Designer of the Month: Meet Karen Shaw
Welcome, all you parchment art enthusiasts, to this month’s edition of Designer of the Month! I am really excited to be doing this series, and have been learning a lot as I talk to the designers I am interviewing.
This month, I am so pleased to bring to you another wonderful designer and tutor. I hope you will all join me in welcoming Karen Shaw. Karen has agreed to answer my questions so that I can share them with you!
CEP: Karen, welcome to Designer of the Month. Let me start off by asking you how you decided to start designing patterns for parchment craft?
Karen Shaw: I was never one to make patterns as they were described, always doing my own thing and that really planted the seed. I was always looking for things to “turn” into parchment patterns.
CEP: Was there a specific moment or event that you decided to start designing patterns for parchment craft?
KS: Not one I could put my finger on a particular moment. My first published pattern was in January2005 in the Parchment Craft Magazine, and that is one of the cringing moments when I look at the work that was accepted for publication! Oh dear; but I can promise that my skills have vastly improved in the last five years! That first pattern was sparked from an idea on a Breton lace tablecloth we had on our table – it was a lacy square – I have since remade it and am much happier with the updated version than I was with that first one….and ever since then I have looked at everything I see in a different light, to see if it would translate to parchment.
CEP: I’ve noticed that you have a wide range of subject matter in your patterns from animals, floral, cletic designs, and masks. Do you feel that there are any particular influences for you when you are designing patterns?
KS: Not really, I see something that sparks an idea and the next thing they are on parchment. I have an ideas file where I put sketches on paper and put them in there – if I don’t put them on paper, I would forget – sometimes I literally dream up a pattern and have to keep a pencil and pad by my bed!
KS: While I had been doing a distance learning course myself, I kept thinking “I would have done that differently”, and because this particular course wasn’t available anywhere else but within the UK, I decided to design a course based on my own learning experiences throughout the years, aided and supported by tutors I had become close to over the years, including my best friend who lives in Wales. It took me about six weeks to write the course materials and that was almost non-stop. Finally I approached PCA and asked for their permission to use it and they were delighted with it and gave their blessing and permitted me to use “Authorised by PCA” in the title Worldwide Parchment Diploma. I have over one hundred students all over the world from Australia, South Africa, Japan, USA, New Zealand and all over Europe. The course is currently available in English, French and the Japanese version is almost ready.
CEP: What has given you the most pleasure in parchment crafting?
KS: Everything about this wonderful craft gives me pleasure, from teaching to designing and demonstrating to simply doing it; but I think if asked for one particular satisfaction it would be the huge leaps and bounds my students make when going through the practice pieces in my course and their rising confidence as they make improvements.
CEP: Finally, let me finish up by asking if there was one piece of advice you could give to new and experienced parchers, what would it be?
KS: To new parchers; keep going, don’t let your lack of skill in the early days put you off, just practice more and it will come – I have seen this in students when the light has suddenly been switched on as a skill becomes evidently successful. To experienced parchers: try to think outside the box sometimes and don’t be afraid to try something new and different.
It was lovely chatting with Karen, and do check her website, there is a lot to see there! In fact, her site is a veritable treasure-trove of information.