Go behind the scenes at The Handmade Festival and meet the makers bringing their passion and skills to you in September.
Paula Milner of The The Crafty Lass will be hosting skills workshops across the weekend at The Handmade Festival at Hampton Court.
So just who is The Crafty Lass®...? 'The Crafty Lass®' is otherwise known as Paula Milner - who loves to make, bake, sew, design, paint, draw, plan...
What are you most looking forward to at the festival?
The atmosphere – so many creative people in one place, trying new things – there is always such a ‘buzz’ in the air of excitement for the new skills learnt and lots of new crafty purchases!
What has been your best ever project or make?
I think making a fabric flower wreath for the Women’s Institute’s magazine ‘WI LIFE’. There was a tight deadline of only a couple of days to turn it around and they then liked it so much, it made the front cover of the magazine! That was great as not only was it amazing to see it go to every single WI member – it generated lots of workshop booking enquiries and to go out to teach at WI groups too! Also, I really like the actual wreath it hangs up in the studio now.
Do you have a favourite material to work with?
I go in phases as to what is my favourite – but my current ‘go to’ material is ‘Floristry Crepe Paper’ – I love how easily adaptable it is to quickly make realistic florals. It comes in so many pretty colours but is also tough enough to even be painted with inks or paint too.
What is the biggest disaster you have had?
Ha! Well, there is a funny story to this… I would say the biggest recent disaster anyway was making the samples for this very festival’s ‘air dry clay’ website photography! I had spent a considerable amount of time making them to ensure they were as near perfect as the could be. I was really pleased with the makes. So, I put them on a drying rack to ensure the air could circulate around them and the clay could nicely dry. Except – I didn’t check to see if the rack was CLEAN – it had some dirt and grease on that wasn’t visible to the naked eye… So I came back 24 hours later to check the samples and of course the oil had soaked into them and they didn’t look quite as perfect as I remembered… After a few choice words with myself, I just had to make them again! But, it is such an enjoyable craft to do that actually there was a part of me that was happy to dedicate more time to remaking them!
What’s your go to snack when you need a break?
It has got to be Marmite on toast (lots of butter) with a cup of Yorkshire Tea.
Are there any skills you would like to learn?
I would love to do some more paper marbling. I have done it before but I would like to learn ‘properly’. How exciting to play around with such vibrant colours and patterns! My dad used to be in the bookbinding industry (many moons ago he won’t mind me saying!) but the marbling part where you have the marbled book inners – they always look so beautiful.
What would feature in your motivational playlist?
I listen to such a variety of music from chillout and classical to pop, dance… and often the radio! But likely to be something upbeat yet relaxing like Ben Mynott, Ludovico Einaudi, Coldplay or Elbow.
Who inspires you to get creative?
So many people! I love making things for people I love like friends and family. But, I also love commissions – every request is unique and special.
Who would be at your ideal dinner party?
I can’t say Kirstie… or can I?! Well – Kirstie, Kevin McCloud (LOVE Grand Designs) Emma Bridgewater (I collect her half pint mugs. Absolute dream collaboration to do a The Crafty Lass range!) My Husband ‘Lad’, and then Nigella Lawson and Tom Kerridge… maybe they could help with the food!
What is your favourite product in your range and why?
We do sell some products (like our scissor hairclips that I get asked about everywhere I go as I wear them every day) But our ‘products’ are mainly the craft workshops – and for me, I don’t love any specific one more than the others – I enjoy the variety! I do think there is something special about the Christmas ones though as everyone is in a very jolly, festive mood!
How long have you been in business for?
The Crafty Lass has been running for just over 4 years now – time flies when you’re having fun…
What is unique about the place where you work?
The Crafty Lass studio is an old ‘Grain Store’ (The Crafty Lass Old Grain Store #CLOGS) and has quite a rustic, very vintage look that also resembles a ‘crafty sweet shop’. There is a big, custom made crafting wooden table, scaffolding shelving - and everything in little glass just there ready to be opened to get creative with! All mixed with modern bright furniture like our pink chairs and powder coated yellow fabric locker. I find it a very visually stimulating and creative place to get inspired.
If you were a superhero, what would your super power be?
My super power would be to magically unpick sewing when you realise you’ve gone wrong on a sewing machine.
What couldn’t you live without?
Quite literally, food. Apart from craft (and my family!) all I think about is food. I can usually be found planning meals several days (or even weeks!) in advance, I think about dinner at breakfast and breakfast before sleep. I have several hundred cookbooks and I just think we are a super lucky species to be able to eat several times a day!