Father’s Day

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 …

wine stopper… 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. IMAG0550-1

… 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.

retro truck

Craft & Creativity


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.


tote cranberry rose


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!

Tying the knot

fascinatorAs a French person, I have always been struck and impressed by the sense of occasion and style among Irish people when it comes to weddings. I love the fact that guests really go all out in terms of style. You will often see fabulous and colourful outfits, elegant tuxedos, amazing hats and shoes and other accessories among the women. In Ireland, the ceremony is traditionally held in churches and the guests are then invited to dine and party in a hotel. In France, the wedding or civil partnership is celebrated mainly in the local town hall and guests then dine in a restaurant, at the groom or bride’s family home or in the community hall for a feast, depending on the number of guests. It is not to say that French weddings are not celebrated in style but you have to hand it to the Irish for their sense of colour, drama and fun!

My friend and photographer, David Maury, captures the essence of Irish weddings and civil unions particwedding davidularly well when it comes to the sense of dressing up and the excitement of this very special day.

Fashion accessories ideas for the day: Fabulous fascinators by Bernice Rafferty, vintage jewellery by My Grandmother’s Closet, luxurious merino and silk wrap by Inga Inne or stylish double purse by Joan Greene.

Gifts ideas for the groom and bride: Unique paintings by Anne-Marie Kearns, intricate textile art by Maggie Dolan, fine mirrors by Eddie Murray or exquisite ceramics by Louise Browne.

Earth Hour

Tealight holder by S.McKenna
Tealight holder by S.McKenna


Today at 8.30p.m at local time throughout the world, people are invited to be part of ‘Earth Hour’. Just switch off all the lights, electrical appliances and mobile phones wherever you are, if possible, for one hour. With this annual and symbolic gesture, you will contribute to saving energy and take a moment to reflect on climate change.

Light some candles around the room you are in during that hour. This gentle low lighting will create a relaxing mood. If you are outdoors, just enjoy the natural darkness!


Spring is in the air!

In spite of some recent wintry weather there are some signs of Spring out there and nature is slowly waking up from its hibernating months. Daffodils and crocuses are in bloom and their bright and strong  colourful petals are a great source of inspiration for my coming up painting and textile projects.


Springtime is when we usually get a burst of energy to give a new lease of life to our home by doing a therapeutic spring cleaning throughout the house. Why not refresh/freshen up a piece of furniture or walls by giving them a lick of Annie Sloan chalk paint? This paint is so easy to work with that painting won’t feel like a chore but will be great fun! With no need for priming or sanding to remove old paint or varnish, using chalk paint is a totally satisfying experience if not positively addictive! By the time you finish painting your furniture or your walls, you will be thinking: hmm, what could I paint now?




Although open since January, Handmade Design Studio was officially launched on Saturday 9th March by actress and writer Mary Mc Evoy.  In a very relaxed and informal atmosphere, Mary spoke about the values that the shop represented and commented that perhaps during recent years there has been a loss of soul in Irish society, that craft and return to handmade products represented a connection with the soul that has been missing.


She said she was very pleased to see a shop that celebrated such a return to our roots as a society. For my part as owner and creator of Handmade Design Studio, I talked about the combination of my love for craft and my background in interior design and how this shop was the realization of a lifetime’s ambition to bring those two elements together. I have been involved in art and craft networks over the years and in Mullingar since I moved here. Through those networks I have gained an awareness of talented makers throughout the county of Westmeath and indeed in the country as a whole. 

I feel that people often think that when something is handcrafted, it must be expensive and Handmade Design Studio aims to contradict this belief as beautiful, high quality crafts do not need to be expensive. 

Guests included friends and some of the makers whose work can be found in  the shop. Wine was supplied by Wines Direct, Mullingar while the ‘amuse-bouche’ by Just Baked Bakery.

A huge thank you to all the guests for travelling and special word of thanks to photographer John McCaulay.


Mothers, Grandmothers, Sisters, Aunties, Nieces …

Friday 8th March is International Women’s Day and the following Sunday is Mother’s Day so let’s celebrate women’s uniqueness. A handmade gift is simply a lovely thing to get and receiving it knowing the care and attention it took to make it just adds to the loveliness of the thought!

So let’s see the ways women can be and how Handmade Design Studio has the right gift for each quality. When you need to give a woman something …


  • Colourful: Joan Greene’s purses are a must-have.DSC_0688
  • Sparkly: How about a piece of stylish jewellery?
  • Fabulous: Bernice Rafferty’s fascinators are just amazing.
  • Quirky: How about one of Angela Cuthill’s brooches?arty smarty badge
  • Warm: A merino and silk scarf by Inne Inge.
  • Soft: Why not get a lavender soap?
  • Gentle: A rose scented candle by Bog Standard.IMAG0305-1
  • Delicate: A textile artwork by Maggie Dolan.
  • Cute: A card you could display in a frame.
  • Beautiful:  Why not a silk cushion in soft and earthy tones?




Child’s Play




If you are looking for gifts for the little ones, we have a unique selection of toys, woolen hats and beanies for both girls and boys. You can also find some quirky accessories to decorate the nursery, your child’s bedroom or play-room including the amazing stripy cat rug, beautiful art work and delightful cushions and beanbags.





For babies: Claire’s fabric soft ball is available in a range of gentle pastel colours. Anke Morgenroth is the creator of Basil, Bluebell, Snowdrop and Poppy – who are cuddled together in the shop waiting to find a new home. These little velvet bears are just so cute and lovable! Their fluffy cousins, Jamie, Susan, Liam and Valerico are there keeping an eye on them while Molly, Finn and Mae are smiling away without a care in the world! You can also adopt one of the funny sausage dogs. They even come with their own birth certificate!

To keep warm as it is still quite chilly out there this, we have soft, merino booties for baby, little pixie wooly hats and beanies in a range of beautiful colours as well as the fabulous teddy bear hats for younger boys and girls and flower hats and beanies for the bigger kids.

When you need to send congratulations or best wishes to parents or grand-parents, we have a number of  gorgeous baby cards to choose from. All our items are handmade with love in Ireland!




St Valentine

For your valentine …

Some great gift ideas for your dearest true love! From cards and framed prints to jewellery, cosmetics, scarves, lighting, wooden pens and teddy bears. All items are  unique, designed and hand-made in counties Dublin, Cavan, Down, Louth, Meath and Westmeath.

Showcase, RDS Dublin

I recently attended the 2013 Showcase: Ireland’s Creative Expo to source new craft and designs products for Handmade Design Studio. I was impressed by the range of fashion, gifts and crafts available.

 showcase 1

The event was a real feast for the senses, from the beautiful, natural smells of the handcrafted cosmetics and scented candles to the amazing colours and innovative designs and inspirations seen in the textiles on show. I really had such good time meeting the designers, some of whom I’d only met via email while I was planning the stock for the opening of my shop in January.

What impressed me most were the number of young, up-coming Irish designers whose sense of creativity I think is truly inspiring.  Over the course of the next few months I hope to stock and range of different products by these designers in the shop and I will be showcasing their work on a regular basis here and on social media.