Since I bought a wire sculpture from Becky Crawford at the Rotherfold artisan market in Totnes, I've been following her work on Instagram and regularly paying visits to her spacefruit Etsy shop. This culminated in my asking her to make a special commission and I also met up with Becky for a coffee and a chat recently. We decided it might be fun to feature her work on the yay retro! blog as I know lots of my customers will just love her work too!
above... A flowery wire sculpture by Becky Crawford of spacefruit on Etsy...
a long and bendy road to wire sculpture, with ceramics along the way....
Becky told me she's been messing about with wire for probably 30 years or more. She loves wire because she loves drawing, and sees her work with wire as kind of drawing. Surprisingly, her degree at the University of Central Lancashire was in 3D design, specialising in ceramics of all things. She had wanted to specialise in glass and jewellery but it turned out she couldn't do them both together, so opted for ceramics. This made sense as having been taken to craft shows since she was tiny, the potters always captivated her with their wonderful squidgy clay and potters wheels; she'd spend whole days watching them in amazement. She actually hung around the potters so much that they would give her lumps of clay to play with! In the end Becky's parents bought her a bag of beautiful red clay and she made lots of little creatures which sat on windowsills around the house for years. When she got to Uni, she found she still loved the feel of clay and the way you could change it from a lump into so many different forms. After graduating she saved to buy a kiln, glazes and equipment but as she always lived in temporary accommodation, she found it impossible to set up a proper workshop and it sadly all ended up in storage until recently.
jewellery making and selling her work in galleries...
Being unable to set up her kiln, it was easier to work with smaller materials. With parents who were makers themselves, Becky had often played with wire after her Dad had given her tools from a fairly young age; pliers and snips and solder and things to play with. She wanted to make silver jewellery so started with what she could afford; wire, beads and sequins. Her work however, was always very unique and creative.... one of the first pieces she made were crazy ladies with hair made from fishing line scrumples that she found on beaches. She sold these through galleries, saved up and eventually bought some silversmithing equipment. She says: "I loved making jewellery and I sold a lot for many years, in some fairly prominent galleries around the country".
above....Becky's wire 'doodles' which become wire sculptures when put together...
working from a garden studio to make 'wire doodles' into wirework sculptures...
Becky now works in a lovely studio in her back garden. As mentioned before, she sells her work via her shop called spacefruit on from Etsy
, and she also sells work through galleries, artisan fairs and shows. Working from her garden means she is often inspired by the things she sees around her, she says: "The chickens in the garden make me smile and inspire my wire bird pieces. Flowers, the shapes of leaves, patterns of stems in gardens, hedgerows, my local woods and being on the Devon cliff tops all rattle around in my head and influence the shapes I make in wire. I LOVE the time I spend in my studio... I always say that I actually barely notice what I'm making, my things tend to 'make themselves' if that makes any sense... I'm there listening to some amazing music or something on the radio but the wire or pen or whatever is actually doing the work itself!"
above.... spacefruit cork and bee sculptures, bring to mind warm sunny days...and have raised money for charity
Much of Becky's work features bees, hares, birds etc...She says: "The natural world is very important to me, so it does feature a lot in my work. Without the natural world we have nothing, and I worry about the future of our planet and what is going to be left for my daughter. Last June I started donating £2.50 to the Bumblebee Conservation Society for every bee on a cork or bee on a block I sold; in 6 months I managed to raise over £50!
Customers who collect her work and commissions...
Becky says: "I have customers around the world who collect my work. A lady in Australia collects my mobiles and buys them for her family members as well, another lady in America who collects wire artwork now has quite a few of my wire pieces. My work gradually changes over time and new ideas come along so there's always something new for people to buy". Becky is also available to make commissioned pieces. I asked her to make a sloth hanging from a branch for my daughter in law for a gift, and the result was fabulous! It arrived in a beautiful package and was exactly what I had hoped for!
above....coloured wire hanging sculpture....lovely to prop on a shelf or hang in a little nook or window...
Personally, I love the characters in Becky's work, and I wondered if they have names? Becky told me: "I don't exactly give them names, but they definitely have conversations with me and each other, and have very real personalities; I've done a lot of people watching in my time and real people do seep into my work. When I'm making a commission like a portrait I like to get an idea of personality and character and even taste in clothing before I start. My friends and family also probably don't realise that they've been turned into wire characters!"
above....a roller skating lady - full of movement
Mobiles, cards and much more...
Becky also creates mobile artworks, she started making these way back in 1999 by picking up rubbish from beaches in Cornwall and turning coloured bottles into jewellery. However, when she started working in a recycling centre she suddenly had access to many more colours, and started turning the waste plastic into mobiles instead. She says: "I do find some of them quite tricky to make – all that working out of balancing can take a lot of brain power!"
above...one of Becky's mobiles with one of her drawings behind...
In her spacefuit Etsy shop, you'll also see that Becky sells cards, and even instantly downloadable colouring in sheets. So it's certainly worth a visit. Becky says: "My work develops and changes all the time so there are always new designs. I've done a few bespoke wire family portraits recently which I would like to make more of this year. I would also like to develop some designs for paper based products."
The artist at home...
I asked Becky to tell me all about her home and she explained: "Our home has lots of handmade items in it, as it's quite hard doing shows and not coming away with lovely things from neighbouring stands! I've always collected beautiful vintage plates from the 1930s – 1970s, and used them daily until I moved into this house. Sadly they all got broken when the shelf they were on fell down! I was utterly devastated at the time, but they are all in a box waiting to be turned into mosaic things; so far I've made a bathroom mirror from them with more ideas yet to come. Our house is also full of beautiful paintings and things that our young daughter has made".
Becky talks yay retro! and crochet...
"I love bold bright flowery patterns from the 1970s as they remind me of my childhood; same with all yay retro!'s gorgeous crochet stuff, as all our childhood photos have some kind of crocheted item in them made by my Mum or Granny!"
Visit www.yayretro.co.uk for the last of the vintage items for sale.
I am currently stopping selling vintage, the past year has been practically impossible, along with the High St Big Brand names, small businesses are also suffering dreadfully with the down turn, even online ones.
I have consequently lost the joy of it and am no longer confident to invest time and effort into buying more stock. It's incredibly sad as yay retro has been my successful baby for 6 and a half years. But the past 12 months has been heartbreaking.
I will continue to sell crocheted items on the yay retro website and a few pieces from my personal vintage collection from time to time. yay retro will also remain very active on social media crochet-wise. I may send the business in a different direction when things pick up again.
Thanks so much to ALL of my loyal customers over the years xxxx Sue
All Vintage Stock Must Go!
yay retro! is undergoing a change...Everything vintage has to go!
Once it's gone, it's GONE!
I never thought I would see the day that I would wish to sell my stunning 1957 vintage kitchen larder unit. But here we are it's for sale in the yay retro! online vintage shop right now. This has it's original glass, chrome handles and enamel worktop inside, all in amazing condition. It's so fabulous it looks like new!
Resto-worx in Cornwall professionally stripped this down and fully restored it for me and I have to say it has brought me so much joy over the past couple of years! It holds all of my food and ceramic cookware with room to spare - it is very much a Tardis! It is also useful as an extra worktop when I have loads of people over and am doing a lot of cooking. Because the worktop is enamel, it is ideal for rolling pastry out on as it keep it cool. The larder is in stunning condition inside and out, t and is painted cream and mint green in a satin finish. Incredible condition and very well looked after. COLLECTION only from Totnes in Devon.
Find out more and buy here.
Reason for selling is that I am having a new kitchen installed and this no longer fits with my design.