I have an overwhelming love for handcrafts, be it bookbinding, shoe making, paper, upholstery, textiles, couture. If a product comes from a passion of traditional craftsmanship and sustainable origin, I am in awe! So when I find a company, a designer or an artist with the same passion, (wherever they may be) I am thrilled and want to share. This is one of the fundamental reasons for creating Small Talk Vienna.
Luckily for me, I live in the country where traditional craftsmanship has many origins, Austria can be infuriatingly provincial in many ways and as with most of the old Crafts, they had been sent to the sidelines over the past years. Without a shadow of doubt, the invention of the internet and the great surge in technical capabilities excited the industries so much so that there was simply little room or enthusiasm left for handcraft but the more I look the more I find them making their way back into the limelight.
Handcraft was and sadly is still considered expensive, of course in relation to anything mass produced, it is, but with Small Talk Vienna I hope to explain and show people why it costs what it does and the real value you get from it.
Maybe it is my age, and the fact that I was bought up in this era of great change, and in my opinion, massive leap in evolution, - the internet, social media, the relatively easy and cheap travel - they have of course all been a source for much good but I have to say I fear a little for the future, the pace is too fast for me, a little too overwhelming, a little too staged, a little too artificial and I simply cannot imagine how it will progress, however I do not want to try to predict or criticise, for predictions are often just scaremongering and criticism often just negative. I truly just want to bring back a little of my childhood, I miss the slow pace, the everyday monotony, possibly even, the boredom!
My passion for craftsmanship probably comes from my upbringing, my mother is an artist. My memory of growing up is papermache, screen printing, lots of paints, colours, textiles and furniture ... I was always terrible at school, I didn't learn to read until I was at least 8, I never really understood maths (although it wasn't as treacherous for me as for many), I couldn't spell, and was petrified in exams, not only that, I managed to frequent 10 schools over my 11 years of schooling. All in all my academic education was a disaster, which in turn had a terrible effect on my creativity and ability to "mingle", and to "fit in" with my fast paced counterparts. I grew up in the London, experiencing the late 70s, the 80s, & 90s in Kensington and Nottinghill gate, I loved the Nottinghill of old and hated the Kensington of new. I left school early and went to Italy, where I did bookbinding and restoration, before returning to London to do 2 yrs of Creative book binding at London college of Print. Sadly I did not have the strength to continue with the craft, but was led astray by the powers of tv and media, I spent some rather unhappy years trying to be something I most definitely wasn't, and many more after that, trying to find my way back! Don't get me wrong, I love technology, be it cinematic, educational, artistic or simply scientific, its mind blowing, amazing, futuristic, scary and exciting, I just long for a slower pace.
Now, as a mother of 4, I can sit back a little and reassess what it is that I really desire, I have been taught to take things slow again, nappies still do not change themselves, tables still do not get laid unless someone asks, and homework definitely definitely does not get done unless monitored, however much I moan! Although I feel I am creative, I am not a crafty or a homemade person, I find it terribly difficult sitting with my children "making" things, I do try but invariably it turns into someone sulking or me being a little unfair, its arts and crafts after all not an exhibition piece!
So rather then feel like a bad mother or failed wife, I made the decision to admit that I cannot cook well, cannot do crafting well, find school a chore (still) and have turned towards focusing on becoming involved with this wave of traditional craftsman emerging on my social media feeds. I see a bright future in this, something I would like my children to experience and see first hand. What does surprise me is that these handcrafts and old machinery seem to be being bought back by those in their early to mid 30s, but I am thrilled that this generation had the foresight and passion to learn these traditions, to reinstate them and take them into this century, and so many have done so extremely well, managing to combine modern media with traditional craftsmanship superbly.
So here´s to a fabulous future of endless time, talent, tradition and technology
© Image on left by Julian Mullan for Hilda Henri.
ITS ALL ABOUT CHRISTMAS
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Big fans of great and worthy labels, small talk thinks the idea of turning all your cupboard contents into your own shop is a jolly good idea, so we´ve taken on the hashtag #inmysmalltalkshop and are encouraging you all to join us on Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook, in fact any of your favourite social media sites to set up and sell your favourite treasures....