Do it your way, make your own rules

I pick the brain of the mum who created FLORA & thimble about keeping yourself and your kids inspired

It's strange what I find daunting now that I never did before having the children in tow (family weekend away in London - how can I possibly remember EVERYTHING we will need!? What If the tube door closes before my 3 year old has jumped on?! Will I know what to do if the baby screams and cries at an awkward and very public moment?) and in contrast what I used to find a bit scary and now don't mind at all (being responsible for creating my own salary, creating things I have never made before and putting myself on social media).

Being a mum has absolutely changed my whole approach to life in the smallest and biggest ways; more than I ever would have believed possible. If you'd met me 4 years ago you'd know that I would notice if a coaster had moved 1 cm on my kitchen table... and now my 1 year old is lucky if he gets a reaction out of me when he tips a full cup of milk over my head/the table/himself (or most commonly all 3).  I used to find deadlines painful as all I wanted to do was tick the thing OFF MY LIST and I couldn't really derive much enjoyment from the process of working on the project as I was only ever fixing my gaze on the finish line. Now I have had my brain rearranged in the most unexpected way by my children and I am getting much better at enjoying the PROCESS of things; whether that's spending 1 hour instead of a hurried 10 minutes watering the plants, with 2 small boys and 2 even smaller watering cans 'helping' me or working on a commission for a customer with lots of discussions and research and planning before I even get to starting to make the thing itself.

I guess what I'm saying is that for me personally, I know I would never have been equipped for starting my business with the mindset I had before children, so I am always intrigued about other creative mums opinions on this, which is one of the reasons I started my 'Conversations with Creative Mums' blog series.

I am very happy indeed that this week I'm featuring Linda - the mum behind FLORA & thimble. I started following her account when I had just joined Insta and I have always LOVED seeing her photos pop up in my feed (and I'm sure you will too!)...  

Conversations with Creative Mums #3 FLORA & thimble

1. What do you create? BookArt frames using old damaged, illustrated books, brought to life with cutwork and stitch.

2. Why do you do what you do? I can’t sit down without stitching or cutting, or making something, I’ve always got ideas I want to explore.

3. If we asked your children what you do what would they say? I took my little boy to a gallery to see my work, he had no idea which piece was mine as I had made it all once he had gone to bed! 

4. Would you be doing what you’re doing if you hadn’t become a mother? I think I would still be working full time as an A Level art and textiles teacher at a sixth form college in Leicester - since becoming a Mum I have reduced my days from full time to 3 days - I started FLORA & thimble when my daughter was 1, as I found that when I had babies I had so many ideas (but not a moment to do anything other than basic survival!!) - not being able to make things gave me even more ideas 💡 without the children I don’t think I would have developed the work I create.

5. How do you stay motivated after a bad day (or week…or month!)? Inspiration is key! Create a ‘look book’ of inspirational images, visit galleries, gift shops, places to take photos, scroll Instagram, keep inspired!

Whilst we are on the subject of inspiration - below is a small snapshot of Linda's creations (including her two children!)

6. One piece of advice you’d give to a mum thinking of starting a creative business? Adjust to fit your family life, do it your way, make your own rules. 

7. Best life-hack you’ve picked up? Having breaks from phones, TV and the internet - we have a ‘techno detox jar’ which holds all the gadgets for one day a week! 

8. Best activity you have for encouraging your children to be creative? A low children’s table and free access to a variety of materials and papers - including paint sticks, glue and collage, and different felt tips pens - a few enforced rules (for your sanity so they don’t decorate the walls) but after a few days they get it, and you can enjoy their curiosity and the unique way children explore and create whenever they feel like it! (My little boy is 4 and a half, my daughter is 2 and a half) 

Wild card question! Describe yourself in 3 words: Optimistic, determined, imaginative.

Book, blog or podcast recommendations:

I read all the books I work with before I cut them up (it takes a while to get the time!! but it is an essential part of the process..) I especially love old natural history books and the Victorian, poetic language of flowers.. I also like to read Alison Weir history books... but most of the books I read are with the children - a favourite is ‘The elephant and the bad baby.’

When to say YES and when to say NO when it comes to your creative business: It’s all about balance - YES if there’s time and it can be done well, NO (but don’t say no straight away, sleep on it and investigate) if it doesn’t fit for now. 

Thank you enormously to Linda for answering my questions and getting involved in my blog - I really love her gadget jar and kids art table ideas; thank you so much for sharing your tips with us Linda! To find out more about her and her stunning creations, visit her Instagram page and keep a lookout for her website which is currently in development.

As always, if you'd like to have your say on anything we've talked about in this blog post or if you would like to get involved, please leave a comment here or pop me a message as I'd love to hear from you...

Emma xx                                                                                            stitchmehappy@hotmail.co.uk

P.S. If you're wondering about the London weekend I mentioned in the beginning of this blog; I forgot about a hundred things which I remembered 30 minutes after leaving the house, I didn't loose my 3 year old on the underground and the baby screamed/cried/had a complete and utter meltdown like nothing we'd ever witnessed before for a full 30 minutes on a very packed train. But it was totally worth it for the brilliant adventures we had!