We swooped by for a flying visit with a creative little finch who’s been ruffling feathers in the craft world, creating colourful and curious creatures out of porcelain, and hand painting each one individually – No two are exactly alike. The sky’s the limit for this determined Little Birdy, so we found out what’s inspiring her work, what it’s like to be a finch, and why she enjoys nothing more than squidging clay.
1. What’s the first piece of art you can remember making?
The first thing I remember doing creatively was taking a pair of scissors and giving the Venetian blinds a fringe effect much to my mothers horror, aged four! My father was a painter so I was used to the sight and smell of oil paint and paintings, but I was more interested in making little television sets out of paper with slits in so I could pull a paper ‘film reel’ of images I’d drawn through, instead of painting. However, I can’t remember a time that I wasn’t being creative in some capacity or other.
2. What first attracted you to working with clay?
The texture! As soon as I felt it I was hooked! I find it equally addictive and therapeutic which is a heady mix. I first came across it on a module at tertiary college and took to it straight away. Though only in a sculptural way – ask me to go on the wheel and make a pot and all I’d produce would be a wonky turd like specimen as I’m pretty uncoordinated! I do love the cool and malleable feel of clay and I think most people who dabble in it feel the same, and fall in love with the process pretty quickly.
3. How did Little Birdy come about and what made you decide to keep your identity top secret?
I’ve always worked in a creative way in different areas; drawing, sculpture, video installations, film etc, and when an unforeseen health issue meant I had to stop working in the way I had been, I started knitting and sewing as hobbies. I decided to do an art trail which was a roaring success and I realised there was a market for my work. I’d dabbled in ceramics on and off for years, just for fun (and its theraputic qualities) and realised it was the perfect medium to bring into my potential craft business. The sewing and knitting inevitably fell away as I progressed with the ceramics, and now I do ceramics and illustration exclusively, though I do miss sewing! As for being a secretive Little BIrdy, I’ve always been a private person and have always adopted pseudonyms for creative endeavours (I am a bit of a compartmentalist). Before I started Little Birdy I had never been on Facebook or any social media platforms and had no interest in them but soon realised it was very silly not to use them as a buisness, so with the help of a very patient friend I got onboard with it all and Little Birdy hatched! What started as a peculiarity of my privacy, actually has had a very positive unforeseen benefit on my buisness. As there’s no information online about my true identity in a world where everyone knows everything about everyone thanks to social media, the mystery seemed to intrigue people. Google Analytics showed people were going across all of my platforms in one session. Even if it was to try and find out who I was, it meant they were spending more time looking at my work than they potentially would have and that’s been very positive for my buisness!
4. Which artists/designers are inspiring you right now?
There are so many people who inspire me so the list could be endless but a few of my favourites are Mister Finch, Emily Sutton, Abigail Brown, Molly Hatch , Emma Cocker, and Erin’s Window!
5. When are you happiest?
When I’m with friends and family. I’m also pretty chipper when gardening and singing along with the radio, or watching films with clay on a tray on my lap, or at the cinema where I can’t do two things at once, so have to relax and do nada!
6. British wildlife features heavily in your work. What’s the attraction… and what’s it like to be a finch?
I think the attraction for me is that British / woodland wildlife are both part of my accessible world yet are part of fairytale lore so are fantastical too. Forest animals are particularly magical and to me, it’s just as easy to imagine them drinking water from a stream and being wild animals as it is imagining them in clothes talking and able to do magical things! These ideas are embedded in fairy tales and as children we accept the fantastical without question ,and a part of me still does.
7. What do you like to do when you’re not squidging clay?
Gardening is high on the list, though I tend to go overboard until the garden looks like a jungle! I’m always trying to finish my home nest too (at long last my bedroom is now a place for sleeping and reading and not doing crafts and paperwork! A portion of my time is set aside for eating tea and cake with friends (a high priority) and I love vintage bargain hunting!
8. What’s the last thing that made you say ‘wow’?
On a non-personal level, seeing the new Mad Max film! On a more craft/creative level, poring over the pages of Mr Finches book ‘Living in a Fairytale World.’
9. What advice would you give to a young artist? Why should one consider ceramics as the right medium for expressing ideas?
Try to think what makes your work individual and once you know what sort of demographic you’re catering to, find the best social media platform to advertise on. I spent a lot of time dabbling with different styles and mediums at the start but realised there was no cohesion to what I was making and that my work looked like it had come from lots of different artists! You need a passion for the medium you work in and you need to be patient. You also need to be realistic about earning money and then reinvesting it back into your buisness. Two of the most useful things Ive done to help my buisness grow is to utilise the (mainly) free social media platforms out there, and purchasing a collapsible photographic studio box called ‘Lightcase’ to improve my product images. I can’t stress enough the power of a good photograph so it’s worth getting that aspect right!
As for choosing ceramics as a medium, it’s certainly not as lucrative as design and print and is a very lengthy process, so patience is a must! However, it’s incredibly satisfying, theraputic and surprisingly addictive!
10. How would you like to be remembered?
I always joke that it will say ‘Forever in search of good storage!’ on my gravestone but I’d like to me remembered as someone who brought colour and fun into people’s lives through my creativity .