Sunday, September 20, 2015

Monday Maker - My Aunty Anna ( she's not really MY Aunty Anna )

This week I have selected Kate from the label 'My Aunty Anna' as our guest for the Monday Maker series. I met Kate via Instagram and was just amazed at her creativity in her everyday life. And also her prolific use of recycled materials for her work.
Would you like to meet Kate?

So tell us a bit about yourself  My Aunty Anna, 

Were you creative as a child? 
My Mum taught me to knit when I was about seven - I still have the first thing that I made, all weird and full of mistakes and holes. I was always knitting, sewing, embroidering, and just generally making stuff all through childhood and my teens. I stopped in my early 20s because I started to feel self conscious about being able to do all of those 'feminine' and 'domestic' things.

I started crafting again when I was traveling about 12 years ago, I found myself spending lots of time on buses and trains and feeling like I could be spending the time being productive. I bought some yarn and knitting needles in an op shop in the   UK and that was that! 

Do you come from a creative family?
Yes. Mum was always knitting, sewing, spinning, doing pottery etc. She still quilts and does mosaics and lead light.

I love the way that people of all ages, men and women, are now embracing these skills again and how it's being done in a way that empowers people.

How would you describe your work?
My spin at the moment is that I create community 
through craft. 
I do this by facilitating workshops and social crafting groups, installing communal craft projects at events and festivals (giant communal weaving loom, giant knitting loom, and other communal weaving projects), and by creating temporary interactive craft spaces where people come in and experience a colourful and tactile space and can also make something to add to the installation. 
Often the materials involved in the communal craft or temporary space have been donated or produced by others in my community - so there's a real sense of ownership and of having contributed to the project.

How has your work evolved since you started?
It's always changing. I'm always moving from one thing to another, and experimenting with different techniques and materials. 

When I joined BrisStyle I had this idea that I was going to make things to sell - and I do, but it's never been my main focus. I really don't like mass producing things - I don't enjoy making the same things all the time I have to be moving and changing what I'm doing. 

After doing one market I realised it just didn't feel like my thing. Maybe I'll do more of that when I find the time!  Often I feel like I provide an experience where people can take a break from the real world for a bit and take some time for themselves to be creative and hang out with other people - rather than creating a product as such.

Anouk - the next generation of crafter

Nature Wands
 Do you sell online? 
it's still on my 'to do' list :) 

Who or what inspires you? 
So many things. The obvious eye candy like Instagram and Pinterest trigger ideas, but ideas can come from anywhere. 

Often when I'm asleep or half awake some crazy idea pops up and I run with it. But I'm definitely inspired by retro and vintage crafts and craft books etc. 

So much of what we are doing really isn't new - these crafts and techniques have been around for a really long time. 

We think about the most recent craft resurgence in the 70s when we think of things like weaving and macrame but they've been around for much longer than that and across so many different cultures. The way we do these things now has definitely changed and evolved - different styles and materials, a real emphasis on upcycling, and even different motivations for doing these things because of how our lifestyles have changed and the influence of technology etc.  
But the crafts are essentially the same as they've always been and I have a deep respect for all the crafters and makers that come before us - it's like we stand on each others shoulders with those skills having been passed on from one generation to the next stretching back in time. 

When I think of my Mum teaching me to knit and her mother having taught her and so on, it's just mind blowing.

T-Shirt Yarn Tassels
 Do you reduce, reuse, recycle as part of your creative process? Always and as much as possible. 
I use a lot of vintage/retro materials. I op shop a lot - and always have so I have way too much stuff. People are always giving me stuff! 
It's also great to be able to make do with what you have and what you can find - it can make some crafts really affordable and therefore accessible to people. 
 For example, my large communal weaving loom is constructed from timber salvaged from building sites and the materials that are used for the weaving are donated clothing, linens, fabrics, bedding and other random things. I cut these into strips and create a type of yarn out of them that is used for weaving. 

Describe your studio/workspace?
Messy. Out of control. Mostly my studio just acts as storage and most of the making happens in my dining room :)

What is your favourite thing to make?
I can't answer this - certainly I tend to make things with fibre and yarn etc the most. So things like weaving, knitting, crocheting, etc are things that I always come back to. And PomPoms!

 How did the name 'My Aunty Anna' come about?
I spent ages thinking about this - I wanted a name that somehow suggested the past or things being recycled/upcycled/preloved, without being too obvious or using words like vintage or retro. I was on a weekend away with friends when one of the kids taught my daughter an old clapping rhyme called My Aunty Anna - I liked the alliteration and that the rhyme has it's own history, ( now and again I come across someone who knows the rhyme).

I also think the word 'Aunty' suggests an older woman and a link with a past time. 

As a business name it seems to be remembered and people identify me with it so I guess in that sense it's worked as a branding exercise.

Where do you see your creative journey taking you in the next 12 months?
I just don't know. I can't predict it. Probably doing bigger things, creating bigger spaces and installations.

I have some crazy ideas and I'm always up for a ridiculous crafting challenge. Everything just seems to be getting bigger at the moment - just in the last couple of months there was a 6.5 m tall knitted/macrame teepee that I made with a friend (Jennine from Fibre Arts Road ) a really big yarn bombing installation in my local area, and then PARK(ing) Day for BrisStyle last week - we had three parks so it was almost 18m long.

What’s your top tip to others wanting to break into the handmade/creative market?Join BrisStyle ;) find something that you love and something that you do well, and make it yours, make it unique. You'll be inspired by others, we all are, but try not to rip off the work of others even though there is rarely anything that is truly new or unique.Love what you do and own it, but realise that you have to work very hard to make it work. Think about your motivation for wanting to do it - is it money, or is it something else? 

Describe your typical creative day?Drop the kids at school. Work like crazy on whatever it is that I'm obsessed with at the time, ignoring things like housework, then pick the kids up again and try to tidy up a bit so it looks like I've done something other than craft.

Maths comes in handy when building a Teepee

What kind of music do you like to listen to while creating?

                          I prefer silence. I don't get enough of that. 

                          Do you have a favourite quote?
                         "It is what it is" - author unknown 

What is your favourite handmade item that you have bought?I have a lot of jewellery from local makers. One of my favourite handmade things at the moment is a bangle made on a 3D printer - a friend made it for me and I'm a closet science nerd so I love it.
Where can we find you online?My online life is mainly Facebook and Instagram. 
How long have you been a member of brisstyle? Maybe two years. 
How did you find out about brisstyle?
I've known Bel for a long time. So I've known about BrisStyle from the early days and visited the markets in their various locations. 
Why did you become a member?
Partly for the support that BrisStyle and it's members provide, and to support BrisStyle and everything it does for makers/crafters/artisans. 
Being a member of BrisStyle has given me opportunities to do a whole range of things -  workshops, presentations, markets, installations, and meeting a bunch of other creative people.
Why do you craft?
Because I have to. I have no choice, it's in my DNA. I can't help myself and have to always be making something, being productive and busy. Other people watch TV or read or whatever, I make. It also keeps me sane (ish).
Thanks so much Kate it was great chatting with you, Anita x
P.S Don't forget you can vote for Kate's amazing installation for BrisStyle as Part of BNE PARK(ing) Day, by heading HERE (voting closes at 9am Sept 21st)

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Great interview Anita and Kate! Wish you'd shared the teepee though–that is my favourite thing you've made, besides the yarn bombing (poms) :)