Ivy’s Table features on the inside cover of this seasons
IWMN Spring Showcase - her most recent work features
beautiful textile characters and she tells us how she brings
Mrs Elizabeth Night Night and Captain Bookend to life…
Could you sum up last year and what’s been your ‘stand out’ moment… I threw myself into 2012, did a lot of work and met a lot of great people . My highlights were joining the Undecided Arts Collective, being chosen to participate in Pedlars, going to visit Renegade in London and getting my act together with my blog, IWMN page and Etsy shop. The ‘stand out’ moment weirdly was my bad day at Brickfields and swearing on my blog. I didn’t feel great about it, but ironically my stats went through the roof, I guess people could relate to having a bad day. It did made me analyse what I do and make myself a promise for the future. Since then I feel much better.
Could you tell me if Ivy is a person…Yes, Ivy was my Nan, she passed away several years ago and she was beautiful. She didn’t say a great deal but whatever she did say were always very well chosen words. She gained a diploma in English when she was in her 60s and wrote and produced poetry books. My business is called Ivy’s Table because I work at the old dining table we used to sit around when I was growing up, I have a lot of fond memories of those times.
What do you think to the creative scene on the Island and what would make it better (if anything)… The Island stores a wealth of talent, there are some truly awesome craftspeople and artists here. Things are very different now to the craft scene I grew up with on the Island in the 80′s. It’s so much easier now for people to take up a new craft without it costing huge amounts of money, a vast array of supplies can be bought from anywhere in the world thanks to the Internet, which really helps Islanders. I think this gives us more of a creative scope, so much more inspiration can also be gained. I would say the great thing about the creative scene on the Island is events like Pedlars, where you know you are going to see and buy some of the best beautifully innovative crafts, and of shops selling locally produced goods. Galleries such as Quay Arts and UAC events also support local artists and craftisans. Isle of Wight Makers Network has also acted as a great link to lots of events, talks and information that I have found really useful. The craft scene is definitely moving in the right direction on the Island. Something I do want to perfect myself is packaging and creating a brand. It’s a lot harder than it sounds but the more well recognised crafters seem to have this aspect well and truly nailed. I’m still on it.
Hand or machine sewing… BOTH! And add more skills to the pot, weave, knit, make buttons, research the internet , read books, go to galleries.
What’s your typical day and how do you juggle work / family / making… On a work day I come home, have dinner, put the kids to bed and then start working at about 9pm, which either leaves me working until the early hours and burning the candle at both ends (when that 2nd wind kicks in at 11pm it can be hard to walk away from something you are genuinely enjoying making) OR leaves you on Facebook for the evening cursing why I’m wasting my time looking at what someone’s had for dinner, whereas what I should do is forget Facebook and catch up with some sleep. On a non-work day we get the kids off to school and then work on a project. Non work days are my most creatively productive times because I get quality quiet time. Weekends are taken up with the boys, but I always have a hand sewing tin that I can carry about with me so that I can continue working if I get the chance. Perfect times are all of us sitting around the table, making / drawing or playing a game, or going for a brisk walk along the beach. The Island is great for being outdoors.
What’s your favourite piece of advice you’ve been given / found (for your making)…Take your time in learning a new skill, nothing happens overnight and don’t punish yourself if it doesn’t look right the first time. Learn from it and be kind to yourself for trying to create it in the first place.
What’s your favourite magazine or blog… Craftzine is great, and I really like the Etsy blog ‘quit your day job’ , and Burda Style (I study patterns). I buy a lot of books and study and make patterns. I also adore japanese craft books and there are many makers and artists who inspire me. I’ve a huge list of books I want to buy.
What is your favourite material you own and how big is your stash… I own a piece of beautiful vintage Jonelle fabric by John Lewis called Daisy Walk. I used some of it on a handbag and I get a lot of remarks about it, it’s of 70s houses in primary colours, sounds garish but it’s perfect! I have cut back on printed fabric spending recently though, mainly because my recent projects are lending themselves to a more textured and hand embroidered look. I really do want to get back into screen printing my own fabric again! The stash is substantial but I’m more realistic these days about what I will use so some of it goes to friends and some of it to the local school for their sewing classes.
What do you love best about living on the Island… I’d have to say I love being by the sea, and I do really feel part of living in Ventnor now, I have lots of friends here.
What did you want to be when you grew up? (I always thought I’d bean air hostess when I grew up)… I really wanted to make clothes but I felt I had failed when I tried to make a dress for my barbie doll and I gave up. Then I wanted to be in the Red Arrows, but my Mum said that to be a pilot you have to be able to hear in both ears (I am deaf in my right ear) so I felt quite thwarted by that because I really wanted to learn to fly. My Dad wanted me to work in a building society (instantly rebuked) and my Mum sadly told me that I could never make any money from making anything , so actually I never felt I was clued up to make any career choices. I did use to love my usherette job though, at the Screen De Luxe cinema at Lake, and I was the one whose idea it was to do the puppet shows when the ice cream adverts were on. I don’t think I was ever given any solid careers guidance so I just went for jobs for the sake of having a job and to pay the rent , just as most people do. It took years of bravery for me to get back into sewing, and now I’ve been doing it for almost seven years I feel I should have been doing this all my life. I’ve learnt a lot though, and I am very conscious to explain different types of jobs to my children and recognise their skills so that when the time comes for them to make exam decisions I can hopefully help them as much as I can.
What direction are you heading in now… Right now I’m bringing characters to life that have been created by my fiancé Chris Jones (Chemical Gdns) and my sons, it’s really exciting to throw lots of different skills together into one project and that each project is different to the next. Chris creates amazingly curious characters, I’ve always really admired his drawing and imagination and it’s great to be working with him again. I’d really like to continue working within the UAC this year, I have a few projects I would like to do in conjunction with Ventnor Fringe and the Lantern Parade. I am also going to do some teaching this year. Definitely.