Sunday, July 10, 2011

The Creative Mama Series - Heleen

I am honoured to be hosting a score of super talented crafty mamas sharing their wisdom, crafting and snapshots of their beautiful lives. This is ‘The Creative Mama series’.
Join us every weekend for a wander in these ladies crafty shoes. Guest posts, stunning photography, inspiration, interviews, poetry and giveaways...all coming up. Magic aside, it can be hard work this mama business, put your feet up a minute and join us. Hopefully there is something here to give your day a lift.
{Creative Mama buttons to share can be found via the side bar. Spread the word, it’s going to be good.}

My name is Heleen Webb and I live on the North Shore with my husband Craig, an arborist, our two boys Daniel, 6 and Joshua, 4 and our crazy cat Siwa. I am a full-time mum and part-time crafter/designer who work and blog under the name Ruby in the Dust.

What’s your creative outlet? Why do you craft? When do you make time to craft? I have always been a creative person but neglected it for a few years while I studied and worked in adult teaching. When Daniel was born, I had more time to start sewing again and I rediscovered how much I love it. My crafting time has fluctuated over the last 6 years most recently, with school hours.
Since I’ve started selling my work, I am very disciplined about my work time. When I’m home alone, I spend the time in my craft room making or designing rather than doing house work or reading on the couch. I also go to bed far too late, because I get my best thinking time at night.
I am a very visual person: I love colour, pattern and texture and I think that’s why I adore fabric so much. I adore being able to combine different combinations of those elements and to create something beautiful and useful as a result. I mostly sew bags and pouches, but also dabble in quilting, knitting and hope to learn to crochet one day.

Your creative space – what does it look like?
My workspace is a sunny room where I can make a mess and then close the door. I am very lucky to have enough space for my fabric collection and all my other stashes: knitting wool and yarns, bags of cotton reels, vintage kid’s books, buttons, my cloth dolls, the list gets longer by the day. I have a desk for my sewing machine and a table for all the other jobs like cutting and over-locking. The room used to be the nursery when the boys were little, and has very special memories for me.

How did you learn your craft?
My mum taught me to sew and gave me my sewing machine when I turned 21. She has always been interested in sewing and crafts and gave me and my sisters the crafting bug when we were young. My dad has also been a big inspiration to me. He is a farmer and very clever with his hands, and taught me to see the value and potential in things that may look worthless to others. Most of the craft I do today has been learnt through library books and blog tutorials though. My nana knits, but I only really learnt to knit last year with the help of YouTube! I appreciate how much you can learn from other crafters in the blogging community; it’s such a great place to pass on traditional skills in a modern way.

Do you do any crafting with your kids? Are they into it? Can you suggest a project that your small ones have enjoyed?
Our boys really enjoy making things, which makes me very happy. Recently they’ve been doing some embroidery by drawing a simple picture on fabric, stretching it over a hoop and then ‘drawing’ it with thread using simple running stitches. I was really amazed at their concentration span; they both sat there for over an hour one night, and when Daniel got up the next morning, he wanted to do some more before school!

Can you give us some tips on how you juggle being a mama and working from home (or finding time to be creative at home)?
As I said before, I put my crafting ahead of my role of ‘housewife’... I dislike that word so much, and I’m certainly not one. If you see my house you’d know what I mean. When I’m really busy, something’s got to give, and it’s always the housework. I’d much rather be known for my creative work than my spotless floors. Being a mum comes first though, so when the boys are at home after school, I close the craft room door and do normal mum-stuff. The boys like helping me in the kitchen and we sometimes do craft together, which is precious time because I’m sure in a few years’ time they won’t think those are cool things to do with their old mum! Craig is also very encouraging, and gives me plenty of time to work on the weekends when I have deadlines and markets to get ready for. I am so glad that he appreciates how important my work is to me. I honestly could not have done as much as I have so far without his support.

HELEEN'S GIVEAWAY...a Ruby in the Dust children's play crown. Colours to be chosen by the lucky winner. Perfect for the play box or for a special birthday child. Be sure to leave a comment to be in to win! All comments go into the magic hat and the winner to be chosen by the smallest member of the household at the end of the week.

You can see more of Heleen's world on her blog, Ruby in the Dust HERE and find her work for sale HERE. I love the fabric she designs...check it out!


  1. I'd love to win the crown. My Mum gave me a sewing machine for my 21st as well.

  2. I did too - I wonder if 21 year olds still get sewing machines for their birthdays? Wonderful crown....great for wee story tellers! + great to find out more of Heleen's story...thank you both!

  3. I really enjoy following Heleen's blog so its good to read more of her story. What a wonderful crown! I know a little girl who would love that!

  4. Heleen is a lovely lady, it's nice to learn a bit more about her & her story.

  5. I love hearing about how busy Mums balance everything. I too, would like to be known as a Mum who did a lot of things, spent time with her kids rather than the Mum with the cleanest floor!!

  6. Love seeing this kind of work. It’s so important to keep crafts alive as it could so easily be lost in modern life. There are many skills in craft work that my grandmother had, I wish I had taken to time to learn. Thank you, love it.

  7. Most impressed with the embroidery your son did, such energy coming through in the figure! Inspires me to try my little boy (when he's big enough) to do the same.

  8. What a lovely crown!

    The interview with Helen really got me thinking ahead to the day when y little ones are not so little anymore, and how I might be able to create a little more.

    Very inspiring story Helen. Thanks Anissa.

  9. Love the crown, Ruby would look perfect in a little blue one!

  10. Well done mama, you are an inspiration. J.x

  11. Love the poster above your sewing machine Heleen :-) 'Make do and mend'. Our little Ava would love to wear your crown, just gorgeous!

  12. Thank you everyone, it's so nice to read your comments :) Jo, the poster came with a Frankie magazine, isn't it perfect? About the embroidery: I think it's easy to underestimate our kids' abilities, and I was pleasantly surprised when my boys could do it. xHeleen

  13. Wonderful, you're such an inspiration!
    And so very talented my lovely daughter!