Creative Coquetdale Folk: Angi Roberts – an expert in creating collectors’ pieces

An occasional series of portraits of Creative Coquetdale Folk by Katie Scott. This week Angi Roberts, of Drakestone Primitives.

Thursday, 12th December 2019, 6:00 pm
Angi Roberts being creative in her workshop.
Angi Roberts being creative in her workshop.

Angi is the eldest daughter of a very well-known Coquetdale Creative, Allan Wood. The whole family is artistic. There are three daughters and they, like their mother, are talented sewers and makers.

Angi tells me: “We didn’t have a lot of money, growing up. We made our dolls clothes, and our own outfits.”

After leaving school Angi started work as a seamstress for Dukes and Marcus. “I loved it, I thought I would do it for the rest of my life,” she said.

Angi Roberts' bear Old Blue.

However, the factory moved, so she had a number of other jobs over the years, while raising her family.

She always sewed though, and was pleased when an opening occurred at Three Bears’ Playthings, Linda Calvert’s company, which designed and manufactured educational role-play equipment.

When Angi met her husband, stone-mason Martin Roberts, she moved to Harbottle.

Once she was settled there, she began her business, Drakestone Primitives, making a variety of dolls, bears and other creatures.

What makes these creations unique is Angi’s talent for the quirky. She has a fine eye and is attracted to unusual and eccentric designs.

“My own style seemed to come out once I began,” she said.

Looking at one of the bears, I ask how she produces the pre-loved, aged look. “I experimented and finally settled on mixing walnut crystals with ink and water.”

It is this focus on the detail that makes Angi’s creations stand out. I pick up the bear and am taken with how agreeable it feels in my hands

“He has steel shot in for the weight,” she explains. “I stuff them with sawdust, for authenticity.”

I admit to being a bit disconcerted with the dolls. They have strange big eyes, but I like their intricately designed clothes and accessories.

“I buy a base with a jointed body,” Angi explains, “then I carve the face using a scalpel. It takes about a day to sand the face down, then, after colouring it, I seal it with special varnish.”

These dolls are not for children; they are adult collectors’ pieces. They are called ‘Blythe dolls’ and can sell for thousands of pounds.

There are ‘Blythe conventions’ all over the world. In the UK there are ‘Blythe Meets,’ which Angi has attended and met with other people who also love these dolls.

Angi leads me upstairs to her amazing workroom. It is crammed full of interesting bits and pieces drawing my eyes all over the room.

Lots of fabrics, dolls heads, threads, buttons, beads. It is a treasure trove. Angi really comes to life in here as she shows me several different projects she is in the middle of.

I ask her what she has most enjoyed making? She tells me, “I made a bear for my dad, Old Blue, he called it. It is very special to him; he never had a bear when he was growing up. He loves it.”

She shows me a picture of Old Blue. I love him too.

Watch out for my interview with Allan in the new year.

Angi sells her work online and you can view her creations at www.facebook.com/drakestoneprimitivescountrycabin/ and www.facebook.com/bluebellesblythe/