The enchanting worlds of Verdantica

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Isobel Cortese is the fascinating person behind Verdantica. She creates bespoke and miniature terraniums and miniature scenes in curious objects. Her little worlds capture a moment in time and leave the viewer with a sense of enchantment and wonder.

I first came across Isobel’s Verdantica when visiting Leeds Craft and Design Centre earlier this Spring where she was exhibiting and I’ve followed her work since. I am delighted that she has taken some time from her miniature worlds to tell me all about her business.

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Isobel works from her attic space at home,

“It is a very bright room and I can hear the river when I have the window open, it is a lovely space to work in. I make all my creations at a table, which is usually full of jars in various stages of progress, long tools, tubs of tiny people, grass and trees. I always have my radio playing too. “

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Her morning schedule is a mixture of balancing family life and business organisation,

“After taking my kids to school, I have a cup of tea and some toast. During this quiet time, I plan what needs to be done for the day by making a list, then I am ready to start.”

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I asked Isobel about the more difficult aspects of setting up her business and some experiences which have given her confidence,

“There were many different challenges, such as learning how to make my own website and how to photograph my work, which was difficult as the light reflects off the glass. So I invested in a great photographer, Sarah Mason, who gave me some really useful tips. I still find the social media side of it a difficult one to be consistent with!”

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“It was a great confidence boost when Alison from the Heart Gallery, asked to stock my work during the very early stages of starting up. This was before I had started trading, so it was a real boost. Since then I have had my work at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park and it is now at Leeds Craft Centre and Design Gallery. Also doing art fairs have been great, as it is so nice to get a chance to chat with people about my work.”

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Isobel’s personal and business values centre around love and she believes if you love what you do it will show through your work. Balance in all aspects of life is also important to her, as well as respect and appreciation for nature, evident through a love of gardening.

“ Being disciplined can sometimes be hard, especially if it a beautiful day as I love being in the garden and allotment! But setting myself goals helps keep me disciplined. There is nothing better than a deadline to get me motivated! Also new ideas and sunshine motivate me.”

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“ I get ideas from many different ways, as I find inspiration in many forms. But when I find some little people that I love, I will find a way to make them part of a story. Or sometimes a particular vessel will be the inspiration as to what belongs inside it, especially the vintage pieces.”

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I asked Isobel for some advice for new startups and students and this is what she had to say,

“Whatever you do, try to find your USP (unique selling point), it helps to stand out and be different. But I think it is important to do something which is true to you, so you are creating from the heart. Believe in yourself and what you are doing. Don’t give up!”

Find out more about Verdantica here: