SPRING: 2015 Spring 2015 | ukhandmade |
The Spring Collection 2015
The UK Handmade Showcases buy the best in handmade and show someone you care www.ukhandmade.co.uk/showcase Image of Precious Metals by Shelley 2 courtesy | ukhandmade | Spring 2015
contributors: Spring 2015
Welcome to our first issue of 2015. It’s a New Year and a time for new beginnings, so we are celebrating with inspirational tales; from gorgeous textiles and wonderful sculpture to fresh starts and sound business advice. Our Spring magazine has something for everyone and if that’s not enough, we also have our regular selection of wonderful handmade finds, exciting events, recipes and reviews to help you kick start the year in style. See you in the summer!
finds: Editor’s Picks
meet: Celia Smith
meet: Marna Lunt
meet: Rachelle Blondel
do: A Pond-ering We Must Go
live: Simply Spring
live: From Tower Block to 4 Acres
scene: Country Living Spring Fair
scene: Vintage Bazaar
review: A Year in Crafts
review: Annie Sloan’s Room Recipes
86 review: Vanilla
business: Just a Card
Editor & Designer/Maker
FRONT COVER: www.littleadesigns.co.uk; BACK COVER: Bebe Bradley
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SPRING 2015 Contributors... Lisa Margreet Payne Craft Educator & Writer www.lisamargreet.com
Artist & Designer www.sarahhamiltonprints.com
Creative Director & Artist/Designer www.karenjinks.co.uk
Deputy Editor & Designer/Maker www.dawnbevins.co.uk
Finance Director & Maker www.myfuroshiki.com
Handloom Weaver www.chrissiefreeth.wix.com/weaver
UK Handmade Magazine, firstname.lastname@example.org, www.ukhandmade.co.uk • Copyright © UK Handmade LTD 2015. All rights reserved. Reproduction or redistribution in whole or in parts without written permission is strictly prohibited. The editor’s decision on all printed material is final. Unsolicited work is accepted but does not guarantee inclusion into the final edition. The views expressed by contributors are not necessarily those of UK Handmade or the editor. Creative Director: Karen Jinks email@example.com • Editor: Bebe Bradley firstname.lastname@example.org • Design: Jo Askey email@example.com Deputy Editor: Dawn Bevins firstname.lastname@example.org • Advertising: email@example.com • PR: firstname.lastname@example.org Events: email@example.com 4 | ukhandmade | Spring 2015
Meet: Rachelle Blondel Teresa Verney Brookes
Education Officer for the RSPB & Forest School Teacher
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ANGIE PARKER ‘Tutti Frutti Turquoise’ (right) and ‘Saigon Bureau Chair’ (left), all enquiries at www.angieparkertextiles.com
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EMMA DUNBAR ‘Cheerful Flowers and a Pomegranate on a Grey Day’ , acrylic on board, £2100 from www.emmadunbar.co.uk
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AMY SWANN ‘Spring Meadow’, Bespoke Celebration Cakes, all enquiries at www.amyswanncakes.co.uk
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CHOCOLARDER ‘Wild Gorse Flower’, Single Origin Milk Chocolate £3.95 from www.chocolarder.com
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13THREADS Liberty of London ‘Chrysanthemum’ Print Dress, all enquiries at www.13threads.com Spring 2015 | ukhandmade |
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‘Moth Eaten Spoons’, (opposite) enquiries at ww.suebrownprintmaker.blogspot.co.uk
JULIA MCKENZIE ‘The London Mudlark’, artist-signed screenprint in a limited edition of 25, £165 from www.juliamckenzie.bigcartel.com Spring 2015 | ukhandmade |
Celia Smith by Nicola Mesham
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From her studio on a farm in North Wiltshire, Celia Smith sculpts with wire, inspired by birds and impelled to capture their movement and character. Each avian sculpture is produced as a threedimensional drawing with the wires representing a quality of line, and every piece of work is linked to an experience or drawing made directly from life studies. What is your background and where did you study? I grew up on farm in Gloucestershire, where I was always making things as a child and often looking after injured and sick calves and chicks. I was taken to see Sophie Ryderâ€™s studio on a school trip during my A levels; she makes large scale, wire-dense sculptures and this was a huge inspiration for me. I immediately went home and started collecting wires around the farm to make into sculptures. I went on to do an art foundation course in Bath, continuing to make sculpture using wires, and from there proceeded to Wimbledon School of Art to study a fine art degree in sculpture. It was a highly disciplined course and I spent the first year learning different ways of making sculptures including casting and carving. There was a heavy emphasis on drawing, with a life model at our disposal most days. Construction became my favourite method of making though; I think I am drawn to the immediate nature of it, particularly with wire, as within a few minutes something begins to emerge. Spring 2015 | ukhandmade |
What provides your inspiration? Do you draw or sculpt first? Drawing is a huge inspiration for my work, and also birds. When I started to sell my work, it was mainly sculpture of chickens and ducks. I was living back on my parents’ farm after my degree and began to produce sculptures of what was around me, using wire which was readily available on the farm. The chickens became very popular and after a few years of orders, I decided to close my order book and do a bit of travelling, ending up in New Zealand where I had a one year work permit. Inspired by the exotic birds I came across, I had an exhibition whilst I was out there, showing the different birds I had made. On my return to the UK, I continued to visit and draw at nature reserves, and was surprised to discover the wealth of amazing birds that we have here. It was a bit of a learning curve; often I’d turn up at places at the wrong time of year and not find the birds I was looking for! My drawing style is influenced by the way I use wire, and I also have to draw very quickly to try and capture a bird as it moves. I try not to use photographs to make my birds. This gives me my loose and free drawings, and it’s these drawings that inspire my wire work. 18 | ukhandmade | Spring 2015
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What else inspires your work? When making a body of work or working on a particular commission, I begin by drawing. I go to an island off the Pembrokeshire Coast called Skokholm to draw seabirds each summer. This often inspires a whole body of work, all about the birds that live and visit the island to breed. I take a whole suitcase of wires across with me and often 22 | ukhandmade | Spring 2015
make whilst watching the birds. Iâ€™ve also started to use pieces of old metal in my sculptures, found or scavenged whilst out drawing. Once back in the studio, my collection of drawings helps me finish sculptures initiated on my trip or begin new pieces inspired by my trip. Recently, I have been producing large wall drawings of bird flocks and these use a drawing or an experience as a starting point.
What creative processes do you go through when producing a body of work? Do you update your skills and how important do you think it is to be knowledgeable about the latest techniques? I don’t update my skills formally, though I am always discovering new wires to use. I often feel the teaching I do helps me to come up with techniques and innovative ways of making wire sculpture. For instance, in June 2014, I worked with New Brewery Arts in Cirencester to produce a gallery show commemorating the role of the carrier pigeon in WW1. Entitled ‘The Feathered Aviator’, it was planned that the main body of work would consist of flocks of wire pigeons flying around the gallery and these would be made by 5 local primary schools. I only had two hours per school to make the pigeons, so I had to come up with a quick way of working. I made 15 negative plaster moulds with volunteers from the gallery, and these were then used in the workshops to form the pigeons using thin telephone cabling. Each student made their own bird in the mould, and then spent time weaving into the bird before writing their own message for the pigeon to carry. In the end, I had 450 birds to install within the gallery space. This mould technique has inspired a new way of working for me and I recently have been trying out new moulds in my studio. Spring 2015 | ukhandmade |
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Who are your favourite designers or artists working in the United Kingdom today? I love the work of Thomas Heatherwick; I think the way he uses materials in his buildings is awe-inspiring and like the innovation of his smaller works. Andy Goldsworthyâ€™s 2007 show at the Yorkshire sculpture park was very memorable and I love the way he plays with materials. I also admire the metalwork work of Junko Mori and the willow installations of Laura Ellen Bacon. What are the best and worst things about running your own business? The highlights of working for your self would include the feeling of satisfaction once a sculpture is completed and installed, the variety of work and meeting lots of interesting people along the way. The not so good bits are the paperwork, the never ending email inbox and generally always being just a little too busy. I have recently taken on an agent, Leonora Martin Fine Art, to handle my commissions and communications. This has helped me tremendously, and I hope to have a number of online shows during the year where customers can buy new works directly from Leonoraâ€™s website. 26 | ukhandmade | Spring 2015
Do you have any new projects and what are your goals for the future? I recently launched my first wire kit, an exciting new thing for me. Over the years I have developed ways of working with wires which I share in this ‘Make Your Own Robin Kit’. It’s great to be able to have something to sell directly to customers and I hope to launch a series of bird kits. I also have a real interest in printmaking and over the past few years, have experimented with printing and embossing my wire drawings. I have an ambition to do an MA in printmaking in next few years. I’m currently working on my first major public commission as part of ‘The Feathered Aviator’ exhibition and the sculpture will be installed permanently outside of the New Brewery Arts building in Cirencester. It’s been a real learning curve making this large scale piece; it’s approximately 8 metres long and consists of 40 wire pigeons flying along the building. I’m hoping that I’ll be making more large scale pieces and installation for both public and private settings in the next few years. For more information, visit: www.celia-smith.co.uk For information on Celia’s upcoming workshops, visit: www.celia-smith.co.uk/workshops Images courtesy of Celia Smith Spring 2015 | ukhandmade |
BUSINESS: Just a Card by Sarah Hamilton
Independent shops and galleries play a central role in the diversity of our high streets, defining the character of our towns and cities. Artists and designers often supply them, ensuring that the shops remain fresh and unique. A mutually supportive relationship between artists, designers and retailers is crucial if we are all to thrive in an economy where bricks and mortar outlets compete with the popularity of online sales. This is especially relevant to handmade products as the decision to buy these is usually a tactile one and difficult to appreciate online. For many, including myself, selling wholesale represents a significant portion of our income strands. For those who don’t already stock shops, I’ll highlight some key points; it’s often an ambition for many artists & designers, albeit one sometimes shrouded in mystery and trepidation. I’ll then introduce you to the campaign JUST A CARD, which aims to spread the word about how important each and every sale is, not only to shops but for artists and makers who sell at design fairs and open studios too. 28 | ukhandmade | Spring 2015
Multiple factors make an item suitable and cost effective for wholesale, and there are many issues to address before you’ll see your work in shops.
out their buyer’s name and send a clear, polite and concise email with images of your products, prices (including delivery costs), and your minimum
As wholesalers, we have to compete with low cost items manufactured abroad, although buyers of handmade usually appreciate the values of ‘Made in Britain’. These values can include provenance, quality, attention to detail and environmental impact, etc. Key points you should consider when selling through shops and galleries are:
orders and lead times. Make it easy for the retailer because, if it looks too complicated to buy from you, they may think that - however fantastic your work is - the effort involved will be too much.
PRICING As a general rule, most shops work to a ‘x 2.6’ markup i.e. sell to the shop for £10 and it will retail for £26. This is not definitive, but do use it as a guide. If you can’t work to these kinds of margins, you’ll have to rethink your strategy, and remember to also factor in post and packaging costs. These figures may appear somewhat steep at first but it’s important to reflect that rent, business rates, heating, lighting, wages, publicity, insurance and cake, etc. make running a shop a huge financial and personal commitment.
APPROACHING THE SHOP/BUYER Do your research. Visit the shop or their website to ascertain if your work fits their aesthetic, then check to see if they have a submissions policy and follow it. If they don’t have a submissions policy, search
Any prospective relationship with a potential retailer will benefit by you placing yourself in their shoes, before you approach them. I recently spent time with Gita Joshi, owner of the Orso Major Gallery which stocks my work. I was astonished by the number of artists who walked in off the street on a busy Saturday and expected Gita to look at their work there and then. I appreciate that it’s important to be courageous and promote your work, but putting a gallery owner on the spot on a busy trading day and distracting them from their customers when they’re in selling mode, is not going to give them a sense of your professionalism. Spring 2015 | ukhandmade |
INK & THREAD
MAINTAINING THE RELATIONSHIP Supplying retailers is an ongoing relationship, so support them. Ensure that you deliver on time and never undercut a shop by selling the same products cheaper via your website or through other venues. If you use social media (and you will by now, if you’ve implemented my Social Media advice from UK Handmade’s Summer magazine), employ it to tell people about your stockists. 30 | ukhandmade | Spring 2015
If you have an established client base, your customers will be delighted that they can buy your work near them. Ask the retailer if they’d like to host a ‘meet the maker’ event. Customers love to chat to designers and makers about their inspiration, etc., and being present and enthusiastic about your work can often increase sales dramatically! I often use these in my promotions as they add a dimension and context to my artwork.
JUST A CARD This is a campaign to encourage people to appreciate just how valuable each and every sale is to designers, makers and independent shops. The idea began when I read this quote from a gallery owner who’d recently closed their gallery, “If only everyone who’d complimented our beautiful gallery had bought just a card, we’d still be open”, and I felt something significant had to be done. Many people are saddened by empty shops and the proliferation of chain stores, and there are many campaigns to encourage people to shop local. However, I felt that we needed to take it a step further and suggest a practical measure that people can take if they really want to make a difference. Often people will apologise for buying ‘just a card’, implying that they feel it’s too small a purchase to be relevant in the context of the more expensive artwork on sale in a gallery or design fair. This is so very far from the truth. It is imperative that people realise that what they perceive as a small gesture, in buying just a card or any handmade artwork, is actually a huge one and can genuinely mean the difference between shops, designers or makers continuing to trade or go out of business. I personally find that many small sales introduce customers to my work and this often leads to continued relationships and support. Spring 2015 | ukhandmade |
The campaign has the wonderful support of The Design Trust and Mollie Makes, and was launched just before Christmas 2014 to garner the preChristmas market. However, the aim is to make the campaign so big that, this time next year, everyone will have heard of it and will buy handmade with a revived passion. The response has been astonishing, with Facebook posts reaching 100,000 views, and has led to many press features. Many independent galleries and shops have pledged their support including Orso Major Gallery in London, Dunlin & Diver in Deal, Ink & Thread in Derby and the VK Gallery in St Ives and Cambridge. Patricia van den Akker, Director of The Design Trust, says, “Supporting local businesses is crucial if we want to keep our local High Streets alive and buzzing with independent, exciting and creative shops. Don’t just talk about it, do something about it; shop local and make a real difference.” Editor of Mollie Makes, Lara Watson, adds, “A small purchase can make a huge difference if we all get involved. At Mollie Makes, we are all about working together to support our creative community and it keeps us mindful in our buying choices as well as spreading the joy of beautiful, thoughtful designs.” Support Just a Card and let’s see all your wonderful artwork flying off the shelves of your favourite galleries and shops, and our creative world thrive. For more information on the Just A Card campaign, visit: www.justacard.org To help spread the word and keep up with campaign news, visit: www.facebook.com/slhprints Images courtesy of Sarah Hamilton, Holly Booth and INK & THREAD 32 | ukhandmade | Spring 2015
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SCENE: The clocks go forward on the 29th of March, bringing longer days and warmer weather. It will soon be time for picnics, summer fêtes, al fresco dining and garden parties; time to spring clean, refresh the home and squeeze in a little selfindulgence. It’s the perfect time to visit the Country Living Magazine Spring Fair. The Country Living Magazine Spring Fair is fresh, bright and full of lovely things, with creative ideas that bring a touch of the countryside into the home. Heralding summer, the fair has all the ingredients for a special day out, offering inspiration for the house and the garden with hundreds of unusual items. Find furniture, furnishings and accessories hand-picked from companies that you won’t find on the high street, alongside expert demonstrations in the Spring Lifestyle Theatre and hands-on workshops to encourage your own creativity. There’s so much to see, do and enjoy! 34 | ukhandmade | Spring 2015
Producers Village and Newcomers Market New for this year is the Producers Village at the front of the Fair. Stop by and meet traditional farmers, kitchen table bakers, artisan chocolatiers and organic wine makers. Meanwhile, located on the Gallery level is the Newcomers Market, a launchpad for talented artisans that celebrates a wonderful variety of makers, crafters, designers and producers from across the UK.
The Glamping Garden A highlight of the fair is the popular garden. This year it’s designed by Lucy Summers, taking inspiration from ‘glamping’ and featuring a 70s VW Camper Van, complete with a roof planted with delicious fruits and vegetables. Evoking all that’s great about British spring time, the garden also has tall fruit trees beginning to blossom, spring flowers and a vintage beehive.
Shopping With a Difference There are three halls filled with all the pretty and practical touches required to create a charming living space; fabrics, throws and delicate details for the kitchen, such as hand-painted china and rustic earthenware. However, it’s not all about home furnishing, there are fashion tips too. Refresh your wardrobe in step with the season and give yourself a revitalising boost. Discover handcrafted jewellery, bold textiles and bright patterns that will help you put together a unique look. Spring 2015 | ukhandmade |
The Spring Lifestyle Theatre Do you want to know how to create eclectic arrangements for your home, beautiful displays of delicate blooms or wholesome seasonal recipes? Join the Country Living experts in the theatre to hear them speak and pick up practical ideas for your kitchen, home and garden. But don’t just take the experts’ words on board; put their ideas into practice with the Craft & Create hands-on sessions. Try your hand at making felt fairy tales with Fi Oberon, learn how to block print a tea towel with Maggie Sheehan, or use up some fabric scraps to stitch a keepsake heart with Hilary Jane.
Kitchen Table Talents: Turning Your Hobby into a Business Special events include a Pop-up Market on Wednesday, 18th of March, featuring a carefully selected collection of crafters, makers, designers and artists. These ‘Kitchen Table Talents’ create their wares in their own homes and this will be their first foray into selling to the public. This is their chance to see if they have what it takes to turn their talent into turnover.
Taste Sensations Green & Black returns with its taste experience, and their Taste Team will be offering you a chance to taste their delicious and unique flavours. 36 | ukhandmade | Spring 2015
Discover the story behind the UK’s entrepreneurial chocolate brand that pioneered the Fairtrade mark with its ethical trading and organic products. Birchall Tea will also once again be sponsoring the tea rooms, giving visitors the chance to enjoy a range of ethically cultivated fine teas and infusions that this family-owned business has developed since its establishment in 1872. Venue: The Business Design Centre, Islington, London, N1 0QH Opening times: 10.00 - 18.00 Wednesday 18th March 10.00 - 18.00 Thursday 19th March 17.30 - 21.00 Thursday 19th March (Gala Evening) 09.30 - 18.00 Friday 20th March 09.30 - 18.00 Saturday 21st March 10.00 - 15.00 Sunday 22nd March Standard Admission: Adult advance £13.00 / on the door £16.50 OAP advance / on the door £13.00 Child (5-16) advance £8.00 / on the door £8.50 Under 5s free Gala evening advance £10.00 / £14.50 on the door For more information and further booking options , please visit: www.countrylivingfair.com Images courtesy of Country Living Spring 2015 | ukhandmade |
Marna Lunt by Bebe Bradley
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Based in the North East of England, Marna Lunt is a textile artist whose work is influenced by the beautiful North Yorkshire Moors where she grew up. Using colours and textures that you would normally find dancing in the heather, she paints and hand stitches her work in her home studio. With an eclectic combination of materials and stunning hand-dyed and vintage threads, each element is lovingly handled by Marna, and personality and soul emerges in each unique creation. The end result is something to treasure, something that you will want to keep forever, a modern day heirloom. Who is Marna Lunt? Mother, wife, carer, artist, Italian renaissance geek, bird watcher, snow globe collector, murder mystery lover, serial decorator and really bad speller. What experience and training do you have, and how has your textile art developed from this? I have an honours degree in Fine Art Painting from the Manchester School of Art. Painting and drawing has always been my true love from an early age and although art history attempted to steal me, I just couldnâ€™t deal with the idea of not spending my primary time with pencil or brush in hand. Until recently, embroidery was a hobby, one in which I am self-taught but have attempted since I was eight or nine. Oh, and Iâ€™m a trained florist too. Spring 2015 | ukhandmade |
Tell us about the ethos behind your art. Well basically, it’s all about me. Me, me, me, ahaha! When I was little, there was only one thing I wanted to do when I woke up and one thing I thought of when going to bed. I just wanted to draw stuff around me. I needed to. I wanted to be an artist. I took a very long journey to get back to that dream of painting, via offices, different countries, flower shops and call centres. But when life threw some really pants stuff at me, my solution was to create again at any cost. It’s my therapy, my medicine, my selfish pleasure, my secret affair. It’s also a sickness. I can’t stop. I won’t stop. I just have to create things that I love, that make me proud and that will be a legacy to my children. You see? Me, me, me! So I create stuff that I like, that excites me, to a standard I am happy with, that I would be happy to have in my house. Your textile work and technique is so highly distinctive and instantly recognisable. Who - or what influences and motivates you? My main influence is the countryside of the North Yorkshire Moors near Whitby, in which I was brought up. It has become a part of my very being and strongly defines me. The moorland textures and colours have always given me a strong sense of place and belonging. It has a solitude and peace which I cherish and is the one place I can be me. 40 | ukhandmade | Spring 2015
As for what motivates me, well that is harder; there’s just something inside that makes me need to create and if I didn’t express myself in this way, a part of me would die. Tell us about the inspiration behind your work. Who - or what - is inspiring you right now? I’m loving everything about portraits at the moment, so I am enjoying looking at portrait paintings, studying the flesh tints and use of light. Life drawing has always been a favourite discipline so to be edging back towards what I trained in, is pretty wonderful. Bonnard, Lucian Freud and Jenny Saville are favourites. The fairy tales are an offshoot of the portraiture and enable me to use the figurative work in a more dream-like way. When it comes to the landscapes, I draw what I see in my own style and I don’t think of anyone else. I have things in my head and I don’t know where they come from; it may be a dream, a flash of colour from a piece of fabric, a memory of a day out. Things are just there and I have a compulsion to express them.
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Your approach to your materials is eclectic; has it been a difficult process for you to master? It’s hard to answer this without sounding a bit arrogant and I hate myself for saying it but no, I don’t find it difficult at all. I found painting a lot harder. I don’t think I have really mastered anything though, because it’s all about exploring and discovering. I just really enjoy playing with colour, layers, pattern and texture, and it truly excites me. The exploring of materials that might be useful is as exciting as producing the piece. That’s not to say that I’m not challenged; I feel as pushed as I want to be at the moment, with various commissions helping to keep things fresh and fun. With my hectic and difficult family life, I need for this working part of my life to be calmer and more stable at present. But the joy of being creative is that things change and I embrace that. Is there a specific tool that you cannot do without? A life without a needle or pencil would be pretty terrible. 42 | ukhandmade | Spring 2015
Your work possesses a beautiful ‘drawn’ quality,
paint, and then putting that next to pencil lines that
particularly your new portraiture. What creative aspects of this do you enjoy portraying in your work? I love that this is the closest I’ve come to working like I used to at college; when I could squeeze my oil paint out and enjoy the flesh tones, and see the tiny elements of colour all creep through to make a final amazing pulsing being. Being able to explore all these tones again and draw is me at my most thrilled and excited about art. I love playing with thread as my new medium, working out how I can layer the elements to create what I used to in
I draw onto the linen first. I want you to be able to see the colour and the sketch, the ‘nuts and bolts’ of the work. I am a better drawer than painter, but this is hard to deal with as I am also a colourist. The tiny subtleties of colour are hugely important to me. Every shade has to be exact and is used for a very definite reason next to another colour. The contrast and depth is specific, calculated and brings me huge joy. So now I get to show off my drawing skills, but add colour in a way that I want to and that creates a strong painterly effect.
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What steps do you take to create a new piece? Do you draw or stitch first? I always draw first. Creating that structure is essential for me. In my portraits, I normally create sketches first, then plot my composition on the linen. I have done this a few times with the landscapes too but I find it is never quite as successful. I’m better if I just do a simple sketch directly onto the linen and then get on with ‘painting’ using the fabric. It feels fresher, with movement and life, than when I just work straight into the linen. I’m also a very impatient worker and I just want to get on with it. I don’t want to faff about, I want to get stuck in, explore what might happen and respond to that within the piece. Describe your current work space for us. When it’s clean, it’s my Neverland, with shelves of ribbon, fabric, jars and tins of buttons and sequins, all the way up to the ceiling. I am surrounded by beautiful things that make me feel wonderful. I have a radio so that I can listen to Radio Four. I cannot listen to music when I’m at the start of my work because it influences the direction of what I’m making too much. In itself, it is such a strong artistic expression that it conflicts with the creation of a new and separate piece of art based on something very different. I need something that happens quietly in the background, something that will spur me on without taking over. Audio books are also a must. My studio is my safe haven, in which there is everything that sings out ‘me’. Spring 2015 | ukhandmade |
What do you love most about what you do, and what do you find the most frustrating? I love starting a new project; that moment when something pops into your head and you smile, and you can’t hold back but draw it down and start making. I hate admin and accounts. I’m pants with money and numbers although exceptional at spending it. What do you do to relax? Crochet blankets and read art history books. Draw. Have you seen a change in the perception of ‘craft’ in the UK, and what it means to own a handmade or hand-finished object? I feel that the profession of being in craft or a craftsman has been devalued by the perception that anyone can do it and do it to a high standard. The word ‘craft’ now describes the hobby of making something, buying a kit, ‘having a go’. I wholeheartedly support anyone making and trying, and getting the fabulous feeling it gives to accomplish a new skill. However, it is something very different to studying it, mastering it, being an artisan, and having the skill and talent to take it to a whole different level of, well, awesomeness basically. I think the word is now a little more blurred than it used to be. In my head, a crafter is someone doing it as a hobby or a bit of pocket money. 46 | ukhandmade | Spring 2015
In the land of painting, it is much easier as you’re an artist, short and simple. I would see myself as an artist not a crafter. I am a professional who earns a living from my skill and who has studied for years as an artist to achieve what I have now. There are two very different camps, I think, with people who want to own something handmade. There are the collectors of things that are pieces of artwork e.g. ceramics, textiles, sculptures, jewellery, etc., those who will pay the worth of the piece because they understand the time, love and training that is put into each work. Then there are the people who want the unique gift but, because of the thought that everyone can make it themselves, don’t quite value the skills as a professional job, and so think that everything should be cheap as they could do it at home, for cost prices in their spare time. What does ‘handmade’ mean to you? To me, rightly or wrongly, the word ‘handmade’ now has a very similar connotation to ‘crafter’. Spring 2015 | ukhandmade |
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In 2014, you participated in Liberty’s ‘Best of British’ Open Call for Makers with your beautiful Liberty Lampshade (which took over 50 hours to make!) What effect did the experience have on you? What advice would you give to someone starting out and who is perhaps thinking of approaching a store like Liberty? What is really fabulous about what Liberty does is that they give their time - totally free of charge - to designers who have the opportunity to ask questions and talk to them, and that free time is a really generous thing. They were kind, enthusiastic, uplifting and honest, and I have to say that I thought they were pretty wonderful. I went with a very specific goal. I did not want to sell my lampshades and embroidery to them, I wanted them to just see me, remember me, say they liked my shade and use this to market my products. I wanted them to then have me in mind if they were doing projects in the future that they thought I might fit into, a commission or a display, etc. I can’t really sell most of my work at trade prices as it’s too labour intensive and I’m not really interested in being a production line. It worked because, months later, Liberty emailed and we have been talking about a few projects. I have written on their blog as a tutor, and my prints and mugs of their stunning shop have sold very well. I found the whole day very exciting and it was great to meet Ed and Julie, and interesting to hear their questions and their opinion of my work. It’s not something to be scared of; they are normal people with a shop and business. It’s fab if they like your stuff, but it’s ok to say ‘no’ if it’s not going to fit in with your direction. Working with anyone needs to be a two way partnership, with mutual respect and goals, and having the confidence to approach these big names is key. Remember that if someone says no, it’s not because you’re no good, it’s because they won’t make money from it and that means you won’t either, so they’re actually on your side. Just have a go. Spring 2015 | ukhandmade |
If you had the opportunity to learn or employ a new creative skill, what would it be? Printmaking and calligraphy. Where can we purchase and find out more about your work? I have a website which sells prints, ceramics and stationery as well as originals and commissions, and I also sell through MadeByHandOnline. I have a fun blog telling you about my adventures; my husband writes a lot for it, which is great because he gives business advice as well as a different view of living with an obsessive stitcher. The best thing to do is visit my website and sign up for my newsletter which will always keep you up-to-date with everything I do (as well as give you treats). What’s next for Marna Lunt; do you have any new projects and what are your goals for the future? I’m launching a new website teaching embroidery called Illuminating Embroidery and that’s going to be so much fun. I have lots of exciting ‘meet the maker’ workshops around the country and you can find them all on my website. I’ll be exhibiting at Unit Twelve and Landbaby, and you’ll also find me at the Decorative Living fair at Eridge Park and the Contemporary Craft Festival at Bovey Tracey. I would love to do more writing features and exhibit at galleries, although it’s looking pretty full and exciting already! For more information, visit: www.littleadesigns.co.uk Images courtesy of Marna Lunt and Eve Photography (p.48)
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JEN RICKETTS 52 | ukhandmade | Spring 2015
Chelsea Old Town Hall will be the venue for the renowned Desire Fair from the 6th - 8th of March, 2015. This stunning mixed media, jewellery and silversmithing event is not to be missed! Visitors will be able to purchase directly from contemporary designers and makers, selected from amongst the very best in the UK. Desire offers visitors a choice from approximately 90 individual jewellers and silversmiths who have been selected for their superb and innovative craftsmanship, and who have a genuine passion for the work they create. Visitors can see and purchase from an exciting range by both emerging British talent and established designer/makers. Exhibitors include jewellers working in gold, silver, platinum, palladium, aluminium, copper, brass, glass and bronze, and who incorporate felt, gemstones, sea glass, buttons, pearls, glass, enamelwork and beads into their work.
CATHY NEWELL PRICE Spring 2015 | ukhandmade |
Anyone celebrating a special occasion, such as a birthday or anniversary, may also wish to discuss or commission a bespoke piece of jewellery or silverware from one of the many designer/makers. Several visitors in the past have commissioned engagement or wedding rings at the event and, by working with the designer/maker, have been able to create a unique design that means so much more to the recipient. Many of the makers will also be happy to discuss the remodelling of old jewellery to perhaps give it a more contemporary feel. 54 | ukhandmade | Spring 2015
Amongst the silversmiths exhibiting at the event is Rebecca Joselyn who was featured with her work on the Channel Four programme, Four Rooms. The work, inspired by todayâ€™s lifestyle of throwaway packaging is highly collectable and has been purchased by the Duke of Devonshire. New to the show this year is silversmith Jen Ricketts, who creates beautiful city skylines by hand-piercing silver. Also exhibiting this year will be Robert Ingham, who designs and makes beautiful jewellery boxes.
STUART JENKINS Spring 2015 | ukhandmade |
SUZY GRIMSHAW 56 | ukhandmade | Spring 2015
Whether you are looking to treat yourself, purchase a unique gift for someone special or commission an item for a special occasion, make a date to visit Desire at Chelsea. Venue: Old Town Hall, Kingâ€™s Road, London, SW3 5EE Opening times: 10.00 - 18.00 Friday 6th March 10.00 - 17.00 Saturday 7th March 10.00 - 17.00 Sunday 8th March Admission: ÂŁ6 For more information, please visit: www.desirefair.com Images courtesy of Craft in Focus
SUE LANE Spring 2015 | ukhandmade |
A Year in Crafts by Dawn Bevins Craft books, if we are honest, can seem a little generic. Surely if you’ve read one full of bunting, bags and cushions, you’ve read them all, right? What’s more, few projects tend to scream out “Love me, I’m cute!”, but ‘A Year In Crafts’ is actually full of projects just like that. As the front cover states, there are a massive 52 projects included (one for each week of the year, of course … and no, you can’t have one for every day because, as much as we applaud your enthusiasm, you also need to eat and sleep). With most craft books averaging on 32 projects, this is pretty impressive and means that there is plenty to choose from, whether you just want to dip into it or commit to a weekly challenge.
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The book is split into four sections, clearly identified by tabbed dividers that also serve as handy pockets for your crafty bits and pieces. Each of the four sections covers a group of months of the year, beginning with ‘January, February, March’, and finishing with ‘September, October, November, December’. As you can imagine, this makes many of the projects seasonal. My favourite section is definitely the final one as I love the autumnal themed projects, such as the Woodland Key Chains, and the winter projects, such as the Festive Stag (although I think he would look great at any time of the year, minus the baubles) and the Little Clog Advent Calendar. Each project includes an image of the finished item (many of which are full-page), a list of items you’ll need, numbered step-by-step instructions and numbered illustrations. Towards the back of the book, there are also eight pages of templates ready for you to trace or photocopy and the book is spiral-bound, which is ideal for making the book lie flat when copying. The instructions are clear and easy to follow, although I may have become a little lost on some of the sewing ones, but I attribute this to me not being much of a sewing person. Spring 2015 | ukhandmade |
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The truth is that I don’t sew. Well, not with a machine because I have no machine. This can sometimes put me off a book, as the constant requirement for a sewing machine can leave me disappointed and feeling left out. But all you talented seamstresses mustn’t worry because, whilst this book does include projects that require a sewing machine (around 18, as well as a few hand-sewn and handembroidered projects), it isn’t an enormous amount and there’s still a lot of variety for those of us sans machines. Furthermore, some of those machined projects are so darn cute that I’m even tempted to try and sew them by hand (I’m looking at you, Sleepy Lion Cushion and Sausage-Dog Softie). Before I commit myself to any laborious hand-sewing, there are a few easier projects that I’d love to make, including the Tie-Close Folders (in the hope that I can actually keep my workspace both organised and pretty) and the Papercut Pot Holders (such a simple idea, except I plan on using a bright coloured piece of card for my inner tube to add a pop of colour that matches my living room). I love that a broad range of skill levels are covered and some of the simpler ones - cutting and sticking, for example - would be great for beginners and kids alike. I also love the fact that even the simplest of projects don’t come across as naff, but look really cool; I really liked the Thumbprint Robins for their quirkiness and modern graphic style. This is a fun book; backdrops of textured paper, bright colours and light, airy photographs create a busy and exciting layout. It is bursting with content and I know I’ve mentioned it already, but it’s so darn cute. Now all I need is a wizard on a sewing machine that wants to make me that stunning geometric throw! Spring 2015 | ukhandmade |
A Year in Crafts by Clare Young, is published by CICO Books at £14.99 and is available from all good bookshops. To purchase a copy at the special price of £10.99 including free p&p, call 01256-302699, quoting the promotional code GLR O4O. For more information, visit: www.cicobooks.co.uk Images courtesy of CICO Books Photography by Joanna Henderson ISBN-10: 1782491414 ISBN-13: 978-1782491415
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Rachelle Blondel by Chrissie Freeth
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In a ramshackle Yorkshire farmhouse, Rachelle Blondel designs and makes unique, quirky, vintage-inspired clothing and accessories. Stitcher, mother and dabbler, she is also the author and creative force behind Ted & Agnes and co-authored the hit book Granny Chic with Tif Fussell, who is otherwise known as Dottie Angel. After a series of challenges, Rachelle is bracing herself for a re-launch and re-brand as well as writing a second, new solo book. Tell us about yourself and how you got started. I have always been a doer, a maker of things and most often, with some sort of practicality in mind. I learnt to sew when I was about 7 or 8 and I guess it was cross stitch at school that started me off. I then got books from the library on embroidery stitches, and stitched everything and anything. Art at school and college followed on from there but I never really found my niche. Iâ€™ve tinkered with fashion, print, textiles, papermaking, gardening and cooking but I never really wanted to do just one thing. Having children gave me the time out to create at home and put all the things I loved into practice every day.
Jemima Lumley Spring 2015 | ukhandmade |
You live in a beautiful old farmhouse. What is your workspace like and how important is your environment on your work? My workspace is cold, damp and draughty, not quite the romantic ‘roses round the door’ lifestyle that people imagine. However, my environment inspires me; a glance at a bit of crumbling plaster and what lies behind, sparks the thoughts of what the walls have seen, and a crooked door frame or interesting corner is always easy on the eye. It is frustrating and awesome but essential for daily creativity. 66 | ukhandmade | Spring 2015
What are you currently working on? At the moment, everything is book-orientated. I am in the final stages of preparation before my new book goes to print so all copy is being checked, I’m deciding on the design, and having lots of conversations with my editor. Generally, there’s a knot in my stomach to make sure everything is ‘AOK’. I’m also finding the odd 5 minutes, here and there, to work on my new website. This also includes a new shop and blog, and it’s scheduled for launch in February.
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How did you find your style; has it changed and what are your inspirations? There are a few key things that I love and that
away and were replaced by gurus telling people how to blog for success and make money. It lost its organic flow and became somewhat forced. I am
have stuck by me since a really early age - florals, natural materials and white walls - so I guess these things are my ‘style’, in whichever way they might manifest themselves at any given time. I’ve had a really big shift this past year and have been clearing out everything, giving away things that I just don’t need, and yearning for empty space to move and think in. I feel in a state of flux at the moment but I still have my floral cushions!
glad to say that it seems to have come full circle and people are coming back, kicking out at the way their voices have been taken away by sponsors and adverts. I have taken my apathy and disinterest, given it a good shake and have started blogging again; there’s a rumble in blog land and I am excited for 2015!
You share an incredibly popular and beautiful blog that focuses on your lifestyle as well as your work. Can you tell us a little about what it means to you? I am hugely inspired by other folk’s blogs, their daily grind, what they’ve been up to and their thoughts and feelings on stuff. I decided to write my own way back in 2007. I wanted a record for both myself and perhaps, future generations to look back at and have a peek into my life, maybe to inspire other people to get making or just to share a little bit of something different to what they were getting up to. To be honest, I fell out of love with blogs and blogging for a while, just due to the pressures of writing day in and day out. It became a bit of chore and many of the blogs I loved to read, just floated
What do you think makes a great blog? Honesty and finding your own voice. No adverts, give-aways or sponsored posts (they drive me insane). Have a decent blogroll, not just the big names that everybody else has, but blogs with new and interesting content. Share your interesting reads and places that inspire you. Write what you are passionate about. If you are writing about your work or promoting yourself, think about the other angles, what goes on behind the scenes. Share information that you think will help other folk; if you visit somewhere fab write about it, if you find a great cleaner that makes your bathroom sparkle, write about it. I like to think that blogs are a worldwide street corner, one where instead of chatting on doorsteps or at the school gate, we can chat globally, share our news and views, make friends and feel part of a community. Spring 2015 | ukhandmade |
What do you love most about what you do, and what do you find the most frustrating? I love the freedom to create my own path. I don’t have to work to someone else’s rules or policies but that also does come with a downside; you are working alone, there is a requirement for constant self-motivation and when Mr Doubter sets in, there is often no one to bounce ideas and solutions off. You have been very upfront about your struggle with depression. Can you tell us something about that and how it has affected your work? Looking back, I think depression has always been part of who I am, hiding behind the door and trying to push its way in if I let it. It’s floored me at times and especially after each of my children. After the birth of my 3rd child, I hit the rocks and finally got treatment. You certainly slip on a pair of Prozac specs when you start popping the pills, and I struggled with this part the most. Although I felt well, I lost myself, who I was and what made me tick. Now I know that the lowest ebbs are as important as the ‘ok’ ones, but I also recognize that there’s a point where you can’t go it alone and need to ask for help. It affects my work on so many levels. Sewing pulled me out of a pit, and just sewing straight lines became a lifeline at my worst. Depression can steal your confidence, make you endlessly question your worth, like “why am I bothering?”, and it almost makes you despise your work. 70 | ukhandmade | Spring 2015
You have recently re-launched your shop and your new book is well under way. What are you doing differently? I am on the verge of completely rebranding after 3 or so years of writing. I felt that something new would be just the ticket as I am taking things much slower and simplifying everything. I want to focus on my blog and let the other stuff just find its own pace. I will be opening a shop to sell various handmade practical items, from kitchen textiles to supplies, through to making your own natural products at home. This will be in line with my new book, Forgotten Ways for Modern Days, a household manual of interesting stuff including craft projects, recipes for natural home-cleaning products, and hints and tips gleaned from days gone by. I am hoping that my new brand Dock and Nettle will be quite organic in the direction it takes.
â€˜Maud the Caravanâ€™ from GRANNY CHIC
What do you think you have learned from your experience? To not lose sight of whom you really are, even when your voice feels small and unheard. Listen to your heart, your head and your little finger; go with what feels right, even if it mean swimming against the big old flow of everyone else. Spring 2015 | ukhandmade |
How do you think this will be reflected in your work and writing? What advice would you give to someone going through something similar? I hope that the real, slightly older and wiser me will make an appearance again and that my writing and thoughts along with various whatnot - will give folks a little bit of inspiration to get them stuck into their own story. For others on this journey, I say allow yourself to grow and change, and if you want to shift direction then do so. If you make mistakes, that’s fine and if you are struggling do get help, listen to your inner voice rather than the loud voice of others. Be generous and share your skills and experience so that you may have a tiny but profound effect on someone else’s day. What are your goals for the next twelve months? I have given up setting goals. I made a decision last year to follow a more Wabi-sabi way of life i.e. live in the moment here and now, and see what unfolds. If I set goals, I almost never achieve them and I rather like the excitement of the unknown. Where can we find out more about your work and where can we buy it? You can visit my new website and this will include my new blog and shop. My new book is published on May 21st so I’ll be tangled up in publicising that for a bit. I might get out and do some fairs this year and then again, I might not. I’ll see where the wind takes me. 72 | ukhandmade | Spring 2015
Pamper Your Pooch
For more information, visit: www.dockandnettle.com Images courtesy of Rachelle Blondel and Kyle Books Granny Chic by Rachelle Blondel and Tif Fussell is published by Kyle Books at £16.99. Photography by Catherine Gratwicke. Pamper Your Pooch by Rachelle Blondel is published by Kyle Books at £9.99. Photography by Kate Whittaker. Forgotten Ways for Modern Days: A Handbook for House & Garden by Rachelle Blondel, is scheduled for publication in May 2015. Published by Kyle Books at £16.99.
Spring 2015 | ukhandmade |
Annie Sloanâ€™s Room Recipes by Bebe Bradley Regarded as one of the worldâ€™s most respected experts in the field of decorative painting, Annie Sloan has authored more than 20 books, teaches and runs highly successful international workshops, and her acclaimed range of Chalk Paint is sold worldwide. In her latest book, co-written with her son Felix, she considers what makes for a successful interior. As someone who, after thirteen years, is still in the throes of renovating their house, I do love an interiors magazine or book. Indeed, I have spent many a happy hour absorbed in the pictorial intimacies of a welldesigned and colourful home. 74 | ukhandmade | Spring 2015
However, whilst I had heard of Annie Sloan and her Chalk Paints, I hadn’t read any of her previously published books so was looking forward to reading this one. Room Recipes is what I would describe as a coffee table book, a good-sized, heavy hardback with an attractive cover. The focus is very much on style and colour, as both of these can provide major stumbling blocks for the amateur decorator. Nine popular styles are featured; Neoclassical, Traditional Swedish, Modern Retro, Bohemian, Vintage Floral, French Elegance, Rustic Country, Coastal and Warehouse. Annie explains how you can achieve your chosen style by creating mood boards and analysing key factors, and suggests that definite choices must be made and adhered to, in order for the style to be both successful and cohesive. In the Introduction, a style is defined “as being a particular approach or unified look”. This is followed by Storytelling, Design Principles and Style Fusions, covering details including display, symmetry and asymmetry, height, scale and focus. The featured styles follow in nine chapters, with details of Annie’s Chalk Paint range included at the very end of the book. The essential techniques required to recreate all of these styles in your own home are discussed in depth, from colour theory to themes with pictures and collected treasures, and from style combinations to paint techniques. Spring 2015 | ukhandmade |
The first chapter, Neoclassical, is all about the grand statement and ‘wow’ factor. The elements of neoclassical style are comprehensively covered, with some great furnishing and colour references, and a fine example represented by an apartment in an eighteenth century, double-fronted London town house. If gilded plaster work doesn’t ring your bell, then the beautiful, muted Gustavian elements of Traditional Swedish in the second chapter just might. In this case, it’s an eighteenth century manor house that showcases the distressed, rustic, hand-painted style synonymous with Sweden. Chapter three, Modern Retro, is my secondfavourite from this book. Referencing “the atomic age, the space race, new plastics, pharmaceuticals and polyester”, design after WW2 was all about the “new look” and it’s this specific look that has made a welcome return to current interiors. Pattern, shape and colours are the elements of the modern, retro style and they sit gloriously in the setting of Virginia Armstrong’s 1960s home. Chapter four focuses on the Bohemian; think of the Bloomsbury Group and the eclectic, arty style in which “clashing colours, patterns and cultures are somehow all pulled together to look fabulous”. 76 | ukhandmade | Spring 2015
Spring 2015 | ukhandmade |
Designer and photographer Janice Issitt is behind the bright, beautiful cottage featured and quite truthfully, the colour combinations are both stunning and fabulous. The soft, evocative style of Vintage Floral comes next in chapter five. ‘Floribunda’ is the defining element with influences including the Arts and Crafts movement, Art Nouveau and the flowery vibrancy of the 60s and 70s. Nostalgia is pivotal to this style and Madeline Tomlinson’s house is filled with vintage and home comforts, giving a “delicate, pretty, old-fashioned” feel. If shabby isn’t chic enough for you, the French Elegance offered in the sixth chapter should suffice. With the focus on texture and Rococo curves, it’s a nineteenth century school house that demonstrates the simplicity and elegance that can be gained with the right finds, fixtures and fittings. 78 | ukhandmade | Spring 2015
Chapter seven is ‘Rustic Country’, so think gamekeeper’s cottage with well-worn and used furniture and fittings (I’ll keep this style in mind next time I get caught out and behind with the housework!). Distressed, earthy textures fill this Peak District home of Rob and Jane Slater. Wonderfully worn and weather beaten, the cottage originally belonged to an elderly gent who had lived there all his life and, still unmodernised and untouched, the interior is full of character and is utterly charming. As someone who is lucky enough to live by the sea, the penultimate chapter is a double-edged sword. Coastal style can be quite lovely but you can only accommodate so many pebbles and dead starfish on a string. As with the rest of the book, you could say that it’s all very subjective and perhaps it’s because I see lobster pots on a daily basis that I sound a tad jaded.
Spring 2015 | ukhandmade |
Needless to say, the Cornish house featured is a very tasteful one and has more shells, linen and driftwood than you can shake a sea-tumbled stick at (although, if I’m honest, I’d quite happily live there). Last but not least is Warehouse or, as it’s described in the book, ‘rough luxe’. I do like a bit of rough; salvaged, upcycled, functional fittings and industrial interiors. This is my favourite chapter and the Amsterdam Warehouse used to illustrate the requirements of this particular style is just wonderful. Open-plan living, bold statements and eclectic furniture provide an excellent example of what can be achieved. Room Recipes is informative and stuffed with images of fabulous interiors but I must say that I have one major gripe. A mainly visual book should have, you hope, high quality visual content but I have to ask what the deal is with what appears to be over-processed images, and what on earth is it that compels publishers to print with matt paper? I’ve noticed a recent trend for this and it’s an issue I’ve commented on before. Is it indicative of the current trend for filters? It’s a real shame because I find that the style (or over-styling) detracts from the substance of the book. Anyone who knows me also knows how much I appreciate a bright, bold and clear (high resolution!) image but unfortunately, regardless of the many gorgeous interior examples in this book, the matt paper pages render some of the images just a bit too ‘lo-fi’ for me. I found myself constantly squinting at the pages but, if you are prepared to ignore some of the styling, Annie Sloan’s Room Recipes is well worth a read and makes for inspiring reference material. 80 | ukhandmade | Spring 2015
Annie Sloan’s Room Recipes for Style and Colour by Annie and Felix Sloan, with specially commissioned photography by Christopher Drake. Published by CICO Books at £25. Images courtesy of CICO Books. ISBN-10: 1782491716 ISBN-13: 978-1782491712
Spring 2015 | ukhandmade |
The Vintage Bazaar
The Vintage Bazaar began in Frome four years ago, when miliner Clare and vintage dealer Lizzie realised that there was a real market for a quality vintage and handmade event in Somerset. “As a milliner I was always on the lookout for vintage ribbons, trims and flowers to use in my work and was having to travel miles to find places where I could buy them,” says Clare, otherwise known as Daisy Darling. “Other maker friends were having the same problem, trying to track down that perfect vintage fabric or button to use so it seemed sensible that we should set up our own event. We’ve been featured in numerous national and local press, and our events are a firm favourite with some very well known interior and fashion designers! We pride ourselves on choosing dealers and makers who bring the most amazing stock.” 82 | ukhandmade | Spring 2015
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The Vintage Bazaarâ€™s events have become synonymous with quality vintage, antique and handmade delights, ranging from textiles and homeware, to fashion and accessories. Customers are travelling from far and wide to see the latest stock imported fresh from estate sales in the USA, vide greniers in France and from auctions here in the UK. The events bring together an exciting mix of well-respected traders, vintage collectors, and designers and makers of handmade. The first event of 2015 will take place on March 7th at The Corn Exchange in the pretty Wiltshire village of Devizes. This beautiful little town has a flourishing vintage and antique scene so why not spend your Saturday in vintage heaven? Amongst the stallholders will be vintage fabric guru, Donna Flower Vintage, and connoisseur of French delights, Faded Rose Vintage, alongside both of the organisers, milliner Daisy Darling and vintage dealer Liz Van Hasselt. For more information, and a sneaky peek at some of the wonderful things that will be available to buy, visit: www.thevintagebazaar.blogspot.com Images courtesy of The Vintage Bazaar
Spring 2015 | ukhandmade |
Vanilla by Dawn Bevins I love vanilla. I always use twice as much as recipes require, so I was keen to review a recipe book that focuses on this often-used, but little thought about, ingredient. The recipes are grouped into seven chapters beginning with Cookies and Small Cakes, ending with Savoury Surprises, and including such things as tarts, waffles and cocktails in between. Thereâ€™s a lovely full-page image of the final make, a list of ingredients and a simple method for each recipe. At the end of each chapter, there is informative content on the subject of vanilla as plant and product, whether itâ€™s The History of Vanilla, Growing Vanilla, or The Curing Process. In many books, you tend to find information pages grouped together with the introduction, but I like that these were spread throughout so that I could read them gradually. 86 | ukhandmade | Spring 2015
Author Janet Sawyer is the owner of the vanilla company LittlePod, and you’ll see references to the company name and stories about staff and clients throughout. I was initially apprehensive about the mentions of the brand name, particularly in the ingredients lists (it felt like the product placement scene from Wayne’s World). However, having read through the entire book, I can see how genuinely passionate Janet is, not only about her own products, but also the future of vanilla as an industry and the environment from which it’s derived. Realising this somehow softened the appearance of the brand name. The only concern I had was that I couldn’t find LittlePod Vanilla Beer in their online shop (they do have a lot of stockists, just not any close enough to me), though perhaps this was due to me searching so close to Christmas. It is a shame though that a couple of recipes had to be ruled out because I couldn’t find the ingredients and no alternative was listed. Spring 2015 | ukhandmade |
So, back to the recipes that I could make. Often when reviewing, I only have the time to read - not make - but as I was reviewing over the festive period, I squeezed in a spot of baking and used the vanilla I already had in my cupboard. I made Scones and Peanut Butter Cookies, neither of which turned out like those in the book, but that’s probably down to my baking skills and not always following the recipe. For example, it recommended kneading the scone dough gently and due to previous over-kneading experiences, I don’t think I kneaded enough. I then used a cutter 2cm bigger than required, because I’ve lost my smaller ones. The result was that my scones didn’t hold much shape and looked more like rock cakes. I’ve never made a successful scone and they’ve always been heavy and dry, so it was a nice surprise to find that these, although crispy on the outside, were moist and light on the inside and quite delicious. The cookies also failed to hold their shape. You are forewarned that it’s a wet batter, but I didn’t keep it in the fridge long enough and the peanut butter I used was the wettest I’d ever seen. The result was still a very tasty cookie, but more cakey than the chunky peanut butter cookies I’ve made before. They coat your mouth before disappearing and the bitterness of the chocolate tames the strong, sweet and salty flavour that you might expect. I’m not convinced that they are my favourite peanut butter cookie, but it didn’t stop me from eating five in a row. 88 | ukhandmade | Spring 2015
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I will definitely make the scones again and I’m also tempted by Coffee Éclairs with Almond Filling, the Torta and the Champagne and Vanilla Chocolate Truffles. I’m nervous of the savoury chapter but once I’ve plucked up the courage, I’d like to investigate the Winter Salad and Manju’s Coconut and Vanilla Chicken Curry. I thought Vanilla might be just another cookbook, the recipes are lovely but many are similar to those that I’ve seen before. However, it’s the information and passion on the subject of vanilla that has really captured my imagination and gives this book such added value. I’m convinced by the ideas and ethics of LittlePod so will happily try their products in the future, and I’m curious to discover if there is a difference in flavour intensity compared to the vanilla I have at the moment. Until then, I’m going to continuing working through what is a beautifully presented, easy-to-follow cookbook. VANILLA: Cooking with One of the World’s Finest Ingredients by Janet Sawyer, is published by Ryland, Peters & Small at £16.99. Images courtesy of Ryland Peters & Small. ISBN-10: 1849755663 ISBN-13: 978-1849755665
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SIMPLY SPRING by Bebe Bradley
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VEGETABLE BROTH WITH PESTO Inspired by the Provençale ‘soupe au pistou’, this light, fresh soup makes the best of available seasonal vegetables and you don’t have to stick to those listed here. Making your own pesto is easy but don’t feel guilty about using a good shop-bought one. I certainly don’t. Serves 4.
50g pine nuts or blanched almonds 2 x 28g pack basil, leaves only 4 tablespoons of grated Parmesan (or similar) 4-6 tablespoons of olive oil A good squeeze of lemon
Ingredients For the soup: Extra-virgin olive oil 2 fat garlic cloves, crushed 1 medium onion, finely diced 1 medium carrot, finely diced 1 stick of celery, finely diced
METHOD 1. In a large pan, gently sauté the onion, carrot and celery in two tablespoons of olive oil for 10 minutes, or until soft and golden. Meanwhile, whizz together all of the pesto ingredients in a blender (or you can use a pestle and mortar; it will just take slightly longer and give you a chunkier result), adding more olive oil if a looser texture is required. 2. Add the crushed garlic to the onion, carrot and celery, and sauté for a few minutes until softened. 3. Pour in the stock, add the sliced potatoes and
A few asparagus spears or a courgette, thinly sliced 200g small new potatoes (Jersey Royals or similar), thinly sliced 200g sugar snap peas or beans, topped, tailed and halved diagonally 200g of frozen or fresh petit pois or peas 1 litre of hot vegetable stock A handful of fresh herbs e.g. basil and mint Salt and pepper, to taste Freshly grated Parmesan (or similar) For the pesto: 2 garlic cloves, crushed
bring to the boil. Simmer, uncovered, for 10 minutes or until the potatoes are just tender. 4. Add the rest of the sliced or diced vegetables, peas and beans (remember that fresh peas will require less cooking time than frozen), and simmer for a further 5 minutes. Don’t overcook because you want the vegetables to retain a bit of bite. Tear in the basil and mint leaves, and season with salt and pepper. 5. Ladle the hot soup into bowls and finish with a drizzle of olive oil, a wee spoonful of pesto and a scattering of Parmesan. Spring 2015 | ukhandmade |
Minted Pea & Ricotta Crostini One of my (many) favourite things to eat, this simple, sweet and crunchy crostini is Spring on a plate. Serves 4. Ingredients 1-2 thick slices of ciabatta or sour dough bread per person 4-8 tablespoons of ricotta 2-4 handfuls of fresh (or frozen) petit pois A clove of garlic, halved Extra-virgin olive oil A handful of small, fresh mint leaves Salt and freshly ground pepper, to season METHOD 1. Bring a small saucepan of water to the boil. Add the quantity of peas required and simmer gently for three minutes. Drain and rinse immediately under cold water to prevent the peas from cooking further. 2. Tip the peas in to a small bowl, add a good glug of olive oil and crush coarsely with the back of a fork. Season to taste and mix well to combine. 3. Lightly toast the bread and liberally rub one side of each slice with the cut edge of the garlic. Drizzle the garlicky toast lightly with olive oil and top with a good spoonful of ricotta. Add a spoonful of crushed peas, some mint leaves, another wee drizzle of olive oil and a good grinding of black pepper. Serve immediately. 94 | ukhandmade | Spring 2015
Spring 2015 | ukhandmade |
ASPARAGUS TART The English Asparagus season is all too short so make the most of it whilst you can. Serve this tart with pea shoots and buttered Jersey Royals for a light and delicious lunch. Serves 4. Ingredients: 375g of ready-rolled puff pastry 350g slender asparagus spears (or a couple of decent sized bundles) Extra-virgin olive oil 200ml double cream 3 eggs, lightly beaten 40g Parmesan, finely grated (or similar) 1 small garlic clove, crushed A handful of fresh mint leaves, finely chopped You will also need a baking sheet lined with baking parchment. METHOD: 1. Preheat the oven to 200째C/390째F/Gas 6. Trim the asparagus, snapping off and discarding the woody ends. Bring a large pan of water to the boil, add the asparagus tips and simmer until just tender. Tip the asparagus into a colander and immediately rinse under cold water to prevent further cooking. Set aside to drain. 96 | ukhandmade | Spring 2015
2. Unroll the pastry and place it on the pre-prepared baking sheet, trimming if required. To form a rim for the tart, use the tip of a knife to score a line all the way round the pastry, approximately 2cm from the outer edge. (Make sure that you do not cut all the way through!) Prick the centre evenly with a fork and then, holding a sharp knife horizontally against the outer edge of the pastry, gently tap all the way around the edge; this helps separate the layers and provide the pastry edge with height when baked. 3. Bake the pastry on the middle shelf of the oven for 20 minutes or until golden. Take it out of the oven and carefully remove the thin top layer of the puffed up centre (think vol-au-vents). Gently press down the pastry underneath with the back of a fork, leaving the edge of the pastry case raised. Turn the oven down to 160Â°C/320Â°F/Gas 3. Brush the pastry case with some of the beaten egg. 4. Whisk the cream, remaining egg and Parmesan together with the garlic, mint and seasoning. â€¨Pour approximately two-thirds of the egg mixture into the prepared pastry case. Arrange the asparagus neatly on the top of the filling, adding more egg mixture if you have room, and drizzle with a smidgen of olive oil. 5. Bake the tart in the centre of the oven for approximately 25 minutes or until the top is just set and slightly risen. Remove from the oven and drizzle more olive oil over the top. 6. Set aside to cool for 10 minutes and then, lifting the edges of the grease-proof paper carefully off the baking tray, slip the tart onto a serving board or platter and cut into slices. Stored in an airtight container, this tart should keep for a couple of days in the fridge, although the pastry may not retain its crispness.
Spring 2015 | ukhandmade |
98 | ukhandmade | Spring 2015
LEMONY LOAF CAKE Delicious served with a cup of Earl Grey or with a dollop of crème fraiche and a handful of berries for dessert. Serves 6-8 (or 4, with seconds). Ingredients 180g self-raising flour 1 teaspoon baking powder 180g caster sugar 4 medium eggs 50ml milk 150ml sunflower oil 2 large unwaxed lemons 1 heaped dessert spoon of granulated sugar
40-45 minutes or until golden and firm to the touch. Remove from the oven and set aside. 4. Whilst the cake is warm and still in the tin, quickly make the crunchy, lemony ‘crust’ by mixing the granulated sugar with the zest and juice of half a lemon (or use the whole thing, if you fancy). Cover the top of the cake evenly with the lemon and sugar mixture, allowing it to soak into the cake. 5. Leave the cake to cool in the tin (or don’t, if you like your cake warm and fragrant), and then carefully remove and decorate with Candied Lemon Slices (optional - see our recipe on p.100). Stored in an airtight container in a cool, dry place, this moist cake should keep for up to 4 days.
You will also need a greased and lined ‘2lb’ loaf tin. METHOD 1. Preheat the oven to 160°C/320°F/Gas 3. Sift the flour and baking powder into a large mixing bowl. Add the caster sugar and lightly combine. 2. Add the sunflower oil, milk and eggs to the bowl along with the zest and juice of one lemon, and beat together until well combined and smooth. 3. Pour or spoon the cake mixture into the loaf tin, making sure that the top is level. Place the tin in the centre of the pre-heated oven and bake for about Spring 2015 | ukhandmade |
CANDIED LEMON SLICES
2. Bring a medium saucepan of water to boil, add
Made in advance, this easy recipe gives you
the slices and simmer for about 1 minute. Drain the pan and immediately rise the lemon slices with cold
enough slices to decorate the top of the Lemony Loaf Cake, with a couple of spare slices for the chef’s ‘perk’. Ingredients 1 large unwaxed lemon 1 cup of granulated sugar (plus 3 tablespoons extra) You will also need a large baking sheet lined with grease-proof paper and an air-tight lidded container. METHOD 1. Using a sharp knife (or mandolin, if you have one), cut the lemon into thin slices, discarding the seeds and ends.
water to prevent further cooking. Tip into a colander and set aside to drain. 3. Add the sugar to the empty pan along with 1 cup of water and bring to the boil. Stir until the sugar has completely dissolved and when the mixture is clear and bubbling nicely, reduce to a low heat. Add the drained lemon slices and simmer for approximately 1 hour, until the rinds are translucent and the liquid is thick and syrupy. 4. Carefully remove the slices from the pan to the pre-prepared baking sheet (don’t discard the leftover syrup; I always keep mine in a jar for future cakes and cocktail making). Cool, cover loosely with clingfilm and set aside overnight to let the slices set and dry out a wee bit. 5. When you are ready, decorate your cake or, if you wish to store the slices, place 3 tablespoons of granulated sugar into the lidded container in which you will keep the lemon. Add the slices to the container, and gently shake to coat the candied slices with the sugar. Stored in an airtight container in a cool, dry place, these slices should keep for a couple of weeks. Images courtesy of Bebe Bradley
100 | ukhandmade | Spring 2015
Spring 2015 | ukhandmade |
LIVE: From Tower Block to 4 Acres
by Lisa Margreet Payne
When I was living on the tenth floor of a tower block in east London, I had only the vaguest of notions about seasonal eating, and this despite having an organic veg box delivery for around twenty years. The majority of the large national box schemes import veg from Europe all year round, so organic peppers, cucumbers and tomatoes in winter didn’t seem entirely out of place, and having never been much of a gardener, I just didn’t think too much about it. Since I’ve started growing my own veggies, running my own box scheme and supplying a local food scheme (whereby all produce is grown or produced within a 150 mile radius), I’ve become a lot more
but the early summer crops aren’t ready for harvest. Locally grown food can be scarce and after winter, people are tired, so very tired, of root vegetables!
educated about these matters. If you’re anything like I was, then you might assume, “Ah, it’s Spring, there’s lots of stuff growing now. This veg on sale here must be local and/or seasonal”. However, there’s a terrible thing that occurs at this time of year called ‘the hungry gap’. Whenever someone mentions it, I imagine gnashing jaws that wait to snap at your ankle in that dark space between the train and platform edge as you step onto the London Underground. ”Please Mind the Gap”. In reality, the hungry gap extends from March until May when the winter crops have mostly finished
Some lucky growers have indoor growing space, like me with my unheated greenhouses. This helps bring crops to harvest a bit earlier than they would otherwise do; we can plant them earlier before the ground outside has warmed up, and keep these delicate early crops protected from bad weather, opportunistic birds and other wildlife. With some clever planning in the Autumn and Winter beforehand and a bit of luck with the weather, we’ll be the first at the farmer’s market with our purple sprouting broccoli, heads of lettuce, broad beans, garlic and bunches of rainbow chard.
102 | ukhandmade | Spring 2015
Spring 2015 | ukhandmade |
104 | ukhandmade | Spring 2015
Here in the UK, March, April and May’s spring veggies are likely to be spring greens, cabbages, cauliflowers, leeks, lettuce, spinach, chard and kale. Another seasonal treat is wild garlic, also known as ramps or ransoms. We’re lucky enough to have wild garlic growing in our woods which I put into the veg boxes for my customers. The season is short, lasting from early March until mid or late May, depending on where you are in the country. We’re in the North West and have our wild garlic for about four weeks from mid-April. A widely prized herb amongst foodies in the know, I’ve heard of wild garlic being sold for incredibly high prices at places such as London’s Borough Market. However, you can forage it from the woods and I’ve found that it often grows near bluebells. It looks similar to garden alliums, with long oval leaves and white star-shaped flowers. You’ll recognise it from its pungent, garlicky smell; just pick a leaf or flower and crush it in your fingers but if you’re still not sure, just don’t take the risk! Should you be lucky enough to get your hands on some wild garlic, a simple way to eat it is to put a few leaves into an omelette, or shred and mix some leaves into a salad. Wild garlic pesto is seriously amazing, easy to make and very versatile; just blitz the leaves with some olive oil, blanched almonds and season to taste. Use your pesto on pasta, or tossed into a quinoa salad with some lightly sautéed broccoli, drizzled onto some ciabatta or folded into mashed potato. I’ve also made wild garlic oil by juicing the leaves and mixing the juice with olive oil. Wild garlic flower salt is another easy treat; dry the white flowers for a day or two in an airing cupboard or in a dehydrator, then mix them into some sea salt. Both the oil and the salt give some extra oomph to your cooking and salad dressings. Spring 2015 | ukhandmade |
As we head into May, rhubarb and asparagus are beginning to make an appearance. My tip for asparagus is to buy it as fresh as possible and preferably use it on the same day, because it doesn’t keep well. Snap the stem off towards the end - there’s a natural breaking point and discard the bottom part which is usually quite woody and tough. Steam the upper part of the stem (or tip) for 4-6 minutes, and serve drizzled with butter and a sprinkling of sea salt; it’s also fabulous with the wild garlic oil or wild garlic flower salt. Topping your steamed asparagus with a poached egg makes for a gorgeous Springtime breakfast or lunch. But why all the fuss about eating seasonably, you might ask? Well, eating seasonably has a number of benefits. For a start, if you’re eating something that is in season then it will have been picked at its peak of ripeness so it will taste much better and have the optimum nutritional value. Compare that to a vegetable that has been picked under-ripe and then transported many miles to be sold, whilst kept artificially cold to delay it from ripening too soon. Buying fruit and veg when it’s in season is also often cheaper than buying out of season, as fewer artificial inputs (such as heat or fertilisers) have had to go into growing it and getting it to ripen. It is able to follow its natural growth cycle and is therefore a more sustainable way of growing and eating. So eating seasonably is better for your health, your bank balance and the planet! A really good resource is www.eatseasonably.co.uk. It details what is in season on a monthly basis, explains the benefits of eating seasonably and has a map of businesses including cafes, pubs, restaurants, markets, etc., where you can find places local places to eat seasonably. Happy Spring, everyone! 106 | ukhandmade | Spring 2015
Images courtesy of Lisa Margreet Payne For more information, visit: www.oakcroft.org.uk
Spring 2015 | ukhandmade |
DO: A Pond-ering We Must Go
by Teresa Verney Brookes
It may only be February, but things have already started to hot up in my garden pond. I say ‘pond’ but in reality, it’s an old plastic under-the-bed container, filled with rain water and a few stones, although the local frogs don’t seem to mind! Common frogs (Rana temporaria) spend the winter hibernating in mud at the bottom of ponds, under logs, rocks and stones or compost heaps. Like other amphibians, frogs breathe through their skin so, if their pond becomes frozen, they can suffocate as oxygen levels gradually decline under the ice
are becoming increasingly important for these wonderful creatures, and they certainly earn their keep by munching through less welcome garden inhabitants such as slugs and snails. Bear in mind that ponds which have fish in, are unlikely to have frogs too.
covering. If you have a pond, you can help by floating a ball (tennis or football depending on the size of your pond) on the surface, gently breaking the ice or thawing it with warm water to allow more oxygen to penetrate. Adult frogs emerge from their overwintering sites in early Spring (earlier in South East Britain) and will head straight to a pond to breed. Common frogs are found throughout Britain and Ireland, although their numbers are thought to be declining due to the degradation of their habitats and the introduction of various diseases. Garden ponds, whatever their guise,
My neighbour has a slightly more upmarket pond than ours; a wooden barrel, buried into the ground, which is home to at least 4 or 5 adult frogs. Around this time of year, her frogs come on their annual holiday into my garden where they cavort around and provoke all manner of awkward questions from my children! Cavorting done, they return to their own pond next door and a few weeks later, clumps of black spawn (eggs) appear in our pond. And just in case you are wondering, toad spawn appears in long, linear chains, like strings of pearls.
108 | ukhandmade | Spring 2015
Spring 2015 | ukhandmade |
At this time of year, my phone starts ringing from the world and his wife, declaring that they’ve “more frogspawn this year than we ever had before!” My standard reply is, “Don’t worry as there’s no such thing as too much frogspawn”, because unfortunately, it’s a tough life for a tadpole and only a fraction will survive to adulthood. Frogs have many predators and are susceptible to various amphibian diseases. It’s really important NOT to move spawn or tadpoles to another pond, as this can spread non-native plant species and disease. Ponds that already contain spawn may not be able to support an increased population, and if your pond does not have any spawn, it means that it’s not suitable. My advice is to create a pond (let it fill naturally with rain water, tap water is unsuitable) and see what happens! Even if you don’t attract frogs, you might entice toads, newts and all manner of fascinating pond mini-beasts. Don’t forget that it will also provide a vital watering hole for a whole range of other mammals and birds that come to visit your garden. 110 | ukhandmade | Spring 2015
For more information and advice on frogs, other amphibians and ponds, visit: www.froglife.org For the RSPB’s free “Give Nature a Home” guide, visit: www.rspb.org.uk/hfw For more information on creating wildlife ponds, visit: www.bbowt.org.uk
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Spring 2015 | ukhandmade |
summer issue: 05. 05. 2015 112 | ukhandmade | Spring 2015
Welcome to our first issue of 2015. It’s a New Year and a time for new beginnings, so we are celebrating with inspirational tales; from gorg...