1. Tell me a bit about your background and how long you have been an artist/crafter.
I would describe myself first as a New Yorker. Although I have not lived in that city now for many years, it is my home. It is a city with a pulse like no other and it is there that I feel most "myself". I was raised in a bi-lingual home (German/English) by German parents who came to New York for an intended brief stay, but never left!
According to my mother, as a child I was never bored; always busy with some little project. I have, as long as I can remember, loved making things. Collage, photography, drawing, knitting, embroidery, linoleum block printing have all been things I have enjoyed. `I grew up in a very aesthetically aware environment. My parents appreciate and collect art, books, beautiful things and I think this also had a huge impact on me. I was taught to value the creative process and the rewards it brings.
2. Where do you find your inspiration?
I am fortunate to have a rather adventurous husband who has taken us to the far corners of the world. Spending two years in Italy, then three years in Central Asia and another three in Morocco has fuelled a fascination with combining elements from different cultures to make beautiful things. I am so taken by the arts and handicrafts traditions in these places. Felt rugs in Kyrgyzstan, the embroidered Suzani of Uzbekistan for example, or the ceramics and metal-work of Morocco...all are so inspiring! So, I do not have to look far for inspiration! It is all around me. Imagine a walk through the Moroccan medina... the colors, the smells, the faces...this is a routine part of my life!
My children are also a great source of inspiration for me. They are funny and beautiful and creative and remind me of what is important in life.
3. Do you sell your work, or is it purely for pleasure?
I sell my work on the internet and here in Rabat. When I discovered the Etsy site last year it was a bit of a revelation. I had wanted for some time to design clothing for little girls and boys and sell it somehow. I just couldn't quite figure out how. The internet has been an amazing venue for me. Every time I ship a tunic to Australia, a dress to Cyprus, or a basket to Alaska I am thrilled! The fact that I can connect with people who live all over the globe never ceases to amaze me! My Etsy shop is under the name "HappyExpat" although my business is actually called Mimosa Designs.
The shop url is: http://happyexpat.etsy.com/
I design clothing for little girls and make things for the home. In addition I have great fun finding things here in Morocco and making them new and different. Wonderful baskets and traditional slippers come alive in new ways when felt flowers, ribbon, fabric, etc. are added. I have discovered many fun sources for things like passementerie beads, hand-crocheted buttons, tassels, felt beads, etc. I love going into the medina and seeking out a craftsperson, commissioning them to make exactly what I am dreaming of and then using that material in fun ways.
4. If someone was looking to take up this craft should they have any related experience before they start?
I suppose it would help but...I myself have absolutely no experience in the production of children's clothing. Rather, I think, I have a good eye for fabrics, color, textures and design. And I have been extremely lucky that people have discovered my wares and seem to like them!
5. What would be your top 5 tips for a beginner?
- Believe that your vision can become reality
- Work hard...VERY hard!
- Use the people you know who have experience and information to help you attain your goals...don't be shy to ask questions
- Invest as much money as you can possibly come up with in the first year of your venture
- Teach your family to eat/enjoy pasta at least three nights a week. hee hee!
6. What would be your top 5 items of essential equipment?
- My Apple Mac... Nothing would have happened without it
- My eyes
- Scissors, Pencils, Rulers, Fabric, Needles and thread
- My car which takes me to all kinds of fun places - the medina, the fabric market, etc...
- A supportive partner who tells you how proud he is of what you are doing
7. Can you recommend a technique or ‘tips’ book ideal for a beginner?
Hmmm...not really. I have found most of my information on the web.
8. Can you recommend any brands to look out for, when buying equipment or kit?
Favorite fabric sources: http://www.reprodepot.com/, http://www.contemporarycloth.com/, http://www.purlsoho.com/, JCaroline Creative shop, to name a few...