Tuesday, 8 September 2009

Jemma Kamara

We love Jemma Kamara! By day she's helping to make the magic happen at Aardman Animations and by night she's crafting presents and teaching her friends to knit. We were so excited to hear that she's working on an entry for the Couture Contest so we caught up with her for a chat...

Name: Jemma Kamara

Home town: I grew up in Portsmouth and Southampton, I now live in Bristol.
Tell us a bit about your day job...
Well, I’m lucky enough to work for Aardman Animations. I’m surrounded by a whole heap of very talented creative individuals who make beautiful things every day. I work in the Digital department as the Web Production Assistant, which basically means I keep the Creatives organised (Gavin Strange a.k.a. Jamfactory, and Dan Efergan, our Creative Director) and dabble in the production of little websites and flash games. I do feel very privileged indeed, and there’s rarely a day that I don’t look forward to going to work (cheesy I know!).

Lots of people enjoy crafting in their spare time as an escape from a not-so-creative day job but you spend your days surrounded by creativity! Do you get inspiration from the people you work with for your crafting projects?
I think it would be hard not to be inspired where I work, but mostly I feel very humbled. My work always seems quite mediocre compared to everything I see around me! Seeing the props and models for shows such as Wallace and Gromit and Timmy Time is incredibly inspiring, and closer to what I do. You would not believe how beautiful the props are in real life, and all of them are handmade to the most intricate level of detail. Above all though, working in a creative digital team, I get exposed to beautiful things all the time from jawdropping light displays from the AntiVJ's to gorgeous goco prints from Peskimo, to the latest treats cirulated on Twitter.

Tell us about stuff you’ve made recently...
In preparation for Winter, I’m working on long mitted fingerless gloves, inspired by the Twilight Bella Mittens that are doing the rounds in the knitting world at the moment. They're made out of this gorgeous rustic tweed that I found in Truoro. I couldn't find a pattern for what I had in mind so I've modified a basic glove pattern and added a cable plait that runs up the front of the mitt.
This baby jumper was a gift for my friend soon to have her first baby. I chose quite a dark teal colour: I'm not a subscriber to the pale blue/pink/lemon colour pallette that babyknits seem to always be in. The jumper has lovely little wooden buttons with black polkadots and a moss stitch band around the collar and cuffs - my favourite stitch, I love how sturdy and textured it looks.
I’ve also recently made a knitted cupcake doorstop, filled with pennies in a plant pot for extra weight.

I sell my sock monkeys to friends and colleagues: the most recent of which was made as a birthday present for a 4 year old, although his mother very swiftly commandeered it as her own.
Are you completely self-taught or have you ever taken courses in crafting or sewing?
My Nan taught my brother, my sister and myself to knit when we were younger, mostly to keep us occupied when we went to stay, but I didn’t pick it back up until a couple of years ago. We would also play with my Nan's huge collection of buttons, that interest has never waivered, and now I have my very own extensive collection! I decided I wanted to learn to knit again a couple of years ago when a friend showed me a Kimono she had knitted herself. From there I had a beginners knitting book and I taught myself the basics; anything I didn’t know how to do I learnt from blogs and online videos. I'm still quite an amateur when it comes to sewing but I'm constantly trying to make things I don't know how to, and so I make myself learn pretty quickly.
Have you finalised your design for your Momiji doll? Where are you finding your inspiration?
Haha, no actually! I have lots of snippets of ideas but not a single cohesive concept that I'm happy with yet. Although I have started to collect supplies (although in all honesty, the contest has given me an excuse to buy pretty things for my stash). The ideas I've had have been inspired by many things, from my favourite fashion trends to the print on a piece of vintage fabric I've found. Too many to decide on what to go with, in fact!
Are there any areas of crafting that you’d like to try but haven’t got round to yet?
Oh yes, so many. Closest to my own skills I guess would be embroidary, dressmaking and upholstery, but I'd also love to work with metal, wood and ceramics. I love the delicacy of working with fabric, but there's something very appealling about the more rugged, industrial crafts as well. In fact there is little in terms of crafts that I wouldn't want to try (bar modelmaking, I admire this greatly from afar but am very clear that I have absolutely no skill in it myself!)

How often do you sew? Is it something you have to do every day or do you start projects sporadically?
I knit pretty much every evening, and will usually start a new project within a day or two of completing the last one. I feel a bit useless and wasteful if I'm not doing something with my hands, I can't just sit and watch a film without sewing or knitting at the same time. I always finish a project before starting the next as well; I'm an impatient crafter, I want to see the end result as quickly as possible. Most of my projects are intended as gifts, so what I make is really dependent on the next birthday, newborn or housemove.
Im gradually converting my colleagues into knitters so we get together and knit most lunchtimes. It's very satisfying to teach another person your craft, I feel like a proud mama when they come in to work and show me their progress!

What are your favourite blogs?
I have many favourite blogs, from craft to fashion, design to food. So to name but a few: So Tread Softly http://sotreadsoftly.typepad.com/so_tread_softly/ is a beautiful, gentle blog that always calms me when I read it. I love the fashion blog from Susie Bubble http://stylebubble.typepad.com/ she has such incredible style. There’s excellent taste over at http://www.designspongeonline.com/ and typography porn at http://ilovetypography.com/. My favourite food blog is Delicious Days http://www.deliciousdays.com/ gorgeous, inspiring and very well written.

And your final word? Thanks Momiji HQ for letting me blabber on, and good luck and happy crafting to all those taking part in the Couture contest - I can't wait to see the final pieces.


  1. We're having trouble getting this to align nicely. Is it us? Or is blogger.com a bit rubbish? Any handy hints would be welcome! We did try and straighten it out but we just wanted to share Jemma's Q&A with you right away! Please pardon our wonkiness.

  2. Thanks guys! glad you like :)

  3. jemma you are amazing at what you do!!! and extremely creative. i have been you doll ideas and they all great! from your little sis x