Meet the makers: Maya Kar

Rachel Stanners talks to Maya Kar of Bright Side, Dark Side about the inspiration behind her feathery fascinators and the changes she’s seen in Brixton

maya kar

1. How did you come up with the shop name Bright Side, Dark side?
I wanted to set up a shop on Makerhood, and Bright side, Dark side was initially intended as a project with my partner, because I love light and colour while he loves camouflage and shadows. He is amazing at making clothes but in the end he didn’t have the time to get involved. But I kept the name as it also reflected two sides to my own work at the time – bright flowery brooches and fascinators, and subtler items in natural materials such as feather, shell & semi-precious stones.

2. So how did you get into making accessories?
As you can see, this room is filled with of bits and bobs I have collected over the years: stained glass, mosaic, fabric, etc, reflecting my lifelong love of making things, so I was prompted into action when Makerhood started up, and particularly when the associated opportunity arose to have a stall at the Brixton Makers’ Market in Station Road. I had so many ideas and materials that I wasn’t sure where to start, but I’d recently bought a bunch of feathers to help a friend make earrings, so I began with those.

To my surprise I fell in love with the feathers and making accessories with them. I like that they are small and easier to handle than large items of clothing. I love creating every one of them. Each one is unique! I like them to be a bit theatrical, but not too formal – I prefer creating items with an asymmetrical, organic feel to them.

3. What inspires your work?
Exploring! For example, I travelled extensively in Asia and North and Central America. I volunteered at the Wolf Park in Indiana and travelled on to Colorado. I saw the Grand Canyon and the Valley of Fire. During those travels I was really inspired by Native American culture, but I also layer the fantasy image of the mythical wild west onto the accessories. But travelling is not the only form of exploring – I love history and volunteer at the British Museum, so I gain lots of inspiration from artefacts and legends from the past.

4. Why did you join Makerhood?
I used to house-share with Kristina, one of the founders of Makerhood, so I was around from the beginning. I took part in the user experience tests for the website and I thought it was a great opportunity to be involved locally with something positive and creative. Since I’ve been involved I have really enjoyed the physical meetups, the markets and the maker’s opportunities. It’s also fantastic how easy it has been to set up my own online shop!

5. You obviously are creative in a lot of different ways – have you got more ideas for Makerhood?
I plan to set up a second shop in Makerhood selling Brixton souvenirs that are humorous and a bit contentious! As well as the opposite – photos of places in Brixton that are unexpectedly beautiful! I have many which make Brixton look like a little country village.

6. You’ve lived in Brixton for almost half of your life. What do you love about living here?
I like that Brixton is eccentric and original, with a strong community feel. I find the types of people who are attracted to living here are often really interesting and unconventional. I’m proud of Brixton and I like that it has a bit of a bad reputation from the past but I am also really pleased it has changed. It feels a lot safer and happier than when I first moved in.

7. What are you favourite places in Brixton?
The quirky places like the Windmill and Brockwell Lido – I always feel like I’m on holiday when I go there! I’ve always loved the indoor market, even before it all changed – I used to take visitors there to see the giant snails in the African food shop and get a hit of its exotic feel. It had a wonderful feeling of stepping into another country. Last Valentine’s Day I went to Etta’s Seafood Kitchen with my boyfriend and we took a bottle of champagne to celebrate. It must have got shaken up in the journey because when we opened it sprayed everywhere! They’ve remembered me in there ever since!

You can see Maya’s delicate earrings and fascinators at http://brixton.makerhood.com/bright-side-dark-side

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Makerhood at the Windmill Festival

Makerhood at the Windmill Festival

Last Sunday Makerhood took part in Brixton Windmill festival. The festival is an annual event that takes place in the park at the foot of Brixton’s very own windmill (Yes – with sails and everything! Hopefully there will even be Brixton-milled flour in the near future). We were ready and waiting with the other stall holders* when the floats and crowd arrived at the windmill after parading up Brixton Hill.

By offering to teach people how to knit we hoped to inspire the makers of the future, and by offering goods for sale by Makerhood makers Flextiles, Eight B Design, Viv Moriarty and Dreamy Me we aimed to show just how creative the makers of Brixton are.

And we did well! We collected numerous contact details on our Makerhood map from people who wanted to find out more. These names have all now been added to our network – welcome to the Makerhood community everyone!

Makerhood at the Windmill Festival
Knitting and map-making at the Makerhood stall
Makerhood at the Windmill Festival
A young maker
Chuka Umunna, our local MP, stopped by the stall

* Our stall was next door to the lovely people from Brixton Green. Check them out at www.brixtongreen.org

Another Brixton blogger on board

My name is Kim Winter, and I’ve joined Kristina, Karen and the rest of the Makerhood team (obviously your name doesn’t have to begin with K to get involved, but it may help! 😉 ).

I’m a freelance editor – I used to be managing editor of Which? magazine, and I’ve spent the last couple of years helping to launch an Indian version of Which?. I’ve lived in Brixton for nearly 25 years, and I also run the Brixton Windmill blog (the building, not the pub!).

I got involved with Makerhood because I’m currently doing a course in creative and experimental textiles at Morley College near Waterloo (my Flextiles blog records my various experiments).  I’ve been trying to sell some of my (successful) results at various local sales. While there I’ve talked to other makers and realised it can be difficult for individuals to reach local people who might be interested in buying their stuff.

So I think Makerhood is a great idea. There’s a real creative buzz around Brixton at the moment, and I’m excited about being part of it. With my journalistic background I’ll be helping with the website and blog, and interviewing and writing features on local makers. So if you’re planning to sell through Makerhood, I’ll be in touch!