Monday, 23 December 2013

Michael Ruh

This year, for our joint studio Christmas jamboree with Pritchard Themis, we made a studio visit to Michael Ruh Glass in Tulse Hill. It was an absolutely enchanting evening with Michael and his partner Natascha.

I have seen glass being blown on video clips but never 'in the flesh' before. There is a real sense of alchemy and magic about the process - the molted liquid glass is completely mesmerizing. Witnessing this 'magic' performed by a maker in such total control of their medium and discipline felt like watching a piece of dance.

I have always loved the specificness of different studio tools - and they way that they carry such an intimate sense of the maker's hand. The funnel shape above is a 'sofietta' (from the Italian for breath) which Michael used to inflate the 'shoulders' of the vessel he was making.

This is the furnace in where the glass is melted and heated as it is worked. And below are the wooden 'moulds' which are used as part of the shaping and forming process.

These are the various shears used for cutting the glass. I especially like the diamond ones on the right. And here are a few of Michael's beautiful vessels in the studio - you can just see some of the blow pipes stacked up behind them.

The evening included a fascinating introduction and demonstration of the techniques Michael uses and then a chance to all 'have a go' at blowing a bauble. We each chose our colours and patterns and then, with a very firm guiding hand turned the blow pipe. It was a real privilege to feel that we had had a tiny taste of the process ourselves.

What a wonderful end to the year!

Friday, 25 October 2013

Marker blanket for Margaret Howell

It has been a hectic few weeks, with all hands on deck packing boxes to ship all over the world. 

One of the orders which has gone off this week was for Margaret Howell. We have worked with them for many years, and we feel a strong affinity with their philosophy. The pieces which we make for them are exclusive to Margaret Howell - some are unique designs, and others are exclusive colour ways. I enjoy working with them, and really value their input into the design process. 

Each year or so we add another piece to the range, and this year we have adapted the Marker blanket for them. We have added a red accent line, and a white stitch detail. It is amazing how much a little tweak can change the feel of a design - and we think it looks very smart!

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Victory Press

This year we have been working with Victory Press for our printed graphics. Near neighbours to us in Deptford; Victory Press is a small publisher, printer and design studio publishing limited edition artist books and print editions.

Elliott at Victory Press has designed us a pair of beautiful folded leaflets for the blankets and the upholstery range. The leaflets work with a set of different inserts for different currency price lists and so on. On the back of the inserts Elliott has designed and printed different patterns abstracted from our weave plans. It is so magical to see something as humdrum as a weave plan re-imagined as a beautiful repeat pattern.

The designs have been printed on a Risograph press, and the technique has a really lovely quality about it.

'Risograph printing is a vibrant and economical method of producing anything from books to artists prints. It sits in the realm somewhere between screen print and offset lithography but with a unique aesthetic. ' - Victory Press

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Wawa Rocker

This is the folding rocker by Richard Ward at Wawa. It is a beautiful, clever, economic, ergonomic design.

The rocker has just been re-launched by Wawa, and has been on display at a pop-up show at Clifton Nurseries. This week it is at Decorex on the Clifton Nursery stand.

For the re-launch Wawa invited a number of different textile designers to show their work on the rocker including Melanie Bowles, Minnan Hui, Zahra Jaan, Carol Lake, Beatrice Larkin, Alice Milnes, Kezia Regan and Margo Selby.

We were very pleased to have our Hannington fabric featured - with one face on the seat and the other on the back.

Monday, 23 September 2013

In the Press

It's been an incredibly busy month, with three big shows in three different countries - exhilarating and exhausting in equal measure...

We do sense an exciting momentum building though, and is has been so good to show off all the hard work behind the scenes getting the upholstery range off the ground. 

We have had some wonderful press about the work - here are a few highlights:

We are also so pleased to have the Rowridge fabric featured by Tom Morris in October's Monocle.

Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Signal - Toast (2)

Here is the Signal blanket in the new Toast House and Home catalogue. What a beautiful space.

Really good to see Nick Fraser's lamp in the collection too.

Friday, 30 August 2013

Well Healed

Here is the Easterly and 525 Line in a beautiful shoot by Heal's. All very modern and elegant. I like the use of the free-standing pannelling.

Photographer - Jake Curtis
Stylist - Despina Curtis

Thursday, 15 August 2013

NYC here we come

So - we have packed up our samples and our sandals and we are off to NYC tomorrow. Looking forward to Margaritas at the Standard Hotel.

Monday, 12 August 2013

Tools of the Trade (3) - posted by Eleanor

This is Esther, our blanket stitch machine. She is a very old lady and can be a little grumpy at times, but she is a real work horse. Most of our blanket stitching is done by Janet at the mill on a similar machine, but we sometimes stitch samples here in the studio.

The mechanism is wonderful. It is basically a chain stitch, with a hook that draws the yarn across as you stitch - a very elegant piece of engineering.

Although the mechanism is old, Esther does have a brand new motor - you can see the belt drive here, along with our orange scissors which are the very best ones for snipping any loose ends.

Thursday, 8 August 2013

Signal - Toast

This is the first image of our Signal blanket in the new Toast catalogue. Lovely wind-swept feel to the shoot.

Photo - Nicholas James Seaton
Toast - September Catalogue

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

Matthew Hilton - Horizon table

I was really delighted when Matthew Hilton asked to borrow a few more blankets and cushions for a shoot. The images are absolutely beautiful. I love the Horizon table with its beautiful brass legs.

Furniture and photos by Matthew Hilton

Monday, 15 July 2013

Bridget Macdonald

We are just back from a magical weekend away on the Isle of Wight. The sun was out and the sea was sparkling. It is a beautiful landscape - with lovely rolling downs and leafy lanes to cycle along.

We were partly there to go to the opening of an exhibition of our friend Bridget Macdonald. She is a supremely talented painter - her landscapes have such an extraordinary sense of place and atmosphere. The one above is 'Sheepwash Farm' on the Isle of Wight. She was driving past it one day and saw the smoke blowing across the farm from a fire in the yard. I love the movement and tension in it. 

I am also particularly fond of this one of the approach to the Malvern Hills where I spent my teenage years. The river Severn had broken its banks and flooded the water meadows. I love the line of tail lights along the horizon. 

Bridget grew up on the Isle of Wight and has lived for the last few years on the boarders of Herefordshire and Worcestershire. The show is a mix of paintings of these two landscapes.

Alongside the oils are a series of beautiful large scale charcoal drawings.

The exhibition is on until the end of August at Quay Arts in Newport on the Isle of Wight.

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Tools of the Trade (2) - posted by Eleanor

This is our umbrella swift. It is a beautiful wooden contraption that we use when we are winding washed hanks of yarn back onto cones. It has a very pleasing Heath Robinson feel - specially fixed onto one of our many little 'government surplus' step-stools.

The cone winder itself comes with it's own build in wire hank holders, but the circumference is too big for our hanks - like broad and narrow gauge tracks... We have left the wire winders on the machine though as they are so beautiful. They look like a mad machine for making coat hangers. 

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Tools of the Trade (1) - posted by Eleanor

We have just had an Open Studio this weekend. I have always loved seeing 'behind the scenes' in any creative space - all the materials and equipment and processes involved in designing and making anything. Visitors to our studios are equally fascinated by our 'kit' - the particular the peculiar.

This is our hank winder. We use it to wind yarn for the blanket stitching off the cones and into hanks for washing. I am particularly fond of the green hammerite finish and the little red metre clock.

Thursday, 13 June 2013

Green Tomato Chutney? - posted by Eleanor

One of the most lovely things about our studio is that it comes complete with a roof garden... Well when I say 'garden' I mean a flat roof full of cigarette buts and pigeon feathers... Last week though, in one of the brief windows of sun between the showers, Holly and I got down to work.

Here's Holly in Deptford market with our orange trolley, stacked high with lots of old tool boxes and metal trunks. When we got back to the studio, we found that the bright green trunk has a label in it which reads "Mrs Loomes of Beckingham" - how very apt.

I think we are probably a bit optimistic with all our tomato plants, 'specially with the summer we're having... it'll be green tomato chutney all round I think.

Thursday, 6 June 2013

Is it lunchtime yet? - posted by Eleanor

This is the view from our new studio - taken about five minutes ago. We look out over the rooftops and train lines and construction sites to Greenwich observatory on the far horizon. Just in between the observatory (the pale green dome) and the clock tower is the Greenwich time ball - marked here. I am afraid that my little phone camera does not really do it justice, but it is quite clearly visible to the eye. 

The time ball was first invented in 1829 by Robert Wauchope and this one was was installed in the Greenwich observatory in 1833 by Astronomer Royal John Pond. The time was set according to the positions of the sun and stars. Everyday just fractionally before 1pm the ball rises to the top of the column, and then drops at precisely 1pm allowing mariners were able to set their chronometers by the time ball.

Of course with the advent of Radio time signals the time ball is not so vital, but here in the studio it serves the all-important role of signalling lunch time.

The image above is from a lovely blog called A Following Sea - there is a posting about the last remaining time balls around the world.

Friday, 31 May 2013

Studio Photoshoot - posted by Holly

We have been busy working on our new website! After lots of deliberation and template layout designs, it is all coming together and we are extremely pleased with our forthcoming website. We had great fun on our recent photoshoot in our lovely new studio with Kangan Arora. Here are a few of our favourite studio images from the shoot!

Monday, 13 May 2013

1960 Rome Olympics

We are just back from a few days in Rome. The city is full of the most spectacular architecture - it is just mind-blowing looking at the Pantheon and the Colosseum. My most exciting discovery though was well off the tourist track. We were just on our way to the Maxxi when we stumbled across this extraordinary building. It is the basketball arena from the Rome Olympics in 1960. It has such a pleasing modern feel - beautiful shapes that really make you smile. Luckily we were there just as they were cutting the long grass and were able to pop our heads in. The interior is just as spectacular - a lovely honey coloured light and a roof that makes you feel as though you are in the centre of a sunflower. Bellissima!