Featured Member Interview: Bella Cooke

Are you after something with a distinctly Melbourne feel to decorate your space? Or are you wanting great day out at a fabulous market, Bella Cooke from Make Merry has you covered! Welcome Bella as our featured member on the CWC blog this month.

What do you create? Currently in the studio my work is print based either in the form of home ware textiles or travel inspired posters. Out of the studio I created and run two craft and vintage focused markets: The Little Village Market in Elwood and the Bank Street Market in South Melbourne.

Have you done training in your creative field or has it come about informally? I have always considered myself  a Jill-of-all-trades when it comes to all things creative. Even though I have a background and formal training in Fine and Visual Arts I have always felt more comfortable in Camp Craft and as such have embraced all things handmade with a design focus. Informally I learnt how to organize events and corral large groups of people after being a Secondary Teacher for many years. Nothing like a 4-day hike in the bush with a group of unpredictable teenagers girls to teach you how to improvise, make do and make it home alive!

What are your main creative inspirations? Colour, pattern, flowers, textures and typography. I am also inspired by the hard work and risks other creative’s take, as they spur me on to be bold and brave.

How do you balance your creative projects with the administration aspect of  your creative work? Lists, lists and more lists! It has taken me a while to be one of those "organised people" and now I am able to keep track of what projects I have on the boil without losing my cool or bursting into tears in front of the sales guy at Office Works! Sporty Spice I am not, but being able to keep all my balls in the air and having a spare hand to pick up another project is like an adrenalin sport for me and I thrive on it. I am at my happiest when I am flat strap and as busy as hell, but find that my best work emerges under the greatest pressure as I simply don't have time to contemplate it for too long.

What do you do when you experience a creative block? Am not proud to say it, but I am an incredibly impatient person. When I find myself stumbling around an idea and becoming frustrated, time is of the essence to clear the blockage and I will either hit the streets with my camera, race off to the nearest flea market or do random image searches on the internet. All it takes is a great colour combination or a beautiful texture to jolt me back into action and feeling spirited again. My more guilty creative pleasure is escaping into the world of pay-tv that we got rigged up at home last year. Television may be the opiate of the masses but who can resist the endless design, travel and cooking shows that whisk me away from my couch in Elwood to the streets of New York or to a two donkey village in Mexico? The cable that runs from the back of our set, through the wall and up to the satellite dish on the roof is my lifeline to faraway lands.

What future goals do you have for your creative pursuits? Ideally I would like to develop Make Merry and all it encompasses into being more than a "hobby that pays" into a grown up girls business all of my own. I am having so much fun with running the markets and producing items for Make Merry at Home that I am creatively content with the goals being kicked at the moment.

Thanks for sharing your creativity today Bella! You can find out more about Bella & Make Merry here: Shop: www.makemerry.bigcartel.com Website: www.bellacooke.com

Roslyn Russell is a sewist, blogger and teacher. Her blog, Sew Delicious, is where she showcases her latest projects, designs and sewing tutorials.  Roslyn also enjoys cake baking and decorating, exploring Melbourne cafes and restaurants, and hunting through op-shops for vintage sewing and kitchen treasures.