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31 Oct

Chatting with: Sausage Dog

We meet Harriet Godden of Sausage Dog in issue 8 of Crafty - so here's a little taster of what you can expect to see!

Issue 8 of Crafty is out on November 7th (not long to go, hope you're all excited!) and within its glorious pages we've got a studio tour and interview with designer-maker Harriet Godden, who runs the weird and wonderful Sausage Dog label out of a space in the Manchester Craft and Design Centre. We had such a good long chat with her that we couldn't fit it all in the magazine so here's what else we hobnobbed about. Get issue 8 to see even more of Harriet's amazing creations and read what else she had to say.

“I’m hoping to have an exhibition next year in Manchester. I’m looking into a few places – it’d be nice to have it at Castlefield Gallery but I might have to start out a bit smaller. I like the idea of the Crack Gallery or Nexus Art Cafe. I’m going to develop a body of work that I’m happy with, maybe eight or nine pieces and see what the galleries say and see if they’re interested.”

“The problem with Afflecks in the end was that a lot of the stuff in there wasn’t handmade so when it came to pricing, my prices were too high for in there. People didn’t really get it and were very surprised when they saw me making the toys. It was something you weren’t expecting, whereas here it is. Here I’ve got this beautiful top and lovely windows and it’s just set up for what I want to do. It’s £285 a month and then electricity on top, so it’s definitely reasonable. In Afflecks, I was paying 185 a week. You do get more people coming in but it doesn’t necessarily affect the sales. I’d sell a lot of small things and it’d be quite frustrating because I’d be constantly making all the little things and what I wanted to do was get stuck into a big project. Here people do spend money on the big things because they want to buy handmade stuff... it’s a lot more suited.”

“You’ve got to have your finances in order. It sounds really boring but applying for here I had to prepare a financial forecast and a business plan. I’d never done that before, I started part time so I sort of gradually developed into full time self-employment and it really helped to map out the next few years and know what you want to make out of it and how much money you need to make out of it as well. It helped because every week you can gauge whether you’re doing well or not and whether it’s working.”

“I do dream of characters, it does happen. Not a lot but sometimes. I made this incredibly cute kitten. The dream was there was this box and I opened it and there were kittens inside and one of them had a really big head and really big eyes and I was like, ‘woah that’s the weirdest thing I’ve ever seen’. But then when I woke up I was like ‘oh, I’m going to make that’. It has massive eyes and a massive head!”

“Nothing goes to waste – I really like recycled stuff and it’s quite fun when you buy a nice jumper from a charity shop and then just cut it up. It feels really satisfying somehow, but it wouldn’t feel so satisfying if it wasn’t going into something else.”

“I get here at about 10 which is when we open so usually I’m cutting it fine. I get a cup of tea, get everything ready, sort, tidy up, a little spruce and then I’ll usually have a plan in the week of what I want to make. If I’ve got something coming up like a show then I’ll have to make something for that or if I’ve got orders from my website then I’ve got that to do and also restocking the shop. I’ve always got a list of things I’ve not got in my shop that I’m trying to chip away at but I never get to that point where it’s all in there because I’ll sell more stuff.”

“I try and rotate between painting and making toys. Unfortunately the painting takes a bit of a backseat to toys because they’re a bit more instant and products that are cheap to buy or fairly cheap and they sell a lot more. That’s my bread and butter. I think at the moment I’d say I prefer painting because I’m not getting a chance to do it that often but then if I paint all the time I’d be like I really want to make something 3D. Making 3D stuff and painting is quite different and to have those two side by side is what fulfils me as an artist and not doing one of them I’d feel like I was missing something.”

“We can stay as long as we want. You could stay all night. Sometimes if I’m absorbed in something I don’t really notice the time going and it’s quite nice when everyone’s gone and it’s all quiet and a bit spooky. I like it, it’s nice to have that sort of solitude really, it’s not very often you get it. When there’s no one here but you, it’s really good.”

“A lot of people don’t really look in the studio that much and then some people are more interested in what’s going on, which is great and it’s good that not everyone’s interested in what’s going in here because I’d spend all day having those conversations but I do like to engage customers in the painting and how I make stuff so it breaks the day up quite nicely, having a little chat with people as they come in. But most people come in going “wow! What’s all this? Look at this, look at this, look at this!” They’re just really positive and it’s nice to sit and watch people respond in that way to my stuff.”

Issue 8 of Crafty is out on November 7th, in all major supermarkets, WH Smith, Hobbycraft, independent retailers and at moremags.com

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