Welcome to the sixth installment of The Handmade’s Tale! This week Natasha meets British-based jewellery maker, Little M Creates.
Ever hankered for a brooch featuring Vladmir Tretchikoff’s iconic green lady? Or fancy having Bette Davis’ terrifying visage (circa What Happened to Baby Jane?) swinging from your earlobes?
If quirky statement jewellery is up your alley, you’ll be hooked on the whimsical creations of Michasia Stevens aka ‘Mimi’ of Little M Creates.
The UK-based jewellery queen describes her style as “DIY punk meets drag queen” and her aesthetic’s all about camp kitsch for pop culture junkies!
“[My jewellery] is unisex, inexpensive and most importantly fun! I like to think that whenever someone wears one of my pieces they are smiling and having a bit of nostalgia trip!”
Mimi, who graduated from Plymouth College of Art in 2009 with a BA Hons fashion degree, has always loved fashion and is a self-confessed magpie.
The crazy cat lady (with no cats) loves nothing better than raiding charity shops for bargains, “honestly my house is full of figurines and random bits that take ages to dust!”
Read on to find out more!
How long have you been making jewellery? Were you always creative/ crafty as a youngster?
I’ve been making jewellery for as long as I can remember, me and my sisters were always very crafty growing up, we had a cupboard full of paper, pens and other bits and pieces and could usually be found drawing things or doing random projects.
Originally fashion was always my thing, I was always designing and graduated with a BA Hons fashion degree in 2009 but never ended up pursuing it further as I kinda lost the passion and have no patience.
I’ve been making jewellery for a living for three years now which I still find quite unbelievable as I never imagined that it would take off like it has!
How would you describe your aesthetic?
My aesthetic is camp kitsch for lovers of pop culture! Its unisex, inexpensive and most importantly fun! I like to think that whenever someone wears one of my pieces they are smiling and having a bit of nostalgia trip!
Why the fascination with glitter?
I just think glitter is fun! It’s a bit of a childish throwback and it makes the details in the drawings pop against different fabric so its functional too!
What are your creative inspirations?
I mostly draw on the old TV shows and movies my Dad used to make us watch; things like Hi-de-Hi, Dad’s Army, Allo Allo and Some Mothers Do ‘Ave ‘Em which I think I hated at first but really learnt to love.
I’ve always loved ’70s and ’80s music too so that turns out some great ideas!
How has your taste and work evolved over time?
I think the quality and size of my drawing has evolved, at first my pieces where simple block style but I’ve been getting better at mixing in more detail recently.
As with anything you learn as you go along and learn better processes/products to use. I think my confidence has grown too and I’m less afraid to try out new ideas.
I’m very lucky to have some great friends on Instagram that are always suggesting characters so they widen my horizons when it comes to new character ideas.
What’s the first piece you remember making?
Oh, I love this story..and its basically how Little M started! My friend Debbie was having a really tough time with things and I wanted to do something to cheer her up, because no one likes seeing their bestie upset.
Anyway, I happened to have some shrink plastic in my crafty bits so I decided to make her a pair Chas and Dave earrings (she’s a massive fan) as a bit of a joke to make her laugh, she posted a picture on Instagram and I got people asking if I could make them a set, she then gave me counter space in her vintage shop and it escalated from there!
Are you mainly making brooches or do you make other pieces as well?
I make necklaces and earrings too, but brooches sell the most, I think its because they are so easy to wear.
It’s so easy to add a brooch to an outfit and I know lots of people who find earrings harder to wear so I always make the characters available in all styles so they can choose which one they prefer.
A sneaky hint too is brooch converters! that way you get a brooch and a necklace in one!
What are your top sellers?
I get phases where certain characters are popular but steady top sellers are Rik and Vyv from the Young Ones, Patsy and Eddie from Absolutely Fabulous and Bette Davis from Whatever happened to Baby Jane?
I think it’s because they are such iconic faces and they are known and loved around the world.
Are the majority of orders custom made/ one offs?
I’ve found that custom orders are becoming a very important part of my business and the amount I do has increased since I started.
I genuinely love doing them too because most of the time they are people I’d never think of doing or people I’d never heard of so I end up learning something new!
I branched into portrait pieces and have even made a necklace to commemorate someones beloved dog which was a massive honor, to be asked to make something that important really did mean a lot to me.
Tell me about the process involved in making Little M pieces. What materials do you use? And how long does each piece take to make?
Each piece varies in time and is totally dependent on the size and detail. Simpler monochrome designs take about an hour plus drying time for the resin, or the colourful pieces it takes about two, the glittering and filing stages are probably the most time consuming bits.
The initial drawing stage takes a while but once I have that done its simply a case of tracing it onto the plastic sheets and adding all the detail, I think its this that makes my work so unique because I can vary each design or add different details so that no two pieces are ever identical.
Custom designs usually take a lot longer because I research the character, find out if the buyer has a favourite image and send regular updates until they are totally happy with the finished result.
What do you enjoy most about what you do?
It sounds really sappy but I love that people enjoy what I do and buy it! I never imagined that I’d have my own business and make so many friends in the process so that really is the best feeling in the world!
What do you do when you’re not making things?
I am such a crazy cat lady (with no cats) and love nothing better than raiding charity shops for bargains, honestly my house is full of figurines and random bits that take ages to dust!
I have a Sunday job working at my friends vintage shop in Margate which I absolutely love because I’m surrounded by beautiful clothes and accessories , it keeps me sociable and she stocks my pieces!
Where can people learn more about your work and purchase their own pieces?
I have an Etsy shop www.etsy.com/uk/shop/littleMclothing where you can find all of my designs and also enquire about custom orders.
If you are in the Kent area you can find me at Madam Popoff Vintage in Margate or at Made in Ashford which is a pop up shop for makers in Ashford.
You can also find me on Instagram @little-m-creates