Holly Berry – Woven Code

I was really taken by these little squares of woven morse code when I first came across them. As a child I remember being fascinated by this secret language. Weaver Holly Berry has managed to capture some of this quiet mystery, and woven it into something very lovely indeed. Different on each side of the cloth, her blankets and scarves hide secret messages, stories and memories, that can be passed down for generations.

Holly’s larger blankets are woven in a 250 year old mill in Scotland and spell the word ‘LOVE’ throughout them in Morse-code. Her scarves and wraps are woven by hand in her South London studio. Holly can also make something to a bespoke design – tell her the message or story that you want to be hidden in the blanket, and she will make it for you.

I think this is such a fascinating idea – I love the thought of creating something which contains maybe an important family story, or a private message of love, to be kept and remembered.

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This mix of art and function makes these blankets really special I feel. There is a celebration of craft and traditional practice, but which also encompasses the new world, and our love for storytelling and a sense of value.

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“My luxury woven cloths, accessories and blankets are to be used everywhere and anywhere, inside and out, providing the warmth of wrapping yourself up in a protective and decorative layer, and enriching your experience with colour, warmth and love. I wish to create heirlooms that capture memories and stories and encourage an emotive connection between textile and owner.

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I’m always fascinated by where people get their inspiration – Holly seems to find it all over the place – the inspirations gallery on her blog shows a wide variety of sources and starting points, from chalk drawn pavements to note book sketches and piles of old fish crates – colours of skies, slates, and powdery sweets..acidic yellows and oranges adding an edge..there’s a sense of both the urban and the natural world, woven into one..and still that great feeling that always inspires me, of something that has taken time, thought, and a human hand to create.

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You can read more about Holly and her work on her website and blog –

www.hollyberryprojects.com.

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Fabulous Folk from The Contemporary Craft Festival, Bovey Tracey

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I only had a few hours last Saturday to visit the Contemporary Craft Festival at Bovey Tracey, but what a fantastic few hours it was. The work and people that I met there exceeded my expectations; there was such originality, commitment and true skill on every corner.

Visiting last weekend really confirmed to me my love for work made by hand, and the magic invisibly imbued into something that has taken time and physical effort to create. A spoon that has taken five or more hours to carve from a single piece of wood, a pot formed from clay collected on the hillsides, caressed and moved into achingly beautiful shapes, a lampshade decorated with wrap after wrap of a single piece of thread, tucked so gently into the other side. These skills and actions have value and meaning and feeling, and they must be maintained and supported. This is so important.

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JULIA JOWETT

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Julia was one of the first people that I met on Saturday, in the “one year on” tent, showcasing artists and craftspeople who were one year into their new businesses.

Julia works dense hand embroidery into metal gauzes and figuratively manipulated wire lines, before combining them with drawing and screen printing onto fabric and paper. This combination of sculpture and drawn elements, sometimes also incorporating words and phrases, made for a really engaging series of work that I was really drawn into. Each one feels a little like a keepsake box, a collection of memories or stories.

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You can make contact with Julia on her blog, here.

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ADAM BUICK

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 I felt an instant connection to Adam’s work, as I wandered into his small space in the corner of the tent. Something wonderfully quiet, natural and peaceful sang out into the surrounding crowds.

Looking on his work, I felt a strong sense of the sea and the landscape, something very close to nature. I later learned that Adam lives and works by the coast in West Wales.

Once home, I was fascinated to read more about his work, and took a look at his website and blog. I spent a good while reading there, and found him to be not only an intriguing artist but also an engaging writer and thinker.

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Adam has been recently involved in a self directed project entitled “Earth to Earth” . He placed an unfired clay jar onto a coastal hill at Carn Treliwyd, Pembrokeshire, Wales, and recorded its gradual weathering away to the environment as a series of photographs, one taken every 33 seconds. On his blog he makes comparisons to his process of firing in the studio, to the effects of the weather on his work. As he says “I am still committing the jar to the elements, air and water instead of fire and there is still a transformation.”

The end result is a moving and dreamlike time lapse film, showing not only the gradual disintegration of the jar, but the changing wild landscape, sea, movement of animals, and the sky and stars. It spoke to me of many things, of resilience, of fragility, and the power of the natural world.

The film was shown at an outdoor event in the centre of Buenos Aires on the 17th of May. You can watch a small portion of the film here.

I really encourage you to read more about this project, it is so fascinating and uplifting, and to look more closely at Adam’s beautiful work on his site.

It made complete sense as to why his work has such a quality, why it holds something of that passionate connection to nature, even in that crowded, noisy space.

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JANE BLEASE

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A warm and Autumnal hued space welcomed me in to Jane’s beautifully arranged collection of handmade lampshades, framed pictures, bookmarks and jewellery.

I was really taken by the absolute precision and care it must take to wrap each single piece of thread round and through the wood burned holes that decorate each handcrafted piece that she works on. The shades give a beautifully warm light, and are totally unique.

Jane is based in her studio/shop at The Manchester Craft and Design Centre. You can also see more and buy her work from her website here.

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CLAIRE ARMITAGE

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Claire’s fantastic energy buzzed all about her space as I stepped in to admire her collection of handmade silk scarves. She was dressed beautifully in her own handmade dress from her own line. Once I looked more closely at the designs on each scarf, I was struck by their intricacy and individuality. Each piece of work is finished with delicately layered edgings and hand-embroidered details, and each one seems to tell some story, of the sea, the landscape and environment. They are truly original and stunningly beautiful – you really have to see them in real life to truly appreciate them.

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Claire designs and hand prints her scarves and dresses, plus undertakes work as a costume designer and illustrator from her birthplace in Cornwall. You can visit her site here.

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NIC WEBB

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Nic was the last person that I met as I made my way out from the crowds. His calm manner and friendliness drew me in to his space, filled with carefully arranged displays of hand carved, traditionally made spoons, ladles and bowls. I really enjoyed the feeling of slow moving time and focus that seemed to fall from the displays and his way of working, there was a quiet honour to each piece of work.

I love that each spoon, each bowl that he creates is slightly different, and is worked with the wood not against it, enhancing each grain and knot and forming it into something original and full of spirit and life.

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You can visit Nic’s site here.

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I hope that I have shared with you a little of the warmth and originality that I found at Bovey Tracey. If you are near at the next event I really encourage you to visit. You can read more about the festival at their website here.

Thanks to everyone for taking the time to let me into their space and take photographs.

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Colour Bright

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Well, if your weather has been anything like it has been here for the past two weeks, you might be growing a little sick of the colour Grey..I certainly am, and so have been comforting myself with a search for something brighter.

Here are some of my visual cures for the “Supposed to be Summer but Feels like Winter” Blues..and if you’re having a beautiful hot sunny day where you are, enjoy!

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The creation of textile designer Lorna Syson, these fabric wall flowers would add interest and colour to any room. Lorna says that her inspiration comes from the British countryside, particularly in the Springtime. Her original flowers were based on Dahlia’s that she saw growing at the Eden project in Cornwall, and all of the designs since have their roots in countryside walks and being outside. These flowers can be bought ready made, or bespoke from 20cm upwards in a huge variety of colours, and are easily nailed to the wall using the back petals. Add a little Spring to your wall!

The cushions are fabulous too, and made from a really interesting fabric, being 75% wool and 25% stinging nettles, all sourced and manufactured organically. Huggable, bright, and cheerily good.

Visit Lorna’s site here.

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I found it really difficult to pick which pieces to feature from the work of Ceramic artist Myung Nam An (above). I find these, from her “Eyes” collection, completely unique and fascinating. I like the fact that they reference certain forms, but still remain totally open to individual interpretation. Some are a little like alien life forms, or strange wonders found in the deep seas, giving you a peep before crawling away on suckered feet..some are fun, like childhood sweets, or quirky ladies hats at the races. Working individually or as a group, it would be hard to choose.

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Hello! Such a cute little owl print from Peris & Corr – an organic textile printing company from North Wales.

Peris & Corr offer a water-based screen-printing service and can print onto t-Shirts, tote bags, babies clothes and more. They also design and make their own range of handmade textile products and greeting cards. You can read a little more about their printing processes and see the prints being made on their blog too.

I also particularly liked these Welsh blanket lampshade designs. Bright and lovely.

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Lastly, but by no means leastly, these fantastic coat hooks, made from vintage 1930s wooden shoe lasts really brought a smile to my face..

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I found these at White Dove & Wonder, a company run by art and antiques dealer Susan Gaston and her husband Jimmy.

Grown from an impulse purchase of a collection of vintage Northamptonshire made shoe lasts, Susan and Jimmy began to see many interesting and attractive uses for these discarded items.

They both come up with the designs together, and then Jimmy painstakingly restores each shoe last before hand-making each piece using natural wood.

(I don’t think the doggy comes with the coat hook, but I’d take him home happily too 🙂 )

That’s it for now, I hope you have a bright and sunny day, wherever you are.

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Timorous Beasties

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Some of my favourite wallcoverings at the moment from design studio Timorous Beasties. (Click twice to enlarge)

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1. Birds ‘n’ Bees, Duck Egg Blue. Shimmering, light reflecting, ever so slightly textured, in the most beautiful range of colours. The details in this design, the bird colours in particular, are heavenly.

2. Euro Damask Hand-Print, Reds on Cream.

3. Iguana Superwide, Black on Ivory. An intricate pattern with a hand drawn quality, reminiscent to me of historical botanical book illustrations. Manages to be both sweet and a little nasty.

4. Butterflies, in Ochre. Here are golds, powdery silver hued pinks and mauves, and tiny patches of green that really catch the light. The paper has a lovely textural quality to the surface, like tissue paper.

6. Tree of Life, in Raspberry. A soft, dreamy pattern that has a hint of the past about it, brought to life by smooth ripples of pale pink.

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There are printed fabrics, cushions, lampshades and rugs too, in many different colour choices.

Timorous Beasties also provide a bespoke service, from custom colours to original artwork. All design work takes place at their Glasgow Studio, where they continue to hand-print many of their fabrics and wallpapers.

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www.timorousbeasties.com

Be Lucky!

I love the feeling of a New Year. It’s a bit like the sensations you experience (hopefully minus the dread) at the start of a new school term, where you have your new pencils, unsharpened, your new books, uncreased, and your new school shirt, a bit cardboardy. It is that sense of possibility that I love – a time when you can make all sorts of resolutions (that you probably won’t keep) and imagine all that is going to come. It’s odd how a day can make a difference. A rubbish year the day before can be transformed into a new one, time for a fresh new beginning.

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What a perfect time to find this new fabric from The Colourhouse! The fabric, a linen and organic cotton mix, is named “Be Lucky” – exactly the bright and playful spirit that we need in this wet grey January.  There is a lovely feeling of elegance and nostalgia in this print, whilst remaining relaxed and contemporary, with colours that remind me of peppery mustard fields, bone china teacups and beautiful old pieces of rusted iron.

The Colourhouse, launched at Tent London in 2011, is a small, independent, handprint wallpaper and textile company. Marian’s professional background in interior design and painting and Jo’s in costume for TV and film, gives the collection a really eclectic feel. They are also concerned with environmental sustainability, and aim to minimise the impact of their design and making processes. Keen to celebrate traditional skills in dye, print and making, their base cloths and papers are produced and printed by hand in the UK.

As their name might suggest, these people certainly know colour – almost powdery hues of cardamom yellow, tobacco, duck egg blue, sap green and stone; beautiful, earthy and bright.  I also love their collection of antique, hand woven Italian hemp.  You can also buy feather filled cushions using the Be Lucky print, and more, from their website.

I asked Jo a little more about her work, in particular the “Be Lucky” print.

“My work is based on the English landscape and the creatures that inhabit it, be they urban or rural. One of the best places for me to begin thinking about my designs is on my early morning walk with my dog Jack in Paddington Cemetery, North West London. It’s very peaceful and a real refuge from the mayhem of Kilburn High Road!

“Be Lucky” evolved from my interest in the folklore, myths and sayings that filter through into our modern world today. I love symbols and motifs and I’m fascinated by craft and folk art and the decorative impact they have had on our domestic environment, as well as their history and influence today.”

Can you describe how a design evolves from first inspiration to completed piece?

“My work processes start with research, from a variety of sources. Sometimes visiting galleries and museums (one of my favourites is Kettles Yard, Cambridge), or wandering down Goldbourne Road (the junky end of Portobello Market ) on a Friday, looking for bits of other peoples junk – from lovely old books to a bunch of old embroidery patterns, and bits of linen and china from house clearances. It’s surprising how just gathering a few things can get me going!

Drawing is my starting point and then I cut into the lino – that seems to transform my images into something else….I love the texture and the lines that you get from it. I then print the images off from the lino onto paper and lay them out together to see what works together. I scan them into the computer and start playing around with the imagery in photoshop, and it eventually evolves into a design that I like. The hard bit for me is having to put it into repeat and work to a screen size. But, although is is time consuming, I love the whole process!”

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HAPPY NEW YEAR!