Cornelia Weinmann is a textile deigner with a fine arts background who upcycles fabric
and furniture. Her home-based studio is in Kettins near Coupar Angus in east Perthshire.
Originally from Germany, Cornelia first started her business over 20 years ago when she
lived in Canada and wanted to develop her passion for fabric and colour from a hobby
to an income-generating enterprise.
She joined a local network of small and home-based businesses which ultimately led to her first showcase with the chamber of commerce where she lived. After moving to the UK, Cornelia started co-renting a pottery studio – clay sculpture is another aspect of her creative practice alongside printing, painting and upcycling fabric and furniture - before moving to Scotland and settling in rural Perthshire.
The enterprise journey
Explaining how she got to where she is today, Cornelia says: “I have always got a great deal of joy from making and creating and have always been a maker of things.
“I have an innate sense of colour, shape and balance which first found expression in painting on glass, in linoprints and collages and in weaving, amongst other media – I have a fascination with exploring new techniques in all the art media I cover.
“All these creative skills were put to one side however, when I embarked on a university teaching career. Later I began to integrate academic experience with creativity and started training as an exhibit designer in Munich, Germany.”
A move to Canada saw Cornelia open a home-based studio for functional art where she started painting furniture and fabrics in response to the growing trend to reuse items creatively.
She mainly used vintage furniture, transforming it into bright focal points for unique interiors, complemented by her own hand-dyed, hand-printed fabrics.
From Canada, Cornelia moved to Ireland, then Wales, and, in 2014 to Scotland. Her focus shifted from functional art to more decorative work and to printmaking and painting. Her paintings are characterised by bright colours while her printwork starkly contrasts black and white.
Cornelia recently rediscovered a love of sewing, and, after taking some sewing and embroidery classes, decided to make textile art a new direction for her creative practice. She now works with re-purposed fabric and contributes to the production of sustainable, ethical fashion and a more circular economy.
She says: “I started with hand-painted and printed textiles, added upcycled furniture, and later took up printmaking and painting on paper and canvas.
“For a few years I worked with ceramic sculpture and recently I've started moving towards upcycling fabric to create colourful handmade garments.
“Being self-employed it wasn't difficult to implement these variations to my art practice and explore different markets and audiences and I love being able to immerse myself in the amazing creative world of colour and design.”
Cornelia admits that the freedom she enjoys from being self-employed “comes with a lot of responsibility”.
She says: “Taking care of every possible business aspect and constantly making my own decisions is much more difficult than being told what to do.
“I think it is important for small businesses or entrepreneurs to look for help if you feel stuck or overwhelmed. If you can't delegate tasks, find a mentor or take classes covering what you need solutions for. Join business associations and networking groups, use social media and online resources to get advice.
“I've always received help through networking, through taking classes and through extensive online research and the business support networks and funding options for artists are excellent here in Scotland. I also get strong tailor-made support from the enterprise facilitators and learning sessions run by GrowBiz which supports business and enterprise in rural Perth and Kinross.”
Cornelia first heard about GrowBiz through an article in a local newspaper. She said that when she went to her first networking meeting organised by the community-based enterprise support organisation, she was “surprised to find quite a few local artists among the participants” and that it made her feel at home right from the beginning.
Since then, she has been instrumental in the launch of GrowBiz’s peer support group for creatives and regularly attends those sessions. Cornelia is also part of the innovative Perthshire Artisans pilot project – a marketing and e-commerce portal featuring some of the best creatives, makers and artists working in Perthshire.
She says: “GrowBiz is extremely important because it covers all of rural Perthshire and Kinross, offering opportunities to get help, to learn and to network and support even in remote areas where it is more difficult to access the resources necessary when planning to go professional. And everyone working for GrowBiz is friendly, competent and helpful.”
Looking to the future
Cornelia says that she wants to move away from practicing fine art and into what she describes as “functional art”, specifically creating unique garments using mainly recycled fabrics, and she hopes to have an online shop up and running this year.
And through that she says she is “hoping to become a recognised player on the stage of the environmentally-friendly production of slow fashion, maybe being part of a collective of textile designers.”
See www.corneliaweinmanndesign.com for more information