Getting to Know Heidi, Textiles Prop Maker

by Carys - Stylist for The Prop Factory

Thursday 19th September 2019 09:35:26


We have a very big and very exciting project on our hands at the moment that I can't wait to share with you. Over the next six months we are building a huge batch of new props - all uniquely designed and built in our very own workshop. You can't, of course, produce a few hundred new props without the many pairs of hands needed to make them and we have sourced some seriously talented people to spend the next six months creating all this newness.

This month we have welcomed our five new prop makers to Prop Factory HQ. You can follow their progress and get a sneak behind-the-scenes peek at the projects we are working on by following our Staff Instagram.They all come from very diverse and interesting backgrounds and bring with them an array of wonderful new skills, so I had a chat with them, over a cup of tea, of course, and found out a bit more about them.

First to be featured this week is Heidi Oliver. Heidi has a creative background with a degree in Fashion and Textiles, so she's a perfect fit for overseeing and creating our fabric-based props. She'll be using multiple sewing machines and delving into our stash of boxes full to the brim with odds and ends of ribbons, buttons, beads, tassels and more. All of these fancy embellishments have been collected over time by our director, Carmen, who has an amazing eye for discovering the best bits and pieces from charity shops, Facebook buy and sell pages and car boot sales.I asked Heidi a few questions whilst she was working away to create some of our Knitted Floor Cushions and here is what she had to say...What made you want to work for the Prop Factory? 

I had heard about the Prop Factory through Carys and what a lovely creative place it is to work. I wanted to take the opportunity to do something that I love as a hobby and be able to make it my living. I also really admire the environmental approach that the company has and it means a lot to be making sustainable props from recycled materials for the prop industry! I've come from working in a massive company where you are literally a number and so wanted to find a small and independent business that feels like a family to work for and that's what I have found... Yay!What prop are you looking forward to making and why? 

Definitely the Giant Elf on a shelf. It will be challenging to make, but really effective when done. Who wouldn't want a giant elf at their Christmas party? I think the hardest part will be making it sit up by itself. It will have a fabric body but it's very different to making a giant teddy, for example. It needs to look vintage, not scary and with its limbs in proportion to its size... lots to consider.What would you say your strongest skill is in terms of prop making?

My area of expertise is fabrics and textiles. I would say I'm confident in creating and making but my strengths lie in finishing a product. Adding fine details and to a high standard is important to me. The smaller details can make the biggest difference in how something looks - I'm a little bit of a perfectionist so want to ensure everything I make is to a high standard.What do you hope to achieve over the next six months?

I want to have created lots of props which will be hired out and enjoyed by the customers. All the new items I create will hopefully help to increase the clientele for the company as we will have a much bigger stock holding to fulfil orders for even bigger events. I also hope to strengthen my skills and gain a few new ones to take me further with a career in this field.Do you have a favourite prop yet, anything caught your eye in the warehouse?

My favourite props would have to be...

Pink Lemonade Stand 

Giant Flowers - All of them!

Day of the Dead hanging skullsand the Giant Bears for the best hugs!Describe an average day at work?

It's still all new but so far my days at work roll similar to this...

Clocking in and passing all of the lovely vintage sofa's as I go, make a coffee and check in with the team, crack on with the current project, listen to some good music, lunch in the sunshine on a fake straw bale with a bunch of bubbly colleagues, carry on creating, log my progress, plan materials for the next day, clock out. There are a lot more decisions to be made in between all of this, but overall my job is pretty lush and messy!!

What's your creative background?

I studied Fine Art & Textiles at A Level then progressed onto The University of South Wales in Cardiff to do a degree in Fashion Design. Whilst completing my degree, I worked alongside Paul Castello at London Fashion Week and won a fashion design competition supported by John Lewis. 

I also gained some work experience alongside Carys [Prop Factory stylist] helping out on a photoshoot earlier in the year and really got a feel for what the company is all about.

Where did you work before The Prop Factory?

I worked for British Airways cabin crew out of London Heathrow. I wanted to travel and earn money at the same time. It was completely different to what I had been used to but I decided I wanted to try that lifestyle and see the world before settling into a creative career that I love.Dream prop to make?

I would make stone animal statues covered in foliage and ivy as if they had been found after many years in a secret garden. Or a little tipi tent made from fabric and embellished in wild faux flowers to suit an enchanted fairy-themed children's party. 

Do you have any pets?

I have a house rabbit called Rambo. He's meant to be a dwarf but he's massive. He's really friendly and would be perfect for a future photoshoot. Imagine him sat on the Polly's patchwork stool.How do you have your tea? 

A good strong brew - stronger than builders' tea. Leave the teabag in and minimal milk. It's so strong it tastes like coffee!What's your favourite day of the week?

Saturdays are my favourite as they are free and relaxed. Thursdays are my favourite working day as projects are well established and in full swing and the vision is coming to life ready to complete on Friday. Maybe Mondays will become my new favourite as I'll be excited to see the lovely team and get started on new props?

Do you have a favourite party theme? 

I think if I had to decorate a party I would choose an 'antique jungle' theme and transform a room with foliage, jungle plants and flowers. Maybe even some animals! I would use all the artificial plants, botanical wall, giant flowers, animal-inspired furniture and vintage tabletop drinks globe, alongside vintage furniture like the bureau, antique brass bird cage, small vintage bar and vintage pine panel benches. You could create a massive jungle banquet by lining up all of our farmhouse tables with farmhouse benches either side. 

To see all of the props mentioned here.

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