Here is the second installment of my chat with Carol Wellard, Cloth Doll Maker, and Embroidery crafter.
What do you hope other people get from the pieces you create?
As long as they’re happy with the end product then I’m fine. It’s a buzz because you can go along on your merry way and you think, “yeah, I’m quite happy with that” “I know I can do better, I know I can change things but I’m quite happy with that” and I think if someone else see’s that and see’s the same things and thinks “oh I really like that” It’s a buzz that you’ve even managed to connect and someone else has thought that of what you’ve done because what you do is very ordinary to yourself, it’s just what you do. There’s nothing special is there…
Yeah, But If I see someone else’s work I think “Wow! That’s incredible, let me have a look at that”. I want to know how it’s made but I’m also very…I drive myself nuts actually. It’s got to be finished It’s got to have the best finish that I can do. There will be no loose edges, there will be no stitching coming undone, and there will be no seams that are exposed. It’s got to have, right at the very end, that finer detail and that’s what upsets me with other people’s work when they don’t go that extra stage. You’ve done something really fantastic but why have you not finished it? To me, it seems unfinished but that’s how I am with myself.
And that comes back to the process that you talk about with your items?
Yeah, and that’s what I love. That’s the best bit. That’s better than it selling. It’s a journey and it’s a great one and I’m very lucky to have it.
What do you hope to achieve with your Art/craft? Do you hope to learn additional skills to incorporate into your work?
Oh, I’d love to be able to knit, I’d love to be able to crochet, I wish I could paint…
Is it something you just wish you could do or are you itching to have a go?
I’m limited as to what I can do with those (the dolls) because I can’t knit and I can’t crochet so I’m limited. I can’t make a nice little wrap or I can’t crochet a nice little beret. I can’t do those things so I have to then think what material can I use? It would be nice to do it all.
Would you like it to or can you see your craft becoming a ‘handmade’ business or is very much the cathartic and creative process that keeps you doing it?
No, at present I can’t see me taking it into something else. I don’t know whether that would work for me. It works for me here (The Ministry of Craft 35) because someone else has got the responsibility of all the bits I don’t like about life…(laughter)
Is it the word business perhaps? Here, you can still create your pieces and come and display your items without the worry.
Yeah, and I’m very fortunate that I can do that.
Do you have a workspace? Can you describe it to me?
Yes, I have a workroom. It’s quite a decent sized room. It’s as large as my living room. Unfortunately, it only has one path that channels through the middle to the Sewing Machine because it’s stuffed!! It’s absolutely rammed! But I know where things are, I know that six boxes down, that’s where that material is and I know that the wools are in there (etc.) and it looks like I’ve been burgled!!
But it’s a place you are happy to be in despite it all?
Yes, and you know how they say “Untidy mind, untidy this, untidy that” No! I haven’t got time to tidy a workroom up although every now and then I do have a bit of a go, lose interest and I’ll come across something and I’ll think “I’d forgotten I’d got this…oh I know what I can do with that” and then off I trot and I’ve not even done anything really (to the workroom) but it’s what makes me tick I think.
Do you find with your workspace that you are good at staying within it or do you find that you spill out into the house?
I used to be quite good (laughter) until certain things I need. I haven’t got a TV in my workroom and I haven’t got a radio. It’s very quiet and it’s very calm, but sometimes I need noise so I’ll take some things into the room and then I’ll think, well I’m going to be using that in the morning so it might as well stay there so it creeps in. Or I’ll think, there’s more light in the kitchen today so I’ll do a little bit in the kitchen and it stays there and I’ve got a very understanding husband…he thinks it’s a nightmare…we have words (Laughter) “I’ve told you I will do it! Just not today!”
How do you feel about ‘craft in the community’ specifically thinking about the Ministry of Craft 35?
I’ve been amazed. Law of averages says there’s going to be talent out there but I didn’t realise to what extent until I came here to this shop and to see some of the work that other people do, I’ve been very impressed.
Is it important to encourage people to learn new skills?
Absolutely! One hundred percent yes because I know what it does for me. I don’t think I’m the only woman on the planet that it does that for and I think that if people who are maybe struggling with other things can find something that’s as rewarding as crafting they’ll start feeling better about themselves I’m sure. If they’ve got troubles or whatever, it can be financial it can be anything, for that moment that they’re making something, that they’re creating something it’s magical. Without sounding like some old hippy it’s magical, what it does for you is tremendous.
Do you know what else I find astonishing? People that think that they aren’t (creative). Then they try something and they were never aware that they could. That’s fantastic.
I love kids getting into it. My granddaughters are in there! They’re both sewing, they can embroider.
I think there’s a lot of lost skills in today’s society…
It is a lost skill
I was taught to sew a button on and as kids, we would make little drawstring bags and it was fun as well as useful but I know a lot of my peers weren’t necessarily taught those skills as I suppose they weren’t thought of as important. And although there’s the mundane skill involved, you may need to put a button back on or sew up a hole, there’s that whole element of creativity being missed because it’s not being taught anymore. People aren’t realising that they have that skill perhaps?
No, they don’t and I don’t think it helps that society is quite disposable so it’s a case of if the buttons went off it, “Oh I’ll buy a new jacket” Although that sometimes works out to my benefit because they shove that jacket out…
…and you get a new doll out of it!!
Yeah, and I get some fabric! I get some great fabric!
My Grandmother was a seamstress by trade but she was a creative woman. My Mum wasn’t. She couldn’t sew a button on and because she was so rubbish at repairing things my Granny passed it on to me. I think that’s where it kind of started that you can get something and repair it, you can get something and make it something else and that interest has never ever left. Whether it was there because it came out and she recognised it or…I don’t know.
Would you say your Grandmother was the root of your passion?
I would say so yes.
Is there anything you would like to say about your involvement in the Ministry of Craft 35 ltd.
Well, I think that whether you believe you are creative or not, you are. In some shape or form, there is an element in everyone that needs to expose itself I think…and the more the merrier!
That’s a great way to finish! Thanks Carol.
I really hope you enjoyed reading this interview with Carol. Some of carols work is on display and available to buy at Ministry of Craft 35, 35 Church Street, conisbrough, DN12 3HP.
(Louisa-Jane Dyson for Ministry of craft 35)