Sunday, February 2, 2014

SPECIAL POST! TINY PURSES, BIG STYLE: Interview with Janet Granger, Dollshouse Embroidery Kits

Interview with Janet Granger, Dollshouse Embroidery Kits
By Wendy Dager

            When UK resident Janet Granger quit her unexciting library job in 1996, she had no idea that merging her embroidery skills with her love of all things miniature would lead her to create a business that has acquired enthusiastic patrons the world over.
            Dollshouse Embroidery Kits from Janet Granger is located at her residence in the lovely countryside of the Peak District in the middle of England.
            “I have always run the business from my home,” said Janet. “I have no wish to expand so that I have to go out to work each day—I love the flexibility of being able to mix my work and home life how I choose.”

            Fellow aficionados of dollhouse miniatures can easily go online to purchase Janet’s designs, including an array of carpets, wall hangings, bell pulls, cushions, samplers, fire screens, chairs and Christmas stockings. For vintage purse lovers, Janet has offered a selection of exquisite miniature needlepoint handbag kits since September 2012.

            “I had been thinking of doing handbag kits for several years, but I had to spend some time working out the best way to assemble them, and that took a long time to get around to,” said Janet. “But they have been my most popular line in the whole history of my business!”
            The kits, which consist of everything a crafter needs to make his or her own needlepoint bags, have romantic names including Berlin Woolwork, Delicate Flowers, Elegant Peacock, Jazz Age, Jewel, Pansies, Rose Reticule and Shell Pink.
            “They are all my own needlepoint designs, but I base them on ‘real’ bags that I have seen—either online, or in museums, or ones that I own,” said Janet. “But the process of ‘smalling down’ means that sometimes even I don’t recognise the finished design from the one I started with.”
Janet explains that it is necessary to implement a number of strategic design decisions during the process of miniaturizing such items.
 “There has to be only a limited number of colours in any design, as slight colour differences simply get lost at this scale,” she said. “Also, perspective can be a problem when there is only a limited number of stitches to fit the design in, so I tend to design fairly simple motifs.”

Her goal is to make the designs as easy as possible for the customer to satisfactorily complete the kits. Some customers own dollhouses, or are making a gift for a dollhouse owner. Often, the scale size replica owned by a client is a “Victorian ladies emporium,” requiring numerous purses in order to create an elegant—but miniaturized—window display. Janet conveniently offers the option of purchasing a set of eight handbag kits, in addition to individual kits on her user-friendly website, which receives hits from all over the world.
      “Websites are international, and so are my customers,” she said. “I sell a lot to Scandinavia, where the dollhouse hobby is very strong, especially in Finland. I also send a lot to the USA, and to Australia.”
            Although the purses are very small, Janet says they are not difficult to make, even for the novice. Needlepoint is akin to doing a half cross-stitch, which is fairly simple. The fabric is silk gauze, and the stitching is worked on silk gauze mounted in a card with an aperture, with the gauze taped to keep it taut.
“If you work in a good light, the holes are easy to see, and the stitching itself is easy,” said Janet. “You just count off the stitches from a colour block chart.”
She also offers a series of free online tutorials on her website, with exact instructions.
Even more wonderful news for those who love these gorgeous, vintage-look tiny purses is that Janet has added a different style of bag to her repertoire.

            “The original eight handbag kits have been so popular, that it has made me think of other types of bag design that could be done ‘small,’ so on February 1, 2014, I launched a new set of six clutch bags, so that people with a serious bag habit can now add to their collection,” said Janet.
Currently, she is considering creating a line of carpet bags, and those who share an avid appreciation for these miniatures have no doubt that they will be well-received.
            For more information: Janet Granger Designs, Rose Cottage, Leek Road, Waterhouses, Staffordshire, ST10 3JS England, Tel 00 44 1538 308860. Email: Website: Blog: Facebook: Pinterest: 
—Special thanks to Janet Granger for the interview and for sharing her beautiful purses with our readers. Photos used with permission of Janet Granger.

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