Monday, 7 November 2011

In Search of a Chess Set

a disappointing visit to Chester.

I used to shop in Chester frequently as a child and young adult. There were our favourite shops, shops we visited for special gifts, shops into which we could hardly afford to peep - let alone step inside. There were branches of multiple chains but also local independent businesses. There was a fish monger with a game license, a small department store with a lovely food hall, some excellent bakers and tearooms, fabric shops, expensive jewellers...... A real mixture of shops to suit all tastes, needs and pockets all set in historic streets set out on  a Roman street plan. Some of these businesses remain, but they are, sadly, very much in the minority.

Our son will celebrate his 18th birthday soon. We have a number of gifts in mind, but the item which we wanted him to choose - the 'look-back-on -at-the-age-of-fifty something' gift, remembering that his parents gave it to him on his 18th birthday, is to be a chess set. He's not into jewellery, so many of the items which we might have considered have now embraced digital technology and will only last a few years before becoming obselete and he enjoys playing chess. He also has an appreciation of natural materials and craft skills and we hoped to find something in a lovely choice of woods, attractive board, nice balance/weight/style to the pieces. Chester did not appear to have anything to offer us. Instead there was noise, over-powering artificial perfumes, mass produced, bought today, landfill in a few weeks 'items' which we might probably find on almost every high street. I fear this is the problem - these items are to be found on every high street. The earth's resources are plundered to provide things we don't need, can live without, and, increasingly can not afford to pay for.

I hope the items which I make are not seen in the same light. Many of them are items of jewellery and are, therefore, not essential possessions. However, each is individually considered and carefully crafted. Many use recycled or vintage materials preventing these from slipping into landfill.

I have often described my storage crisis and the various 'containers' which have been employed in an attempt to resolve the problem. I have a small suitcase, with my father's initials on the top. At first glance, it appears to be 'pig-skin' but is actually a type of varnished cardboard. It has a lovely leather handle which I am very sorry to say has been broken in trying to support the rather too heavy contents. It is this little case which houses my collection of velvets and silks. Many of them are very small pieces and I use them with care. Some of my most popular creations are brooches, although these do not appeal to everyone. We all have keys and a need for keyrings. These might as well be attractive and carefully designed, and in my case, stitched. The supply of velvets from my little case has given rise to the first two of these keyrings. The third one uses a small remnant of furnishing fabric. I hope you like them:


  1. These are very pretty, and colourful, love them all!

    As regards Chester, I do go there fairly often, but rarely bother to go round the shops as there's nothing much to interest me now and I totally agree about not wanting to buy goods that will end up in landfill before long. If I go to Chester I'd rather walk round the walls, wander along the river or through Grosvenor Park. If I want to shop, I just browse through Folksy!

    Hope you manage to find a suitable chess set for your son, sounds a lovely idea for a special birthday present!

  2. Hi Margaret - I tried Folksy first. One or two chess boards but couldn't find any chess pieces, unfortunately.