As I was recently given a sewing machine by my mum (my first, and I am very excited), I have been scouting out rare and wonderful fabrics with which to plan my dream textile creations. Amid lovely new offerings from Liberty and others, I stumbled upon these striking patterns by US artist and graphic designer Holli Zollinger and fell immediately in love. If her name alone does not seduce you, her beautiful patterns definitely will. Big, bold and tribal, they are a calming and welcome antidote to this season’s busy graphic prints.
You can buy them on her website, along with other prints and designs. She also has a lovely blog where she showcases new designs and irresistibly sweet photos of her little boy.
Artist and craft wonder Rachel Denny lives in Oregon and has recently risen to design fame for her playful knitted animal heads – a creative, animal-friendly take on the hunting trophy to which no one could really object.
She describes her work as “an exploration of the seductive beauty of our natural world and the imprint that human intervention has made on its flora and fauna”. She is particularly interested in the transformation undergone by natural forms within an man-made, urban backdrop, and the process of reevaluation caused by displacing nature.
“A deer in an urban backyard, a family of Peregrine falcons at my neighborhood park, a coyote skirting a parking lot… these all become a moment of wonder as they shake us out of our daily routines.”
She exhibits regularly in the US and you can see more of her stuff at racheldenny.com.
They’ve come out of hibernation and are ready to play. All you need are scissors, glue and a ruler.
Fox, Badger, Squirrel and Hedgehog
The Carrot Crew
The Yolk Folk
Meet them all (including their Christmas friends) at mibo.co.uk. Prices start at £6.
It is often the most mundane things that inspire us. Norwegian designer Camilla Akersveen spent much of her childhood being driven around in her grandfather’s taxi, unable to keep her hands off his beaded seat cover, which she found fascinating. Fast forward a few years and the design graduate has just exhibited her taxi chair at the Stockholm Furniture Fair, which has met with widespread acclaim and is set to become a future classic.
‘I wanted to create a chair which could be used by all members of the family. Focusing on play and the development of children’s senses, I chose to look back and find inspiration in my own childhood’, she says.
Kitsch, beady, knobbly, part abacus and part yellow cab, it is as fun for kids as it is for grown-ups. Fingers crossed it makes its way to London sometime soon.
Because chocolates are too dull for words, and you can never have too many cool little prints, Zoe (still in bed with a broken leg) has picked her favourite Valentine’s designs from her latest discovery: Print Club London in Dalston, where you can learn to make prints yourself as well as simply buy them.
They run beginners’ workshops, so you don’t need any prior expertise, and have a membership scheme which allows you to use all their equipment and bits and bobs.
So if you forgot about a special someone, or just want to try something new, go make one – and even if it’s a little late it will be packed to the brim with love.
Or, quickly buy one now and pretend.
Cold Hands Warm Heart by Fran Marchesi
Sunshine of My Life by Anthony Peters
Ketchup by Hani Boy
And finally, Fran Marchesi has also done the art work for the new song by Sempha and Jessie Ware, Valentine. You can buy the song from Young Turks, and the records are shaped like hearts.
… by San Francisco-based Jess Hutchison. Smiles all round.
I am a longstanding fan of quirky Danish label DAY Birger et Mikkelsen‘s clothes and homeware ranges, and a look at this season’s new interiors offering has only compounded my love. Fusing fresh and simple colours – oatmeal, black, coral, silver, grey – with hand-embroidered cushions and delicately engraved silver accessories, the collection is simple yet striking, with their characteristically pared down, ethnic aesthetic resonating throughout – the emphasis on crafts and handmade designs still strong.
My favourite for this season is the siamese grey climbing flower cushion cover, with coral petals and asphalt leaves. Warm and bold, it is perfect for oppressive winter days.
Yesterday I went down to the Saatchi Gallery in London’s Duke of York’s Square to check out this year’s crafts exhibition, COLLECT 2010. Run by the Crafts Council, and in its seventh year, the show comprises a mind-blowing array of pieces from galleries across the globe, of such artistic skill and vision that the word craft – to me at least – hardly seemed appropriate. From jewellery to glassware to wooden carvings and fantastic sculptures, the show celebrates all things handmade, and with all of it for sale you need bags of self restraint to leave empty handed.
As well as offering so many inspiring creations to look at that it’s hard to know where to begin, the COLLECT exhibitions perform a deeper function – they remind you of the sheer pleasure of looking at artefacts made by hand, with love, over time, purely for art’s sake. We should all be inspired by the renewed popularity of making stuff yourself, which I have unashamedly embraced if only on a comparatively tiny scale, and with sites like Folksy and Etsy growing by the day and fostering a whole new approach to the art of handmade wares, the act of taking the time to make things which could be churned out of a factory is becoming more and more valuable.
As Grant Gibson, editor of (surprisingly slick and un-grannyish) Crafts Magazine says, “be in no doubt that the ability to make things – and make things well – matters.” Let’s hope it always will.
COLLECT only confirms this, and if anyone is in London this weekend you would be mad to miss it. They are also running tons of free events for all visitors, check out the details here.