As I write this week’s blog, it is no coincidence that today (June 21st) is the longest day of the year, where the celebrations start at Stonehenge, Wiltshire, UK.
For those if you who don’t know, Stonehenge is one of the wonders of the world and the best-known prehistoric monument in Europe.
It consists of a ring of standing stones, each standing stone around 13 feet (4.0 m) high, seven feet (2.1 m) wide and weighing around 25 tonnes. The stones are set within earthworks in the middle of the most dense complex of Neolithic and Bronze Age monuments in England, including several hundred burial mounds
The relevance (and there is one, I promise) it that the “craftsmen and women” who created this piece of art did so out of love, and the desire to create something indelible. The history books write that the creation of Stonehenge was part of a collective project by the community, crafted over many years. It was often worked on once their travels and daily work had been done, a real passion project. So, despite their magnificence, the standing stones were created after ‘work’ or as a pastime.
I find this mind-blowing; don’t we still do this today? History also shows that many artisan movements were born in exactly the same way before becoming an industry and creating jobs.
However as many of us know, when a hobby becomes a job or your work/ life balance just isn’t sitting evenly, it is time to take stock. Wellbeing and Mindfulness are currently massive talking points in our industry and beyond, as research shows many of us live in stressful situations trying to find the time to squeeze everything possible into a single day.
It is then no surprise that Medical News Today research proves that “drawing, painting or moulding objects from clay has been scientifically proven to help people to deal with different kinds of trauma.”
A number of studies have also found that writing — expressive writing, in particular, which requires participants to narrate an event and explain how it affected them — can help people to overcome trauma and manage negative emotions.
Is this the reason why we are seeing so much new product development in the stationery and craft market? Are the research and development departments for brands looking to pull on our heart strings and emotions to make sales?
The first product which addressed this was the trend of Adult Colouring Books. These were designed to help you take time out and de-stress, whilst reverting your inner state to childhood. It was the brainchild of the French market, before being overwhelmingly received in the US and the UK following suit.
The links between stationery and craft are always strong because so many crafting activities use mediums and materials that are core to the stationery sector too. This year has been absolutely no exception either; calligraphy, journaling and colouring are all very popular.
Of these, journaling is going from strength to strength and there were a lot of new products available to help you get creative in your organisation, recording your thoughts and goal setting. Products that are linked to journaling includes notebooks with captioned pages to guide you through like the fabulous products from Kikki K, above , gorgeous looking notebooks that you can personalise in both design and paper type - the Castelli Wabi Sabi design a particular favourite of mine with its strong colours and eye catching use of gold blocking!
Journaling involves words and visuals: from icons or art pieces. There is a fantastic selection of pens, pencils and paint products to use and the artwork being produced in journals is amazing, here are some examples.
The journaling trend has led to an increased interest in modern lettering and calligraphy and companies like Manuscript Pen Company have developed ranges to cater for the upsurge in crafty and creative writing. The Shropshire brand has a really broad range of pens for almost every need, which includes their Callicreative Switch Tips Range - a complete set offering a brush tip, a fine liner and two italic nibs that can be used in one single pen, making it the perfect solution for creatives of all disciplines. Alongside this versatile product, a range of traditional style dip pens include the Oblique Calligraphy Set and a more comprehensive Modern Calligraphy Set.
Whilst we talk about wellbeing and wellness, mental health is at the core of this. Recently Mental Health Awareness Week helped to increase our awareness of mental health issues, encouraging people to talk more to destigmatise the illness and encourage new ways to manage stress and anxiety. Learning new skills and creative ways to spend our time when we are not at work can be a really effective emotional outlet and a few years ago this led to a huge increase in colouring for adults which continues to be popular today.
Frighteningly, we are beginning to realise that more children need a digital detox too, as they resort to digital forms of entertainment instead of the traditional forms of play and discovery. Whilst Manuscript Pen Company are known for their calligraphy ranges, they are developing a new children’s colouring range called Lionheart.
Reassuringly, Manuscript conducted detailed research with a selection of children and parents that confirmed that younger children still enjoy using pencils if given the opportunity.
The Lionheart range features an early learner writing and colouring range accompanied by ten fun and exciting characters who help to aid a child’s creative development. The range is supported by a selection of writing instruments and activity books to assist children’s development from their early years up to 9 years old.
Whilst the interest in colouring continues to grow other areas of creative interest are emerging too. Beginners are using demonstrations on You Tube to learn new skills and kits of components with instructions are a great way to get started too – moving the crafting trend online!