Dipping my toe back in …….

During most of the Covid 19 lockdown in the UK I couldn’t travel the 8 miles to my studio. I did bring wool home, but I haven’t made much felt recently. Early on in lockdown I decided, while the weather was good, to focus on my long-neglected garden. I thought it would take a couple of weeks to knock it into shape. The weather stayed good so I stayed in the garden. 10 weeks later I found I’d slipped into gardening full-time.

As the only fibre involved in my garden project was the permeable membrane under the reclaimed brick circular patio I built…

brick circle

Very proud of my reclaimed brick circle!

View from brick circle

View up the garden

….that adventure doesn’t have much relevance here. So, I’m going to tell you about my first felt-related venture back into the outside world.

One outlet for selling my work is a beach hut gallery in Whitstable harbour (the coastal town where I live). It’s an open-air market offering locally created art and craft plus international food. I’m a member of a group called ‘Made in Whitstable’ which rents one of the harbour huts year-round and we share the time there between 7 individuals / groups.

As it happens, one of my weeks in the harbour came very soon after open air markets were allowed to reopen in England on 1st June. What to do? The leap from venturing out only once a week (to food shop) to market trading seemed quite daunting. After much thought and discussion (via Zoom and FaceTime, of course) I decided I’d give it a go.

clean hut

I gave the hut a good clean as it’s been empty for a while

The market organisers have done a lot of work to put in safety and social distancing measures in preparation for reopening. I visited the market before it reopened to have a look around and see what other traders thought.

I then filled the hut with my pictures (about 50:50 felt and photo canvases). I only took felt that was behind glass as felt asks to be touched and I couldn’t be sure that was safe. I stocked up on hand sanitiser and antibacterial cleaners. I made various signs to cover different scenarios. I thought I’d probably only take card payments, though I did have my cash bag and disposable gloves just in case.

inside hut left

Inside left

Inside hut left felt

Some of the felt pictures

inside hut back

Back Wall

inside hut right

Photos on the right

I planned mostly to stay outside the hut when open but I had two fallback positions in case there were too many people. First, I could cordon off the entrance so I could be in the hut and other people could look in but not enter. Second, I could close it and go home at any time.

I had a few ‘social distancing’ nightmares in the nights before opening the hut and did feel quite anxious as I took the short walk from my home to the harbour on the first day.

Hut with barriers

My hut with barriers & tape

There were lots of barriers and hazard tape everywhere; signs reminding people to keep 2 meters apart; a one-way circulation system with arrows on the floor and boxes drawn around the hut entrances. It looked a bit like a crime scene!

My first day, a Friday, was very quiet in the morning. People seemed to be a put off coming into our part of the market. At lunchtime it started to rain, so I closed and went home. Saturday and Sunday were warm & sunny. Whitstable is a very popular day / weekend trip destination within easy reach of London and can get very crowded, especially with good weather. Was this going to be a problem? No!  There were lots of people on the beach and the food huts were busy but the footfall in our area was low.  By Sunday the barriers were slightly adapted to improve flow. By Monday, even more so. There was always the option of putting in more barriers or limiting the overall numbers but these weren’t needed.

market and relaxed barriers

Sunday

hut with no barriers

Monday

 

Sales overall were disappointing but I don’t regret having a go. It was nice to chat to people, even if it was from at least 2 meters away. There were some issues with queues near the food huts but people are tackling them and they didn’t impact on my area. My next week in the Harbour is in late July and this has given me a chance to try things out; to see how it works and how it feels. Indeed, the chance to dip my toe back into the water. I can look forward to the next time with more confidence that I can cope with and adapt to the new environment.

whitstable panorama copy (2)

About Lindsay Wilkinson Artwork

I’m a passionate wet felt-maker living by the sea in Whitstable, Kent, UK & working out of a small studio in Faversham, Kent. I draw a lot of inspiration from the beautiful coastal scenery and local wild birds which can often be seen in my felt work.
This entry was posted in Fairs and Shows, felt art, Guest Writer, Wet Felting and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

21 Responses to Dipping my toe back in …….

  1. nanacathy2 says:

    It must have been frightening the first time, and glad you made some sales.

    • Lindsay Wilkinson Artwork says:

      Thanks nanacathy2. Yes, it was a bit scary but fortunately it was quite a gentle reintroduction and I do feel ready for next time.

  2. Karen Lane says:

    Pity it was so quiet Lindsey but understandable being the first opening since lock down. I envy you having that beach hut as a gallery for your work….what a great set up! It bet it’s a lovely atmosphere during “normal” times. Fingers crossed more folk venture out next time.

    • Lindsay Wilkinson Artwork says:

      Thank you, Karen. Yes, it does have a good atmosphere usually and it wasn’t bad this time but a bit different. The view is great too. When the weather is nice there’s no better office!

  3. annielynrosie says:

    Absolutely love your brick circle! How big is your garden?

    We think your beach hut is one of the prettiest ‘shops’ we’ve ever seen – well done for getting back in there.

    The weather is forecast to be settled for the next couple of weeks and the temperature here is expected to hit 28C (83F) by the end of the week so that should bring the crowds to the beach.

    • Lindsay Wilkinson Artwork says:

      Thanks, Lyn. The garden is long and narrow: about 4 metres wide and maybe 25 – 30 metres long (I can’t quite remember!). Long enough and overgrown enough to keep me busy for a long time! Yes, the beach hut is very pretty. The whole market is really nice – lots of great artwork & a nice chilled atmosphere.

    • annielynrosie says:

      Being overgrown is it’s attraction – it’s wonderful!

  4. Anonymous says:

    your garden is so beautiful,

    • Lindsay Wilkinson Artwork says:

      Thank you! I’ve planted lots of new plants so I’m looking forward to when they’re established and I can see more leaves and flowers and less soil.

  5. ruthlane says:

    Great job Lyndsay! It’s good that you had the courage to try it. Now you will be more prepared for July which I think will be busier. I too envy your beach hut location. Best of luck moving forward and I hope your sales return to a more normal level soon. Your work looks wonderful in the beach hut.

    • Lindsay Wilkinson Artwork says:

      Thanks very much, Ruth. I have the beach hut for about 7 weeks a year which works well, though you’re very much at the mercy of the weather, of course. And it takes a while to set up and take down each time. Sales are nice but I also enjoy the conversations. Seeing the felt also attracts people to my workshops – though I can’t run any at the moment.

  6. Linda Murphy says:

    I love your brickwork circle! It is gorgeous. And bravo holding the first beach hut weekend. It sounds as if you took all the right precautions. I wish I could have teleported there to buy a few feltings and paintings as the subject matter on which your group focuses really appeals. Special kudos on the felted painting of the shorebird (sandpiper)? and the beautiful photo of the dock posts disappearing into beautiful reflections in the water.
    I bet your shop was hopping this weekend.

  7. Lindsay Wilkinson Artwork says:

    Thank you, Linda. I’ve got a little egret, a ringed plover and an avocet in felt at the moment. All are based on birds I’ve watched along the local shoreline. All the felt and photos are mine so thank you for the compliments!

  8. Galina says:

    Your hut and display look just beautiful Lindsay and setting is fantastic! Do not get upset with poor sales, it’s just a beginning. I got a window display for three weeks (May-June) in a local deli shop and sold nothing 🙂 An artist in another window sold just one piece at the very last moment and she usually sold very well. I think we do not realise how deeply everyone is affected and how slow will be a return to normal life. I’m sure your next week will be much better!

    • Lindsay Wilkinson Artwork says:

      Many thanks for your positive comments, Galina. I’m fine about the sales. It can be disappointing sitting there all day and selling nothing, more for the feeling that people don’t like the work than the lack of the money. However, this was more about ‘can I do this?’ and the answer was ‘yes’ so I got out of it what I needed and can look forward with more confidence to having another 2 weeks in July.

  9. the garden circle is lovely. The little pot looks a little lonely. Is it Rosemary? I like they way your garden looks like a walk in the woods.
    I to envy your little beach hut. it looks so inviting. I hope by July people will be more comfortable going out with their makes and lots of hand sanitizing.

    • Lindsay Wilkinson Artwork says:

      Thank you, Ann. I agree the pot (it’s a hebe) looks a little lonely. I just popped it there for the time being. My husband has bought me a 3-seater curved bench for my birthday (which is sitting in a big box waiting for me to construct it) and once that’s in place I will think about what goes in the middle. I’m thinking a fire bowl or maybe a bird bath?

  10. Great job on the Brick circle and the hut! Both look great. I commend you for being so brave to open the hut for business. I’m glad you made some sales. I’m not going anywhere any time soon! Don’t even shop. Everything is delivered. I hope you have luck getting back to Felting.

    • Lindsay Wilkinson Artwork says:

      Thank you, Marilyn. I completely sympathise with your decision not to go out for the foreseeable future. I’m certainly not going out regularly yet and am definitely on the cautious side of things. I’m lucky not to fall within any of the particularly vulnerable groups but I’m happy to keep digging the garden and let others venture out to pubs and restaurants when they reopen.

  11. Antje says:

    Lindsay your brick circle is fab & all created from old bricks. Creating in the garden is therapeutic, sadly I’m still at the ‘find my former garden’ in amongst the chest-high nettles stage.

    Love all your artwork, & how you set it up to show it at it’s best. The hut….yep just like the others….very envious.

    Well done you for venturing out & having a trial run. Hopefully by July you will have more customers.
    Looking forward to seeing your next creations

    • Lindsay Wilkinson Artwork says:

      Many thanks, Antje. I’m starting to think ‘felting’ so hope to be making some again soon. I think I’m being put off by the fact that I will have to tidy the studio before I can use it and much as I like tidiness I’m not all that fond of creating it.

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