Well, I was rather hoping to get this out earlier tonight but technical difficulties stopped this. However- joyous news as it is now sorted and I can start the Monday Meet the Maker interviews. The very first one is Helen Dutton from 'Our Slice of Country Life'. Helen designs and handmakes gorgeous products for your home and now we get to find out a bit about what makes her tick... Enjoy. Jill x
1. Do you collect things? If you do, what are they, when did it start, and why?
I've always been partial to pretty things, my house is full of hanging hearts, bunting and plants. My poor husband puts up with a lot ;)
2. What do you like to do in your spare time?
We are lucky to live near Shugborough estate; it’s a beautiful place to take our son and his bike for the day. I also love watching films and have quite a split interest between period dramas and comic superhero films.
3. What would you put into room 101ʼ?
All reality TV programmes and "Jeremy Kyle" type shows, lol, really don't like them.
4. Are you a savoury or sweet person? What is your favourite thing to eat out of these?
two? Both....! How confusing, I love all food, total downfall.... an ex college used to say I have all the will power of a baked bean, and I think she was right! I love chocolate cake and salty crackers.
5. What is your favourite cocktail (or other drink?)
I've only had cocktails once, for a friends 30th.... I don't remember a lot of the weekend after that. Since then I stick to my all-time favourite, Red wine, particularly merlot. Although in the summer there is nothing better than a cold Corona with a slice of lime sitting in the sunshine.
About your work:
1. What or who inspires you the most? Where do you get your inspiration from?
I love Gisela Grahams range, the thing that I respect the most about her work is that although She’s "made it" she hasn't put her prices through the roof like some designers have. I don't know where my inspiration comes from, other than in my head, I love trying different combinations and ways of doing things, though sometimes it goes horribly wrong and I have to ask myself what I was thinking!
2. What techniques do you use to create your work?
Mostly I paint, though I have recently had stamps hand carved to my designs to use on slate, and other materials, I'm really having fun trying out different things.
3. What is the most difficult thing about working as a designer craftsperson? How do you overcome these challenges?
There are a few answers to this question; firstly I find it hard sometimes to think my work is good enough and I wonder why people like it, self-doubt is a corrosive thing... I try to overcome it by thinking that the people who buy my makes only have so many pennies to spend, and if they are choosing something I've made then it must be good, especially now when everyone is on a budget. I find the prospect of not making enough of a living and having to return to paid employment a constant niggle in the back of my mind, but I'm just going to see where it goes... and lastly I have a condition called fibromyalgia which causes muscle spasms, stiffness and aches, there a days when I can't craft so I tend to promote my Facebook page, and days where my fingers are too stiff or hands shake too much to work at all, on those days a good film always brightens my day and maybe a stroll along the canal to feed the ducks.
4. Are you working on any new designs / ranges at the moment? If so, what are they?
Oh my goodness, so many, my head is so full I can't think what day it is! I've just started doing wooden bunting, which is really fun, I also have "fairy doors" to decorate for all the believers out there, and I am planning to do book ends. Future crafts will include cushions, notice boards and bunting, funnily enough my craft plan was cushions, bunting, candles and plant pots, I've strayed a little way off course... but it’ll all come good :)
5. What do you love the most about being a designer craftsperson?
I love photographing my work and reading the fab comments left by others :) It’s a fantastic rush when you think something you've made and worked hard on is going to sit on someone’s cabinet or hang on their wall. I love that, it’s like a little bit of me in their home x
Sum up yourself and your work in just 1 sentence.
I live in my own little world, it’s a great place to be and I try and create things that give a glimpse at something sweet and pure, something that will take people back to their childhood.