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Meet The Maker - Dani Instagram name 'Five_make_a_home' 

More now than ever we all need that virtual hug, that sense of escape from the real world around us, to feel warm and cozy. I think this sums up this months Meet the Maker, with (lucky for me) my friend Dani. Some of you may know her, or her fantastic Instagram account five_make_a_home which is bursting with creativity, her beautiful children and her eye for beauty in everything around her. I on the other hand know her as a fellow village mum, who sometimes drops off slices of homemade carrot cake on my doorstep!  

I managed to interview Dani last week (over the phone) about her family life, her passion for being creative and her  “oops” moments as well as her “did I actually make that?” moments.. 

She is a true Maker like us, a creative soul, and we are thrilled to be able to show her off to you this month. 

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From your personal blog on instagram, it is clear to see you are very creative. Have you always had a good imagination, an affinity to always expressing yourself creatively?

I’ve always been a maker!

 Some of my earliest memories are of being creative - I vividly remember making a car wash out of cardboard, sponges and art straws at five years old. My Mum thankfully kept a lot of my early artworks and it has been lovely rediscovering them lately and showing them to my own children.

 I’m happiest when I’m doing. I find it incredibly de-stressing, using my hands to problem solve and make something.

A lot of the things we see on your Instagram are makes for your home, a bit of upcycling here or there, to beautiful dolls for your daughter Agnes. Is reusing and working with what you’ve already got around the house or outside in nature something that is important to you?

I love taking existing things and turning them into something else. There is something so heartwarming about taking something you’ve loved, something sentimental and making something beautiful from it. I used my late Nain’s crocheted doilies for my wedding - decorating my dress and the tables. It meant so much to me to be able to have a piece of her there with me.

 I recently made my daughter a doll using a baby carrier that I wore her in when she was teeny. That carrier was literally a life saver! She was a screamer and I pretty much spent from waking until going to bed with her strapped to my chest. There was so much attached to a single piece of fabric. I couldn’t part with it, so I turned it into something we can cherish forever.

 I’m not a doll maker and it was a massive challenge, but I watched several YouTube videos, read blogs and made something I’m actually really proud of. Agnes quite likes it too!

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Where do you get your inspiration from? Are you like many of us, with huge reels of Pinterest boards?

I adored Pinterest a few years back and curated hundreds of boards, however I haven’t really used it for a few years. It is such an amazing source for inspiration, but I currently find so much inspiration firsthand from the makers themselves on Instagram. There is something lovely about discovering a new maker this way; looking through their grid and getting to know them. It’s so much more personal than just searching for themes on Pinterest and not really knowing where or who they’ve come from.

If you look at traditional crafts, like a lot of our makers…papercraft, knitting, crochet, digital cutting, vinyl and quilting/sewing are there any of these you like doing or any of them you would love to learn?

Oh gosh, I’d love to try so many crafts! There are so many that are so accessible too, which is great - I’d love to do pottery one day, it’s just such a big initial investment. I promised myself a kiln and wheel when I was 30. I’ve since broken this (I’m 33!) but I’d love to give throwing a go one day. I adored ceramics at school.

 I would love to improve my knitting skills and learn to crochet. I can’t imagine there is anything much more satisfying than wearing your own jumpers. I’m quite into strong knitwear!! I’ve just sat and knitted, making the odd bonnet for my daughter and her dolls, but I’d love to learn how to follow an actual pattern!!

 I’m a bit of a flitter and a floater - I enjoy flirting with lots of crafts, but never master any of them. I struggle to follow rules or instruction to the letter. It’s a running joke in our family that Danielle “embellishes” things. Recipes, patterns, instructions, guides; I can’t just do what I’m supposed to. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t, but even in the failures, there is so much to learn.

 There are so many more I’d love to try - brush lettering, lino printing, making soap, jewellery, the list is endless!

What is the best thing you’ve ever created?

Oh my. It’s tricky as singing my own praises doesn’t come naturally. I’m delighted with the doll, my most recent make. I’m so critical and there is so much I’d change if I made another, but she’s really pretty and my daughter adores her!

I also made a fawn’s head, that hangs in my daughter’s room (I promise it’s far less macabre than it sounds!) that I really am proud of. Oh and lots of felt food that I made in the evenings when my twins were babies, giving it all to them for their second birthday with a play kitchen. Whenever I feature these in my Instagram photos people ask where I bought them from, which makes my day

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boys stitch
cake house

And the worst?

As an avid instruction ignorer I have had several failures. I will always remake and never waste resources, but sometimes these “oops” moments lead to other loveliness. I made some pretty fabric garlands for our wedding using fabric I cut for napkin rings and decided against using. It was beautiful fabric and cost me a small fortune, but the garlands earned their money, as they proudly hung in our house for years afterwards, then our garden for a couple of summers.

As a busy mum of 3, how important is it for you to have your children involved in what you’re creating? And can you already see any of them with a creative flair like their mama?

Thank heavens they have the creative bug! I get such a warm, fuzzy feeling when they ask if we can make something, or I find them colouring, cutting & sticking.

Lockdown (the first one) was actually really lovely for us as a family and I definitely don’t take for granted how fortunate we were. It was incredible to spend time together as a family and we made lots of things during this time. The boys adored the beeswax candle rolling we did, asking if we could do it again for Christmas presents.

 I love creative play, so we’re always doing something to nurture that making bug, be it cooking, playdohing, simple papercraft or going outside to explore and find inspiration.

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