Vintage Indie would like to welcome Nicola Fraser
as our featured artist, and creator this week.
Hi Nicola welcome to Vintage Indie, can you tell us about your preferred medium?
My preferred medium is the art of bear making, amongst sewing of any other sort. I have been stitching something for as long as I can remember, although, as a blogger, I constantly have my finger in many pies as I find the inspiration out there to hard to resist! I also love to crochet (which has been a fairly recent learning curve), knit, and sketch.
Frank and Edna, handmade bears made from 100% pure
german mohair, german glass eyes, traditionally filled with wood excelsior,
steel shot and pellets for weight and texture. Distressed by hand for the
'time worn' appearance.
How did you get started?
My parents have been my greatest influence in my love of craft throughout my life, and I come from a very creative extended family. My dad made one of my first toys, an enormous Andy Pandy, along with my first bed, and my mum was always knitting or sewing something in her spare time. I can remember her teaching the children to knit at my primary school. My brother is an artist, following in the footsteps of our grandfather.
I drifted from craft for a while, whilst working full time in London, but as soon as I was expecting our first child I picked up the knitting needles once more, and I have never looked back since! I was never the biggest fan of the whole ‘internet’ thing and what it had to offer, considering it a great time waster, until I was given the book “Crafter’s Companion “ by Anna Torborg as a gift for Christmas, and a whole new world – the blogging world - instantly opened up to me.
I began my bear making career ten years ago with a knitted bear for my first little girl, and it progressed steadily. I researched my books I had collected over the years, studied the methods and began to make a bear, and then a rabbit and it went on from there. I was never a ‘doll’ girl, always preferring my bears, and I wanted to create something special for my children. With the blog as my showcase I was encouraged every step of the way by all the other lovely bloggers and readers alike, all of them thoroughly supportive of what I created, and my obsession began to grow!
Old painted dresser in
Who or what inspires you?
I am inspired by anything vintage... anything with a past or a story to tell. The cloths, the textures, patterns, and colours. I love studying just what makes something ‘look’ old. With my bears I am inspired by vintage toys, the story of the teddy bear and the love that people have for them. Sometimes I am inspired by a vintage piece I have found like a brooch, piece of clothing, button, or millinery flower that I have found and I build the character of the bear around it.
What advice would you give someone wanting to get into this medium?
I would start by doing some research into the art of bearmaking, there are loads of books available and helpful websites, and then practice and develop your own style. I think everyone brings their own creative style to a creation, that’s what makes them individual.
Does vintage play a role in your art or life? If so, how?
Vintage plays a very strong role in both my art and my life. As a child I was brought up around antiques. My aunt was an antique dealer, with a shop, and we were constantly at antiques fairs at the weekends. I think this is where my love of vintage started, and it has grown and stayed with me throughout my life – a love of things with a past, a story to tell. I like my possessions to have a sense of history. I find the smell of an old book intoxicating and the creak of an old piece of furniture endearing. My house is furnished with second hand furniture most of which I have restored and restyled with a ‘shabby chic’ look. Old things only get better which makes shopping second hand almost whimsical. I think old things have a tipping point beyond which the marks of age only improve their appearance. I love to thrift, charity shops being my guilty pleasure. The excitement of not knowing what you are about to uncover, the anticipation of discovering a treasure and the bargain steal at the end of it is just too much to resist. Old stuff is far more likely to be unusual, unique to you. I never go round to any of my friend’s houses and find we have the same crockery, furniture of curtains. My home is built around individual pieces thrown together because I love them, not because they are the current trend, and I am adding one more chapter to them by using them in my home. My obsession with vintage crockery is outgrowing my house, reuseable textiles are bulging from the drawers but my appetite for a bargain is still ferocious.
In my art my main focus is to make my creations have a time worn vintage appeal, whimsical, like they have just been found in an attic. I indulge my passion for vintage ribbons, buttons, lace and other paraphernalia that I have collected along the way, and mix it with my love of creating a character, an heirloom to be treasured forever.
What is the one thing you cannot live without in your studio?
sewing machine... it was my mum’s, and is now very precious to me. I
think she would be very proud to know that I am making my living from
it. And my radio, I have to have the radio on whilst I am working!
What is most important for your customer to know about your work?
The most important aspect of my work that I hope to convey to my customers is the preciousness of having something unique in today’s world of mass production. The importance of craftsmanship and love that goes into creating a unique piece that has a sense of history and can be treasured for years to come. I love my work and I put a great deal of time, detail and love into each piece I create.
Thank you Nicola for this wonderful insight into your bear making. Visit Nicola at her web shop The Vintage Magpie as well as her blog.