Category Archives: Accessories/Jewellery/Bags

An Interview With Hill & Ellis

Encouraging people to get on their bikes, cycle bag brand Hill & Ellis have designed and manufactured a wide range of colourful and stylish cycle bags to keep your iPads, mobiles, paperwork, books, sandwiches etc safe whilst you are cycling to work, to a picnic or just cycling for pleasure. Although Tour de France in full swing, for those who prefer a more sedate cycling pace, I caught up with Catherine Ellis to find out more. Hi Catherine!

Hello. I am Catherine and I am the founder of Hill & Ellis, a cycle bag brand who manufacture stylish cycle bags and baskets. 

What inspired you to set up your brand, Hill & Ellis?

Cycling! I cycled to work every day as a TV producer but couldn’t find a bag that would fit to my bike but that wasn’t really ugly! After years of fruitless searching I decided to set about designing my own. I was stopped at traffic lights by cyclists asking where the sample bags were from, and I knew then I was onto something.

Your panniers are a modern-day twist on the classic school satchels, designed for bikes and ooze sophistication.  What was it about the classic school satchel that made you plump for that design for your bike? 

I’ve always loved the school satchel style, it’s quite classically British which also appealed, but I wanted to put our own twist on the design so that it was more original. We also have a range of other bags styles, including cotton tote panniers, scooter bags and wicker bicycle baskets.

The panniers come in a funky range of colours – I particularly like the yellow/grey combo. What colours/styles are proving popular so far?

The yellow grey is really popular and has been since we launched it as a limited edition 6 years ago. It was so popular it stayed! As well as the yellow, the burgundy, black and tan are our most popular and in our totes it’s the black and the leopard print. 

As you are based in England, are your products available to purchase internationally? 

Yes, we are based in England, we manufacture in London and Portugal and we ship internationally. 

When designing the panniers and deciding the colours, are you influenced by current trends, old favourites, customer requests, personal tastes or bits of all those?

A bit of all really. We don’t really feed into fashion fast trends as we aren’t a fast fashion brand, we want to make bags which can be used for years. But we do get inspired by prints and colours from trends.

 Can the panniers be personalised? 

All our leather bags can be personalised, as we have inhouse embossing. They look great with initials on, the perfect gift! 

Have you both always been into textiles or did your career aspirations lay elsewhere?

I have always loved textiles and I studied design at Central St Martins (a few years ago) which helped with the bag design and pattern cutting. Much of the inspiration comes from cycling, married with inspiration from prints, colours and classic designs. 

As a brand, Hill & Ellis, with every bag sold ensures that a tree is planted in its place.  Which other projects have you been passionate about so far? 

As well as planting a tree for every bag, we also carbon offset our workforce. As we have done this over the last year we have supported a range of projects.

We have also run various donation weeks  – where profits are given to charity and these donations have gone to FareShare – who support food banks and the Bicycle Charity who re-fit old bikes in the UK and send them to people that need bikes in parts of Africa.

What do you personally enjoy about cycling? 

The freedom. In the days when you went to the office you could pedal home and after just 20 minutes you would have left the day behind you and find yourself so much more relaxed. Even now, just going for a ride calms the mind. I also love the way it’s a really easy way to get some exercise into the day and you get to explore where you live. 

Personal now – what outfits and shoes would you normally be found wearing?

Often jeans or tea dresses. Always something that I can pedal in. I have learnt from experience to test the outfit before getting on the bike. 

Boots or Shoes?

Shoes, mainly because I have many more of them to choose from. Boots in Winter, though.

Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook/twitter etc so that readers can find out more about Hill & Ellis

For Pinning Later

www.hillandellis.com

I/T/P: @hillandellis

F: @hillellis

Thank you very much Catherine for chatting with me about your gorgeous cycle bags.

All photographs have been published with kind permission of Catherine Ellis

Linda x

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An Interview With Driftwood Designs

Inspired by Wales – its beautiful scenery, language and culture – my guest this week is Lizzie Spikes, artist and illustrator based in Aberystwyth in West Wales. Lizzie founded her company, Driftwood Designs, in 2005, which she runs along with her friend Becky who apparently has a passion for spreadsheets! I caught up with Lizzie to find out more… Hi Lizzie!


Hi! My name is Lizzie Spikes and I’m the arty part of the partnership that runs Driftwood Designs.  I live and work on the West coast of Wales, near Aberystwyth, in a cave-like Welsh cottage with my two sons, our two hounds, two cats and our mildly grumpy goat.

What inspired you to set up “Driftwood Designs” ?

Becky Barratt and I have known each other since school,and we found ourselves as new mothers with complementary skills and the need to make a living around our children.  Driftwood Designs was conceived and created at Becky’s kitchen table with a handful of cards and a couple of poster prints run off for us by the friendly printer up the road.

I am always curious to know the origins of brand names, so why did you choose “Driftwood Designs”? Did you consider other names?

I came up with Driftwood Designs as a company name.  It was my second choice – I had my heart set on Flotsam and Jetsam Designs but it wasn’t available as a domain name and with hindsight would have been a bit of a mouthful.  Driftwood Designs was next on my list and it’s served us well.

You have a lovely wide range of illustrated products including posters, greeting cards, lampshades, cushions, tea towels, mugs and so on. What products and designs are proving popular amongst your customers so far?

Our cards are still our biggest seller and the pandemic has definitely increased sales as people strive to keep in touch.  Alongside this Becky and I both love the product development aspect of our work and like to dream up new designs and creations – hence the ever-increasing array of designs.  We try to put our imagery onto homewares that are both practical and beautiful.  

I particularly like the Colonnog Hearty design in the velvet cushion and tea towel.  Do you have a particular favourite design? 

I also love the hearty designs and now that we’ve found a British company who can make our textile products as bright and beautiful as we want them to be I would like to make more! Our china mugs bring me joy every day and I love my ‘Seasons’ lampshade.


As you are based in Wales, are your products available to purchase overseas? 

We’re happy to send things overseas and our website is fully stocked with our many products.

What inspires your illustrations? Do you go out with an idea to look for something specific to draw? Do you draw in situ or do you take photos and illustrate from there? 

I find lots of things inspiring – nature, the changing seasons, quotes I hear or read, places and people. And I’m lucky that our customers send me ideas and things they think I’ll like.  I always have a working notebook on the go which is full of scrawls of the things I don’t want to forget.


I hear that you like to work with pieces of flotsam and jetsam driftwood that you collect from your walks on your local pebbly beaches. What was the hardest or most unusual piece of artwork you’ve created so far out of driftwood?  Favourite piece?  

I like Driftwood as a canvas – the pieces that wash up have always had a previous use and a history that makes them inspiring.  My favourite piece of driftwood treasure thus far is a wooden guitar that I found on a local beach one rainy April which I turned into a scene.

Have you always wanted to be an artist/illustrator or did your career aspirations lay elsewhere?

I have always painted and drawn and it feels wrong to go a day without doing so.  I studied Drama and Fine Art at university – I specialised in sceneography and costume design because it was another way in which to interpret, illustrate and communicate literature.  One day I’d like to revisit set design but for now I’m happy to illustrate things on my kitchen table on a smaller scale!

When you are not illustrating, what do you enjoy doing in your spare time? 

In my spare time I can be found out walking with my hounds and a flask of coffee or in the sea – swimming or trying to master standing up on my surfboard.  I like to be outside in all weathers.  I also like cooking, and eating, and my perfect weekend would be a hike somewhere new with good friends followed by a big meal, a glass of red wine and a warm fire.

Personal now – what outfits and shoes would you normally be found wearing?

I love clothes and have frocks in all colours, shapes and sizes but mostly end up wearing paint splattered jeans which are worn on the knees, jumpers and wellies!  On the days when I wash the paint off and head into town for work or meetings I like to wear less practical attire and can even be found in heels.

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites? 

My favourite online shops are a local coffee vendor called Teifi Coffee who delivers my favourite brew, an art materials supplier, ebay for new and old dresses and I hate trailing around supermarkets so I try to buy most of my groceries online too.  The boys and I get the occasional Gousto food box delivered – it means that we try different things and the boys are getting adept at cooking by following the instructions so it counts as a home schooling task.  Locally we’re very lucky to have some wonderful independent shops and if you ever venture to Aberystwyth, Medina is definitely worth a visit for food and supplies.

What’s next on your clothes/shoe wish list?

I definitely, absolutely need a new pair of Saltwater Sandals.  I had a gold  pair for years and they finally gave up at the end of last summer.

Boots or Shoes? 

I wear boots in winter and sandals in summer… I rarely wear shoes and have never really considered why not- they were a part of school uniform that I was happy to leave behind.

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Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook/twitter etc so that readers can find out more about Driftwood Designs

We can be found on the web at www.driftwooddesigns.co.uk or on Facebook as Lizziespikes-DriftwoodDesigns and Instagram as @drifteddesigns or in real life we have a shiny new shop on Pier Street in Aberystwyth and in Castle Arcade in Cardiff.  

Absolutely beautiful prints and illustrations, Lizzie, they definitely conjure up the spirit of Wales!

Linda x

All photographs have been published with kind permission of Lizzie Spikes/ Driftwood Designs

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An Interview With Luxe 39

Luxury with a capital “L” this week as we delve into the world of gorgeous, touchy- feely, colourful velvet bespoke cushions! My guest this evening is Helen, founder of Luxe 39, who makes to order these delightful cushions and she has an amazing array of over 100 colour options! Hi Helen …

Hello. My name is Helen Gilbert.  I’m a 40 something mum of 2 boys living in Clapham, London.

What inspired you to set up your brand “Luxe 39”?

In 2017 I was working in marketing recruitment in the city and was struggling to balance home life and work, especially in school holidays. At the same time we were at the tail end of a house renovation, finally at the interior decorating phase, and I couldn’t find velvet cushions of the quality I wanted.  I decided to dig out my sewing machine and make cushions for myself and started to mix various velvet colours together to make double colour cushions.  When friends saw these dual cushions they asked if I could make some for them and the idea just came together that I could work for myself and set up a luxury velvet cushion company.

I’m interested in the origins of brand names – so what does “Luxe 39” stand for?

The name ‘Luxe 39’ took a bit of thinking.  I wanted a name with a matching domain which was tricky as by 2018 so many domain names were already taken so I came up with the idea of adding a number into the brand name and as we live at number 39 that was set.  I played with brand names which included the word ‘cushion’ but worried that would limit the company in the future.  I arrived at ‘Luxe’ for it’s double meaning. Obviously it refers to the luxury nature of the velvet fabric we use in all our cushions, but it also is a play on ‘Lux’ which is the measurement of illumination and references the way cotton velvet bounces light, making the colours appear really vibrant.  And so luxe39.com was born.


With 9 cushion size options, square and rectangle, over 100 colour options, plus cushion covers and draught excluders – there is such a variety to satisfy almost every house decor! Which colourways seem to be the most popular this year?

I keep a tally of the most popular colours and it is interesting to see the gradual shifts of popularity over the years. This year Mustard Yellow is rising in popularity.  It is a gorgeous bright yellow and very like Pantone’s colour of the year, ‘Illuminating’. The single colour which defies fashion and remains most popular is Burnt Orange and the double colour cushion which sells the best is the really colourful combination of Burnt Orange with Bright Pink. 

Velvet cushions are so luxurious and sumptuous! what do you like most about working with velvet?

I love the depth and richness of colours you get with velvet.  Even neutral shades are truly beautiful in this fabric and that makes it great to work with.  It took a bit of trial and error to successfully sew velvet as it ‘creeps’ when you sew two pieces together, but I’ve had quite a bit of practice now and have it mastered.


Caring for velvet cushions – what are your recommendations on keeping them pristine?

The velvet used in all our cushions is 100% cotton pile and it is actually easy to care for.  Cushions need plumping every few days and this effectively keeps the dust off them. Try to avoid dropping food or drink on them as they can’t be machine washed, but if spills do occur then we recommend blotting with a lint free cloth.  We don’t recommend rubbing velvet as you risk flattening the pile which is the unique thing about the fabric.  Velvet can be dry cleaned if all else fails.

As you are based in the UK, are your products available to purchase overseas?

Our products can be sent anywhere in the world and we’ve shipped as far as Australia.  We used to sell a reasonable number of cushions to European customers but that has noticeably dropped away since Brexit as the cost of shipping has at least doubled and I think customers are wary of the risks of buying from the UK at the moment.

How long on average does it take to make a cushion from scratch?

There a a few stages to making a cushion and all are relatively time consuming. First you need to cut the fabric precisely. Next you need to finish the raw edges before carefully sewing in the zip (which can be made a feature of with our option of a contrasting zip colour).  The sides then need sewing and pressing to ensure the seams are crisp. We overstuff all of our cushions with larger cushion pads to ensure they stay plump so they have to be carefully inserted, and then we take a lot of care to package the cushions to make sure they arrive looking like a gift – so start to finish on each cushion takes longer than you would think.

Have you had any unusual or extravagant or different colourway cushion requests?

I started the website with the colourways which I thought would go together but a lot of the options now online came about through customer requests, and some of these have become my favourites.  Mustard and Bright Pink was requested by a customer and I really wasn’t sure of the combo, but when I made it I realised it was utterly stunning and it is now a popular choice online.  Also, simple colour combos came about from customer requests such as the two tone options of Silver with Dark Grey, or Navy with Royal Blue. When the orders were made I thought they may be a little boring but they are really stunning in their simplicity.

A percentage of profits from the business are donated to mental health charities – why is it important to you to support these charities?

I worry that mental health provision in this country has been neglected and underfunded for a really prolonged period and was already at breaking point even before Covid. Having grown up with a parent with mental health problems I know how essential it that support is there at the time it’s needed so that’s why it’s important to me to support mental health charities.

Growing up, did you always want to have a career in textiles or did your career aspirations lie elsewhere?

My previous career wasn’t in either textiles or interiors, but actually the skills I gained in marketing recruitment have been surprisingly transferrable.  Business development skills are useful in most jobs, and the understanding I gained of digital marketing has been incredibly useful in setting up an online


Personal now – what outfits and shoes would you normally be found wearing?

I work from home (before it was the thing everyone did) so I live most of my life in jeans.  I have a favourite pair of Paige jeans which I bought 10 years ago as a treat after losing my baby weight.  They no longer make the exact style so I buy replacements second hand on ebay with varying luck. You just have to hope that the jeans haven’t been shrunk in the tumble drier at any point, or altered over the years.

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites?

I love clothes from COS as they take classic styles and add a slight twist.  I don’t find that patterns suit me but COS do some beautiful colours which mix and match really well.  Now I think about it, I dress a lot like my cushions, either wearing a single colour or colour blocking two contrasting colours.

What’s next on your clothes/shoes wishlist?

I fancy treating myself to a ‘Me & Em’ dress once we can go out again as they’re expensive but are cut and sewn really well.  Again they are quite classic but often with a twist like a grosgrain stripe sewn into the side seem. As a seamstress I appreciate the construction, but I really haven’t got time to make clothes for myself.

Boots or Shoes?

It’s trainers and sandals for me as I like the laid back vibe and comfort of both.  I like wearing quite tailored clothes and relaxing the look with my footwear as I hate feeling too ‘dressed’.

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Links you would like to share:

We have accounts on both instagram & facebook @luxe39london.  
Website: https://luxe39.com

Hmmm … dear reader, spoilt for choice when it comes to colours …. what would you choose? !

Linda x

All photographs have been published with kind permission of Luxe 39/ Helen Gilbert

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An Interview With Cup Of Daisies

Like a breath of fresh air, Cup Of Daisies, is a small Welsh fashion label that design scarves inspired by the work of the charities they support and by selling the scarves they look to raise funds to support those charities. I caught up with Oana to find out more ….Hi Oana!


Hi , I am Oana Balan, the designer of Cup of Daisies. I am working in developing the project part-time. 

What inspired the setting up of  “Cup Of Daisies”? 

There were various sources of inspiration but none fashionable. I was mostly looking at cups of tea ,  camomile tea  and different meanings in different societies. I have a Christian background , so I love the biblical story where Jesus is offering water to a Samaritan woman at a well, speaking about the idea of living forever. So the concept Cup of Daisies had to embrace  the idea of wellness, life and help. It had to bring together the essence and the values of what the brand would support.

I’m interested in the origins of brand names – so why “Cup Of Daisies”?  Were there other names you considered?

I considered my name for a while as in Oana Balan and  Cup of Daisies scarves. 

I particularly like the “Bird Song” scarf. What scarves are most popular amongst your customers?

The best seller is the “Blue Pineapples “ scarf , supporting Save the Children.

Out of all your collection, do you have any favourites?

I like the scarf “Lady Red” supporting Tenovus . 


As you are based in the UK, are your products available to purchase overseas?

Yes, the products are available to customers abroad as we have received orders from North America and Spain.

When designing the scarves to add to your collections, do you take into account your own tastes, the charities, your customer base, requests, traditional styles, current trends, or bits of all those?

I want to create a pattern which tells the story of the charities we support , transmitting the message farther. Also needs to be in fashion with current trends.

How long on average does it take to make a scarf from scratch?

It mostly depends on the quantity and the type of production. For this collection 300 scarves took 6 weeks , including screen printing and hand rolled hem.

Which charities do “Cup Of Daisies” support? Why were those particular charities chosen? 

I wanted to gather most of the basic needs of a human being such as shelter, hunger and treatments. Those are the charities I support.

If you could go anywhere in the world for inspiration to create a new collection, where would you go and why?

I would possibly go to an exotic beach in Thailand to do snorkelling, to have the chance to observe the nature underwater.

Growing up, did you always want to be a fashion designer or did your career aspirations lie elsewhere?

I always wanted to be a fashion designer, but the fashion industry is quite competitive, and I struggled in gaining experience in established fashion houses. So I wanted to have my say about the fashion industry and to create my own products.

Personal now – what outfits and shoes would you normally be found wearing?

I would wear a pair of ankle boots from Clarks and possibly a very minimal look, just a top and a pair of trousers  from Uniqlo . 

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites?

I buy from Uniqlo and Zara, I identify myself with their styles and trends.

What’s next on your clothes/shoe wish list?

Dr Martens Gladiator sandals are a want on the wish list! 

Boots or Shoes?

Boots are more practical specially with the weather in Wales.

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Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook/twitter etc so that readers can find out more about Cup Of Daisies

http://cupofdaisiesstyles.blogspot.com
http://cupofdaisies.co.uk
@cupofdaisiesstyle – IG

Great to chat to you Oana! Love the scarves and your charitable aims!

Linda x

All photographs have been published with kind permission of Oana Balan/ Cup Of Daisies.

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An Interview With gtGDollwear

As a young girl I loved playing with my Barbies and Sindy Dolls – my father made suitcases for a living and had made me a vanity case which I filled with dolls clothes. I was never interested in the bigger baby dolls. Maybe it was the fashions that attracted me, I don’t know. My love of dolls hasn’t faded – and it was with great excitement that I was able to interview the delightful Dasha who, in my eyes has a dream job, as a fashion designer designing luxury doll clothing. Hi Dasha!

Hi, I am Dasha. And I think I have a dream job – I am a fashion designer and a founder of luxury doll clothing brand gtGdollwear – so effectively I spend all my time living my childhood dream – playing with the dolls 😊

What inspired the setting up of your luxury brand “gtGdollwear”?

I have been working in the City for a number of years, but I always felt I was missing something. At some point I started to feel that I needed to find my true calling. It was a long journey….

Through hours of Bible reading, repentance and spending time with God, I knew I would be able to discover my true calling, my talents – my “wells” in the desert of life, which would give me freedom, wealth and independence. 

I was particularly touched by the story of Abraham in Genesis: the wells he dug in the desert were a real blessing for him, but they were filled with earth by Philistines and his son Isaac had to work hard to clear them. This is a perfect analogy with our human life: we are born with talents, but sin made us bury our talents. We are afraid to acknowledge that there is a perfect plan for our life in Jesus. Instead we are giving the devil the ground that belongs to us.

One day I took my seven-year-old son to a birthday party for one of my friend’s daughters. There were Barbie dolls everywhere! The minute I saw a big box of barbies, I realised my prayers were answered as I remembered how much I enjoyed making dresses for dolls.

I’m interested in the origins of brand names – so what does GTG stand for?

Can you guess now? It means Glory to God. I am ever so grateful to Him for saving me!

As a young girl I had many Barbie/Sindy dolls and cases full of dolls clothes and accessories – my love of dolls hasn’t wained , I realised that fact whilst looking at the range of doll clothing on your website.  I love every set in your collection and the miniature bags are just adorable. What sets are most popular amongst your customers?

Thank you! You might be surprised to know that my customers are adult doll collectors. And they love everything! They love to see new things coming in my online store. I recently launched a sleepwear – tiny cute satin and lace pyjamas and nighties, with eye masks and gowns and those were sold out so quickly. I have none left in pink! I guess in lockdown loads of doll collectors are living their life through dolls and pyjamas are a big hit!

Out of all your collection, do you have any favourites?

My favourite is Chanel inspired suit made of boucle fabric which is very challenging to work with as it frays into ribbons when cut. But the finished outfit was fabulous. As a general rule of thumb – the harder it is – the more satisfaction I get from the final result. The details that go into creating my outfits are insane, everything is so miniature!


As you are based in London, are your products available to purchase overseas? 

Yes, I am based in South London, but gtGdollwear is an online destination that serves clients worldwide. I love to look at the map to track the geography of my clients – Hawaii, Australia, Japan, Europe. It’s mind blowing to realise that there are so many places I have never visited but my designs made their way to those destinations.

When designing dolls wear  to add to your collections, do you take into account your own tastes, your customer base, requests, traditional styles, current trends, runway items or bits of all those?

It’s a bit of all those but most of all is what I would wear myself. So, I am not surprise when 90% of my clients keep saying to me: “I’d wear that!”. And of course I am very tuned into my customers feedback, I just want to solve their doll wardrobe dilemmas!

How long on average does it take to make a set from scratch?

It depends on a number of items in the set, but on average about a week as I do like to take my time. In my previous job in the City I used to work to very tight deadlines, so I just feel so blessed being able to set my pace now. My moto is “luxury in every stitch” and I take time to deliver that to my customers.

Do you take on bespoke requests?  If so, what was the most unusual or extravagant request? 

No, you see I am not a seamstress, so I would be unable to work on a request basis. When I design I rarely know what would be the final result, I make decisions along the way – my friends call me “a raw talent” 😀 So my customers are only those who love my creations!

If you could go anywhere in the world for inspiration to create a new collection, where would you go and why?

I’d go back to Paris to see my family but this time I would just sit in the café in the street and watch Parisians walking by (preferably without their face masks).

Growing up, did you always want to be a fashion designer or did your career aspirations lie elsewhere?

When I was a little girl, my friends played with their dolls – but I much preferred making clothes for my dolls. However, for some reason I thought that you need to be an artist to be able to draw your designs on paper – a huge misconception! My parents encouraged me to find a career that was more practical. I have two degrees, one Master of Arts but I somehow managed to work in finance for the majority of my career, which was a great experience that helps me with my business now.

Personal now – what outfits and shoes would you normally be found wearing?

Ha ha – now when we are restricted by lockdown it is mostly UGG slippers 😊I am a jeans and trainers girl – a comfy pair of skinny GAP jeans and my favourite Armani trainers is all I need to get me out of the house!

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites? (Apart from your own!) 

Yeah, I wish someone could make a human size of gtGdollwear

What’s next on your clothes/shoe wish list?

Oh, I have accumulated so much that my next thing on the to do list is actually to get rid of some stuff!

Boots or Shoes? 

 Trainers!

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Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook/twitter etc so that readers can find out more about gtGdollwear

Instagram and facebook @gtGdollwear

Website: http://www.gtGdollwear.com

Are not the mini fashions simply gorgeous? Thank you Dasha for letting me see a glimpse of your dream job !

Linda x

All photographs have been published with kind permission of gtGdollwear.

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Review: Lovelox Locket

Personalised lockets are fantastic gifts to give your loved one as a Valentines gift but why stop there? They make fantastic gifts for Mother’s Day, Birthdays, Anniversaries, Baby Showers, Just Because…. how about a locket that is not only engraved but contains photographs inside? Whose photos do you include – your significant other, your parents, your grandparents, loved ones who are no longer alive, your children, your pets? That was the dilemma I had when I was lucky enough to receive a locket to review. I settled on some lovey dovey photos of my husband and I taken a couple of years ago on holiday in Cape Verde. Whatever the occasion for the gift, quality is important and doubly important when you are ordering online. So here’s my review and thoughts about Lovelox lockets:

Disclosure: I was gifted the “Lovelox Locket ” in exchange for an honest review; all opinions expressed are entirely my own.


SO WHO ARE LOVELOX?

LOVELOX is a British jewellery brand specialising in personalised lockets made by hand from precious metals and natural diamonds. LOVELOX London was established in 2021 by James Bishton, but the family business has been in the jewellery sector since the 1880s. LOVELOX has a simple mission – to create treasured keepsakes to celebrate meaningful moments in your life. A bespoke locket from LOVELOX certainly does that – each beautiful locket is engraved, assembled by hand and packed in the UK.

THE WEBSITE

www.loveloxlockets.com

The website displays some beautiful lockets of various styles that it is really hard to choose. Once you have picked a locket, it is really simple to add the personalisation and photographs – the step by step guide is easy to follow. Adding photographs is optional. Using the photo guide you can position your chosen photos. LOVELOX have a lab quality printer and they use professional grade glossy paper which are instrumental in picking up every pixel in your photos to produce a crisp image every time. Each photo is carefully cut out and inserted in the locket casing by hand. It is hard to envisage what the photos would look like in miniature form. One word of warning though: pick photos that are bright, good quality and are not too “fussy”. The photographs I chose were of my husband and I stealing a kiss at sunset on a glorious African beach…. they came out a bit underexposed for my liking. It is still nice to have them in my locket though!

THE LOCKET

The locket I chose was the Heart Personalised Silver Locket, which is a solid 925 sterling silver heart shaped locket on a very thin adjustable solid silver chain, 16”- 18” length..The locket itself is 18mm wide and 18mm high . I had the locket personalised with my name in an italic script but there were other options available eg initials, short message etc. I was very impressed with the engraving, and the locket overall. I picked the 16-18” length although there was a longer option available.

PACKING & DELIVERY

The locket was beautifully packaged in a luxury gift box enclosed in a sturdy cardboard box in a chic white/black colouring. Just the ticket for a truly perfect gift – it just oozes quality. Delivery in the UK is fairly quick – within 2 working days available – although the standard delivery time is 3 -5 days. LOVELOX uses the DPD Next Day Courier Service for the majority of the UK apart from the Scottish Highlands, Scottish Islands, Channel Islands and Northern Ireland where the Royal Mail 1st Class Parcel Signed Off service is used instead.

MY VERDICT

This is a really beautiful locket. The engraving is excellent and the photograph idea is lovely – just make sure the photographs are bright and as clear as possible! Perhaps the website should alert customers if the photos are too dark or too bright at the scanning in stage? Having said that, the enjoyment of my necklace wasn’t dampened by it – the photos are great memories of a fun time. 8/10

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My thanks goes to Lovelox for gifting the beautiful locket for this review.  

Linda x

All photographs are copyright © Linda Hobden 

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An Interview With Factory Floor Jewels

An unusual obsession with factories led my guest, Kate Stewart (founder, designer & maker of Factory Floor Jewels) to establish her funky jewellery brand using many repurposed objects that can be found on the floors of trade suppliers, manufacturers, instrument technicians! I chat to Kate to find out more…. Hi Kate!

Hi I’m Kate and I’m the designer maker behind the Factory Floor Jewels brand.  I’m 54 and I live in Liverpool with my husband Steve and we look after my 90 year old mum and her friend.  I have a grown up son who is a musician, sound engineer and carpenter.  Just before Christmas we adopted Ella an 8 year old greyhound, after losing our beloved Ruby in November.

My part-time day job is as CEO of a social enterprise in Liverpool and as I have an autoimmune disease which needs regular treatment I’m classed as clinically vulnerable so I’ve been working from home since March 2020.  Thankfully I had already set up my jewellery studio in a spare room at home, although I do also have a shared space in town and I have been sneaking in very early on Saturday mornings recently whilst no one else is in.


What inspired the setting up of “Factory Floor Jewels”?

Friends and family would probably tell you I have always been creative, although I haven’talways found it a comfortable label to accept.   I guess I’ve always been quite a distinctive dresser, I was a rockabilly in the 80’s and lots of people would now describe me as having a punk aesthetic.  If I had the money I’d wear Vivienne Westward all the time, so I guess I have always had an interest in putting looks together and accessories are part of that. 

I have always been fascinated with metal and industrial shapes and buildings.  I went to a girls grammar school and I wanted to do technical drawing, but they didn’t offer it.  I suggested they let me go next door to the boys grammar to do tech drawing but they didn’t like that idea!  So I just used to take in parts of cars to draw in art. 

I often say if I’d had a different education I would probably have been an architect. I actually went to work in the theatre straight from school and then in 1998 I formed an interior design practice with my husband.  

My Dad was a packaging engineer and was very proud of his tools – many he had made himself.  As a child I often went into the factory with him on a Saturday morning and his drawing office was above the factory floor with huge windows looking out on it.  I was fascinated!  

Running an interiors company, we would often go and visit manufacturers and whilst colleagues were fawning over the latest chair or desk design in the 1st floor showrooms I was looking out of those windows onto the factory floor, watching the machines, and looking at the materials used. 

When I set up Factory Floor Jewels in 2014 as a small craft business it was my way of experimenting with the materials and waste that is used in the worlds of engineering and the port in my home city of Liverpool. 

Now that I’ve established the brand and I sell to a number of retailers and galleries I am making less one-off pieces and some of the ranges still have reclaimed materials but others were inspired by found items to begin with are now made with new industrial components.

I love the mix of materials I work with such as copper, silver, steel and aluminium.

I’m really passionate about independent retail and I get such a buzz from working with my stockists to help promote both our businesses.

Specialising in jewellery crafted from objects found on the floors of factories – I have since found myself looking more closely at the warehouse floors I visit on a daily basis when I am wearing my retail merchandiser hat! I do love the tactile feel of your jewellery -especially the Brass & Steel Necklace and the Art Deco Statement Neckcuff. What items are proving popular amongst your customers so far this season?

Well you have excellent taste!  The Brass & Steel ‘Nuts’ Necklace is one of my most popular items when people are buying a gift.  I always comment how it works with everyone’s skin and hair tones and is a really easy one to wear. 

The Art Deco one is more my kind of piece – I love to wear bigger pieces. 

One of my most consistent best sellers is the Swarf range which uses brass scraps that are discarded by the milling machines in many metal workshops.  I personally have never wornanything with gold tones, but even I love this mix of the silver and brass and how big and sparkly the adjustable ring is.   This range was stocked by Tate Modern and Tate Britain last year and was one of their fastest selling ranges. 

It inspired me to develop a similar range recently when I discovered a new material to work with – bronze filings which are actually scrap from a foundry that makes huge piece of public art for cities all over the world.   I’m using sterling silver for this collection as I feel some customers prefer this.  

I recognise that some people are more price driven and others are less so, so I’m trying to offer items for both markets, although I am moving more towards sterling silver for earrings in my new collections and trying to keep the prices competitive.  I have a new range using aluminium pieces and the hoop earrings are sterling silver and the pendant is steel. 

Out of all your collection, do you have any favourites?

I guess there’s two questions there – I love making the Swarf range, but I am really enjoying wearing the new pieces with Aluminium tube.  


As you are based in the UK, are your products available to purchase overseas? 

I don’t currently have any overseas retailers but it’s possible to buy from my website from most countries. 

I’d love to find some retailers in other countries though.

When designing jewellery to add to your collection, do you take into account your own tastes, your customer base, requests, traditional pieces, what you have salvaged  orbits of all those?

Oh, it’s definitely a mix of all of those yes, but the first thing is the materials and components.  I always consider what is emerging from my bench in the context of my customers, the price point I need to reach for them, the season and also sometimes what I have seen on the catwalk.  I guess it must also be influenced by my own taste, however this is more likely around the materials and sometimes the challenge of new processes; I have made really popular pieces that I wouldn’t wear because they don’t suit my style.   I also consider how it sits with other items in my collection

I’m not interested in fast fashion and I think my pieces are quite timeless, but I do tend to look at a couple of brands that I feel my customers shop at for their clothing.

Your collections encompass ready to wear pieces, couture pieces, limited editions and one-offs; what was the hardest to make or most unusual request you have had? 

I think the hardest to make pieces come from my head…… I have a collection called ‘swept’ which has been ‘on the bench’ for a while now.  I was given some skeins of bristles from a brush factory that closed.  I knew instantly what I wanted to make, but I wasn’t sure how to.  I set myself quite a challenge there!  I’ve made some prototypes and love them, but currently they are too complex to replicate in any volume.  They will need some refining to get there…… maybe 2021 is the year of Swept!

I’ve recently worked on a commission for two sisters who’s father is an engineer – they’d seen my Swarf range in a local shop and it made them reminisce about their Dad always treading swarf into the house.  He’s 90 and still working as an engineer in his home workshop, using a variety of different metals.  Swarf comes in all sorts of colours and shapes, depending on the metal and the process it has been part of.  Heat changes the colours of the original metal, it’s all about chemistry.  I’m making a couple of pieces for each of them and we are playing with the textures and materials, it’s great fun!

As I’ve focused on producing collections that appeal to the retail market in the last few years, I have recently begun to miss creating one off pieces.  I’ve come up with a plan which I’m going to launch in February – I’ll be releasing a number of one offs or limited editions and won’t be selling them wholesale.  So to buy you will need to join the Factory Floor Jewels VIP Club (www.factoryfloorjewels.com/subscribe) to get 48 hours exclusive access each month . Follow me on Instagram (www.instagram.com/factoryfloorjewels) for more info.  I’m really excited to see people’s reactions.

A couple of hypothetical questions now!  Firstly, if you could go anywhere in the world for inspiration to create a new collection, where would you go and why?

I’m so blessed to have travelled a lot in the last 6 years with my day job and I’m constantly taking inspiration from the places and the industry I see.   I guess one place still on the list is Detroit, and New York is always such a rich place of inspiration. 

Secondly, which famous lady would you pick to be the “Face” Of Factory Floor Jewels and why?

I think that Judi Dench looks astonishing and has such a sense of style.  I’d love to see her wearing my pieces. 

Growing up, did you always want to be a designer/creative field or did your aspirations lie elsewhere?

I realised in hindsight that I would have loved to have been an architect!  As a kid I wanted to be a vet (same length of training for both of those) but in reality I ran away and joined the theatre at 17

Personal now – what outfits and shoes would you normally be found wearing?

Black leggings about 90% of the year – black cycling shorts in the summer 

And although I do wear a lot of black, I have started to wear grey more in recent years and I’ve often got an accent of something bright, like a turquoise cardi 

I’ve become more confident in my clothes in recent years.  I think that’s probably quite common for women.  I was very ‘out there’ in my clothing in my teens and twenty’s then motherhood affect my body and my self image.  I would say in the last 10 years or so I’vebecome more comfortable with understanding what works and what doesn’t for me. 

Everyone is constantly astonished at my age and I think that’s significantly down to how I dress – and my quite distinctive haircut. (I have shaved the sides of my head and have a flat-top, which pre lockdown used to change colour from scarlet to bleached blonde to turquoise.  Now it’s just dark brown and grey.  I can’t wait to be all grey tbh).

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites? (Apart from your own!)

Well clothing wise, I’ve got very good at Ebay for brands I know work for me, like Vivienne Westward, Bench, Cos, All Saints and Lurdes Bergada.

I’m a big shop local or shop handmade girl and I’d much rather pay for something unique and quality than mass produced. As an example I bought a purse off Camille at Dasprez and loved the material and workmanship so much I asked her to make a pencil case and since then have commissioned a bag from her too.  I had a bag I loved the shape and colour of but it was high street and so badly made.  I knew that someone with skill could make it so much better and it will last forever. 

I’m also a little obsessed with clothes for Greyhounds!  They don’t really have much fur or fat and so they really feel the cold.  Our last girl Ruby couldn’t sleep through the night October to May without PJs on.  And she did wear clothes really well!  Again, these tended to be from artisan makers rather than pet shops.   We adopted our current greyhound Ella just before Christmas and  I’ve already bought her a new waterproof and even though we were told she didn’t really need indoor clothes, she did keep waking up in the middle of the night so we put a jumper on her for bedtime.

What’s next on your clothes/shoe wish list?

I’ve got my eye on a pair of Lurdes Bergada trousers, I think their shapes are very flattering and I  have an ebay alert on for my next Vivienne Westwood piece!

Boots or Shoes? 

Easy one for me – I’m a boot wearer for LOTS of the year!  Although I adore shoes.  I really love Clarks and at the complete opposite end of the spectrum I have a slight addiction to United Nude.

For Pinning Later



Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook/twitter etc so that readers can find out more about Factory Floor Jewels 

www.factoryfloorjewels.com

www.instagram.com/factoryfloorjewels

Subscribe to my newsletter to join the VIP Club and get discounts and early bird shopping on new pieces at www.factoryfloorjewels.com/subscribe

Fabulous chatting to you Kate and I think your designs are fabulous!

Linda x


All photographs have been published with kind permission of Kate Stewart.

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Review: Engravers Guild

DISCLAIMER ALERT: The Dents Leather Card Holder has been supplied and personalised by Engravers Guild for the purpose of this review however all opinions expressed are 100% mine.

What can be nicer than a personalised gift of quality to give to your loved one at Christmas, Birthday, Anniversary, Valentines or just simply to say, “For You, with love”? Engravers Guild have a fine range of gifts that all benefit from bespoke personalisation and I was delighted to review their gifts and personalisation skills.

THE BRAND

Engravers Guild specialises in beautiful personalised gifts for both men and women, including watches, bracelets and wallets. It is a family business that can trace its heritage back to 1887, in Birmingham’s historic jewellery quarter. Today the company specialises in bespoke embossing – for the leather wallets, for example, they use only brass lettersets to create a crisp impression, giving the customer the option of infilling initials with gold foil, silver foil or blind. We found the embossing to be very neat and exactly what we wanted.

THE PRODUCT

The Engravers Guild website was very nice, clean and well ordered with a plethora of gifts on offer to cater for everybody’s whim. For this review, my husband chose the Dents Leather Card Holder in tan. The wallet was manufactured by Dents, suppliers to HRH the Prince of Wales … and Dents products have also been used by James Bond too! Dents were founded in England in 1777 and are well known for their leather products, notably gloves and wallets. Adam chose to have the wallet personalised in a “blind embossed” style, serif font. It was so, so simple to order the bespoke embossing – you could pick up to 4 initials; a choice of gold, silver or blind embossment; and two font choices. You are able to preview your embossment before making your final decision.

The card holder itself simply oozes luxury but in an understated way that screams per class. A simple design in the finest leather, featuring 7 credit card pockets and a middle section for notes with a grosgrain lining. The holder measures 8cm by 10cm and is perfectly functional. The embossing was extremely neat and exactly what Adam had required. The presentation box was a classy touch too.



THE COST & AVAILABILITY

The Dents Leather Card Holder costs £29.95 which includes bespoke personalisation and presentation box. The card holder is available in tan, black, brown & blue. UK delivery: standard delivery is 3 – 5 days; with next day and 2 day delivery services available too. Unfortunately during the COVID-19 pandemic, international delivery has been temporarily stopped.

For more information: https://www.engraversguild.co.uk

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Thank you to Engravers Guild for allowing me the chance to review the holder – very impressed.

Linda x

All photographs are by Linda Hobden



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An Interview With Kate Guy

What do you get if you mix your love of food with your love of graphic design & printing? You get a range of exquisite printed tea towels & tote bags illustrated with the most scrumptious regional recipes, courtesy of print maker Kate Guy. Kate’s work is mostly inspired by her love of food and cooking. Without further ado, let’s meet Kate – Hi Kate!

Hello! My name is Kate Guy, I’m a printmaker who loves to cook. I live and work in London, but I am also very lucky to have one foot in the South of France, spending part of every year there. Both countries, cuisines, arts and cultures have influenced me in my work.

My background is graphic design but over the years I have also worked in animation, film, illustration and for 12 years I was head of Art and Design in a large secondary school in North London. These days I seem to have become a product designer, but my real love is printmaking.

What inspired you to create your range of illustrated tea towels and other homewares based on regional recipes?

My very first design came from a piece I made back in 1994 of fish etched into blue glass. This was my first foray into product design when I had it printed on a tea towel in 2012 (There is a story behind this which is on my 3 Fish Tea Towel). 

My second design and still one of my most popular was a print I made of a friend’s kitchen in the South of France ‘Rebecca’s Cupboard’. What I wanted to do then was somehow combine the two – fish and kitchens… this led me to thinking about illustrating recipes and I had my ‘eureka moment’. I came up with the idea that I could create a whole store cupboard of individual ingredients prints which could be combined into different recipes. I was in France at the time and so this led to my French themed ‘Simple Soups’ range: Soupe de Poisson (Fish Soup), Roasted Tomato Soup and French Onion Soup.

On return to the UK this naturally led into thinking about illustrating some of the classic British dishes such as Lancashire Hot Pot and Yorkshire Steak and Ale Pie.

How do you pick what recipes to feature? Are the recipes personal favourites, customer suggestions, easy to make & draw or a combination of all 3?

Really a combination of all three but a big issue is the ingredients. There must enough of a range to make an interesting design. I have been asked many times why I don’t do, for example, Yorkshire Pudding, but it is only eggs, flour and milk which would not make a very interesting design. I did run a bit short on ingredients for the Bakewell Tart design, but I love it too much not to include so I added a nice cup of tea at the bottom – as you can’t really enjoy one without the other I think!

I am tempted to try the Yorkshire steak & ale pie recipe that you feature …. and the Fish Soup 😊 What do you like to cook? Have you tried a recipe to feature that did not turn out as successful as you hoped? 

I love cooking (and eating!) and have had my fair share of failures and successes. The pie is a favourite and the fish soup was my first illustrated recipe and is the best seller by quite a margin. I think this is maybe to do with the colour rather than the recipe though – it’s a little more complicated than the other soups and really relies on a quality fish stock. The absolute easiest to cook is the roasted tomato soup – as easy as 1,2,3 – chop, roast and blend – yummy and so healthy.

Which tea towel has attracted the most attention so far?

Without a doubt it’s the fish soup, probably for its beautiful deep blue colour, which on the unbleached organic cotton really creates a very vibrant and bold design. I know that quite often people say my tea towels are too good to use and have even had them framed – there is a chateau somewhere in France with my full range of British Recipes framed in the kitchen!

Although you are based in London, are your tea towels available overseas?

Yes, I can ship anywhere in the world 😊 My tea towels have gone as far as Australia, New Zealand, Japan – I used to run a gallery on my old website called ‘Tea Towels on Tour’ where people would send me pictures of my tea towels in exotic locations around the world. I had one of my ‘3 fish’ meeting a panda in Peru, Tomato Soup on the Bolivian Salt Flats, Fish Soup in Greece and a Lancashire Hot Pot in Thailand! (I can send photos if you like)

Having a father who was a graphic designer and a mother, an artist; it is not surprising that you would grow up with such an artistic talent.  Lino cutting at the young age of 6; a degree in graphic design and you have worked as a designer, illustrator, in an animation studio, as an architectural glass designer and as an Art Teacher. Taking all that into account, which “art form” is your favourite? Which type of art do you find the hardest?  Is there any genre of art that you haven’t attempted before but would love to have a go at? 

I think printmaking is my favourite, there is a mystical moment when you’re not sure how the print will turn out and while you try to control it there is always an element of serendipity (happy accident) to the process. 

My father left me a whole load of old wooden type (lettering) blocks which I have added to over the years. I have played around with printing these from time to time but I would love to do more of this – Letterpress printing.

Hardest – ummm, I think it has to be drawing people. I did a lot of life drawing at Art School and even for my A Level art we did 3 hours a week which was unusual and fantastic for improving drawing skills but I still find trying to capture the personality of a person difficult – much easier with carrots and onions!

As well as your illustrated homewares, you also create some stunning house portraits. What inspired you to explore this art avenue?

Two years ago I was lucky enough to have a pop up shop in the gorgeous Primrose Hill area of London. While there I started to make monotype prints of the surrounding streets. One day a lady came in and she looked at a print I had made of a local view and said she loved it but I had missed her house – she lived a couple of doors further down. So I offered to do a print especially for her of her house… I have now done more than 20 of these, mostly for people around the Primrose Hill, Camden area but I work from photos and so could do one of anywhere in the world!

You also run printmaking workshops at your studio. What would I expect if I enrolled on one of your workshops? Do you cater for all abilities?

I mostly teach traditional printmaking techniques – lino cut, monotype, drypoint etching, to small groups of all ages, although I usually say from 8 years up as we use some sharp tools. And all abilities – no experience or drawing skills needed. Often people come with an idea, maybe a photo or design they want to do and I help them translate it into a print. In a 3-hour workshop you will design, draw, cut and print your artwork and come away with 3 or 4 copies of your print, framed if you want! People sometimes will do wedding invitations or Christmas cards as once you have created your printing block you can print as many as you like.

Alternatively, I run weekly sessions during term times – over a 10-week term you can produce a range of prints, explore different techniques or develop one project in depth.

I also run larger group workshops for parties or events, I have a small portable Victorian book press which I can bring to print with. The largest I have done was 24 at the Country Living Fair, Alexandra Palace – everyone made a print in less than an hour, great fun but exhausting!

I also do 1 – 2 -1 sessions for anyone to explore their artistic side.

And GCSE and A Level tutoring in Art and Design, Textiles and Graphic Design.

Personal now – what outfits and shoes would you normally be found wearing?

I am not really a fastidious dresser – I like to be comfortable and as I spend most of my time in the studio my outfit is usually pretty casual. I love dresses and long cardigans with pockets. Footwear is always comfort first for me – I love boots, I had a fantastic pair of Camper Boots which I wore into the ground and have been unable to find again. In the studio it is often espadrilles (sent by my French cousins this year as I could not go and get them myself) or slippers.

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites?

I love DeSigual clothing for the colours and patterns. I also have a favourite SeaSalt long dress – so comfy

What’s next on your clothes/shoe wish list?

If I could find a replacement for my beloved but worn out Camper boots, and a new Desigual dress to go with them I would be happy.

Two years ago we went to Vietnam and I had some shirts made in Hoi An, I’d love to go back and get some more – I’ve practically worn them out

Boots or Shoes? 

Boots – For comfort, I like the way they make legs look and they go with everything!

For Pinning Later

Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook etc

Website  https://www.kateguy.co.uk/
Instagram https://www.instagram.com/kate_guy_/

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/KateGuyPrints/

Beautiful tea towels, Kate – I love the blue/yellow colourway of the Yorkshire & Ale Steak pie tea towel and the recipe sounds just as good too! Thank you for visiting Boots Shoes & Fashion!

Linda x

All photographs have been published with kind permission of Kate Guy.

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An Interview With Enchanted England

Inspired by the glorious English countryside – and who can blame her – my guest this week is illustrator/writer/painter Sarah Keen. All her designs are firmly rooted in the natural world and her prints/artwork are delightful. Being a lover of the English countryside myself, it was a pleasure to welcome Sarah onto the blog…. Hi Sarah!

Hello great to be here. My name is Sarah Keen. I am in my fifties and following a career change, I design prints, fabrics and gifts based on the natural history and folklore of the English countryside.

The Enchanted England range of products is aimed for people like myself who don’t really enjoy shopping in endless malls that all sell essentially the same product. All my designs are rooted firmly in the natural world and beliefs that are associated with them. 

I am inspired by the English countryside. As a child, I grew up in Buckinghamshire and spent much of my childhood roaming the chalk based hills and fields that surrounded my family’s home.

After living in Southampton for many years, in 2004 I moved to a nearby village set in Hampshire’s beautiful countryside and nearby shimmering seascapes. I never really saw things the same way again. 

Hampshire’s chalky, flinty fields and gentle countryside unlocked memories of my childhood growing up in the Chilterns where I had been surrounded by books and artists. The change of scene persuaded me into signing up for an M.A in Creative & Critical Writing with the University of Winchester and this gave me the confidence to write and illustrate.

On completing my M.A I was asked to illustrate a most magical book about the Hampshire Countryside. It was written by a herbalist who walked each day to collect herbs for her treatments. Her charming accounts of her walks became a seasonal diary that contained seasonal recipes and remedies.  Originally published as a blog, it had such encouraging feedback, I developed a range of cards and gifts based on the paintings for her book. The Enchanted England range has grown organically from this project.


What inspired you to set up Enchanted England website?

I needed a website to showcase the range of goods and services available from Enchanted England. In my past life I was an I.T contractor and web contents editor so I was fortunate to be able to draw on that skill set to design the site.

Sarah wearing the Enchanted England Bluebell Dress and holding an Enchanted England porcelain mug.

You have a lovely variety of gifts and your prints are very beautiful indeed. I like the “Garden of Love” satin tie – the print on it is exquisite. What gifts/prints are proving popular amongst your customers so far this season?

Thank you, Linda, that’s really lovely to hear. Immediately following the lockdown the shop had surge of interest in bird illustrations and cards.  I am not sure if that was connected with the glorious sounds of birdsong that surrounded us at the time, but it was a noticeable spike in demand.  So, my bird cards flew away.

Now, the new range ‘The Garden of Love’ is sparking a lot of interest – particularly for bridal and marriage services. I plan to offer a comprehensive wedding stationary and fabric package for 2021 The Garden of Love design was for my engagement and wedding this summer so it’s very close to my heart. Our wedding was postponed but we hope the new date in September will go ahead!

You use a variety of methods to illustrate and create your prints – silk, paper, pen, ink, natural textures & watercolours.  Have you got a favourite medium though to use? Favourite print? 

I am a huge fan of watercolour and waterproof pens on textured paper. I love the way watercolour allows you layer translucent washes. It is also a dangerous medium. If you make a mistake there is very little chance of rescuing your design. You can’t overpaint with watercolour as you can with oil or acrylic.

As you are based in the UK, are your products available to purchase overseas? 

Yes, they are. The website offers shipping to most of the world and I would be happy to quote to send any item overseas.

Sarah, wearing an Enchanted England face mask

Living in rural Hampshire, you must have come across some interesting finds whilst beachcombing and countryside walking that have inspired your illustrations. Do you go out with an idea to look for something specific to draw? Do you draw in situ or do you take photos and illustrate from there? 

It’s been inspiring to live in this part of Hampshire, as there are so many walks and beaches to explore. Recently I visited a holy well on a local estate in a near village. This would have been passed by St Wilfred as he walked through the Meon Valley hoping to convert the pagans. This was one of the last areas to convert to Christianity. I find landscapes linked to religion and practice inspiring and spark my imagination.  I take photos and notes while walking. Then I use them for a starting point in my studio. 

Being an illustrator, some things must be easier to draw and create than others. What was the hardest or most unusual piece of illustration you’ve created so far?  

I could always draw animals and I love to use them in my illustrations. Recently I completed a set of illustrations based on the writing of Alice Gillington. She wrote about the lives of the Gypsies who lived and worked in the New Forest in the early 20 century.  I created some sunsets and technically these were very difficult but made spectacular backdrops for the gypsy caravans.

Have you always wanted to be an illustrator or did your career aspirations lay elsewhere?

I have always painted and drawn animals but I never thought to become an illustrator. In the 1980s when I graduated I would have chosen to go into publishing. It was a time of high graduate unemployment however, so in the end I found work as an IT contractor, setting up networks, getting involved in the fledgling internet and website content and design. It gave me the technical skills to publish books and understand how to format photos and illustrations with software such as Adobe and Gimp, so I don’t regret my years with the INTEL chip but wouldn’t want to return to it.

Apart from illustrating, you have had some books published. Can you tell us about them? 

I have worked on three books and always looking to work with authors. The first book that was the inspiration to Enchanted England was ‘Blessed Be – an illustrated walk through a year in the English Countryside’ This is a beautiful and gentle book. It is packed full of recipes and remedies for each month of the year. I also designed the front cover for the ‘Hare and the Sword,’ an amazing autobiography of a white witch who lives in the New Forest. Finally, I illustrated the biography of Alice Gillington who wrote about the wildlife and people of the New Forest.  I am currently working on two new book projects.

When you are not illustrating or writing, what do you enjoy doing in your spare time? 

I enjoy walking, cycling and gardening and spending time with my friends and family.

Personal now – what outfits and shoes would you normally be found wearing?

I love vintage clothing and am always on the lookout for dresses in various second hand shops near me. I enjoy wearing dresses and not often found in leggings or jeans unless decorating or working in the garden.  I love quirky, colourful shoes that make me smile.

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites? (Apart from your own!)

Yes! I have two vintage high street shops – one is Labels in Bishops Waltham and the other is The Clothes Line in Winchester. They are not currently open alas – so I also keep an eye on the Vestiaireapp that sells ‘preloved fashion items’ and the online shop, Wolf and Badger who support independent and ethical brands across the world. For amazing shoes as art, I enjoy looking at Freya Rose designs in Southsea,

What’s next on your clothes/shoe wish list?

Well as my summer wedding was postponed I need a warmer wrap or bolero jacket for September and change from shoes to boots. So looking for a pair of slightly 18th Century style pair of boots, festooned with ribbons!

Boots or Shoes?

I love boots and often can be found in London Fly footwear as they make me feel confident, stylish and that I can walk miles in them.

For pinning later. © Linda Hobden

Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook/twitter etc. so that readers can find out more about Enchanted England

Please visit facebook.com/enchantedengland or email Enchanted England and sign up for a newsletter. It would be great to see you in Enchanted England.

Thank you Sarah – I wish you all the best with your forthcoming wedding ❤️ I think Victorian style gothic boots would look gorgeous!

Linda x

All photographs have been published with kind permission of Sarah Keen of Enchanted England; apart from the Pinterest photo and the header photo of trees which was taken by myself. Header pic was taken in Thetford Forest, Norfolk & Pinterest photo was taken in Holland-on-Sea, Essex.

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