One of the exciting things about the In Conversation With.. articles is being able to showcase the diversity of brilliant tea towel designers; diversity in terms of style, inspiration, subject matter and use of colour.
I met Clare Baird at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 2017. If you go to the Fringe Festival, and want to see a lot of shows, it does involve quite a lot of walking, from venue to venue, often traversing the Royal Mile. There are always loads of people on the Royal Mile, that you have to fight your way through, people who are stood stock-still, looking lost or people gathered around street performers. Around St Giles Cathedral are always some small craft booths, different ones on each day. One day, I was walking up the Royal Mile, looking forward to a One Bowl Wonder at the Friends Meeting House; but I was distracted by Clare Baird’s Booth. I can spot a tea towel at a hundred yards; I saw her Red Squirrel, peeking cleverly from around the edge of her stall. I was delighted to see a stall with so many beautiful tea towels. I had to be strong and restrict myself to just one – the Red Squirrel (www.myteatowels.wordpress.com, Blog dated 25 August 2017) but it was a difficult choice.
I knew at that point I would have to invite Clare to take part in In Conversation With… The problem with interviewing lone artists is the pressure they are under managing all aspects of their work so I am delighted now, a few months later, to be able to present Clare Baird!
”I would probably describe myself as an artist, my work touches a little on illustration but I think it has a stronger sense of fine art and photo realism than illustrative creative works”. When I showed Lyra, aged 7 years and one week, some pictures of Clare’s work she said ”Wow. They are really cool. They look pretty much like real. I’ve seen one of those birds (pheasant) running across the road. They can’t be tea towels, they are like pictures”. Lyra is clearly an art critic in the making
Clare went on to say ”I have always loved creating. From an early age I’ve been interested in all things creative. I studied Art and Design Technology at A Level but outside school I was already designing, manufacturing and marketing my own range of creative wares. This lead me to study Fashion Design at Edinburgh College of Art where I learnt many valuable skills and developed my love of fabrics.”
”I work for myself. I first started selling my designs whilst at Edinburgh College of Art at a market stall during the Edinburgh Fringe. I now predominantly sell to Trade, where a range of small independent gift shops and larger retailers display and market my products. I also sell through my website (see below) and online retailers e.g. Etsy ClareBairdDesigns. I currently have a range of 20 tea towel designs and I am in the studio working on a new and exciting collection to launch in January next year”.
I wanted to know if Clare had a favourite tea towel design. ”I think my favourite has to be the Highland Cow, with it’s Scottish ‘imagery’. I hope this design captures all the elements I want to achieve as a designer – strength, energy and colour – a definite favourite of many of my customers”.
”I would describe my business as one of the most important things in my life, along with my family and friends. I am passionate about producing quality products which customers will love, as I do. My biggest challenge is that I am a perfectionist, always wanting to do everything to the best of my ability – not always possible whilst managing all the elements of a business. But from an early age, I have always wanted to run my own business”.
What inspires Clare, I wondered. “I work from a converted barn, in a small neighbouring village. I am surrounded by beautiful countryside with much wildlife which is great inspiration”.
And the future? “To develop my Brand by generating new collections and increasing my range of bespoke work for the world wide market. I would love to travel more with more with my work and use the research and inspiration to create future collections”.
If I was to ask myself what my favourite design of Clare’s is (can’t count the Red Squirrel), it has to be either the Highland Stag or the Robin (because it does so capture the essence of Christmas).
Clare’s designs do translate to coasters, mugs, cushions and greeting cards. It is certainly worth looking at her website for ideas for Christmas. After all, who can resist a Christmas Robin? Thank you Clare for giving up your time for the Virtual Tea Towel Museum.