Featured / May 1, 2021

Maker of the Month

Nestled between our Plant Centre and Pavilion, the Pinery Gift Shop boasts spectacular displays that celebrates all corners of The Alnwick Garden. Championing independent, local artists and products, today we are shining a light on our ‘Maker of the Month’ and exploring the work of Craig Ellis.

Four years ago, whilst working as a teacher, Craig was set a ludicrous challenge by the school librarian to create something out one of the books. Much to the amazement of his colleagues, Craig returned with a paper-crafted masterpiece launching him into a serendipitous business adventure! Quitting their jobs in education, Craig and his wife uprooted their lives in 2018 and began selling out in local markets and craft fairs. Now setting up shop in The Alnwick Garden, their creations can’t go unnoticed.

Rooted in ancient Japanese culture, Craig uses the art of Kusadama to create a variety of paper sculptures which include the incredibly popular ‘Forever Flowers’- the floral art-piece that requires no maintenance. Alongside his wife, Craig designs and constructs other impressive products such as his Folded Books and Fairy Houses.

Each creation is extraordinarily unique and no two are the same. A complex process, every flower is individually folded needing 11 folds per petal. Just under 400 folds are required for each arrangement and it is all completed by hand. The Folded Book process only becomes more intricate, as one book can take up to 8 hours to complete. To create the desired design, every single page in the book is marked and measured to the nearest millimetre and with average book containing 500-600 pages, these designs can be wildly time consuming, but the finished product is astounding.

Remarkably, no part of the book is cut out or thrown away, meaning if it were to be unfolded, the book could once again be read!

Intertwining his creations with the North East landscape, all of Craig’s products use materials that are locally hand sourced and made just 7 miles from The Alnwick Garden. With a background in Environmental Chemistry, each product is created with an eco-conscious work ethic and prioritises sustainability.

All the ‘Forever Words Folded Books’ are carefully selected from second-hand sources in the local area. Due to most of them being damaged, they are rescued from the rubbish heap and given a second lease of life in the shape of something beautiful. Similarly, driftwood from local beaches such as Embleton, Holy Island and even fallen trees from The Alnwick Garden make up the base of the Fairy Houses.

A truly unique gift or centrepiece, you can learn more about our Maker of the Month in store where you can purchase a one-of-a-kind Craig creation.

You don’t need a Garden ticket to visit our Gift Shop, Plant Centre, or Bakery so if you’re looking for some local retail therapy, make sure to pop in!