Blog Gem - Gracie's Garden Bazaar

I love everything about this blog. It's beautiful, elegant, magical and completely inspiring. As a fellow embroidery artist, I am in awe of her work and couldn't wait to find out what inspires such stunning stitchery. So, lets find out! Hello there, who be the face behind the blog?

My name is Cassandra and I create hand-embroidered and painted illustrations under the name Gracie's Garden Bazaar. I've always loved drawing and painting but I truly fell in love with hand-embroidery a couple of years back and it felt like I found the drawing medium I was always searching for. I live with my husband and five year old son in Northamptonshire and when not stitching I love reading, gardening and baking with my 'Junior Great British Baker'in training.

What's your creative space area like?

My family have very generously surrendered one half of the dining room to my creative exploits and everyone knows not to touch anything! I have worked pretty much everywhere in the house but where I am now seems to suit best. I have one desk to 'make' at and another for computer work. Since starting to sell prints and cards of my embroideries I found myself in front of photoshop a lot more, so really felt like I wanted two separate areas, especially so I didn't have to keep tidying everything away. Bit lazy really! 

If you had to take only one of your crafts to a desert island, what would it be and why? 

Unsurprisingly, it would be hand-embroidery, especially as it is such a portable craft. I love the fact that it is a 'slow craft/art' and you have to dedicate your time and concentration to it. It's nice to go into a kind of zone when stitching and being a nostalgic soul means I enjoy the feeling that I'm using the same stitches as others have throughout history. Also, I'm sure a needle and floss would come in handy on an island somehow. 

How do you work and get inspired?

I'm a serial list maker so usually have a list nearby of ideas that I want to explore. I find storybooks are usually my main source of inspiration and colour is definitely another major influence. I often find I keep magazine clippings or images on Pinterest of striking colour combinations and wait for the right illustration to need it. After mulling over an idea I'll start sketching on paper and when I'm happy with the design I'll scan it and then print out some black and white copies. I'll then try out some different versions with coloured pencils and when I find the perfect one I'll transfer on to fabric and then start painting and embroidering. Although the colour scheme and line design are decided, my stitching method is freestyle so it gives me enough freedom to still let the design evolve and change as I'm working.

What top tips would you give to any novice bloggers and those thinking of selling their designs?

Just go for it! Don't be intimidated by the success of others, be inspired instead. If you look back on the early posts of blogs you really admire you will most often see their content or even style has evolved greatly. Also, if you are thinking of selling your designs, online marketplaces like Etsy and Folksy are such perfect places to give it a go. But even if you are doing it as a hobby don't be afraid to price your goods realistically so they do reflect the time and skill involved. When makers sell they're goods too cheaply it undervalues 'handmade' and makes it very difficult for other makers in the same marketplace for whom this is the main source of income.

Is there a story behind the name 'Gracie's Garden Bazaar'?

I've always made up stories to go with my sketches so late one sleep deprived night a new character flitted into my imagination. 
'Gracie has many talents and like any good heroine, she lives under a curious curse…she cannot stop making lovely things! Everything, and everyone, inspires her. This may sound like a blessing rather than a curse but Gracie’s poor fingers ache, her eyes grow tired and her small cottage is bursting at the seams and into her garden. This is where a glimmer of hope enters this story...At twilight, those in the know gather for the arched wooden gate to open. It is then that Gracie’s Garden Bazaar takes place. People come from far and wide to choose a ‘gracie make’…it is said that whatever you choose, luck will come along. They all know the story of Gracie, who pours her heart and soul (and some magic) into everything she touches. But as Gracie’s visitors unburden her of her makes they also leave their own stories and woes (yet more inspiration). What a vicious circle is woven!'
So Gracie sort of became my ‘bloomer wearing’ alter ego and provided me with a way to combine my illustrations, storytelling and also use the vintage textiles I've always collected in a light hearted and (I hope) an engaging way.

If you could go to a Creative Blog Award dinner with any 5 people/fictional characters (dead or alive), who would you choose? 

Kate Bush, Atticus Finch, Luna Lovegood, Dylan Moran and my own 'Gracie'.

And & tea or film & wine?

Well, definitely a book but could I swap the tea for wine?

Thank you so much Cassandra! It's been absolutely wonderful hearing more about you, your work and how you get inspired! And wow, Atticus Finch, what an interesting, fictional character. Just imagine the conversations at the dinner table! 
That's very good advice about pricing your products properly; I couldn't agree more!
The story behind Gracie is gorgeous. I instantly picture Gracie and her garden bizarre - a book in the making me-thinks! 
Thanks again Cassandra and happy stitching!

I hope you all enjoyed this month's Blog Gem. Coming up on the blog soon: my new studio; next topic in the starting an online shop series and inspiration for decorating the home. See you soon!

All of the images and interview answers are the copyright of Cassandra at Gracie's Garden Bazarre.  Please do not use without seeking permission first. Thank you.