Sara Sherriff from Wildwood will be hosting workshops at the Country Living Fair in London tutoring visitors on how to make a tiny festive fairy. We caught up with the Sara to hear more about her business and her beautiful designs.
I make and sell hand sewn cloth dolls, Christmas Tree Fairies and create your own doll/ fairy kits.
How did it all start?
I started about 15 years ago. I went to the Fairy Fair in North Norfolk with my little daughter and decided I would like a stall there the next year. I made magic wands, fairy dust and tiny little fairies attached to a stick for children to play with. They sold very well.
The Story behind the name…
Wildwood Hall is the name of an imaginary grand house that has fallen into disrepair. The only person living there, Lady Wilhelmina, has always loved to sew. She no longer hosts fine dinner parties or attends balls like she had to when she was young. Instead she chops up the luxurious curtains hanging in the hall, old silk ball gowns and the disused French linen tablecloths to make her creations. She leaves her handmade dolls, fairies and wands on the doorsteps of anyone in the village who is having a hard time.
Where are you based?
Norfolk. I have a log cabin workshop in my back garden.
What inspires you?
I am inspired by lots of things including… the photographs of Tim Walker, films by Tim Burton, and Classic Children’s stories, like Peter Pan and the Wizard of Oz.
What is your creation process?
I usually imagine a collection of dolls before beginning to sketch them and work out how to go about creating them, what fabrics to use etc. I then start collecting cloth and other bits and pieces together in in a ‘incubation’ box. When the time comes, I make the dolls from the things I’ve collected in the box.
What makes your product unique?
Each doll I make is totally unique, I do not work from set patterns and change things all the time. I also only use natural fabrics, like linen, silk and real wool (with the exception of tulle – which is synthetic.)
The cloth dolls I make have a wire spine, which means that although they look delicate, they are quite robust and have plenty of backbone!
What is your next project?
My next project is to design a kit for people to make their own heirloom Christmas Tree Fairy.
What are your plans for the next 12 months?
I am working on some extra-large mannequin dolls, more doll kits, as well as finishing the doll making book I’ve been working on.
What is your biggest achievement?
I’ve had some really exciting commissions, including a character doll for an ad campaign, and a collection of dolls for the presenters of Good Morning Britain.
What is your best-selling product?
Probably my heirloom Christmas Tree Fairy.
What do you love about Country Living Fairs?
You meet such lovely people there, and it is a brilliant way to kick off your Christmas shopping. It’s also really nice to go back to Islington, where I grew up.
Your three top tips for crafters and makers.
– Try lots of different crafts.
– If you find one craft, you love really explore it and see where it takes you.
– Try to finish things even if you don’t love it. You will learn something from doing it, and it’s dispiriting to have lots of half-finished things about.
Any advice for fledgling businesses…
– If want to sell your creations at a fair, visit different fairs and see who the customers are, and what else is sold there before booking. You need to make sure the fair you choose suits the products you are making.
– If your products do not sell well at a fair, it doesn’t mean that that there’s a problem with what you’ve made, its probably that the right customers for your product do not go to that fair.
– Ask for advice from people who seem to be doing what you’d like to do.