Saturday, August 6, 2011

The Creative Mama Series - Angela

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 me 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 always something here to give your day a lift.

Introducing Angela of Mermaid's Purse

I was one of those kids who made clothes, home furnishings and food for my dolls and loved plasticine and clay. From mum I learned to sew and picked up knitting from a nana and my grandfather. Both of my nana's were an inspiration to me as a child and even more so now I'm all grown up - I have some idea of the level of skill and work involved in many of the things they used to make. I also come from a line of hoarders and I'm lucky to enjoy some of their beautiful creations every day. I had a few years when I worked a lot and travelled a little and didn't do much making at all. But then I decided to study, and so quit my jobs and went to art school, where I ended up weaving with plastics and computer cables, then spent much of the final year making strange crochet sculptures! It was a bit of a rediscovery for me and I just went, "Oh yeah, actually I just want to crochet and sew things all the time". Luckily for me, if you have a good reason you can do anything at art school.
Fast forward through jobs and heaps of creative projects and exhibitions, I am now a full time mother of two, Luna (3&1/2) and Blake (15 months) and I try to do as much crafting as possible when the kids are sleeping or in those rare moments when they're off with their dad. Home for me is Waterview, Auckland and I live with my husband Rob, who is working and studying, our children, and our lovely old neurotic cat Austin.

What’s your creative outlet? Why do you craft? When do you make time to craft?

Most of the time I swing between crochet and sewing. I love free-form crochet, partly because I enjoy making and experimenting, and the process is really important to me, and partly because I'm really bad at sticking to patterns! But I'm working on that as it makes reproducing a favourite hit and miss, and I'd love to make some of the garments that I see in pattern books.
I'm fortunate to have my nana's sewing machine and overlocker, and since Luna was born I've been sewing again, spending time getting to know my machine, my materials and teaching myself to sew better. I do a lot of hand sewing, but I love the speed and scale you can achieve with a good machine. I love detail and the things I enjoy making tend to take hours of work, and I make my all own patterns. My sea horse softies for example, involved several prototypes and experiments with scale and detailing, until I reached a point where I was happy with the pattern and went on to make some to sell (then I just had to dare to cut into some of my vintage fabric stash!). I think going to art school unleashed a part of me that really just needs to make things, no matter how impractical, last year I was delighted to made some work for the crochet coral reef project that visited the Auckland Museum, so beautiful, and it spoke about the damage we are doing to our oceans, as well as the complex growth of reef animals. On the other hand I love the functional side of crafting, and like to revisit some of those everyday projects and ideas, things like really warm wool blankets, pajama cases, accessories and upcycled or altered garments. I enjoy drinking my coffee from a beautiful old cup, and I also enjoy wearing a skirt made from a dress my mum made when she was young, they're imbued with warmth and love already.

I really work to prioritise my crafting/working time, with two littlees it is a challenge! Usually my most productive time is in the evening when the kids are asleep, occasionally daytime naps synchronise and I can have half an hour or so to work. Housework is low down on my list of 'must dos' and if I have free time I don't like to be cleaning! Mothering my children is very intense, however, making and working nurtures and energises me, so it's a survival thing too. Some weeks I can work a lot, others it's about the kids and our activities, and I might just do some baking and gardening to keep the creating part of me going.

Your creative space – what does it look like?

My creative space is a room I share with my husband Rob, it's fairly big, but it's so full! I have a stunning view out over Waterview reserve, the best thing is I can work and then close the door without having to put everything away again. I have a lovely collection of boxes and tins, containing thread and some of my nana Shirley's projects (for me to finish) and I also collect vintage Strawberry Shortcake dolls and My Little Ponies, so I have some of my favourites out to admire. I tend to get a bit obsessed with things and my room reflects that I think!
I like to work in an orderly way, but I work on many projects at a time, and neat and tidy tends to mean I'm not working much though... so it's a full space. The window with the beautiful view gives me headspace.

Do you do any crafting with your kids? Can you suggest a project that your small ones have enjoyed?

Luna sometimes does some 'sewing' with me, sometimes sitting on my lap while I'm at my machine, I have to be in a patient mood for this though. I make pincushions, so I have an excess of pretty pearly pins, which she enjoys pinning into things beside me. I'm gradually including her in stages of my work that she can handle, she has a long attentions span and enjoys detailed work, organising my 'special things' and I love to see what she does, where and how she 'sews' (pins!) I think just being able to (carefully and beside me) rummage through my sewing notions and small projects is really good for Luna, we spend time with all my buttons, she arranges and plays with them, imagines them as a family, it's very tactile and good for all that careful motor skill development. Blake likes the sounds of my machine and usually just gets into some boxes or random less-precious things in the work room at the moment. Currently I'm working on an alphabet blanket and big cushion with Luna, she arranges and pins the felt letters, it's fun and I look forward to finally completing it with her!

Can you give us some tips on how you juggle being a mama and finding time to be creative?

I'm really not very good at the whole juggling thing! I do my best to engage the kids in the daily chores, tidying, cleaning cooking etc. so any 'free' time is not spent catching up on all those things. Having a designated work room really helps, so that was a priority when we were looking for a new flat. Having a very supportive husband is what really makes the difference for me too, we both work on our own projects after hours when the kids are asleep - I really enjoy evenings when we are both working along side each other on our projects. With a cup of tea and maybe some chocolate..
I sometimes read other blogs by craftsy mamas, and they seem SO organised! I'm trying to streamline a little and help the kids have places for their toys and projects. Things seem to be in a state of flux with kids - they grow out of clothes so fast, learn to walk, run, sing, cut veges for dinner, yet days can fly by 'just' reading or sorting out shells. It seems like the key for us is less is more, we try and 'do' less together and just 'be' together, not making too many commitments every week.


Oh for my give away I have a cupcake pin cushion kit! It's complete and good for someone who has done some sewing (I have more photos and all the instructions are available on my blog too) or for a child who might have someone to help with trickier bits!

To be in to win a lovely cupcake pin cushion kit, or to leave stories of your own creative mama journey, leave a comment. All entries go into the magic hat and the winner will be drawn by the youngest member of the household at the end of the week.

Angela can be found in her blog, Mermaids Purse.

For a wander through Angela's lovely work, or to buy Mermaid's Purse loveliness, Click HERE.

Good luck for the Giveaway and thanks for stopping by!


  1. Nicely written and so authentic. truly enjoyable share. You're an inspiration Angela x Kere Ana

  2. The cupcake pin cushions look so cute! I look forward to reading the rest of the mama guest post series:D Love the names Luna and Blake!

  3. I really love and enjoy Angela's work; her pincushion and needle book are in daily use at my place. I like the 'less is more approach' Angela!

  4. love the pincushion and am enjoying your creative mama series

  5. Such beautiful things in her Felt shop. Love the needle wallets