Introducing: Claire ♥

Claireabellemakes

Good Morning! Please forgive me for my LONG absence! I have been a busy little bee, however I am now, back! This week we have a lovely guest with us and I can’t wait to share her tutorial with you this upcoming Thursday! I won’t keep you waiting any longer (I feel I’ve kept you waiting long enough these past few weeks!)
So, lets welcome Claire…

Tell us a little bit about yourself…

I’m Claire aka Claireabellemakes and I live in Cambridge, UK. I spend my life playing Scrabble, riding bicycles and making jewellery and accessories, as well as crocheting and knitting. I have a huge stationery obsession and adore sending snail mail. I am also a crazy cat lady which I’m really not ashamed of.

How would you explain your style and and what is your work process?

Ultimately I like to make things that look nice! I tend to stick with pastel colours when working with fabric and when I make accessories, I prefer items that can be worn every day. Most of my projects begin with a notebook sketch or plan, and I often try multiple versions of projects until I get it just right. My preferred work space is definitely my craft studio space in my home, but I often meet friends for crochet and tea afternoons too.

Bicycle-Accessories

Where did your love of handmade begin for you? Do you have any upcoming projects?

My grandmother taught me to knit as a child and I would spend hours making garter stitch scarves with tons of dropped stitches! I’ve always been ‘crafty’ but over the last 3 years my love of handmade has really grown. There are so many talented makers out there, it is hard not to be inspired to craft yourself. My current projects include some crochet blankets and new Scrabble accessories for my Etsy store. I am very tempted to start another crochet jumper too as you can’t beat a handmade garment.

For you, what is the best part of working in the craft industry?

In a personal sense, it’s the community and how supportive everyone is. There is a great feeling of encouragement and such a willingness to help others. I’ve always been a people person and it makes me happy that there are so many people enjoying craft. Making something with your own hands is a great feeling and being able to share that with others is really positive. In a business sense, I adore the interaction with customers to create gifts and custom orders. I recently made a Scrabble Wall Art as a groom’s gift to his bride and it was such a special feeling to be part of their day.

Scrabble-Wall-Art-Dream-Believe-Achieve

You’ve done a lot of work with many people in this industry, such as Make and Craft Magazine. Are there any you dream of working or collaborating with?

Over the last year I have worked with a publisher to contribute to some craft books alongside other makers. One day I would love to work with a publisher in creating my own title, but I know there is a lot to learn first! I think every maker would love to be featured in Mollie Make magazine too, it’s just such an inspiring publication!

And finally, what advice would you give to someone branching out in the handmade world?

Be brave and push yourself. Keep your eyes open for opportunities. I have done things I never thought I would be capable of and I’m pleased I did! I would also recommend being as organised as you can possibly be if you are planning to make as a business. I’m a big fan of my Filofax for organising and planning and I think I’d be lost without it.

Please join Claire on Thursday, where she will be sharing with us a tutorial, involving paper & embroidery! Two lovely handmade elements! In the mean time, do check out Claires work on her blog, instagram, pinterest, twitter and her etsy!

Introducing: Kate Marsden ♥

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Joining us today, is Kate Marsden. A textile designer and fibre artist. I stumbled across her blog and instantly wanted to know more! I love textile art and SO wish I could do it myself.
I hope you enjoy her interview with us this week and like me, can’t wait for her new designs and collections!

✎ Tell us a little bit about yourself…

I’m a textile designer based in far South London. My designs are inspired by life in the city and in particular mid-century architecture and textile design.

✎ Where did your love for fabric and textiles come from? Do you have any upcoming Projects?

I can’t really remember when it started, but my love of fashion (which led me to study Fashion & Textiles at college) started at primary school when I first tried making clothes, and use to make fashion zines for my friends and generally drive them crazy with it!
I’m currently preparing for Thread Festival of Textiles at Farnham Maltings (26-27 September) and looking to apply for some fairs and markets on the run up to Christmas. I’m also working on some new designs and ideas for products.

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✎ Whats a typical working day for you?

I tend to spend most of my time at the computer! Up until now I’ve had three nice long working days each week, while my son has been at nursery, but he starts school in September so I’m going to have to work around that (which could be fun!). I wrote a day in the life post for my blog in July, so you can see what my days (used to) look like there! http://madebymrsm.co.uk/2014/07/28/day-in-the-life-me/.

✎ For you, whats the best part of working in the craft industry?

Having the opportunity to do something I love. I’m so grateful for this after so many years working in the City and often dreading it. I don’t love every element of what I do now (still plenty of admin, spreadsheets and the like) but it feels totally different when you’re doing it for yourself.
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✎ You’ve been featured on many blogs, recently including UK Handmade. Is there a dream collaboration or blog you’d love to work with?

My dream collaboration would probably be Liberty. I’ve already used their fabrics alongside mine in products, and I would love to be able to do more of this. A slot on their craft blog would be a dream too!

And finally, what advice would you give to someone who is starting in the creative field?  

Make sure you’re really passionate about what you do before you take the leap. It is really hard work and it can be easy to become discouraged if business is slow/things aren’t happening as quickly as you’d like. It’s also helpful if you can learn to accept rejection and not take it too personally (easier said than done!). Oh, and don’t expect to be designing and making all day, as I said, I tend to spend most of my time on the computer, and although part of my design process takes place there, most of the time I’m doing admin or writing!

Join Kate on Thursday 14th August to catch her tutorial on making a vintage fabric cushion. Feel free to check out more of Kates work on her blog or her Etsy Shop (she will be moving her shop to Folksy beginning of September)! You can also take a mooch on her Facebook, Twitter: @madebymrsm, Instagram: @madebymrsm and Pinterest

Introducing: Emily Nicolet ♥

Emily Nicolet embroidery

When I first stumbled upon Emilys work, I was completely in awe (and still am!). The detail gone into her work and the stitches, are beautiful! I’m super excited to have her here with us today. Meeting people who have the same interests as you, and being able to share that joy is always an exciting moment. Emily really gives us true insight into herself, her life and work in this interview, so go grab a cuppa’, and enjoy a morning (or afternoon) read…

✎  Tell us a little bit about yourself…

My name is Emily, and I’m a student living in Scotland. I just graduated with a degree in English Language at the University of Edinburgh, and next year I’ll be doing a masters in Medieval and Renaissance Studies at the University of Glasgow! As you can imagine it’s tough to find time to do as much crafting as I like and having a dedicated ‘work room’ isn’t really possible (if only I could afford a flat with spare rooms!), but I do my best to do as much as I possibly can. When I’m not at school I’m in California with my parents, two cats, and Scottish boyfriend who we love to have come along.

Mulder, its me

✎  Where did your love of hand embroidery begin? and what inspires you for your projects?

This is an interesting question because I’ve actually had to have a hard think about this! I genuinely think that the thing that inspired me to start embroidering was that moment when you walk into a crafting supplies store, and there’s a huge wall or display of all the embroidery thread colours you could possibly imagine. It just looks so tempting! I started embroidering originally as an excuse to buy some pretty thread basically, and immediately took to it. I take inspiration for projects from all around, but specifically I always try to only embroider things that interest me. One of my favourite projects to do was an embroidery based on Scully from The X-Files, which came to me after I marathoned that show pretty hard! I also take ideas from lyrics I love; many of my nature-based pieces are inspired by Joanna Newsom songs. I’m currently working on designing a pattern based on one of my all-time favourite Simpsons jokes too that I hope will come out well.

bitches get stuff done

✎   What made you want to start your own business?

I’ve been a dedicated buyer from Etsy for many years! But I didn’t think to have my own Etsy store until I started posting what I had made on Facebook, and had friends and family telling me that they thought it was very good or that they’d like to buy it. Etsy honestly makes it so easy to start a business, so I put up a few things I’d crocheted and one embroidery and it was done. I mean, no one bought any of that stuff at first, but technically that was Fawn and Peach started! It wasn’t until I started creating more embroidery pieces that I started seeing any sales.

embroidery necklace

Whats your workspace like? Are you an organised sewer, or do you find yourself surrounded by threads and fabrics?

I’m the messiest person in the world. This sounds like it might be hyperbolic, but I don’t think it is! All of my embroidery supplies are vaguely sorted and placed into one of two massive ziploc bags. I truly need a better system, but I never have the time to implement one! One of the things I do like about embroidery though is that it’s fairly portable, so my workspace is wherever I need to be – in my bed, at my table, or even at a cafe if I’m looking for a change of scenery. I can just pack everything I need into a little pouch and go!

home is where the rabbit hole is

✎   You’ve ventured out into the business world of handmade craft. Are there any designers or companies you dream of working or collaborating with?

There are so many designers that I would love to collaborate with that it’s hard to only mention a couple! One of my embroidery friends runs her own embroidery business called Sea of Stars, and I would love to one day be able to work on a collaborative piece with her. I also follow a lot of sewing blogs, specifically independent pattern makers, and it would be an absolute dream to maybe contribute an embroidery pattern for a pattern they release! It would be so amazing to design an embroidered motif for an adorable Tilly and the Buttons pattern.

Fawn and Peach

 And finally, Do you have any tips or advice for someone whose starting out in this industry? 

Hmm, this is a tough one. In terms of people who are just starting out and building an online presence, I’d say that the best thing you can do is really make sure to have your social networking all set up! A lot of the sales or interest in my work or blog I’ve gotten has been via people sharing things I’ve made from my Facebook page, or liking the posts I’ve made on Instagram. I know that’s quite common sense at this point, but it’s easy to let things like this slip from your mind when you’re just starting out! In terms of getting started on Etsy, reading up on how Etsy SEO (that’s search engine optimisation) works is absolutely vital – I found I was getting hardly any hits at all for months, but after tweaking my listing titles to include more keywords my daily hits doubled. Little things like this can make such a big difference, and it adds up!

If you wish to purchase any designs from Emily, you can visit her Etsy shop, Fawn and Peach. Or check out her blog, Facebook and Instagram

Introducing: Kirsty Neale ♥

Hello card (Kirsty Neale)
Today is the start of my new series! Three weeks of every month, I shall be bringing you a variety of bloggers and designers, sharing tutorials and an interview, just for you.  To start us off this month, is the lovely, Kirsty Neale.  I had the privilege of working with Kirsty on her bestselling book “Hoop-la” and she truly is wonderful at what she does.  So, lets find out a little bit more about her… 

 ✎   Tell us a bit about yourself…

I’m a freelancewriter and designer-maker, living in London with my partner who’s a musician, and our cat, who’s not. I like stitching and making things from paper, and my second craft book, Paperie, was published last month.

✎   Where did your love for ‘all things craft’ come from? Do you have any upcoming projects?

I’ve made things for as long as I can remember. I loved drawing and my mum taught me to sew when I was five, which was the start of a pretty big love affair. At times, I’ve drifted away from more traditional types of creating, but it always sneaks out in some form. It’s often a kind of problem-solving – my brain is pretty good at working out how things are made and I sometimes find it easier to explain stuff by drawing it. If my mum had bought me Meccano, I might have ended up an engineer, but she went with a needle and thread, so craft it is!

As far as upcoming projects go, I’m currently working on a new book idea and also have some fun personal projects on the horizon. My sister and my best friend are both expecting babies in the autumn, so I’m spending lots of time on Pinterest, trying to decide what to make for them.

Perpetual calendar (Paperie _ Kirsty Neale)

✎   What’s a typical working day for you?

It really depends what I’m working on. As much as I enjoy both the writing and designing/making parts of my job, it takes a definite mind-shift to switch between the two, so I’ll try to set out my day based around one or the other. Because I work from home, I also have to fit in things like running errands and doing laundry – all the boring-but-important stuff – and then there’s keeping on top of my Inbox, too. I’d love to tell you I’m super-organised, but . . . that would be a lie. Deadlines help to keep things in line, I try to deal with emails early in the morning, and after years of working crazy-long hours, we now have a fairly strict no-work-after-supper rule. Apart from those rough guidelines, it’s very often a free for all. I’m definitely in the market for scheduling and organisation tips, if anyone wants to pass on their favourites . . .

✎    For you, what’s the best part of working in the craft industry? Do you have a particular favourite interest?

I think the best part is probably the variety. As much as I like (and have tried) the idea of selling handmade items, I tend to get bored making the same thing over and over again. Designing projects for books and magazines means I’m always working on something new. I could live to be a hundred and not make it to the end of my ideas list, but at least this way I get to make a pretty good dent in it.

As for particular interests, I love pattern and colour, whether it’s on paper or fabric – in fact, I think those things are probably why I gravitate towards paper and fabric. I like experimenting with different media, but it always comes back to those two things.

Printer's tray (Kirsty Neale)

✎  You’ve worked with many people, including Mollie Makes. Is there a dream collaboration or blog you’d love to work with?

I’ve been lucky enough to work with lots of companies and blogs I really love. The blog tour we did when Hoop-la was published last year was especially good – I drew up a list of my favourite bloggers, spent ages building up the nerve to ask if they’d like to take part, and was amazed that nearly all of them said yes. I ended up organising the whole thing halfway through writing Paperie, but their lovely, generous posts made the chaos totally worthwhile.

I don’t particularly have a dream collaboration right now, although there are still plenty of people I’d like to work with. I really enjoyed designing the patterned paper sheets which are included at the back of Paperie, so maybe something involving surface pattern design might be a fun idea for a future joint project.

✎   And finally, what advice would you give to someone who is starting in the creative field?

It’s tricky. I sort of fell into the career I have, and I think that’s true of a lot of people in creative industries right now. Blogs and online communities make it easier to get noticed and build useful relationships these days, which is obviously great. There are also some fantastic online classes around, often focussing on really niche subjects or areas, and a growing number of books on building a creative career, too.

As a basic starting point, I’d say it’s most important to just make/draw/write stuff – as much of it as you possible can. It helps to develop and hone your style, and then to keep on top of it later on. Do the opposite, too – read and study and look at stuff other people have written or made, both things you like and things you’re not so keen on. It can be just as useful to work out what you don’t like and why, as it is to take inspiration from your creative heroes. If you’re planning a creative career, it’s also useful to look at the business models of creatives you admire – find out how they make a living from their skills, and see how that might apply to you. The business part can be hard (it’s not my favourite either!), but it’s important if you want to make a real go of things.

 

Catch Kirsty here on Thursday 8th August, where she shall be sharing a tutorial with us. However, in the meantime, you can check out more of her work on her blog ‘Ginger and George’ . Also, if you wish to find out more on her books ‘Paperie’ and ‘Hoop-La: 100 ways to use embroidery hoops’, or wish to make a purchase click on this link

Thank you for joining us today and hope to see you Thursday.