In today’s post I would like to introduce our Featured Artist, for January 2011.
I discovered Claire’s work after searching for a cover for my new Kindle but for those of you who haven’t yet found Claire, here is a little more about her and her work.
Who you are:
Claire: Hi, I’m Claire Mills and I run my own little enterprise called Crabtree Lane. I have a ‘day job’ at the moment and do Crabtree Lane things in the evenings and on weekends – but hope to go full-time with my own venture in Spring 2011.
Where you are (which country you are based in)?
Claire: I’m based in beautiful, rural Worcestershire in the UK and am lucky enough to have a workshop in my back garden from which I make all my pieces.
What you do:
Claire: I make hand-made home accessories, using a wide mix of designer and vintage fabrics. I take a great deal of pleasure in sourcing fabrics and this has become something of an obsession! The making side of things really came from the love of fabric – I realised I had to DO something with all this wonderful material.
What I make grows and changes month by month and is usually based on either my own frustration at not being able to find what I want on the High Street or from requests from friends and colleagues. My favourite things to make are those that combine practicality and function with eye-catching fabrics and design. For instance, my range of Kindle covers that come with beautiful ribbon ties or my vintage style Sausage Dog draught excluders made in modern, fresh fabrics.
What got you started in your creative journey?
Claire: I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t making something! I was lucky to grow up in a family that encouraged creativity and tolerated a certain level of mess that comes with that! I had access to unlimited paper, thanks to an Uncle who owned a printing business and was often given paints, pencils, clay, glue and glitters. We would also collect leaves and use foods to make our ‘master pieces’.
At school, the only things I ever felt I was good at were the arts. I had a love for making models and 3D pieces and was particularly drawn to clay. This led me to University where I learned industrial ceramic design processes and later, achieved a degree in ceramics and glass.
But then the world of ‘real work’ called and my creativity was channelled in a very different direction for many years. It wasn’t until a bout of illness forced me to become house-bound for a couple of weeks that I started to consider what I might do with my burgeoning fabric stash. From that, Crabtree Lane was born and I now find myself on another creative journey.
What inspires you:
Claire: I cannot describe the feeling I get when I see a particular surface pattern or certain combination of colours.There is such a huge range of wonderful vintage and modern material out there, designed by incredibly talented folk that I am like the proverbial kid in a sweet shop when I venture into the Haberdashers or stumble on a bag of old material in a junk shop. The possibilities are endless for combining these fabrics and colours and creating something new from them.
I am also inspired by the process of figuring out how to construct something in 3D and there is a definite mental challenge and sense of satisfaction (after MUCH trial and error!) in doing so.
If money,time and obligations were no object, what you would most like to do?
Claire: I would probably become an eternal student! There is still so much that I want to learn how to do – so many techniques, art forms and opportunities yet to be experimented with.
My immediate interest is in re-upholstery and I am looking forward to learning the art of bringing old furniture back to life with new fabrics. I would also love to be able to design and screen-print my own material.
I am constantly frustrated at how rubbish my drawing skills are – and I guess if money were no object I would hire some unsuspecting life drawing expert to help me achieve a half-way decent standard. I pity that tutor!
What do you enjoy most about your creative work/life?
Claire: Getting into that wonderful state known as ‘the flow’. Hours can pass by and I could swear I have only been in my workshop for a few minutes. Having the time, space and support from a very tolerant partner has enabled me to turn a very tentative hobby into a potentially viable enterprise. I am hugely grateful to have been given the opportunity to see where things might go with Crabtree Lane.
“Find a job you like and you add five days to every week.”
H. Jackson Brown, Jr.
To find out more about Claire and her work, please visit her blog and websites, details below.
- You can find me at: http://www.crabtreelane.co.uk/
- I am on Folksy at: www.folksy.com/shops/CrabtreeLane
- I am also a member of Women in Rural Enterprise (WIRE) www.wire.org
Please feel free to drop me a line any time at firstname.lastname@example.org, I’d love to hear from you.
Thanks to Claire from Crabtree Lane, for being our Featured Artist of the Month for January 2011. Do check out her websites, her finished pieces are really well made.
Best wishes and thanks for reading, see you soon