Fryklos (Fearless) #2 A Self Fulfilling Prophecy?

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.

PHOTO: YESHEN VENEMA
PHOTO: YESHAN VENEMA

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.

PHOTO: YESHEN VENEMA

 

PHOTO: YESHEN VENEMA

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.

 

PHOTO:AP

 

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).

 

PHOTO:AP

 

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.

Photo: The Forge

 

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!)

 

Photo: The Forge

 

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.

Tis the season to….

…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!
A few of the treasures I’ve picked up from fellow makers. L-R ERADU Ceramics, Abigail North Ceramics and Jen Orm Ceramics. (Yeah, ceramic jugs are my weakness and I’d rather have these in my home than the takeaway meals didn’t have in order to be able to buy them!-)

  • 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?

Photo: AP
Prang – Detail
Photo: Yeshen Venema
A few of the pieces that have flown the nest this year. Photo: The Forge
  • 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.

*Joanne o Connell. The Guardian 2013.