ARTIST

HELEN BUTCHER


BIOGRAPHY

I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t making something. As a young child my greatest joy was the ‘useful box’ which lived in the cupboard under the stairs and was the repository for empty egg boxes, cereal packets and yogurt pots, all fantastic stuff to feed a creative mind, and a early form of recycling! The best gifts at that time were pens, sticky tape and glue. My childhood idea of heaven would definitely have included, the then unattainable, double-sided tape, as used on Blue Peter.

When I was seven my Grandmother taught me to sew and opened my mind to a whole new avenue of creative expression. I designed and made my first full size cross-stitch sampler before I was nine, and made various garments for my dolls and bears and eventually myself, creating my own patterns by the simple method of lying on the floor and drawing round myself, much to the amusement of my Mother & Grandmother – both accomplished dressmakers. I did eventually learn to follow commercial patterns, but since then have gone right through and out the other side and have spent many years creating simple fancy dress costumes for family and friends.

Under the auspices of an enlightened and forward thinking local Scout leader I had the opportunity at eleven to join Scouts and that was where I started a life-long love affair with all things nautical. I learnt to row, canoe, sail and drive a power boat and, after some years, met my future partner. Scouting, the friendships made therein, and the ideals behind it, continue to be a big part of our lives today.

I am very lucky to have parents who, although they are both extemely academic, understand the creative imperative and encoraged me to follow my dream to study art. I thoroughly enjoyed the varied disciplines of a foundation diploma, but could see that graphic design was a more commercially viable career choice. Thanks to the excellent HND Graphics course and fantstic tutors at Salisbury College, I already had a job before I had finished there. I worked in graphics, and then artvertising, for ten years, until my partner and I had the opportunity to quit the London rat-race and move to Yorkshire to run the family’s marina business.

While working in London, and the early part of our time in Yorkshire I did very little in the creative line except dressmaking and Christmas cards. My wilderness years: holidays were spend sailing not sewing, spare time and energy were taken up renovating a 1930s house, then running a business. I missed crafting, but didn’t know quite which way to go. I was given a kick start back into action by a Yorkshre friend (bless you , Linda) who asked me to put in some craft entries for the Epworth Show of which she had just become secretary. I was like a dam burst, and I was off again. As Linda expanded the list of classes in the handicrafts section of the show, so I was encouraged to try new things. I got an immense amount of satisfaction teaching myself patchwork, quilting, beading, origami, marquetry, doll making and canvaswork. I discovered that, not only do I love crafting and the challenge of learning something new, I also had a hitherto undiscovered competitive streak deep inside which prompted me to hone these new skills to the point where I regularly won the classes I entered, as well as the Championship Cup which was awarded for ‘most points gained in the handicrafts section’.

Fifteen years later and another complete change of direction saw us moving to South Norfolk to live on our boat. But what to do? I didn’t particularly what to go back to working for someone else. Although running our own business had been stressful and hard work, it had given me a certain amount of freedom which I would lose by returning to the 9-to-5 grind. It was then I decided to combine my experience of running a business with my enduring passion and start crafting for a living. I knew it would be tough to begin with, but I am blessed with a very supportive partner. So here starts a new journey, a new and, for me, exciting part of the story LITTLE PATCH POCKETS.