It's that time again, here's the third in my series of crafty blogger interviews. This month, it's the turn of Gillian from Gilfling's Designs. She has a wonderful blog and two beautiful shops. I first met Gillian via the etsy forums and the UK thread (a great place to visit to find more UK sellers) and then we met in person at the retreat in York. I'm really excited about this interview and I hope you enjoy it.
When & why did you first start writing a blog?
I first attempted to write a blog last year but it took a wee while to get used to the 'strangeness' of it. I am also a bit hit and miss in the world of technology and it was only when moving blogging sites to typepad at the dawning of the New Year that I really got to grips with the concept of it. Starting a new blog whilst reflecting over a year, which was ending, was the inspiration for finding a focus for writing in such a public way. I found that I really wanted to have a record of all that I felt I had achieved in that year, also to give myself a sense of time and place. I often get lost in my own thoughts. Working from home and alone in my studio is a wonderful thing and suits me down to the ground - however it can be terribly insular. Blogging is my way of connecting with the world, with other artists and artisans and like-minded individuals.
What is the first thing you can remember making/painting?
Oh, I made so many things! I think my first memory is of being only about 5 years old where I made a papier-mache swan - I remember it was quite large and for some strange reason, I painted huge big red lips on its beak. I gave it to my grandmother and I think she kept that thing for years. I also went through a real phase of building those kits of plastic dinosaurs and then painting them. My other dream job would have been a palaeontologist and it was apparent even then.
What or who is your inspiration when you create and also when you write?
I suppose one of my most used phrases in my blog is that I am a thinker and a dreamer. A daydreamer, I am so easily distracted and my mind is prone to wandering and drifting, circling and winding its way through the day. I love to write. I love the action of writing and my sketchbooks overflow with as many words as they do drawings. I am probably more of a thinker than a 'do-er'. When painting I spend an age mixing colours and staring at the paper or canvas. When making bags or accessories I get lost in combining textures and colours and finding the perfect button to set it all off. Every little thing takes 5 times longer than it should - but I guess that is my way and I savour every moment of it.
There are endless things that inspire me –I am passionate about anything with the patina of age, rust, scorched edges, the textures of nature, the contrast between decadence and decay. I graduated in performance costume and my costumes always had some elements of these things. Victoriana and the baroque, archaeology and fossils, antique gold and lace, the smell and feel of old book pages, old worn leather and leaves, which have partially crumbled to reveal their structure. Old medical aids and prosthetics, cabinets of curiosities, puppets and dolls feature heavily in my artwork. Artists such as Leon Bakst, Floria Sigismondi and writers such as Angela Carter - perhaps I should stop there!
What are your favourite materials to use?
When drawing, I consistently use the same buff coloured watercolour paper. I had a huge stock of it, which I got from the art college shop and am now almost coming to the end of. It is the perfect weight and feels like antique velvet. I will be devastated if when I return to Scotland on my next visit they no longer have it! I have bags of hand-dyed scraps of fabrics from my costume degree that were samples for my costume designs and I am adoring working with these now in order to create one of a kind bags featuring my artwork. Carbon paper, oilbars, and watercolours for my art; vintage embroidery thread, the texture of tweed yarns and vintage buttons and lace for my accessories. Anything with those muted colours, which I adore.
What do you listen to when you work?
Quite often, I have to have film soundtracks playing - the big epic movies such as Lord of the Rings, Gladiator or Master and Commander - it is the emotion and the imagery of the film scenes that come to mind that I find so inspiring when I am creating. I also am a (not so) closet fan of Bruce Springsteen!!! People make fun of me but I adore his music especially his recent albums. Neil Young, Johnny Cash, Ray La Montagne, Starsailor - anything that has a heart, where the artist is baring their soul! Almost as often though I work in silence, lost in my own thoughts - daydreaming.
What’s the one thing you’ve created that you’re most proud of?
I had to think hard about this one. I think as far as my art is concerned – it has to be this recent painting - Endlessly Waiting. I felt really inspired when painting it and felt it was a real breakthrough for me. I just need to follow it up with more now!!
What other crafty blogs do you read and why should we read them too?
Oh my goodness I read far too many!! I recently had to cut down as I was getting too little work done but I keep adding and finding more! My latest discovery is Suziblu. Her blog is amazing. She is an incredibly inspiring artist who lives for her painting and it shows. I particularly love her wonderful videos where you can see her work process and she inspires everyone to work in sketchbooks and journals.
I particularly love blogs that are a mix of art, craft and the real person behind the ‘image’. I like to know what inspires influences a persons work – the good and the not so good. Sometimes it just helps to know that even those whose work blows me away sometimes have their doubts too! We are all on the same page in a sense!
What plans do you have up your sleeve (if they’re not top secret)?
Oh gosh, the thing that I have been planning for so long and am only now beginning is to make art dolls. They are variations on the characters that appear in my artwork. With wire and wood and vintage fabrics, leather and found objects – they will be appearing in my etsy shop at some point in the near future – whenever I have the confidence to reveal them to whoever would like to see them! I have also just commenced an evening class in bookbinding and am really hoping to try some form of printing – perhaps lino cutting (which incidentally I have not done since high school) in order to make limited edition books with my own writing and artwork. However, as ever I have to do a whole lot of procrastinating before these things come to fruition. I always get there in the end though – no matter how long it takes!
Many thanks to Gillian. i hope everyone enjoyed the interview and if you're interested in being interviewed next month, please leave me a comment.