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Designer of the Month: Meet Dorothy Holness!

April 12, 2010

I am so happy to bring to all the parchment craft enthusiasts world-wide a monthly series of Designer of the Month!  We have all seen the patterns, but what about their motivations, inspirations, and beginnings?  This is what I will be exploring via interviews.

I couldn’t think of anyone better to start this series off, than with Dorothy Holness. Dorothy is a long-time parching enthusiast and designer. Some of you may remember her column, Dear Dorothy, in the older issues of Parchment Craft magazine. I know I check back on her numerous “tips, tricks and instructions” in the columns of the older magazine issues! Dorothy very graciously agreed to an email interview, so that I may share it with you!

CEP: Were you an artist before you became interested in parchment craft?

Dorothy Holness: I had two years at an Art College and my first job was as a fabric painter.

CEP: Besides your floral work, you have created lovely figures on parchment. Are there any particular artists that have influenced you in your work?

DH: If I have been influenced by anything, then the Art Nouveau style is something that appeals to me and I have always liked the drawings of Erte.   I like Japanese art and really my taste in all things is very broad.   As most parchmentcrafters will tell you if they start designing for themselves,  we start to look at things in a different way wherever we go    –  someone’s curtains or the tiles in their bathroom  –  and we think   ‘ that’s an idea ‘ !!!!

[ed. note: This last statement is so "on the nose"! Even though I haven't designed my own patterns I've already started to think how certain things I see would translate onto parchment!]


CEP: You have noted that you were at first self-taught in parchment crafting. Was there anyone or anything in particular that was inspiring to you, during your beginning years, before the workshops with Janet Wilson and Carla Larter’s program?

DH: As you will have seen from my website,  my interest began with a card from my Dutch penfriend.   To begin with,  I knew of no-one who did the craft and taught myself from any information I had from her so the only inspiration I had was the craft itself.  The more I did and the more I wanted to do.

CEP: What brought about your step-by-step book on Embossing?

DH: I found that a lot of people were trying to get their embossing too white too quickly with not enough light and shade,  and wanted to show that, ideally,  it is worked in gradual stages  –  and to show those stages.

CEP: What advice would you give to someone new to parchment crafting?

DH: Enjoy what you do and, if possible, try to see as many different people working as you can.   There are basic techniques but different ways of approaching them and there is really no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ way.  Try as many as you can and decide what you enjoy doing most,  and the more you do it the better you will become. We all take a hint from here and a tip from there   –  put them together and develop a style of our own which is good as it gives a lot of variety.  When embossing,  let the work’ rest’ for a while between layers  –  don’t try to do too much work at once and this can prevent the ‘bubbling’  that you sometimes get.

CEP: Is there any additional advice you would give to those that may live in areas where there are no available tutors, or those that do not have easy access to supplies?

DH: It is a problem if there are no available tutors  –  but there are DVD’s available,  plenty of instruction books  and a few good mail-order firms for any supplies.  If people are really struggling I am always happy to help by post.  They sometimes send  me a piece of work with the pattern they have used and I use the same pattern to send back little samples if I think they could improve their work, and try to show how it’s done.

Please do check Dorothy’s website and take a look around. It was such a pleasure “talking” to Dorothy in email, and I would like to thank her, again, for taking the time to answer my questions.

I hope everyone enjoyed the first Designer of the Month!

You may also notice that I have changed the pattern in the header. This snippet is from a Dorothy Holness pattern, Harebells, found in the October 2008 issue of PCmag, that I had worked, not long ago.

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10 Comments
  1. April 12, 2010 12:03 pm

    What a wonderful interview, C!!!! It’s always so interesting to learn the little things about designers that are often overlooked. Congrats on your first article in this exciting new series….and thanks to Dorothy for her thoughtful and inspiring replies to your questions.

  2. April 12, 2010 12:04 pm

    Well done Dorothy, kicking off this very useful item. Karen x

  3. Val Hopkins permalink
    April 12, 2010 1:10 pm

    Dorothy is always very sharing in her knowledge and talent and is an inspiration to us all.

  4. Maud permalink
    April 12, 2010 1:44 pm

    Thanks very much for sharing with us. For the beginners.

  5. Jackie permalink
    April 12, 2010 3:26 pm

    This is very good, lovely interview, like the idea of this very much indeed.

    Jackie

  6. Mair Peake permalink
    April 12, 2010 8:53 pm

    Thank you for sharing this very interesting interview with us xx

  7. April 13, 2010 5:24 am

    Great interview with Dorothy Holness, Chiara. I enjoyed reading it very much. Thanks.
    Hugs,
    Kirsten

  8. Tina Cox permalink
    April 18, 2010 8:45 am

    What a lovely interview. Dorothy is amazing and really inspirational. :)

  9. Helga Ames permalink
    May 12, 2010 6:41 pm

    In my opinion Dorothy is the ‘Holy Grail’ when it comes to embossing. I have attended one of her workshops and am truely a devotee. I still have a long way to go to master this aspect of parchment crafting, Dorothy is a sourch of knowledge and inspiration.
    Long may she continue .
    x

    • cepet permalink
      May 12, 2010 10:10 pm

      Helga, I’d be on cloud nine if my embossing was anywhere near as good as hers! Dorothy was/is a lovely person to speak to, even if I only wrote to her via email!

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