When it arrived, I wondered if this book had come to the wrong reviewer as I can draw, however if I couldn’t, this would be the book to encourage and to enable me.
When I was at art school, drawing was out of fashion and it remained so for a long time. However I was lucky as I did my degree at Camberwell School of Art, when it was believed that drawing was the foundation of all artistic endeavour and so we were taught to draw, how to scale up, how to draw perspective shade etc.
What Lydia has managed to do in her book is to encompass lots of techniques in a fun and modern way. It is not so much a ‘How To’ tome, but a workbook, that you fill in and have fun with, as you learn to draw.
In the opening page of the book the author says
“ Think you can’t draw? Think again.
Every page has been designed to put you in touch with your creative side and get you drawing.
No experience necessary- just grab a pen, or whatever else is handy and see where it takes you.
Each new project will ease you into learning a new skill, sometimes without you realizing what you are doing. “
Some of the topics covered include making marks, creating textures, drawing water, movement, far and near. Adding shadows, drawing in reverse and drawing negative spaces.
There are some wonderful experimental tasks such as drawing with your non-dominant hand and drawing by feel. For this task you get someone else to place an object in a bag and you feel, but cannot see it, and you draw what you have felt. Another interesting experiment is to draw a complicated shape using a continuous line and without lifting your pen or paper off the page. I highly recommend this book and I have already started using it, as even old dogs can attempt to learn new tricks.
Visiting trade shows always sounds exciting, but for those of you who have been to the likes of the Ideal Home Show and The Country Living Fair, you will know just how exhausting it can be. I recently wrote a piece on new spring and summer 2020 trends. This post is different as it is about my pick of the designers, often sole traders sometimes a partnership, who also show at the big trade fairs. Their stands are usually much smaller than the large flash companies, but this is where you will often find the truly innovative and inspiring products.
Before we get down to specifics, and despite it being a trade show, it is worth saying that the buzzwords this year are ethical and sustainable. So as well as wanting originality and good value for money the general public are less prepared to purchase at the expense of the environment and those trying to make a living in poor communities.
Many companies support charities, for example ‘Spice Kitchen’, a family-owned artisanal spice and tea company run by mother and son team Sanjay & Shashi Aggarwal (aka Mamma Spice & Baby Spice!) What started as a discussion over the kitchen table on Christmas Day 2012, Spice Kitchen has developed into a thriving small business that has never lost touch with its roots.They support the charities FRANK Water who build sustainable water projects in India and Nepal and Find Your Feet who help families in Asia and Africa build a future free from poverty and hunger. They produce small-batch, freshly ground spice blends and tea blends. They source the freshest raw spices from around the world, and then hand-blend, hand-roast and hand-grind them to authentic recipes. The containers they come in are covered in old Sari’s.
The Kindness Co-op
The Kindness Co-Op, is an online clothing and gift store for children aged 0-14 years started in 2014 as The Wee Store. It was re-launched and re-branded by Lucie Carr and her business partner Charlie in September 2018 in an effort to become more socially responsible, for example sourcing organic clothing that has been locally screen printed with their own designs. The brand makes a donation to the charity Young Minds for every piece of own brand merchandise sold. https://www.thekindnessco-op.com/
One of my favourite brands is
lllustrated Stories by Kay van Bellen I love the quirkiness and originality of her work.
Netherlands-based ceramics brand, Illustrated Stories, was founded by British-born artist and illustrator, Kay van Bellen in 2019. The brand story emerged from her Dutch heritage and her love of Delft Blue ceramics and the stories that unfold behind each delicately painted image. The pieces in the inaugural collection are made from old, found objects which Van Bellen screen prints and hand decorates to create new narratives. Illustrations are witty, humorous and often sinister, each individual piece is a work of art to hang on the wall.Kay has worked with brands such as Converse, Universal Works and Size? She has recently had a solo exhibition of her work at Pols Potten, Amsterdam. Her latest commission was was to design and produce a range of bespoke giftware with Nottingham Lakeside Museum. https://www.kayvanbellen.com/
AMPellegrini Art & Design was founded by London based designer-maker Anna-Maria Pellegrini in 2019. Her passion for printed textiles, nature illustrations and homeware products developed during her Master studies at UAL, where she fell in love with designing homeware and illustrating the natural world. She mainly draws inspiration from the nature surrounding her to create storytelling designs, reflecting the biodiversity on our planet. Anna-Maria exclusively works with UK based companies only, to ensure all elements are sourced and produced ethically to the highest standards. The current product range includes tea towels, tile coasters, giclée prints and tote bags. https://www.ampellegrini.com
Shortbread House of Edinburgh are known around the world for the quality of biscuits that they produce. In 2018 they again won more Great Taste Awards than any other shortbread producer. However it was the Sables not their shortbread that makes me love them, they are delicious. Pea Green Boat Cheese Sablés. are made using a wonderful blend of Scottish Cheddar and Italian Parmesan, the Fennel & Chilli flavour won the Golden Fork Award for best Scottish Product at the 2019 Great Taste Awards.
Poppy Treffry is a Cornish based company, producing a range of quirky textile based products. They have been going a few years now but always come up with new products of a high standard. These include bags, rucksacks, totes, purses, tea and coffee cosies and much, more. Their latest exciting product is a reusable sandwich wrap.
www.materiarica.com are a husband and wife design team who laser cut walnut which they are then paint to make very imaginative jewellery. Their motto is Choose Your Style, Wear Your Story. Here is their story :
Destiny united the paths of Marta, a Polish artist who lived in London and painted pictures of peculiar characters, with Joan, who was passionate about both design and technology and was running a laser cutting company for creative projects. Together they began to transform Marta’s illustrations into small works of art to wear: brooches, earrings and necklaces, which Marta sold in local creative markets in the English capital.
In 2014 Marta and Joan set sail for the Mediterranean and founded the Materia Rica brand. In recent years the growth and international projection of the project have allowed the team to grow, incorporating Oscar, Clara and Sonia.
British Colour Standard was originally conceived in 1931 by the British Council, cloth -bound earthy green ‘dictionaries of colour’ crammed with 100’s of brightly dyed ribbons were created to standardise colour reproduction throughout the British Commonwealth.
When the art/design team of Jackie Piper & Victoria Whitbread discovered an old colour dictionary in an Oxfam shop, they began a journey to re-establish this long forgotten brand.produce a range of products based on the book of coloured ribbons. They were original colours not used since 1958. The designers turned entrepreneurs now produce paints, ceramics, basket work glasses in bright colours www.britishcolourstandard.com
Rye and Moor were another fabulous find. They are a partnership who have designed a collection of contemporary furniture, textiles, home wares and prints using their own prints. As it says on the tin. Simply Designed. Thoughtfully Made. Remarkable objects for modern living. www.ryeandmoor.co.uk
As you may have gathered I love quirky and one of the originators of this genre is Donna Wilson. She produces strange cushions, animals, toys, many knitted and felted. She has recently added platters, trays and mugs to her range. www.donnawilson.com
As a replacement for cling film, Beeswax wraps have been round for a while. wwwprettybeefresh.com have come up with a new and fun idea, a DIY box with everything in it to create your own beeswax wraps. They too, are supporting a charity and have teamed up with www.workforgood.com For every purchase of on of their larger packs a tree is planted.
There are lots of stationary designers around but I was particularly drawn to the work of Scarlett Josse. Her work is whimsical feminine and romantic. All made in England and her greetings cards either come wrapped in compostable plastic sleeves or naked. www.byscarlett.com
I definitely have a thing for blue which given it is Pantone colour for 2020 is probably a good thing. So my next recommendations are all have blue elements. I met Robert Goldsmith from Selborne Pottery. He makes beautiful hand thrown and curated stone ware. He has used some beautiful blue glazes. on his work. www.selbournepottery.co.uk
I like be meeting makers, and Lisa Reddings of www.indigowares.com was no exception, particularly as she was her hands were covered in indigo dye, and her work is beautiful. She runs workshops and sells her goods at shows and on line.
Another lover of blue is Hayley Potter RCA. She works from her studio in Dorset creating works on paper and ceramics inspired by the wild, folklore and magic. She uses the image of the hare in much of her work. www.hayleypotter.co.uk
I love lino-prints as a medium and particularly these made by Sarah Cemmick her work consists of original Lino cuts of predominately British wildlife with exclusive editions of only 25.
Each print is produced by hand in Sarah’s Cumbrian studio. Designs are printed on Japanese tissues and traditional printing papers which are then tinted with watercolours. A range of 90 art cards detailing the lino cuts compliment the original prints. They are produced in England on recycled board with recycled envelopes and biodegradable cello bags.
Using the brand name My bear Hands Sally Holyoak hand makes silver jewellery from re-cycled silver. www.mybearhands.co.uk
This is her mission statement:
‘As a maker, I want my jewellery to be beautifully designed and well made. But I don’t want this to be at the expense of the earth or people who live in it. Jewellery is a luxury item, and there is really no justification for damaging natural environments or exploiting workers in it’s creation.’
The final company I am writing about is Roka. They have just celebrated their second birthday. They create practical, colourful, beautiful ruck sacs and bags. I have bought many of them in different colours from my favourite emporium ‘ Live Like This‘ in Cowes on the Isle of Wight. For any stylists out there they look great in shoots.
A yellow Roka rucksac stars as a prop on a shoot.
This bag is made using 12-15 recycled bottles.
In order to reduce waste in the ocean, Roka has created a new line of bags. Made using 12-13 recycled bottles, the Sustainable Finchley iThe production of this bag not only uses recycled materials, but also uses less energy than traditional production methods.
This week Olympia hosted ‘Top Drawer’ the show where the buyers go to source new, unearth the latest trends and discover emerging talent, and buy for the coming season.
According to Flamingo Trend Predictions , there are four key trends this season the first being Playful Chromatics. Described thus, as a fun filled palette of block colours that bring modernity through mid tone brights. Varied hues are achieved through mixed material densities.
A key colour is neo mint and it adds a fresh and positive start for 2020. Kat Burroughs, Interiors Journalist of the Times, mentions in her predictions for 2020 the Pantone colour of ‘Classic Blue’, which is more or less Royal Blue, and also lilac being used in some home wares.
Blue also features in another of her 2020 predictions, chintzy china. There was a great deal, of that old favourite, blue and white china, much of it with a modern twist.
The second predicted trend is ‘Rare Bloom’ powerful, pigmented florals grounded with soft brown leathers. Florals add deep intensity of reds, oranges and purples clashing with acid lime, and tempered with soft peachy coral.
The show certainly had many surface designers who have taken their inspirations from nature with fine examples of flowers and insects.
‘Mad About The House’ journalist Kate Watson Smythe, in her predictions for 2020 describes how we are turning away from the minimalism of recent years and embracing pattern, particularly with a new take on English country style with layers of colour and pattern.
Unadorned Tactility is the third trend and that is formed from new interpretations of traditional materials. Organic prints and textured layered on to geo shapes give a bio-futuristic look.
The fourth trend is Serene Warmth. Described as dappled sun warmth and cool shade, colours are juxtaposed in the raw fabrics, rich prints and smooth pale marble and concrete.
This warmth aspect of this trend fits in with Kate Watson Smythe’s prediction that ‘the fashion for brown furniture, which I wrote about last year, has now become part of the sustainability movement and will, rightly, continue to grow in popularity. We will buy more from eBay and vintage stores, we will paint and customise and up cycle more and we will continue to reupholster and repurpose.’
PIVOT is a social enterprise set up by Alice Moxley to give young people work, pay them a living wage and to help them out of poverty. As she says we create British handmade goods with clout. We are a social enterprise which aims to alleviate long-term tenures in temporary accommodation by bringing enterprise and opportunity into hostels. We provide part-time, flexible and meaningful employment for those experiencing homelessness whilst co-designing tailored strategies to help individuals get back into work and into permanent accommodation. Every piece of jewellery bought takes our makers one step closer to their goal of leaving the hostel.
The number of people experiencing homelessness in the UK has reached unprecedented levels. Homelessness does not just mean those sleeping rough, it also includes those living in temporary accommodation. Where a person declares themselves as homeless to their local authority, they have the right to housing. However with local authorities forever squeezed, in many circumstances are unable to provide permanent housing. As a consequence, many are placed in temporary accommodation, awaiting access to social housing or the private rental sector. Often people find themselves stuck facing long waiting lists for social housing and discrimination to access the private rental sector.
57,890 Households were accepted as homeless last year
65% of people living in temporary accommodation in London stay for over 6 months
30% of people living in temporary accommodation in London stay for over 4 years
We are at the very early stages of this exciting journey and are learning a lot. If you would like to know more, or would like to offer help in any way, we would love to hear from you!’ Alice Moxley
We are very excited to announce a collaboration with Crisis. We have been invited to set up shop at their Elephant and Castle shop. 223-225 Walworth Road, London, SE17 1RL
Come and meet some of our makers and buy some Christmas presents!
In the past 2 weeks Pivot have sold over 100 pieces of jewellery, creating more than 50 hours worth of work for four unemployed Londoners living in temporary accommodation.
“This weekend is the final opportunity to buy the last of Pivot’s first line at Crisis Elephant and Castle. We’ve only got a limited amount left to sell ,so get it while you can! All made by homeless Londoners earning London living wage. I’ll be at the shop 10-7 Saturday and 11-6 Sunday. “
With Christmas coming soon, now is the opportunity to shop local and support independent shops such as Will and Yates in Deal Kent.
Will & Yates Gallery + Homestore
104-106 High Street Deal Kent CT14 6EE
Tel 01404 374700 /07958 931 411 /email@example.com
When we first met many moons ago you were working in the Shaker Shop in London. How did this come about?
Shaker was my favorite shop in London. I became obsessed with the whole look and loved everything about it. Had I lived back in the 1750’s I am sure I would have become a Shaker sister. I filled my house with all things Shaker, peg rails, boxes in all sizes. It got to the point where I visited the Shaker villages in the USA. Then I started to work for the Shaker Shop in London.
Deal is very different from London. What made you move down to a small coastal town and away from London?
I lived in London since I was 18 and I had my family there. We always said once the kids left home we would move down to the coast. We visited many seaside towns but as soon as we visited Deal we knew it was the place that we wanted to live. It ticks all the boxes, it’s architecture, independent shops, Saturday market, great restaurants and a fast train to London.
What are its advantages and disadvantages?
I honestly can’t think of any disadvantages. Family and friends visit all the time- we always have a house full. The pace is obviously slower, but that is what I want. After a full time job and parent hood, the simpler things become more important- sitting on the beach, riding my bicycle, lunch with friends.
Have you always wanted to run your own shop and gallery?
Yes, I used to make my sister play shop with me. I loved using my till and giving out change.
How long have you had your shop/gallery in Deal?
We opened in October 2017
What have been the major challenges?
Keeping the stock fresh so that customers keep returning.
Is there much competition within the town?
There are a few independent shops, which is lovely, as we are all different.
Do you sell much on line?
Not yet but I intend to build up that side of the business.
Is it difficult to source original product?
Yes we are always on the look out for local artisans.
Jane I have known you for a long time I have written about your previous houses and I know you have a great eye. Have you had any kind of design training?
No, but I do live with creatives. My husband ran an Ad agency before we moved down here and my sons both work in creative industries.
Had you ever had any experience in running your own business before?
No I’ve always been employed.
How did you find your premises and why did you choose the sea front?
Caroline, my business partner, and I had been looking on the high street and then we walked past this on the sea front and saw it was up for rent. So we went and bought fish and chips and sat on the beach and discussed it for a very short time. So after the fish and chips we went back to the shop and said yes.
Tell me about how you met your business partner and about the different roles you hold within the business? We met on the beach and got talking and immediately made a connection.We bring different things to the business.Caroline is an artist and she studied painting at the RCA. She is more creative than me. I am the more practical one.
What would you say is your USP?
We sell a mixture of original art, much of it Caroline’s but other artists too, plus vintage and new home wares. I attend antique fairs, trade fairs and open studios. Sometimes I find people on instagram.
Do you run any events from the shop?
Yes every three months we hold an event such as a Christmas sales evening or an exhibition launch. We advertise this on social media and we do door drops and we have a mailing list.
Can you describe a typical day?
I shall describe a typical Saturday. I will go to the market and buy flowers for the shop. Deal has an excellent Saturday market. I will buy a sticky bun from the Swedish lady who has a stand there and coffee from Deal Roasters. I take everything to the shop and open up at 10am. Normally we are busy with lots of locals coming to see what we have that is new. I try to remember to ask how people have found us. Often recommendation and some find us on instagram. I close the shop at 5pm. Walk home and have a glass of wine.
On Sundays the customer base changes, there are more dog walkers who walk past and then come in to see what we are selling. Up to now we have been closed in the week but as the summer progresses and we become better known we will open from Thursday to Sunday.
One of the reasons I am interviewing successful women who are over fifty is that they have often had to take a career break, or had to slow down to deal with child care, illness and or aged parents. Have you ever had to deal with any of these of issues and did it impact on your creative life or business?
It was because of the children that I took a job as a school secretary. I needed to work, although it wasn’t particularly creative it meant that I didn’t have childcare issues and I could see my children after school and during their holidays.
Who or what inspires you?
Caroline my business partner inspires me. She has changed my life. Even though what I now have has been a long held dream, I am not sure that I would have done it by myself. I get on with the day-to-day stuff whilst she is painting. We make a good team.
From what part of your business do you get the most satisfaction?
I get a great kick when someone buys something I’ve chosen and when people say lovely things about the shop.
What advice would you give to anyone starting out today?
Do as much as you can yourself to save money. My husband, who is luckily very practical, fitted out the shop.
You do need financial security for rent, stock and to get set up. It will probably be a while before you can start making any income from it. I overlapped with my other job for eight months in order to get established. I’ve given up the other job now to concentrate on this.
What is next for the shop?
Caroline would like to expand into bigger premises. I am not sure yet and would like to get this a little more established before we do.
Since interviewing Jane, she and Caroline, have bitten the bullet and, moved into much larger premises on High Street Deal. The move has been a great success.
We are getting very close to Christmas, so I think it might be the time for a bit of Christmas making. I originally designed these stockings for Laura Ashley’s Blog. You can still find them on their web site. I used their fabrics at the time, however this is a great project for using up any fabric scraps that you may have in your stash.
You will need
Laura Ashley Fabrics in 3 different patterns:
50cm for the body of the boot, 20cm piece for the cuff, and 30cm for the bias, hanging loop, and the heel and toe features
Bondaweb iron on interfacing
Step 1: Fold fabrics right sides together and cut out two stocking pieces from the main fabric, and two cuff pieces in the first contrasting fabric. Using the same pattern pieces, cut out bondaweb interfacing. Iron the bondaweb interfacing onto the back of the two stocking pieces and one cuff using a medium heat setting.
Step 2: Trace the heel and toe shapes onto a piece of Bondaweb. Turn the shapes over and trace again. Iron the Bondaweb onto the second contrasting fabric and cut out the shapes.
Step 3: Peel off the paper backing from the heel and toe pieces, position onto the stocking pieces then iron to fix in place.
Step 4: Using a zig-zag stitch, sew along the inner curves of the heel and toe pieces.
Step 5: With right sides facing, pin the two stocking pieces together. Leaving the top of the stocking open sew around using a 1cm seam allowance. Trim the seams and clip the curves.
Step 6: Cut a bias strip of the second contrasting fabric, measuring 46cm x 4cm. Cut a 44cm piece of piping cord.
Step 7: Fold the fabric around the piping and sew using a zip foot attachment.
Step 8: With the right sides together, sandwich the piping between the long edges of the stocking cuff. Sew as close as possible to the piping, using the zip foot.
Step 9: Open the cuff pieces out and with right sides facing, fold the short edges together and sew with a 1cm seam allowance. Fold the cuff the right way out.
Step 10: To make the loop cut a piece of the second contrasting fabric 20cm x 4cm. Fold in half length ways and sew the long edges together and across one short edge. Trim the seam and turn through.
Step 11: Pin the cuff to the wrong side of the stocking, matching the seams at the back. Fold the loop in half and sandwich between the cuff and stocking at the back seam. Sew around the top of the stocking to attach the cuff to the boot. TIP – sew from the inside of the stocking.
Step 12: Turn the stocking through and fold the cuff to the outside. Merry Christmas!
Happy and successful making and MERRY CHRISTMAS everyone.
Crackers date back to the 1840’s. They were supposed to have been invented by a sweet manufacturer, Tom Smith, who came up with the idea as a way of promoting his bon-bon sweets, that were having a bit of a slump at the time.
My crackers have been designed with a coastal Christmas theme in mind, but you could create crackers for different events, such as a wedding, christening or birthday. For these designs I took photos of fabrics and sweet wrappers and enlarged them to create the scale I wanted. You could do this too, of even draw your own design on paper. There are lots of copyright free images to be found on the internet. You will need the design to fit onto an A4 piece of paper. I bought the cracker snaps on line, but everything else should be very easy to find. You can make paper hats from tissue paper and of course write your own jokes. The jokes can be created for different members of your family or particular friends. I put some tiny old fashioned Christmas decorations in my crackers. You could do the same or add balloons and sweets.
You will need
Piece of A4 Card for each cracker, Piece of A4 paper printed with a design, Cutting mat, Scalpel, Paper scissors, Clear tape, Double sided tape, Ruler, Pencil, Cracker snaps, Sweets, paper hats and tiny toys and decorations
Cut a strip off the card so that it measures 16cm x 29.7cm.
Lay the card horizontally, starting from the right hand side measure in from the edge 6cm both top and bottom of the card. Draw a line between the pencil dots. Repeat at 8cm and 10 cm in from the edge. Repeat on the left hand side of the card. Score and fold as shown in image.
Where the narrow folded edges are, mark out evenly spaced triangles. Make sure that there is a bridge between each triangle. Using the paper scissor cut out the triangles. Open out the card and you will have two rows of diamonds.
Roll the card horizontally to form a long narrow cracker shaped tube. Using sticky tape, attach one side onto the other. Cut the A4 paper into three strips 2 x 6cms wide and 1 x 9.5cm wide. Using double sided tape stick the paper onto the three sections of the card tube.
Push the cracker snap into the cracker, and secure it with a bit of tape to stop it falling out. Tie string or twine round one end of the cracker and then fill the cracker with sweets decorations toys etc or even your own jokes. Tie up the other end of the cracker.