I really must apologise to Annie and Maggie of Mosaic Tree, I have had this article in my draft folder for quite a while now and I forgot all about it. I am so, so sorry.
Please read more about these two lovely ladies, who make a glorious array of colourful inspired handmade accessories and gifts.
Tell us a bit about your background and your business?
Mosaic Tree is the home of handcrafted accessories – for you and your home. Most items are knitted, lots are decorated with wooden beads and all are inspired by colour. I’m Annie and the needles behind the outfit, Maggie is my co-partner in craft.
The knitting started one Christmas when I was at a loose end and came across a junior knitting book, a child sized pair of needles and some decidedly dodgy coloured wool. Mosaic Tree grew from there – online Folksy shop and local craft fairs around the Somerset area where we’re based.
Tell us about what you make and what training and qualifications you have or needed?
Mosaic Tree has some in-house creations which are always popular – gadget covers (iPod, mobile), necklaces and spiral brooches – knitted with wooden bead detail, wooden beaded bracelet watches and hairbands/ear bands with spiral detail. New this season are the mini hot water bottle covers (mini hot water bottle included). In the pipeline are sunglasses cases – this may be a joint project with my mum!
Every item is unique, beautifully handmade, and created from a selection of cotton yarn, silk sari yarn, vintage buttons and wooden beads. Customers feel like they’re in a sweet shop when they stumble upon Mosaic Tree’s shop window on-line or in real life.
No training or qualifications needed for this one – just a serious attachment to perfectionism and oodles of patience – particularly when developing a new design. And an ability to ferret out you tube videos showing ‘how to’ when trying new things, and befriending experienced knitters so that I can pick their brains!
Where do you sell/exhibit your work?
Mosaic Tree Folksy shop (www.folksy.com/shops/mosaictree) was the first foray into the world of online shopping. Further down the Cyberspace High Street, Mosaic Tree now has a stall at love-somerset.co.uk, buying and selling locally produced goods is a topic close to my heart so it’s positive to be part of this.
I attend a bi-monthly local produce and craft market at Wookey Church Hall. Doing one craft fair regularly is a good way to build a rapport with customers who look forward to you being there and enjoy a chat and catch up. It’s fun as well as there’s camaraderie between the stall holders. We’re growing Mosaic Tree slowly – the main thing is to enjoy all aspects of the crafting – and building up craft fairs that we enjoy are part of it. It takes time to find what markets work – and what doesn’t.
Mosaic Tree products are currently stocked in two shops – Red House Gifts (www.redhousegifts.co.uk) in Totnes, Devon and Padma in Glastonbury.
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?
The most challenging piece to date has been developing the design for the mini hot water bottle covers. I worked from a pattern for a full size one and then had to work out how to translate this into a mini version! The biggest problem was working out the best place to do the opening (an early prototype had a side opening but I’ve now settled on an opening at the bottom with a flap and 3 button fastening. This has been incorporated into the design). The inspiration for these came from Maggie challenging me to try to make them!
One of my most fun items has been the Mosaic Tree wooden beaded bracelet watch. I had seen something similar in a shop but realised that I had a much wider choice of beads at home already in my craft store. Ebay came up with the watch faces and it was then just a question of experimenting with the best way to make them. Readers can have a go at this themselves with the step by step instructions on the Mosaic Tree blog (http://mosaictree.blogspot.co.uk/2012/01/how-to-make-wooden-beaded-watch.html).
Sometimes it is other stallholders who come up with the best suggestions. A neighbouring stall holder mentioned how she loved knitted hairbands and she thought that they’d go down a treat as part of Mosaic Tree’s repertoire. And how right she was! I developed a design in ribbed knit so that they’re stretchy. The joy is that they can fit all size heads as the pattern has a series of natural holes which are ideal as buttonholes.
Where do you find your creative inspiration?
Colourful yarns always inspire me – a woolshop or an online shop will get my creative juices flowing (ethniccrafts.co.uk is a favourite haunt). Colour combinations work too – nature, a photo of a featured room in a home and gardens magazine etc. When working on a new design, I often start with a basic pattern and then rework it to become a Mosaic Tree original.
What motivates you?
My motivation is the fact that I spent too many years ignoring my creative side. The personal satisfaction and pride in creating something is very special. Plus it has made present giving easier the last couple of years!
What piece of equipment could you not live without or which is your favourite?
Knitting needles – I’d be scuppered without them!
What are your goals/plans for the future?
We’re exploring working with new materials – fimo clay is the latest. I’d like to master the sewing machine; I have one in the loft waiting for me to get to grips with it. I think a whole new world will open up then using both knitting and sewing techniques.
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?
For me, it’s about enjoying Mosaic Tree and working out its niche – not to have unrealistic expectations. And advice to others? Check out your craft fairs before signing up to have a stall at one – it’s the best way to gauge if it’ll work for you.
Where can we find you? (Contact details etc)
twitter – @mosaictree
email – firstname.lastname@example.org