Posted: Fri 14th Oct 2011
**"I've always been very creative and enjoyed making things," explains Kirsty Whitlock. "I'm inspired by everyday items and reclaimed articles and I incorporate that into my work.Â ** "For me, it's about changing the conceptions of embroidery," the 24-year-old designer/maker continues. "A lot of people see it as dull and old-fashioned, but my work is the opposite of that."Â A first class design graduate from De Montfort University, Kirsty's interest in pushing the boundaries of mixed media textiles has seen her stitch on paper and even plastic carrier bags. ("I'm often inspired by a word or a book," she elaborates. "And I like using a sewing machine in unusual ways!"). Though very much in the early stages of establishing her name and reputation, she's already been invited by the Embroiderers' GuildÂ to exhibit her installations and conceptual work at its prestigious Stitching Show.Â Nevertheless, Kirsty still works part-time at her local theatre in Basingstoke and works from a home studio while she develops a more commercial range of interior accessories that offer her unique take on cushion covers, small gifts and picture frames.Â "The feeling you get from selling your first piece of work is amazing," she exclaims. "Just knowing that someone could be opening my work on Christmas day is great. I sold my biggest piece through a gallery in London to a buyer from Germany who saw my piece online. Images are so important."Â Hence her application to Fund101 - Kirsty intends to spend half of her Â£500 on employing a professional photographer to visit her studio and photograph her work for her website and competitive exhibitions. The remainder is earmarked for a stand for craft fairs.Â "The images are vital for my progress," she stresses. "I'd like to become more established as a designer maker and to exhibit at larger, more renowned craft fairs. All the renowned craft fairs are judged by photography. I also want to set up an online shop on my website.Â "There's a big market for handmade crafts now and people want that handmade quality. I'm very passionate about what I do. I have a real passion for textiles and my ideas."Â
How Kirsty got the votes****Â
"It was a challenge. I couldn't have done it without social media and smartphones," Kirsty reveals. "I used Twitter, Facebook, my website and my blog, and I sent an email to the mailing list I've gathered from private shows. I also created a text message with a link for friends and family, then I created a leaflet saying how to vote and what you needed to do. To mark 250 votes, I announced a giveaway.Â "The great thing about the creative industry is that it's so supportive. Getting votes has been great for marketing, too."Â
**What's in the future for Kirsty?**Â
"As well as building up my exhibitions and online shop, I'd like to set up my own workshops because I get a lot of feedback from people. I also want to get involved with schools using reclaimed and recycled materials."