Shannon Wright from Cuckoo For Coco specialises in handmade creations for little people. We talk to Shannon to find out more about her passion for art and how her creations have gone global.
>Tell us how you came to be an artist and what you create?
I never really considered myself an artist, my idea of what an artist is has always been a little old fashioned. But then I recently read this quote, “a person who works with his hands is a labourer, a person who works with his hands and his mind is a craftsman. But a person who works with his hands, mind and his heart is an artist.” So although never consciously setting out to become an artist I guess my love of creating beautiful things has led me there.
As for my creations, they are a varying lot and are growing rapidly! I have so many ideas, it’s just a matter of having the time to create them all.
Cuckoo For Coco was only officially launched towards the end of last year and already I have felt hair clips and hair clip holders, brooches, paper and felt mobiles, paper butterfly frames, paper collages set on wood, some cute little softie dolls and kids cushions on the product list.
But like I said, it is a list that will continue to grow as quickly as my little hands can work.
> Each item you make is handmade, what type of materials do you use and where do you source them?
I use a wide variety of materials and majority of these are sourced locally. I love to work with felt, tweed, vintage inspired cotton fabrics and vintage fabrics.
I also use a lot of specialty papers, cardstocks and children’s story books both new and vintage, the majority of these again being sourced locally. One range of cardstock I use for my mobiles though, the Amy Butler range, is particularly hard to find here in Australia so I get it from overseas.
To supply my customers with a product that is unique and to show people how beautiful handmade products can be is my ultimate goal.
> How long does it take to create a piece and how do you go about producing it?
The time it takes to create each piece varies a lot. Hair clips on one hand can be created quite easily in a short amount of time, but then something like my butterfly frames require a lot more work.
Each butterfly is delicately hand drawn and then hand cut before being pieced together in their frames. It’s very time consuming but the end result is stunning.
As for the process I use for production, I can’t say I really have one. I work pretty intuitively, usually making it up as I go along, and re-making it if it doesn’t work the first time. The one constant in my work is that most of it usually happens late at night when my son is asleep. It seems to be when most of my ideas arise as I can solely focus on my craft; during the day there are always other things that seem more urgent.
It’s funny, my grandmother was a fabric hoarder. She would buy fabric after fabric and stash them away in drawers … where most of them still remain to this day. I am the complete opposite and personally can’t understand why someone would do this.
Although I too find it hard to resist buying beautiful fabrics and papers, once I do, I can’t wait to dive in and create something from them … and usually without a great deal of planning! I am a self-taught creator and get bored very easily following patterns or having to make large quantities of the same thing.
> Where does your inspiration come from?
Inspiration can come from so many sources but I have to admit the majority of the time I will see a fabric or paper and automatically know what I want to create out of it, so I guess for me it’s the actual materials themselves that inspire me. Maybe this explains my creative process, or lack thereof!
> Do you have a favourite product?
To specify one of my items as being a favourite over another is hard, everything I create I really have to love or it doesn’t get added to the Cuckoo For Coco collection. I (along with most artists I’m sure) am my own toughest critic and only the best will do!
In saying this, some items are definitely proving to be more popular than others. My mobiles and butterfly frames are getting a lot of attention, I think the uniqueness of both of these products make them stand out.
Handmade is so popular right now and consumers are spoilt for choice when shopping for handmade, so I really try to focus on creating products that are individual to others that are on the market.
> Do your customers ask you to make special items?
I’ve had a lot of special requests from customers and happily take up each challenge. Sometimes a customer will have a specific colour scheme in mind or will want a certain material or paper to be used, and this is definitely something I can accommodate.
> What are you working on at the moment?
I have been really lucky in that, after only a short period, I am getting a lot of wholesale interest so wholesale orders have been taking up most of my time lately.
Currently I have an Australian stationery website stocking my butterfly frames, and have also just finished an order for a beautiful New Zealand based online boutique that will be up and running in about two weeks time.
They will be offering a really good selection of my products as well as a lot of other unique and handmade products from across the globe.
Within the next week or two I will also be starting an order from another major Australian children’s wear website. So it’s kind of – finish one order and start on the next for now, but I am not going to complain about that.
In between all of this I’m also working on customer orders that have been placed at the Artist Market, and making sure that my stock levels are up for the next market day.
> Do you have any advice for aspiring creators?
My advice would be to create with your heart but don’t ever lose heart. Patience, persistence and uniqueness will pay off.
Designing handmade products should be about quality not quantity, and at the end of the day, represent who you are as a person in some way.
> Where can we find Cuckoo For Coco products?
At the moment the following websites are stocking my products (but this is a growing list, so stay tuned):
I have also set up a fan page on Facebook which can easily be found by typing Cuckoo For Coco into the search area. Here people can take a look at my product range and keep up to date with all the latest news and stockist information.
To contact me personally, my email is firstname.lastname@example.org
And last, but not at all least, everyone is more than welcome to come and visit my stall at the Artist Market on the first Sunday of every month.
> Thank you Shannon.