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Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Textiel Plus - Magazine interview

I am SOOO excited because the Dutch Magazine Textiel Plus came out today, and The House of Mouse is featured in it! I am extra excited because this is the first time that I have ever been published. (Just to give you a hint of how happy I am, I am working very hard not to over use the exclamation mark on my keybord)

Textiel Plus is a Dutch magazine, and so the article is not in English. For all my non-Dutch readers (about 80% of you) below is a translation - a BIG thank you to my friend Inger for writing the translation for me.


Anna Greaves is a painter by origin with a preference for self-portrait painting. The felt mice, which she gave to friends and family were greeted with such enthusiasm that she has continued adding to her mouse collection with great ingenuity and creativity.

The little grey and brown mice stand 6 to 7 cm high, with pink ears, feet and tails. At first sight they all are cute and funny but upon closer examination you discover they are not just mice, but characters and personalities. Some stand out because of their profession as schoolteacher, doctor, ballet dancer or geisha. Celebrities like Elvis Presley, Andy Warhol and Frida Kahlo draw the attention just as Vincent van Gogh (one eared, so unmistakable). So too are part of the mouse family Harry Potter, Hermione Granger just as Princess Leia and Luke Skywalker or Yoda from the Star Wars series. But beware there are some gruesome ones too like Frankenstein or Hannibal Lecter.

Looking from a mouse perspective.
Anna brings her little mice to life with all kinds of materials. "The basic mouse is nearly always made from brown or grey felt, sometimes from furry material or even patent leather. For their costumes and accessories I use ribbons, fabric pieces, beads, buttons and metal wire. I am always on the lookout for usable accessories. The sunvisor for example is a Barbie accessory. The fleamarket is scoured from a mouse perspective and I will find the most amazing things, like these metal buttons, that are actually quite ugly, which are perfect as a shield for the gladiator mouse."

Mousehole
The felt mice didn't just appear out of nowhere. There is a history related to them. "My grandparents had a little store in the village called Mousehole in Cornwall (southwest England) where they sold "mouse things". My grandfather was a painter and potter. On his mugs and bowls he added a little mouse logo. My grandmother made little felt mice that she dressed with ribbon and fabric. I only have vague memories of her, but at my parents house there are still some mice looking at you from hidden corners. They are a different design from my mice in that they are smaller and the nose is different, but they did give me the idea to make some as Christmas presents for family and friends. They got such a great reception that I never stopped adding to the collection."

Internet
Following that Anna opened her Etsy store on internet, an American site for handmade products. "Because everyone was so encouraging I made the step to start selling them. I take pictures of all the mice I make, these pictures can be seen in my Etsy store. It is a great success. Incredible how far my store has come in one year. My sold mice live all over the world, USA, Japan, Canada, Spain, Australia. And some really fun relationships have formed. Customers will tell me where their mouse is living, or sometimes I get letters from people telling me that they and their 5 yr old daughter have been looking at my store for an hour. Even if they don't buy one, they give so much fun and joy, it is very special to be able to make people smile and feel happy.

Creative talent
Anna Greaves was born and raised in England. Creating, drawing, crafting, music have been part of her life since she was very young. "After school I started studying psychology, a solid choice, but after just one semester I was sure only a creative job would suit me. After 3 yrs of art school in Plymouth we moved to the Netherlands because my husband got offered a job there. My final year I did at the Willem De Kooning Academy in Rotterdam. Actually I had quite a different expectation of art school. Traditional art has very little focus there as opposed to conceptual art. I would have liked to learn all about the techniques used by Rembrandt and Vermeer, and the business side of being an artist. I have had to discover much of that myself. It has been quite a tough time due to the transition to an other country, but in the end well worth it.

Craft studio
Anna creates her mice in the loft of her house. Her studio is very practical. Yarn and ribbon neatly organised. A group of naked mice await their clothes. Shelves on the wall contain boxes of dressed mice. Anna opens a couple and takes a Sinterklaas one out, followed by a James Bond one, a Gesha, Yoda from Star Wars with a straw as lightsaber and very current a Barack Obamouse. Packaging and shipping takes place in a different part of her studio. There too she makes her mice pictures for on cards and buttons, two more mice products in her store. On a planning board she keeps track of stock and orders. "Actually I am not this organised all the time, but I try to be, or I will lose track"

The mice are in charge
The cheerful and enthusiastic way in which Anna tells of her mice family illustrates the pleasure she derives from creating them. "It is so much fun to do and I still have so many ideas and inspiration. Others too give me ideas and my husband is pure genius in coming up with new characters. Some customers have personal wishes. I made a bumblebee mouse, a penguin mouse, a bunny and a bear. For now I am keeping to my mice, but sometimes it is fun to make something like a hedgehog or owl. I like doing something different all the time and letting my creativity flow. My paintings are at this point my hobby, just for myself. I am short of time and painting will come again later, but for now the mice are in charge"

~

Textiel Plus is sold in a limited number of stores. If you live in Holland and would like to get hold of a real copy, send me an email telling me which city you live in and I will let you know the closest store that will have it.

29 comments:

  1. Anna, that's so great! Congratulations on being a published artist!

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  2. Wow, what a great article! So many photos of your mice, it's so thrilling!

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  3. i have 3 of Annas mice and they are brilliant !!! i adore them ... Anna well done and congratulations on the fantastic article

    hope to see many many more in the future

    :)

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  4. Yeah!! Fantastic article...big congratulations to you! It was fun to learn of your mouse background..I see it runs in the family--how funny!
    Smiles, Karen

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  5. Wheeeyyyyhoooo is it not just the greatest feeling to see yourself written up! Super big congrats to you!

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  6. Great article. I love your mice!

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  7. What gratification! ^^
    So many pictures of your creations!

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  8. Great read Anna! Big Congratulations for the article!:)

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  9. Congratulation on being published! Great article! I love your creations :O)

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  10. wonderful, Anna! congratulations with this article :)

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  11. Wow Anna, congrats on this lovely article, you must be very proud and happy! :)

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  12. What a lovely interview!!! Congratulations!!! (I'm using the exclamations points because I know you really want to as well! LOL)

    Awesome!!!!!!! (Happy dance!)

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  13. Congrats.. that is awesome!!!

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  14. A huge congratulations to you Anna!! how fantastic .. you must be very proud!

    well done :-)

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  15. Great article! I will repeat myself "I love my Frida and Diego mice, they have a special place in my home office"

    Congratulations!

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  16. What a great article, Mouse! BIG congrats to you! *throws Anna in the air* :)

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  17. Anna, WAY TO GO! That is a wonderful article. I've never met you but I now have a very clear picture as I read your blogs and comments and advice on Etsysecrets! Congratulations!

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  18. Way to go, Anna.

    Congreats! Love your mice and so would my cats.

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  19. congrats Anna ! It looks phantastic !!

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  20. Congrats the article looks great, I love your mouses, It must be exciting to be published. Again congrats!

    Susan
    http://time4coffee.etsy.com

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  21. Congratulations Sweetie, really well deserved.

    :)

    +

    Chiara B.

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  22. beautiful magazine feature and layout! Congratulations.

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  23. Anna, congratulations with this article!

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  24. FANtastic article Anna. GREAT pictures. Gratz!

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  25. What a neat interview and great photo spread! Congrats on being published for the first time! Yay for mice!

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