Whos on the make

Whos on the make

Question: Who’s “On the make”?

There is a whole raft of reasons why people start hand-making things for themselves, their families and their friends. And the bug can bite most of us at some stage in our lives. Craft skills contribute £3.4 billion to the UK economy. Some high-value crafts lend themselves to technological innovation, for example glass blowers are creating moulds for bio-engineered organs, but most in the sector are not so newsworthy. Nevertheless, en bloc, these cottage industries amount to a significant body of artistic talent.

The Crafts Council estimates there are around 23,000 micro-businesses in the crafts sector, mainly consisting of sole practitioners whose small turnover places them below the threshold at which the Department of Culture, Media and Sport can measure their economic impact.

This group is made up of workers from across the entire working age spectrum….and beyond. Some are driven by the need of income students, perhaps in an artistic environment trying to supplement their income, Mums and Dads saving for a family holiday, those who have some spare time to fill and the retired who are keen to keep their parent’s skills alive. Others have artistic vision which clamours to be materialised. There are lots of reasons why crafters develop their skills, but all have one thing in common – they make things because they enjoy the creative process. From conception, though the design stage to completion, all of these people have very special, unique pieces of work to offer and are in turn rewarded by the simple pleasure of creating either something useful or a piece of art to be proud of.

Keep it Local was set up in 2012 to bring the South East’s astounding group of crafting talent together. Amongst our association, we have aircraft electrical engineers who’ve built a huge kiln for firing glass in their garden shed and a retired private nurse who also works in glass and who used to travel the world with prisoners and repatriated asylum seekers. We have a former speech writer to Margaret Thatcher, a city banker, teachers, parents and grandparents – very often ably assisted by their offspring. Some have workshops and studios, some work in a spare bedroom and some work on their kitchen table or sofa in front of the TV. Some have full-time careers in other sectors, others have made the craft industry their full-time occupation. Their skills range covers the whole spectrum of the crafting world – pieces made from wood and wool, steel and silver, paper and paint, fabric and leather, glass and ceramic…the list is endless.

This year, for the first time, Keep it Local Crafts are exhibiting at the SESHA Show in May. We’ll have a marquee which will house about 50 craft stalls, all hand-made and all from the South East of England. No traders. No tat. Where we shop can say a lot about who we are and our sense of style, but our destination also needs to be a fun place to go, offering attractive, good quality merchandise. The Keep it Local team are keen to provide a shopping experience which is all this and more besides. We therefore only allow the best of locally hand made products at our craft events. We aim to create a friendly, professional tone and we pride ourselves on the relaxed atmosphere. The energy, enterprise, commitment and enthusiasm of the crafters is plain to see!

In supporting our stallholders, you’ll not only be helping to ensure the continuity of the hand-crafting skills we have in the UK, but you can also hear from the maker about the thought behind the design and buy a positively unique item as a beautiful gift or treat for yourself. Prices range from pennies to pounds.


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