Hi! You’ve probably guessed that my name is Claire Wheat from the name of my website and business!
I’m a mixed media and textile artist, I living in the beautiful city of Lichfield in Staffordshire, UK, although I’m originally from the London/Essex border.
You can see some of my art pieces in my Gallery and more about my crafting business in the Crafting tab. And why not also browse my Etsy shop for a selection of great handmade crafted items?
A bit of the back story
A long time ago, before a career in business and raising a family, I studied science and as a result have always loved to experiment with ideas, materials and processes. I had never thought of myself as a creative person, just an admirer of others’ work, but one day I saw a patchwork and quilting course advertised at our local college. I was attracted to the idea of trying something new, but not too far out of my comfort zone and patchwork looked as if it required maths skills and I do love a bit of maths! And that was the start.
Samples from that very first Patchwork and Quilting course! Even in those early days I preferred using hand dyed fabrics.
I went on to do several City and Guilds courses, moving away from my earliest interest, into machine embroidery and creative techniques. I spent a lot of time just experimenting with different processes: natural dyeing; working with natural materials; and mixed media ideas. Looking back, these were nearly always based on the natural world.
My work became part of annual college exhibitions and I was invited to join a fantastic group, Meniscus Textile Artists, led by the hugely talented Cherrilyn Tyler, leading to more exhibitions and some really great friendships with other artists whom I greatly admire.
I regularly visit many shows, galleries and exhibitions, for the sheer joy of the experience and to be inspired. One of my favourites is the annual Festival of Quilts, the largest quilt show in Europe. I have been able to exhibit there and was thrilled when my piece “The Periodic Table of Elements” was awarded Highly Commended in the 3D category one year. You can read more about it here.
My textile and mixed media art work
I continue to experiment and create samples of new ideas all the time. Some of these grow into the basis of larger pieces and become part of my finished collection of works. You can see some of them in my Gallery.
The start of my commercial business
Like everyone else, I am drawn to collecting things that might be useful in the creative process, and as a result have accumulated large stashes of “stuff”. From this grew my crafting business! You can find my online shop here in Etsy
At first it was just a way to use up fabrics I had made myself through dyeing, printing, manipulating and reforming materials and so on. These became removal journal covers, like those shown in close up here.
I went on to use some of my small experimental fabrics to make into one-off greetings cards and these sold well. So to extend my range I had a selection of photos of my original work printed onto cards. Similarly I used photos of my mixed media art to have journals made.
Then, in response to customer feedback on social media and at craft fairs, I extended my crafted fabric items by developing an original range of fabric handbag/pocket accessories. You can read about them here.
The next stage
Journals are always popular, even in this digital age, and so I began to think around some design ideas. I started by working on a way to turn a cupboard full of old maps into original, concertina style journals and my next range was born! I explain the history and process here.
I really liked the look and practicality of these map journals so I extended the idea to other types of journal, using the same basic original design idea. Instead of maps, I used old playing cards, illustrations from old books and theatre programmes. Using the same idea I even make needle cases.
And then, having enjoyed working with paper and recycled source material I also developed a range of paper bunting, made from discarded books which you can see here. And with small pieces and cut offs that can’t be used for bunting, I make table confetti and paper ephemera scrap packs….nothing wasted!
Well, I certainly have my hands full at the moment! I continue to do creative mixed media art pieces, but have found myself moving away from these being textile based to working a lot with paper. Not always successful, but a lot of fun.
I also continue to develop and sell my crafted items online in my Etsy shop and occasionally still at craft fairs. I miss meeting and talking to customers, but since the Covid 19 pandemic, selling in person has become secondary to remote selling, sadly.
When I’m not making art or crafted items, I am an active Granny to my three amazing grandchildren. My husband and I have long keen organic gardeners trying to be as self sufficient as possible, so that takes some time. And a few years ago I started running, and have now completed races up to marathons…..but that’s a completely different passion and story!