Create something extraordinary

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Inspired the book A Life Made by Hand; the story of Ruth Asawa, today we bring you a story about using your hands, getting lost in stitches and mediating through making.

Ruth Asawa (1926-2013) was an influential and award-winning sculptor. This beautifully illustrated book by collage artist Andrea D’Aquino brings Asawa’s creative journey to life, detailing the influence of her childhood in a farming family, and her education at Black Mountain College where she pursued an experimental course of education with leading avant-garde artists and thinkers such as Anni and Josef Albers.

Inspired by the world around her, Asawa saw beauty in the ordinary; the webs of spiders, wings on insects, and drops of water found in the garden on the farm where she spent her childhood. She was always looking.

Delightful and substantial, this engaging title includes a page of project ideas such as how to make a paper dragonfly.


As you'll know The Shop Floor Project is all about the hand made and over recent years we've been developing our popular Craft & Kits Department, here are some highlights from the current collections.

The Hand Puppet Kits are back with five new designs added this winter; King Rooster, Sleepy Moon, Sun Harlequin, The Conjuror and the Wind-up Owl join the existing cast of characters.

We are delighted to see that some of you have been busy customising your puppets with all sorts of stitches, buttons and fabric. Shown above is King Rooster getting some embroidered feathers and little French knots

The film above shows the King Rooster being assembled.

Beautiful running stitch and bead-work on the Wind-Up Owl, see the film below.

"My hand-puppets began life influenced by Paul Klee's puppets from the 1920's (made during his Bauhaus era) and my interest in folklore characters. More recently, I'm influenced by figures from history. For instance The Conjuror (below) is inspired by Dr John Dee, alchemist and astronomer to Queen Elizabeth I. The design is covered in stars and adorned with red horns as some believed Dr Dee could summon the devil - he is also widely thought to be the muse for Shakespeare's master magician, Prospero." Samantha Allan

"I've customised the puppet with an Elizabethan style ruff in linen as all paintings of Dee show him in this attire and it gives a nice historical feel to the puppet"

"The idea for the Sleepy Moon design came from an antique grandfather clock in a shop window near my studio. I love the idea of the day turning through the clock, and the moon rising over a stormy sea and a star-lit sky. I put lots of little stars in the sky, hoping that they'll be customised by the maker with little stitches, perhaps in a gold thread, maybe someone will even appliqué a little boat riding the waves?"

The first maquette for the Sun Harlequin in the artist's home (above). Samantha starts with paintings and collage, then makes several fabric designs before the final kits are produced. The image below shows the Hand Puppet Kits in the Bauhaus design Museum shop in Germany "It's great to have them stocked in their spiritual home, as the idea first started with Bauhaus artist Paul Klee"


The Geometry of Hand-Sewing is a beautiful book and a must-have instruction manual for embroidery and hand-sewing techniques. It's a perfect partner to any of our fabric kits, or just a glorious thing in itself, especially for the cold winter evenings.


Some of our most popular Fabric Kits & Patterns

The Shop Floor Project commissioned the artist and children's book illustrator Lily Irwin to create a series of paintings and embroideries for our Fabric Star Kits.

A beautiful pair of designs include The Night Crossing and TheSnow Storm. Each one bears the marks of layers of stitches and collage, and our hope is that people will embellish them with their own sewing skills - perhaps whilst sitting by the fire with a hot toddy! Each kit contains: A printed fabric star, two sewing needles, thread, a length of silk ribbon for hanging and organic lambswool for stuffing.

Explore the city streets of London and New York with our DIY Quilt Patterns. Follow the instructions and make beautiful quilted maps.  Remarkably simple to make even for the novice stitcher, the pattern includes step-by-step instructions and recommended stitches for the streets.


If you're not into sewing, don't worry! We have other craft projects for you this winter...

Why not assemble metres and metres of paper chain garland with our kits (see them being made above)...

or cut out and build a toy theatre such as Pinocchio...

or perhaps pop out and assemble some Paper Crowns - watch them in action above.

You could build our cardboard wreath (above) and paint it, spray it or add pieces of foliage for a hand-made element...

or for something very different, why not try you hand at creating a Japanese Mud Ball?

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