This week we take yet another look at the mind and work of an Emporia regular, Natsy Batsy. Here she talks about her passion for sewing with felt, why she wasn’t so good at sewing in her school days and why you need to have a supportive other half if you want to become a serious craft seller.
Who are you and what do you do?
My name is Natalie Ward and by day I work in the competitive world of commercial banking, however of an evening I morph into my alter ego of Natsy Batsy where all I need is a sewing machine, fabric and my imagination. I also established the C.A.K.E (Crafts in Ashford, Kent, England) Facebook page as a forum for local crafters and lovers of handmade goods.
How did you get into crafting?
I have always liked making things – in the summer my mum used to take us apple picking and I used to spend the days making “dolls” out of apples, twigs and leaves. We didn’t have a great deal of spare money, so if I wanted something I usually had to make it, dolls houses out of shoe boxes, Sindy clothes from fabric scraps. My Nan was for ever knitting so there was always wool available for pompoms and my mum used to make all our curtains and cushions. I lost confidence in my sewing at secondary school – I recently found a school report from when I was 14 which said “Needlework – needs to work a lot quicker and a lot neater,” and other than the odd, small project, I only really started sewing again in April 2012.
Who and what inspires you to create?
My friends! They are always coming up with ideas for me, some of them quite impossible. A lot of my friends have young children, and I love making them creations that are personal to them. I have made both my boys their own teddy bears using vintage fur and buttons and I hope they will pass them down to their children. Programmes like The Sewing Bee are great and one day I WILL make myself a dress!
Which crafters/artists/designers do you most admire?
Anyone who can crochet. I went on a crochet course run by Emma Jane of Cakes and Catwalks and think the effects and creations from a ball of wool and crochet needle are quite amazing. The crafters that I admire the most are those that come up with their own ideas, or put their own spin on a traditional pattern. It does get a bit boring when you see the same thing time and time again. I like things that are original or one of a kind, although it can sometimes be difficult to get the balance between what sells commercially and what feeds your passion as a crafter
When did you decide to make the leap from making for friends and family to creating your own business?
My friends and family were so enthusiastic about the things I was making that I thought I would try a stall at a craft fair to see if they were just being kind. Fortunately the first fair I attended as a stallholder was fantastic and I realised what a lovely bunch crafters are. Everyone was so friendly and complimentary, and it seemed silly not to make a bit of money while doing what I loved. I could never run Natsy Batsy full time, but at the moment I feel I have the perfect balance
What five things would you say were essential when you set up your craft business?
Honest feedback from trusted friends and family; market awareness; an internet presence, be it a blog, Facebook page or website; a supportive husband; and insomnia.
Name three of your most popular designs.
My rocking horses, bears and felt Christmas mice.
If you weren’t a crafter, what would you be doing with your time?
Finishing writing the book that I started seven years ago.
Do you run any workshops or take part in any groups?
No, I tend to make up a lot of my creations as I go along and really don’t have the technical knowledge to teach anyone else. (I only discovered what “cutting on the bias” meant during the last series of The Sewing Bee!)
What’s new with your craft for 2014? Tell us about some of the exciting things we can expect to see from you in the shop or at the Emporia market this year.
I have started making dolls this year (CE Marked) and they will be making an appearance at the Emporia markets. I am presently working on a boy version using some of the lovely fabrics from Emporia. I am also in the very early stages of designing a Fairytale cushion, and I shall be making lots more creations out of felt which I absolutely love working with.
Catch Natsy Batsy and her iconic dolls alongside all her other wares at the next Emporia market, taking place at the end of the month.