You may have seen our fantastic February competition we ran with our friends over at Hawthorn Handmade, as many of you who entered will know, their kits are just beautiful. Not only did we get to run the fantastic prize giveaway, we also managed to have a chat with Hawthorn Handmade Creative Director and Founder Stephanie Carswell. So without further ado, here is Stephanie, our March Maker of the Month.
Can you tell us about who you are and why you would count yourself as a ‘Maker’?
My name is Stephanie and I am the owner, designer and Creative Director of Hawthorn Handmade. I’ve been creative for as long as I can remember, and was always to be found either drawing or making something as a child so I’m definitely a maker through and through. That said though, I think anyone who uses their hands to create something can call themselves a maker, whether it’s your first ever attempt at a craft or your thousandth!
For those that don’t know of Hawthorn Handmade, can you summarise what your business is and how it has got to where it is today?
At Hawthorn Handmade we design, produce and sell a wide range of textile craft kits that come with everything you need and are all designed for beginners. We aim to inspire you and give you all the tools and skills to create something beautiful you can be really proud of. I used to have a gallery and haberdashery on my local high street where I ran craft workshops and sold my own needle felted pieces. I started making some kits in 2012, and then in 2013 officially launched our first range, some of which are still going strong today! Since starting with just felting we have added embroidery, weaving and cross stitch kits and the team has grown from just myself to 8 of us based out of our unit in rural Dorset!
Have you always been creative? If so, what is your go to Make?
Absolutely. My Dad is a really good artist and I used to sit and draw with him, and my Mum is a very talented craftsperson who can turn her hand to almost any skill, so it was only natural that I spent my days doodling, painting and making. I have been needle felting for over 10 years now and I will always love it, but more recently I’ve been really enjoying working on a tapestry cushion. I particularly love this as it’s not work related and I can really switch off stitching away without any deadlines to meet.
Have you got any craft that you would love to try but have never got around to?
Oh boy, so many! I’d love to try my hand at quilt making. I really like the different effects and techniques you can use to create a beautiful quilt, and I also really enjoy making big things so could go crazy on a giant quilt!
Could you tell us and show us your best crafting achievement but also your worst ‘Oops’ moment?
My best achievement has to be seeing my designs being created by others all over the world - I have to remind myself to step back sometimes and appreciate how amazing that is! And I honestly don’t believe there can be any real mistakes in craft - I’m a big advocate of removing gate-keeping which there is a lot of in the industry, and it’s a pet hate when people say something is a mistake or wrong - for creative things like craft it’s all about the process and the enjoyment of using your hands to create something. Some of the best discoveries and artworks have come from things going a bit awry!
There are a lot of animals and nature themed in the HH collections - are both a bit inspiration to you and why?
I am hugely influenced by nature and would struggle to not include it in some way in a design. The colours and shapes it offers as well as our emotional tie to it is a constant source of inspiration that can’t ever be used up! I’m also a massive animal lover and it makes me so happy to bring little animal characters to life through my designs.
For anyone feeling the stresses of lockdown 3.0 who is tempted to learn a new ‘Make’ what advice would you give to them?
All kinds of craft have some element of relaxation to them and that very act of using your hands to make something switches your brain off from everything else you have whirring around up there. Some crafts such as cross stitch really lend themselves to being mindful with their repetitive nature, and a beginner kit that has everything you need in it so you don’t have to find lots of different materials is the ideal way to get started and give it a try without a big investment.
Whats next for you and HH in 2021?
We’ve just launched a menagerie of new kits and are already working on the next batch! For the first time I’m working with some other designers to create new ranges and really increase what we can offer our amazing customers. So keep an eye out for new crafts as well as more kits in our best selling ranges.