I’d like to introduce Wendy to you, from FatBunny Designs, who kindly agreed via the Folksy Forum to be one of our Featured Crafters. I am so glad she did as I would never have discovered yet another fantastic crafter who makes such a lovely variety of handmade items (and the bunny is so cute!).
Tell us a bit about your background and your business?
As a child I was always making something, I did some quilling and made polymer clay animals, my grandma taught me to knit and I’d make little animals or characters. Fast forward a decade or so, I’d come back from living in Poland and wanted something to do with my evenings besides watch TV. I bought a pack of card blanks and some embellishments and it went from there. I made cards for 5 or 6 years, then I got married in 2010. After the wedding (for which I made all my own stationery of course!) I was itching to try something else. I bought a knitting book and had another go, then I did a cross stitch kit. One thing led to another and before I knew it I was addicted to sewing, embroidery, crochet and making jewellery, not to mention applique, hardanger, cross stitch, crewel, felting and whatever else takes my creative fancy. I got married in April and started my blog in August. I decided to call it The Crafter’s Apprentice as I felt like I was new to all crafts and learning from others around me online – blogs mainly.
Friends would ask me if they could buy things from me and I decided to have a go at selling online. I mentioned it to my mum who had recently started knitting and couldn’t stop. We decided to set up the shop together and FatBunny Designs was born. I work from home in Nottingham after my full-time job ends each day and at the weekends. I’m lucky enough to have an entire bedroom as my craft room, but that doesn’t mean a lot of my stash hasn’t migrated downstairs to the living room!
Tell us about what you make and what training and qualifications you have or need and where you sell/exhibit your work?
I make anything and everything. In my Folksy shop at the moment are home-wares such as coasters, crocheted baby bear hats, jewellery, lavender sachets and small odds and ends. I haven’t had any formal training, but I’ve been on plenty of one day courses to learn skills such as crochet, nuno felting, bead-weaving and stained glass. This week I start a 10-week glass course which I’m very excited about. Back in my card-making days, I did two craft fairs. Both were badly attended and I sold a total of about 6 cards. That, along with the terrible attitude of some of the stall holders towards what they saw as a non-craft, has put me off craft fairs. I wonder if it’s time to give it another shot?
Tell us about some of your favourite or most challenging pieces and what inspired you to make them, is there a story behind each piece?
Crystal flowers – I love this necklace and matching bracelet. It was the first time I’d tried twisted wire and I enjoyed every single wrist flick. It’s not my design, it’s from a book but I think the finished pieces are beautiful.
Hardanger – this heart was challenging to make as it was my first time doing Hardanger. It’s a technique I really love, but the cutting leaves my heart in my mouth.
Owl – I’m particularly proud of this as it’s my first own-design softie. I’d made some rabbits (as in my blog logo) from a pattern, then my sister-in-law asked me for an owl in the same style. I made him up myself and think he’s really cute.
Quilt – This is my first ever quilt, made for my brand-new nephew. I found the pattern on Moda Bake Shop and decided it was perfect for the Sunkissed charm squares I had. I machine quilted the grey and then hand quilted in each and every square, before sewing the binding on by hand. Binding is still a massive challenge for me, particularly joining the beginning and end! I first tried quilting with the rainbow place-mats, they were a real challenge and were my own design.
Phoebe bag – I love to make bags and I think this is my favourite so far. I haven’t had time for much bag making recently, with other commitments, but I want to get back to it soon and have loads of ideas.
Where do you find your creative inspiration?
I’m a massive fan of the online community, I love to read blogs and I write my own regularly. Having no crafty “real life” friends at all, I find I get my fix from my online friends. I’m also more than slightly addicted to Pinterest! Having said that, most of my inspiration comes from the materials in front of me, I start out by finding something I want to use – a piece of fabric, a bead, and the project develops itself.
What motivates you?
I don’t think it’s a question of motivation, it’s more just something that I have to do. Each evening I get home late from work and after dinner I flop on the sofa with my husband. It’s unthinkable to just watch TV, I have to be doing something with my hands. Weekends are me time and that generally means sewing machine time, sewing up the things I’ve been dreaming of all week. It’s a compulsion.
What piece of equipment could you not live without or which is your favourite and why?
Without a doubt, my sewing machine. Although I do a large variety of crafts, I love to sew the most. Having said that, most weekends there comes a time when I’m about ready to throw it out of the window as it can be very badly behaved!
What are your goals/plans for the future?
My pie-in-the-sky, unobtainable goal is to make money from craft, enough to not have a day job. As that’s never going to happen, I just want to keep on learning. I have a page on my blog where I’m trying to make a list of every single craft out there and then I’m attempting to try them all! It’s a lifelong mission rather than a quick challenge! I’d appreciate any suggestions for anything I’ve missed: http://thecraftersapprentice.blogspot.co.uk/p/challenges-for-2011.html
When you first started if you could have been given one piece of advice what would it have been and what advice would you pass on?
I don’t know. There’s not much that I regret, I enjoy the mistakes as much as the successes – OK, so that’s not strictly true, but if I hadn’t made those mistakes, I perhaps wouldn’t have seen how a technique actually works. My advice? Try everything once. Who knows? It might become your passion, and don’t give in to “I can’t do it!” or “it’s too hard for me”, it’s not!
Where can we find you? (Contact details etc)
I blog over at http://thecraftersapprentice.blogspot.com. My shop is found at www.folksy.com/shops/fatbunnydesigns. I tend to keep the two separate and don’t really talk much about my shop on my blog, I can’t stand blogs that are one big advert, though I appreciate that people wish to make use of their blog as a marketing platform.