Meet the Maker – Clare Gets Crafty
Clare Gordon from Clare Gets Crafty is an inspiration. As well as being our Support Genie at Folksy Team, Clare organises the Harborne Handmade craft market in Birmingham, runs her own creative business, crochets, paints and embroiders, all while bringing up two young children. We thought it was about time you all met her properly, so here she is in conversation with fellow Folksy designer Sarah Watkins…
To celebrate being our featured maker Clare is offering 15% off on everything in her Folksy shop until midnight on Sunday 13th September – just add discount code Colourful15 when you check out https://folksy.com/shops/claregetscrafty
I guess you could say my main inspiration for getting crafty was trying to find some calm in the chaos of new motherhood.Clare Gordon, Clare Gets Crafty
You have such a bright and fun range – I particularly love your plant pots and baskets. Tell us how did it all begin? Was there one single thing that inspired you?
Thank you so much! I was a bit of late bloomer when it comes to crafting. I come from a long line of artists and crafters, but it took me until my late twenties to realise the positive effect of craft on my mental health. I first picked up a crochet hook when I was 28, a new mum with a six-month old baby. I’d already dabbled in knitting but found I didn’t have the patience, so decided to teach myself to crochet – as if I didn’t have enough on my plate at the time!
Read Clare’s ‘Craft & Wellbeing’ series here > https://blog.folksy.com/category/craft-and-wellbeing
I needed something that was just for me, that I could pick up in the evenings when the baby was asleep and lose myself in. Well, it wasn’t quite that mindful at the beginning! It took me a good few months to get to grips with it, but once I found my rhythm I was hooked (no pun intended) and I’ve found crochet very calming and stress-relieving ever since. So I guess you could say my main inspiration for getting crafty was trying to find some calm in the chaos of new motherhood.
Running your own business has to be about boundaries and making time for the things that are important and the things that motivate you.Clare Gordon, Clare Gets Crafty
I find juggling my time between designing packing and social media occasionally difficult, and worry that I give too much time to one and not the other. Do you have a daily routine for running your shop and social media, as well as keeping your very busy home-life going?
I also find the juggle quite difficult, especially over the last six months when I’ve had my two boys and my husband at home with me most days. Now that things are slowly getting back to ‘normal’, I try to fit everything work-related into the six hours of the school day and leave the evenings free for family time. To do this, I have to be really strict with myself and I have notifications on my phone that stop me from scrolling through Instagram all day long! As a basic rule, I try to set the morning aside for admin (replying to emails, packing orders, posting on social media) and then the afternoon is free for me to be more creative.
Running your own business has to be about boundaries and making time for the things that are important and the things that motivate you. Get the boring stuff done in the morning and then you have the rest of the day to play!
My favourite ever piece was my colourful circles blanket which I made as part of a 100-day project. It really was a wonderful celebration of colour.Clare Gordon, Clare Gets Crafty
I saw a beautiful bright throw on your Folksy shop. Can you tell us the process you go through to choose the colours, and do you have a favourite piece that you’ve made?
I absolutely love colour, I don’t think I could live without it! Colour really does make me happy and I love using a wide palette of colours in my work. However, I find I’m always drawn to my favourites – teal, turquoise, bright pink and mustard – so you’ll find these in a lot of the pieces I make. My favourite ever piece was my colourful circles blanket which I sold in January. I made it as part of a 100-day project and it was inspired by American contemporary artist Polly Apfelbaum’s exhibition ‘Waiting for the UFOs’ at the Ikon Gallery in Birmingham in 2018. Using only the yarn I already had in my stash, I crocheted one circle each day for 100 days. I loved the process of putting the colours together each day – some were completely random combinations, others were inspired by my outfit that day or a plant in the garden – and each circle was unique. The completed blanket really was a wonderful celebration of colour.
What do you do to relax? Are there others crafts that you like to do?
The million dollar question! If you ask my husband, he would say that I can’t relax, I have to be doing something, even when I’m sitting on the sofa in the evening. I try to have a selfish crochet project on the go, that I can work on in the evenings. At the moment, I’m hooking a cardigan for myself and it doesn’t feel like work because it’s completely different to the pieces I make for my Folksy shop. I also love trying out other crafts and during lockdown I really got into embroidery. I attended a canal art workshop back in January and loved it, so I really want to find more time to paint.
Over the past year, I’ve been focussing more and more on the sustainability of my work and my plan is to concentrate on expanding my range of upcycled tshirt yarn baskets.Clare Gordon, Clare Gets Crafty
What plans do you have for your business in the future, and how would you like it to develop over time?
As counter-productive as it may sound, I try not to plan too much. The best things have happened to me when I was least expecting them and I’m really happy with how my business is organically evolving over time. I’ve been selling on Folksy for six years now and my work has changed a lot. When I first started out, I was making small cuddly rabbits and dinosaurs, then I discovered tshirt yarn (made from the offcuts of fabric used for the clothing manufacture process) and started making baskets and hanging planters. Over the past year, I’ve been focussing more and more on the sustainability of my work and my plan is to concentrate on expanding my range of upcycled tshirt yarn baskets.
Alongside making, I also organise seasonal craft markets in Harborne, Birmingham, and I hope to continue doing those. I have an events management background, so I really enjoy putting on a fantastic market and showcasing the best local makers.
My favourite source of inspiration is contemporary art and I love playful use of colour.Clare Gordon, Clare Gets Crafty
What’s your favourite source of inspiration?
My favourite source of inspiration is contemporary art and I follow a lot of illustrators and designers on Instagram. My favourites are Lisa Congdon, Helen Dardik, Carolyn Gavin and Ingela Parrhenius. I love their playful use of colour.
You gave up your job to do full time crafting. Was that an easy decision to make and has it been a smooth road to where you are now?
I worked for eight years as an events manager for a university before leaving in 2015. The hours were often anti-social and no longer fitted with my family life. I found I was working just to pay the childcare bill and I was so tired that I didn’t have the energy to be a good mum. It felt like the right time to leave and the decision was quite easy but I was very lucky to have a supportive husband who could pay the bills while I found my feet as a full-time maker.
Many of my former colleagues have told me how proud they are of me, that I followed my passion and set up on my own. One even said, ‘I loved working with you but I’m so glad you left’. I’ve found where I need to be right now. I wouldn’t say it’s been a smooth road – setting up a business is a steep learning curve and I’m still learning – but I have no regrets.
Enjoy 15% off Clare Gets Crafty with code ‘Colourful15‘ – valid until midnight on 13th September