This saturday we’re welcoming our first ever guest crafter to Crafternoon Cabaret Club. So, we thought we’d treat you all to a little insight into talented designer maker: Anna Alicia.
Tell us about how you got into accessory design? You started with an Art History degree is that correct?
Yes, my degree in Art History and Theory turned out to be a really great foundation for what I went on to do, though I didn’t know that at the time, it was just something I really loved studying (which I think is the most important thing). My designs are still very much influenced by things I studied on my first degree and the overall visual sense I developed through looking at art, design and architecture in such detail.
I did both my degrees part-time while working mostly admin jobs, which also turned out to be great practice for running my own business (which definitely involves a lot of admin!). I’d always made accessories for myself and as gifts, but it wasn’t until a couple of years after my MA when I decided to have a go at making them to sell. A friend of mine introduced me to sites like Etsy and Big Cartel, which make it really easy to sell online, so I was able to start a small business with very little investment (just lots of hours spent sewing or editing photos on my laptop!).
What was the best thing you learnt during your degree and MA in Fine Art
That’s a very difficult question as I feel like it was such a formative time in my life – it was also when I moved to London and met my husband! I had one particularly amazing tutor who really made the whole experience for me – it’s hard to pin down exactly what I learnt from her but I guess it would be the beginnings of a confidence in my own voice.
What are the most important aspects of your craft and design work?
I have a real passion for materials and their relationships with one another, which often leads my designs. I also love physically making things, so I tend to create things where most of the work is done by hand, like embroidery or ceramics.
Where and how are your products made?
At the moment I’m working from home as I was in the US for a few months earlier in the year, so I had to give up my studio. I’m looking for a new studio as my materials and equipment are pretty much taking over our small flat! All my products are made by hand, by me, and I love having that direct connection with each piece.
Tell me about the environmental/ethical elements of your practice
I believe strongly in living as kindly and as ethically as possible, so it seemed natural to me to try and make my business as eco-friendly and ethical as I can. For my business this mainly means using materials that are eco-ethical, like organic fairtrade cotton or vintage ribbon, and also the choice to make things myself. It’s definitely a challenge, but awareness about eco-ethical materials is growing, so it’s becoming easier for people to make that choice.
Do you have a favourite piece?
I have a necklace from my last ceramic jewellery collection that I kept for myself and I wear all the time – it’s one of those pieces where the magic that happens to glazes in the kiln created something I never could have fully planned!
What are your must-have’s for any aspiring crafter’s tool box?
If you’re looking to sell your work then I would have to say a laptop and a good digital camera – I spend at least half my time in front of a computer, editing photos, processing orders, uploading new products… If you’re just crafting for fun I’d say you can get quite far with little more than a pair of scissors and some pins and needles, but a sewing machine does open up a whole world of projects.
Any advice for someone who wanted to start making their own accessories?
Make sure you’re making something you enjoy making – there’s a big difference between making one necklace for yourself and making 50 for a craft fair! Look around at what’s already out there and then think about what you can make that’s different – it doesn’t have to be revolutionary, but I think the joy of designing something yourself is in creating something that isn’t already out there.
You have a new book out! Tell me a little bit about it
Yes, it’s very exciting to have my first book finally in print!It’s called ‘Make it Your Own’ and it’s a how-to book featuring 25 projects you can make for your home. The projects focus on design and simple craft techniques, and the idea of developing them to ‘make them your own’! Each project comes with suggestions for how you might alter it to make it more personal or useful to you, so although they come with very detailed instructions the idea is that when you’re ready you can put your own design stamp on a project.
I worked with a really great photographer (Jacqui Melville) and I’m really happy with her beautiful images throughout the book of the projects in use, which are full of extra inspiration and lovely details! I wanted the book to be realistic about the fact that we don’t all have huge houses and hours on end to spend crafting, so the projects are designed to be striking but easy to make and suitable for renters and home-owners alike.
And you’ll be appearing at October’s Crafternoon Cabaret Club (we’re very excited). What will we be making?
Yes, I can’t wait! Being October we wanted something a bit Halloween-ish, which got me thinking about Mexican Day of the Dead festivities, so there’ll be two project options – paper-cut jam-jar lanterns and paper flower headdresses – inspired by Day of the Dead decorations and costume.
And finally what is your proudest making achievement?
I think it would have to be my book. I was quite nervous about working with an editor and a photographer, as I’m used to having complete control over what I make, but I was very lucky that everyone I worked with really ‘got’ the project and it turned out better than I could have hoped. It feels like a real reflection of my thoughts about making, creativity and the idea of a home.
Want to know more? Head over to Anna’s website and blog with the links below:
You can buy Anna’s new book: ‘Make It Your Own’ from Amazon (I’ve been flicking through and I can’t wait to get started on some of her beautiful projects and designs).
We will also be selling ‘Make It Your Own’ at October’s Crafternoon Cabaret Club – see you there!