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Once upon a time there was a little girl who sat on her Nana’s knee. Her Nana was a clever woman, who could make miracles with her hands; she knitted tiny baby grows for premature children, she cross-stitched birthday cards, and she did Quilling, Rugging, stamping. Her house was full of balls of wool, snippets of cotton and she always had a pair of safety scissors hanging round her neck. This girl grew up to be like her Nana; creative, arty and original, but all this girl wanted was the perfect place to buy all the things that she needed for her creations. One day, many years later, while she was driving through Newport, she found it – HobbyCraft.
☼ The HobbyCraft in Newport is like a shrine to all things crafty, people flock there from miles around to get their hands on specific shades of card, new knitting needles and Fimo. ☼ HobbyCraft is the first superstore to deal exclusively with the arts and crafts. Before now, this was mostly done by obscure village shops and the odd knitting shop which, due to fading interest, and rising prices, have all but disappeared; where my Nana’s wool shop used to be, now stands a “Bargain Booze.” This happened a long time before HobbyCraft however, which seems to be making craft fashionable again, which may in turn bring the smaller shops back. ☼ HobbyCraft claim to cater for 250 different types of arts and crafts, in my opinion it must be more; the shop is full of exciting and different textures and colours in every direction. ☼ HobbyCraft caters for all ages and abilities, along with demonstrations in the stores they have FREE leaflets on specific projects and a web site full of helpful hints and inspirational ideas.
►WHAT DO THEY SELL?◄
The supply almost everything that you could imagine to do with your hands, including everything you need to knit, sew, patchwork, draw, and paint. Even the more obscure crafts like Gilding, Quilting, Decoupage and Mosaic tiling are available. There are items here that you simply can not find anywhere else on the planet any more, there are dolls house chairs and quilling needles, there is flowery paper and framing kits – it is heaven for the creators! Some stores now have specific departments for the men in the family – a modeling department. Planes, trains, classic cars and busses, hours of fun in the shed!
Driving into the car park the true enormity of the building is realised, a huge blue sign above the double automatic doors reassures you that you are entering a craft shop, and not an electrical superstore. Once in side the shrine, you are greeted by a customer service desk, with smiling staff waiting to teach you “HOW”. Behind the guru’s throne there is a barrage of shelves, all numbered and labelled clearly with their contents. But before you can reach them you have to pass walls of pretty paper and lines of yellow “how to…” leaflets.
Once in the library of arts, stop for a while to consider where you are… You are standing surrounded by those things that you love; those things that your children can make into glittery calendars; those things that your husband can spend hours in the shed trying to glue together, or take apart; those things that mean you have the freedom to be creative. You glance upwards – Oooh a stair case, there is more! Through the railings you can see pictures, frames, photographs and puzzles. The only problem is, where do you start?
Firstly, you do not have to be a qualified quiller, a professional painter or an expert embroiderer to enjoy the crafts on offer at HobbyCraft. Most crafts are accompanied by a leaflet, there are demonstrations in the shop, and if you don’t think that you are interested, think of all that money you can save if you make your own birthday cards!? HobbyCraft also specialise in artificial flowers, wedding decorations, party kits (from balloons to making your own banners), cake decorations and dressing up. Surely there is something there that grabs you – if not, go to the store nearest you – you will soon be hooked (or needled – sorry) on something!
►WHAT’S THERE FOR THE KIDS? ◄
Children are naturally creative, there is currently an initiative in schools, at all levels, to encourage children to be more creative as it stimulates the mind for all kinds of education. Not only do HobbyCraft supply 1,000’s of products for children’s activities, (everything from safety scissors, play-dough and paint sets to stickers, colouring books and card making) they also provide lesson plans for teachers and leaflets on inspiring projects that you can help them with. This is all available on thier website - www.hobbycraft.co.uk.
Looking forward to your wedding day (two years ahead) you follow the signs pointing to “Wedding Crafts” directing you to the back of the shop. On the way you pass by excited children pointing at coloured foam, elderly women hunting through knitting patterns, and eager men heading towards the model section. – You always thought that shopping was a drag, a pastime that caused family riots, caused men and children to be grumpy, and usually gives you a headache – this doesn’t seem to ring true here though. You look around at bunches of fake flowers, which almost look like they smell. You see mountains of confetti, and tiny men and women ready to stand on your cake. There are undecorated favour boxes, hearts, circles, squares… and then there are the things to decorate them with, feathers, silk flowers (perfect for the dress) and glittering sequins.
Surprisingly not! Those favour boxes were a mere 60p. Coloured sewing cotton, which could cost up to £5 at a fabric shop, costs between £2 and £3. Sheets of A4 paper vary form 10p to 50p depending on type and quality The silk flowers range from 25p to £1 for a small bunch. There are of course, more expensive, high quality products such as water colour, oil paints or brushes, but there are cheaper versions available for beginners. Despite the good prices – there is no skimping on quality, and there is a guarantee on everything if you find a problem.
After ogling the rest of the store you have a moment of inspiration... Your friend is a fan of crosswords and quizzes, why not make her one up for her birthday? She's quite crafty, and insane – You grab a delicately decorated sheet of A4 with a plan to make it into a scroll containing the clues to her present – which will be alphabetical – and spell out SAM’S BIRTHDAY… right,
Stickers, Acrylic Paint Mask – of a cat Sequins
Balloons Ink Ribbon Tree (magic) HB pencil Dried flower Applique (a leaflet on it) Yellow cotton
Now to write the clues… Dedicated to my Nana, who’s talents at crafts have rubbed onto me – Thank-you Nana!