Sarah Dunton

Sarah Dunton’s work went down very well last Christmas, so we’re having her back!  Here she is talking about her work:

I am a painter, potter and plant grower – and maker of small objects. I always drew as a child, and went on to study fine art at Leeds University.

My influences and inspirations are manifold, ranging from medieval art with its sturdy practicality, glorious disregard for proportion and delight in decoration, to the 20th century painters Paul Klee and Marc Chagall, whose work is often dreamlike.

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I learnt etching at Leeds, Morley College and Sir John Cass College in London and , much more recently, pottery at Swarthmore College.

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My work is derived from memory of things observed – I try to create calm-inducing and/or tactile work, which usually includes portrayals of birds and plants and occasionally people in their own worlds.

“Everything begins with a pencil!”

One of many new faces at Design@HEART this December is Shaun Vickers, artist and illustrator.  Here, we have a look at his background and his current work, which is sure to strike a chord with many of our shoppers. 

Shaun has always worked within the creative sector, initially trained in Graphic Design in Leicester he was soon illustrating with an airbrush for Athena poster shops back in the 80’s which set him on a path within the greeting card and publishing industry, having successfully freelanced for many years, Shaun joined several top card and publishing companies as Design Manager, Creative Manager through to Art Director overseeing many successful design teams and creating award winning ranges for many high street retailers and grocers.

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Now working from his attic studio in the village of Baildon with expansive views over Baildon Moor, alongside rescued cat ‘Ozzy’ they get wonderful views of nature and life passing by.

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This new venture as ‘Fine Art by Shaun’ allows him the freedom to create his own work without any restrictions, despite being proficient in all medium’s the humble pencil has long been his medium of choice as it allows fine detail to be achieved and the final image to be constructed in a steady controlled manner.

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With a love of all things Nature and Wildlife and given the resurgence of the focus on nature conservation and awareness, pet owner Shaun thought it the right time to marry subject matter with traditional working. To strip the image of colour and focus on the detail and character of the subject matter is really important, as the work continues to evolve so does the variety of situations, poses and formatting for each piece. Whilst he’s passionate about the work he does, his commercial background also focuses on the fact the work has a relevant  appeal and value to the wider public and so mixes pet and equine commissions with the larger wildlife pieces to sell as originals, prints and cards. As well as illustrating all things nature he also works on pet and equine portrait commissions

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This year has seen Shaun exhibit at several town halls and galleries for the first time with his own work, still experimenting with subject matter and formats it’s been a good grounding for the future direction for his next set of illustrations. This year has also seen him showcase his work in all manner of forms at country and craft shows in Yorkshire and his native Leicestershire, meeting new customers, and engaging with other stall holders and building up relationships and friendships through the unique band of ‘Creative Makers’, “I’m really excited for the challenge and opportunities that lie ahead and I’m very much looking forward to attending Decembers Christmas Craft event at Design @ Heart 8th December…see you all there!”

Favourite quote:

“Everything begins with a pencil!”

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Everyone Loves Bags!

Sue Turrill of Nuthatch Designs will be back at Design@HEART this December with her beautiful tweed bags.  Here she is talking about her work:

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When I was a small child I would spend weeks in the summer with my two siblings staying with our Grandmother and her two sisters.  That was when I really started creating things, using embroidery, sewing and knitting.  I remember spending hours with my Great Aunt Mary embroidering daisies around the edges of tray cloths, and I loved it.  Even from a young age needlecraft for me has always been a way of relaxing whilst producing something unique and useful.

I’ve since wanted to combine traditional methods I’d learnt with modern ways of life.  Everyone has some sort of electronic device and it seemed the obvious choice to incorporate my designs with natural fabrics to produce unique covers and cases to protect them.  Shortly after starting my business a good friend of mine said “why don’t you make bags? Everyone loves bags?”.  So after a bit of thinking I decided to give bags a go as well.  She was right of course and I love making them too!

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Natural fabrics are important to me as they combine durability with practicality meaning they will last but can also be recycled into something new in time.  I love the tactile nature of wool and the properties it has for retaining shape and repelling dirt. I’m sure my love of natural fabrics is in part linked to my love of nature.  I’ve always been drawn to wildlife and the countryside so the imagery I create on the smaller purses represents this part of my life,and it’s also why my shop name is Nuthatch Designs – it’s just my favourite bird.

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Wherever possible I try to champion British manufactured natural fabrics, and design and handmake the bags and cases I sell.   I absolutely love the heritage wool fabric Harris Tweed which is only produced under licence in the Outer Hebrides and now includes many brighter modern colourways from upcoming young weavers. In themselves they are a thing of beauty and I feel very lucky to be able to use them.

Nuthatch Designs will be at Design@HEART on Saturday 8th December at the HEART Centre, Bennett Road, Leeds LS6 3HN 

 

 

 

 

Mei Tai, Bei Dai or Mei Dai? However you spell it, Tag Togs is the place to get them!

Amanda Green of Tag Togs is taking over the blog today to talk about her business making babywear and accessories.  

From a young age I have always sewn things, when I was very young I use to get any scraps of fabric from my mums sewing projects and cut and hand sew them into clothes for my Sindy and Barbie dolls. My mum and nan then taught me how to sew and I started making clothes for myself, I did sewing at school for GCSE and A’Level before it all got grouped in with other design things, I helped make clothes for the school theatre productions, and so it seemed like a natural progression to go to uni and do a textile based degree. The sewing stopped there, the degree I did was technology based with a lot of practical but no sewing. I picked sewing back up about 10 years later when I worked as a factory manager for a pillow and mattress protector manufacturer, the ladies who did all the sewing showed me how to make the products. Now I have moved onto babywear which is a bit more fiddly than making a mattress protector, but it is a lot of fun especially when I go fabric shopping, there is too much choice!

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I started my business after my first child in 2009, the company I worked for closed down, we made mattress protectors and pillows and I ran the business for the owner, once it had closed I decided to start my own business up doing the same thing. This has now progressed onto my babywear brand. I started making the baby carriers in 2013 when my second child was about 6 months old.

I originally went to uni and did a textile technology degree, this included spinning, weaving, CAD, dying and finishing and factory management, I think all these elements of my degree and experience in various companies have helped me to run my own business.
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I have a unit in Milnsbridge, Huddersfield which is great although not ideal, the unit is set out in small offices, I would ideally like one large room with all my sewing machines in together, I am looking at re-designing the layout of the unit which will mean knocking down walls, this is something I am putting off at the moment – the mess!!

The type of baby carrier I make is called a Mei Tai or Bei Dai or Mei Dai. It has a main panel which holds the baby and 2 shoulder straps and a waist strap which ties the carrier to the parent/carer. The carrier can be personalised with a patterned accent panel on the front and the back so this would then make it a completely reversible carrier. I also make baby bags or babywearing bags , and baby clothes which co-ordinate and match the carriers.

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I love being in control of my work hours, (to a certain degree), one of the reasons I wanted to have my own business was to be my own boss and enable me to spend time with my children and attend school events, which is not always possible when you work for someone else.

There’s some aspects of it though, that I’d happily hand over. I find the marketing difficult, I would love someone to come and do all of that bit for me. It can also be a bit lonely sometimes, especially when you need to bounce ideas off someone or ask for someones opinion.

I would like to get my babywear into a few more shops, currently I have some products in 2 local craft shops and would like to increase this and go a bit further afield.

Amanda will be at Design@HEART on this coming Saturday 9th June at Headingley HEART Centre, Bennett Road, Leeds LS6 3HN

A Passion for Pattern

Preeti Gupta is bringing Pattern Passion back to Design@HEART next week and we can’t wait to see what new designs she’s got in store.  She’s taken over the blog this week to tell us more about her company and work.

Pattern Passion is the home of hand painted and hand drawn patterns inspired by nature which I create lovingly in my studio in Leeds. These designs are digitally printed onto luxury silks to adorn elegant and unique womenswear, scarves, cushions, purses, wristlets and men’s accessories. Great quality digital printing allows all the patterns to capture the original concept and artwork in the finest detail and always retain the handmade natural element. I strive to bring the finest unique wearable and decorative art. Some of the latest additions to my range of products are super soft silk scrunchies, silk headbands, square and long scarves, wristlets, coasters  and ties adorned with new hand painted patterns.

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As far as my memory can take me I have always been a nature lover and always will be. It doesn’t cease to amaze me and inspire. As a child I was naturally drawn to nature. I could sit for hours in silent wonder, literally watching the flowers grow. Little did I know then that I was serving my apprenticeship for my future career.  All artists have many inspirations and mine first came in that garden. My first designs were inspired by that cacophony of colour, so bright, so raw, so vibrant. I have always enjoyed drawing and painting. I grew up to pursue medical profession but realised very soon that my happiness lay in anything to do with painting and drawing. This led me to take up textile design studies in India which I thoroughly enjoyed and practiced for a few years before coming to UK. My inquisitiveness led me to take up BA Honours in Printed Textiles and Surface Pattern Design at Leeds College of Art which was a very enjoyable creative journey. After working for a few high street retailers such as Dorma furnishings, M&S, John Lewis I decided to launch my own brand; Pattern Passion.

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I have a little studio at home where I begin with painting or drawing loads of motifs. After that I work on the computer to play around with the painted motifs and create some repeat patterns out of them. These are sent out for digital printing onto silks and then made into various products.

I really enjoy the creative side of my work. I derive a lot of joy, peace and satisfaction from creating my artwork and products. The whole process from research to completion is thoroughly enjoyable. I also find the interaction and connection with my customers very rewarding.

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The biggest challenge of running a micro business for me is managing everything alone. Sometimes I feel it’s a bit of a juggle doing everything yourself. It’s about finding the balance between creating, marketing, selling and also having a life.  In a few years’ time I would like Pattern Passion to be known as a brand that can be trusted for great designs and quality. I would love to see it in some top design led shops.

My inspiration is the beautiful Yorkshire countryside

Artist Lucy Tomlinson takes over the blog today to talk about her first forays into art and how she came to be a professional artist.

I am a self-taught artist, living in Rawdon, and surrounded by the beautiful Yorkshire Countryside, which is where I get most of my inspiration, particularly when out walking my dog, Jasper.

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After giving up work when my children were born, I discovered after lots of art and crafts sessions and one in particular, a children’s watercolour session at our local café, that I was in fact quite arty! I have always found it difficult to find art for my own house, so I decided to try and create my own.  A few hours later and I had produced a colourful hare, which is still framed in my lounge.

I was hooked and any spare time was spent painting in watercolour, most commonly wildlife, hares, bees and flowers.  I love to paint them in different colours to their natural state.

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I then decided to get some of my images printed by a local company to make notebooks and cards.

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Around this time, I was also training to be Teaching Assistant after trying to get back to work whilst still being able to be at home for my children.  I had previously volunteered at school for many years so it seemed like natural progression.  I finished my training and immediately got a part time position at my local primary school, however, after a year my hours were cut due to financial constraints.  I decided to embrace the situation and put all my efforts into my artwork.

I also got the bug for Abstract Acrylic Pour Paintings. They are just fabulous to do and so addictive.  Due to the process and the many ways or “pouring” each one is completely unique. My studio (kitchen and dining room) are full of them, either drying, waiting to be varnished or the finished item and I often post videos of the process on my Instagram site.

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I opened my Etsy shop and contacted lots of local businesses, a few of which now have my work in.  I have done craft fairs and met many other arty people. I have displayed my work in a shop in Leeds and am about to have my abstract acrylic pours in a gallery/framers in Otley.   I also have lots of plans for other products with my artwork on.

Lucy will be at Design@HEART on Saturday 9th June at  HEART Centre, Bennett Road, Headingley, Leeds LS6 3HN

I never intended this to be something for other people to see

Photographer Kelly Marsh takes over the blog this week, ahead of her first appearance at Design@HEART in June.

I’m a self-taught photographer. I never intended this to be something for other people to see. It’s always been something I have primarily done for myself.  But then it turned into a business!  I guess you could say that it really took off for me when I was joking about holding a gallery show for my birthday and then suddenly people were encouraging me and I ended up getting fully funded on Kickstarter to put on a show which I did in October.

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I take photos because it works as a kind of mindfulness meditation for me allowing me to refocus on the world rather than myself. I‘ve been diagnosed with acute anxiety and I find that when I take photos my mind is quietened and I am able to just enjoy what I am doing. This means that a lot of the time I can’t remember where I last put my phone but I can tell you the location (as far as I ever knew it) and what I was doing there for every photo I have ever taken.

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My workspace can be anywhere. If the weather is bad outside I will take pictures indoors, of my home or my clothes – whatever has caught my eye at the time. A lot of my photos and my inspiration is centred on nature. As an engineer I spent a lot of time learning about how nature has optimised itself to be strong and durable and I’m always fascinated about how this contrasts with how beautiful nature is at the same time. I also love a good steam train!

I think one of the things I love most about doing this is that I love finding common ground with people. Even if people don’t come and buy something they will often comment on my pictures, telling me which are their favourites or memories they have associated with what I have taken. Sometimes I get to learn a cool bit of history about Leeds or a cool place to go shoot too.

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The best bit of the whole process is the show. I’ll have an exhibition in HEART Centre at the time of the fair and its going to be 20 photos. It’s super stressful at the moment trying to plan out everything that I want to include and what I want to say but I know as soon as it goes up on the wall I’ll feel really happy to share my perspective with people.

My all time fan is my partner. He is always pushing me to share my photos and is my biggest supporter. If I am struggling with anything he is the one I turn to for advice. He does the framing for me, because I can’t get the prints in straight. He also bought a whole bunch of my photos and put them all round the house!

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There’s some projects that I would like to do that will require a lot of planning and a space to display them once they are done. I’d like to do a project focusing on mental health and highlighting the difference between how we feel and how we are perceived. I’d also like to do a set of photos around female beauty and what it means to be a woman but these will require me to get a lot of practice in photographing people. I’m hoping to start the planning and practice in the new year after I have finished my PhD. As for the business side of things- I’m hoping to have sold enough images that I could buy a wide angled or macro lens for my camera.

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Kelly will be at Design@HEART on Saturday 9th June.  She sells various different sized prints, framed or unframed and is also happy to take commissions based on a specific theme. Don’t forget to check out the exhibition of her full exhibition while you are in HEART.

 

 

“Probably the thing I enjoy most is playing” Liz Samways talks jewellery and printmaking

Liz Samways’ work will be familiar to those of you who’ve been coming to craft fairs at HEART for a while. A jeweller and print maker, her work reflects her love of landscape and the natural world.   We caught up with her to find out how she got started and her practice.

I’ve always wanted to be a jeweller, ever since visiting Camden Market in my teens and seeing all the jeweller types who had lifestyles which seemed very exotic. While I was doing my ‘real’ jobs it was always there in the background. When my youngest child had gone to nursery I thought I would give it a go professionally.

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Before then I had studies History of Art as my first degree, worked in industrical canteens, factories, Asprey on Bond Street, an Estate Agency, in sales and marketing for Royal Mail, and then retrained in horticulture and garden design and as an ESOL teacher. Quite a list!

To a certain extent I’m self taught, but I did evening classes at Leeds College of Art and Swarthmore with Roger Barnes, during the mid-nineties for jewellery, more recently weekend workshops for printmaking. There’s also been a lot of helpful friends offering technical advice and suggestions along the way.

My first makers’ fair was back in 2011. It was quite a landmark, taking my work out there to the public. Since then, there’s been many more memorable moments: getting my work accepted ito the Craft & Design Gallery in Leeds, where for years I had admired other people’s work, and later being invited to take part in their “Walk In The Park” exhibition. Driving over the hills from Skipton back to Leeds after my first “Art In The Pen” event, having met loads of enthusiastic customers, having fellow makers as good friends, and realising I had finally become the sort of person I’d seen at events when I went as a customer; and my first trade fair which was incredibly daunting, but with a lot of help and advice from other makers I managed it and did well.

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The most important consideration for me, when designing a piece of jewellery, is wearability! Will the piece stay the ‘right way up’ for instance, in the case of bangles or stud earrings, ….how will it wear over time? Will it feel comfortable on the body? Also, Will it look good up close and from a distance? Is it something I haven’t seen before? Can I see my customer (we should all have one in our mind’s eye) wearing it? And of course, very importantly, is it within my technical capabilities?!

I use engraving, etching and rolling to make the textures in the metals I use, then cut and solder to layer together. Although I do work things out in sketchbooks, I find a lot ends up as lists of words! (working out technical details and the order in which to work). I hardly ever sketch out a finished design which I work towards, it’s usually a more random process. Often I just have bits of cut up and textured metal around me and I play around putting shapes together till something looks good – I maintain that this is a legitimate design technique as I learnt it through my garden design training! To finish the piece and add the darkness I like, I use traditional patination techniques, selectively polished for contrast, and sealed with a wax.

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For the enamelling I use a small kiln and build up layers and layers of colour in various combinations, remembering to make notes as, although I use a lot of different colours, they come from a fairly limited and subtle palette so it’s easy to forget what I’ve used! I work in much the same way as I build layers of ink in prints, through overlapping, masking, and sometimes adding in other elements such as metal leaf or wire.

Probably the thing I enjoy most is playing around! The fact that inspiration is everywhere and I have a legitimate business reason for experimenting with shapes and textures, learning new techniques and meeting lots of other creative people.
The thing I’m not so keen on is juggling orders and the logistics of producing several pieces at the same time, though my experience working in various factories in my youth comes in surprisingly handy when planning my working processes.

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I started off because I’m a terrible magpie and I wanted to make things for myself. It was later that it developed into something I thought I could make a successful business out of. I love working in print and jewellery because there are so many ways they influence each other, and I constantly have ideas working both ways. I love the unpredictability of the surfaces involved in both processes.

When you give up a successful career

Julie Ashworth is our latest designer-maker to take over the blog.  Like many of us, it’s not her first career.  Read how she gave up a successful career as an author and created  award-winning greetings card company, Yoojoo.

Designing and making greeting cards isn’t my first career, I originally trained as a teacher of Art & Design and English and taught English as a foreign language in Greece, Mexico and France. This led on to a successful career writing and illustrating award winning language books.


When my family flew the nest I found myself in search of a new challenge and it was friends who pointed the way to a new career. I like to give them hand made gifts at Christmas and used my new found skills (acquired from the jewellery making course I did at Leeds College of Art & Design) to make bookmarks of their favourite animals. I put each one inside a card and drew a scene around the animal and it was from there that my card business started to take shape.

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Zig zag fold card and stainless steel bookmark gift

So, I had a product but next came the challenge of turning it into a business and creating a brand and I had to drag myself (kicking and screaming) into the 21st century by learning computing skills to facilitate production and promotion.

The name Yoojoo appeared after a moment of self doubt about my illustrating skills when a friend uttered the wise words; “Look, you either use it or you lose it!”. This sparked the idea that you also use a bookmark or lose your page and the ‘oo’ sound in ‘use’ and ‘lose’ started spinning around in my head, got mixed up with Jue (which some people call me) and suddenly the word ‘Yoojoo’ appeared!

It hasn’t been easy starting again but I have enjoyed the journey (friends would probably question this remark as they get to listen to me whinging as I grapple with each new challenge!) and I am proud of the greeting card company that I have created, and the awards that it has won.
The one thing I don’t like about running a business is having my photo taken!

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A very young Julie receiving the English Speaking Union Award from Prince Philip in 1992

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A much older Julie with her British Craft Trade Fair Greeting Card Award certificate in 2016

Meet the maker

Trying to be invisible!

Yoojoo will be at the Design@HEART Art and Craft Fair on Saturday 9th June.

 

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.