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Helen Sinden from Thimbleville

Thimbleville: a world of wonder

by Camilla

I loved the idea of a town where thimbles reside. I’d like to think all my creations belong in some quirky little town of their own.

Helen Sinden is the creator of a joyous place called Thimbleville, where flowers dance, birds fall in love and dolls whisper their wishes to the clouds. It’s a place that anyone who spent their childhood making people from pipe cleaners or painting smiley faces on the ends of little logs will recognise. We caught up with Helen to discover more about her beautiful textile and clay creations…

Can you introduce yourself and describe what you do?
I’m Helen and I make a variety of things under the name Thimbleville. I work from a corner of my home in Somerset, where I live with my partner and our four-year-old son. I use lots of different materials and love combining them in my one-off creations.

Textile bird by Thimbleville

Craft means making whatever you can imagine… exist.

How would you describe your style?
I love mixing different techniques and materials. Using wood, wire and fabric – and recently polymer clay – I stitch and saw, mould and paint. Recycling scraps and gathered bits I play around to create little nature scenes in muted colours. My favourite themes are birds, flowers, hearts and whatever the materials inspire!

Where does your shop name come from?
Thimbleville was the name painted on a little wooden thimble display shelf that I found in a second hand shop. I loved the idea of a town where thimbles reside. I’d like to think all my creations belong in some quirky little town of their own!

The tools of Thimbleville

As a child I would create scenes with pipe cleaner dolls and fabric scraps. I remember being engrossed in creating a miniature shop with magazines and food from tiny found objects and crafty bits.

Where did your making journey start? Have you always been creative?
I loved making things as a child. I would create scenes with pipe cleaner dolls and fabric scraps. I remember being engrossed in creating a miniature shop with magazines and food from tiny found objects and crafty bits. I made wooden furniture at university but came back to a smaller, more intricate scale after graduating, making wooden boxes and automata. After my little boy was born I turned to my sewing machine as I needed a quicker and quieter way to be creative while looking after him. As he’s grown up it’s been lovely to pick up my clay and woodworking skills again and combine all the techniques I’ve learnt along the way into what I’m making now.

Make what you love, Thimbleville

Who are your heroes – in craft and design or just in life?
I love Julie Arkell‘s creations and through Facebook I’ve discovered Gentlework and Willapark – beautiful stitchers with far more patience than me. I used to make wooden automata and admire the work of Robert Race who makes great pieces with mainly recycled wood.

I love old quilts as they embody this idea and to me express women’s unrecognised creativity throughout history.

Who or what else inspires you?
I’m inspired by the ethos of creating things from reused or recycled materials; scraps and found bits guiding you in what the work will become. I love old quilts as they embody this idea and to me express women’s unrecognised creativity throughout history.

Thimbleville studio

My perfect studio would have a beautiful view of rolling hills with tea and Radio 4 on tap.

Can you describe your workspace?
I’m lucky to have two little spaces to work at home: a nice ‘clean’ desk space for sewing and a ‘messy’ corner by the back door for sawing, sanding and painting.

What would you perfect studio look like, and where would it be?
My perfect studio would have a beautiful view of rolling hills with tea and Radio 4 on tap. I would always be able to find everything easily and not be tripping over toy cars!

An interview with Helen Sinden from Thimbleville

After my little boy was born I turned to my sewing machine as I needed a quicker and quieter way to be creative. As he’s grown up it’s been lovely to pick up my clay and woodworking skills again and combine all the techniques I’ve learnt along the way.

What’s the best thing about being creative for a living?
I’m always delighted when I sell a piece of work. It’s a very good feeling to know that someone out there sees worth in what I’ve bought to life from those little ideas inside my head.

Wishing dolls by Thimbleville

What would you say to someone thinking about selling their work?
Go for it! You have nothing to lose – I love doing craft fairs, it’s great to have a table and get all your hard work out the boxes and on display. It’s lovely to hear feedback, meet other makers and sell face to face. Just get started!

What would I say to someone thinking about selling their work? You have nothing to lose… it’s lovely to hear feedback, meet other makers and sell face to face. Just get started!

What does craft mean to you?
Making whatever you can imagine… exist! When I first had work in a gallery and nothing sold, the owner said to me: “I don’t think people have ‘got it’ yet.” But then someone did get it and I sold a piece! I always think of those words and often remind myself that if I make from my heart things that give me joy, then there is bound to be someone out there who will ‘get it’ too.

Wooden bird by Thimbleville

I’m always delighted when I sell a piece of work. It’s a very good feeling to know that someone out there sees worth in what I’ve bought to life from those little ideas inside my head.

And finally… if your birds could talk, what do you think they would say?
They are either professing undying love to the flowers, or telling them their woes; either way flowers are very good listeners!

 

Discover the whole Thimbleville collection > 

To celebrate being our featured maker Helen is offering 20% off all Thimbleville creations with the code ‘summer’. Valid until Monday 24 August 2015. 

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