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Thursday Showcase No.19 – Red Rose Designs

Paper cutters – they are like buses – none for ages then two at once! As you will remember we met a lovely paper cutter last week, and this week we are meeting an equally lovely paper cutter who I am sure you are going to love. The one other thing I should mention about Jo is that she is super helpful and friendly to a group of us paper cutters – always there with a helpful bit of adivce or a kind word. Read on and find out more….

1. Whats yer name and where d’ya come from?!
My name is Joanne Woolley. I’m originally from a small town in Derbyshire but I now live with my husband in a lovely village in Warwickshire just outside of Tamworth. (Dordon) We have lovely views over the countryside which is really inspiring when it comes to my design work.

2. How long have you been doing what you do, and how did you get into it?

I’ve been crafting using various mediums and doing art work from a very young age. I have always liked to try out new crafts and techniques which have allowed me to brighten up my home and make unique gifts for friends.The paper cutting side of things started as a hobby about two/three years ago when I had a car accident as it allowed me to stay busy at a time when I was not so mobile. I had to give up my job in construction and figured as it was something I was good at I could turn it into a business to get me back into work again.

3. What is the hardest part of your work?

The hardest part of my job is finding enough hours in the day to do everything. I love turning sheets of paper into pretty works of art but with that comes paper work and tax returns! With there only being only Me, Myself and I to do it all you have to make sure you are on the ball at all times. I would love to be able to pay someone to do all the boring paperwork parts of the job so I can concentrate on the artistic side of things.

4. And what is the most rewarding?

The most rewarding part of my job is working with my clients and hearing their feedback. When you have designed something special and meaningful for them to enjoy for years to come there is no better feeling. I always get a kick out of their kind words and that makes what I do for a living a joy rather than a job. It’s nice to hear what the piece means to the person and the reason behind them buying it. I love the fact that I can personalise designs to their needs so they can get what they want rather than going to a main high street chain in which everything is so impersonal.

5. What do you class yourself as – artist, designer/maker, crafter, creative?

I class myself as a paper cutting artist but I guess I could be called a crafter/designer/creative. I just feel the title ‘ paper cutting artist’ is a great conversation piece which generates interest as not many people have heard of it before so they always want to know more. I always keep photographs on my phone to show people as you can never fully explain what they look like.  

6. Who from the creative world do you admire?

I admire anyone who uses their creative juices to make their own craftwork in any medium. I don’t think you have to be famous in order to have other people admire your work. In the paper cutting world Rob Ryan is very well known for his work and he has some amazing designs but there are a lot of paper cutters out there who are not so well known in which I admire. Suzy Taylor from Folk art paper cuts being one of them.

7. Where does your inspiration come from?

My inspiration comes from the world around me. I can be out shopping when an object catches my eye, hear a song with a lyric in which projects an image into my head or even singing a nursery rhyme with my niece and nephews. You are only ever limited by your imagination and mine tends to wander free which helps when it comes to thinking of something new. I am also inspired by some of the ideas my clients come up with in their briefs. One that really pushed my thinking cap was a brief for a window cleaning design which had lots of words which needed to be joined together but in the end I was very pleased with the results.

8. Do you listen to music/watch TV whilst you are working, and if so, what?

I tend to have the radio on when I’m working as I work more productively when I’m sat in my office. I have to admit I do sit and sing along (badly) to the songs that they play and also talk back to the presenters. Did I mention that it helps to be a paper cutter if you are slightly mad? It’s hard to watch the TV and either cut or draw up a design so I don’t tend to have it on.

9. Where do you see yourself in 5 years time?

In five years time I see myself as being more established with a good portfolio of work behind me with lots of varied designs. I have plans to branch out into working with some other mediums so my designs can be reproduced onto other items. I’m currently working alongside someone who can help make this possible. I would also like to be in a position where I can start to take on employees who can clean glass frames and do paper work/accounts etc giving me more time to concentrate on the design side of the business.

10. What sacrifices have you made for your art?!

I’ve given up a lot of time in order to get the business off the ground but I wouldn’t call it a sacrifice as I have really enjoyed the time I have invested into the business. I had already lost my job due to a car accident so I had nothing to lose and everything to gain. I don’t think I would have ever had the courage to set up on my own before then but now I have I would never look back. It is harder than being employed by someone else but the rewards make it worth it. I’ve sliced into my fingers with my scalpel so I guess you could say there has been a bit of blood shed but with the help of a sticky plaster I managed to carry on. 
So there you go, now you know a little it about the lovely Jo. To find out more, go and visit her website and why not pop over to Facebook and like her page?

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Window Dressing for Christmas

Wow, what a day yesterday was! Totally manic, but then again, when isn’t it? The big deal about yesterday was of course the window display. I have been having to keep this project somewhat under wraps as we were waiting for confirmation that the tenancy at the new shop was all OK to go ahead. When I say ‘we’ I really mean Mr Sean Austin, purveyor of fine cards and stationery at Austin & Co, formerly of The Courtyard, Belle Vue Terrace, Malvern. Sean now has a brand spanking new shop – biggerer and betterer than the last, and with two huge windows right in the heart of Malvern’s premium shopping area (that’ll be 18 Belle Vue Terrace then)

So how did this come to be, a second window display…..well, I have to say, we have been discussing it for some time. I wanted to give myself a new challenge, and Sean was willing to take a gamble in the hope that between us we could create something fantabulous. Of course it had to represent Malvern, and so we have the Malvern Hills in the background, with Malvern stylee houses and the famous Malvern street lamps, and even a row of average Malvernites strolling along the front (is that what they call themselves do you think?) And of course the new shop, pride of place in the middle, including window display!

We thought we would be cool and classy and keep it all white. I had a great idea to use foam board rather than card to give a bit more depth, and as we talked about this, our vision grew and grew until we had come up with what you now see. RIght up until the last moments of a very long day, we were a little unsure how it would turn out, and how would tackle certain issues – speaking of tackle….yes, well, we did end up using a lot of fishing line (sorry, that really wasn’t very funny at all – I’ll stop the’ joke’s now).We had been a little concerned about how best to light the display, and had all sorts of ideas planned out, but as is often the case, a much simpler solution showed up and we were pleased! I think that with projects like this, a great deal of flexibility and lateral thinking is needed to pull them off. And so with a few wobbles up a precarious ladder, our best efforts at guestimating measurements (Sean: it’s about one of my handspans, Me: ok, one of my handspans plus a little bit it is then) we managed to do it. Have a look at the pictures – I would love to know what you think, so please send me an honest comment….

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OK, now before I go, you have to promise me that you will go check out and ‘like’ the Austin & Co. Facebook page – NOW!!

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Thursday Showcase No.18 Holmes-made

Good morning my lovelies. How has your week been so far? Mine has been a mixed bag, but things are looking up – excited about a big event I am doing at the weekend for St Richards Hospice, a local charity. ANyway, am going off course….. interesting person…..yes, well, I met the lovely Melissa on Facebook through another paper cutter. I think her work is just fab, and she has also been very helpful and supportive when I have been stuck with a work type problem. So…..here is a little bit about her….

What’s your name and where d’ya come from?

Hiya Cilla 😉 I’m Melissa Holmes and I’m from York.

How long have you been doing what you do, and how did you get into it?

I’ve been papercutting for just under a year now. I started with a very simplistic Christmas card last December and its gone from there! I’ve always been a crafty sort and was initially running Holmes-made to sell my hand-made quilts and other machine-sewn items while also working as a magazine editor and journalist. The demand for quilts and patchworks (which I found very difficult to make a living from) alongside my writing and editing commitments, combined with being a full-time mum to my little girl all became a bit much. So in spring 2012, after several years editing three national magazines, I put away my red pen. My aim? To focus solely on papercutting. I still write a feature every couple of months – I used to win awards for my journalism, so it’s good to keep that going – but papercutting is where my passion lies now! So yes, I’ve been doing this for less than a year and, aside from the input of some very helpful paper artists, I’m entirely self-taught.

What’s the hardest part of your work?

The hardest part isn’t really to do with work at all, its to do with scheduling and finding time to draw and cut. Stealing a few moments here and there while my (very active and highly strung!) little girl naps has been increasingly difficult of late. But now she’s just turned two she’s started going to preschool a few mornings a week, which gives me at least four hours of cutting time a day. It doesn’t sound much, but it’s (sort of) enough. Plus I can’t work while she’s awake or in the house – scalpels and toddlers don’t mix! It’s working well so far though, and I’m at my desk a lot of evenings too to get through my busy order book.

And what’s the most rewarding?

For me, it has to be photographing or just admiring the finished piece. Often I can’t quite believe that little old me has managed to produce something so intricate and detailed. And right up there alongside that is the feeling I get when I hand over a cut to a client, or when they get in touch to give me their feedback. Making pretty things that make other people very happy – things that I know will be treasured for a lifetime – well, nothing tops it!

What do you class yourself as?

Good question! I’m a mum first and foremost, but after that I am an artist. It’s taken me many, many months to be able to say that, and I still feel like a bit of a fraud despite my experiences and full order book, but yes. I’m an artist.

Still feels weird.

I was a crafter when I made quilts, but now I’m creating these little fragile works of art I do see myself as more of an artist, especially since I have shops and galleries interested in displaying my work.

Who from the creative world do you admire?

Well, what a question. There are so many I look up to and am impressed by. I guess my favourite over all others – can I choose a dead person? – is Frida Kahlo. Her strength, her vibrancy, her attitude… She’s always been a creative force that I’ve looked up to. I’ve always been interested in colour like she was, and I think that’s something that shows in my work. I think one thing that puts my work apart from that of other papercut artists is my use of colour infills, which I’ve been doing since I first started cutting.

In terms of modern creative output, I see work on a daily basis that really impresses me. Too many to name names, but there are some amazing paper artists, ceramicists, textile artists and illustrators that I just adore the work of. It’s probably a good job I’ve never really got into Pinterest, because I’m not sure I’d ever be off it.

Where does your inspiration come from?

Honestly? I’m not going to say nature, or name another artist, or expound about the world around me. It’s simple – my family. My little girl inspires me because I want to show her what’s possible and to encourage her to follow her dreams and do what makes her happy, like I am. My fiancé inspires me with his love, support and patience – especially those rare moments of anger and frustration at errors I’ve made; when he holds me, tells me to calm down and makes me a hot chocolate.

And then there are those who are no longer around. My mum, who died when I was 20 and always told me I could be whatever I wanted to be. The only thing she ever wanted for me was for me to be happy (I am). And my grandparents – grandad a talented graphic designer, printmaker and teacher of art whose work is in the V&A, and granny a highly skilled artist, milliner and dressmaker. I never met them (they were killed in a car crash before I was born) but their style makes me tick, and their work is something I’m truly proud of. I feel that heritage coursing through my veins and, with one of my grandad’s beautiful paintings framed above my workspace, I’m reminded of – and inspired by – those much-missed family members everyday.

Do you listen to music/watch TV while you work?

No! I like to work in silence. Sometimes I’ve got the washing machine whirring around next to me (I work at the kitchen table), occasionally I’ve l got a cat purring on my lap and sometimes I’ll stick my iTunes on shuffle. But usually it’s just me, the blade and the paper. I like to be able to give it my full concentration because, when I do, my mind has the chance to wander off and take me anywhere! Sounds strange but that’s how it works – lately I’ve been transported back to gorgeous holidays in France while cutting my Christmas card designs. I guess I don’t mind my own company.

Where do you see yourself in five years’ time?

No idea! I’ve always been a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants sorta girl. I’ll be 35, will no doubt have more littlies and hopefully still be papercutting. If I am, I’d like to have a range of products – textiles, wallpaper, prints… I hope I’ll have the time to create more art-led pieces and explore the medium of papercutting more, perhaps combining it with one of my other creative passions, such as photography or machine sewing. I’d like to host workshops locally so I can teach others this satisfying skill and get to enjoy eating cake and spending time with other creative types. I do have a bit of a dream to have a barn set-up, with studios available to rent on a daily basis, a coffee shop, display space and crèche (so other arty parents can pursue their passion while someone looks after their small person), but that dream is a very, very long way off. Unless anyone happens to know the winning numbers for the next lottery draw…?

Above all, in five years, I’d still like to be in a happy place.

What sacrifices have you made for your art?

I gave up my career as a magazine editor for one. I imagine I can always go back to it but, right now, papercutting is where I’m at.

I also give up time with my little girl in order to work. Many thousands of parents do the same, I know; but when you’re self-employed with a small income and your little girl has been with you pretty much full-time from birth, it’s a painful sacrifice to make! But I guess she’s only just started preschool, so I’m feeling it more right now.

And my evenings. I started sacrificing those a long time ago with editing, but now pretty much every night is spent at the kitchen table designing and cutting. Good job I enjoy it! And I know I’m very privileged to be in the position I’m in. Self-employment is far from easy (I should know, I’ve been doing it since 2008), but there’s a huge reward in running your own show, doing it all off your own back and being your own boss. Plus the commute to the office is fairly stress-free, barring any toys strategically placed on the stairs. Yes, I’m very lucky to be doing a job I love, and to have so many people – most of whom I’ve never met before – like it so much that they want to hang it on their walls. *glows*

Holmes-made

If you are interested in commissioning any work from Melissa, send her an e-mail at the following address…

holmesmadecrafts@gmail.com

You can also check out and ‘like’ her Facebook page

www.facebook.com/Holmes-made

And of course you can buy stuff too over at Folksy…

http://folksy.com/shops/HolmesMadeCrafts (currently having a makeover)

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Thursday Showcase No. 17. Fathers Shed

Good morning my lovelies, how are you all? Ready to meet someone super interesting? I hope so! I met these lovely people over on Twitter and fell in love with their furniture, so have a read, take a look at their sites, and I am pretty darn confident you will also love their work!

1. Whats yer name and where d’ya come from?!
My name is Jonathan Taylor and I’m proprietor of Fathers Shed, bespoke upholstery and soft furnishings and together with Andy Ingram we now also design bespoke pieces of furniture under the name FEiRD Design. I come from the Forest of Dean in Gloucestershire on the Welsh border and Andrew comes from Monmouth in Wales, both are stunningly beautiful areas to live and work and we feel very lucky indeed!

2. How long have you been doing what you do, and how did you get into it?
I’ve been working within the design and upholstery business for 14 years and in my own business for four years now. I basically fell into it by accident when a local Interior Design company invited me to their opening weekend and when they discovered I could use a sewing machine and new about design and fabrics they offered me a job which I accepted! I’ve never looked back from that day on.

3. What is the hardest part of your work?
I find the hardest part of doing this quoting and pricing jobs, I like to make sure that I’m fair but also that I’m not undercutting myself which I seem to do on a regular basis! One day I’ll learn!

4. And what is the most rewarding?
By far the most rewarding part of doing what I do is the look of joy and amazement on a customers face when they see a piece of furniture totally transformed by what we do, I’ve literally had people in tears when they thought that a cherished item was beyond repair and refurbishment and we return it to them better than new and ready to go on for many more years to come.

5. What do you class yourself as – artist, designer/maker, crafter, creative?
Can I choose all four Lol? I guess if I have to pick just one I would have to describe myself as designer/maker although obviously there are elements of craft, creativity and art involved in everything we create at Fathers Shed.


6. Who from the creative world do you admire?

That’s simple, Lee Broom. He is runner up in the Elle Decoration Magazine Designer of the Year of which he won last year and it’s easy to see why. His designs are ingenious whilst being uncomplicated with elements of traditionalism in their origins. Genius!


7. Where does your inspiration come from?

My inspiration comes from everything around me, from everyday objects, to a beautiful view or something that I see whilst out and about or something that I read. I meet a lot of people doing what I do and see a lot of different interiors and furnishings and the way people use the space that they live in. There is inspiration in everything if you take the time to look.


8. Do you listen to music/watch TV whilst you are working, and if so, what?

I never watch TV as I find it very distracting whilst I’m working, but I always listen to music, that can be BBC Radio 2, BBC Radio 6 music, Classic FM or Folk radio depending on what mood I’m in when I enter the workshop in the morning. Music definitely helps the creative process

9. Where do you see yourself in 5 years time?
Andrew and I have recently been weighing up the pro’s and cons of acquiring a small shop in one of the local Market towns around where we live, but also the option of extending and improving the workshop to make provision for another studio for Andrew and on site shop/viewing area, Option 2 is the most appealing to us at the moment, and the cheapest lol!


10. What sacrifices have you made for your art?!

When I started out on my own 4 years ago I had to sell my car and Landrover to raise money for a van and I also had to make the difficult decision to demolish my late fathers beloved shed in order to build my workshop to the requirements that I needed, hence the name Fathers Shed, named after my dear old dads demolished shed!

Now I just know you are going to be desperate to find out more. First port of call is the facebook page – take a look at all the fab photos on there, and like the page whilst you are at it!

If you are a twitter fan, why not keep up to date with them and follow them?

A must do – check out the fab website – and keep re-checking – I have heard that it is going to be made even more betterer – not sure how as it is pretty spiffing as it is!

Oh, and mustn’t forget – check them out on Pinterest too!

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Thursday Showcase No. 16 Wissy Bears

Well hello there, welcome to November, and welcome to the Thursday Showcase. I am excited about todays interesting person as although I met them online (through Facebook I think) I have actually met them in person a few times since, and they live only a mile away from me – how strange – the world wide web leads me straight back to the locals!

So, who am I talking about – have a read and find out…..

1. Whats yer name and where d’ya come from?!
I’m Carys Thurlby, aka Wissy Bears, or Wissy to my husband, and I’ve just moved back to my home town of Worcester after living in Ascot for 7 years. Coming back home has been great as I’ve reconnected with so many great friends. At Wissy Bears I primarily make bears and little British animals but I also dabble with needle felt, papercraft, and I do crochet for fun.
2. How long have you been doing what you do, and how did you get into it?
I’ve always been a crafter. I remember as a kid the biggest treat of the summer holiday was in the first week we would go to into Worcester and buy sugar paper, glue, glitter, card, stencils, pipe cleaners and all manner of goodies to put in the craft box. Then I’d spend all summer making things from the supplies and egg boxes, milk bottles, scraps of material and anything I could get my hands on. I think Wissy Bears is just a continuation of that!
3. What is the hardest part of your work?
My instant response was marketing but I’m getting better at that. So if I’m totally honest the hardest part is seeing myself as a genuine teddy bear artist with talents and skills. I always look at my work so critically and see all sorts of flaws and defects, and see myself as a pretender. Having confidence in your work is so important but sometimes I still feel like I’m a kid bringing home a squashed junk model for my mum to admire.
4. And what is the most rewarding?
In contrast to the above, it’s when a customer falls in love with something I’ve made. It helps me realise that what I do takes skill and not everyone can do it, and if someone loves a bear enough they can’t leave the shop without him, I’m walking on air.
5. What do you class yourself as – artist, designer/maker, crafter, creative?
Umm, when I’m being posh (mortgage application!) I say I a teddy bear artist but I think of myself as a crafter. Again I guess this goes back to the confidence thing as crafter sounds less official and you can be a crafter as a hobby. If I class myself as a designer/maker or bear artist it sounds more official.
6. Who from the creative world do you admire?
Can I say Kirsty Allsop? I just want her life. She gets paid to try out new crafts and be taught by the most amazing crafters. In the bear world, Pipkins Bears are beautiful. I love the expressions and detailing she creates.
7. Where does your inspiration come from?
I’m terrible for buying mohair I like and designing a bear to suit it, rather than having a bear designed and buying the right mohair. I’m a bit of a magpie and will buy shiny buttons and pretty fabrics and then think, “oops, I ought to do something with this”. My teddy bears are inspired by traditional teddies. I like to create new versions of bears that would have sat in a Victorian child’s nursery. I enjoy going to bear festivals like Hugglets where you can see thousands of bears. I always come away full of ideas and enthusiasm.
8. Do you listen to music/watch TV whilst you are working, and if so, what?
I love listening to audio books. I love listening to historical fiction, and am currently listening to Tuscan Rose by Belinda Alexander. Before that I was listening to Miranda Hart’s book, which led to an embarrassing moment. Miranda was talking to her dog and just as a customer came up the stairs she yelled out “I can see your poo hole”. Thanks Miranda!
9. Where do you see yourself in 5 years time?
Hopefully in a bigger studio, teaching craft sessions, running bear making courses, selling lots of bears to a long waiting list of discerning clients. I have so many ideas I have to keep reigning myself in and remember to concentrate on a few…for now.
10. What sacrifices have you made for your art?!
Nothing important. Only my sanity! Being serious I really don’t know. Sometimes I think crafting drives me insane but it’s also saved me. I lost my job due to health and I was looking for something I could do instead without making my health worse so crafting has rescued me. Other than when it’s driving me round the bend because I’m trying to achieve something, I don’t feel I’ve sacrificed anything. My husband might say differently as he always comes home to chaos with bit of yarn or teddy bear all over the house!

Why not hop on over to Facebook and like the Wissy Bears page?

Or if you happen to be in Worcester, you can visit Carys at her workshop above The North Star on The Tything.

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Thursday Showcase No.15 Sue Bulmer

Hi there, how are you? Good week? Mine has been pretty shocking – shockingly bad. But what better way to cheer up than take a peek into the world of an interesting lady I found on Twitter – the lovely Sue Bulmer. If you haven;t come across her work before then you are in for a treat, especially if you need cheering up – her work is definitely cheery!
1. Whats yer name and where d’ya come from?!
My name is Sue Bulmer and I come from the North east of England. I ended up in Nottingham many moons ago to studying Pharmacy and ended up meeting my man and have been here ever since doing my happily ever after bit!
2. How long have you been doing what you do, and how did you get into it?
I always loved art and being creative and spent lots of time painting when I was young. However I couldn’t pursue Art further than GCSE due to having to study the sciences for my Pharmacy degree. I came back to my creative roots a few times through my 20s, dabbling in a bit of sketching and painting, but it wasn’t until my mid-30s that I decided I wanted to explore my creative side and make a go of it again, and I enrolled on a part time Foundation Course in Art and Design. This led me to where I am now, running a creative business, meeting loads of creative folk and generally having a great time doing it!
3. What is the hardest part of your work?
That’s a good question. I wouldn’t say any of it is hard-hard, like I mean ‘really hard’…  I really enjoy running my creative business. My other job as a Community Pharmacist, gives me the security of a regular income, so I’m not totally reliant on my creative business to feed and clothe us and pay the mortgage so that takes a major part of the stress out of having to make a livable income at the moment. I’m building things up slowly in the hope that one day I can work more on being creative and less on my other job. If I had to choose something I’d say the hardest part of my work is learning to work through creative ‘dry-spells’. I used to get so frustrated when my creativity deserted me, but now I know that I have to accept this as part of the whole process and I get a lot less stressed about it. As a result it happens less! I also think being ‘jack-of-all-trades’ when running your own business is quite hard. You have to be able to turn your hand to accounts, PR, marketing, networking, there’s loads to do, but if you’re organised it makes it a lot easier. I’m the Queen of Lists which does help!
4. And what is the most rewarding?
I think for me the most rewarding part of running my business is the feeling of accomplishment I get at the end of every year when I look back over my ‘wish list’ for that year and look at what I have achieved and how far I have come. I always make a point between Christmas and New Year to make a plan for the following year of things I would like to do and it’s a wonderful feeling to achieve the goals I have set for myself.
5. What do you class yourself as – artist, designer/maker, crafter, creative?
I used to really struggle with ‘labels’, even back at college when we had to choose a speciality, it frustrated me to have to label myself and my work, and to have to be defined by what kind of work I did, as I liked to do a bit of everything. Maybe what was because at the time I didn’t really know what I wanted to do, and what was my ‘thing’ and now I’ve become more confident in my style and the way I work I’d maybe describe myself as creative, artist, designer-maker, crafter in that order.
6. Who from the creative world do you admire?
I admire people who inspire others. From top entrepreneurs, such as Steve Jobs and Richard Branson, to creative bloggers, such as Grace Bonney from Design Sponge, Holly Becker from Decor8, and other creatives, such as Debbie Bryan, my Design Factory Mentor, and Heather Moore of Skinny Laminx. I admire people who get off the backsides and do something amazing!
7. Where does your inspiration come from?
My inspiration comes from my home and garden, my relationships, my family and also from the natural world. My work is very sentimental and I think this reflects the kind of person I am.
8. Do you listen to music/watch TV whilst you are working, and if so, what?
Never TV, I can’t seem to concentrate on two visual things at the same time! Music, always, anything from BBC6Music, Radio 2, Radio 4, to the shuffle on my ipod. I also like listening to inspiring podcasts too. It just depends what kind of mood I’m in. At the moment British Sea Power is playing.
9. Where do you see yourself in 5 years time?
In five years time I would love to be working more than two days a week on my creative business. I would love to be stocked in other countries and I would love to have my own range of kitchen ware and textiles.
10. What sacrifices have you made for your art?!
hmm, can’t think of any major sacrifices I’ve had to make so far…. Obviously there is the time sacrifice factor to consider, there are only so many hours in the day and I know I have spent more time on my business over the past year, which has impacted a little bit on the amount of time I spend with family. I do like to try to keep weekends and holidays earmarked as FAMILY time, when I put the computer and sketchbook away and spend quality time with my fella and my dog, time with nearest and dearest is the most important thing to me. If it ever came to choosing between family and work, family wins every time!

And that’s about it. You can find out lots more about Sue in various locations across the net – check out these links…

twitter @sooziebee71

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Thursday Showcase No.14 Moobaacluck

Morning everyone – hope your week is going well. Today we are meeting Gabriella – I met the lovely lady I am about to introduce you to over on Twitter, and am so glad I did – I find her work bright and cheery without being saccharine sweet – just the right balance for me. So, read on to find out more….

 Cream Rabbit Decorations -2 sizes

All pictures provided with permission from Gabriella Buckingham – please do not reproduce

1. Whats yer name and where d’ya come from?!
My name is Gabriella Buckingham which is much better than my maiden name let me tell you!

2. How long have you been doing what you do, and how did you get into it?

I’ve been self employed since 1998 when I left my job as a greeting card product manager  to go back to freelance illustration. It wasn’t until both my children were toddlers that I set up Moobaacluck – my personalised decorations and stationery business in 2008.

3. What is the hardest part of your work?

The physical amount of time fulfilling orders takes up at busy times, it can feel relentless in November and December – it usually is! Even when it is not like that I find it all too easy to work every day and into the evening with no weekends off simply because I work from home. I am a bit like a carp – I seem to expand my work to fill the time available! Everything I make is painted and packed by me so it is extremely time consuming.

4. And what is the most rewarding?

The most rewarding thing has to be when someone sees my work among others and chooses to order from me and then let’s me know how pleased they are with what I send them.

5. What do you class yourself as – artist, designer/maker, crafter, creative?

Anyone who’s ever read my blogs ( I’ve recently moved to inkpaintpaper.com) will know I struggle with this one. I’d say primarily a painter who became a designer maker in the last few years.  Although having said that I don’t cut the wood for my creations  myself. They are hand cut by someone to my specifications. Painter, illustrator, designer is about right.

6. Who from the creative world do you admire?

Where to start.. there are painters whose work I love : Mary Newcomb; Elaine Pamphilon; Jo Self; creative business owners I admire too : Emma Bridgewater- very much a business woman; Donna Wilson – extremely creative personally yet internationally successful; Jan Constantine – cleverly expanding her brand with licensing deals; Lucie Loveheart a fellow Norfolk based illusrator with a beautiful distinctive magical style; Twitter friends Jane Lindsey from Snapdragon and  Becky Peabody from Dots and Spots both of whom are incredibly consistent and strategic growing their businesses. I could go on…

7. Where does your inspiration come from?

Initially I suppose it came from my small children , I started Moobaacluck by making presents for their friends. Now it comes from thinking about childhood – the things children love; as well as thinking about what a customer wants to buy my work for. Not everything I make is for children for example my ‘Just Married’ hearts. There is a cute or whimsical slant to some of my work of course but much is also about the hand painted text which can say whatever a customer wants it to. ‘For Children and the young at heart’ is one of my bylines (recently a customer said just that on Feefo about my work) – along with handmade happiness which is what I am aiming to send to people. Like most creative types I love looking at blogs and pinterest but I can’t honestly say that I’ve seen something and thought – right I must create something like that! It’s much more subtle. I might be influenced by the feel of an illustrative composition – a touching tableau of children with their toys might spark off an idea for a new shape to cut for example. Or a gorgeous colourful photograph might inspire a colour way for something. I’m a member of ACID ( Anti- copying – in – Design) so I hope I am never ‘influenced’ by someone else’s work. I find just getting out for the day into Norwich or looking at art books in the great library there uplifts and inspires me.

8. Do you listen to music/watch TV whilst you are working, and if so, what?

I’m very unexciting. In my summerhouse studio I listen to radio 4 most of the time; very very occasionally Steve Wright on R2 and sometimes 6 Music in the house where we have a digital radio. Recently though I’ve been watching/listening to Monica Lee’s video interviews on SmartCreativeWomen.com which I really enjoy, and I can just about get the signal in my summerhouse!

9. Where do you see yourself in 5 years time?

I would really like to crack this one. Ideally exhibiting paintings,selling my art for cards and licensing my painting and illustration both as Moobaacluck brand and a second brand – whether that be ‘Gabriella Buckingham’ or ‘Inkpaintpaper’. I’ve always been resistant to making Moobaacluck into a wholesale brand of purely wooden items and struggled as to why this was. At last it is much clearer to me. I enjoy making physical items to commission that people can decorate their home with and I imagine I will still be doing so – just less of it in 5 years.

10. What sacrifices have you made for your art?!

 If I had stayed in full time employment I could have been earning a good salary now. I gave that up with only £750 to my name , left work and set up as an illustrator. A month or so later I won my first Ladybird book to illustrate.
Spending time with family and friends is really the only sacrifice I’ve made. I’ve always been a work first kind of person, people don’t have to nag me to get on. The reverse is true. It’s hard on people that love me or would if only they actually got to know me!

Butterfly star on cream

All pictures provided with permission from Gabriella Buckingham – please do not reproduce

You need to find out more! Why not like her facebook page? Follow her on Twitter? Check out her awesome collection of pins on Pinterest?

And you will ned to visit the following websites to really appreciate the full variety of work this talented lady produces…..

Moobaacluck

Gabriella Buckingham

Ink Paint Paper

So loads of stuff for you to have a look at – enjoy!

Have a fab weekend and see you next week – oh, and don’t forget, for a chance to win a set of Christmas Cards, check out my blog post from Monday.

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Thursday Showcase No. 13 Leaff Design Ltd.

Hi there, and welcome to the 13th Thursday showcase! Unlucky for some, but I have always loved the number thirteen.Today is a funny one as it is a company based less than a mile away from my front door! But I did actually find them on the internet, not in person – but who knows, maybe I will actually get to meet the real world version one day! Also, before you start reading, please accept my apologies for the terrible formating/layout of this post – for some reason it has all gone nuts and is refusing to do what I want it to (definitely not operator error, I assure you…ahem….). Anyway, enough of the waffling and on with the show(case)!

1. Whats yer name and where d’ya come from?!

My name is Kate, and I’m originally from hilly south Wales, having moved to Worcester around 5 years ago. I am the co-owner of Leaff Design, along with my amazing husband, Jay.

2. How long have you been doing what you do, and how did you get into it?
I have been practising Graphic Design since school, when I chose it as one of my options for my final years. I then went onto college and eventually University, where I gained my degree. Since then, I have worked in the field through a small number of jobs, a spot of freelancing, and eventually Leaff was launched! Leaff is just over 2 years old.
3. What is the hardest part of your work?
This is actually quite easy to answer. When a client has a great appreciation of quality and design, their projects have heaps of potential, but their budget cannot support the full potential of what the project could reach. We always bend over backwards to accommodate client’s budgets as much as we can, but sometimes it is painful to see how big things could get, if only there was the budget to make that a reality.
4. And what is the most rewarding?
That is easily the client’s reaction to a finished project. There is nothing that compares to that. It is particularly satisfying to get the very best out of a budget, and exceeding expectations of what can be achieved within that budget.

5. What do you class yourself as – artist, designer/maker, crafter, creative?

A designer, since that is my job title, though both myself and Jay are very creative people in so many other ways too – it doesn’t stop at design.
6. Who from the creative world do you admire?
So many people! First and foremost I would say the array of people and businesses that we meet on a daily basis, but to be more specific, there are a few really great creatives that I draw so much inspiration from.
I find American designer Joy (Oh Joy!) very inspirational, as a female designer, and as a new mum now successfully juggling her business. Then there are people like the Australian artist Rilla Alexander, for her amazing craft, and creative Katie Sokoler (Color me Katie) for her huge amounts of creative energy.

7. Where does your inspiration come from?

Everywhere! I’m a very visual person, and so it is the simple things really. The weather and seasons have a massive effect on me, as does all forms of nature. I love my books, paper and texture, music, and fantasy films such as those by Tim Burton. These things inspire me massively, even if they are completely unrelated to a project.
8. Do you listen to music/watch TV whilst you are working, and if so, what?
I listen to music, yes. When Jay isn’t in the studio with me I tend to listen to 6 music for company, but when he is with me or if I just get fed up with the music on 6 then we listen to our playlists on iTunes. These include groups such as Minus The Bear, Thrice, Arcade Fire, Agnes Obel, Bloc Party, City and Colour, Fleet Foxes and Menomena to name but a few.
9. Where do you see yourself in 5 years time?
In our new studio in our dream location – where Leaff is thriving of course! We have huge dreams for our next studio.
10. What sacrifices have you made for your art?!
That is a tough one. All of our savings have gone into Leaff, and our lives have been somewhat restrained since Leaff begun because of that. We’ve had to be very frugal with our money, though I find it hard not to see the positives in this too. Controlling and managing your money in itself is a huge lesson, and learning how to make it go further and further for your needs is an even bigger lesson. I wouldn’t say it has changed how we feel about our lives, even though it has been hard at times, so I’m not sure it feels such a sacrifice. On the contrary, we appreciate every single thing that we have, and how lucky we are to be working for ourselves and together, so in that sense it is a blessing.

And so now you will be keen to find out more….. well for starters, check out the blog – well worth a read for a great insight on how they work with clients, but also more about the team and the company plus local news, other artists, visits and photography. You should also check out the following….

follow them on Twitter

like them on Facebook

check out their awesome website

and of course Shop!

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Thursday Showcase No.12 Lottie of London

On this crisp (OK, cold) autumn morning let me throw a little colour your way with and introduction to Lottie of London and her amazing handcrafted jewellery. I met Lottie on Twitter and just love the colours and detail in pieces such as this….

Lottie Of London Pendant

What do you think? Lovely, isn’t it?! Have a read and find out more…

1. Whats yer name and where d’ya come from?!
My name is Clare Lewis and I am a jewellery designer from south London.  I craft handmade bespoke jewellery using my favourite medium polymer clay.

2. How long have you been doing what you do, and how did you get into it?
I have always been crafty and had a love for beads which is how I got into polymer clay.  Originally I wanted to learn the art of glass lampworking but living a flat in London it just wasn’t to be.  I then discovered some polymer clay posts on the UK Beaders board http://ukbeaders.forumup.org/ and couldn’t believe that such gorgeous work could be created from what I initially regarded as children’s clay such as Fimo.  Polymer clay in UK is still considered as something for the kids to make little models out of over here and is not always readily available, but in the USA it’s quite huge with some fantastic artists.

3. What is the hardest part of your work?
The sanding takes it toll on my poor fingers and nails, but the time and effort put in to finish your pieces does make it worthwhile.

4. And what is the most rewarding?
To see a polymer cane come together after you’ve spent time building it out of clay and the finished results of my jewellery are always rewarding, even more so when I receive such lovely comments for my work

5. What do you class yourself as – artist, designer/maker, crafter, creative?
I guess I class myself as a designer/maker, as I get ideas popping in my head all the time for new designs and beads which I then try to make a reality.

6. Who from the creative world do you admire?
In the polymer clay world I really admire Donna Kato  she has produced some wonderful vibrant work with polymer clay and is one of the first books i ever brought on the subject.  Also Sandra Mccaws  caning techniques are mind blowing and look very complex.

7. Where does your inspiration come from?
I get my inspiration from many places such as nature in its bold colours but also its form and shapes.  I also use fashion as an inspiration, colour trends and prints which I like to try to turn into useable canes, they don’t always work but I have fun trying.

8. Do you listen to music/watch TV whilst you are working, and if so, what?
When I am working I love to listen to classic fm as it helps me to concentrate, I find it really hard to work with the tv on as it distracts me and I end up watching and not getting very much done.

9. Where do you see yourself in 5 years time?
I really want to make a go of designing and selling my jewellery and at the moment I am focusing all my efforts on doing this, so that hopefully in five years time I will be able to make a comfortable living and continue to do what I love.

10. What sacrifices have you made for your art?!
I don’t think i have made any real sacrifices, I’m also a housewife so I haven’t had to give up a paid job so i can do what I do now.  As I focus my attention more on my work and public profile time is becoming a bit of a sacrifice but like life I guess it’s a balancing act.

Lottie of London Jewellery
So now you will want to be knowing where you can lay your paws of some of this stuff….. well check out the Lottie of London website for a start! And why not show your support by following on Twitter and liking on Facebook?

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Thursday Showcase No. 11 Sue Hotchkis

I can’t quite believe it is Thursday again – where does the time go?! I am very pleased to be able to introduce you to a very talented lady today – am so glad that she agreed to take part as I really admire her work. Please give a warm welcome to…..

1. Whats yer name and where d’ya come from?!
My name is Sue Hotchkis and I’m a textile artist who currently lives in Guernsey. Although I’m a northern lass at heart, born and raised in Hull, and then living and working in Manchester.

2. How long have you been doing what you do, and how did you get into it?
I’ve always created from being a small child. I had my first sewing machine when I was seven, and would draw and paint and make my own dolls clothes. After gaining a degree in Embroidery and then an MA in Textiles I completed a PGCE and went on to teach Art & Design to adults and Textiles to pre degree students at Tameside College Manchester. When my husband got a new job in Guernsey I was given the opportunity to give up teaching and concentrate on my own practice.

3. What is the hardest part of your work?
Besides never having enough time to be creative, I would say it’s the composition of my work. Although I want the work to look effortless, they are in fact well thought out. The piece has to look balanced. This part can be very frustrating. Pieces are added and taken away until it feels right and this can take a long time. In addition to that utilising social media regularly to promote my work, networking with other creative people and exhibiting are all time consuming tasks that can be challenging to fit in when what I love most is to be in the studio producing.

4. And what is the most rewarding?
Creating and finishing a new piece. Sometimes I look at things I’ve made and I can’t believe I did it. It’s also rewarding when someone buys a piece because they really love it.

5. What do you class yourself as – artist, designer/maker, crafter, creative?
I’ve always considered myself an artist but I do design and create my work. I hate boxes and labels, trying to succeed is hard enough as it is without putting boundaries on yourself.

6. Who from the creative world do you admire?
There are lots of people, these are just a few; Jock McFadyen, Gerhard Richter,  Howard Hodgkin, Mark  Rothko, Robert Rauschenberg, Turner , Jo Budd, Jane Mckeating, Alice Kettle, Shizuko Kimura  and Janet Echelman.

7. Where does your inspiration come from?

I take photographs all the time, especially when travelling. I find inspiration in the insignificant and overlooked.  I’m particularly drawn to man-made objects that have been distressed by the passage of time old cars and boats, crumbling walls, peeling paintwork, that sort of thing. Initially I study the photographs that I’ve taken of a specific place or object. Then I work with its qualities, colour, form, texture and composition.

8. Do you listen to music/watch TV whilst you are working, and if so, what?

I recently entered the digital age and bought an iPod touch. I like the freedom of putting it on shuffle, knowing it will surprise me with what it plays , anything from Florence & The Machine, Adele to Paul Weller, Nic Drake to Japan  If I’m writing or really having to think about  my work  I don’t listen to anything , as I can’t concentrate with noise.

9. Where do you see yourself in 5 years time?
Still making, creating and exhibiting. It’s possible we might be living in France in five years so that would bring new challenges.

10. What sacrifices have you made for your art?!
I’ve given up trying to be a domestic goddess!! It’s never going to happen. Being an artist and having a tidy house with all the washing and ironing done is impossible, for me anyway.

I am sure you will want to see more of Sue’s work, so here is the link to her website.

If you like her work, please head on over to her Facebook page and like that too – Sue Hotchkis

You can also follow her on Twitter right here – Sue Hotchkis

Thanks for reading, I’ll be back with another interesting person next Thursday, or stop by on Monday to find out what I have been up to this week.

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