22 March 2019
We talked to Mike, a.k.a. The Crafty Gentleman, about his crafty business!
Mike, a.k.a The Crafty Gentleman, is a craft blogger from Nottingham. As one of the few (but growing in number!) men who admits to a passion for craft, he runs his blog alongside working in digital marketing, so we at Making Cards & Papercraft decided to find out more...
What or who first got you into crafting?
I’ve been into crafting for as long as I can remember! I’ve always been drawn to the idea of creating something from nothing, and making things with my own hands. My mum used to knit and has always had a creative streak, and my dad is a keen watercolourist. But when it comes to crafting, I’m mostly self-taught. As a child, I used to spend hours and hours making cards and doodling. This slowly branched out into sewing, leather-craft and even woodwork. I love it! I think it’s really important to make time to be creative. People often ask me how I manage to run a blog alongside a full-time career. My answer is always the same: I prioritise creative time. I intentionally keep sections of my weekends and evenings free, so I can work on my latest crafty projects. I’ll often skip the temptation of a Netflix binge, and instead spend an evening at my sewing machine or craft table - and I always feel better for it!
Do you have a favourite type of craft?
That’s a tough question! I love all sorts of crafts; from sewing and card making, to woodwork and leather-craft. Do I have to choose?! At a push, my favourite is probably sewing… especially with raw, tactile materials like tweed and leather.
Is there something you made that you are most proud of?
Another tough question! Two projects stand out for me. The first is the Santa Claus advent calendar I made last year, complete with pockets all over his belly for the chocolates. He’s one of the more complex sewing projects I’ve designed, and I love the final result!
The other project was my DIY wooden house number sign, which I made completely from scratch. It’s one of the first woodwork projects I’ve done - and it’s still standing strong by my front door! I’m so happy that it’s lasted through rain, snow and wind, but still looks as good as new.
Is there another crafter whose work you most admire?
Where do I begin?! I’m lucky to be friends with a lot of amazingly talented crafters - people like Amy from Hope the Black Dog, Emma from Emma Jewell Crafts and Claire from Claireabellemakes. I’m also a huge fan of the more “celebrity” crafters like Elise (from Elise Gets Crafty), Kirstie Allsopp and the A Beautiful Mess team, as well as skilled artisans like Patrick Grant and Keith Brymer Jones.
Is there a particular brand you most like working with?
I’ve recently become the UK Brand Ambassador for Singer Sewing, which is an absolute dream come true! I’ve long been an admirer of Singer, and I’m loving working with them on some fun, creative sewing projects. I also work a lot with Cricut and I spent a day with them in London earlier this year, learning all about their newest crafty gadgets and tools. They’re a great bunch to work with!
What would you say to other men thinking about crafting?
Stop thinking about it and just do it! Get yourself down to your nearest craft store, or log in to Etsy and order some supplies - then get making. Try anything and everything. Make a mess, make mistakes. Just make! I’m a huge advocate for men in crafts (that’s partly what my blog is all about!). I think the idea that crafts, sewing, knitting and baking are just for women is outdated. Crafting is for everyone!
What would you say you get out of crafting?
Crafting is the perfect balance of relaxation and practicality. On the one hand, it’s a calming, mindful activity that helps me to slow down and unwind. On the other hand, it’s a useful hobby that allows me to make bespoke gifts, home decor, clothes and more. It’s win-win! Being a crafter has also opened up a whole new community for me, especially through Instagram and in my hometown of Nottingham. The craft community is incredibly open, supportive and friendly - I love being a part of it!
Has being a gentleman crafter provided you with any opportunities you might have not otherwise had?
I think being a male crafter has helped me to stand out a little. Crafting is still a female-dominated industry, so it’s pretty unusual to have a man championing it! But this has been really well received by so many people. I regularly get messages and emails from people who have found it refreshing to see a man talking about knitting, or sharing his love for sewing. I’ve also had messages from fellow male crafters, who have been encouraged to try more crafts after seeing my blog - which is the best feedback I could hope for!
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