The atmospheric Studio Handmade Heaven, located on a beautiful side street in the Dappermarkt in Amsterdam East, is indeed a crafter's heaven. Inside are cupboards full of fabrics and knitting threads in every possible color, with pots and tools are scattered here and there. There's a small library of books about crochet, knitting, and coloring, and several macramé works hanging on the wall.
"I like tough and rugged, not frills", says Twirre, 58, as she runs her hand over the rough knots of the macramé. "It has to be refined but still tough. Not frumpy".
The online store I set up with Webador allows me to take payments for workshops and manage everything myself.
Based on this question, Twirre opened the Handmade Heaven store 17 years ago. A place for creatives to get their fill of various crafting materials and information. Three years ago, the store became Studio Handmade Heaven. Now, Twirre spends most of her time designing and teaching, rather than selling. "I offer quite a lot of different products and services, and I wanted to have it all in one place. I also wanted people to be able to pay for workshops online, instead of arranging it in-store, which was a hassle. I was able to facilitate this in the online store I set up with Webador, which I can easily manage myself."
"When I started, people said 'that's what grandmothers do, who's interested in that?!'" But Twirre is seeing an increasing appreciation for handcrafting skills. "I think it's a real trend. More and people are noticing that it's something special. People are impressed." Twirre thinks the switch to sustainability plays a role too. "Buy fewer things, repair more things, and make them yourself".
Twirre expresses sorrow over the decline of creativity. "I think it's really bad in the Netherlands. Our kids don't even learn to cut and tear anymore. When I teach, I have to start by demonstrating how to hold scissors". We left behind our Dutch heritage, the once-thriving linen and wool industries, when new techniques became available. "I think it's quite a Dutch thing. We always embrace the new, and the old goes straight into the trash. Knowledge is lost as a result." We forget that knowledge is important.
”I'm seeing a shift. People are tired of it; they're more interested in substance rather than speed.”
"I'm very interested in art and culture, and I love to travel." Twirre was one of the first backpackers: "trans-Siberia, China, Mongolia, all over Asia, America, and Australia. The wall hadn't come down yet. In Mongolia I saw the tanks retreat. I was at Tiananmen Square in Beijing a year after the Tank Man. That was very special; I still carry it with me."
Looking at the world with an open mind is an important source of inspiration for Twirre. She likes to see what other cultures are doing, handicraft and technique-wise. "I think it makes you open-minded, and you can see and feel that in the things I make." Especially when travelling, inspiration can come from anywhere. "I'm always looking at people, the environment, the food - not just the pool. In fact, everything has an influence."
While she's done less travelling recently due to the coronavirus pandemic, Twirre isn't someone who likes to sit still. "There are still so many things to learn and develop; the possibilities are endless."
Want to know more about Studio Handmade Heaven? Check out the website.