Viv Sliwka ~ Hens Teeth


Name:Viv Sliwka
Company: Hens Teeth
Sum up your business in a sentence. Handmade quirky art and accessories

When did you start your business and why? I have always embroidered and sketched. Over the last ten years, I have been constantly designing and making. The last six or seven years in particular, I have developed my style and technique. I am obsessed with designing and making. I have collected vintage textiles, ephemera and haberdashery, the worn and torn tat, all of my life. Working these snippets of past lives into my work, alongside my designs is a constant source of joy to me. So I feel extremely fortunate that I am now able to have the time, even though I am constantly tired and hurt, to make and bring perhaps a little pleasure to my lovely customers with my ‘makes’.

What & who inspires you? I am inspired by American Prim art, the really extreme Prim dolls. Nature, flowers, birds and bunnies. Birds …their shapes and characteristics are fascinating…for example, I love how Sparrows have rigid legs and hop.
Like thousands of others, I admire the work of Julie Arkell, Janet Bolton and Jayne Lennard. These artists for me, have set a trend for the quirky, homespun, off the wall art and craft to become part of the craft revolution and more acceptable in the mainstream.


What sets you apart from others? Oh blimey, I don’t know. Diversity of the pieces I make, perhaps?
I always try to bring a little humour into my work. I am not a deep and meaningful creative. I like to bring a sense of decorative fun to my work. I often have lovely comments of how my work makes people smile.

What did you do before setting up your business? I worked at a College as an Art Print Room Technician.

The best part of your day/ running your own business. Getting that excited feeling when you have an idea, especially if it comes to fruition. Even more wonderful if someone makes a purchase, with their hard earned cash. I never take that for granted, especially as I sell online and a customer really takes a leap of faith when they click that buy now button.

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Your favourite product & why. I am very fond of Lavinia. She is a girl character who has many forms. She may be a brooch, she may be a pin cushion or she may embellish a purse. She may have her dog or kitty with her…she is a very diverse, flexible girl. I think her whimsical smile makes others smile.
I also enjoy working little vignettes into old and worn tins and cutlery boxes.
Oh yes, and working on envelopes, mixed media … paint, embroidery, collage that makes me happy too…again, I could go on.


Your greatest business tip. Blog! Blogging has been life enhancing for me. My world changed when I made that first post. Little did I know at the time where it would take me. Into the world of Vintage and Hand Fairs for one thing. I have met so many wonderful people. I am now part of so many circles of truly inspirational, kindly, supportive groups of people. The best of friends I have made. I have attended Fairs and visited places, I would never have been to. So I cannot encourage anyone enough to blog and comment on blogs and gravitate to like minded people.

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Your favourite colour. Aqua

Star sign. Sagittarius

Your biggest weakness. There are many, but a shiny, pearly old Mother of Pearl button is irresistible.


Your biggest success. Attending Selvedge Fairs. When I worked at College, if someone had said ‘you will have a stand with Selvedge one day’, I would have laughed. So, my advice is, follow your dream, work hard for it, be obsessive about it. But you all know that anyway.

Funniest moment. Well, it wasn’t funny at the time…but a few years ago my accountant (when I was self employed, making greetings cards) came to my home for a meeting. We were sitting at the dining table discussing end of year accounts etc. and my lovely old dog, Rosie, very unsociably and completely out of character for her, decided to take a dump under the table. Embarrassing and very smelly! It makes me smile now to remember that frightful scenario.

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Favourite quote. Cross that bridge when you come to it
Favourite motto. Seize the day
Favourite artist. I am very inspired by the drawing style of Egon schiele, Arthur Rackham and Lisbeth Zwerger


Favourite season. Oh, without a doubt Spring, even though it usually feels like Winter, I adore the season and want to hold onto it.

Business dream. Keep doing what I am doing. Maybe travel with my workshops. To be featured in UK magazines…sigh.

Favorite flower. Banks of Ox Eye Daisies, along the roadside…oh and cow parsley…I could go on.


What are you listening to right now. My beloved Radiohead.

Your simple pleasure. A jobs list ticked. Ticking lists always makes me feel good. It’s just, if I don’t make a list, invariably things don’t get done.

What’s your brew. Coffee. I could not imagine how I would cope with life, if I couldn’t have my three fresh coffees in the morning.


Tell us a joke. I am pants at joke telling.

Thanks Viv for telling us about you. I love your work and as you know have quite a few bits of your work. The photos always look great but in ‘real’ life they are even better. I love that Viv has such a very individual style, I can recognise her work anywhere and it always excited me when I see it. I feel special buying it and looking at it.


0 thoughts on “Viv Sliwka ~ Hens Teeth

  1. I adore Viv’s work have been a fan of Hen’s Teeth for such a long long time… I love how everytime you study a piece you see more and more detail that you didn’t even notice first time round. Fab interview and beautiful work. xx

  2. Marna, a huge thank you to you. I found answering the questions really hard, but this was such a good exercise for me….in thinking about one’s work, inspiration, making and simple pleasures in life…like a brew and music. Thank you again for asking me and for your very kind conclusion xxx

  3. What a lovely interview. Hens Teeth is one of the originals, there are a few excellent professional textile designers and she’s def in that group. I love the name ‘Hens Teeth’, as it so defines her way of working and whole ethos behind her work.

  4. The lovely and talented Viv, been a fan for some time and WILL purchase a piece soon, I have decided to treat myself when I move home. Wonderful post x

  5. A lovely interview, as the comment above i don’t know Viv but its really good to see who is behind the inspiring HensTeeth, such Talent!!
    Thank you for this interview

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