Meet the Maker: Ellie MawbyPosted on 2nd March 2022
Tell us a little about your business – what is it you make?
My business began with simple origami birds, clay cat-shaped incense holders and ‘craftivism’ patches, and has now grown into a body of work that includes original artworks, prints, textiles pieces, and greeting cards.
I’m currently working a few new product ideas – including designing my own fabric and making more homeware.
How did you get started in your creative field?
Studying at university opened me up to so many mediums and ways of working; I had the opportunity to explore ceramics and textiles, photography and sculpture, printmaking and graphic design. This usually meant there was a lot of cross-over between these disciplines and allowed me to be experimental with my ideas.
During my time at university I had the chance to study for a month in Japan. I was already inspired by Japanese culture and traditional art, but this trip meant I could learn the art of paper making, ink drawing and the traditional fashions of Japan. It was from here that I began to explore the concept of mindful art, the importance of taking time and care to make a unique product that can be functional or simply to be used to enhance a space.
Talk us through your creative process…
When I make one product, I look for creative ways to use any waste to make another; off-cuts of masks become scrunchies and keyrings, scraps from origami become handmade paper beads for jewellery. I save as much as I can in case it become a great idea for another product, while trying not to be a full-blown hoarder!
I’m constantly thinking of products that can be functional whilst still being low-cost, plastic free and environmentally-conscious. Materials for me are so important, and I want to make the most of them – even the empty thread spools, or any little scraps of fabric that can be turned into stuffing.
While I don’t work in my sketchbooks as much as I used to, I do occasionally dip back into them to have a little play-around with some doodles or some basic still-life drawing. This can often spark an idea to transfer onto a product – simple collages become greeting cards, or drawings can be the starting point of an embroidery piece. Drawing is always my go-to for when I’m feeling a bit uninspired and in need of some creative motivation, it doesn’t always need to lead to a big idea but just putting pen to paper is enough to get the ball rolling again.
What sort of space do you work in?
My space looks out onto the garden, and nothing beats a warm, sunny day with the sun shining through, the neighbour cats passes by, the record player on, and a good cup of tea to really set me up for a day of making. I’m definitely grateful to have a space dedicated to my craft and it means I can organise my products and materials while still having space to work on multiple projects and having all my home comforts nearby.
Having my own space to evolve and experiment with materials is a gentle reminder of the importance of the process. My work intends to offer a sense of peacefulness, and being able to freely move in and out of creative flows is really important for me to reflect this in my practice.
What are the values behind your business?
My core values centre around sustainability; I want my designs to be for the benefit of both the audience and the environment. I think about what I make, as well as how I make it and how it will be used.
Where do you find creative inspiration?
It’s usually the material that become the starting point for me. I’m always on the look-out for new fabrics or interesting papers, and then the ideas start forming from there. Once I’ve found that perfect material, it’ll be from there that I start to play around with ideas of what to make.
Instagram is always an endlessly inspiring way for me to come across artists from all over the world, so I’m often seeking out inspiration from my feed. A few of my favourite local makers/artists are: Ying Liu (https://www.liuyingceramics.com), Jessie McGuiness (@jessieroseillustration), Hollie Kingston (https://www.holliekingston.com/shop-forme), and Lydia Higginson (https://mademywardrobe.com) – Bath / Bristol have such an incredible range of artists doing such wonderful things so it’s really motivating to see people making and showcasing their work and sharing their ideas.
Are there themes that run through your work?
My work is inspired by Japanese traditional art, the process of reusing and repurposing, environmental-consciousness, handmade qualities and intricate details. I want to offer a contemporary approach to environmentally-aware art, with products that are thoughtfully and mindfully created.
What do you love most about making?
Making offers something so unique – it’s a chance for a person to put their thoughts, ideas and skills into a visual object. It involves patience, persistence and determination, while being the most therapeutic and calming thing to do. It can take a while for ideas to form and the motivation to kick in, when an idea become realised it is so so rewarding. For me, it’s so comforting to know my craft is there when I need an escape and it’s something that will continue to give me so much satisfaction.
Which piece of work are you most proud of?
My older sister had always wanted her own rabbit which she’d name Raclette, so I decided to sew one for her! – it was just so lovely to see the power of a handmade gift and I felt so proud that I was able to create that for her. It was unlike anything I had made before so I definitely had to learn as I went along, but it gave me such confidence to know I could do it, I’d love to make more!
Describe your work in three words…
Soft / Monochrome / Mindful