“I grew up in Berkshire and throughout my childhood we would spend part of each summer in West Wales, where a lifelong love of the beach and beachcombing was nurtured, spending happy days with my brother hunting in rock pools and finding treasures on the beach.”
Sally got married in 1988, she moved to East Clare with her husband and then-2-year-old in 1991 after deciding where they want to raise their family.
“The beaches of the Atlantic coast were only an hours drive away, and we spent many days with our now two children on the beach. We would always return with buckets full of shells and pockets full of special rocks!”
Sally’s background is in retail management and customer service. However, an accident meant she could no longer work so she focussed on crafts as it kept her mind “occupied and focused”.
Sally’s husband also has a massive passion for beachcombing, so when their children were older, they would still go on hunts for the best spots that would produce the most treasure along the Wild Atlantic Way which stretches from West Cork to Donegal.
So, how did Sally’s passion for beachcombing get her into this amazing crafting she does?
“My husband came back from a business trip in early 2018 and brought with him some craft magazines, among them was one on card making. I began experimenting with coloured buttons and then pebble art for friends and family. Sea glass came about as a happy accident, we were in West Cork and whilst looking for shells we found some beautiful sea glass.”
Sally actually used to collect sea glass as a child, which she’d forgotten about before stumbling onto it again; her mother would fill jars with her finds and decorate the house with them.
“After that holiday, I began researching the type of beaches that would provide the best conditions for sea glass and things took off from there. I began making cards to giveaway to family and friends on their birthdays.”
Sally eventually grew the confidence to start selling her work on her Etsy shop in May 2019. She reached a milestone of 300 sales just before the anniversary of her online shop opening!
“Each card I make brings me such joy that it hardly seems like work at all. My heart still skips a beat every time I hear the Etsy kerching and each sale is as important to me as the first one, which was a colourful chameleon card that went to the USA.”
Sally has many designs featuring on her sea glass greeting cards including different animals, plants and flowers, we asked her where she got the inspiration for these:
“Flowers would always be a favourite thing to make and I find that nature is really the best inspiration there is. I dedicate a couple of hours a week researching inspirational quotes, song lyrics and sketch out ideas either incorporating them or inspired by them. Sometimes I surprise myself where an idea comes from and it was my husband who inspired the Irish language and English/Irish collection. He was also the inspiration behind the elephants as he is particularly partial to them.”
Sally arranges the sea glass in different designs to put on greeting cards but how does she choose what type of design she’s going to create next?
“A lot of what I create comes from playing around with glass colours and shapes, a bit like a jigsaw puzzle. The seahorse is a very popular mosaic card and I always try to vary colours and textures with each one I make as no two pieces of glass are alike – no two cards can ever be the same.”
Sea glass is a stunning and unique material to use for crafting different things, so we can see why Sally and her customers love it so much, but we wanted to know why she chose it over other materials:
“I think I chose sea glass and then greeting cards because it was different, many people had no idea what it was but when they see it, they love it. It’s not always easy to work with but I’ve got there with a good bit of trial and error and it doesn’t help that I’m a bit of a perfectionist.”
Sally’s sea glass designs were featured in one of the episodes of Kirsty Allsop’s recent series of ‘Keep Crafting and Carry On’ which aired on Channel 4. We asked Sally how this felt:
“Being on Kirsty Allsop and her replying to one of my tweets was like getting a blessing from the Queen. I was so delighted that I was picked for a little slot and it was great to share what I love to do with a whole new craft community. I had a stupid grin on my face for a whole week. It did raise my Instagram profile and I received a number of sales from people who quoted the programme. The majority of my sales are in the USA though they seem to love owning a little piece of Ireland.”
Many people have a love for crafting, whether they enjoy seeing the end product come to life or the process of making it. We were to curious to know what Sally loved most about being a crafter and making her amazing designs:
“What do I love most? I think it has to be the joy, I love to think I’m making someone smile and that their card is the only one of its kind. I think that it’s a huge part of keeping the mental health in balance, it has helped me through difficult times most recently this whole experience of lockdown and COVID-19, it’s as good as therapy!”
We loved learning about Sally’s current crafting ventures and how she got into making these sea glass greeting cards, but what are her plans for the future?
“My plans for the future are to keep doing what I’m doing, to try and keep the ideas coming. I’m considering a website but right now my Etsy shop is enough and I have a collection on MarketStreet.ie, I’m happy with flexibility and control that these two outlets give me. I strive to ensure I run my shop to the highest standards of customer service and to keep evolving my designs. I’m fairly flexible with what I can adapt to suit a special occasion and I now do custom orders and designs. I enjoy making the art pieces but they are very time consuming and but I feel the best future for me is in the greeting cards.”
Lastly, at CraftCover, we insure businesses like Sally’s that make crafts and sell to the public. We asked Sally why she thought this would be important to have:
“I think if my business takes me in the direction of craft fairs then public liability insurance will be a must have. At the moment most of what I send is low cost but if I do branch out to larger more high cost work then I will most certainly need to consider the insurance option.”
You can find information about our public liability insurance here and our craft fair insurance here.
A huge thanks to Sally for agreeing to take part in July’s ‘Crafter in the Spotlight’. Remember to look out for another edition next month!