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Use less text on mobile! beautiful textiles for your home, designed by the sea and made in the British isles

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time to 'cwtch'

time to 'cwtch'

So the Danes may have clinched the word ‘Hygge’, which has recently caused a storm in the way we British like to chill out, entertain and hunker down in the cooler months. Apparently, there is no direct English translation for the word ‘Hygge’, which leaves us feeling a little bereft, slightly inadequate even, particularly as we are so proud of our language. But did you know that the Welsh also have a word, along the same lines as ‘Hygge’, which there is no exact translation for. That word is ‘Cwtch’ and it is such a lovely word, with delightful connotations. I came across this word about 20 years ago when my son was two years old. His grandmother from South Wales (affectionately known as Mrs Pepper Pot because she is so tiny) used to invite him to ‘cwtch up’ alongside her on the sofa. Here is how the University of South Wales describes it:

What is a 'cwtch'? | University of South Wales

a cuddle or hug.' However, this definition isn't conclusive, because the wonderful thing about the Welsh word, 'cwtch', is that there's no literal English translation. There are plenty of similar words, such as 'cuddle', 'snuggle' and 'hug', but none share quite the same affectionate sentiment as a 'cwtch'.12 Dec 2014. www.southwales.ac.uk/story/926/

To me, Autumn is all about gathering in, whether we are gathering fruits and foods, or simply armfuls of family and friends. It’s the time of year when we want our loved ones around us, well fed and well warmed, safe inside as the winds blow wild against the window panes and wet rains streak across steely skies and piles of golden leaves form drifts outside the door. Days are spent in woollens and wellington boots and the longer, darker evenings provide the chance for more conversation, more reading, more dreaming and planning.

 So, what better time of year than now, to get cosy on a sofa with a good book, a cup of something warming and enjoy a ‘cwtch' up under a soft layer of wool !?

(this lovely blanket has been crocheted by hand by Lisa and is for sale in the 'friends and finds' section.)

I have named my new collection of miniature lavender filled cushions ‘Cwtch’. Handmade especially for the three upcoming shows I am exhibiting at, all run by the very lovely ‘Handmade in Britain’ organisation. I will be taking them first to Kew Gardens (next week), and then to Edinburgh, and finally to Chelsea Old Town Hall. Here’s a reminder of the dates:

Handmade at Kew (contemporary craft fair)

Kew Gardens, 12th – 15th October 2017

Handmade Edinburgh (contemporary craft fair)

The Hub, Edinburgh, 27th - 29th October 2017

The Contemporary Crafts & Design Fair

Chelsea Old Town Hall, 10th-12th November 2017

If you would like to come along, let me know, I have a limited supply of entrance passes and it would be truly lovely to meet you. Email me: camillabythesea@yahoo.co.uk

The lavender filled 'Cwtch' cushions (shown above), sitting alongside their bed fellows in my 'sea fret' range of cushions and throws. 

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September Calling

September Calling

Living in the Great British Isles means embracing all seasons. There are undeniable changes happening in the garden, and I am undeniably aware that September is calling and am beginning to feel the thrill of cooler months ahead.

 

There is a gentle fading beginning to take hold as well as the fullness of ripe berries and autumn fruits. It is this fading, mottling and ageing that I find restful and somehow reassuring.

 

 

Yes, I confess to be totally thrilled by the imminent onset of autumn. This season is equally exciting to me as spring. The drama of the demise of nature’s summer beauty is displayed as a visual wonder in seed heads, leaf skeletons, crystallised cobwebs and exuberant colour in skies and trees. Along with darker nights, lit with candles and the glow of a log fire, harvest festivals and fireworks pepper the calendar. The kitchen becomes the hub of the home and is filled with smells of jam making, homemade fruit puddings, sticky sausages, toasted crumpets and long, lazy Sunday roasts. The hallway is filled with wellington boots and coats and we dig out warm woollens to wrap ourselves in ……... yes, I am a huge fan of autumn!

September brings the call for us all to return to a more timetabled life and autumn provides the countdown to our yuletide celebrations. I will be exhibiting at the fabulous trade show ‘Top Drawer’, for the first time in September, hoping to meet owners of boutique shops, independent galleries and interior designers, all looking for artisan made pieces for their curated winter collections.

Meanwhile, the last threads of summer are difficult to let go of. Gathering up fading flowers and making the most of home grown vegetables in warming soups and hedgerow fruits in glorious crumbles, means we can still eat outdoors and gather together with candle-light and blankets to wrap around. This is, perhaps, how we British like to ‘Hygge’. The jaded colour palette makes me think about softly shaded wools. I like to work with colours that have been taken directly from nature, I find them soothing and restful and they seem to sit well with natural fibres. Perhaps my next woven designs will be inspired by the colours of September......

 ........we'll see. x

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Preparing to exhibit at CRAFT - Top Drawer

Preparing to exhibit at CRAFT - Top Drawer

The studio is very busy at this time of year. I love the buzz and there is nothing like a deadline to create that feeling. I am very excited to have the chance to show off my work at CRAFT – Top Drawer for the first time this September.

The designs for my new collection of woven throws and cushions, ‘tidal sands’, have been inspired by the coast of Anglesey, a beautiful island just off North Wales, which has to be my favourite place in the whole world. The patterns that are woven into the fabric of the throws represent the marks left behind in the expanse of wet sands at Newborough beach as the tide ripples out to sea, as well as the marks made my tractors pulling boats in and out across the beach in the pretty town of Beaumaris. I hope my designs represent the peace, space and gentle beauty that are to be found on the island.

The making process began a whole year ago when I began to make sketches and designs that I would then hand weave in to samples on my small hand loom. The throws were manufactured for me at a family run mill in Lancashire which is over 100 years old and specialises in producing a beautiful finish using water from its own stream, bringing out the very best qualities of the merino lambswool. It is a slow painstaking process, but better for being just that. Time stands almost still in the weave room and I can't help feeling a connection to the weaving industry of the past.

 

 

 

 

Each throw is being double checked, folded and labelled with logo and care instructions, before being packed away, ready for Olympia:

There is something calming about the softness of merino lambs wool, a feeling that is reminiscent of childhood, home and comfort all at once. The quality of this yarn means that the throws are very soft, warm and lightweight, perfect for wrapping around in moments of tranquillity. I hope I can bring a little tranquility to Olympia!

the 'sea fret' throw

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drawn to design

drawn to design

'Why draw?' This is a question I asked myself when applying to do a textiles course at university. At the age of 49, I had never really drawn anything. I had been creative all my life but I was a maker, not a sketcher. I soon found out that drawing is something that is absolutely necessary if you want to become a designer, so I had to book myself on to a crash course to learn how to draw before my application was accepted (thank you Michael Troy!). Although I was fearful of failure to begin with, and I can see the tightness in my early drawings, I eventually learned to relax and enjoy playing with colour and texture, mark making and experimenting.

I remember one particular day in my first year at university, when it all became clear to me. There were almost 70 students squashed into the art room and we were all given the same drawing task. Only, we were asked to use the hand we don’t usually draw with and we were encouraged to use charcoal, attached to long sticks. Our large pieces of paper were pinned onto walls and we had 3 minutes to draw a cross section of a tree trunk. Once the 3 minutes were up, our drawings were taken off the walls and placed side by side on the floor and we were asked to walk around them. There were 70 different drawings of exactly the same thing. Not one was better than the other, not one was worse, but each was individual.

This is why drawing is so important for designing. It comes straight out of you and is as individual as a finger print, it represents your style, your voice. It is completely original and this is the starting point for designing; to create something that does not already exist. I never draw objects, I see that as copying the designer who made the object in the first place. I prefer to use nature and landscapes as inspiration and as I walk a lot, I have an ever changing source of material to work from. I sometimes use photographs to keep records of what I’ve seen, but always get better results if my subject is in front of me. I use my imagination, or memory, for creating more abstract drawings and these work well too.

The sketches I make, the marks that appear on paper, are not works of art as such. That is, I am not about to frame them and hang them on the walls. But they are the beginning of the design process and will fuel weave designs or perhaps give me ideas for stitch. And because they come directly from me, I can be sure that what comes next will be original.

These drawings were very quick to do following a day on the beaches at Llandwynn and Newborough Forest on Anglesey in North Wales, and form part of the research for my next woven designs. For me, trying to capture the essence of the place is more important than it being a true replica of the scene itself.

 ...I used my finger to make this drawing. The textures of the pastel oils is perfect for smudging and you can see how excited I was by the bright greens. I took photos of my drawings at different angles:

This is a sketch of the forest, again I was playing with textures and looking at pattern this time. Using my camera to find different angles of interest, I can see structures for weaving here:

Why not try it for yourself? It takes a little time to find your style, but you will most certainly have one. Don’t be scared and don’t care too much. There is no bad. Make some marks!

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when a day begins....

when a day begins....

When a day begins like this you just know you have to go to the tiny island of Llandwynn (just off Newborough forest on Anglesey) for the day. Take a boat or take a walk, take a friend, take a pic-nic and let the peaceful aura of this beautiful place fill your soul…..follow the other pilgrims who make it this far across the stretches of beach to the atmospheric lighthouse overlooking the bay.


The rocks on this particular island were thrown up millions of years ago and are quite unusual in their colourings of pinks and teals. This tumbling wall captures their hues as the rocks seem to fall to the tiny gate of the pathway.

 

The beaches either side of the island are trimmed with tall woodland and impressive sand dunes and they stretch for miles. And, perhaps because not many people want to walk for literally miles along sand, they are extremely quiet. Even the excited greyhound who bounced around us for the first mile, had to give up the chase and return to his owners. We came across this old boat wreck half way up the deserted sand, covered in seaweed, some dark grey green, some bright emerald shining wet in the sun light. The wood that remained stood like a bottom row of teeth, grinning at the calm blueness of sea and sky.

Green was the colour that day. The colour that shouted loudest and the one I have chosen to use in my sketches from the day……….Green by the sea is different to the green in the garden. It is certainly as vibrant but salty and rugged, rather than fresh and clean. (see my sketches in ‘drawn to design’ post)

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colour palette

colour palette

I'm beginning to think about designing some new throws for autumn/winter 2017/2018. I've already started to think about weave structures and have been out walking over the Penmon hills to gather inspiration. I have been drawn to look at stone walls which appear all over the hills of Anglesey, in various states of repair and with varying purpose. Up behind the Penmon Priory, the stone walls are now crumbling remnants of what used to be a deer park. They are unusually tall walls and the fact they are crumbling gives them so much more interest. I am compelled to photograph the trees and branches which have grown up against the side of the wall and then have been almost frozen into a bent shape as they have been pushed over the top of the wall by the coastal winds. I see walls which are now giving in to the strength of nature; ivy vines seem to be winning by sheer determination to force themselves in to the crevices of the once sturdy wall.

 

I will spend some time over the next few weeks using these photographs to make drawings in my sketchbook, but before I do that I want to establish a colour palette. Trend forecasting may be considered to be the domain of the fashion world, but there is always an influence from the catwalks that spills into interior design, in fact the two areas are strongly connected. Although I don't need my throw designs to be fashionable as such, in fact I want them to be almost the opposite of fashionable in that I want them to have longevity and long lasting purpose, however, I do need them to have appeal and to be able to fit in with the design scheme of a contemporary home.

In my searches through colour forecasts, I have been drawn to the blush pink, which seems to be everywhere this year, but I'm not seeing much of it forecasted for next year. So it could well have been purely a fashion colour and those I need to avoid. This means I may need to reconsider using this palette, which is taken from some amazingly naturally pink rocks which were thrown up by a volcano on the tiny Island of Ynys Llandwynn off Newborough forest.

But I am pleased to find that green is one of the strong colours forecasted to be in our lives next year. I sometimes use Pinterest to gather together images that I find appealing and green is predominant in my findings and it makes a lot of sense. To begin with it is all over the outside world, it is a foil to every other colour but it can easily stand out all by itself too. So, green could well turn out to be the champion of the palette. I used some photographs taken from around Penmon to find some shades of greens and some companion colours too. I really enjoy the sludgy, khaki browns and the dark chocolate offered by this colour palette. The tiny pop of light blue and the limey green lifts it and contrasts beautifully with the stronger shades. This natural palette comes directly from the source of my inspiration and could be a contender.

watch this space!

 

 

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rockpool

rockpool

I must admit to being slightly obsessed with water, especially the way it changes colour, depending on what is underneath it and what the sky is doing above it. Every time I pop out to the beach, the sea offers up different, ever-changing shades and the rock pools it leaves behind as it falls away from the rocky edges of the beach are also full of colour and texture.

 

I often surprise friends when I return from holiday with my holiday snaps. I hardly ever take photos of people, instead my images will be of the sea, or a lake or perhaps a structural plant or a dead tree or two. I am fascinated with just how brilliant and bountiful nature is as a source of inspiration, and I am always looking out for colour. During a recent trip I found myself captivated by the beautiful greens and blues of this fast flowing river in Hukka, New Zealand. It reminded me of the colours of the rockpools back on the pebble beach at home.

I have been making sketches and colour studies based on rockpools and am currently developing this work into designs for weaving. Here are a few drawings taken from my sketchbook:

I will be making some yarn wrappings next and then I can begin designing the weave and making a warp to take on to the loom.  Hopefully I can produce some samples worthy of becoming a new throw design.......think I will name it 'rockpool'.

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Island Inspiration

Island Inspiration

When I am surrounded by breathtaking natural beauty, either sitting on the pebble beach outside the cottage or watching the boats come in out of the tiny harbour at Beaumaris, or walking for miles across sandy beaches at Newborough Forest, I am filled with the need to capture it.

I have collected hundreds of photographs over the years, and filled sketchbooks with colour combinations, sketches and texture studies. These are a very valuable resource for me when I begin to think about a woven design.

The structure of the weave reflects the textures that I find in this natural environment. My latest collection has a structure inspired by the impressions left behind on soft sands. For instance, the ripples that are left as the sea pulls away at low tide and the heavy indentations of tyre tracks made as boats are taken out to sea on trailors by tractors at the bay.

 

These markings can be seen all over the island of Anglesey, as can the colours that appear in this collection. Many shades make up the ‘white’ pebble beach outside the cottage and I spend a lot of time sitting on the pebbles in one position and counting how many different colours are laying all around me. When I visit the sandy beach at Newborough, I literally walk for miles with my head down, marvelling at the myriad colours of shells and fascinating rocks thrown out by volcanoes on the romantic island of Llandwynn. Then there are the colours of the sea and sky and these change dramatically every day, from green, to palest duck egg, to dark navy, to grey.

The light on the island is very special, the air is clean and the weather can be mill-pond still or stormy savage from day to day. This resource of inspiration never fails to excite me.

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