I was running a workshop at Gartmore House near Stirling as the lockdown was building. Little did we realise what was in store.
A Tourism Event I was due to attend on 17th March was cancelled at the last minute the night before. A talk and demo to be given to a local group on the Wednesday night was cancelled, a workshop planned for a group the following Saturday was cancelled. And so, it went on. I started panicking about finances as two or three participants in workshops I had planned here at Biteabout Farm for the following few months contacted me and asked for refunds. So, an email was put together offering refunds, but asking those who could, to reschedule at a later date. Thankfully most of them did.
I am a maker of willow sculptures and baskets, as well as a felt maker, but a large part of my income comes from workshops. This has changed. I stocked up my Etsy shop, advertised this on Instagram and Facebook alongside my availability for commissions and slowly things started to trickle in. An exhibition of sculptures due to open at The National Trust’s Priorwood Gardens in Melrose was postponed, but luckily a good customer bought a couple of pieces for their garden.
Our garden, which has been lovingly tended throughout lockdown by my husband, now has obelisks of climbing beans, willow fencing panels to shelter tender vegetables and bird feeders in the trees. All inspired by the orders and commissions for other’s gardens. My big seller on Etsy - small birdfeeders made corn dolly style around fat balls.
But life is not just work. I have a young son, now at home isolated, bored and my job, his home schooling. So, my main focus has become him. I try to see it as a positive – much of my work before was workshops and events at weekends and in holidays – now I get time with him.
However, things are slowly changing. My exhibition in Melrose has just opened and I already have some interest in commissions. My husband can start to create the frames for these. School holidays are coming and my son can see more of his friends. I am planning how I can have small groups attend a workshop here at Biteabout Farm in the Autumn. An event planned for this weekend has gone online. Sales in my Etsy shop continue. Things are looking up again.