Well, I’ve had the delightful opportunity to be the recipient to not one, but two of Maeve’s lovely creations – her whimsical plush monster toy (you’ll spot him in one of my earlier blogpost here) and her felt shamrock brooches (that travelled across sea and land to many St. Patrick’s Day revellers – see image below)…..so I just knew I had to interview her! :) Maeve Murphy is not only a lovely mutual friend of ours but also the creative brains behind Handmade by Maeve. After graduating in Textiles from GMIT, Galway she went on to study a masters in Cultural Policy & Arts Management at UCD, Dublin and like several of us, she busied herself in making textile creations on the side, many of them being personalised gifts for friends and family. Having received a lot of praise and interest in her work, she finally went about setting up Handmade by Maeve and began selling her wonderful and fun creations across the globe; from Bunting to Yoga Mat Bags to bespoke plush critters! So anyway, here’s what she had to say………..
- Tell us a little about yourself and what drew you into becoming a designer-maker? Growing up in the West of Ireland I wanted to be everything, from a Pathologist to a Musician. My Mother was very creative and let me use her sewing machine from a very young age. She also painted so I think I got the creative bug from her.
- How did you come about setting up Handmade by Maeve? I did textiles in College so I was always creating things. My boyfriend saw the little creatures I was making for friends and family and encouraged me to start making more and selling to strangers.
- What five words best describe you and your style of work? Quirky, electric, caring, genuine, and bright!
- I’m a huge fan of your whimsical little creatures (proud owner of one!) so, what’s the main source of inspiration for these creations? I literally tap into the inner child in me and let that come to the surface when I start sketching. My last creature (Theodore the Moon Bug) was inspired from lyrics of a Sufjan Stevens song where he mentioned the word space.
- How would you describe your design process and what part of it do you like the most? I like brainstorming in my notebook. I love looking back at all my scribbles, they can sometimes inspire new ideas if I look at them at a later stage. It’s nearly like a visual diary of the creative chaos that goes on inside my head!
- Is there any craft/art medium besides sewing that you haven’t tried but want to? And why? Having attended Art College I was lucky enough to taste all the disciplines. But I’d love to bring more print into my work.
- There’s been a huge boom in craft and design in the last few years. Would you say it’s been difficult breaking into this competitive world? I’m still working full-time in the Music Industry while working on Handmade by Maeve on the side, so to be honest, I feel I’m still threading on the side of this competitive world!
- What do you like most about your business? And is this a full-time 9-5 business? With a full-time day job, Handmade by Maeve work is usually done during my evenings and weekends. All the pieces I make, I love. I love how there are parts of me, something I’ve created that’s dotted around the world and that people like them enough to buy them.
- Of your current range of work, what piece would you say is your favourite? Everything I make, I love and I’m proud to put my name to it. I’d say my Cloud range – I think they speak a thousand words just sitting there on a shelf. I feel they are a gift for any occasion be it for new babies, girlfriends or just friends.
- What would be your ‘top three tips’ for like-minded creative individuals who would like to one day set up a business themselves in this field? I honestly don’t feel like I can answer this question yet. I feel it’s early days for me and I’m not really in a position to be giving people advise just yet if that make sense? I would however say that you have to be pretty hard-working, willing to put in the hours and only make and sell products you’re proud to carry your name on them.
- When you’re not in ‘designer-maker’ mode, what else do you enjoy doing? My boyfriend, myself and our miniature Jack Russell, Winne have a VW Camper Van called Amadeus. I’ve made everything from curtains to cushions for it and we try to take it out whenever we can….. rain, hail or shine……mainly rain in this Irish weather!
- What are your favourite book/s or blog/s at the moment? I’m not reading any books at the moment but I do usually read fantasy. Blogs wise, my favourite ones are yours (Made by Molu) and Bazaar.
- Are there any designer-makers out there that you find inspirational or are ones to keep an eye out for – if so, who? I find Aisling, the magic fingers behind Bazaar really inspiring (you can find her on Facebook too). I love following her progress as she carves out a new life for herself in establishing Bazaar in another country.
- What would we expect from Handmade by Maeve in the future? I’ve got SO many ideas in the pipeline, I just don’t have the time at the moment. But I hope to have more time in the future so definitely keep an eye on my Facebook page or twitter for news and updates.
- Finally, where can we find more of your wonderful creations? Will you be at any craft + design markets or events this year? I’ve nothing lined up at the moment but if I’m appearing at anything I always keep my followers updated on my Facebook page or twitter, otherwise you’ll find all my work on my Etsy shop!
A HUGE ‘thank you’ to Maeve for taking the time out to answer all my questions and for providing me with lots of lovely photos to pick from! There’s a bright future for this talented gal from County Mayo and I for one cannot wait to keep an eye out for that! Good luck missus and I look forward to many more of your creations!! :) xx
Meet Tina Crawford, the wonderful, quirky, fun and talented designer-maker behind the fabulous homeware and accessories that is Tobyboo – named after her little boy Toby. You probably have seen (or even bought) many of her finest pieces at places like House of Frasers, Museum of London, Not On The High Street, Etsy and many more. What I love about Tina’s work, a signature element to her design that distinguishes from the others, is her lovely free hand embroidered illustrations! I first bumped into her at the Made in Clerkenwell event back in November last year (see my blogpost here) where both her and her work made a great big lasting impression on me! And what’s even more admirable is how she’s made herself known in this competitive industry after facing a few obstacles of her own. Anyway, if you haven’t as yet come across any of her work…..well then here’s a glimpse into her work and what goes on behind the scenes of her creations!
- Tell us a little about yourself – Have you always wanted to be an illustrator/designer-maker? Oddly, when I was 15 I wanted to either be an artist of some sort or work in television… the first job I had was making the makes on children’s BBC art program SMart!
- How did you come about setting up Tobyboo? After years of working in television I became suddenly ill and was sent home never to be able to do ‘that’ sort of job again. Housebound and sometimes bed bound to stop myself from going bonkers I started making handbags which went really well. Our son Toby was born in 2007 after years of struggling and well, a sudden surge of baby gifts lead to the start of Tobyboo – named after our little Boo.
- What five words best describe you and your style of work? Ooh can I use other persons descriptions? Fluid, unique, nostalgic yet contemporary (yes I know that’s cheating a bit) and well, British
- What’s the main source of inspiration for your creations? So far I’ve not looked very far, pretty much looking into my childhood has given me both Oranges and Lemons (a collection based on the verse) and Wish You Were Here which bore out of a childhood holiday that – lets just say – wasn’t sun, beach huts and bunting!
- How would you describe your design process and what part of it do you like the most? My process for me is very organic and to most others an unpredictable risk – well I suppose it is. I don’t draw before I sew, my illustrations are all free embroideries – my sketchbook? scraps of fabric on the floor I literally draw with the needle. To be honest I don’t see the point in drawing before, why bother to sew it – its the sewing that creates fluid lines and mistakes that add charm. Some designers draw and sew over the top – what’s the point!
- Is there any craft/art medium you haven’t tried but want to? And why? Er…. I can’t think. During art foundation (before my degree) you get to try pretty much everything. My degree was jewellery.
- There’s been a huge boom in craft and design in the last few years – would you say it’s been difficult breaking into this competitive world? My need is because I have to – I have illnesses which mean that I can’t go into full time ‘normal’ work so its frustrating competing. I would love to have this as a luxurious hobby because making money from it is so so hard but it’s one of the only ways I can earn a living.
- What do you like most about your business? And is this a full-time 9-5 business? Full time doesn’t describe it! Theres no switching off I work though the night sometimes till 3am which with a sewing machine is slightly noisy. I love creating a design and seeing what it turns into, and when it does get onto a shop shelf its a great feeling!
- When you’re not in ‘designer-maker’ mode, what else do you enjoy doing? My husband and five year old do get some time with me! We tend to make the most of London – museums get a lot of visits from us.
- Have you any tips for like-minded creative individuals who would like to one day set up a business themselves in this field? Try to apply what you like and get employed by someone! It’s a jungle out there! I sort of think that but really – go for it, if it’s what you want to do you’ll regret not at least trying it. Get business advice; I did the Doug Richards School for Creative Start ups, joined Craft Central and make the most of the 1-2-1 mentor sessions and see an advisor at The East London Small Business Centre – I’d be lost without them.
- Are there any designer-makers out there that you find inspirational or are ones to keep an eye out for – if so, who? Eloise from Hidenseek I found on Etsy, she’s an incredible illustrator and was the first to tell me to go for it. I love Yas-Ming ceramics and have been lucky enough to be along side them at recent trade events.
- Of your current work, what piece would you say is your favourite? I really love the Gull ‘n’ Chips china pieces and the platter is probably my favourite – I think the stitching comes out so well on china. But I’m most proud of the work that I created for the Museum of London’s exhibition; Doctors, Dissection and Resurrection Men – it’s a fantastic exhibition which is on till April and well worth the visit.
- What would we expect from Tobyboo in the future? Hopefully a lot more, my designs have been taken on by other companies so there’s a large melamine collection – my fingers are crossed for more of this and collaborations.
- Finally, where can we find more of your wonderful creations? And can we find you at any craft + design events this year? My pieces have been taken by Somerset House, the Museum of London and House of Fraser there are new stockists in Ireland and Switzerland from this year too! The one thing about expanding and going into retail is that there’s less time for markets so 2013 seems to be the first year not doing any.
A massive ‘thank you’ to Tina for taking the time out from what is clearly a very busy schedule! Please do have look through her online shop or keep up to date on where you’d find her next by following her on Facebook or Twitter! Also, note this in your diaries: Tobyboo will be hosting a pop up shop at Craft Central, Clerkenwell Green for one week only starting April 8th!!!xx
I first came across the works of this lovely duo at the ‘Handmade in Britain’ event held at the Old Chelsea Town Hall back in November last year (see my post here
) and was immediately drawn to their beautifully embroidered cushions! Clementine and Bloom
, a mother-daughter team, who design and make luxury homeware, have only recently emerged into the competitive world of craft and design and have successfully done so with many interests shown in their work and with positive reviews about their work. I simply felt I needed to share more about them and their work on here just so you see what I’m talking about! Here’s my recent interview with them:
- Tell us more about your backgrounds – have you both always wanted to specialise in printed textiles and embroidery? [Sandra]: I have always been interested in art and have always crafted for personal enjoyment. I decided to study printed textiles after becoming frustrated by the lack of bold colourful fabric designs available. [Sophie]: We have always been creative at home, but the really defining moment for me was at the age of 14 when we took a free machining course at the local sewing shop. Other than the textiles lessons I had had at school this was the first time I could see the potential to be experimental on fabric.
- What drew you into setting up Clementine & Bloom? We had always discussed combining our skills in the future, after Sophie graduated and the potential for paid employment within embroidery looked unlikely we began to brainstorm. There’s nothing worse than being a creative and then finding yourself idle; idle hands lead to us to make a few items for our own home and then it was just a case of evolving it in to a business.
- What five words best describe you and your style of work? [Sandra]: colour, pattern, scale. [Sophie]: texture, experimental
- What’s the main source of inspiration for your creations? We are inspired by anything and everything from the organic shapes and patterns in nature to the repetitive order and design found in architecture.
- How would you describe your design process and what part of it do you like the most? [Sandra]: When we’re designing a new collection we always start with the research which involves the library and sight visits (museums or even just venturing into the garden.) Then the drawing begins. Once we feel we have plenty of visual material we begin to evolve the images on the computer; for every ten designs we select there are another twenty or so that are either rejected or filed away for the future. I really enjoy the drawing element of the design process the most. [Sophie]: Once all the initial research has been gathered I like to move into materials, experimenting with manipulation, colour and textures. We then bring all these elements together to create our collection.
- Is there any craft/art medium you haven’t tried but want to? And why? [Sandra]: I would love to take an upholstery course but haven’t been able to yet just from lack of time! [Sophie]: yes definitely upholstery, then we could combine our love of antique furniture with our bold fabric.
- There’s been a huge boom in craft and design in the last few years – would you say it’s been difficult breaking into this competitive world? It has been a difficult time to start a business in the creative industry as established designers who have been working for several years have told us. People have less money to spend at the moment and the huge interest in craft means they want to learn to make things for themselves, however we are taking things slowly and learning so much along the way – one of our family motto’s is ‘Slow and steady wins the race!’
- What do you like most about your business? And is this a full-time business? We love that we have complete control – from the fabric design to the finished product to what time we begin work in the morning – who doesn’t want to be their own boss? On a practical level we both enjoy the ‘making’ side of the business and love to spend time in the studio screen printing fabric, what they don’t tell you when you start a business is just how much time is dedicated to paperwork and answering emails etc.
- When you’re not in ‘designer-maker’ mode, what else do you enjoy doing? [Sandra]: I like to visit art galleries and exhibitions on my days off and getting outdoors walking my dog, but my eyes are always open and my mind is always thinking so I’m never sure it actually is switch-off time! [Sophie]: I love hunting through antique shops searching for hidden treasure. I also love nothing more than spending a day in the kitchen cooking up a feast!
- Have you any tips for like-minded creative individuals who would like to one day set up a business themselves in this field? We would say to anyone who is thinking of entering this field to go for it. The hours are long but when a customer comes along and says ‘I really love this and I want it in my home’ it makes everything worthwhile. Be prepared to spend a lot of time in front of the computer but never under-estimate the value of social media as you can reach so many people in this way.
- Are there any designer-makers out there that you find inspirational – if so, who? Too many to list but here are a few. Lucienne Day – innovative and colourful designs, Grayson Perry – colour, detail and not afraid to broach difficult subject matters in his work, Henry Moore – his textiles are colourful and fun and use everyday objects in their design and lastly Anna Maria Horner – bold designs in vibrant colours, lovely!
- Of your current work, what piece would you say is your favourite? [Sandra]: my favourite design at the moment is the Polka Dot Beetle; I love the colours and the scale means it’s not obvious immediately what the pattern is made up of, I’m planning on covering an old chair in this fabric. But I also love the Gilded Butterfly lampshades and the way they catch the light. [Sophie]: I love the Dancing Beetle pattern, although I consider it to be our ‘neutral’ it’s still a bold, geometric design in a colourway that does not fight with other colours or patterns in your home – this is why I am having my antique French bed re-upholstered in it! I also love the Papilio lampshade, I think it’s luxurious and decadent and unlike other lampshades in the homeware market.
- What would we expect from Clementine & Bloom in the future? We have another collection in the very early stages of development and are looking at the potential of a wallpaper printed to coordinate with the Entomology range.
- Finally, where can we find more of your wonderful creations? And can we find you at any craft + design events this year? We have a shop on our website where all the designs are available www.clementineandbloom.com. We have some trade shows planned this year and are also exhibiting in the Launchpad area of Pulse at Earls Court, London in May.
A HUGE ‘thank you’ to Sandra and Sophie for taking their time out to answer all my questions and for supplying some wonderful photos of their studio and samples of their key work. Aren’t they simply fabulous?! Totally envious of their studio space and all those gorgeous rich colourful textiles!! Anyhow, I sincerely wish you both all the very best for 2013 – not that you need much as you seem to be doing pretty well! And I’m sure i’ll bump into you two again! :) All the best! xx