Makers Tales


Makers insights – Allyson McDermott

Our founder members talk about what has inspired them, how they work and how to survive as a maker.

Makers Tales Collective: Allyson, thank you for agreeing to tell us a little more about your world. We would love to know where your inspiration in life as a maker and restorer of wallpaper came from?

Allyson McDermott: My inspirations have been my childhood in Africa, so full of light and colour. Also my father who taught us that anything is possible.

MTC: How does your working day take shape?

Allyson McDermott: I wake with the sun and spend a couple of hours gazing out of the window thinking through new ideas. My commute to work is stunning, two minutes through the garden and into one of my studios, depending on the work to be done. I have a small, bright design studio where I also do all my digital printing and a large converted 18thC barn where we do the conservation of wallpapers, analysis and block printing. We are always working on a wide variety of projects from research into historic interiors, block printing a flock wallpaper or restoring a priceless 18thC original chinoiserie. I can choose the project to suit my mood and creative energy. Unless, of course, we are working towards a deadline, then it’s often a case of working through the night.

MTC: You have worked on so many different projects, which would you say has been the most exciting?

Allyson McDermott: There are too many to choose! Each one is a new challenge and no two projects are the same. Most recently perhaps the Chinese wallpaper at the Royal Pavilion Brighton, which was a satisfying mix of conservation and recreation. Or, the sumptuous and completely over the top flock wallpaper we made for the Palace of Westminster.

MTC: Can you give us any tips for survival as a creative?

Allyson McDermott: When you love your work it can be all-consuming. try and make time for yourself and your family. Accept graciously the often counter-intuitive roles of accountant, administrator and businessperson, but also get professional help whenever you can. It’s often cheaper and less stressful in the long run.

MTC: You said that you spend time in the morning thinking through new ideas. Is this your most creative time of day?

Allyson McDermott: I mostly do thinking in the morning, practical work in the afternoon and designing in the evening.

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