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Saturday, August 2, 2008

Getting to know you - Solveig Petch

This weekend has started off rather well, it has cooled down! And it's getting even better with another inspiring interview. With Solveig of Made by Petchy, who makes some very cool things and writes a cool blog about those cool things. Well, she's just cool. And she lives in Norway, a fellow Scandinavian, hooray! Anyway, here's the interview - and we're off to see if Tony's sister and bro-in-law are surviving Nephew's birthday party (37 crazy 4-5 year olds!).

Your name
Solveig Petch (Petchy) :: blog ::

Where in the world are you?
I lived in the UK for the past 8 years, but in December 2007 I returned to my "home" country: Norway. I still miss the UK and all my friends though. And Leicester Market with its fabulous fabric stalls... not to mention the craft shops where I could get pretty much whatever I wanted whenever I wanted it!

Briefly describe yourself and what you make
I'm a graphic designer, self confessed fabric-a-holic, retro furniture hoarder, aspiring amateur photographer, craft- and sewing addict – and Mamma to the best little boy in the world! Since the arrival of my son in 2006 my crafting has been very much centered around making things for/with him. I like to dress him in clothes you can't find in the chain stores – so I often make them myself. I'm also addicted to handbags and have sewn a fair few of those in my life to feed my addiction! Lately I have started crafting and sewing more for myself again too, as well as doing up pieces of retro furniture (I seem to have bought a few chairs too many though, and now have three waiting to be reupholstered!) Being a graphic designer, I also have a dream of designing my own range of fabrics one day – but for now I drool over fabrics designed by others. Bold and rich jewel colours and funky/retro/vintage patterns are my favourites – they are a constant source of inspiration for me.

Who or what inspires you?
I love browsing craft blogs online – thank goodness for RSS feeds or I would never keep up with them all. And my favourites list is STILL growing – I find new blogs that excite me every day! I have to have my daily fix of Design*Sponge though. Oh and Etsy... I love browsing Etsy!

In real life... My mum and my sister are both amazingly talented crafters. Where I sometimes cheat if I can get away with it, they are both very good and don't often resort to shortcuts – I wish I was patient enough for that! My good friend Jayne never ceases to amaze me with her wonderful creations and she has a fabric stash to die for! We have only met twice in real life, but we seem to have a constant Wi-Fi going on, as quite often we end up making the same things at the same time without even knowing!

I also get inspired by things I see in my everyday life, colours, textures, graphic design, found typography... I often find I notice little things around me that others don't: maybe some peeling paint or the shape of a leaf – things like that.

When / how did you learn?
My mum is a very talented seamstress and knitter, and when my sister and I were younger she made lots of pretty outfits for us. I can't even remember when I started to be interested in making things myself – but I do remember having a functioning pink toy sewing machine as a little girl. And when I was old enough to be let loose with my Mum's sewing machine I could sit for hours on end making little outfits for my Barbie dolls. I also had a little wooden handloom that I would make little "rugs" on. I was always very into drawing too, portraits (completely random and made up) and horses were my favourite subjects back then. I used to hate knitting, I was put off for life by uninspiring projects and poor quality materials at school. But in recent years I have started to enjoy knitting again, learning the basics from tutorials online etc. I am still a novice and knit very slowly, and since I am all for instant gratification I often get bored with a knitting project before it is even completed... I hope that I will never stop learning – there are still so many crafts out there that I haven't tried but would LOVE to have a go at. Right now I really want to try Gocco'ing or screenprinting!

Why do you 'bother' to make things by hand?
Crafting is my therapy, it keeps me sane. When I sit down in front of my sewing machine – that's my "ME-time", a time when I can relax and chill. I work full time and also have a very busy toddler to keep up with, so those moments where I can sit down and craft are invaluable. There is just something so satisfying about making something unique, something that it's obvious it wasn't mass produced by machines or in some sweatshop in the third world. I take pride in making things myself, with my own two hands.

What is your craft "philosophy"?
I'm not sure I have one. I just craft because it makes me happy! And I hope that what I make can spread some of that happiness too – and maybe even inspire someone?

Fondest craft-related memory?
For some reason I can't think of one. I wonder if that is because crafting was just always THERE, a part of my everyday life, and that possibly that's why I find it hard to single out specific memories?

Can you reveal a little about your creative process?
At work as a graphic designer I have a more structured approach to the creative process – for me good design has to hit the right audience in the right way, so I always make sure I have done my homework and that what I create is appropriate for the client and the context – even if that means designing something that isn't to my personal taste. That's possibly the reason why I have a much more whimsical approach in the stuff I make in my spare time – it then becomes more about having fun and creating something I can inject my personality into. My crafting style is very much "winging" it; making things up as I go along and have fun seeing what things end up like - and enjoying the process as much as the finished result.

How do you deal with crafty mistakes?
Umm.. I try my best to wing it and turn them into something good, rather than seeing them as mistakes. Sometimes things get beyond the point of rescuing though, and what I hate most about that is wasting fabric. In those cases I just rescue what I can of the fabric and it goes to live in my ever-growing remnant box.

Favourite book(s) or craftbook(s)?
I love Soule Mama's book "The Creative Family: How to Encourage Imagination and Nurture Family Connections" – it always stays out on my coffee table to remind me to include little creative pleasures in our everyday life. I found "How to be a graphic designer without losing your soul" by Adrian Shaughnessy and Stefan Sagmeister a great read too. I like reading design magazines such as Creative Review to keep up to date with what's happening in my field (graphic design), and I adore interior design magazines – I somehow find them really inspiring even if it's not "my" field.

Do you have a designated craft space? What does it mean to you?
Yes, and I love it! When I moved into this flat earlier in the year I instantly claimed a good sized hallway between the kitchen and bathroom as my craft space. I rescued an old cabinet from the neighbours' skip a few months back and it is perfect for my craft bits, fabrics and sewing machine. Having a room where I can keep all my messy projects out of the way (pretty much – although anyone going to the bathroom must first force their way through heaps of fabrics etc) and have it all there and already set up when I feel the need to create.

Do you use a sketchbook or journal?
Yes, although I need to get better at that. If I have a crafty idea in my head I'll quite often jot it down in my sketch book – but I want to focus more on sketching and drawing for the sake of it too. I used to draw a lot, and in an attempt to rediscover my drawing skills I have set myself a challenge of "a drawing a day" – sadly it's not going to plan, so I need to be stricter with myself on that one!

Why is crafting good for you?
Three words: Crafting is therapy!

Is your craft a business as well? Any advice on running a crafty business?
At the moment – No. I used to make Mei Tai baby carriers for sale, but I found that sewing for money took all the fun out of it and turned my favourite hobby into a chore. So I gave that up after a while since the financial rewards didn't measure up to the effort involved. I still make Mei Tais and other baby carriers for myself and to give away as gifts though!

What impact (if any) has the internet had on your craft?
It's had a massive impact. "Meeting" other crafters online and "showing off" my projects on my blog has added another dimension to my work, and as my number of blog readers increases I get spurred on to making something new to post about more often than I perhaps would otherwise. To get comments on my work from complete strangers, and to think that maybe I have actually been a source of inspiration to others – it totally rocks my boat. It's a huge confidence booster too!

Do you make art or craft? Is there a difference?
Mainly my work is craft. To me, craft is something usable, made with a purpose. Whereas art, I see more as something made to provoke thoughts or reactions, or to look nice but to not necessarily have an actual use. I think there is a fine line, and a diffuse one too, between the craft and art – and that sometimes items can fall within both categories, depending on the eye of the beholder.

If you could make any project without limits to cost, materials or even skill, what would it be?
Right now, I'd LOVE to be skilled enough to make my best friend's dress for her wedding next year. I love her to pieces, and would be thrilled if I could make her the dress of her dreams for her big day. But that is really a job for the professionals, so I shall leave it at the thought!

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