Meet Clare, the creative talent behind the nuMONDAY shop Clare’s Paper Shop.

Can you introduce yourself and what is it you do?

I am a paper obsessive – I’ve worked with paper for thirty years in one form or another, it is the most versatile material I know.

Having struggled with clay when I started working in 3D (it dried out my hands when I worked with it) I was looking for a medium that allowed me to let loose.

I’d worked in printing and the greeting card industry and a friend gave me a paper pulp recipe.

Now 20 years on I’m still experimenting …

Harris, Clare’s studio helper

Have you always been creative?

School wasn’t always the easiest place to be but I could always go and hide in the “art room” …

When I left school (in 1979) “Graphic Design” was the new thing to take up at College, I learnt some traditional art room techniques but had no interest in the new plastic screen winking away in the corner of the room…

Happily, the winking screen became easier to navigate and the traditional skills have once again become valued. 

What is it working with the materials that you particularly enjoy?

Paper can be anything – at times gone by paper has been used to mimic much more valuable materials.

There are so many opportunities for “making” when you have either sheet material or the myriad of ingredients that paper can be formed from.

Over the years I have taught myself processes and techniques that are influenced by many different cultures and craft skills.

I’ve most recently been absorbed knitting with paper thread. 

A selection of Clare’s creations

Can you tell us what inspires your items?

Inspiration comes from many different sources.

Paper mimicking valuable materials has always interested me.

What is more valuable than our worlds natural materials, rock, wood, metal…

How do you make your items?

Quite early in my experiments, I started making my own sheet materials (I laminate these on heavy card offcuts) – at the time I had no idea about the technical side of making paper but I could get a pleasing finish with my pulp if I pressed it onto glass and let it dry.

At this stage the thick sheets I made took days to dry (the British climate was decidedly unhelpful) after many years I found a similar process depicted in a book about hand-made prints.

I now use block printing and pulp painting to decorate my sheets.

Tell us a bit about your studio or where it is you work from?

I’ve always needed my own shed, SHE…D not just for HE’s!

I’m a bit of a hoarder, usually of oddly shaped stones, crumbling but characterful lumps of wood, rusty metal objects and lots and lots of books and paper.

In recent years I’ve accumulated (inherited) some interesting tools and equipment – not all of which I have a user manual for, but the shed is a bit of a haven and everyone knows when I’ve not had enough shed time!

Is there anything within your studio or workspace you could not live without?

Were he still around my Dad would definitely say drying cupboard.

I built my last one myself but an efficient, cheap to run, the well-insulated cupboard was always Dad’s speciality, if a shed move was imminent.

What does entrepreneurship mean to you?

I’ve never really thought about being an entrepreneur, I’ve always made things, I’ve been lucky to live and work in a part of the country where creativity is valued.

I think countryside people have always had an entrepreneurial spirit when I think of food, farming, fishing, gardening all the things that are big employers where I live, financial risk and creative solutions play a big part in all these industries.

Who inspires you as a creative entrepreneur?

I think I answered that one in the question above but I’ve recently written a blog on my website that illustrates what I mean.

Do you have any advice for someone starting out selling their items for the first time?

Keep trying.

My experience has taught me that you will get knock backs but if you persevere the journey itself keeps giving and giving.

My only other advice is not to expect to become a millionaire overnight.

What is your proudest achievement so far?

I’ve kept going.

What do you love about nuMONDAY?

nuMONDAY have been very accessible, if I’ve had a question it’s been answered quickly. I

I’ve tried selling online before with little success and I’m aware that my own promotion of my online shop is the only way to get the traffic to my site, and frankly I’m not brilliant at that bit, but nuMONDAY is set up so that I can do as much or as little as time (and ability) permits.

There are no nagging or penalties just the odd little nudge every now and then.

You can view Clare’s items or get in touch with her via her nuMONDAY shop here.