I love reminiscing over childhood books read and loved and old games we used to play (and maybe, sometimes, still do play on a rainy day!). Don’t you?
Louise Lynch is a woman after my own heart who has made it her job (along with a little teaching on the side) to collect vintage books and games and upcycle them into notebooks, journals, brooches and bunting. Her love of making things started at a young age and never subsided into adulthood so what better way to keep up the creativity and collecting than by mixing business with pleasure?
Come and meet Louise and her treasure trove of crafted pieces …
Tell me a bit about yourself – what’s your background, do you have a ‘day’ job, and how have you ended up where you are today?
I’ve always loved making things and remember my mother driving me around our local shops looking for sticky back plastic and double-sided cellotape for the Blue Peter ‘makes’. Working as a full-time secondary school teacher in a difficult school I found the best stress relief was sitting in a quiet room in the evening and making glass-beaded jewellery and sewing bags and purses.
In Pride and Prejudice Elizabeth asks Darcy when he fell in love with her and he replies, “I was in the middle before I knew that I had begun.” I think that sums up my business. I made more things than I could ever use myself, friends started admiring them and asking me to make things for them and soon I went from local craft fairs to my own market stall. I still teach as a substitute, so I never know how many days I will be working each week and how much time I can devote to my business, which is now all online.
When and why did you begin exploring/ working with vintage books and the like? Tell us about the different things you make.
I have always been a collector. As a child I spent my 10 p pocket money each week on buying a vintage postcard from a village antique shop. I collect antique and vintage children’s books, toys and games. Those books that are damaged beyond salvation with missing and loose pages I remove any undamaged pictures for framing, card making , paper bunting, envelopes … and other paper crafts.
I also buy wooden jigsaw puzzles that I then make into brooches and fridge magnets. Playing cards make great covers for pocket notebooks, and old annuals I turn into note books, including some of the original pages. A recent scientific study showed that nostalgia is good for our mental and physical wellbeing, which is just what my items are all about – using images from books and toys to bring back happy childhood memories so, just for a while, you can join Curly and Nibs and the other lost boys in the Neverland.
Where do you source the books and other materials from?
I love shopping, so spend any spare time going round charity shops and second-hand book shops. Ebay is also a good source of the vintage wooden jigsaws that I make into brooches.
What’s behind the name Curly and Nibs?
I wanted the name to convey that, although I make items from children’s books and toys, they are meant for grown-ups too. Curly and Nibs are two of the lost boys from Peter Pan, living an eternal childhood in Neverland.
What was the last vintage piece you bought?
I just bought pack of vintage Snap playing cards with circus illustrations from a charity shop in town. Some are torn and creased, but those that are in good condition I want to make into note book covers. I love the circus. I think from all my answers it is becoming obvious that, just like my hero Peter Pan, I have never grown up!
My favourite children’s book is/was …
Peter Pan. I read it throughout my childhood, and still keep a copy on my bedside table to read on rainy days. In fact I now have 13 different vintage versions of the book. The thought of being able to fly away to a magical island to swim with mermaids and battle with pirates appeals to me just as much now as a 46-year-old as it did as a six-year-old.
My guilty pleasure is …
Elvis Presley films. They are kitsch, cheesy, sexist, but he is so dreamy; the clothes, hair and dance numbers are fab and groovy, and the stories comfortably predictable with happy endings. They just make me smile.
The best thing about living in Northern Ireland is …
The slower pace of life, small population, spectacular North Antrim Coast. If it didn’t rain every day it would be perfect.
Have you ever had a ‘who’d have thought’ moment?
One of my first online sales was a pair of earrings to Waikiki Beach, Hawaii. I have since sold items all around the world but that sale still gives me a kick. Who’d have thought a pair of earrings made by me in Northern Ireland are being worn in such an exotic location. I only wish I could have hand-delivered them!
Thanks so much Louise for sharing your story and reminding us to bring back the child in us all every now and then!
And if you like Louise’s work, you can buy some of her journals and Cluedo notebooks in our store here.
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