Tag: craft

Creative Beeston: Two for Joy

As Christmas approaches, I felt it would be terribly tardy of me not to give Beeston’s favourite magpies a bit of a shout out.

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Since opening their decorative doors in April 2016, Two Little Magpies up at Broadgate Shops have been serving us up a delightful selection of handmade crafts and original artworks supplied by local creatives. But that’s not the only reason we love them so much. Because of Lucy’s fondness for Beeston and the wonderful characters within it, Creatives Beeston’s Bee Creative project has been allowed to thrive and develop into the hugely successful community project it has now become.

Homeless, after The Candela Shop closed down in January 2016, the Bee Creative team were looking for a space to spend one evening a month indulging in a bit of craft therapy. We had some great evenings in the White Lion, Refan and The Star Inn, all of whom made us very welcome, but lacked the security and consistency that a regular spot could provide.  Loyal followers turned up eagerly but it was difficult to reach the people that were less confident to arrive in random places on an ad hoc monthly basis.

“During the two-hour sessions they are taught useful craft skills that we build on each week and they generally go home with something they are proud of.”

As soon as I met Lucy, she was keen to consider offering her shiny new studio space to us for our monthly craft sessions. She even suggested she arranged the first one for us, seemingly delighted at the chance to test-drive the studio. There was no charge but we set up a donation scheme so that she wasn’t out of pocket and this worked really well. People were as generous with their cash as Lucy was with her time and resources and we had a surplus by Christmas. We used the pot of money to provide refreshments and materials for a Mind Crafternoon, where donations were collected for the charity, and put together a pamper evening with fizz, nibbles and free craft activities as well as an opportunity for subsidised massage therapy.

Bee Creative moved to bigger premises this June, we are now at Middle Street Resource Centre, where between eight to twenty people gather every Monday night to create, de-stress and generally spend a couple of hours in the company of a great bunch of supportive people. During the two-hour sessions they are taught useful craft skills that we build on each week and they generally go home with something they are proud of.  Our collaboration with Two Little Magpies continues though. One of the original members of the craft group now works at the shop and has designed our new Creative Beeston logo, which will be revealed in the new year. And you can expect to see them joining forces next year in creating some community events.

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Two Little Magpies have since put together a comprehensive selection of fabulous workshops of their own that are proving very popular with the locals. As well as the instructed workshops in which you can craft some paper flowers or stitch yourself a Dorset button, Lucy has set up a few ‘drop-in’ nights where you rock up with your own projects for a bit of ‘Stitch and Chat’ or more amusingly ‘Smutty Stitch!’ The latter session is described as ‘not for the faint hearted’ and unsurprisingly the next one is fully booked! Who knew Beeston was full of such filthy folk?!

If like me, you love the independents in your town then please remember to shop local this Christmas. Leave the mass-produced tat on the shelf and buy something lovingly handmade from one of our many creatives. I don’t know about you, but it feels a lot better to know that your money is staying in the local economy and is more than likely sustaining one of the families in your community. What can be more wholesome than that?

You can find Two Little Magpies at 112, High Road , Beeston. For details of all of their crafty events follow them on facebook or check out their website www.twolittlemagpies.co.uk

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The Return to Handmade – Hipster Trend or Quiet Revolution?

If like me you like to buy unique presents for people at Christmas and prefer to shop locally, then you will have been more than aware of the vast number of ‘craft’ shopping opportunities that were available to us in Nottinghamshire this year. We may ask ourselves, at a time when goods are so easily mass produced all over the globe and readily transported to us in record time, why is there this steady uprise in the making and selling of handmade items? Has it become trendy to make your own or is it a result of the current economic downturn? Are we getting bored of the replicated products we see on all the shelves, in all the shops, and are instead striving for originality?  Or could it be that we are starting to value again the time and care that is spent on something that has been made from start to finish by one person’s skilful hands.

According to the UK Craft Council the consumption of craft has been on the increase for quite a number of years. Their 2010 study showed that 40% of the adults in their sample had purchased a craft object and 23% would consider buying craft. It also showed that the greatest demand was for contemporary  or ‘cutting edge’ craft with 97% of craft buyers supporting this market. It might be worth making the distinction at this point, between the different categories that handmade can be grouped into.

Craft

By definition, to ‘craft’ something is to make it with one’s own hands so this would appear to cover a wide range of objects. However, currently this seems to range from something you made impulsively out of card, with the kids on a wet Saturday afternoon, to the kind of objects d’art you might see at the acclaimed ‘Lustre’ exhibition which features at Lakeside Art Centre in November. In the Craft Council research the words ‘authenticity’, ‘quality’ ‘handmade’, ‘workmanship’ and ‘genuine’ were all attributed to the genre.

Contemporary Craft

Is the name we give to the work that is typically produced by graduates who have honed their skills academically and have created a business which involves making, marketing and selling their own pieces. We tend to look upon this as the ‘high end’ of the craft market and it would be most likely to be sold at larger handmade events, such as ‘Craft in the City’ in Waterstones, rather than the local church Christmas fair. It is this market that the Craft Council’s 2015 three year strategy supports, in their evaluation of craft trends and their impact on policy and practice.

Art

Always a tricky one this, and without getting into the ‘what is art?’ debate, we tend to attach this label to things that are made purely for their aesthetic value rather than their everyday use. Whereas craft objects tend to be created for their practical aspects and are often born out of a need for something that didn’t previously exist. Let’s take the tea cosy as a good honest utilitarian Nottingham example – you don’t want your tea to go cold whilst it’s mashin’ duck!

Creativity

So, do you need to be creative to be able to do crafts? Well, not entirely. Sometimes learning the steps to make something and being technically minded is all you need to produce a perfectly presented set of greetings cards or an origami animal. Natural creativity is generally more expressive and something that comes and goes. The creator can find themselves frustrated when an idea they had doesn’t quite work out the way they imagined it and this is often the artist’s nemesis. But without doubt, undertaking some kind of creative pursuit has been scientifically proven to have a positive effect on our well-being. It may be just about finding the one that suits you.

How creative is Beeston?

Very! There are many different groups of artists and makers networking and planning exhibitions as we speak. If you were lucky enough to visit last year’s ABC Arts Trail – twenty five artists at twelve venues – you will already be aware of the wealth of talent we have in Beeston and the surrounding areas.

In fact one Beestonian, Marysia Zipser, was so taken by the cultural and creative richness of this town she set up ACT (Art-Culture-Tourism)  in December 2013. According to her recent interview in the West Bridgford Wire, she is ‘on a mission to make Beeston the art and culture capital of the UK.’ Although she ran ACT voluntarily for the past three years, in May 2016 it became an official registered organisation.

On a smaller scale there are community craft groups currently running from Two Little Magpies, Beeston’s newest gift shop which houses a fantastic selection of locally produced cards, prints, textiles, jewellery and garments.  There is gallery space at Mish Mash on Chilwell’s Creative Corner as well as some of the local restaurants and tea rooms, and regular workshops at Artworks, Heidi’s Home Furnishings and The Fabric Place.

Connections are being made and friendships being forged and we are well on the way to having our own creative ‘hub’ where many of these creatives can share space and ideas and maybe make preparations for that ‘creative revolution.’

Facebook communities you can join: Creative Beeston, Sew Notts, Made in Beeston

For more information email itsinthebeehive@gmail.com

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