Meet the Maker: Julie Love Little Works of Art
Julie Saggerson’s brand name describes what she does perfectly. Her shop is called Julie Love Little Works of Art and its virtual shelves are stacked with gorgeous little works of art made in wood, with extra details created from fabric, metal and found treasures. The first piece Julie ever made was a Robin Redbreast and she continues to be inspired by wildlife and the outdoors, focusing her talents on making wooden birds and houses, many of them personalised commissions and housewarming gifts. Potter and fellow Folksy maker, Susan Frankel from Caractacus Pots talks to Julie to find out more about her perfect little labours of love…
I make unique little works of art hand-crafted from wood, metal, textiles and other bits and bobs!
Tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do…
Hello I’m Julie and live with my husband in the North West of England. I love being outdoors and spending time with positive people. I have a day job supporting the emotional health and well-being of children in school and also run my little handmade venture, with the help of my husband.
I’ve always been inspired by wildlife and the outdoors. I love being outdoors and spending time with positive people.
Your work is beautiful and very detailed. How long does it take you to make a bird or a house?
Thank you. The time it takes varies very much from piece to piece. I have learned that it’s more time-effective to produce a run of one bird, for example a Blue Tit. They still take a few hours though, as there are a various stages to complete. My house commissions, where I work from photographs to create a sculptural house portrait in wood, can take a few days with all the little details. Because I mostly use reclaimed and repurposed wood, it can take a while to remove nails and sand it back to reveal the beautiful knots and grain but the end result is worth it.
I started off by giving my pieces away as gifts to friends and family, and they had a really positive response that it kind of took off from there.
Why did you choose to make birds? Have you ever made any other wildlife models?
I’ve always been inspired by wildlife and the outdoors. The first bird I made was a Robin. I started off by giving them away as gifts to friends and family, and they had a really positive response that it kind of took off from there. I have made other animals in the past but found that it’s so much better to focus on a couple of products, in my case garden birds and houses, both in terms of time and marketing my wares.
It’s a 30 second walk down my garden to my workshop, which is great.
I see that you have a workshop in your garden and that one of your Pinterest boards is called ‘Dream Workshop‘. Have you now built your dream workspace?
When I was designing my workshop, I had images of soft colours, vases of flowers and me lounging around on cushions! In reality, I needed a really practical workspace with loads of space and storage and an area for packaging. My husband built it, so it is bespoke to our needs. I did manage to squash in a little chill-out area with a wood burner though, so yes, I am really happy with the result.
My customers often send me messages telling me the story behind their order… it’s always a privilege when a client asks for a commission of something very personal to them.
What’s the best compliment you’ve received about your work?
I think the best compliment is when someone uses their hard-earned money to pay for something that I’ve created. My customers often send me photographs of my birds in their new homes, as well as messages telling me the story behind their order and the response they got from the recipient. It’s always a privilege when a client asks for a commission piece of something very personal to them.
How did you learn the various skills you use?
I’m self-taught, so trial and error! I’ve made things for as long as I can remember – originally I worked with textiles but then found a real love for wood. I’m still mastering the power tools.
Some days I love the routine of sanding and painting birds, then other days I love to work on tiny detailed pieces such as Home on the Hill.
Which is the most satisfying piece to make and why?
It depends on my mood! Some days I love the routine of sanding and painting birds, then other days I love to work on tiny detailed pieces such as Home on the Hill.
What inspires you?
Definitely the outdoors. The seasons, smells, colour, wildlife, gardening – so many things can trigger an idea. When my brain is in creative mode I need to keep a notepad beside my bed so I can jot down ideas at 3am!
When I was designing my garden workshop, I needed a really practical space with lots of storage… but I did manage to squash in a little chill-out area with a wood burner
What has been the highlight of your crafting career so far?
For me, it’s the simple things such as knowing there are lots of my pieces sitting on shelves in people’s homes. A definite highlight was my very first sale on Folksy – I could hardly contain my excitement on receiving that confirmation email!
Can you describe your daily working routine?
If it’s a purely creative day I start with a cup of Earl Grey tea and slice of toast, check Instagram, Facebook and my emails then make a ‘to-do’ list. It’s a 30 second walk down my garden to my workshop, which is great. Once I’m in full creative flow, I focus on customer orders then usually work on a new idea, which I will keep coming back to. It can be a juggling act if I have a craft market coming up, so my husband and I will split the work between us.
Another recent commission… we worked from the top left photo to create a representation of a lovely home. Hand-crafted from wood. I can honestly say each piece is made (usually by both of us at various stages) with a whole heap of love! Send me some pics here, on FB or via my @folksyhq shop for a price & information (of course no obligation 😊) J x #julielovelittleworksofart
If I’m honest, I find it really difficult to juggle making and updating my Folksy shop and social media. Instagram and Facebook have been brilliant for me, but you need to be consistent in posting content.
You opened your Folksy shop in 2013 and recently made your 335th sale. Congratulations! How did you get there and do you think there’s a secret to being successful when you sell online?
Thank you! I was delighted when I hit my 300th sale. If I’m honest, I find it really difficult to juggle making and updating my Folksy shop and social media. I think when selling online the most important thing is to be yourself, keep your own identity and personality and this will come across in your work and to potential customers. I think it’s really important to stay focussed on your products and concentrate on developing them rather than trying to do too many things. Instagram and Facebook have been brilliant for me, but you need to be consistent in posting content. It’s so important to support fellow creatives and I would love to take part in more information sharing/networking opportunities such as #FolksyHour but I need more hours in a day!
Believe it or not, I’ll be starting work on Christmas pieces soon, as each year those busy months catch me out.
What does the rest of 2017 have in store for your business?
I’ve got lots of ideas, so I’m really looking forward to seeing how they turn out. Believe it or not, I’ll be starting work on Christmas pieces soon, as each year those busy months catch me out. Hopefully Julie Love Little Works of Art will continue to grow – there’s enough room for all of us makers, so good luck to the rest of the Folksy gang too!
Meet the interviewer
The maker asking the questions this week is studio potter Susan Frankel from Caractacus Pots. Susan makes fun and functional cottage chic pottery and is a self-confessed pottery addict. Her ceramic creations range from yarn bowls featuring cute cat faces to personalised coffee cups and ceramic pestles and mortars.
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