Getting to know you – Viv of Hensteeth

Hello, hello, it’s Saturday and time for another interview.

I ‘found’ Viv through the Flickr Embroidery pool and did a mini interview with her for the Feeling Stitchy blog. But, as you’ll see, her work is so lovely and interesting, I had to know more! This is what she has to say:

Your name
Viv :: website :: blog :: shop ::

Where in the world are you?
Staffordshire, UK

Briefly describe yourself and what you make
The word obsessed is used frequently when it comes to people who make, but it applies to me. I am truly obsessed with collecting the discarded and working to find the beauty within. I have a wonderful indulgent husband and two great girls 20 and 17. The 17 year old is taking an Art Course at the College where I work, which is really lovely and I try not to embarrass her, well perhaps a little bit.
I make a varied collection of this and that, wherever the inspiration takes me, I am not a planner. Huglies(c) being my art dolls, all from recycled materials. Mixed media/collaged embroideries and greetings cards to name a few.

Who or what inspires you?
Apart from the obvious ~ found ephemera and charity shop finds, I think it’s shapes that inspire me i.e. the shape of birds, the shape of flowers, the shape of architecture and landscape, clouds and a skyline. When I draw it’s usually just line. I’ve only just discovered this! The artist that inspires me is the UK mixed media artist Jayne Lennard…..exquisite work. (I don’t think she has a designated website).

When / how did you learn?
I have always drawn, it was the only thing I was ‘good’ at at school. As I have grown older I have been very fortunate to have been able to have taken a City and Guilds in Embroidery Part I and II. A foundation in Art and Design and an HND in Illustration.

Why do you ‘bother’ to make things by hand?
I have to, it’s a physical and emotional need to create. The joy of looking at life, feeling inspired and then actually creating something from nothing is such a great feeling, makes me a better person.

What is your craft ”philosophy”?
I like to use the unused and unwanted in my work. Ephemera particularly, it’s the story an old letter or ledger could tell, I find particularly interesting and then working these items into something new and decorative to give pleasure is very rewarding.
Fondest craft-related memory? When I finished my HND in Illustration course in 2000, I had made greetings cards for my final major project and took them to the local Gallery, who sold them. This in turn led to an Agent contacting me to ask if he could sell them for me on a commission basis. This is my fondest craft memory as from here I was self employed for five years and supplied Liberty and Selfridge’s!

Can you reveal a little about your creative process?
I don’t have a process. I never work anything out, I haven’t the patience. If it doesn’t work straight off….too bad. I tend to go at things like a bull at a gate, and in all aspects of my life too! The website I used when I was self employed was

How do you deal with crafty mistakes?
Cut them up to make something else.

Favourite book(s) or craftbook(s)?
All books by Lynne Perrella, Zakka books (although I could never work out the instructions, not clever enough), charity shop finds i.e. old bird, gardening and cookery books. Inspirational!

Do you have a designated craft space? What does it mean to you?
I am extremely lucky and have a garden studio. It’s wooden and insulated. And since I had my lap top and can use it in my studio, my family hardly see me! I adore it, I can keep all of my little collections such as bird nests and shells etc. without being moaned at. It means everything to me, it’s where I can be at peace and do my stuff!

Do you use a sketchbook or journal?
I have a bit of a thing about sketchbooks, I have far too many. Lots half used. The shape and feel means a lot. I use a sketchbook for ideas I may have or I record a day trip or a holiday. I’m not very good at drawing for the sake of drawing. I take a sketchbook and cover the pages in found papers, masking tape etc. Drawing on textures is just the best.

Why is crafting good for you?
Keeps me sane.

Is your craft a business as well? Any advice on running a crafty business?
No it’s not a business. I have run a craft based business as I have previously mentioned and selling to shops became increasingly difficult, as I would not receive payment for months, hence I had to fold. If you can sell directly ~on line ~ direct to the public and cut out all the middle people, so much the better.

What impact (if any) has the internet had on your craft?
I wish with all my heart I had found the internet such as Flickr and blogs when I was self employed. Since finding blogs etc. in the last year or two, my life has been enhanced. The inspiration, beauty, talent and support out there is phenomenal.

Do you make art or craft? Is there a difference?
Gawd knows, no difference, it’s all in the eye of the beholder.

If you could make any project without limits to cost, materials or even skill, what would it be?
I would make a huge wall hanging from ephemera, all stitched together and embellished with embroidery and mixed media. Ooohhh lovely!

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