For the love of wood

Gavin Edwards is another newcomer to Design@HEART, bringing his interesting and original wood work.  He has had many careers, and his current one draws on all the others, as he tells us in this latest blog.  

Working with wood is my latest career choice, having previously worked as a Cartographer, Field Archaeologist, Archaeological Curator and finally as Museum Collections Manager.  An unconventional background perhaps, but I have always enjoyed working with wood, so I didn’t want to feel that I never had the opportunity to explore where my love of wood might take me.

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My experiences as an archaeologist, as well as working with museum collections, has made me appreciate just how much human material culture and technological development has relied on the physical properties of wood. Indeed, our relationship with trees stretches back to the very origins of our own species, but there is so much more to wood than just its physical properties. There is an intrinsic beauty about its internal structuring, the natural grain and colour, which is something I always hope to enhance and take advantage of through the use of very simple and structured forms.

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I like to use a wide range of native and non-native woods, birch plywood and reclaimed wood to create what I refer to as decorative wall panels rather than ‘wall art’. In most cases the design element of my work is driven by the same desire to highlight and show off the character and quality of the wood, and on occasions it can be an unusual feature in a piece of wood that is the inspiration for the design of the finished piece.

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Bringing out the very best qualities of the wood is achieved by hand sanding down all the surfaces to a very fine level and then applying a hard clear wax finish before further applications of a semi solid wax finish. I do not use varnishes as I want these items to develop their own history by accumulating the dents and scratches of time, which are more easily ‘soften’ by additional applications of wax finish. Again it is the quality and appearance of the wood that matters most, which is why I prefer to use simple forms. The only time I use stains or paint, is when making the baseboards which are measured up and made to support the other pieces of wood that have already been cut and arranged to create the overall design.

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The basic layout and design of some of my pieces can be repeated, but the appearance of each completed one will always be unique due to variations in the wood itself and the hand-crafted nature of its construction.

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

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.

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.

Craft Recycle

Well, we sure managed to recycle some volume of craft materials on Saturday.  The De-stash sale was an enormous success, with queues at the door come open time, and lots of eager shoppers looking for bargains and inspiration.  Thankyou to all our stall holders who brought with them such fantastic stuff.  We’d love to know what you’re all going to be doing with your new purchases, so do share!

Don’t Miss Out On Our Crafty Sale!

Craft Destash Sale

Saturday 17th February   10am-1pm   HEART Centre, Headingley, Leeds LS6 3HN

Do you have a new craft hobby? A new project in mind?  Need some inspiration and some materials?  There will be SO much to choose from at the Design@HEART Craft De-Stash Sale this coming Saturday 17th February.    Knitting, crochet, dressmaking, upholstery, beading and jewellery making, card making, scrapbooking, painting, candlemaking, drawing.  And then there’s machines, tools, display and packaging materials.  There’s actually so much it’s hard to list it!

So how does it work?  Well, firstly, 20 local artists and craftspeople are emptying their cupboards, and sorting through their craft stash.  That’s a lot of stash.  Mostly, they’re hoarders, and have years’ worth of stuff they really don’t need, but someone else most likely will.  Then they’ll be setting out their stalls ready for you to pick up some real bargains.  Whether you’re looking for a new craft to learn, fabric to make your spring wardrobe, or something to keep the kids occupied, there will be something for you.

Saturday 17th February   10am-1pm   HEART Centre, Headingley, Leeds LS6 3HN

 

Your Christmas Shopping Guide

Looking for those perfect presents for friends, family and colleagues?  We’re here to help!  Here’s some ideas from Design@HEART exhibitors next month to get you started.

The Makers

Know someone who likes making and creating?  Check out these crochet and sewing project kits from Elm Rocks and Sally Sally.  And for the knitters, Ed Bennett Woodturner has a fine selection of yarn bowls to keep their wool clean and tidy.

The Local

If you know someone who loves where they live, how about a papercut map of their local area from Bethanie Yeong.  Her exquisitely fine papercuts make a beautiful gift.

Or a humorous take on our local seaside towns and tourist destinations with prints by Jack Hurley at Rubbish Seaside.

The Pamper Princesses and Princes

Know someone who needs a bit of TLC, rest and relaxation?  How about some very special handmade bath products from Little Shop of Lathers or beautifully scented candles from Calverley Candle Company?

The Writer

Do you know someone who’s determinedly traditional?  Who has shunned the keyboard for pens and paper?  Who sends letters not emails and texts?

The Jewellery Lover

Jewellery is a very personal thing.  You can’t just grab the first pair of earrings you see.  You have to think what sort of jewellery, what style, what theme and colour?  But fear not, we have lots of variety to choose from, from plastic fantastic, to sophisticated precious metals.

The Little Ones

Launcey Boo create lovely gifts for baby’s room and gifts for toddlers and Love From Poppy have a beautiful selection of clothing for little ones.

 

The Food Lover

Know someone who goes crackers over cheese and chutney? Badgers Garden have a wide selection of preserves, pickles and conserves for the food lover in your life.

 

The Accessories Fanatic

With Felted hats and scarves from Fantasy Textiles, printed silk ties, purses, and scarves from Pattern Passion, Tweed handbags from Nuthatch Designs and leather purses from Katie Roe Studio, we have no shortage of luxury accessories.

 

The Music Lover

Guitar Geekery will be returning to Design@HEART with all things musical.  Music fans and musicians alike will love these gifts and accessories.

 

Shopping local is good for you

Shopping local is good for you

Why should we shop with local businesses?

As we gear up to the crazy shopping season, many of us will be feeling the stress levels rise.  Whether your shopping list is minimal or huge, many of us choose to just click a few buttons on a well known online market place and have done with it.  But there’s a a lot of good reasons for you to hold off clicking that Add To Shopping Cart button.

Why should you shop with local businesses?  It’s more time consuming, it’s hard work, it involves thinking and doing.  But isn’t that more meaningful too, than buying another load of tat that you’re not sure anyone really wants anyway?  If you still need convincing, here’s 6 reasons to shop with your local makers, designers and businesses this Christmas.

Boost your local economy

When you shop with a local businesses, far more of the money stays in the local community.  It gets spent by local people, whereas if you shop with big online market places or high street chains, the profit goes to shareholders who are anything but local!

Shopping local is good for you

Little Shop of Lathers is a local business run by Claire Riley, selling hand made bath and skin care products. They will be at Design@HEART on 9th December.

Supporting local talent

When you shop with local artists, makers, or infact any local business, you are supporting local talent and skills.

Ethical concerns

You can be sure that handmade local goods made by local tradespeople will have travelled far less distance to get to you.  It is easier to check out the ethical origins of products, and you can be sure that even if the maker is paying him or herself peanuts, your next buy will help to elevate that to erm, cashews, rather than lining the pockets of shareholders.

Shopping local is good for you

Ed Bennett’s stall in Leeds City Centre. Ed will be joining Design@HEART on 9th December. Buying from local businesses and makers benefits the local business keeps the money in the local economy.

Be unique

You are far more likely to get something unique, something no-one else has.  When you buy from a designer-maker, this is even more so, because nothing is mass produced.  If you are shopping for gifts, you can be sure that whoever you are shopping for won’t have one of these already!

Variety is the spice of life

Supporting local businesses means that local economies are not entirely dominated and taken over by big chains and multinationals.  You get to keep some local colour, variety, and character in your community.

Warm and fuzzy

You get that warm fuzzy feeling of having met the maker, you know the provenance, you have the opportunity to find out the story behind the product.  Which you’ve got to admit adds value over and above something you’ve picked up from an anonymous seller in a high street chain!