Grow your business and boost your health by using natural products and bringing nature into your home.
Instagram is flooded with pictures of stunning views and pretty blooms. With more makers taking both a natural and mindful approach to making, adding nature into your crafting can not only help your makes stand out from the crowd, but enhance your mental wellbeing too.
Growing and gathering your own supplies is a fantastic way to combine a love of gardening with crafting and Alicia Hall has built her business, Botanical Threads, by doing just that. “I use plants to make dyes to colour my fabrics,” explains Alicia, who makes hand-dyed scarves and homewares.
“It’s amazing how just heating the plants in a little water can extract the most wonderful colours. I can get greys from lavender, purples from rosemary and pink from avocado stones.”
Using natural products also means you can create more ethically. Alicia, who also works as a gardener, says, “I love that I’m using things that come from the land and are free from chemicals.”
Getting out of towns and cities and into the countryside is a great way to get ideas. Jeweller Kate Harvey, who runs Grace and Flora, uses natural objects not only for inspiration, but for shape and texture too. “Nature makes beautiful shapes and people often have their own special relationship to natural objects which often hold symbolic meaning for them,” says Kate.
“All of my jewellery pieces are made from natural objects like shells and seed, which are cast into solid silver or other metals. I make some sculptures where a direct cast is not possible.”
Katie Robbins of Ceramic Magpie heads to the coast to gather inspiration for her work. “I love the invigorating effects of being near the sea, and producing an item which has its inspiration in a coastal environment gives it more of an emotional attachment,” explains Katie.
“I like playing with the idea of pattern, as well as irregularity. The rugged nature of rocks and the delicate raised surface of a sea-urchin is echoed in the pattern that I incorporate into my designs.”
Even in the city you can find nature to inspire your work. “In central London there are so many pockets of green that are tucked away that can bring you back to earth,” says Sophie of Grain and Knot, who hand-carves wooden homewares.
“My home is filled with plants and I grow lots of vegetables and herbs. I find this really helps to keep me happy and occupied in the downtimes.”
Connecting with others
With the love for all things botanical on Instagram, adding nature to your makes is a great way to connect with the likeminded makers. By using a range of hashtags like #plantsmakepeoplehappy, #nestandflourish and #inspiredbynature (to name just a few), you can find other makers who share your aesthetic and get ideas for creating a greener home.
Katie started the #leaf_ladies hashtag so green-fingered creatives can show off their plant-filled homes. “It’s also a way for artists and artisans to show how they incorporate plants in their creativity and makes,” she explains.
“The #wipsandblooms hashtag I started is for makers to pause and reflect on the making process showing both their work-in-progress and styling the image with a seasonal bloom.”
Bringing nature in
Using botanical tags is also a great tool to grow your business while indulging your passion for flowers. A love of nature can also help your business bloom in other ways. Using a natural product can also help you to keep growing and changing as your business does. “Wood has really beautiful grain patterns and I use this to my advantage. It allows me to make products that are similar but no two are ever the same,” says Sophie.
Alicia agrees, “The wonderful thing about natural dyes is that they can sometimes be unpredictable, meaning that I often get quite a different colour to the last batch of dye I made. Because of this, my products are constantly changing and evolving as I work around the dyes produced, which helps me to look at my products with fresh eyes. I’m always coming across a plant on my walks that I haven’t considered dyeing with before, which really helps me to experiment with new dyes and products.”
Reconnect with nature
Most importantly, surrounding yourself with nature is good for your mental wellbeing. “We’re increasingly disconnected from nature in modern life so we need to maintain our connection with our natural selves so that we can remain balanced and not lose sight of our roots,” insists Kate.
Even if you can’t get out and about every day, making your workspace green can help. “I surround myself with plants and botanical imagery in my studio,” says Katie.
“I find the greenery makes a relaxing and soothing environment. And of course plants help purify the air by producing oxygen. Flowers and pictures of scenery are also associated with positive memories – these things can only be good for our mental health.”