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Maker of the Month - Katie Whittaker

November's pick for #Makerofthemonth is Katie Whittaker - yay!

I saw Katie's work for the first time at New Designers this year and was one of my favourite exhibitors of the entire show. Working with a range of materials from resin to ceramics, fabric and found objects Katie creates her own adorable curiosities.

Here's a little something about Katie...

Tell us about yourself and your business, what do you do?

I have recently graduated from Textile Design at Bath School of Art and Design. I made a lot of stock from my final degree project, I focussed on drawing collections mainly in the Pitt Rivers and the Ashmolean Museums and then transferring my illustrations into different materials. I am now starting to build up a business and doing shows in order to get the exposure necessary. I make three dimensional objects and jewellery that capture ancient life and traditions with a modern twist. I work in resin, wood, plastic, ceramics, fabric and found materials.  I enjoy working in a large variety of media as it keeps me interested in constantly trying to find what combinations work best together.

What inspires your work?

Ancient objects and beliefs and a love of drawing, I am happiest when I have a pen in my hand. I have always been fascinated by ancient civilisations and how people used to live and make with handmade tools- craft in its purest form. I’m also inspired by natural forms and the colours of the sea side.  I do a combination of work for different outcomes and before my final project I focussed  on creating 3D illustrative work for interior spaces. I decided to push myself out of my comfort zone and work on a smaller scale with more materials and I really enjoyed the project. Having worked on a variety of different projects and photographing my work over time has also made me focus a lot on the importance of styling my work. Having acquired a variety of skills will mean I can apply them to different projects and jobs in the future (hopefully!!)

Tell us a little about your graduate collection.

My graduate collection really pushed me out of my comfort zone and jewellery was not an area I had  much experience with up until my final project. I decided to work on a smaller scale to what I had done previously, I was drawn to various collections but my favourite was a cabinet within the Pitt Rivers that focussed on ‘Sympathetic Magic’, pieces created as keepsakes all based on superstitions or for providing protection. I found the collection so inspiring, I sketched the collections and took inspiration from the colours and materials that were used. I wanted to combine the new with the old, so I mixed modern media in with traditional ones too to create a multi media body of work.

What do you love about being a designer maker?

I love the creativity and the vision of one day being able to be my own boss and hopefully be able to make a living out of it.  Because my work is small scale it means that I can work on braiding and things when I am on the move! Although being away from the structure of university is daunting, its also nice not to have to tick the marking criteria and be able to make for the love of it.  I do miss all the workshops though, I am looking forward to eventually building up more resources so I can make more of my work. It would also be beneficial in the future to work with other makers rather than in isolation because I think that this prevents work from becoming stale.

When you’re not working, how do you spend your free time?

In my spare time I like to go beach combing, I am constantly on the look out for a new piece of driftwood or an interesting object to add to my work and its almost become a bit of an obsession.

I also work part time in order to fund my work. I have just finished exhibiting with Designersblock in London at the Bargehouse. This was my first independent exhibition from university and was a real learning curve. I learnt the importance of building up a connection with the client and am looking to create newsletters to keep people updated on my work. I also learnt that I needed to be more confident about my work which is something everyone struggles with, particularly in the beginning.

What are you currently working on?

Currently I am working on creating some more simple designs and since graduating I made the new fish pieces which I am pleased with and I sold a few at my previous show.

I have started making these simple fish necklaces and sell them for £25 so they are more affordable than some other pieces. I plan on building up stock and selling these on my Etsy shop, I know some people are dismissive about Etsy, but I think it’s a great way to be exposed to a wider market than just selling via your website.

Any new projects or events in the pipe line that you’d like to share with us?

I have an exhibition coming up in Cheltenham alongside a few other Bath Spa Textile graduates. SIT Select will be on from the 23-25th at Cheltenham Town hall.

I’m planning to do more drawings of other collections and work on creating more abstract and wearable pieces. The feedback I got from the recent show was that some people would like to have the jewellery as decoration and with more simple designs they would wear casually. This also made me think about how I could design a range for the home.

I would like to get back into printing on clay so I am going to look into how I can still do that from my studio at home. This was a technique that I fell in love with. Its important to me to directly print onto the clay as opposed to transferring onto the surface as I love how the print changes throughout various stages of being in the kiln. When I can afford it I have been looking into buying myself a small laser cutter and engraver, luckily I do not need a large one to make my work!

Who are your designer favourites?

Lina Peterson, I adore her material mixing and colour use. She creates wearable works of art.

Alexander Calder, as someone who enjoys drawing with other materials his work is hugely influential. I love his metal drawings as well as his abstract mobile pieces.

Alexander Girard works with beautiful colours in modernising traditional looking craft.

Finally, what have you got planned for yourself and your business in the next few years?

I am planning get myself a very small laser cutter and engraver at some point this year. Luckily I have a part time job to help fund my work. Making resin and ceramic pieces is something I need to work towards. After my next show I am going to look into printing on ceramics and creating abstract shapes out of resin. I would also like to develop my fabric dog designs as I think they could become larger and more playful.I would like to eventually have a permanent studio space and over the years build up the facilities that I need in order to make all aspects of my work.  More facilities will enable me to create. I have inherited a lathe from my late grandfather, who was a keen carpenter. I would love to be able to bring the new technique into my work. Learning new crafts and developing existing ones is really important to me as, I think continual learning and refining is key to developing.

To find out more about Katie Whittaker here are some handy links -

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6/15/2015

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