Monday, March 1

meet a maker monday

being the inquisitive little feltmaker that i am, i thought it might be interesting to hear about other maker's stories. so a little while ago i asked if anyone would be interested in being interviewed for my blog. i was hoping to make it a monthly feature but have been so overwhelmed by responses that it is now a weekly feature!

so, grab a cuppa, put your feet up and lets meet karen of blondedesign ...

How would you describe your work / style?
I don't have one style, I don't stick to one thing - too many ideas to try out! If I am making something something else pops into my head and I end up half doing a lot of things!

Who, or what, inspires you?
Other artists / crafters are a big inspiration, I'm liking Scandinavian style a lot at the moment, New England, POP art, Country & Coastal, shall I carry on ......... ?

Do you sell your work? If so, what helped you decide to start selling your work?
I do sell, I am on Folksy, Etsy, hunkydoryhome and soon in Lilywhites shop in West Sussex! This time last year was terrible in the sales front, but I have learnt to adapt to what people want and this year is really promising.

I started selling, after making a few bits for friends and due to my sewing room becoming over run and wanting to make more.

Where can I buy your work?
blonde design folksy shop: for you, house & home - aprons, upclyed tea cosies, upcycled purses etc
baby blonde design folksy shop: for kids and big kids alike!
blondes backyard folksy shop: supplies, buttons, pincushions, bias binding all handmade
BABYBLONDEDESIGN: as above but in $
BLONDEDESIGNS: as above but in $
BLONDESBACKYARD: just setting $

Do you have a blog we can visit?
blonde design blog

How did you learn your craft? How long have you been creating?
I learnt many years ago, my father was a tailor to the regiments, and I would spend hours on a Saturday running around giant rolls of fabrics (not your shop size ones) in the basement of this huge building. Tartans for the Kilts and Bandsmen, Tweeds, Army Twills...

I then was allowed to pick my own fabrics (they were mainly for skirting / suiting) where at first my dad would make up the patterns and cut them out, and let me loose on the industrial overlockers and buttonhole makers. I even made my own school skirts, (Ha! See funny comment below).

I got my first and only sewing machine for Christmas when I was about 13 (I still use this one now........Oh my that makes the machine 25 years old! OMG)

Is there any other craft skill you would like to learn?
I would love to knit and crochet!! My mum gave up in despair when I was a child as I am left handed, she even tried to show me mirror fashion, I just couldn't get it!

Anything exciting planned for 2010 you’d like to share?
- First to set up own website, along side Folksy & Etsy.
- Do craft fairs & markets! Last year being made redundant and my father passing away didn't leave me much room to breathe, or to feel I had anything to give to anybody.
- Also working on extending the family to more than us two.......the clock is ticking away!!
- Get back to making some clothes.

Have you had any work featured in magazines/books/galleries or won any prizes/competitions?
Alas no, unless UK Handmade on line counts! But then I am not very good at entering competitions, I think this is something to strive for in 2010

I made my own gallery night selling my oil paintings in a bar, all my parents friends came got drunk and bought paintings, I came out £800 better off (those were the days!)

If I wasn’t doing this, I’d be …
Well I work full time in the construction industry (I know the two don't go together!!).

I also paint large scale oil paintings, modern flowers, which really don't sell on the web, but I get commissions from friends of friends still.

Would love to have studied fashion design, but I was talked out of it. My dad thought I would end up sitting in a sweat shop earning nothing. It comes quite natural to be able to make a pattern so this is going to be another goal for 2010, to start making more clothes.

Any funny stories you’d like to share?
I'm not really that good at telling stories but when I was about 15 years old - I did make a friend of the family a no expense spared on the fabric, very tight black fully sequined sweetheart mini dress with a zip up the back, with shoulder pads and long sleeves - can you picture it yet......anyway every time she tried it on, I had to take it in, as it wasn't tight enough for her. Trust me it was tight, and she was the equivalent to a size 4-6. Finally the night came for the hot date the Christmas do, and no the seams did not rip, she fainted due to the pressure and not being able to breath......

Describe your perfect day.
Mmmmm that could involve waking up (in Paris), a luxury hotel, a spa, manicure, pedicure (I have forgotten what these are!), a deep bubble bath with champagne (in the hotel room), being escorted by hubby to a fine dinner with fine wines, or the local buzzing bistro, and back to the hotel. Not forgetting if I could throw a bit of shopping in, no expense spared.

If not, I will settle for series 3 of Lost, a bottle of red wine and a very large bar of chocolate.

Describe your proudest moment.
Getting married.

What do you do to relax?
Sew, read, or veg out! Need to get back to the Gym...

Marmite … love it or hate it?
Love it, although peanut butter and jam is better......

What animal would you be, and why?
Hard … I think a bird so I can fly.

What’s your weakness?
Chocolate and fabrics, esp the ones out around now, its like being in a sweetie shop! Only better!

How do you keep motivated?
I find the best way is to have goals, for example book a craft fair, I then realise that I need to make to have items to have on display!

Also getting feedback, encouragement always is a winner, a little bit of praise goes a long way in the blogging world.

What do you wish you’d known when you first started out?
That making a £5 item can take as long as a £25 item!

What advice would you give to someone just starting out?
What you like isn't always what the public want to buy, take your ideas, investigate what does sell for other sellers and adapt a bit.

What question did you hope to be asked but weren’t?
Why the name blondedesign?

What would your answer have been?
Well it started off as blondedesigns, changed to blondedesign as my twin brother purchased the wrong webaddress -

Blonde because I am blonde. And it was something I gave a name to around 15 years ago even before I started selling on Etsy & Foksy. I also feel I am evolving, I love the Scandinavian style and want to see more of this in my work, photos etc, and the name kind of goes.

thanks for taking the time to chat karen :) love the story of your poor friend - your sewing must be very robust if the seams held while your friend fainted!

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