inspiration weeks Day 12: Sandra Monat of Herzensart
I think I knew Friederike, Sandra's adorable, sassy sheep sidekick before I knew Sandra. I was drawn in by some pictures I saw on flickr. I then became aware of just how talented Sandra was when I saw her the plush art she had created for the plush you show in Seattle. They were so creative and unique I just knew a special mind and two very talented hands must have been behind that work. I followed her art over the next few months from a quiet distance but then one day I was offering up some vintage fabric bundles for swapping and was delighted when Sandra sent me an email offering to swap for some. I had visitors arriving from British Columbia with my wonderful little nephew Roberto and so Sandra sent me a Drakkar ( a phenomenal viking ship ) soft pillow. You can see the delight in Roberto's face when he received his gift.
It has been great looking at her new creations for little glimpses of some of the vintage fabrics I sent her. Here is the latest one with a piece of vintage tea towel as the shirt.
What inspires you in your creativity?
I find inspiration in many things, like books and magazines, mythological stories, also in materials or patterns, and in things I already loved in my childhood days ( for example history and vikings).
But also the hughe creative wave and community is such an enormous inspirational source. And then there is inspiration in the mere chance. When you begin doing something with your hands, drawing, cutting, glueing, whatever. Having already an idea in your head or no idea at all and all of a sudden you are led effortlessly to a different direction and a new, maybe even better idea just by the doing itself, by the pure chance. That´s like the kiss of a muse. Whenever this happens it´s so satisfying and I´m happy as can be.
If you tried to trace back the series of events that lead to you making things and opening an etsy shop where would it begin?
I always loved making things with my own hands like my grandmother and mother did before. Both were very creative and especially my grandmother could make something out of nearly nothing. For example she worked a lot with old clothes that she cutted into stripes and braided to rugs. My mother painted furniture, embroidered and sewed clothes for me and my brother.
I never thought I would sit behind a sewing machine myself. But in 2005 when my husband presented me a sewing machine, I found myself exactly sitting there. I also had just found Friederike!, a wooden sheep that I restored, this sheep led me to a fabric store for the first time since my childhood, where I bought a new blue hair fabric for her.
At the same time had discovered the world of craft blogs. I remember beeing so fascinated and inspired by the huge creative community out there, especially all the wonderful handmade softies. My first sewn pieces were a mess, but being a painter at that time and working mainly two dimensional, I discovered soon the satisfying feeling of creating three dimensional, textile pieces.
When I started making soft toys it was not my intention to doing this for making a living. After I got some nice feedback from people that I showed my creations, I felt encouraged to offer them for sale. Working with fabrics and threads, combining patterns and textures and developing my own designs became my passion and full time job. At the beginning I didn´t care so much about making patterns, or if my creations are usable and it took a while until I found my own hallmark. But I would say, it was more a kind of a natural development that it grew into a tiny business.
How did you learn your crafting skills?
simply by trial and error.
Can you describe an environment : time, place and company ( people or pets) where you feel most creative?
I need much time on my own and I find myself being most effective and creative whenever I have a few days in row being alone. My husband is regularly on business trips, this gives me much freedom for my thoughts, time and also for using the space around me. Don´t get me wrong, I love my husband and I miss him when he is away, but I think being on your own allows you to spend the time in your very own rhythm, from the morning to the evening, without compromise. Yes I think having space on my own (in every meaning) and living in my own rhythm is very important for my creativity. Besides I have two cats, who are cuddly studio companions.
What do you have planned 2009?
2009 is a very special year for me. I decided to separate my studio from my home and so I´m actually in the middle of renovating a studio outside my home, which I´m very soon going to share with Bogi Bell (sehgang.blogspot.com), a friend of mine. It´s a new, exciting situation for me. But I think we will manage this collaboration very well.
I´m looking forward to new ideas that can arise through this new studio situation. We are going to have an exhibition room, which allows us to have open studio days, meeting people etc.
I´d also love to do some bigger thematical installations, maybe trying out new materials and techniques, but we will see.
What advice or encouragement would you offer another creative person contemplating taking a big step to open a shop or blog in 2009?
In 1999 I met an elder artist on a holiday trip to Mallorca. At this time I had a well paid job, but dreamed to do what I always wanted to do, to paint and being an artist. I told him that I´m contemplating taking that big step. He listened to me and after I had told him about all my worries at length, he looked at me and the only thing he said was: "stop talking about making art, just do it". It should take another 4 years until I plucked up courage to quit my job and to follow my heart.
I don´t want to say quit your secure jobs, but if you want to open a shop or a blog: follow the advice of the old man :) and have fun.
I think Sandra is a genius with the way she mixes fabrics, colors and textures and brings such personality and life to her plush art. I can't wait to see what she dreams up for 2009.
I am awaiting two more interviews that I am really excited about. I will post them as they arrive over the next week or so intermingled with a tutorial or two and general good news. I will announce the winner of the blog birthday giveaway tomorrow. Thanks to everyone who left comments . I think I have read them over a few times now and each and every one of them is precious.