Unravelled stories. Meet: Char Studio
TSS: Paint us a picture of your childhood?
Charlene: I grew up in Manila, Philippines in a big family with five all so very talented siblings – I’m right in the middle, which I find quite fun as I get to either feel like the adult or sometimes not!
We moved to Melbourne in 2003, I was 8 years old and I spent a lot of my childhood learning and readapting to a new environment. New language, new house, new people and new routines. It was a big change but I feel incredibly grateful for the effort my parents put in to establish a new home for us kids. They made a difficult choice to leave their home but in doing so supported my siblings and myself in whatever endeavours we choose.
TSS: Your love for textiles and making, how did it all start?
Charlene: I started sewing in my early teens back then I really enjoyed being able to quickly drape some funky fabric over myself and create a dress for a friend’s party. Years later I haven’t changed, I still have that same excitement that I can make something, not just for myself but now for other people who share same love and appreciation that I have with making.
TSS: Your work is based on a slow-making approach, what inspired you?
Charlene: I spent so many years thinking I needed to work fast and release products now! I had the impression throughout my studies that it’s all about being quick to compete with buyers’ attention. I found this way of working really effects your mental health as you forget how important it is to slow down and reserve some of yourself to dedicate to your art.
My practice manifest through a sentiment of slow making, with an emphasis on exemplifying choices which consider environment, community and importantly my own creativity. Handmade pieces take time and I understand time is valuable yet working at a slow pace encourages stronger and personal connections to be made with each work; this is all realised though small runs, made to order and lots of intricate small details like my floral stitching.
TSS: What is your favourite material to work with and why?
Charlene: I love working with anything woven and medium/heavy weight fabrics like linen and organic cotton canvas I use for my bags, it is so sturdy yet forgiving. I find each fabric has its own personality which you need to work with and understand how it can contribute back into the work.
TSS: What do you wish for customers to take away from your brand/ products?
Charlene: I think sometimes we forget all the work that goes on behind the scenes making handmade pieces. I commonly see a distance between the making process in the studio and the ‘finished product’ in store or online, this means it is sometimes difficult to appreciate a piece’s true depth. I try my best to share as much footage of the making process in hope that this will encourage not only just my customers but everyone else to see beyond the realm of ‘products’ but see them as works of art that embody the time, love, and dedication I spend to hand make pieces.
TSS: Please tell us your thoughts and feelings on supporting culturally diverse designers/makers and communities?
Charlene: I believe everyone deserves equal opportunity to share their love for making. As makers, we have such an important role in our community where we have the skills and tools to be able to share and encourage creative ways of thinking.
[Images courtesy of Char Studio]