Apologies for posting the Sunday feature on a Monday, I can only blame the worst, most frustrating, internet connection in town. So today rather embarrassingly I'm introducing myself! As well as organising the handmade fairs I am myself a crafter and seller under the name amypanda. So, hello! Let me tell you little about myself...
How and why did you start making your wares?
I was always creative as a child/teen, but decidedly more bookish than arty so I continued with bookish pursuits whilst slowly but surely picking up needlecraft and knitting (surely the most bookish crafts of all!). I started making brooches for family and friends in my final few years of Uni about 4 or 5 years ago, and then after graduation picked it up more as gaps in employment left me desperate to fill my time with something other than mindlessly watching tv. I started selling at cute little craft fairs surrounded by middle class mum's selling tea cozies and candles, and at some indiepop gigs. As I've got much neater at the stitches, and better at thinking of new products to add to the collection, I suppose that I've found it more and more enjoyable and more and more worthy of my time.
Do you have any successes and failures you'd like to talk about?
In terms of selling at craft fairs my biggest flops have usually been the most expensive fairs, where not having any items over £5 becomes a big problem when my profit margins are so tiny. I did an outdoor fair at a castle which was terrible...the only people we saw all day was a coach group of tourists who pretty much ran through the stalls to get inside as it was raining. Success-wise, indietracks has been a yearly joy to sell at, and even back in early amypanda days three or four years ago I had a little patch of merch-stall and got to see all the bands walking around with my brooches on all weekend. Infinitely heart-warming. I find etsy a lovely place to be a part of, it's about as nice as a faceless online shop can be. Oh and whenever kids come along and pick up each badge naming whatever object it is, which happens suprisingly often, god that makes me so happy!
Do you craft full time? If not tell us a little about your day job and how you manage to fit your craft into your day?
Alas no, crafting remains very much a hobby at the moment, and attempts to make it into at least a part-time job haven't been very successful. I work at Waterstones as a bookseller, so craft by night and on days off. The dream job-wise would be to work in a library (I've worked as a library assistant before and it was just as lovely and twee as I'd dreamed) or as a teacher and craft part-time. I would love to craft full time though and would love to have a little shop to sell my wares alongside handmade creations by other crafters.
What're your main creative influences and interests?
Most of my influences are children's books illustrators. I find myself constantly inspired to create more items specifically aimed at children because they have such wonderful taste! My favourites are Tove Jansson, Gyo Fujikawa, Shaun Tan, Dick Bruna of Miffy Fame (his posters for a book publisher featuring a brown bear are worth a look), Bruno Munari, Eric Carle, and a whole host of Japanese and Scandinavian vintage picture books. More generally I'm influenced by vague and possibly pretentious sounding things like nature, animals, tea and cake, northern life and cute Japanese and Scandinavian design. Recently I've become concerned with the eco credentials of what I do and have started striving to use only recycled card and bags... I like that crafters promote buying local handmade high-quality goods instead of buying armfuls of disposable mass produced things made in China. I hope to fit my interests in green sustainable living in with my brooches more over time.
Do you have any favourite artists/websites/books/films you'd like to share?
I've mentioned children's books, but my main hobby is devouring novels. I remain bookish. It seems silly to list them all but some of my favourite's (which change monthly) are David Foster Wallace, B S Johnson, Magnus Mills, Raymond Carver, Albert Camus, Chekhov, Gogol, Muriel Spark (my token woman). I'm a disgusting snob and claim to think that almost all films are over-rated. Apart from trashy horror films, Studio Ghibli, and the occasional gem (Go and see "the taste of tea", it's lovely). I try not to spend much time online but there are some great websites I do check every few weeks, fine little day, lab curio(amazing resource for my children's book lust), I like the sneak peaks at people's houses on design sponge
What're your plans/dreams for the future?
More cats, lots of baking, an allotment, babies. The good life. A career in something where I feel like I'm helping people. Or touting my wares. Writing/crafting a children's book.
Where can we find your work (online or in the "real world")
www.etsy.com/shop/amypanda I blog as myself amypanda.blogspot.com
I have work in a little shop in Ilkly called Cake Walk, I also sell at handmade craft fairs, and sometimes at ReetSweet, and other fairs around Leeds.
So that's me! x