This summer I marked (but not really celebrated) 15 years of running my own creative business. I was hoping to bring out a new book this year covering what I’ve done in those years but this year has of course not gone remotely according to plan! I should have it ready next year. In the meantime, every month, I share a 10 page PDF letter / mini magazine with my Patreon supporters which covers a lot of the same behind-the-scenes studio insider stories as the book eventually will. The September issue is a focus on those 15 years of working as an artist /maker. I love writing my Patreon letters and twice-monthly blog posts as I selfishly get to focus on my own practice and share behind the scenes in my studio (and often my office) life. If you would like to delve more into my life and practice, Patreon is the place to do it. Over the last 6 months I’ve written about creative collaborations, fabric manipulation, my 2019 solo exhibition work, self-publishing, work in progress, behind the scenes at a photo shoot and much more. Every subscriber gets a discount for my online shop too and over the summer I gave away tickets to my online Criminal Quilts talk. All the previous content is free for new subscribers too, so there’s masses to explore which should keep you going until my new book is finally ready!
I’ve just started Mastered ecourse on the Business of Embroidery taught by the amazing Karen Nicol. I’ve been looking for a while for an ecourse to take as research towards developing my own ecourses and had been pondering one of the Mastered embroidery courses, though I knew they weren’t quite right for me. It has been at the back of my mind for a while that I want to explore designing embroidery and embellishment commercially, so this course was just the right thing at the right time.
I’m really just getting started with the course, although I’ve read through all the course materials and watched most of the videos already. One of the first exercises is to choose a theme from one of five suggested and create a sketchbook. I don’t often work in this way and it is good discipline for me to try it, so the course is definitely working already! The themes suggested were:
- The city at night
- Myths, legends and fairytales
- Vibrant florals
- Extraordinary texture mixes
- Reimagined lace
My first instinct was to go with extraordinary texture mixes because that immediately sounds like my kind of thing, but of course the point is to explore new ideas, so I opted for myths, legends and fairytales. Since my own work is very narrative-based, this is hardly a massive departure, though I haven’t done any work on myths before. Ideas were sparked immediately, running off in many different directions, many of them wildly ambitious or just plain weird. Of course, I am having to think around this topic in terms of commercial design rather than my own art textiles practice, which is a very different thing indeed. I’ve already had to park the idea of sewing dried mushrooms onto fabric – I don’t see that going down well in John Lewis cushion department…
I’ve chosen to work around the theme of fairytale forests, the dark, dark woods full of faeries, goblins, monsters, witches and my beloved trees. The first image that came to mind was one of Ivan Bilibin’s illustrations of Russian fairy tales which I remember from my childhood. My mum recently gave me her copy and it is in my pile of prints to frame.
As usual these ideas came to me while I was out walking, fortuitously, in the woods. I often walk to gather my thoughts. As I walked around and around the woods, various ideas floated in and out, including the idea of dried mushrooms (see above) and then feathers. A moment later I found this…
Magical fairytale forest in action.
I’m gathering images on Pinterest and have started my sketchbook, although as yet it is a little sparse. I am enjoying forcing myself to do the research properly and not start putting needle to fabric just yet. I’ll post more images as the work develops.
One of the pleasures of being a more established maker (over seven years!) is that I can share some of what I have learned with other makers. I’ve been lucky enough to benefit from mentoring over the years, and am now on the other side, providing mentoring. I’m currently working with Elizabeth Dyer of Feel More Love Boutique on developing her skills and knowledge of delivering workshops to adults, specifically for parties.
I haven’t used polymer clay for at least 20 years, possibly a lot longer than that. I had a fantastic time!
Liz taught us very well and demonstrated clearly. I took some clay home to make some more beads and burnt them in my oven… I’ll stick with fabric I think…
In recent years I’ve also mentored Lucy Andrews and Sewed Souls, and both were thoroughly enjoyable and taught me a lot too.
In 2013 I am going to be offering mentoring on developing creative practice, making and selling work, craft writing and publishing, running workshops and demonstrations – and anything else that I am asked to do and can realistically help with. Please get in touch if you are interested in discussing this.