Our first London Maker Spotlight is Hannah Bass, a contemporary tapestry artist whose urban needlepoints recently caught our attention and we immediately fell in love. Her tapestry kits embody many of the elements we hold dear to us at The Makers Nation: craft, design, colour, globally-focused creativity, and empowering others to take up a new skill! We chatted with Hannah to find out more about her design process and background.
Hi Hannah! Tell us about yourself.
My training is in Interior Design. I’ve been a London based contemporary residential interior designer for the last 10 years. In October 2014 I launched Hannah Bass Contemporary Tapestry. I design urban needlepoint kits of city maps from around the world.
What inspired you to start stitching and creating tapestries? What inspires you to create in general?
I’m a Gemini, I’m either very chilled or very energetic. When I’m chilled, I’m a complete dreamer and I love the meditation that comes with stitching.
After a decade in the more corporate world I felt I wanted a change and wanted to support the ‘handmade’ movement. It felt more true to my aesthetic. I love the old fashioned principle of making something myself that is high quality, hand crafted and to be loved for many years.
I’ve always been creative and I think making things is just a natural hobby for me. As a child I was making houses for my Sylvanian Families, or designing detailed television sets out of cardboxes. I never really grew out of it, it just got a bit more sophisticated.
What’s your favourite thing you’ve ever designed?
I like bright colours and floral patterns, both make me happy. Most of my wardrobe consists of bright florals. At school I had a fabulous art teacher who gave me free reign to design whatever I liked in whatever medium. I was always designing and painting vibrant silk screen floral patterns. I have great memories of them.
When and why did you start your current design project, and how do you decide what map will be next?
I was frustrated I couldn’t find a modern design to stitch that would fit with my home interior, so I designed a map of London for myself, and it grew from there. I have always loved mixing ‘old’ with ‘new’. I love that I have taken an old craft and put a modern spin on it. And I hope it will encourage more young people to take up the craft. I think it’s important to take time out from the hectic pace of life and reflect once in a while.
I’m working on 14 new maps at the moment. People are always asking for different cities, I’ve gone for the most requested. Fingers crossed…
How long have you lived in London? What inspires you about living there?
I was born in London. It’s always been home. I don’t take it for granted but I am probably a tad lazy in being the proactive tourist and keeping up with what’s fresh on the scene. The city and the people are inspiring, it’s always buzzing. There is such a variety of architecture, cultures, religions, ethnicities, fashions. I love how the larger museums in London are free to visit. I quite often stroll into the Victoria and Albert Museum or the National Portrait Gallery. As I’m a North Londoner I love walking in Hampstead Heath or Primrose Hill Park and I stitch my prototypes there in the summer.
Your work seems to be taking off right now, you’ve had some great press lately and a lot of appearances at fairs. Do you have any tips for other makers on how to get their work out there?
I’ve been to some fairs and done amazingly, and other fairs where I’ve sold nothing! For me it’s been trial and error. There are tough days. But in a romantic way that’s half the fun, because when the good days hit it makes the victory all the more sweet. You have to get rid of the self doubt and be completely confident in your product and your choices.
PR demands attention and time for it to work. I would much rather sit and design, this is ‘my bad’, but I’m getting better. I think PR is done best by yourself rather than a third party, you know the product best and hopefully you’re the most enthusiastic about it! I asked my competitors for advice and was shocked by how helpful they were in sharing their experiences and mistakes within the industry.
Where do you see your practice taking you in the future?
Honestly, I have no idea. I’m still making this a reality, I only launched in October 2014. It has and is taking a lot of time and energy. I have many designs in my head that I can’t quite find the time to put down on paper. So I’m still in the ‘now’ phase and enjoying the challenge immensely.