Feature Friday: Joey’s Dream Garden

Owl, pussycat , mandolin By Joey's Dream Garden, (Boat & sails by The Pin Factory)

I can’t remember how I first found Joey’s Dream Garden, one of my favorite shops on Etsy, but I instantly fell in love with the adorable kitty and bunny brooches that Joey Ramone (no, the artist not the singer) is so good at making. Joey also offers gorgeous embroidery patterns, pretty hairclips and totes embellished with vintage fabric. She currently resides in Sheffield, South Yorkshire but grew up on a farm in Leicestershire in the midlands in the UK.

I was pleased to have the opportunity to interview her about her work:

How did you become  interested in felt and sewing?

My mum showed me how to mend clothes and a few embroidery stitches. One of my sisters became a dressmaker and I got her fabric remnants to play with. I loved it when for a birthday present, she made me a whole shoebox-full of dolly clothes for my Barbie dolls!  She was my inspiration early on in life that sewing is a good thing to do.

How long have you been  making your art?

Kitty Pips Brooch by Joey's Dream Garden

Kitty Pips Brooch by Joey's Dream Garden

Being creative has always been part of my life. It’s what I loved most at school, art and writing.   I attended the Macclesfield School of Art and Design and loved it. It was a great place and they were very flexible about what I studied; because I was very keen on life drawing and painting, they turned a blind eye to the fact that I skipped surface pattern classes!

From there I  studied sculpture at the University of Humberside in Hull. When I got my degree I just drifted until I found myself working in an office job in the civil service. I wasn’t particularly creative for about 10 years, until I went through a period of depression in 2007 and was off work for a few months, affording me more time to work on my art.
I signed up to Etsy, set up shop and started making stuff –  I was so happy to get my first sales, and the wonderful feedback I received just encouraged me more to carry on making things. I felt truly creative again and it helped me to have a real interest outside of work.

Can you describe the process from idea to finished brooch?

I’m influenced and inspired by the work of others. I’m a big Dick Bruna and

Miffy, a Dick Bruna character

Tove Jansson fan and I love the Japanese manga style. I love reading graphic novel and I adore the work of Hayao Miyazaki (Studio Ghibli).  Although I do have my own style and I don’t set out to copy the style of anyone else, if I see the way that someone else has, for example, drawn a paw, I may think, hmm I like that, can I incorporate that into my drawings?

I always draw out my designs first and then transfer them to felt. I have a little stash of templates which I’ve designed and used over the years! I tend to not think about the embroidery until I’m doing the finished piece, so that tends to be more “freestyle” and spontaneous.

What tool in your studio could you not live without?

The one thing which as really helped me is my disappearing ink pen! I love it! I tend to use templates I’ve made (from scrap bits of plastic, recycled from milk bottles etc) and draw around them with the disappearing pen and then when I’ve cut it out I can spray with water and no mark is left! What a cool invention!
I don’t actually have a dedicated room for making things, so if you asked what crafting thing I would like to have, I’d say a craft room!

What is your current favorite piece in your shop?

Sunset Fireworks Handbag

Sunset Fireworks Handbag by Joey's Dream Garden

Can I have two? Well it’s either a bag I made: which I love because all the fabric is recycled, and I’m just so pleased with it because I think its pretty and unusual and really well made! The other thing I love is the embroidery pattern  of the bunnies in love. I like it because I love their expressions and I’m pleased with the neatness (an important thing for me!). I’ve framed the original and it’s just waiting to be put on the wall in our living room.

Any new projects or ideas coming up for the future?

I’ve always got ideas on the “back burner”! But I’ve done a few projects

Bunnies in Love by Joey's Dream garde

Bunnies in Love embroidery Pattern by Joey's Dream garden

for a magazine called “Making Gifts”. Issue 3   has just been published and features no less than 4 of my projects: an appliqued baby bib and vest (onesie) set, an embroidered jewellery roll, an embroidered dragonfly brooch and an embroidered patchwork bag.

And finally,what’s your favorite way to spend a Saturday?

I tend to use it to go for a swim (I’m doing a Swimathon in April in aid of Marie Curie Cancer Care), and spend time on making things. This morning for example I’ll be working on some drawings for a future magazine project. Then I always like to enjoy a drink in the evening and watch some comedy on DVD… I am a big Seinfeld fan!
Thanks Joey! Be sure to check out Joey’s Dream Garden on Etsy and Flickr, and while you’re at it, why not have a look at her blog?

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