Next up in our series of interviews is the talented textiles designer behind Bunny Bosworths - Natalie Bosworth.
Natalie's beautifully finished textile products have become a staple of the Liverpool craft scene, and the quality of her workmanship is evident as soon as you pick up her pretty purses or luxurious sleep masks.
I've been making and selling work for about four years, I started out with a shop on Etsy and then took part in my first fair a year later and have been doing them regularly since then. It started out as something to keep me creative while I was flitting between 'day jobs' and the increasingly scarce theatre work but it's become my main focus now. I still love costume work, but I also love knowing that once I've made something it will be kept and used for years, rather than ending up in a skip after the last performance!
What made you start working as an artist/designer/crafter?
Growing up my sisters and I were always making things. We used to watch The House of Elliott on TV and then make our own dresses out of paper and plastic bags, have fashion shows and write magazines with our friends. My mum was always sewing or knitting and I was always having a go at different crafts. I took textiles and art at A Level then went on to an Art Foundation. It was there that I decided to study theatre design and my tutor told me about LIPA. I got to do a little bit of everything while I was there; set design, prop making, puppetry, scenic art, installations, but costume was always my focus.
The first time I saw someone wearing and loving something I had made was really exciting, it still is!
Where, when and how do you work?
I have a room to myself in my flat where I have my machines, fabrics and all my books, it's great to have the whole space to myself, but it's the only room in the flat that doesn't get the sun, so if I organise my work well enough I can make sure I have hand sewing or computer work to do and I'll take it out onto the balcony when it's sunny. I try to keep 9-5 type hours (more likely 12-8 in reality), but I've realised my work patterns tend to be a bit more like binge working, I'll potter about all week achieving not much then get everything done at once, usually on a Friday night. I think this has always been the case, even at school, so old habits die hard! The radio is constantly on, usually 6 Music or Radio 4, but failing that it'll be Kate Bush.
I love fashion and costume history, and get a lot of inspiration from details on historic clothes and textiles. In fashion I think my biggest inspiration is Biba, I love the way everything worked together - from the design of the clothes, to the immersive theatricality of the shops, to the graphics and illustrations, and that it lasted so short a time but has such a huge legacy. In contemporary design I like Louise Gardiner's incredible free machine embroideries, and printmaker Angie Lewin. My biggest inspiration is always the textiles though, I'm obsessed with Liberty Art Fabrics, and use them a lot in my work, as well as British heritage brands like Harris Tweed and textile designers such as Celia Birtwell and Lucienne Day.
What's your favourite item for sale in the Arts Hub?
I love Witty Hearts map prints and the gorgeous wrapping paper by Hana Awwad of Chocolate Envelope.
What makes you happiest?
My two cats make me very happy, unless they're sat on my work or poking me in the face because they want feeding. I recently moved back to the Lark Lane area after living in Crosby for a couple of years, and I'm still really enjoying everything there is to see round here, like the independent shops and cafes, and going for a walk in Sefton and Princes Parks, or at the Festival Gardens. The charity shops are really good round here too, I love hunting out treasures amongst all the tat!
What are your plans for the next six months?
Keep making away! I've got plans for a new collection of Liberty print bags, purses and jewellery, which I'll be taking out to craft fairs and bringing into the shop, and hopefully get my work in some more shops. I'm also developing some new craft classes so I can share my skills with other people - and is it too early to say I'm planning my Christmas designs?
I'd love to be working on my designs full time, maybe collaborating with other designers and shops and still teaching crafts and dressmaking. The bookworm in me would like to go back to university at some point and complete an MA in design history or textiles so perhaps I can slot that in too!
So, if you are after a treat for yourself or a gift for someone special, look no further than Bunny Bosworth's range of purses and sleep masks, all available in the shop from just £7.50.