.
More emphasis on online craft promotion
Glass artist Linda Banks says that life has not changed a lot overall, as she works from her home studio in isolation much of the time normally. While it is a challenge to all craftspeople not to be able to take part in real-world events, she has been focused on stocking her online shop with new products, writing blogs for her website and increasing social media interaction.
“I was inspired by the TV series, The Great British Sewing Bee, and designed a sewing machine for a friend who is a keen stitcher. I then went on to make some more in a range of colours. I’ve also made a new wall art piece featuring a koi carp and carried out a Tiffany lamp repair for a client.
“As well as designing and making new stained glass products, I’ve gone a bit off-piste from creating and started to learn Swift computer coding – just for fun!” Linda states. “I’m also taking advantage of free online courses to improve my marketing skills.”
So it seems that, despite these times of adversity, the Wessex Guild’s crafters are keeping calm and carrying on with their creating, whether it is a leather purse or a shed!