A friend of mine has recently opened a shop in Wellington, Somerset (3 Mantle Street TA21 8AR), selling painted furniture, Autentico chalk paints, and offering workshops in paint techniques. I must admit to a little ambivalence about painted furniture (I’ve seen it done badly too often, in my view wrecking otherwise perfectly nice pieces of furniture) but when it is done well, and on appropriate furniture, it can be delightful. I am very impressed with Cato Cooper’s paint technique, and also with the paint she sells and uses (personally I prefer the finish to Annie Sloan), and she doesn’t distress everything to within an inch of its life!
But talking to Cato, and encouraging her to use Facebook and especially Twitter to promote her business, has made me take stock of how I use social media and how it has benefited me. I must admit to not being a fan of Facebook. I use it (as an individual, not for my business) to keep in touch with a few friends, but keep it fairly compartmentalised. My Twitter account, however, is indicative of my passions – art, heritage crafts, vintage, rural. Through Twitter, for example, I have sourced rare breed fleeces for felting and spinning, I have found out about a living willow course (and enthused about it afterwards), booked myself onto a print-making course, found stockists, and I have come into contact with a huge, overlapping community of like-minded people with shared interests.
I have particularly enjoyed discovering the thriving online community of vintage enthusiasts out there. March will be the first anniversary of #vintagefindhour, which has expanded to an hour and half because it has been so successful! It takes place 8.00-9.30pm on Wednesdays, and is the brainchild of Sarah-Jane at www.vintagehomeshop.co.uk (see my earlier blogpost about meeting her). Using the hashtag #vintagefindhour, Tweeters from all over the country (and beyond) share their vintage finds and treasures, things they have just bought/found/inherited/restored, and show things they have for sale. The feedback is prompt and enthusiastic, and all manner of conversations and connections are started.
It is especially nice when people who have got to ‘know’ each other on Twitter actually get to meet up in real life! My first ‘TweetUp’ was last summer at the Giant Flea Market at the Bath & West showground, where vintage Tweeps from Somerset, Bristol and France got together – some stall-holders, some just visiting. The next #vintagefindhour TweetUp is planned for Easter Saturday, when many of us will be converging on the Vintage Bazaar to be held at the Cheese and Grain in Frome, Somerset. Plans are already being made for buying and selling (saves on postage!) and putting faces to Twitternames.
Meanwhile, I have encouraged @CatoCooper to engage with Twitter to raise her profile in the online vintage community, and have been re-tweeting pictures of her shop and furniture. Already, because of Twitter, she is selling handmade bears produced by another vintage Tweeter in Devon! I had been concerned, when we moved to Somerset 16 months ago, that it would take a long time to find people who shared my interests, and that I would be quite isolated for a while – not a bit of it! A few minutes a day on Twitter give me access to scores of interesting, funny, clever and inspiring people who are ‘into’ to same kinds of things that I am.