Makers and Friends workshop: saying it in wire

I’ve been told a lot by friends and family how impressed they are that I make my own garments (see here) or made my own jewellery (here). I’ve mentioned to various interested individuals that it’s a skill that’s easily picked up once you know the basics, but I still get quite a few disbelieving looks. Luckily, I was recently contacted by Makers & Friends about attending a wire workshop that shows you just how simple some jewellery and craft projects can be.

Makers & Friends was born from a realisation that not all stalls at craft fairs sold handmade goods and sometimes being able to see the face behind the brand is something customers want to be able to do. To be able to speak to the designer/maker and understand how their brand came about, interest in the products they make and the process of making them, as well as the inspiration behind it. I’ve seen this at a recent silversmithing exhibit at the National Gallery of Scotland (see here) and I enjoyed talking to other designers about their craft.

The first pop up shop was launched earlier this year in Angel Islington and now for a limited time only (until 19th December), the Makers & Friends has come to Edinburgh! Featuring beautiful handmade jewellery, paper cut cards and skincare all made from local designers and makers, 17 Dundas Street is the perfect one stop shop for that special and unique Christmas gift. Just a short walk away from the usual suspects of high street stores on Princes Street and George Street, you could be popping down to the small pop up shop (in the basement level of what used to be Dickins Gallery) for some truly lovely handmade gifts.

Money kilt pins from Lynsey Marshall (En Stage)

Money cuffs by En Stage

Textile jewellery by Lucy Kenward at Oh You Handsome Devil

Rings handmade by our host of the evening, Zen Zhou

Jewellery by Catherine of Ellen Catherine Jewellery

Handmade vegan-friendly skincare products by Lucy of Lucky Cloud Skincare

These nourishing lip balm tins are £4 each, or you can buy a gift box of all 3 flavours (coconut, vanilla and chocolate) for £10

It’s a great way to shop for gifts when you’ve got a selection of different things to choose from. Not everyone will be after statement or beautiful jewellery, so to have a choice of practical jewellery pieces like money cuffs or kilt pins from En Stage or vegan-friendly skincare from Lucky Cloud Skincare is pretty amazing. To also know you are supporting a local designer/maker is a great feeling. Having my own experience of being recognised for my sewing and jewellery making skills and being asked to make things for family and friends is a great thing. I’ve been asked to branch out into selling my products to a wider audience, but for now I’m not at that point and I greatly admire all the independent designers and makers who had the courage and took the chance to put their creations out there for the world to see and buy.

At this pop up shop, we were given a brief introduction of the concept behind Makers & Friends, but our main purpose was to attend a blogger workshop and were in no way obligated to purchase anything that night. In the style of Carrie from Sex and the City, Zen invited us to the pop up shop with some very tasty nibbles and some Shloer to make our own name necklaces with wire.

We were given lengths of coated copper wire in different colours as well as a piece of paper and marker. Practice does make perfect and after it was explained that when working with wire, you need to plan how all your letters are going to join up as it’s one continuous piece.

We all practiced our cursive writing for some time before we had a go at bending the shorter length of copper wire into our own initial.

The tricky part is to do small curved areas so you need to use pliers for these bits, but the goal is not to grip too hard with the pliers as they can take off the coating from the wire and you’ll see bits of silver shining through your coloured coating. (If you’re intending on doing this more often at home, one trick I learned from jewellery making class is to wrap the tips of your pliers with masking tape so it doesn’t leave ridged marks on your metal. You still need to be careful not to grip too hard though otherwise you risk bending or thinning your metal!)

It didn’t take long before we were all absorbed in turning our longer lengths of wire into our own names. I’m more of a semi-precious gemstone, precious metal jewellery fan (like the designs from Ellen Catherine Jewellery) so with a bit of creative inspiration from Zen, I decided to change up my design to a business card/photo holder. For my first attempt, I think I did okay, what do you think?

I’m very pleased to have a piece of my own making now proudly displayed on my mantelpiece at home. Makers & Friends is truly a wonderful concept which introduces local residents to other local independent designers/makers who we might not know about otherwise. Before we left that night, I made sure to nab myself a tub of Lavender and Rose Geranium Body Butter from Lucky Cloud Skincare

If you’re interested in attending a workshop to try your hand at simple crafting projects, keep your eye on the Makers & Friends Facebook page. The Edinburgh pop up shop will be available at 17 Dundas Street until Monday 19th December.

Remember, when you choose to buy a product or two from a local independent designer/maker, they are doing a wee happy dance wherever they are so please help make their day a good one!

Thank you Zen for inviting us to the Say It In Wire workshop!

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