When I was in my late teens I couldn’t wait to get away from my home city, Stoke-on-Trent. Admittedly the city was in a poor old state at the end of the 1990s. The decline of coal and steel in the 1970s and 1980s, coupled with the later out-sourcing of the pottery industry to the far east left the city struggling. Our sturdy chaps with the strength and skill to tame the earth, to shape iron, coal and clay from the land, were abandoned by the government and the industries they had served for generations. I know it wasn’t that simple. I know about recession, free market economics, globalisation and finite resources. But I also saw the impacts and it devastated a generation. More than a generation. Parts of the city still haven’t recovered. Some parts of the city still had 50% unemployment in 2010. It’s hard for people who conquered the land with the might of their hands and strength of their will to make a dignified living in a call centre or a warehouse. Again, I know it’s not that simple either. Honest work is still honest work. But our identity as people and as a city had always been tied to the raw processes of the land and they were gone.
The word I used there in that last sentence – “our” – is the reason for my writing today. As a young woman I never felt a connection with my city. I just wanted to leave. I worked hard in school, kept my head down and did what I had to do to get away to university. And beyond that I lived abroad and then moved to rural Suffolk. But as I approach 40, I look back to my home city with a nostalgia that I never thought would be possible. The openness of the people towards strangers is the thing I miss the most. As much as I love Suffolk (and I do. I really do!) I feel like a real weirdo when I try to chat to people in a queue or make small talk with a shop assistant. And when I’m back and someone calls me duck, it brings tears to my eyes.
I miss the industrial environment – I never thought I’d be saying that either. Bury St Edmunds is not short on history; its bucolic tale wends back to the early days of our nation. Many of the events of the town have been formative for our nation-state – the preparations in the lead up to the signing of the Magna Carta are probably the most famous. Stoke-on-Trent is a city of the industrial revolution – in years its still a babe in comparison with Bury St Edmunds – but it has contributed so much to the formation of modern Britain. It makes me smile to think that some of the earliest canals – mass transit methods of the early industrialising age – were built there; and now Stoke is renowned for its distributions centres – mass transit in the age of just-in-time production and global logistics.
Maybe it’s inevitable that encroaching middle-age makes one nostalgic for one’s roots. I know I’m looking back through rose-tinted glasses. The Stoke-on-Trent that I grew up in is not really there any more and I didn’t like it much when it was! I’m pleased to see inward investment making improvements to the economy and really happy that some of that is trickling down to the people who live there – and about jolly time too. It’s lovely to see improved housing, new businesses and better roads going up all over the place. I just hope that I’m not too late in coming to love Stoke to appreciate the city it once was before it’s renewed, refreshed and ready for the post-industrial age.
I’m so excited to be having a second tutorial published! This time my work will feature in the superb Bury and West Suffolk Magazine. It’s going to be part of their Christmas issue, coming out in November. I don’t want to spoil the surprise, but here’s a little glimpse of what’s coming. A simple but beautiful craft that will add a festive feel to any home. The kids can get on board. They’ll even make lovely gifts. But you’ll have to get the magazine to get the full scoop!
If you’re trying to find a special gift for a special person, or you’ve got someone who is impossible to buy for, why not consider making a gift for them. Come along to one of MoonMunkie’s “Stocking Fillers” workshops where you’ll learn to make a gift and take it away, as well as the skills to recreate it to your heart’s content at home.
Places are limited to an absolute maximum of 8 people per class. So please book early to avoid disappointment.
STOCKING FILLERS. Wednesday 22nd 7.30-9.30pm. £10 + materials* (Book in advance, pay on the day)
Festive hair clips: Learn to make 2 different hair accessories, ideal for gifts for little people or make something for the office party!
STOCKING FILLERS. Wednesday 29th 7.30-9.30pm. £10 + materials* (Book in advance, pay on the day)
Customised book: Make a hand folded and bound note book and customise it for that special someone in your life.
STOCKING FILLERS. Wednesday 12th 7.30-9.30pm. £10 + materials* (Book in advance, pay on the day)
Linocut Christmas Cards. Carve a lino block and then print with it. Take it home and use it to make all of your cards this year!
STOCKING FILLERS. Wednesday 26th 7.30-9.30pm. £10 + materials* (Book in advance, pay on the day)
Scandi-chic village. Make a stylish decoration for your home or to give to someone special this Christmas in the distinctive and cheerful Scandinavian style.
CROCHET FOR BEGINNERS with Maureen Grenfell: Saturday 22nd, 1.30-3.30pm £25 all materials included (payment in advance please) CHANGE OF VENUE – please check your EMAIL!
If you’ve always wanted to learn crochet this is your opportunity. The wonderful Maureen will be at MoonMunkie Studio to take a very special beginners class. Places are limited to 4 so that everyone has lots of one-to-one time with Maureen. All materials are included and you will be able to take home instructions and a hook to continue your work.
* +materials = you will be given the option to bring your own materials or to buy a pre-prepared pack from the studio.
A tutorial I wrote on how to make a rolled paper-bead bracelet was picked up to be adapted for publishing! It’s in an ebook called The Book of Books by Mahe Zehra Hussein. And my photo made it to the front cover! I’m so excited. You could have a look at it here if you wanted to. I took the original tutorial and adapted it to make a really pretty little necklace from upcycled pages of a vintage book.
There is a bracelet in the same design available to purchase now in my online whimsical makery emporium. The paper pearls are hand rolled and sealed and then alternated with multicoloured glass seed beads on a stretchy but strong beading thread. It’s a really sweet little bracelet that would make a lovely treat for a special friend, or just a a pick-me-up for yourself. It looks great on and goes with everything. It’s a lovely gift for a friend for Christmas or birthday or just a little treat for you. Go ahead, you know you want to!
We’ve just reached the end of a WONDERFUL summer school, based on the novel Journey to the River Sea by Eva Ibbotson. MoonMunkie Studio played host to 8 young people as we read the story together and then used it as a springboard to create some jungle art. The participants did SO well. I was impressed with their focus and drive as well as the artistic abilities they demonstrated.
You can see their work in the gallery below. DO leave a comment and reinforce how impressive their work is!
See the Upcoming Workshops page for all the details. But here is just a taster of what’s happening at MoonMunkie over the next few weeks. If you want to come and play, book early as space is limited. Drop me an email at email@example.com
Out for a walk in Bury St Edmunds with MoonMunkie today and we came across a lovely treat. Elsey’s Gallery run by Cate Hadley. A tiny little exhibition space we’d never spotted before, tucked away from the main street. And even better: a show of work by young textile artists from West Suffolk College. Coming up Roses: A selection of garments and soft furnishing.
It was a little treasure. MoonMunkie was entranced by the display and I could see her struggling between knowing she shouldn’t touch and desperately needing to feel those flowers. Her good manners won out, but it was a close call! I think that can be used as a test of good textile work. You should feel the need to stroke it, feel it, scrunch it. Sadly, the batteries on my phone died after the first picture. So I can’t really show you most of the exhibition – but that just gives you a reason to go there and see it for yourself. It’s on until May 28th. Head down Risbygate Street as if you were going out of town. It’s down the Elsey’s Yard alleyway, towards the Maltings project. If you go past Wilkinsons you’ve gone too far.
Elsey’s Gallery is open Friday, Saturday, Tuesday and Wednesday. Visit this weekend! Tell them MoonMunkie sent you!
Today was the Intro to Art Journaling Workshop hosted by Dizzydollylou. It was a lovely couple of hours. The ladies, all veteran crafters, were on top form and set to making mini-journals with vigour. There was glue and cake, pretty papers, cake, lovely silken thread, cookies and lots of chatter about fur-babies. Did I mention the cake? Homemade by Tams! Dizzydolly plied us with copious cups of coffee and tea. The atmosphere was most convivial and very conducive to Makery. And by golly what Makery they accomplished.
Sarah and Emma made mini-journals covered in fabric, with a lovely button fastening. Tams made a collaged cover of torn vintage book papers. (And I cunningly forgot to take a photo of it, so I’ll have to wait for her to send me one.) They’re meeting again tomorrow to finish them off and maybe make some journaling cards. I wish I could be there too!
Important Dates for your Diary
- Art Unequalled 3rd-5th May – If you live local to Bury St Edmunds, you really MUST drop in to in the Atheneum. It’s a fantastic craft fair, with really really talented people selling their work and demonstrating their skill. Dizzydollylou will be there with her gorgeous felt and silver. And also Emma Sadler, who was at my workshop today. She’s an amazing art photographer. You should go and look and like her FB page immediately so that you don’t miss out on any of her Don’t Look Down series. It’s breathtakingly good.
- Needle Felting For Beginners with Dizzydollylou May 16th here at my home. Still places available! Don’t leave it too late to book.
- May Summer School for Kids: Journey to the River Sea 26th-30th May designed and run by me. I’m especially excited about this. It’s going to be a brilliant week of adventure through reading, art and craft. Aimed at children aged 8-12. Get in touch for more details because places will be limited.
- Coptic Bookbinding 5thJuly designed and run by me at Keep on Crafting, Bury St Edmunds. Call Mandy to book a place. 01284 701101.
So… heaps of opportunity to get involved with the Makery. Don’t miss out!
An example of what you could be making if you’re coming to my workshop at Keep on Crafting on Saturday. This is just one option- upcycled from a set of file dividers. The workshop for this Saturday is booked up. There are still spaces available on Apil 24th. Email firstname.lastname@example.org if you’re interested in booking a spot!