Nick Roberts, one of our lovely blog ambassadors, has many years of experience in the crafting world and today he gives us the chance to get to know him a little better. We discover where his love for craft began and the handy tips he’s learnt along the way. Here’s what he had to say…
1. Tell us a little about yourself
Hello, I am Nick, I’m 47 years old and I now live in Bulgaria. My house is on the outskirts of a very small village. I am lucky enough to have a fair amount of land which has allowed me to keep chickens, a pig (Fatty) and my lovely cow Grace. It’s a wonderful place to live, the people here are amazing, very friendly and incredibly generous. I have 2 labradors, their names are Ruby and Penny, an African Grey parrot called Millie, my tortoise is called Pebble and I have too many cats! Tiger, Face, Club, Big Ears, Blanca, Badger, Flash, Eyelene, Al, Spider, Mini Tiger to name a few lol.
2. How did you first get into crafts? Can you remember the very first thing you made?
From a very early age I remember my parents always encouraged us to be creative. One thing I always looked forward to was when my Dad got the huge wax pan out. He would fill the bath with cold water, then we would melt all the wax and fill small containers. We’d plunge them into the water, moving and tipping them to create the most wonderful sculptures, and then decorate them to create something unique. We were very lucky to have grown up without the computers or 24 hour TV.
It wasn’t until I had to take an ill health retirement and then losing my Nan that I truly rediscovered my love of craft. I decided I wanted to make the Order of Service myself, this was my first ever large craft project. I kept it fairly simple as you can see, using black ribbon, a dried rose bud, along with a photo on the front. Inside, I used a plain parchment sheet folded along with the service details and another photo on the back. I was extremely proud.
After that my true craft journey started, with a card kit and then another and so on. Very soon I added stamps to the mix and so it quickly became my life and helped me through some tough times. My passion for everything craft related soon snowballed and I wanted the opportunity to try as much as I could. There are so many wonderful crafts to discover and try. When I was retired due to ill health, I treated myself to a pottery wheel and kiln, a definite luxury, but it’s paid for itself over and over, with the amount of pleasure and fun it has given me over the years.
3. When you’re not crafting – what else do you like to do?
This is an incredibly difficult question to answer. I have such a passion for crafting, so much so that it takes up maybe 80% of my time. I love my animals so a lot of time is taken up with them, especially Fatty, Grace and Hope. Also I adore cooking, especially Indian and Chinese. Quick plug here, if you’ve not already got Parveen, The Spice Queen’s cookbook, I would highly recommend it. The recipes are incredibly simple and fairly quick to prepare and cook. Another favourite pass time of mine is gardening. It’s a very small area I have but it’s lovely to sit and enjoy it in the evening, especially with a nice cuppa.
4. What new crafting skill would you love to learn?
Another hard question and one that needs a lot of thinking about. I have tried so many different crafts so my aim is to improve on the ones I enjoy. All of us crafters are learning and improving all of the time and sharing projects is a great way of building on what you already do. I’ve always wanted to try Wood Turning and wood craft in general, especially having watched the shows on Hochanda. I hope that one day I will get the chance. One other craft that has always inspired me is stained glass, it’s something that would be great to have a go at, maybe a smaller kit to test the water so to speak.
5. Have you got any handy tips you could share with our readers?
One thing I realised early on in my crafting journey was not to compare my work to anyone else’s. We are all naturally critical about things we create, it’s something that never goes away, in fact it can get worse as you progress in craft. It’s your creation and if you’re happy with it and more importantly had fun making it, then remember you’re crafting because you enjoy it. I have spoken to a number of people over the years and admired their work, so it comes as a surprise to me when some tell me they no longer do it. The reason given 8 times out of 10 is “It wasn’t as good as so and so’s”.
One other tip. If you see something you love, try it even if you don’t think you can do it. If it’s a finished piece you like, you will do it. This happened to me, when I saw Rowandean on Hochanda. I loved the finished sample but doubted I could do it. I had never tried embroidery before, so I was really proud with the finished piece and now enjoy another new craft.