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Monday 23 May 2011

10 Minutes on the Couch with….. amy aardvark

When we heard there was an artist in Dulwich running local craft workshops, we got very excited about meeting with her to find out more, especially as her blog bio states ‘amy aardvark was born under a print table with a squeegee in one hand and needle and thread in the other’ what more could we ask for from our tutor…..

Tell us about your Arts background?
When I was twelve, I begged my art teacher to show me how to print and from there my passion for printing was born. I started with fine art printing before dabbling with textiles. Over the ensuing years, it was textiles that took the helm and – with a business idea brewing – it was textile printing that became the focus for amy aardvark. I have a degree in textiles print and I’ve run amy aardvark for approximately 5 years. My business currently encompasses home accessories – which are hand-printed on organic, fair-trade materials and ethically sourced – fine art print (under my real name, Amy Hutchings) and workshops teaching textile skills.

We love your branding, but tell us more about why you picked the name aardvark?
I had just moved into halls at University. On the first evening, around 30 strangers all sat in a room together. No one was talking, so I introduced myself, said “let’s play a name game – I’m Amy Aardvark, who are you...” and the name stuck!

What drew you to creating and teaching your own workshops?
I love working with other people and then it occurred to me that I could teach others my skills! I had taught creative textiles at a college and I’d run workshops in a variety of places, but I’d never thought to do it for myself. It’s the best thing in the world; I get to make new friends, chatter over cups of tea and cake, be creative and help others be creative – what better way to spend an afternoon?

How long have you been teaching craft workshops?
I ran the first one before Christmas and it was a great success. We had wine and mince pies and the girls all left with a cushion that they had designed, appliquéd, embroidered and then made! All in one afternoon – it was an incredible achievement!

Tell us more about your classes, what can we expect from them?
My classes focus on textile techniques, such as appliqué, hand embroidery and cushion making, although there are others: how to update and embellish a garment, plush toy making and purse making to name a few more. I also run badge making workshops for children and at festivals. Everyone rocks up and enjoys a cup of tea or freshly ground coffee and biscuits, then we have an introduction to the session, learn the basics (so the key stitches or the process to make something), consider what each participant wishes to achieve and discuss the best way to approach this and then we get cracking! There is always a point when the chatter of conversation dies down and is replaced by the sound of industrious working. We listen to good music, have refreshment breaks with toasted tea cakes and conclude with a great sense of achievement!

Do you do classes for kids? (put in the age group you cater for)
I run badge-making workshops for children, which pretty much spans all ages. I will be planning a few in over the summer – but at present I’m definitely booked to run the workshop at the South Park Gardens Music Festival, http://www.southparkgardensmusicfestival.com/ which is amazing! It’s an incredible festival that provides a platform for young musicians of all genres. Its host is XFM DJ John Kennedy and the guys who started it three years ago are the best I know.

Which is your favourite class and why?
To date, I think that the voodon’t valentine workshop was my favourite! It was great to see the participants using their new embroidery skills to create something so different, so personal. I was amazed by the results. 

 Do you have a secret sewing tip you could share with us?
When threading a sewing machine needle lick your thumb and fore-finger and wipe them over both sides of the eye. This breaks the tension and threading can be done in one try.

Do you have any exciting workshops coming up this year?
I do – the next one is in June and is the cushion making course. I have very limited places on this, so if you are interested get in touch soon to book. I also really want to run a lampshade workshop, where participants can design and create fabric for the lampshade of their dreams! I will then send their unique creation off to be hand-rolled into a professional lampshade!

Describe your classes in 3 words.
Friendly, informative, fun (don’t take my word for it – check out the feedback: http://amyaardvark.blogspot.com/p/testimonials.html )

Finally, when you add cream or jam to a scone, which do you spread first?
Definitely a layer of cream then a HUGE blob of jam smeared over it! Yummy!

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