Printmaker Emily Cater has a busy and interesting life – which includes performing in a handmade mermaid and mariner dress with her band Mermaid and Mariner! She’s also just taken part in the Auckland Art and Craft Fair and is currently working on some giant landscape paintings and a new zine. These diverse and colourful interests shine through in her gorgeous range of Miss Crow prints.
What do you make?
I love doing detailed line drawings and I make lots of products that are based on these. I turn some of my drawings into screenprints which I then print onto fabric and make into brooches or fabric pouches, others I turn into gocco prints on paper, or digital prints, or cards.
How did you get into your craft?
I’ve loved drawing and doing crafty things my whole life, and started selling at markets back in about 2006, when they had the Craftwerk markets in St Kevin’s Arcade in Auckland. Back then I was selling tote bags and t shirts which I printed with stencils, but wanted to print more detailed images.
About five years ago I was lucky enough to find a print gocco (a small Japanese screenprinting machine) on Trade Me… it was languishing in someone’s garage in Pukekohe. This has enabled me to do much more detailed prints, and I have moved into screenprinting on fabric too.
Connections with music have also helped me practise and display my art – last year I illustrated a multimedia show called The Explorers’ Club: Antarctica which my partner performed around the country – now that we have a band together (called Mermaid and Mariner) I have been channelling lots of my crafty efforts into making things like band costumes and posters… lots of fun!
Do you have formal training or qualifications in your craft?
No, I just love to practise!
Your favourite materials, tools and processes?
So many! I love doing line drawings, preferably with a really skinny pen. Gocco printing and screenprinting always seems like magic to me. I love painting with oils, watercolour or gouache, and sewing when my overlocker’s not being too temperamental.
What inspires you?
I love drawing old-fashioned looking people and get lots of inspiration from finding abandoned photos of people’s ancestors in op shops or markets. I’m very inspired by remnants of the past like beautiful old signwriting, rambling gardens or tumbledown houses. In 2008 I had an exhibition of paintings called Ghost Towns based around these fascinations. I’m also very inspired by the natural world and botanical illustration, and I love collecting seedpods and leaves to draw.
Is there a philosophy behind your work?
That creativity should be a part of everyday life and that it’s important to notice the magic in the everyday.
Describe your workspace:
A creative mess! When I found a plastic tyrannosaurus sitting inside a tea cup on my desk I should have taken that as a sign that it was time to tidy up, instead I sat down and drew it (the resulting tea rex print is for sale in my Felt shop)!
My main workspace is a desk in my bedroom – that usually houses the reference material for whatever I am drawing at the time, so lately it has been covered with a collection of leaves, feathers, and yes, plastic dinosaurs.
I usually screenprint on the lounge floor and often have my sewing machine and overlocker on our coffee table. We have to do lots of checks for stray pins when we’ve got visitors! My partner is a musician so our lounge is full of instruments, adding to the general creative chaos.
Your favourite feedback from a customer:
When I see customers out and about wearing my products I always feel like that’s great feedback.
What are you currently listening to?
Lots of podcasts – This American Life is a favourite in our household. July Flame by Laura Veirs is an album that’s on high rotation on the iPod at the moment.
Recommend an album:
Fox Confessor Brings The Flood by Neko Case – it has been a longtime favourite.
Your favourite childhood book?
Pippi Longstocking – I loved the way she was so rebellious and I was always envious of her parlour full of gifts.
What are you reading now?
Barracuda by Christos Tsiolkas – it’s harrowing at times but a fascinating exploration of ambition. I’d recommend it if you enjoyed his book The Slap.
Do you have any pets?
Yes – a fierce but very cute cat called Loulu!
If you were a crafty superhero, what would your name and superpower be?
Supermesswoman – able to turn any room into a mess in a matter of minutes!
What was the last handmade item you bought and what attracted you to it?
I bought a beautiful print today from my friend Sophie Oiseau – I was attracted to it because it looked like a scene from a vintage children’s book.
You can see more of Emily’s gorgeous prints in her Felt shop here. Emily has also generously offered a this sweet prize pack of one A4 “Love is always making two cups when you only need one” print, one screenprinted fabric huia brooch and one bird badge to one lucky Felt blog reader. If you’d like to be in the prize draw, just leave a comment below telling us what inspires you about Emily’s story and her work. The draw will be made on Friday 1 August and is open to New Zealand residents only.