Imagine my joy when ScallyB asked me to contribute a short article on the crafty outlets in my neck of the woods, after all I can always use an excuse to go out and haunt more boutiques and shops! I’ll be covering the places that spring to mind that I have visited, but feel free to comment with any little gems any of you have found, I intend to do ‘further’ research, such is my dedication to job…
Bradford itself is a bit thin on the ground when it comes to craft shops. My first stop would be Bombay Stores; an Indian department store close to the University. This is a fab place to go shopping for fabric, though it does have henna, bodyart, clothing and jewellery on sale too. You could quite easily spend hours in there, the fabric range is luxurious but reasonably priced, and you’ll find the most intricately embroidered bridal fabrics right down to the more ‘everyday’ but still vibrant coloured fabrics. One of the nice touches is the way that the Indian people shop, they tend to wander around selecting items as the helpful staff put them aside, so you can browse to your hearts content, picking out whatever you like, without having to carry it around with you. The perfect shopping spree!
There are several pound shops in Bradford, which can hold surprising discoveries such as bargainous beads, cheap paper supplies and the like, but you do have to wade through the tat to find them and it’s a bit hit and miss. A far better day out would be Halifax. Halifax is a small town accessible by bus and rail, easy to get around in a few hours but it has enough to keep a seasoned crafter occupied. My favourite place in Halifax has always been the Piece Hall, an old 18th Century arcade where fabric was originally traded, that has been colonised by small independent shops. Most days there is a market too, so you can always find some cheap bits to inspire you.
There are any numbers of shops to get your creative juices flowing, from handmade soap to authentic jade jewellery, the entire place is craft heaven.
I always like to call in at Jackdaw Jewels, the shopowner has lots of baskets full of strings of beads, broaches and other bits of jewellery, all of which can be restrung and modified to suit your tastes. She also does a good trade in handbags and shoes. If clothing is needed to customise, call in at Ace Clothing, their prices are dirt cheap and they’re willing to buy clothing too, so you can take along your old or never worn glad-rags and invest in some new stuff. At their prices you can afford to modify!
You might want to stop at Millie Moo’s Paint a pot café, where you can pick out an item of bisque pottery to paint at your leisure, while you enjoy a hot drink and a chit chat. They can usually fire items for you within the next few days, I am not sure if they do a postal service but I have an email contact if anyone is curious. I made Christmas presents here and found the quality of the paint and the bisque to be excellent.
If jewellery making is your vice, head for Mermaid jewellery for some inspiration, they will set stones in silver settings for you within the hour, I have a jade ring which I still get compliments on now. For those who prefer to D.I.Y, Black Market Minerals sells all manner of gemstones, some of which are beads and some are cabouchons or larger pieces, but all are decently priced, with plenty of guides to inform you of the properties of each stone.
Worth a peek if Gina B’s stained glass grotto, ‘grotto’ being the right word! It’s a tiny shop that, upon entering, could be forgiven for being a Tim Burton style sweet shop creation, it’s so full of colour and light and tinkling glass objects! Gina B does excellent jewellery, platters and mirrors, and she has dishes full of multicoloured glass stones, perfect for setting in jewellery, or gluing on picture frames, or creating mosaics with, in fact I have to put my wallet away the minute I enter!
For a vintage retro feel, you might want to head to Maria’s stamps, a little nook full of old stamps, coins, postcards and other items that are perfect for scrapbooking and decoupaging, not to mention making wicked old coin charm bracelets.
If all that has got your genius flowing, then head to the Sewing and Craft Shop, where you can pick up anything from embroidery kits, beads, card making accessories, a selection of fashion wools and anything else that you might be wanting to start your masterpiece. It is a little biased to the knitting and stitching amongst us, but it does have to paper arts side basically covered too.
Outside the Piece Hall you might want to head for the market, where there are two good knitting stalls; Knitters corner, and Sewfast, where a ball of luxury wool will only set you back £2.00. Both owners are keen to advise and help their customers with needle sizes and techniques, and stock a wide range of wool. The Sewing Box contains some good stuff too, an impressive selection of feathers and ribbons, all of which made me inner magpie emerge!
Across the road from the market is the Art Centre, a large craft shop dealing with glass paint, jewellery making, speciality papers and embossing and other things, definitely a place for the non stitch and knitters among us. They do a range of craft materials and one day workshops (only ten pounds, materials included) one of which I am attending in March so I will keep you posted on how that goes. Halifax has my usual stops, The Works to see if I can luck out on any rogue craft materials on the cheap, and New Look/Mark One for cheap T shirts and clothes to modify.
Embsay Crafts Ltd is a good place to go in Skipton. It has a large section devoted to embroidery and knitting, and tends to sell kits rather than individual materials. However it does have a large selection of paper based craft materials too, and the cutest teashop, so you can quite easily spend the day browsing and make a day out of it all.
I did venture into Leeds to scout out a few places but didn’t have the time to explore, and am sure that the Leeds craftermath natives will know far more than I do. But I recommend the Corn Exchange, if not for inspiration and to get talking to the various stall owners as to how they got off the ground. You’ll find clothing, jewellery, art, shoes, kitsch items and various bits of art around. Worth a trip is the huge Oxfam shop around the corner, it has loads of vintage and label clothes on the cheap, never underestimate the value of a charity shop! Next time I am off to the Granary Wharf Craft arcade, just the word arcade promises great things… Over and out for this installment!