We are lucky to have many very talented artists and crafts people in the Pagan world and I’ve often wondered how they became so accomplished in their work, so I decided to interview some of them to find out how they got to where they are today.
In this interview, I talk to the lovely Toni Bowe of Ishtar Freya Handmade Creations.
Hi Toni, thank you for agreeing to this interview, can you tell me a bit about yourself and your work?
Yes, of course. I was brought up to respect and enjoy nature. I have always been interested in nature, alternative, and magical things. In my twenties a shop opened near my home town that sold crystals. They also run several different workshops. This got me hooked on lots of interesting things I qualified as an Aura Soma colour care consultant and a bach flower practitioner. I meet Cassandra Eason and another high priestess. I started doing pagan/witchcraft workshops, and I was invited to join a Gerald Gardner training coven. I stayed with them for a few years and then moved out of the area. This is when I started adapting rituals to my own way. A big part of witchcraft was the "craft" element. I made a lot of my own things and loved decorating the house for each sabbath and season. In about 2015, I saw these waldorf style fairies that used a needle felted technique but were too expensive to buy. So I started to have a go at making them. It started with fairies, angels, and tree toppers. Then I decided I wanted a goddess for my altar. So I started making them for both myself and a friend. It was then that she suggested that I should sell them.
Were you creative as a child, and did you always want to be an artist?
Not really, I liked to sew and decorate cakes, but I don't remember anything else as a child. I originally wanted to be a child carer but ended up becoming an accountant.
Have you had any training, or are you self-taught?
I spend many hours watching videos, reading books, and having a go. I couldn't find any courses or workshops in needle felting.
How would you describe your work?
I usually make items that are either linked to the season, sabbath or goddesses.
Does your magical path influence your work, and if so in what way?
Absolutely. As a pagan and/or witch, there is a lot of 'craft' involved. This inspired me to make things and try other crafts. I started making a goddess for each sabbath, and another friend suggested I give them names, which in turn led me to start making particular goddesses. I was a bit nervous at first as I didn't know many goddesses, and I have a little bit of trouble with names as i'm dyslexic.
Where do you find your inspiration?
I spend time researching both crafts and goddesses. I also think how can I mix two or more media together to create something. When researching goddesses, there are some specific things relating to that goddess that I will note. I also spend time in a kind of meditation, which enlightens me with ideas and inspiration. The goddesses I make are my interpretation of them.
Has your work changed over time?
Yes, I would say so. I have improved my different skills over time, and I have learnt lots about different goddesses. I am also always trying new craft skills.
Is there a craft you haven’t tried yet that you would love to have a go at?
Oh, lots. Where to start, there are so many crafts out there. I used to make quiet a bit with clay. I would like to try working with clay again. Things have moved on, and new products have been released. I would love to learn to crochet, too.
Are you working on something at the moment or planning to make soon?
I have been asked to make some drum beaters for each sabbath. I have made a couple over the years, but I'm looking to make some different ones in 2024.
Thank you again Toni, where can people go to find out more about your work?
I do take on commissioned work.