This week we’re featuring three fabulously creative makers – Pedddle stallholders who are each super creative and make varied collections of products and artwork; Compass Rose Studio, Abigail Rose Creative & art by mr.
It’s more important than ever to support independent makers as small businesses recover from the pandemic, so we wanted to showcase creative makers who offer various types of product. Read our Q&A below to get to know them each better, find out more about their businesses, their inspirations, what they’re planning next this year, and how they really feel about shopping small…
Pedddle: Where did you first become interested in the skills it takes to produce your products, and how did you learn them?
Compass Rose Studio: I have always been interested in sewing, from an early age my Mum taught me and I loved making clothes for my dolls and teddies; very basic stuff. Later when I was studying, I made my own clothes for reasons of economy, eventually making my own wedding dress and my best friends’ too. I studied woven textile design and when I graduated worked for various mills around the UK and Scotland as a designer. I have always been interested in crafting and in particular the process involved in taking a piece of fabric and creating something from it. I don’t make clothes anymore but focus now on using the fabulous tweeds I designed to produce gifts and accessories for the home. Unfortunately, the mill closed, but I still have a small stash of fabrics I can use. It involves a lot of sewing small bits together and I like to use tweeds I am connected to, so buying in is not an option, so I have been looking at new ways to be creative.
During lockdown last year I had the opportunity to get my pens out again, after many years of hibernation, and spent some time creating some designs. I have always been interested in Celtic knotwork and went back to this as my inspiration. I had my designs printed onto some organic cotton and these new fabrics have given me a chance to see a different way forward with my products. There is always some tweed involved because I love woven fabric so much, and I hope it will always be a part of any collection I develop.
Silkscreen printing is also something I have been experimenting with. I learnt the basics back in the 80’s when I was doing my degree, but YouTube is a wonderful resource and with the help of that I have manged to design 3 screens. I have been using these screen in a variety of ways to create more unique products. I firmly believe that you should just give things a go; sometimes they work and sometimes they don’t. When I did my first screen prints the results were mixed, but a quick chat with a friend made me realise where I was going wrong and now my printing is much better, though still a work in progress.
My husband is also part of the Compass Rose Studio team – self taught, he creates some amazing pieces out of reclaimed timber. Driftwood used to be his thing but he found that what he could make with foraged wood from the beach a bit limiting. He always likes to be developing ideas, making something new and different. Like me, he uses YouTube and has spent a lot of time researching how to make homemade wood stains. His workshop is like a chemistry lab and the results are amazing and environmentally friendly. Vintage maps, nautical charts and old stamps have all been used to enhance what he makes, with more upcycling. With years in the Navy he has a strong connection with the sea, which is reflected in what he makes and was the driving force behind our brand name, Compass Rose Studio.
Abigail Rose Creative: I have always enjoyed making things with my hands! It probably started when I was a child, watching my mum sew or craft. Then through education I just wanted to sit in the art room and dream up ideas; sketch, paint and make something out of nothing.
I got particularly obsessed with embroidery when I was struggling with my mental health a few years ago. Being able to focus my mind and hands on something that I could make simply with thread and a needle made me feel calm and content. When I completed my first project I became hooked and just wanted more! I taught myself, asking anyone who knew how to stitch questions about their different methods, researching through books, following other stitchers on social media, and sometimes just making it up as I go!
I’m always learning new ways to stitch and just want to share my love for embroidery, making something with your hands and how calming that can be.
art by mr: I have always been interested in art and would paint flowers in the garden with my Gran when I was a child! When I was travelling a few years ago, I was determined to get back into drawing and painting as it was such a passion of mine; then in 2015, I started taking on commissions and producing a limited amount of stock – the rest is history! All of my inspiration comes from nature and my time spent travelling over those years.
Pedddle: What’s next for you in 2021?
Compass Rose Studio: I am hoping that once lockdown eases I will be able to attend local markets and get some feedback on the new products. Ideally, we want to open the studio up for some workshops – that was always the plan, to encourage visitors to come to us so they can see the full range that we make, including the large pieces my husband makes, which we always struggle to transport and display at markets.
I am working on some new screen prints to compliment the fish and hare designs, plus some printed designs that are a little more abstract but still use Celtic knotwork as my inspiration. I just launched my new tin mugs on the website and will be adding more designs to this collection in the next month or so. I have looked to the sea and our beautiful garden for ideas and am excited to see what I come up next!
There is also the possibility of creating some new woven fabrics to complement the prints. It’s very much a long term goal but something I have been planning for a long time – I love tweed!
Abigail Rose Creative: I have been working on a new range of embroidery kits based on my love of books, especially classic literature. I base each design around a quote from a book or author. The first two designs have quotes from Anne of Avonlea and Pride and Prejudice. I often surrounded the quotes with flowers and relevant objects too. There will be a new Jane Eyre design and more Jane Austen, as she is a favourite, soon!
Each of my kits comes with absolutely everything you need to create the final design yourself, plus they are all great for beginners because I include a detailed step by step guide with ‘stitching how to’s’. I am really looking forward to being able to take these new embroidery kits to markets this year!
art by mr: I have just relaunched my shop with a range of new products, including sunflower enamel pins, vinyl stickers, birth month flowers, patterned greetings cards, tie dye tote bags and, my favourite, posters – a mushroom design and a cephalopod design.
Pedddle: We are huge champions of independent businesses across the UK, and love being able to support the creative community with what we do. In your opinion, why is it so important to shop from independent and local businesses?
Compass Rose Studio: There are so many reasons to shop locally – it supports creativity, it keeps your money in your local economy, you know exactly where the product comes from and that it is made with love, passion and sustainability. The environmental and social benefits alone should make us all look at where the things we buy actually come from.
By supporting an independent maker or a small shop you are making an informed choice, and the purchase is much more personal as a result. Independent makers and small local shops are vital as an antidote to the mass produced goods we have these days. Don’t get me wrong, like everyone else I am seduced by the ease of shopping from the big online retailers – I live remotely, so it’s convenient and to have that choice at your fingertips is great. However, I try to balance these types of purchases against those I make to support the independents. I love a market because there’s always a chance to chat with the people who have made the product, find out about their process and share in their passion for what they do. You won’t get that from a big retailer no matter how customer-focused they might be.
I know that lots of people, especially in these difficult economic times, will look at a mass produced product against something handmade or locally produced, and think they only have one choice – to buy the cheap thing. We are all tempted, but I hope we can become more selective, buy less and be more connected to the products we choose. It should be a love and need rather than a want. When someone buys from me or if I buy from another maker, I like to think we are all doing that happy dance and it’s lovely supporting one another.
Abigail Rose Creative: Shopping small is so important, not just to support the people behind the small businesses but because it’s often more ethical and its environmental friendly too. When you shop local you reduce a product’s ‘travelling miles’, and support your local area’s economy too. You’ll never find better customer service that with an independent shop owner and you make them extremely happy when you purchase something from them, which is a great feeling for us all!
The work and craftsmanship that goes into what small and independent shops create is also far superior to anything you’re going to find at your local supermarket. Pluss you’ll always find something unique from small businesses that you won’t be able to get anywhere else!
art by mr: Small and independent businesses are what keeps everything going! Buying and supporting these businesses directly impacts individuals – big companies just want to make sales and that’s it, it only benefits the richest. Over the past year, through Pedddle, real life markets and online markets, I have built such a supportive network – so if I can buy from these people (who also buy from me!) I will 100% support them over a larger business.
I can guarantee the quality of your product will be better from a small business, from jewellery, ceramics, to prints, even down to coffee!
Pedddle: In person markets and events are back now that Covid restrictions are lifting, which will hopefully help us all to shop locally more easily. Do you have a favourite market, and if so, why?
Compass Rose Studio: One of my favourite markets used to be Inverurie Farmers market, which has temporarily closed due to Covid. It was very friendly and we all mucked in to take it down at the end. You could buy some great meat, bread and other local produce.
For a great “craft” type market, Exclusively Highlands Events are full of local Scottish makers and food producers, with fabulous venues too in many of the spectacular castles we have in the area.
On top of that, there’s a great opportunity to buy from local creatives at the fantastic North East Open Studios (NEOS) event, which happens each year in September and showcases the amazing wealth of talent in this part of Scotland. There are lots of these events across the UK and they are well worth looking out for.
Abigail Rose Creative: My favourite market is the Autumn artisan market at Haddon Hall (and any of their markets really – they run seasonal ones throughout the year). I always loved going to them as a visitor and even more so now as a stallholder. The atmosphere is always lovely, no matter the weather! It’s such a gorgeous setting, there’s always live music, a great variety of stalls and food vendors and you always meet such a brilliant bunch of people too. Haddon Hall put so much effort into making fantastic markets for both their visitors and the stallholders. I can wait to be back there again in May!
art by mr: My favourite market is Flea London in Vinegar Yards London Bridge! It’s a very relaxed market with a range of different stalls, right next to drink and food stands – a one stop shop. All the other makers I’ve met there have been lovely and it’s quite a little community. I’m booked in there once a month, including the first weekend back, Saturday 17th April. I can’t wait!