This week in Creative corner I’m featuring a craftswoman whose wire sculpture work caught my eye. Exceptionally intricate and beautifully detailed. Clair from Twysted Roots is the next person to take part in my interview series.
1. Introduce yourself.
This part always feels like I’m standing up at some group confession! Hello, my name is Clair and I make bead and wire sculpture trees. I’m also a mum, a carer, a home educator, dog walker and home baker just to name a few. I have also been recently diagnosed as Autistic.
2. Tell us a bit about your business.
I launched Twysted Roots at the end of April this year (2017) and I sell handmade tree of life bead and wire sculpture. I have a large range of both bead and wire colours and welcome custom orders as well as create ones ready to buy.
3. What made you start your own business?
When I moved to Cornwall nearly 4 years ago I discovered that leaving everything behind that was familiar to me, that created a routine, it had a negative impact on my mental health. I knew I needed to have something that was not reliant on other people so I started exploring my creative side again – I have so many paints and art materials I could probably open my own shop!
I was also learning guitar around this time and in the process of restringing and making loops with the old strings, it made me think wire art might be fun to try. That sparked off a search and purchase mission over the course of months for wire and beads to try out different ideas. Actually that part hasn’t worn off yet – I’m still buying wire and beads and trying out new ideas, only now they’re tree related! After many months of trial and error in making self supporting trees (and having lots of positive feedback), it was a natural progression to start thinking about the possibility of making it into a small business, and after a lot of research, that’s what I did.
4. Did you have any formal training for wire sculpture or are you self-taught?
I took higher Art and Design at school but that’s as far as it goes in terms of formal training. For wire sculpture I’m entirely self taught. I find self directed learning works best for me; I struggle with other people’s explanations at times and find it really frustrating when I don’t understand something. Frustration in turn causes mental blocks so learning in my own time means I can take breaks from it and try again once I’ve mulled it over. With doing it this way, I’ve found out practically what works best; wire thickness, bead size, lengths of wire needed, tools and their different uses, and of course putting it all together.
5. Explain your creative process.
For new ideas, I’ll rough sketch what I envision the end result to be, what shape I can make the leaves or floral bunches to make a certain visual effect, or how I’ll assemble each branch. Sometimes I’ll take photos of trees when I’m out walking the dogs.
I gather up all my chosen colours of wires and beads and start threading the seed beads onto the wire in order to form the leaves. The height of the tree is dependent on the length of wire used so I use my lap tray as a rough guide when measuring out. Again, dependent on size, I’ll do as many leaves as needed and once I feel enough have been made, I’ll then twist them together to form the tree.
This varies slightly for larger trees, because they require a thicker wire core to add stability. This is needed to hold the weight of the beads as the more there are, the more top heavy the tree becomes. There is nothing more soul destroying to have spent hours on something that you can’t get to stand up! Once the tree has been formed, I will spend around one to two hours on the roots, twisting them together then making the intricate patterns to create a pleasing finishing effect and also strengthen the root base.
6. Describe your typical day.
I take the dogs out as soon as I wake up. Once I’m back in I have a cup of tea or two while checking emails and catching up on anything social media related. The rest of the day depends on what my boys are doing but it generally involves more dog walking, cooking at some point and house related stuff. I make use of the daylight and paint during the day when I have that to do, and at some point I’ll spend at the very least, 2 hours on tree making. Bed around midnight,sleep any time from 2am -4am and repeat the following day.
7. What’s your biggest seller?
Being a new business plus because I make ‘one off’ creations I can’t really answer that one. Everything has been received really well and I’ve had a lot of positive responses, the most popular being this one due to a recent feature on Deviant Art.
Use the code: Tree4Me at the checkout to get a 20% discount for the first 20 people
8. What have been the high and low points of running your own business?
I get ridiculously happy after finishing each tree. I wondered if that part would wear off or I’d become less enthusiastic after going from hobby to business, but I still love it. Meeting other creative people through doing this has been fantastic and the support that I’ve experienced within the crafting community has been incredibly touching. And of course that literal happy dance after each sale – I don’t think that will ever wear off either.
The lows for me have been the anxieties in the run up to opening up the business and after it was launched because I’m not a naturally outgoing presence online or in life. The day I announced it on Facebook, notifications came flooding in and it was so overwhelming I burst into tears. Not because that was anything bad, just the thought of all those people looking at something I’d done… it was the equivalent of walking into your house after a long day and having 100 people jump out and yell “Surprise!” (I hate surprises. Run away!!) The other downside is the inner critic and the self doubt which I think everyone feels to some extent at some point. Perfectionism is a double edged sword; it drives you to be better but it can also render you stuck and unable to move forward.
9. What would be your top tips for running your own creative business?
Do lots of research! Creating things is just one part of it. Getting your work out there takes time so be prepared and know what you’re getting into. It can feel overwhelming when you start out but each thing you accomplish gets you that bit closer to your goal.
Take good photos. Nobody is going to know what you’re offering if your product shots look like you took them in a dark room as you ran past, or if you hide it behind three house plants and a candelabra.
Love what you do. You don’t have to love the paperwork but love what you create. Even if I never sold another tree, I’d still make them.
An important tip is don’t be scared to ask for advice if you feel stuck with something. It’s ok not to know a thing and you’ll often find you’re not alone in that. A support network can be a huge help!
10. What are your aspirations?
I’d quite like to stock some of my trees in a physical high street shop. I’d also love to do more tree wedding cake toppers. My dream would be to create something really big, person sized big, just because I love massive projects. I think I’d need a lot more in the way of arm strength for that though.
11. Where can we find you?