Pedddle chatted to two of this week’s featured stallholders, Claire of Taffled Threads, who specialises in hand-weaved homeware and accessories, and Sarah at Garage Glass Studio, who kiln-fuses glass to create colourful decorative homeware pieces, all about their small businesses and drawing inspiration from their natural surroundings.
Read their Q&A below to get to know more about them and their creative process and take a look at the gorgeous products they make!
Pedddle: We’d love to know more about your business and how it came to be!
Taffled Threads: I graduated from the Scottish College of Textiles in 1997 and after working within the Scottish textile industry for ten years, I took some time out to raise my family. Setting up my own business was the next natural progression and allowed me to be there for the children and do something that I love. I started at home with a table loom and now have a studio with two large handlooms.
Garage Glass Studio: It started off when my late husband and I lived on our narrowboat, opposite a stained glass workshop. We were fascinated by watching them work and were inspired to learn how to do it ourselves at a local evening class. After David sadly died, I continued making stained glass pieces. I used to spend my holidays at a residential adult educational college pursuing my hobby. There was a kiln at the college and our lovely teacher Meryl taught us about fusing. I learnt the basics and a bit about programming the kiln. I was fascinated and wanted to learn more…my love for fusing glass had been sparked. I went on courses to understand more and bought myself a small kiln. When I had a house full of glass and my friends were fed up getting glassy gifts I knew I had to do something, so I started selling at local shows. Garage Glass Studio was born and what started off as a hobby has turned into a profitable part time business!
Pedddle: What does your creative process look like?
Garage Glass Studio: Glass fusing is the joining of two pieces of glass in a with heat in a kiln. I use sheet glass, which I cut to size, and crushed glass, known as frit, in various grades. The temperature the glass is heated to is important. In a full fuse, the glass is heated until it becomes molten. At lower temperatures the pieces of glass are heated until they are just hot enough to stick together and retain many of their own original characteristics. Different effects also result from the reactions between the different chemicals in the glass in the heat of the kiln. I am inspired by the natural world around me in Yorkshire. My work is mainly figurative, as I use it’s qualities to try to replicate what I see in nature in glass.
Taffled Threads: I find inspiration in lots of different areas, but I’m particularly drawn to the natural world and the spectacular scenery around us in Scotland. I combine traditional weaving and tartans with contemporary twists but remain faithful to the time-honoured processes. I work with natural fibres and begin by designing on a computer software program. This enables me to see how colours combine together or detect any errant floats in the fabric prior to weaving. Once I am happy with my design I then weave a sample before weaving larger lengths of cloth to check for quality and stability. There are many stages involved in the designing of fabric, which involve a bit of maths, measuring lengths of yarn, winding onto the loom, pulling each end through heddles and a reed and finally tying onto the warp beam. The next – and my favourite – step is to begin weaving. Although hand-weaving is very time consuming, it’s also very rewarding. More information about my design process can be found on my website.
Pedddle: What do you enjoy most about selling at markets?
Taffled Threads: In the last year, I have taken part in online markets and hope to take part in real life markets in the near future. It is great to meet your customers face to face and talk about your products. It is always great to hear feedback and by being able to directly reach people who may not have social media can often lead to commissions or new ideas. I sell on on-line platforms but have also benefitted from word-of-mouth recommendations from my lovely customers. My products have gone all around the UK, Ireland, Europe and North America.
Garage Glass Studio: I love markets because I love meeting my customers and seeing their reactions to my work! I love it when customers smile when they see our products and want to run their fingers across the glass. I love to hear that they have been to a fused glass workshop and how much fun they had.
Pedddle: How has this year been for you as a small business owner, and what are you looking forward to next?
Garage Glass Studio: Pre-pandemic, I did sell online and saw it as a support for my main selling platform at markets and agricultural shows. As a result of the pandemic, I have concentrated in the last year on online sales and social media. Its been a steep learning curve!
As things open up again, I am looking forward to going back to the markets…online is all very well, but I want to see my customers again. I have developed some new products over the last few months and I want to see their reaction to them.
Taffled Threads: Like all small businesses, the last year has been incredibly difficult. I was fortunate to have designed a tartan to help raise funds for a local hospice, which kept me busy during the pandemic. I also opened up a Folksy shop as well as a website, and joined the Pedddle community to increase my visibility. Both Folksy and Pedddle are wonderful and supportive communities to be part of!
I have two new tartan designs coming out this year. Both have been officially registered with the Scottish Tartans Register. The Ochil Flora Tartan tells the story of the endangered sticky catchfly flower, whilst The Craobh (pronounced Kroove) Tartan tells the story of the Scottish Woodlands . I am also in the process of designing a new range of cotton scarves inspired by castles and a collection of textural woollen scarves inspired by Scottish wildflowers. I’m always keen to speak to potential customers about their ideas and work on bespoke commissions.
Pedddle: Finally, why should we encourage shopping from small and independent makers?
Taffled Threads: Small businesses are at the forefront of creativity and provide a personal experience as well as giving great customer service. I support small businesses wherever I can in my personal and business shopping. Behind every small business is a whole chain of other small businesses so supporting one small business means supporting several. Small businesses are also incredibly grateful for every single purchase and every sale is exciting.
Garage Glass Studio: Small is unique and individual and local!