Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Summer in Alva!

The Wee County Crafters in holiday mood.

Numbers have been falling off somewhat at The Workshop in Alva's Cobden St. Is this a product of the good weather that is drawing people into their gardens or is everyone on holiday? Who knows but Crafters are thin on the ground, for whatever reason.

One notable absentee is carving guru Richard. He is off on a sabbatical to do a bit of carving on a major project for a heritage trust. Shrouded in secrecy as it is, he is reluctant to go public on the exact nature of the job but he reckons it will take up most of his time between June and September. He insists it has nothing to do with lounging on beaches and we all believe that.

He has come clean about his excursion to Coupar Angus, though. (Is there a beach there?) On Friday the 28th of June, Alex Stewart, purveyor of pen turning requisites and clock parts, is hosting a woodworking extravaganza - well, a mini extravaganza, (prizes will be awarded for anyone who can supply a word that expresses a mini extravaganza, Blogger's decision is final) - at the Red House Hotel in Coupar Angus 'twixt the hours of 10 and 4 in the afterlunch.

Alex promises that this will be an event to rival those at Ingliston and the S.E.C.C. featuring demonstrations by exponents of many woody arts. He has returned from the depths of England, garlanded with laurels and raving about the success of his mission. Whether the good burghers of Coupar Angus will be so amenable is yet to be proven but expectations are high.

Also upcoming (dreadful Americanism) in this final week of June is a visitation from representatives of a charitable trust, who generously gave a grant to The Wee County Crafters to ease their financial situation. These good people insist on remaining anonymous, preferring to do good by stealth but the crafters are grateful to them for their much needed and appreciated help. The visit is to see exactly what it is that The Crafters get up to in The Workshop in Alva's Cobden St. This blogger is confident that they will be impressed with the people, the work and the facilities that are available to anyone who wants to indulge in a bit of woodwork for a very small financial outlay.

You can find out for yourself precisely what delights await at The Workshop in Alva's Cobden St. by visiting The Wee County Crafter's website: www.weecountycrafters.co.uk and you can then contact club Chairman Jim Bayliss, through the 'contact us' tab. We all look forward to meeting you.


Monday, 13 May 2013

Wee County Crafters went on a picnic last Sunday, the 12th of May: the Scribblers Picnic, held at Stirling County's rugby ground. Despite the weather and resisting the temptation to say that it was no picnic, the event was a moderate success. In terms of cash, the group took over £100, the best selling items being the "Comfort Birds". Sometimes called Stressbusters, they are small, polished and very tactile bird-shaped pieces of wood. They fit neatly into the hand and, when caressed, can have a calming influence. Thanks to all the many members who carved them and to Jenny and her mother, who sewed the little purses. 

Such is the attractiveness of these little carved birdies that some of the carvers had to have them forcibly wrenched from their grasp when threats and cajoling failed. They'll just have to carve more for themselves.

As well as swelling the Crafters' funds, the Picnic raised the group's profile with the wider public. A number of visitors took away leaflets and it is hoped that that will lead to more recruits to the club. The contacts made with similar groups will prove useful and great oaks will grow from the event's acorns. There is the danger that the great oaks will be felled, seasoned, converted and turned into furniture but that is some way in the future. Archie's chopping boards took a trick as well.

Thanks go to Jenny and Mum, Alison, Bob, both Jims, John, Archie and all the others who contributed.

In other news, The Wee County Crafters have a new website: -  www.weecountycrafters.co.uk - and a blog on Blogger. Well, you knew about the last. Thanks to Scott Paterson, Webmaster Extraordinaire, for his work on the website. Whatever will be next? A Facebook page? The 21st century is crowding in upon us. Two more channels of communication with the group can't be bad.

Thursday, 2 May 2013

Small beginnings

Wee County Crafters is a small group of, mostly, wood obsessed-people in central Scotland. We come from a wide variety of backgrounds and there is a spread of ages - possibly a middle-age spread... and both genders are represented.

The Crafters began as a response to a need for arts activities in Clackmannanshire. That explains the term "Wee County" in the name, by the way. Clackmannanshire is the smallest County in the UK and the one with the longest name. ('Wee' means 'small' in Scots dialect).

I hope that clears that up.

We first met in the Alloa arts house 'Resonate'. The good people there gave us our start in life but we soon outgrew the space. Amalgamation with another group and a move to their rented premises in farm buildings at Aberdona gave us more space and the collaboration of a different sort of craftsman to help extend our skill base.

Space we had and that was wonderful but we also had unexpected side effects: holes in the roof, a small stream running through the workshop, a complete lack of sanitary facilities. Well, there were facilities of a sort but they involved sharing with the bulls. Not only was that inconvenient for the lady members, it was also demoralizing for us chaps, (the matter of comparisons being odious. And odorous).

November 2011 saw us moving to our own building in Alva. There were streetlights within 200 yards of the door! And toilets. It was cold, though. However, the Action Squad set to and cleared the old contents and moved the machinery in.

To cut the history lesson short, there are now over 60 members working regularly on their own project and newcomers coming in steadily. We have had assistance from local business man Mike Mulraney, from the Clackmannanshire Third Sector Interface and Alva Masonic Lodge. Clackmannanshire Arts Forum gave grant aid, as did the Co-operative Society.

The Crafters are moving out into the wider community, with displays at environmental events and a presence at a cancer charity picnic. On the charity front, the Crafters have gained charity status themselves. This validates their position as a serious entity and brings many benefits.

I hope this blog will go on to chronicle the doings of The Wee County Crafters over many years. That's the optimism of youth for you...

                             This is the Tuesday group on the last day of April, 2013.