Meet the Crafters – Episode Three

/ 12 October 2019

Neil Marshall

Age: 52

Location: Stafford, Staffordshire

Craft: Metalwork Upcycler

About Neil: Petrol-head Neil loves turning scrap metal into something new and exciting. However, his unique business is struggling, and he may have to soon go back to a day job.

Website: www.uniquemetalworks.co.uk

Backstory:

• Neil has always had a passion for motorbikes and cars, and being a builder by trade he’s always been very handy. However, when he turned 50, he decided that he wanted a change in life and decided to take his passion for upgrading machines and turn it into his business.

• Neil gets all his metal from scrapyards and donations from people in the local area. He says he can usually tell straight away what he will turn a piece of scrap into and loves transforming something that would otherwise go to waste into a completely new product.

• His product line is extremely varied and ranges from mini aeroplanes and animals made from old springs and screws, to lamps made from gear cogs, to figurines and log burners made from old petrol tanks. He likes to do something that no one else is, and has an extremely unique product line.

• Neil says the majority of the work goes into cleaning up the old metal before constructing it into a new item. Most of his products can be made from start to finish in a couple of days. His products range vastly in retail price, with the smallest items starting at £25 each, the lamps ranging anywhere from £100-£250 and the largest or most complicated items selling for over £500 each.

• Neil sells his products at weekly street markets, but would love to do larger craft fairs. He says the thing stopping him from upscaling the business to bigger events is the fear that he will fork out for a stand and then nothing will sell leaving him out of pocket. He doesn’t think he is a natural salesman and finds this part of running the business most difficult.

• Neil needs to sell roughly £500 of product per week to stay afloat. However, this year has been slow sales wise and Neil is unfortunately having to consider going back to working as a labourer for a few months to get some extra income. He says he can keep going for a couple more months before he has to make the decision.

Wendi Trasmundi

Age: 50

Location: Mold, Flintshire

Craft: Glass painting, fusing and torch Artist

About Wendi: Wendi wants to take her craft to the next level by exploring larger craft fairs to enable her to sell higher ticket items.

Website: http://www.trasmundiglass.co.uk/

Backstory:

• Wendi originally started her career working in stained glass, but after having children life took her in another direction. It was only five years ago after her husband bought her a kiln and told her to ‘get on with it’ that she started getting creative again. She finally gave up her class room assistant day job a year ago to pursue crafts full-time.

• Wendi says her main focus since starting back up has been carrying out workshops where she can teach glass art, and then selling things she makes on the side to promote the workshops.

• Wendi describes the products she makes as “all sorts of weird stuff”. She started with smaller items such as coasters and tree decorations, and has since moved onto mirrors, wall plaques, lanterns and most recently robots. She says she loves making weirder and wackier pieces and finds part of the thrill is trying to sell them and see if people like them.

• Wendi says she feels like when you go to craft fairs, there are a lot of glass sellers, but she likes to think that her range of products makes her a bit different to all the others because she combines painting, fusing and torch work in her pieces. Her product prices range from £5 to £100+.

• The first craft fair Wendi went to sell her glasswork, she only made £50. However, she feels this has gotten better over time.

• Wendi thinks people at the fairs local to her aren’t prepared to pay for more expensive items such as her wall panels as she believes that these are more suited to an exhibition style venue, so this restricts her to sell mostly her smaller items at the fair.

• Wendi admits that she would find going further afield more difficult because of the long traveling hours and although she works hard to talk to people, explaining different techniques and methods in her work can be exhausting.

Olivia Goodwin

Age: 23

Location: Treforest, Pontypridd

Craft: Weaver

About Olivia: Full-time crafter Olivia wants to expand her business, but she’s never been to a craft fair before through fear of rejection

Website: https://oliviagoodwinart.godaddysites.com/

Backstory:

• Olivia is a passionate Weaver and Embroider, she loves creating tactile and sensory items. A lot of her pieces have elements of touch – like her handbags and wall hangings. Olivia creates pieces with fun fibres like banana and nettle, she calls herself ‘The Hippy Weaver’.

• Originally from Cheshire, Olivia has recently finished a degree in creative therapeutic art in Cardiff. Her mum runs her own craft business and taught Olivia how to knit and crochet. They would go to knit and stitch shows together. Olivia’s Grandma taught her how to embroider, and they’d spend lots of time making clothes together.

• Although Olivia buys her wool from her mum, they both have very different styles and tastes. Her mum follows rules and patterns, whereas Olivia crafts her own creations. She can create various items in a day, like scarves and wall hangings – depending on the detail.

• Because of Olivia’s dyslexia, her mum introduced her to weaving particularly as it didn’t require the crafter to follow patterns. Olivia fell in love with it. She has also learnt how to dye her own yarn, using bright colours to spark joy in people’s lives.

• Olivia has a part time job working for various charities, helping those with learning difficulties by teaching them how to craft.

• Olivia’s dream would be to have a permanent stand on a market or a shop whilst continuing to teach people with disabilities. She currently sells some of her items in a local café, and gets the odd commission through friends, but she’s not really got much of an online presence.

• Olivia would love guidance on pricing and how to reach more people. Currently she’s making coasters starting at around £5 for 4, along with placemats, table runners, sketch books, and scarves selling at £45. Olivia wants to expand her range. She’s recently started designing basket weaving plant pots, but isn’t sure what’s right for her buyers.

• Olivia is a qualified creative and therapeutic Facilitator. She also has a part time job working for various charities, helping those with learning difficulties by teaching them how to craft.