Friday, March 02, 2012

How did I ever do it?

When Mum and I started crafting in the early eighties, it was imagination all the way with very little in the way of craft books or patterns unless we're talking knitted tea cosies or baby stuff.  The massive boom in patchwork and quilting was still 12 years away and making your own jewellery no more than stringing round beads together.

The brooches came about when I had felt ovals left after embroidering photo frames. I mean they did have to have somewhere for the picture to show through. The one on the left, cream one isn't as delicate as the black. I exchanged green thread for gold metal and later instead of freehand embroidery of the bows, I used small gold metal bows. Then I moved on to embroidering on pure silk, highlighting with very tiny pearls and putting them into gold and silver surrounds.

With the first brooches I did everything. The internal support was cut from cardboard after being traced from my template. My thumbs did ache after cutting out a hundred 6cm x 4.5cm ovals and not one to waste, small pieces of cardboard became smaller and cheaper brooches without bows. 

The guipure lace trim would never go around and lay flat without a small piece cut out of the edge.  Something that one woman never got the hang of when she tried teaching a class using one of my brooches as her own. A loyal customer came to the market and told me.  So the roses followed the same pattern on each, just the colours changed and those bows were a horror to get even. The felt was glued to the cardboard and pinking shears used to make the zigzag edge which was then glued down without buckling.  The back went on with a simple safety pin pushed through the felt. I did have a photo but the computer went on strike when I was trying to load it.

At first it was just the guipure but I thought it was a little too plain so in between the tiny arches of the guipure I'd drop a little glue and then with a darning needle, pick up the pearls and drop them on the glue making sure the holes couldn't be seen.  I think the most I ever sold was 35 at the Christmas market of l989 and I charged a whopping $6 each. I made more money at that market than I'd ever seen and I bought a Hoover vac with it. The vac's still going strong even if I'm not.

By l992, the brooch market was dead and so were my photo frames. I was ahead of the times for embroidery, during the nineties it became big, ribbon embroidery, Brazilian, petit point, cross stitch and books for it all.  Then came Tracey Marsh with her 'How to make' books and suddenly every woman and dog became a crafter, even later came the smarties who cut out the fabric and sold ready to make kits.  Mum and I managed to keep ahead of the pack by changing the things we made, babies everything for mum and I found a hole in the market for wedding favours.  That was until dressmakers began using left over from the wedding dresses and made to match.  One of our fellow stall holders said that if we saw an idea in an American magazine then we had 6 months to make and sell it before it reached here and everyone was into it. She was dead right.


The Elephant's Child said...

I am in awe. While my hands allowed me I still did some embroidery and some tapestry. Things of the past.

I love your brooches, and so understand the difficulties of getting lace to lie flat.

River said...

I can't get over how pretty the brooches are. You must have had very nimble fingers then and great eyesight! I'm hopeless at all things crafty. I did manage a bit of baby knitting for my kids and I made their early clothes, but they were nothing spectacular.

Andrew said...

Interesting capture of history.

Kath said...

Oooh do the brooches again and sell 'em on etsy - you'd be onto a winne!

JahTeh said...

EC, I could never come up to the brilliance of your tapestries. Cross stitch involved counting so that was out. I still can't read a pattern so it all had to come from the brain. I think somewhere I have a cloth kitty that involved cross stitch on parts of it and I was making it 20 years ago for my granddaughter, I might finish it for the niece/nephew.

River, I knitted jumpers for all my tiny bear collection. Very simple, knit two squares that fit around the bear, knit two squares that fit around the arms and sew all together. Those roses on the brooch look like french roses but I could never do them properly and still can't.

Andrew, while you were out raging, I was crafting. I'm glad I kept my ledger books though, it does give a look back at how the craft ideas progressed. I still have price lists of lace that we bought and you can't get the quality these days.

Kath, back then the days seemed longer and I could do a lot (not housekeeping)but how would I fit them in now with the blogging and reading books. I used to walk the dogs in the market garden over the road and I'd have a pocketful of lace and be cutting the notches in it as I walked. It took forever but the dogs were happy.