Fill your Stockings with Christmas Crafts

 

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We are so lucky to have a fabulous collection of local crafters fill up some of the nooks and crannies in our shop, and what better time to take a closer look at them than just before Christmas! With just over a week left, there’s still plenty of time to take some extra care with your presents and buy some unique, handmade gifts that will make the recipient feel even more special on Christmas morning.

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R&R
Richardson & Richardson have been with us for ages, providing the people of Ashford with their amazing laser cut jewellery and cards. For anyone with a passion for anything sci-fi, geeky or just plain out there, we have a fantastic selection of their amazing designs. Featuring pieces inspired by the likes of Harry Potter, David Bowie’s Labyrinth, and Jurassic Park, you can get necklaces, earrings and broochs, which will no doubt gladden the heart of some of your film fan friends or relatives. Similar themes also include unicorns, Christmas crackers, woodland animals, knitting, gothic scenes, and your favourite tipples all transformed into funky jewellery. Prices range from £10.00 – £20.00.

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R.J. Laurenson
Beautiful ceramic pieces inspired by the British countryside, Rachele has transformed her passion for hares, horses, butterflies and stags into gorgeously coloured tableware. Each piece has been layered with different prints of leaves, colour and animal designs creating an intricate and unique pattern. She has created coasters, trivets, over sized cups and saucers, as well as hanging hearts in both big and small. Prices range from £3.00 – £30.00.

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POLLEN
The creator of POLLEN may well have moved to Australia, but she’s still supplying us with her amazing coloured wooden necklaces. Bright, beautiful and funky, these coloured beads come in a range of sizes and arrangements, and make for some seriously striking jewellery. Treat someone you know who likes things a little different from the norm. Prices range from £16.00 – £20.00.

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Rosanna Clare
Rosanna Clare works with recycled leather and wood to create yet more intriguing crafts: trinket trays, tasseled keyrings, purses, sketchbook covers, earrings, necklaces, rings and cufflinks are all part of her range. Using bright colours and simple designs, Rosanna makes the most of her materials to bring out the best in them. Treat yourself or the man in your life to something stylish and creative. Prices range from £8.00 – £18.00.

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HairyHand
Funky designs on t shirts and hoodies, for both kids and adults, HairyHand brings his humorous, tongue in cheek style to Emporia. Bag yourself one of these limited edition graphic pieces for anyone you know that appreciates witty designs on their fashion.

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And if you’re looking for crafty stocking fillers, don’t forget our gorgeous range of fabrics can be presented in the very dainty packages of fat quarter bundles; plus we’ve got embroidery threads, pompom makers, wool needles, sewing scissors, hand sewing needles, rotary cutters, mats, rulers and our brand new sewing baskets if you know someone who would love to receive some crafty equipment under the tree.

There’s still plenty of shopping time left to get sorted before the big day itself, and don’t forget we’re open late on Thursday 22nd December for the Christmas Market which is happening right next door in Park Mall – come and see us during the day or between 5pm – 7pm next week.

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Interview with Rosanna Clare

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We’ve been lucky enough to welcome several new crafters to our collection recently, so for a few weeks you can find out more about their work and what you can expect to find on the shelves of Emporia. This week we take a closer look at Rosanna Clare’s brand new recycled leather and wood jewellery and bags, and see what inspires her to run her business the way she does, as well as why she made the leap from teaching D&T to children to going solo as a professional crafter.

Who are you and what do you do?
My name is Rosanna Clare Gethin and I am a designer and maker of all things wood and leather! I have 10 years experience of teaching Design & Technology in various schools across the UK, and I also undertook a two year stint at an international school in Switzerland teaching children how to make products in wood, metal, plastic and textiles. However, I have also been making leather bags and accessories for several years on the side. I decided to take the plunge and quit the day job to do this full-time in the summer of 2015. So far, so good!

How did you get into crafting?
My mum is a painter and picture framer and my dad is very good with all things DIY (his dad was a carpenter and he has a lot of his old tools), so arts/crafts are in my blood! I have two sisters and remember times when we were all sat round on a rainy day doing crafts like painting, drawing, papier mache, making clay sculptures etc. that my mum had shown us how to do. I always liked art & design at school and being brought up in a creative household, it was inevitable that craft would be part of my adult life.

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Who and what inspires you to create?
My friends and family are a great inspiration to me. I have four nieces and nephews and love to make them crafty gifts. I like to think that although they might not fully appreciate a handmade teddy as a two year old, they will treasure it in years to come (more so than an Xbox!). I have always loved Art Deco and geometric shapes and these often feature in my work.

Which crafters/artists/designers do you most admire?
There are too many to name but there are many designer-makers whose work and ethos I admire. As I like to use upcycled materials and offcuts in my designs, I look to other designers who have been successful doing a similar thing: Orsola de Castro is the founder of From Somewhere, a company that makes clothes out of recycled offcuts of luxury materials; Peg and Awl based in Philadelphia, make products such as childrens’ swings from reclaimed wood; and I love the natural beauty and craftsmanship of the work by artist Andy Goldsworthy.

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What five things would you say were essential when you set up your craft business?
I have only just started, am no expert and still learning but I would say:
Support: having supportive friends and family is essential! Especially for times when you feel like giving up, having people who care giving you words of encouragement and advice is essential.
Research: this is important in every aspect of starting a business but particularly in pricing your work and how to do it. If you don’t price correctly and fairly (to yourself!) then you won’t have a business. (I’m still learning)
Planning: write a business plan! This sounds scary but doesn’t have to be. Just a simple one page document to start off with, stating your aims and objectives for your business, rough budget and expectations over a period of time. And keep updating and referring back to it, there is no point writing one if you never refer to it.
Social media/good photos: I’m no technology whizz but the web is an amazing tool for any craft business. Get an online shop going and post good photos of your work (or hire someone to do it for you); this is essential if you want people to buy your products online.
Determination & passion: Okay, I know this takes me six but I think these two go hand in hand and, in my opinion, you can’t have one without the other. Anyone can start a business but making it a successful one takes time and hard work, and if you are not determined and passionate about what you do then you will find it very hard not to give up when times get tough.

Name three of your most popular designs.
This is a tricky one as they tend to change on a regular basis but one of my most popular items is the waxed cotton and leather tote bag. I also make some brightly coloured coin purses which have been very popular. My range of earrings, both the leather tassel ones and laser cut oak studs, have sold well.

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Do you run any workshops or take part in any groups?
Yes, I run some workshops up in Camden and have done some smaller workshops in my studio teaching people to make bags and leather accessories. I have also run a workshop with the local WI which was a refreshing change from a class of 30 teenagers.

What’s new with your craft for 2016? Tell us about some of the exciting things we can expect to see from you in the shop this year.
I will be continuing to bring new and exciting stock of bags and jewellery to sell at Emporia as well as hopefully running some leather workshops there too.

Thanks Rosanna! We’re so excited to have your lovely pieces on sale at Emporia, and we’re sure there are several lucky mums around Ashford who will be getting their hands on some of your unique pieces this Mother’s Day. And if you’re still not quite sure what to get for your mum, pop into the shop this weekend and check out some of other talented crafters’ wares, who we will be interviewing here on the blog very soon!

Interview with Lucy Alice Designs

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This week we are welcoming some very exciting new stock to the store as the delightful Lucy Alice Arnold has delivered her equally delightful designs to us. Impeccably crafted wooden jewellery, including brooches and necklaces, plus cards, prints and badges featuring a selection of British wildlife, are all now for sale at Emporia. So to celebrate their arrival and our inability to keep our hands off the hares, foxes and bird designs, we took the opportunity to have a little chat with Lucy about her work and what inspires her.

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Who are you and what do you do?
My name is Lucy Arnold and I am the designer behind Lucy Alice Designs, a creative studio based in a seaside studio in Folkestone. It is a family run company specialising in handmade jewellery, greetings cards and home-wares, with all designs inspired by the animals around us. We call it our menagerie of colour and intrigue!

How did you get into crafting?
I have always been very creative and have always made things ever since I was little. I studied Textiles & Surface Design at Bucks New Uni which is where the designs you see in my collections today first materialised. I was approached to take part in a Christmas art market whilst at my degree show back in 2011 and that is how I caught the designer/maker bug.

Which crafters/artists/designers do you most admire?
Three of my favourites are the illustrator Nicola Rowlands, artist Abigail Brown and jeweller Helen Noakes. I love designers who do things differently and don’t necessarily follow trends. They make what reflects their own personalities and passions; their work is wonderful!

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What five things would you say were essential when you set up your craft business?
1. Know your brand – make sure you create a line of products that flow together and have a theme. Create a logo for your business and use the same set of colours and font across all of your packaging, on your website and on signage etc at craft fairs. It will make your business look so much more professional.

2. Keep it simple – Stick to a few products or designs at first and see what works well and what people like. It is so easy to jump in at the deep end and try to do everything at once when you are a creative person. Having a small selection of products is easier to manage at first and easier to market. You can then add new products every few months. Adding new products or collections gradually is also a great idea as it will give you something to blog about, tweet about and talk about to your customers.

3. Work out your pricing and don’t under sell yourself.

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4. Make things that you love – To be able to sell something you have to be passionate about it, if your passion shines through, people will fall in love with your products too. A handmade business should reflect your personality and let your talent shine.

5. Be brave – If you want to start your own craft business my advice would be to go for it! Create a small range of products, create your own brand, price it correctly and then book yourself a table at a local craft fair or start a Facebook page. Shout about what you do and see how people respond!

Name three of your most popular designs.
Anything with cats, birds or foxes on!

What’s new with your craft for 2015? Tell us about some of the exciting things we can expect to see from you in the shop or at the Emporia market this year.
2015 marks the official start of my journey into full time self employment. I am currently working on my new and improved 2015 collection which launches in April. You can find some of my new designs exclusively at Emporia including floral hare and fox brooches and little wooden bird hair slides.

Emporia Market this Weekend!

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The Emporia Vintage and Craft market makes its first appearance of the year this weekend, bringing you all the loveliness you can always expect from our fabulous designers and makers. Taking place on both Friday and Saturday, you can expect to see a variety of different crafts and vintage pieces from lots of regular makers, plus some new ones too.

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Regulars Aye Aye will be on hand with their vintage fabric inspired accessories and kids’ clothing, and Richardson and Richardson are sure to catch your eye with their laser cut wooden cards and funky perspex jewellery, and there will be more vintage style cards from Sandys Cards 4 All Occasions; Nasty Batsy will be bringing along her delightful rag dolls, and Shell’s Driftwood hanging hearts and chalkboards are certain to be one of the biggest hits with lovers of seaside themed designs.

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There’s more nature-inspired crafts by Steve Beaney and his wood turning art, plus chunky knitted scarves and hats from Baa Baa Designs, plus lots more new designer makers bringing their wares to the market for the very first time, so you can be sure there will be plenty of lovely craft to get your mitts on and be inspired by. And for anyone in need of sustenance at the market, there will of course be plenty of tea and cakes on sale, and a selection of delightfully iced cupcakes to take home from Everyone Loves Cupcakes.

This week’s Emporia Vintage and Craft market is open from 10am -5pm on Friday 28th February and Saturday 1st March 2014 in Park Mall, Ashford town centre. Hope to see you there – whatever the weather!