I've discovered the fantastic work of Sue Harris from BlueBoxStudio on Folksy and she has agreed to an interview about her work.
What is your name/business name? Sue Harris - Blue Box Studio
Where do you live? - in the Victorian sea side resort of Clevedon, North Somerset. We have a pier built from spare parts from one of Brunel's projects and the oldest purpose built continually operating cinema in the world.
What type of crafting do you do? I make sea glass & sterling silver jewellery from sea glass I find around Britain's beaches and silk & velvet scarves using traditional and contemporary Shibori, batik, devoré, hand and screen printing techniques.
How long have you been crafting for? Since I was 5! I was given a toy sewing machine at the age of 5. I out grew that within weeks and was then given an old Singer sewing machine. My Dad disconnected the handle and reconnected the treadle for me and off I went. I've sewn ever since. I started knitting at the same age, spinning wool was a discovery in the 80s, closely followed by a variety of knitting machines. I started making bead and silver jewellery in 1995 and started selling at fairs and through galleries from then on. My love of textiles was always at the back of my mind and I discovered Shibori, a more decorative and complex form of tie dye whilst reading books at a book stall in a very quiet craft fair. I mainly make scarves but from time to time the range widens. Collaboration with another artist in the 1990s let to me working with velvets as well and, once that ended, I continued to explore the ways I could colour and texture fabrics.
What is your favourite thing about your craft? You can't beat walking along a quiet beach looking for sea glass ... real 'me' time. I love that I am lucky enough to be able to do my craft as a part time business. Circumstances have been different in the past when this was taken away from me and the depression I felt from being 'robbed' of this was devastating. I treasure my luck in being able to work for myself again and must give credit here for the patience and support from my husband who, if he wanted to be purely material about my business, would tell me to go back and work full time in what my mother would have called 'a real job'!
What is your least favourite thing about your craft? The fact that I can only do this part time. As a struggling artist (aren't we all?) I also work part time in an office which I don't particularly enjoy. Sometimes I also have days when things just won't go right, usually drills breaking one after another when drilling sea glass. I learned to stop what I am doing and do something different on those days!
Where do you get your inspiration from? I love texture and colour. I am inspired by the beautiful beaches I get my sea glass from, the colours in nature lead me to explore pattern and colours in my work. Often seeing vintage textiles in exhibitions I get ideas of how I could incorporate something similar in my own work. I often work listening to the radio and depending on what is on I often find, certainly with the colours I use or the patterns I create, that my mind reacts to what is on. A good play could have me making intricate designs, bold classical music can lead to big bold designs on velvet, something light and uplifting may mean I work with brighter colours. The shapes in nature, such as the twisting tendrils on a climbing plant may lead me to twist silver as a mount for my sea glass pendants. Sometimes the glass is so beautiful in itself that it just needs a simple mount. Less interesting colours such as white may benefit from pretty beads or pearls. Often a piece is designed around some lamp work glass beads that I couldn't resist.
Where do you sell your work? I sell on Etsy, Folksy, through fairs, open studio events and galleries in the UK. If any gallery owner would like to stock my work I'd love to hear from them.
Anything else you'd like to tell us about yourself or your work? I'm taking part in North Somerset Arts Week from Friday 1 May to Sunday 10 May. If anyone is in the area, come and see us. I am being joined by a local potter and we are raising funds for Holly Hedge animal sanctuary, where I went to be adopted by my 2 merry moggies. As far as I know we are the only venue to be doing teas, coffees and home made cakes - I even did training to get a food hygiene certificate and registered with the council, how's that for dedication! [It's a legal requirement that most people ignore thinking it doesn't apply to them, it does. But then not everyone has insurance for their work or premises. I think 25 years as a civil servant made me into a rule-freak!].
Thanks to Sue for answering all my questions! Don't forget to check out her shops