Tell us a bit about yourself.
My name is Cath. I live with my husband, Neil, our 5-year-old daughter Marlo, and our dog Zac. We live in the forest near the edge of a little town called Bellingen on the east coast of Australia. My husband is a chef. Cooking, eating, and growing our food is a major pastime in our family. We try to tread lightly on the earth — our only source of water is from the rain and heated only by the sun.
I love interior design and home wares. More than anything, I love seeing inside people’s homes and how they live. That is why I have a small camera sewn into every cushion cover in my shop, My Bearded Pigeon. Not really…but I could be lying.
Apart from creating things, what do you do?
I use to work in a toothpaste factory with Charlie Bucket‘s dad, screwing lids onto toothpaste tubes. Now I work part time at a hospital, counselling people who have a whole lot of not good stuff going on. I am qualified to do this. I see a lot of pain and hurt, and some incredible resilience.
I also wife, mother, blog, and generally participate or try to get involved. I love a committee. I love a cause.
What would be the title of your memoir? Why?
Some might call me a list lover. Some might call me a planner. I do like to consider every possible outcome for any given situation. I do not like surprises. So it would be one of those books with lots of suggestions and it would be called A Plan for Every Conceivable Outcome: Why you need a proof of life question. The dedication would be: to my tolerant and patient husband, thank you for loving me despite my neurotic tendencies.
Where does your inspiration come from?
Anywhere and everywhere. Sometimes it’s seeing two colors together, or a font. My inspiration comes from stitchers, photographers and cartographers around the world, but also from language and the silly words people say. I like reading blogs, and I cannot believe all the awesome stuff people make in their own homes. It is so great! I also love Pinterest and Flickr and the many, many homewares magazines and design blogs I read, too.
What does handmade mean to you?
It means hours and hours and days and days spent thinking and wondering and making and dreaming of the final end product. It means excitement and frustration and prototypes, success and failure, testing ideas and wondering. It means someone has laid awake at 4 a.m. thinking about how to make that thing in their head. It means pages of notes and scribbles in little notebooks. Handmade is being so completely caught up in something and how you are doing it that all sound stops, and your thoughts stop. Then you realise that for the last while your mind has been completely focused on your task: rapt.
That’s what handmade means to me. It is a level of love, skill and craftsmanship not found in mass-produced items.
Who has been most influential in your craft?
My mum always encouraged my love of craft as a child, and when I had my daughter, Mum gave me a sewing machine and encouraged me to sew. She was always making stuff when we were kids, and my daughter has that love of making, too.
When did you know you were an artist/maker?
The Internet told me I was a maker/crafter. The movement that is “craft” and “handmade,” which many of us were doing alone at home, finally had a name and is now a whole new way of connecting with other like-minded souls. I finally felt like I wasn’t the only person who just liked making things.
How would you describe your creative process?
An idea comes into my head — usually at 4 a.m. or when I am driving on the highway. I quickly write it down with lots of detail. Then I’m preoccupied; I wish I could lock myself into my room and just do it. I feel my mind racing and pulse quickening. I cannot work fast enough, reaching fever pitch — excitement and fear that it won’t turn out how I want it. If it does, I feel the need to make it more quickly because it is such a great idea that someone is obviously mass-producing them right now, and the next magazine I open will have them all over every page …
If you could peek inside the studio of any artist, designer or craftsman (dead or alive), who would it be?
Artist John Olson. How does he make those scribbles look so good? Also Florence Broadhurst, the fabric designer. Legend.
I have always wanted to watch an old Italian craftsman in a small cramped studio in Italy make a pair of delicious knee-high leather boots ( for me).
What handmade possession do you most cherish?
My dad made my sister and I a child-size kitchen dresser when we were young. My daughter plays with it, and I style it all the time. I buy tea sets for it, and my daughter thinks I buy them for her.
Many, many years ago, I went to India and nearly died from typhoid fever. I actually went there in pursuit of home wares. I survived, and so did a large Rajistani wall hanging I went to get. It was nearly 20 years ago, and I still love that wall hanging and can appreciate all the stitching that went into it.
How do you get out of your creative ruts?
I have way more ideas than time. I have notebooks full of plans, so a rut is usually more of a slump when I get disheartened because something I really thought would work hasn’t. If this happens, I make sure I spend some time walking in the forest. I will talk to the dog, look at the trees, try to get some perspective.
Where would you like to be in ten years?
(Resisting the strong urge to write a list): I would like to be looking around our completely finished house at all the beautiful home wares and art we have collected from our world travels in the last ten years, whilst recovering from my sellout solo (no need to share the limelight) travel photography exhibition, which my loving husband and daughter helped me curate.