Tell us a bit about yourself.
My name is Maria. I was born in the former USSR, in a household where making things by hand was something regular and necessary. As a little girl, I was drawing, painting and making doll clothes. Since then, I have had a special place in my heart for textiles, fabrics, patterns and prints. Now I live in the beautiful city of Sydney, where I moved with my son nearly 10 years ago to join my husband.
About a year and half ago, I got an opportunity to study textile design and printing at the local college. It was the best thing I have ever done, and BlueBerry Ash was the obvious next step. I design, hand print and make textiles and homewares. My products are made simply for people to enjoy – for crafters to make something special with, and for home lovers to decorate their space. I like to imagine all those homes where my products live after they’ve left my hands.
Apart from creating things, what do you do?
I am a mum and wife, and my family is the biggest part of my life. I like to take photographs, cook and draw. I enjoy watching fun movies with good endings and reading inspirational books. Laughing with my son and going for a walk with my husband are the two things that I love most. Sometimes, I go on adventures to satisfy the needs of my inner traveller. I walk around neighborhood, taking different streets and spotting things I have not seen before. I am also trying to blog, but I am definitely not a writer.
What would be the title of your memoir?
I don’t think I have grown enough to have a memoir, but it might be called something like Wanted To Do It All. I think the name speaks for itself.
Where does your inspiration come from?
It’s easier to say where it doesn’t come from! My inspiration literally comes from everywhere: nature, architecture, movies, fashion, photography, art, books, interiors, people’s life stories and journeys.
What does handmade mean to you?
Made from the heart. It’s something that has a sentimental value to the maker and something that has a story.
Who has been most influential in your craft?
My mum, grandma, granddad and where I came from. My granddad could do anything. He was a woodcrafter, builder, gardener. He could do it all, from building houses with his bare hands to making a little cage for my hamster. I think he was the one who made me believe that anyone could make anything. I learned not to be afraid of work from him and my grandma. Whenever I hesitated to start working on something, my grandma used to say, “Your eyes are scared but hands are doing.” That stuck with me. I remember she was always doing something in the evenings: knitting; sewing; embroidering. My early memories of my mum are her sewing in the bedroom and me playing in piles of fabric cut offs.
When did you know you were an artist/maker?
I think I always knew I will be making something. Having been raised in a very creative environment, it would be surprising if I wasn’t creating something. As a teenager, I wanted to be a fashion designer and went to study dress and pattern making.
How would you describe your creative process?
First, I might draw, paint or photograph. Creating a mood board helps clarify my concept. Then I use Adobe Illustrator to repeat my doodles, and prepare the design for exposure on the screen. After the designs are exposed, I mix inks, buy fabrics and do test runs. Printing new designs or using new colors is a very exciting and satisfying step. Seeing my design come alive after all the work is truly rewarding. I try to print as many pieces as I can so I have sufficient amounts of fabric to sell, experiment with, and to make products. Designing and printing your own fabric is a slow process, but is amazingly satisfying and rewarding.
If you could peek inside the studio of any artist, designer or craftsman (dead or alive), who would it be?
William Morris, Josef Frank, Florence Broadhurst, Diane von Furstenberg, Amy Butler, Lotta Jansdotter, and many more.
What handmade possession do you most cherish?
I inherited lot of beautiful creations from my grandma, and I cherish them all. I think the table runner she hand-embroidered and stitched when she was young is the one I love the most. It brings back many happy memories.
How do you get out of your creative ruts?
Cleaning and organizing are the most useful remedies. Going for a long walk with my camera helps, too. Making long lists or planning with a cup of tea also brings my mind back on track.
Where would you like to be in ten years?
Traveling around the world, learning traditional textile techniques from crafters. I’d like to have my own studio where I will design, print and hold workshops. I would love to work on design and product development with a creative team of talented people. I also want to try designing rugs, stationery, dishware and wallpaper.