On the edge of the City of Warndon Villages in Worcester, England, artist Claire Ryan of CopiKhatz lives with her fiancé, Mark, and their pair of rabbits.
Three years ago they set up their home here creating a cottage garden haven for nesting birds, squirrels and even hedgehogs. It also lends a hand in influencing a taste for adventure and literature that comes out in her work.
Growing up, Claire learned how to sew by hand from her mother and used her newfound abilities to craft rag dolls and figurines to look like her favorite characters from TV and books.
She remembers her first original bear well. "A stumpy little fellow pieced from scraps of corduroy and his face drawn on with purple felt-tip pen." She assures that she has improved much since then but still stitches her creations by hand using the needle crafting techniques she learned growing up.
Her and Mark's hobby of antiquing led to her first mohair creation she made as a special gift to her fiancé. The monkey, Jeremy, was made to capture a storybook charm. One thing led to another and with encouragement from her colleagues she created her own web site and began sell her bears on Bear Pile and Etsy.
Claire finds her inspiration and creativity springing from nature along with the numerous books she reads.
Her aim is to create toys that look like they're ready for an adventure. Taking advice from her high school art teacher who taught her students how to be truly original with one's own ideas: sketching from life, taking inspiration from a variety of sources and making it your own.
Because Claire has several styles of creative art, she likes to adopt themes. Often she loses herself in thought so she can look at objects that fascinate her all from many different angles.
"The joy of this approach is that the research of a theme sends me off in unexpected directions" she says. Researching clowns and finding herself looking at the work of famous artists such as Picasso, Kandinsky and Miro.