As part of our Bristol Crafters celebration, this Month, we’re chatting with local Textile Artist, Kari Warrener
Kari started making these fun Bristol inspired textile pieces of art about a year. We first saw her work for sale on the exhibition walls of the Victoria Park Pub and they immediately jumped out at us. Mastering machine embroidery is a challenge within itself and to do so with such beautiful compositions, colours, textures and patterns makes Kari’s work the perfect addition to any Bristolian’s home.
1. How and where did you get started ?
I first started out making PE bags, key rings, bunting, etc and selling my wares at school fairs. Then I saw a lady at a craft fair doing some free-motion machine embroidery and it got me thinking! I bought the special foot for my machine and started experimenting. It wasn’t hard to find my inspiration and I had a first attempt at the suspension bridge. Family and friends loved it so I decided to unleash it on the general public.
2. What is the most enjoyable part of what you do?
I really enjoy choosing the fabric. Liberty fabric is a favourite of mine as it is very pretty and vibrant. I also really enjoy creating the picture and pattern. It can take a while to get the composition right and a bit fiddly to draw and cut each piece of detail but actually I really enjoy the whole process.
3. What or who inspires you?
Simple, it’s Bristol! I absolutely love this city and am inspired every time I step out of my front door. I am fortunate to be able to live in Knowle and can see the suspension bridge from my window. I also see the amazing colours of the houses in our area and can see Park Street in the distance, whilst returning from the school run. We are so lucky to live in such a bright, vibrant place with amazing buildings and architecture.
4. What is your creative background?
I have always had a keen interest in all crafts and have been lucky to have been taught many skills by my Mum and Nan. I also have a GCSE in textiles which gave me a great understanding and confidence with using the sewing machine.
5. What is the most difficult/challenging thing about crafting/making your pieces?
Time! I am a mum of three and I work too, so finding the time to sit and sew can be tricky. I often have a head full of ideas and just do not have the time to create them and that can be incredibly frustrating!
Space! Finding the space to house my materials and artwork is hard work. I have boxes under my bed, in my son’s wardrobe, under the stairs, on the landing anywhere there’s a bit of room really. I’m very lucky to have an understanding family.
6. What about living in Bristol inspires you?
I spent a few years living in Devon but was drawn back to Bristol. It’s where my heart is and will always be my home. I find it such a friendly, supportive place to be.
7. What would be the one piece of advice would you offer other first time crafters wanting to start their own business?
Research your product and make sure there is a market for it. Look at the market value of similar items, make sure you are going to make a profit! I spent a while being pleased making £50 at a fair and then realising that it had taken me 6 weeks to create the stock, paid £20 for the pitch and not taken material costs into account! I learnt that people will pay you “a wage” if you have confidence and sell your products at a good price. Too low tells people that the item is worthless and shoddy, too high and you are stuck with the stock forever so research is your best friend!
8. Is there any other Bristol crafters whose creations you enjoy? and why?
There are many! I try and do as many fairs as I can which enables me to meet lots of other “local creatives”. Bev at The Knitted Pea makes some amazing pictures of wildlife. They are so colourful and created using a sketch pad and coloured pens. Victoria at Hand painted stuff is one talented lady. Her Folk art style of painting is amazing. Jenny Urquhart’s pictures are fab, the colours are so vibrant and I think we share a love of hot air balloons. Mary Corum is another lovely lady who makes stunning pictures of Bristol. She uses more muted colours but it all works so well.
9. Is there anything you can share about any plans for the future?
I am hoping to start work on a “Dia de los Muertos” (Day of the dead) series of pictures. The colourful skulls are so pretty and decorative I cannot wait to start developing them.
Self-promotion and a website is also on my “to do” list. This side of my business is definitely the weakest area and I am trying harder to get better at this but find that again, time is the stumbling block!
Please share to show your love, and if you know of any other Bristol crafters, please let us know, we would love to talk to them as well.