Crafty Things is an unusual charity design collective, producing a range of appealing interiors products and personal accessories from their base in Rubislaw Church Hall. Although some of the members have disabilities, they produce really well made products and already boast an international clientele.
‘Crafty Things started as a project funded by Aberdeen Council many years ago, but has been run by a team of volunteers for the past five years. Many of our members have been here since the beginning and it gives people a chance to meet and chat away while working on products’, explained Joyce Tweed, a founder volunteer.
The group, which gets no outside funding whatsoever, meets twice a week, with around six or seven enthusiastic clients each day and a bank of dedicated volunteers. The atmosphere in the studio is genuinely warm and affectionate as the members work on creating their gorgeous home and personal accessories surrounded by a neatly organised rainbow of Harris Tweeds, tartans and trimmings. They make thoughtful gifts, whether for a friend or for keeping. The sales fund the group, so customers are not only getting a delightful, well-made product, they are also supporting a good cause.
Jan Pearce, a textile and fashion designer who volunteers with Crafty Things added, ‘We make everything from tweed covers for diaries, passports, tea cosies, dog leads and collars, phone covers as well as handbags and corsage brooches. Our most popular line is our Scotty Dog cushion.’ Because of the combinations of fabrics, each product we make is unique. No two Scottie Dog cushions are the same, and many of the customers seem to end up naming their dogs.’
‘When we’re adding a new product to the range, we meet to discuss ideas, drawn from trends, new fabrics and customer feedback. When we’re designing, we try to keep our products simple, because that way we know we can produce goods to a professional standard. Everyone who’s part of Crafty Things can make all of our products, which is really important. We design for practicality, but our range also looks great and is top quality, because each product takes a while to make.’
Joyce Tweed enthused about why Crafty Things is so special and worthy of support, saying, ‘People who come here get a great sense of achievement from every stage of their work. There are very few places where people with disabilities can go to learn new skills. Not only is there a supportive atmosphere, with plenty of company, but it’s a safe, social place to meet, where people can chat or discuss problems while they work. Everyone is treated the same, which is important.’
Jan added, ‘Because the products are so good, we have a number of very supportive local stockists and people have bought items from as far afield as America, Australia and Canada. We even take commissions if a customer wants to have a piece made in a particular tartan or tweed.’
As well as the Crafty Things Facebook page, you can buy their products at Touched By Scotland, Starfish Studios in Johnshaven, Proper Clobber in Stonehaven, Eden Flowers in Aberdeen, The Pitscurry Garden Project near Oyne and Mither Tongue in Keith. You’ll also find Crafty Things stocked in Georgian Dress Hire and Phillip King, both of whom donate surplus kilt tartan to the project. Prices range from £7.50 for a corsage to around £70 for a handbag. The Scotty Dog cushions are around £45 each.
As yet, Crafty Things don’t have their own website, but they’d love to hear from a volunteer who could help with this.