What makes the gift list money can’t buy so special? The Make Blog calls on some of its favourite artists and designers to explore the magic behind giving and receiving the home-made way…
Isabella Strambio, macramé and natural dyeing expert
“One of my favourite gifts I have received was made by my husband. It’s a black and white sketch of our family, and it captures a special day we had in the forest together soon after we moved from London to the country. Hidden within the drawing are all of our names. It hangs in our kitchen amongst our girls’ best drawings.
Last December I made a macramé wall hanging for my niece. It is made from recycled cotton and it’s one of my favourite things I have ever made. I made it two days before Christmas and the design just came to me while I was making it. She is going to take it with her to uni – it is so lovely to know it means so much to her.”
Emma Block, illustrator
“I tend to be the creative one in the family, so I make home-made gifts for people, but I don’t often receive them. My auntie Jan, who was really my granny’s friend and my father’s godmother, was very creative. She made me a set of old-fashioned nighties when I was little, which I absolutely treasured. I can still remember the patterned pastel flannel and the little plastic buttons shaped like sheep and ducks. They were so beautifully made, with little round collars and ruffles around the cuffs. I loved books like The Secret Garden and A Little Princess when I was younger, and these nighties felt like they were straight out of a storybook. When I grew out of them they were handed down to my cousins.
As an illustrator I often create paintings for close friends and family for special occasions. I did a family portrait for one of my friends for her 30th birthday. Her son is now two and every day he points at the framed painting and says ‘mamma, dadda’ and kisses the picture.”
Sarah Louise Matthews, paper engineer and
paper cut designer
“Last year I was given a beautiful home-made ceramic candle holder by a lovely friend who I went to college with nearly fifteen years ago. It’s decorated with a pink glaze and has a dashed pattern in the glaze, with the dashes revealing the natural colour of the ceramic below. It’s so unique and perfectly imperfect, just enough to have that special handmade touch. It’s currently on a bedside table in my spare bedroom, but I want to have a little re-shuffle and bring it downstairs. Every time I see it I think of my friend, which never fails to bring a smile to my face. There’s something inherently precious about something that has been made with love.
Last year I made my mum some papercut artwork to hang in her living room. I made it by cutting and layering different coloured papers to create three bespoke, coordinating abstract pieces of art. She was so pleased with them and proudly shows them off to all her guests!”
“Being a sentimental crafter I have created a long list of things for friends and family. For my husband’s 30th birthday (a little while ago now…) I tried my hand at papercutting, and it turned out I was quite good at it! I created an A2 design (ever the ambitious designer!) featuring all the things he loves – including a bear in a hat driving a fast car and a bowl of biryani.
The most important handmade gifts I have received are my bear and crocheted square from SiMBA (Simpson’s Memory Box Appeal). When our son Bertie died, our world came crashing down around us. We spent time with him in the hospital, but nothing could prepare us for that grey moment leaving empty handed without our baby. Luckily the bereavement midwives were incredible. A few days in they brought a box to us, it contained a few items including some pairs of identical handmade bears and crochet squares. The idea was you leave one with the baby and you keep one. I clutched that bear as we left the hospital, and he now sits on my dressing table. I’ve never named him, we just call him ‘Bertie’s bear’. Art and craft can be so powerful. Making and gifting can be such an incredible show of love.”
SiMBA is a remarkable charity. If you can crochet, knit, or sew, you can volunteer your skills to help them. For more information please visit http://www.simbacharity.org.uk