Published in issue 18, August 2012
And Interview with
Tell us about the lady behind Beads by Design
My name is Karen Clark. I live in a beautiful village called South Cave in East Yorkshire. I am a professionally qualified interior designer who has moved into the creative arts field. Previously I trained as a nurse, worked as a childminder and I now work full time as a creative designer and produce jewellery, tiaras, acrylic paintings, papier mache, fabric goods, polymer clay, mixed media, cards, wedding stationery, notebooks etc. I am a free style crafter. I prefer to use my own approach to using materials rather than working from traditional method or instruction. I am inventive in my approaches.
I am a mum of three children, married and juggle family life with the crafting. I work in creative clutter!
When did first begin creating your designs, and why?
When I qualified as an interior designer, I wanted to get my self out in to the community to show what I do. I applied for a stall at the local farmers market and was turned down because “they didn’t do interior design”. I met the challenge head on, got a copy of the requirements for the market which stated that products had “to be made by hand, use local ingredients etc”
I went around local hedgerows collecting berries, bark, twigs and pine cones, dried them and made pot pourri, gathered drift wood from the banks of the Humber and made clocks, mirrors and lamps. I also made some jewellery items. I was given a stall. The creations were well received and so I made more.
It was after this that I set up my website http://beadsbydesign.co.uk
What is it that you enjoy about your work?
Work? I don’t work in the traditional sense as everything I do, be it actively creating, designing, writing, researching etc is delving into a world of fun. I feel like I’m on a journey of exploration finding and discovering new ideas.
I think along with many crafters, the most enjoyable part is assembly and creation. Ideas sketched out, planned, components ordered and then the item finally comes together and I can share it with other people.
What is your biggest crafting achievement, and why?
I think the biggest achievement for me was having the courage to actually get out there, doing craft demonstrations and public speaking and teaching as naturally I am a quiet and shy person.
Having my first project published in a magazine was a big moment and gave me a real confidence boost.
Other than your crafting, what else do you like to do?
I love music and sing in a local worship band. I grow my own vegetables and have gradually dug up my front garden to grow more.
A large part of my non-crafting life is spent playing mum taxi for two of my three children who are gifted musicians and are forever needing to be taken to rehearsals. The upside is that we get to go to a lot of concerts and hear some wonderful talent.
I am a prolific blogger and write four
If you had to choose your favourite from your creations which one would it be?
My Memory Quilts: I think it’s a fantastic thing to take someone’s treasured clothing and turn them into a lasting memento. I’ve made quilts from babies clothing, children’s clothing and a granddad’s shirts and ties. Often these are emotionally charged creations and it’s a honour to create them.
I love my Nativity story bracelets which tell the Christmas story. I wrote a poem and created the representative beads for the various characters. The reception I get for these is lovely and I know they are going to be treasured. Each bracelet is different and unique and I like this approach rather than mass producing them.
Where does your inspiration come from?
As an interior designer I specialised in the use of colour. I get a lot of my inspiration from colour. I love brave colour schemes and see potential in sunsets, floral borders etc. South Cave is a lovely village set in rolling hills with woods, fields and so much colour to take in and use in creations.
My favourite place is Northumberland’s vast wild beaches. I have so many memories stored up in my head that provide me with starting points for new idea.
I always have stones, twigs and leaves in my bags because every time I venture out of the house, I pick up bits and pieces.
If you could change one thing about what you do, what would it be?
I would love to have a permanent workshop, so that I could leave my half done projects out. My current workshop doubles as a dining room /music practice room and so I have to share. (Still, it does make me tidier than my own personal workshop would be)
Do you have a favourite website?
Craft Juice. ( http://craftjuice.com) It is a fantastic resource for crafters to be able to showcase their creations and for others to admire them. It’s great for those who just want to share with other people what they have created and to receive feedback. I’ve had lots of work come through Craft Juice and so it’s always worth popping my latest design on there. It’s free and has some amazing work and designs to look at and be inspired.
Has any person helped or supported you more than any other?
My Grandma treasured each item I ever made for her as a child / teenager. She would store up my handmade Christmas cards and bring them all out every Christmas. I made her a plaster cast Peter Rabbit as a child, it was painted with garish colours and stood brash on her sideboard along with her “proper” ornaments. I quilled (paper curling) an egg and it was placed into her fine china cabinet. These things were her treasures, but seeing them there gave me a wonderful warm feeling.
It’s only as an adult and too late that I fully appreciated her belief in me. I hope that now I make her proud.
Tell us a random fact about yourself!
I hate cooking. I often boil pans dry because I get distracted making and doing crafty things!! There is currently proof sitting outside my back door!