Sea Shore

 

To create her unique ceramics, Vivien O’Malley takes her inspiration directly from her surroundings along the coast of County Waterford.

The ‘Tidal Collection’ consists of a series of bowls with splashes of either a deep midnight blue or a greeny turquoise glaze on the outside surface. Inspired by the patterns created in the sand by the retreating tide, these striking colours are reminiscent both of the sky light and the sea water.

The ‘Urchin Collection’ has an outer dotted surface, evoking the exterior shell of the sea urchin as the name suggests. With this lovely textured surface and the varied inner colours, ranging from purple to pink and different shades of blue, this original collection of porcelain mugs, sugar bowls, milk jugs and bowls is as playful as it is exquisite.

Funky jewellery

 

Dublin-based jewellery maker Betzy Medina creates funky, chunky and very colourful fashion accessories under the brand name of Sandia. For her necklace collections, she has created some striking hand-cut pieces using expanding rubber foam. This is an unusual but creative choice as a material for jewellery: it has the advantage of being extremely light and easy to wear. Painted wood is another favoured material and with her interesting colour combinations and geometrical shapes Betzy’s jewellery is sure to be noticed! Sandia earrings and necklaces make a fun addition to any outfit and can complete either a casual or a stylish look. Totally addicted! Now available in Handmade Design Studio, Mullingar.

 

Rare Raku

 

Thomas Wollen has been a potter for nearly 20 years and is one of only two ceramists in Ireland who uses the traditional Japanese Raku technique to glaze pieces. Raku (楽) which originated in Japan and has a 400 year history there, means enjoyment, comfort or ease but is anything but easy to create! In fact it is quite a difficult process to successfully produce the distinctive crackled glaze surface. Thomas’ inspiration comes mainly from the botanical world. Vases and wall-mounted cuboid pieces available in Handmade Design Studio include depictions of elongated floral heads and wading birds in both vibrant colours are truly unique and would make a spectacular statement in a home.

 

Wood … you believe … it!

 

The design idea behind this beautifully crafted eggcup trio is as simple as it is ethical. Caulfield Country Boards have used the walnut and beech off-cuts from their wine racks to create a new and practical kitchen item.

This is a ‘waste not, want not’ approach and is in keeping with my love of up-cycling and recycling. For me it is a winner! I love the engraved hen and chick footprints that add a quirky detail. It is a fun element for the little ones to see when they’re having their soft-boiled egg and soldiers!

Concrete Love

 

Being surrounded in our daily life by visible or invisible concrete, we might think that it is simply a grey and pretty common building material. Well, in most recent time, it has gained a trendy reputation due to its minimalist look but also to its durability. If you would like to add a chic modern touch to your home decor, look no further than the innovative homeware collection from Kaiko Studio. Their bowls, planters and candle holders have a beautiful and striking finish and they come in white, pale and dark grey. Perfect neutrals to suit many home style.

Down Memory Lane

 

The Christmas tree evokes memories of simple childhood pleasures and excitements. I am reminded of the moment the box of decorations was taken down from the attic: feeling joy reopening it and exploring its hidden treasures, pulling out the glittery garlands, the old fairy lights and the delicate glass baubles that picked up and reflected so many colours. Passed on from earlier generations, some of our family’s Christmas decorations were intricately woven paper and ribbon creations, or hand-painted snowmen, robins and elves: sturdy time travellers from Christmases long ago.

Making your own Christmas decorations means being in the moment while having fun stitching, painting or découpaging! The craft as well as the decorations passes from one generation to the next. Christmas is said to be ‘all about the children’ but the ‘Down Memory Lane’ tree pays tribute to the older generation.

 

The times, they are a changin’

 

When I first opened the shop my counter and till point was a late 1930s pitch pine kitchen cabinet. It has all its original features including a pull-out enamel work surface, hooks for cups above the top inside shelf and air vents on the top doors. I initially painted this cupboard in Annie Sloan duck egg blue adding some time later old violet and Scandinavian pink to give it a newer life.

Many customers have commented on this piece of furniture reminiscent of their childhood memories at their granny’s or remembering their mum preparing some food on the narrow counter. I have been asked many times if I would sell this retro piece of furniture but I have become attached to it and it is now back in my house. The shop counter is now a large chalk-painted Edwardian sideboard with beautiful carved details and a large top beveled mirror.

Autumn Feast

The splash of rich Autumn colours and ‘mellow-fruitfulness’ in Anna-Marie Leavy’s limited edition print “Blackberries” vividly conjures up for me memories of foraging for this beautiful sweet wild fruit as a child. Cycling along hedges in search of the blackest, ripest berries in mid-September, we’d leave our bikes on the side of the lane and by the end of our picking we’d have eaten almost as many berries as we’d collected in our little buckets. We’d walk along the bramble-laden hedgerows, our fingers sticky and stained a deep reddish purple colour while our tongues and lips were matching shades.

Blackberry jam is simple and satisfying to make and here’s an equally simple recipe for how to create a deep aubergine colour using Chalk Paint™ by Annie Sloan: Mix equal parts of Burgundy and Napoleonic Blue to produce a rich and strong colour purple. Add a bit of Graphite if you prefer it to be a deeper shade.

Say it with a card

 

We live in an era where the art of writing appears to be fading away to be replaced by emails, texts or messages on various social media platforms. The joy of receiving a real card through a real letter box is all the greater for being so rare these days.

This paper and ink card can be displayed and even framed, meaning that you can cherish it for longer. It stays as a is a reminder of the care and love that came with the card in the first place !

The cards available at Handmade Design Studio are designed for any and every special occasion. They are made in small batches and some are one-off or commissioned. The card makers include artists Orla Barry, John Corrigan, Carole Fanon, Lorna Farrell, Gail Kelly and Fergus O’Neill.

 

Flower power

I love this time of the year when the great variety of flowers are beginning to bloom. With their spectacular colours come some enchanting scents also. My favorites are lilac for its unmistakable scent, rose for its heady yet subtle fragrance and honeysuckle that offers a fresh and sweet hedgerow aromatic.

Bring all the magic of nature into your house by burning a Field Day Irish scented candle: the delicate Tea Rose fragrance is enriched by rose otto notes and has a hint of plum. Divine!

You can also enjoy the refreshing jasmine and lime soap from Baressential. This family-run business based in Co. Kildare only produces small batches of handmade soaps so these natural bars are the freshest possible bars of soap to be found. Baressentials’ unique recipes are made using sumptuous skin loving ingredients and luxurious evocative scent blends.

Not forgetting you can display your favourite cut flowers in a vintage-inspired handmade vase from Emer O’Sullivan. Emer is a Donegal native who makes a range of pretty ceramic pieces inscribed with flowers and impressed with lace.