How did you learn to sew?
I started sewing by the time I was 4. My grandmother was a great needle woman, she used to look after us before and after school. She would be doing some sort of sewing, embroidery, tapestry, needlework and we'll all have to sit down and do it with her. Out of everyone, only I remained until the day I left for university when I was 17.
Why did you choose to make bags and do you make other sewn items?
I started making bags in high-school. I grew up in the outskirts of Sydney [Australia]. Back then there were not many shops and when you wanted pretty things you'd have to make it yourself. My mother and grandmother both had piles of fabrics, so I made clothes and bags. Then in High school, instead of getting a job packing shelves or in a clothes shop, I started selling my bags to my friends for extra pocket money. While at university, I was waitressing my way through and hated every second of it, so I started making and selling bags again. Funnily enough it's not the main thing I sell, although there seems to be alot of it! I sew bags, clothes, traditionally jointed teddybears. I also love doing embroidery - crossstitch, tapestry - when I have the time...
What makes you choose a particular fabric?
I choose fabrics for the print design and what I can envision coming out of it. Sometimes I buy fabric for the sheer instant love of it and it can sit in my boxes for years before inspiration for the perfect thing to be made from it comes. Somethings I go hunting for particular weight, pattern, colour to make something I have an idea for.
I sell in my Etsy stores bags, owl bags and pottery elephants. I also have a gallery in Edinburgh [Scotland] where I sell my drawings, paintings and prints. I have my studio here as well and I have a small working bookbindery and screen printing press. I also sell in markets and fairs around the UK.
What do you love about these bags?
I love this range of bags, it's my newest design. I love making things with simple patterns and manipulating it into something original.
My owl bags are named after family members mostly, and some friends. Also favourite characters from books and history.
What do you love about the elephants that you make?
I love that they have a very thrown together look. They seem very easy to make, but in fact the shaping is deceptively simple. I love that everyone of them comes out different although I only use four glaze colours. This is because of the nature of raku firing.
Can you tell me something interesting about this elephant (Andrew)?
The colour results are great. Yellow is very hard to achieve - you need lots of grass materials to create lots of flame. Then when you think the yellow has come through you have to pack the pottery in and let it smoke to get the white crackle effect. Too much smoking you will loose the yellow, not enough and you won't get crackle in the white.
What do you listen to when you're making your bags and other projects?
I mainly have lots of old style jazz - Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzerald, John Coltrane - or straight classical - Rachmaninov, Chopin, Handel... I also like putting in my BBC classic dramas DVDs - Pride and Prejudice, North and South, Vanity Fair. Sometimes, I like working in total silence.
What is your favorite past time when you're not crafting?
I trained as a bookbinder in Florence, so I make a lot of books and restore some. I am also a painter and printmaker. I love screenprinting and woodblock printing. I enjoying dancing and I was a classical ballerina for 13 years, but now I just do a lot of comtemporary. I have recently gotten into the 5 rhythms classes and flamenco. When I am away from my studios, I tend to travel as much as possible. I have recently come back from a trip to Pamplona, Spain to see the Bull runs and, earlier in the year, I was trekking through Borneo for a month with my boyfriend. I tend to bring back, materials, fabrics, inspiration and renewed energy to do my creative works.