It is now a year since I moved into my tiny studio at Victoria Works and what an incredible year it has been! I moved out of my blue shed/garden studio a little reluctantly it has to be said – safe and quietly off the beaten track, the ‘go-to’ Mum at school for presents, cards and school play costumes! I was becoming way too settled in my comfort zone and my confidence was somewhat lacking.
I didn’t go back to my previous job after my children were born, I decided instead to be a stay at home Mum and fit designing and making in around them. Gradually I made myself a little business and sold my bits and pieces first at Stroud Farmers’ Market and then at the Made In Stroud shop. Friends encouraged me to sell online, so I set up a shop on Folksy.com and started a blog.
Often, I was approached at the market and asked if I taught lino print workshops, I had enough interest to start running printing sessions around my dining room table for 4 or 5 people. The Farmers’ Market was a great place to meet new people and indeed this is where I met Kate Holloway of Waterlane Workshops who invited me to join her little team and teach lino printing for beginners in her beautiful Selsley barn. All this new enthusiasm for my work really boosted my confidence and made me decide to stick at it. Although my business growth is organic and somewhat slow, it has been perfect for family life and now my children are at secondary school I am in a great position to begin expanding and producing more work.
The slow progress over the last 5 years or so has taken me through quite a few different styles and media, from appliqued cushions, bunting and lino printed tea towels. It has allowed me the time to discover what I am about and what I really want to focus on – although my work continues to evolve, I am now fairly sure I am going back to the beginning and concentrating on Textile Design and printed fabric. The words of one of my tutors at Art college stick in my head ‘You HAVE to do print design!’ she was right and I did indeed follow that up with a degree in Textile Design in 1998, all these years and lots of life later I finally feel like I am on the right track!
So here I am a year after moving into Victoria Works, designing and hand printing fabrics and homewares, still using lino cutting as the basis of my work and developing them for screen prints. Also teaching lino printing workshops in the amazing teaching space here and still working with Kate at Waterlane Workshops too. I am constantly amazed at what my students can achieve in a day, and I always find the workshops inspiring and rewarding. My network continues to grow and I have met some really interesting (and helpful!) people along the way, I wonder what the next 12 months will bring?!