Originally from New Zealand, Monique of Little Lamp now lives and creates her adorable wearable sculptures in Vancouver’s Kitsilano neighborhood. Little Lamp sculptures are a perfect combination of silliness and artistic talent; I forgot to ask Monique about her eyesight but it must be extremely sharp to create such detailed work on the tiny objects! Her pieces echo her quirky style and sense of humor and they are also appropriate for all ages! Despite working multiple jobs, Monique was kind enough to take some time to talk with CAC about Little Lamp and offer a special giveaway of her best-selling item for our readers. Thanks, Monique!
Explain what you do in 5 words.
Quirky, colourful, cute wearable sculptures
Why the name Little Lamp?
When I started Little Lamp back in 2008, I was obsessed with those small colourful glass oil lamps, and initially used them as a logo. I coined my catchphrase ‘small sculptures to brighten your day’ as a link between these light-giving lamps and what I do. I like the fact that words ‘light’ and ‘bright’ have so many positive connotations.
What does your studio/work space look like?
It’s the kitchen table that I have well and truly taken over! We live in a beautiful light filled apartment in Kitsilano and I love spending days working there. I have stacks of plastic organizer boxes that I keep all of my materials stored in. Ideally I like to keep my workplace tidy as the mess clutters my mind, however I tend to go through waves of being pedantically organized to succumbing to the growing pile of clutter on the table.
Your shop focuses on polymer clay sculptures. What attracts you to that medium?
I first started working with polymer clay on a regular basis while I was teaching as an after school art tutor in New Zealand in 2007. Back then I was focusing on making jewelry by stitching pieces of felt, but as I began working with the clay, I loved its durability and how easy it was to achieve lots of detail. I also love how you can get some great colours when you mix different clays and how it retains its vibrancy over time.
What is the process you go through to make one of your products?
An idea for a piece generally arises pretty quickly. I don’t ever really sketch anything first (mainly due to my inability to draw) but sometimes I use images online to help me imagine the sculpture. Each piece takes anywhere from 10 and 60 minutes to create. Once I am happy with the design, I bake them in the oven for 10 minutes, allow time for them to cool and harden, attach each piece to a necklace chain, earring hook or brooch backing and voila, complete!
What is your most used or most important piece of equipment?
A very simple and common object: a needle. I use various sizes to shape and get different levels of detail.
How do you come up with your quirky designs?
Often I base ideas on a play on words (example: bows and arrows necklace). Other times I try to imagine what personality a particular animal may have and work from there. And then some ideas don’t have any direction at all and are just weird whimsical objects that tickle my fancy.
What artistic projects are you currently working on (either related or not related to Little Lamp)?
Currently I am working on a series of clay trophy heads to be attached to laser cut wooden shields. I’ve bought some gorgeous teak, which I can’t wait to mount with a range of unorthodox animal heads.
What is your dream project?
One day, most likely back home in New Zealand, my dream is to set up a full jewelry studio and start working with gold and silver. I would love to take a mixed media approach and use other mediums like wood, leather and ceramic as well. I get all excited and inspired when thinking about using these materials and the endless possibilities.
You are originally from New Zealand, what lead you to settle in Vancouver? And how has living in Vancouver influenced your artwork?
Vancouver attracted us as it suited our outdoorsy lifestyle and when the sun is out you can’t beat it here! I’ve really enjoyed taking part in the monthly BLIM markets and have lots of great feedback from them. The awesome response from Vancouverites has inspired me to continue growing and improving Little Lamp.
How does Vancouver’s craft scene compare to New Zealand’s craft scene?
What magazines and/or websites do you frequent for inspiration?
Etsy.com is my number one source of inspiration. It boggles my mind how many talented crafters are on there and how many people from all over the world explore it daily! I am always looking at other shops to get ideas on improving my own and it’s helped me become more professional. For inspiration when creating pieces that push the boundaries of traditional jewelry, I like quickly browsing through interior design magazines and at the accessories in funky online clothing stores. Colourlovers.com is a great website for getting trendy new colour combinations.
Do you have any favorite places in Vancouver to go for inspiration?
One of my favorite places to visit for inspiration is Granville Island. The Public Market there is jam-packed full of unique handmade crafts, creative gifts and artisan foods—it’s impossible not to feel inspired when walking through it! Despite visiting so many times, I am still finding new shops hidden in nooks and crannies on the island.
What are your 2012 goals for Little Lamp?
My goals for the year are to expand my Etsy shop so that it becomes more of a business than a hobby. It’s challenging when you have other jobs to juggle but I feel that in two years we’ve been here it has already come a long way. I’d like to develop Little Lamp to feature more eccentric pieces, including a wider range of earrings and brooches, and to venture into making rings, hair clips, fridge magnets and other household accessories.
Lastly, any art or business mistakes/advice you want to share with aspiring makers?
A good piece of advice I believe is to always look for new ways to improve. This does not only apply to the quality of products you make but in every aspect of shop keeping. If you have an online store, always look at ways to better your photography, your descriptions and the way you communicate with customers. A good quote I once read is “Motivation determines what you do, attitude determines how well you do it.” If you’re constantly looking for different ways to improve your business, you’ll soon reap the rewards. Also, keep it fun!
Little Lamp and CAC Magazine presents a Monthly Maker Giveaway!
Enter for your chance to win the popular ‘Ghost on a Swing’ necklace! One randomly selected CAC reader will become the lucky owner of this happy carefree ghost necklace.
Entries will close Friday July 20th, 5pm (Vancouver time). The winner will be contacted by Monique and announced by both Little Lamp and CAC.
Note: one entry per person and the giveaway is open worldwide.