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Meet the Artisan

We really admire and love being inspired by amazing artists and makers, so we've decided to create a space to showcase our favorite artisans, to give you an insight into how they got started and what they do. It'll be a great insight, and we hope you enjoy their stories and get to discover fabulous new products and crafts. 

This month we've interviewed the lovely Rosie Drake-Knight, a designer and maker of beautiful handmade leather hand luggage.We're inspired by her ethical approach to work and lifestyle. Read her full interview below.

To see more of Rosie's work visit her website www.rosiedrake-knight.com or follow her Instagram feed here.

Rosie Drake-Knight - Designer Maker of Modern Sustainable Craft

Tell us who you are and what you do

Hello, Im Rosie. I design, print and stitch leather luggage for fellow advocates of modern craft, whose loyalties lie within quality workmanship and traceability. 

From the field to my cutting table, I make it my business to track the origins of materials and to deliver a luxury product to love for a lifetime.

Surface pattern and leatherwork have gone hand in hand for me since the final year of my degree. Back then my design concept was a seedling, established by an idea to record naturally occurring patterns using traditional screen print techniques. Over time my accessories collections have bloomed. An organic warmth prevails, subtly sculpted into natural, functional fashion.

How did you get started?

I started my business in 2013 when I graduated from Falmouth in Textile Design. During my final year I experimented with decorative leatherwork, from screen print to applique. It was only when I started out in the real world that I realised I wanted to find a function for the decorative pieces I was creating so I started to construct bags and pouches and it has developed from there. I now focus on printed leather luggage, designed for function and longevity. I run my business from my home workshop where I mainly work alone. My leather is sourced in the UK and I screen print and construct my pieces in house. I have a ready-to-wear line which I update every 6-8 months and I also offer a bespoke service.

What inspires you?

My inspiration and influence comes from the great outdoors! I love organic pattern and texture and I see it in anything. From hailstones to railings or simple whatever shapes comes out of the end of my paintbrush, I draw it, paint it or print it to begin my design process. I find colour palettes very inspirational. I think creative people see inspiration all over! I've got a bit of an addiction to finding and buying ceramic pieces at the moment. I'm finding clay and the glazing process texturally different to fabric and leather and that is really interesting for me. I particularly admire Rebecca Proctor's work (Modern Craft Workshop) and Chloe Burke's (Whinblossom) - Their use of colour and texture is just beautiful and really connects with the organic inspiration they build from.

How would you describe your style?

I design with a simplistic style in mind. I try to keep the pieces minimal and functional. My use of pattern is always very selective and I try to compliment each product with the pattern placement. I personally dress quite minimally as I like accessories to do the talking! I think this reflects in my collection. 

What does your usual day involve?

I usually get up fairly early as I'm a busy woman and always have tasks to crack on with! I work part time at Plymouth College of Art, coordinating the Short Courses and Masterclasses, so some days I'll pop in there in the morning. If i'm not at the college in the AM then I aim to visit the gym before setting up in my workshops to get on with jobs. It's a real mix of Admin and Making, with a little creative design work thrown in there if I have time. I had an afternoon this week of painting, which I haven't done in so long. I forget how therapeutic it is sometimes!

What are the best bits about your job?

I love the fact that I have the freedom to carve my own path. That sounds a bit cliché but it's true. If I decide that I want to work more on a certain area of my business I can do it. It's a rewarding job.

What would be your advice to someone starting out?

Try it. Don’t waste time thinking about things. Give it a whirl, get cracking, drag out everything you need, make a mess and try it! The best thing I did was put my work out there on social media. It's like instant feedback! You know what works simply by the responses of people who understand and appreciate your ideas.

What can’t you live without?

I try to live quite minimally so in terms of ‘objects’, everything I own has a use or a purpose. I would probably say the thing I use the most for multiple reasons is my workshop apron. My husband had it custom made for me by my talented friends at Francli Craftwear. It is designed to be used as a potting apron, come leatherwork apron, come screen-print apron. Having said that, I use it when I’m cooking or gardening too. It’s fantastic and saves me ruining my clothes!

Describe your perfect weekend.

I love to spend time with husband away from modern technology and the temptation to check in on social media. It’s tricky as I use my phone for work a lot, but heading out of signal and the bustle of town, to the moors, or to the beach for a walk and a hot chocolate together makes our weekend.

 What is your most cherished possession?

I would love to learn Tatting. I have a teeny tiny box of precious samples that my mum had whipped up. I gave it a go once but it stressed me out too much so I put the box away (its hidden at the back of my haberdashery cupboard). To be fair even she said it was tricky and she was a textiles genius!

If you could collaborate with anyone, who would it be and why?

I'm currently working on some really cool collabs with some amazing makers. They're all in the pipeline, but I can say that they are NOT leather goods. It's a scary path for me to go down but the outcomes will be exciting and more importantly completely new for me! Some of said collabs are with my dream designer/makers, so you'll have to wait and see!

What are your dreams for this year?

I'm pretty much fully booked out with my time for the rest of 2017 - that's a shocking thought! I'll be at Port Eliot Festival at the end of July in a pop-up-shed-shop, and delivering some leather making workshops around the festival. Then it's on to Christmas prep! I run an event called Native Makers, which is a curated market for South West based designer makers, so that takes up a fair bit of my autumn. 

I’m hoping to develop some more product lines based around the idea of small luggage. I’m working on some pretty cool stuff at the moment actually and road testing some of the pieces over the summer - The hardest part is deciding what to take through to the next collection!

To view more of Rosie's products visit her gorgeous website www.rosiedrake-knight.com

Mary Maddocks - Textile Artist

Our first interviewee is the lovely Mary Maddocks, a lifestyle blogger and textile artist from South East London. Mary's textile art combines a passion for woven crafts with a lifelong love of the natural world. Her inspiring Instagram feed captures her love of the great outdoors, interiors and crafts. Like ourselves, Mary loves spending time in rural landscapes, and in particular, West Wales which really influences her woven wall hangings.

To view her collection of beautiful woven pieces and to keep up-to-date with her weaving workshops visit www.marymaddocks.com

Tell us who you are and what you do

I’m a textile artist and lifestyle blogger living in South East London. I create woven wall hangings and jewellery inspired by the natural world. I also teach weaving workshops for people who want to learn how to weave on a frame loom.

How did you get started?

I first learned to weave in school when one of my teachers brought in her table loom and taught me to use it. I loved learning to weave but sadly after finishing school I sort of forgot about it and it was only a few years later that I started to weave again. I have always loved craft and textiles in particular, but during my early twenties I trained and worked as a lawyer and so had very little time for it. Then about two years ago I bought a wooden frame loom and started experimenting with a stash of vintage wools that I had collected over the years. I began making woven wall hangings and woven necklaces and was soon completely hooked! My love of weaving has grown and grown, and I am now selling my weavings and running weaving workshops to teach others to weave.  

What inspires you?

I am constantly inspired by the natural world, and much of my weaving is informed by natural landscapes, colours and textures. I am particularly drawn to the scenery of the Pembrokeshire coastline, the mountains and beaches of the Scottish Highlands and the sun-bleached, dusty landscapes of the Greek islands, where I often go on holiday. My travels often inspire my weavings - for example, I am currently drawn to the stark, black basalt sand beaches of Southern Iceland where I spent time last year. The intricate shapes and textures of natural objects such as driftwood, shells, pebbles and tree bark often work themselves into my art - I am continually fascinated by the complexity and beauty of nature and I want my weaving to reflect this. I always carry a camera with me so that I can snap interesting things I see, in case I want to use it for a weaving later.

How would you describe your style?

Eclectic and maximalist I suppose! Our home is full of vintage and second-hand furniture, ethnic and natural fabrics and materials, collected treasures and lots and lots of plants! I don’t really have a scheme – I just go with what I like and somehow it works!  

What does your usual day involve?

My alarm goes off at 7 am and I have my first cup of tea in bed while listening to the news on the radio (and checking Instagram and my emails). I usually try to be at my desk by about 9am and then I spend a couple of hours replying to emails, planning and drafting blog posts and getting on top of other admin like planning and preparing for upcoming workshops. If I’m styling or shooting products for a blog post, I usually do this in the morning instead, as the light tends to be better earlier in the day. After lunch I sometimes go for a walk in the park round the corner to stretch my legs and get a bit of fresh air, following which I might spend some time in my shed weaving with radio 4 and a cat for company, or I’ll use the time to finish what I was doing in the morning. My husband usually gets home at around 7pm and we’ll have dinner together. I usually weave for a bit after dinner in front of the TV and I’ll be in bed by 11.30.

 

What are the best bits about your job?

The best bit by far is having the freedom to use my time as I wish, to set my own agenda and to determine the next steps that I want my business to take. That’s probably also the most difficult part of my job too! It’s a wonderful feeling when something you have created all by yourself is successful, and when you take a risk that pays off. I am a very domestic soul at heart so I love working from home and feel very lucky that I no longer have to tackle a London commute. Finally, I really enjoy passing on the skills that I have learnt to others, and watching them become as fascinated with weaving as I am! 

What would be your advice to someone starting out?

If something interests you or you have a passion for something, absorb yourself in it as much as you can. Read about it, experiment with it, research and hone your skills as much as you possible can in your spare time. Don’t assume that you can’t do something because you haven’t been formally taught or trained – so many skills can be acquired through hard work and self-learning. Observe what others in your field are doing, but resist the urge to compare yourself – have confidence in your own style and method. If you get to the point when you don’t want to do anything else (like I did), analyse your finances carefully, and if you can manage it, take the leap. I was always more scared of not giving my own business a go than trying and failing – after all, life is short!

 

What can’t you live without?

Truthfully, my iphone. I dropped it down the loo last weekend and had to dry it out in a bowl of rice for two days. I felt like I had lost one of my limbs. (Oh and my husband of course – he’s quite useful).

Describe your perfect weekend.

A perfect weekend would involve waking up late and eating a leisurely breakfast of smashed avocado and eggs on toast, fresh croissants and banana smoothies accompanied by a bit of Leonard Cohen. We’d then head out of London in our campervan for a walk and a picnic, followed by a hot bath, an Indian takeaway and a film. Rock and roll.

What is your most cherished possession?

My Ruth Tomlinson engagement ring – it’s the most beautiful thing I own and it never fails to make me smile whenever I catch a glimpse of it.

What are your dreams for this year?

We’re expecting our first baby in July, so my dreams are mainly baby-shaped at the moment! I can’t wait to become a mum and also to continue growing and developing my business. I want to carry on holding workshops,  selling my weaving guides and kits, possibly developing a weaving e-guide, and creating a woven jewellery collection. How I’m going to fit all that in around a small person I’m not entirely sure, but I’m looking forward to the challenge.