Friday, April 4, 2014

Novelty Brooch Friday - April

This month I'm very excited, when I contact a creator or seller to be part of Novelty Brooch Friday I become a little apprehensive, as it's always someone I admire. I discovered Sarah's work through Instagram, I don't know how I found her account, like most people I follow, I forget, but I just fell in love with her work; her paintings, her dolls and her brooches. Lucky for me and for you Sarah said YES!

I hope you find Sarah's work as magical as I do, and fall in love with Curious Pip's world of vintage ladies and creatures, all created with love and care.

I asked Sarah 5 questions about her work and her inspirations.

 I first came across your drawings and subsequently your dolls and brooches recently through Instagram. How long have you been creating these lovely works?
I started my blog and shop in 2011. I've always been a sketcher, I've always made stuff, always been interested in textiles and beautiful vintage fabrics.  Having had an on off career in the theatre prior to having my son and starting Curious Pip, I started to grow  much less ambitious with my acting career and found myself channeling my creativity more and more into drawing and making. It's not easy to hop off and on a theatre tour when you have a baby so starting my business was much needed motivation.

 Your drawings and dolls/brooches have a constant theme, that of glamorous, intriguing women from the past, do you have some favourite eras that you like to draw from?

It's natural for me to make and paint the things that I love and inspire me, I grew up on old movies and am fascinated and intrigued by old Hollywood.  I aim to evoke bygone eras with my work but I think the 1930s is my favourite era. All those witty, screwball comedies and Busby Berkeley musicals are just magical. Back then it seemed all women were stylish, they sizzled with glamour - they wore beautiful clothes and had gorgeous curls, hats and makeup. I also draw from and am inspired by actresses like Myrna Loy, Jean Harlow and Claudette Colbert and I love classic old showgirls, circus performers and theatricality.

Your females have a unique look, is it a style you had in mind from the very beginning or was it a style you have developed over the years? (I’m asking as a lot of people become disillusioned very early on when they can’t find a style they are comfortable with)

When I was little all my drawings of girls had big eyes and wavy hair. In fact when I first started making dolls I wanted to pull away from big eyes but it seemed to be what came naturally so I stuck with it. From a very young age I loved old picture books and vintage movie annuals. My grandma had old film annuals I'd flick through as a child but I also remember being bought old books from jumble sales and fetes that had sweet and cute illustrations in them (Illustrations by Mable LucieAttwell and Beatrix Potter). I later discovered artists such as Arthur Rackham and Margaret Tarrant - to name a few - so I guess those beautiful bygone illustration styles seeped subconsciously into my work from the very start.  I wouldn't say I went out looking for a style it was just a 'look' that developed quite naturally.

What materials do you like working with both in your drawings and dolls/brooches?

With my dolls I just adore working with vintage fabrics. They have history. I don't much mind if there are a few stains on the fabric – in fact I like it more! And I love raw edges and tiny holes in things. If something doesn't look quite shabby enough I age-it-up with a bit of black tea or wash it, screw it up in a ball and let it dry naturally - creases and all! I love imperfect perfection. I could never work from a pattern and don't use templates. Merino wools work beautifully for hair, and you can purchase such a rich array of colours. My shelves are full of Sequins, buttons and bits of old haberdashery which are perfect as finishing touches.
When I make drawings and illustrations I like to use both watercolour and gouache but I do sometimes use acrylics. I get frustrated with the amount of paint I waste though when I use acrylics as they dry super-fast! Recently I have been enjoying just simple pen and ink for my latest Jean Harlow inspired illustrations.  I like Khadi paper which is handmade in South India using recycled rag. I sometimes like to coffee stain my canvas as it gives a slightly older feel. I also regularly use water colour paper as well as pastel paper.

Are there any artists/craft people you admire either contemporary or past?

Oh hundreds! We're so lucky with the internet these days, we can seek out other inspiring artists that you might not have otherwise discovered if it wasn't for social media and being able to make a tiny corner of the net your own. I adore doll makers - artists such as Sarah Strachan or Sara Sherriff of Wildwood Maker (lots of Sarahs in doll making!)  I also love the work of Mister Finch and the paintings and ramblings of EmilyWinfield Martin  who created Inside a Black Apple.
Artists from the past whom I'll forever be in love with and who inspire my work on a daily basis have to be (again to name a few) Nell Brinkley who was a comic artist and illustrator famous for her comic strips such as Prudence Prim and The Fortunes of Hossie.  I also adore the works of Anne Harriet Fish an artist of the 20's and 30's who always drew fabulous flappers and dapper gentlemen. Norah Wellings dolls (famous for the little sailor doll) and old boudoir dolls from the early thirties are inspiration overload! There's so much out there to be inspired by and enjoy it's just fabulous.

And so this month you could win this oh so adorable Louise Brooks brooch (one just like this, Sarah is going to make a special one just for the winner).

For your chance to win just post a picture of yourself on Instagram with your favourite brooch, with the hash tag #noveltybroochfriday (entries can be submitted on any Friday in April up to and including Friday 25th April).  I will announce the winner (randomly chosen) on Monday 28th April. Open to everyone, you can enter as many times as you like on a Friday, either new or vintage brooches. 

*If you are a designer or sell vintage brooches (worldwide) and wish to donate a brooch for an upcoming month and have your shop showcased, please contact me at 


  1. Do you have any other way of entering the contest? Apparently, I cannot get Instagram on my laptop. :(

    1. Hi Kim, I'm afraid not, It's an Instagram # and it's the only way I can keep track of the entries and their position when I chose the winner with the Random Number Ap. Cheers, Claire x