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Meet local maker Sparklymouse
Louise is born and bred in Birmingham, creating bright and bold hand embroidered illustrations. The works with the ambition to make life a bit more colourful in a world of doom and gloom.
What first fuelled your passion to make/ create your designs/ products?I grew up living on top of my parents printing shop so I have forever been surrounded by creativity. Living on top of a shop full of machines, paper and ink wasn't conventional and it has always just been my life and I'm not sure I know much else. When I'm not embroidering I'm painting, weaving, drawing, anything I can get my hands on and that's something that will never change.
Tell us about the origins of your business.When I was in my final year at university studying Visual Communication I felt like I hadn’t really found my illustrative style and wanted to do something different to what others were doing so I started stitching. It’s something I had experimented with years prior and decided to give it another go and somehow 8 years later it seems to be working out for me.
The name sparklymouse came about when I was trying to come up with an email address in my youth and I saw a sparkly cat toy on the floor. I didn’t realise that years later I would still be using it but I guess its memorable.
What’s your motto?
Everything happens for a reason.
How would you describe your designs / products?
Quirky, cheeky illustrations made using traditional techniques.
What was the first success / landmark moment for your designs / product range?
I think my first big moment was being asked to take part in New Designers: One Year On in London, they showcase 60 of the best up and coming designers one year into their business. After finishing university you kind of feel like ‘ugh what now’ and that gave me a massive boost to be like ‘yes Louise lets do this’.
Tell us about your materials - where do you source your materials from?
I feel really lucky that to make my original pieces of work I don’t need much. A hoop, some cotton and some thread and I’m good to go! As for my printed products, like greeting cards, I am making moves to be as eco friendly as possible. This year my main aim was to start using biodegradable clear sleeves and I’m pleased to say I have achieved this goal and it’s made me feel so much better about putting my artwork into the world.
Tell us about your making process?
I work full time in an admin job so I spend most of my days dreaming about what I can make when I get home, this is where ideas normally pop into my imagination. I carry a little sketchbook and a pencil case with me at all times to doodle in and just in case inspiration strikes. This is actually where my newest range of card ideas came from - top tip for any creatives out there!
Have you ever had any interesting commissions?
My most interesting commission was when I was contacted by someone to make a portrait of Mario Testino as a birthday present from his team. Obviously I thought the email was a wind up, and initially I wasn’t even going to reply, but it was all real/surreal and yeah, story of a lifetime I guess.
Do you have a favourite of the Birmingham museums? If so, why?
My favourite part has to be the Egyptian section of Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery. I have fond memories of school trips and everyone standing around the mummy saying they saw it move, still gives me the creeps today.
Also the Gas hall is just an amazing space and there is always something crazy happening in there, I once did some life drawing with drag queens - just amazing!
And finally, a tourist arrives in Birmingham for the first time ever, where do you take them?
Hmm, this is a tough one, so many great places to choose from. I think I would suggest a day out in Digbeth. Peruse the shops, take in the scenery of St Martins and Selfridges, Baked in Brick for a slice of pizza to refuel and a walk down the canal and back alleys to take in the street art sights. The vandalised Pat Butcher mural is a must see!