Home Interviews Textile artist Sarah Chatterton from Lotus Blossom – capturing nature’s beauty in every piece
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Textile artist Sarah Chatterton from Lotus Blossom – capturing nature’s beauty in every piece

by Camilla

Meet the Maker: Sarah Chatterton from Lotus Blossom

Sarah Chatterton from Lotus Blossom is a textile artist who creates art, cards and textile jewellery featuring beautifully embroidered birds and flowers. Every piece she makes is eco-friendly and sustainable: “As well as wanting to capture nature’s beauty through my work, I want to have as minimal effect on the environment as possible.” We caught up with Sarah to find out more…

Can you introduce yourself and describe what you do?
Hi! I’m Sarah Chatterton (FKA Sarah Dodd, AKA Lotus Blossom), a textile artist from Farnham in Surrey. I have a textiles, fashion & fibre degree from Winchester School of Art, and I originally left university making knitted and crochet sculpture. Over the last six years, my work has taken many forms and has now evolved to machine embroidered birds in varying formats. In every single thing that I do or make, I strongly consider its environmental impact.

Oh and when I’m not making, I’m busy nurturing my two children Meadow and Aspen.

Lotus Blossom, Lotus Blossom Cards, Lotus Blossom Textiles, textile art, textile artist, British textile art

I originally left university making knitted and crochet sculpture. Over the last six years, my work has taken many forms and has now evolved to machine-embroidered birds in varying formats.

When did you first pick up a sewing needle? Can you remember the first thing you ever made?
This conjures up fond memories. In year two of primary school we were asked to make a children’s toy and I made a felt finger puppet lady with a long colourful dress. Shortly after in a year three Sewing Club we cross-stitched our names. My mum still has my cross-stitched name on her dresser, but I think the finger puppet has been hidden away in the attic as it’s a little bit scary! I loved making these, and still remember feeling so proud that I’d created something from scratch.

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Machine-embroidered barn owl – textile art by Sarah Chatterton from Lotus Blossom

For as long as I can remember, nature has played a big part in my inspiration. As well as wanting to capture nature’s beauty through my work, I want to have as minimal effect on the environment as possible.

How would you describe the Lotus Blossom aesthetic?
In one word, I word say “eco”. I create pieces that adorn interiors and people with the beauty of the natural environment while using a sustainable approach to making.

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Once I’ve run out of a certain fabric or embellishment, that’s it, it’s gone! So each piece is very much a one off.

When and how did you start selling your work?
I started selling work while I was at uni, as a bit of pocket money to fund my education. My housemates and I organised a stall (or shed) at the Winchester Christmas Market, and it was so much fun! We were selling during the day, making through the night and all while studying for our degrees. It was so good that we did it for the three years we were there. I keep saying to them that we should do a reunion one year, but the last year we did it was so bitterly cold (using an old lamp as a heater = desperation) that I think we have to get over that memory first!

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My making process is quite messy. I get out my piles of fabrics and paper (normally across the floor!), then I start to collage them together while snipping out shapes, but nothing is stuck or pinned down. I then carefully carry it to my sewing machine where I stitch over the fabrics, using my sewing machine as a tool for drawing.

Where do you look for inspiration?
Nature, nature and more nature. For as long as I can remember, nature has played a big part in my day-to-day inspiration. As well as wanting to capture nature’s beauty through my work, I want to have as minimal effect on the environment as possible. Nature is incredible.

For a long time I was fascinated by the golden ratio which is found throughout nature (in the growth of an aloe plant or a fern unfurling, for example). I guess this was the mathematical side of my brain influencing me. But now my work feels very organic and a lot less structured – it’s much more free form, which is probably the influence of my children. Meadow’s art has a beautiful naivety to it, and a child’s interpretation of how something looks or should look is quite eye opening sometimes. It’s made me think a bit more loosely and less rigidly. We have cameras if we want something to look exactly as it is – seeing a drawing or piece of textile art is like viewing the world through that person’s individual outlook.

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Craft is a refined skill, passionately creating something with your hands that’s personal to your own unique style.

Where do you source your fabrics and how do they become a piece of Lotus Blossom loveliness? 
I’m keen to limit the impact of what I create on the environment, so I very rarely buy anything ‘new’. My fabrics are upcycled from charity shop finds, such as an old scarf or dress. My making process is quite messy. I get out my piles of fabrics and paper (normally across the floor!), then I start to collage them together while snipping out shapes, but nothing is stuck or pinned down. I then carefully carry it to my sewing machine where I stitch over the fabrics, using my sewing machine as a tool for drawing. As I don’t draw on paper first, it often takes me quite a few attempts to get the desired look. Once I’ve run out of a certain fabric or embellishment, that’s it, it’s gone! So each piece is very much a one off.

lotus blossom, interview

I have a beautiful ‘garden studio’, which anyone else would call a conservatory. I love the natural lighting and as it’s all glass it feels like I’m outside and right up close to nature.

Can you describe your workspace? Where is it and what’s in it?
I have a beautiful ‘garden studio’, which anyone else would call a conservatory. I love the natural lighting and as it’s all glass it feels like I’m outside and right up close to nature. I have two desks, one for sewing and a general-use one (AKA dumping ground of threads, fabrics, ideas and work in progress). I have a brilliant cupboard system that homes my hoardings of floral wallpapers, ribbons, buttons, fabrics, sequins, lace etc, basically anything that looks pretty and could be of use in the future :)

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I have two desks, one for sewing and a general-use one (AKA dumping ground of threads, fabrics, ideas and work in progress)

What’s the best thing about being creative for a living?
The freedom to create ANYTHING everyday. That’s also probably a hindrance as my mind is always so chockablock of ideas that it’s difficult to make everything! Fine tuning and refining is the tricky part. The flexibility is great, and having my studio in the house means I can work at times that suit me and fit around family life. I used to time how long a piece took me to make by the amount of baby/toddler naps it took me, ie 1 nap = 2 hours, 1 piece = 2 naps = 4 hours (ish)

Now Meadow is older (nearly four) she’s beginning to show real interest in what I make while she’s at playgroup. When she comes home, she insists that I show her and get her feedback. When I have open studios she now tells everyone she sees to “Come and see my mummy’s studio – she makes birds”. It makes me happy that she’s being brought up in a creative environment. I do worry that with the increase of technology available to the next generation they will loose that ‘hands-on’ messy creative play (which I’m still doing at the age of 27!). So I feel it’s even more important now to encourage this.

Lotus Blossom, Lotus Blossom Cards, Lotus Blossom Textiles, textile art, textile artist, British textile art

I do worry that with the increase of technology available to the next generation they will loose that ‘hands-on’ messy creative play (which I’m still doing at the age of 27!). So I feel it’s even more important now to encourage this.

If you weren’t a maker, what would you be?
A bookkeeper! Strange as it may seem, I am equally interested in both art and maths (I studied maths, physics and art at A-level). When it came to choosing a career I took the art path, but I still get my weekly fix of maths by doing my own books. It’s probably very odd to say but I do love a spreadsheet!

Wren textile art, original textile art

Original Wren Textile Art by Lotus Blossom

I used to time how long a piece took me to make by the amount of baby/toddler naps it took me, ie 1 nap = 2 hours, 1 piece = 2 naps = 4 hours (ish)

What would you say to someone thinking about selling their work?
Go for it! There is no better feeling than selling work to someone that loves it. The very first time I sold my work to a gallery I was so apprehensive. After stuttering to the owner about my work, she rapidly put my work into two piles – one to sell and one which was a no. I felt a bit bruised that she would dismiss some work straight away but it hardened me and helped me realise that not everybody will like what you do, because craft and art are so subjective, but you still need to put yourself out there and it’s so rewarding when something you have so lovingly made goes to a lovely new home.

Sarah Chatterton, Lotus Blossom, interview, textile artist, uk

There is no better feeling than selling work to someone that loves it.

How would you spend your perfect day?
Cuddles in bed with my littlies is the best way to start the day, and then in no particular order: a trip to a charity shop, a couple of hours uninterrupted in the studio, cooking a nice healthy homemade meal, maintaining the vegetable patch, reading with Meadow and giggling with Aspen. In fact, looking at that written down I’m very fortunate that most days I manage to fit in a fair bit of perfectness :)

Sarah Chatterton, interview, textile artist

When I was at university studying textile art, I was always told that my work was too “fluffy” and never really contextual enough. Now that I’m a little wiser to this, I’ve come to the conclusion that I make craft because it’s pretty and I like and enjoy it.

What does craft mean to you?
I actually find this quite a tricky question, as I’m always torn between what makes a craft an art. When I was at university studying textile art, I was always told that my work was too “fluffy” and never really contextual enough. Now that I’m a little wiser to this, I’ve come to the conclusion that I make craft because it’s pretty and I like and enjoy it, and if other people like your craft than that’s a bonus. I believe craft is a refined skill, passionately creating something with your hands that’s personal to your own unique style.

Seagull textile art, lotus blossom, sarah chatterton

Original Seagull Textile Artwork by Lotus Blossom

See more Lotus Blossom textile art on Folksy >

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