For the love of amigurumis

Gilda Gigi Perez Madrid takes over the blog today to talk about her love of creativity and the Japanese art of amigurumi. 

Hello! I’m Gigi and I believe in the power of creativity and enjoyment as a way to create our own reality.  I studied Literature, art therapy, tarot, mandala meditation and many other creative and inspiring technics.  I love nature and its beauty, and I enjoy observing it and get inspired by it!

I started making crocheted friends for myself to enlighten my everyday space, and now I’m very excited to share it with everyone who enjoys the company of cute beings!

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I work mostly from home, looking at the birds chirping outside the window while I crochet or felt in my living room, but sometimes I go to a cafe or library for a change, always looking for inspiration and creative ideas.

My main inspiration is nature and the amazing world that surrounds us. I love animals, flowers, trees, and people, I enjoy long walks and talks, I love to observe and feel connected with other.

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I make ‘amigurumis’ -cute animals and objects made of crochet, like foxes, whales, cats and more-, and felted things as well -woollen shaped birds, flowers and mushrooms and other natural creatures.

I friend taught me to crochet. I wanted to make crocheted flowers and mandalas for decoration, but then I discover the amigurumis technique.  I couldn’t believe the infinite possibilities of creations! all the animals and cute creations I could make with just a hook and some yarn.

The needle felting I learned last year in some classes here in Leeds, and I completely loved how you can create any possible shape from scratch, sculpting and shaping, adding details and everything you can imagine with wool.

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What I love the most about Luna by Gigi is the possibility of making things, of creating anything I want to, like the animals I love and things that makes me happy, using colourful materials. And, of course, the chance to create cute objects that other people can enjoy and share.

I feel that every creation is a part of how I see and enjoy the world. They are my way to share what I enjoy and love the most.

The hardest part of this job for me is to be by myself most of the time. Making crafts is a solitaire work, as you are almost always involved in an individual project. While I love the chance to express my creativity, I sometimes find difficult to deal with the loneliness of the job. I love being with and share with others. That’s why I try to work with others as much as possible, and participate in craft fairs and events, so I can meet other people that could be in a similar situation.

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Gilda will be at Design@HEART Art and Craft Fair on Saturday 9th June at Headingley HEART, Bennett Road, Leeds LS6 3HN,  10am-4pm.

A slightly less cool way of nailing your life long ambition

This week, Paula Perrins of Wychbury Designs takes over the blog to tell us about her textiles business and her passion for stitching.

When I was young I desperately wanted to be like the fashion designer Jean Muir, with red hair, black clothes and designing things for a living, I suppose I sort of nailed it in a much less cool way! I started making things to actually sell when I had my first child in 2004 and decided not to go back to my call centre job. I love to sew but have gradually grown apart from my sewing machine in favour of hand stitch over the years.

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I started my business like many of us, to fit in around my children. I had previously worked in a jewellery factory (literally a factory, nothing creative here!) and in the pattern rooms of a couple of fabric converting companies which I loved. As this work dried up in our region, I’d fallen into working in the collections department in the call centre of a well known utilities company which I decided not to return to after giving birth to my first child in 2004. I got the opportunity to work in collaboration with my close friend and that’s where it all started.

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I am always learning. I mainly teach myself new techniques with books and the internet but have had some wonderful teachers and mentors over the years. I studied a course in Creative Textile Techniques in Saltaire in the two years between my children being born and love to attend workshops and courses when I can. I am also a new member of the Airedale Branch of the Embroider’s Guild where the members are an endless resource of knowledge and skill to learn from.

I have a workspace in the loft of my very small house in Bingley which is accessible only by a ladder. There is very little head room and I’m nearly 5’9″ so its not ideal. It’s freezing in the winter and I tend to work elsewhere in the house where it’s warmer, gradually spreading like a virus until Spring or until we run out of space, whichever comes first. Although where I live is beautiful, I dream about being somewhere warmer pretty much all of the time. I have a wonderful friend who is an artist and designer, living on Kefalonia in Greece where I got married, and I pretty much want to be her. Jealousy is an ugly word but I may be a little guilty of it sometimes if I’m honest.

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My work is all centred around my obsessive love of sewing. I make pincushions, other sewing accessories, jewellery and art work. I stitch by hand and incorporate patchwork and embroidery techniques into many of my pieces. I try to make my work express a feeling of nostalgia for a time before technology in my work, which is how I feel about making it. I use recycled and vintage fabrics as much as possible as well as collected haberdashery and try to incorporate them into my jewellery as well as my stitched work. My branding reflects my love of old things too, with lots of tea staining and hand stamped print.

I absolutely love to work with well washed, recycled fabrics with a bit of a tale to tell. I no longer buy fabric new and most of my materials are left over from other stitchers projects. English paper piecing in miniature is by far my favourite method of using up the tiny scraps of fabric.

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I like making my sewing accessories best because I know they are being bought by people who are as crazy about sewing as I am. I listen to the ladies at the Embroiderer’s Guild talk about the things they love about their sewing, favourite materials, stitches etc and try to work those ideas into my pieces.

Organised and tidy are just words that apply to other people and I struggle endlessly with balancing work and home in terms of both time and space. However, I love the flexibility of being my own boss even if it’s daunting sometimes. I love being able to work in front of my own fire or out in the garden in the Summer. Taking advantage of a sunny day to explore something new is an opportunity I’m always eager to seize! If I stall on a project and need to clear my head, I can get my boots on and go out for an hour with my whippet, Ginny any time I like.

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I really feel that after all of these years I am at a happy place with the work that I’m producing at the moment. I am pleased with the balance of production and creativity that I’ve got going on right now and I feel that the extra curricular stuff I’m doing with the Embroiderers Guild is really feeding my work and driving it forward. I love that I no longer buy fabric and keep all of my outgoings on materials to the bare minimum. Using recycled and donated materials as much as possible is both inspiring and satisfying.

Wychbury Designs will be at Design@HEART on Saturday 9th June at Headingley HEART 10am-4pm.

Old Linen and Cups of Tea Round at Emma’s!

In our latest blog-takeover, Emma Mears explains how she swapped a teaching job for a full time career in textile art.

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I began making and creating eight years ago, when I left my career in teaching. I enrolled on several short courses, in felting, drawing and painting, embroidery and textiles and ceramics and basically, never looked back! I applied to go to my local Art College; Cleveland College of Art & Design to study for a Foundation Degree in Applied Arts – ceramics, jewellery and textiles. I really loved textiles and so I decided to study this further and applied for a level 3 City & Guilds qualification in Embroidery and Design.

I started my creative textile art and accessories business Emma Mears Textiles in May of last year.

My textile art is inspired by nature and the countryside, in particular the textures, shapes and colours of wild flowers (but I love garden varieties too). I recreate scenes or landscapes, seascapes and also still life inspired pictures. I absolutely love old books, magazines and journals about flowers, for example the Observer and Wayside and Woodland books, and I am finding I am using these old hand drawn and painted style of images to inspire my own creations and flower designs.
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I like to create unique one off designs and so I vary my techniques quite a lot. My favourites are hand embroidery, applique, collage, broderie perse and free motion embroidery. I also like to mix it up and use both traditional and contemporary techniques together. My work is colourful and textural with a naïve and stylised quality. I love all things old and worn or ‘used’ and so I often incorporate old linen, quilted pieces, embroidered tablecloths, tea tray cloths, handkerchiefs and old clothes or lace into my work. I like the idea of adding something to a piece of cloth that has already been stitched into by another hand and giving it a new lease of life! I am getting quite a hoarder and magpie for old prints and linen! I also like to mix and match old and new materials together to give a contemporary touch to a vintage piece.

I mostly create textile art in the form of pictures, but I also like to make smaller wearable art such as brooches and pendants. I also make a range of small lanterns for tea lights and bespoke lampshades. My range is extending all of the time.
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My main studio is in my home in my spare room. I love my studio and being surrounded by things I have acquired and love. It is my sanctuary. In the summer, I love to stitch outside , so I tend to take over the ‘little blue shed’! I feel very lucky being my own boss and being able to organise my own time, but you really need to be strong with yourself and get into a routine or you can get led astray and not get any work done and drink far too many cups of tea!

My hopes for the future are that I’ll be supplying a handful of small gallery/gift/handcrafted shops, and that I’ll continue to be happy with my work and be inspired. I would love to teach and do regular workshops and share my knowledge and passion for textiles. And I would love to be able to say I am earning a living from my work.

Emma will be at Design@HEART on Saturday 9th June 2018, 10am-4pm, Headingley HEART Centre, Bennett Road, Leeds LS6 3HN.

I started the business to justify how many tools I’d bought!

Our next fair is only 9 weeks away, and there’s so much lovely stuff from very talented artists and craftspeople.  So for the next few weeks, we’ll be handing over the blog to some of them, to tell us about themselves and their work.  Today, Helen Drye of Silver and Stone Jewellery Design talks about her art work and her business.

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I started Silver and Stone Jewellery Design in July 2012. I did the classic, turning a hobby into a business. I often say it was to justify how many tools I’d bought – if you craft you’ll understand! I love teaching people, it gives me a wonderful sense of pride that people can have a mini ‘retreat’, close off from the outside world and create something stunning. When I’m not creating jewellery and teaching a like to do embroidery. Just small pieces and very free style, but it keeps my fingers occupied!

My studio used to be at home, but I’d get an idea in the middle of the night and get up and make it! Now its near home, but far enough that I can’t sneak off. Its just next to Skipwith Common Nature Reserve, a beautiful woodland and common land, with rare breads roaming around. You can wander through the common and see deer, black sheep, and then have a pony walk in front of you! It is truly stunning, but shhhh – don’t tell anyone. You’ll see the trees in my designs, to me there is something mystical about the Common. This area has been common land for centuries, but during the second world war it was a RAF training base. You can still see some of the remains, but the trees are reclaiming their land.

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I produce silver jewellery, primarily made using precious metal clay, a silver that can be moulded before its fired, and becomes 99.9% silver, known as fine silver. Silver and Stone reflects the main materials I use, silver obviously, but gemstones come into my designs too. Labradorite and moonstone in the main, but others sneak in when I’m teaching. You’ll see my logo features a big heart with hearts inside – I just love what I do!

I started my career in local government and I loved it. I was developing businesses and each day was different. I helped lots of people start their own business, and always knew I’d have a business of my own. When I had my daughter I went back to work, but found I also had a lot of evening meetings. One day I realised I was passing her from one set of childcare to another, and so I left, just like that! It was hard, but I’m a believer in following your heart, and I don’t regret it.

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Most of my jewellery design was self taught. I did do some classes originally, but then decided to develop my own skills, mainly because the classes were expensive and I couldn’t afford them. I still invest in my own development – I love doing classes with other crafts and see what I can transfer into metal clay, and love meeting and taking part in classes with people throughout the world. I am certified to teach by both Art Clay and Precious Metal Clay. Not many people can say that!
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I love being my own boss. There’s no office politics, and no one else to please. My deadlines are my own and my plans are my own. I can have creative time out or get stuck into my accounts. If my daughter is unwell, I can drop everything and be there for her. I thought I’d be lonely working for myself, but I’m not. I like my own company, and when I run workshops, I have lots of interaction and lots of laughs with the students.

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My favourite materials are Precious metal clay – the Flex version. It relatively new, but I can use it for lots of techniques, that are a bit quirky. Not many people use it to its full capacity – I’m aiming to ! Its the only metal clay you can dry to create a paper style silver which is easy to bend and flex, to create something unique.

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My ambitions for the future? I’d like to be seen as a master teacher and have taught in USA and Europe. I’d like to have a range of jewellery in a number or high end galleries and museums. I’d also really like to have my eyesight to be able to do all of those things.

Silver and Stone Jewellery Design will be at Design@HEART’s summer fair on 9th June 2018 10am-4pm at HEART Centre, Bennett Road, Headingley, Leeds LS6 3HN.