This year, 2023, marks the 30th Birthday celebration of Clarity Crafts. Happy Birthday to the good ship Clarity, and all who sail in her!
Three decades of mindful crafting and creating with our ever-growing Clarity community. Quite a journey! What started out as a one-woman business, has evolved into a multi award-winning, international craft company, which spans a bounty of varied paper crafts, from stamping and mixed media, to parchment and our ground-breaking Groovi system.
But today I’d like to take you back to where it all began, tell you a little story. So are you sitting comfortably?
The Origins of Clarity Crafts
Please allow me to introduce myself. My name is Grace Gray, proud daughter of
Barbara Gray, the owner of Clarity Crafts. I’m 33 years old now, so if you’re any good at maths, you’ll know that Clarity has been a part of almost my entire life. I work for Clarity now too, heading up their U.S branch, but I’ve been involved all my life. When I was at university in Manchester, I used to tear around the country in my little black Ka called Nessa, to meet Mum at the various Craft exhibitions – the NEC, Ally Pally, Glasgow, Doncaster – the list goes on. I even guest-presented a few TV shows on Create & Craft! So you could say I’ve got the Crafting T-shirt! Now I live in Brooklyn, New York, but being part of the Clarity team means I talk to my Mum every single day – which can only be a good thing.
We’ve always made our own stamps at Clarity. In fact, Mum made them herself in the
beginning, in the garage ! But things moved forward, and she got busy. I remember she and her Mum, my Oma, used to go to a little studio in Tunbridge Wells in the evenings, to make stamps together, while my Grandad looked after us. Then Mum would bring the sheets of stamps home, and spend the evenings cutting them all out!
The other thing worth noting is that Mum likes to draw. Her Grandad was the arty one in the family. He taught her how to draw when she was a nipper, and they lived in London. Here we see her at her old light-table, illustrating the very first collection: The Nursery Rhyme-Time Alphabet.
I asked Mum how her brother, our Uncle Steve, became involved. She chuckled. “We bought an industrial laminator, to laminate the rhyme charts which were selling like hotcakes. We installed it in the garage, but he had to work at night, because the machine would cause a power outage in the whole street during the daytime!”
I think you’re getting the picture here; the family underpins the business at every level. Barbara created Clarity all those years ago so that she could work from home with her two kiddos! Here we are, Grace and Mark, advertising the Rhyme-Time Alphabet Chart, Clarity’s very first product, from which stemmed her transparent stamp epiphany.
It’s so simple, so obvious really. Yet nobody had ever thought of developing a completely see through art stamp. It occurred to Mum that if the stamps were see through (at that time only red rubber stamps existed), then stampers would be able to position the stamps more precisely. And since she was developing a phonic alphabet set, you can easily see why that made sense! She then figured out an acrylic handle, so that the stamp was completely see-through right through to the paper. And the rest, as they say, is history.
‘Twas The Night Collection: A Festive Tribute by Barbara Gray
You can imagine, after thirty years of drawing and making, our Clarity library of art and illustrations is considerable. But old is gold, and we’d like to shed a Christmassy light on one our first ever designs in particular. It’s still one of our most popular products, year after year… Our ’Twas The Night Collection, designed by Barbara Gray, based on the famous Christmas poem by Clement Clarke Moore. Available now in both Stamps and Groovi!
Whilst we’re wandering down Memory Lane, I’d love to share one of my Mum’s favourite anecdotes with you…
The story that actually inspired Clarity Crafts ’Twas The Night stamps
I’m sure you’re familiar with Clement Clarke Moore’s words…
Once upon a time there was a young Mum called Barb, who had two little children. Every Christmas Eve, Gracie, the eldest daughter, would read ’Twas The Night Before Christmas to the family. The first time, Gracie was a little apprehensive, nervous, because there were quite a lot of long words for a nipper. So they made a deal, Barb and Grace, and had a secret sign… When Grace came across a word she wasn’t quite sure about, she was to wink at her Mum, who would then gently prompt her.
Picture the scene. The whole family was gathered around the tree on Christmas Eve. Dinner had been eaten, and now it was time for the big show. Grace was perched on a little stool in front of the Christmas tree in a dark blue velvet dress, big book poised, all ready for her performance. And then she began…
“Twas the night before….” pause. She winked at Barb, who whispered “Christmas”
(and thought to herself, Blimey… This could take a while. We could be here all night!!)
Mum remembers that moment as if it were yesterday. She started illustrating the poem, one verse at a time for the children. Over many years – about 20 in all – she managed to complete all 15. It’s not the whole poem; just wonderful extracts which flow into each other well, to make a shorter version.
And thus, our ’Twas The Night designs were born! They come out to play every Christmas, and many crafty Mums and Grans have made memory books and heirlooms for their children and grandchildren with them.
Here’s an ironic twist in the tale… All these years later I have become a voice over artist, recording everything from BBC America commercials to 14-hour long audiobooks. Thank goodness for those many childhood rehearsals! In recent years, I recorded the ’Twas The Night poem for a Clarity YouTube video, to showcase an incredible piece of artwork. The piece in this video is made by our dear friend (and Clarity Crafts Design Team Member), Jane Telford.
They really are quite special. Just have a look at some of these incredible samples from our Clarity Design Team…
Have you visited our blogs?
We have a library of step-by-step blogs on both platforms too!
Join our crafty Clarity community
More exciting things! If you’re looking for a creative community, full of crafting and care, join us on our Facebook groups; Groovi Worldwide, Clarity Worldwide & Pergamano Worldwide. They’re chockerblock, packed full of inspirational artwork (shared by both our amazing Clarity Design Team and our community of crafters) and likeminded individuals.
Explore Clarity Crafts brand shop here.
Explore Groovi brand shop here.