Hi Elaine, thank you for taking the time to speak with us, can you please introduce yourself and Camella Crafts to our readers?
I am Elaine Campbell, and I am the sole owner of Camella Crafts. I have always loved making things and feel lucky to have been able to develop my business into a career. I have been in my current space for 3 years. Owned by Jura Community Business who operate the Fuel supply next to us, we enjoy a lovely light airy space. I share Unit 1 with Fiona MacDonald who is the brains behind our beautiful Jura tartan and Crackaig textiles.
People often ask me why ‘Camella’ Crafts. It is simply the first few letters from my first and last name strung together.
How long have you lived on Jura, and how would you explain Island life to someone who has only ever visited the mainland?
Jura has been my home since birth. I am preceded by four generations of my family who called Jura home. Explaining Jura life to someone who has not experienced living on an island would take more than my opinion alone, but the basics are that we have evolved to be resilient, enterprising, and patient! Unlike our mainland neighbours we must over plan and over think much that we do. Our lives are, to a large part, controlled by weather. We are dependent on our inter island connection to Islay to access services, secondary school education etc and for much of the year as a necessary means to travelling onwards to the mainland. The flip side of that is that we enjoy a fairly relaxed and safe way of life on the island. Jura is many different things to many different people. To me, its my home, my sense of place and time.
Camella Crafts is a treasure trove of locally made crafts, gifts, and souvenirs. Can you share some of the products that you sell in the shop?
In my shop I sell a wide array of items. I am heavily influenced by the colours, textures and wildlife on the island, and I try to incorporate materials found on Jura in my work. I work with sea glass, sea pottery, slate, shells, deer antler, stones, clay, wood, driftwood and really anything I can find. It is important to me that customers feel that they are taking a piece of the island home with them, either literally or emotionally. We are blessed to boast the incredible skyline of the Paps of Jura and they feature heavily in any artwork I produce. I work in wax, ink, watercolour, and digital media.
What crafts do you enjoy making and selling in the shop?
I like making everything! During the quieter winter months, I spent all my time making things. As soon as I have tried a new process or medium, I want to try the next one. This has resulted in an eclectic range of items. I particularly like making Christmas decoration and have a wide range of those. They were one of the first things I made – slices of Jura wood decorated with Christmas themes. My decorations are all Jura based – lots of stag items. I have found that it is one of the most popular things I sell. I think it is the perfect little gift/reminder. I have also developed a range of little red roofed cottage items, made from clay and other materials. They perfectly depict the sense of heritage important to me. I am continually trying new processes. It is important to me that I keep evolving my range and try new things. We have a healthy number of regular repeat visitors, and I like to have something new in stock for their visits.
Are many of the other local makers based on the Island? What are their businesses called and what do they make?
No answer here as I only sell things I make although I would be happy to include a bit more about Fiona if you think it would be a good fit? ……. ‘Fiona, my partner in the shop, works mostly in wool. In addition to selling hand spun wool she weaves incredible rugs, and knits/crochets head bands, hats, belts, pincushions and other items. Influenced by Jura’s changing colours and moods each piece is individually hand crafted by Fiona. In addition we stock a range of items made from the Jura Tartan which she designed including hand bags, ties, scarves, jewellery etc.
Community is very much at the heart of Jura, can you tell us what it is like to be a part of this tight-knit hub?
Community has always been such a vital part of Jura. Although we do have better access to the mainland than many years ago, the island still retains a strong sense of community. In some part this arises from the fact that we share all the same events and services etc. We have a shared dependency on each other – not unique to our island. I would imagine that if you plonked 200 people onto an island anywhere in the world there would be all the same issues we experience, good and bad.
How do you enjoy spending a day off on the Island?
During the summer I rarely get a day off the island but last summer, after work, I was able to go to the beautiful island of Gigha for an evening with the operator of our Jura Passenger ferry. It might sound like a busman’s holiday, but it was magical. A lovely warm summer evening sitting outside with friends enjoying another island.
To the readers who are thinking about visiting Jura, how would you describe its character and what would you recommend doing while there?
Jura has often been described as the last great wilderness by many. We boast miles of accessible coastline on the East side of the island. Wildlife includes seals, otters, sea birds, birds of prey and deer. The drive up the island gives you a real feel for the large areas of the island that are uninhabited. There is a local taxi/tour gentleman on the island who regularly does customised trips up the island. Visitors to Jura want such different experiences and his business has developed to allow them exactly the experience they want rather than tying them into a rigid timetabled visit. The sense of freedom Jura offers shouldn’t be structured. I would allow 2 hours for a return trip up the island and longer if you want to visit Tea on the Beach or Lussa Gin at the North end. You could easily while away an hour or more in Craighouse by walking through the village, visiting The Antlers and Ice Cream Café -, The Jura Hotel and Jura Distillery. All this, of course, after you have visited us at Camella Crafts! Located at the Business Unit at the head of the main Pier there are 4 of us including Deer Island Rum and The Whisky Island Gallery so definitely worth the short stroll down to us.
Is it possible for people to order from you online if they aren’t able to visit you? If so what’s the best way to do that?
I am currently in the process of developing a website but until them I try to keep customers updated on my Facebook page at Camella Crafts and I also have some items listed on the wonderful Isle20 site.
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