23 March 2011

StrandRedesign : : an interview with UNNI STRAND

I first saw Unni's work about a year ago while I searched Etsy for something like chicken + silkscreen + shirt. I was drawn to her work right away, and after visiting her blog for some time I felt drawn to her and the life she had created for herself and for her family in Norway. The internet is sort of funny and magical in that way. You can feel connected to someone far, far away, who you would not have known otherwise. Anyway, I was so grateful when she said she would answer some questions for me and I am happy to share my interview with you today. All of the pictures are from Unni's own blog and from her Etsy store as well! Enjoy!
*  *  *  *  *  *
Can you tell us something about where you live? Do you live in a rural or urban environment? Who lives under your roof with you? Do you have animals?

I live quite rural but still near the city. I have a ten minute drive to the city and a five minute walk before I am in the middle of the woods. From our house we can see farms and farmland.
I live with my partner, Henning, my daughter, Moa (5) and our rescue cat, Tulla. I have a grown up son. His name is Martin (19).  At the moment he lives with his grandfather and grandmother in another part of the country while he is studying. We also have an old toad and a couple of cute slow worms in the garden.
I know you grow many of your own vegetables. What is your favorite thing to grow?

Oh, that's a difficult question! There are so many vegetables I love! I guess it is tomatoes. But I'm also very fond of broad beans, green beans and potatoes. I think leaf salad is one of the most rewarding and easy vegetables to grow. 

Did you grow up in a creative household as a child? Do you have one early memory of making something with your hands?

My nearest family was not a very creative one. But my grandmother was a painter, and I have other relatives that are graphic designers and a cousin who is a ceramicist. When I started drawing, I just drew floors, only colored squares, for a long period. My twin sister drew tadpole drawings, like children usually do at that age. But suddenly, one day, I started to draw detailed cats with toes and everything. Another thing I remember is that I sewed a tiny envelope purse with a button when I was six. A girl who was eight wanted to buy it. I was so proud because this big girl wanted to have something I had made!

Have you always crafted or has that desire come and gone through out your life?

I have always made things. My mother used to sew clothes and I loved to hang around when she did, rearranging her sewing box and playing with the buttons. I started to sew some clothes for myself when I was twelve. My mother was kind and let me use her sewing machine. Later I made dresses for school balls and other parties.
My grandmother taught me to paint on 
china and I had that as a hobby for several years.

How did you come upon screen printing and textile as your medium?

Actually, painting was my thing for many years. I painted landscapes and flowers and wanted to be an illustrator. But I have alway sewed too. In upper secondary school, I chose the 
art and craft program. It annoyed me that there were so few nice fabrics in the shops so I played with the thought of being a fabric designer. But I chose to be an art and craft teacher. I specialized in weaving. A couple of years ago I was sent by my job to a screen printing course. I had wanted to do screen printing for a long time, and it was great! Finally, I was able to work with the combination of drawing, pattern and textile and combining this with sustainable redesign made it perfect for me!

I love your animal prints. Why were you drawn to representing them in our work?

I love and respect animals very much. I haven't thought about it before, but when you asked me this, I started to think about why I choose animals as much as I do. I think it is because I'm very concerned about animal welfare. And, of course, everyone loves animals, both children and adults. So it is a popular motif.

When did you decide to start selling your work?

After my teaching education, when I specialized in weaving, I rented a studio and worked as much as I could with this beside my day job. I sold some carpets and scarfs. I was in the middle of my twenties at the time. I had the plan, that when I was "grown up" and in my forties I would work half time in my studio and half time teaching. But weaving is so slow. You start to plan something and if you are lucky, you have finished it a couple of months later. It was a relief to move on to screen printing. It is a relatively short way from idea to finished product. At least if the silk screen is ready. The patterns may take a long time to design. I'm thinking and working with my designs for several weeks. But I might print the fabric for a tote in the morning and finish it during the day.
I started my Etsy shop in 2009. And my dream is to be able to work half time with this.

I find motherhood really calls upon me and encourages me to be creative? Do you?

I find this question difficult to answer. I don't think there's a link between my creativity and my motherhood but I love to make thing for my daughter and with her. I still feel that I should have been better at planning activities that suit her.

How do you balance your own creative work with being a mother and also an art teacher?

I struggle to keep up with it all. I mainly balance it by doing less housework than I feel that "normal" people do.

Can you tell us something about the Norwegian Handmade Championship that you and Elisa Kolle developed?

The Norwegian Handmade Championship (HÃ¥ndlaga 2011) is inspired by the popular Etsy seller Rikrak's Handmade 
Olympics. I thought it was such a fantastic idea and wanted to do something similar in Norway. I asked Elisa if she wanted to join me, and luckily she did, because she's been such a great partner in this! We are in the middle of the nominations now and people have been so positive and supportive. I can't wait to move on to the next step, which is the judging and voting. 

Are there any new skills you would like to learn? A new vegetable you would like to add to your garden?

I would love to be able to construct patterns for clothes. I also would like take a course to learn to master my overlock sewing machine better. This summer, I want to have a 
cutting garden with lots of flowers to have in the house and to give away.

What do you find yourself day-dreaming about? Is there a place you would love to travel? Something you would like to experience? Something you would like to make?

My day-dreaming is always about new things I want to make!
If I had more space (and money) I would have more styles of organic clothes in my shop, more colors and other models both for adults and for children. And if I had more time, I could make more prints and more totes. I guess I should be more content and remember how lucky I am to be able to do this as much as I do already. It makes me so happy when people like my designs.

When it comes to my garden, I would love to have a warm summer again, like the one when I managed to grow two small melons.

Thanks so much, Unni!

Visit StrandRedesign on Etsy HERE

and Unni's blog HERE.


  1. I love Unni and her work! Thank you for such a lovely interview...:o)

  2. I love love her work and went straight to the Etsy shop after reading this.
    Wonderful and interesting interview - I truly enjoyed it.

    Am hoping to be the proud owner of a set of dinner napkins with hens. They are just adorable!

    x Charlotta


I read and cherish all of your comments! It really feels like such an honor that you stopped by this little space of mine. Thank you so much! Cheers!

Related Posts with Thumbnails