Always looking for new things to make and new ways to make them, blogger Francesca Stone shares her love for on-trend crafting with an ever-growing audience. She is as likely to find her materials in the hardware store or on a walk as in a craft shop, and that keeps her projects fresh. Always circling back to the tactile medium of clay, Francesca helps her followers create with easy-to-use materials and simple studio tools.
How did you find yourself on a creative path? Always there? Lightbulb moment? Dragged kicking and screaming? Evolving?
I’ve always leant towards creative activities. When I was younger my prize possession was a children’s sewing machine. I also loved making candles and plaster of Paris models to paint. I went on to study textile design for my degree so you could say I’ve always been on that creative path. When I was younger I never imagined I could build a career around these passions of mine and the progression into full time crafter was a slow evolution.
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Where do you find inspiration for your work?
I’m a big lover of trends. I love watching different shapes, colours and textures come in and out of style. As things change there are always more ideas to draw inspiration from. And of course I love Instagram and Pinterest for finding new inspiration. Seeing makers create in a whole range of different styles and materials really helps me develop ideas that are unique. But there are times when scrolling gives me too much inspiration. Sometimes if I have idea overload I don’t know where to start! I find it helpful to take a break and go back to good old pen and paper. Writing lists of ideas to develop or come back to later.
I always try to remind myself that inspiration is a practiced skill. The more you do it, the easier it gets! And I definitely have better ideas when I give myself time to be inspired rather than force ideas on a tight deadline.
What do you do differently? What is your signature that makes your work stand out as yours?
I’m always trying to push the boundaries of how we see and use modelling clays. Traditionally these clays have felt quite limiting but with some new thinking we can create things you will love to have in your home. I take my ideas from the latest design trends using both traditional and modern techniques to bring that vision to life.
What is the most important takeaway you want readers to gain from your new books, Easy Homemade Pottery?
I hope the biggest takeaway from the book is confidence. I want every reader to feel capable and inspired to create pieces they will love and enjoy in their home. I’ve broken down each project into easy, manageable steps that everyone can follow even if you’re completely new to these clays.
When I was developing the projects for Easy Homemade Pottery, I wanted to create simple designs that use a range of techniques. I wanted the reader to come away knowing they could create every project in the book and then dream up their own! But I also wanted it to be a fun learning experience, creating objects you would actually like in your home. I’ve combined this with some of the latest trends I love and some simple designs that are always in style. I hope there’s something for everyone in this book!
Why do you enjoy working with polymer and air-dry clay? What other media do you use in your creative life?
I’m definitely what you would call a multidisciplinary crafter. I love using all kinds of different materials. This gives me a lot of inspiration when I’m trying out new techniques or creating collaborations between different crafts. I always seem to come back to clay, though.
When it comes to creating, are you more of a planner or an improviser?
I’m pretty much always planning a project in my head. I rarely write these plans down (I should probably do it more often) so sometimes I need to change and improvise when things don’t quite go the way I thought they would. I usually find the first time I make a project I learn a lot about the process, then the second time I perfect the process. Both creations are important to making something new and exciting.
Do you have a dedicated space for creating? If so, what does it look like?
I have a big warehouse studio space which I absolutely love for the space and gorgeous light. Although in recent years I’ve been working from home a lot more to accommodate being a parent to young children whilst trying to run a business. As the children grow my space at home gets smaller and smaller! The great thing about clay is that your space doesn’t need to be big. I make a lot of my clay creations at the dining table
What are your most indispensable tools and materials? How do they improve your work?
When I’m working with clay the most important tools are the surface you’re working on and your finishing materials. Everything in between can be changed or improvised. You can also buy very inexpensive tool sets which include basic cutting and smoothing tools that can come in handy too. I always use a tile surface to work on for whichever type of clay I’m using. It is both sturdy and durable as well as being non-stick, something which is very important when working with clay. Removing clay that is stuck to a surface can destroy a piece in seconds. Tiles are also very easy to clean and keep free of dust and dirt that could contaminate your clay.
Sandpaper and polishing tools can elevate your clay piece. I use a range of sand paper when I’m working with clay. I also use a rotary tool and polishing pads
What plays in the background while you work? Silence? Music, audiobooks, podcasts, movies? If so, what kind?
I’ve been working on my own for over five years and it can get quite lonely sometimes. When I’m working on something creative I always have a podcast on in the background. I love feeling like I’m a part of a conversation, even if there’s no one around to listen to my side of it. Does anyone else talk at the tv/radio/phone like the people in it can hear you? Just me? Okay,
What were some of the earliest projects you shared on your blog, Fall for DIY? How is your work different today?
I can still remember all the projects I made in the beginning days of the blog. It was so exciting and I was learning as much as I was teaching. One of my first big viral posts was a faux agate slice made with polymer clay.
What do you wish you knew about blogging before you got started?
This is such a hard question to answer. I wish I knew more about photography when I started. I had literally no idea what I was doing! But I’ve learnt everything I know now from being open to learning more and never giving up trying to improve. This has led to so many amazing opportunities that I’m so grateful for.
Do you think that creativity comes naturally to people, or do you think creativity is a skill that people can learn?
I’m a big believer that no one is born more creative or able than any other. The difference is that some people are more drawn to creativity than others. The skills to think and perform creatively need to be practiced. The idea that some people are just naturally talented is wrong. These skills come from thousands of hours of work and continuously practicing to maintain them. This doesn’t mean you need to dedicate that amount of time to master a skill, it just means you need to manage your expectations.
If you don’t create the perfect piece the first time it doesn’t mean you are not creative, it just means you need to practice your skills. The first time we do anything it will most likely be the worst. Try again and it will get better. And essentially creativity isn’t all about this process. We bring creativity into our lives in so many different ways. What we wear, what we eat, what we bring into our homes, how we play with our children. Creativity isn’t the skills you possess in order to make something, it’s the ideas behind them.
How do you keep all the balls in the air? Is there one you wish you could drop? Which one will you never give up?
I read somewhere not to worry about dropping the balls, but just to focus on keeping the most important ones in the air. In reality I drop them all the time. Even the ones I wish I didn’t. But I forgive myself and try to do better the next day,
Check out Francesca’s blog Fall for DIY
Interview posted April 2021
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