Reflections 1

Viv wrote a beautiful reflection on her experiences with the project – reproduced here in full:

Soho House Group

I have really enjoyed being a member of the “Soho House” Group, based at the Wesleyan Care Centre in Handsworth. We were made very welcome by all the staff there, and also by the team at Soho House.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
The craft activities were the impetus for us all to meet up, but these gatherings amounted to much more. Apart from renewing, strengthening and acquiring new skills, they were occasions for conversation, confidences, relaxed banter and laughter. Everyone has benefited in different ways, whether it be self belief, sense of purpose, companionship, or just plain fun. I have found it particularly rewarding to see the less self assured members of the group gain in confidence, and pride in their achievements, and to observe a gradual improvement in mood and outlook, in some members, over the weeks, Back frm @Makernow Falmouth & Robyn is sharing the experience & lasercut goodiesas everyone contributed, chatted and worked together.
In early May, Robyn, Alex, Natalie, Deirdre and I visited the Makernow Lab, in Falmouth University, where we also met up with Mary and Fiona from the Co Create Care Group.
It was very useful to learn about the resources available in the lab and to discuss our projects with the Makernow staff, Justin, Kate and Andy. I had observed items being lasercut when I was at uni, but it was very different experience, to be there all day, and follow the process through from theBham @carecrafters group with @katiebunnell initial discussions through to cutting the final object. I had never seen items produced by the milling machine so it was interesting to see Shay’s finished cross. Katie Bunnel’s stunning digital ceramics also made a big impression on me. Robyn, Alex and I were enjoying the experience so much, it seemed as though we had only just started, when it was time to return home. (Another day or two would have been great!)
I spent most of the time with Natalie making amendments to the brooch designs, in Adobe Illustrator (AI), before they were lasercut, in the lab. I have limited knowledge of A.I. I always thought it seemed complicated and hard to decipher. Having worked with Natalie and A.I, I am confident that, given time and effort, I could master it. Since returning home I have put in many hours watching A.I tutorials and studying an instruction book.
Viv's talking to Dublin group about her inspirationWe had “met” our Dublin opposite numbers, Liz, Yvonne and Shay, on Skype, so it felt as though we were greeting old friends when we met them `face to face`. It was fascinating to see their individual projects “come alive” in the lab and share the pleasure they derived from the experience, and also to see the common threads running parallel within the two groups .We enjoyed talking to our Dublin friends, largely during meal times. We spoke about the project, but also learned about them and their lives.
Having the Skype contact with the Dublin group and Makernow Lab beforehand , helped to reinforce the connectivity between all the groups .I thought the action of exchanging theIrish group thoughts about reasons to make tablecloths was a tangible and effective way to encapsulate this connection, and helped to link those who did not go to Falmouth, with the Dublin members.
I never expected to get so much from the project. I thought that it would be a time limited activity; I like making with others so I thought it would be enjoyable. I have experience of working in many different areas of craft so I did not expect to gain in that regard, but I thought that I could be useful and share my skills. In actual fact, I have benefited hugely from taking part. I have met some lovely people from diverse backgrounds and been privileged to learn about them and their life experiences. Robyn, Participants frm bham @carecrafters project off with DF to @Makernow in Falmouth for digital cocreationAlex and I have established a particular bond and we plan to continue to meet up when the project has finished.
I have found it instructive to observe the process by which Natalie and Deirdre organised and conducted the project, from start to finish.
Most weeks I work on my own at home, so I have enjoyed interacting with the others. The project has been the basis of a host of ideas and inspiration. I am currently developing a range of jewellery and fashion accessories to sell at forthcoming craft events, derived from the images of Soho House. I am combining digital embroidery, and machine2 finished brooches inspired by @SohoHouseMuseum ready to sell, knitting with hand worked methods and I am currently researching where I can get items laser cut.
The project came at a time when I was busy with a number of other commitments. Friday was my only free day and I was not sure whether I could fit anything else into the week. I am so glad that I decided to take part. I feel fortunate to have been a member of what has been a very exciting, rewarding and inspiring experience.
When do we start the next phase!

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Lovely Irene at the Poly

embroidery story telling

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Digital sharing

We’re aware that we have had many teething problems on the site and that some of you have got really frustrated with it.  Also life gets in the way, even when we are doing things we like!  However, our web developer Dan had this to say:

“Okay, so there is now a field on every user’s profile called “Showcase Image”, if users upload their final image there I’ll set about creating the showcase page which displays them all.”

Once again please do let me know if this isn’t working as we need to make sure your experience of using the site is as hassle-free as we can make it.  So if there is no “Showcase Image” bit on your profile, or if you can’t upload, please, please do let us know.  Showcase is this week and then we are intending to swap partners for one more round.

If you have tried to join up but had no confirmation email, Dan has asked that you check your Spam folders in your email.  I have said that some of you have done this already, but he is working through a list of fixes.

I do hope you haven’t given up on us and that you get to have fun on the site 🙂

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Lovely Christiane at the Poly

On Saturday 24th May we had another workshop at the Poly in Falmouth.  Originally this was to be a glass workshop, but the leader was unable to come, so the lovely Christiane Berghoff stepped in to lead a group workshop on cord-making.  We had three different methods of making cord to play with:  crochet, knitting (French knitting) and the lucette (a weird quasi-pagan looking instrument that, had we not all been lovely people, would have been the subject of fighting over).

Christiane talked about the ideas that concern her practice – sustainability, the importance of community, and the centrality of making.  Then we each taught each other a skill that we already had (I had none to begin with….) and everyone swapped around, so that by the end we’d each had a go on each of the three cord-making methods, and we’d each taught someone at least one skill (perhaps one we’d learnt – or in my case almost-learnt – fairly recently).  Another of Christiane’s concerns is that ability to let go into lack of control or failure when learning new things.  I got plenty of experience of that.

It’s interesting how some of us seemed to prefer one way of making to another – there didn’t seem to be any reason for this.  It’s also interesting how much we loved the feel of the wood (lucette) or bamboo (knitting needles).  It was a very tactile session – well they all are, but we talked a lot about how the implements felt in our hands and how comforting wood can feel.


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The lovely Christiane Berghoff at the Poly this Saturday!

stock-photo-sewing-tailoring-icons-mannequin-needle-thread-machine-ribbon-labels-patterns-buttons-29341843This Saturday, the 22nd March, will see the Group Yarn Workshop at the Poly, Falmouth, led by Christiane Berghoff – this will be very exciting!
Christiane is going to lead a session working with crochet, French knitting and lucette braiding, creating a group project. If you have some double knitting yarn and if possible some 4 to 5 mm Crochet hooks and scissors, please bring them; otherwise just turn up. We’re also going to talk about and have a help session for anyone joining the Making Things Together craft sharing site, so if you have any questions about it, this workshop is the place to get them answered.
The session will last from 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Previous sessions have been really great fun, so if you fancy having a go, bringing a friend, or just want to come for the cake, please do let us know. Here’s the Eventbrite address: – or email

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How are your bunnies?

What is everyone doing with their bunnies from Sue’s workshop?  Mine is propped up in my sitting room, overseeing events.  My bunny looked a little bit uncertain, perhaps because his eyes don’t…quite…match…It is amazing how the tiniest of differences make the character begin to appear.  I’m caught halfway between seeing “Fred” (the name my bunny seemed to develop as he was made) as an evocative object in the mould of what Sherry Turkle calls ‘things we think with’, or this:


Which immediately gives me a case of automatonophobia.*

However, in order to offset the idea that things we make that have faces, or that we have in our houses (and maybe chat to, or maybe we don’t, errrr…) must be creepy, I give you the Moomin Cafe, in Tokyo.

moomin cafeApparently the toys are offered to diners so that they don’t get lonely if they are eating alone.

moomin cafe

I’m not entirely convinced it helps them feel less lonely.

But it’s a nice thought.

*fear of anything falsely representing a sentient being, including ventriloquist dummies.

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Sue Bamford Bunnies

On Saturday 26th April 2014 we had another workshop at the Poly.  14 people were at the workshop where we made bunnies based on Sue’s project, 1000 Bunnies.
All the people who came have attended previous sessions, apart from the guests that some brought. A sense of group identity: of people who are comfortable with one another, is starting to emerge and it’s great that people are bringing friends and family members in.
This is a workshop that Sue has run on many occasions, mostly with children, and she introduced the concept behind the ‘bunny project’, which began when she was working at the Eden project and was amazed by the large number of garments that had gathered in lost property and never been reclaimed. This provided some discussion about waste and re-use. Su initiated her 1000 bunnies ( project, a response that combines the politics of ecology, sustainability with the fun of creative making, and reflecting through doing.
Sue began by reminding us about the significance of the date, 24th April 2013, when the Rana Plaza textile factory collapsed in Dhaka, Bangladesh causing the deaths of 1,129 people and injuring thousands more; she drew our attention to on-going efforts to commemorate the day worldwide. Su’s workshop is part of a larger project that aims to raise consciousness about waste while taking part in a fun activity and sharing skills. She showed us the book of textile swatches/brand logos from all the good collected at Eden and re-circulated via the bunnies; she also showed us her bunny basket, full of bunnies made from the garments, her sewn texts communicating the project ethos, all those who have helped her to date, and the pile of ready-cut pieces that she had prepared for the workshop.
After the flurry of activity involved in selecting sewing pieces, a hush of concentration and what Sue remarked the “soft noise of scissors” descended over the room. A group discussion about the time involved in making the 1000 bunnies developed. Reflecting on the time and effort involved in making things, and the real life cost of cheap textile goods is an important part of this activity, and something that people were keen to discuss. Su remarked on how often ‘ugly’ garments are transformed when the scale changes and take on new appeal. Stuffing the bunnies with the fillings from old duvets was next, and then people started the design process – sewing buttons for eyes – riffling through the button boxes produced the sound of shells on a beach – embroidering faces onto the bunnies and creating their personalities; or rather letting their personalities emerge. This led to great hilarity and much laughter as the bunnies took on a life of their own and people’s ‘inner bunnies’ emerged! ‘Lodge a complaint bunny’, ‘rock chick bunny with piercings and tattoo’, ‘Mercenary bunny – with buttons from an army uniform ’, ‘constructionist bunny – complete with a Bauhaus label’, were only a few of the many bunnies named. Discussion ranged from current textile exhibitions and museums to visit to stories about teaching crafting and sewing skills to others and the pleasure and fulfilment this brings, particularly when people take things further using their own ingenuity and creativity. Laughter filled the room as people started ‘bringing the bunnies to life’ and wandering about to see what others had done.
We were all amazed by the variety of bunnies that emerged from one simple pre-cut pattern, reflecting how this was so different to the ‘choice’ (no-choice) of consumerism.
The session ended with a demonstration of how to sign into the Making Things Together platform with quite a number of the group eager to get signed up and start sharing.
Extracts from the Doily Archive:
What Have I Learnt?
“ways to reuse stuff in fun ways”
“craft as politics = love that!”
“how lost property can be given a new lease of life by being made into a bunny!; Mottainai – Japanese term for the sense of grief over the waste of resources – the lovely word Mottainai; Ideas for sharing and will be”
“another craft; making use of recycled materials; about other countries; how ‘bunnies’ can help children”
“that there is no ‘away’; stories always get told/made/created when a group of people get together, no matter the context; ‘making things’ is often more fun in groups; there is creativity and potential even in ‘waste’; aesthetics define an item’s level of ‘acceptability’”
“value of fabric and how many lives it can have; working in a group creates a relaxed shared atmosphere; to experiment without any fear of failure; re-cycle or more importantly reduce consumption; the concept adds value and context to finished bunny; the group encourages experimentation by seeing what others have done; the fun of being in a group that fosters creativity”
“how to make a bunny with personality; reduce, reuse, recycling; info/knowledge of theme; mottainai – no waste; encouragement to RRR old garments more often”
“That it’s been a year since the Bangladesh factory disaster; that display is all-important when it comes to collections; that we search for stories (narrative personality) in the things we make; that I really, really, REALLY need to make time to make stuff. My brain/self/heart is ENTIRELY different from how it was at 10am”
“to create something; to recycle materials; to make cute bunnies”
What Have I Shared?
“memories of my dad; Some tips about sewing; Hilarity; A little more than I’d expected about my woo approach to naming things”
“time with like-minded people; stories; words”
“stories about emotional attachment to objects; past sewing history; my ‘bunny’history”
“giggles; the fund of making; stories”
“people ideas; people designs”
“laughter, memories, a happy atmosphere”
“Quite quiet today; shared what I’d like my bunny to look like; I suppose, thinking about what the story is about the way you decorate your rabbit!”
“My love of the colour ‘pink’; my sense of humour; my lack of expertise with anything practical!!”


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