Have you ever wondered if makers have favourite creations in their portfolios?
Whilst I can’t answer for anyone else, the answer for me is yes!
It might change from time to time, but right now my absolute favourite is also the rug I’m most proud of. Fryklos.
Fryktlos (Fearless)/#2/Cream was handwoven in my Bristol Studio in the summer of 2016, in preparation for Decorex International. It’s partner, (Fryklos #1/Grey) now resides in a luxury apartment near Salfords Media City, and a huge part of me is really happy to still have this rug in my life. (Yeah, pretty poor business skills there, I agree!)
So, what makes this rug stand out from all the other things I’ve woven at this point in my life?
Firstly, it’s symbolic name. I frequently use a Scandinavian rug weaving technique called Krokbragd, so I translated the names of this entire collection into Norwegian. (They were originally created for the colourCoded exhibition at Devon Guild of Craftsmen and I added cream version later the same year).
Having a piece named fearless is proving to be a self fulfilling prophecy for my practice generally. I’m certainly taking braver steps that I would’ve imagined a few years ago.
The main reason for my pride in this rug, however, is in what it accomplished technically. As anyone who weaves Krokbragd will tell you, the underside edges can often look less than satisfactory. It’s just one of the drawbacks of creating such and mixture of colour and pattern on the right side, and you basically have to accept it. With the patterns and shuttle sequencing for this piece however, I really got the edging I’d been trying to achieve for ages.
Also, a sure sign of a good quality handwoven rug is the straightness and neatness of the selvedge. (Ok, smug selvedge photo alert, but after years of practice plus some expert guidance I’m allowing myself to feel pleased with these edges).
Reflecting on this rug has me thinking about the attachment a maker has with the work they’ve often invested hours, weeks and sometimes months in, and the mixed bag of emotions involved in marketing and selling them-Another reason why our small businesses are so very different to typical commercial ventures and why buying hand crafted is much more than buying the end product.
Experience has taught me that at this stage I can’t predict how long it will take to sell a handwoven rug like this.
Some take 2 weeks, some 2 months and others 2 years. What I can predict, however, is the mixed feeling I’ll have when this one leaves *home*. (Though I’m sure delight will supersede mourning!)
This rug will be one of the items for sale on my new on-line shop at www.angieparkertextiles.com – Coming soon.
Launch date to be announced in next newsletter. Sign up below to be the first to know.
…discover rather a lot of campaigns asking you to support local independent shops and creative small businesses!
Question is, do they make a difference to sales in the UK Craft industry?
I happen to think they do. Every single reminder that there is an alternative to buying the mass produced ‘land fill’ on offer at this time of year (and all year) has to be a good thing.
However, I also agree with The Design Trusts Patricia Van den Akker, in her recent post, that campaigns such as Small Business Saturday, #Just a Card, and most recently Not On The High Street Founder, Holly Tuckers #campaignshopsmall, only go so far in making a real difference….so much still has to be done to make the message effective.
My business isn’t particularly seasonal so the normal festive rules don’t apply, (I only make and sell between 10-12 of my original handwoven pieces of floor art each year), but I’m fully aware of the responsibility I have as a maker to tell my customers why I’m worth investing in.
So, here are just 3 reasons to buy handmade and local from smaller businesses this Christmas (and all year!)
Firstly, for every £1 spent on a small business 68p stays in the local economy*. I often retort at Contemporary Craft shows I’m participating in, that every sale of one of my niche handwoven rugs directly benefits at least 4 Craft makers as there are always at least 3 other pieces I can’t bear to leave behind at shows if I have any spending power!
Secondly, you are absolutely making a difference to a business. They run on tight margins and every single sale counts. I often see on social media that when you buy from an independent Craft business, a maker does a ‘happy dance’. Sod that! I’m not too proud to say that every sale I achieve generally results in a full on Salsa with a few par terres thrown in for good measure. Yes, they make me very happy!
Each sale means my business is growing and will carry on. Each sale means I get paid for the years I’ve invested in building up my practice and developing my original style. And each one means my daughters get to see their Mum succeeding in the job she loves, which is hopefully inspiring them to follow their dreams.
I’m thankful to have exceeded my targets for the first time this year, and if any of my customers are reading, you already know how much I value your investment. Thank you.
What you might not know if that this has enabled me to take my business up a gear. I’ve recently outsourced one of my designs to be handwoven oversea’s which means I can reach out to new customers with a limited edition rug.
Not too long ago I felt daunted by this idea and yet here I am, preparing to launch this new product, all because enough of you really wanted to brighten your home with a burst of my handwoven colour.
Has there ever been a finer example of a mutually beneficial relationship between that or a Craft maker and a customer?
Thirdly, you’re buying so much more than just the product. When I can, I buy handmade from makers I know because I totally value the skill and passion that goes into each piece.
I love the small arrangements of craft in our home and the beauty they bring to that part of our often chaotic house and I love getting similar feedback from the people who’ve bought my work.
Whilst the core of my business is niche, handwoven rugs, they are also so much more than rugs. They’re 20+ years of weaving for the love of it with designs that just fizz out from me! They’re partly a legacy to my late tutor, Susan Foster, who taught me to weave rugs. And most importantly they’re statements that bring uplifting bursts of colour to your living space and give your home the unique and original style you’ve been looking for.
To sum up, buying from makers is the ultimate way to make these campaigns make a difference, but there are, however, other ways you can help. Talk to one person today about the things I’ve mentioned in this blog post and maybe share a few of the posts about buying local on social media.
Also you can keep up to date with your favourite indie businesses by signing up to their newsletters. I’m pretty sure most of us don’t have the time to send as many as the corporates and it’s useful to be in the know about new designs and special offers etc. My newsletter subscribers will be getting a very special loyalty early bird offer on my new limited edition rugs when they go on sale soon. You can sign up below if this might be of interest. (Almost made it though without mentioning a #BlackFridayesque deal eh?)
Finally,(really) huge thanks to those who work tirelessly and voluntarily to support UK makers through their campaigns.
Thanks for reading.
Ok, that’s slightly mis-leading. 101 examples would be a little arduous to read (and write).
What I’m really trying to say here is that every commission, by its very nature, is going to be different. And lets face it, that’s part of the reason you’re looking at commissioning and not buying ‘off the peg’ isn’t it? Luckily, it’s just an arrangement between myself and my clients, so we can keep it pretty simple.
Let me run though a few pointers to show you just how simple it can be.
The first step comes from you.
Whether you discover my passion for eye-popping handwoven colour in a contemporary Craft gallery or through the power of the internet, a short enquiry email from you starts the ball rolling. I’ll get back to you to arrange a phone conversation (or more email if you prefer) to establish your thoughts on design, size, colour and budget. I’m easy to chat to and enjoy having these conversations and at this stage, I’m very happy to send you yarn samples, a price, a time frame and a simple sketch, with absolutely no obligation.
I’ve a huge selection of wool and yarns for furnishings in stock, but if I haven’t got the exact shade you require then I can ask my supplier to custom dye the wool to match.
Typical initial conversations have included these questions:
“Can you weave ‘that one’ but use orange instead of yellow?” Yes I can.
“Can you do one ‘like that’ but longer” Yes, I weave up to 1m width but length can be what ever you wish.
“Can you do me a round one?” Afraid not, sorry )-: (but I can recommend someone who can!)
“Can I weave part of it?” Yeah sure. We can arrange this.
“Can you weave me a 150x90cm rug for less than £300? Afraid not, however I have a limited edition handwoven overseas rug coming soon. OK, sorry, a made up question and shameless plug for my new rugs. If this is of interest, please sign up to my newsletter here for more details, special intro offers and launch dates.*
Sometimes, I’m able to visit clients in their homes with example rugs & samples to help work through the design options, though I can’t promise that this will always be possible. Photographs are the next best thing so I’ll probably ask you to send over a few shots of your home if you’d like guidance about colours and designs.
When you’re ready to proceed, I’ll then draw you up a more detailed sketch and give you a clear time frame in return for 50% of the total price.
I can even weave a sample (30x30cm) for a small additional fee.
I then set about weaving your bespoke piece of floor art in my Bristol studio. (The best bit!)
I can email photo’s to you if you’d like to see your rugs progress, or you might just choose to have a surprise when it’s complete.
Once off the loom I then finish the piece by hand and stitch on a discreet label before carefully packing.
Delivery is then arranged upon final payment.
If, for any reason you’re not entirely over the moon with your rug let me know right away. I always build up a good relationships with my clients, so they know they can contact me with any concerns, safe in the knowledge that I will do my upmost to rectify. (Disclaimer-I’ve not actually had an unhappy client yet, so I’m thinking on my feet with this one!)
Finally, each commission is a special to me as I’ve been assured my rugs are to my customers. This really is a mutually beneficial way of doing things.
You get a bespoke, quality handcrafted piece of floor art which brings a burst of uplifting colour (or monochrome design) to your home. An expertly woven heirloom that lifts your spirits and brightens your day in the way that only handmade items do.
And me? Well, your investment means that I can continue to grow my business, fulfilling the dream I had at college over 20 years ago, and much more.
And you thought you were ‘just’ commissioning a rug!
If you like what you’ve read but aren’t ready to commission a piece, why not follow me on Instagram or Twitter? Or sign up for the latest news here.
*I’m working on a more comprehensive FAQ’s page which will be coming to my website soon.
Who wouldn’t love to see less plastic bottles going to waste?
I know that I’d love to see this unnecessary strain on our troubled planet eradicated in my lifetime. A first step towards this is to stop buying plastic bottles. A second is to support this initiative by Sadiq Khan to have more water fountains to re-fill reusable bottles. However, none of this is going to happen over night, and we are stuck with an abundance of plastic bottles to recycle.
So what does this have to do with handwoven rugs? Well, it turns out that an innovative yarn, PET (polyethylene terephthalate), is made from 100% recycled plastic bottles, and also has the look and feel of wool. How brilliant is that!
Not only does it have the look and feel of wool, but it’s also waterproof, hardwearing and in a nutshell, a perfect choice of yarn for a handwoven rug for modern living.
Over the past 12 months I’ve been busy working on ways to give more people the opportunity to have an Angie Parker Textiles colour bursting rug in their living space, and outsourcing my designs to be handwoven oversea’s is an ideal way to achieve this. (I only hand weave around 10-12 rugs each year and quite a few people have expressed an interest in a more accessible product from me). Choosing a yarn to fit the bill led me to PET, and the rest is history…..or rather, the future, as I’m expecting my first consignment of limited edition rugs in the next few weeks!
Now for the exciting creative part. Which of my bespoke rug designs did I choose to launch this new strand of my weaving practice?
Well, it simply had to be a typical riot of clashing colour and pattern didn’t it? And although the original is currently bringing a burst of uplifting colour to the living space of a lovely London couple, I’ve used elements of my first Bodacious rug to start the ball rolling.
I designed a second Bodacious earlier this year (using the Krokbragd rug weaving technique once again), with added pops of glitter and an asymmetrical pattern to create a clear distinction between the originals, which are handwoven by myself in my Bristol studio, and the limited edition designs which are handwoven by skilled weavers in India.
Here are a few shots of the original and I look forward to sharing the new rugs with you in the next few weeks. I also hope to get them on sale before mid December if anyone is looking to gift some vibrant handwoven colour this Chr**m%s. (I don’t mention that word in November!).
Subscribers to my newsletter will be offered early bird discounts, so if this is of interest to you sign up at the bottom of the homepage on my website.
You can see archive shots and the progress of new rugs on my Instagram page here.
For UK Wool Week 2017, I was delighted to have the opportunity to create an axminster stair carpet with Brintons Carpets.
The carpet was commissioned for Wool Fusion, a showcase of UK products which best represents the beauty and versatility of British wool. This is the second year I’ve been involved in this Campaign for Wool initiative, spearheaded by HRH The Prince of Wales’ and this year curated by Arabella McNie.
A unanimous decision to use design elements from my handwoven Fryklos rug came out of a productive initial meeting with the Brintons team.
I gleaned as much information as I could about the processes, scope and limitations of using custom Axeminster QuickWeave and am thankful to Jodie Hatton for generously importing so much of her experience and knowledge. We didn’t have long to turn this project around so the Quickweave option was fantastic as we could meet the deadline and adapt the design to fit the process accordingly.
There were certain restrictions as a result of working to such a tight schedule, especially with the colour palette available. However, it didn’t do me any harm to reign in my typical gaudy colour clashes and am quite proud that I’ve designed something without a burst of acid yellow.
It was also a refreshing experience for me to be so disciplined when drawing up the designs as I usually prefer to design at the loom rather than a desk.
Initial sketches on graph paper were quickly converted onto the software by Jodie with a small selection of the designs then sent off for sampling on the Quickweave looms.
I wanted to ensure that the carpet design retained the niche qualities of my handwoven rugs, and by using a pattern that made each step of the staircase slightly different, I think we succeeded in this.
Making the decision about which sample to proceed with was always going to be tricky as both colour ways worked really well. Fortunately, the Wool Fusion branding helped to sway things as one of the palettes coincidentally lent itself to the theme!
The finished carpet was installed at Wool Fusion by Arabella McNie and the team and the event was open to the public for Wool Week from the 7th-14th October. Feedback from the event has been excellent and the carpet design was really well received by visitors.
I’d like to take this opportunity to thank Bridgette Kelly and Campaign for Wool for facilitating this collaborative opportunity, and especially all the Brintons team for making the whole process a joy. A video telling the story of this project has been produced by the talented film makers at Cube Video, and I look forward to sharing the final edit here soon.
To see more images of the Frytklos Stair Carpet check out my Instagram
Brintons CarpetsCampaign for WoolCube VideoYeshen Venema Photography