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.

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.

 

 

 

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