Can you tell us a bit about yourself and how you got started?
As a wee girl I remember crushing petals to make perfume, collecting feathers to fill my pockets, rummaging through my Gramp's wedding car ribbons and my mum knitting my dolls and I matching cardigans! I feel I was steeped in the world of making things by hand at a very early age. My 'proper' job as a Play Therapist in Glasgow can be very emotionally challenging and, as I have progressed, I find myself sewing and making things more and more and that has led to Margolily, my business making and designing feather, jewel and fancy headpieces.
Turquoise from the Feather Collection
What is the ethos behind your work?
I guess the values of my work are very much connected to my customers. Most commissioned work is for bridal parties, wedding guests and special occasions. I want each piece to be perfectly and beautifully designed in conjunction with the customer's ideas and delivered in plenty of time. So the ethos behind my work is embedded in being very organised and patient as well as highly excitable!
What kind of formal education, training or experience do you have that applies to what you do?
Not very much formal education! I've done lots of little courses and workshops here and there with really great people, like the Hatwalk Summer School. I also recently did a Vivienne Westwood inspired flower arranging workshop which was brilliant and is leading me to think about using fresh flowers in my pieces and also thinking about the arrangement and placement of my fabric flowers too! Mostly I learn through reading books and then a lot of playing around!
What inspired you to start making headwear?
Originally, when I started Margolily everything I made was hand knitted, I even knitted a bikini! However, a weekend course at Glasgow Art School in millinery introduced me to fascinators, which we made as a kind of side project whilst our blocked felt hats were drying. I just loved it; everything about it appealed to me, the shapes, the stitches, the feathers and materials. I am a satisfied magpie happily collecting treasures to incorporate into my pieces.
What do you love most about what you do and what do you find the most frustrating?
I love the whole process of meeting someone, talking to them about their ideas and then translating that into a headpiece which they can feel gorgeous wearing. I love shopping for bits and pieces and then settling down to sew to bring a design together. I am most frustrated when doing beadwork as my cat goes doolally trying to steal all my beads!
Olive from the Feather Collection
Is handmade a lifestyle choice for you and if so why?
I suppose it is but without really realising. My friends and I have a crafty night every couple of weeks, sometimes we drink tea, Pimm's or talk more than craft but everyone makes gorgeous things in the end and it's lovely and relaxing being together making things. My boyfriend plays the banjo so we have a homemade soundtrack! I try to buy all my clothes second hand except black things and have made my own shower scrub too! Greg is good at perfecting homemade teas and when I think about it I guess everything feels more satisfying, ethical and individual when it is handmade.
Can you tell us a bit about your studio/workshop, can we take a sneaky peak?
No peeking! My workshop is wherever I happen to settle in our flat, sometimes that might be the sofa, the table or if it's cold or late I might end up sewing whilst tucked up in bed! I try to keep everything in one place but I seem to leave a little trail of thread, pins and feathers wherever I've been sitting! My dream workshop would be at the bottom of a ramshackle garden in a kind of gypsy caravan style tree house overlooking the sea.
How do you balance your work and home life, what do you do to wind down?
Sewing and making are my wind downs! I do like a bath with lots of products from Lush, singing along to a cheesy greatest hits album followed by guiltily watching Eastenders and going to bed with my little torch and a good book! To wind up I like going to Zumba dance classes and a tasty meal and too much wine with my Greg and friends and family.
Do you ever experience periods of creative slump and if so what helps you through?
Ooh, yes I do - I've learned that on these kinds of days I need to do all the things above and stay away from sewing otherwise I just get cross with myself, then when I go back to some sewing things have fallen back in order again!
Stud from the Jewel Collection
If you could give an aspiring artist, designer, maker one piece of advice what would it be?
I think a really good tip for when you feel a bit stuck or lost is to think back to your favourite project or class at primary school. Somebody told me that what you wanted to be when you were a child holds the answers to the direction you should go as an adult. I remember doing a project on insects and birds and I was just so excited about it - remembering this is really comforting as well as inspiring, it gets me going again. Also, I think it's really important to keep on learning and experimenting with new approaches and materials.
Who or what inspires you most in your work?
My connections and relationships to other people. My Granny learned to swim when she was 61 and that always makes me think that if you can be a little bit brave anyone can do anything.
If you had the time to learn a new skill what would it be?
Something to do with wood and joinery and then I could learn to make and design the perfect fascinator storage box and display case.