Monday, March 27, 2017

The Pink Plate

Hello Michelle 

Were you creative as a child? 

I was always creative as a child. I sewed, tried copper enamelling, pottery, macramé (it was the 70’s),  tie dye and anything someone would show me I had a go.

Do you come from a creative family?

My family was not very creative, but they allowed me to be creative. However, unfortunately when  I went to high school and told my parents I wanted to be an art teacher I was discouraged as my Mum was a teacher and she thought it was not a good choice. 

Not being allowed to do art as a subject at school, I became creative in other ways. 

I became a hairdresser and after finishing my apprenticeship I became a part time hairdresser and studied and worked as a fine arts jeweller.  After having children I returned to hairdressing, and in my 40s I started ceramics. 

How would you describe your work?

Let's not get too deep but my work is made though a very conceptual approach to the clay - I want it to tell a story in the end.

My work at first glance is quite conflicting and varying as I have a series of works that are fine and delicate and then I have a series that is robust and earthy. They both have underlying themes of nostalgia, and embrace imperfection. 

Here is a bit of the story:
The porcelain series highlights femininity, and both strength and fragility of the women and men before me, and grasps at capturing the ideals of appearances and things from the past - grandma's tea set, embroidered doilies, pearls, dressing up and afternoon tea. 

The series is based around my upbringing surrounded by spinster aunts, and childless uncles and the uncovering of stories of childlessness in marriages, secret adoptions, wartime brides left at the altar, war time poverty,  family scandal, and all the while the public appearance was sternly upheld and the pillars of society were celebrated by their peers. 

The family genetic pool is finished with my grandparents generation as all 13 of my grandparents’ brothers and sisters remained childless, and my mother was adopted. These porcelain works are embedded with all things that were considered of value and now remain only as memories. 

My stoneware range is conceived around the idea of the illusion of perfection. I had an idea to make a dinner set where no pieces matched and were all slightly imperfect. I make all my wares with a rustic haphazardness and disregard to be perfect, and often highlight the imperfections with gold.
I aspire to the idea that we begin to treasure, value and celebrate imperfection. 
The media celebrates perfection and I aspire to celebrate imperfection.

How has your work evolved since you started?

I think my arts practice has evolved to be a more subtle and restrained message to appeal to more people. I want my pieces to be more usable for day to day.

How did you start selling online?

I knew people liked my work and I thought there was a market to embed other people's treasured memories in clay, however I think I haven’t quite mastered how to promote this side of my work yet.

 Who inspires you?

I am inspired by a great potter Gwen Hanssen Piggott and the great artist Rosalie Gascoigne

Two great women artists who started art late in their life, just like me, and succeeded in their craft.

Do you reduce, reuse, recycle as part of your creative process? 

AbsolutelyWe recycle all waste clay if it is damaged or broken before firing. I re-wet the clay and turn it into casting slip. If it is fired, then I use the pieces where I can in mosaics or art pieces. 

I re-use objects which I press into my clay to leave impressions like cotton doilies, embroidered table mats, jewellery, keys. Sometimes metal objects are fired into my clay to create an interesting old rusted feel to them. 

I have solar powered electricity to run my home and kiln during the day.

Can you describe your studio space for us?

I have a fabulous new studio which is approximately 30 square metres of designated 'make mess' space.

What is your favourite thing to make?

My porcelain illuminators are my favourite thing, I roll it thin and impress it with my memory objects (like doilies, or keys, or whatever) and push the clay to the absolute thinness where it becomes so fragile it is a challenge to get it to the kiln.

And yet when it fires, the porcelain is so strong, so beautiful and if the light illuminates through it, there is a residual impression of what I have pushed into the clay.

And yet in some ways it is still so fragile - it says so much about what I want to say.

How did your business name come about?

Pink is the most beautiful colour in the world, it speaks of femininity to me.

Where do you see your creative journey taking you in the next 12 months?

I have learnt so much through being involved with this positive creative community of BrisStyle. 

The artist community don’t always want you to succeed as it is very competitive, so I hope to gain more exposure and have more interest in my work through this network of great people, as well as have some work in a retail outlet. 

Do you have a top tip to others wanting to break into the creative market?

Be passionate and true to yourself, and be prepared to spend a lot of time on social media and your administrative tasks. 50% practice 50% administration.

What is a typical creative day for you?

My days are about to change as all my children are finished high school now. So I guess it will be wake up late, read, do a bit of sunbaking…. jokes.

I wake up and lie in bed for an hour doing my social media and emails, at least one day a week I will spend doing research or any other admin tasks, other days I might do half a day but I try to head into the studio about 9am, break for lunch, back to studio until about 5-6 then do dinner and TV then bed 10.30-11pm.

What kind of music do you listen to while creating?

Abba, Katie Perry or Adele.

What is your favourite handmade item that you have bought?

When I was in my 20s I bought a hand sewn leather travel bag, it was so expensive but it's still going strong.

I also love my ceramics I collect around the world.

Where can we find you online/stockists?

I have selected works in Red Hill Gallery in Red Hill Brisbane.

How long have you been a member of BrisStyle?

Only 4-6 mths

How did you find out about BrisStyle?

Through a Facebook site I think.

Why did you become a member?

I needed some help refining my Etsy store - still working on it.

Why do you craft?

Because I can!

About 6 years ago I was a bedridden cripple, I have had two back surgeries and took a few years to really rehabilitate and recuperate. 

Clay and my arts practice gave me a reason to get up in the morning and start living.

Thank you Michelle.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Textile Artisan

Today we meet Jenny from Textile Artisan.

Hi Jenny

Do you come from a creative family? 

Yes. My Dad received a Soldier’s Settler Block in the Blue Mountains after WW2. Both he and my Mother worked tirelessly to create everything that they needed from a home to poultry sheds etc, and Mum made everything that she could on a treadle sewing machine as there was no power. 

Years later after her children had left home my Mother enrolled in ceramics at East Sydney Tech. and travelled 3hrs per day for 2yrs to become a potter.

And how would you describe your work?

I make practical items using natural fibres and natural dyes. 

I hope that the items will retain their use for a long time and contribute to sustainable living.

Has your work evolved since you started?

The change has been in the size and type of loom that I use. I started with an Inkle loom that I made for myself when living 150km NW of Bourke NSW.

Then my Mother purchased a floor loom for me that a retired Englishman had made. It had been advertised in the local paper. He had been involved in the textile industry in the UK. I was living outside Bathurst at the time and came in contact with a weaver living in a railway cottage in Bathurst. That was Irma Binder who was from Europe and a truly classical weaver and my first weaving contact.

How did you start selling online?

I built a website a couple of years ago and also had a presence on Etsy. Unfortunately I haven’t had the time to keep these sites up to date. I intend to build an online selling point.

What inspires you?

The ability to create an item from the simplest elements. 

To spin, dye and weave fabric then design and cut the pieces to construct a garment or accessory. 

Or to weave something that comes off the loom ready to wear, after finishing.

And do you reduce, reuse, recycle as part of your creative process?  

Yes. I make items from patches left over from cutting. 

I also weave right to the end of warps and use the extra pieces for making up. I use up as much as I can.

Can you describe your studio for us?

My studio is the main bedroom of our retirement unit. My loom just fits in with some storage shelving around two walls and the rest in the WIR, I have a beautiful bushland view in two directions. My studio is part of my living space.

Do you have a favourite thing to make?

I don’t have a favourite. Every item is unique.

And how did your business name come about?

Textile was a given but I was so glad that Artisan was available as it means a skilled worker in the handmade.

Where do you see your creative journey taking you in the next 12 months? 

Due to several reasons I have not been weaving for 3 years so the next 12 months is my focused return to weaving and online marketing.

What’s your top tip to others wanting to break into the handmade/creative market?

Be honest in making your own product of your best quality. 

What is a typical creative day for you? 

I am a carer for my blind/deaf partner so I try to have studio time in the afternoons and evenings. 
I often spin in the evenings

Dyeing sessions are governed by the availability of material e.g. I have grown Coreopsis and collected the blossom to store in the freezer until I have enough for a dye bath (or too much for the freezer). I have a large stand of Goldenrod (another ancient dye source) that will bring on a big dying effort when it flowers. 

Do you have a favourite quote?    

Never give up!

What is your favourite handmade item that you have bought?

A beautiful end delivery shuttle. 

Where can we find you online?

How long have you been a member of BrisStyle?  

Part of a year.

Why did you become a member? 

To be part of a vibrant marketing group.

Why do you craft?

There is something inside me that reaches far back in time that encourages me to live a simple life and to make, with integrity, what I can, from natural fibres and dyes. 

It is probably in my genes and in my upbringing. 
I feel compelled to work with my hands and I am happy about it.

Well thank you Jenny for sharing your thoughts with us.