Thursday, 28 April 2016

Why do we create? A reply from Kelly Spider

Kelly lives in the West Midlands with her partner, Neil, her two teenage daughters, and Boris their pet (female) tarantula.  A live music fan, Kelly likes camping, the seaside, watching movies - and mini cheddars (mmm yum).
Her shop, FunkTJunk, (click here) is a reflection of her interests - with great music memorabilia, among other funky and fun items.

How did all start?  Like so many of us, Kelly's inspiration came from her grandparents.

'I spent much of my childhood with my grandparents, before and after school, during holidays - I would either be up at the allotments digging, planting and watering (or just getting dirty), or in the kitchen baking (and mostly eating), painting stones I'd found, at the table, sitting with Grandma knitting a scarf (I was very good at scarves and could make really long ones), or with Grandad in his woodshed, making a box or frame or anything made of wood.

All four grandparents are most certainly my inspiration; all creative in their own different ways, and all of them taught me that there really aren't any rules to creativity - basically, if you have a brief plan in your head and just actually DO IT - then you have created something, even if it just looks like a mess to some people'

As a mum, Kelly worked part time as a health care support worker for adults with learning difficulties, a job she loved for over 16 years, meeting amazing people: 'having a job that awakened my creativity and resourcefulness was awesome! When I became a single working mum with 2 young children, my Creative - Necessary - Recycling skills kicked in - we moved house and re-furnished and decorated on a next to nothing budget; upcycling and painting furniture, giving donated mirrors and ornaments a make-over is so satisfying!  (This was in the late '90s when Changing Rooms and Change That was on TV) The girls and I would hand make our Christmas cards and gifts to save money, making books and magnets and picture frames out of what we had around us for family and friends.

I started my Etsy shop as an outlet for all my over-crafting and don't regret it one bit; very surprised to find that other people actually like, share and even purchase my products - makes me so happy! My style and items may not be to everyone's taste but as Grandma used to say ' you can be the juiciest peach on the tree and there will always be someone who don't lark peaches.'

Such fond memories - I only have the one Grandad left now and he still inspires me today - he cooks with and for my girls and although he is 81, he still has his allotment and his shed - which I use from time to time: his 'old' tools are still the best.

Why do we create? for no reason and for every reason.  because we want to / need to / desire things / have a vision / see potential ..... and because we CAN

You can find FunkTJunk here too

Come and visit us at

Monday, 25 April 2016

Why do we create? Breeshea Robinson answers ....

Continuing our 'Why do we create?' theme, Breeshea Robinson is the talented owner of Etsy shop BooandLil (click here)

Breeshea (nicknamed Boo by her family) is an apprentice engineer, studying mechanical engineering at the University of Greenwich.  Lil is her gorgeous miniature smooth wire haired dachsund.

Breeshea creates an eclectic range of items, from gorgeous jewellery to steam punk and funky super hero badges.

She tells me ...

I have been crafting for years with my Nana when I was younger.  It all went up  a gear when my partner bought me a crochet book - and the rest is history, I guess.  I have just decided to learn how to sew and I am excited to get started.

When I craft I never have a set goal - I see where it takes me.  Normally I draw ideas first - when I am meant to be doing other things!  Then I go on from there - I do a great deal of stuff relating to what my family likes.

Why do I create?  I find it is really an over-spill for an overactive mind.  I have trouble switching off and I find creating helps me with that, of an evening.                                                                                                Plus I do enjoy the look on people's faces when I present them with a lovely bespoke item that I made just for them!
BooandLil can also be found here:

All the photos are from Breeshea's shop or Instagram page, with her permission

Come and visit us at DunnCrafting

Sunday, 24 April 2016

Sunshine and flowers

A custom order request popped into our inbox last week - could I make a pomander like our daisy pomander but using yellow gerberas?  The lady is getting married in July and is looking for something for her little girl (who will be one year old) to hold.

A search found yellow and orange mini gerberas - customer liked the photo so step one - ordering the flowers - was done.

Piece of cake, I thought.  Nice little project for the week doing my favourite thing - making pomanders with silk flowers.

And then the flowers were delivered.

They were certainly yellow  and orange - but neon yellow; glow in the dark yellow.

I mulled over what to do (this is the 'science' part).  I remember when I was a little girl, my school uniform required beige socks.  My mother had already bought white cotton socks and being a thrifty, sensible woman, she decided to soak my white socks in strong tea.  They dutifully turned beige (nothing and nobody disobeyed my mother!) 

So here was Step Two
(love experimenting)

Results - meh - colour was no longer neon but dingy.
Back to the mulling over......

Step Three.... break out the yellow poster paint ....

Nearly 100 individual flowers later .....

Step Four ...... completion

This sunny beauty is on its way to its new home ......

Ta Da

Come and see our other pomanders and bouquets at DunnCrafting

Friday, 22 April 2016

Why do we create? Graciela Gacek answers...

I am delighted to introduce Gra Gacek who is the talented owner of Crossstitchtheline - a wonderful Etsy shop (click here)

Doodling on squared paper as a young child was just the start of her creativity - her mother taught her cross stitch, and she has been designing her own projects since her teens.  Much of her work starts with pen on paper - 'It may be just the child in me still wanting to colour in little squares, .... It has to be handmade, it has to take patience and time and dedication.'
In answer to the question 'why do we create', Gra says....  

I have always loved crafts.  My mother was very creative herself and instilled the love of it in all of us.  These days, my young daughter and I can easily sit for hours next to each other, each involved in our own project, chatting away every so often and sharing our progress.

Personally I feel very attracted to cross stitch in particular and, to some extent, to knitting, crochet and beading, because there's a certain regularity, rigidity and awkwardness to it. You have to 'bend' the materials to make them behave the way you want.  Try it and you will see: it is not easy to make a circle out of squares!

These crafts also have a very clear feel of building something.  Each little cross, each stitch, each bead slowly adds to the previous one until something beautiful comes out at the other end.  

The only point in my creative process where things are completely free is when I'm sketching. And I can assure you that to me this can be the most frustrating part of the whole. It is not easy to draw what you don't see, what you have only imagined. The pencil seems always to fall short of my expectations and it does take me many hours to get to my Eureka moment and decide that this is IT.

Once that is done, then the fun starts in full: transferring my tentative doodles into a perfect geometric grid is like bringing order to my world!  To top it all off, then and only then I start playing with colours, one of my very favourite things.

This is why I haven't even seriously considered using dedicated software for my patterns: it would be like cheating myself out of one of the most pleasant steps of my own creative process!

I am a very restless person and not exactly disciplined unless I'm sitting down with my needle and thread.  Then things take a pace of their own, they have order, they have logic, they have structure.  And my mind loves this! - my hands doing something soothing, making something beautiful while my brain clears up and somehow gets rid of worries, of problems, of doubts. It is absolutely my 'me' time, when I feel most relaxed and happy in my own company.

I cannot remember a time in my life when I wasn't creating something or at least planning what would come next. It is definitely a pleasure but most certainly not a hobby.  It is a necessity. I would not be me if I wasn't creating at any given time.

So that's why I create: for my own sanity!

The images shown are examples of Gra's work - copied with her permission
The main header image is of my son and my sweet little granddaughter Olivia.  A wonderful moment captured by my daughter-in-law.

Come and visit us at

Tuesday, 12 April 2016

Why we create

I've just read a thoughtful blog, prompted by Etsy's competition #whyicreate - and it made me think about why exactly anyone creates anything.... And, in particular, why Karen and I have really taken to heart the making of various things, constantly developing, experimenting and coming up with new ideas.

What is not important at the moment to either of us is the earnings we hope to make as our enterprise becomes more focussed and we start to make sales.  Naturally, the whole aim of our Etsy shop is to sell... But for me the process of creation is paramount at the moment, and the joy that working so closely with my daughter has brought me.

Joseph Conrad spoke of the 'web of affinity' that connects us all together, past, present and future.  This interconnectivity is, I believe, uniquely human and, like a spider's web, links us all to each other, irrespective of race, colour or creed.  We share a commonality in our compassion, our kindness towards others - and in our amazing capacity for renewal.  In other words, our creativity.

As I sew baby bunting, carefully placing puffy letters on the flags, pinning the tape and the ribbon, my nails clack on the wood of my machine cabinet - and I am transported back to my childhood when  I watched my mother sew, placing pieces carefully together and pinning, with her finger nails clacking on the wood of her machine cabinet.  She taught me to knit, to sew, to embroider, to cook, and to have the courage to experiment without being crushed when things didn't quite work out.

My father was a craftsman, making beautiful things from wood, hand turning, fitting joints with care and precision that demanded careful preparation and did not accept sloppy, careless work that resulted in a less than perfect finish.  He taught me the value of preparation, of taking time to get it right, of paying attention to detail, both in the creation and in the finishing.  So when making a quilted picture, mitring the corners has to be precise, as I can feel my dad watching me as I work and I sense his approval when I get it right.  He made bedside cabinets as a wedding gift for Trevor and me, designing them from scratch with only the vaguest ideas from me as to what we would like.
That ability to visualise and then bring to fruition is a gift that he has passed to me - and to Karen.

We don't sit at a desk and draw or sketch - or I certainly don't; ideas seem to percolate through my subconscious, browsing through Pinterest helps for inspiration - but much of what we test out is our own; some of it works, some of it doesn't.

Through it all,  I can see my grandfather's talent in wood carving through to my parents' creativity and innovation, in my own daughter's handiwork, in the care she takes, her pragmatic assessment of what works and what is simply hopeless - and in how she is teaching her own daughter to knit and cook and create with patience (not easy with a 7 year old!)  and with joy.

And so the web of affinity grows, always with creation and renewal at its centre.

Monday, 11 April 2016

Practical Presents - Part 2!

Following on from my first sally into making a 'thank you' gift for a teacher, I thought about the stuff my own daughter uses in her classrooms - planner pins, paper clips, funky pens, post-its, and so on - and I thought how cool it would be to incorporate some of those into a gift box 

- and yes I know that if you go to any major supermarket you can get any amount of office stationery for next to nothing so why would anyone want to buy a gift box with bits and bobs in it?.....

Well, why not?  why must teacher gifts be limited to flowers, or mugs, or plants or whatever?  I know some parents go completely overboard in their gift giving - and actually that can cause great embarrassment for teachers as they're not really allowed to accept very expensive gifts - bribery and corruption and all that - but something small, with a very cute and practical theme - ideal to show appreciation without embarrassment.

Check out this great tutorial on Pinterest for post-it note boxes - here

I also came across some rather neat bookmarks - origami style - another great way of using up odd paper remnants ...
- pinned here -

As daughter pointed out, these are really suitable for primary rather than secondary teachers - fair enough - but sadly there are very few male primary teachers.... still, there must be some around somewhere.... another trip to Colemans for a nosey through their fab cardstock ....

and this is what I came up with for lady teachers and assistants ...

and for male teachers and assistants ...

Spot the twine!  My dad never threw away string - he had a mass of bits of string of all lengths and sorts and drove my mum nuts because they cluttered up her kitchen drawers....

so it was the obvious thing to do - add a length of twine to the box for the chaps.... just in case.....  :)

Practical Presents! Part 1

I was browsing through Colemans Warehouse - an amazing Aladdin's cave of crafty stuff with something for every sort of crafter and project.  Over the weekend it's crowded with women of all ages - and husbands wandering aimlessly about, looking bored.  My mother would quote: 'That which cannot be cured must, with patience, be endured.' - and the menfolk in Colemans are the embodiment of this!

Anyway, I came across this great cardstock and couldn't resist it -

- and the wonderful Sam Hammond ( had posted a video for a 3 x 3 box for mini cards, and so a project was born!
YouTube is a great place to find crafty tutorials on all sorts of topics and I found a couple on making mini cards and the envelopes to fit - super easy and great for using up bits of card and paper instead of throwing them away.  
I found a great couple of clear stamps at HobbyCraft that were really inexpensive (some of them can be a bit eye-watering cost wise for a newby like me!) that said 'Just Because...' and 'Just for you' - perfect for those random moments when you want to say 'thank you' or 'I think you're great' or whatever....

And this is what I came up with -

For any of the fab teachers and teaching assistants who do so much for our children....

Love it!