Introducing a very talented guest Artist, Saffron Johns.
Perusing through Etsy can be a very daunting challenge when you are looking for truly skilled artists and artisans. But there really are people there who create because it satisfies their soul not just to make money, and they are harder to find. Saffron Johns from Other Worlds is one of these artists. Her unique, unbridled imagination and skilled way of bringing it to fruition puts her in a category all by herself. Crocheting and knitting with wire, beads, jewelry components and even small lights, she has developed her work in a way that allows everyone to see inside her bright imagination.
I love when an artist finds the perfect medium with which to express themselves. And I love when that medium is not traditional because I know they are taking a chance of being obscure in a sea of more traditional work. I think that when you love what you do and and spill your heart and imagination into your work, people can sense that. I felt Saffron’s work was so special that it deserved recognition as an exceptional artist here in Snappy Tatter-land. I wanted her as a guest not only to satisfy my own curiosity about her work and life, but also to give her work the exposure it deserves.
A gallery of her designs as well as social connections are found after her interview.
Imagination is an endless pool of inspiration and ideas where anything is possible. -Saffron Johns
1. Tell us a bit about yourself and your life. I’m Saffron Johns, thirty years old… so I’m told. And I am a full time artist living in Bulgaria. I was born in the United Kingdom but I always wanted to go off exploring the world. So when I met my partner Mathew about ten years ago we went traveling around Europe. We never wanted to return home after our travels so we set off to Bulgaria hopeful we would be able to afford a home and garden here. We settled down about seven years ago in our Bulgarian country house with my furry friends the cats, “pirate” Blobby, Merz Burz, and Trampy, and set about our dreams of gardening, keeping animals and creating our art works which was a whole lot more difficult than we could ever have imagined.
Previously, I lived for much of my life in the mountains of Wales. After school I went to Hereford Art College where I spent many wonderful years creating art. In 2005 I received a BA in contemporary applied arts.
2. What kind of mediums have you explored in the past and present? When I was a child and through school I enjoyed designing things, anything really, from strange shoes to album covers. And I really enjoyed making automata paper models, practicing origami and drawing animals and comic books. I knew I wanted to do something creative and initially I wanted to be a product designer. My dream job would have been designing the moving toys in kinder eggs or something like that. I also loved illustration which is something I still incorporate through drawing the backgrounds in my 3D pictures, my large dreamscape drawings and my smaller sketches. I went to Art College as soon as I could. There it was possible to try out many different art processes, mediums and techniques. I began making models from all sorts of materials, little imaginary characters and creatures. I stayed on in Hereford College to do my HND (Higher National Diploma) in design crafts. It was on this course that I really started to refine my work and also when I discovered coloured wire. After wire was introduced to me I knew instantly that this was my material. I started out with just a spool each of black, white and red wire and over the years I have collected all the coloured wires under the sun.
Coloured copper wire is the main material I use but I am willing to use anything really to create an effect I am looking for. This past year I have started to use semi-precious stones in my work and I am also going to be using precious metals much more. I am currently experimenting with putting little lights in my work and also trying out different mechanisms to create movements, sort of automata pieces which I hope will bring some of my Other Worlds pieces to life a bit more. I love frames and containers and I collect many things to make my work with. I am always looking for new materials and techniques to use and I have a real fascination with glass and all it has to offer….perhaps one day! There are also several things I hope to return to, like metal work, which I always enjoyed so. When I have the funds for the equipment I shall do that again. I also hope to gain enough space to start working on more of my large dreamscape drawings soon. These are large ink drawings which come straight from my dream worlds. I love to create them but they require a lot of wall space.
3. Where did you learn to crochet with wire? I have been using wire for many years but I only learned to crochet about three years ago and knitted a little before that. I taught myself by watching videos and from crochet books. I rarely knit now because I find crocheting is so much more enjoyable and much more versatile for creating different shapes and for creating a bulky wire fabric with few holes. Because I crochet with wire I do find that many crochet stitches are not very rewarding so I tend to stick with basic crochet stitches. The wires I crochet with have to be quite thin, 0.5mm is the thickest I can crochet. It is wonderful because all you really need is a crochet hook and some wire to get started. Crochet also allowed me to be able to make jewelry which is mainly what I am focusing on making at the moment. So it just a technique that creates more possibilities with wire and also speeds up the making process.
4. How does your imagination develop into your art? I guess I have a map of Other Worlds in my mind where there really is a whole world of places and creatures to explore. My work is really about bringing these things into this world we live in! Imagination is an endless pool of inspiration and ideas where anything is possible. I keep a dream book and record my dreams. This is just one place where Other Worlds comes from. Sometimes I just go shopping in my mind desperately searching for that thing I would just love to find, and when I find things like that I will make them. I don’t often plan what I make it jumps from imagination into manifestation. I do have long lists of ideas, notes and squiggly drawings so I don’t forget a good idea though.
5. What do you enjoy most about being an artist? I just love it and I could not be without it! I love coming up with new ideas and I am always thinking about the next unusual design, the next amazing character, and the next crazy idea. I am always pushing myself towards the next level of everything. It is just so wonderful to create.
6. What do you like about running your own business? I love everything really, except for going to the post office and a few other boring things like that. I like the people I meet and talk to through my work and that I can be at home in the countryside and continue the expansion of Other Worlds. I think I could easily go crazy if I couldn’t do this every day. I don’t really think of it as a business, I feel it is just what I am supposed to do in life and I feel strongly that you should do what you are passionate about and that it’s sad to settle for anything less because of other pressures. Only in recent years have I really started to support myself through my work. It has been a very long process to get here and quite a struggle in lots of ways and I have several people to thank for helping me along the way. It’s truly wonderful the amazing people you meet through creating and I am very grateful for all those who support what I do.
7. Any other passions in life? Creating Other Worlds adds up to much of my passion in life. It could be many lifetimes of work so I don’t have much time to lose. And I admit I am an obsessive artist sometimes much to the frustration of others as I find it difficult to tear myself away. I really enjoy looking at other people’s art too, and often get lost for a few hours searching through Etsy and seeing what wonderful creations I can find. Other than art I love being close to wildlife and I insist on being in the peace of the countryside and all it offers. I find the world outside of this to be a little upside down and the wrong way around so I don’t move from my peace much. I also enjoy gardening which can be a nice break for my busy mind, a few hours of watching and being in nature is very wonderful and growing plants is very magical.
(click photos to enlarge)
Thank you so much Saffron, for such a wonderful interview full of information about your life and otherworlds!
Check out any of the following links to follow Saffron and find out more about her:
Etsy (shop): http://www.etsy.com/shop/otherworlds
I hope all of my readers have enjoyed my interview with Saffron, an artist with an impressive imagination and a style all her own.
My goal is to enlighten my readers on the many styles of art that is out there as well as the background of the artists that are designing this special work. It is rewarding to me to be able to share what I enjoy and I am sure there will be many more interviews to come.
Cheers and Happiness!