Today, I would like to share with you the work of my friend Jeanne from Magpie Workshop. Jeanne makes exquisite collage art on a small-scale: bookmarks, notebooks, miniature shrines, tiny boxes and more. She takes the subjects of Renaissance paintings and embellishes them with flower crowns (swoon) and sequins. She is also influenced by Mexican art…think Frida Kahlo on a Grand Tour of Italy. Jeanne’s pieces make unique handmade gifts, but they are also ideal as wedding favours for art-themed or boho weddings. What flower-crown-loving bride could resist these floriferous beauties?
Jeanne lives in central Bath, with her husband and two sons. Her house is known for having a ghost, but Jeanne’s never seen it!
Jeanne, what is it that fascinates you about Renaissance ladies?
In the Renaissance, artists desired to capture both the beauty and mystery of the natural world. For me, I think this is perfectly expressed in the portraits they created. There is an inquisitiveness, a direct yet mischievous intent lurking in the expressions of the faces they painted. It is this, which speaks to me – how full of magic the world can be if only we look for it.
Which of your products are the most popular with your customers?
As an artist, you never know what will resonate with others. My most popular image is probably “Tuileries.” However, I think my collage “In the Night Garden”, found the most meaning in the life of one of my customers. The image is of my favorite da Vinci lady surrounded by black onto which I had collaged flowers, birds and sequins. My shop description simply said, “In the dead of night, a garden grows.” In her feedback, my customer wrote, “On my desk at work, so many people have commented on your lovely art. The message of flowers blooming in the darkness comforts and encourages me daily.” The idea that my work gave her a sense of hopefulness was very moving for me.
Which is your personal favourite?
At this moment, my favorite is the hanging votive “La Rouge” new to my collection. The border is trimmed with red pom-poms. I love pom-poms and have long been looking for a way to incorporate them into my collages (and my life in general.)
How do you construct your collages?
All that is necessary to create a collage is a sharp pair of scissors and some good quality glue. I like to think of them as my two best friends.
What inspires you?
I think that creativity grows organically. The experiences of a lifetime are constantly percolating inside us waiting to find release. So much informs each of us. It’s like a cacophony that somehow results in music. Art is a great inspiration, as are books I’ve read, my childhood, all things Mexican and the sights and sounds of every day.
Is there any other creative skill that you would like to learn?
I’m very excited about the sewing machine I just bought. My first endeavour was to sew a pair of pajama bottoms for my seven year-old son. He was so pleased with them – particularly that I made them for him. It really brought home to me the comfort and joy found in handmade things.
Any tips on how you manage to keep creating, run your small business and look after your family?
I think you must look after yourself both physically and mentally. So everyday I try to think about proper sleep, hydration and good posture. When I am feeling refreshed, I am a much better mum and artist. The quiet time I spend sitting at my drawing table creating gives me peace. A book I once read described motherhood as being a “willing prisoner.” I think that is pretty apt. I think mums (and dads) have to accept this and yet find ways to express ourselves as individuals.
New York, London or Bath?
When I was a child in the suburbs of NYC, I dreamed of the wider world. Never would I have imagined that I would one day live abroad. A former employer of my husband’s gave us the opportunity to live in London and we took it. It was supposed to be for 6 months but we’ve been here ever since – first in London and for the last eight years in Bath. I think every place we have lived has been perfect for that period in our lives. I would love to live again in NYC and be caught up in its whirlwind of energy but at this very moment there is no other place I would rather be. Bath is like my Renaissance ladies. It captures both the beauty and the mystery of the natural world.
Honey Willow: jewellery for weddings and gifts, lovingly handmade in Bath, England.
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- Boho bride pinspiration board (honeywillow.wordpress.com)