Pedddle chatted to two of this week’s wonderful featured traders: Felt Creative, who creates decorative wooden letters and fills them with colourful feltballs to create an interesting texture, and Bay Tree Arts, a mother and daughter team that work together to design and create beautiful stained glass pieces, sometimes incorporating reclaimed wood.
Both businesses are dedicated to sourcing their materials with the highest care and attention and we were excited to get to know them a little better! Check out their Meet the Maker Q&A below to learn more about their small creative businesses.
Pedddle: Tell us a little bit about your business!
Bay Tree Arts: We are Bay Tree Arts and we design and make small stained glass gifts and home decor. We are a mother and daughter team, Gloria and Allison Biggs, working from our home in Pocklington, at the foot of the Yorkshire Wolds.
Gloria is a stained glass artist, Allison is an artist. Gloria trained as a stained glass artist over 25 years ago and qualified as an adult education tutor shortly after that. She taught evening classes for a few years at various schools in York, did talks and demonstrations and sold at some craft fairs. Allison came in just a few years ago to undertake some of the design work, help with the simpler parts of making, and carry out finishing off and painting on our more complex items. The plan is for Allison to be fully trained up in the near future, but for now, she still has a full-time job.
Felt Creative: I started Felt Creative last summer and wanted something that was purely just for me. It started as crafting in the back bedroom in the evenings whilst my husband trained on his bike and the little one slept. It swiftly escalated as I started having more and more ideas and more people became interested in buying what I produced. By the end of the year, it had become more than a hobby and I was spending all my spare time completing orders and making reels/tiktoks!
Pedddle: Where do you find inspiration for new pieces and how do you bring them to life?
Felt Creative: I am very much inspired by my 3 year old son and many of my ideas come from day to day life with a toddler! My most recent product is a reward start garland to help us with endorsing good behaviour and rewarding achievements. Excitingly, I am just perfecting a brand new finish to my shapes and letters that is beyond brushstrokes – it is a professional finish that is so exceedingly tactile! I have spent months, blood, sweat and tears in obtaining the quality of the new finish and I am so excited by these new products. My beautiful plywood banners are curated from a fellow small business and adorned with my designs and beautiful 100% wool feltballs made in Nepal.
Bay Tree Arts: When we have a design idea, the key is to draw it up so that it can be made with stained glass. Each piece of glass is cut out by hand then self-adhesive copper foil is applied to each piece of glass and it is put together again like a jigsaw. Gloria then solders each item, washes and polishes them and applies patina to some to change the colour of the finish. Allison then applies finishing touches.
We enjoy making birds and boats to stand on wood. We’re sometimes lucky enough to be given some lovely driftwood, which we make good use of. We also use wood from our own garden prunings, from asking tree surgeons on our road and popping our heads into shops where work is being carried out. We never buy wood, as it is kinder to the planet to re-use. Sheets of glass arrive packed in rolled up corrugated cardboard which we re-use. When we order or buy anything wrapped in bubble wrap, expanded polystyrene sheets or tissue paper, we re-use this. We also try to re-use boxes. We do need to buy wrapping and boxes too, and – being delicate stained glass items – it is virtually impossible to pack plastic-free, but we are trying to find ways of being more environmentally friendly.
We are inspired by the coast and our lovely local countryside. We also love animals and birds. One of our most popular items are robins on wood. We also custom design dogs and are about to promote this more in the near future!
Pedddle: Have you been back out to markets since they started to open up?
Bay Tree Arts: We started to attend a local artisan fair in the first weekend of September and after three years, I decided to concentrate on holding an open house event for a couple of days each year instead. Gloria also supplied stained glass gifts to a variety of local shops, stopped teaching at schools and instead started to teach small groups at local venues, and one to one tuition from home.
In November and December 2019 we attended fairs at Scarborough Market Hall and York St Sampson’s Centre. We had a great time at both, even though we were absolutely exhausted! We booked to do St Sampson’s Centre again in 2020 but of course it didn’t happen. We will hopefully be able to attend a live event again in November or December this year.
Felt Creative: I haven’t been out to market since I left my corporate job in April to focus on changing the business to a high quality production and stock led establishment. I can’t wait to bring my products to market, to meet customers and engage with everyone who’s out and about!
Pedddle: What challenges have you faced due to the pandemic? Have you learned any new skills since?
Felt Creative: I have actually had to adapt more coming out of the pandemic – more people are getting good at reels, less are spending online now they can get out and about etc. I realised I needed to change up the business to make it something I can draw a true wage from, rather than being a side business, so I have spent time scaling up.
Looking to the future, I am launching with Friends of Joules this month (so exciting), I am looking at moving wholesale focused and have lots os exciting new shapes and DIY Craft kits coming this summer!
Bay Tree Arts: The pandemic has led to a greater focus on building our business and our brand. We have designed a logo for stickers to seal inner packaging in our boxes, and on everything including our Facebook page, Instagram page, Etsy shop, website, and business cards. We have learnt a lot of new skills including marketing, product photography, brand building and social media. We still have a lot to learn though.
In October 2020 we had the opportunity to sell online at the At Home with Country Living Christmas pop-up event. In order to take part, we needed to provide a discount code which our website couldn’t do so we started to use our Etsy shop. We first opened the account with Etsy in 2011 but never used it. It has taken a long time, but we actually now have a business that we plan to develop and grow.
We really enjoyed taking part and had a lot of success with sales. Hopefully they are doing the same again this year, and after a couple of years of not doing so, we hope to hold our open house event again later this year.
We predominantly sell on Etsy. We also sell locally by posting to a local Facebook group then arrange for buyers to collect from us (Covid-safe of course). We have a website and this is currently being re-built in the background ready to launch properly before the end of summer, although we do still get the occasional order from there so it’s time to make sure it is updated and regularly refreshed and marketed alongside Etsy.
Pedddle: Finally, why should we encourage shopping from independent makers?
Bay Tree Arts: It is so important to shop small to support sole traders online and in-store. Small independent businesses are the lifeblood of the high street – we are very lucky to be in Pocklington, where most of the businesses in the town centre are independent. We love to support our local businesses and our fellow Etsy sellers in the UK. We are also members of the Just A Card campaign. It is also important to buy from artisans to keep these skills alive, and to reduce reliance on disposable gifts.
Felt Creative: Not only are you helping someone live their dream, you are funding the economy local and national in a truly wonderful way. It is a heart felt way to shop!