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Posted on March 19, 2013 There have been 0 comments

Mid-Week Chat With... Craft Queen Clare Youngs

This week we are thrilled to be joined by Clare Youngs, author of the newly published Folk Art Needlecraft.  Clare reveals her greatest craft inspirations, why she has been so influenced by Folk Art and her biggest craft disaster.  There is hope for us all!


 1) Let’s start by getting to know you, who are you, where are you from and when did you first stat crafting?  I am a designer/maker working mainly with paper and fabric. I have lived most of my life in London but two years ago decided to relocate to the Kent coast with my family and mini dachshund – Otis. I have made things for as long as I can remember. I come from a very creative family. My mum bought me craft books when I was little and I still use them today. I learnt to sew on an ancient sewing machine handed down from my grandmother but mostly I used to hand sew, often in miniature. I had a tiny 3cm troll that had a complete wardrobe of clothes including evening dresses and bikinis! Later when I got my first home, sewing was an essential skill. I made curtains, cushions and having a bit of an obsession with chairs from the 50’s, I taught myself a bit of upholstery as well!

2)    Who is your greatest crafty inspiration and why?  I have a huge admiration for Julie Arkell, who is so incredibly creative and makes the most enchanting, funny and quirky little characters. She uses a combination of papier-mâché, paint, knitting and sewing in her creations. Each one is different and I never tire of looking at them.

3)    Tell us a bit about your new book Folk Art Needlecraft, why did you decide on the folk art theme?  I really enjoyed researching and writing Scandinavian Needlecraft and knew at the time that I wanted to write a follow on book but this time taking inspiration from around the world. I am fascinated by traditional crafts made by ordinary working people who have made essential items for their homes and decorated them with carvings, painting and sewing techniques. The variety of motifs and patterns across the world are immense and although many of the symbols are similar, each country or region has its own distinctive identity. I love the way that folk art embroidery is an ancient tradition that has been passed down through the generations but is still relevant today and can be adapted to create beautiful contemporary pieces that will fit into even the most modern interior.

 4)    We know you are a multi-talented crafter, your previous title Book Art focused on paper craft, why did you decide to go with needlework for this new book?  I love working in both fabric and paper and have been lucky enough to work equally on each craft with Cico. I do love hand sewing, especially embroidery. I think it is the artist and illustrator side of me that likes ‘drawing’ with thread. The actual act of embroidering is very relaxing and you can put it in your bag and take it anywhere. You can also sew while watching the telly and not feel guilty about wasting time!

5)  Have you ever had a crafting disaster?  Yes! I have 4 children and have had many birthday parties to organise. I decided to make a piñata for one party. It started off with papier-mâché around a balloon. Then I made a hole and placed sweets into the middle and added a few more layers of paper. It seemed to be taking ages to dry so I left it out in the sun to try and dry it out. I then painted it and hung it from a tree. It was a strange blobby looking thing. When it was time to break into it, no matter how many times or how hard it was hit, it would not break open. We had to saw it open in the end and the sweets had turned to a gooey mess!

6) If you had to pick your favourite project from Folk Art needlecraft, what would it be and why?  I think it would have to be the Pippi Rug. I have a thing about clogs. I really like them and have used them a few times as a design motif in projects. I like the mix of colours and the way I could bring in some scraps of my own hand printed textile designs into the project.

7)  How have your travelling experiences influenced your crafting?  Have any countries in particular had an impact?  As a child our family summer holidays were spent traveling down to the south of Spain and Italy in the car. My Dad would drive miles off the route to take us to some cathedral or castle. I was 7 years old when we first started going and although it wasn’t always fun with 4 kids in the back of a car, I think it is where my love of traveling started. I kept a journal and started doing little drawings and collecting interesting labels and tickets to stick in. I still keep an ideas journal and sketchbook with me at all times.  Traveling in the region of Rajasthan in India introduced me to wonderful textiles, quilts and hand blocking techniques in particular. The Cloth house in Berwick Street is one of my favourite places to buy fabric and they source much of their fabric from India. I have a real respect for Scandinavian design and it is a huge influence in my work. A recent trip to Stockholm in Sweden confirmed this love. One exhibition of the traditional crafts of the nomadic Sami people of northern arctic Scandinavia was particularly inspiring, with artefacts beautifully decorated with richly coloured embroideries.

8) What new ventures do you have in the works?  I am working on a new book for Cico at the moment while working up ideas for a needlecraft book. This year I want to branch out into stationery and craft kits, so I am working on designs for this venture. I am running workshops during the Easter holidays. I am also taking part in an event for 12 designer/makers at the Pie Factory Gallery in Margate from the 22nd to the 24th of March called Brighter Days. I will be running a workshop based on the Jumping jack project in Book art. The workshop is on Saturday 23rd of March. It starts at 12.00 midday, is free and should be a lot of fun so all are welcome!

Thank you for joining us Clare!  If you are feeling suitably inspired Folk Art Needlecraft is available here.  Check out Clare's website for more Folk Art Inspiration: www.clareyoungs.co.uk

Folk Art Needlecraft is published by Cico Books.




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