Julie Peasgood Sets Sail as "Supercraft Captain" aboard Saga's Spirit of Discovery

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Boasting extensive acting and TV presenting credits, Julie Peasgood has been in some of Britain’s best-loved soaps, received the Royal Television Society’s prestigious Television Personality of the Year Award, and also made her mark as a prolific travel writer. Alongside her column in 'Crafts Beautiful' magazine, her passion for craft has seen her co-produce and present five series of ‘Crafty Beggars’ for Discovery TLC and Together TV, develop two ranges of craft products for Create and Craft TV, and lead crafting workshops all over the UK.

Now, she’s going global. Embarking on a very different kind of craft journey, captain of craft Julie has just launched her brand-new ‘Supercraft Cruise’ venture, seeing her at the helm of her handpicked team of some of the country’s finest crafting talent and setting sail on a new combined craft and cruise adventure around the world…

Hosting a wide range of inspirational workshops, seasoned sailor Julie and her fantastic fleet of expertly-skilled supercrafters are teaching countless crafts offering widespread appeal to ALL levels and to both women AND men. What’s more, some crafts, such as bird sculpture, bronzed plaque and stained glass decorating skills, have never been seen before afloat.

I was lucky enough to meet Julie at a Crafting Live event at Sandown Park back in January 2018, just as my book Felt Wonderland launched.  I was ever so slightly star struck, well a lot star struck if I am being completely honest!  I had been a huge fan for many years and indeed a fan of Julie’s character Fran Pearson on Brookside, having watched the soap from the start. We got chatting and Julie invited me to do some filming for Crafty Beggars TV and from there I was delighted to be selected for first “Supercraft Cruise” 

For now, though, it’s time to grab a cuppa as Julie shares her personal journey into the immersive world of crafting and supercrafts. Extracts taken from Angela Sara West’s orginal Interview for Craft Business Magazine.

Clocking up almost 80 cruises

I fell in love with cruising at my first ever sail-away onboard the QE2, 22 years ago. It was a themed cruise built around ‘British Soaps’ and, as I had just had a long stint in Channel 4’s ‘Brookside’, I was invited onboard to talk about my time on the series. I adored the whole cruise experience and I still do; the fact that you visit so many fascinating ports of call but only unpack once, the first-rate food in a variety of dining venues, cocktails on the balcony (always scanning the sea for whales!), the excellent standard of entertainment, the illuminating speakers and the opportunity to learn so many new and diverse skills... Cruising gives you a unique window on the world, and even after 79 of them I don’t think I’ll ever tire of looking through that porthole!

Inspiration
I’ve always enjoyed crafting at sea, but I’m aware that although crafters onboard tend to be very loyal to the classes, it’s generally only a small percentage of passengers who attend - and they’re also mostly women. I’m on a mission with Supercraft Cruises to spread the word about how therapeutic and stress-reducing it is to make things, and to introduce a lot of new passengers to the confidence-boosting benefits of creating something original and unique – and that goes for men as well as women! I meet so many passengers who often don’t believe they have any artistic flair, and it’s so uplifting to see them realise that they do have talent and can create something really special.

Hosting a 'tester' Supercraft cruise, aboard Cruise & Maritime Voyage’s ship MS Magellan.

I’m thrilled to say it was received extremely well, with passengers even taking the trouble to write me letters saying how they had enjoyed the variety of classes, and that we had all made it the best cruise they had ever been on!

Eight crafters were on that first cruise, all of whom I had met at various craft fairs or through their TV work. After inviting them to appear on ‘Crafty Beggars in the House!’ (the magazine-style show that followed the initial TV series of ‘Crafty Beggars’, which I conceived) I was so impressed with their diverse and professional skillsets that they seemed a natural team for CMV.

Jennie Rainsford and Karen Holland, who run the celebrated Lechlade Craft Barn, taught everything from no-sew fabric Christmas baubles and embroidered brooches to block-printed tote bags and enchanting mosaic hearts. Mark Vardy, who runs Silvar Design, is a renowned jeweller and his classes are always packed – whether he’s workshopping Curious Kumihimo Bracelets or his latest inspired invention of jewelled lariats to hold cruise cards. Melissa Waudby is the owner of Simply Vintage and I love her work with all things retro. I treasure a ribbon wreath, a teacup diorama and a teacup pincushion I made with her, and she sources a phenomenal range of vintage buttons, materials, ribbons, lace, china and antiques for lucky passengers to work with.

Lisa Marie Olson of Tigerlily Makes produces beautiful felted work. I enjoyed learning how to make no-sew felt rose brooches and I’m desperate to make the tiny slippers for my granddaughter from Lisa Marie’s book ‘Felt Wonderland’ (published by Search Press). Ali Reeve runs Stamps Away and is a very experienced and popular tutor. She employs a range of her own famed techniques on unique MDF boxes, shapes and books to create fabulous pictures and plaques. Janie Burnett-Bleach is the founder of Janiesoriginals.com and specialises in mixed media arts and crafts. Janie produces some wonderfully-detailed and delicate creations, and her workshop teaching how to make fine hand-bound notebooks is hugely popular.

Delroy Davis produces original copper wirework and distinctive Steampunk-inspired pendants, fridge magnets and key rings. He uses old-style cogs and watch parts, suspended in resin and set in antique brass bezels. Marilia Carvalho is a superb stained glass artist. There is always a waiting list for her workshops as she teaches one of the oldest traditional methods of copper foiling, previously known as the Tiffany method. Passengers are delighted when they produce a little stained glass angel, sailing boat or flower that looks polished and professional.

And I gave a workshop teaching passengers how to transform a humble sock into a teddy bear. I had over a hundred passengers attending - including a lot of men - and we enjoyed some good laughs as well as producing an army of much-admired sock teddies! Much to my amusement, there were appearances from several sock teds on ‘formal night’, with one of them actually sporting a miniature dinner jacket!

Diversity and never before seen at sea…

I think what makes Supercraft Cruises different is the fact that there are so many crafters offering a wide range of opportunities. Many cruisers are repeat visitors to a ship, so it’s important to provide as much variety as possible. On the six consecutive sea days crossing the Atlantic to Canada, we had eight crafters giving eight workshops each day – meaning a total of 48 workshops were available to passengers!

I also make sure that I pick crafters who are good tutors, and whose finished work is exemplary, plus I choose artists as well as crafters. To my knowledge, authentic stained glass has never been taught at sea before, neither have the marvellous mixed media bowls and birds that Nikki Szabo makes – Nikki is one of my newest Supercrafters. Next September, I will be taking a small group of Supercrafters on a CMV cruise to the Norwegian Fjords, where John Rattenbury will be joining us. John creates exclusive bronzed plaques – again, never before seen at sea – and his work is displayed in the British Museum. We’re different, and we can offer more value onboard because of our numbers.

From absolute beginners to the very experienced

Of course! It’s essential to be inclusive – and because we give detailed and individual instruction (we’re all able to help each other if class numbers get big) then everybody benefits. We had a large contingent of experienced and talented WI members as passengers on the Canadian cruise, as well as some people who had never crafted before. We try to meet everyone at their level and guide them accordingly.

Offering crafts with widespread appeal to both women and men…

Funnily enough, the sock teddies seem to go down very well with men, but Mark’s jewellery classes have also proved extremely popular. I would say Marilia’s stained glass is the most sought-after by male crafters though – the feedback for her workshops is always 100%.

Introducing new crafts

The crafters in my team are all gifted individuals, who all have their own businesses and commitments, so the line-up of Supercrafters needs to be a fluid, flexible one rather than a fixed group, as not everybody will always be available. This means that new crafts will regularly be introduced by different team members, or my established Supercrafters will choose new projects to bring onboard alongside firm favourites.

I always enjoy meeting new expert crafters, but I have to be very selective as I already have a long waiting list! If anyone can master a few workshops (that run around an hour each) I would be interested in considering them for my database of Supercrafters. Please contact me on info@supercraftcruises.com

FACTBOX
Whet your whistle for taking your craft life to another level on the ocean wave? Book yourself on board and join Julie and her talented team on the next Supercraft cruise to the sparkling Med! https://travel.saga.co.uk/cruises/ocean/where-we-go/mediterranean-cruises/roman-italy-and-sardinia.aspx


Follow Julie’s Supercraft news on Twitter @Supercrafters8

Read Angela Sara West’s original and full interview in the Craft Business Magazine

Follow Angela’s on Twitter @AngelaSaraWest