Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Down the rabbithole: meet Viv from Hen's Teeth

Woo hoo! It's Wednesday so it must be 'Down the rabbithole' time. This is the new column I'll post on Wednesdays to introduce you to some of my favourite Planetarians. Last time we met sweet Cécile from Nancy in France who blogs at Libertylle. This time we're hopping across the English Channel to meet one of the kindest bloggers around - Viv from Hen's Teeth.
Here's the fabulous banner on Viv's blog
This is how Viv describes herself on her blog:
My name is Viv and I live smack bang in the middle of England. Here you will find me chattering about places visited, wonderful things that inspire, but mostly about my handmade pieces. All my work is designed by myself and made using the collection of vintage fabrics from Europe and USA, haberdashery and paper ephemera that I have personally collected from many sources, over the years. I am madly, truly and deeply obsessed with my work! 
My mind rarely wanders from thoughts of drawing, designing, how I can collate imagery with the tactile and ultimately make into a decoratively desirable handbag, clutch purse, needlecase, brooch or mixed media collage. All are finished with hand embroidery and buttons, lots of them. I do not have a core collection. I work as inspiration takes me and I am inspired constantly by the beautiful world that surrounds me. 
So, are you intrigued yet?!
I first found Viv when wandering around Flickr. This extraordinary reworking of an old envelope into art captivated me.

Fascinated, I delved further and found Viv's delightful blog. I started following it straightaway and emailed her to congratulate her on her wondrous handiwork. She became a Planetarian and a beautiful friendship started to grow.

I then discovered her charming Etsy shop and fell in love with every single item in it. Head over heels, actually. To see why, let's look at one of the beauties she currently has on offer there.
*Sigh*. Her cross body bag is the bees' knees, don't you think? You can find this pretty one here. This is how she describes it:
This bag unifies all that I am about and wish to create. A collection of wonderful old fabrics, worn and soft with a history, made by someone's hand, brought together with hand stitching and hand embellishment onto new cotton, made into a cross body bag. 

I have embellished with old worn torn patchwork cottons, a piece of old patchwork for a vase and hand embroidered flowers. Finished with a flower appliqué and lots of delicious MoP buttons.

The front base, back, lining and handle are all made from some spotty new cotton.
Here's a close-up look at her extraordinary talent. Look at the intricate embroidered flowers, the complementary fabrics and the overall softness of the magic she's woven. I covet one of these bags!

One of the many amazing things about Viv is that she has had carpal tunnel surgery (something else we have in common) but also suffers badly from fibromyalgia, the poor darling. She's had times when it's been utterly debilitating and has prevented her from working. But most of the time, she somehow manages to work through the pain, such is her passion for creating these bespoke pieces. I am in absolute awe of her.

In September 2010, she posted here about an extraordinary windfall she had received - 320 Liberty fabric samples from the 1920s and 30s! Of course the Liberty lover in me was enchanted by the thought.  Excited, I emailed her for more information about them and told her how much I adored Liberty Tana lawn.

I was thrilled to receive this response:
Dearest Jane
I wonder if you would mind giving me your address, as I have a few snippets to send to you.
Viv xxx
Delighted at the thought of owning some 'snippets', I obliged. Imagine my surprise when this parcel arrived. Hmm, it doesn't look 'snippet' sized, does it?! Imagine my astonishment when I opened it to discover all this...
I couldn't believe my eyes. My heart started racing. Whooping with joy, I opened the handmade card. This is what I saw.
See - she's still calling them 'a few snippets'! But there was more, oh so much more than that. Look.
This exquisite handmade bag is the most divine thing I own. And Viv had made it just for me. After she'd spotted that I'd 'favourited' a similar one in her Etsy shop. She knew I couldn't afford it. So she gave it to me.
Just look at the details! I cherish everything about it - the texture of the fabric, the pretty birdie stamp, the old postmark, the old-fashioned handwriting, the swatches of Liberty fabric, the tiny cross-stitch, the whimsical embroidery, the little buttons, interesting clasp and the soft pink strap. 
And just look at the pretty Liberty floral lining. *Double sigh*.
Oh, and here are my 'few snippets'! 

I was completely gobsmacked. All I had done for her was leave a few comments on her blog which had 655 followers! Why in the world she chose me as a beneficiary of her beauty was beyond me. I thanked her profusely. 

Such is the hugeness of her heart that she replied 'If my little parcel has made you smile, well then that has made my day'. That, sweet Planetarians, captures Viv's essence to a tee. She is so kind, humble, talented and generous. She has a wicked sense of humour which radiates from her posts and always makes me smile. She's also incredibly compassionate. She's one of the first bloggers I contacted after my Dad died. She has been so kind to me.
I soon put her 'few snippets' to work, creating this beauty I posted about here. I emailed this photo to Viv who was so excited to see what I'd done with it. 

Since then, my adoration of Liberty Tana lawn has only deepened, all prompted by Viv's astonishing work with it. I look forward to using it to make some goodies for my upcoming Etsy shop.
Here's one of Viv's posts showing her and her wares at a local market. Can you believe how many divine creations she has on offer there?!

A little while ago, I asked Viv to make me a needlecase. I shared my thoughts on what I'd like to feature on it. The result?
She delivered it in spades, of course! Just seeing it makes my heart sing, let alone using it.
I've opened it up here so you can see all the extraordinary details. *Sigh*.
And here's the inside. She's sewn in two sheets of felt so there's ample room for all my needles. Miss India adores it as much as I do. I suspect it will become a family heirloom ☺.
To finish, this is one of her divine collaged keepsake boxes I have on my wishlist. What do you think of it?

I have only shown you a fraction of Viv's extraordinary work here. It's impossible to do her proper justice. I urge you to visit her blog here and say hello from me. I guarantee you'll find peeking around it and her Etsy shop an absolute pleasure. You may even find yourself purchasing some of her pretties! 

So, do share what you think of Viv's work. Is there anything which catches your eye? Do you think you might get her to make you something? I can't wait to hear your thoughts. Ooh, I love this new column! Don't we have some fabulously talented Planetarians?
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