A recent redundancy, after working for seven years as a visual merchandiser, was a blessing in disguise for Amy Dawson. It gave her the push she needed to get Cheese Before Bedtime up and running and now she spends her days stitching in a sun-drenched Onehunga bungalow with wee dog Pepper by her side.
What do you make?
I make modern and quirky embroidery art to adorn your walls. No two are ever the same due to their hand stitched nature, and the colours and fabric combinations used.
What’s the story behind your shop name?
I find that most of my inspiration comes just before I fall asleep. Sometimes I can lie awake for hours with images or new ideas running through my mind. I wanted a shop name that reflected that crazy, inspiring time for me. I love the myth that eating cheese before bedtime gives you funny dreams. I also liked the fact that it was a memorable name and could grow with my shop if I decided to expand into different products.
How did you get into your craft?
I was the creative of the family – the baby of the family with her head constantly in an art project. My family recognised this so every birthday, Christmas, housewarming (I could go on!) they would request a piece of my art as a present. And that is how the stitching began… I was asked to make a piece of art for my sister’s birthday but wanted to do something a bit different. I had a light bulb moment (no doubt after eating cheesy pizza!) and decided to stitch a picture and wrap it around a canvas. After a lot of hours and few all-nighters I got it done and thoroughly enjoyed the process. From there it grew into making some stitchings of my own and experimenting with processes as I went.
galleryDo you have formal training or qualifications in your craft?
I have a Bachelor of Art and Design, majoring in Spatial Design. Although it isn’t directly related to my craft I somehow managed to make most of my projects a piece of art rather than a technical drawing! It also taught me how to edit ideas, work with colour and time-manage.
What creative process do you use to achieve the final product?
Using an outline of my desired image, I trace it onto cotton fabric using my light box and water-soluble marker. I stitch the outlines in black thread then have a brainstorm session playing with colours and fabric combinations that I’ll use. Once that’s finalised I fill in the coloured thread sections, then stitch on the fabrics and trim them to shape. Now all I need to do is wash the marker off, dry, wrap around the canvas or place in a frame and think of the perfect name for them.
What inspires you?
It’s hard to pull me away from inspiring fashion blogs, kids’ blogs, and online magazines. I also love hipster magazines and street fashion. I like to create unique handmade work that I would buy and that customers will cherish – the brighter the better!
Describe your workspace:
I work from home at what was the dining room table. Due to the open plan nature of the house I’m still in on the action and can watch my favourite shows at the same time, or fiancé cooking dinner (yes, lucky!). I have transformed my wee corner into stitching heaven. I need tidiness at all times, music, colour and Pepper the dog.
What are five words that describe your mind?
Bright, cheerful, bursting, creative, grateful.
Your favourite response from a customer:
It’s a great feeling getting repeat customers. I have a lovely customer that has bought three pieces from me now as gifts for others.
What are you reading now?
The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared.
Do you have any pets?
Pepper (aka Woofie) is the family dog that has been passed on to me. She follows me everywhere, not letting me out of her sight, and likes to sit under my desk when I stitch. Every arrival home it’s like she hasn’t seen me for years. She is a Cairn terrier crossed with an Hungarian Puli (basically a scruffy ball of black fluff) and the cutest thing on four legs.
If you were a crafty superhero, what would your name and superpower be?
I think I would be ‘Thimbelina’ – like ‘Thumbelina’ but crafty. I would come to the call of crafty mishaps with my fairy first aid kit. I would soothe your hot glue gun burns, glitter eye, paper cuts and needle pricks.
galleryWhat was the last handmade item you bought?
I bought a cute clay bunny in a painted gourd from Mexico. It looks like a green pear with a bunny peeking out of it. It sits in my new niece’s nursery.
What’s in store for 2013?
My head is bursting with new stitching ideas so my focus for 2013 is growing the range. I will be doing more ‘Personalise Me’ pieces, more kids’ stitches and maybe some smaller pieces. I have just opened a Facebook page so if you would like to get updates on my current work and behind the scenes photos like my page! Oh, and did I mention I’ll be planning my handmade wedding for March 2014? Phew, it’s going to be a busy year!
Have a wander through the fromage-fueled imagination of Cheese Before Bedtime – we never tire of looking at Amy’s fresh and quirky creations! Leave us a comment below and you’ll also go in the draw to win this gorgeous stitched portrait of the adventurous Lizzie. Amy tells us that Lizzie likes to play pirates and spy on her little brother. This four-by-four-inch Cheese Before Bedtime original would look very cute in a nursery or child’s room. The draw is open to New Zealand residents only until Friday 1 February.