Rosalind Atkins - Smocking and Dorset Buttons

Rosalind Atkins Plus

  • United Kingdom
  • Sold: 195
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“Hand crafted in Dorset”

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About Rosalind Atkins - Smocking and Dorset Buttons

Rosalind Atkins - Smocking and Dorset Buttons

Traditional hand smocking and Dorset button making bought to contemporary usage.

I am a Dalmatian owning crafter lucky to live in a village close to Dorchester in beautiful Dorset. I've been interested in all sorts of crafts since I was a small child and I was always fiddling with fabric, threads and wool. My granny, who lived upstairs, was very encouraging as was my mother who was also very practical. I knitted from an early age and made my own clothes too.
My career path took me into science, namely medical research and then education but I always returned to my love of craft. I particularly love embroidery and found smocking satisfied the scientific side of my brain with the geometric patterns that can be produced. Smocking is a very old embroidery technique where the stitches are worked on the top of regularly gathered pleats, giving the fabric weight and elasticity. It is a very time consuming process that requires good light and concentration. I've been smocking for nearly 30 years and teaching others the traditional skills for at least 15 years. I am a member of the small, but dedicated Smocking branch of the Embroiderers Guild. Recently I have started teaching a more freestyle smocking course to introduce the techniques to a new generation of embroiderers and have produced simple kits as well.
It was making a traditional smock that introduced me to the delightful and historical Dorset buttons and now I am equally passionate about these. In fact when my son was small we spent a lot of time visiting hospital for out patient appointments and being able to take my button tin with me probably kept me sane! Dorset buttons were first made in the county in the 17th century and formed an important part of the local economy. They were made at home by women and children. Many types were produced with such evocative names as High Tops, Dorset Knobs, Singletons, Grindle's, Bird's eyes and all the variations on the Dorset Cross wheel. The industry had virtually collapsed by the time of the Great Exhibition in 1851 when machines were developed that could produce buttons. I teach all levels of button work from beginners to advanced where complex patterns are involved and beads can be introduced. Whilst I make sets of buttons, I also create unique and original items featuring them which make lovely gifts.
Each year I try to enter my smocks and button work into the annual Dorset Arts and Crafts Association exhibition and have been pleased to win trophies and awards on numerous occasions.
Over the years I have developed a range of items that feature smocking and Dorset buttons which I have sold at local craft shows and now from my shop on Folksy. I also undertake commissions for full size traditional smocks, special smocked children's clothing as well as buttons. Some of my tiny crosswheel buttons have been seen on the shirt worn by Ross Poldark in the BBC costume drama screened recently!