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Monday, 18 July 2011

Something Smells Good!

I've been wanting to get along and visit Homemade London for a while and I finally popped along last week. It's a little crafty heaven which runs creative workshops and private craft parties. Yes there's a few of these places in Londinium these days but believe me, they vary in quality (some seem to think they 'started it' while everyone else copied them)...well my view is anyone who thinks like that is not a true creative. 
The fact is if you like making things you should respect that skill sharing and accessibility is all part of the enjoyment. I believe there is plenty of room for crafty workshop venues, there should be one in every town of the UK, just like there (used to be) public libraries (but hey that's another story.) They'll always be a place for colleges and longer creative courses but short workshops, sewing cafes, ceramic cafes etc allow you acquire new skills and get inspired when you can fit it into your life. Yes you have to be prepared to invest, (average workshop prices at most places cost around £35) but they are small businesses that need investment like anything else. So although you may not be able to afford to go all the time, you can be sure that when you do, you'll get something special out of it. OK RANT OVER....back to my lovely trip.
The crafty heaven is based in a pretty village street
Believe it or not, Homemade London is just a couple of minutes walk from one of the busiest spots in London (the flagship Primark in Marble Arch) it's located in a quiet, picturesque street in an area called Portman Village (which I had never heard of until I got here...this is why I love London, it is continously full of surprises even for lifelong dwellers of the Capital like myself).
Nicola Barron, owner of Homemade London
It's the brainchild of Nicola Barron, who used to work in TV and is a self-confessed interiors and fashion junkie. She opened the 'store' less than a year ago. (Birthday coming up next month.) So it's no wonder the inside is so pretty.
Ooh, how I wish I had a making table this big!
It's fresh, light and airey though still has a sense of 'early days'. There's a downstairs and upstairs section and if you hold a private party here you can use both areas.
Getting crafty is just the start
Workshops can be designed to suit your preferences, or you can book on one of their  sessions which include bag making, handstitched notebooks, lampshade decor, wedding crafting and even lingerie.
I made my own bottle of 'Begum Blend'
I attended their newest session 'Perfume Making AND Afternoon Tea'....talk about blissful afternoon! The session runs on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons and with just four pupils in each class, yummy cakes from local bakery Cocomaya and 1-2-1 attention from Nicola herself it's a truly pampering way to while away a couple of hours (not forgetting you get to take home a scent that's all yours.)
It's all in the blend
Having no prior knowledge of working with scent I presumed it would be a fairly straight forward task, after all most people know what they like and what they don't yet I discovered within minutes that perfume blending is in fact a complete art form. I had no idea that smells and mood can change so quickly with just one drop of fragrance.

We started by having a sniff of top, middle and base notes to see what took our fancy. A huge fan of vanilla like cocoa smells, I was most drawn to Benzoin, Cedarwood, Black Pepper and Rose (the turkish delight variety) and decided I'm not keen on citrus (too many associations with all the lemon scented cleaning products I have at home.)
Farah made a fruity blend
Farah my workshop companion interestingly chose the opposite scents to me, light fruity, summer ones - her blend although not to my taste, smelt very tempting and 'professional.'
This tea set looks even more amazing in real life!
Incidently the Afternoon Tea element of the session was a nice touch though it is a little hard to enjoy yummy cakes that look like dinky chocolates when your nose is so infused with the whiff of excitement. But anyone thinking of going for an afternoon tea I recommend instead of going to a regular hotel, combine the tea and chat with doing something crafty - it's the best of both worlds so you'll leave feeling doubly as happy. A brilliant session for friends, a unique way to spend a day off work, or if you're in London on holiday and fancy seeing a different side of British life, a slice of homecrafing couldn't be more cultured.

All images from Homemade London apart from the ones taken at my workshop (it's not hard to tell the quality apart!)

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