"When people watch me making a fender they say I make it look easy, but it's not a simple skill - I have to really concentrate over the pattern of the work. When I'm doing a demonstration, because I'm working in front of people, and with all the distractions, I can sometimes get it wrong!
I've been making fenders for around six years. I work from my boat, and I live aboard as well. Some of my customers come from my website, but because I travel up and down the canal I can sell my work to people who just see me hand making my fenders on the decks of my boat. I'm trading on the water, cruising the canals in the traditional way, promoting waterways crafts and keeping this specialised skill alive on the modern day canal system. Sometimes I do demonstrations to pass on the traditional skills and I might do more teaching in the future to earn extra income.
Today's a special day for me because it's nine years today since I bought my boat! My family are from Hebden Bridge, but surprisingly I haven't taken the Fender Boat along the canal there to see them yet! So it might be time I cruised the Rochdale Canal. I plan to carry on trading on the water with my traditional craft skills - I enjoy my work and the community life on the canals too. People can of course easily buy cheaper plastic fenders, but I don't think they compare to traditional handmade narrowboat fenders!"
Laura, Fender Boat
Kennet & Avon Canal