I first became aware of Sandra’s work when she sent us some photographs of her sculptures to be included in our Christmas Showcase. Her handmade sculptures really stood out as being special and unique and straight away I wanted to know more about Sandra, her work and how she finds her inspiration. So I was very pleased when she agreed to be featured in our blog, I hope you find this equally interesting and inspiring.
What is your background and business?
My name is Sandra, my business name is Sandra June Originals.
I was born a Lancashire Lassie and still reside in the Preston area. Although I can no longer be called a lassie, as I am retired, I am still very energetically involved in my new business/hobby of Fabric Sculpture. In fact my husband tells everyone that he never sees me as I spend all my time in my attic den, sculpting. I just wish this had been around when I was younger but it wasn’t so I will make the most I can of it, now. I have always been good with my hands and love to make things. In the evenings when I am not sculpting, and while watching TV, I relax by knitting wire jewellery bracelets, necklaces or sometimes I crochet them as I cannot sculpt in front of the TV, as it is too messy.
How did your interest start in sculpture?
Well, that was when I saw an amazing sculpture of a Victorian Lady with a parasol on the internet, it said it was made out of a bottle, wire, and t-shirt cotton. I did not believe it. I kept going back for another look. I bought the paste to try to see what I could do with it. It took me about eight weeks to get up the courage to try it. I had always wanted to try sculpture but thought metal, stone or wood would be too strenuous, when I saw this method I was hooked. I made a model of a baby then binned it. The paste I had was not right, some more research and I found a better one. I tried a reclining lady on a stone. It was greatly admired. So I did another. That was it. I practiced for about 12 months and last year I started attending craft fairs and selling on the internet.
Tell us about what you make and what training and qualifications you have or needed?
I produce a range of hard fabric sculptures for the garden and home. These are able to resist rain and frost and can stay outside all year round. They are made of natural fibres, wool, cotton, silk etc. Basically this is immersed in an eco-friendly resin type paste and wound around an armature (wire model) and the top clothing is carefully arranged over this. Finished with further accessories and layers of paint and varnish as required. I can use recycled materials in my sculptures and I like to think that by up-cycling I am preventing it going to the tip, things like old wood bases reused as unique stands are good.
My qualifications are in Computer Technology and Teacher training which are of no use to me in sculpture. I have had no formal training in art or sculpture but did paint for a while when I first retired so that helps with the finishing touches. I am totally self-taught in this very new form of sculpture. I have two books on the subject, enough to get started. No qualifications are needed to do this but if you want to train others you can become a qualified and certified trainer by taking a course.
Where do you find your creative inspiration?
It comes from everyday life, it could be as simple as seeing two colours in a jumper someone is wearing on TV and I think those tone together well, I can use those on my next work. Or the position someone takes when lifting a child or in everyday movements people make. I am always there watching for ideas, it is always in the back of your mind. I trawl the ‘net’ for more exacting details, for example: what style of hat matches the 1860’s style dress I am designing.
And how do you keep yourself motivated?
I find this difficult at times as the artistic and creative streak seems to disappear and needs a rest at times. I do wonder if others have the same problem and it would be interesting to know. I usually take time out for a couple of weeks and do no work on them. I may do something else creative, last time I started making knitted wire jewellery. After this imposed rest, I suddenly have loads of ideas and I am filled with enthusiasm again and I start on four or five sculptures, I usually have a few going at once because of the long drying and curing times involved.
Where do you sell/exhibit your work?
I have two shops on the internet for my sculptures, one in Folksy and one in Etsy and am a member of Chorley Contemporary Art and Craft Group and attend the fairs they organise which is about four a year. I am currently preparing for a craft fair in four days time (see pic of my back bedroom where I am able to spread out my sculptures and am currently sorting what I take). I do not currently attend other craft fairs but may do so in the future. I also have some sculptures in our local bead shop ‘Beads Forever’ and some are on display in ‘The Bridge Gallery in Bedale, North Yorkshire.
Tell us about some of your favourite pieces?
The problem with favourite pieces is the one you just made is usually your favourite and you don’t want to sell them. So I do have a few that I am not ready to part with.
‘Going to the Shops’This is one of the first I made she is an outdoor sculpture but lives in my conservatory. She is about 40″ high and firmly attached to a paving stone and finished in a bronze finish with gilt highlights. She is made from a fine cotton layered skirt that was in fashion about 5 years ago.