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Everything Begins

Meet the Maker - Abigail Brown, British Textile Artist.

Posted on May 13, 2013 by Amy There have been 0 comments

Abigail Brown | Fabric Bird Sculptures | Fabric Bird Sculptures by Abigail Brown Bourke's Parakeet and Peach Faced Love Bird Sculptures, individually handcrafted by British Textile artist, Abigail Brown

What inspired you to create your beautiful bird sculptures? When I graduated and started designing cards and stationery I thought I’d try to make my own textile pieces and see what I could do with them. I made plush animals and embroidered wall art which a gallery took on and it gave me such confidence in myself. A friend asked me if I could make her a bird for an antique cage she had been bought and that was the very first fabric bird I made. When I showed that piece on my MySpace page at the time people loved it and it inspired me to make more… simple as that!

Abigail Brown | Fabric Bird Sculpture | Gurney Pitta Fabric Bird Sculpture by Abigail Brown Gurney Pitta Fabric Bird Sculpture crafted by hand by British textile artist, Abigail Brown.

Talk us through your design process, how do you create these gorgeous creatures and how long does each one take? I start with internet research, pulling off images of the specific bird from all angles. From these I draw to workout the shape of it’s body and create my pattern. I use the machine to sew the body, which them has a piece of wire inserted to form the beak and legs and I stuff it until the form has taken shape. The decoration is built up with layers of carefully cut fabric, glued in place and then finally stitched with the tiny black stitches that hold them in place more securely but also add the detail.

Abigail Brown | Bird Sculpture | Owl Sculpture | Owl Art Abigail Brown creating a White Ponsenby Owl in her London Studio; Brown Ponsenby Owl sculpture

How do you think your creations are best displayed in a residential or commercial space?  How would you style them? They work wonderfully for both. In the home they can work individually because they are such small scale and don’t get lost. In a commercial space such as the galleries, shops, hotels and bars they have been displayed in they need to be in flocks or they would be lost. It’s worked well to see them dotted around stores in clusters, up high on shelves or in unexpected places so that they suddenly appear when the customer is really exploring, but equally seeing them displayed in large groups has such dramatic impact, all the different colours and shapes, that can be so beautiful. It’s lovely to see how differently people display them. I’ve tried all kinds of things with them: displaying as taxidermy pieces, showing the British more muted pieces amongst vintage home accessories for a beautifully soft look, sympathetic to the medium they are created from, but also in modern, bright colourful settings contrasting the soft fabrics with glossy ceramics, reflective glass and luscious green plants. I think anything can work with them and that’s really wonderful!

Abigail Brown Fabric Bird Sculptures | Gurney Pitta & Grey Headed Kingfisher Bird Sculptures Abigail Brown Fabric Bird Sculptures, Gurney Pitta and Grey Headed Kingfisher.

What challenges have you faced since starting out as a designer and on the flip side your biggest triumph? There’s always going to be a lot of trials working for yourself. Sometimes as simple as getting out of bed and into the studio! You’ve got to stay motivated constantly, work long hours being all aspects of the business from payment chaser to marketing officer and still find time to make the work. You have to be thick skinned, believe in yourself, be bold and brave and get your work out there and sometimes that can feel very hard to do. Making enough money can be tough. Luxuries are the first things to go when money is tight so I have to plan for that and be prepared. It can all be very hard and I guess that’s why it’s really not for everyone: no regular wage, no holiday pay, no one to make up the slack when you’re struggling… but when you succeed, when someone tells you how much your work means to them then it just feels incredible! When you can find your work in a shop or magazine you greatly admire it’s a huge triumph, it really makes you feel so much more confident about what you’re doing. I’ve been very very lucky!

Abigail Brown Bird Sculptures | St James Lifestyle Magazine | Fabric Bird Sculptures Recent press for Abigail's Bird Sculptures - St James Lifestyle Magazine, December 2012.

Abigail Brown Bird Sculptures | Fabric Bird Sculptures as seen in Elle Decoration Abigail Brown's bird sculptures featured in Elle Decoration, June, 2013, "Need to Know" - Pretty Pink Flamingos, Crimson Backed Sunbirds and Peach Faced Parakeets are just a few of the handmade birds in textile artist, Abigail Brown's colourful flock. Made from both new and second hand scraps of fabric, each as "feathers" that have been individually cut, stuck and decoratively stitched."Birds have such an array of patterns and colours," says Brown, "Every time I think about moving onto another animal I keep finding ever more tropical species I want to make."

How would you describe your work & what would you say is the most special thing about your work? I make what I feel inspired to make, I explore my ideas and inspirations and it’s all very true to me and the person I am. I’m not trying to be anything or to make any big statements, it just all comes from a very simple enjoyment of the animal kingdom, and my love of fabric. The most special thing about my work is that one person made it; I made it. From start to finish each piece is made by hand and even if I make 2, 5, 25 of that one piece, each one with be different to the last. As they are stuffed and take shape each piece will shape differently, the fabrics will be layered differently and the final personality that appears will look like a whole new one. Each piece is totally and utterly unique.

Abigail Brown | Fabric Bird Sculpture | Flamingo Bird Sculpture Abigail Brown's stunning Flamingo Bird Sculpture, standing at 34cm tall.

What are you most proud of in your work? I am a bit of a perfectionist and put all of myself into what I create. I am proud of my skill and craftsmanship. I know that each piece that goes out is made with the highest level care and love. If I didn’t feel proud about it it wouldn’t leave my studio.

Abigail Brown | Fabric Bird Sculptures | Peacock Bird Sculpture Abigail Brown Peacock Bird Sculpture - unbelievable! Standing at 33cm tall.

What does a typical day at work look like? Days start easily if the sun shines through the window, otherwise I’ll find it hard to drag myself from sleep. I’ve just got into running so I’m enjoying a 5-7km run in the park every other day and it’s a great way to start. The park is full of wildlife, I can even see green parakeets there now and it’s inner city London! I arrive at the studio around 10-11am and with music I begin my work. I share my studio with 3 other makers: a jeweler, a textile designer (Sue Goodwin – who also sells her work through EB) and a weaver. I generally work through till 6-7pm, sometimes later if I’ve got lots on. I am rapidly outgrowing my space as I collect more and more ‘things’ so it’s pretty cosy, I do feel very happy there with all kinds of fabric and paper oddities surrounding me!

Suzanne Goodwin | Designer Cushions | Crinkled Paper Print Cushions A little bit of a visual reference for Abigail Brown's studio companion, Suzanne Goodwin. Suzanne's designer cushions and designer textiles are also sold through everythingbegins.com. Just click the image to view and buy online.

What would be your dream creative project or collaboration? I am trying to work bigger! I can’t do it too well with the fabric in the way I make the birds because it just takes too long and hurts my hands but I’m increasing in size with my paper mache sculpture and I’m loving it! I want to take it into large scale installation and create wonderful, magical scenes with my creatures. Something so big it could be an interactive experience… hmm… let’s see!

If you weren’t a designer what would you do? I never wanted to be anything but an artist, I’ve never enjoyed anything anywhere near as much. It’s what I do when I rest, what I explore when I’m out enjoying the world… I couldn’t be anything else!

What inspires you? The magic and wonder of the world. The creativity of others.

What are your favourite reads, both magazines & blogs? Selvedge magazine has to be up there, discovering all kinds of new things about fabric in every read, it’s a wonderful magazine.

Selvedge Magazine Selvedge Magazine, one of Abigail Brown's favourite magazines - in which her fabric bird sculptures have also featured

What are you listening to right now? I’ve been listening to a French musician Camille today after a friend recommended her last week.

What books would we find on your bedside table? My favourite author is Haruki Murakami, you’ll find lots of his works on my book shelf, but right now I’m dipping back into Dickins – his character creation was second to none!

What art would we find in your home? A lot of mine, dotted around amongst our other objects. I’m also an illustrator so the art that most appeals to me is quite illustrative and often takes the form of animal characters.  I like a lot of colour and fun around me.

Abigail Brown Fabric Bird Sculptures | Blue Tit | Chaffinch Bird Sculpture Gorgeous little birds by Abigail Brown - Blue Tit Fabric Bird Sculpture and Chaffinch Bird Sculpture.

What does a perfect day off look like? Not having to get out of bed too early, bright, warm sunshine and something like banana pancakes for breakfast. Getting out into nature; being in the countryside with lots of wildlife or a trip to the sea. Eating lots of delicious food, definitely some cake. Being carefree and relaxed away from any rush or stress and sharing it with someone I love, lots of laughter and fun.

You live & work in London.  Fill us in on your must see / must do experiences (the more secret the better!) Every week something new is happening in London and the experiences get more and more incredible! Secret Cinema throw the most wonderful parties that are centred around a film but when you book tickets you don’t know what it’s going to be! You’re given clues to suggest how you would dress and told what time to arrive and where closer to the date. On arriving instantly you are swept into the film itself, greeted by characters who whisk you into it all and the whole evening, which also involves watching the film, is spent exploring everything that that film created – the sets, the costumes, the characters and the story. It’s the most incredible event. My most recent discovery, sad as I’ve been in London 7 years now, is the oldest surviving music hall in the world, Wilton’s. It’s in the east end and it’s incredible, it’s another time altogether in there and a great place to see live music.

Abigail Brown Bird Sculptures | Fabric Bird Sculptures | Kingfisher Abigail Brown Kingfisher Bird Sculpture.

Tell us your ideal travel destination.  Both for a holiday and adventure. Japan is my ultimate!! I’ve been longing to go for years now as I’m fascinated by their culture and their art. I want to see everything, experience everything it has to offer so I’d like to go for a while.

What/were was the last amazing meal you ate? Dishoom, an Indian eatery that has opened the most beautiful 1950’s Bombay café in east London. Everything about that place is wonderful and the food is to die for!

Most treasured possession? The scrap fabric bag my Grandma made for me.

Where would we find you on a Saturday?  Doing what?In the studio probably, I generally work Saturday and have Sunday off.

Buy Abigail Brown Fabric Bird Sculptures Online Click to view and order your very own Abigail Brown Fabric Bird Sculpture online.


This post was posted in Designer Interviews and was tagged with Abigail Brown, Abigail Brown Birds, Bird Sculpture, Designer Homewares, Designer Inteviews, Designer Textiles, Everything Begins, Fabric Bird Sculpture, Fabric Sculptor Artists, Fabric Sculpture, Flamingo, Flamingo Art, Handmade Wedding Gifts, Hard to Find Gifts, Luxury Gifts, Luxury Wedding Gifts, Owl, Suzanne Goodwin, Textile Artist UK, Textile Arts, Unique Gifts, Unique Wedding GIfts

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