One of my regular activities is making bookmarks for the Country Women's Association.
For well over four decades, these lovely bookmarks have been the main fundraiser for the C.W.A. here on Norfolk. The idea was introduced to them by an English lady who had come to live on the island.
The bookmarks are made by fixing a small spray of dried flowers and leaves between two Norfolk Island stamps. This arrangement is then sandwiched between two lengths of clear film, which are laced together with a full thickness of stranded embroidery thread, and a little tassell is made at the bottom.
Over the years, many thousands of these bookmarks have been produced by members of the Country Women, both individually and in working bees. For many years, Mrs Nene Burrell was "in charge" of the project, and even when she was well into her nineties, she could be seen delivering the bookmarks to local shops, where they were sold for a rather modest price.
Sadly, many of those busy former C.W.A. ladies have now gone to the "tea-rooms in the sky", while others are hampered by poor eyesight or arthritis, and there were every few left who were willing and able to continue to produce the bookmarks.
Although I do not belong to the C.W.A., I suggested that our little Tuesday Craft group could lend a hand by working on the bookmarks. It seemed a shame to let them die out, because not only are they a great fundraiser for community projects, but they are a lovely handmade Norfolk item souvenir for our visitors to purchase and take home. They make a great little gift for friends, neighbours and acquaintances, and when used as a bookmark can be a lovely reminder of one's holiday on Norfok Island.
About four years ago, finding that purchasing the embroidery thread was becoming costly, the CWA decided to make an appeal, through the NSW Country Women's Magazine, to ask if anyone had threads they no longer needed. They were absolutely overwhelmed with parcel after parcel of threads, many no doubt from ladies who had purchased them with good intentions, but realistically decided they would never use them up, and were glad to send them to a good home!
I have now ended up as the custodian of all these threads, and there are several thousand hanks, skeins, cards etc, some new, some partly used, several different brands - and every shade and hue imaginable!
I really get great enjoyment out of working on the bookmarks. It is very satisfying to choose harmonious combinations of colours for the stamps/ flowers/ threads.
A bookmark can be made in about 15 minutes. However that does not include the time taken to assemble the flowers and foliage between the stamps. Nor does it take into the account getting the supplies of film and Mexican Poppies from Australia, cutting the film into lengths (using a special cutter designed and built by someone's husband), and cutting and drying the Silver Artemesia every January/February when it is at a special stage of its annual growth cycle.
For all this effort, the bookmarks still sell for only $1.50 - $2.00.