Looking back over 2011, a definite highlight for me has been becoming part of the Matryoshka Haus community. This time last year I’d discovered Sweet Notions thanks to some happy coincidences, and had been to a couple of events. I’d heard a lot about someone called Shannon, but had only met her once, briefly, and at a freezing (literally) cold Christmas market. But, in the last year I’ve found myself carrying pink and black furniture along busy London streets; loaded transit vans outside swanky hotels; baked cakes late at night; and re-connected with my sales-woman side – all in the name of Sweet Notions.
In my family, it’s become a tradition that things of significance in our lives are marked by the acquisition of Christmas tree ornaments. I can tell you the story behind pretty much every decoration on my tree – which overseas trip it’s from; which friend gave it to me; or who made it. As I decorated my tree this year, I realised that several of this year’s new additions had connections with Matryoshka Haus.
The first came from an art shop in Chichester, bought while in the town with a group of people I have only got to know thanks to MH. Several of us had spent time together renovating an old house in France over the summer. Close friendships had developed and we’d spent a weekend at a film festival. In a matter of months, one of my most important support networks in London had become a group of people that I’d barely known 12 months earlier.
Little did I know, when I accepted a dinner invite from Shannon, that it would result in a series of trips to France, some fantastic new friends, my first ever Thanksgiving and getting involved in an exciting missional project. Thus, in years to come when my grandchildren ask for the story behind the heart shaped glass bauble, I’ll be able to tell them about the strange collection of great people I lived life with in my early thirties.
Appropriately, the others were bought from a Sweet Notions pop-up shop, and, even more appropriately, one held at the Marylebone Project where the Design Camps take place. These ornaments really sum up Sweet Notions for me – like the jewellery the women make, they’re made from reclaimed beads and reflect their individual personalities.
Although I’ve only met the women a few times, I learnt early on that one with a particular flair for jewellery design especially liked to create things using turquoise and blue beads, so as soon as I saw a couple of turquoise decorations I knew they were Adele creations. In fact, as I was admiring the tree on which they were displayed, I had a chat with Adele who pointed out which ones she’d made and then proceeded to teach me how to make them (several people are receiving my versions this Christmas). The other two that I acquired were made by Cathers, which is also appropriate, given as I can probably credit her with getting me properly involved with Sweet Notions in the first place!