This week's featured interview of an artisan of handmade items comes from Europe - Portugal to be exact. I appreciate Claudia's initiative in contacting me to ask if I would like to interview her. Reading her interview, you'll find her to be a charming, talented, and creative person.
Presenting...Claudia from Reino Já Cheguei!
Tell me about your blog and your store.
"Reino Já Cheguei" means "I've Arrived at the Kingdom". Why this name? When my son Tiago was born, we used that expression to give the good news to our family ("I've arrived!"). Three years later, my Joana was born… she was finally arrived too. With a prince and a princess, we became a kingdom.
I have always been a very creative person, and after I wrote my first story book for children, I had to make all of those characters real.
Several pieces of my work have been published in various blogs and websites. I love designing/sewing my toys. There is something so wonderful about creating them - they seem to develop their own personalities as I craft them - it’s almost like I’m creating something organic! I’ve recently started to make altered books and several assemblages. One of the most exciting things is to think of my work in other people’s homes all over the world, hopefully inspiring them to get creative too!
This kingdom is my real passion. I run a blog, an online shop, where I sell my handmade toys and my books hoping that my fantasy kingdom arrives increasingly far.
How long have you been creating?
I’ve been creating since I was a little girl. When I was too young to sew, maybe about 5years old, I used to go to a shirt factory near my parent’s house and ask for fabric scraps. Then I punched some holes in them and make dresses and coats that were tied with rope. My dolls always had new clothes!
Later I started to sew dresses for smaller dolls like Barbie. My mom found out that I did it because once I broke her sewing machine needle. Then she taught me how to sew better, to embroider. And since then I’ve always been creating something. But it became more serious after my oldest son was born in 2004.
Tell me about the arts and crafts scene in Portugal. Are there certain items that are very popular?
Portugal definitely has very talented crafters. The handcrafted unique pieces are increasingly more accepted and appreciated everywhere. We are trying to escape from the mass produced items that exist in the market. These are pieces with no life, that in the production phase were never in touch with a human hands. Having said that, crafts tend to be more valuable pieces and more appreciated. Nevertheless, we still fail to fully recognize the value of a handcrafted item. They are handmade unique pieces that tend to cost more than the industrialized ones, and this still makes a difference when it’s time to buy one.
Our pieces do not differ from other country’s pieces. Maybe the materials used, or the regional and cultural influences. In this increasing global world we live in, it’s hard to find a truly original piece. Usually what makes a unique piece is the history behind it and the creative process.
Are there any particular mediums you like working with?
I tend to use quality and diversified materials. I like to add some scent to my pieces. I always ask our costumer to choose her favorite aroma.
I like to use buttons, appliques, sand beads, sequins, ribbon, lace, some of them vintage, some of them new, etc. I always try to create fun and colorful pieces.
I like to open my boxes and jars that are full of fabrics, buttons, ribbons, paper scrap and imagine what I can create from them. I usually like to use strong colors.
Is there anything you eventually want to get in to and master?
Well, because I have lots of goals for myself I want to master everything (as if I could!). I always want to try new techniques and mix them all.
The last thing I did was a tree branch dressed in crochet just like a lady. It even had a tall hat!
I really need to try different things once in a while. My ideas are always jumping up and down in my head, begging to be born...
What do you like to do in your spare time?
Well, I don’t have much spare time. Being a mother of two, a teacher, a wife, and ruling a fantasy kingdom and having to update blog, site, shop, Facebook, and all the networks we’re in, it's not easy!
Nature, besides my children, provides me the inspiration I need. Walking on the beach or in the woods, hearing the birds or the water falling, and taking pictures of what I see it’s really relaxing and inspirational.
I use to do that in family so it also helps us to get away from the daily stress too.
What's a question you wish I would've asked? (And please answer that question).
What do my eyes see?
My eyes see fantasy as a way of understanding reality better.
My eyes are the windows to my soul, they see lots of new mixed media techniques to learn, lots of books to read, lots of things to do, lots relationships to improve, lots of photos to take, lots of love to give...
I'm an eager learner.
Please list ten fun facts about you
1). I have two beautiful cats, named Mupi de Sir Dine and Milady Bug de Sir Dine (Mupi and Milady) – royalty names. :)
2). I love coffee.
3). I love chocolate.
4). I love coffee and chocolate mixed together. :)
5). Almost all of my dolls are named by my sons.
6). Now and then my sons help me stuff some of my dolls.
7). My logo is a mix of my two sons: they both have curly hair (snail) and my daughter´s name is Joana. Little Joana means ladybug in Portuguese.
8). 90% of the characters in my storytale book are/were real. 85% belong to our genealogy. They were named after our nicknames. That includes me, my husband and my sons.
9). Guizito, the boy in our logo, is definitely my alter ego. Guizito which means "Little Bell" is my fantasy kingdom's story teller. I’m an eternal child just like him and all the gnomes I know.
10). I laugh during horror movies. They don’t scare me at all!
Please list your website, blog,and/or Etsy shop urls.
Here is the arsenal:
Reino Ja Cheguei website
Reino Ja Cheguei blog
Reino Ja Cheguei Etsy Shop
Facebook Story Book