Last weekend saw me again make the journey to Redcar. For me that’s a five hour drive so that tells you how much I must really, really want to be a part of Festival of Thrift.
Festival of Thrift is a celebration of sustainable living and creativity, it’s a gathering of my kind of people. Everyone that’s there is keen to learn a new skill or share a bit of creative knowledge. It’s the only place I know that you can one minute be learning to make jam and the next racing a go-cart made from old pallets, having just sampled locally produced gin!!!!! What could possibly go wrong?
The festival was created to highlight the skills and creativity of the region’s artists and craftspeople, to inspire people of all ages to learn old ways, and find new ways to be creative in their everyday lives. They also want to promote the concept of sustainable living and being a voice for sustainable issues. As you can imagine with my work and Warriors on Waste campaign it’s a place that inspires me and certainly makes me feel like I have found my tribe.
The festival organiser Stella Hall describes the festival “As the UK’s first large-scale Festival of sustainable living – upcycling, making, learning and saving money – we are building a creative community where the whole family can get together to share skills and knowledge.”
I go every year not only to have an amazing time and catch up with lovely people but also to find new and exciting artisans who make things or design things that I can use in my work. Two years ago on a sunny day I first met Light up North, an amazingly cool new company making the most funky neon signs. I immediately knew I had to use them on an interiors job and sure enough when my challenge came through to design a room set for Grand Designs Live, Emma was my first call. This year they were not even at FOT, such has been their success that while I trekked up North they hot footed it down south to exhibit at 100% Design. Just goes to show what gems you might find!
I spent this year hanging out with The Woodshed Workshop, a social enterprise that supports the long term unemployed, young people and those from disadvantaged backgrounds. The Woodshed sources and collects a range of waste and surplus timber products from individuals, businesses and other organisations, turning them into functional saleable products, teaching useful upcycle skills along the way. Last year they were helping people build dens from pallets but this year they were helping people create go-carts and then racing them. Seeing Dads and children all with hammers and nails getting stuck in is such a lovely sight. In a world where health and safety seems to stifle creativity, hanging out at The Woodshed Workshop reminded me how important it is for people to just be let loose. How will the next generation learn creative skills if we always wrap them in cotton wool?
One of the nicest things at the festival is the community lunch ‘The Town is the Menu’, a three course vegetarian menu of food grown locally and surplus restaurant food (don’t panic that does not mean food from restaurant bins, just the food that is over-ordered and would otherwise maybe end up in the bin). One long table is set up in the centre of the festival and it’s a chance for people to come together to enjoy great food, be entertained by something crazy and try new things, this year the food was prepared by Ugly Duckling Food Waste.
So besides catching up with my upcycling besties; Cheryl Lumley, Jez Armstrong and Stu and the Woodshed lot I also made lots of new friends and spotted some really lovely things! So let me pass on the best bits to you…..
Firstly the whole festival was plastic water bottle free and Northumberland Water had installed some uber cool water pump stations so you could fill up your waters bottles… every festival and large event should have these now, no excuses!
There are also lots of vintage stalls selling fantastic vintage and retro finds, there was no way I could not buy the entire collection of these retro prints, I thought they would look fantastic all clustered together on a dark painted wall.
Make and Mind - A stitch in time mends the mind, Soulful Hoop stitching kits have been designed to provide a creative escape for those who enjoy stitching as a way to unwind from everyday life. These embroidery kits are a great outlet for expressing your inner creativity whilst sewing together a motivational reminder and positive affirmation that you can hang up on your wall. They looked so effective when completed and I thought would look fab on gallery walls. Great for upcyceld bits for your home were
Lovely things such as cool copper pipe toilet roll holders and shelves, things that will add a wow factor to your room and a point of interest. Velo Culture stopping Cycle inner tubes heading to landfill and turning them into amazing bags, makeup bags, belts etc.
Foxy Featherz was another stall that took my fancy, not only did they have fantastic lampshades all decorated with lovely feathers but they had used old gun cartridges to make some very cool Christmas Wreaths, I love spotting things that are different and they defiantly caught my attention. The Plant Preservation Society were another great find. Their array of cacti all planted beautifully in upcyced baked bean cans looked amazing, I love the idea of the personalised tins all with a retro vibe.
Anyway after the weekend I’m feeling inspired, it’s great to see so many trendy sustainable brands, so often you mention that you have a passion for sustainable design and peoples eyes glaze over as they look at your feet to asses if you’re wearing vegan leather sandals or if you’re wearing a tie dye caftan from a charity shop. That is not what sustainable design means. Sustainability is about wanting more, better and original designs that have a positive impact on the planet, its spending your money on businesses with a conscious, businesses that give back. It’s about having the confidence to not follow the masses, we don’t all have to be the same, seek out the smaller independent artisans who frankly have much better and more fashionable designs than most of the high street boring stuff.
Festival of Thrift is a chance to unplug yourself and press reset. A chance to evaluate what is important to you and what changes you can make. There are so many workshops where you can have a go at trying a new skill that you leave inspired and armed with some new creative confidence.
I will be there next year again, for my fix of crazy meets creative! Lovely to see you all and thanks for the inspo.