Hello Spring

Spring is definitely in the air! It feels great to have the long and bright evenings and to see bursts of colour everywhere you look. Spring is a time for renewal and growth. It is also a great time to get inspired for some home colour therapy, renew and revive interior décors. Neutral and warm earthy tones such as beige, cream and browns are back on trend. They represent our sense of connection, be that with the earth, with each other or ourselves. The many neutral colours are the perfect background for any addition of richer and vibrant colours such as rose, green or yellow in say painted furniture, soft furnishing, art work or ceramics.

You can equally apply this palette to what you will wear this springtime: Bold block of electric colours motivate us for the warmer months ahead. So you can invite sunshine yellow, crisp blue or shocking pink into your wardrobe. If that seems too bold, you can always soften that vibrancy with a choice of softer pastel tones for a calming effect. Another approach suitable in Spring is to wear a sharp white top with a striking piece of jewellery.

For Spring and Summer, we have added some beautiful linen clothing to our range of handmade goods: Linen is the perfect fabric choice for the warmer months as it is breathable and comfortable to wear.  It is also a truly sustainable fibre since it is the strongest and most durable, meaning that you can enjoy your linen shirt or trousers for a long time. Independent fashion brands are creating small quantity garments that are produced in an eco-friendly way: it’s about slow living and sustainability and a world away from fast fashion.  

Ten Years!

Handmade Design Studio first opened on Mount Street, Mullingar in January 2013 and it has been an incredible decade of creativity, discovering amazing makers and designers from all across Ireland. 

The concept of the shop remains the same as it was when I set out: to champion handmade, sustainable art and craft designed and produced on this island.  

Through the many chats, stories exchanged and moments of laughter the past decade has been one of forming friendships that I treasure deeply.

Handmade Design Studio has been host to very many workshops and creative projects over the years. Continually working on innovative ideas, I am also committed to sharing my love of hand-painting furniture. The shop is a space to enjoy the experience of crafting, repairing and restyling furniture and to learning traditional skills with guest makers and artisans.

Marking this ten year anniversary in January 2023, I wanted to express my gratitude for the constant support of customers locally and from further afield. Here’s to the next ten years!

The Art of Gifting

Getting a gift for a loved one is one of the real joys of going Christmas shopping! All the  items you will find in Handmade Design Studio are hand crafted by makers artists and designers based in Ireland. Every piece is carefully selected for its design, quality and uniqueness. Not only are you guaranteed to find something truly special but can also know that the gift you choose is made sustainably, made locally and won’t cost the Earth!  

For the woman in your life: A reversible eye-catching luxury silk scarf inspired by Clare O’Connor’s own abstract paintings. A piece of contemporary jewellery handmade from precious metal and freshwater pearl made by Deeca.

For the man in your life: A set of Whisky stones made from Kilkenny marble by Caulfield Country Board. A pair of hand-blown glass beakers from Jerpoint Glass Monochrome collection

For the little ones: A colourful boy or girl fairy felted by Karolina Sexton. A pair of hand-knitted Aran baby booties by Nellies.

For the teens: A funky pair of earrings or necklace by Shock of Grey. A beautiful  pastel mug by Vale Ceramics.

For the animal lover: A cat or dog themed mug by Claire Molloy for the morning tea or coffee.  

For the DIY enthusiast: A voucher for a workshop to restyle a tired piece of furniture with Annie Sloan chalk paint, to make a lampshade or reupholster a chair:

For the eco-conscious: A Fir candle by FieldDay: its gentle fragrance will remind you of a walk in a pine forest of a crisp Sunday afternoon.

For the foodie: One of Helen’s Faulkner’s ceramic tableware in turquoise glaze from her Toulouse collection designed to be use everyday. 

For the art lover:  A limited edition lithograph depicting an earthy Irish landscape by Gail Kelly.

 All gifts are beautifully wrapped for you so that all you have to do is put it under the Christmas tree! And if you still have no idea what to get, a gift voucher is your best option!

Halloween

Halloween or Samhain, as it is known in Ireland, has become extremely popular and more sophisticated in recent years. While many of the old games may be a thing of the past, new decorative traditions like intricate carved pumpkins, leafy autumnal wreaths and creative costumes are thriving.

Halloween represents the change in the season between the end of the harvest and the beginning of Winter making it a key turning point in the year. Traditionally, this time of year celebrates the connection between this mortal, earthly world and the spirit world when an array of ghosts, goblins and ghouls might make an appearance. Bonfires are lit both for protection from any ill will from such forces as well acting as a kind of cleansing ritual to mark the move into Winter.

For a moody and atmospheric décor, Leona Guidera’s artwork “Escapism” is guaranteed to stir your emotions. With your ghoulish Halloween dinner, you can serve the magic potions in one of the “smoke” glasses; these hand-blown glasses make for a very special treat! Finally, to add a touch of seasonal colour to your own or a loved one’s Halloween costume, you might like the quirky orange Froufrou stud earrings by Dana.

Be prepared to be spooked!

Let’s hear the music

This week has seen the return of the Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann to Mullingar for the first time since 1963. An annual event host to hundreds of thousands of visitors from near and far, people have rocked in from across the island and from across the world. You can listen to music in official venues throughout the town as well as impromptu concerts in the streets from the very young to the ‘young at heart’!

Mullingar has never looked so well or been so lively and thanks to some lovely weather most of the week, there has been ample opportunity to soak up the sun as well as the tunes. If you want to show your true colours and your love for music, why not wear a music brass pin designed and made right outside Mullingar by Miriam Wade, a truly talented goldsmith. Available from Handmade Design Studio.

Reconnecting

About a year ago, the country had just reopened and we were slowly and carefully coming out of our bubbles. The feeling a year on is one of renewed freedom and of rediscovering what a normal life holds. We can finally reconnecting with one another for real.

With the change in the air everywhere, we are definitely moving forwards after a period of adjustment. Summer is here as we get towards the end of May: A new dawn is on the horizon! Yeah!!!

Stephanie Sloan’s contemporary print First Light encapsulates this feeling of a fresh start.  A true simplicity is evident in her work through her minimalist approach and use of deep indigo blue. Stephanie’s pared back style will leave you inspired and give you a sense of calm and balance.

Think Green

As St Patrick’s Day and Irishness has been celebrated recently in Ireland and all over the world, what better time to think about green in all its tones, shades and meanings!

Green is omnipresent in our daily lives, especially in this country. Inside the home, it might be chosen as a main colour in a room and is associated with safety and harmony. Green is a colour that soothes the mind but it can also work well to create a dramatic effect. A mix of houseplants may also be used to instantly bring in variations of the colour around the house.

Green also represents growth, renewal or rebirth especially as this time of the year when nature wakes up and the shoots, flowers and buds start to appear.  If we look at renewal with the environment in mind, we can make a beneficial impact by adopting a ‘greener’ attitude. Reusing, repairing and refurbishing contribute to a more sustainable way of life. The traditional linear economy based on a ‘take-make-waste’ production model has started to be questioned.  By contrast, the circular economy focuses on the most effective use and reuse of materials and energy. That goal is primarily achieved through creating long-lasting designs, repairing and reusing items, as well as re-purposing or refurbishing things where possible rather than chucking them out! 

You can embark or continue on your own green journey by restyling or upcycling a piece of furniture that you might have at home or even pick up in a second hand shop. Using the Annie Sloan Chalk Paint, an organic decorative paint that works wonders on furniture. Check our Workshop page for details and dates. https://handmadedesign.net/chalkpaint/workshops/

New Year, New Beginning

Like for many people, January is a great time for me to start afresh and plan for the year ahead. My to do list for this month includes getting in touch with makers and designers to check on their new or upcoming collections. I plan the colour schemes and styles for my furniture painting projects, knowing I might still revise or change these when I get the paint brushes out to starting painting these pieces!  It is a really good time too to do some research and read up on new trends in the design world. There is so much happening to get inspired with as the buzz of new creative ideas takes hold! In January, I also plan new workshops and come up with ideas to share with anyone wanting to learn a new skill or craft.

While there is no way of knowing for sure what will happen in 2022, I have a good feeling for it and look forward to a brighter and greener future as the new year unfolds.

Winter Warmth

The weather has certainly taken a chilly turn as we head to the final days of November. It is time to wrap up in cosy clothing. Dress warmly without compromising on style: Linda Wilson’s soft woollen scarves and colourful beanies will do the trick.  Staying indoors? Linda’s knitted jumper-ponchos are fabulous worn with jeans for a casual outfit, and they work equally well in a stylish layered look over a dress or tunic.

Add a bold pair of Ruth statement earrings in red by Shock of Grey and voilà! You are uniquely you! All of these wonderful items are available in Handmade Design Studio in multiple colour combinations and the clothes come in one size fits all.  

Hidden Heartlands

Mullingar may not be the first town to spring to mind as a tourist destination in Ireland but ‘stayationers’ this summer have been blown away by the many treasures they discovered. The hinterland of Mullingar is rich with unspoiled woodlands and newly opened up bogs. County Westmeath boasts gorgeous, picturesque waterways in a peaceful countryside together with historical gems: the likes of the Hill of Uisneach, St Patrick’s Chair and Belvedere House and Gardens, all within easy reach of the town.  

You can walk or cycle along the Royal Canal, go fishing in Lough Ennell, dipping at the diving boards at Lough Owel or simply take it nice and easy at Irishtown House, a beautiful, elegant guesthouse located by the lake. 

If you are looking for a unique souvenir of your time spent in the heart of the island, Sharlene Kemple’s ceramic art pieces featuring lovely Lough Owel, which have been designed in collaboration with Handmade Design Studio, will remind you of your time in the Lake County.