Maria Cárdenas is just one of our many exciting makers joining us at the Selvedge Edinburgh fair next week. We caught up with her in the run up to find out what makes her tick...

What made you start working with textiles?

I started making clothes as a small child at home in Colombia with my mother.  She had a really good sense of style and skill in sastreria - tailoring - and people would come from other towns for a special outfit.  She passed on her skills to me and I made clothes for my dolls, then for school friends and myself. When I grew up, I tried nursing and trained for office work, but kept going back to clothes and tailoring.

What is it about your craft that captured your attention?

I just wanted to be with my mother and found it worked for me. There is always something to learn. I did a few short courses, including one at St Martin’s in London, and really enjoyed an Irish lacemaking course in Armagh with the lovely Marie Treanor. I love the variety of textiles –somebody once came to me with some ideas for kites, so I made patterns and shapes with them among many other varying projects.

What inspires you?

Fabric. I am lucky to live in Ireland, and we get Irish Linen from a small mill in County Derry who have really kept their integrity with quality, sustainability and provenance.  We would also like to source some Irish tweeds and I love Silk too, which we use as an alternative to linen sometimes. Whatever fabric it is, I try to show it off well - understated and as simple as possible is what I prefer.

Who inspires you?

My mother and father. They taught me a lot about honesty and dealing with other people.  I’m also inspired by skills and traditions, and Ireland still has some of that left.

What is your favourite part of the process of doing what you do? 

Working with an enthusiastic customer, and producing something that I am really pleased with.  I got an amazing commission last November from Belfast City Council - the original “Linenopolis” - to design and make a guayabera shirt for the President of Colombia.

What’s the hardest part?


Where do you live and why?

I live in a cottage in Northern Ireland, among the Mourne Mountains. We have good soil, and grow a lot of our own food and make some wine and preserves, and even have some little beds of flax. The sea is a 15 minute drive in both directions, and Belfast and Dublin are near enough.

What’s your ideal Sunday?

Going for a walk on the mountain or in the woods, eating some good food and enjoying good company.

If you could fly anywhere in the world tomorrow where would you go and why? 

Colombia, because home and family are so important (and I need to top up my colour and my inspiration!)

What’s your favourite colour?

Winter white. 

What are you reading at the moment?

A Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, a book on pilates and recipes for healthy food.

Maria Cárdenas will be exhibiting her work at the Selvedge Fair in Edinburgh, Saturday 19th of August. To find out more and to book your tickets, click here.

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