It’s time for another craft interview. I love doing these posts so much, I find them all really interesting and I always come away thinking ooooh I want to do that too! I hope you enjoy reading them as well.
Firstly, I want to shout out to the lovely folks over at Conscious Crafties a few of which have agreed to be interviewed here for my blog over the next couple months. You should check the site out, it has lovely handmade items made by spoonies or carers. So on to this months interview with the lovely Louise.
Hello! I’m Louise and I have just opened a shop on Concious Crafties that you can find here. I also blog at Little Harriet. I’m 34 this April and have lived in or just outside of, Blackpool all my life. I love living by the sea and the beach is one of my favourite places to go, especially when it is windy and you can blow the cobwebs away.
What craft(/s) do you do?
I think I have tried a bit of everything over the years! From knitting to silver smithing (a disaster!) My main crafts now are photography (I have a passion for close up pictures, I did a project at college last year which included close up images of flowers, I have continued to take these type of images ever since.) jewellery making, glass fusing and crochet. I’m always looking at new things though, at the moment I have been playing with wire and beads. I get these ideas at random times and don’t rest until I have had a go. Sometimes it works out really well and sometimes I just have to shake my head and wonder what I was thinking!
What illness/es do you have?
I have Cystic Fibrosis and CF related diabetes which is a bit of a pain to say the least! C.F affects the lungs and digestive system, it causes thick mucus (nice right? such a pretty disease!) which causes infection in the lungs. These infections lead to scaring and eventually your lungs get really damaged, at the moment my lungs work at 34% of what they should do. I frequently get out of breath and have to do physio a few times a day to shift the rubbish on my lungs. I also use oxygen when I am having a bad time and also when I go out for a walk or exercise. Then there is the inhaled antibiotics and various pills, it never ends! I can put the local pharmacy to shame.
My digestion being the trouble it is means I struggle to put weight on, to help I have a tube called a peg in my stomach which I use to get extra calories, I just attach myself to a bag of high calorie mush and watch the soaps while getting “fed” I need enzyme tablets to help digest my food, normally I take about 40 of these per day depending on how much/ the type of food.
Every 3 months or so I have to go into hospital for I.V antibiotics. These admissions normally last about 2 weeks but my last one was 5 weeks as I caught the ‘flu. It gets pretty lonely in hospital as its a specialist centre and 60 miles from home, this means I don’t get a lot of visitors, luckily I have my craft things to keep me busy.
What are your favourite pieces of craft equipment?
My camera, I use it all the time. I have my main big camera with a decent lens and a small digital camera that I carry around in my bag just in case I spot something interesting.
I am just a little bit in love with my kiln. It was my first big craft spend and the one I really had to think about buying…ohhh but I wanted it! I love how I can put bits of glass in it, fire and when you open it the next day you never know what you are going to get. It still makes me all excited to see what has been created, it feels like how Christmas used to be when I was young.
I also love beads, all types but the sparkly ones are my favourite. I love bright and colourful and I can never have enough.
Wool. There is a brilliant wool shop near to where I love and I could spend hours in there going oooo at all the different types of yarn.
Why did you start crafting?
I was in hospital a few years ago, I was having a really bad time with huge kidney stones, my health was rubbish and a relationship had just ended, I was pretty down but, reading the paper, I saw an article about a lady who made her own jewellery. It looked like something I could have a go at and, for the first time in ages, I was thinking of something other than my broken heart and pickled kidneys. I mentioned it to a very, very good friend and next thing I knew, a how to make your own jewellery book and a selection of beads had been delivered to the ward and from there the passion grew.
I love crafting, it gives me something to do. I love that I can do “something” instead of just letting the days blur into one. My main love is the sense of having something to aim for, even if its just listing one item, if I can do that then I have achieved something. I know it doesn’t sound like much but to me it gives a routine, that in turn helps keep me happy and when I’m happy I tend to look after myself really well.
Recently I have found a brilliant community with the Concious Crafties, I love promoting the other sellers items and I feel like I am part of something really good.
What adaptations or changes have you had to make to craft because of your illness(es)?
When I am fusing glass I have to take frequent breaks when cutting as it hurts my hands a bit and also I get tired and breathless standing up. I also take some medicines that make me a bit shaky, this isn’t ideal when you are trying to stack glass! There was lots of swearing when things fell over. Now I use glass glue and let it dry in between each layer, It means I have to be patient but at least the air is a little less blue.
When I’m in hospital I am limited on what I can take in with me due to space, so I tend to take in small beading projects or maybe a few balls of wool, it has to be light and easy to fit in my case. Also my camera is always with me.
Favourite project: My PMC Silver Fish
The little fish has to be one of my favourite things I have made. It’s not very good and I don’t really use silver clay now (though give it a few months and I’ll probably be obsessed with it again) but it was a gift for my mum so I put just that extra bit of love and care into it. I also love it because it’s shiny and I absolutely love silver which I rarely get to use in great quantities because of the price.
How expensive is your craft/ how much do you spend on crafting?
Things like glass fusing can end up really expensive, sometimes I will go a month or so without buying any new supplies or I will wait until there is a special offer on.
The kiln was my big expense and my camera wasn’t cheap either but things like beading and crochet are fairly cheap in comparison..I like to tell myself they balance themselves out!
Advice for someone with a chronic illness starting off in your craft(/s)?
Find something you love and just play, there are lots of craft related youtube tutorials out there, once you have mastered the basics make your own rules and do what makes you happy. I’d suggest keeping a blog or diary so you can see your progress, there are lots of craft blogs out there too.
As always, if you think you might like to take part in a chronic crafters interview please get in touch. I’m always looking for more people to interview and there are never any time limits or deadlines you need to keep.