Thoughts on newspaper weaving

As you have probably seen I went through a stage of weaving newspapers. There are some beautiful videos and websites from Russia, where there are brilliant experts at this craft giving tutorials. I spent many hours watching the videos and trying to listen and watch how the paper sounds and reacts. Was it strong, did it sound like wicker or was it just solid. I am a fool to myself, I always want my handmade things to be strong, survive any sort of handling but I also want it to feel natural and handmade.

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One of my newspaper baskets with lid. I make the separate liner and lace decor from recycled fabrics.

These are the things that I noticed when making newspaper woven objects:

The finer and tighter that you can roll your newspaper/magazine sticks, the stronger the feel to your weaving. Also it makes it easier to weave neatly if your sticks are tight.

The only way I got an object to feel and sound like wicker was to varnish the sticks before weaving. This took forever as each stick was varnished individually and had to be dried before I could use it. Then you have to be careful that you don’t weave too tight or the varnish will crack.

I did paint, individually, the sticks with watered down, 50 household matt paint and 50 water. Wove the sticks into a pot, PVA glued then varnished. This didn’t work as well. You have to keep the sticks pliable and damp as the paint really dried them out. Very messy.

I tried all ways, and seeing I don’t speak Russian, and I can’t find the die/varnish in the UK that they die their newspaper sticks with so I went back to basics.

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Recycled fabric liner with lace, ribbon and some beads.

Forget Wicker. You are weaving a paper product. I have sewing machine covers, baskets and pots that have lasted for at least 3 years now, that I have woven from newspapers. I have dusted them, and wiped them down with a damp cloth and they still look like they did when I first made them. My cats have slept in them and on them, I have stored alsorts in them and they haven’t fallen apart, cracked or looked disgusting. They have gone through winters in the shed, hot summers in the house and still do what I wanted them to do.

I personally don’t like the different colours, but I have shown how I painted white baskets in one of my tutorials using PVA glue here. I like my paper weaving to look like wood, which is how the paper started in the first place. Therefore I weave the paper into the basket and then hand it over to my partner who uses the Ronseal Quick Dry Woodstain, silk or satin (I did’t like how the matt finish looked). He painted the projct twice to make sure that all the little bits were covered.

To finish and make them special I like to decorate with beads, lace, ribbons etc and recycled fabric to make a pretty liner.

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I just hot glued the lace and flower onto this little pot.

I love newspaper weaving, and enjoy peoples faces when you tell them what the beautiful basket they are about to buy is made from i.e local rag, free paper or tabloid, the written word can be beautiful, even today!!!!!!!

 

 

Newspaper Wicker Weaving Sticks For Sale

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The props for this photo are, one of my basket lids, woven from the newspaper sticks and varnished, one of my book page roses and two bundles of the newspaper sticks for sale.

I have had so many people ask me how I roll these sticks. It does take along while to get the hang of it, and I wasted loads of newspapers whilst I was learning. But now, a year on, I feel I am quite the expert! So, for you crafters out there who don’t have the time to learn, or want to start weaving now without the bother, I am selling the sticks, already made, in my Etsy Shop.

I have seen a few other people selling these but most of them are shorter than mine. I would rather have less joins in my finished basket or pot.

And if you are local, contact me through my website and you can pickup your order without having to pay p+p! Bonus!!

The 1.5mm newspaper rolling rods, so you can roll your own, will also be for sale in the shop soon. The thinner your weaving sticks, the neater your weaving becomes.

 

Fantastic ‘Yarvest’ Gorleston

I had a stall at the Yarvest farmers market and craft fair at Pertwee and Back in Gorleston yesterday.  It was a well organised and well attended venue.  And it really boosted my failing confidence, I sold a few of my Rag Bags and Paper Weave baskets and had some enquiries for my workshops.  So I have booked for their next one on the 7th December!!!!  Thankyou everyone who bought something and hope to see you at the next one.

Unfortunately I was so worried about things I forgot to take a camera with me so I don’t have any photo’s of my stall and the fair itself, but here are a couple more bags that I made for it.  The total made eventually was 18, but my mother kept selling them before the day arrived so I think the total at the stall ended up being 12!!!

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Patchwork with lace insert

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With crazy patchwork heart

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Applique squares

I never make two the same, so they are all unique.  There a a few for sale on my website.  Now I have to make lots more as I have 2 craft fairs booked leading up to Christmas.

After packing all my goods ready for the fair I realised how lovely my studio is, for the first time in weeks it was tidy……………………. this is the room I am hoping to restart my workshops with loads of light, room and enthusiasm!

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But for now I must get weaving, sewing and creating and see what tomorrow brings!

What am I doing?

I can’t believe that it is nearly 2 years now since I went self employed.  I haven’t made any money and I don’t seem to have got anywhere with anything.  As you can probably tell, I am on a little bit of a downer at the moment.  But the last couple of years have been ups and downs all the time.  The only thing that is keeping me going is the time I am able to enjoy crafting.  But I am getting to the point where I am realising it doesn’t pay the bills or put food on the table.

One minute I am looking at a job website, then I am trawling through the craft forums.  I have invested so much money (alot to me anyway) and time and effort into this that something has got to give.  Christmas is around the corner again so I am trying to think about that too.  There just isn’t enough hours in the day.

My workshops are non-existent, even though I keep changing them to get interest.  I know the kiddies are on school holidays at the moment, but I haven’t had one enquiry so far this year.  I can’t reduce the fees as I am supplying all the fabrics, equipment etc as well as the tuition and they get to take the finished article home with them.  So I think the price I charge for a 2 hour workshop is reasonable.

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The little craft fair I attended last month is holding another one at the end of this month, so I am making my Rag Bags to fill the stall along with my paper baskets. This last week has been a lovely quiet, creative week in my ‘studio’ doing what I love most.

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My new Rag Bags are thicker, flufflier and (I think) alot prettier than my previous ones.  They are still made from recycled fabrics and are all ‘one of a kind’.  I never make 2 the same. SAM_1518After the craft fair they will be for sale on my website along with others I will be making working up to, hopefully, Christmas sales.

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I am going to be holding an open day for people to meet me, see my studio, see what and how I make my baskets and bags and to answer any questions they have about the workshops. It will be by invitation only,  so if you are local and would like more information and an invitation please contact me through my website.

I must start concentrating and stop going off at a tangent, and keep changing things and starting new things.  Perhaps that would help.  So it is just my paper weaving and Rag Bags from now on.  I have streamlined my website, cut down on my workshops to concentrate on Rag Bag making and decorating sessions.  Now all I have to do is sell ……………………

 

Thursdays Gorleston Craft Fair

It was another beautiful day weather wise, thank goodness. This is one of the reasons I keep saying ‘no more’ to craft fairs. Most of them tend to be outdoors and I absolutely hate, hate, when you have set up all of your beautiful things on your stall, including business cards and maybe a flyer or two, only for the wind to come along and blow everything away, or for it to rain and you are rushing around trying to cover everything or pack everything up that musn’t get wet! I have had to do this many a time. English weather is NEVER predictable, whatever the forecasters on TV say. But, Thursday was definitely a sun tan lotion day.

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Items ready for staining and decorating to add to the stall

It was a very small, quickly organised, not very well advertised, local craft fair. So small that there were only 5 stalls! We were outside, in a pub garden and semi-covered by a small marquee. We needed to be semi-covered as my partner had part of the table demonstrating how the paper woven items were stained and finished, and I could show how I made the small paper dollies. We didn’t want the marquee (that is rented out for parties and weddings) covered in wood stain. I make corn dollies from the newspaper sticks as well as the baskets and pots.

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Not many people attended, due to poor advertising. But this was the first craft fair that the organisors had tried to organise, so it is all down to experience and learning lessons. They are hoping to have the fair once a month, so I will see how they approach the advertising etc. for their next one before I book again. Although it is for charity, so I will see, I did make a little money afterall. Which is what it is all about, for me, at the moment.

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Even though not many attended I managed to get a bit of interest in my stall and I sold more there than I had at any other craft fair. And as far as I could tell I was the one that sold the most, which is a lovely feeling and gave me a much needed boost! Especially after the last one. At another, supposedly really organised, once a month craft fair, indoors, I sat there for 6 solid hours, getting alot of interest but no sales at all (also due to bad advertising). At this little fair  it was only open for 3 and a bit hours and I made my table money, and more!!!!

I also discovered, which always eludes me, how to price my stock. Unfortunately I have stock for sale on my website, at my original prices, and I can’t change them yet as Paypal are messing about with  all of their gubbins, so please keep an eye on my website as prices for my paper weaving items will be changing hopefully soon. Also, I found out that my Rag Bags were popular so I will be investing some time into making some more within the next few weeks.  I have loads of new ideas, which is one of my BIG downfalls regarding the business that I must address!

I think the little fair in Gorleston could take off in a big way if it was handled better. I am sure that the organisers will take this first one as a big lesson learnt and will make the future ones really good. They are hoping to have a craft fair once a month, so if they get more crafters to take part they can look for another venue. Hopefully an indoor one for the winter months and for crafters to have a Christmas Craft Fair. Good luck to them, and I will definitely advertise them here on my blog. Anything to help local,  fellow crafters!

In the meantime I now have more irons in the fire, regarding Tina’s Rag Bag. I ‘might’  write about it soon………………..  AND…………….I reached 1,000 views on my blog last Sunday, I am so chuffed. As far as I can tell I have 1 person in the USA frequently checking this blog. I would dearly love for them to get in touch. If  it is you could you contact me through my website ???? I promise I will reply.

But for now, to keep you in suspense, I must get on with my new Business Plan!

Craft Fair Gorleston

Yes, I know, another craft fair!  I keep saying ‘no more’ but there is always the hope that  someone special sees you, or buys one of your items.  So I will try again.  This time I am hopefully having 2 tables.  One table with things to sell and one table demonstrating how my items are made, with my partner showing how he finishes them. I will be selling some of my rag bags along with my decorated and lined woven paper baskets.  There will also be information on some of my classes.

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My table, in two halves!! (Photographed by my grand daughter Louise)I will have a cloth with a Tina’s Rag Bag banner on it. And I have lots of other items to replenish the table if I sell anything.

I think most of us crafters  make the mistake of thinking that everyone knows what’s involved with our different crafts, but they don’t.  If it looks like ….. it must be made like ….., so it should be the same price as …..!  Even if someone has spent maybe hours, lots of love and thought, skills and experience in producing a one of a kind item. People seem to forget that handmade means a unique item, no two are the same, EVER.  If it is properly handmade, its impossible. A little kink here, a little mistake there.  My motto is ‘its never perfect if its handmade with love’ and I stand by that.  My items are individually made by my own hands, therefore I would like customers to appreciate what I have made, regardless. If they don’t craft themselves they don’t have any idea of  how much time, experience and thought goes into a hand crafted item, let alone the worry and apprehension of showing them and hoping that everyone likes what we have made as much as we do.

So with my tables at the craft fair I hope to:

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show how to change these

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Into these

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Into small corn dollies

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Which when stained and decorated with ribbon and Norfolk grown lavendar can be a pretty little decoration.

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Or with time, patience and skill can be turned into something like this.

Anyway, the craft fair is next Thursday.

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I do hope that some of you reading this blog are local to me and will be able to come along.  If you can, please talk to me and let me know that you are reading my blog, that would be absolutely great.  The internet seems so impersonal.

So, after my disappointment with the Yarmouth venue I am keeping my fingers crossed with this fair, and I hope that someone comes along and appreciates what I do and can help me in my endeavour to carry on being self employed, doing something that I love and to be  able to enspire other people to have a go.

 

Not Happy!

Big disappointment about the Gt Yarmouth craft place I mentioned in my  post ‘Help For Crafters in Gt Yarmouth’.  I had booked a week starting 4th August, but visiting the place last week to have a look and see how they were doing I wasn’t impressed, and didn’t really want to show my work there.  So I have cancelled.  I have been assured that things will change, and that they should be organised in a couple of weeks, but I will wait and see.  I was so looking forward to having the opportunity of showing my baskets and bags and hopefully selling them, the ‘shop’ is in a beautiful location, lots of footfall and the building has a Dickension look (it was built around victorian times) with big round bay windows, I can see how it would look in the winter with lovely crafts, warm decoration and fairy lights.  But this doesn’t seem to be the vision that the people there at the moment have.  Such a lost opportunity to really help local crafters and inspire others.  Why can’t I find somewhere like this, I would be in there like a shot, since hearing about this place, and hopefully getting involved, I have had so many ideas and dreams.  Now I am going to be looking for somewhere of my own to make those dreams come true, I just need someone to believe in me and not just want hundreds of pounds rent!!!!!!!

Anyway, I have booked a table at a new local craft fair.  This time I will be selling my baskets and rag bags BUT I am adding a little twist.  My partner will be there also, painting paper woven dollies as part of an interactive stall.  I will write more about this tomorrow, with pictures, so keep watching.  I am not giving in that easy!!!!!