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The history behind Artstraws

How paper drinking straws developed into an art & craft material is an interesting story.

The market for paper drinking straws collapsed when free school milk for the over sevens was stopped by Margaret Thatcher in 1970 (at the time she was Minister for Education in the Heath government).  Mrs Thatcher usually gets all the blame but it was the previous government of Harold Wilson who in 1968 stopped free milk for secondary school pupils.  The inevitable consequence of these decisions was that the UK’s paper straw manufacturers quickly went out of business – all but one.

That company registered the name “Artstraws”.  The initial idea was to use paper drinking straws in place of corn stalks for the traditional adult craft of corn dolly weaving but paper drinking straws were waxed and only about 20cms long so, unwaxed paper straws were developed.

The idea was further developed by Anne Stone, author of “Paper Straw Craft”, published by Mills & Boon in 1973 but unfortunately now out of print.

The founders of Artstraws Ltd (who had a children’s games manufacturing business) saw an opportunity for Artstraws in both the retail and educational markets and purchased the intellectual property rights as well as the straw manufacturing machinery.  Artstraws have been manufactured at their Swansea factory ever since.

A wide range of products for children

School art & craft and DT classes have been using Artstraws for more than 30 years and during that time we have developed a large range of other creative materials for children to use in school.  What young children use in school they also enjoy playing with at home.  Our Creation Station range gives them that opportunity; it is widely available from retail stores and on-line.

We continue to concentrate our efforts on creating “learning and development” products for children and have recently launched the Play & Discover range for early years.

We are a trade only supplier

Artstraws Ltd supplies retail, educational and internet markets in the UK and internationally.  To control prices and keep the supply chain short the company has a wholly owned sourcing and packaging operation in China.

We do not sell to our customers’ customer so we do not sell directly to the general public, teachers, group leaders or individual schools.  If you are in one of those groups please click on our Where to Buy page to find your nearest stockist.

Nice people to do business with?

We have customers who have been buying from us for more than 30 years.  The four founding directors are still closely involved with the company’s development and a number of their colleagues have been with Artstraws from the beginning.