Made for sharing
PUBLISHED: 11:14 09 December 2014 | UPDATED: 11:15 09 December 2014
Looking for original and different gifts, Tara Greaves heads to the Handmade Shop and Gallery in Bury St Edmunds
The beautifully inscribed sign says it all. “The person behind the desk has lovingly handmade some of the items in this shop. Please ask them about it.”
When graphic artist Jane Crick realised her dream and opened the Handmade Shop and Gallery in St Johns Street, Bury St Edmunds, earlier this year it was not just to stock her work, but also a way for many of her talented friends to sell their wares.
Here customers can meet the people behind the creations, which include paintings, jewellery, ceramics and crochet, as the artists all take turns working behind the counter.
“Getting the shop was all thanks to an opportune phone call,” Jane explains. “I have often spoken about wanting to have a collective shop with my friends, but with rents and rates it always seemed too expensive.”
Then she learned that a shop next to Casa Del Mar, run by her friend Maria Broadbent, and owned by the same landlady, was empty.
“I probably wouldn’t have done anything about it, but then Maria phoned me that night about some graphic design work and I happened to ask about the unit. She said it was really strange because her landlady had just said she wanted to rent it out.” As well as Jane, who lives in Felsham, there are 12 main sellers who rent space.
“It’s like a permanent craft fair – you pay for a space, but instead of being in there just for one day, you’re in there all month,” she says. The artists were carefully chosen to complement one another from the March Hare Collective, a group of Suffolk artists who meet once a month at the Apex in Bury.
As well as looking after her family, designing, working one day a week in the shop Jane also does two days at the Lion House Gallery in Lavenham, and one day of garden maintenance.
“I love my jobs and I would hate to give up any of them because they all feed into the same thing – my designs,” she says.
After college, Jane began work as a graphic designer and has spent more than 20 years working for various companies. When her friend Lizzi Stevens opened a gallery in Lavenham and asked Jane to help run it two days a week she saw an opportunity to pursue her own designs.
Lizzi also encouraged her to open her own shop and offered plenty of advice and support – and it seems to be paying off.
“I can’t believe the reaction of the public – they have been so supportive – but also the people down St Johns Street. It’s such a friendly place to open a shop. It’s all independents so we fit in very well.” Customers seem to enjoy the fact that the people who created many of the items for sale are on hand to chat.
As a working mum, Jane is supportive of her fellow artists, many of whom are also parents. The shop’s opening hours – Tuesday to Friday 10am – 3pm and 10am to 5pm on a Saturday – reflect that.
She said: “The whole idea is to have a go and see if it works. I don’t want to make it hard for anyone and I see it as an opportunity for all of us. I want to share my good fortune in finding this lovely shop with all my friends.”