Image: Writers' Houses Fabric Kit: Beatrix Potter's Hilltop Farm.
The Shop Floor Project was founded in 2006 by Denise Allan and Samantha Allan (mother and daughter) with the aim to design, develop and source collections of the highest craftsmanship from makers and traditional manufacturers. As well as finished goods, the Project also sells DIY kits, which were hugely popular during lockdown. In response, for Christmas, they have created new embroidery kits - alongside their popular puppet kits - inspired in part by Natalie Chanin’s new book, The Geometry of Hand Sewing. We talked to Samantha about the appeal of hand sewing.
What was the creative spur for your new kits?
When the lockdown first hit, we were overwhelmed with orders for our Fabric Kits. Meditative and fun, they take us away from our ourselves and ask us to live in the moment, stitch by stitch. We have given this department a special focus this Christmas, and it’s all inspired by one beautiful book; The Geometry of Hand Sewing. New and ground-breaking, it is an instant classic. Natalie Chanin and her colleagues at The School of Making have been practicing and teaching hand-sewing for many years. Along the way, they had an epiphany: all stitches, whether simple or complex, are based on a grid. When you break a stitch down into a grid, everything is simple. Anyone can learn. This year we will be selling an Embroidery & Embellishment Starter Kit to compliment the book and all our fabric kits. The kit will contain all manner of notions and the threads in the kit will come from a family-run mill in Virginia who have been manufacturing special threads for fifty years. Their motto is ‘Threads visualise thoughts.’
What was the inspiration behind your collection of Hand Puppets?
I have sketches and sketches of ideas for hand puppets pinned on my studio walls. I blame this obsession on a book I was given five years ago; Paul Klee, Hand Puppets. This large catalogue archives over thirty hand puppets which the Bauhaus artist made for his son, Felix between 1916 and 1925. I’m fascinated with the way the puppets combine domesticity and art, folklore and politics, textiles and paint. My folk-characters are invented versions of some favourite characters; Twig Man, Straw Monster, Wolf Woman, Breton Clown and Ribbon Man. I imagine people sewing the kits and adding their own embellishments just as Paul Klee did; scraps of fabrics, embroidery or old buttons, tassels, ribbons, found objects even.
For more information visit theshopfloorproject.com