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Design Bloggers at Home

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Late last summer we had a little photoshoot at our house for Design Bloggers at Home, a new book that is soon to be released by Ryland Peters and Small. I felt honoured to be even considered for the book, but also a little embarrassed, because it feels a bit silly getting your house photographed all the time. Mostly our cottage is a chaotic, lived-in mess but it does scrub up well. Thankfully, I had nothing to worry about that day as author Ellie Tennant, and photographer Rachel Whiting, both did an amazing job on the shoot. I really enjoyed hanging out with them all day, chatting about textiles and playing house. Their photographs look beautiful and I’m very excited to see the rest of the homes in the book.
Design Bloggers at Home features twelve spaces belonging to, ahem, ‘leading online trend-setters’!! These include SF Girl by Bay, Oh Joy!, Happy Mundane, Vosgesparis, My Scandinavian Home and myself! The spaces range from a pared-back monochrome cabin, to a maximalist, colour-filled apartment in California, and of course, my own little cottage in Cornwall. If you’d like to see more, you can pre-order the book now from rylandpeters.com.

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Interview: Shelter

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Karie Reinertson makes beautiful handcrafted bags under the name of Shelter. I first saw her work on Madesmith and was intrigued to find out more.

How did Shelter begin?
Shelter started in the Green Mountains of Vermont when a couple of generalists got together and wanted to collaborate. Soon after, we moved to Asheville, NC, and have been focusing on canvas and leather bags, alongside home and cabin design/build. My favourite combo!
Do you make everything yourself?
For the most part, yes. When we have larger orders, we work with a worker-owned sewing cooperative here in North Carolina to help with certain aspects of the bags.
What is your favourite part of the making process?
Designing is my favorite part of the process. The transition from idea to tangible piece is an incredibly satisfying process. I also love working with leather. It feels like a collaboration – leather is a beautiful, sturdy, and challenging material to work with and it deserves time and respect.
What materials do you use?
I use the highest quality canvas, waxed canvas, leather, and hardware I can find. I also use ikats and African textiles. I like to mix different patterns and textures together.
Where are you stocked?
Boutiques in the US and abroad, and online through my own web shop. Exclusive collaboration pieces can be found online at Madesmith.
Do you have any exciting plans for the future?
Yes, super exciting plans! Soon I will be offering a collection of one of a kind and bespoke leather inlaid handbags. More on that soon… To follow that journey, please follow us on Instagram at @shelterprotectsyou and @theceremonycollection

Thank you Karie!

Photographs by Jen Altman for Madesmith

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Workshop: Rose Choules Moccasin Atelier

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I recently made my own pair of moccasins and I’m delighted with the results. I’ve had them on my feet more or less all day, everyday, ever since I made them! I attended a one-day moccasin making workshop with Rose Choules at her studio in Cornwall, and it was fascinating learning how to cut and sew a very simple, yet beautiful pair of shoes in just one day.
The workshop began with all the students (myself and two friends) choosing our materials. I opted for a very classic (and some might say boring!) tan suede while my friends were far more adventurous and used navy/bottle green and chocolate/burgundy colour combinations. Rose also showed us her amazing selection of luxury leathers, including wild antelope suede, Devon shearling and smoked moose hide from Saskatchewan, Canada. Using templates to perfectly fit our feet, we cut out pattern pieces and punched them with tiny holes that would later be stitched through. We worked to a cosy low-top moccasin slipper pattern that is lined with fleece, which Rose has developed herself. My favourite part was stitching the moccasins together using beeswax-coated thread and cutting my own spiral shoelaces from leather. The saddle stitch used to join the vamp to the sole was very satisfying (a good thing as I made a little mistake and had to redo this part several times!) Mistake rectified and moccasins stitched together, the final stage was to shape them on the last, trim the suede and tie the laces.
It feels good knowing how to make a simple pair of shoes and when this pair eventually wear out, I’ll definitely make another. Rose is running one and two day mocassin making courses in London and Cornwall throughout the year, so if anyone fancies a go, please contact her for more details. The one day course is perfect for beginners, while the two day course is a little more advanced and aimed at people already working in the footwear industry.
If you’d like to see more pictures of Rose’s fascinating studio, click here to see the tour I featured last year.

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Studio Visit: Nicola Tassie

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In December I visited the studio of one of my favourite ceramicists, Nicola Tassie. You may recognise her work from Margaret Howell or The New Craftsmen. Each pot is slightly different but all display a defiantly strong form and experimental use of clay and colour. I am in awe of Tassie’s experimentation with clay. In fact, every morning I drink my coffee out of one of her cups, and each day I think how incredibly beautiful it is. For me, that simple, faceted clay mug symbolises everything that I love about design; it’s accessible, well-crafted, well-designed, and my life is enriched by using it.

How did you start making ceramics?
I actually studied painting at college (the Central School of Art), but was curious about clay, perhaps through choosing early rock art for my thesis subject. A friend and I visited the ceramics department and asked if we could have a go at throwing, the technician gave us some crank, told us to hold on firmly, and left us to it. After a short while our hands were bleeding and we wondered at the toughness of potters! Cross department interest was not encouraged at Central! It obviously didn’t put me off though, and a few years later, after graduating I joined an evening class at my local adult education institute and have not stopped since.
What made you choose to concentrate on tableware?
My first interest in making ceramics was in the surface – drawing imagery with brushes and sgraffito marks, as a way of extending my life drawing practice – and so I learnt to throw as a means to make pots quickly and small bowls and cups and jugs were about all I was capable of at the beginning! Then the form of the pot started to influence the imagery, and the simple variations of how a bulging or convex wall of a cup or bowl effect the surface design has become a main preoccupation. The function of the pot – picking it up and using it – also gives an added tactile dimension to explore. I think it’s interesting to make small scale domestic works that fit into homes, and become part of everyday living as well as carrying a specific meaning or history.
Do you look to any other potters/artists for inspiration?
Definitely, all the time. I love looking at pots, paintings and objects. The ceramics department at the V&A is a wonder. I love English slipware, German salt glaze jars, Lucie Rie, Miro’s ceramics, Marianne de Tray and more. I’ve just seen the Paul Klee exhibition at Tate Modern – wonderful, contained paintings – he is so inventive with the surfaces and colours, it’s given me some thoughts about glazing. It’s also interesting to see the new work contemporary artists, like Jessica Jackson Hutchens, are making with ceramics and clay.
Your forms are very simple and beautiful. How do you develop new shapes?
I feel I’m rather slow at making new shapes. There is a continuity in making, with each form following on from the other, the process often leading to a new idea. For instance, out of curiosity, I was throwing with some heavily grogged clay and finding it hard to work with for too long or to get it thin enough, so that the finished jug was rather too heavy for use. I decided to shave some of the clay off from the outside and ended up with a lighter, ‘faceted’ jug and new shape! I’m definitely more of a vessel maker than a bowl maker and prefer subtle curves and close handles.
You’ve recently started making lighting – tell us a little about that?
In Paris I saw an exhibition of French 1950/60’s potter George Jouve. I was impressed with his expansive range of ceramics, he made tabletops, stools, sculptures, wall finishes and lamps.
It’s an opportunity to work on a larger scale, building form with simple geometric shapes-cones, cylinders and spheres. They are thrown in different parts and joined together, or else I add coils to a thrown base and pull up, taking time to let it dry off a bit before continuing with another coil until they look finished. At the moment I’m glazing them very simply in either matt black or white, as there is enough play with the shadows across the form when the light is switched on.
What different clays and glazes do you use?
I make ranges with different types of clay, at the moment I’m using a light buff stoneware, a black stoneware, a beautifully smooth mid-range Keuper Red and Limoges porcelain. I also add different grades of grog to get different surface effects. I keep a lot of glazes in the studio, either made from recipes (they always turn out different from the description!) or ready-made powders from the pottery suppliers. I have phases of working with particular ones, but a lot of my current porcelain work is left raw on the outside and glazed with a glossy transparent on the inside.
Where do you sell and exhibit?
The Wills Lane Gallery in St Ives, Contemporary Ceramics in London, Maud and Mabel in Hampstead, London, Gallery Top, Matlock, Derbyshire, The New Craftsmen and Margaret Howell shops in London , Paris and Tokyo. At the moment, I also am in an exhibition: Mud and Water, at the Rokeby Gallery, until 6th March 2014.

Thank you Nicola!

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