I’m so excited to have an interview with Kelly Chapman of Kelaoke. I’ve been following Kelly on Instagram for a few years. I really love to see all the unique and new things she makes. Her style is so inspiring and she isn’t afraid to take risks with her art. Besides weaving and macrame-ing (excuse me making up words) the coolest things, she also makes gorgeous earrings and necklaces. They really are stunning! Ok enough of me gushing, let’s get to know Kelly better…
How did you first come across weaving?
I made my first loom out of paddle pop sticks and a cardboard board box at university in the mid- 90’s, weaving my first little piece with raffia, wool and garden finds. I remember being really excited by the idea of using different tactile materials to create art. It wasn’t until a few years ago when weaving resurfaced as a popular craft that I was I inspired to revisit the art form.
What time of day do you feel most creative?
I’m pretty scattered when it comes to my creativity. I teach in a school for kids with special needs, and I have two young children of my own. It really depends on my energy levels, mood, teaching preparation and my kids. I tend to tinker away at things while I’m on the go. When the stars align, I get creative.
I find that organising my materials before I start a new project sets the tone for my making. I might tidy up my workspace up a bit and this often sparks ideas about colours and textures.
Are you a messy creative or an organized creative?
I work in a state of disorganised mess. I hate the idea of getting everything out that I need to work on, then put it all away. That’s not how I work creatively – if I get an idea or if I’m motivated to work on something, I need to strike while the irons hot.
What is your process for coming up with new ideas? Do you start with materials or an idea first?
Often my process is pretty organic. If I start off with a concrete idea it usually changes into something completely different. Shapes, colours or patterns from artworks, fashion, furniture or nature inspire me.
Other times, I just go with the flow. One of the benefits of being a messy creative is discovering interesting fibre combinations on my workbench that I might not have considered.
I love making objects with materials that have interesting tactile qualities such as rope. When I’m weaving, my favourite base fibres at the moment are recycled sari silk, banana silk and a vintage English slub all of which I purchase from String Harvest.
How is making things important in your life? What does being a maker mean to you?
It’s usually the first thing I think of when I wake up each day. As an art teacher, I have worked with a wide range of mediums and techniques over the years including printmaking, sculpture and ceramics. The greatest reward is sharing my passion for making art with students aged 4 to 80 years in Australia and in the UK
I love the problem solving process that’s involved in creating objects, and the satisfaction you get from making things by hand. It’s incredibly therapeutic, and keeps me sane.
What ever it is that I’m currently working on. With each new piece, I try to learn something new.
What advice do you have for those wanting to find their own style?
Regardless of the medium you work with, developing your own style and visual language is key to communicating who you are, and how you want to express your aesthetics.
Social media is a great source of inspiration and provides a platform for learning new techniques. It’s really important that you take what you see and learn, and then develop it further to make it your own. Keep creating, try new techniques and explore different materials. Think outside the square, learn from mistakes, and work towards creating works that really set you apart from everything else you see.
Are you a eat in or take out person?
Definitely eat in. I enjoy cooking, especially on the weekend with a glass of wine and my favourite tunes blaring in the kitchen.
If you could pick your last meal what would it be?
Anything Mexican…preferably in Mexico
What is your favorite color and why?
I don’t have a favourite colour, but I have lots of favourite colour combinations. I love the way colours behave differently depending on their environment. My connection to a particular colour often changes depending on what it’s placed next to.
Are you a book or movie person? And what is a good one you’d recommend?
I’m actually a qualified librarian, so I’m going to say a book person. Having said that, I can’t remember the last book read. Life is pretty hectic, and if I ever have free time I focus on my art.
Do you prefer relaxing beach vacations or on the move sight-seeing vacations?
I prefer sight-seeing vacations. I have enjoyed the cultural delights of countries like Russia, Cuba, South East Asia, Morocco and Europe. These days, with children, it’s easier to opt for beach vacations.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
If you want to learn a new skill, just do it! There are so many amazing blogs, You Tube clips and workshops available to get you started. This website is a brilliant example. Connect with other creatives, embrace the playfulness of making, and don’t be afraid to make mistakes.
Kelly has such an amazing view of art and creativity, it’s no wonder how she makes amazing and unique pieces. I love her suggestion to “embrace the playfulness of making”.
How do you approach making? Do you try to be playful with it at times? I’d love to hear about what you’re making now.
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