Meet the Crafters: Sarah Phelps

November 26, 2012 | Halifax Crafters Society

Halifax Crafters is a great place to find a special card for a special person, whether for a birthday, holiday, or just to say hi. One of my favourite new paper craft businesses is Sarah Phelps Creative, and Sarah happens to be one of our Fresh Catch vendors at this winter market! Be sure to check out her work, I love her quippy lines and bold type. 

What do you make?

I design and produce hand-printed paper goods. I started printing greeting cards, but my range now also includes bookmarks, calendars, and some new additions making their debut at the Halifax Crafters market. I’m always thinking about what I can print next – I’m planning to make the move into wedding stationery in 2013!

What is your process?

It always starts with an initial thought, which unfortunately often seems to come at 2am when I’m trying to sleep! I’ve always been a pen and paper girl so the next step is always my sketchbook. I’ll work on layouts until I feel I have the idea refined and from there I’ll create a digital version of my initial sketch on the computer, editing and developing it as I go. Once I’m totally happy with the design, the next stage is to get printing! I typically print by hand with a Riso B6 gocco printer – a Japanese tabletop screen printing machine. The process isn’t without its frustrations, which can be a challenge as I have really high standards for my work, and it’s often the smallest, simplest projects that prove to be the most challenging. In the end it’s always so satisfying to see the first print come off the printer knowing that I’ve worked on the piece from start to finish.

How long have you been a crafter?

I’ve been printing and producing my paper goods for around a year, and my first products went on sale earlier this year. It’s definitely been an interesting year and a huge learning experience.

What is your background/How did you get started?

I was creative as a child – I was the kid who didn’t really want fancy toys for Christmas, just pens and paper. I realised in my early teens I wanted to design, and I was blessed with an incredibly supportive family who believed that I could and should make a living by doing something I loved (thanks mam and dad!). I graduated with a BA (Hons) Degree in Visual Communication from Edinburgh College of Art in Scotland back in 2003 and spent the next 9 years working in design studios in both Edinburgh and Halifax.

My love of printing began during my degree when, as part of my design program, I did some letterpress printing and was hooked. I really threw myself back into printing following my move to Halifax in 2008. I took an intro letterpress class at NSCAD and joined the Letterpress Gang, falling in love with print all over again. From there I discovered gocco screen-printing and that was it… my idea for a business took hold.

Why do you do what you do?

I love it! The hours are long, the process has its ups and downs, but it’s so rewarding that I just can’t imagine doing anything else. I adore the design process, I love typography, and I’m passionate about traditional print processes – there really is nothing quite like a fresh print hot off the press.

When you’re not selling at Crafters markets, where can I find your work?

I launched my Etsy shop this summer and my full range of paper goods is available there. If you’re in Nova Scotia, my paper goods are also available at Inkwell Boutique, Dots and Loops Handmade, Flying Cloud Boutique and Duly Noted Stationery.

What makes Halifax Crafters different from other shows?

I think it’s the variety of different crafts, the high quality products and the affordability. After arriving here, Halifax Crafters quickly became a favourite show because there was such a variety of contemporary, well-crafted work on offer from so many amazing local artists and crafters.

What are you excited about seeing at the Winter Market?

I’m excited to see the whole show! As a first time crafter I’m in the Fresh Catch category, so I can’t wait to see the work of my fellow first-time crafters. I’m really thrilled to be a part of it.

What inspires you to create?

Anything and everything. It could be a colour, a word, a typeface, a thought, a snippet of overheard conversation… I don’t force the process, I just let it happen. And I don’t try to fit in with trends or styles, I create for myself, and so far the reception has been great.

Where do you do your work?

I design and print my paper goods from my home studio here in Halifax. My dream / plan is to one day have my own little design and print workshop.

 What kind of music do you listen to while you work?

Wow, that’s a tough one! It really depends on my mood and the task at hand. For thinking time, when I’m starting to develop a project, I normally opt for Yann Tiersen, Vitamin String Quartet or something classical. If I’m printing the day away, I tend to go for something a little more upbeat which could be anything from Bloc Party to Soundgarden, with a few 80’s classics thrown in.

 A place you love?

Whether I’m in Nova Scotia or back in the UK, I love the ocean. I grew up in a town on the North East coast of England, so there’s something about the waves that is so comforting – even on the coldest, windiest days.

 An artwork or artist you love?

Andy Warhol.

 Favourite time of the year?

Hands-down, it has to be Autumn, especially here in Nova Scotia. The chill in the air, the falling leaves… I love it.

Three things you need in order to create?

A pen, some paper and some music. Oh and nice hot cocoa if there’s some available. I’m pretty easily pleased.

A favourite quote?

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover. ”

This Mark Twain quote sums up so many of my decisions in life, including moving to Halifax and launching my business – if there’s something you want to do, give it a go, take the risk, no regrets.

A film or book you love?

My favourite film is Amelie, I love its dreamy soundtrack.  My favourite book is Dracula, which I’m currently re-reading.

 What’s your favourite way to procrastinate?

Spending time with my other half and partner in crime Andrew, who, I must say, is incredibly patient with the hours I have to devote to work. I can also often be found browsing my favourite blogs, drinking cocoa, road tripping, taking lomo photos, and watching really bad TV shows that I’m too embarrassed to name here.