Dunelm Mill celebrates National Craft and Design Month with some stylish inspiration

Dunelm Mill, the number one homewares retailer, is honouring National Craft and Design month with some handy hints on the best ways to get crafty on a budget. Listed below are the top 5 ideas to express your artistic talents without breaking the bank.

1.    Make your own curtains!

Whether you are an experienced seamstress or just have ambitions of sewing something more adventurous than a button on a shirt, making your own curtains could be the perfect challenge. The basic composition of a curtain can be relatively simple; however, your curtain creation can be as complicated as you dare, so try adding a decorative pelmet and tiebacks or test out some different lining materials.

2.    Create your own wedding decorations

Creating your own wedding decorations can be fun and economical whilst allowing you to create a personalised setting for your special day. From delicate artificial floral additions on the walkway to ornate candle and wicker heart decorations on the dinner tables, taking the DIY route helps to guarantee your venue will look beautiful while keeping the budget intact.

3.    Get arty with some new paints and canvases

Why not channel your creative talents into producing some personalised artwork to display in the home? Grab a few canvases, paints and paint brushes and get creative with colours, designs and textures, for the perfect way to spruce up the look and feel of your home on a budget.

4.    Personalise your cushions

A great way to update the look of your home is to change the colours and designs used for your cushions. Get crafty with some fabric and have a go at creating your own personalised pillowcases. The simple shape makes them an ideal starting point for building craft confidence, and they can simply be added on top of existing cushions for a fast room refresh. Alternatively why not invest in a few cushion inners to perfect that fluffy new appearance and enjoy renewed comfort.

5.    Jewellery making

Young children love to spend an afternoon making a mess in the kitchen with arts and craft products, from paint to glue and everything that glitters in-between. Invest in some beautiful sparkly beads to help expand their artistic talents and create some dazzling jewellery, from vibrant bracelets to stylish necklaces. Jewellery making will help to teach your kids new skills whilst also providing them with some new and truly unique additions to their wardrobe.

Artists’ Open Houses Brighton

The Brighton area is in for a treat during National Craft & Design Month, with some fantastic makers and artists opening the doors of their studios throughout May as part of the Brighton Festival.


Debbie Siniska ' Vine Birds'

Debbie Siniska ' Vine Birds'

Debbie Siniska is showing her textiles along with 17 other artists and makers at ’5 Ways Artists Open House May 2013: Venue 3′, which is open from the 4th to the 26th May every Saturday and Sunday 11am until 5pm.

Venue 3 host is Sylph Baier at 3 Florence Road, Brighton BN1 6DL.

It’s May, it’s here, it’s national Craft & Design Month!

Craft & Design Month May 2013

Craft & Design Month May 2013

What are you doing this month to celebrate our great British Craft & Design?

If you haven’t already done so, remember to list your events for free here on our website, where you’ll also find loads of free downloads to help with your publicity.

And don’t forget to email us to tell us all about what you’re doing, send some photos too – we’ll be featuring lots of events and makers here on our blog throughout May and some will be included in the Craft & Design Month report in craft&design magazine too – fabulous free publicity for everyone involved!

Have a great Craft & Design Month – and keep in touch!

Jill Ford’s Charity Jam Pot Project

Malaria is a preventable and curable disease that infects up to 500 million people per year and results in more than a million deaths. In 2010, malaria caused an estimated 660 000 deaths mostly among African children. Increased malaria prevention and control measures are dramatically reducing the malaria burden in many places.

making the jampots

making the jampots

The Jampot project will help in the fight to eradicate malaria in our lifetime.

I hold regular workshops for adults and children in my pottery in Ellerton in the East Riding. A recent very popular one involved the making of pierced tealight holders from porcelain. Ours is a very busy community and alongside craft activities runs a jam-making group known affectionately as the Jam Tarts.

In a Eureka moment, after seeing reports on the dreadful plight of malaria sufferers in Africa, I realised we could put these activities together – make the pots, fill them with homemade jam and sell them to raise money.

The idea was kindly supported by ladies of the community who generously agreed to donate all their time and materials into the project. This means that every penny raised goes to the cause – via Save the Children, earmarked specifically for the fight against malaria.

The first stage was to make the pots. They are slightly larger than the tealight holders and have impressed patterns not pierced holes – for obvious reasons. Having learned the techniques before, 20 pots were quickly made in the first batch. These were glazed and fired to render them dishwasherproof and food safe. The Jam Tarts then filled them with lovely pink, fruity jam. After a little packaging and prettying up they will be ready to sell.

unfired jampots

unfired jampots

Jampots can be purchased from Jill Ford’s pottery studio in Ellerton, as part of Pocklington Open Studios event celebrating Craft and Design Month. The pottery will be open to visitors to browse and buy porcelain ceramics and enamel ware  - as well as the jampots – on 4th/5th/6th May from 10:00 – 5:00.  The cost of a jampot is £5. Once the jam has been enjoyed the buyer will be left with a pretty tealight holder as a lasting memento. Perfect!

Jill Ford’s Pottery Studio is at: Providence House, Ellerton, East Riding Yorks YO42 4PB


Official Photo For Young Craftsman of the Year

I have today received the official photo from the South of England Show of Young Craftsman of the Year.

My son Jack with his winning chair:

Jack Lasnon, Young Craftsman of the Year 2012

Young Craftsman of the Year

I don’t think I’ll ever forget how Craft and Design Month finished for me this year.  It was a spectacular month and I’ve been involved in all sorts but far and away the best for me was a phone call I received on Saturday 2nd June.

Lots of people I’ve spoken to will know my son Jack is training to be a carpenter and he is really enjoying himself.  I more or less take full responsibility after dragging him relentless around craft shows for years.  Anyway he is doing his training at the Camelia Botnar Foundation near Horsham and lives there Monday to Friday, coming home at weekends.

The foundation encourages apprentices to enter into competitions and, particular, the Young Craftsman of the Year competition, part of the South of England Show.  Apparently hundreds enter every year so the standard is really high.  This year Jack entered a chair he had made which is a clever design, easily adjustable to suit adults and children as well as being, according to one of the judges, Derek Jones, Editor of Furniture & Cabinet Making, supremely comfortable.  He spent longer on the finish than actually making it and Derek said this was absolutely evident.  He felt the chair was absolutely first class and showroom ready. Every part feels like silk.

Well, it was definitely worth all the time it took Jack to make it.  He took first prize and a cheque for £250 in the category for wood.  His chair was then entered for the overall prize against the award winners of all the other sections which are metal, ceramics, textiles and design and technology.  He was over the moon when he won that prize too (oh and I was quite proud!).

Jack pictured with the runners up

Unfortunately I couldn’t get close enough to his chair to get a really good photo of it so I’m waiting for one to be sent through.  In the meantime so I can show off some more of his work, I’ve added a photo of a bed and cabinets he made which were exhibited on the stand at the show.

Jack's bed and cabinets were a prominent feature on the stand

Angie & Paul head for Harrogate

Caryl Hallett and Janet Yeun Yau

Caryl Hallett and Janet Yeun Yau

Our latest stop on our Craft and Design Month ‘Tour’ was last Friday at the lovely venue of St. Peter’s Church in Harrogate, where we found Caryl Hallett demonstrating her exquisite stained glass whilst Janet Yeun Yau chatted about her jewellery making techniques. The display of work in the huge window at the front of the church looked stunning with the sun pouring through and lighting everything up, it really did the job of showing everything off beautifully.


Anna Whitehouse Ceramics at St Peter's Church, Harrogate

Anna Whitehouse Ceramics at St Peter's Church, Harrogate

So it’s big thanks to potter Anna Whitehouse for organising this for Craft and Design Month, it was a timely preview of things to come with North Yorkshire Open Studios on the weekends of 9/10  and 16/17 June, where 130 artists will be welcoming visitors to their place of work.

We had seen Anna only a couple of weeks earlier in the Living Crafts Emerging Designers Pavilion at Hatfield House…. then it was Harrogate… where next I wonder?!

So Much To Do And So Little Time …

As we head into the final week of May, now that the latest newsletter is finished I thought I’d take a little time to reflect on yet another really busy week.  And it’s not just me. Everyone I speak to is absolutely rushed off their feet.

Well, at least the weather’s finally caught up with what it’s supposed to be doing at this time of the year.  Hopefully just in time to make sure May goes out in a blaze of glory and the sunshine holds its course for all those Jubilee parties waiting round the corner.

Speaking of a blaze, have you checked out the photos on our Facebook page of Paul and Angie’s visit to the Northern Clay Biscuit Factory last week?  The ceramics exhibition runs until early June.

Life size room set all made of clay

Life size room set all made of clay

Paul and I had a brilliant evening at the Biscuit Factory in Newcastle last Saturday,  Northern Clayreally did take Pottery to the Public by creating a whole, life size room set complete with fireplace arm chair, rug, slippers and dog – all made out of clay! The potters made all the pieces and the visiting public painted and decorated them all before putting them in place within the room set. The place was buzzing and people clearly had a great time with all that was

Clay fire place being created

Clay fire place being created

going on – especially having a go at throwing a pot and raku firing. What an inspiration the Northern Clay potters are – well done everyone! See for yourself in our photo album on Facebook! The Northern Clay exhibition is showing at the Biscuit Factory right through until 2 June, be sure to visit if you’re near Newcastle, there’s some amazing work on show – and it’s all for sale!

Angie & Paul hit the road again!

Having just returned from visiting the Festival of Living Crafts at Hatfield House – and what a fabulous event that was, with masses for all the visitors to see and do (check out the photo albums on our Facebook page) – we’re heading north on Saturday 19th May for Northern Clay where lots of potters will be literally bringing a room to life with clay. It sounds intriguing and is sure to be a great event, so pop along and join us there if you’re in the Newcastle area.

Then on Sunday 20th May it’s Ceramics in Charnwood, a lively potters market with some of the finest ceramic artists from the East Midlands and beyond gathering together in Loughborough’s historic market place to sell their work. It’s for one day only, so be sure not to miss it – and if we don’t quite manage to make it back from Newcastle in time to meet you there, look out for other familiar craft&design faces, you might just spot Pete, our friendly Business Editor!