Welcome back to my project on Chorlton’s independents! This time I was invited into the magical world of Make It!, a craft shop on Wilbraham Road. I had a lot of fun with Danielle and spent much longer there than I anticipated! So many crafty activities that wanted to be discovered! And an elephant parade to finish off! This project is truly an educational and fascinating journey for me!
At its simplest, the Make It! shop is a craft shop. It supplies essentials such as felt and buttons, materials and kits for knitting or embroidery or even gifts. As Chorlton (sadly!) no longer has any toy shops, Make It! is certainly a great alternative when looking for children’s presents. Two much loved items at Make It! are the ever-exciting versatile foam clay and the decopatch or ‘decoupage’, increasingly popular with children and adults. Decopatch is done by tearing and sticking beautifully printed papers onto wooden or papier-mâché and the results are stunning! The shop also holds a small Made in Manchester section, selling the work of local artists and crafters, including the creations of the much-loved Chorlton artist Anna Violet.
However, Make It! is not just an ordinary shop. It is there to inspire and encourage - to ‘unleash everyone’s creative beast’ and help them understand the positive power of getting engrossed in a creative activity. It does so by displaying items created from shop materials, sometimes even brought in by the customers, by containing a workshop space for drop-in craft activities and by holding a number of workshops for adults. Make It! is also active in the local community, donating prizes for charitable events, participating in our local traders association and is involved in the Chorlton Arts Festival.
I've asked owner Danielle what had inspired her to open the shop: “I was enjoying teaching adults and children recycled crafts through my small business, Rubbish Revamped, and wanted to do something on a bigger scale to encourage and support people to enjoy a wide range of crafts. There’s increasing evidence that arts and crafts have a positive impact on wellbeing and it’s something I saw when running workshops, seeing people de-stressing when engrossed in a project and their sense of achievement when producing something. I wanted to cover a wide range of crafts to suit all interests and abilities as well as bringing in some more unusual items for experienced crafters looking for new inspiration.”
In the past, Danielle has worked for organisations such Amnesty International and the VSO, with which she spent a year in Sudan. In her spare time, she does a lot of crafts and often relaxes with a craft project in front of the TV in the evenings. However, she also admits to being more of a ‘starter’ than a ‘finisher’ and has contemplated to hold sessions at the shop, where people bring in projects they haven’t completed yet. I guess I would also be attending this one!
With craft activities becoming ever more popular with adults too, Make It! is hosting a range of workshops, from ‘Learn to love your sewing machine’, to knitting, felting and ‘Get hooked on Crochet’. As Danielle puts it “There seems to be a national craze for crochet”. So Chorlton, get your needles out and come down for a workshop.
I alluded to the elephant parade in my introduction and certainly cannot finish without telling you about it – what a beautiful project! Danielle and her team sold 100 papier-mâché elephants, asking participants to decorate them for a competition judged by two members of the Chorlton Traders Association. The entries look amazing!!! The imagination some people have is just admirable! Elephants with leg warmers, covered in glitter, embellished with feathers or painted with the most astonishing colours. The 4 categories are ‘aged under 8’, ‘age 8-12’, ‘aged over 12’ and ‘most Chorlton’ and the winners have each received a lovely (sur)prize. Even adults have taken part and one said “Thank you for helping me swerve my housework”.
If you like this project and are interested in write ups about other Chorlton’s indies, please find here links to posts about Epicerie Ludo, Chorlton Art Market, Arison Gallery and Elliott’s Fruit&Vegetables.
You will find the Make It! shop at: 488 Wilbraham Road, M21 9AS