Two Tone in the Emporia Window

This week we’ve been busy installing a rather unusual window display at the shop, courtesy of local artist and crafter Mandy Munroe. Featuring a very fishy theme, this fantastic installation has been curated by Mandy herself who has been at the forefront of gathering the talents of local crafters, including knitters, crocheters and sewers, into making a variety of different fish themed articles, all in the name of the Create Platform. And we think it looks brilliant!

The story behind our amazing installation comes from the Legacy of Two Tone,  Ashford’s moat famous fish (a mirror carp) who lived in Conningbrook Lake for around 45 years, and was seen as a major catch in the fishing/angling community. Given his significant life span, he grew into quite a substantial fish and was known by anglers around the world for his size and unmistakable colour; he was the biggest freshwater fish in the UK and became incredibly famous on the international angling scene.  Sadly he died in 2010, but has now been immortalised in wool in the Emporia windows for the next two weeks.

And what has that got to do with the Create festival I hear you cry! Well, 2 Tone, or Two Tone, is a music genre that created in the UK in the late 70s by fusing elements of ska, punk, rocksteady, reggae and New Wave, and one of this year’s acts to showcase their spectacular musical talent at Create is the legendary ska band, The Selector. So bringing together theme of the music alongside the famous fish, a crafty band of Ashfordians have been getting knitty and sewing up a storm in order to create our incredible display.

The window features a whole range of different fish and pond themed items that have been made especially for our window installation, the highlight of which is of course Two Tone himself, shown on his ska themed quilt (sewn by Mandy herself); he is surrounded by loads of his fishy friends, and a variety of other amazing hand sewn and knitted creations. Check out those cute knitted pebbles and stones! And how fantastic are the shimmering pieces of pond weed? And don’t miss those adorable jellyfish, who’ve clearly come to visit Two Tone on their summer holiday.

We have a huge long list of people to thank, which you can see in full below, but we think the best way to thank everyone who got involved is to come along and see the installation in person. It looks truly amazing and is testament to the fabulous devotion to craft that so many of you have.

And if you missed out on making some fish for the window and feel left out, then you can still get your hands on our Two Tone knitting patterns which will allow you to create as many mini fish as you like!

Mandy Munroe and Emporia Fabric and Craft would like to thank these people for making such a special window:

– Members of The Little Teapot Knit and Natter group, Hamstreet Knit and Natter,  The Library Knitting group and Ewe-Nique created fish, weed and pebbles.
– Mersham Brownies mastered finger knitting and produced lots of pond weed.
– Wood n Ware very kindly crafted the hull of the boat and members of Artvark stitched some of the fish as well as contributing to the Two Tone Trail.
– Special thanks go to Carol, Christine, Tracey, Wendy, Julie, Janet, Stephanie, Abi, Elaine and Linda alongside some other secret stitchers who all contributed.
– The Official Two Tone Knitting Pattern was designed specially for this project by  Nicky Triggs, Two Tone knitter extraordinaire, along with the beginner friendly Easy Fish pattern which she kindly made available to community groups.

You can also see more beautiful fish in shop windows around town, inspired by Two Tone, Ashford’s famous fish, coloured and designed by various community groups including schools and nurseries.  And don’t forget the Create Festival itself which takes place from 12 midday on Saturday 22nd July 2017 at Victoria Park, Ashford. 

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Interview with Scott of IGotBigBulbs

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This week we have a quick chat with one of our latest crafters, Scott of IGotBigBulbs – a unique lighting and design company. Here he talks about how he came to be inspired by the concept of big light bulbs, how he works with his family and what he does in his spare time.

Who are you and what do you do?
My name is Scott Rivolta, I run a lighting design and distribution company.

How did you come to start your business?
I stumbled onto this path some 18 months ago while updating the lighting in our kitchen at home.  My wife spotted a rather large light bulb online, which she decided should be the centrepiece – the only problem being it was seemingly only available in Australia or the US!  Having tracked down the manufacturer, we imported two (one of which broke in transit) and showed the local lighting shops that had inspired us.  They confirmed they had seen nothing similar on the UK market and would be interested in stocking the bulb. We were up and running!

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How did you get into crafting?
I started to offer the bulbs to smaller local interiors shops rather than just specialist lighting shops, and much as they loved them they needed a way of showing them off.  I wanted something quite different and unique way of doing this, and when an oak offcut in the garden grabbed my attention as a potential lamp base, we crafted our first product.

Who and what inspires you to create?
I’ve never been a fan of mass produced products – much to my wife’s frustration we are constantly waiting for “something different, unique or relevant”, which rarely comes along. My father-in-law is a carpenter/furniture maker and my wife’s an artist – they are the talent within the team, I just push things along.

What would you be doing with your time if you weren’t making your lighting designs?
Relaxing! Time is something I’m short of as I’m involved with various other businesses and have a three acre smallholding with pigs and lambs. I hope to spend three weeks in Spain this August – I think it’s important to reward yourself, even more so with your family, for all your hard work during the year.

What five things would you say were essential when you set up your craft business?
THICK SKIN – not everyone will like your designs and crafting is very personal, however in my experience shops are generally supportive because your designs are just that, personal, unique and well made.
PERSEVERANCE – be prepared to put the hours in showing your product. Knock on lots of doors, shops want exciting new products.
PASSION – it shines out of you and makes selling your product so much simpler.
STICK TO SOMETHING YOU ENJOY DOING – with crafting it’s normally a natural progression, as a hobby becomes a business. Making money is the cherry on top!
Having said that, PROFESSIONALISM is key, no matter how small you are, start good habits early. Don’t underestimate your costs or undersell yourself, and stick to your margins.

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Name three of your most popular designs.
The Oak Cube lamp base has proved the most popular to date.  It’s smaller, less expensive and probably the easiest impulse shopping choice –  they are generally bought in pairs as bedroom reading lamps. The Hemp Pendant has been a hit commercially in pubs and restaurants, as well as domestically – three bespoke handmade pendants to hang above the kitchen table or island fits in with current trends.  Similarly, The Hemp Snake at three metres or a bespoke  length loops over a bracket to create a very special wall light.

What’s new with your craft for 2017? Tell us about some of the exciting things we can expect to see from you in the shop this year.
Having established our small business, I’m now looking to produce more unique product. Display cases for collectibles are very much on-trend, so why not showcase our beautiful filament bulbs!?  The Vetrina Cubo is our latest addition to the range, which we stock in five inch cubes or make bespoke to order; the Vetrina Grande houses our Big Globe light bulb, making a statement lamp which will take centre stage in any room.

Thanks Scott! We currently feature a wide range of Big Bulb designs in store – pop in and take a look at some unique and stylish new lighting designs. Prices range from £9.00 to £117.00 for individual bulb, wooden or rope light fixtures, and combinations of both.