Thursday, 20 August 2009

This week we are talking to textile artist Claire Finch whose on-line business is Blue Stripes.

"I have always had some sort of creative ability but never really explored it past necessities such as taking up curtains or mending things. After my Mum died in January I needed something to occupy me and help me through my grieving. As we had not long moved to our new house I was decorating my girls’ bedrooms and as we had found a sewing machine in a charity shop I decided to make them some window cushions. These turned into 3 different beautiful patchwork cushions and three pretty cushions with 3D hearts appliqu├ęd on. I was quite thrilled with what I had made and then experimented with making them some bunting, some padded hearts and some teddies for them too! My mother-in-law suggested I designed and made some bags and with a few pointers from her I was off. We did have to upgrade the sewing machine though…Finding this hidden skill at this hard time in my life has helped me so much. I just wish my Mum had been here to see me do it, especially as she was so creative herself and would have joined me. So if you own one of my items it has a lot of emotion in it!

I love cottons, linens and denim. Of course I also have a fetish for buttons….
As the busy mother of two children my life is very hectic! I end up sewing before they are up, after they have gone to school and in between doing the housework and washing the amazing quantity of clothing they seem to get through in a day. Then if I’m being really productive I will sew for a little bit in the evening. I am very lucky to have a very supportive partner who is always kind and doesn’t mind going shopping for more fabric. My girls are amazing too. My eldest, Connie, has a fantastic eye for colour and I have her involved with my work quite often-be it that she decides on a button for me or that she is sat next to me sewing her own things, she just loves it. Sophie, my youngest is always amazed and quite often says to me,’did you make it Mummy?’

Cornwall is beautiful and my home. I hated it when we moved away from here to Norfolk- it was positively the worst thing I had ever done and I pined for the rugged landscape and beautiful yellow coastlines. As soon as we returned both my partner and I were happy again. The only other place I have come across that is as beautiful was when we went to the Isle of Arran in Scotland. There is something about Cornwall that gets under your skin and holds you captivated. Cornwall also has some of the best foods available- pasties, clotted cream and heavenly fudge. Cornwall has never really been an affluent area so I often have in my life here found people who can make do and mend and who can also be self-sufficient with their veggie gardens and cottage industry. I think the economic climate has caused a fair few problems though. House prices have dropped and people are selling, but not many people can afford their own home here still.
The rural community that I am part of though are strong and we even have a bit of trade going on-James and I are quite good at trading jams, cakes and bags for haircuts, grass cutting and a good pint and a half! I think if that sort of help stays then people can weather the storm. We just find it hard when the car decides to break down…

When I think of my business in 5 years time I have a lot to consider, such as how long will the economic downturn last? When it passes will everyone be desperate to spend their hard earned cash on throw away society items again and ignore handmade? But my real focus is to strive to design and create more things, to find my feet within my creative skills too (as I have only been designing and making for 3 months!) and really go for it. I have a lot of work to do but I do perceive, based on the success I have already had in such a short space of time, that I will still have a business and that it will have increased in strength and presence alongside other crafters, artists and designers who deserve recognition for not mass producing.
I love handmade and always try to support it as often as I can. When you support handmade in your local area you are supporting your local community and their growth and success. If we keep supporting our local crafts-people their success will be our success and the quality of goods we use will improve. Support Local, Support Handmade!
Blue Stripes

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