For a couple of years now I have been saying that my crafting is my therapy, it relaxes me and gives something for my hands to do and it also gives me something to focus my mind on. Some of you may even be aware I use my crafting to help me with my depression and there are many crafters out there who also design and make their own products to help battle their own illnesses whether physical or psychological.
One such inspirational crafter is Kirri Raper who is a textile artist and has a lovely business called Max, Ollie and ME. Kirri has suffered from ME since the age of 11 and this chronic and debilitating illness left her in bed or in hospital for much of her teenage years.
"...I suffered from this illness for over 15 years and it truly gripped my life. I still suffer from the illness, but I have it much more under control and that’s the way I want to keep it. I now am not bitter for what I have suffered, for if I hadn't been ill I would never have found my passion for sewing. I would have taken the more normal academic route at school, and who knows what I would be doing now, But I'm sure it wouldn't be half as fun!...."
|Lavender wheat bags|
Max, Ollie and ME has evolved from a hobby to improve her health, to a home grown business that will hopefully create a full time dream job of sewing in her studio. Kirri's lovingly made ranges include textile and ceramic jewellery, greetings cards and home textiles such as her popular lavender wheat bags and aprons.
Kirri finds inspiration for her work all around her from vintage lace finds at a fair to birds singing outside her studio window. Memories and reminiscence also have a large inspirational presence in her work.
She admits that textiles have spread to every part of her life and is often found surrounded by buttons and holding a needle and thread! Her textile free motion embroidered brooches are a particular favourite to make.
"...I enjoy using the sewing machine as a drawing tool, to recreate the images from my personal sketchbook pages...."
|Mr Moon, Kirri's furry assistant|
The name Max, Ollie and ME is a very personal name, the ME part comes from Kirri's illness, with Max, a little black and white rabbit, being one of her much loved pets and Ollie coming from her grandmother's maiden name Oliver.
"...Both my Nan and my Great nan who we fondly named Big nan inspired me to sew. They both passed down there passion for sewing and thrift at me and I treasure both their button tins with so much love...."
Kirri sells her work online through various outlets including shops on Etsy and Folksy. She also loves going to vintage and handmade fairs in the North East of England where she gets the chance to meet the customers who buy her work. Social networking is also used to great advantage through selling on her Facebook page.
"...I love that this little world that began in my little sewing room has now opened up into a big wide world where I have met so many other artists who share the same passion..."
At the moment however Kirri is working hard at her dream to earn enough not to work at a day job and is also planning her wedding later this year to her gorgeous Mr L who serves in the Forces. She loves everything about her craft, however she would love to learn crochet as she is awe of ladies she sees crocheting away especially when they're not even watching what they're doing!
Max, Ollie and ME have lots of lovely products to purchase at the shops linked below, and pop along to her Facebook page to keep up to date with her latest products, news and offers!