Tell us a bit about yourself.
My Name is Amelia Coward I am 32 and mum to three year old Louis.
I recently moved from London after 13 years to live on the north Kent coast in England, UK. I have swapped the smoke and bustle for an idyllic country life and I am loving every second of it!
I trained for four years at Central St Martins as a textile designer & finally went to the Royal College of art where I studied a Masters Degree woven textiles. I focused mainly on colour theory and dyeing methods. From there I spent several years working in the Italian commercial interior textile industry designing fabric for the European market. I had had a college dream that I would make career out of ‘art textiles’ so I gradually became more & more disillusioned by the mass produced designs I was creating. A turning point came for me when I witnessed 700 men on production line in Chinese factory making a sofa I had designed.
I made a decision to get back to more creative way of working and start my own business as soon as I was able. Becoming a mum gave me the opportunity to create a business that could easily be run from my studio at home, so now I juggle ‘sticky sticking’ as my family calls it, with home life. I also teach decoupage at the make lounge in London.
Apart from creating things, what do you do?
I grow vegetables. I am a novice but massively enthusiastic gardener. We are currently struggling to eat the huge glut of cucumbers and courgettes I have grown. I see gardening as my afternoon break from work and make sure I go out and tend my veg most days.
What first made you want to become an artist?
My mum was a fashion designer and ran a wholesale jewellery design company from home when I was very young so I have ‘making stuff’ in my blood. I have always made things and managed to earn a few pounds from it. At age 14 I made waistcoats, duffle bags and hair scrunchies to order to my school friends. Quite a nice little earner it was too!
People often ask how I got into ‘decoupage’ which I suppose is quite a specialized process and I realized recently that this was something my mum had introduced me to at around 4 years old. She would give me a pair of scissors and an old mail order catalogue. I remember sitting carefully cutting out hundreds of images and organizing them in piles. She then taught me how to fix the little cut out pictures onto large pebbles and varnish them for doors stops.
Please describe your creative process how, when, materials, etc.
I am a self confessed hoarder. I have a huge collection of old books, comics, magazines and maps. Our house is full with all the pieces of vintage furniture, bowls, plates and frames that are waiting to be covered. I don’t usually have a plan for particular pieces but wait until I stumble upon a good marriage between the paper and the piece. I get huge satisfaction from transforming an otherwise discarded piece of furniture into something completely fresh and new.
What handmade possession do you most cherish?
A friend of ours has a tiny island of the coast of Ireland. We were staying there a few years ago fishing, foraging for mussels and scallops when my partner Joe found a pearl in one of his mussels, he gave it to a jewellery designer friend of ours Paul Mark Hatton who set it into a ring. I love it because it reminds me of the tranquil, beautiful place we were when we found the pearl.
Name your top five books, movies, songs/musical groups, and web sites besides Etsy.
Derek Jarmans Garden
The Tao of Pooh
The world atlas pre 1950’s – I can pour over it for hours
Bloom book horticulture for the 21st century – Crammed full of stunning shots
The Floral Year by L.J.F Brimble 1949 – an amazing vintage plant book with stunning colour pates and illustrations
Toots and the Maytals
Our good friend Max Sedgley just released an album shoots from the roots.
flickr.com I am totally addicted!
Little Miss Sunshine
Lars & The Real Girl
What advice would you give to artists who are new to Etsy?
Never stop taking and improving photos of your work, they can always be better and are the single most important thing when trying to get yourself noticed on etsy.
Be original, it will show in the quality of your work and people will warm to the individuality of your style.
Make friends and create a support community around you. This has been invaluable to me and saves me from my obsessive, solitary self and I have made genuine real life, like minded friends.
What are your favorite features on Etsy? What new features would you like to see?
My best thing is rummaging through my favorites’ favorites. This is often the way I buy things and really helps me to find things of my own taste.
I think the beauty of etsy is the sense that there are things going on all the time. It’s active, vibrant and doesn’t stop moving.
To take this a step further it would be amazing to be able to see people actually visiting your shop, a little like the old treasury worked with little avatars at the bottom bobbing around and clicking on items. It would create a real sense of retail. This could also work for the shop keeper too, so that buyers can see that the seller is there, open and ready to answer convos quickly.
How do you promote your work?
I have been very lucky in that the UK press picked up on my work fairly early on in my Bombus business. I did some London window displays using some of my work and a stylist from the ‘Telegraph’ magazine saw the display and did a full page photo shoot using my products. From that point on I have had a steady stream of press product call outs and image requests. It has been really important for me to have a constant bank of ‘cut out’ white background images that I am always adding to which press can dip into and use what ever they need. It is a two way street and I always try to accommodate if they have a particular theme for a shoot and will custom make things specially.
In ten years I’d like to be…
Running the ‘Bombus’ design studio which will make a whole range of home furnishing. It will house a hand Loom, dying & printing facilities, & workbenches with decoupaging space. It will be a place for a handful of people to really focus on creating bespoke, handcrafted wares.
Oh & I will develop my vegetable plot into more of a small holding with a few chickens & pigs & perhaps even a couple of cows.