Hello! Let’s start Spring with a sneak preview of a rather unusual yet very exciting new collection full of goodwill and good humour!
Goodwill because the whole range with 100% recycled material that really means to do what is right for the planet and good humour because well, emm, it is taking advantage of a new trend in papermaking by emm, making use of elephant and rhinoceros poo for added fiber!
I love this paper!
100% Handcrafted Blank Journals
MICROSCOPIC POO Collection
– COVER: Indian Rag Papers are made by hand using recycled, refined cotton from rags, clothing and textiles instead of pulp from the cotton seed as other papers. Longer fibers in the paper providing exceptional strength and durability. It reminds me of my biology classes (a long time ago)…
– INSIDE PAPER: Lokta paper made from bushes growing on the Himalayan slopes. The paper is finished in Katmandu and traditionally used for official documents and religious sacred texts.
– WRITING PAPER: 100% recycled Ellie and Rhino Poo, 110gsm paper. This paper is made with post consumer waste which has been collected from schools, colleges and offices around the UK. It is then mixed with elephant/rhinoceros dung to produce our unique and very unusual Ellie Poo Paper. (Tada!)
Suitable for Writing, Drawing, Sketching– Complementary twig pen
How could you resist saving the planet. its fauna and flora at once?
A few years back, I realised the path I was on was neither for me nor leading me anywhere worthwhile. Being practically minded I decided to retrain in alternative medicine and spent the second year trying to make sense of Chinese Medicine. Unfortunately, I did not complete the course, but I learnt so much from the Chinese way of thinking that it was worth it nonetheless.
One thing however never ceased to amaze me. How could people derive an
entire system of medicine based on forces that cannot be seen, and whose influences are so subtle? Amazing. The same sense of amazement overtook me while visiting the Belleek Pottery factory. The clay is a finely balanced composite of elements sourced from all over the world. Before being fired, at the right temperature, it is incredibly brittle. Who came up with this? The theory of trial and error leaves me cold but I do not have an alternative explanation.
The amazement is equally matched by a great sense of regret. Apparently, nowadays, some craft schools teach the art of design but not the practical skill of making. Perplexing! Who will carry the flame?
But in talking about my own experience, the long historical chain of human ingenuity stopped at my parents’ generation. I am of the 1972 vintage. By the way, apparently, that year, you had to be a heady wine if you wanted to age gracefully. Emmmm…
Anyway, at that time, the “emancipation” of women was in full swing and the modern woman was free from the sink, mending, cooking and washing all day. Having a career was then a real possibility. Many of the women who had missed the boat, and could merely dream of an office job, maybe put their own dreams on the shoulders of their daughters. Practical home-making skills were passe, a definite sign of lack of ambition, if not backwardness (the smart robot and powdered food were born, remember?).
So it is only when I had my first child that I suddenly copped-on that your food is your health, that health is nurtured rather than coerced with pills and that DIY skills are empowering. Worse again, when expecting my eldest, I bought an amazingly cute pair of booties for her, never realising they were in fact dolls shoes. She was born particularly small, yet there was still no hope for the booties to fit. No way, not a chance. I was totally clueless about all that matters in life.
I recently watched a TED video, entitled “Craftsmanship begins at home”, where a gentleman shared his journey in making blue grass violins. There is nothing heady, but he emphasises how the little things, similar to good habits, shape good craftmanship. Give yourself time and if you make a mistake, do not do it again. It is not rocket science.
By rushing from A to Z, we no longer take the time. Resilience is undermined by instant gratification. Know-how is redundant in the face of opinion. Skill development is cheapened by technology and ready made solutions. I wonder whether the line of human ingenuity has been further weakened.
For me, feminism dis-empowered me as a mother. I started on a very child centered, expert- guided, emotionally absorbing and ultimately expensive form of parenting. To move away from this unsatisfactory state of affairs, I had to unlearn the faff and learn quickly about the real stuff. Very uncomfortable! Today, after a drastic life review and simplification, the kids are pretty much free range, much more inquisitive and I think more confident. They are also quite crafty. And so I agree with this gentleman, that craftmanship begins at home. It is a mindset above and beyond a skill. To illustrate this, apparently, the Japanese technique of marbled paper is called Sumiganashi, and the most important skills is a perfectly still mind! To achieve this, you need to have your house in order…
So we now have nearly traveled full circle. To complete the journey, I feel it is necessary to put your mind at ease. My first born is very much still kicking 18 years later, on the whole seemingly unscathed.
And her shoes fit her.
(But then, at this age, she does her own shopping, nothing to do with me…)
I have attended quite a few fairs recently, a new experience for me. I have to admit enjoying the rides so far. Mainly because I feel like I’m learning tons, meeting many interesting and helpful people, really enjoying the diversity, and the humanity. It may sound silly but diversity and humanity are something I found lacking in my previous life as a professional whatever.
I always took pride in making things. Yet, a comment stopped me in my tracks a few years back: “Why do you play ‘poor’?” For me, the pleasures and sense of achievement in creating something were completely unrelated to poverty. Funnily, another comment stated that I must be pretty well off to be able to afford wasting time making things. I am neither. But I guess that having read about the social history of Ireland, it sheds some light on the origin of these mindsets.
Last July, with some trepidation and much gusto, Huga was born. I will admit that since the learning curve has been steep. It is obviously a good idea to do your market research beforehand but in a world where everything essential has been done, made and created it is difficult to come up with a new concept, especially if you make handmade books and other paper-based wonders… Anyway, true to myself, I (and my hubby) put a hand-made website together and a first collection launched. The website now has 103 revisions and collections are more adventurous. But it is all a journey, so what…
From bespoke order to retail: A lot happened this month!
A new pop-up display in Lough Key further promoted the Inside [Craft] network, the next one will be in Longford so keep in touch, more details to come…
We are delighted to be part of Anne and Claire Godwin’s new venture: The Little Craft Room in Virginia, where plenty of handmade gifts and treats are now available! We wish them the very best ! Like their page for the best kick-start!
There is nothing more exciting than designing a bespoke order for an enthusiastic crafter. A bespoke album is in the making for a Minnesota quilter and here is her feedback so far: “This is even more beautiful than I could have imagined–and I have a good imagination! The little scissors on the spine is inspired. To me it says “quilting” and more “making” and its heavier shape does echo the light-as-air shape of the dragonflies. ” … that made my day! (Pic to come)
Meet us at the Slieve Russell Autumn Fair this coming Sunday with (I quote) : “30 tables featuring a wide range of handmade goods, craft supplies and quality giftware such as jewellery, candles, art, hair accessories, greeting cards, knitting & crochet, skincare, local honey, glassware, journals, wooden boxes and lamps, jams & relishes, mead, beads, craft stamps and more…” The weather promises to be awful so no excuse, come and support your local crafters…
Hopefully, we will have an update as per the next Longford pop-up soon. But you can also meet us at the Strandhill People Market, in Sligo, on the 22nd of October. A vibrant place where food, crafts and banta collide in style! Again you can like their page to show support!
As mentioned before, “the crafter”, their habitat, ecosystem and mindset are the focus of this blog. It looks like they have attracted the attention of other people also. Let’s quickly see what they had to say.
BOP Consulting in 2012, in a report called “Craft in an Age of Change”, defined a crafter’s typology in terms of the somewhat narrow parameters of level of qualification and career commitment. Hence, you could be a craft careerist (trained, committed), an artisan (untrained, committed), a returner (trained and repentant) or a career changer (untrained and inexperienced). This classification leaves me somewhat perplexed.
Well, we enjoyed the pop up event in Virginia. But it is now gone only to resurface in Lough Key, Roscommon, to grace the coming Cultural night on the 22 of September!
Lough Key used to be part of the Rockingham Estate. It is however named after the mythical figure Ce. He was a druid of the god Nuada, and died reaching for a valley of beautiful flowers. Apparently the lake burst out as his grave was dug. I was told small independent monastic communities used to live in some of the islands. I am fascinated by those communities able to build houses, boats, rear animal, grow food and able to preserve them. None of these achievements can be “thrown from a distance”. Those are skilled activities, unforgiving if got wrong.
The same fascination goes for the bygone “lady of the house”, for who managing a house was not far from managing a business. Visiting Omagh American Park once, I remember a guide making a derogatory comment about the girls doing their apprenticeship in the “big house” on how to run a house. Instead they should be going to school and broaden their mind about the wonders of the Limpopo river. Housecrafts should be celebrated, so should rearing, feeding and caring for a healthy family… Too often, these excellent skills are poo-pooed for some flashy career title whilst the essential gets neglected. Craft for life!
Meet Us Again
Anyway, I am losing my way here: the next pop-up is on the 22nd of September in Lough Key, starting with the Cultural night and ending on the 24th before heading to new horizons…