Daisy Mae Fry on juggling motherhood and making soft sculptures celebrating the North
Having recently welcomed a son, Daisy Mae Fry is rethinking when and how to be a creative: “I live in a whole new world and time has to be organised”. Before she became a mum, she was hard at work creating unabashedly Northern soft sculptures via her brand, Daisy Mae Northern, from her dining room. Now, she’s taking on a day job doing social media for her dad’s stonemasonry company. Predicting her one-womxn brand to return bigger and better, Daisy Mae sums up her practice simply as knowing “how to use a sewing machine and [having] good Photoshop skills”. Here, Daisy Mae talks bringing her brand to artists’ retreats and finding inspiration from interior design magazines.
Daisy Mae Fry
Soft Sculpture Artist and Social Media Manager
Place of Study
MA Creative Practices, Leeds Arts University (2020)
What I do
How would you describe what you do?
Fundamentally, I make fun scatter cushions. But to make it sound more artistic, I call them soft sculptures. My processes in making these sculptures involve a lot of time thinking about wordplay, Northern slang and phases, then using the words and phrases and interpreting them into the object I choose to design.
I use Photoshop as my main platform to create my designs, then these designs are sent off to a fabric printing company that I have used for many years, throughout my college and university degrees. Once the fabric gets delivered to me, it is just a case of sitting at the sewing machine, listening to smooth radio and being 100% in concentration.
In the comfort of my dining room, Daisy Mae Northern is created by myself only and everything is designed and made by me.
“My process involves thinking about wordplay and Northern slang, then interpreting them into the object I design.”
Can you tell us about some of your favourite projects to date?
My favourite soft sculpture would be Beds N One Night Stands (below). This sculpture was made exclusively for an artist’s retreat called The Artists Pad, in a small town called Saltburn-by-the-Sea – one of my favourite places in the world. My sculpture is hung in there amongst some truly great artwork.
Last year I partnered up with a make-up artist and photographer to bring to life an idea I had to celebrate Northern culture. This was part of my university MA project. We built up 17 characters, transforming me into these true Northern people we all knew and loved. Some were family members, some were friends and some were ourselves from a past life. We got an amazing reaction from this project and we are hoping to do an exhibition in Leeds soon.
How I got here
If you could pick three things that you’ve found useful or inspiring to your work or career, what would they be and why?
I use fashion magazines, specifically Pop, AnOther and Interview, to create mood boards and inspiration pages before creating, to get the juices flowing. I also look at interior design mags – such as Livingetc, The World of Interiors and Wallpaper* – for inspiration, as well as Pinterest and Creative Boom.
Would you say you need any specific training for what you do?
Just know how to use a sewing machine and have good Photoshop skills.
What would you say has been your biggest challenge along the way?
The biggest challenge was becoming a mum and having to put Daisy Mae Northern on hold. I am a full-time mum to a five-month-old boy. I live in a whole new world and time has to be organised. I have moved to a small town far from family, which eliminates childcare – plus my partner is a photographer and therefore works away a lot of time.
In the little time I do get, I work for my dad’s stonemasonry business, for which I am currently building their website. I have found it difficult to be a creative and not be able to create. However, I have good hope I will get back to making my sculptures and pushing Daisy Mae Northern to become a great brand in the next year.
“I am a full-time mum to a five-month-old boy; I live in a whole new world and time has to be organised.”
How important would you say social media and self-promotion are to your work? Do you have any advice or learnings to share?
I have never been a fan of social media; I find it quite distracting and feel pressured when posting my work. However, I know that it is a great platform to promote yourself, so I’m working on finding a way to do this without it making me feel stressed. But social media has still probably been the main way people know about Daisy Mae Northern.
I’ve had a couple of sales through social media, but I wouldn’t say it has been my main source for selling soft sculptures.
What has your greatest learnings with making money and supporting yourself as a creative person?
Because Daisy Mae Northern is relatively new, my previous sales have only been to support buying materials. I haven’t experienced making a real income from the brand just yet, but hopefully that will come in the future. Apart from that, I also work for the stonemasonry company building their website and managing their socials while I care for my son.
What’s the best career-related advice you’ve ever received?
"Don’t rush, take your time to get it right” is some great advice I’ve been given. I have my idea – I just have to build it into something great.
What advice would you give someone looking to get into a similar career?
Just like the advice I have been given, take your time and don’t rush it. Each design that you do has your name on it and it is what you want the world to see, so making sure that is the best it can be will only build your brand to be stronger.
Interview by Lyla Maeve
Mention Daisy Mae Fry