Give the gift of Cornwall
PUBLISHED: 13:01 02 December 2020
There was a time, according to the deep recesses of my childhood memory, when the local craft industry signified little more than an old-ish coiffed lady at the back of the village hall peddling her corn dollies, matinée jackets and ‒ for the festive edit ‒ pretty much anything she could unleash her pinking shears on and choke with tinsel.
I’m not knocking that of course ‒ there’s a lot of skill goes into a knitted loo roll holder – but you’ve definitely had a bag over your head of late if you’ve not noticed there’s been something of a craft revolution going on. In the millennial age, crafters aren’t just hobbyists, but makers who’ve doggedly forged careers from their unique artforms ‒ and crafting in the 21st century has exploded to such a degree that some clever chops in the States thought to reign it all in into a global online craft community and marketplace. That’s etsy.com.
And as I discovered late 2018, when I happened upon a stunningly curated Christmas craft market in St Ives, there are regional Etsy divisions, like Etsy-Makers-Cornwall, allowing makers in England’s far west not only to collaborate on ideas and event space with like-minded locals, but crucially develop friendship and support networks too, in what can otherwise be an isolating old business.
And never has collaboration meant more than in 2020. Despite makers’ initial fears that ‒ with the economy and morale in freefall (not to mention craft events wiped clean off the calendar) their businesses could quite possibly fall off the side of the nearest cliff ‒ most have seen significantly increased sales…
Though the Cornish Etsies already had a solid customer base long enamoured of their original, handmade wares, trends swung further in makers’ direction in lockdown. More people came off autopilot in the way they made purchases, compelled to support independents over giant retailers (no names, cough, South American river, cough, mentioned). And with everyone confined to their own four walls, people not only had time to rework their living spaces but to gift and self-gift too, as a means of finding comfort and togetherness in a difficult period.
And one way we got to know the Cornish artisans better was because everything went virtual, with buyers watching live maker videos on social media. Seeing the crafters in their own spaces – be that a dedicated workshop or on the kitchen table, ironing shoved to one side – provided invaluable insight into pieces and how they’re made, with the makers’ humanity shining through too – from smiling nervously into the abyss, to moments of heart-warming connection and uncontrollable giggles. More than that, with so many Etsy pieces inspired by the seascapes of Cornwall, the upcountry landlocked could buy pieces to satisfy their coastal cravings from afar, the next best thing to being here.
So now’s the time to retire the Quality Street, the comedy socks and the cat calendar because if ever there was a year to buy a meaningful and imaginative gift for Aunty Maureen or Uncle Ian, it’s this one. Crank up the fire, grab a sherry, curl up ‒ we’re bringing the Etsy makers Christmas market to you. You’ll love the festive edit; it’s just a bit light on loo roll holders, that’s all.
Julia Crimmen Ceramics
Julia on clay: “I decorate mainly in blue and white on the stone ware and rich glossy glazes in the colours of Cornwall in the porcelain. The little animal family keeps growing year on year plus I make festive bells with their own individual sound, and porcelain trees too. This year, I’ve added a little squirrel to the top of the trees.”
In my sack: Porcelain Christmas Trees, £18.
Mrs Marvellous Makes
Joanna on reaching out: “I tell stories with textiles, listening to people’s precious memories and translating their words into something beautiful. Virus-permitting, I also take my quilts to memory cafés... the tactile nature of my work is useful for those living with dementia as it provides interest for active hands ‒ and stimulating conversation.”
In my sack: Christmas Book Carry Cushion with Letter to Santa, from £39.
Spellbound by the Sea
Claire on happy: “My aim is to make people smile with my pieces. ‘Fish Face’ is a popular one ‒ and most of my images can be bought as greetings cards too which people can pop in a frame as an inexpensive gift. I like to inject fun into my social media too ‒ follow me to check out my Wonderwoman animations, haha!”
In my sack: Hand painted ceramic Fishyman Baubles, from £19.50.
Alison Bick Designs
Alison on community: “My designs are inspired by my life in Cornwall, flowers, nature and my mum’s family surfing history in Perranporth… and it’s great that now I’m getting to know customers more, they get to hear the stories behind my designs. I co-founded Etsy-Makers-Cornwall and it’s become a really close-knit group… I’ve definitely found my tribe!”
In my sack: Blue Lampshade Surf Girl, from £45.
Amy Cooper Ceramics
Amy on inspiration: “My husband and I make organic porcelain lighting inspired by everything from glimpses of the world under the sea, to magical landscapes at twilight and the beautiful tidal river on our doorstep. It’s been a good year for making; with being at home all the time, more people have been nurturing their surroundings with handmade and local pieces.”
In my sack: Love Porcelain Tealight Holder, £30.
Louella on corona-kindness: “In lockdown, my lovely neighbour was having shopping brought to her by her daughter. The daughter wouldn’t take any money so my neighbour chose to show her love and appreciation by gifting her some of my jewellery. My birthstone range is perfect for Christmas as the pendants can be hung on a chain in multiples to represent loved ones.”
In my sack: Copper Shell Necklace, £103.
Claire on whales and gales: “I’m lucky to be based in beautiful Polperro where I love getting battered by the wind on blustery coast path walks… hence the name! My Whale Sewing Kit is a perfect posting gift as it posts as a large letter, plus my Cornish Mackerel range and my Colour Pop Prints go down well for that really hard-to-buy-for bloke!”
In my sack: Whale Sewing Kit, £9.50.
Sable Cloud Jewellery
Tasha on teaching: “My small business is spilt between selling my own designs ‒ simple, geometric and elegant pieces, all made from 100% recycled silver ‒ and teaching. Cornwall’s really busy with staycationers and I’m really pleased that jewellery-making is one of the things they want to do while they’re here.”
In my sack: Chunky Sterling Silver Bangle Set, £85.
Helen on lighting up a dark day: “Shielding to care for my parents, I set up a mini workshop at their house and made rainbow candles from there to help the Royal Cornwall Hospital’s Covid-19 fund. The rainbow candle is here to stay! My bestsellers at this time of year include the Cornwall Christmas Rose Gold Candle Tin, a firm favourite with locals.”
In my sack: Mistletoe and Snowberry Candle, £9.95.
Sarah Drew Jewellery
Sarah on going virtual: “I make statement jewellery made from recycled and found materials, and I’m working on my Rewilding Collection for Christmas. 2020? Well, my virtual craft fairs in the garden were often interrupted to hilarious effect. My neighbours were painting their fence in one of them; I got the giggles and ended up having to introduce them!”
In my sack: Boulder Opal Ring, £175
Glitter and Earth
Jacqueline on mates and magic: “I make magical illustrations for wild souls and free spirits! My work ‒ stationery, cards, notebooks, prints, printed t-shirts and Lino prints ‒ is positive and whimsical with the intention of passing on the energy that I feel in Cornwall. Being part of the Etsy-Makers-Cornwall team is like having an extended family… your best cheerleaders.”
In my sack: Yule Cards (set of 5), £7.95.
Rebecca Roberts Ceramics
Becks on online lines: “I work in porcelain, making pictures, sculptural bowls and slab-built homewares including coastline mugs that customers can order with their own ‘special place’ coastline on. The making lifestyle’s great, if a little chaotic… one day, the kids could see that the oven was on and asked what was for tea. I’d actually forgotten about tea and it was pots drying in there, not food cooking!”
In my sack: Personalised Coastline Porcelain Vase, £24.
Sally on the kitchen table: “I create hand-painted wooden bead jewellery, inspired by the colourful coastline and harbourside villages. I work from home which has been both handy but also tricky during lockdown; my kitchen table is often covered a mass of half painted beads on sticks, lego and breakfast!”
In my sack: Wooden bead necklace, from £21.50.
Naomi on festive fabrics: “I hand draw or paint my designs before having them printed onto cotton and organic fabrics using eco-friendly inks. I currently offer fabrics, coasters, lampshades, upholstery cushions, clocks, fabric prints and cards including some coastal inspired designs and my festive Turn of the Seasons fabric range.”
In my sack: Robin Fabric Print, £20.99.
Jessye Boulton knitwear
Jessye on hygge luxury: “I’m a knitwear designer and maker using luxury natural fibres such as wools, silk and mohair, I hand craft contemporary garments and accessories using hand flat knitting machinery. Often subtly reflective of the Cornish landscape through choice of colour, texture or pattern, each piece is slowly crafted using artisan techniques, embracing heritage skills and welcoming a sustainable approach to fashion.”
In my sack: Silk and Merino Wool Knitted Handwarmers, £34.
Follow @EtsyMakersCornwall on Facebook and Instagram and scroll through November posts to view recent festive gift videos and the ‘Lookbook’ catalogue.