Makers Corner: Caroline Walters

We have only a few days until our makers market this Saturday 6 July at the Bernie Grant Arts Centre, and still so many makers to introduce! Let’s go!

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What is your link to Haringey?

I lived in the Borough of Haringey for 7 years from 2009 to 2016, and loved the diversity of the area and its many parks. Then in 2016, I moved across the marshes to Walthamstow, which is where my shop (‘Caro Art & Gifts’) is based.

What inspired you to became a maker?

I’ve always been a maker in some way, though I didn’t pursue selling my work for several years while I had a career in academia. I knew that I needed to make for myself, as exploring my creativity brought a sense of fulfilment and well-being. At the beginning of 2019, I decided to practice calligraphy more thoroughly. The act of drawing letters, phrases and words has steadily brought my voice back, as I’ve been finding that the more calligraphy and painting I do, the more I write.

My research background means that I seem to spend a lot of time exploring how a medium works, which plays into my making process. For example, I love the way that different pigments and types of watercolour paint move differently. This led to the creation of many of my abstract pieces because I’ve always loved colours and patterns.

Earlier this year, I realised that my love of writing and calligraphy married well with my abstract watercolours, which has been the latest line in my work.

As a maker, I ensure that I do something creative everyday even if that is just some calligraphy practice or playing around with ideas. This helps to revitalise myself and allow for surprises to happen where work can be created from an unexpected avenue.

What is it like owning your own business or like many, juggling multiple jobs?

It’s been a journey to run my own business with the amount of new things involved. I love learning, and enjoy throwing myself into the wonders of marketing, brand development, and designing new products. My business has evolved from its origins in Wood Street Indoor Market to now sharing a shop with another designer. There is a real thrill when someone comes in asking for a commission, or I sell a piece of my own work, or am recommended to others. I really do have that ‘happy dance’ moment every time.

How are your products sustainable?

Everything is handmade by me in my small studio in Walthamstow. All of the ‘kraft’ range is produced on recycled card that is made in the UK. I buy all of my art materials from UK suppliers and distributors to minimise the carbon footprint involved in my work. In turn, all prints and cards are produced in the UK.

After a long day designing and making, what do you do to switch off and relax?

I’m an avid reader, and even won the school ‘bookworm’ award. I’m sure that was made up for me, as I was rather quiet at school. But through reading I’ve loved the journeys into new worlds, lives and ideas.

I love baking for friends, as there’s something about a chat with a piece of cake that makes everything feel better.

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What challenges have you faced, and what has been your biggest achievement?

A challenge that I have faced is that people buy more online than in the high street. This is why I am a proud supporter and advocate of the Just a Card campaign. It makes people more aware that each of those small purchases make a real-life difference to the sustainability of small independent businesses. I believe this is important because I love the diversity that we can find at markets but I want this to continue all the time, so we aren’t just reliant on markets. One of my achievements was that the Just a Card campaign did an interview with me on my shop and the ethos of me running my own business. It felt good to join such an important campaign.

What is your top Christmas prep tip as a maker?

I have noticed that the summer period tends to be quieter, so use this time to create more stock and design new products. Use this time for more of the ‘behind the scenes’ stuff: mailing lists, brand development, website sprucing etc. In turn, remember to book your markets in early, as these tend to fill up quite quickly.

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Can you impart a quote or words of wisdom to inspire?

‘Creativity is the way I share my soul with the world.’ (Brene Brown)

Take some time to think about what your core values are for yourself, and for your business. This can then help to reframe all of your work in relation to these ideas and to ensure that you are fulfilling each of your core values for the business. My core business values are: creativity, education and kindness. I want us all to remember that we are ‘enough’ just for being ourselves, and to remember to show yourselves the kindness you do others.

Instagram – CaroWoodStreet

Thank you, Caroline’s and we look forward to seeing you this Saturday 6 July at the Bernie Grant Arts Centre, Town Hall Approach Road, London, N15 4RX

Makers Corner: Abi Gill Calligrapher

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We caught up with Abi who kindly shared her hobby and passion with us.

Please tell us about yourself?

I’m Abi and I am the founder of Abigail’s Calligraphy based in Haringey, north London. I started practicing calligraphy seriously about three years ago and have slowly started turning it into a business, mainly providing calligraphy for weddings but also making cards and gifts.

Can you please tell us what inspired you to turn your hands to calligraphy?

I’ve always admired beautiful handwriting. It’s a huge part of someone’s individuality. But it’s also something we see less and less of, as we all communicate through our phones and computers. I don’t know what most of my friends handwriting even looks like! I decided to take a couple of calligraphy courses to unwind and rediscover the beauty of creating something hand written.

The more I practiced and learnt, the more inspired I became. There are hundreds of different styles of calligraphy, known as scripts, many dating back hundreds of years. I learnt to write italic script, which is one most of us are familiar with. Perfecting a script takes years of practice and an eye for the technical, each script has different rules on the necessary angles and line heights. I branched into modern calligraphy too, which is a little more free flowing and is popular at the moment. This is what I use for most of my products.

What is it like to juggle your passion whilst holding down a full-time job?

Calligraphy is my hobby and it’s how I relax. I try and spend as much time as I can writing, but it can be hard. I work full time for the youth homelessness charity Centrepoint. Sometimes it can be hard to find as much time as I want to for my calligraphy after a full day at work. If your craft isn’t your main income, I think it’s important to be kind to yourself and not pressure yourself to work on it when you’re not in the right headspace or you’re tired, otherwise it becomes a chore rather than an enjoyment.

How do you limit your impact on the environment?

I create a whole range of calligraphy based products but I’m mainly selling cards at the market. The thing that strikes me about most card shops is the amount of single use plastic wrapping every single card. Nobody wants a grubby card, but we also don’t need the plastic to be single use. My cards are in plastic so you can pick them up and have a good look, but when you buy one I’ll keep the plastic to use again and you take it home in a recyclable paper bag.

Can you please tell us of your future aspirations?

I feel like I am very much at the start of my calligraphy business journey and I’m really excited to see where it will go! I love providing calligraphy services for weddings as it’s such a special thing to have something unique and handmade at your big day, so I hope to reach more brides and grooms! Alongside cards and postcards, I also want to explore where else I can use calligraphy. Ideas are always welcome and I’m always up for collaborating with others!

You can view more of Abi’s pieces at our 6 July Makers Market at The Bernie Grant Arts Centre. Until then…

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Makers Corner: Aisling van der Walt

Today is ‘Super Monday’ because you get to hear from not one, but TWO of our fantastic makers in the lead up to Etsy Made Local Tottenham!!

Our second maker today is the lovely Aisling van der Walt.

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What inspired you to became a maker?

Since I was young I’ve always loved drawing and creating. My poor sister has vivid memories of me as a 10year-old sketching her portrait in the car while she was sulking just to wind her up #sisterlove.

After years of remaining hidden in my dusty art box, my paintbrushes came out again when my husband bought me art classes for my birthday. My homemade cards got a serious facelift when I started to teach myself modern calligraphy and brush lettering. With encouragement from friends and family to sell some of my work, I gradually started turning my hobby into a business. I set up an Instagram page, started selling on Etsy, teaching Wine and Modern Calligraphy workshops, and now I’m delighted to be selling at an Etsy Made Local Christmas Market!

Please can you share the making and designing process?

If I am creating just for myself, I go straight to my watercolours and use nature to inspire me. I’m drawn to abstract forms of colour and subtle tonal variations, aiming to achieve a painterly, whimsical effect.

If I am creating a commissioned lettering piece for a customer I often mock-up a design using my iPad pencil which is a quick and effective way to play around with composition, colour and design. Once I have agreed a final design with the client, I lightly mark out the design with pencil and paper to ensure correct alignment, then I apply paint using high quality watercolours. When everything is good and dry I hand letter the quote/ lettering on top of the paint.

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What is it like owning your own business or like many, juggling multiple jobs?

I have learned a lot about juggling since starting my art business! I work as an occupational therapist in the NHS which I love, but when you work in healthcare you put all your time and energy into other people and for me, art and calligraphy is the perfect way to recharge my batteries. Running my own business has been a steep learning curve because it involves so much more than just painting. I needed to learn marketing, photography, printing, stock management, Photoshop, DPIs, PPIs, TIFFS – things I had no clue about before I started! Even when it is crazy busy with orders and commissions, I feel so lucky to be able to run a business around something I love so I wouldn’t change it….but maybe ask me again in the Christmas rush!

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Can you impart a quote or words of wisdom to inspire?

“Done is better than perfect” – being able to say this has been a huge learning curve for me! My perfectionistic tendencies definitely come out in my artwork and in many ways, they help me produce high quality pieces. But when it comes to deciding to put yourself out there and open an Etsy shop, or share your work on social media, or run a workshop, or sell at a market, sometimes you need to just take the plunge even if you think you’re not ‘there yet’. I could wait my whole life to get ‘there’ and meanwhile nothing would have happened. Take the leap and who knows, you might be more ‘there’ than you thought you were!

Thank you so much for speaking with us. You can find the lovely Aisling on Day 1 of Etsy Made Local Tottenham (Tottenham Town Hall) along with many other talented local makers and don’t forget, this is a two-day bumper handmade only market! Find us on Day 2 at The Beehive Pub on 2 December. See you then!!

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