Why this particular craft? I think this craft is in my blood and began in childhood. I remember my grandmother showing me her embroidery in between us both cooking and baking stuff.
Have you tried plenty of others? I’ve done loads of stuff in the past, including graphic design (at college). I did tons of painting, and even had an exhibition at a gallery once. I still love illustrating, which is where a lot of my designs start. I’ve recently done screen printing, too.
Who taught you your crafting skills? I’ve done ‘crafty’ things since I was a child and just naturally developed my preferences. When it comes to embroidery, I had a basic idea of it, but there really was (and still is) no substitute for experience. I just bought the stuff and got on with it. It was the same with buying a sewing machine and going, ‘Right, what does this do?’ and figuring it out by myself.
What does this craft mean to you? This craft is obviously really personal to me, as it represents the journey I’ve been on with starting my own little business, The Fox in the Attic, and all the hard creativity and steep learning curve I’ve experienced. It represents my independence and strength, and reminds me that challenging myself is good and can reap huge benefits.
From where do you draw inspiration? When I lived in London I was spoiled with so many exhibitions, galleries and cultural events. Moving to East Sussex has totally changed the way I find inspiration for my business. St. Leonards-on-Sea has recently become a haven for a type of like-minded creative entrepreneur, and the small town is now filled almost to bursting with galleries, haberdasheries, artists and makers all sharing inspirations from current trends and starting new ones. The atmosphere crackles with electricity and excitement and is something that I feed off intensely. Since having my daughter, Penelope, the ideas for toys definitely seem to come more easily to me.
Why this skill – and this style? My father always told us to do what we love. I’ve always known that I would have to work for myself one day if I wanted to really be happy, and so one day I just decided to start making toys. The choice to make things for children was probably partly inspired by my fascination with, and admiration of, people like Beatrix Potter, Lewis Carroll, Herge and Roald Dahl. My love of embroidery and illustration play a big part in my designs.
How would you describe your style? I like to think I start from an almost innocent, wide-eyed, child-like place that leads to some unpretentious basic ideas which I can use as a springboard. I often have more ideas than I know what to do with, so I have loads of stuffed notebooks overflowing with doodles and notes. Obviously colour plays a massive role in my style, hopefully in a pleasing, eye-catching and imaginative way.
Michelle Kreussel, The Fox in the Attic