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ART STORIES: Charlotte Lyons

Art Stories

We're talking with the artist, designer & creator themselves about their chosen medium. Get to know the artist behind the items featured and find inspiration in their personal stories of creativity. Today I would like to welcome Charlotte Lyons  to Vintage Indie.


What is your preferred medium?
Magpie artist that I am, it's sometimes hard to say, but I always love to work with felt made from old clothing. That started when I was a rug hooker in the 80's, buying old wool clothes and deconstructing them to cut into strips. After awhile (and way too many rugs), I had to use the wool for other things too. Now I use felted wools for applique, clothing, collage, illustration. I try to use all the other things I scavenge too- mixing them into projects I design for classes or licensing.

Felt Cottage

How did you get started?
My first craft book was about mother-daughter crafting (Mothers and Daughters at Home). My mom is very artistic with a fabulous personal style and as a child I was encouraged to pursue the arts. She had a home-based art business making custom purses and I got to cut out the felt flowers to decorate the wicker purses. We lived way out of town so I learned that art and craft made me happy when no one else was around. At the same time, I learned to use what was readily available- in the house and the yard and the shed- the beginnings of my recycling, make-do approach to art. I made things with my mom, carried that tradition on in my developing work, then with my 3 daughters too. Now here I am still rummaging in the ragbag. The green cabinet in my studio that I painted and reworked with potato stamps is my mother's sewing cabinet. It was the place I scoured for materials when I was a kid.

Sewing Cabinet

Who or what inspires you?
I get inspiration from a different place every day. My studio world is stuffed full of things that inspire me to begin. Folk art, ethnic costumes, an old sewing basket, a jar of buttons, a transferware dish, something handmade or sentimental. I make a lot of designs in the form of a house (especially pink ones), a flower, a primitive silhouette, often inspired by functional vintage pieces or textiles. Old knitting bags, pillows, home accessories.

What advice would you give to someone wanting to get into this medium?
Word to the wise- be careful not to import too much. It's easy to get carried away. After collecting a few pieces of wool clothing, cut them up, throw them in the hot wash, then the dryer. And then experiment. Each piece will behave in its own way, have unique qualities. That's a good thing. It's so gratifying to repurpose old clothes into something new. There is a ton of information on felting for art and craft now.

Wool Stack

Does vintage play a role in your art or life? If so, how?
I've been thrifting for over 35 years and our life, home and craft is solidly vintage. I almost never buy anything new and feel most at home among old things. What I love now is seeing how that fondness has translated into my daughters' aesthetics. They each have a finely tuned eye for their own vintage style. When I go to one of their homes and see some treasure I passed along- and how fresh and hip it looks in its new digs, I am so proud of that. What a great tradition that appreciation is and how exciting to see vintage move on to a new generation of art and use. Each of my girls also has an eye for Restraint- something I struggle to achieve. These days, vintage anything is too easily found and more than a little addictive. It's way too much fun to find and score.


What is important for your customer to know about your work?
I have to be invested in a piece with an affection for the materials, technique or design. Many times the challenge from a commission or a series will create that inspired jump-off and it's hard to see exactly where it will go. So much depends upon the character of the materials which usually means something old, deconstructed and repurposed as part of something new. Something beautiful. Something that reflects my point of view.

Button House

Charlotte has influenced the art world with her books Mothers and Daughters At Home
Between Friends: Craft Projects to Share as well as media appearances on  HGTV Sew Much More
DIY Scrapbooking and the CBS Early Show. If you were lucky enough to snag a spot at Silver Bella, you'll see Charlotte there at her Wonderland Mobile workshop. 

Wool Mice

Find out more about Charlotte visit her self titled website Charlotte Lyons
You can also catch up with her daily at her blog House Wren Studio.

A special thank you to Charlotte for sharing her beautiful work with us.


Have a great day everyone, we'll see you back here tomorrow!


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