In her Folksy shop Mooncolt, Diane Butcher combines her background in illustration and textile art to make beautiful thread art, ranging from textile brooches to embroidered wall art. We talked to her about her shop and her plans for the future….
Your Folksy shop is still pretty new. Are there any particular challenges you’re facing?
Time is the main issue at the moment – we are moving very soon so I can’t focus on it at all. Working full-time means I haven’t been able to concentrate on looking at options for taking my embroidery work forward. Things will definitely change when we move.
Are you a full-time maker?
No, that would be lovely but I have to pay the bills! I work full-time and make when I can. The most difficult thing is finding the time to ‘do nothing’ and explore new ideas.
Do you know where you’d like to be in five years? Have you got a plan to get there?
I don’t have a five-year plan, but I’m moving to Bristol and hope to establish myself a bit more. In the next year I would love to get a studio or at least a dedicated workspace, as I currently make from my small basement flat. Working part-time would be great too, because it would give me more time to make. I’d also like to have a bit more contact with other makers.
As well as selling online, do you sell through markets or retailers?
No, I haven’t tried selling at markets, but I’d like to give it a go. I am concentrating on my embroidered pictures at the moment. They are time-consuming to make, so I’m making a few smaller ones, which may be a bit more saleable. I would like to take commissions too, as I enjoy having a bit of a brief. I haven’t found the right retailer so far. That’s in the plan for the coming year too!
How do you promote your work?
I really struggle with promotion – I’m just not very good at it! I find it a bit overwhelming knowing where to start. It took me a long time to have the confidence to open my Folksy shop, and I’m just finding my feet.
Have you worked out a method for setting prices?
I’m still working that out too, it’s got to be an amount you’re comfortable with. As I sew when I can it’s difficult to keep track of how long it takes to make a piece. It’s all a bit organic at the moment!
We love how you style the photos of your brooches. Do you take them yourself?
Yes I do. My partner bought me a decent camera last year and it’s made life a bit easier! I really enjoy taking the photos.
Pipe Fish Brooch, styled and photographed by Diane
Have you got any tips for taking good product shots?
It is really difficult to take photos of flat things, and I’ve found embroidery very tricky because of all the detail. My only rule is that it must be natural light and preferably a sunny morning for taking photos. With my brooches I like to have props to create a bit of a story.
Are there any other shops/makers who particularly inspire you?
I love Lush Designs. I remember when I was in my 20s they had a stall on Greenwich Market, then a shop, and now I see their lampshades all over. Mister Finch makes wonderful stuffed animals, moths and mushrooms among other things, using recycled textiles, or as he says ‘storytelling creatures for people who are also a little lost, found and forgotten’. Oh, and Tom Hares makes amazing willow sculptures!
Do you have any tips for other makers?
Make something you like. It takes a while to find your own style, but try to do something individual to you… and keep trying. Also, go the extra mile to get a good finish on your work.
And finallly, is there any advice you’d like from other Folksy sellers?
Well, as I said I really struggle with promotion, so I’d like to know which methods of promotion other sellers find most useful? Also, I like the idea of taking commissions – do other sellers find this an enjoyable way of working? Any advice would be helpful.