Tamara Maynes
​Tamara Maynes is craft's undisputed queen. She has been resurrecting age-old crafting techniques for the past decade and reinvigorating them with her own meticulous aesthetic to a new audience.

With several book titles and hundreds of projects published in print and online, she democratises design so that others can take advantage of her skill and enjoy the process themselves. This democratic approach along with her tendency to re-use and ability to see beauty in the discarded is what makes her a supercycler.

Tamara's  Quilt Light is a part of the SOS supercycle our souls exhibition - and the template is downloadable here. It can be placed on any flat, stiff material, discarded or otherwise, traced out and folded up following the instructions to create your own version of Tamara's

Tamara Maynes, give us a brief history of your career in design/craft so far - did you go to design school?

My career in design and craft has unravelled pretty organically over the last twenty years. With no formal training in design it has been a hands-on journey which has taken me from an early career in signwriting, into fashion design and production, product design and development and more recently craft design. I prefer to develop my work through experience, believing as a result my designs have more to offer in terms of practicality. Having said that I would have preferred to avoid some of the mistakes I've made which could be the case had I spent some time at design school!

Where do you think your interest and passion for folk arts comes from?

My interest in and passion for folk arts or 'homespun' crafts is definitely born of my childhood environment and era, and inherited from generations of artists, craftspeople and makers. I physically made alongside my parents and grandparents and picked up the skill and techniques they acquired from their parents and grandparents. Growing up on a farming property with exposure to certain tools and materials was an incubator for my interest, giving me particular resources to explore and others to find alternatives for. Alongside the abundance of and celebration for folk arts in the 1970's when I first started making this allowed me to acknowledge the great value, meaning and decorative power in these simple craft practices. I connect deeply with and feel influenced by uncomplicated raw materials such as a skein of thread. 

You share your ideas for making your designs - creating your own flavour of work and then offering it to others to make their own? Why do this and not just make your own finished products.

I previously spent many years focusing on making my own finished products but it left me with a sense of isolation. I do still spend a portion of my time making one-off and limited edition finished products but find much more satisfaction in offering my work as a suggestion for others to complete. I can only put it down to an attempt at recreating my childhood experience of sharing work and making alongside my family. I enjoy imagining the future of my kits or templates in the hands of a stranger, either beginners at the start of their own creative journey or accomplished artists filling another blank canvas. I also think this is why I get so much enjoyment out of teaching others to make.

You have always incorporated found and readymade pieces into your projects - especially those you create for Inside Out Magazine's Why Don't You? page. What drives this aspect of the work

I find incredible joy and challenge in being resourceful, it is a fulfilling part of the creative design process for me and one that again stems from my childhood environment. Also, building on or manipulating what already is is a pure and natural inclination for me. I don't ever feel inclined to throw anything away before first attempting to fix or better it to suit my needs or tastes. My regular project contributions to Inside Out Magazine are a wonderful opportunity for me to experience my love of re-designing existing objects and/or materials while encouraging readers to start looking at the things they consider throw-away as creative opportunites.

Your quilt light to me is the logical progression of your "kit" work - it gives a clever design which relates to your craftwork to anyone to personalise with the possibility of re-using waste - and it really does that supercycling thing of making something discarded or useless beautiful and useful will there be more of this type of work for you? 

I agree, the Quilt Light is a logical progression of my kits and one that allows me to delve further into my love for strong uncomplicated design that others can create from. Making it available purely as a downloadable template devoid of packaging, production waste and energies and suggesting the re-use of waste material is a development of my work I am proud of. The attention my Quilt Light has received is particularly encouraging and to expand on this would be a wonderful achievement for me... watch this space!