Makedo X Made in Ashford: Makers Gonna Make
Makedo And Mend
Bigjigs Toys’ newest distribution brand, Makedo, joined forces with Made in Ashford for a very exciting workshop! Makedo is our brand new open-ended cardboard construction toy and is designed for little hands to build imaginative and functional creations from repurposed cardboard with safe, reusable kids tools. Youngsters will learn by creating, doing, trying, failing and succeeding.
Made In Ashford
Melissa Dawkins is the founder of Made in Ashford, a pop-up shop that never popped off! Made in Ashford was born in 2015 as part of Ashford Borough Council’s town centre regeneration and is now the permanent home to lots of handmade Kent businesses and creatives.
More recently, Melissa became the founder of Craftship Enterprise CIC a social enterprise promoting sustainable self-employment for creatives. The Craftship is Made in Ashford’s creative hub, a space to run community workshops, galleries and more.
Makedo X Made In Ashford Workshop
See how our mini makers got on at our out of this world cardboard Makedo workshop!
Cardboard Construction Tips
Become a cardboard pro in no time at all with Melissa’s top tips!
What are your top cardboard crafting tips?
M: If you’re going to attach cardboard pieces together for bigger creations, creating things like separate hinges or brackets which are attached with Scrus is a good top tip.
What cardboard construction designs have you made before?
M: I’ve made a set of working cardboard drums! I’ve made loads of things and have made a pirate ship with sails, plenty of forts and castles, and a tractor costume for my son!
What toys would you pair with cardboard for extra play value?
M: It really depends on what they’ve made. If they’ve made a cardboard house, then cuddly toys or dolls are an easy option. I think dressing up in costumes can also help with the next stage of imaginative play with cardboard creations too!
The Craftship Is Ready For Lift-Off
3, 2, 1 blast off! We chatted to Melissa and Katy, a Craftship creative, about their cosmic crafting journey so far...
What inspires you?
M: Things just come into my head. I see a lot of art and because we’re around creative people all of the time, we’re always talking and our imaginations run wild.
K: Yeah it’s 24/7, we’re always Whatsapping ideas and it just starts snowballing!
What is your passion and how did you get started with it?
M: My passion is making clothes and I started doing that when I was a teenager aged around 13. I used to buy vintage clothing from boot fairs but it didn’t fit me, so I learned how to construct garments by taking apart vintage items and reconstructing them. When I left school I had my own fashion business straight away and then I went off into retail and came back into it again… then this [Made in Ashford] all happened!
K: I began working with kids. I used to work in the United States in art and summer camps. Then when I came back here, I couldn’t; so, The Craftship and what Melissa has built has helped my passion - which is nature-based learning for kids. Like nature journals, making crafts out of pines cones and twigs.
What’s different about Made in Ashford?
M: We try to run as a cooperative. Everything is transparent. Everyone who is a member of our shop (we’ve got 50 businesses) have involvement in all of the things we do and all of the projects. So we try to support each other - our meetings, our digital content - anyone can be a part of the decision making process.
What’s your proudest career moment?
M: I think it was in lockdown. We helped make scrubs and raised money with a group of ladies called Ashford Scrubbers. We raised £20,000! That was logistically one of the most amazing things. I was proud of the support we gave during lockdown too; we did loads of free things for kids who were accessing food banks - like free craft kits, free colouring books, free activity packs.
K: I manage the Makers Markets that we do every first Saturday of the month. So it’s giving kitchen-table size businesses the chance to get out onto the High Street. I’m really proud of that, helping more people get out there.
What was the biggest challenge Made in Ashford faced? How did you overcome it?
M: The pandemic hit retail and small businesses particularly hard. Especially businesses like ours and individuals. A lot of our sellers don’t have much of an online presence and don’t have their own website. So all of a sudden when these shops shut, that was a really big struggle for our makers. We had to think of ways to help keep money flowing for those guys.
What’s the next mission for The Craftship?
M: Well, it’s establishing this space [The Craftship]. We want to get lots of community groups in here, workshops, a gallery to showcase local art. We also want to create a Maker’s Space upstairs with a photography studio and a workshop space with tools and equipment.
What are your top tips for introducing kids to art?
M: Let kids do it themselves. Show them how, but allow them to colour outside of the lines and do whatever they like.
K: Get a plastic sheet - like an old shower curtain - and cover everything you care about! Then kids can just go mad! The less you worry about mess, the more fun they have. Don’t be afraid to let them have a go. The fewer rules and more free play they have, the more you see their little personalities shine through.
Why do you think art is important to children's education?
M: Because within it, there are so many things you can learn. You learn history from making cardboard castles; you can learn about maths by having to work out how something is constructed. There are so many different things within art and creativity - it also helps a child’s wellbeing and social skills come together.