Meet the new Clooney Crafters

Photogtapher Ronan McMonagle with Toni Campbell, Marie Hemsay and Nicola King at the Clooney Terrace Craft Outlet.  (1005JB04)
Photogtapher Ronan McMonagle with Toni Campbell, Marie Hemsay and Nicola King at the Clooney Terrace Craft Outlet. (1005JB04)

Creativity is perhaps at its best when shared, and one group of local artists have done just that - setting up the Clooney Craft Outlet in vacant premises on Clooney Terrace.

Settling themselves into the previously-empty premises above Clooney Flowers, the Clooney Craft Outlet consists of several inspired ladies with a skills for arts and crafts. With a vast assortment of arts, crafts and oddities for sale, the group hope to full a niche in the Waterside and provide the local community - and farther afield - with innovative gift ideas.

First off, we meet Alicia Brolly, a Derry crafter living in Craigbane near Claudy, who has created ‘Sew Darn Good’.

“I make things with fabric for home decor,” Alicia tells the ‘Journal’, “I’ve only been doing it for about a year as I actually work full time as a District Nurse in the town. So this is my hobby and my release!

“I really only started making things because my grandson was due and I wanted to make something special for him, so I made a little patchwork pram blanket. Then my husband suggested I buy myself a sewing machine and that’s been me since! I make little fabric things for gifts, like hanging hearts and chickens, bookmarks, kids clothes, keyrings and all sorts,” she adds.

Crafters paid tribute to Raymond Walker, the owner of the building who initially advertised for crafters to make use of the vacant space upstairs.

“We saw it advertised that there were spaces to rent, and we thought it was a great idea,” said Alicia. “It should work well because there’s nothing like this around here. We just need people to know we’re here now.”

Nicola King, from Ballykelly, sells beautiful, durable handmade wooden plaques and gifts, personalised to order through ‘King’s Crafts’.

“It was just a hobby to begin with but people wanted more and it just picked up from there. My husband actually cuts the pieces I sell and then I can personalise them,” she explains.

“I work along with the customer to suit their needs. When babies are born, I can make special hanging pieces with the details of the new baby, I do home accessories and signs for loos and things. This was my first Mother’s Day too, and business was great! People love that personal touch.”

Toni Campbell, a full-time mum from Drumahoe, was the first crafter to join the collective. She makes exquisite scented salts for use in oil burners and sells the burners and assorted gifts to match.

“I enjoy people enjoying my stuff and would love more people to come in and visit us,” Toni says. “I’m a full-time mum to two children with autism and so this is just a hobby, but I find it very therapeutic, to be honest.”

Melita Hampsey is from Top-Of-the-Hill and is delighted to have the chance to showcase her ‘Unique for You’ handmade cards and invitations.

“I got the bug for the handmade cards after making some wedding invitations, and it just took off from there,” Melita says.

“Nobody around here is making handmade cards so there’s definitely a need for it. We have cards for every occasion here, and if I don’t have it, I’ll find it,” she promises.

And that’s not all. There’s Julie McAllister, who runs Bella Vista Event Hire with pretty things and catering for weddings, birthdays and various events. Also in the collective are Crafty Cuddles, which caters in handmade crochet and knitwear for babies, especially premature babies, and jeweller Shauna McCartney, who sells both retail and handmade gifts.

So the next time you’re scouring the city for that little something special, spare a thought for these supremely talented crafters and visit Clooney Craft Outlet, above the flower shop at 52A Clooney Terrace. You’ll find that certain something, and more besides....