Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Streatham - a Haven for Crafters

Shop in Streatham is a new local campaign and set of fun, free events to encourage the folks of Streatham to shop local and in particular to buy from our brilliant range of independent shops. 

Streatham has over 700 shops, was home to the UK's first ever supermarket and is reputed to have the longest shopping High street in Europe.  
But what does this have to do with crafters and those keen on craft? 

Well, I remember meeting a local designer-maker Gail Florio in 'All Aboard',  a charity shop earlier this year and having a great conversation about the joys of finding stuff for making in Streatham. She makes lovely tiaras and sources her vintage gems and materials from the wonderful range of charity shops Streatham has to offer. I happened to find myself in the same shop as her while sourcing materials for my mini mosaic hearts. Sadly I haven't had much making time in recent months but this was then in the hazy days of early summer and I had plenty of diary space to experiment and make things.  We agreed there are loads of fabulous charity shops in Streatham - Oxfam, Trinity Hospice, British Heart Foundation and Give a Little to name a few - the place is just an adventure playground for anyone who loves making and upcyling. 

Streatham High Rd is also good for the basics bought new. The 99p Store and WH Smith are of course handy but its also really worth supporting our smaller shops such as Unikob, a reliable stationers also on the High Rd and also their sister shop a few doors down which sells arts materials specifically.  These are two shops that I often spend time browsing and imagining all the things I could make. You can find all kinds of items in there that you won't see in the bigger shops plus all the usual basics. I ran an arts workshop in Streatham Library last Christmas for young children - a hilarious and brilliant experience and my goodness they were genius little creators that knew no bounds.  We made Christmas decorations out of found materials such as the usual yoghurt pots, bottle lids and cereal packets and I also found some very handy new materials at the Unikob shop such as glue sticks, sparkles and table covers. 

Sadly we don't yet have a designated art gallery on the High Rd (although check out Sprout  Community Arts based in the Furzedown area) but you could create a pop-up shop, maybe in one of the empty shops on the High Rd, but please let's pledge to shop local to prevent any more sad, empty spots. Also many venues are happy to host an exhibition to boost their footfall and profile. I ran an artists collective in Streatham called Yellow Bowl for several years and bars, cafes, pubs and the library were only too happy to exhibit our work.  We both brought new customers to each other and we made good sales too. This kind of project makes for a good partnership and that's what we need now to keep our community strong and sustainable in these tough times. 

There has also been a recent and welcome upsurge in the visibility of arts and crafts makers lately in Streatham. I've listed a few that spring to mind below. And before I sign off, lets' not forget the furtive and anarchic group, Streatham Ninja Knitters! You can catch this guerilla group on YouTube covering drab grey bicycle racks in the street with knitted coverings and then running off with faces hidden by scarves to maintain their anonymity. Wonder where these crazy ladies will pop up next?

Crafters to watch:
Streatham is full of great makers, far too many to list here but here's a few:

Earl Grey & Rose Cafe sell gorgeous contemporary jewellery at affordable prices. They also run sewing groups and rent sewing machines out by the hour
Image by Zara Kordas 
Flaming Nora - who runs local sewing classes

MooCat- Kirtsy makes funny and quirky things for kids such as sock monkeys and bedroom decorations.

Steve Glynn makes stunning mosaics - a must see.

Your Corsage - Anna makes, guess what? And she says she is 'corsage crazy'!

Nazareth Gifts - Yvonne offers sumptuous handmade soaps, candles and more.

Have I missed any of your favorite people and shops out? Probably.  Its my guess that there are probably thousands of unknown crafters in Streatham.  I would love to hear your feedback. Please leave your comments here and I invite you also to follow @shopinstreatham on twitter to join in the conversation with fellow Streathamite crafters and shoppers about the shops and places we love in Streatham.

Please also get out on the High Rd and buy your Christmas presents from the small, local shops. For some great local ideas suggested by Personal Stylist & Fashion Editor, Zoe Robinson have a look at her Gifts on a Budget Guide. I promise you, you will find some great gifts out there on our High Rd and you'll also be helping to preserve the heart and soul of our community. 

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