Ever wondered what inspires the Craft Consortium design team? How they create their stunning work? What a typical day is like?...
We went behind the scenes with the talented Sarah Douglas to find out exactly that.
Hi Sarah, can you tell us a little more about your work and your crafting journey up until now?
Ever since I was little I have always loved arts and crafts – my mum would often set up craft sessions for us and we’d make our own Christmas crackers etc. I have also always collected stickers, beads and sequins so my love of craft products comes from a very early love of shiny things! I started crafting properly in 2012 after I’d been to Hobbycraft for supplies to make our wedding invitations. I couldn’t resist buying some beautiful (non-wedding-related) papers and stamps so I figured I’d better take up card making to put them to some use!
My style is mostly modern with a bit of rustic or shabby chic here and there, and I err on the side of clean and simple as I find it hard to add extra embellishments when a project looks pretty much complete! The balance of the design for the eye is the most important thing I consider when putting together a card.
What’s a typical crafting session like for you?
I am a bit of a wandering crafter and like to move around the house to craft depending on where I can get the best light! In summer I sit in the conservatory and in winter it’s mostly at my craft desk in the study. I probably manage to do bit of crafting most evenings after work and over the weekend when I’m not at the gym or out and about, and if I need to die cut or stamp something I’ll do it in batches so I have lots more of the same thing to use when making quick cards. That’s why you’ll often see 3 or 4 projects using the same papers or technique on my blog in one go.
Sounds like a busy schedule, would you say you’re a tidy crafter that likes everything to have its own place, or are you happiest in the mess that crafting can bring?
I’m pretty messy when crafting – stuff all over my desk and the floor – but I don’t like to be! Everything does have its place in my craft room but it’s rarely there! I’ll often leave bits out over a few days (or weeks even…) and then have a big tidy up in one go. I find it’s more inspiring to start with an empty desk than one full of stamps, papers and embellishments, but I have a thing where I can’t put a new item away until I’ve crafted with it so there are often new products ‘queued up’ for a while on top of my desk!
Talk us through how you develop your projects?
When I first started crafting I relied heavily on other people’s beautiful cards for inspiration and tried to follow the design of their elements on the page to help mine look balanced. Now that I’ve spent so long looking at cards and making my own I largely just put them together off the top of my head, moving elements around on the card to see what looks best before sticking them down. I rarely plan or sketch out makes as once the idea is down on paper it feels like the motivation to create it has then gone! As most crafters will tell you, Pinterest is the ultimate source of inspiration – I spend a lot of time on there and sometimes set myself a little challenge where I’ll close my eyes, scroll and point, and craft following whatever random thing I’ve pointed at for inspiration!
What’s your favourite Craft Consortium product?
My favourite Craft Consortium product is the English Garden paper pad designed by Hackney & Co. Though I love all the CC paper pads, this one just seems to have something special about it – I think it’s the delicacy of the designs. I also love the Bloom Beautiful pad designed by Shell Rummel. The colours are soft and dreamy and the texture and sheen of the papers really enhance the designs. There’s nothing else quite like these two paper pads on the market and it’s lovely to know the designer behind the artwork and think about how they have created each illustration as you’re crafting.
What is your favourite craft tool?
I would say my die cutting machine is pretty integral to my crafting. Even if it’s just simple shapes like circles, you get a perfect cut and it makes cards look so much neater. There’s also some really beautiful intricate dies that create such lavish designs – you’d never be able to get the same effect without them. I crafted quite happily for a year or so without one but after I got mine I felt it added a whole new dimension to my crafting. I don’t use it all the time – I often favour simple cards – but it brings me a lot of enjoyment knowing there are so many beautiful dies out there in the world I could use!
What product that hasn’t been invented yet would make your crafting a lot easier?
Hmm that’s a hard one – I think if we want crafting to be quick and easy it can be (or we’d all just be buying cards) but it’s the time and effort and enjoyment of doing something with your hands that makes crafting worthwhile. Having said that I seem to spend a lot of time poking and cutting paper out of die cuts that haven’t quite cut through properly (they’re nearly there and I don’t want to waste it!) so perhaps some magical tool that can shove those last little bits out of the die cut without ripping the paper on the back! And self-cleaning stamps too!
English Rose Paper Pad
What’s your favourite snack or drink to keep you going whilst creating?
I try not to snack as there would inevitably be chocolate on the front of the card and cake crumbs in the envelope. A nice cup of tea will do me! Or just some water or squash nearby so I don’t forget to drink when I’m absorbed in crafting.
What advice would you give to people just starting out in the world of crafting?
If you’re staring at a blank page not sure where to begin, have a look at other crafters’ work and pick something you love to follow for inspiration. You don’t have to recreate it step by step but you might like their layout, or colour combo or the way they have grouped embellishments and you can use that in your own work. It can also help to start out with ready made kits, like goody bags or packs that contain everything you need along with a finished design to follow, to help you build up confidence. If you’re keen to try a new technique look it up on YouTube and there will be plenty of tutorials. If you have questions, online forums or Facebook pages can be a good place to ask – crafters are always keen to help out by sharing their knowledge. You may also want to go along to in-store demonstrations in craft shops to see what can be done with new products and give you some ideas to try at home as well as guidance on what to buy.
What are your favourite three projects?
The first project I’ve chosen is some little bird houses I put together. It was a simple project – they are painted with acrylic paint and I cut and punched paper from the English Garden range to make the roofs but I love how they turned out and how sweet they look together.
Second is this simple ‘Just for you’ card made with the Bloom Beautiful range. I loved spending time cutting out the bird in detail and the card captures all the gorgeous colours and my favourite design in the collection that I wanted to show off.
Finally I’ve picked this upcycling project using the Button Rose decoupage paper. Credit largely goes to my husband James who did all the sanding, painting and varnishing, but I did the decoupaging on the side panels which I think brings the whole thing to life!
What crafting techniques do you want to try or improve this year?
I’d like to learn calligraphy so I can write nicely on and in my cards without ruining them! My first attempts have been pretty pitiful so it’s clearly something that’s going to take a lot of time and effort to do properly. I’m also determined to get around to shaker cards. I’ve seen them around a lot and just love some of the designs people have come up with but I still haven’t managed to put any proper shaker cards together myself.
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To see more of Sarah's's beautiful projects follow her here:
On her blog: www.sarahmakescards.blogspot.co.uk
On Twitter: @stickerkitten
On Instagram: @stickerkitten
On Facebook: Sticker Kitten