I started creating at a very young age. My brother and I would often spend hours at the kitchen table drawing and colouring together. Our parents would take us on holidays all around the UK, and I fondly remember one Easter break sitting in the grass drawing cowslips in the field where we were camping.
I also loved to make models out of cardboard and Sellotape. I distinctly recall making my own cashier’s till out of a cereal box. Such avid creativity would then develop into constructing a post office, where I would make pretend stamps and envelopes. I guess you could say I’ve always been a stationery nerd.
It was my mum who influenced my creative path from a young age. She used to make greetings cards and sell them at local craft fairs. I regularly went with her as her ‘helper’. When I got a bit older, I started making my own cards to sell at the stall.
My mum also liked to attend workshops to learn new skills. Afterward, she would teach me what she had learnt that day, and we would experiment together in the kitchen during the evening. Our house always had an abundance of craft supplies, so I was continuously tinkering with something.
I set up my business as a maker in 2017 and took the plunge by setting up an Etsy shop and an Instagram page. Instagram, in particular, has always been a great platform to share my makes. The first things I started to make were small fabric Easter decorations such as bunnies and geese. I am passionate about home décor; so making seasonal decorations seemed like the best starting point for me.
Create to keep a happy mind
I am self-taught with a sewing machine. There’s such an abundance of tutorials online now that I just Google what I want to complete my vision. I quickly progressed with my sewing machine skills and began incorporating my vintage finds into my work. I particularly love the idea of giving something old a new lease on life and enjoy sourcing the old materials I sew with at antique fairs. Looking at how things used to be made just inspires me.
I have quite a large collection of vintage haberdashery items, which I like to display in my studio. One particular favourite is my vintage Stockman mannequin—the tattered frayed edges are just full of character. It’s true what they say ‘They don’t make things like they used to’ (as I sit here glancing over at pieces of vintage French clothing displayed in my studio); they are so elegant in design and tailored to perfection.
I have incorporated my love of vintage finds into my storage in the studio. Loaf tins house a collection of button cards; fabric boudoir boxes hold my threads; baking trays and individual tart cases hold buttons and pearls, and glass vials hold tiny beads and bells.
KEY TO CREATIVITY
My favourite item would have to be a keyring I had made for the studio keys. It is a vintage spoon, which has been flattened and then handstamped. It represents my whole ethos of repurposing old items.
I recently made a studio pinboard with a vintage twist—a cheap corkboard, which I then covered with a vintage French grain sack. I love the original faded writing and rust spots on the grain sack that adds so much character to the finished pinboard. My pinboard is where I display inspirational snippets such as business cards from like-minded artists, vintage packaging labels, the odd piece of lace that is too delicate to create with, vintage postcards, brooches and handwritten French ephemera.
I am a very visual person, so having things displayed and materials on show for easy access really helps my creative flow.
My business plan is constantly changing paths to account for new ideas and new learned skills, but my main ethos will always remain the same, ‘Create to keep a happy mind’. Finding the balance of making for pleasure, as well as, a small business can be quite challenging. If I don’t enjoy the process, then I believe my work will reflect this. I never put something out there that I am not passionate about. I believe that if you share something that truly excites you, people will resonate with your product more.
‘Creative isn’t the way I think, it’s the way I like to Live’
— Paul Sandip