This article was written for Annabel & Grace, which is now part of Rest Less.
I’ve always wanted to be “crafty” – I can’t tell you how many times I’ve bought beads to make jewellery, fabric to sew quilts, paper and cards to make my own, and paints to paint anything. All have been sent to the charity shop because I am the very anthesis of crafty, although I can now knit hooray, and I’ve just recently learned to crochet. So as I scroll through Etsy and Pinterest, I’m enthralled by the beautiful things craft-making people can do.
One of my favourite crafty people is 47-year-old Rachel Balding, who moved to the beautiful city of Bristol a good few years ago with her partner Jason, an Aircraft Engineer when she became so fed up with working in an office whilst trying to make a living as a model, (she’s gorgeous, couldn’t cope with the hassle and politics involved). And on a whim, she decided to celebrate her penchant for beautiful materials and upcycle by working from home.
And so, Fat Poppycat was born – her nickname used for her very first rescue cat (now sadly over the Rainbow Bridge) and over the years, Fat Poppycat has gone from strength to strength. As have her rescue cats – she now has several, including a bonkers animal named Batman!
Her first venture was into mosaics and door number plaques in particular – I love my No 29, which has been on my front door for getting on for what seems like forever.
And just recently, she’s been making the most beautiful brooches in Ukrainian blue and yellow, with a large percentage going to charities aiding their refugees. I absolutely adore my beautiful brooch, and I’ve been stopped several times and asked where it came from, with just one brooch representing nearly an hour’s work – and she’s just working on a new batch, having completely sold out in no time at all.
All her beautiful and exotic fabrics come from those beautiful swatch books that high-end Designers abandoned as last season. Then she adds her fantastic individual touches with ribbons and beads and all manner of lovely things she discovers, recycles and generally collects.
Fat Poppycat has been featured in exclusive magazines and exhibits at shows such as the Country Living Christmas Show. This year, she can be found at Gardens World Live in Birmingham and the RHS Autumn Show in Malvern.
Rachel is always open to commissions and new ideas, and I adore her beautiful bookmarks – you know me and books! She’s a book person too, listening for hours to audible medieval murder mysteries – actually, that’s how we met – we were both dressed as medieval ladies whilst our men were fighting complete contact in five stone suits of armour!.
Why not look at her website – POPPYCAT – all her contact details are on there, and she’s now working with a local blacksmith for a mosaic key rack (put me down for one, please).
You can read Janet Gordon’s book reviews here