TILLY Shaw has turned her love of listening to 78rpm gramophone records at gatherings of friends and family into a business playing at parties and events.
The ceramics maker from Darlington, who also runs Fired Up Designs, initially started playing as Seventy Eight Spin – Vintage Gramophone DJ two years ago.
She said: “Firstly it was a hobby then more recently we were encouraged by relatives and friends, after playing at the complex where my mum and dad live, to go into it in a bigger way.
“It’s been great. Everyone has been really pleased and we have changed a hobby into a business.
“I make ceramics and I sell things in galleries, and I was in Stoke when I saw a Frank Sinatra record in a second-hand shop. I had to have it, but I had nothing to play it one so I bought a record player.”
From that initial disc, she has built up a collection of around 2,500 and two HMV wind-up players.
“I’ve picked them up in second-hand shops and people have been giving them to us,” said Shaw.
“I want to go further afield and we’ve had enquiries from down South, but the costs in getting there would price us out of the market.
“We’ve done some work at the Baltic and at Eldon Gardens. I’ve done garden parties, community centres, weddings and drinks receptions. Little and large, I’ve done both.”
Gramophones, unlike modern stereos, were not built with volume controls. Different thicknesses of needle are used to adjust the sound and the term ‘put a sock in it’ originated from the method used to turn down the volume.
Shaw has worked with music shops and a sound engineer to combat the issue so she can play to different-sized venues.
She said: “It’s feasible to play the gramophones in small rooms, but you can use amplification to widen the area they can be heard because the speakers are built into them.”
A big fan of anything old-fashioned – she has a collection of old clocks and a wardrobe full of vintage clothing – she has also started pressing wedding bouquets as a commercial venture.
“About 20 years ago, I started to do the Victorian art of pressing flowers and I’ve now started pressing wedding bouquets. I’ve done about eight,” she said.