Tell us a bit about yourself
Hello I'm Christabel, the designer behind Zinnia Pea and I live in the lovely Adelaide Hills region in South Australia. The Adelaide Hills are known for their beautiful gardens, vineyards, and lovely autumn colours. I grew up in the area and was so happy to return a few years ago. I live in a little converted art studio made from recycled old bricks and timber. It has a peaked roof, beautiful old leadlight windows and is overflowing with china and books and an overgrown cottage garden. It's the perfect home to work from, especially in winter when I can curl up next to the fire and drink hot tea whilst working on new designs.
Can you explain your craft/art and the material you like to use? I ink quotes and designs onto new and upcycled china pieces including teacups, teapots, plates, porcelain wall hangings, mugs, anything I find and fall in love with! I take quotes from classic authors and historical figures and ink them onto my finds, I love searching through op shops and markets for pretty china and then deciding on the perfect quote for the piece. It's such a nice feeling to take a forgotten teacup and saucer and make them into something really special for someone to love. I also work with new china but the upcycled pieces are definitely my favourites.
Where do you get your inspiration and what is your creative process? I'm inspired by the authors and historic figures whose work I ink. I love the romance of Jane Austen, the caustic wit of Mark Twain and the drama from the Bronte sisters. Sometimes a teacup will scream Jane Austen to me, others might be more Winston Churchill. I usually just sit down, gather my favourite books, my macbook, a big cup of tea and inspiration usually follows.
All my designs are hand inked in my studio. The ink sets for 24 hours before being fired, which is a wonderful process in winter but can be a bit much in summer working beside the oven!
How long have you been creating and how did you get into craft/art? I've been inking porcelain as Zinnia Pea for almost a year now. Before that I was writing all over my own plates and cups. I was already a buyer on Made It and friends suggested I open my own little shop. I'm so pleased I did because it has been a wonderful adventure so far.
How did you come up with your business name? I grew up in a family that loved gardens, so my life has been filled with flowers in the garden and fragrant vases in the house. I wanted a flowery, cottage garden type name. Zinnias with their strong bright petals, and Sweet Peas, soft and fragrant, seem to be a lovely blend and so Zinnia Pea was born!
What resources 'have or do you' use to help your creative pursuits (i.e. groups, classes, shops, websites etc)?
I love talking with other creative people, I think people and shared personal experiences are the best resource of all. There are so many creative blogs out there that are just waiting to be found. I also recommend using stumble upon and keeping an eye on twitter for interesting links.
I also have a huge collection of old books. When I am stuck for a new idea or have a difficult to place piece I always find inspiration amongst their pages.
What's your best advice for someone starting up?
Buy a comfy computer chair and make sure you have a kettle nearby! Setting up a shop online is a constant learning experience and I definitely advise making use of all the amazing people who are happy to share their stories on blogs and websites. Sign up to twitter and facebook as soon as you can (twitter.com/zinniapea / facebook.com/zinniapeadesigns). Working from home can be a bit quiet sometimes but it doesn't have to be when you're a Made It designer. There's a huge network out there of artists and designers and it's great to have a break, make a cup of tea, and sit down to "chat" to other sellers online. And don't be in a hurry. It is really a good idea to start off quietly and then you can fine tune things as you go.
Do you have any advertising/promotion tips for sellers to be successful?
The best promotion and advertising tip I can give is to get to know your customers and interact with them where ever possible. This is where twitter and facebook are invaluable. I love "meeting" my customers online and hearing their thoughts and updating them on my shops. Blogs are also a great way to give your customers an idea of who you are and what inspires you.
Can you share any lessons that you have learned the hard way? Time management is very important when you work alone. It is very easy to get lost browsing and talking on twitter but then you can find yourself awake at 2am doing what you perhaps should have done earlier! I think it is a great idea to have set working hours and stick to them. Of course you do have to leave plenty of time for shopping on Made It and the other essential things!
What do you like to do besides creating? I send postcards! I spend a lot of time on postcrossing.com. I love meeting new people and hearing stories from around the world. Plus it means visiting my post office box is always a bit of an adventure.
I also love spending time in my garden, especially in my vegie patch. Nothing tastes as good as things you have grown and cooked yourself.
What is your favourite music, television show, film, book, website?
At the moment I am listening to Seeker Lover Keeper on repeat. I also love Clare Bowditch, Cat Stevens and Iron and Wine. I have fairly eclectic taste!
My all time favourite TV show is Keeping Up Appearances and I recently became the proud owner of a set of hand painted periwinkles teacups (the Colclough Braganza pattern used in the series!). I also love watching miniseries of classic literature like Pride and Prejudice and Jane Eyre. It's always interesting to see someone else's vision of some of my favourite novels.
My favourite books are the ones that I get most of my quotes from. I am a huge fan of Jane Austen, I love Emily Bronte and Oscar Wilde is also a favourite.
My favourite websites change all the time. I am constantly discovering new and amazing sites an it is really hard to pin down an all time favourite. At the moment I am loving Pinterest! Pinterest.com
What would be your perfect day?
A long drive through small country towns, with lots of stops at little op shops and markets, followed by a movie night with my closest friends!
Who is one of your favourite madeit seller, explain why in less than 10 words? Delilah Devine - beautiful designs and I love that they are eco friendly..