Monday, 9 May 2016

Meet The Maker: Lesley of Decorque Ltd

This beautiful card 'The Antique Floral Flamingo' is a mixed media piece by creative Lesley Rudman Stevens of Decorque Ltd. In this interview we talk about the love of cats, all crafters being heroes and where to start in creating your own cards. 

Hi Lesley! Nice to have you on the blog. What's your favourite way to catch up with friends normally?
I like nothing better than a bit of retail therapy, keeping up to date on the trends, window-shopping is a great time to spend time with someone and then finish off with a nice lunch somewhere.

Sounds a good idea to me. Of course a coffee pit stop too! ;-) Tell us a little bit about yourself:
I am a Northerner, born in Manchester and brought up in Yorkshire, and now living in Oxfordshire. I have a B.A Honours degree in Fashion & Textiles and spent more years than I would care to mention creating textile designs for the fashion Industry; I still keep my hand in by doing a few designs a year for a close friend in the industry.

I don’t have any pets, but love cats, so I lavish my attention on my daughter’s cat ‘Nala’ when she comes to stay while they are away. My big loves are old curiosity shops/antique centers, travelling abroad and nature. Being a member of the National Trust and the RHS I also have a passion for visiting great houses and gardens, in this country. These pastimes are what feed my creativity which it seems is never ending!!

I used to be a National Trust member and I agree. I especially love walking around the gardens; my Hubby loves that too. What about the handmade item you are sharing with us?
When choosing one of my handmade items to share with you, I wanted it to be something that incorporates all the mixed media I use. The Antique Floral Flamingo card is a great example of this. To produce this decorative card I have scanned two of my hand-painted designs created for fashion into Photoshop. The distressed, blue ground floral is printed directly onto the card. The silhouettes of two flamingos are cut out in Photoshop from the pink floral chintz. A large white heart with the flamingos, edged with water-coloured leaves and a pineapple is printed and cut out separately, to be mounted in relief. Above Happy Birthday is another heart, drawn, shaded and text formed in Illustrator. This too, is cut out and mounted separately on the card. A smaller combination of the two is produced for inside the card. This unique card is then finished off with small pink glass gems.

It is such a vibrant design and beautiful made. How and when did you learn to create such designs?
For many years all my fashion designs were hand-painted, but then I realized the industry was changing and I had to change with it. My daughter was studying Graphic design at University and took the time to teach me both Photoshop and Illustrator. Needless to say she did a great job, but it has taken quite a few years to master everything I know. As technology keeps developing, my learning curve will never end. The very practical side of things comes from the fact I studied fashion as well as textiles, embroidery, photography and weaving. For years I made my own clothes and still make most things around the house, curtains, blinds, cushions and lampshades; and I enjoy adding those decorative touches to everything including cards, which I have been making commercially for about five years.

What inspires and motivates you?
Colour and pattern is my inspiration, whether in nature, in a magazine, shops or on line, I have a great ability to remember what catches my eye, and can’t wait to create something original from it. I also think in this country we have a wealth of talented people designing and creating fantastic products, and that motivates me to carry on doing the same. Just to have people appreciate and buy my products makes it all so worthwhile.

Do you have a favourite place to craft? 
When making my all my hand crafted products, whether greetings cards, cushions or lampshades, I always work in the kitchen. The worktops are the right height and size, easy to clean with plenty of space and good lighting. Also it’s pretty handy for cups of tea!

Can you offer any crafting tips for those Crafty Bs wanting to get into card making? 
There are always everyday things around the house you can use for cards. But there are many online and offline shops selling some fabulous accessories. On line http://www.fredaldous.co.uk/ has some great decorative papers and pieces to work with, I used some paper doilies sprayed with gold for special personalized Golden Wedding cards. Hobbycraft is very good for blank cards, embellishments and blank tags. Paperchase, I find stocks original papers for a more expensive look.

Where can we find you online?
FacebookTwitter, InstagramGoogle+ and Pinterest . My blog is decorquecards.com/blog/

What big plans do you have for the next 12 months?
I exhibit at a few shows a year. One of my favourite venues is at the Nature in Art Museum Annual Gift & Craft Fair in Gloucestershire, on 29th & 30th October. Set in beautiful countryside, it houses some amazing art and photography on nature and puts on a good pre-Christmas fair. Definitely worth a visit!

I also will be selling at Living North Live North in November, another great venue at York Racecourse. This is a chance for me to catch up with family and friends and display and sell my work to a northern audience. I already have a couple of outlets selling my cards, but this year would like to develop the trade side of the business, get more of my cards and other products into small outlets around the country.

So before we come to the end of the interview, here's a quick fire round for you! 

Your favourite crafty tool?
I have two, my scalpel and sewing scissors. Both of which are for my use only!

Your crafting hero?
I do not have one person, I think everyone who crafts and produces products that people love enough to buy and use is a star!

You're working on a project, what is on in the background?
Radio 2 in the morning and afternoon iTunes or a Crime Drama on radio iPlayer, I love a murder mystery.

Favourite dessert?
I don’t have a sweet tooth so fresh fruit and mango sorbet or just lots of different cheeses and grapes.

Crafting refreshments?
Bananas, grapes and Babybel!

Your favourite handmade item?
To keep some of my precious items safe, I still have and use three or four beautifully hand made small purses and draw string bags I bought over fifteen years ago.

Your favourite place?
Does there just have to be one! It has to be the Maldives, it is just paradise!

Three things that make you happy?
Sunshine, beautiful surroundings and great company!

Your biggest achievement?
Career-wise I’m not sure whether I have achieved that yet! There have been a few at different stages over the years, creating Decorque is definitely one. But personally, having my daughter and passing on my creative passion to her, who now has her own creative company and has designed some fantastic windows for some of the well known high street brands.

It is so lovely to read about creativity being nurtured and passed down through generations. Thanks so much for letting us in on your creative world Lesley!
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