After admiring Fleur de Carotte’s creations on Instagram and running into the designer/maker behind the brand at one of the Brighton Etsy team’s wonderful market events, we got to know her a little better. Currently based in Brighton, one of our favourite places in the world, Amandine Vandebeulque, this creative’s real and rather lovely name, crafts handmade jewellery, clay objects and homewares using a range of interestingly sourced materials. Her work is bright, bold and captivating so we asked her to tell us more.
Tell us about yourself…
I am a Frenchie living in Brighton and I currently work part-time for my little handmade business called Fleur de Carotte which means carrot flower in French. I also work part-time in the further education sector. I love the sunshine which is lucky as Brighton is the sunniest place in the UK, art, literature, dancing and wine. I’m obsessed with Spain, Latin America and the colourful houses of Brighton – it’s even better if there’s a palm tree involved. I am unable to wake up early, although I did have to wake up at 5.45am every day for several years which was a torture, and I am more productive and creative in the evenings.
What’s your creative background? Tell us about your journey…
I studied literature and drama in France as part of my degree almost a decade ago, I’m old but young at heart, and then somehow ended up working as a secondary school foreign languages teacher in the UK. Leaving that job has been one of the best things ever as I decided to have a life again and focus more on my creativity.
I have no formal education in design or craft, I taught myself sewing, embroidery, leather work, jewellery making and ceramics. I did a few lessons in dressmaking, screen printing and pot throwing, but that’s where my art education stops. I am interested in all crafts, apart from knitting and crochet which drive me mad, and love experimenting with things at home. It ends up being costly because I move from buying litres of screenprinting fluid to litres of underglaze for ceramics!
I used to feel concerned by not having done a degree in Art but soon noticed that many craft business owners do not come from an art background, especially in the UK and US, which makes me feel better. I was also told by friends that not studying art is quite liberating because you can experiment without any pressure.
I used to make paper dolls with my sister and create toilet roll dressed for my real dolls which I drew on with felt tip pens. My mum is a painter who works with china and wood and my sister studied graphic design. She made my logo and business cards because I can basically only use Paint or Windows Live Gallery. I was massively into drama for years but my love for craft was revived when I arrived in the UK. I discovered that because of the language barrier I couldn’t practise drama so began focusing on being creative in other ways.
Describe your work for us; what does it explore?
My work is in constant evolution and it’s very eclectic. I spend my life hating the work I just made a month ago and looking forward to the new things I will make. Some people manage to have one aesthetic whereas I am trying to link a huge mix of everything. It all starts with a sketch; I have about 5 different sketchbooks going on at same time which I fill with wonky drawings, moving from one to another. When I first started making jewellery with leather and semi-precious stones, I was very influenced by Art Deco and Memphis design. I love the neat geometry of it and the colour combinations of pastel pink, black and gold.
What inspires you?
The internet kills my inspiration, don’t ask me why I have Pinterest, I pin stuff but never look at it. I rarely google anything but I have lots of books on design, fashion or illustration that I like to look through. I am inspired by animals; my phone is full of pictures of crocodiles and sharks, not of my boyfriend.
Most of my inspiration comes from when I go for a run or a swim, where I see bodies in action. I like to look at bodies in unusual situations and turn those into ceramics. I like working with faces too, for example with my brooches. They’re inspired by people I see on the street. My Brighton hipster brooch is based on the face of some hip guy I spotted in the North Laine. I liked his face, I turned him into a brooch; he will never know.
What’s your workspace like?
I’m lucky to have a huge living room and pay the lowest rent for my area in Brighton because I am a lucky girl. I have two work stations, one beautiful 1960’s bureau and a lovely yellow formica table. Many people have told me that my place is like a weird pop-up shop which I take as a compliment. It’s full of plants, handmade pots, woven wall hangings, rugs and mid century furniture. I love to make a mess so I’m not worried about screenprinting a batch of cushion covers at home but I’m also a tidy freak in some ways; each space needs its own allocated object and I bite if anyone dares moving anything. I use a space in my kitchen to lay out my ceramics work when it’s drying.
Tell us about the materials that you use and your sustainable ethos?
My leather jewellery is made with leather offcuts which I source from a local craftsman and I’ve also been given leather scraps by the ethical bags business What Daisy Did Next from a collaboration we did. I use bits and pieces from two jewellery businesses based in Brighton including one which has an absolute Fair Trade policy. All my jewellery making, screeprinting, ceramics supplies and tools come from Brighton or Sussex. If there’s something I can’t find around here, I just don’t won’t make the piece until I can find everything locally. The world is already pretty cluttered, as a tiny handmade brand the the least I can do to invest in local businesses.
What are you greatest influences as a creative?
My favourite artists are Raoul Dufy, Henri Matisse, Marc Chagall, Eric Ravilious and Pablo Picasso. They’re all from the Modernist era and most of them met in Paris in the 1920s and 1930s. I am really drawn to the art, literature and architecture from that era. It coincides with the Art Deco movement which influences the shapes and colour palettes of my leather, clay and semi-precious jewellery. In terms of contemporary influences I love the illustrator Laura Carlin because her drawings are full of energy and playfulness; they remind me of being a kid. I also admire Beatrice Alemagna and her mixed media work.
What are you working on at the moment?
I am preparing a new collection of ceramic planters to expand my collection based on inspiring historical women. I’ve already made Frida Kahlo and Louise Brooks and there are many incredible women in the pipeline, including Agatha Christie and Carmen Miranda. I’m also working on creating a set of cups with surprising characters or body parts at the bottom which is a more playful project. In other news I’ve recently been approached by Albert Mews Studio and my work will be available for sale there over the Artists Open Houses season. I also have some incredible shops that are looking into stocking my goods, so 2016 is already looking and sounding great for Fleur de Carotte!
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Words: Emily Beeson | @younggoldteeth