Craft Crowd


This is a very new feature to the blog we are excited to share with YOU today!
Every 2 weeks when we are not interviewing, we will be picking out our favourite creative of the week! This could be local or international – but if you feel you would like to nominate someone – feel free to email us their name/website and blog!

This weeks Creative Pick is Owner, Maker and Designer Amanda Weiss all the way from Olympia, WA, United States. She creates quirky cushions for the home + modern heirlooms for children which are too cute for the eyes to handle and each item is individually designed, handcrafted from wool + linen. I love how untraditional yet simple her work is! Massive congratulations for the inspiration! You are our CREATIVE PICK of the week!

Here is a little bio from their blog which explains what they do and how Three Bad Seeds was born. (links below).

”We make pillows that evoke warmth and happiness. Our work is enjoyed by those who wish to bring the outdoors in. We are able to capture both a sweetness and sophistication with our modern designs and quality materials. Each piece is one-of-a-kind, as it is cut and assembled by hand with materials found locally. Each will find a special place in the home to become functional piece of art. Our handcrafted goods allow others to hug a buffalo, hold a mountain range in their arms and keep a grove of evergreens on their couch.

>>> – – – – – – – – <<<

Three Bad Seeds is a family adventure founded in 2009 by Amanda Weiss with the help of her husband Joshua and Marley, their daughter. Marley became interested in creating her own animals and the family began small projects based on original drawings created by each family member. Amanda’s doodles became more prolific and her handiwork began to garner attention. While living in South Carolina, Amanda saw an opportunity to work with amazing wool fibers cast off to the thrift store dollar rack. She created a small collection to display at local markets and Three Bad Seeds was born. The family currently resides in the Pacific Northwest where Amanda keeps a studio in downtown Olympia, Washington. She is able to utilize remnants from a nearby Pendleton Woolen Mill to incorporate quality, US made woolens into her work. Amanda is inspired by the beauty of nature and is an animal lover to the core.”

If you want to purchase any of the items or follow the journey of Amanda and her family, please email or follow the links below!


Sarah K. Benning – Founder, Designer and Maker

I am literally so excited about this post today – I was beaming when I found Sarah via her etsy shop. She has such cute and simplistic style that carries across in all her products and designs. The fact that she is from NYC (or close enough) is just pretty awesome for me (definitely a location on the bucket list). But that’s not the only awesome thing. Sarah comes across as a down to earth creative who is just doing what comes naturally to her. I hope her interview will motivate you to get back to the basics, find what inspires you as an individual and take the risks to do what has been in your heart for a while. I love what she says about finance (surely put things in perspective for me) “Sometimes I can get a little obsessive over sales and income and costs of doing business, all of which is important because I, like everyone else, have bills to pay, but when that happens, I try to take a step back and get a little perspective: I get to do what I want and create what I want EVERYDAY and so far it is supporting my (fairly frugal) lifestyle! That’s pretty much the dream, right?” And it can become a realistic dream for a lot of us! Make sure to give her FB and insta page a like – links below the interview! Here’s a little bio about Sarah…

“Sarah K. Benning is a self-named design business dedicated to creating authentic and accessible art for the home and cards for everyday life. The founder/designer/maker, Sarah K. Benning, employs contemporary embroidery techniques to create unique greeting cards, uplifting wall décor, and whimsical stitched landscapes. Every step of the creative process is meticulously carried out from concept to finished product, ensuring quality goods and emphasizing all the perks and quirks of the handmade. Each card is hand cut, folded and stitched while each hoop is carefully crafted from start to finish by Sarah, all in order to provide the highest quality art for the home. Sarah K. Benning received her BFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 2013 and has been working as an independent maker in Upstate New York ever since.”

1. What made you decide to study at the Art Institute of Chicago?
I grew up in Baltimore, Maryland and was fortunate enough to attend an arts magnet school where I focussed on the visual arts. When it came time to apply to colleges, my top two choices were the Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA), which was right down the street from my high school, and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC). Ultimately, the idea of venturing off into the unknown was way more appealing to me than staying close to home. SAIC also has a very conceptual and experimental philosophy, which was an exciting change after spending four years of vigorously studying the traditional fundamentals of art making.

2. What inspires you most as an individual?
I love to travel and I love patterns found in nature.

3. What was is like moving to New York and setting up a studio?
I left Chicago two days after my graduation in 2013 and moved to Albany, NY (about 2 hours north of NYC), where I immediately started working at the New York State Museum designing housing for 3-D objects kept in the Scientific Illustration Collection. Being busy right away, made the transition a lot easier. After that project wrapped up we decided to stay in Albany because the cost of living is a fraction of what it is in the city. Also, it’s close enough to allow me to make many trips into NYC for events and opportunities.

For the time being, I work from home. We converted our living room into a work room that cosily houses my desk and materials and my partner’s instruments and recording equipment (he is a composer/musician). Spending so much time at home I get a little antsy, so I am constantly rearranging things to keep the space interesting and inspiring. As my business has grown, one of the biggest challenges has been to find space to store bulk materials and packaging supplies. We are only planning on being in New York for another 6 months or so before we relocate to somewhere else (TBD). Neither of us like to stay put for too long!

4. When did you decide to go online and open up shop (via etsy) and would you encourage others to head this way?
I opened my Etsy shop right after I left school, though it was some time after that where I felt like I really found my voice and style and created a more cohesive body of work. I like to kind of dive into things without a whole lot of planning, so I figured I would open a shop and see where it went. It’s grown a lot over the past year and a half and my business now extends beyond Etsy into the real world in the form of markets and stockists. My next big project is to launch a person website outside of Etsy which will feature my cards and hoops and some larger scale fine art pieces.

My philosophy on Etsy is “Why not?” It’s so easy to open a shop and allows people all over the world to see your products, so why not open an Etsy shop? That being said, I think it is important to diversify, and strongly encourage other makers to look beyond Etsy and other ecommerce sites in order to build a sustainable business.

5. How did you develop your unique style you have now? What was the journey?
My style is always in a state of development. Generally I make what makes me happy and keep my fingers crossed that other people will like I’m making too. Sometimes they don’t though, and then I have to go back to the drawing board and tweak an idea until it works or abandon it. It can be a little painful to let an idea go as unsuccessful, but that is part of the artistic process, especially when you are making it public and opening yourself up to feedback and criticism. And usually, the result of rethinking a design turns out more interesting than the original anyway. Sometimes I feel like my style is splintering into too many different directions and I try to take time to assess what is working and what direction I am most excited about. I’m sort of a packrat, so I rarely throw anything away with the idea that I can always revisit an abandoned direction sometime in the future.

6. What was the hardest part in starting your business and do you have any regrets?
I like to think of my business as a micro-business rather than a small business, since, for the time being anyway, it is a one-woman show. I design, manufacture, package and ship each piece in my collection, while managing the financial side of business and attempting to have spare time to enjoy life. This autonomy is empowering and exciting, but comes with its own set of stresses and uncertainties. It took me about a year and a half to fully commit to Sarah K. Benning as a self-supporting business, so during that time I worked full time during the day and designed and created at night and on weekends. Finding the time and energy to develop and expand my brand was difficult, but I don’t regret the struggles for a second.

If I could do it over again, I would leave my day job sooner and put greater faith into my creative endeavours! There will always be slow times and busy times and I think the most important thing is to stay focussed and positive. Sometimes I can get a little obsessive over sales and income and costs of doing business, all of which is important because I, like everyone else, have bills to pay, but when that happens I try to take a step back and get a little perspective: I get to do what I want and create what I want EVERYDAY and so far it is supporting my (fairly frugal) lifestyle! That’s pretty much the dream, right?

7. Do you think your art represents a bit of your personality?
I know it’s cliché, but I can’t imagine my life without art. The creative process is so engrained into every aspect of my life that I have to assume as much of my personality is engrained into what I produce. Often, when people talk to me about my work they are amazed at the time-consuming process and detail of hand stitching patterns and cards, but really I think the methodical and meditative qualities of the process is all that keeps me sane!

These days, my efforts are mostly focussed on the more commercial side of my creative practice, which is a fun challenge of balancing my artistic voice with creating products people actually want to buy.

8. What do you like to do in your spare time when you are not creating art?
I love spending time in natural history museums, mostly in the mineral and bird sections. And I love to take care of my plants. Our apartment faces north and it has been a very cold winter so it’s been a struggle keeping my guys alive. During better weather, time spent outdoors is always good, biking, hiking, swimming, etc. I’m also really good at darts!  But honestly, keeping up with orders and developing new designs keeps me pretty busy!

9. What are you looking forward to most in 2015?
I am pretty much looking forward to everything in 2015. It is the first year where I am 100% dedicated to developing and growing my business, so I am bursting with ideas for how I can expand product lines and generate excitement for my brand. As I said, we will be relocating sometime in the relatively near future, so I am excited to explore a new city and put together a new creative space. And I am looking forward to all the unexpected developments and events of 2015. I am happy and young and feel like probably good things are to come!

10. Do you have a favourite place in NYC at the moment?
My favorite place in New York right now would be the New York Botanical Garden.  It’s safe to say that my favourite part of any city would be the botanical gardens/conservatories.  I am obsessed with plants and often look to them for inspiration.

11. Where can our readers find you online?
instagram: @sarahkbenning



Jennifer Jacobs – Independent Pattern Maker & Designer

Social media is great for connecting with like-minded individuals and I must spend hours of my life looking through the instafeeds of people who inspire me creatively and who take art, craft, blogging, painting, creating to WHOLE NEW levels. All 731 of them are not in my close-knit circle of friends – but everyday I meet and connect with what they are creating.

Using twitter to promote one of our previous interviewees’ Natalie Vice (check the interview out here), a few people had favourited the tweet and I thought I would be a bit cheeky and see WHO! That’s when I found Jen, I went over to her website and loved the soft aesthetic feel to it.

I must admit, I have never really been great at traditional sewing but used to hand sew dresses when I was younger (when I couldn’t find anything to wear for school dances or events). Sometimes I look back and have to giggle as 1) I had no shame and 2) I usually ended up having to cut myself out of the outfit at the end of the night. In saying that, Jen’s work inspires me to actually look at patterns and create something that is timeless, lasts, can be re-used and represents me! I hope this encourages you to get back to the basics of our great grandmothers! Enjoy!

1. How did ‘Afternoon’ get started?
Afternoon began as a personal project to sew more. I thought if I wrote about it and kept a blog, I would feel more accountable to my goal. I’ve always enjoyed sewing, and setting time aside for it really nurtured my spirit, as twee as that may sound! I realised that there must be others out there like me, looking for a community of like-minded sewing folk to turn to for inspiration and advice, especially in South Africa. Dressmaking is still just one of those things that people associate with their mums and grans, and in a lot of ways, the resources available for sewing remain outdated too. I wanted to change that. So Afternoon really got going in earnest as a way to inspire fellow stitches with cool patterns, making sewing more modern, accessible, and generally badass.

2. What inspires you most as an individual?
There are so very many things to be inspired by, from small personal experiences to grand incomprehensibility of the universe! One of my favourite things to do is go to the ballet. That confluence of music, art, theatre and fashion is very inspiring.

3. I love the ‘About’ section of your blog which talks about stepping outside the cycle of fast fashion – What are the pro’s and con’s (in your opinion) on high street fashion?
Thank you so much, it’s a topic I’m very interested in! I suppose at the end of the day, high street fashion is such fun! It’s fast, it’s flashy, it fades quickly, and never gets boring. I think the problem comes in when we indulge in that fast fashion cycle – buy, wear, chuck, repeat – without regard to the consequences. There are real hands behind the seams of cheap fashion, and by participating in that behaviour of over-consumption, we are not signalling to the industry that we will not stand for exploitation. That is of course not to say that all high-street fashion is exploitative or that we must all starting sewing ourselves, but I think a greater appreciation of a garment can be cultivated by making your own clothes.

4. So as well as being involved with sewing – is it true you are a graphic designer? Has this supported the start of ‘Afternoon’?
Yes, that is totally true! Being a graphic designer is actually my 9 to 5 job. So that supports Afternoon in a number of ways, both financially and aesthetically. I can transfer a lot of those web and design skills over to the brand, which is super helpful.

5. Do you like to keep busy on new projects and what are you working on at the moment?
Yes, I do. At the moment I am very excited to be working towards the Design Indaba Expo. I am part of the Emerging Creatives programme for 2015, and will be showcasing my work at the Expo from the 27 February to 1 March at Cape Town’s CTICC. If you’re around, please pop in and say hello!

6. What is your most prized material possession?
I have a lovely big white tablecloth, embroidered with little sprigs of flowers by my late gran. It’s just a sentimental piece that I love, and I never quite trust myself to have a dinner party on it!

7. What is the hardest thing about running your own business?
At the moment, time! Sometimes there are just not enough minutes in the day.

8. What do you do in your spare time?
I like to read a good book, picnic with friends or go for a hike. I’m also trying to up my cooking game! I’m vegetarian, and my wonderful long-suffering flatmate gets dished up my rotation of the same-old dishes. I’m cooking through a lovely local book called Luscious Vegetarian at the moment.

9. What advice would you give to someone looking at taking their hobby to the next level?
My advice would be to just start. You don’t need anyone’s permission to do your thing. At the moment, I’m working on a “if you build it, they will come” mentality and it keeps me from doubting myself.

10. Where do you see Afternoon in the next 5 years?
In 5 years’ time I would love to have a small studio and sewing café, where others can come to sew, chat and collaborate.

11. Where can our readers find you online?
You can find me over on, that’s where I share my sewing tips and projects. If you’d like to see the sewing patterns on offer, follow the links on site, or go directly to Otherwise, I’m also on Twitter(@afternoonZA), Instagram (  and Facebook. I’d love to connect with you.


quilting tools  cross stitch tools  bint cross stitch  bow tie   amy skirt  another amy skirt

Ellies Beautiful Mess – Crafter & Illustrator

So all us creative peeps have one thing in common, and I know you won’t disagree. A love for Internet Browsing. So this week whilst on lunch, after a grilling week of teaching customer service skills (YAY), I was browsing crafty things on facebook in a trance like state when I came across Ellie’s page. It reminded me of a blog I absolutely love ‘A Beautiful Mess‘ and so I decided to take a look and I loved what I found. Ellie makes and sells bespoke felt creations, (which are soooo adorable and also pretty original) as well as dabbles in illustration to produce handmade cards. I messaged her to ask if she would like to be featured on our blog and without hesitation she said YES! So here is our interview! I hope you enjoy! Take a look at her page to see what she crafts.

1. When did you get started with illustrating and creating cute felt creations?
The business came about when my son was a few months old and I really wanted to buy a cloud mobile. I searched online but only found very expensive pieces that weren’t quite what I was looking for. So I thought “hmm maybe I could have a go.” The next day I went and bought felt, cotton, glitter, lollipop sticks and pom-poms still not knowing exactly what I intended on creating and then I set to work. After proudly posting photos on Facebook of my finished cloud mobile I began receiving messages asking me to make them something similar. Then the emails kept coming and the requests varying, doubting my ability all the time.

2. When did you decide to turn your hobbies into a business?
My business is only three months old but the online support from the Facebook craft community and likers of my page has expanded it so dramatically I’m already working at capacity and I cannot physically work any harder or faster with just little old me making the orders. Within a month it appeared that I could make it a viable business allowing me to stay at home with my children, which I feel so incredibly grateful for and I cannot thank my customers and supporters enough for allowing me the opportunity to do so.

 3. Being a mother of two – what has been your biggest challenge and how do you remain motivated?
The biggest challenge? Easy, TIME! Time is my enemy. The only time I can feasibly work is when the children are tucked up in bed which means that it’s a rarity for me to get into bed before 2am (up again at 6, if not before) but us mamas sacrifice our beauty sleep anyway, business or not, and we’re armed with heavy duty concealer and powered by coffee. My motivation is my family. My beautiful little family. If it means I have to sit at my kitchen table night after night with my incredibly supportive fella sat cutting felt with me to make a better life for us all where I can be with them at home during the day and never missing the important stuff, it’s all well worth it.

4. Do you need a certain environment to work in – if so what is the ideal setting for you?
I work at my kitchen table at the moment which isn’t ideal as my sewing machine is never away, but we make it work. It means my six year old daughter, Maisy, is on hand most of the time to “help” with passing buttons and putting stickers on packages for me. Home is a bit chaotic and not a quiet environment but I do prefer it that way. As soon as the weather improves I’ve been promised a workshop/summerhouse which will save the kitchen being taken over entirely by a mountain of felt.

5. What are your top tools for the creations you make?
When I started out I hand-stitched everything. Then, for my birthday, I received a sewing machine which I would say is now my most important tool. It means I can stitch larger pieces quickly so it’s saved me lots of time. It took me three solid days of googling and swearing at it before I finally realised the problem was as simple as I was threading it backwards. I’d never call myself a proficient seamstress but I’m getting better with all the practice.

6. Who inspires you creatively?
My mum and my grandmas were incredible crafters and would sit and teach me to sew, knit and make pretty things. My dad and my granddad were brilliant at drawing. My family inspired me creatively as a child and these are things that I’d love to pass onto my children to hopefully inspire them too. Everyone that knows me knows that I adore Cath Kidston. The colours, patterns and vintage style are just beautiful. She started out with what she described as a junk shop selling handmade home decor and now she is a household name with an MBE and multimillion pound empire and kicked cancer’s butt. She’s an incredible woman whom I will always admire.

7. Where are you based in the UK and what do you love about your city?
I’m based in Hull, East Yorkshire. It’s not terribly glamorous but is may be come 2017 as we have been selected to be the city of culture! A really positive and creative thing to happen. I was born and raised here and I am proud to be a Yorkshire lass.

8. Do you have any advice for fellow crafties?
Oooh advice. Well, I’ve made lots of mistakes thus far and the best advice I can give is don’t be afraid to try something new. Take the plunge and give it a go. You might fail but you never know, it could be the best thing you ever do.

9. Where can our readers find you online?
My Facebook page Ellie’s Beautiful Mess is my main point of contact and I regularly post pictures of orders as I complete them. I love Instagram too and my page is a little more personal with a mix of family and business pictures. Search “elliesbeautifulmess”.

”Ellies Beautiful Mess is just that. Ellie, mother of two young children and her sewing machine, creating bespoke felt handcrafted home decor pieces made to order and ink illustrated greetings cards. Everything made is a one-off original and the same item is never created twice with each piece varying slightly from the last. But that is the beauty of buying handmade products. The most popular items are the cloud and moon mobiles and children’s name garlands. The festive collection has proved a success recently with the forty Christmas product order slots filled within 30 minutes of opening. The business has so far consisted of every item being made to order but Ellie hopes to offer a range of ready-made items for sale alongside the bespoke pieces via an online shop in the New Year. Future plans consist of a home workshop in the summer, a shop in a few years’ time and perhaps even greater things.”