I love pretty things. Yes I know, what a girl I am, but I do. I like pretty things that are hand-made, and care taken in their crafting, its someones creation! I think it has something to do with me being the least creative person in my family. I cannot draw or paint but man can I appreciate it. One of my favourite things to do when travelling is to pick up pieces of art or craft that you cannot find anywhere else, its individual, one of a kind. One of my favourite pictures is this little pastel drawing I got in Khiva of the city by a guy drawing on the street. He had just got back from doing a small exhibition in Germany, its simple but beautiful. It’s in this picture that I am reminded of great memories of that trip and also its pretty.
When I moved house a few months ago I was determined to use it as a space to show off all my bits that I had collected over the years. Finally get some of this art work in frames and out rather than being stored away ( the joys of the shared house). What I also wanted was a fantastic new dining set, something that was mine, not a mishmash of random plates that had been collected over years of house shares and trips to Ikea. So after much deliberation, trips to Zara, John Lewis and Marks I was left facing white plates, or overly extravagant gold things – I am not having Russian Tsar themed dinner parties here people!- so we continued on with the Ikea plates and Christmas came and went. Then like lightning while wandering down a street in Clapham Old Town in search of a bus to take me back to the office I saw the North Street Pottery shop… what was this gem… alas I was in a rush and couldn’t stop but vowed to return and look beyond the window.
Return I did one saturday and was delighted with tiny little co-operative shop. Out the back is the potters studio where artists come to make the their creations and run classes while out front they sell their wares. There were some great sets but also one off pieces. I took lots of pictures of the sets and returned home to the boy to announce I had found our new dining set. So the following weekend he was dragged shopping, there was the promise of cake as a bribe, and there we picked out our hand-made, hand painted fabulous new dining set. Now I know it’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but I love it.
It is shops like this that I love and admire, co-operatives. People working together in their craft to keep it alive. There is so much mass production these days, which has meant attainability for everyone which is great, but sometimes its wonderful to be able to say you are the only person with that item. We should be encouraging more co-operatives and supporting them. There is a resurgence of the Farmers Market and locally grown produce, why shouldnt this flow over into hand-made and hand crafted products. Bring back British made products. Yes I know they are always going to be more expensive than buying something ‘Made in China’ but there is something unique and special about small scale production and hand crafted. Lets encourage those small producers like we are doing with small food producers. I am not saying spend a fortune on a hand crafted dining table when you cannot afford it, but just think outside the box occasionally before that trip to Ikea, spending a little bit more occassionally can make a big difference, and what is better than buying something from the person who actually made it!
There are so many places popping up now in and out of London that are supporting local designers and creatives. There is a great list of places on Blog and Buy Sale to visit ( London places I am afraid), but with local markets taking a strong hold in most cities now, pop along and see what is on sale.