Self-taught Textile design, Handmade Gifts & Cushion Art
None really except Diploma from MCSJ in precious metal clay
I am not trained in Art or Textile design but I do have a creative background. I trained as a hairdresser and worked my way up to become an artistic director creating shows and events. I then opened my own Salon for 15 years, after which I sold moved to Brighton and opened a Design led gift store called Arkitekt, so I guess I have been surrounded by design. Most of my skills have been self-taught including my hairdressing in the early years. I have also experimented in Precious metal clay and Jewellery design but mainly as a hobby.
I gave up hairdressing as my main income and came across a process called Sublimation printing. This was the beginning of photos printed onto gifts, such as mugs and mouse mats etc, It looked interesting and quite innovative so I purchased the equipment needed and set about my new career, which I have to say was a major disaster at the beginning. It was very much trial and error and being new to the market there was no information or training available or internet help as such . Anyhow I managed to master the process and my business ran for about 6 years, during this time I began collecting old post cards, photos and old Victorian Ephemera and thought it would be a great idea to use these images some way and that is where my Cushion Art started. I used Photoshop and collaging techniques to create my fabrics ready for print and learnt a few sewing skills and I was away.
I guess it comes from the images themselves. I will look at a particular photo or print and build a story around that image by pulling in all sorts of strange and wonderful imagery, mixed with a bit of Photoshop magic. I spend my time visiting museums, art galleries and antique markets, and ideas often pop into my head. Then out comes the sketchbook or my notepad and I’m away with the idea. It may not make sense at the time but it will end up somewhere. I normally I have about 6 to 8 designs on the go In Photoshop, and I pop back and forth with them, sometimes taking up to a month just refining the image and adjusting colours and filters until I feel it’s ready to go.
My Brighton cushions are made up from old (circa 1900) images of the area, and I love being able to bring people’s attention to how the city used to look. I also enjoy repairing scratches, bent corners and faded colours – all the restoration work needed to bring them back to life.
I love them all in different ways; I have just completed a large Brighton cushion created in the style of a circus ad, and it came out spot on, the colours were excellent and it just worked. I’m also working on a new collection of Cushions in a Russian Religious Icon style, these look very atmospheric with old textured wood backgrounds, crosses and hand embedded Swarovski crystal gems in their hundreds to enrich the gold imagery and they look fab.
Not really that bad, I’m incredibly over cautious and test everything before it goes into production. The new Crystal icons range are hand wash only, but I will machine wash and over iron them to check the security of the stones and make sure all stays in place. I do the same with a new fabric print – I will test wash it every day for a few weeks just to make sure it stays bright and clear. Over cautious I know, but I feel confident I’m giving a quality item. And touch wood, over the 10 years I’ve had a 100% success rate and I’m proud of that.
My top things are:
Classic example: : I needed to sell my cushions so I did the usual and went down the local craft market route. Everyone loved the product and design but I ended up having to justify the price, I sold two, which covered the stall rent and made a bit of profit, froze to death and came away very disappointed and discouraged. Why? Because the customers were not really my target market, they were looking for bargains not quality and originality. Every Year in May Brighton holds an event called “Artist Open House “for a month at weekends, based around people opening their homes with guest Artists , Jewellers, Ceramicist, Textile designers and Makers all under one roof. I do one every year and it is a totally different market. No one mentioned the price (except to say they were too cheap!) everyone loved the product I had some lovely feedback plus you also get to meet your target person needles to say I sold 28 cushions in four weekends!. These particular customers were my Market and looking or something original, well-made and had the budget to buy, this was a massive learning curve and I haven’t looked back since, craft markets are great, but as I found out they’re not the right place for me, so the key know your market and pith you product to them at the right price to make a profit.
I sell through my website, which is www.sublimevintage.co.uk