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"If you're crafty and you know it and you really want to show it. If you're crafty and you know it, Hobbycraft".
Seen the TV ad for Hobbycraft? The jingle grates, like all of them do, but it kind of sums up who the art and craft supplier are selling to - crafty people. No, not politicians but people who have an artistic or crafty bent.
Notice there's no men in the ad, that's because Hobbycraft see themselves, I suspect, primarily aimed at women.
Step through its automatic doors and you'll see what I mean. On your left there is a shelf of bit and bobs for doing tapestry or needlepoint. Straight in front, a dazzling display of artificial flora and fauna greets you. A big selection here, as I encountered when putting together a nice bunch for Mother's Day. Some of them are pretty realistic looking and not the 'day glow' variety that you can often see on the high street. They also sell sponges and wire if you're into flower arranging in a big way.
Walk around and you'll see stuff you probably won't see anywhere else for miles around. Arts and craft supplies in equal measure.
I thought that crafts like needlepoint and pokerwork died out in the 70s, but I am so wrong. It could be through people going mad for DIY and all that accessorising of their home, that crafts in every shape and form are well and truly alive and kicking.
Hobbycraft has enough stock to satisfy the arts and crafts professional (eg, artist, painter, designer, dressmaker, knitter, florist, cake decorator, picture framer etc) as well as anyone who wants to dabble in arts and crafts projects.
It is not just an arts and crafts shop. It's a world. Where do I start? As a flavour of the sorts of things they stock, here's a whistle stop tour:
- ARTS DEPARTMENT -
Everything you could possibly want in art and design equipment is here - watercolours, acrylics, oils, varnishes, palettes, easels and brushes galore. There even have all the accoutrements for specialist arts such as encaustic painting (creating pictures from melted wax) and Chinese brush painting supported by all the necessary ink sticks, brushes, paper and rests.
You'll also find pencils, charcoals, drawing sets, erasers, cutting mats and guillotines. On a recent visit I found that they were lacking in pens and refills for propelling pencils (but you can go to a stationer's for those).
It's great for paper and card as well as canvases and canvas boards. Card is available in various finishes such as woven or grained, and in all the colours of the rainbow. Handy if you want to mount a print or drawing yourself. They also sell the knives to give your mount a fancy bevelled edge.
A whole aisle is devoted to sketch pads, size, paper to support watercolours, oils, pastels etc.
To complete the picture, you can peruse an excellent selection of frames in gilt, aluminium plus various wood and paint finishes. There are box frames for framing 3D displays, frames for displaying multiple photos, and glassless ones for canvases or boards. Haven't got a picture? No worries - they have a selection of posters featuring masterpieces by the likes of Monet, Picasso and relatively unknown modern day artists and photographers.
Instructional books and videos help the beginner to the advanced involved in painting and drawing or various specialist arts and crafts pastimes.
Crafts of every sort are well represented. I found shelves of rubber stamps… card blanks you can create wedding invitations and greeting cards from… cardboard moulds you can paint or decorate yourself… beads for jewellery making… sequins… doll's house accessories… rolls of fabric… quilting, sewing and knitting accessories… scratchboard kits… painting by numbers kits… plywood models… airfix kits… jigsaws… mosaics… The list goes on and on…
- HELP!! I'M NOT THE ARTY TYPE!! -
What I think is particularly good about Hobbycraft, as opposed to high street arts and craft shops, is that they provide inspiration for people who need a bit of guidance. For instance, people who didn't study Art at school, lack the creative spark to create something from scratch but crave the satisfaction of saying they made that themselves.
To help them there are kits for things like candle making, soap making, card making and cross-stitch.
Free leaflets on projects you can complete yourself (from supplies available at Hobbycraft) are on hand.
In addition, Hobbycraft run classes in watercolour techniques, glass painting, greeting card making etc (which can vary from store to store) in a room upstairs.
Prices are generally average. Not priced higher than you'd expect in arts and craft shops and not cheaper either. However, if it's special offers you're after, look out for the bargain bins. Yes look out for them (they're placed in the middle of the aisles). Here you can pick up stuff like Christmas wreaths for 99p, painting sets at half RRP and end of line specialist stuff like glitter pens etc.
Finding what you need among the mountain of stock can be difficult and you may want to ask the staff for directions (whom I found to be both helpful and courteous).
Mon-Fri: 9am-8pm Sat: 9am-6pm Sun: 10am-4pm
-TO SUM UP…-
You don't need to be from the Women's Institute to enjoy this place.
Bored for something to do at the weekend that'll brighten up your home? Forget your DIY store on a Sunday afternoon… get on down to Hobbycraft instead. There's plenty of stuff here to inspire the whole family to get arty and crafty.
- NB, please disregard the criteria below which Ciao have provided for the website not the shop. -