We’ve been big fans of Maxine Michaelides (aka the woman behind quirky vintage upcycled light company, Lost & Foundry) for YEARS. Then, during Artists Open Houses we met the lady herself in her own home (yep, we went a bit fan girl on her) and asked her to chat to us more about her story so far.
Luckily, we didn’t frightened her away, and she said yes. Here she tells us what it’s like been a female in a male dominated industry, where she finds inspiration and what it’s like selling her wares to celebs.
When and why did you set up Lost and Foundry?
I started making lights 5 years ago after being taught how to wire a lamp by my fella Tom. We had been running the Sunday Vintage and Makers market at Diplocks Yard on North Rd for two years so had already developed a keen eye for picking up interesting objects. The light making began when I saw a mason jar light at a Brooklyn Flea show in NY. It seemed a natural progression to start turning my vintage objects into lights.
How do you make them?
I choose the object carefully. I’m a minority as a female lighting maker which I think is a great advantage as I go for charming, humourful, nostalgic, peculiar and pleasing. I magic the hole, decide where a switch should go and what colours would work flex-wise and then wire it up!
I am a qualified PAT tester so all of my lighting is tested and insured. I seem to be a minority in this regard. Some people either don’t get their lights tested or pay someone to do all the wiring and testing for them. Where’s the crafts(wo)manship there!?
Your pieces are gorgeous! Which has attracted the most attention? Is there a certain theme that is especially popular?
People love the dogs and cats and the birds. Humour is a big theme in my work. C*ck Dog has been much appreciated for this reason.
We can see why! What has been your favourite piece?
“Olive” all the way. She came about by mistake when I broke her in half and she was reborn once she was placed on the green horse. She now lives in the kitchen of a famous British sculpture.
What has been your biz highlight so far?
There have been a few thrilling moments. Providing a wall of typewriter lights for a bar in Soho, selling a light to the lead singer of Kasabian, being featured in World of Interiors….then there was that non-highlight of being an artisan maker on 60 Minute Makeover. Cringe.
We won’t mention that, honest. Anything exciting coming up you’d like to tell us about?
I’ll be organising a four month pop-up show in Brighton under my makers umbrella The Stanley Road Store this autumn as well as building my set for a trade show in London in September. Saying that though, this spring has been so busy already with various pop-ups and opening my home to 25 artists as part of the Brighton Artists Open House festival that I’m most excited about going away to Kraków with Tom so I can eat pierogi until I faint.
Sounds good! Which one piece of advice do you wish you’d known before starting a biz?
I hadn’t realised how hard it is to actually have a day off. Particularly with having an iPhone. You can’t help but check your emails and check orders etc. It’s really hard to find work life balance when you working for yourself.
And finally, when you’re not busy working, what do you like doing in Brighton?
I live opposite the Duke of York’s cinema so I like to go there at least once a week. We have been known to take our dinner over there in our sock feet. I like riding my bike, walking our rescue mini Schnauzer Hudson and the odd invigorating sea swim. I like tapas and pints of beer!
Max, you’re our kinda woman. See more from Lost & Foundry here.