I have a special treat for you today my crafty ones - today I'd like to welcome my good friend Natalie Pirks; BBC sports correspondent. Some of you may recognise Natalie from the BBC, where she can often be seen covering big sporting events and interviewing the likes of David Beckham (such pirks indeed!) but I'll admit, I don't often see Natalie on the telly myself because a) I don't have a telly and b) I still shudder when I see a playing field because it reminds me of sports day at school ... in fact that was probably the last time I ran. But there is no doubt Natalie is an huge inspiration to many women, because aside from being a successful journalist she is also a wife and mother and unbeknown to me, a crafter! Today she is going to tell us a bit about her crafty ways, and tell us how she made this most beautiful Singer sewing machine dining table. In her own words "I love me some arts and crafts!"
An interview with Natalie Pirks
Like many women today, you manage to balance a full time job, run a household, and you're a wife and mother. How on earth do you find time for crafting and homemaking? - Truth is, I don't but what tends to happen with us is that I make a list of all the things we need to tackle and then we absolutely blitz it one weekend! I am a Cancerian so my home is my castle and I do love thinking of ways to improve it. My next project is to re-tile the broken concrete hearth where the fireplace used to be with a mishmash of different coloured en caustic tiles.
That sounds lovely! You must share it with us when it's finished. Did you inherit your crafty ways, and if so who from? - My mum is a proper maker and doer. She loves searching antique shops and up cycling things. She taught herself to reupholster furniture and redid her kitchen entirely with Welsh dressers and knick knacks (she lives in Pembrokeshire). We don't share entirely the same style but I am becoming more like her with every day that passes, much to my husband's horror!
Knitting actually started out as a male-only occupation back in the 1500's, and thankfully it's starting to become popular amongst men again. Do you know of any sportsmen or footballers that knit? and have you ever witnessed such an event? - I haven't but what a great stress buster that would be at half time of a big cup final! Perhaps I should suggest it to the FA ;-)
You have a gorgeous little girl - what crafts do you enjoy doing together? - She loves to paint and draw so we do that a lot at home. I recently spent 7 hours hand sewing ginger fur onto her World Book Day outfit because she insisted on going as the Cat from Room on the Broom. No easily purchasable outfit for me this year! But I painted her face as a tiger and she loved it. We don't spend as much time together as I'd like because of work so it did feel nice to sew her outfit for her, even though it took a lot of precious free time!
Having recently celebrated International woman's day - what woman (or women) have had a profound affect on you in your life? - I have been blessed to have many strong women in my life but my mum is my role model, really. She fell pregnant with me at just 17 and her parents didn't want her to have me so she and my dad were forced to go it alone to prove they could make it work. They juggled many jobs between them to give me and my brother a great life and have made a lot of sacrifices along the way. She's since remarried and even though she has two adult children and grandchildren, she has adopted 3 disabled children who otherwise wouldn't have been out of foster care. She is truly a remarkable, if slightly crazy(!) woman. I've learnt strength from her (and a dose of stubbornness along the way!) and I hope that me and my daughter remain as close as she and I are.
How to make a singer sewing machine table
So tell us how you went about making this masterpiece Natalie - I actually saw something similar for sale in Shoreditch and loved it immediately but it was £1500. I tend to have these ideas where I think I can do the same as something I love for much cheaper (I once made a 3D butterfly collage using faux antique wrapping paper, card and spray glue that we still have up on our spare room wall!) but in this case it was a long process.
We had to buy two of the treadles off eBay (one came still with the beautiful, but broken, machine attached, so it's now an ornament in the house). We then rubbed them down and sprayed them black. It took 4 coats of metal paint to make them match.
Then we went to Retrouvius, the salvage yard in London, where we'd seen they had some 1950s Teak pieces of wood for sale that had once been floor covers for electric cabling. They still have the brass handles on them and loads of stiletto type marks where they've been walked on.
We sanded them back, oiled them and cleaned all the brass before fixing them to the treadles with large screws, and then finally bolting the two together. The table is incredibly heavy and hard to move! But I love that it has a history, with all the marks still present, and that my husband and I made it together. Overall it cost around £400 - less than a third of the table I loved in Shoreditch and certainly less than a lot of 6 seater tables. It was a labour of love and we love it!
JM & NP
Should you like to follow Natalie you can follow her here on twitter!