Blog Gem - Tobyboo

I'm actually a little speechless for this month's Blog Gem. What? Really, Jo? Yup, totally speechless! In fact, I couldn't believe this lovely lady said yes to taking part. Yes, it's fair to say, I am a HUGE fan! So, lets dive on in and find out more! 

Hello there! Who be the face behind Tobyboo?

Hello, name is Tina, I'm short, married to a patient bloke and have a 5 year old called Toby. Oh and I'm the hands and brains behind Tobyboo. I use free-embroidery to illustrate, no drawing or prep before hand, the needle is my pencil and I take straight to the machine. I love the unpredictability of it, detail, scale - I've no idea what the end result will be like.

What's your creative space area like? 

My studio is the spare room but it's 100% mine and even has a lock on the door so no one else, not even the cat, can enter! Before I started Tobyboo and pre Toby, the room was the guest room and was kitted out in expensive wallpaper, Ralph Lauren Β£100 a roll of old postcards of New York but it makes great for staring at the wall and thinking!

My room reflects me, it goes from major chaotic mess to organised and tidy and alternates each week. I've got 2 sewing machines, one set up for free-embroidery, so the teeth have been taken out and the other as standard but both the same, Singer. My stock is between here and a storage unit, and it's just had a cull of fabric, four full bin bags have gone to new homes. I just couldn't keep it all!

If you had to take only one of your crafts to a desert island, what would it be and why? 
Hmmm, island - well that rules out the machine.... unless some parrot has got electricity. I'd probably start knitting again which has nothing to do with what I do now and I sort of miss it but it did ache my hands a lot and I had to stop but it might be a magic island ... (I've taken this too far haven't I?)

How do you work and get inspired? 
I don't stop coming out with ideas but I try to because sometimes it gets expensive when it involves getting stock made! A long time ago in a world before we had a clue what the internet was, I was studying jewellery at St Martins and I managed to annoy tutors by having to have some story or something behind my pieces. I could never just do something that looked pretty, which was the point of jewellery. I think because half the time my ideas aren't visual ones they are story based or very personal and they have to take a visual form. Wish You Were Here (the summer design with the gull and chips) came from my childhood memories of holidays - we had one. It was a Pontins holiday and as grim as can be and it was the idea that even though it was grim, it was still beautiful in memory for what it was. I've never known anyone to have a bunting and beach huts holiday in Britain but everyone knows evil gulls and most know sad looking chalets and coach trips - but the end design looks pretty. 

What top tips would you give to any novice bloggers and those thinking of selling their designs? 
Keep the day job! Er well, that's part true because doing this is a stress filled ball of empty sometimes and I have to do it because after becoming ill in 2000 I couldn't go back to my day job (working in television) but I think what ever I've done, I've tried and tried and knocked on as many doors as possible. I think if you're the sort of person that can't find a supplier in the age of Google, I'd say "this isn't for you"! I've knocked on doors and I've had my bell rung (that sounds odd) but I've been approached as well, which is lovely. If it's something you really want to do, then knock on doors and help as many people on the way... 

Is there a story behind the name 'Tobyboo'?
Not much! After becoming ill we tried seven years for a little one. Three goes of IVF later Toby was born and well - we called him Boo (we also called the cat Boo so it could have been Pookieboo) and Tobyboo was born!

If you could go to a Creative Blog Award dinner with any 5 people/fictional characters (dead or alive), who would you choose? 
Ooh, I'd choose two Potters, Beatrix and Walter. Beatrix Potter because I think as a child she influenced me hugely with her tales and illustrations and Walter Potter is the taxidermist behind such masterpieces as the Kitten Wedding and Bunny School - fantastic works of art. I'd like to know where his ideas came from. I'm trying to think of someone alive... my friend Viv who is a mixed artist and would just laugh at me and so make me laugh. St Lucy (I do like a saint story) she gouged her eyes out because they were too beautiful and they grew back (well that's a party trick) and Paul Smith, who I think is a genius (and he likes my work) and an amazing company.

And & tea or film & wine?
Can I say tea and film? I'm rubbish at reading and can't drink wine!

Thank you so much, Tina! It's been truly wonderful getting to know more about you, your work and what inspires you. I've been to Pontins (as part of a music festival), so can picture those chalets! Your studio sounds and looks incredible. I even spy an overlocker in there! What brilliant advice for all of us trying to make a go of our indie businesses - get knocking on those doors folks! Thanks m'dear!

I hope you've all enjoyed this month's Blog Gem and feel as inspired as I do by Tina! Next month we're going down the illustration route, so stay tuned and until then happy blogging!

All of the images and interview answers are the copyright of Tina at Tobyboo, with the exception of the beach shot which is copyright of Kellie Spicknell and the last image, which is the copyright of Viv Richards.  Please do not use without seeking permission first. Thank you.