Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Beautiful work by Louise Body

I just came across the beautiful work of Louise Body and had to share it with all my bird and flower loving readers! I adore this Garden Birds wallpaper, and the beautiful art prints and home ware. That Paul Smith shirt would look well in my collection ;)


Monday, 15 September 2014

The Wonderful work of Fiona Harrington Irish Lace

Fiona Harrington's beautiful lacework was recently featured in the local West Cork newspaper. The image of a single sheep drew me to the article and as soon as I had read it I needed to see more of Fiona's work. Lacemaking is such a beautiful tradition and skill and Irish lace is famous throughout the world for its intricacy and beauty. Fiona's work has perfectly captured Ireland's wildlife and landscape. The colour choices add more depth and story to the scenes that she creates and the tones that she uses fit the Irish landscape, like the calm blue that is used to highlight the beautiful West Cork peninsula. Fiona's work has gone from strength to strength and these timeless images have reintroduced the tradition of Irish lacemaking into contemporary Ireland.

1. How did your business come about (and when did you start)?

When I learned how to make lace I began to understand the importance of the practice and also the importance of preserving it. Today there are only a handful of lacemakers left in Ireland. There is a real concern that these skills, like so many other of our indigenous activities will die out. I began to realise that handmade lace would never be able to compete with machine made laces in the area of fashion or interior design so I started to think about how handmade lace could survive? Having worked as an artist, I always saw everything through painters’ eyes so when I started to ‘paint’ with a needle and thread, it seemed to make perfect sense- Make artwork using the techniques of handmade lace! My lace design business officially began this year in 2014. Even though I had been painting and exhibiting my work for many years before that, I never really regarded it as a business. My attitude changed slightly following my degree in Textile Design at NCAD. In a design degree, there is an emphasis on marketing and promoting yourself, which is invaluable for any creative person.

Images © Fiona Harrington

2. Can you give a quick insight into your working method? (ideas, techniques, etc.)

When I’m working I try to be as productive as I can possibly be. On the days I’m not feeling particularly creative, I would spend the day organising the office and paperwork side of things or putting together digital press packs and other computer work. Usually after a few days of that I’m looking forward to sitting down with a pencil to do a few drawings. There are very distinct process stages involved in my working week. When I have finalised a drawing, I begin to design a lace pattern and prepare the grounds for lacemaking. Once these stages are complete, lacemaking begins. Depending on the intricacy of the design, I could spend up to 50 hours a week stitching. After this, the mounting and framing begins- it often feels like I will never finish, but I always do and it is so satisfying when I finally get to photograph a new finished Lace piece.

Images © Fiona Harrington

3. What has been the hardest single obstacle to your life in design (apart from a shortage of time, which seems to be universal amongst creatives!)?

The single biggest obstacle to my life in design is the distinction that exists between creative practices- art; craft; design. I feel that these distinctions in a sense create a form of hierarchy which is not conducive to the encouragement and promotion of innovation and independent thinking.

Images © Fiona Harrington

4. How do you stay motivated?


What inspires you?

Ancient architecture and structures, maps, topographical studies, folk stories, flowers, mountains, sheep, the Samuel Beckett Bridge, Dublin, West Cork, New Zealand, everywhere I’ve been and everything that I’ve seen.

Images © Fiona Harrington

5. What has been the icing on the cake for you as an artist/designer?

The opening of the newly refurbished City Gallery in Wellington, New Zealand featured the artist Yayoi Kusama: an artist who has convincingly bridged the gap between art and design. This was an amazing experience. For the first time I recognised what it was like to be completely consumed by your work. The repetition of pattern throughout the show had a huge impact so it’s even more significant now that I make Lace for a living- a practice which engages completely in a repetitive process of pattern making. As an artist and designer, having the opportunity to see these large scale spectacles is always a real treat- definitely the icing on the cake!

Images © Fiona Harrington

6. Who do you admire (other artists/designers; other people generally) and what/who are your biggest influences, past or present?

There are so many…. the afore-mentioned Kusama, the leaf and lace work of Hilary Fayle, the design team Demakersvan- they made a very cool Lace Fence!

In Ireland; Dorothy Cross, the graffiti artist Maser- his stuff with the Damien Dempsey lyrics was great!

Ariana Tobin’s jewellery is really beautiful, I could go on, there are so many amazingly creative and talented people in this country.

My biggest past influences were Georgia O Keeffe and Andy Goldsworthy, they kept me company while I was studying painting at Crawford in Cork.

My current biggest influence is the Kenmare Lace Centre in Co. Kerry, here I learned all my lace techniques. It is a constant reminder of the high standard achieved by Irish Lacemakers and something to always aspire to!

Images © Fiona Harrington

7. Describe your creative space

Due to the nature of lacemaking, it’s really important to have a clean and organised workspace. Everything has a place and things are kept pretty neat. It’s really difficult for me to focus if I am surrounded by clutter and chaos. I have had many studios, all a variety of shapes and sizes. I have shared with graffiti artists and shoe makers. I need a window with good natural light. In West Cork I have a beautiful view of the mountains from my studio. When I’m in a city however, my view is urban and industrial. I Love this. Wherever I am working I like to feel I am immersed in that environment.

Image © Fiona Harrington

8. What is the best piece of advice you've ever been given?

Make time to stop, sit and be still.

It is very easy to forget to do this, but even just 5 minutes will improve my day greatly.

Image © Fiona Harrington

You can see more of Fiona's work on her website, keep up to date on her Facebook page and buy her work from her Etsy Store.

Friday, 12 September 2014

The Wonderful work of Gemma Robinson (Daisies Blue)

I came across Daisies Blue on Etsy and fell in love with the beautiful bunting creations of assembled vintage doilies in different patterns, sizes and colours. The colour combinations, which span from white to multicoloured, are beautiful and, unlike a lot of bunting where you can pick out a few favourite patterns or colours, each doily that Gemma uses is beautiful and unique. This results in a stunning collection of detailed vintage skill being expertly sewn together with care. I haven't come across work like this before, and it is clear that a lot of thought, time, skill and love goes into making these Daisies Blue creations...

1. How did your business come about (and when did you start)?

Initially I stumbled across a selection of beautiful crochet doilies that my Nana had created many, many years ago and after looking for a few moments I was taken aback by their beauty and delicacy. I felt guilty for not giving my Nana the credit for her talent and felt I owed it to her to use them or create something beautiful from them. On a summer outing to Chatsworth House. I spotted a selection of beautiful coloured vintage crochet doilies at a garden fete and knew I had to have them. And so the collecting and creating began really.

Images © Daisies Blue

2. Can you give a quick insight into your working method? (ideas, techniques, etc.)

Traditional and vintage sewing techniques are at the heart of what we do. I have a love of crochet and hand embroidery and find great delight in showcasing the beautiful work of others from time gone by. Transforming vintage originals into new fresh designs delights us and this really is the focus of all our designs. Our designs are centered around the stunning doilies and embroidery we collect rather than being made specifically for the design. This way we are able to showcase their real, unaltered beauty.

 Images © Daisies Blue

3. What has been the hardest single obstacle to your life in design (apart from a shortage of time, which seems to be universal amongst creatives!)?

The hardest obstacle I have got to say is time, there is never enough minutes in the day as I am sure we would all agree and it amazes me how time can just tick by soo quickly. I can lose hours without even noticing them.

I would also say promotion… as creative’s we are all sooooo busy creating new designs and completing orders that often dedicating time for promoting your business comes further down the list. It is a vastly amazing creative world out there and making your mark can be very difficult.

Image © Daisies Blue

4. How do you stay motivated? What inspires you?

I never struggle for motivation when I am doing something that I love. If anything it takes over and I need motivation to complete the less exciting and mundane things in life. My passion and my ridiculous obsession with my vintage materials is what inspires me. The excitement of finding additional doilies at a tabletop sale or a hand-embroidered table runner in an antiques shop…. The thoughts of what I could create from it are already filling my head before I have paid for them.

Images © Daisies Blue

5. What has been the icing on the cake for you as a artist/designer?

It has go to be the amazing customer feedback I receive. It is one thing doing what you love but when you create something special for someone, whether that’s a bride to be or a new mother for their baby’s nursery, there is no greater feeling than knowing they love your design just as much as you. We regularly received photographs from our customers and I feel like we have made friends all over the world. It is very exciting knowing that your newly designed creation is on its way to Australia, Canada or the USA.

Images © Daisies Blue

6. Who do you admire (other artists/designers; other people generally) and what/who are your biggest influences, past or present?

I am overwhelmed by the amazing talent in the creative world and it would be very difficult to select one person as an influence. I think every artist, designer or craftsperson that you admire rubs off on you in some way… I adore the naturally inspired work of William Morris with its earthy colours, the practical talent of Louise Gardiner with her heavily machine and hand stitched creations amaze me, I could loose hours staring at Claude Monet’s stunningly colourful paintings. They contrast with my love of Angie Lewin’s simplistic organic prints, looking at her work reminds me of a summer’s day. It's fresh, contemporary and uplifting.

Image © Daisies Blue

7. Describe your creative space

Our creative space contrasts obsessive organisation with total chaos. It is a creative working environment with every creative material imaginable. Colour themed sewing threads to countless labelled jars stretching from floor to ceiling. We love to collect and you could potentially find all sorts of vintage items in our studio from rusty tins, mannequins to an old decorative telephone. It is the work of creative individuals for sure. We have a gorgeous view of the North Yorkshire Moors from the window and on a clear sunny day it is a gorgeous place to be.

Image © Daisies Blue

8. What is the best piece of advice you've ever been given?

“Do what you love and you will never work a day in your life” I am still striving towards this but I strongly agree with following your heart and doing something you are passionate about, no matter how hard it may be.

Image © Daisies Blue

I have just shown a small selection of all the beautiful bunting that's available on the Daisies Blue Etsy Shop. You can also find the website here and follow Daisies Blue on Facebook and Twitter.


Monday, 8 September 2014

Vintage Gold Frames & Framed Work Coming Soon!

For the last eight years or so I have been collecting vintage gold frames. I looked for them like a magpie everywhere I visited, in every country that I visited. As a result, I now have a big box full of them! It has become a lovely collection of different sizes, weights, shades of gold and detail. I love the fact that they are all different, and I especially like the very detailed frames. I definitely have a few favourites! I thought I would photograph some of them in this gorgeous sunshine..

..and had a little visit from curious Pixie, who wanted to know what I was taking photos of!

I look forward to framing my artwork in these beauties! It is definitely a lot more work than using new frames but I think it is worth it as there is so much history attached to these, and they are much more unique. 

Here is an example of what my illustrations will look like in the frames. They would make great gifts! More to come on this soon.


Friday, 5 September 2014

Fly around my Home..

Anyone that knows me will know that I am a little bird crazy. In fact, my husband banned me from bringing any more bird related things into our home!

I thought I would take my camera for a quick trip around our home to see if there really is any reasoning behind his madness ;)

Let's start in my studio....

I love storage boxes! This one is from Victoria Met Albert in Berlin. I keep inks, washi tapes, scissors and other stationery in it.

I absolutely love this pattern! It's actually giftwrap from Schwesterherz in Berlin. I liked it so much that I bought it to use as a poster. 

This beautiful card is also from Schwesterherz and I loved it so much that I framed it!

A lovely notebook by Rob Ryan (I have many, many notebooks- you can never have enough!)

And, onto the bedroom...

I love this print by Yumi Yumi Studio, it's so sweet!

The feather coat/jewellery hooks are also from Schwesterherz, Berlin. This is making me miss Berlin shopping so much!

My Rob Ryan necklace is one of my favourite possessions- my husband bought it for me when things were starting to get serious between us :)

I love this greeting card by Bonbi Forest

...and it looks great framed too!

It would take me another hour to include my bird-related jewellery and accessories, so clothes will have to do ;)

I'm a sucker for clothes! I don't wear many bright colours, but I love a good print. I fell in love with this bird print top from Topshop..

and this top from Visby in Berlin.

and this maxi dress from Victoria Met Albert.

Now let's move to the living area....

I love these wooden painted birds by Anna Wiscombe. Hmm, now I'm starting to see a pattern with birds and the colour turquoise...maybe my husband is right!

This etching is by one of my favourite West Cork artists, Hilda McInerney. One day we will get it properly framed but for now it sits on the shelf next to a real life bird nest that reminded us of the artwork when we came across it- abandoned by it's Mother :(. Every time we go to the beach this shell 'collection' seems to get added to!

Here is a section of one of my favourite artworks by Irish artist Charles Tyrrell, which was a gift from my Mother-in-Law. It's called 'Kiss' and I know it's meant to be a pair of lips, but all I have ever seen when I've looked at it is two birds kissing!

This beautiful print by Claire Scully was a surprise gift from my husband years ago. It's so intricate!

My friend Hannah made me this print as a Christmas present...

..and this bird teacup was an engagement present from her :)

Two sweet little cups were a present from my Mother....

...and a beautiful wedding card!

Let's finish up with a pair of bird curtains in the spare room. 
Oh dear....

I'd better go and make dinner and apologize to my husband ;)!