2015 is the year of Irish Design and there are many events organized nationally and internationally to celebrate the makers and designers of Ireland. I hope to feature some of these events throughout the year. It’s going to be a fantastic opportunity to appreciate the many talents available and be totally inspired!
Makers and designers are truly passionate about their art and craft and it really shows in the quality of the items they produce. The care and skill involved in creating a hand-crafted piece, together with the inspiration behind the design idea, make the whole process of creating it truly unique. The natural beauty of each piece; be it made of wood, metal, ceramic, fabric or paper, is everlasting. And of course with each designer comes a story, which means that it is connected and personal to him or her.
First stop: Showcase held in the RDS where top Irish makers and emerging designers exhibit their original hand-crafted products. It is a great forum for meeting the makers, talking about their designs and discovering their collections and their creative journey.
Halloween is a very Irish feast. As the evenings get shorter, it’s all about getting spookey costumes on and enjoying the autumnal dark nights and the cracking of the burning fire logs. My own favourite thing about Halloween is taking out the recipe books to make barmbrack and other seasonal treats like pumpkin soup and oven-baked apples. A great way to celebrate the end of the summer and face the coming winter season.
Plenty of other treats in Handmade Design Studio this autumn such as woolies to keep you warm on All Saints’ night: black of course ! Hand-knitted scarves, warm and stylish hats by Mad4hats, fine merino felted wrist warmers and matching snood by Niki Collier Designs. Add a bit of drama and sparkle with some earrings or cuffs by award-winning jewellery designer Bláithín Ennis.
Check out the new carrot twill handwoven blanket by Studio Donegal : its orange colour will brighten up any room and create a sense of pure comfort, guaranteed ! Gail Kelly’s signature leaf pattern printed on unbleached cotton is a striking yet simple contemporary design. It adorns the dining table as a runner and would be a lovely backdrop to your own home-cooking and edible treats !
And if you are painting the town on All Saints’ night, make sure it is in Annie Sloan chalk paint™ Graphite or Barcelona Orange !
More sun please! There is nothing like sitting out in the garden, the local park, a terrace on a balcony or by the seaside soaking up the warm sunshine and wishing every summer was like this in Ireland. Bees humming about the flowers, birds singing their little hearts’ content in the early hours, the smell of freshly cut grass, the long evenings and the dining al fresco. … Yes! Summer is truly here and hopefully for a little bit longer…The Tweet bowl by KaroArt is bound to put a smile on your face.
What a joy to see the beautiful pastel colours of the trees in blossom! It makes you want to touch the fluffiness of the petals and smell the gentle scents. The gardens are starting to get their colours back, the birds are tweeting in the very early hours of the day and swooping happily from branch to branch. Away with the dark evenings too! Time to shed the layers and put those woollies out of sight. Hopefully the sun is here to stay a little bit longer! The change of season brings a nudging sense of new life and a desire to start afresh, so here are a few ideas to help you feeling re-energized and light again!
Watch the birdies! The bird theme appears in the quirky original brooches by Artysmarty with birds and single feather brooches available to jazz up any cardi, jacket or shirt this season: colourful and affordable.
Capture the natural scents of spring and summer with the Baressential collection of soaps: try ‘Patchouli Earth’ with its original blend of patchouli, rosemary, orange and rose geranium which will make you feel radiant and relaxed or give the ‘Jaslime Grapefruit’ bar with its uplifting and refreshing scent.
With Spring cleaning in the air, it is now time to get your paint brushes out and chalkpaint that little tired-looking cabinet or brighten up the garden furniture. You can freshen and enhance furniture with decorative ChalkPaint™ by Annie Sloan! Go bright and cheerful with the colours Provence or Arles.
Showcase 2014 features the best of Irish design with products from over 400 exhibitors. Ideally you would need two or three days to go around and see it all. Although I had only one day to get to it this year I had done my homework before going and had pinpointed the people I absolutely wanted to meet.
It is always a real treat to attend the show as the choice and variety of Irish-made products is outstanding. I went to it on the opening day with fellow designer and fashionista Naomi who has a great eye for spotting the unusual and the quirky.
We stopped at the stands of some of the makers that I stock in Handmade Design Studio such as ArtySmarty creator Angela Cutlhill, Matt Jones, Sarah Mc Kenna, Orla Barry, Blaithin Ennis among others. I discovered their exciting and on trend new collections and cannot wait to receive them in the shop.
I also met some really interesting and friendly new craftmakers whom I had not metbefore and was truly inspired by their unique products.
The beautifully crafted, high quality items soon to be found in Handmade Design Studio are:
- Natural and colourful luxury soaps by Baressential
- Urban-inspired fine silk scarves by Katie Brown
- And much more …
If you are ever coming to Mullingar, come and have a peek!
Getting a gift for a loved one is at the heart of Christmas shopping and you want to make sure you are getting something truly special. At Handmade Design Studio you are guaranteed to find a gift hand made with care in Ireland that is really beautiful and unique.
For herself: Something to wear? A reversible silk and felted merino wool scarf by Inga Inne; Something to admire? An art piece by Anne-Marie Kearns. Something vintage? A Venetian beaded necklace by My Grand-Mother’s Closet. Something glamorous? A silver sterling and Czech crystal cuff by Bláithín Ennis or a Birdie ring by Niamh Spain. Something homely? A fine porcelain vase by Living Ginger designs, one of Claire Molloy’s earthy horsehair vessels. Something to read? La vie est belle by Henrietta Heald about French interiors and lifestyle.
For himself: If he is a foodie: A beautifully crafted wine stopper by Matt Jones or a walnut cheese board by Caulfield Country Boards. If he is a DIY enthusiast: a can of chalk paint, Annie Sloan decorative paint in his favorite colour. If he likes his comfort: a woven woolly blanket or cushion by Studio Donegal. If he enjoys a cuppa (and what man doesn’t?), offer him a mug as Gaeilge by Placed.
For the little ones: To amuse them, a rattle or baby comforter by Essential Bears, a tooth Fairy by Guadalupe Creations. To keep them warm, a funky woolly hat by AKnits or you can choose one of the colourful hair slides by ArtySmarty.
For the teens: The fashion-conscious will appreciate a pair of earrings or necklace by Angela Cuthill or a double purse by Joan Greene. The ones with the quirky taste: a spaghetti scarf or a cool snood by C. Delabre.
PS: If you prefer to have herself, himself, the little ones or the teens select their own gift, how about a gift voucher? All gifts are beautifully wrapped for you so that all you have to do is put it under the Christmas tree!
Autumn is at our doorsteps with the evenings getting shorter and the leaves turning nice warm shades of red, yellow, orange and brown. It is starting to get a tiny bit chilly and we’ll be needing our woolies!
At Handmade Design Studio, we have beautiful collections of hand knitted or felted scarves, headbands and hats to choose from. They are made from fine yarns, organic hand-dyed threads or pure silk, linen and merino wool.
If you enjoy having a cuppa and reading a book by the fire, take your tea in one of Thomas Lynan’s mugs. And when you need an extra layer, you might reach for a handmade patchwork quilt or a Donegal hand-woven throw. Before you settle in, light one of the of Bog Standard candles, such as Emily’s Parlour and, well you might be staying in that chair for a while!
Summer is well and truly here in all its colourful, perfumed and warm glory. Whether you plan to brighten your own or someone else’s garden or home we have items to make your summer even more summery!
For dining al fesco you could use a serving or cheese board from Caulfield Country Boards, or a small ‘food for love’ bowl or platter from Sarah McKenna for your olives and dips. The ‘Irish field’ candle from Bog Standard gives a lovely fresh cut grass scent, and one of the stripy ‘Biarritz’ cushions by Claire Delabre will brighten up your patio or balcony. If your are going to the races or attending a wedding or a posh garden party this summer, one of Bernice Rafferty’s fascinators will no doubt make heads turn!
Brighten things up even further by painting your flower pots or garden furniture in Annie Sloan Chalk Paint. How about Florence, Emperor’s Silk, Barcelona Orange or Greek Blue?
The idea for Father’s Day was first suggested in 1910 in the United States but it was not until 1966 that it was officially recognized as a national holiday there. It is of course celebrated around the world and in most countries it falls on the third Sunday in June. Here in Handmade Design Studio, we have many unique Irish gifts for you to honour Dads this weekend.
So what would suit the Fathers or Grandfathers in your family? Is he …
… a woodie? how about one of Matt Jones’ beautiful yew teardrop wine stopper?
… a foodie? Well, a cheese board or chopping block by Caulfield Country Boards.
… a techie? an iPad pouch by Claire Delabre would be ideal for him.
… fond of a cuppa? A mug for that lovely tea or coffee by René Mullins of Placed.
… planning to write that bestseller? He will surely need a wood-turned pen by Eddie Murray.
… a man of inimitable style? The silver chrome ‘geometric pattern’ cufflinks by ArtySmarty
… a funky farmer? Lorna Farrell’s watercolours will put a smile on his face.
… an art lover? Why not one of Frances Crowe’s woven tapestries depicting the unique Irish landscape.
… young at heart? Well, a retro toy badge by ArtySmarty.
One possible upside of the recession is a renewed interest in all things handmade and homemade. As a maker and designer, I think it is great to see people taking up craft, be it needle crafts like knitting, stitching, sewing or crochet or other textile crafts like felting or weaving. Others again that are making a come-back are soap-making, gardening and baking.
Making something yourself from scratch is not only very satisfying but it is relaxing and a lot of fun. It also means that you are being creative using your own sense of style and imagination. Inspiration comes from many sources whether it is from the natural world, travelling, art, architecture or fashion. But I also think that it has a deeper significance as well in that drawing on such sources of inspiration says something about our values and our identity. It points to the originality of the individual who creates a piece of craft and taps into the genuine personal meaning we give to the things we make.
The renewed interest in craft connects us to the values of community too as many crafts can be practised in groups and clubs and in classes making it as much a social experience as it is a form of personal expression.
I am always delighted to welcome established and aspiring crafters to drop into Handmade Design Studio to chat about and share crafty, creative ideas. See you soon!