My name is Mary Halbert, aka Crazy Mary. I am a experienced teacher, having worked in primary schools in both Warwickshire and Solihull since qualifying in 1989 until I left the ‘chalkface’ in 2011. I now run Crazy Mary Crafts from my home here in Kingsbury, North Warwickshire.
My passion is art & craft, particularly textiles, and it had long been my secret (or perhaps not so secret!) ambition to make at least part of my living from this obsession. For several years I had been creating items for friends (particularly baby quilts, wedding invitations, wallhangings, bags for example), and my hobby enterprise, ‘Crazy Mary Crafts’ funded itself. Between 1999 and 2002 I completed a City & Guilds Creative Studies course in Creative Textiles/Embroidery at Warwickshire College, with the aim of eventually dropping my teaching hours in order to devote more time to my crafting. My repertoire of textile related skills and interests includes hand/machine embroidery, felting, needle felting, papermaking, patchwork, quilting, beading, slightly random toymaking, mixed media etc etc…. I like to call it ‘fusion’ textile art/crafts!
After living in Crazy Mary land (dreaming of branching out properly into the real world of business …. sometime…eventually, when I get a chance, when the time is right … bla, bla, bla!), an opportunity arose in 2010 for me to request a drop in my teaching hours from 5 days a week to three, which I grasped with both hands. Hoorah! Eventually, January 2011 finally arrived and Crazy Mary broke free from her educational bubble and launched herself at the real world. I threw myself into the new half of my life with gusto and went about making as many contacts as possible and promoting myself like mad (well, if you don’t, who else will?!). My reliance on the day job decreased further in 2014 when I reduced my teaching hours to 2 days a week, and since September 2015 I’ve been running Crazy Mary Crafts full-time.
Although I continue making things for people and also selling my creations at small local craft fairs, I now focus on my teaching skills and concentrate on providing classes and teaching textile crafts, regularly leading workshops for adults – I hold classes at various venues and textile shows in the Midlands, and regularly provide classes for clubs and guilds etc. I also run textile projects and workshops to schools and community/social groups, creating large legacy pieces of artwork for display. As a teacher myself I understand how schools operate and very much enjoy working with both pupils and staff in a huge variety of different schools. In addition Crazy Mary’s residential weekends (Stitching Sleepovers) at a beautiful hotel in Banbury, Oxfordshire are extremely popular and have developed a loyal following, whilst attracting new participants all the time.
It is lovely to receive so many positive comments about my workshop projects and teaching style from my Crazy Mary ‘students’ and to see so many of them come back and re-book. Plus, it is fabulous to see work that I’ve done with children proudly displayed in schools. I also write occasional articles for crafting magazines and I must admit to getting a kick out of seeing my name in print! Over the next few years I also intend to expand my residential weekend programme and also to set up an online shop selling my textile craft kits, which are always popular purchases at my classes and craft fairs/shows.