I’m not one of those early risers who are chirpy and raring to go in the mornings, so being self employed brings it’s challenges when it comes to starting work on time. I have no boss to frown at my lateness or fire me for not turning up. However I do have Twiggy, who’s breakfast is very important to her indeed, and she’s not afraid to yell the place down until she gets it.. so that keeps my mornings in check.
First things first; breakfast for the critters. I stumble sleepy-eyed to the kitchen and give them each their bowl of breakfast. Then me. Unless Twiggy decides to have mine too. The pecking order for breakfast is clear!
“My most recent book ‘Chloë Tells You How’ was inspired by my love of vintage children’s annuals from the 1950s, ’60s and ’70s”
Sometimes I work at my studio at Cockpit Arts, or sometimes from home and occasionally from my old bedroom at my mums, which is a tardis of vintage fabric. Me and Ringo will take the hour long walk there, through Highgate Woods, then through Waterlow park and past Highgate Cemetery. It’s a very pleasant commute; I don’t miss my 7am public transport commute at all! But sometimes we take the bus, which Ringo quite enjoys!
My days vary, sometimes I’ll spend them making toys and cushions with my precious collection of vintage fabrics. Some fabrics I take off the shelves, think about using, but then decide it’s just too amazing and put it back- I’m just not ready to use that fabric yet. Other days, I’ll spend working mainly on the laptop, which can be distracting when Ringo constantly wants to play.
“A lot of the characters in my books were inspired by real people or animals, and the designs were all things that I’d like to have myself”
The projects I’ve most enjoyed so far are my books. My most recent, ‘Chloë Tells You How’ was inspired by my love of vintage children’s annuals from the 1950s, ’60s and ’70s. The name itself was taken from the ‘Mother Tells You How’ series from Girl Magazine. Each tutorial project is written and laid out like the comic strips you’d see featured in these annuals. The whole thing has an ironic undertone running through it, so it appeals to adults in a nostalgic way and hopefully to children too. As a tribute to the annuals I also invented characters to teach the reader, which were drawn by some very talented illustrators, and include craft related games and stories, like The Breeding Bunnies, illustrated by Gemma Correll.
A lot of the characters were inspired by real people or animals, and the designs were all things that I’d like to have myself. Cyril the squirrel, who is a character in the book, comes to my window every morning for his breakfast (what was I saying about pecking order?)
I also really enjoy making canvases with colourful fabrics which is where I get to be extra creative and my obsession with fabrics is thoroughly satisfied. I’ve made a few recreations of Rene Gruau illustrations, one of which sits on my fireplace. His simple lines with splashes of bold colour work perfectly in fabric and stitch.
There is something freeing and meditative about drawing with a sewing machine; sometimes I’ll lift my head and half an hour has gone past in a flash. I’ve always preferred it to drawing with pencils and pens. Once I’m in the zone, it’s hard to snap myself out of it, so except for afternoon walks with Ringo, I’ll work like this until the day is over, and head home.
Dinner will be some sort of vegan concoction; I love cooking and always try to make it healthy. Although I do love pizza… And pasta… And burgers…
I’m quite bad at making myself go to bed, it’s like I haven’t grown up- bedtime is boring! Or maybe I just don’t like the day to end. However, when I’m struggling to keep my eyes open any longer, I give in… that’s if there’s any room left for me in the bed!