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.

Back in the groove

I must say it is lovely to able to welcome customers back in Handmade Design Studio. It is such a pleasure to see lots of familiar faces and to meet new customers interested in Irish crafts and designs! It is so nice to have chats and get back to a sense of normality and social life again!

Call in to see the new handmade pieces in stock and the beautiful collections we have on display. These include linen and silk scarves in vibrant summery colours, minimal or bold statement jewellery, earthy and subtle ceramics, botanical framed prints, woollen blankets for outdoors living and so much more!

One of the latest additions to Handmade Design Studio is the retro style jewellery by Anne-Louise Laflamme who uses vinyl records as a canvas to create one of a kind pieces. Her earrings and necklaces are very eye-catching, different and light to wear.

What better way to ‘get into the groove’ than by wearing jewellery made from old music records? If you want to be perfectly casual or absolutely trendy, look no further!

Spring Forward

With winter finally behind us we can now enjoy the extra hour of light in the Spring evenings. April is around the corner and we will get to see even more colourful flowers popping out around us. Inspiring woodlands and beautiful skies this time of year are wonderful sources of energy and peace. Nature is always amazing especially at this time of the year when at first it slowly comes back to life and then bursts out bright and loud!

In the words of Russian artist Wassily Kandinsky:  ”Colour is a power which directly influences the soul”. So if you are thinking of adding colour into your life and your home to lift your spirit, you can wear a bright and bold piece of jewellery or add a colourful cushion to a sofa or an  armchair for an immediate impact!

The show must go on

The start of a new year is always an exciting time to plan the year ahead: to think of new ideas, source new Irish-based makers and see the new collections from a wide range of interesting Irish designers.  

Showcase Ireland, the leading creative trade expo has moved online this year due to the current covid-19 restrictions.  They have facilitated virtual showrooms and one-to-one meetings with designers and makers. It is a fantastic opportunity to discover artisans with a passion for the pieces they make, the stories behind the work and the ways different designers source material and present their work. The collections I have been shown are innovative, quirky, stylish, colourful with quality and sustainability in mind.  

So, expect to see some beautiful new work coming in in the next couple of weeks. Check out the Gift page and follow us on Instagram and Facebook too for regular updates.