I joined forces with fellow designer-makers Gillian Elam and Linda White in 2007 to work together on selling and creative events as Seaside Sisters. We spotted a brilliant match with our collective love for vintage textiles, printmaking and skill sharing, plus our product aesthetics and workshop ideas fitted together so well.
We have known each other a long time but are not related, and we don’t live by the sea, but the seaside has made a big impression on each of us. Our crafts and workshops often have seaside or holiday themes, use colourful, mid-century and retro fabrics, or tap into nostalgia about the coast.
Seaside Sisters have run event workshops at festivals and venues including: the Eco Design Fair, Indietracks, Crafty Fox Market, Christie’s Multiplied art fair, We Make, Shepherds Falkiners, Handmade in Tooting, Craft Central, Got Craft, LV21, the Barbican, Kensington Palace, and the Vintage Festival at Goodwood and Southbank.
We tailor workshops and create bespoke ones to fit the themes of each event. For the Southbank Centre event in 2011 we focused on one of our obsessions that year – souvenirs. Festival-goers were able to make souvenir pennants from textiles and trimmings from their favourite era to commemorate the weekend and its connection to the Festival of Britain.
We created a series of social craft workshops called Crafty Pint, held in two pubs: Tooting Tram Shed in south London and The Stapleton Arms in north London. We kept the prices very affordable and had a great time filling these lovely spaces with happy crafters, long before craft cafes became such a commonplace thing.
In 2011 we had a week-long residency on the LV21 lightship at Gillingham Pier north Kent, running creative workshops and activities for families, making a Medway-themed signal flag treasure hunt, encouraging sharing of holiday memories captured on hand-drawn bunting, hosting a singing mermaid and radio workshops, creating installations, a seaside cabinet of curiosities and an underwater disco deep in the ship, and selling our handmade products from an onboard souvenir shop. Have a look at the video we made with LV21 while we were there.
For the Official Diamond Jubilee Pageant in Battersea Park, London in 2012 we were commissioned by Hemingway Design to design and deliver all the craft workshops for the event. We recruited over 30 volunteer assistants and created a 20m marquee full of activities, from sewing patriotic rosettes, to decorating hoops as people would have done for queen Victoria’s diamond jubilee celebrations, making decorative tokens, screen printing flags with combinations of dates, crowns and diamonds, and making crafts with recycled materials.
We have organised several exhibitions together, including two at Craft Central’s Showcase gallery space in Clerkenwell, London – ‘Souvenir Shop’ in 2011, and ‘Points of the Compass’ in 2012. These combined applied arts, handmade prints and displays of our collections of ephemera.
We’ve all been individually busy on other projects in recent years, but still work together when we can. For 2016 we have been asked to run workshops for National Trust property Smallhythe Place in Kent, Victorian actress Ellen Terry’s 16th-century home, and are looking forward to working with them in August.