Thursday, July 14, 2011

Meet the stallholders…coffee break with Eirlys from Scrapiana

It's our first birthday on Saturday and we are proud that many of our amazing stallholders are back for a fourth time! We really appreciate the support that they give us, like Eirlys Penn aka Scrapiana whose handmade strawberries were recently cover stars...

Eirlys at her sewing machine

Nice to see you again Eirlys. For those who don’t know, what do you sell?

I sell vintage haberdashery, plus textiles and other curiosities which take my fancy, and items I’ve made, usually related to sewing. My latest creations are strawberry-shaped needle-cushions based on historic sewing-box essentials. Strawberry emeries (as they were known) were used to sharpen and condition needles – which would have been very expensive and deserving of care. Emery, the filling, was an extremely hard dark sand mined on the Greek Island of Naxos from ancient times and used to grind and polish metal. It’s very tricky to locate these days, but I’ll be bringing some needle-cushion grit with me to the fair – in case anyone is keen to make their own emeries.

Vital ingredient

What are you favourite items to sell?

That has to be everything emery-ish because my handmade strawberries were just featured in new craft magazine, Mollie Makes, and have been attracting a lot of attention and interest. They even featured (obliquely) in this little film:

Eirlys' cover star craft!

 I’m now teaching strawberry-making at workshops this summer, notably at the Makery in Walcot, Bath (24th July) and at the massive Vintage at Southbank festival in London at the end of the month (29th and 30th). I’ll be offering some exciting new textile upcycling and mending events from September, so do keep an eye on my website for details:

What's you best value-for-money item?

They are probably my little ‘I love you’ labels which are terribly affordable at just 25p each. Customers buy them to sew into clothes to give loved ones, for example, or to make into little cards. My packets of emery at just £1 each are also great value.

Only 25p each!

What’s your favourite part of Bath?

The American Museum at Claverton (on the south side of the city) is a favourite local haunt of mine. You cannot beat sitting on the terrace gazing across the lawn and away across the Avon Valley for a real sense of peace. And for inspiration, I love to browse the quilts in the textile room, and the Shaker room artefacts (there’s even a strawberry emery in a Shaker sewing box!).

Why should customers come to “It’s darling!” this weekend?

You really have to come to "It’s Darling!" on Saturday (resistance is futile) simply because it will make the perfect start to the most perfect day. Nip round the fair early, scooping up the cream of the bargains, then zip round the Fashion Museum’s new exhibition, Dressing the Stars (including period costumes worn by Miss Knightley, Miss Winslet and Mr Depp), mooch around a few of Bath’s delightful one-off shops, then zoom up to the American Museum to gaze in wonder at Marilyn Monroe’s costumes (including the wiggle dress from her breakthrough film, Niagara, which caused one critic to quip that she had “a great future behind her”!), take tea on that terrace, then wend your way back down the hill to experience the Roman Baths at twilight (open till 10pm through July/August). Truly, a day fit for a star!

What’s darling in your life?

Well, my sons have both been conspicuously absent from previous ID! Interview answers. Not so little any more, my littlest is just leaving primary school, my biggest just ending his days of wearing school uniform. They are both beginning new chapters in their lives and I’m terribly proud of them. So much so that I may be stitching ‘I love you’ labels into their socks this September, and not just to embarrass them, though that’s got to be a bonus. ;)

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