Category Archives: Artist Interviews

Www.marnalunt.co.uk/blog

a little thing……

So many exciting things have been happening recently and so I haven’t been my usual social butterfly self but at last I’m getting myself organised to start sharing things with you again. I am currently going through a rebrand for my business. I always find this sort of thing addictive and rejuvenating. It’s the perfect thing to do when you’ve lost your way a little to bring some focus and clarity back to you. More about that another day though.

stitched sketch for phases of the moon work

This year it is safe to say has been a bit all over the place for me. Starting in January with my head nearly exploding at the amount of work and possibilities that the coming year held, but and thats a dream come true to be honest. Being busy like that means you have done something right and that people do like you after all. But with that busyness comes a lot of other stuff, like being over subscribed to too many things and it burns you out.

By June this year it is safe to say I was completely and utterly burnt out. It was all a little bit too much and I quickly learnt that it was’t where I wanted to be or hat I wanted to be doing. So after months of soul searching and basically just trying to rest a little I have a new plan. Well actually it’s not new its the one I always had but this time I’m actually going to do it instead of get constantly side tracked. So I am glad to say that in the new year I will be back to my old smily self and getting extremely excited about it. Until then I’ll be poottleling around here on the blog and Instagram making things look pretty and easing myself into the new year.

little thing magazine

With that little brief history of the last six months said I really wanted to share with you a very fun thing that happened for me a few weeks ago. I was in a magazine called The Little Things based in China. I was in good company, the likes of Jessie Chorley, Hens Teeth, Rachelle Blondel and Elizabeth Loveday have also been featured so I certainly feel very proud to be approached too. It’s a fab magazine although I’m honestly not sure where in the UK that you can buy it, but I’m sure there will be somewhere.

me faffing in my studio

Here’s a few little sections. of photos and the interview I sent to them in English so you can also see what was written.

1.Could you introduce yourself and give us some background information?

Hi, My name is Marna Lunt and I am a contemporary hand embroider. I was trained and have an honours degree in Fine Art painting at the Manchester School of Art. Painting was my main love and I concentrated on life drawing with oils, and portraiture.

Then I had my first child, as a new mum my creative work had to change as it no longer worked with my lifestyle. I developed from using oil paint to using fabric to create needle paintings instead. I am completely self taught as a textile artist. I still see myself as a painter but using thread and fabric instead of paint, I approach the work in exactly the same way as I would paint.

2.When did you start embroidery and how? Did you have any formal training or are you self taught?

I have enjoyed embroidery, mainly cross stitch, since I was a young girl. I loved the kits you could get and making family and friends little things, cushions, pictures, coasters. It wasn’t something I was ever taught formally, I just picked it up now and again if time was on my side. I only started really looking at the stitches and their possibilites about two years ago. Before that anything I made concentrated on the colourful fabric and the use of only backstitch. I now explore the possibilities of stitches in my work more and are using less and less fabric to create my art work.

3.Are your works all hand embroidery? Have you ever tried to incorporate  machine embroidery?

Everything I make is purely made from hand embroidery. I never use machines. There are manly reasons for this. The machines are too noisy to use near my son which is why I never started using them. I also don’t like the noise, I love the peace and calm that hand stitching creates. I prefer the effect if hand stitching too, it gives a quality and personality to the work the a machine can’t do, more of my personality is taken into the scene. I also find machines annoying because they don’t do what I want, I have no patience and they need too much attention which drives me a little crazy.

stitching rapunzel

4.I noticed that you have some portrait themed works, what’s the inspiration of those portraits? Or are they orders from clients?

I started the portraits because I was missing that part of my old creative process too much. I used to love sketching and painting portraits and found I was getting further away from making what I loved with my work and decided to start a project for myself. I started with my self portrait and found people really loved then work but I needed to make a portrait that would be interesting to a wider audience. So having two young children fairy tales jumped into my mind.

I am lucky in that I have had a lot of commissions for portraits which is probably my favourite work to do at the moment, so I do work to commission but that isn’t the reason I started them.

5.You’ve created many different kinds of works, like portraits, lamps and cushions, so far what kind of work is your favourite one? And are you planning to challenge any other forms of artworks in the future?

As I started my journey into my new career in a very public way on social media all my experiments are widely catalogued. Most artists don’t have their journey to find their style made quite so publicly so you will see all the things I’ve tried to get to where I am beginning to feel happy with as an artist. I still have much experimenting to go and I feel I am beginning to find my own way.

6.Why do you want to hand dyed the embroidery threads and textiles?

I did a wonderful workshop all about natural dyes and loved learning and making. Natural dying really interests me but it is not something that I am going to take up much myself as I don’t have the tie to make what i would like with it. It’s a huge subject which is something that maybe I could get more involved with as the children get bugger and time is more accessibly. I do however buy a lot of hand dyed threads and fabric to use, from experts in the field that produce stunning colours and combinations. I find the colours made from dying smaller lots are the ones that I am more interested infusing than many of the very mass produced colours. This is mainly due to my painting background. If you wanted a colour you would mix, I rarely used paint straight from the tube. But with needle painting you can’t mix your threads to create the palette you want so you have to go looking for the colour already as a thread, this normally happens next for me from the more expensive and unusual thread makers. I have to have the exact colour I need and nothing else will do so dying your own thread may be something I need to do more in the future.

marna lunt interview in little thing magazine

7.Are you planning to create a series of fairy tales themed works? Because I noticed that you have a piece of work named Rapunzel, and it seems that  there is also a piece of work that you’re making, looks like the Little Red Ridding hood.

I am indeed. It is a personal project that I am hoping also interests all of you too. It’s a very slow process as I make these works in the background of other large commissions that are going on too. Thus why I have only really made two so far. I have Pinnochio, Sleeping Beauty, Snow White and Hansel and Gretel all sketched out and waiting to come to life too. They are based on the faces of my children as they are the best models I could ask for. It’s a pure joy for me at the moment making these larger than life pieces.

8.Can you describe your creating process please? 

I like to draw. Drawing and painting have always been my first love and thats always where I start. I like to think of the finished piece in my head and how I want it to be and then I sketch and research the piece. I mainly only do this for the larger pieces that need a little planning. The smaller pieces I just draw straight onto the fabric and stitch fabric down on top of my drawing just like a big fabric collage. Then I stitch as though I was using a pencil to pick out the details and give definition. Sometimes the finished work will be then made into lampshades and sometimes they are mounted and framed. But everything stems from drawing.

drawing the details

9.Do you have any physical store? And can you introduce your studio please?

I sell my work mainly through my website, www.marnalunt.co.uk. I also teach online courses concentrating on my process and how I make artwork showing you all the details and inspiring you to make your own work too, this is on a separate website called www.illuminatingembroudery.co.uk. I also sell at my craft and design fairs around the UK, as well as teach through the UK.

10.What’s your favourite little thing?

I love my snow globes. I collect them from around the world, when my friends go on their travels they bring them back for me too. There’s something very magical, innocent and happy about snow globes.

marna lunt interview for little thing magazine

Www.marnalunt.co.uk/blog

sew magazine december 2015

OOoooo exciting news, Sew magazine have done a lovely page spread on little me.

SEW MAGAZINE

They’ve written it up so beautifully too. I have to say, in no way being cocking at all, that I do get a lot of people asking for blog & press interviews, paid and unpaid, usually unpaid, and as much as I would like to say yes to everyone I think people would get sick of me pretty blooming quickly. I get sick of myself for goodness sake so I don’t want to do that to all of you!!

Sometimes you get a feel for an editor and magazine and think yes I like them I want to work with them. I did in this case and my hunch paid off. They have written beautifully about what we spoke about when they emailed me and not tried to turn it into a weepy ‘oh no she has a disabled child poor her’ type of thing. You see that upsets me. What I mean by this is that they make me and Arthur sound like some sort of pathetic sob story in need of pity. Granted we have things tough (doesn’t everyone have their own story of going through tough times though) but we are strong and positive, I would rather promote disability with what we can do rather than what we can’t do. And although yes my life has changed because of these events but it is not defined by that experience, I painted and had the same vision before I gave birth, art was the one thing that never changed when I become a mother. I don’t want to be turned into some sort of charity case, where you only like me because of that, hopefully you like what I make in the first place and the fact my son has brain damage is an aside, it adds to the story not is the end of the story. Obviously I don’t mind people mentioning it, that would be stupid I’m not ashamed, but lets make it an inspiring and uplifting rather than oh poor me. Does that make sense, I hope so.

Anyway Sew magazine in no way at all have put that slant on things and I love them for it, it means to me that they are just wanting to show their readers things they think they will love for the right reason. So yeah Sew magazine. Anyway did I mention that I was in this months latest edition?

Good lord I know how to waffle, so here is a little snippet of the article. Hope you enjoy it, do let me know what you think.

marna lunt interview in sew magazine 2015

Poppy Treffry ~ Lightbulb Moment

Poppy Treffry & Marna Lunt

I remember the first time I ever saw Poppys work. That’s a sign of someone a bit special. I was on holiday in Cornwall soon after having Arthur and we went to the Eden project and I treated myself to a little badge with a pea on it. Her designs stuck with me as being a bright, joyful, simple and beautfiul product and design, she was a breath of fresh air. I never thought for one minute I would be writing a blog with her work on it after meeting her and exhibiting at the same fairs as her. I was in new mum mode thinking of soecial needs and never thinking I would create again. But her work brought happiness to me and I’m sure subconsiously that when I started making cushions, her use of applique was in the back of my mind.

I met Poppy for the first time last year and I think she’s wonderful. I wish I lived closer so I could have pasty chats with her and laugh and generally be inspried by the clever lady. I will stop gushing now but some people you meet really touch you and make you realise that success can come to kind honest hardworking and thoughtful people, you dont have to be cut throat business people and it gives me faith that one day I can do the good things she has done.

Anyway enough of all this waffle, heres Poppy’s lightbulb moment.
Poppy treffry interview on the marna lunt blog

I had not so much a light bulb moment as a light bulb week when my company came into being back in 2003. But first I should scroll back to a couple of important experiences that really informed what I ended up doing.
At my interview for my textiles degree in 1996 the tutor asked me what I wanted to do after I finished and I replied “Travel and see the world”
“What if you get offered a job with Louis Vuitton?” he asked
“Still travel” I said
I didn’t get offered a job with Louis Vuitton (or anyone!) instead I found various jobs (including sharpening pencils in the poshest boys school in England!) and saved all my pennies and applied for voluntary work overseas.

Guatemala images by Poppy Treffy

In 2001, I finally got offered a one-year voluntary placement working with a women’s craft cooperative, deep in the jungle in Guatemala. A bit of organising later (ditching no-good boyfriends, parting from beloved flatmate etc) I was on an open top motorized canoe traveling up narrowing tributaries with steep sided, tree draped cliffs on either side, egrets posing at the water’s edge, river spray splashing on my face…

Poppy treffry interview on marna lunt blog

…To find a dusty little shop selling a few hand made paper gifts to whoever happened to pop by – not many did!

Guatemala products

Although I’d never run a business, had never had any confidence in promoting or selling my own work, spoke only a smattering of Spanish and had just arrived – I knew I was going to absolutely love turning these products into something that would sell, and turning the business into something that would make a proper difference to the lives of the women involved.

Poppy's colleges

I stayed almost three years, living in a straw hut, eating rice and beans three times a day, designing, selling, putting in systems, training and helping to increase the turnover by ten fold.

Lovely sketch book pages by poppy More amazing sketch book pages by poppy

Scroll forward to 2003 and I’m back on Bodmin moor. I won’t go in to the details but I could no longer stay in Guatemala so Cornwall was the only other place I could think of to go. Back home to Mum and Dad…

Whilst casting around desperately for a direction to go in, clinging onto the last of my savings and feeling like a women on the verge of a nervous breakdown, I got out my Granddad’s old Singer sewing machine and began making bags. I didn’t sell them, didn’t even show them to anybody, I just made them and timed myself, and made more and piled them up, and made more.

Poppy treffy interview on marna lunt blog

Eventually a friend took them into a gallery and the gallery sold them all in a week. A lady who was just setting up as a crafts advisor for Cornwall saw them in the gallery and called me into her office on the Tuesday to say she could advise me how to set up and run my business, and apply for funding to help with this (all for free). On the Thursday I found a shared workshop advertised in the paper for twelve quid a week and was shown around it by a lovely young man. And on the Friday I was offered an interview for a well paid, interesting but part time job – perfect for paying the bills whilst I got the business off the ground.

I got the job… and some time later I also got the lovely young man!

There have been light bulb moments ever since and the business has grown and grown with more and more women involved. A friend from my volunteering days remarked recently that my business is basically run in exactly the same way as I worked in the jungle. I think he’s right, I care about how things are made and by whom, and I care that the work is benefitting them and that they enjoy doing what they do.

It’s the light bulb moments though that keep it interesting, and having a funny, clever and supportive team around me to share them with.

Sketch books Product range Beginnings How the business has grown! Poppy amd her work force and friends Poppy

Poppys work is still and has been the inspiration for a whole movement of free hand stitching, her infectious spirit is a joy to be around and comes through in her work. To buy and find more out about Poppy pop over to her website (its a corker), www.poppytreffry.co.uk

I hope you loved reading and learning about Poppy as much as I did, I’ll be back with another fab artist in the coming weeks. Join the newsletter or subscribe to make sure you dont miss out on all the latest as well as offers and free tutorials which will be coming bery soon. Take care. Xx

 

Jane Foster Designs – Lightbulb Moment

jane foster designs

Good morning. This weekend I have been very excited and grateful to have the fabulous Jane Foster telling us about her start with her company. Jane is a bit of a superstar, I first met her last year although knew of her way before that. I spent a glorious day at the Mollie Makes Handmade Awards with Jane as we had both been chosen as a finalists in the Established Business Award (Jane rightfully won) and we had such fun and chatted all day. It was fab and I really made a great new friend, she’s joy and so so genuinely lovely to be around. I know how crazily busy she is so to make the time to do this is really kind. Thanks Jane, now lets hear from her.

If you just click on the link the lovely interview will magically appear. xx

Jane Foster Interview

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Gabriella Buckingham ~ Moobaacluck

Name : Gabriella Buckingham
Company : Moobaacluck and Gabriella Buckingham

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Website: I have a few! There’s my shop on notonthehighstreet.com called Moobaacluck; gabriellabuckingham.com – my illustration site, and www.moobaacluck.com; I also have an Etsy shop called GabriellaBuckingham.

Sum up your business in a sentence:

I design and hand paint personalised wooden decorations for children and the young at heart and I also paint, illustrate and produce paper products from my designs.

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When did you start your business and why?

I started Moobaacluck in late 2007 making presents for my children’s friends then decided to start selling them at local craft fairs. I wanted to supplement my sporadic illustration earnings. I was popping up all over Norfolk selling Phoenix Trading products so I thought I really ought to take these opportunities to test the market with my own designs.

What and who inspires you?

My children and country life inspired my business when I started out – hence the name I came up with; we have two pet rabbits in the garden and I seem to have been inspired by them! My surroundings certainly influence what I paint. Colour is important to me.

So many people have inspired me, often fleetingly! I tend to read about people or find their work on the web and get excited about a general way of life or approach. I love watching the videos by Monica Lee on Smartcreativewomen.com. Just listening to creative businesses talk about how they do things reveals how diverse the options are.

I’ve always loved the work of many great painters. With my painting head on I might look at Mary Fedden’s pictures before setting out a still life. I love the textures and colours of a Mark Rothko for example or the sheer scale and luminosity of a giant Jo Self painting or the poetic figurative quality of the paintings by my friend, artist Nicola Slattery.

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I admire the hugely successful stationery company Rifle Paper and Rob Ryan who has his own bricks and mortar shop; products in Liberty and numerous department stores yet still conveys the impression of being a small business. I’d like to chat to him! Reading about his process in his Etsy shop he does have rather a lot of help….

Fellow notonthehighstreet.com partners like Becky from DotsandSpots and Jane from Snapdragon and Ali from Milly and Pip have been very supportive and helpful too over the years. Hello girls!

I also read about a stationery designer and maker in the US, whose name I can’t remember unfortunately! I was struck by the fact that she deliberately only allows her business to grow to a certain point so that she takes on just enough work to reach a monthly financial target she sets herself. That way she still has the time for the exploration needed away from work to stay inspired to design and live a fulfilled life. That’s what I aim for.

What sets you apart from others?

My designs themselves and my slightly crazy painstaking approach! I don’t take short cuts. For example so many people advise me to spray paint my base coats for the wooden pieces which really does makes sense. I’ve experimented with this but don’t like the finish.

As I do absolutely every aspect of my business alone (apart from cutting the wood) I can be adaptable and creative quickly if need be. I am working on developing some craft kits to teach other people how to paint their own wooden items too.

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What did you do before setting up your business?

When I left art college in the early 90’s I became a freelance illustrator. I was commissioned to paint romantic fiction illustrations for magazines initially and some editorial. You can see examples of some of this on my blog inkpaintpaper.com right now! Then I worked in house at International Greetings as a Christmas card and wrap designer for three years. I moved on to become the sole product manager for Card Connection Ltd a franchise greeting card company. After two years there I left to set up as an illustrator again. I had less than a month’s salary, a mortgage to pay and no savings but I had strong self-belief and a month or so later was briefed by Ladybird Books to illustrate a children’s book, which led to more and began regular work as a greeting card artist for several companies. I even flew to Holland to put together a gift-wrap collection commissioning illustrators I’d used in my product manager days. When I moved to Norfolk in 2003 and had children the pace of life slowed but Notonthehighstreet.com found me somehow in 2008 and wrote to me and asked me to join them; I hadn’t heard of them! But I started selling with them in 2009 and it’s been great.

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The best running your own business:

Is the freedom of being in charge of my own destiny, knowing it’s up to me and living life on my own terms. Even though at busy times I can spend days on end hardly leaving home, swamped with piles of wood that need painting I wouldn’t swap that for an office life again (unless it was my office;)). I can be here for my children whenever needed yet happily painting at the bottom of my garden a lot of the time. My husband is freelance too so during the summer holidays we constantly swap childcare. If he’s here I work and if he isn’t I have to adapt!

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Your favourite product and why:

My spotty and floral wooden rabbits are my favourite wooden product but I also love the cards I do featuring my handwriting and the baby face first Christmas card that can be turned into a decoration for the tree. All these products exemplify what I want my work to be about – fun, beauty and thought. I always love the things I am currently working on too, like these Christmas tags with a squirrel, owl and robin on. Hopefully I will produce a gift wrap to match but I need to be convinced that people will buy Christmas sheet wrap rather than rolls!

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Your greatest business tip:

Do whatever makes you feel happiest and know that will probably change. Really spend time working out what that is; I’m still doing this and loving the process. I took the Make Art that Sells course with Lilla Rogers this year and will be doing a painting course in September that I know I will love. The web is an incredible place for making friends and learning, definitely embrace social media. Meanwhile get to work making or developing things that you love because if you love them that will show and people out there will pick up on that (as long as you show and tell). Of course don’t ignore the financial side completely. I do tend to do this on scraps of paper in a ballpark sort of a way and am guilty of not being precise enough. Once you’ve worked out postage and packing, commission, materials, and your time and what a customer might perceive a product to be worth – there might not be any profit left. However the beauty of being a small business with low overheads is that you can experiment on a small scale and make mistakes or compromises. There are ways of working things out.

Your biggest weakness:

Being obsessive about working and not taking enough time way from it.

Your biggest success:

Is yet to come! I’m eternally optimistic; whenever I have had a goal I’ve achieved it so life is full of little successes. The key is to know what you want which isn’t so easy with so many options. I am proud that for 15 years I’ve earned a living through my painting and manage to learn other things I enjoy too – like ceramics.

Funniest moment:

I can’t remember any! I do daft things a fair amount of the time so it’s all a blur …one small thing; somehow I started to paint ‘Grandad’s First Christmas’ on a star, which my husband and I had a laugh at.

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Favourite quote:

“Bloom where you are” … I don’t know where it came from but essentially it means make the most of what you have, wherever you happen to find yourself. Recently I painted a picture for the wall art section of Lilla Rogers course with the quote “Life the life you have imagined” on it, a great aim.

Favourite motto:

Up until now it’s been “ Where there is a will there’s a way”. The words “How do you want to feel?” (a question Danielle La Porte has built an entire self help business on) are very thought provoking and deceptively simple.

Your favourite colour: So many – usually bright and warm, but if you push me to chose: Greek island sea blue green.

Your favourite artist: Mary Newcomb and Elaine Pamphilon. Mary always led a creative life but didn’t start trying to paint for a living until she reached the age of 50 and her work has a magical slant on the way she saw the world around her. She really played with humour and scale. I love Elaine’s seascapes and still life paintings. I’ve been lucky enough to see their work in real life.

Your favourite season: Spring – all the promise it has, plus the colours suit me!

Your favourite flower : deepest dark chocolate hollyhocks; blousy peonies and ragged, spikey dahlias.. oh and recently on a family bike ride down an old railway track we came across a red brick cottage with an entire field of pom-pom alliums in front of it, just beautiful.

Your star sign: Capricorn

Business dream :

This is such a tough question to answer. Partly I am living it. I don’t have one single goal. I have many small ones. I’m someone that has to try things and see how they fit. I do want some sort of trade range, I have regular enquiries but I am not ready for that just yet, it needs more work and planning. I realised from doing one trade fair with my wooden things that it wasn’t what I wanted with that particular range. Bringing out a range of lovely children’s stationery under the Moobaacluck brand would be; as would a card range featuring many of my existing eponymous designs so that is where I will go next. I’m keen to continue to grow what is a lifestyle business alongside working as an illustrator and designer more in the future. Last August I set up a twitter challenge of a daily draw. It was great fun and a lovely way to connect with other people, something I really enjoy. Setting up some sort of creative network might be a project. I’m full of ideas but sometimes that results in head spin! I’m thinking about finding an illustration agent in 2014. I fancy writing a book and teaching an e-course. Plenty to get on with.

Your simple pleasure: hugging the children and watching the sea.

What’s your brew: Green tea and wine. Not together.

Tell us a joke: the only jokes I know are ones my husband drums into me but they rarely stick, this one tickles me… My husband says it isn’t one but I like it.

“I stand corrected” said the man in the Orthopedic shoes.

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Thanks so much Gabs. I hope you all enjoyed hearing a bit about yet another very talented and gorgeous artist. Gabs is yet another painter who I have admired from a far for some time. Her painting simply makes me happy, it’s joyful and theres not other way of putting it. The colours and light always take me to another place. I eventually plucked up the courage to message Gabriella for a chat and introduce myself and I’m so glad I put myself out there because Im normally so shy and worried that these clever people will think I’m a pleb but Gabs was just fab. She’s as joyful as her art, thanks lovely lady for so many lovely chats. Xx

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Jane Day ~ Tea With Ruby

Name:  Jane Day

Company:  Tea with Ruby

Website:  www.teawithruby.co.uk

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Sum up your business in a sentence.  Stylist, blogger, china lover, interior demon, image devourer & pretty things admirer.

When did you start your business?   Tea with Ruby burst onto the scene in October 2012.

What & who inspires you?  There are so many in so many different fields but here are a handful as I’d be going on all day.  Nancy Lancaster and John Fowler for their brilliance,  Nicky Haslam for his flair, Ben Pentreath the architect (I want to live in his parsonage in Dorset),  Christopher Lloyd for his charismatic gardening,  Monty Don and Gardeners World I love it, a man in cords gets me every time!   Twig Hutchinson the stylist.   I find gardeners, interior decorators and stylists are people I want to be when I grow up.

What sets you apart from others?   I have no idea, not so good when it comes to blowing my own trumpet.

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What did you do before setting up your business?   All exceedingly boring, I worked in the IT industry for many years and I’m still rubbish with a computer.  Threw in the towel to be a stay at home Mum, studied interior design before setting up Tea with Ruby.

The best part of your day/ running your own business  ~  Best part of the day is all of it, I work from home it doesn’t get any better than that.  Running the business means I can betotally 100% me, no one else to answer to, no one else to tell me what to do.  I find that rather exhilarating and sometimes darn right scary but I have a fabulous husband Robert who’s shoulder gets leaned on once in a while.  It’s a wonderful thing having that kind of support.

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Why did you start your business?   I’ve always adored vintage china and as the years passed I collected more and more.   After becoming a Mum to Ruby and taking the plunge of not going back to work, I had lovely time on my hands to be a bit more creative.  I read an article in Country Homes & Interiors about Lucy Haywood of Love Lane Vintage which made the old grey cells think and so Tea with Ruby was born.    In two years the business has evolved, chance meetings with wonderful people and making new found friends has fuelled my passion for other things such as blogging which is a joy.

Your favourite product & why.   I’m a sucker for a pretty teacup,  the delicacy of the china and often the beauty of the pattern adorned around it.  Also the history behind such a little thing, who was the first person to own it, has it been cherished for years or hidden away in a cupboard until I came across it.

Your greatest business tip.  Be passionate about what it is you want to do, don’t have too many strict guidelines as things always evolve from where you started from.   When you are ready to launch make sure all your media is ready to go at the same time but most of all enjoy it.

Your favourite colour.  I don’t have one, I rather like them all.

Star sign.   Capricorn

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Your biggest weakness.   Pinterest, red wine, interior magazines and books, car booting, chaps with beards, did I mention pinterest!

Your biggest success.   Being a Mum, nothing beats having a Ruby about.

Funniest moment.   The most prominent at the moment, as I have quite a few, was with you my dear,  sat in Jamie Oliver’s Restaurant in Kingston Upon Thames after a few glasses of wine, good food, fab friends and a conversation that made me cry with laughter (yes I really did cry!)

Favourite quote.  “Creative people are curious, flexible, persistent, and independent with a tremendous spirit of adventure and a love of play” ~ Henri Matisse

Favourite motto.  ‘ Stick to your guns’  Jack Winters the best Grandad in the world

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Favourite artist.  Not sure if I have a favourite, art comes in so many forms from the great masters through to florists and everything else in between.   I do lose myself when stood in front of a piece of art be it a painting, sculpture huge arrangement of flowers, I can stand a stare for a very long time.

Favourite season.    Summer, say no more, I hate being cold.

Business dream.   To own a beautiful shop somewhere exceedingly pretty selling pre loved items for the home and garden, with a sideline of styling homes with the wares available in the shop.  Oh to dream.

Favourite flower.   Too many!  It also depends on the season but at the moment it’s the simple cow parsley, love it.

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What are you listening to right now.   Got a love for 6 Music, quite addictive and not good for the bank balance as we end up downloading new bands!!   Really into Vampire Weekend at the moment.

Your simple pleasure.   Can I make it multiple?  Gardening, photography, laughing, cuddles not necessarily in that order.

What’s your brew.    Can’t function without a strong coffee first thing, one that your spoon can stand up in!   Quite partial to the odd cup of tea and I couldn’t be without a nice glass of wine every now and again.

Tell us a joke.   What’s the difference between a buffalo and a bison?  You can’t wash your hands in a buffalo.

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Last month I spent a glorious weekend with Jane and Vicky Trainor and I have to say it was one of my most favouritest weekends ever. I don’ think we stopped talking other than whilst asleep and I think we may have done a bit of that then actually too, but definitely no snoring, no no snoring at all. She is a joy to spend time with and so positive and fun. A talented stylist and generally just great to have about, I wish I had her in my pocket. Thanks Jane for sparing time for my little blog. Lovely lady.

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Leonie Stephenson ~ Loula Belle At Home

Name: Leonie
Company: Loula Belle At Home
Website: www.loulabelleathome.etsy.com

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Sum up your business in a sentence:
Loula Belle at Home, designer and maker of pretty papercuts and lovely things
for the home.

When did you start your business?
​Loula Belle At Home began in 2011, but to be honest it has gone through metamorphosis, and turned into a beautiful butterfly since then. I initially set out using textiles to create home and gift ware, and then discovered paper-cutting. Although I do still create some products using fabric I have designed, most of my work is now paper based. There really has been no ​looking back, I love it!

What & who inspires you?
I take a great deal of inspiration, and love looking at and exploring the work of other papercutters. I’m still quite new to this (my first cut was made in June 2011) so have a lot to learn! Some of my favourites include the very fabulous Mister Rob, Heather Moore, Supercutetilly, Emily Hogarth and Folk Art Papercuts to name but a few. I am also inspired by the natural world. Everyday things I see, comments that are made and things that I hear and remember.

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What sets you apart from others?
I can cut paper with a scalpel and make it look beautiful! I guess it’s also my style, and my ability to write backwards! I do all of my work on
the reverse, and so all the writing that I include in my work is done back to front (as a mirror image).
​My mum has said that my brain must be wired up wrong!!!

What did you do before setting up your business?
I worked in Further Education, co-ordinating a project for 15 and 16 year olds that didn’t attend school. I loved my job, but finished after I had my eldest. It wasn’t a job that could have been done part-time and I wanted to be with my family as they grew up. I was lucky that redundancies were being made and requested voluntary redundancy, providing me with time for my family and to create.

The best part of your day/ running your own business.
The best thing about running my own business is being able to work when I want to! It’s fabulous to wake up on a glorious morning and go and enjoy the sun…or take some time out to exercise…or go on holiday without asking permission! I do love working though, and after the madness of getting the children out and on their way to school, I love making myself a coffee and going up to my attic studio to work.

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Why did you start your business?
I wanted to work for myself to enable me to be at home when I need to be. I didn’t want to work full-time and not be around for the children, and to be honest , decent part-time jobs are hard to come by. This suits us perfectly…I can take on as much work as I want to, and fit it around the rest of my life.

Your favourite product & why.
​I think my favourite piece of work that I have created is my ‘Woodland Tale’ ​paper-cut. I really love this piece and I do feel a little sad that it sold. I produced some mugs in this design, and I love drinking my brew ​from it in the morning.

Your greatest business tip.
​Someone once said to me, ‘aim high, but take little steps’. Taking little steps is
​hard when you are eager for things to be successful, but you really can’t do
​everything at once, especially when you have a family!

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Your favourite colour.
​I love lots of different colours, but I think turquoise has to be my favoiurite…
beautiful turquoise sea, ah….sorry I drifted off for a moment there, I love the sea!

Star sign.
Sagittarius, but you would have to tell me what this says about me.

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Your biggest weakness.
Food in general I think…I love good food, though maybe this isn’t really a weakness!

Your biggest success.
​My children, they are fabulous…yes they drive me to distraction, but they
​really are wonderful and I am so proud of them.

Funniest moment.
In A&E after my eldest broke her arm. She’d been given drugs (morphine I presume) and was lying on a bed with a very bent arm singing nursery rhymes to me at the top of her voice. So funny, and just what I needed after a traumatic few hours!

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Favourite quote.
Oh dear, I have lots of favourite quotes in my little book. Can I have two?
‘If you have good thoughts they will shine out of your face like sunbeams and you will always look lovely’.
– Roald Dahl (I love Roald Dahl)

​‘You are never too old to set another goal or dream a new dream’.
– C. S. Lewis

Favourite motto.
​Keep calm and carry on…what more can you tell yourself during trying times!!!

Favourite artist.
​I really can’t answer this, as there are so many artists that I love.

Favourite season.
Spring because of new life and the promise of summer; summer because of the warm sunshine; autumn for beautiful colours and crunchy leaves; and winter for the snow…Sorry!

Business dream.
To carry on being creative, and develop lots of lovely products for the home using designs from my papercuts. I have lots of ideas…little steps J.

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Favourite flower.
I love roses… the lovely old traditional roses you would find in an English country garden. They are so pretty and smell so beautiful.

What are you listening to right now.
​I tend to work in peace and quiet. My husband runs a sound system and there ​is often music being played in our house. If I do listen to music I enjoy listening to Aloe Black, Amy Winehouse… I’m also looking forward to seeing ​what James Arthur does. I love his voice and style, I just hope he doesn’t ​become too polished and over produced.

Your simple pleasure.
​Sunshine

What’s your brew.
Tea

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Tell us a joke.
I had to ask the children to help me with this one as I am rubbish with jokes. I can’t tell them because I forget them half way through, and to be honest, most don’t make me laugh! This is what we agreed on after sifting through all the toilet jokes.

‘What flies in the are and wobbles’
-‘A jelly-copter’
HAR HAR, BOOM BOOM…do you remember Basil Brush? I loved him as a child…maybe that’s where my love of all things foxy has come from?!!

I’ve admired Leonie’s work for some time, I just love the beautiful edges and the scenes and words she choses and creates. I look forward to seeing all her new work and it always brings a big smile to my face. Thank you so much Leonie for sharing some of yourself with us. What a joy. Xx

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Janet Bell ~ Janet Bell Gallery

Name: Janet Bell

Company: Janet Bell Gallery

Website: www.janetbellgallery.com

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Sum up your business in a sentence. Hard bloody work!!!! That was my first answer…… No, I am split in 2 halves, I am an artist, painting for my own gallery, publishers and other galleries. Then I am a gallery owner, sourcing and buying and selling the work of over 60 makers and artists.

When did you start your business? I started painting in 2001 whist managing an interiors shop in Brighton. There was a gallery next door which I took some paintings into and they sold them within 24 hrs. That continued for a year and gave me the confidence to give up working full time and concentrating on painting whilst working part time in Habitat. I also own a children’s shop with my best friend Zoe called Tinkers and Belles.

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What & who inspires you? Everything….Living 30 seconds from the sea inspires me enormously. Most mornings we have coffee sitting on the beach or overlooking the water with the Snowdonia mountains as a back drop. I quite often pootle around the Island in my VW Campervan painting. Surrounded by all the work in the gallery inspires me too.

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What sets you apart from others? I can’t possibly answer that. I think deep down having a background in retail and understanding the business side of it has helped with knowing how to price my work and sell it. How to deal with publishers and large companies too.

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What did you do before setting up your business? I was a visual merchandiser for a large Interiors shop straight from college, then I managed a shop of 25 staff aged 23, then Brighton then Chester, and now I am well and truly settled in Anglesey.

The best part of your day/ running your own business. I love having coffee every morning with Zoe and my husband Sean between 9 and 10 catching up and making a plan for the day. As I said before, more often than not its sitting outside the local deli or the hotel on the seafront overlooking the sea and beach.

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Why did you start your business? I have quite a strong work ethic and always took my jobs very very seriously. I figured that if I worked that hard for myself rather than someone else I could achieve anything.

Your favourite product & why. Ooooh so many…..Jane Ryan’s automata make me so happy. Ken Eardley ceramics and Liz Scrines lamps. Of my own work I am most happy with my Bluebell paintings I have done recently.

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Your greatest business tip. Stay true to yourself, from a gallery point of view only sell things you love.

Your favourite colour. Aaaaghhhh, hardest question. Blue for painting but my home is mainly White and pale grey, influenced by my Scandinavian background.

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Star sign. Aries

Your biggest weakness. Impulsiveness, not thinking things through and taking too much on.

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Your biggest success. Finding my husband and having my Son.

Funniest moment. My husband and my first kiss, I’m saying no more. Lifting a tin of paint from a shelf in B&Q, the lid was off and pouring said tin of paint all over my head, funny now….not so then.

Favourite quote. “Having nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.” William Morris and “Today you are you, that is truer than true. there is noone alive who is Youer than You” Dr Seuss

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Favourite motto. Life isn’t about finding yourself, life is about creating yourself.”

Your favourite colour. My first thought is blue, but my home is all white and pale grey influenced by my Scandinavian background

Favourite artist. Emma Brownjohn, Yoshitomo Nara, Sasha Harding, Mary Fedden and Monet. I am influenced as much by Scandinavian designers like Bjorn Winblad and love Marimekko designers.

Favourite season. Summer, I love to be outdoors, bbq’s and picnics are my thing and Summer flowers are the best.

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Star sign. Aries

Business dream. Corny but I think I am doing it.

Favourite flower. Cannot possibly say one, not in order but my top 5 are Peonies, Hydrangea, Anemone, Poppies and Ranunculus

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What are you listening to right now. the new Empire of the Sun album, the new Camera obscura album, beth orton and Haim.

Your simple pleasure. Picnics and reading bedtime stories to my 2 year old son Rafferty

What’s your brew. Coffee but only before midday.

Tell us a joke. A horse walks into a bar and the barman says why the long face.

Well I must say I’m a bit excited by this interview, I am about all the fab artists that are so kind to give up their time to answer my questions and be on this blog to be honest. But I have loved Janet’s work for years, long before I even knew Facebook did business pages. I first saw her work as a card on a holiday in Cornwall and I have been smitten since. I stumbled across her gallery on a separate holiday and am now very lucky to have as a cyber friend. Her work just makes me happy. The bold colours smack me and face and scream be happy damn up and it is the best way to wake up in the morning. Thank you Janet for taking time to do this interview it is a total joy to me, and the paintings I own by you provide a constant sparkle in my home.

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Lainey Whitworth ~ Lainey Whitworth Mixed Media & Textile Artist

Name: Lainey

Company: Lainey Whitworth Mixed Media & Textile Artist.

Website: Work in progress! But is will be www.laineywhitworthart.co.uk

Sum up your business in a sentence. Quirky, not cute, but hopefully will make someone smile.

When did you start your business? I started selling hand painted wooden memory boxes about 12 years ago from a gallery in St. Agnes.

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What & who inspires you? Everything around me is potential inspiration, from a leaf on the ground to someone’s lips…….I am always looking at shapes, colours, textures.What sets you apart from others? Hopefully the quirkyness of my ‘one of a kind’ figures. I am drawn to angels.

What did you do before setting up your business? Looked after my little ones, but they are not little anymore!

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The best part of your day/ running your own business. Best part of the day for me when I step into my studio and time stops. Running my own business well everything is down to me, I love that aspect.

Why did you start your business? I started off at the Royal Academy of Fine Art in Brussels, and then my direction and priorities changed. But art was still calling to me many years later and I just sort of fell back into it. I never stopped being creative though. I’ve always had arty projects of some sort on the go.

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Your favourite product & why. Air drying clay, I love it, it suits what I do.

Your greatest business tip. Follow your heart and you can’t go wrong, and it will make you happy. Also get an amazing website, as this is a stepping stone to your clients.

Your favourite colour. Duck egg blue.

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Star sign. Sagittarius

Your biggest weakness. Having too many projects on the go, and stuff everywhere!

Your biggest success. My facebook page…and being successful in a beautiful seaside gallery in St.Agnes Cornwall, where people come in and ask my mother if I have anything new in the shop, how wonderful is that. Making people smile with my art is what I love to do.

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Funniest moment. When I took a mermaid doll into a gallery that I used to be with, she smoothed the dolls hair back and a handful came out.I thought it was funny but the gallery owner was mortified…..

Favourite quote. “If you hear a voice within you say, ‘You cannot paint,’ then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced.” — Vincent van Gogh

Favourite motto. “When you love what you do, you’ll never ‘work’ another day in your life.”

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Favourite artist. That’s a hard one but the Renaissance period is what I love the most. Raphael, Leonardo da Vinci, Botticelli… Contemporary artists that I love are Mister Finch, Kirsty Elson designs, Hens Teeth, little a designs, Jayne Hewison, to name but a few.

Favourite season. Autumn, riding my horse Bailey around the lanes all rugged up against the cold. Many arty ideas come to me at this time.

Business dream. To be able to create full time locked away in my little farmhouse studio…..with only me the cats and dog……..bliss.

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Favourite flower. Rose. What are you listening to right now. I can’t live without Radio 1 on throughout the day, and in my Land rover cd player is One Direction, thanks to my 16 year old daughter, but I do find myself singing along….

Your simple pleasure. A cup of tea and a bacon sandwich, and riding and training my horse Bailey.

What’s your brew. Tea, and lots of it just like my nan.

Oh I did love reading this Lainey and I loved finding out about your love of Renaissance art. I can see all those influences in your work which is a joy because they are huge loves of mine too. Thank you so much for sharing yourself with us, its great getting to know you better. Much love 20130622-074820.jpg

Emily Fox ~ Skull and Crossbuns

Name: Emily Fox
Company: Skull and Cross Buns
Website: www.skullandcrossbuns.com

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Sum up your business in a sentence. Quirky and alternative hand carved rubber stamps.

When did you start your business? I started selling online in September 2009 but started working on the business in early 2009.

What & who inspires you? I get more inspiration from many sources really, I try to incorporate current trends in crafting and design as well as taking inspiration from design blogs, tattoo designs, my ‘crafty’ peers and my family are always phoning me up with ‘ooh, I’ve had a really good idea for a stamp for you…’

What sets you apart from others? A lot of rubber stamping can be quite ‘cutesy’ which there is nothing wrong with but I offer something a bit more quirky, a bit more tongue in cheek. Plus the majority of my stamps are carved by my own fair hands!

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What did you do before setting up your business? I did my degree in retail management whilst working at Our Price stores part time (my collection is stuff of legend) and after uni I worked in mail order as an account manager in a call centre as well as customer service for another fabulous mail order company. Nothing overly high flying as my children came along amongst all that but in hindsight the perfect grounding for my current entrepreneurial endeavours.

The best part of your day/ running your own business. Being in control (evil laugh) The best part is when you work really hard on a new design, fret over it, get opinions from others, launch it with trepidation and then you sell the first one, such a buzz!

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Why did you start your business? I have always used rubber stamps in my crafting since I was a child and wanted some way to reproduce my own designs. I did start off with a stamp making machine but was getting mixed results and came across the hand carving technique which took me back to Lino cutting at school. I loved the quality of the rubber and how lovely it was to carve and the printed results it gave and the fact that I could do lots of small and fiddly detail. I started working on designs and my techniques in 2009 as a hobby business to run aside my new part time job but when I faced redundancy for the second time in a year I took the plunge to full time self employed in April 2010.

Your favourite product & why. I love my Sleepy Fox design, I’m biased but I think he is very cute and reminds me of my own baby Foxes when they are tucked up in their bunk bed at night 🙂

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Your greatest business tip. You need to be hard working, tenacious, have a keen eye for detail and being a jack of all trades definitely helps! And never under price your work (Marna has a great article about this on her blog somewhere!)

Your favourite colour. I’m a purple girl at the moment.

Star sign. Scorpio, I’m not big on astrology though.

Your biggest weakness. Rock stars with long hair, mostly Dave Grohl.

Your biggest success. In personal life, my little boys, in business life, I hope I haven’t reached that yet! One thing that did stand out was last Christmas I was in the magazine aisle and SACB stamps were in four magazines I could see on the shelves, that was cool.

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Funniest moment. I have many from my call centre days. We used to take calls for a rather dubious telly shopping channel and the complaints ranged from ab toning belts apparently getting some lady’s two twin teenager daughters pregnant at the same time, pancake makers getting too hot and flying off people’s hobs…

Favourite quote. Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.

Favourite motto. Work hard and be grateful.

Favourite artist. I love Simon Drew, I love his sense of humour and the detail in his work.

Favourite season. Autumn, cold nights drawing in, starting to cook all those winter warmers, snuggly pj’s on… bliss!

Business dream. Be well known in the stamping industry, bring out coordinating ranges of products to compliment my stamps, get my designs on everything basically!

Favorite flower. I do like a good gerbera.

What are you listening to right now. Latest Queens of the Stone Age album. It’s stunning. Dave Grohl is on drums on this one, did I mention I like Dave Grohl? Cos I do quite a lot, I even have a Felt Dave Grohl complete with Santa hat on my Christmas tree….

Your simple pleasure. Putting pencil to paper to plot new designs.

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What’s your brew. Tea, milk, one sugar purlease!

Ace interview Emily! Thank you so much for doing it. I have been a fan of Emily’s work and business since the beginning of Little a, I have bought many stamps and had loads of commissions made and I always love her quality and service. Bt most of all I just think Emily is totally ace, she works hard, doesn’t fuss is always kind, a professional who cares and helps whenever she can. She has always been a big support to me and advised me and helped me throughout personal and business issues, so I recommend buying stuff from her and following her, because by doing so you are supporting a wonderful hardworking woman who deserves inly lovely things happening to her. Big kisses. Xx

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Zoe Stewart ~ Zoe Stewart Photography

Name: Zoe Stewart

Company: Zoe Stewart Photography & Simply Ruby

Website: www.zoestewartphoto.com

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Sum up your business in a sentence: Simple & fun.

When did you start your business? I launched officially in 2010. I always loved photography and children and it just went from there…

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What & who inspires you? Ruby, everyday she grows up. She does something new. She learns something new. I’ve watched her grow into a beautiful little girl and every day it inspires me and shapes the way my business develops.

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What sets you apart from others? Me. Being yourself in business is really important.

What did you do before setting up your business? I studied at Heriot Watt in Gala and I have a BA Hons in Fashion. Then I was a nursery teacher, which I loved & a nanny.

The best part of your day/ running your own business? Being able to spend a heap of time with my family. Not everyone can do that. I love that I can pick and choose my working week.

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Why did you start your business? I’d love to be really honest, I actually just fell into it. I took some photographs of a friends little one and then her friend asked about getting some, then her friend…. and before I knew it I had a studio and I was taking 4/5 kids shoots a week. Travelling to Aberdeen, London and York.

Your favourite product & why? BB Cream. It. Is. Amazing. I no longer wear foundation. It’s pretty amazing stuff.

Your greatest business tip? Be yourself. Who is more unique to your business than you? If it doesn’t make my heart sing, its not for me.

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Your favourite colour? Green. In any shade. I love it!

Your biggest weakness? Anything in a pretty floral print. I cannot help myself!

Your biggest success? Of all time? Ruby. We never thought we would have children. Ever. We got told our chances were super slim, so being able to have Ruby has been my biggest success. So that was a little deep… so I will add that this week I taught myself how to crochet. I am halfway through a granny square blanket, pretty proud of that!

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Funniest moment? I super glued my eye closed and my hand to my face in an airport 30 minutes before my honeymoon flight to Florida. True story. (I made the flight!)

Favourite quote? ‘What you do today is important, you are exchanging a day of your life for it’. So so true. I try and remember it when I am slouched over my computer on a lovely sunny day.

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Favourite motto? What comes easy, won’t always last, and what will last, won’t always come easy.

Favourite artist? I love Belle & Boo. I have a good few prints up in my house. I love them.

Favourite season? Autumn. No contest. The colours are just so beautiful and cosy. The days are just the right temperature for walks and picnics and the nights are the best for sitting infront of a cosy little fire with a book and a blanket.

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Star sign? My birthday is New Years Day so that would make me a stubborn Capricorn.

Business dream? I’m living it. I can’t imagine doing anything else. This is where I wanted to be and in less than 2 years I made it. Ok, maybe a bigger studio with big old factory windows, but other than that I’m pretty happy.

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Favorite flower? Ranunculus, in any shade. They are gorgeous.

What are you listening to right now? My ‘Editing Playlist’. It includes Joni Mitchell, The Civil Wars, Lucy Rose & Priscilla Ahn.

Your simple pleasure? A cup of tea and a family movie. Can’t beat that.

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What’s your brew? Tea, milk & 2. It HAS to be in a proper cup & the cup has to have a white inside, no hint of a colour or pattern or I can’t drink it. Weird I know.

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Tell us a joke. What do you call cheese thats not yours? Nacho Cheese! Gets me EVERY time.

Thanks Zoe, I so love looking through Zoe’s photos, she has such clever ways of taking photos, fun compositions and beautiful light, I am a bit of an Instagram stalker of hers, I recommend you look at her pics there, oh so lovely. A year of so now I was fortunate to get some photos taken of my two children and they are still some of my very favourite images, and the photo I use of me for all my marketing was also taken by Zoe. I, like many  of us, hate my picture being taken so this is quite an achievement I tell you. I think I’m due for another batch, this time I might even let you put me in with the kids;) I just can’t get enough of this beautiful style.

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Emma Lamb :: emma lamb : living in colour

:: Name – Emma Lamb

: Company – emma lamb : living in colour

:: Website – http://www.emmallamb.blogspot.co.uk 

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:: Sum up your business in a sentence – Heirloom crochet with a colourful Scandinavian, modern folk vibe.

:: When did you start your business and why? – 2008 was when I started my current crochet business, but it was a very organic process of finding a new creative career path so there weren’t any life changing business decisions, just a lot of following my gut feelings moments. At the time I knew I wanted a change from the ten years of commercial textile designing I had been doing up until then, but I wasn’t really sure of exactly what it was that I wanted to do. I discovered the online creative community that year and set up my own blog [http://emmallamb.blogspot.co.uk/] not long later. I began to focus more on the knitting and crochet skills my Mam taught me as a child and began to develop some interesting ideas. Long before I had a full collection, or even a clear direction, I had opened my first online shop to showcase my work. I was convinced that customer feedback was going to be the best judge my new ideas so I just went for it! Thankfully it absolutely was and, luckily for me, it was very positive and rewarding experience.

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:: What & who inspires you? – Colour, pattern and texture. It’s no secret that I am endlessly inspired by beautiful colour, you just have to take a peek at my blog [http://emmallamb.blogspot.co.uk/] to see that all my posts are meticulously and obsessively colour co-ordinated! I have a huge love for pattern too, which is why my career path has always been based around textiles. Starting with screen-printing & surface pattern design, before moving onto appliqué & embroidery and now crochet of course.
I am always on the lookout for new colour combinations to work with and am particularly drawn to slightly muted vintage combinations or pretty floral palettes. Charity shops and flea markets are my favourites for sourcing ideas not to mention collecting one or two things – coloured glass vases, vintage sewing threads, pretty patterned tins, Depression glass bowls, embroidered linens, kitsch plastic knitting needles, buttons and kokeshi dolls.

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:: What sets you apart from others? – Hmm, that’s a tough question to answer as I don’t really think about how to set myself apart from others or how others might see me as being different to them. I prefer to focus on the things I like to do and how I want to do them, both in my business and personal life. I know this idea gets said a lot, but I guess I’m just being true to myself, simple as that really.

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:: What did you do before setting up your business? – I’ve been self-employed since I left art college and originally started my creative career as a freelance textile designer. For nearly ten years I worked with a great agency that gave me lots of encouragement in developing my signature style, which was deeply rooted in traditional crafts. I loved to be very ‘hands on’ and would work directly onto fabric to appliqué, embroider, crochet, knit, print and hand embellish each concept design. I still love this approach today!

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:: The best part of your day/ running your own business – Being able to spend hours in my home studio tinkering with ideas, working on custom orders, photographing pretty things and generally getting lost in my own creative world. Absolute bliss!

:: Your favourite product & why – My Forever Flower Garlands are definitely one of my top favourites. I crochet each and every one using the very same hook that my Mam taught me to crochet with all those years ago, plus I get some really great custom requests for these too. Including customised colour combinations for weddings, bridal showers and nursery decorations, as well as an occasional bulk order for special events.

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:: Your greatest business tip – After your creative passion and amazing product always make sure you offer great customer service for a complete package. I think great customer service is one of the key elements of a handmade business, especially when you sell online. This is when you get the opportunity to really connect with your customers and offer them the unique shopping experience they’re looking for. Following up sales with confirmation emails and delivery notes doesn’t have to be clinical, be efficient of course but also be friendly and approachable. Take the time to chat with your customers if they respond positively to your messages let them get to know the person behind your business first hand. Not only will it be a rewarding experience, you will forge lasting connections and encourage repeat customers. Repeat customers are happy customers and happy customers will love to tell their friends about your work and show off their own purchases.

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:: Your favourite colour – I’ve always answered ‘red’ to this question but lately I’m completely crushing on greens (jade, grass, olive & seafoam) and peachy tones. I blogged about just this question a few days ago here! [http://emmallamb.blogspot.co.uk/2013/05/colour-pinning-jade-peach.html]

:: Star sign – Aries

:: Your biggest weakness – Chocolate & yarn!

:: Your biggest success – Oh, there are lots of things I’m really thrilled about: being an Etsy Featured Seller; being invited to Selina Lake’s book launch last year as well some of the Selvedge fairs; then there’s a whole bunch of magazine features including being asked to design for Mollie Makes! When I first started my crochet business I had no idea that I would get this much recognition and it is utterly amazing!

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:: Funniest moment – I don’t know about funny, but stupid certainly! A couple of years ago I was working on a cushion cover for myself (thankfully!) and managed to crochet each side in a different sized hook. I won’t admit how long it took me to realise why they wouldn’t match up but when I did I gave myself such a row, out loud. Poor Spanner (my dog) thought he was getting in trouble since he was the only one there with me! I’ve also got vague memories of crocheting a seven-sided octagon once, such an idiot!

:: Favourite quote – ‘Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.’ William Morris. Definitely words to live by.

:: Favourite motto – Trust your gut!

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:: Favourite designer – Orla Kiely is a firm favourite of course, then I am a huge admirer of many of my fellow designer makers.

:: Favourite season – Spring first, because it is such a relief after the long and dreary British winters; then autumn because it stimulates such a wealth of creativity in us designer makers.

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:: Business dream – To always be doing what makes me happy and continuing to have the courage to choose my own direction. Of course being paid a fair wage for my creative work is up there too, beautiful crochet is undervalued all too readily.

:: Favourite flower – I have a few: cyclamen, cowslip, astrantia, freesia, dandelion, peony, forget-me-not, daisy, rosebay willow herb, straw flowers… Um that’s more than one and I’m sure I’ve forgotten a few, but it’s impossible to narrow it down!

© emma lamb - Luella - tiny squares pincushion - 4

:: What are you listening to right now? – As I’m writing this, my Ipod is set on shuffle (it’s always on shuffle unless I need a T.Rex sing along moment) and the song playing right now is Josh Rouse, Sunshine (Come on Lady).

:: Your simple pleasure? – A hug from my Man; Spanner’s big brown eyes; the sun streaming through my window in the morning; the smell of the sea air; the sound of the waves on Crimdon beach and the smell of fresh cut herbs, basil and rosemary especially. I live for the simple pleasures in life.

© emma lamb - Hilda - ffg muted vintage - apr13 - 2a

:: What’s your brew? – Peppermint (preferably fresh mint) or lemongrass & ginger tea.

:: Tell us a joke – I can’t think of any funny ones…

Thank you so much Emma for that fab interview. I find Emma a huge inspiration, I follow her blog and it makes my day anticipating what stunning pictures I’ll see and the colours and excitement and creative juices that then ensue. I am beginning to lose count at how many garlands and pin cushions I’ve bought and I still NEED more. Her work is exquisite, am mean jaw droppingly so. Her service is THE BEST I have received, I never throw out her wrapping as it’s a work of art in itself. I know this sounds gushing but really it’s all true, she’s just that good. I met her at a fair last year and she is just the loveliest lady as is her mum (another exceptionally talented yarn master: a crooked sixpence), she has really helped me through a creatively tricky patch with her lovely encouraging emails. So thank you Emma for everything, you deserve all the success and recognition you are receiving and more to be honest, you’re simply a fab gal. xx

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Viv Sliwka ~ Hens Teeth

Name:Viv Sliwka
Company: hens teeth
Website: www.hensteethart.blogspot.com
Sum up your business in a sentence. Handmade quirky art and accessories

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When did you start your business and why? I have always embroidered and sketched. Over the last ten years, I have been constantly designing and making. The last six or seven years in particular, I have developed my style and technique. I am obsessed with designing and making. I have collected vintage textiles, ephemera and haberdashery, the worn and torn tat, all of my life. Working these snippets of past lives into my work, alongside my designs is a constant source of joy to me. So I feel extremely fortunate that I am now able to have the time, even though I am constantly tired and hurt, to make and bring perhaps a little pleasure to my lovely customers with my ‘makes’.

What & who inspires you? I am inspired by American Prim art, the really extreme Prim dolls. Nature, flowers, birds and bunnies. Birds …their shapes and characteristics are fascinating…for example, I love how Sparrows have rigid legs and hop.
Like thousands of others, I admire the work of Julie Arkell, Janet Bolton and Jayne Lennard. These artists for me, have set a trend for the quirky, homespun, off the wall art and craft to become part of the craft revolution and more acceptable in the mainstream.

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What sets you apart from others? Oh blimey, I don’t know. Diversity of the pieces I make, perhaps?
I always try to bring a little humour into my work. I am not a deep and meaningful creative. I like to bring a sense of decorative fun to my work. I often have lovely comments of how my work makes people smile.

What did you do before setting up your business? I worked at a College as an Art Print Room Technician.

The best part of your day/ running your own business. Getting that excited feeling when you have an idea, especially if it comes to fruition. Even more wonderful if someone makes a purchase, with their hard earned cash. I never take that for granted, especially as I sell online and a customer really takes a leap of faith when they click that buy now button.

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Your favourite product & why. I am very fond of Lavinia. She is a girl character who has many forms. She may be a brooch, she may be a pin cushion or she may embellish a purse. She may have her dog or kitty with her…she is a very diverse, flexible girl. I think her whimsical smile makes others smile.
I also enjoy working little vignettes into old and worn tins and cutlery boxes.
Oh yes, and working on envelopes, mixed media … paint, embroidery, collage that makes me happy too…again, I could go on.

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Your greatest business tip. Blog! Blogging has been life enhancing for me. My world changed when I made that first post. Little did I know at the time where it would take me. Into the world of Vintage and Hand Fairs for one thing. I have met so many wonderful people. I am now part of so many circles of truly inspirational, kindly, supportive groups of people. The best of friends I have made. I have attended Fairs and visited places, I would never have been to. So I cannot encourage anyone enough to blog and comment on blogs and gravitate to like minded people.

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Your favourite colour. Aqua

Star sign. Sagittarius

Your biggest weakness. There are many, but a shiny, pearly old Mother of Pearl button is irresistible.

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Your biggest success. Attending Selvedge Fairs. When I worked at College, if someone had said ‘you will have a stand with Selvedge one day’, I would have laughed. So, my advice is, follow your dream, work hard for it, be obsessive about it. But you all know that anyway.

Funniest moment. Well, it wasn’t funny at the time…but a few years ago my accountant (when I was self employed, making greetings cards) came to my home for a meeting. We were sitting at the dining table discussing end of year accounts etc. and my lovely old dog, Rosie, very unsociably and completely out of character for her, decided to take a dump under the table. Embarrassing and very smelly! It makes me smile now to remember that frightful scenario.

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Favourite quote. Cross that bridge when you come to it
Favourite motto. Seize the day
Favourite artist. I am very inspired by the drawing style of Egon schiele, Arthur Rackham and Lisbeth Zwerger

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Favourite season. Oh, without a doubt Spring, even though it usually feels like Winter, I adore the season and want to hold onto it.

Business dream. Keep doing what I am doing. Maybe travel with my workshops. To be featured in UK magazines…sigh.

Favorite flower. Banks of Ox Eye Daisies, along the roadside…oh and cow parsley…I could go on.

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What are you listening to right now. My beloved Radiohead.

Your simple pleasure. A jobs list ticked. Ticking lists always makes me feel good. It’s just, if I don’t make a list, invariably things don’t get done.

What’s your brew. Coffee. I could not imagine how I would cope with life, if I couldn’t have my three fresh coffees in the morning.

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Tell us a joke. I am pants at joke telling.

Thanks Viv for telling us about you. I love your work and as you know have quite a few bits of your work. The photos always look great but in ‘real’ life they are even better. I love that Viv has such a very individual style, I can recognise her work anywhere and it always excited me when I see it. I feel special buying it and looking at it.

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Vicky Trainor ~ The Vintage Drawer

Name: Vicky Trainor

Company: The Vintage Drawer and The Linen Garden

Website: www.thevintagedrawer.com
www.thelinengarden.co.uk
http://www.facebook.com/VickyTrainorStationery
https://www.etsy.com/shop/vickytrainor

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Sum up your business in a sentence. ‘Professional potterer and maker of all things floral and linen’

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When did you start your business and why? Many years ago in the 90’s I used to have a greetings card business, working wholesale with large high street stores and lifestyle independents. It was always my dream to work for myself and I grew my business from working in my friends granny flat to a large commercial studio. Loved it, but it took over my life and sometimes what you think you want isn’t actually ‘it’ when you get there.

Then I chose a rather important role – to be a Mum – and have moulded and re-shaped the business to fit around family life.

I love working for myself. The freedom, how each working day is so very different from the last, the opportunities it delivers and the ‘flexi time’.

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What & who inspires you?
The beautiful selvedge of a fabric, a faded floral linen print, French rustic living and English heritage, painters from Vermeer to Vanessa Bell to Hockney……., weathered surfaces against newly painted grounds, natural forms against pattern, the Victoria & Albert museum, Pinterest, The Bloomsbury Group and The Arts and Crafts Movement in general.
I am also inspired by a wonderful community of friends who also run exciting and creative businesses. Their friendship, support and advice is invaluable.
What sets you apart from others? I am always striving to do something different. Setting up The Vintage Drawer has to be one of the best creative moves I have done. I moved from being a printed stationer to a stationer only working with vintage fabrics, stitch and haberdashery. The Vintage Drawer Collection has now grown and developed and now has a broad range of lifestyle/interior and gift products too, as well as stationery. So I suppose it is developing more into a making and styling brand than working in any one specialism. As a maker, I am also a natural hoarder and I affectionately call my studio ‘the linen garden’. As my hoardings can get out of control at times I have now opened a vintage haberdashery and fabric on-line shop called The Linen Garden. So there are now two sides to my business – ‘I make’ and ‘you make’.

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What did you do before setting up your business?
I lectured in Textiles and Surface Design from A Level through to degree level for 20 years.

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The best part of your day/ running your own business.
The best part of my day is when I first come home from the school run in the morning – I make a pot of coffee and potter for 30 minutes before tackling my to-do list. It normally involves pinterest – a tad addicted – may need to seek therapy soon.

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Your favourite product & why. I am currently loving my wedding horseshoes. They are new for this year and a bit tricky but because they take so long to make I find their making rather therapeutic….

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Your greatest business tip. Stay true to your own ideas and skills and don’t be too inspired by the industry you work in. It helps ensure, in a certain way, that you stand out.

Also learn how to say NO, and feel confident in that decision. Sometimes you feel as if you can never turn down any business/collaborative/marketing opportunity, but it all takes time out from your main avenue of business and ‘earning a crust’. Be considered in your choices.
Being creative means you are constantly spinning in your own whirlpool of ideas. I spend a lot of time on my own as a lot of makers do, and as much as I love my studio and what I do, you can go a little stir crazy. Invest in a small proportion of time in making arrangements to see/meet people/clients/friends outside of your working environment.

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Your biggest weakness. Too many ideas which I find very distracting.

Your biggest success. Having the confidence, last year, to finally throw my business up in the air and slowly catch only the sections, as they fell, that I loved, that made me happy and that I felt earned me a living. My business income contributes a lot to the monthly running of family life so I have to be quite disciplined….it was very unnerving and scary as I pulled out of all advertising but it is helping me develop my new chapter. I live my life in chapters and this one is turning out to be rather an exciting one.

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Funniest moment. I have a terrible memory but the funniest moment recently involved a car boot, my friend Tea with Ruby, a Victorian chamber pot, a bloke and a pansy – I’ll let you make your own story up….but I can still make myself cry with laughter now thinking about it…boy do we have a hoot when carbootin’…

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Favourite quote. “There are hundreds of languages in the world but a smile speaks them all”. Anon.

Favourite motto. “Before doing anything always give it two coats of thought”

Your favourite colour. Blue nodding to Grey

Favourite artist. Vanessa Bell

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Favourite season. Spring

Star sign. Aries

Business dream. To be paid £100 per stitch.

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Favorite flower. Auricula in late spring and a scented rose in the summer

What are you listening to right now. The Cocteau Twins and P J Harvey in abundance.

Your simple pleasure. Being away in my caravan with the family, my comfy camping chair, my blanket (it’s always cold up north) and a glass of red. By the side of me are all the magazines that I have bought for the last few months that I never seem to have time to read.

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What’s your brew. In the early morn ‘Lady Grey’ – no milk – by the time the first school run is done I am onto ‘A strong Italian’ black, no sugar.

Tell us a joke. Currently – Royal Mail

I think this is one of my favourite interviews so far. I find Vicky such an inspiring person, I  so enjoy her company and am lucky to live very close by for regular chats. She’s a very kind and generous person with her time, ideas and support. And clearly I don’t need to tell you how beautiful her work is, it speaks for itself. Thank you Vicky for sparing me some time to do this interview, I have loved learning more about you and seeing more of your incredible photos.

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My interview with the Making Spot

This week the artist interview will be me, in a manner of speaking. It won’t be the same interview as everyone else although I will do that one at some point, but this one is a little last minute as I’ve had to do a small rejig to get some of my favourite artists in in the next few months. So this is an interview I did for another blog a while ago. Next week will be back to the usual artist interviews.
Bear with, bear with.

In March I was asked by the fab Mollie Makes Making Spot blog to do an interview which was rather lovely. Here’s the interview,

Marna Lunt is the talented designer behindwww.marnalunt.co.uk, a treasure trove of handstitched delights. We love Marna’s colourful style and clever personalised designs, so we asked her a little about how she works, what inspires her, and what she’s up to at the moment!

 

Marna, your online shop is a crafty treasure trove! What inspired you to set up Little a Designs?

Many of us find that life changes greatly after we have children and we have different goals and ideals. Luckily when you’re an artist it often gives you a purpose and talent to use that works well around children and working from home.

I had been made redundant during my pregnancy with my first child Arthur. When he was born he suffered severe brain damage and so I was very limited to what job I’d be able to do around his very specialised and intense care needed. Then I found not only did I need to make money but I needed to have an outlet that would help body and soul and I knew that now was the time to grab the opportunity and do what I really loved at last and paint and create. And Little a was born.

Every morning I’m excited about the day to come and the opportunity to make and create. I am constantly inspired by my greatest loves; the landscapes and colours of my North Yorkshire Moors and my deep love of Itaian Renaissance art. That may sound like an odd combination but they each excite me everyday.

Many of your designs incorporate wonderful personal elements – we especially love the church/venue cushions. Have you ever had any unusual or ambitious requests for stitched scenes or buildings?

I really enjoy making these scenes and always see every request as a bit of an adventure. I’ve not really had anything too weird but many wonderful suggestions. Quite often they are wedding venues or a really special place close to someone’s heart so it’s very important to get the atmosphere right. It’s not really the actual image that’s my main focus, but the story behind it – What’s so special about it, what memories does it evoke? – and with that I try to make sure the textures and fabrics reflect that sentiment.

My work is very textural and colourful, I love uses in layers and adding details that only the client will know or care about; a scrap of wedding dress, a hint at a favourite flower. Some fun commissions have been the Transporter Bridge in Middlesbrough which the locals love and feel very strongly about. Roseberry Topping is another local landmark to me which is much thought of and used by artists and the community. The some great venues from a French chateaux, a Yorkshire Castle and a tiny church found in the deepest depths of the North Yorkshire Moors. The entire London cityscape was interesting to try and get on a cushion too!

What’s next for Little a Designs? Tell us about your latest work!

At the moment I’m working on a new product of fabric personalised photo frames which I’m supply to lots of shops and is great fun developing. I’ve just finished a range of tweed cushion with Liberty fabrics too which I’ll be showcasing at the Country Living Fair in Harrogate at the end of the year. I’m extremely excited about that, because I get to hunt for tonnes of vintage goodies to use and the tweed and Liberty tana lawn fabrics are a perfect texture combination that just makes my heart sing when I use them. Add a stack of vintage buttons and lace and velvet and I’m in heaven!

What advice can you give to crafters who are taking their first steps in stitching?

Find your own way, your own style. That means experimenting with materials and ideas. People love and want originality and fun and the only real way you can get that is being yourself – don’t compare yourself to others and try and be something you’re not.

Create our own techniques and ways of doing them that suit your life and skills. It takes a long time to find your own style and what you love, but once you have found it and have faith in your ability then nothing can stop you.

Love what you do. If you don’t like it or want it why would anyone else? Be proud and show everyone the best part of you, the quality, time, love and talent you have. I make things that many others do, cushions, pictures, rosettes, but I always do it in a way that makes them very ‘me’. People can usually recognise my work because of the way I hand stitch, my colour and material choices and they way is which I draw with the thread and the finish.

Then get yourselves talking to people online, social media has changed the whole crafting community and it’s a wonderful world out there. Xx

Thank you so much, Marna, we’re so inspired by your beautiful stitched work. For more from Marna, click over to www.marnalunt.co.uk. You can browse the shop, check out the gallery and find out what Marna’s up to on her blog!