Time for another interview and this time we’re in Italy with Silvia/MadameRenard. Not only does she sew wonderful things from recycled fabrics, but as you’ll see in some of the photos, she can draw too! It always inspires me when people do different things because I think they can really inspire each other. And I’m sure feeling inspired today. I hope you will be too!
Thank you, Silvia!
Where in the world are you?
A small village in Italy
Briefly describe yourself and what you make
I’m an historician of art with an intense feeling for all that is beautiful, old and handmade. My main crafty passion is sewing. I make bags and accessories (like wallets, wristlets, bike baskets and moleskine covers), but occasionally I sew also softies and simple clothes. I like to experiment with a lot of other creative activities, like knitting, drawing, carving stamps and photography.
I think nature is perfect: animals, plants, flowers and their seasonal changes always fill me with gratitude. So I try to respect nature and follow ecological behaviours, although sometimes it’s not simple.
Who or what inspires you?
Uhm, I’m going to write an odd answer, but I have to be honest: my best ideas usually come when I’m in bed and I’m resting. Good snaps bring good ideas, but long walks work well, too. Other precious sources of inspiration are good blogs, magazines and books (I’m an avid reader), vintage objects in my home and in e-shops (their photos are candy for my eyes).
When / how did you learn?
I’m really a lucky girl: I grew up in a family where everyone made things with their hands. My grandam, my mum and my aunt taught me how to knit, sewing and crochet; my grandpa was a skilled carpenter, my dad an expert factotum. Also my attendance to scout movement helped me in growing my crafty abilities and gave me
consciousness that I can learn to do all I want!
Why is making things by hand worth the ‘effort’?
In my opinion having a one-of-a-kind object, made by your hands, is really cool in this world of mass
production, expecially when this object has been made following your tastes and needs. It will speak about you and you will always be satisfied by using it. This satisfaction compensates the hours you’ve spent in crafting your personalized object. I love to know the story of materials I use, where they come from and their quality: all kind of informations you can have when you make by hands and not when you buy in a shop.
What is your craft ”philosophy”?
I have a sort of adage: ”Do your best with what you have”. So… I try to capture the best from materials I use, I avoid purchasing a lot of expensive craft tools and I like best recycled materials. This practice has two important (for my mind-set) results: I do my part in saving our planet’s resources and I challenge myself everyday in increasing my creativity and my abilities. It’s great!
Fondest craft-related memory?
– The time I spend with my aunt designing our bags (she make crocheted/knitted exterior parts and I add fabric linings)
– Me helping mum in the making of her handmade nativities, last winter
– The first bag I made in a spring night, some years ago: an ugly brown little bag that started a long series of joyful crafting on my sewing machine
Have you always made ‘stuff’?
Yes. I was a creative little girl. Drawing was my favourite activity for free time, I experimented a lot with colors when I was young. But I also made handmade gifts to mum and dad, like necklaces with wool thread and bits of wood. My ”masterpiece” when I was a little girl was a big doll’s house I made with wood, fabric leftovers and recycled materials. It’s still in my home, with all its handmade furniture and accessories.
How do you deal with crafty mistakes?
I generally save all unsuccessful objects I make, because I hope to restyle them or use their materials for something else. And I try to get over the anger and to accept what the mistakes are teaching to me.
Favourite book(s) or craftbook(s)?
Hanna Andersson’s ”A creative year”. It isn’t really a craft book; it’s a diary of a creative girl and it’s full of inspiration and creative joy! I also love the clarity and the design in Japanese craftbooks, but I haven’t a favourite yet. Zines about handmade and creativity really inspire me: ”Craft Leftover Monthly”, ”The Green Bean” and ”Handmaiden’s Voyage” are my favourite now.
Do you use a sketchbook or journal?
I write almost daily in my moleskine journal, saving my memories and planning my daily activities (crafting included). I also have a pink journal where I glue inspiring magazine images and a black notebook for projects and sketches of my bags and accessories (this one is very useful for me, because I record measurements and other notes for future projects). Oh, and I have a brown journal, too: I write down in it some quotes from books I’m reading. A lot of journals, I know, I’m addicted.
Why is crafting good for you?
Crafting helps me to express myself. I think my work speaks about me, my tastes, my passions and my life. This is important for me, because I’m a shy girl, reluctant to speak about me and my feelings (this interview is challenging me, eh eh). Crafting fills my life with beautiful things and gives sense to my days. Crafting is relaxing, it calms my mind when I come back from work tired and stressed and gives me self-confidence about my abilities.
What impact (if any) has the internet had on your craft?
Crafty blogs/sites are so supportive when I’m lacking creative energy: other people’s work gives me new will to create!
If you could make any project without limits to cost, materials or skill, what would it be?
Can I write three ideas? They are:
– Sewing a lot of big bags in organic fabrics (they are a bit expensive)
– Purchasing a lot of vintage clothes and accessories and restyling them to a new life
– Printing books with my photos