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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Meet the makers: Rebecca Blow

How on earth does interior designer, painter and fascinator creator Rebecca Blow of BekyBoo Hat Designs find time to do everything?

1. How did you get into making hats and fascinators?
I’m an interior designer, but I’ve always loved dressing up and collecting hats. So I did a couple of hat-making courses at Chelsea and Kensington College and then started making them for myself and friends. Then I set up a stall on Etsy, and now I’m on Makerhood.

2. So you have an artistic and design background?
I have a degree in fine art, and an MA in interior and special design – I work full time as an interior designer. But I also paint – I suppose you’d call it abstract expressionist style. I should push my hats more, but I like painting as well – I’ve been at two painting exhibitions in the last two weeks!

3. What kind of hats do you enjoy making most?
I make hats and fascinators that I enjoy wearing myself. I get a lot of ideas from fancy dress parties – for example, masks with feathers, or a James Bond theme. The stuff I do feeds well into the current trend for vintage fashion, and I can also design custom-made hats. I enjoy working with different materials, like felt, straw, and silk flowers, though my favourite is sinamay, a natural straw-like fibre. I have three moulds at home, including one for a top hat!

4. Do you source your materials locally?
I use a lot of beads and recycled materials. There’s a charming shop in Clapham that I buy old jewellery from, and Brixton market stalls are great for fabrics. Of course, I also get a lot of offcuts in my job. I love recycling unusual items, like some antique metal roses I found – things that you know that you won’t see anyone else wearing!

5. What do you hope to get out of joining Makerhood?
I get a lot of interest from the US in my Etsy stall, but I like the idea of selling locally, especially from a market stall in Brixton. When Brixton Village was just starting up last year there was a shop that stocked my hats but they didn’t really sell any.

6. How long have you lived in Brixton?
I’ve only lived here for four months, but I was in Clapham for 3-4 years before that.

7. So what’s your Brixton recommendation for people who don’t know the area?
I love Brixton market. It’s a nice mix of young nerdy cafes and old Brixton flavour, with the meat stalls and fish stalls – a really good balance. I’d definitely recommend Okan, a place in Brixton Village that serves okonmiyaki, a kind of Japanese pancake or omelette.

Enjoy Rebecca’s beautiful hats and headpieces at http://brixton.makerhood.com/bekyboo-hat-designs

New makers

Say a big hello to makers who have set up new Makerhood stalls in the past couple of weeks.

Bright Side Dark Side sells exuberant floral fascinators and jewellery inspired by nature and tribal arts, using feathers, recycled leather, shells & semi-precious stones.
http://brixton.makerhood.com/bright-side-dark-side

Community Technology offers refurbished computers and IT equipment, and is committed to promoting environmental and technological sustainability.
http://brixton.makerhood.com/community-technology

Alexandra of Aurora Aromatica, a mobile complementary therapist, is selling lavender and hops love-heart pillows to help you relax.
http://brixton.makerhood.com/aurora-aromatica-complementary-therapist

Rijole Bitata of Nera Phut Accessories specialises in jewellery and accessories made from a range of different materials, from fabric to semi-precious stones.
http://brixton.makerhood.com/nerua-phut-accessories

Tinker Tailor offers a mixture of handmade garments and customised vintage made by a Savile Row trained tailor from the highest quality materials sourced from English mills.
http://brixton.makerhood.com/tinker-tailor