Hello Midtown Makers Followers, We are so happy that we have 4 New Crafters to Midtown Makers. Four different crafts new to us.
Buttonhome. Handmade Notice Boards & Button Magnets
Soooo...Jammy Homemade Jams, Chutneys & Sauces (really yummy)
Tyrone Ceramics Local Attractions captured in Clay and set in Frames
Why not call in and see these new attractions.
So, As part of Midtown Sounds, A Day of Music , throughout shops in Ballymena, We hosted Stripped, a local band. They played an acoustic set, here entertaining, Shoppers and Friends. Bella and Myself loved the covers, that they played and would love them to come back every Saturday, to play a set.
Check out their Facebook Page
Check out their New Single Cinnamon Girl
So, I hear You ask, Bertie, where have you been ?
Where, do I start. Let the Pictures Tell The Story. lol
Yes Folks, The Ballymena Bear Family, has a new addition. Baby B.
That is only the start of the story, before the family went off to Lanzarote, I had a Cameo role in the Christmas Advertisement 2017 for Ballymena, where I met mt other two co.stars, The Martian and his friend The Pigeon. My Role was as the Hero who saved the Day, ( still no Oscar Nominations yet.)
We also had a Book Launch of The Martian & the Pigeon, written by our friend Stephen Reid & beautifully Illustrated by Naomi Reid.
It is still available in Midtown Makers .
Bella and Myself are so excited. This Friday, the 29th at 10.30, we are holding our very first MacMillan Big Coffee Morning, here at Midtown Makers in Church Street.
Our Buns & Cakes, as well as Coffee is sponsored by Caulfield & Dorrity, our favorite Caterers. Yummy Buns on hand on Friday, I can't wait.
Also so of our creative crafters are baking some treats.
Seriously Folks, if you are in Ballymena, why not come in and help us , help others who needs, help and support.
Looking Forward to see you, but remember it is all for a very good cause, that helps so many people, not just for cake & buns.
See you Friday
Bertie, The Ballymena Bear
Our Crafters, Enjoying The Meet The Makers Events
Wow! Folks, We have had a really Busy Month, this August Craft Month. Firstly, Bella & Me had to do another Video with the Crafters of Midtown Makers and the Video Director Kathryn from Day & Age Films.
Bella & Myself, as professional as ever, only needed the one take, can't say the same for the rest. Between Hair and Make up problems and that was only Jim, ( Say No More). Again we would like to thank Kathryn and all the Crafters, who took part.
Then we had all our workshops, such as Cerisart's Creative Painting, Felting Crazy's 3 Felting workshops and the very sucessful Saturday Felting Class,which we will be continuing ,this month again on the 13th.
There was KD's Children's jewellery Making Class and the Polymer Clay workshop, that Karen's Clay & Paper, ran.
All Our Crafters Would Like to Thank All of Those Who Took Part In All Their Workshops and Hope that they will Come Back and Join Us for our Other Workshops
Laser Craft NI, has now taken a permanent stand here with us and has a larger range of items for sale now
Lucy from Netty Hill has an exhibition, which was her Work for her Degree and also was one of the Finalists in the Young Artist competition, Entitled "Letters from My Great Grandmother", which is a collection of letters and artifacts from her great grandmother, who was a Seamstress in Cloughmills.
Then, we had the Launch of Midtown Creative, which gave 10 Creatives, funded places here in Midtown Makers. The Ulster Bank, funded this project, giving people of all ages a chance to start their business and have a retail experience, where they will learn how to build and promote their business for a year.
So, Much more happened in August, but that is for another day.
When In Store, and interested in our workshops, pick up a list of What's On
Over the past two weeks, Karen from Karen's Clay & Paper, was on holidays. But, before she went, she received some Good News and I want to find out what it was and what it meant to her.
So, Karen has returned from her Spanish holiday, all refreshed and ready to go. So I caught up with her, when she came to do her Meet The Maker Spot. I needed to get her to teach me , How make Paw Prints in Clay, as a present for someone, plus I wanted all the gossip about her Karen's new Business opportunity.
So, Over a Cup of Hot Chocolate and Fluffy Marshmallows, I asked her all about herself and her future, here in Midtown Makers.
Bertie:- Hello Karen, Nice to meet you. Did you enjoy your Holiday?
Karen:- Hi Bertie, It's nice to meet you too. Oh! Yes I enjoyed my holiday, so much. Wish I was still there.
Bertie:- That's Good, So, tell me why did you decide to join Midtown Makers.
Karen: I came in one day, because the Window Display, caught my eye, when I was passing. I like how the shop was presented and was impressed by the possibilities to create a space that I could sell my Fairy Doors and Clay Sculptures. I also wanted to become part of the Makers Community, that had developed in Midtown Makers, where everybody was there to ask & answer my questions.
Bertie:- So, then you are glad, you joined?. So, give us a little insight into yourself and your business.
Karen:- Oh Yes, I have made lots of friends with the Crafters and enjoy seeing them, when I am in on my Meet The Makers Day. We all get a Laugh and a Catch Up.
My Crafting started about 16 years ago, when I found myself off work, due to illness. I needed something to occupy myself and my mind, as I wasn't used to sitting about doing nothing. I began with Cross Stitching and then moved onto Papercrafts.
I dappled a bit with Air Drying Clay, but found that Polymer clay was the medium that I loved working with.
I found that crafting, helped me focus on something else, than my illness, plus I felt that it gave me a purpose and then I found that I began to enjoy the elements of the different crafts and found that I was willing to pursue that path to a possible career.
During this transition, I found that working with Clay, particularly was very meditative and I feel it helped me as part of the healing process
Bertie :- So. it has been a journey to get where you are today, So while on that journey, who were the people who inspired you.
Karen :- I remember being a child and looking at the illustrations in some Children's Story books and loved the different characters and how they looked. I love Mythical and fantasy types of characters, so Fairy Doors & Houses were going to a define product for me.
Enid Blyton's book illustrations were one of my favorites and the stories brought these little people alive and I would spend time thinking about where they lived, how their little house looked like and I suppose when i grew up, there a little of that still distilled in me. When I was Ill, I came across Kathryn Sturrock from Karacter Krafts and I loved her stuff. It made me see the possibility of how I could create so many beautiful Items from Clay, as My Mother used to decorate Cakes and use some of Kathryn's Ideas. I then began experimenting with some of the moulds and Polymer Clay. Then. along came Katy Sue Designs, who began life as a Doll maker, but then branched out into paper crafts and then into food safe Silicone moulds which can be used for cakes & crafts. Her Items opened a wonderful world of different moulds from different designers, covering an almost endless range of ideas & creations. The inspiration, I get from their team is breathtaking and endless.
Another inspiration, would also be the imagination of my children and other children, which sometimes is so creatively amazing. The detail sometimes extremely detailed or just plain crazy, but inspiring all the same.
Bertie:- I love Enid Blyton books too, she had bears in her books, characters, like Bruiny from The Teddy Bear's Picnic or Tessie from Noddy. It's important to have people who inspire you, it means you can grow as you make.
What Mediums do you use, in your crafts?
Karen:- Air Dry Clay, Polymer Clay. I have favorite Brands that I like to use for different projects, as I think that some are better for some jobs that others. it might be because of the colour, texture or working capabilities. Liquid Clay for joining different pieces together for seamless joints. Also I use card, paper, MDF and I upcycle Old Books for my Fairy Houses & Bird Cages. I have also started creating pieces, using Old Teapots, Glass Jars & China Cups & Saucers. I also saw a castle using Plastic Bottles, who knows that could be something for another venture .
Bertie:- With the Ideas, you have just mentioned, I would gather that you have plans for 2017 and growing your business.?
Karen:- Well Bertie, Just before I went on Holidays, I was accepted as part of The Katy Sue Designs, Craft Design Team, which is a wonderful opportunity for me, as it keeps me up to date with all the latest trends and ideas. I also get to show my creations shown on their website and get to use their fantastic range of Crafting & Cake Making Items, from different designers. I would like later, next year to make this my Full Time career and become a Distributor for moulds, clay & inks as well as keep on creating my range of Cake Toppers, Fairy themed items and be able to have a pergola, here in Midtown Makers .
Bertie:- Congratulations, Well Done. It's great to hear that you have plans and I love the fact, that you want to progress to a pergola, here in Midtown Makers. So any Words of Wisdom for our readers.
Karen:- Not Really, But when I look at a finished commission, feel a certain pride with the finished item and i always hope that the person, who receives it loves it as much as I loved making it.
Now Bertie, Would you like to come and create something with some Clay and you can put your Famous Paw Print on it.
Thank You for the Hot Chocolate.
Bertie:- Thank you, Karen and Yes, I would love to make something Special for Bella
Hi Folks, So It's August Craft Month, here at Midtown Makers and we got a new video made for the occasion and look Mama Bear, was there, making Cousins for us and you to enjoy. Mama Bear looking good in the photo above.
So we were there watching Kathryn from Day & Age Films, doing a good job, capturing our Crafters, doing what they do best. Click on the picture below to watch the video and see how many of the crafters, we did catch working.
During August, we are running different workshops, that we would hope you come and join. Plus we are having Meet the Makers Days, where you can come and catch up with our Crafters.
Bella and Myself will also be there, making sure that these crafters, behave themselves.
Also, Bella's friend Pablo, from Hard Rock Cafe, Ibiza, who she met when we were on holidays in May, called over to see us, as he likes Arts & Crafts.
Bella had told him, while we were in Ibiza, about Midtown Makers and what our Crafters make. So, he has traveled to see us and just loves Midtown Makers.
So, Folks, if you are in Ballymena, Why Not Call in and visit us and the Makers, who will be here, to talk to you and tell you all about us and what we do.
See You Soon
A Bertie Bear Interview
After a recent Felting Workshop , Our Raring To Go Reporter Bertie, caught up with Shelley from Felting Crazy, to have a quick chat about herself and why she loves, what she does.
Hello Shelley, I am Bertie, The Ballymena Bear and I am pleased to meet you, I see you had a very busy Needle Felting Workshop,this morning
So, tell me a little about yourself, like where you are from and how did come to be living, here in Ballymena.
Hello Bertie, It's a pleasure to finally meet you. Yes, The workshop was good fun and everybody got to make something. My monthly workshops are becoming popular and there are new people, every month.
I am originally from West Sussex, But,I have been visiting Northern Ireland regularly for the past 36 years having married a local man .
I moved to Ballymena early in 2013 after retiring from a career in mental health nursing of 36 years .
So when did you discover Felting ?
I have always “made things” starting with clothes for my dolls then clothes for myself. Textiles have always interested me. In my early twenties.
I became fascinated by the traditional technique of spinning, turning fleece into yarn, some years later this lead me on to learning about felt making, turning fleece in to fabric.
A one off two hour workshop had me hooked. I find felt making a magical and transformative process one which you are not fully in control of the result it is a process that has a “life of its own”.
So, Shelley, How Long have you been Felting now and where do you draw the inspirations for your felted work?
I have now been making felt for about 16 years and my inspiration for my designs have always come from the natural world.
I am a keen gardener so flowers feature strongly in my work. As Well, since moving to Northern Ireland to live, I have fallen in love with it's Rugged Coastline and Beautiful Mountains, I find their black stone fascinating as it is rarely black but a collection of subtle colours. Their tones and colours have found their way into my felting designs, which I have captured in such things, as pictures, scarves, flowers and the landscapes, that I have created features. One of my favorites is my portrayal of our closest mountain, Slemish. I love the ways, that the local countryside, uses it's colours as a prelude to the mountain in it's background. For me, it was the only choice to use on my business card.
As, I am not an expert, could you explain, What Felting Is ?
Felt making is the process of turning loose wool fibres in to a solid fabric and it is done by using very simple equipment.
You need a soap solution to “wet” and open up the wool fibres, you lay down a web of these fibres and then you agitate and rub them to encourage then to mat together. Finally you “full” or roll this web to shrink it, the result is a strong yet soft fabric. The felt can be made thick or thin, flat or into a 3D shape such as a bowl.
Felt can be made with many types of wool and some other animal fibres such as Alpaca. Other natural fibres such as silk, cotton and linen can be incorporated into the felt, this is called nuno felting.
For my work I tend to use very fine washed and dyed merino fleece. This comes from a Mill in Yorkshire who dye and prepare the wool. They produce bright intense colours that do not fade in sunlight.
The main producers of this high quality wool are South Africa and Australia.
I do use local fleece for some of my work but it is courser and more springy so not suitable for everything I make.
Shelley: You make it sound so simple, So the actual process of felting, has it been around for a while or is just a new technique?
Bertie, It is thought that felting is man’s oldest way of producing cloth it seems to be the bridge between using just animal skins and the process of using animal and vegetable fibres to initially spin to produce a yarn then woven to produce cloth . Nomadic tribes used felted fibres to make their tents.
The untreated wool rich in lanolin made warm water and wind proof tents light and easy to transport.
In the Middle East and Eastern Europe many rugs and mats were and still made from felted wool. There is also a strong tradition of felted goods in Scandinavia.
Today it is part of an increasingly art based craft with decorative vessels pictures and tapestry’s as well as decorative clothing such as coats, hats and scarves.
So. What is your plans, for the future.
Well, Bertie, I am going to continue with my Workshops, here at Midtown Makers. My next one is on the 16th of August and is an all day workshop, where we will make a Nuno Style Scarf. As, well as that I am continuing with my Crazy Felted Kennel Company and the Crazy Felted Cattery, where I use photographs of people pet's to create a commissioned piece of their pet as a keepsake. Plus, I still have fairs and other works I hope to attend as well.
Thank you, for spending your time and it is a pleasure meeting you and I wish you well. Before have you a final thought to share with us.
Thank You, Bertie. Likewise.
A final thought.
I personally believe being Creative is essential to Human Contentment and Our Well Being.
So, Today I went to a Workshop, leaving the Bears in Charge. Was that one of my Best Ideas.
The two of them seem to have got up to some mischief, in my absence
Our Resident Set Designer, Creative Designs 54, found it amusing, as both sets are for a Birthday Party, Tomorrow
Life with These Two is never Boring.
Both Ballymena Bears are available to buy, here at Midtown Makers or Order them from Penny & Rose, either on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/PennyRoseGifts
or Call 07540 809390 Ref. Jim
Creative Designs 54, creates sets for all Occasions
Facebook Page https://www.facebook.com/pg/creativedesigns54
Call 07810 495688 Ref Jim