Tuesday 25 September 2012

In the studio...

My studio is the the back of my shop.

I love it's sash windows, wood burning stove and flagstone floor and I papered the walls in gorgeous Cow Parsley wallpaper (by Coal & Son).

It often looks like a nature table full of things that I have collected while I'm out walking.

Things to draw which will be turned into motifs for my designs.

I love a good book or two to help me identify what things are.

This huge Wild Flower book by Sarah Raven is a beauty!

I love drawing

from life, or books or photos.

I love a nice thin black pen to draw with

 but 'drawing' with a scalpel or playing with the Japanese screw punch is satisfying too.

 I also work a lot at the computer scanning in my drawings and turning them into my designs.

My wooden plan chest keeps everything tucked neatly away

as there are so many different tools and poppers and clips used to construct my lamps.

 Making lamps in the back of a busy shop with internet orders going off every day means that the studio can get chaotic and messy quite quickly 

so I make sure I have some peaceful, tidy days when I'm on my own

 and I can get absorbed in the work...

...and potter and dream and plan.

(thanks to Sarah for all these lovely studio photos. She really captured it)

Friday 21 September 2012

Castle House days...

Ffion going away to uni has made me think back to my student days. She, having lived in fairly rural places all her life has gone to the big city. I, who had lived in Leeds for all my 18 years went away to the countryside...

I did 'Crafts' at Carmarthen. The college had a big accommodation list and me and my boyfriend visited endless pebble dashed bungalows in the town, greeted by lovely old Welsh ladies with spare rooms. This was NOT my idea of student life! But there was one on the list that stood out. 'Huge shared house adjacent to the castle with estuary views....' 

So we went to visit Laugharne but being thirteen miles from college I didn't think I'd be able to live there so we only peeped over the wall of the big crumbling Georgian mansion and then drove home in the van.

My memory of Castle House.
I could not get that house out of my mind and I drew it on the way home. The moment I got back to Leeds I rang the number and asked for a room. I wonder if Susannah remembers me asking for a room with a big fireplace and a castle view.

(The Town Hall, Castle House and Laugharne Castle.My room was top right)

In September I knocked on the big black door. How funny that another little old lady answered and said 'Are yooooo the student?' My heart sank a little, my dreams of wild student life fading, but then 'Aunty Anne' took me into Adam and Susannah's kitchen full of cats and dogs and a huge messy kitchen table and everything felt alright. 

To this day Castle House is the most beautiful and romantic house I have ever lived in.  Alex and Bryan who lived downstairs helped me carry all my stuff up the stairs to my room. I couldn't have been happier. It had a large wood burner, pale blue walls, abstract art on the walls, a chaise longues, a coffee table made out of a chunk of oak and two windows - one with a window seat which looked out onto the castle and the estuary and the other looked out over the town and the rolling hills behind. Not your average student digs! 

(Alfie, one of the Castle House cats used to jump along the crenelations at the top of Laugharne Castle)
I loved Laugharne. It had a clock tower that chimed every hour,  a peaceful estuary with curlews and cockleshells, an old derelict castle which we could sneak into at night through the garden to climb to the top of the tower, woods to take midnight walks through with lanterns on sticks (remember this Anne?), stars - it got  properly dark at night, it had loads of local characters, walks, trees, hedgerows, adventures, music, and stories....

Embarrassingly, I didn't know who Dylan Thomas was when I moved there but soon learned that he lived and wrote here and that Laugharne inspired Under Milk Wood. This is the Browns Hotel where he liked to hang out. You can just about make out his writing shed next to the estuary.

Castle House was a world of it's own and I have such fond memories. Laugharne was home for seven and a half years and I made many friends. It was here I had my babies and where the first seeds of my nature inspired creative endeavors were sown. 

I hope Ffion has such good student days too.

One week to go...

(made especially by Vinegar & Brown Paper)
Its nearly time for the Hebden Spirit Auction. People from all over the country have donated fantastic work and the team are photographing it and putting together an auction catalogue as we speak.  You can see the  photos on the Facebook page. We had a great piece in the Yorkshire Post this week too which will help spread the word. 

It takes place next Friday night at 7pm at The Town Hall in Hebden Bridge. I hope you will be able to come with lots of friends and down a bit of the good old Hebden spirit!

Thursday 20 September 2012

Flying the nest

My beautiful girl has flown the nest. I have been dreading this for a long time. She is one of the best people I  know and I couldn't imagine not having her around everyday.

But she's not far away and I have a lovely image of her in her gold sparkly plimsolls exploring her new city, making new friends, baking buns in her student kitchen, learning stuff....she needs this adventure. 

I just found this letter in my big box of photos.
How the tables have turned!

Tuesday 4 September 2012

Once upon a new website...

I've had such a lovely day today basking in the glow of all the lovely comments about my new website.  It's always good launching a new one but this one is made all the more special because of the story behind it.

Ffion my daughter is about to fly the nest and go to Uni to study Software Engineering. She is going to the same University to do almost the same course that my partner Robert did 20 years ago. They have bonded over the subject and for the last six months Robert has been teaching Ffion programming on Friday afternoons. He loves to teach. She loves to learn.

When I said I'd like a new website Robert had the idea of arranging a Summer placement for her at the company he was freelancing at.

Robert says to Ffion 'At its earliest I wanted to give you the opportunity to earn the money for the laptop you’d need for university in September. Once I had the idea though the reasons kept coming: maybe you’d gain some lucrative skills that will keep you afloat financially; I’d learn how to teach; I’d spend lots of time with someone I love; I might even find someone I’d want to work with in the future...'

So for 6 weeks they went off to work together every morning. So cute!

Sarah Mason came to do a photo shoot in the workshop and Ffion used the lovely images that she created as the jumping off point for her design. 

Ffion says 'It was fun working as a team with us three and Sarah who took the photographs. The design was focused around the high quality, beautiful images and wouldn’t have worked or probably even have been thought up without them.'

Once I had jumped up and down a lot in excitement at the initial designs she began to craft a beautiful website. 

Ffion says 'One of the best things about working with Mum was that she was able to give us quite specific requirements and guidelines and that she wasn’t afraid to say if she didn’t like something or go a bit crazy if she really did. This allowed us all to work closely and make sure the website suited her and reflected her initial ideas as best it could.'

Eight weeks later after a big learning curve and a lot of fun the website is born. I am sooooo happy with it and I'm even happier that we all got so much out of working together.

Robert says to Ffion 'I couldn’t have wished for more success. I don’t know about the more philosophical aspects of whether you got an accurate feel for the world of work. When it comes to the practical, everything went really well. I saw you gain in confidence and skill day by day. The finished article was more polished and complete than I’d have dared hope'.

You can read the whole sweet and insightful conversation between Robert and Ffion here on his blog

New website loveliness!

We have just launched my new website!

I invite you to have a look around. I hope you like the new design and the new photos. Later I'll be back with the story of it in the making because it's been such an awesome process from start to finish.

Have a good day x

Saturday 1 September 2012

Illuminate....in real life!

Guess what I've got? I have got two sample copies of my BOOOOOOOK!

It's real!

it has pages...(one hundred and forty four of them to be precise)

and you can actually hold it in your hands

and read it

(or perhaps just sit on it if you're a cat).

And do you know what else? 

It's got my name on it!

It feels pretty good to have written a book! :)

Real copies that I can sell shouldn't be too far away now. I'll keep you posted.
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