CHRISTMAS shoppers are being urged to support local artists and craftspeople this festive season.
Craft NI has launched its annual 'Buy NI Craft' campaign, to shine a spotlight on local makers in Antrim and Newtownabbey.
The trade body, which is responsible for the promotion and development of the craft industry, says that people are starting to shop more sustainably and want a truly unique gift - while also supporting a local creative business.
From beautifully handcrafted pieces of jewellery to bespoke textiles inspired by Northern Irish landscapes and truly unique, personalised Christmas decorations that add luxury to your home, there is something truly personal to be found in purchasing a one-of-a-kind gift this year, they say.
Craft NI Director, Katherine McDonald said: “It is important that we support local business this year more than ever before, as makers begin their recovery from the closures and restrictions of the pandemic.
“It is fantastic to see this year many councils and venues supporting local makers with the return of some of the fairs and markets that couldn't take place last year.
“It's so important for the craft economy for makers to be able to showcase their beautiful work at a physical event and connect with people who love craft and value the unique and handmade
“Craft retailers in Northern Ireland have more than ever to delight shoppers this year, and many makers and retailers are selling online, so we can window shop Northern Irish craft from home too.
“You can find talented makers, quality craft retailers and a selection of events on Craft NI's website www.craftni.org
Craft NI has also put together a list of just some of the talented makers in the Antrim and Newtownabbey area.
These include Cameron & Breen, who specialise in luxury jewellery which proudly displays the beautiful marks of traditional homemade design.
The awarding-winning collaborative, made up of Martin Cameron and Laura Breen, both contemporary Irish Goldsmiths work in their Randalstown based studio in Antrim.
They create a raw aesthetic inspired by early Celtic mark marking and stone carvings found throughout the rugged Irish landscape.
Winner of the prestigious Leopard Awards 2021, Claire Skelton is an artist and jeweller who creates bespoke jewellery, giving sentimental, heirloom gold new life by reworking the metal and forging a new, contemporary pieces to be worn and enjoyed once again.
Having trained in silversmithing and jewellery in Belfast and Finland, Claire is inspired by the alchemy of melting down gold and its infinite ability to be transformed.
You can find her designs locally at Linen & Latte, Newtownabbey, Co.Antrim and Ebb & Flow, Carnlough and Craft NI Gallery in Belfast.
After graduating from the ceramics department at Ulster University,
Belfast, in 2012 with a First Class Honours Degree, Jemma Millen, from Crumlin, set up her studio where she crafts ranges of sculptural and functional ceramics. Jemma works across various ceramics techniques including throwing, slip-casting and hand-building. She aims to produce simple and understated ceramics for the home so that everyone can enjoy them.
Leanne McCormack likes to take the traditional craft of vitreous enamelling and in her own style, portray various aspects of nature.
She was honoured to be commissioned to create the 'Sir Thomas and Lady Dixon, Rose Award Trophy' for Rose Week previously and, on completing her Degree, was accepted as Graduate in Residence, at Ulster University.
Leanne has had work exhibited with the British Society of Enamellers and Internationally in the 'Under Fire 3' Exhibition. More recently, she was really pleased to have a new piece of her work exhibited in Craft NI Gallery, during August Craft Month, as part of the 'Re-New' Exhibition. "I like to take the traditional craft of vitreous enamelling and in my own style, portray various aspects of nature".
Craft NI is not only asking local people to actively support independent businesses and makers across the country by shopping local but is also
encouraging the public to use the hashtag #madetogive online to raise
'Gift Differently' and 'Buy Local Craft' aims to help makers in promoting their handmade items across their social media platforms using the uniquely designed 'Buy Local Craft' digital campaign badge and to highlight their investment in online retail.
All upcoming events are available to view on the Craft NI website
If you would like to know where you can buy from local craft makers, visit
www.craftni.org/directory/ or follow Craft NI on Twitter, Facebook and
You can share your own craft purchases with #madetogive
Craft NI is pleased to be working with Fermanagh & Omagh, Antrim &
Newtownabbey, Mid-Ulster and Ards & North Down Councils on their Christmas campaign this year.