Box of delights

The theme for this issue is one dear to our hearts at Creative Beeston. If we can make it or buy it handmade then we are all the happier for it – our Christmas presents this year were no exception.

Making a present for someone can be so much fun, and you don’t have to be an expert to pull it off. There are many kits you can buy and workshops you can attend that will help you produce something of a high standard – check out our feature on Two Little Magpies courses for 2020!

As we become more and more environmentally conscious, we are leaning towards alternatives to ‘fast fashion’ and making your own clothes is just one of them. Sewing patterns are so much simpler these days and a LOT more affordable since the Vogue days. Try Tilly and the Buttons for their comprehensive range – they even have a blog to help you on your quest for a handmade wardrobe.

If you do fancy having a go at putting something together yourself, you will find plenty of inspiration at The Sewing Box in Beeston. Tucked away down Willoughby Street, just off the High Road, you will find a petite shop front that is the entrance to a treasure chest of pretty and functional things to make everything from a ribbon necklace, or knitted sweater, to a full outfit to wear.

You might have met the owner, Mike Barnes, at one of the Beeston Markets in the square over the years, his tables of brightly coloured ribbon trails may have attracted your gaze as you walked past the stall, reels of satin, lace and braids jostling for attention. He was always very helpful when choosing something to embellish one of my handmade makes, and was known for having something beautifully unique to tempt me to part with my cash.

Mike has a long history with market trading and manufacturing, having his interest roused at the age of eleven by a visit to Sneinton Market with his mother. He recalls how thriving it was, bustling with shoppers and traders, wrapping their goods in newspaper and keeping the atmosphere alive with their busy banter. Fifteen years later, by now a trained accountant working in the textile trade, Mike earned himself his own pitch selling baby grows he had designed and manufactured himself.

Despite many years of success as a trader, the popularity of street markets dwindled due to the rise in supermarkets and car parking restrictions and Mike stopped manufacturing over a decade ago. Whilst he was making underwear, he took a trip to India to source some of his trimmings and this sparked his interest in supplying the public with his exceptional finds. In 2014 he opened The Sewing Box in the centre of Beeston and here you can benefit from his expertise and his eye for collecting beautiful things.

When you have finally made it past the doorway of The Sewing Box, with its endless rows of threads and trims to pore over, you will find a well-stocked back-room full of delightful fabrics including individually sourced Africa wax fabric which is tricky to get hold of outside of London. Alison Barlow sources some of the fabrics for Mike whilst she scours the globe for exotic trims for her local online business, Mokshatrim. She also runs the Facebook page Made in Beeston, which came out of the desire to promote local crafters who make items from materials they buy at The Sewing Box.

A long-time customer and self-confessed promoter, Alison tells me that what is great about the Sewing Box is that Mike sources his stock using his connections with the trade, rather than the same typical wholesalers, and this makes his collection of trims and laces quite unique. In her words, ‘he has THE BEST range of lace and trims in Nottingham!’ Pair that with his knowledge of manufacturing and you have a shop manager that really knows his stuff! Alison has worked with Mike for six years now, supporting him with the website and social media presence but also with ideas for the shop.

And his prices are more accessible for the novice dressmaker. We have a number of good sewing places in Beeston that complement each other well, but he sits at the more affordable end of the spectrum. As well as the fabrics and threads, Mike stocks a small selection of kits, knitting patterns and wool. He’s a big supporter of Boomerang Bags and is always happy to promote local crafters and events.

You will find The Sewing Box on Willoughby Street, Beeston, Nottingham, NG9 2LT.

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/sewingboxbeeston

Email – info@mikebarnes-trimmings.co.uk

DU

New Year, New Skills!

At the top end of the High Road you will find another delight. Two Little Magpies Gift Shop and Studio. They have an extensive range of courses for you to learn a craft and here are our top picks for sustainability.

Beginners Embroidery

A two-hour workshop, which encourages you to create your own unique project using basic embroidery stitches but the more experienced can learn new stitches too. A fabulous way to breathe new life into a tired-looking garment, embroidery is a great tool for brightening up knitwear and denim too. It can also be used to repair garments – but that’s for another class!

They have a large stash of threads and embellishments to dip into, including ribbons, sequins, beads, buttons and gems. Slow stitching projects like this can be so therapeutic.

What’s more, tea and biscuits, plus all materials are provided!

Paper Quilling

Supported by a large selection of templates, paper quilling is not quite as complicated as it looks, so it’s suitable for an absolute beginner. Coiling and shaping colourful strips of paper into beautiful works of art is so relaxing and produces great effects.

The finished projects are ‘light, delicate and look very intricate,’ they are bound to impress anyone who receives one as a gift! Made completely from paper they get the seal of approval from us, and like all Magpies courses, you will benefit from beverages and light snacks to keep you going.

You will also leave the workshop with a quilling tool and a fine glue applicator to continue your new craft at home.

Make a lampshade with Sarah Sewell

If you fancy making something for the home, Sarah Sewell of Wildgoose Designs will teach you how to make a fabric-covered 30cm drum lampshade – suitable for a table lamp or as a ceiling shade.

A fabulous idea to use up ends of fabric rolls and create something unique, so another thumbs up for both recycling and sustainability. This is also a course where no previous crafting experience is necessary. Oh and more tea and biscuits!

So what are you waiting for, it’s a new year and a time to learn new skills!

‘Good things come to those who craft.’ TLM

www.twolittlemagpies.co.uk

DU

Dark Nights, Bright Lights

It’s autumn! Time to get out the woolly sweaters, hand-knitted socks and indulge in some cosy indoor activities. On bright, brisk days it feels good to get the heart pumping with a walk round the nature reserve or Highfields Park but as daylight dwindles and the heating kicks in, it’s wonderful to get back inside.

In contrast to the long summer days, where blue skies hang around until way past tea time and evenings extend outdoors, autumn nights are for creating a cosy atmosphere and snuggling under a homemade quilt, watching a film or reading a book. Part of creating the perfect environment for a cosy evening in has to be the lighting. We are very much a household that only turns on ‘the big light’ in cases of emergency, you know like a lost remote, so it’s important to have the right kind of lighting where it’s needed.

There are many different styles of lamp on the market these days to suit all tastes and budgets, we are literally spoiled for choice! However, something simple that will do the job suits me, and that’s why Mark Lowe’s contemporary pieces caught my eye a while back. Apart from being made from sustainable wood, which supports an environmental ethos, there is also the opportunity to personalise a lamp with a choice of wood, coloured flex and shade so you feel like you are part of the creative process.

Fellow Beestonian Mark, was born here and has stayed local to the area, apart from his university years in at Loughborough University where he gained a degree in furniture design. He lives and works out of a home workshop in Beeston, having spent his early years working for a lighting company that did not at all reflect his current tastes. Mark has always considered the role of lighting in the home as an important one. After leaving the industry for a while and pursuing a career in teaching design and technology, Mark’s been drawn towards the ‘honest design’ of the late 19th century Arts and Crafts movement and Bauhaus.

Although Mark has enjoyed a decade of teaching and inspiring his students to experiment with their own ideas and designs, he has continued to work on his own – feeding the need to have a creative outlet. He designed his first lamp around four years ago, an adjustable lamp for use at home which is just perfect for a reading corner. Tall and elegant, the original design has undergone many modifications, but the principle design has remained the same. The frank use of visible construction adds interest to the simple lines, and the coloured cord provides a colour pop that transforms simple into eye-catching in one vivid streak.

Mark tells me that as production has increased and designs have evolved, his wife Marianne has brought her own creative flair to the range. She sourced the coloured flex and shades that complement the designs so well and he continues to collaborate with her as new products are conceptualised on the pages of his sketch pad. The range now boasts a fixed standard lamp, table lamp, coat stand and coat racks in ash and oak with vibrant discs – a nod to the colour variations that can be added to the lamps. Subtle or statement? You decide, but with their beautiful simplicity, each piece would slot well into any tastefully finished room.

Since launching the business in 2017, Mark has been keen to get his products out into the wider world, and in June of this year they had their first stand at the Handmade in Oxford Show. He also tells me about a successful alliance with Long Eaton upholsterers John Sankey Furniture, which resulted in a selection of Mark’s lamps being installed to complement their sumptuous sofas in the Tunbridge Wells showroom, along with some quality publicity photos.

As I type up this article, his Facebook newsfeed tells me that Mark is being filmed at the Great Northern Contemporary Craft Fair, Manchester, a handpicked selection of over 160 designer makers. We hope they appreciated your beautiful designs as much as we do at The Beestonian Mark!

You can see the full Mark Lowe range on the website www.marklowe.co.uk and follow him on Facebook www.facebook.com/marklowe.co.uk/ and Instagram @marklowelighting

DU

Devlish Delights

You might not be feeling much like an ice cream at this time of year, but then I did see a young man walking back home from the shop on Priory Island the other night, unwrapping a Magnum with the gleeful enthusiasm of an eight-year old that’s just paid a visit to the ice cream van.

Seeing as it is the time of year where cavorting with the devil might be actively encouraged if you do fancy a 99 or a something frozen on a stick, you might want to consider picking one up from El Diablo’s Ice Creams. Spawned from the imagination of a Beeston artists mind, driving towards you surrounded by the flames of Hell’s own fire, who would not succumb to the temptation of an Apocalippo, its headlined iced treat?

We love Matt Plowright’s often surreal and sometimes haunting artwork. When I questioned him about the inspiration for this particular creative masterpiece, he told me, “I envisaged Satan as an ice cream seller, with his own van. This juxtaposition of the heat of hell and a cool ice cream on a hot summer’s day, seemed ridiculous and laughably unlikely. I was inspired by the continental sounding names I had seen on ice cream vans, perhaps ‘Signor Whippy’ a Peter Kay creation. Also, I fondly recall Mr Benn for the aesthetic and the Mighty Boosh for the humour.”

I can’t help but be curious as to the music that would chime from deep inside its bloody guts, would it be the theme tune from the film Halloween or something even more sinister? Would some other evil being need to stand in for Satan when he had other important satanic business to attend to, and who might that be? One thing is for sure, I don’t think I would be asking for the red and green syrup…

You will find more of Matt’s artwork on Facebook at www.facebook.com/ PLOWZart/ and www.facebook.com/rodgertheprawn/ on Instagram at Matt Plowright and at his Beeston home studio. Please contact Matt via email at mattplowz@yahoo.co.uk to commission a piece of work or if you can provide a space to exhibit his vast collection of work. Matt will also be taking part in this year’s Art Trail.

DU

 

Contact Us
I agree to the Beestonian using my data to process this order as per their Privacy Policy. I also understand that the Beestonian will send one e-mail letting me know when new editions are published. I understand I can opt out at any time by using the 'unsubscribe' link.
reCAPTCHA

BEESTLY TWEETS: