Friday 8 August 2008

First stop

First stop on chaincreative's first crochet trip around various countries in the world!!!
And we're in Belgium!!! Actually not very far from chaincreative's home in England. So not much change in the weather, huh?!
Actually, the beautiful light, space (I think jucanils picture supremely reflects this) and sense of history makes up alot for the distinct damp feel we sometimes experience! Many of the cities in these Northern European countries are so picturesque and of course, there's alot of creativity here too. Our guide today is Karlita who is a fellow blogger so let's jump into a cosy coffee shop (without looking too longingly at the pastries) and get right down to chatting about the cultural creative life of Belgium.
Hi Karlita!! Where in Belgium are you from? Hi Bee!! I live in Hasselt, a small but charming and fun city to live in.
I love small towns, you're more likely to find the quirky and interesting, don't you think? But sometimes it's nice to get away from home. What is your favourite town for shops and design and good galleries and so on? Many places, but I guess the most inspirational cities are Antwerp and Ghent. In Antwerp I get some of my supplies from wholesale shops and it's just a fun and beautiful city to walk around in and shop. I also like the fashion museum, MOMU, (and especially the shop) there, it is in the same building as the famous fashion designerschool. I've chosen these images of Antwerp (michah on Flikr) which I think sum up that feeling of history and creativity which make for such an energetic mix in European cities, don't you think?
Ghent has a more relaxed atmosphere and the MIAT, a textile museum, is one of my favourites. I'm not a regular gallery person but I love going to exhibitions.
I usually post about them too on my blog.
I know that there has been a long textile tradition in Belgium, as in England, which needs to be preserved before it's completely wiped out. Exhibitions and museums are great resources for this.
A recent favourite was the Triennale Européenne DU BIJOU contemporain in Mons - it's still there until august 17th. I've gots lots of pictures and info on my blog.
I am a very regular visitor of the fashion museum in my city. They had some wonderful exhibitions in the past, f.e. Kaffe Fasset or the one with all the button creations (see bloglink). How important is design in Belgium and is it valued by the people?
I find this a hard question to answer, because the word design covers so much. It is definitely very much appreciated by a number of people and there is more and more attention for belgian design. I think recently (and very slowly) people are becoming more aware of the value of handmade and buying direct from the artist.
That sounds familiar to me in England too. Is it only the old people who still use the old crafts like knitting and crochet or are the young beginning to want to learn? Handcrafting things is also becoming very popular in Belgium these days - you can tell by the number of workshops that are given by craftspeople. As opposed to a couple of years ago, you see many young professional women getting together to learn to make things - it is an excellent way to relax and to meet new friends. And there is of course nothing so rewarding to say 'i made it myself' when you get a compliment on something you wear :)
Ooo, I agree. My crochet classes are always full of lawyers, media professionals, working mums and people who just want to meet up with like-minded ones.
Do you have wonderful shops to buy your supplies? I love the Hexagoon in Leuven (i blogged about it as well), and i get some supplies on and, but it is only for professionals (and so is the website). And than I find some of my supplies all over the world.
Tell me a little about your business on the internet. I started a wholesale jewelry line 11 years ago - selling my jewelry to stores here in Belgium, as a second profession. But the thing with that is that you have to make each necklace a number of times, and I was so sick of that. I had no inspiration left. I actually had decided to stop doing this and than i accidentaly stumbled on Etsy and the rest is history as they say. Now, through my shop on Etsy I can focus more on my felting and one making creatings only in limited numbers - that is so much more rewarding!
I also opened a website in dutch last month, for my belgian customers. Needless to say I'm really enjoying myself these days (and actually started working only part-time in spring so I could devote more time to crafting).
Those websites combine two of my favourite things: handcrafting items and selling directly to people. I'm a 'peoplesperson' and I hold my customers in very high regard. The people on Etsy are so lovable and nice. The atmosphere on Etsy all together is just excellent!
That's so great to hear and should give lots of people inspiration to start up their own businesses!
I know some people say you should choose one (craft)medium and stay with it. I just cannot do that - there are so many things I love to learn and make that I just mix it: making felt scarves, silver jewelry, enamel jewelry. I'm very excited to start a textile arts training in September, where we will learn to work with many different media in textiles.
Finally, who are your favourite designers?
Lotta jansdotter: I love her simple designs
- the bold designs by marimekko:
- Maria at Kjoo with her crochet and felted wearable art on Etsy: that's interesting, we're visiting her this month!!!
- the gorgeous designs by this nice lady, Veerle (hah hah, we're chatting to her too about fashion in the autumn!!) at nevousinstallezpas And i get very much inspired by travelling around the world and seeing what is happening everywhere - i usually blog about that too. Maybe that is my greatest inspiration: looking at the world - it's colours, materials and vibes and trying to translate that in the things I make.
Karlita, thank you so much for chatting about your country, it's lively creative scene at museums, galleries, shops and so on. Your work is fantastic and inspiring and I look forward to maybe featuring your work more fully on chaincreative in the future. Until then, have a great summer and make lots and lots of beautiful things.
Now I must leave these wonderful chocolates and pastries and pack my bags for the next chaincreative destination.


Anonymous said...

that first photo was a show stopper for me! i can't get past it to read the rest! wow! okay...i'm getting back to it...

cheers to you,

karlita said...

Hi Bee, thanks for the interview - it was an honour for me to do! Can't wait to read about the other places you will be visiting!

Bee Creative said...

Thank you both!!! I really enjoyed looking for pics and writing the story. The other visits will be just as fun i hope

Anonymous said...

what a great interview, I already wanted to visit Belgium, but now I want to go right now! Better start saving my pennies for all those great shops!

Greet said...

Wow Karlita, that was a nice and interesting chat, I really need to go toHexagoon, I heard a lot of good things of it, and the Miat is also one of my fav's!!!