It was a glittery, rainbow hued hot air-balloon sailing across a gallery window pane that first caught my eye and then the creators’ name, Bonker*s Clutterbucks. Who would have such a crazy name? It belongs to a husband and wife team based in Lancashire who craft all manner of wonderful things from card, from Blackpool Tower to Venetian Gondolas. They have also led workshops in crafting beautiful dioramas and encourage their two daughters, and dog, to get involved. Now they dare you to try something different, get stuck in and get creative. Read on to discover their top tips and find out more….
Who are Bonker*s Clutterbucks? We (Bonker*s Clutterbucks) are a family team of whimsical creators comprising of Peter and wife Kate, our daughters Florrie and Heidi along with our faithful Lakeland terrier Coco Merrytale (our inspiration and muse).
Where did you meet? We met at Winchester School of Art, where we were both studying, in 1992.
Where are you based? We have lived in Bristol and London but are now based in the Rossendale Valley, Lancashire where we work and live in an old corn warehouse. We have a large ever-changing studio space on the ground floor. Our home is an extension of what we do and is adorned in found objects that we have collected along the way.
What is the most bonkers thing you have worked on? It would possibly have to be the time we spent making balloon modelling kits to product test. It wasn’t economically viable to have a small batch die cut so we printed, reinforced, flattened, hand cut and packaged 1,600 components to create 50 kits which we handed out to friends and strangers to test. It was a labour of love and we had numb index fingers from repetitive scalpel cutting, for months to come! Yup it was definitely bonkers but an essential step.
Are you both from artistic backgrounds? We are both from artistic backgrounds. Peter studied Fine Art Painting at Chelsea and Winchester School of Art while Kate studied Textile Design and Weaving at Huddersfield and Winchester. We have both exhibited work since childhood.
Any top tips for encouraging creativity in our children?
Try to draw/doodle everyday. It helps to have materials accessible at all times.
Have one good quality set of colouring crayons, they will last years.
Embrace your child’s imagination and allow yours to run wild!
Savour the naivety of your children’s work and don’t let them lose this quality too soon. Picasso never lost his. Once it’s lost it’s very hard to regain!
Don’t listen to teachers who say there is only one way of colouring in… there are hundreds!
Parents, don’t be precious! Get messy and creative once in a while!
Display their treasures around your home, scan and file the best.
What was the inspiration behind the card modelling kits? The inspiration behind our card modelling kits partly came through job loss and redundancy but also storytelling and our children’s imaginary friends. We needed to work out what we were both passionate about and make a go of it. We were very excited by Sue Blackwell’s work at the time and love making things with our children. There seemed to be a huge resurgence in craft kits and crafting was suddenly “cool”.
Where can people buy them? Our Blackpool Tower and Gondola tram kits are on sale at the Grundy Art Gallery and Tourist Information Office, Blackpool. We hope to start selling our long awaited balloon kits from September at Art Fairs and Artisan Markets.
You have re-created Blackpool Tower from card, are there any other iconic buildings you would like to create in card? We have made prototypes of iconic French landmark buildings and it would be fun to incorporate those into some travel kits. We’d also like to explore rickshaws and Indian buses and other wacky modes of transport.
Tell me a bit more about your involvement in Project Object. In 2012 we were involved in Project Object, a joint Arts Council, Grundy Art Gallery and Blackpool Council project where we ran a series of workshops with a group of project apprentices, sharing our inspiration and techniques in making dioramas to sell through the Art Gallery shop and tourist office. There was a lot of talent within our group and some lovely pieces were produced.
What are dioramas? Our dioramas are 3 dimensional miniature card models with card scenery, enclosed in glass fronted boxes and tins of varying sizes. We plan to work start working in suitcases.
Where can we find you peddling your wares? We also enjoy making and sourcing a diverse range of objects from unusual toys to ethnic and vintage goods which we sell at Treacle Market, Macclesfield and Castlefield Artisan Market. We prefer not to pigeon hole ourselves or have all our eggs in one basket but it can be quite complicated explaining exactly what we do, in short!
This week we dare you to make something different! Suggestions are:
1. Draw a quick doodle or sketch of someone you love.
2. Find an interesting piece of paper, an old envelope or card packaging, trace around your hand faintly with a pencil, you could even create a whimsical animal shape, then using a pen, write a heartfelt message to a friend or loved one, around the pencil line until the hand is complete. Rub out the pencil, crop the piece of paper, mount on a card and make someone’s day!
3.Alternatively for something completely different, click on the ‘Pop up house’ link for a pdf Pop up house which you can colour in, cut out, crease, construct and glue!
Click on the link to discover more about the wonderful world of Bonker*s Clutterbucks
All images courtesy and copyright of Bonker*s Clutterbucks