What first drew you to your craft ?
I remember being taught to cross-stitch, sew and crochet by Mrs. Byrne at primary school. Growing up during 1970/80s, eldest of 5 girls, money was tight so we often used to make Christmas cards, and my mum and aunties were always knitting for babies and sewing hideously embarrassing matching outfits (sorry mum), for us to wear on family days out. I used to watch my maternal granddad carving stone in his workshop and my uncles were stonemasons, so the creativity must have rubbed off somewhere.
When I was 9-10 I used to love going to my friends house to play, as her dad had a really huge workshop with tools galore. We used to make canoes for our Sindy Dolls, carving wood out of thick tree branches. I definitely think my obsession with manual tools came from those activities.
What’s your crafting background?
I really started to show an aptitude for art in my teenage years. I wasn’t very academic, but loved all forms of art & craft and decided I wanted a career in that area. I studied Fine Art at Uni, obsessed with painting & sculpture. Although due to lack of finances, my friends and I used to have crafting evenings. Settled with pints of Pina Colada we would work for hours making family Christmas cards and presents, months before Christmas. After education, I worked for over 11 years in museum, gallery & community art education. Although not having much opportunity to paint or sculpt, I was always making cards with little Fimo brooches and necklaces on which I used to sell to work colleagues. I realised early on in my formal education, although I loved creating art, I really wanted to pass on my knowledge and help others discover their own passion and skills through creative activity. Teaching arts & crafts through informal workshops was an ideal route for me to take.
Life happens, but passions remain and after having my two children, and recovering from serious illness, I wanted a way to get back to making, which would fit in with my recovery and family life, that wasn’t costly and pretty much portable. So I started card making, crocheting and then jewellery making. My interests are evolving all the time.
Although not a trained jewellery maker, I am an avid researcher, I collect crafting books and constantly research on YouTube and the internet and go to craft exhibitions and market to improve and develop my techniques and interests. I believe in lifelong learning and that we can learn from many different resources at any age. Although learning from each other is so important, passing down inter-generational skills is vital to carry on traditional crafts and skills from old to young.
What are your main sources of inspiration?
Everything around me inspires me. I love flicking through arts, crafts, design & architecture books and the life changing internet, I use it as a 24/7 library of ideas and inspiration. I am inspired by the other artists and crafters I meet through craft events and Lo-fi, the creativity and skills other local makers have astounds me. The craft community in the North West is fabulous.
Who’s been the biggest influence on your career so far?
Corny I know, but my hubby Steve. He is so very extremely hardworking, supportive and clever. Without his emotional & financial support though the good and bad times, I couldn’t do what I love. Also he is a brilliant and inventive maker himself, without any arts background, can create amazing furniture and vintage scooters from bits that everyone else throws away. He sees possibilities in everything.
What’s the best thing about being a crafter?
I don’t label myself a painter, a sculptor, a jeweler, I make using the tools and materials I have at hand. Some items are functional, some are pretty, but I can take my skills, tools and materials anywhere, I have even been known to make jewellery, whilst camping. I love the fact that my children are amazed at what I can make and then they start their own crafting.
Do you do any other crafts in your spare time, apart from what you specialise in?
Yes, crocheting, Knitting, making hair accessories, upcycling homewares & furniture, cardmaking, mosaics, woodwork. You name it I want to have a go.
What’s you’re the best thing you’ve ever made?
I am never completely happy with everything I make as I am learning as I go, but I am most happy with a Silver Vintage Vespa lapel pin I made for my hubby, as he doesn’t usually wear jewellery, but wears this on every scooter rally he attends. I am happiest making one-off pieces that are personal to the wearer.
Have you ever made a creative mistake?
Oh loads. I will continue to make them as, this is how we improve.
And your favourite tool or material?
My soldering torch and piercing saw. Although I have a brand new rolling mill, which I have not used yet and am very excited about.
What’s you favourite crafty anecdote / story?
None, I have a terrible memory!
Where can we see / buy your work
I am a member of Manchester Craft Mafia; I usually have a stall at their craft fairs. I also have some items for sale in Grumpy in the City, Brazenose Street, Manchester. Also have a look at my website or Etsy Shop @StampedMetalGifts.
What have you got coming up in the future?
I am concentrating on vintage cutlery, metalsmith and personalised jewellery and also creating some upcycled homewares in partnership with my hubby.
You can buy Cara's wares at Etsy - www.etsy.com/uk/shop/StampedMetalGifts
or follow her on social media at twitter: @caracoddartist, facebook: www.facebook.com/caracoddartist or on her blog Blog: http://ccartist.weebly.com/blog.html