Joan's Crafty Creations


Joan's home sits on a lovely terraced street near to Elephant and Castle. It's an area that, especially recently, has gone through a lot of change. And Joan has seen it all. 'I've lived in this house nearly 80 years, apart from the 5 years I was evacuated to Dorset when the war was on' she tells me as we sit down with a cup of tea. 

Joan still remembers air raid shelters dotted up her street during the war, and her mothers' refusal to leave the house when they heard the sirens. 'We lived in the three rooms upstairs and my nan moved in downstairs because she was bombed out three times.' 

Now - with yet another block of new apartments being built on the adjacent road - Joan manages to stay connected to her changing community by coming to South London Cares Social Clubs (you can sometimes catch her at Choir club, often with Cess, Anita and Wendy!)

Another way that Joan remains connected is through her wonderful talent at all things crafty. When I sit in her living room, I spot three different knitting projects on the go. She tells me that they will all be hats, and one will be a gift for a stall holders on the local market nearby. 'I've known him since he was knee high!' 

(above: Joan and her younger sister outside the same home she lives in today.)


Joan's love for art and crafts is a lifelong passion. It's a skill that runs in the family. Joan's dad (above, standing outside his shop on the Old Kent Road) was a keen crafter, building everything from a desk and easel for Joan, to bookcases, beds and even a large wooden cross for their local church!

Joan has tried her hand at lots of different crafts and DIY too. 'When I was younger I used to lay lino, carpet, wallpaper, tiling! I did it all.' 

She shows me an amazingly intricate crochet bedcover (above) which Joan started when she was in her 20's, and finally finished when she retired, 40 years later. Joan points out that 'the reason it took me so long was probably because I was too busy with other projects!' 

And she's not wrong about that. Dotted around Joan's front room is evidence of decades of crafty creations. As well as knitting, crocheting and even tapestry work, Joan shows me photos of wonderful dresses she's made for people, and cakes she has baked over the years for special occasions. 

(Below, from top left, clockwise: a wedding dress handmade by Joan, a homemade cake with hand-made flowers, a garden cake made for a friend, and a hat and bag made to go with an Edwardian outfit for a wedding)

Untitled Design

With the festivities well and truly upon us, I'm sure you'll agree that Joan's wonderful skills are a huge inspiration. 

Joan's story underlines the importance of spending time and creating connections with those around us during a season that can too easily become about commerce. Thank you Joan! 

Above, another festive (hand-painted) cake made by Joan ❤️

Joan's hand-painted tote bags


I think you'll agree that Joan is a crafting queen! And if you're as inspired as I am by her creations, then Joan has kindly shared a simple skill that you could try. With Christmas around the corner, these hand painted tote bags make a thoughtful, handmade gift this year. 

To make a hand painted tote bag like Joan's (left) all you need is a plain tote bag, paint brushes, and fabric paints. You can pick them up in most craft shops, or online. 

🎨 The first step is to make sure you wash the tote bag, as most tote bags are coated. 

🎨 Ironing the tote before you start will also help to keep the bag wrinkle-free as you paint. 

🎨Then paint your design, let dry and voilá! A lovely, hand-made, present for friends and family. 

'All my friends have got one!' Joan tells me. What lucky friends she has, eh?!

Johanna Brooks

Posted by Johanna Brooks on Thursday 13th December 2018

Johanna is the Development Coordinator at South London Cares. She heads up our fundraising programme, cheering on our donors, challenge fundraisers and all those that help to make our activities possible.

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