Bright, fun and bold accessories inspired by nature and pigeons – my guest this week is bubbly Jess Taylor, a talented textile artist and illustrator. I caught up with Jess recently, to find out why she particularly likes pigeons …and Birkenstocks ! Hi Jess and welcome!
Hi I’m Jess aka Loadofolbobbins a textile artist and illustrator based by the sea in Portsmouth, UK. With a love of silhouettes and a penchant for pigeons, I make bright, bold and fun sustainable accessories inspired by nature, literature and cosplaying pigeons.
What inspired you to set up “LoadOfOlBobbins”?
After graduating with my degree from art school I found myself in a bit of a creative wilderness, careers advice wasn’t top of the list of priorities on my degree course! Navigating the transition between being in full time education and then out in the big wide world was a bumpy one. After some success entering a few competitions, one of which means I have a piece on permanent display at Blackfriars Station, Bankside Entrance (wave hi from me if you find yourself there!) I found a love for illustration and decided to create a shop to start selling my work, thus Loadofolbobbins was born.
I am always curious to know the origins of brand names, so why did you choose “LoadOfOlBobbins”? Did you consider other names?
Once I knew that I wanted to create a shop to sell my wares, the mission to find a suitable name began. During a phone call brainstorming session with my fab big sister and fellow creative biz owner The Makers Marks, (who I unashamedly bribe with my stitched and illustrated wares), we threw around all manner of stitchy names. ‘Bobbin along’… lots of bobbins were mentioned and in a magical light bulb moment Loadofolbobbins was born.
You have a lovely wide range of illustrated products inspired by nature, literature and cosplaying pigeons! What products and designs are proving popular amongst your customers so far?
Over the years I’ve been very lucky with all the fab customers I’ve had, they seem to like quite a broad range of my work and my new ‘Birds of a Feather’ collection is getting a great reception. Fred the pigeon is always very popular and good for a giggle and there are definitely a strong contingent of Brontë lovers out there who enjoy my ‘Wuthering Heights’ and ‘Jane Eyre’ inspired jewellery. But my all time best seller is definitely my ‘Deeds Not Words’ pin. I always see a surge in sales during elections and particularly tumultuous times, I like to think it helps keep people going and encourages them to keep making their voice heard at the ballot box.
I particularly like the fun Unicorn Pigeon Wooden Necklace. Do you have a particular favourite design?
Oooh now you’re asking! I’m one of those people that finds it almost impossible to pick one favourite, annoying I know. I think because you spend so much time developing and creating your work and put so much of yourself into every piece it’s difficult to single one out. A big maker perk though keep a few pieces for myself, so I’ve got every pair of my bird earrings and wear them all the time!
As you are based in Portsmouth, are your products available to purchase overseas?
I love having customers from all over the world and have sent my work off to new homes across the globe everywhere from Brazil and Australia, to Europe and the US, it’s funny to think my art is better travelled than me. In more recent years however, quite a few new bits of legislation have made it prohibitively expensive to send to some places. I do still sell to the US and Canada, via my Folksy and Etsy shops, and am open to enquiries from other places on a case by case basis.
What inspired your original cosplaying pigeon Fred? What do you particularly like about pigeons? You have an illustrated book of Fred’s cosplaying adventures – where do you get your ideas from ?
Fred first appeared on the scene right at the beginning of my Loadofolbobbins journey back in 2014, debuting at my first market with a pair of reindeer antlers. I’ve always loved pigeons they’re such beautiful birds, the iridescent plumage at their necks is stunning plus all those incredible tones of grey. They’ve also got such wonderful personalities and are incredibly clever; did you know they can distinguish between different human faces?! Most of my ideas for Fred’s adventures comes from things that make me laugh, if I find it funny odds are someone else will too….I hope!
What was the hardest or most unusual piece of artwork/illustration you’ve created so far?
Earlier this year I collaborated with my composer dad on an animated relaxation video for a new wellbeing app called Syntropy. We saw the call out for artists and thought it would be a fun project we could do together. It was a real departure from anything I’ve ever done before and I hand drew 969 individual frames which took many, many weeks. Ignorance was definitely bliss before I undertook this challenge. I’m really looking forward to seeing it go live in the app in November.
Have you always wanted to be an artist/illustrator or did your career aspirations lay elsewhere?
As soon as my tiny toddler hands had their first finger painting experience it was clear that I was destined for a career in the arts. I come from a really wonderfully arty family so have always been surrounded by the arts, I think between us we have everything covered, writing, music, visual art you name it. When I was very little I did want to be a bird, but I feel I’ve managed to at least be bird adjacent with my many creations.
When you are not illustrating, what do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
Probably unsurprisingly I like to hang out in my garden with the birds that keep us entertained with their feeder shenanigans. I need to get better at giving myself time off to be honest but I love reading, discovering new music and I’m on a real documentary watching kick at the moment which I’ve blogged about a bit, lots of uplifting inspiring arty viewing has definitely been a joy lately and the new series of ‘All Creatures Great and Small’ is just brilliant.
Personal now – what outfits and shoes would you normally be found wearing?
Pretty much anything and everything turquoise and in the blue green family, my absolute favourite colours. I have a lovely pair of sparkly Birkenstocks which I am particularly fond of and a fabulous collection of statement earrings by other wonderful makers. Big and colourful is definitely my vibe.
Do you have any favourite shops or online sites?
Slight bit of family bias here but I love my sister’s needlepoint kits and she’s just released an amazing book which I’m super proud of, everyone should check out page 86 there’s a Jessica stitch!
I’m finding new and wonderful makers all the time and have recently found a bunch more thanks to the fab Super Seconds Festival organised by Ink & Bear. It’s a great event where 250 makers sell their seconds and end of line stock at big discounts, the next one is 1st & 2nd April 2023 so definitely worth keeping your eye out for that.
What’s next on your clothes/shoe wish list?
I’ve had a hankering to do a bit of sewing lately and after a successful attempt at making myself a kimono style top, with some of my rather large fabric stash, I’ve got my eyes on a kaftan dress pattern. Some fancy new Birkenstocks to match would be lovely too.
Boots or Shoes?
Probably shoes, oh my gosh you got me to pick a favourite! To be honest anything that fits my wide feet is a real dream. So many lovely shoes out there just don’t fit me, did I mention I love Birkenstocks?!
Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook/twitter etc so that readers can find out more about LoadOfOlBobbins.
I can be found in various pockets of the internet at my website https://www.loadofolbobbins.com/shoponline and on Instagram and Twitter as @loadofolbobbins for those from further afield who’d like to shop my wares there are links to my Folksy and Etsy store on my website shop page. I look forward to hearing from some of you!
Great to chat with you Jess!
All photographs have been published with the kind permission of Jess Taylor (LoadOfOlBobbins). The Pinterest pic is courtesy of Folksy.