Friday, 17 January 2020

Craft Arena Blog Moves

Our blog has been transferred to our new website. You can find the latest news from Craft Arena here.

Thursday, 13 June 2019

Tantalising Textiles 2020

'Beast’ The winning entry of our 2019 competition by Sarah Bell


The theme for Tantalising Textiles in 202 is Mystery. The definition of mystery from the Cambridge English Dictionary is:

  • Anything that is kept secret or remains unexplained or unknown, e.g. the mysteries of nature.
  • Any affair, thing or person that presents features or qualities so obscure as to arouse curiosity or speculation, e.g. the masked guest is an absolute mystery to everyone.
  • A novel, short story, play or film whose plot involves a crime or other event that remains puzzlingly unsettled until the very end e.g. a mystery by Agatha Christy.
  • Obscure, puzzling or mysterious quality or character, e.g. the mystery of Mona Lisa’s smile.
  • Any truth that is unknowable except by divine revelation.
  • A sacramental rite.
  • Ancient religious that admitted candidates by secret rites and rituals, the meaning of which was known only to initiated worshipers.
  • Any rites or secrets known only to those involved.
  • Mystery play.
  • Puzzle, problem, secret, riddle
As usual, you can take the theme in any direction you wish and use any technique.

Open Competition

If you prefer, you can enter the open section of the competition and submit work on a theme of your choice.

Competition Details

The exhibition will be held in the Alchemy Gallery at Craft Arena from Friday 3rd April until Sunday 26th April 2020. The entry fee for each entry is £5 and you can submit as many entries as you wish. 

The competition is divided into two sections; one with the theme of Mystery and another open section in which you can submit work on a theme of your choice. 

As in previous years, customers of Craft Arena will be asked to vote for their favourite piece, and the winner (or winners, depending on the number of entries) will receive a Craft Arena Gift Voucher, with another voucher going to the winner of our voter draw.  

We will again be supporting St Luke's Hospice who will receive a proportion of the money raised by the fees. 

Please contact us if you have any queries. any queries.

Tuesday, 2 April 2019

Tantalising Textiles 2019 Entries

Our Tantalising Textiles Competition for 2019 is now on at the Alchemy Gallery at Craft Arena. Vote for your favourite and you could win a Craft Arena gift voucher. The winner will also receive a voucher, and we will be donating a percentage of the money raised from the entry fee to St. Luke's Hospice in Basildon.

The theme for this year's competition is 'Symmetry', and entrants could choose to work to the theme or submit work on a topic of their choice.

Tantalising Textiles 2019

Re3flection: Angela Woodget

Butterfly Basket: Catherine Gisby

Tree of Life: Restorative Exercise Group

Fern Ray Gannon

Beast: Sarah Ball

Working with 'Y': Stella Crockard

Striking Gold II: Sue Shaper

These are just a taste of the work on show and you can see the complete works in the gallery. The exhibition continues until Sunday 28th April, and you can visit and vote during our usual opening hours. We hope to see you there.


Thursday, 4 October 2018

Aurifil Weekend

Craft Arena are planning a special Aurifil Event on Saturday and Sunday 24th and 25th November from 10.30 am to 4 pm each day. You will be able to try out lots of different Aurfil threads for both hand and machine sewing. 

These will include:
  • 50 weight 
  • 28 weight 
  • 12 weight
  • Lana
  • Aurifloss
  • Brillo

There will be a free raffle, free samples and special offers and discounts. 

About Aurifil:

Aurifil is versatile, strong, has a lustrous colour and produces virtually no lint and has a worldwide reputation. It is used by quilters, textile artists, hand and machine embroiderers. 

Aurifil was originally conceived for the Italian high fashion and luxury bed linen market and is made from long staple 100% Egyptian cotton, grown in the Mako region of Egypt on the river Nile and manufactured in Milano, Italy.


Aurifil’s Wool 12weight thread is a lovely, soft blend of 50% Acrylic and 50% Wool. It is available in 192 unique colours on a red spool. Use this thread when you want to create texture or visually pleasing details. It can also be used for Single or Double Strand Cross Stitch, Hand Embroidery, Machine Applique, Machine Quilting, and Lower Looper Serging.

12 weight cotton

Aurifil’s 100% Cotton 12weight thread comes in all 270 of our Cotton colours and is wound on a red spool. It is the heaviest weight thread that we offer and is perfect for hand applique, hand embroidery, hand quilting, cross stitch, embellishment, handmade lace, machine applique, blanket stitch, machine embroidery (especially for designs that use a longer stitch length), machine art quilting, Sashiko, redwork, lower looper serging, and longarm quilting. 

28 weight cotton 

Aurifil’s 100% Cotton 28weight thread comes in all 270 of our Cotton colours and is wound on a grey spool. It is the second heaviest weight thread that we offer and is perfect for double strand cross stitch, blanket stitch, hand applique, hand piecing, hand quilting, bobbin and machine lace, machine quilting, longarm quilting, machine embroidery and lower looper serging.

50 Weight cotton

Aurifil’s 50 weight thread is our most versatile and most popular Cotton thread. It is available in all 270 of our Cotton colours, and is wound on our iconic orange spool. The 50wt is strong and thin, and results in remarkably flat and crisp seams. While it is wonderful for piecing, subtle quilting & topstitching, and English Paper Piecing it also works incredibly well for Needle Turn Applique, Bobbin and Machine Lace, Machine Applique (Straight Stitch, Zig Zag, Blind Hem and Blanket Stitch) Machine Embroidery, Dense Machine Quilting, Subtle Machine and Longarm Quilting, Basting, Whole Cloth and Micro Quilting, and Dense Background Designs.

Aurifil Floss

Aurifil’s 6-strand 100% Cotton floss is wound on a gorgeous wooden spool, perfect for easy travel and the prevention of pesky tangles! It is available in all 270 of our Cotton colours and boasts 18 yards per spool. Aurifloss is excellent for Cross Stitch, Huck Embroidery, Miniature Punch-Needle Embroidery, Tatting, Needle Point, Crochet, Applique, Big Stitch Quilting, Accent stitching on garments and other items, and hand embroidery.


This beautiful polyester thread has a sparkle that gives an instant boost to your stitching. It can be used as a blending filament for embroidery and cross stitch, and is perfect for machine embroidery as it is resistant to shredding.

Free patterns 

Contact us for more information about Aurifil.

Thursday, 13 September 2018

Inspired by the BAT Collection

In July, Craft Arena was proud to host an exhibition of work from the Basildon Arts Trust collection which is held in trust for the people of Basildon by the Foundation of Essex Arts (of which I am a trustee).

We are holding a competition to run alongside the BAT exhibition and would like you to use the pictures as inspiration for your own work. Choose your favourite from the works which were displayed at the Alchemy Gallery at Craft Arena in July 2018, then produce a piece of work based on your choice using any technique and medium you wish. The work will be displayed in the Alchemy Gallery in November 2019 and there will be a prize of a Craft Arena Gift Voucher for the winner, to be chosen by the Trustees of TFEA. The deadline for entries has been extended until Tuesday 30th October. 

The work on display was:

Charlotte Halliday
Charlecote Crescent

Ronald Maddox
Basildon Town Square

Graham Clarke

Joe Tilson RA

Edward Bawden RA
The Palace of Westminster

Barbara Hepworth
Autumn Shadow

Anthony Flemming
The White Mill

David Gentleman
Limestone walls above Dovedale

Colin Self
Isle of Arran

Deanne Petherbridge
Islamic Series 76

Jeremy King
Strand - downstream

Rowland Emett
Pussiewillow III

Basil Spence
Proposed Plan for Basildon Town Centre

Norman Stevens
The Darkling Thrush

Dylan Thomas Waldron
Farm House Corner

Gerd Winner
New York Wall

Tom Phillips RA
After Raphael

You can find larger images of these pieces on the BAT Gallery page of the TFEA website and an entry form for the competition on the Craft Arena website here.

If you need any more information, please get in touch.