Metal Clay Expert, Designer, Tutor & Author
As I start to write this, it’s my Birthday. On a normal birthday, I usually celebrate by having a day out, or a holiday or at least a spoilt lunch out with Hubby with a glass or two of something, but none of that is possible right now and we are just over three weeks into lockdown. What a weird world we are in.
So instead, I’m sat outside with the computer watching a starling gathering twigs and debris from around the garden and building a nest in the Ivy bush that grows up the fence. That starling is preparing for a new family and new life and I can’t help feeling that when we come out of this situation, things will have changed, and we will be looking at a new way of living too.
For me, I was originally referring to last month as “Mad March” with back to back shows and classes planned for the whole of the month. Well this took a 360° turnaround on 18th March. Just about everything from that day on was cancelled. Well that threw me a total curve ball, as it did us all.
After seeing what happening abroad, I knew lockdown for the UK was imminent. I didn’t want to get caught out having nothing to do. My business is based on a farm so I headed up to my very spacious and jammed-packed studio to scoop up as much as I could ram into my car to bring it home. Now my dining room has been set up as a squished and compact temporary studio.
I make my living as an artist and tutor and with the loss of so much work in the coming months ahead of us, it was time to get creatively thinking about how I was going to financially support myself for the duration of this lockdown and the coming months of recovery that lay ahead.
Fortunately, I already operate online distance learning courses which I started in April 2017 so for the last three years these have formed part of my teaching and income stream. With so many of us being at home looking to occupy our time, this was the obvious area to focus on right now, so my hubby who works with me doing all the admin and computer stuff, began a new marketing strategy. He had to roll out and promote the classes once again.
In the meantime, I got to work pretty much straight away on a new online course that we are planning to launch on 1st May. It’s called High Force which is a project I recently taught at a conference. I’ve made a list of new projects too that I would like to turn into online courses so check out what we currently have available (www.craftworx.co.uk/online-distance-learning/online-distance-learning).
I have also used some of this lockdown time to keep busy finishing off some of my many UFO’s (Unfinished Objects). As artists and crafters, we all have those things we started but, for whatever reason, put them to one side and have never moved them on. So, it was good to have time to revisit those pieces and share a new love for them.
I’ve made some new little taster projects for later in the year when I’ll be at the Knitting and Stitching shows at Ally Pally & Harrogate teaching taster workshops.
I’ve written a magazine article project tutorial for Bead & Jewellery Magazine. I’ve also been asked to participate in some online competitions, just to keep us out of mischief. So, I’m not short of things to do.
I’ve a list as long as my arm of projects and ideas I can get on with, but I’ve also suffered with the frustration of this lockdown situation. Sometimes while I’ve had the best of intentions to keep busy, I sit down at my table with everything in front of me. I need to be creative, but my attention span lasts about two minutes and I find it hard to stay focused. I’ve ended up cleaning, for goodness sake and watching daytime telly which I’m really not proud off. I’m pretty sure I’ve not been alone there.
Today it looks like our lockdown is to be extended so I’m not going to waste any more days mooching about now. I’m going to kick myself up the backside and get productive during this time. While I can’t control the outside world right now, I can control what I do on a day-to-day basis. So, let’s dig deep and see this enforced stay at home time as an opportunity to do something productive, something new, something different and embrace the idea that change is good.
But for now, this Birthday girl, today, is taking a break while I enjoy a glass of wine in the sunshine and raise my glass and bid you all good health and happiness for the future.
Stay at home! Stay creative!
Editor of Bead & Jewellery Magazine
Who’d have thought that in 2020 we’d be confined to our houses until further notice and that we’d only be allowed out for essentials (Wine) and exercise (running as far away as possible to get away from the people we’re living with for an hour)?
Now I’ve seen many a post on social media saying "I’m a crafter, I’ve been preparing for this my whole life", but even though my stash is as much out of control as the next beader, I’ve found it hard to pick up my needle and bead all the fabulous things I know I should be doing.
I find my energy levels are up and down. One day I’m running around cleaning the house from top to bottom and baking up a storm, and other days I’m just slumped in a chair wondering how early is considered too early to crack open the fizz.
Moving on to a more positive note, I’ve found I appreciate my friends and family in new ways. My husband and I have had to pull together to homeschool our 10-year-old daughter, Milly and though it’s a challenge, and I’ve been tempted to bury him under the patio several times, she’s still learning things and is coping so well with the situation. We’ve also had quiz nights on zoom with friends, some of whom we haven’t seen for a long time, and it’s so much fun.
Now, as they say, the show must go on, and I do still have the magazine to work my way through. With the features to design and the projects to edit, so I’ve pulled on my big girl pants, put down that 9th easter egg and got to it. It’s been slow going, but I’m really happy with what I’ve managed to do, and I hope you like the sneak peek of the earrings I’ve made for issue 103 ‘Hot on the High Street’ or in this case Hot on the Online Retailers.
As we go through this, I think we all need to remember that whatever we’re doing as our new norm, whether that’s deciding what pair of pj's to wear today, lying in bed until noon or having that second iced bun, it’s all OK.
Everyone is dealing with this in their way and that’s fine.
Stay safe and well everyone!
Heather Kingsley Heath, designer of exquisite beadwork jewellery, author and inspirational tutor as well as being a regular contributor to Bead & Jewellery magazine.
Heather also creates designs exclusively as kits, often using components collected on her travels.
Sometimes the story of an idea is too big for just one design, so she writes books too. Her books are a way of sitting down and having a conversation with jewellery makers, some already well practised, and some, perhaps, just starting out with this new passion, each chapter revealing a new design, or a fresh way to use a technique.
For Heather, Lockdown looks like....
"With time to properly tidy up, next up was reviewing and restocking kits, and making a list of designs to get ready to be released as pdf’s. I’m having fun putting together little packs of the more unusual supplies that go with some of these designs too.
There is also, at long last, time to properly work on ideas and stories for the ‘My journal’ blog on the website so my friends can have a virtual cuppa and a read along with me.
It’s not easy to concentrate for long stretches, which the experts reassure us is perfectly normal in such stressful times; advising us instead to find they joy in small things. So between the work sessions, I’m rediscovering the hobbies I never usually have time for and getting a good workout digging my garden back into a cared for state."
Designer and regular contributor to Bead & Jewellery Magazine
At the beginning of Lockdown I probably wasn't alone in spending my time baking (I was very proud of my homemade hot cross buns), making interesting concoctions from items found at the back of the food cupboards, eating too much and worrying about everything.
My sleep patterns went completely awry and I found myself flitting from one activity to another like a butterfly. I had no concentration span and my 'get up and go' appeared to have 'got up and gone'. I gave myself a strict talking to and decided to do something meaningful and find a way to make myself useful.
My first idea was to start writing about what was happening, both in my world and 'out there'. I felt that it would be an interesting social document and would be something that future generations of my family might enjoy reading, to find out a bit more about their relatives who lived through this time. I am making notes on most days and writing up a week at a time
Then I noticed something on Facebook about essential workers getting sore from wearing their PPE. There was an idea about 'Alice bands' with buttons, on which workers could loop the earloops of their masks to save their ears from getting sore. I hunted around and realised I had lots of fabric offcuts from previous projects. It didn't take long to design a method to make them and after publicising on a local FB site the requests started coming in. So far, as I write this, I have made over 40 and most of them have new homes with essential workers.
My determination to finish my UFO (unfinished object) beading projects evaporated fast, but I have enjoyed my other crafting. With the help of a YouTube tutorial, I crocheted a rainbow. (Being a hoarder of craft gear has really come into its own as I had all the wool colours needed!) I decided to add some of the cheap Chinese crystals I had in my stash to represent rain, and I soon got an appeal from my daughter to make one for her too. They both hang in our front windows to show our support for the NHS.
I am definitely going to get back to designing and beading soon but in the meantime, if you are looking for something to do in Lockdown, checkout my Etsy shop at www.etsy.com/uk/shop/BeadiACDesignsfor tutorials to keep you going.