Blog, Meet the Maker

Meet the Maker: Deirdre Hawken currently exhibiting at Metropolitan Museum, New York

Deidre
radish salad toms opener

Deidre Hawken makes what might loosely be called hats or head pieces. However that description does not do justice to the exquisite intricate pieces of work created by this multi talented designer. I and my photographer went to interview her recently in her studio.

JB.I know you as a hat designer and maker, but I understand  that you also design and make jewelry. Can you tell us which discipline you trained in and how you came to practice both?

DH I trained in theater design, sets and costume, at the Central School of Art and Design, now Central St Martins.

I worked as a Theater Designer for some time and I was an Art Director for a couple of design companies, but I have always loved the design and making process. I have made costume accessories for The Royal Opera House, English National Ballet and the BBC, I also designed a run of windows for Harrods, Harvey Nichols, and made props for Harrods, Harvey Nichols and Asprey Ltd and I had an exhibition in Fortnum and Mason among others, and I created collections of jewellery with my sculptor husband for various fashion designers.

three hats

JB.What is a typical day for you?

DH. There is no typical day! I could be designing hats or jewellery or researching new work, seeing a client or dealing with boring administration.

into studio

 JB. What do you love most, about what you do?

DH.I love researching ideas, it is now so easy on the internet, and as I said I love everything about the making process, especially dyeing fabrics.

working pages with fabrics dyed

 JB.What do you dislike most about what you do?

DH Any kind of administration.

JB.Have you ever worked for anyone else? Or done any collaborations ? If so with whom?

DH.When you are a designer for the theater you’re basically working with and for the director, but I have been a freelance designer most of my life. I did collaborate with a jeweler, we were asked to make a joint piece, but I did not really enjoy the experience. I have also made jewellery with my husband.

mushroom onions etc

 JB.What made you want to start your own creative business?

DH. I love working for myself, although I sometimes have an assistant on a really big job, such as when I made jewellery for Saks 5th Avenue.

 JB.Have you had any training recently? If so where and why?

DH.Not recently, but in 1998 I won a scholarship to study couture millinery. This was through QEST, Queen Elizabeth Scholarship Trust. There are no age limits and but you do have to fill in a very difficult application form. I trained with Rose Cory in Couture Millinery and had an internship with Stephen Jones. I also went to America and studied at the Met.

JB.Can you describe your creative process?

DH.First I have an idea, then I research, choose the materials. I only work with a few materials, leather, silk taffeta, silk velvet silk organza and organdie. I dye all the fabrics myself using Dylon dyes. I then decide how to make the headpiece or perhaps a collection of jewellery. Most of my headpieces are one off designs. I never make another piece exactly the same.

cigar making in progress

JB.What are your biggest challenges?

DH.Selling work.

cigars

JB. What advice would you give to someone starting out in your field today?

DH.It has always been difficult to be self-employed, especially in the Creative Sector, I believe good training is essential, also you must have self belief.

JB.Compared with when you started, do you think it is easier for designers to set up on their own nowadays or more difficult?

DH.I think it is harder, as everyone thinks they can be an artist or a designer.

JB.Have you exhibited? If so, where?

DH. I have had so many exhibitions it is hard to choose which ones to talk about. I have work in the following Public Collections: Victoria and Albert Museum – London, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Costume Institute – New York, Kyoto Institute of Costume – Tokyo, Graves Art Gallery– Sheffield, Museum of Costume –Bath, Philadelphia Museum of Art-USA, Hat Museum- Stockport.

 JB.How do you find clients?

DH. Clients come to me and I sell at exhibitions.

JB. What are you currently working on?

DH.A very tricky Summer Pudding Headpiece for submission for the London Hat Show early 2018.

summer pudding

 JB.Do you teach or run workshops? If so where?

DH. Not now! I have taught at various Art colleges and was an assessor for the BA Jewellery course at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and design, Dundee for three years. I have given many talks including one at the V &A and many workshops all over the country.

lemons leather

 JB.What is next?

salad

DH. I am developing a range of headpieces which can be displayed as Still Life’s in acrylic cases, which I am finding very exciting.

JB. That is a great idea, your work is far too lovely to store out of site, in a hat box.

Many thanks Juliet

I did this interview over a year ago, however this week I had the email below and this image. So I wanted to share it with you.

‘I just wanted to let you know that a Cauliflower headpiece of mine  has been included in the latest exhibition at the Costume Institute, part of the Metropolitan Museum, New York.
I was so thrilled it was included! I am attaching an image of it in situ, the exhibition is called ‘Camp’ Notes on Fashion.’

http://www.deirdrehawken.com/

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Blog, Makes

Reuse old plastic bags to make Pom-poms

Photographs by Antonia Attwood

Being very aware of all the plastic and rubbish that lands up on many of our beaches, and in our parks and roadsides, I thought I would come up with a project that could put some of that plastic to good use. The result is pom-poms created from plastic bags. I suggest you use and reuse the bags until they start to get holes. When they are finally  of no further use, make pom-poms out of them.

Image 1

You need very little in the way of materials, just scissors, plastic bags, cardboard and string or twine. You will also need something to draw round to make a large circle with a smaller one in the centre.

Image 2

Draw round a small saucer or a large roll of tape onto the card to create a circle. Use something like an eggcup and draw round it to make a circle in the center. Cut out the two cardboard shapes, with a hole in the centre. Cut the plastic bags into a long strip about 1cm wide.

Image 3

Place one cardboard circle on top of the other and then start to wind the plastic strips round the two circles as in the picture. Carry on until the whole of the cardboard is covered. The more strips you add the fluffier the pom pom will be.

Image 4

Cut a piece of string or cord and put to one side. Holding the plastic covered discs, insert the scissors between the two outer circles and start to cut. This is the tricky bit as you don’t want to end up with a load of plastic on the floor. When you have cut all the way round the outer ring insert the cord and pull the two ends together, drawing together the pom pom at the same time. Tie the string ends together.

We used our Pom poms to decorate a basket, but you could use them to decorate anything. Have fun creating crafting and recycling.

Blog, book review, Book Reviews

Print Play

Screen printing inspiration for your life and home

Jessie Wright & Lara Davies

Published by Hardie Grant

Published by Hardie Grant

Print Play is the perfect description of this book. It is about printing and and at the same time playful and fresh.

The authors Jess Wright and Lara Davies are “Home-Work” – two textile designers and screen printers from Melbourne, Australia. The creative duo have worked together for the past 7 years teaching screen printing and design, as well as bringing their own colourful textile designs to life! Jess and Lara’s obsession with colour and pattern is tangible and is evident in everything they create! Enthusiastically converting ideas from their imagination to reality (usually with music playing in the background), the pair produce screen printed textile prints that are thoughtful and fun.

Adding a little objet d’art to the simplest everyday items, these textiles become functional and are turned into tote bags, make up bags, cushions and even wallpaper. The book opens with a really great contents page, a real appetite wetter, with small images of some of the projects you can make.

The instructions for printing are very clear and easy to follow. There is a section on different kinds of inks, things to consider when choosing colours, and both the authors describe their own preferences when it comes to colour and design and they also show their own design processes.

You are told about creating an inspiration board and then you start on the projects that on the whole are easy and incredibly effective.

This is hand holding at its best. A really great book especially if you are new or inexperienced when it comes to printing.

Blog, Exhibitions

The Royal College Art graduate shows 2019

Last week the RCA opened their doors for the public to view the degree shows. As one would expect it was a mixed bag of styles, standards and end results. It was all fascinating. Here are some of the offerings from students studying in many different disciplines including, print, painting, photography and video, ceramics and glass, and contemporary art practise.

What do you feel is the purpose of art ?

Coming to a show such as this it raises many questions.

Is the purpose of art to hold up a mirror to society?

To open people’s eyes?

To add beauty to a dying world?

To give a new perspective on what exists?

To show skill and craftsmanship?

Here are just a few examples of the work that was on show.

MA Photography Antonia Attwood

The first artist shown above has developed her practise to show in visual terms what poor mental health looks like. She has made insightful video’s of people on the edge. Her work informs, enlightens and and educates the viewer.

MA Photography Mirielle Chambre

Having lost her partner to a freak accident, and already embarked on her MA, Mirielle’s work explores grief in its various forms and and attempts to to embody a sense of a personal and universal loss. The work considers clouds as feelings and a metaphor for grief.

MA Painting KonstantinosSkiavenitis
MA painting Jhonatan Pulido
MA Print Aoife Scott

The work of the artist shown above is about plastic pollution and its environmental impact.

MA Print Ying Yu
MA Contemporary Art practise Ao Jing
This art work is both a thing of beauty and a musical instrument
MA Ceramic Art
Anne Lykke

MA Painting Soaking in her sacred Waters by Kate Bickmore

Blog, Press Show Picks

MINTED

On the 4TH July The Royal Mint launched its first jewellery collection ever, designed and made by in-house experts in silversmithing techniques at The Royal Mint .  

          The collection, envisioned by luxury jewellery designer Philippe Cogoli, has been made at The Royal Mint from start to finish, using traditional coin pressing techniques that pay homage to the heritage and expertise gained from over one thousand years of coin minting expertise.  The designer, took inspiration from the design of the first ever £2 coin which was minted in 1997, and has deconstructed details of the design to create a truly unique collection that references the original coin. The range includes elements that capture and reflect the evolution of technology, with individual geometric designs. 

The Motto collection is named after the “motto” that is stamped into the original £2 coin and attributed to Sir Isaac Newton’s famous saying “Standing on the shoulders of giants”. The geometrically designed range is made from sterling silver and includes unique items ranging from cufflinks and tie pins to earrings and bangles, along with other stylish silver gifts. The collection is a beautiful handcrafted range made in-house, a new and exciting step for The Royal Mint. 

Helen Cooper, Director of Gifting at The Royal Mint, commented: “We are thrilled to be working with Phillippe Cogoli, a talented designer who has built on the heritage of The Royal Mint and the silversmith craft to create this beautiful new collection. The Motto collection is the first range of jewellery to be created by The Royal Mint’s experienced team and is an exciting development for The Royal Mint brand.”

Philippe Cogoli, designer of the Motto collection, added: “The main inspiration behind the Motto range was the fantastic design of the original 1997 £2 coin.  When we saw the potential of the geometric pattern which is stamped onto the coin face, we realised that it reflects an evolution of technology. The idea was to transform the motifs, and design them in a way that is unique but also aligns with The Royal Mint heritage. It was a fantastic collaboration with The Royal Mint team and I feel privileged to have been chosen to work with them. 

In contrast to Motto is the feminine, yet contemporary ‘Sprig’ collection is a first for The Royal Mint and marks an exciting development in their gifting range. The collaboration with Sarah Jordan was designed and made in the UK with the oak and acorn motif featured on many coins throughout history proved vital.

Taken from the original 1936 design of the silver Sixpence, the acorn design appealed to Sarah due to her childhood spent in the Derbyshire countryside. However, the motif was updated to create a sleek, unique theme which formed the basis of the Sprig range, from stud earrings through to a choker necklace.

Sarah Jordan has been designing and manufacturing jewellery for 30 years having won a number of prestigious awards including UK Jewellery Designer of the Year. Sarah set the trend of the organic, fluid style seen in the jewellery industry today which has been beautifully transferred into the Sprig collection.

The new collections are  now on sale, available from www.royalmint.com/gifts

With the art of silversmithing having first emerged in Britain in approximately 300 A.D, both collections build on the amazing heritage of craftsmanship that is still alive in the UK today. 

 Silver has long been an important part of human lives. Having once been available only to the incredibly rich, imports from South America resulted in the precious metal becoming more widely available and the desire for fine jewellery increased. Silversmithing is an age-old tradition that has stood the test of time, innovating as technology has changed, ensuring the craft is still maintained to this day. 

Pieces start from £80 and are available from www.royalmint.com/gifts  

About The Royal Mint

The Royal Mint has an unbroken history of minting British coinage dating back over 1,100 years. Based in the Tower of London for over 500 years, by 1812 The Royal Mint had moved out of the Tower to premises on London’s Tower Hill. In 1967 the building of a new Royal Mint began on its current site in South Wales, UK, to accommodate the minting of UK decimal coinage. 

Today, The Royal Mint is the world’s largest export mint, supplying coins to the UK and overseas countries.

The Royal Mint has also diversified into a number of other complementary businesses, building on the values that have been at the heart of the organisation throughout its history – authenticity, security, precious metals, craftsmanship and design:

  I was lucky enough to attend their press launch and see for myself the elegant, classic and timeless designs. As well as the jewellery, later in the year, they will also  be selling a fine china money box, a beautiful teddy bear and Sterling silver  Christmas tree decorations. 

Blog, Exhibitions

AWAMAKI

As part of the Weavers of the Clouds exhibition there is a section on the weaving of the women who make up Awamaki, a non-profit organization that connects artisan women in the Andes to global markets.

Here is some of the work designed and made by 21 weavers in the community of

Walaquilla Kelanca.

Each of the 21 weavers took images from their daily life and wove a piece that illustrates them, images include llamas, alpacas, birds, ducks, bats, turkey, deer, condors, houses, cornflowers, stars, eyes, foxes, native plants, mountains, lagoons, parrots, dogs, Andean geese Huallata, hummingbirds and owls.

Awamaki was formed in early 2009 to support a cooperative of 10 women weavers from Patacancha, a rural Quechua community in the Andes of Peru. Awamaki’s founders, Kennedy Leavens, from the U.S.A, and Miguel Galdo, from Peru, had worked together at Awamaki’s predecessor organization with the weaving cooperative for two years. When the predecessor organization floundered and finally collapsed, Miguel and Kennedy formed Awamaki to continue their work with the weavers. The organization grew rapidly to include programs in health and education, as well as other artisan cooperatives and a sustainable tourism program. In 2011, Awamaki spun its health program off into an independent sister organization, and made the strategic decision to focus on income improvement and market access through fair trade artisan cooperatives and sustainable tourism.

         It provides training in product development, business skills and leadership. Artisans have the opportunity to share their culture and sell their crafts to tourists through Awamaki’s sustainable tourism program. They collaborate with international designers to make contemporary handmade accessories throughout the world.

         Awamaki’s guiding principle is that income in the hands of women is the best way to help families be self-sufficient. In the rural Quechua villages where Awamaki is established, men leave to work in the tourism economy, while women stay in the village to care for farms, homes and children. Although highly skilled in traditional crafts, most women do not read, write, speak Spanish or have anyway of earning money. 

         Meanwhile, as the rural economy has shifted towards paid labour, traditional textile arts such as spinning, plant dyeing and weaving have experienced a decline. Awamaki was founded to give these women the opportunity to earn a living while encouraging them to continue practising traditional crafts.

         Today, the majority of artisans who have been in the program for at least seven years earn the same or more than their husbands. They invest in the health and education of their families, and are building a prosperous, sustainable future for Quecha villages in Peru.

Awaki is based in Ollantaytambo, Peru, in the heart of  the Sacred Valley of the Inca. It welcomes volunteers, tourists and other in support of its work.

Blog, Makes

Embroider and appliqué a Seagull inspired Cushion

Three things inspired this craft project, the sea, gulls and the effective but random looking stitching currently used by many fine art embroiderers. They in turn appear to have been inspired by Asian quilts made out of recycled Sari’s. I embroidered the cushion front in free hand stitches. I wanted to create the curls where the waves turn over themselves and also the subtle changes of colour in the waves and the sky. To achieve the turbulence of the weather I used two background colours of felt and also different colours of the embroidery floss. The changing direction and sizes of the stitches helps to suggest movement.

If you are not happy just doing freehand stitches using a water erasable pen, draw your design onto the cushion front, embroider over the pen lines. To get rid of the pen marks, dampen a cloth and rub quite lightly.

I expect, like you, I am forever taking photographs when I am by the sea. I took the images of the gulls using my phone. I increased the size of them and then printed them out quite large. Before cutting out in felt, I placed the paper gulls onto the stitched front and arranged in a pleasing composition. I then drew round the gull images onto the felt and cut out and then pinned and tacked the grey felt gulls onto the cushion front.

You will need

Piece of felt 100cm x 100cm x 3mm deep in pale blue felt for the cushion cover

36cm square cushion pad

Felt squares or oblongs in Grey, marine blue and purple

Embroidery floss in light grey, white, mid blue and turquoise (Korbond)

Tapestry needle

Sewing needle

Printer and images of flying seagulls

Water erasable pen

Paper Scissors

Dressmaking Shears

Dress makers pins

For the back opening cushion cover

Cut the cushion front 37cm x 37cm and cut the two cushion backs one 22cm x 37cm and the other 30cm x 37cm in pale blue felt .

Step 1

Work on the cushion front, leave a 2 cm border round the edge, and using brightly coloured thread, tack a piece of dark marine blue felt onto another piece and onto the cushion front so it measures 22cm x 32cm

Step 2

Thread the whole six strands of a piece of white embroidery floss into a tapestry needle and sew random sized running stitches from the left side of the felt to the right and back again, creating 7 uneven rows of stitches. Change colour and sew 7 rows in pale blue.

Step 3

Repeat step 1 using the purple felt. Make sure it joins onto the blue felt and will measure roughly 32cm x 11.5cm. You don’t need to cover the whole of the cushion in stitches, the effect you are after is the waves of the sea. Print images of gulls, draw round and cut out in grey felt.

Step 4

Arrange, pin and sew the gulls onto the cushion front. Using turquoise thread, blanket stitch along one long edge of the cushion back. Make an envelope opening for the cushion pad. With the two back pieces over lapping in the centre of the cushion, pin the cushion backs to the cushion front and sew together round the edge using blanket stitch.

Needles

Embroidery Floss

Pins and scissors and erasable marker pen from http://sew.korbond.co.uk

I designed this project for Coast Magazine