More and more people are realising how fun and fulfilling it can be to learn a craft, whether it’s saving money by making your own cards and gifts, or decorating your home with individual hand-made touches. One brilliant way for beginners to get started in Manchester is by attending a Lo-Fi DIY night at Common, where a new craft is taught on the first Tuesday evening of every month, and participants just need to bring between £2 and £5 for materials. Lo-Fi DIY is run by Nico of the Manchester Craft Mafia, who creates lovely button-based jewellery and peg-dolls, and has kindly agreed to answer our questions for this week’s Creative Spaces.
It says on your website that the Manchester Craft Mafia began in response to a similar movement in Austin, Texas. Could you tell us a bit more about this? What is a Craft Mafia?
Craft Mafia is all about like-minded individuals joining forces through their love of all things craft, wherever you may be in the world! Fanatics will group together and share their passions through social events.
What do you consider to be a craft, as opposed to art…Are there are any criteria, or is it up to the maker to decide if they’re a craftsperson or an artist?
I see craft as being something that is done simply for the love of making, as well as the end result that makes you smile! Art I see as more of an expression.
The Lo-Fi DIY evenings are a great opportunity for beginners to learn a new craft and make crafty friends; can you give us some examples of past workshops?
Yes that is exactly what Lo Fi DIY is all about. Ooh we have done so much over the past five years, where shall I start? Mmm? We have done willow weaving, crazy knitting, lino printing, needle felting, patchwork, rag rugging, stick weaving, book binding, crochet, finger knitting, china painting, embroidery. We have made monster egg cosies, bags from bras! fascinators, xmas decs, pin cushion rings, textile jewellery, heart garlands, paper roses, bauble sacks, and quilted patchwork cards to name a few.
Have you seen a change in the craft scene in Manchester since the Craft Mafia formed?
Yes there has definitely been an increase in craft events and the number of people wanting a piece of them! There are over 500 people on the Lo Fi DIY mailing list now and the event has increased to twice monthly.
Is the Craft Mafia open to new members? How would somebody go about applying if they want to get involved?
Yes, new members are always welcome and can find details of how to apply through our website. Both the active roles for looking after the website and also for looking after membership were vacant for some time. We have found the right people for the job and you will see some super changes and improvements very soon.
Can you tell us about any events that you have coming up?
Yes I can, at September Lo Fi we will be making dream keepers (this is an exclusive!). Dream catchers are very on trend at the moment and have featured in many magazines of late. We have been innovative and reinvented the idea; we will not be trying to catch dreams but keeping a tight hold on those that we have.
Also Manchester craft Mafia will be hosting a craft fair as part of The Whitworth’s Weekending event on the Saturday 31st of August. Please come along and say hello.
Finally, can you tell us a bit about your own work; what do you make and why?
‘Ophelia Button’ is my creative enterprise, a colourful world were all kinds of forgotten treasures are fashioned into pretty makes. I am button’s biggest fan! and have great fun creating ‘the girls’ my peg doll friends. At present I only spend a small piece of time in this ideal little world but I am at present hatching plans and fingers crossed can enter into utopia full time.
Written by Lauren Velvick