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Paper and Perfume by Sophia Shuttleworth
of House of Mir
28 November 2009
It takes a person with some insight to recognise a link between perfume, and that common, seemingly unrelated substance, paper. But at the next Country Craft Market of 28 November 2009, Sophia Shuttleworth plans to demonstrate how they can be brought together beautifully, into a symphony of colours, forms, textures and fragrances.
As one small part of her expansive field of interests, Sophia fashions elegant containers from paper maché, to use as potpourri holders. Then she combines her knowledge of natural perfumes, to complete this crafty duet that is able to entice the senses in many ways.
There has to be a special sense of achievement when one is able to allow recycled waste, paper in this case, to find new life as objet d'art. Incorporating the fragrances of nature into this artwork is a crowning glory. Sophia proves that true crafting is about a state of mind, not just about the resulting craftworks.
Sophia migrated towards crafting while dealing with the unpredictable nature of the film industry in which she then worked. In juggling family life with the demands of work, "I decided to focus on my crafting skills and founded House of Mir Natural Perfumery in Somerset West, as an umbrella for all my scent-related crafts", she explains.
"I started working with herbs since my earliest childhood," She tells. "I have worked with plants and herbs from as far back as I can remember. The first time I was stung by a bee as a child was when I was brewing a perfume. I was experimenting with making perfumes after I discovered under a tree in our garden, a tin filled with blossoms fermenting in rainwater. The scent blew me away."
She continues. "To my nose it had transformed the blossoms and water into a real perfume. It was like finding a fairy's gift with the magic formula attached. Of course I set about to recreate it myself, which led to many more experiments with all kinds of flowers and berries. And so my life-long love for botanical concoctions was born."
"I started working with essential oils about 25 years ago. I finally discovered Natural Perfumery through my research into ancient anointing oils and in particular the famous ancient Egyptian Kyphi oil. In Natural Perfumery we use techniques that were developed during the 19th century by French perfumers, before the introduction of synthetics. Today, however, we have available precious ingredients from all over the world. We use essential oils and absolutes, as well extractions we make ourselves through tinctures and enfleurage."
"Natural Perfumery is an abstract art form," Sophia claims, "that uses the skin as a canvas and speaks directly to the wearer on an emotional basis. 'Silent poetry' and 'liquid emotions' are ways to describe the artform of perfumery."
Through her crafting interests, Sophia developed much respect for paper maché. "It is one of the earliest forms of recycling", she notes. "It is reported to have originated in China in the early years of the 2nd century AD and has been used since then to make chairs for royalty, panels for coaches, jewellery, and even Chinese spears and amour. Yet to this day, the basic techniques remain the same as in the 2nd century."
"As a medium it is incredibly versatile and durable and can easily be moulded into a multitude of shapes and designs with only the extent of your imagination limiting its scope. For me, there seem to be no end to the new ways I find to use it. It can also be combined with so many other craft techniques."
Sophia uses paper maché to make (amongst other things) colourful bowls, and vegetable and fruit forms. Colours and textures enhance these organic forms, giving them both decorative and practical value.
Sophia Shuttleworth is indeed a multifaceted person. She was known as a multi-tasker in the film industry, an industry that is indeed also multifaceted. "I was an art director, stylist, props master, set dresser, wardrobe mistress and make-up artist", she tells. "During that time I had the opportunity to hone my varied crafting skills and perhaps more importantly, my aesthetic vision," she adds.
And that aesthetic vision extends across a broad front, from the use of humble paper maché, through the complexities of perfumery, and on to teaching the somewhat more profound and mystical Sophian Gnostic Kaballah.
"At my demonstration", reveals Sophia, "I will be making a pumpkin or perhaps a fruit, in a mould. Plus I will have one finished item to show the end result. Apart from showing how to work with paper maché, I will also have more examples of what one can do with paper maché, to show its versatility as a medium."
Without doubt, visitors can be assured of an interesting time when viewing Sophia's demonstration at the next Country Craft Market on 28 November 2009. It will add an extra-special touch to the enjoyment of doing Christmas shopping at the craft market.
Last Updated 01 November 2017 16:11