Sunday, 6 May 2012

Interview with Claire Cooper of Ragbags and Gladrags

Welcome to this week's interview!

Who are you and where can we find out more about you?

I'm Claire Cooper, based in the North East of England in Beautiful Northumberland, in a small seaside town. I blog over at
I'm married to John (who has a passion for home brew), mum to three creative and talented children, and am an artist, designer and teacher. email:

What do you make?

When I'm not teaching I divide my time between painting and sewing. My paintings vary in scale from about A4 in size upto 6 by 4 ft. I work in acrylics and occasionally oils. I also sew clothes,  bags and accessories. I often work from patterns, but do design my own. I'm currently working on individual designs for three very different weddings this year - sorry can't show you images just yet.  I'm looking to marry both my painting and sewing together at some point soon and create my own fabric, although I'm not sure if I'll hand produce or have the designs printed yet.

Where does your inspiration come from?

I take inspiration from a range of different sources, the beautiful surrounding countryside, films, vintage fashion, butterflies are a recurring theme in my art work and I'm also influenced by my Christian faith.

What tips do you have for generating ideas for designs?

Record anything that inspires you. I have collections of photos, quick sketches, notes, lists. some of which I leave for a long time before anything is done with them. I know that I have to write down ideas as soon as I have them, which means I've usually got a pen and paper handy (or iIuse the camera/ notes on my i-phone to capture inspiring ideas.

How do you record your ideas?

Mostly in a sketchbook, although I sometimes work directly with photographs which I manipulate in photoshop. When I'm painting I'll often create a range of studies on paper or canvas, that I then photograph/ scan and manipulate to take the ideas further.

What tips do you have for motivating yourself?

I write lists, not for motivating myself to create - I'd do that without a second thought, but the rest of my life wouldn't happen, so I write a to do list and plan my time to allow me to get all the jobs I need to get done as well as creating done.

Do you have any time management tips?

Write lists!

What's your workspace like?

I work in the dining room of the house, which means I'm constantly clearing up, although I've just got a small desk for my sewing machines, which means everything is to hand. I'll often paint out on the back yard as I use a lot of poured paint, sprayed on washes of colour. Summer tends to be the time I create my bigger work as I can get outside more.

Where can we find your designs for sale?

I have images of my paintings on my blog, most are for sale. I recently had an Exhibition at Newbiggin Maritime Centre and my work can still be bought through their shop even though the exhibition has ended.   I tend to work to commission on dress designs.

Thanks so much Claire for the interview!  I love that you combine your painting and sewing successfully - and that not having a large worskspace doesn't stop you from making big pieces.   Producing your own fabric sounds really exciting!

For more creative inspiration, head over to Handmade Monday - pop the kettle on, put your feet up and enjoy reading the blogs linking up there.


Carolee Crafts said...

Another brilliant interview, thank you Wendy and Claire

Anonymous said...

This was really inspiring as it shows that you can fit yourself into whatever space you have. Thank you.

Nina Hoskins said...

Another great interview, Thanks for sharing!

fatmonica said...

Great interview!

Anonymous said...

Lovely interview :-)

lovetartan said...

Great interview :)

Highland Monkey's said...

I hope you do manage to create your own fabric, it sounds fun.

Free Spirit Designs said...

what a fab idea to combine your passions and make your own fabric! I'm sure it will be a wonderful new creative adventure :)

Christmas Pie Crafts said...

Beautiful work Claire and good to learn more about you. Good luck with creating your own fabric, sounds wonderful.

CatkinJane said...

Thanks for sharing this interview, inspiring to hear how others work :)

butterflyblossom said...

Really like the things Claire creates - nice to have an artist for a change too!