Workshops Past

About Me

There's no craft revival in this family, as it never left... thrift and creative enterprise have been a way of life for these working class, feisty women for generations. Borne from an inclination to make and create, Grandmother Violet & daughters Violet, Iris and June (with little Coral as a young onlooker, watching & learning) spent the '50s & '60s making everything from knitted-beaded bags which had a flow of local cockneys knocking on the door to buy to rejuvenated ballgowns, redesigned and rebuilt from the same fabric to be worn at many masonic gala dinners and family parties. The charismatic husbands played their part in making life safe, enjoyable and full of laughter, but it was the women who took the lead role in making sure that every piece of fabric, wool or thread went to use making everyone look beautifully turned out, despite a less than affluent background... the art of turning something into nothing and making beautiful things with inspiration rather than money.. An art which I plan to continue, the next generation of crafters, remembering the '50s and always learning from the skills we've been lucky enough to inherit from our sisters and mothers... ♥

Monday, 13 December 2010

Christmas Markets and Workshops ahoy!

Well the Christmas season is well underway and I should have shares in the mulled wine companies for the amount I've consumed already! :)

Some amazing markets have happened already, if you missed them where were you...?! The Can't Buy Me Love market at the Star of Bethnal Green last weekend was absolutely brilliant - loads of gorgeous stalls and a brilliant dj playing some retro and festive classics... picked up this beeootiful sparrow hairband from a stall known only as 'L' and who don't yet have a website or anything... so I will be looking out for their gorgeous bits and bobs again...

So it has become apparent that all of the Violet Iris Marmite Candles have sold out, thanks to the lovely people of Walthamstow at the Craft Guerrilla Weekend Emporium Xmas market two weekends ago, any donated empty Marmite jars always welcome (with labels intact please!), and you will receive a 10% off any purchase at the Violet Iris stall voucher personally from me to you!

We ♥ recycling jars!


Another Craft Guerrilla night I really must recommend is their monthly craft night at Ye Olde Rose & Crown in Walthamstow. The last one was Thursday 9th December... ten lovely participants spent a crafty evening grouped round the pub table next to a lovely big Christmas tree learning the names of jewellery tools and techniques, they created some gorgeous necklaces, earrings, bracelets, rings and made packaging to present their gorgeous trinkets ♥ Fun was had by all. Watch this space for more workshop dates in the new year!

Here are some pics of the lovely jewellery that participants crafted...


Don't fear - if you think you have missed out on the alternative christmas shopping market experience it's not too late! This Saturday at The Boogaloo by Highgate tube will be one final Can't Buy Me Love Market - a festive special! It's on from 12-5 and I will be there peddling my wares... come and stock up on cheeky handmade cards, fabulous charm necklaces and hand-made baubles!

Also... due to the overwhelming demand for Dot Cotton and Pat & Frank cards and badges over the last few weeks and the number of times I have left lovely customers disappointed after selling out, they are also now available on Etsy! at the same price as the stalls with very reasonable postage costs. Check out the lovely kitschy goodness and send a random 'Enders character to someone you love this festive season :)

Happy Festive Thrifting Lovelies ♥

Monday, 1 November 2010

Christmas Thrifting...

Okay so Christmas is a commercialist nightmare, barely have we embarked on November and shops are coercing us into buying gifts and decorations a plenty! So it might be consumerism at its worst, but it's also a chance to show our loved ones how much we treasure them! Now what message would we rather give to our nearest and dearest: "here's a purpose-manufactured smellies set from Boots (3 for 2!) which will gather dust in your bathroom" OR " Here's a beautiful one-off hand-crafted gift which I spent time lovingly seeking out and choosing for you"...? Hmmmm? Okay so the 'lovingly seeking out' part meant a good old mooch around some gorgeous markets and craft events, where browsing is punctuated with somewhat self-indulgent tea, cake, cake, tea, mulled wine, etc... and the chances of someone else buying your favourite Aunt exactly the same gift are minimal!

And if that's not enough to persuade you, don't get me started on where our hard earned money should be going... sole trader crafters who will plough money back into further creativity, or in the pockets of fat-cat shareholders at the top of the multinational corporations of greed...? Enough said.

So with this in mind, here are the details of upcoming markets at which I will be preciously arranging, and offering my wares to the lovely thrifting, gorgeous public... with all the live music, tea and cake and lovely lunches available at these gorgeous 'pop-up' events, Christmas shopping stops being a chore but a lovely way to spend time with friends and get out and about around London... enjoy ♥
  • Sat November 13th 12-5 "Going for a Song" @ The Amersham Arms, New Cross (right opp New Cross Station, from London Bridge or on the Overground)  Good food, great music and choc-full of vintage and bric-a-brac and hosted by the gorgeous and fabulously fun Rupert ♥

  • Saturday November 13th 7pm-late "Church Launch!" St Barnabus Church (Bow/Mile End) is launching as an iconic live music venue! There will be stalls and wonderous and eclectic music £3 tickets available now ♥

  • Sun November 14th 11-4 "House Clearance" @ Jaguar Shoes, Shoreditch High St. (nearest stations are Hoxton Overground and Old St tube) Trendy yet cosy, packed with some great bargains, why not make it a stop-off between flowers at Columbia Road and that Sunday roast which you deserve for even making it out of the house ♥

  • Sat Dec 4th 11-4 Craft Guerilla Christmas Craft Emporium (this also runs on Sun) @ William Morris Gallery, Forest Rd, Walthamstow. This event will be genuinely excellent with a great variety of stallholders. See the awesome Craft Guerilla site for their amazing workshops and events..

  • Sat Dec 11th: Bazaar @ The Star (Bethnal Green, nr end of Brick Lane) run by the gorgeous and glamorous Jet, this will be another spectacular market.

  • Sun Dec 12th 12-6: "Mistletoe & Silk" at the glamorous Beauberry House in West Dulwich. This event is held by youlovefashion and Cherry Picked Styling and will feature a tarot card reader, affordable beauty treatments, a charity auction, live music, a burlesque taster session and a catwalk show plus an in house gift wrapping service!Tickets are £8 in advance and include burlesque, live entertainment, a Christmas Cupcake and a glass of mulled wine ♥

Happy browsing!

♥Violet Iris ♥

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Identity - Sugar and Spice and all things nice...?

What are girls made of? Sugar and Spice and all things nice?

I recently did some reading (well I had to, but it was nice) about identity constellations. Hmm. Imagine if you could draw a constellation of all the things important to you and those things which make up your identity.. like a star constellation. Some bits might be further away - like they're part of you but not your 'core' and other features will be right in the middle as they are integral parts of who you are. Add to that a sprinkling of the people you're most influenced by, the people you depend upon and those who make you smile, and then throw in the things you just adore - be they trinkets, colours or experiences like kicking leaves in autumn or holding hands with your loved one.... and that's what makes us us. Oh yes. To quote the effervescent and infamous Jay from the Inbetweeners: Simples.

Or is it..? How many of us stop to think about who we are and what we are made up of? I emphasise who are, not who we want to be or wish we were. How many of us have the time to really reflect..? Do we value this as a past time or would we put it down to self-indulgent navel-gazing? I'd like to put that it's vital for our well being and our mental health... if we don't think often enough about who we are, we can find ourselves unrecognisable and this leads to us lashing out in times of stress or fatigue, denying or just failing to notice our true feelings - the nice ones (lust, love, admiration) and the not-so-nice ones (jealousy, spite, irritability, intolerance).

It seems, the more we think about ourselves (not to the point of obsession of course), the clearer the picture is of who we are. This makes us better people and makes us able to communicate better, we understand what we do and why we do it, therefore we understand each other better and have a more positive outlook on life... and we all live happily ever after.

 ♥ Happy Navel Gazing ♥

Monday, 11 October 2010

Thrift and Sharing...

"Thrift is care given in the expenditure of money, or the avoidance of unnecessary spending or purchases"

The art of thrift is a team effort that takes thought and creativity, A thrifty weekend has got me thinking.... I recently reduced my work contract to four days per week. I love my job, every moment at work is exhilerating and fun, but I also love my hobbies. Giving up one fifth of my salary in order to focus on creative projects and attain a true work-life balance has meant that thrift has become a necessity, but also a form of inspiration...

Friday night was spent with a valued friend who's company never lets me down. We hopped on the train and headed to Limehouse to Nina's Taza Express where we ate fabulous food and quaffed our own wine, courtesy of their BYO policy. The hummous beiruty and the baba ganoush were divine and we spent from 7pm until 11pm laughing, chatting, tearing bread and making approving noises regarding the food and our shared life philosophies... the gorgeous and attentive waiter gave us his best of what I like to think of as "flirvice", as he always does - cheeky winks, a dish on the house and some complimentary sweets ("sweets for my sweethearts") but plenty of privacy and discretion - the perfect customer service for two women enjoying a valued evening of each other's company - and this kind of service is rare and utterly fabulous - something which should be prescribed to all women in their thirties. A gorgeous evening, and thrift was achieved when the bill discreetly presented came to £8 each... I dare you to name me one possible reason for spending any more money on this kind of evening... cosy and delightful, it left me with a warm fuzzy feeling inside, the root of which I can't quite pinpoint, but it absolutely had to be either the company, the food, the flirting or the bottle of Martini Asti we shared to celebrate the arrival of my recent purchase, a 1970s genuine G-Plan cocktail cabinet (below)... but I'm pretty sure it was a combination of all four ♥

Saturday I had a stall at the wonderful "Going for a Song" market at the Amersham Arms in New Cross. Run by the charismatic and fabulously fun Rupert (see for his awesome blog which has a huge following) I managed to achieve yet anothe thrifty day. Stalls ranged from delicious rainbow cupcakes and hearty chocolate and peanut butter cakes, vintage finds, eighties clothes and books and records, meaning customers had a good ol' rummage and found some brilliant treasures! Whilst earning a few pennies from my own thrift creations, I made some gorgeous purchases.. this beeoootiful retro telephone for an absolute bargain... this is what I mean by Thrift being a team effort - we all play a part in recycling lovely things and by offering them at a fair price we all get to recycle and share these beauties. Yes it's easy to get sentimental and attached to belongings but when you scratch beneath the surface: is it better to pass something on to be enjoyed and allow someone to achieve 'thrift' and you to achieve a warm glow from seeing a happy punter, or better to go home with a few more quid in your pocket...?

I also found another thrifty buy.. this old M&S beauty was lurking on the stall next to me, and the lovely girls let it go for just three pounds, with no haggling needed! What truly lovely people ♥

On a final thrifty note today I will leave you with a gorgeous find which we can all have for a bargain price... I'm loving the 50s look to Morisson's value hairspray and it's only about 30p to buy, so we can all enjoy a thrifty beehive or two - some things we just can't find second hand, and hairspray is definitely one of them.

And last of all here's a brilliant cover of a lovely song, all the way from Denmark...

!Happy Rummaging Thrifties!

 ♥ Violet Iris ♥