Meet Angela from Ms Amelia's Cabinet. Purveyor of quirky t-shirts!
When did you begin making and what was your inspiration?
I have probably wanted to do this forever. I began playing with creating images on tee shirts in my late teens but it was a lightweight fancy at the time. Then I got more serious about life and involved myself in a series of more conservative preoccupations. Luckily, the sojourn into the mundane didn’t last overly long and here I am, back to my creative self.
I began designing tee shirts for Ms Amelia’s Cabinet, in earnest, mid-way through this year and I am glad I did. A friend rang me and told me to look at some of the tee shirts at AS Colour. I bought some and it all flowed from there.
I guess the designs are a certain taste. I get a real kick out of watching the people who like them, smile and light up when they see them for the first time. That is what being in a market like the Devonport Craft Market facilitates. You are up close and personal, not sitting behind a murky web browser somewhere.
With regard to inspiration … I have a proclivity towards mixing retro and nostalgic elements with slightly off-beat or surreal ideas. The manufacture of nonsense and randomly associated ideas seems to be, to all extent and purposes, a serious business.
Where did your brand name come from?
"Oddly, the name “Ms Amelia’s Cabinet (of Fabulous Things) is derived from an amalgam of ideas. Ms Amelia, herself, is a children’s fictional character who has been nesting inside my head for the past few years. Amelia has yet to make her debut into the public realm but when she does, it will be in the form of an illustrated children’s book.
The second element relating to the invention of the name, heralds back to a time when I was considering establishing a range of fashionable and quirky coats. At that time, my idea was centred around a playful character named Mr Friskee who owned a magical cupboard of marvelous things where he would find new and interesting things to wear and engage with.
I guess playfulness is the key. I hope that doesn’t sound too mad!
Who has been the most influential in your craft?
They say that no art evolves out of a vacuum and that is true. I am influenced all the time by things around me – ideas, colours, shapes. Half of what I pick up on I am not even conscious of, very often, until after I have designed something.
As far as a love of craft, I definitely inherited that from my grandmother and my mother. My grandmother, in her younger days, taught handcrafts locally. I fondly remember a magnificent dark room in which she kept all manner of fabrics and cane and googley animal eyes (plastic of course). It was the embodiment of my imaginative childhood Mecca.
My mother, also innately creative, was in turn, inaugurated by my paternal grandmother into the ‘womanly arts’ of leathercraft and handcrafts in general. Some of my happiest memories are of all three of us (as well as my brother) sitting together knitting, crocheting, or making furry toys, which we affectionately called ‘gonks’, for some reason.
What inspires you?
I am inspired by a lot of things: courage – people who are just out there doing it; giving their ideas a go.
-Narrative – experiencing stories that make us realise something about our own humanity.
-Feeling connected to my community and sharing time with my wonderful friends.
These things refuel me.
Along artistic lines, I have a surrealist bent. Surrealist painting that isn’t too dark in its emotional tone and German abstract expressionism excites me. Rene Magritte is a favourite.
I also take great pleasure in absurdism.
What is your favourite book?
Milan Kundera’s ‘Immortality’
And your favourite food?
I love big helpings of home-made vegetable soup and French bread in the winter.
In summer, I love crumbed calamari on salad. I have to also confess to possessing a fondness for moussaka too. I think I my love of moussaka is an inherited gene – my great grandparents were Greek.
Where do you find your online inspiration? Favourite blogs / websites?
Listening to comedians such as Bill Bailey.
For inspiration in in real life – Life Coach Natalie Bryce … I totally recommend her. Ask me, if you want her number - her website is still under construction.
I also recently listened to a speech by Mexican author and screenwriter Guillermo Arriaga that blew my socks off. Don’t ask me how that relates to tee shirts but it was inspirational, none the less.
What music is on ‘high rotate’ on your stereo or ipod?
Oooh – Confessions! I guess it would have to be Adele (21) and the movie sound track to Baz Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby.
What handmade possession do you most treasure?
A beaded, crocheted rectangular shawl that my grandmother made for my mother. It is exceptionally elegant.
Apart from making/creating, what do you do?
Luckily for me, I get to do a lot of creating. Outside of Ms Amelia’s Cabinet, I work as a photographer. I also like to read, play tennis and go to the gym when I get the chance. Having enough time, on top of that, to play golf would be a dream.
When you are not at the Devonport Craft Market, Where do people find your work?
"When I am not at Devonport Craft Market or the Crafternoon Tea Market (Kingsland) I can be found on Facebook at www.facebook.com/msameliascabinet
My new shopping website is expected to be up and running by the end of November – just in time for Christmas. The address, when the site is completed, will be www.msameliascabinet.com
Everyone who comes to my upstairs stall at the Devonport Craft Market on Sunday November 17th and tells me that they read this blog will receive a 10% discount on any purchase that they make on the day at the Ms Amelias Cabinet stall.