Please can you introduce yourself and tell us a little about your work?I’m Chris and I call what I do ‘Lazy Crafternoons’. I’m a crafty guy who dabbles in all sorts of craft and making activities including printing, knitting carpentry, handmaking bath and body products and quilting and patchworking. I’ve brought my crafty roots from Canada with me to Bristol a'nd have used them to build a business where I teach people to make things and spread my DIY spirit and ethos. Although my home will always be in Canada, I feel most at home wherever I am knee deep in craft supplies and surrounded by half-empty cold cups of tea.
Apart from creating things what else do you do?
When I’m not making things and teaching people to make things, I also work in museums and heritage sites– teaching audiences about history and engaging people in creative workshops. Monday to Friday you can find me working down at the SS Great Britain and I’m also working towards finishing my PhD in oral history. Even though most people can’t always see it, just about everything I do is connected by a creative thread and I’m lucky to be able to work creatively in so many different ways.
When did you know you were an artist/maker?
For me, making comes from both nature and nurture! I grew up in a crafty home – learning carpentry and woodwork from my father, learning patchworking and quilting from my great aunt, and a range of other creative things from my mother. We were always making things in my home, and we even had annual craft fair weekends where we opened up our home to the public and hundreds of people came through to do their Christmas shopping.
What do you love most about working in your chosen discipline?
My most satisfying work is my patchworking and quilting because its such a satisfying set of skills to work with. It’s impossible to get bored making quilts, because there are always new patterns, new styles and new designs. Each one is a bit unique and you can decide how you want to challenge yourself with each new project. It’s also a really rewarding skill to teach people because its so much easier than people think, and its amazing to see how quickly new sewers progress with their projects.
Where does your inspiration come from?
I draw inspiration from a range of sources. I’m not the kind of person who can pick up a pen and draw something, so I am always in awe of the work of designers and illustrators. I’m much better at making what I imagine in my head, rather than drawing it – so I often draw from photographs or classic designs for inspiration for my quilts and patchwork. In one example, I used a photo I took of leaves scattered across a tiled floor for a quilt – in another example I used the classic design of the London Tube Map to create a London Underground quilt. I really love projects which combine traditional styles with modern techniques – from cutting out line drawings on a laser cutter to piecing my patchwork, I like that I can blend new and old in what I do and create something that is my own.
Describe your studio or workspace?
As much as I would like to be able to describe my studio or workshop as a perfect, serene haven – I really can’t! I tend to work anywhere and everywhere – spreading my work throughout my home, setting up in a laser-cutting studio or working in other studios and classrooms. Friends and family joke that when I get crafting I am like a gas: that I will spread to fill whatever space is available to me… on big projects I spread out and work room to room, as I don’t like to break my focus by having to tidy up! I’ve recently tried to set up a little crafting corner in my home, but it just doesn’t work for me, I feel far too contained and tend to spread out.
If you could peek inside the studio of any artist, designer or craftsman (dead or alive), who would it be?
I would love to a look into Kaffe Fasset’s studios in London – just to see his work space and to get to see how he works with colour in such interesting ways. There are so many amazing artists and designers I would like to meet and get a glimpse into their creative processes, and I have been lucky enough to meet a few of my heroes, but he is one I am always in awe of especially because he works in so many mediums.
How would you describe your creative process?
Usually my creative process is driven differently from project to project. It depends on what I’m working on and where my inspiration comes from. I am however a real ‘back burner’ person, in that I mull over my ideas and plan them in my mind so that when I am ready to start working I can get just going and have nothing to think through or test out. I sort of go through all the trial and error in my mind, and want to just get on with it once I start the making process. My mind is always full of a backlog of projects, so its just sort of a waiting game to see which one will come to a boil and be ready to start first.
What handmade possession do you most cherish?
I have a few quilts which were all made for me by my great aunt who taught me quilting. Some of them are tiny, tattered, and tucked away for safe keeping from when I was a child and some are still in great shape and I use regularly. My aunt was a real inspiration and I love having her quilts with me, because they remind me of her and the tradition of making and giving we have in my family. I even inherited some of her unfinished projects which I hope to get working on someday soon.
What do you when you are stuck in a creative rut?
I love to walk, and Bristol is a very walk-able city – so I love to get out of the house and just walk for hours. Walking really helps me clear my head and finish those fine-tuning details in my head; giving me time to work through how I will do everything so that I’m ready to get making. Either that, or I love a good nap. There is nothing like a quick 40 minute power nap to clear my head, and I often find that I wake up with the answer I was looking for… it’s quite a nice feeling to lay my head down and trust that my subconscious will work it out for me.
Which is your favourite local independent shop or eatery in Bristol & why?
Bristol has so many wonderful shop and eateries that it feels impossible to choose my favourite – but I do really love SHOP on Christmas Steps, as it’s just a lovely little haven of inspiration right smack in the city centre. Brett and Jayne who run the shop are so friendly, and although I don’t pop in nearly as often as I should, it’s a wonderful treasure trove that I know will always be there!
Where would you like to be in ten years?
Given that I spent the last ten years flying by the seat of my pants (or as you say here, trousers) I don’t think it would be fair to start setting expectations or plans for the next ten years. For one thing, I spent eight of the last ten years living the U.K. after unexpectedly coming over here for what was meant to be a six-month internship – something I never expected or planned for myself! Wherever I am and whatever I’m doing, as long as I am making things and teaching people to make things I should be quite happy. In the shorter term, I’m exploring designing my own patterns for fabrics for my own projects so that something I’d like to be doing in the next year or so… but ten years is too long for me to think about, and not my style to plan for.
Thank you Chris! A wonderful interview. We love Kaffe Fassets colourful work, imagine living in his world. Happiness. You can find Chris' work in our Paper Scissors Stone shop.
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